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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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SLAC’s Summer Show Is Out of This World

“Close Encounters in the Beehive” is hilariously accurate to Utah culture from start to finish, poking fun at Mormon culture, BYU and Gov. Spencer Cox.
Cast+of+SLACs+Close+Encounters+in+the+Beehive+Courtesy+of+Joseph+Branca+and+Salt+Lake+Acting+Company
Cast of SLAC’s “Close Encounters in the Beehive” Courtesy of Joseph Branca and Salt Lake Acting Company

 

Aliens have landed on Earth to determine if it’s worth saving. Do you think it is? On June 28, Salt Lake Acting Company opened their annual summer show called “Close Encounters in the Beehive,” written by local playwrights Olivia Custodio, David Knoell and Penelope Marantz-Caywood. This cabaret-style piece is definitely one not to miss.

Blast Off to Utah

Being an annual tradition, the summer show presented by SLAC is one that all in attendance wait for, and it’s to no surprise that it’s the season’s go-getter. “Close Encounters in the Beehive” is hilariously accurate to Utah culture from start to finish; they really did their research. The show pokes fun at Mormon culture, Republicans, BYU, Footloose and many other Utah staples. From start to finish it was an endless stream of laughter out in the audience as we all could relate with the content immensely. The show was incredibly immersive, which is an environment only a good company can create.

Current and past University of Utah students have roles in this production both in the cast and on the crew. I had the opportunity to speak with Alexa Shaheen (Celestleigh), who is an actor for the show this summer about the process of the show.

“Creating a world premiere show that is fresh off the press has been an experience that is so unique and special …” she said. “Having such a close relationship and many interactions with the playwrights has been such a treat.”

I was in awe at the fluidity of this show given its short rehearsal period. Marantz-Caywood, who wrote the music, did a phenomenal job at inserting parodied lyrics to our favorite Broadway hits such as “Little Shop of Horrors,” “The Nicest Kids in Town,” “Holding Out For A Hero,” “Giants in the Sky” and many others. The dialogue was beautifully strung and kept the story rolling nicely as things unraveled. My jaw was dropped throughout, I couldn’t believe the absolute madness being portrayed on that stage.

Hilariously and Politically Accurate

Something that really caught my attention were the various changes each actor had and the authenticity to each role that was portrayed. It was incredible to see so many impersonations — including Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Kevin Bacon, Spencer Cox and Elon Musk — brought out with such gusto.

“Most members of our cast play multiple roles and it is such a treat to see these artists transform multiple times a night,” Shaheen said. “Quick changes galore.”

The creators cast the phenomenal Mark Nielson to voice Musk who would appear as a projection on screen behind the stage. Skruuk (Nate Ginsberg) and Zeb (Joseph Paul Branca) make several interactions with “Overlord Musk” to determine whether Earth is worth saving. Each appearance is a hoot given the satire effect of not only the acting, but the dialogue too.

“Salt Lake Acting Company cultivates such a beautiful environment for every single person working on their shows,” Shaheen said. “This has really allowed for our cast and crew to really get close during this process. I am eternally grateful for this experience and this company.”

If you need something to do this summer, get on over to SLAC and take off on the wild ride that is “Close Encounters in the Beehive,” running now until Aug. 18.

 

[email protected]

@laneypauline_

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About the Contributor
Laney Hansen
Laney Hansen, Arts Writer
Laney is a communications major with a modern dance minor at the University of Utah. Originally based from South Jordan, Utah, Laney has always been drawn to the creativity of the arts in Salt Lake and other surrounding towns. One of their favorite parts is the large local music scene. This is one reason why Laney joined the Chronicle: to open people’s eyes to the wonderful world of Utah-based musicians and artists galore. Other than head banging at your favorite local venue, you can find Laney running, hiking, dancing, or just reading a good book on the commute up to campus.

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