Guest Reviewer: ZTC’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Brings Back the Magic of Childhood


I will often bring on Hillary Stirling to A Motley Vision to review some of Zion Theatre Company’s work. Obvioulsy, I’m tied too close to the company, but Hillary brings a fresh set of eyes and an insightful mind to review the shows. This particular adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was written by Joseph Robinette (made available through Dramatic Publishing) and was directed by Rebecca Minson.

I attended the theatrical adaptation of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe at the Castle Theater tonight. Much of what the Zion Theater Company produces has Mahorni Stewart’s influence, and so when I went I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t even think to bring my kids until we got there and saw other children. Of course I should have brought them! I’m kicking myself about that and am seriously considering bringing them to another showing on either Monday or next Friday. The play was very much written with a mixed-age audience in mind. Continue reading “Guest Reviewer: ZTC’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Brings Back the Magic of Childhood”

Press Release: Zion Theatre Company Presents _The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe_

G 12 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 058The popular story of magic and wonder The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is being remounted by Zion Theatre Company at the Castle Outdoor Amphitheater Theater in Provo on October 5, 6, 8, 12, 13, and 15. Perhaps Lewis’s most recognizable work, ZTC’s production of the nationally published adaptation was popular enough during its initial run in Salt Lake City this last summer to warrant a run for Utah Valley audiences.

Director Rebecca Minson, who is also taking on the role of the White Witch, has roots with the original story and is enthused to be involved with the production, “I am so excited to be directing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. As a child I lived in the mountains and imagined my own Narnia to explore in my forested backyard of Southern California. I even used to nail bits of wood together to make a sword for myself because I was the fighter.” Continue reading “Press Release: Zion Theatre Company Presents _The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe_”

Press Release: ZTC Presents Melissa Leilani Larson’s Adaptation of Jane Austen’s_Persuasion_

Classic litePersuasion Production photo #1rature and theater lovers can have something to look forward to this month as Zion Theatre Company is performing Jane Austen’s Persuasion, adapted by award winning playwright Melissa Leilani Larson. The show performs in Salt Lake City at the Off Broadway Theater on  Sept. 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, and 22 at 7:30 pm.

Jane Austen has had enduring popularity and resonance, despite the couple of centuries that have passed since her debut as a novelist. The director of Persuasion, Sarah Stewart, is one of the many who have been passionate fans of Austen, so she brings a personal investment to the production, ” My introduction to Jane Austen happened at the ripe old age of nine when I stumbled across the 1940’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice on late night television.  I was completely captivated and never forgot it.  I didn’t realize it was a book until I received it three years later as a Christmas present. Once again, I had the peculiar delight of being swept into Jane’s world, and thus began my life-long passion for all things Jane Austen.  I consider her a dear friend–just one I haven’t actually met.” Continue reading “Press Release: ZTC Presents Melissa Leilani Larson’s Adaptation of Jane Austen’s_Persuasion_”

The Salt Lake Pops Orchestra: Interview with Founder Nathaniel Drew

First off, tell our readers what the Salt Lake Pops Studio Orchestra is, for those who are not already familiar with it. What’s the vision for the group, what are your overarching goals, what philosophies guide your choices, etc.?

I recently went to talk with local high school orchestras and their directors about the Salt Lake Pops Orchestra and I was shocked to find very small orchestras. They were all very talented and dedicated to their instruments, but it seems that playing in an orchestra is no longer a popular or fun thing to do for most teenagers. When I was in high school for example, we had over 100 members to our orchestra. Now, some of these schools were lucky to break 30.

In contrast, I visited my old high school choir teacher Mr. Larson whom I admire greatly. We chatted about how different the choir is now. Strangely, it was a fun and popular thing to be a part of in our high school, though I know a lot of other high schools were struggling for members at that time. There were around 100 members to our a capella choir when I was there. I thought that number was huge back then. No one rivaled the numbers our choir could produce. Now there’s over 160 members! That blew me away. I knew that part of why his choirs were so successful was because he was an amazing director and always expected a lot out of the choir. However, many of the local choirs have increased in numbers by a huge margin as well!

When I drove home I talked with my beautiful, and pregnant, wife about it. She simply stated that it was the “Glee effect”. Suddenly it hit me. Choir has become cool! Glee is a television show that puts together popular music for choirs and makes it fun!  Instead of singing the traditional madrigals and hymns the choirs are now singing Gloria Estephan, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Britney Spears, and Lady Gaga! No wonder it’s popular.

This is music that is current, relevant, and speaks to the emotions of these teenagers. High school bands started updating their repertoires 50 years ago with modern compositions and have grown in size compared to the orchestras that I’ve seen decreasing in number everyday. Why are orchestras dying? Because they think playing only BeethovenBach, and Mozart is the only way to educate our kids within an orchestra.

The Salt Lake Pops Orchestra would like to present a solution. Play music that speaks to the people in your orchestra, potential orchestra members and your audience. Continue to play the incredible music of Beethoven, Bach and Mozart, but supplement that music with something that will excite kids: popular music from artists they already listen to! Play Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” or Katy Perry’s “Firework”! We’d like to make orchestra current, relevant and FUN again! Even one song every concert could change things for your orchestra. To help, we’ve decided give our sheet music away for free. The individual parts. The score. Everything. People can even email us if they have special needs for their orchestra. We do ask for donations so that we can continue this revolution. It simply helps provide free music for others who don’t have any money.

In choosing your group’s music and “covers,” what do you look for? What pop music really “pops” your interest?

Honestly I just look for really popular music on YouTube (typically over 50mil views) that speaks to me and the lyrics are clean and meaningful. Because we’re trying to change the culture of orchestras we need to present music that is currently popular. That may change a little bit down the road, but I’m sure that we’ll always have some music that’s current. Continue reading “The Salt Lake Pops Orchestra: Interview with Founder Nathaniel Drew”

Press Release: Zion Theatre Company’s _Swallow the Sun_ Recounts C.S. Lewis’ Early Life

Zion Theatre Company is producing national award winning playwright Mahonri Stewart’s play about C.S. Lewis’s early life at the Castle Theater in Provo on August 24, 25, 27,31 and September 1, 2, 7, 8 at 7:30 pm.

The play tells the story of how C.S. Lewis (author of the popular The Chronicles of Narnia series, as well as religious classics as the The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity) journeyed from an ardent atheist to one of the 20th century’s most famous champions for Christianity. Starting around his entry as a young soldier in World War I, to some pivotal relationships which changed his spiritual outlook in the 1930s (including his friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit), it tells the story of Jack’s shift in worldview.

“C.S. Lewis, who preferred to be called Jack, was very antagonistic to the idea of God, much due to the death of his mother at a young age,” said playwright Stewart, “He was an intellectual, a scholar, eventually a Literature Professor at Oxford”¦ he was no one’s fool. So his shift from atheism to Christianity has weight, it says something. I think it goes a long way to show how not all religious people are the simple idiots many portray them to be. Lewis’ faith, because it had so long carried the weight of doubt, was a vigorous thing, it was earned.” Continue reading “Press Release: Zion Theatre Company’s _Swallow the Sun_ Recounts C.S. Lewis’ Early Life”