Photo credit: Christopher Ayers

In their final Play-by-Play reading, Pioneer Theatre Company brings the drama and tension of World War II to the stage.

The Play-by-Play series allows audiences to see new work in a more intimate and immediate setting. These are not full productions—actors perform with scripts in hand, typically with minimal staging. This year, the series has included readings of “A Requiem for August Moon” and “i.” “The Ice Front” brings a new opportunity for audiences to experience the story in advance, as it will be produced as part of the season at Plan B Theatre Company next year.

This play, written by Eric Samuelsen, examines the plight of the Norwegian National Theatre during the Nazi occupation. When asked to perform a Nazi propaganda piece, the actors must decide where their moral boundaries lie.

Samuelsen is known locally for his work as a playwright, director and blogger. Seven of his plays have been produced through Plan B Theatre Company, which dedicated their entire 2013-14 theatre season to his writing. Samuelsen has also been awarded the Association for Mormon Letters award for best play on three occasions, as well as the Smith-Petit Award for lifetime achievement as a Mormon artist.

This particular reading is directed by Jerry Rapier, the artistic director of Plan B. Rapier is no stranger to Samuelsen’s work, after having directed four of his plays previously. He has also directed for Salt Lake Acting Company, and the Utah Shakespeare Festival, besides being the recipient of the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Artist Award.

The cast includes many local favorites, as well as some direct connections to the U Department of Theatre. Kirt Bateman and Stephanie Howell join as Equity cast members, along with Robert Scott Smith, who has recently been appointed to the faculty of the Actor Training Program. Bateman, a regular on the local stage, will be playing the leading man Anders, while Howell plays Birgit, the company’s stage manager. John Ford-Dunker and Roger Dunbar also return to Pioneer after performing in “King Charles III,” portraying Henrich and Peter respectively. Susanna Florence, who was also seen in the Play-by-Play reading of “i,” will portray leading lady Astrid. Beret Brems, Louis Hillegass IV and Isabella Reeder, all students in the Actor Training Program here at the U, complete the cast.

“The Ice Front” has performances on April 14 and 15 in the Dumke Auditorium at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. Discounted tickets are available to season ticket holders, but unfortunately not for students. For any additional information, please contact the Pioneer Box Office or visit www.pioneertheatre.org/play-by-play.

 

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