The premise of “[title of show]” is one that’s been done many times, in various forms: a piece of art about its own making. It’s the kind of thing that can quickly turn into a self-satisfied, one-joke non-starter, but Hunter Bell’s book and Jeff Bowen’s songs carry the show far beyond the point where the novelty of the meta-theatricality wears off.
It ends up, especially in the hands of the Utah Repertory Theater Company’s cast, becoming one of the theater’s most moving tributes to the creative impulse. The material is strong in itself, but this production—which opened at the Sugar Space in Sugar House, and concludes at Provo’s Covey Center this week—is what it is because of its cast.
Austin Archer and Jonathan Scott McBride play the roles of Hunter and Jeff and do so with such apparent ease that one wouldn’t be faulted for thinking they wrote the thing themselves. DeeDee Darby-Duffin and Megan Shenefelt are equally at home in the material, and each cast member—solo and ensemble—has at least one moment of dazzling skill.
All of them are tremendous singers, and immensely appealing actors with razor-sharp comic timing. Watching them is a reminder of the simple, elemental joy of theater: sitting in a room watching other people on a stage play make-believe, sing and dance. “[title of show]” makes that possible because that is, on multiple levels, what it’s about as a piece—and thus it’s something anyone who loves theater should see. (Danny Bowes)
Utah Repertory Theater: “[title of show]” @ Covey Center, 425 W Center St., Provo, 801-852-7007, Nov. 21-22, 8 p.m., $18.