Thursday, June 9, 2016

Hale Center Theater: Big River

For the past couple of years, Todd and I have purchased season tickets to Hale Center Theater in West Valley City.  It is a small circular theater with a stage at its center. It's amazing what kind of things the props and production team have been able to accomplish with it.

The set is divide in to ring that can be raised and lowered  to accommodate the production. There is even a suspended set that can be lowered to any height to add additional space.

Not every play requires all of this complex settings, but a couple of times a year, the theater goes all out and puts together an amazing production. That was the case with Big River: the story of Jim a slave trying to escape to freedom with the help of Huckleberry Finn, a white teenage boy in search of adventure.

The acting was wonderful. My favorite character by far was Jim, played by Harry Bonner. His performance was one of the best I've seen at HCT over the last two years.

The story is set in great part on a raft on the Mississippi River. To accomplish it, the theater was filled with 9000 gallons of water with a wooden raft floating above it.  There is even actual rain falling on the actors while they are on the water. At one point Jim and Huckleberry Finn both stood on one end of the raft causing me to catch my breath in fear they were both going to fall into the water.

The rest of the production is held on dry ground. To accomplish this transition the technical staff developed a special platform that was light enough to slide in and out, yet sturdy enough to hold the entire cast of 20 plus people plus props. Truly an amazing production.