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Archive for the ‘Shows & Entertainment’ Category

It’s that time of year again. You know which one I’m talking about. No, I’m not talking about the time of year when the snow starts capping the mountains — that’s great too — I’m referring to the return of the great ghoulish gush of freaks and frights that lurk all over Cache Valley at night in October. If you don’t know where to find them, you might not be looking too hard. Then again, I guess some people really are terrified of things that go boo in the night.

For you readers who get a thrill out of spine-tingling excitement and are interested in finding new ways to scare the pants off your kids or scream the face off your special someone, I’m going to try to go to as many Halloween-related Cache Valley attractions as I can find. Some of you may remember last year I went to the Little Bear Bottoms Corn Maze and the Annual Pumpkin Walk, and let’s not forget the Howl, the largest Halloween party for hundreds of miles in any direction, which is hosted by the Associated Students of USU. If you’re interested in those events, feel free to go back and check out my past posts. Also, stay tuned for my upcoming fall posts on the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau blog: it’s guaranteed to give you goosebumps.

I recently read an article in The Utah Statesman about the Dark Meadows Manor, located in the woods behind the Sherwood Hills Resort, just off the southbound side of Highway 89-91 in Sardine Canyon (the canyon at the south end of the valley between Wellsville and Brigham City. The Statesman story piqued my interest, with all of its colorful descriptions of the spooky, otherworldly spirits lurking in the foggy woods of Sherwood Hills. I’m always a glutton for punishment — always looking for the next sure thing to put me on the edge of my seat —  so I rounded up some friends and piled into the car, and we headed for the resort.

Dark Meadows Manor costs $13 per person, or $11 with a canned-food donation that goes to the Cache Community Food Pantry. Any other important details can be found on the website. One thing the site won’t tell you is to bring an extra diaper — for your friend, of course. If you’re like me and you sleep with the lights on, you might want to bring some friends.

The night I went, it was raining ever so slightly. The wet conditions added to the eeriness but caused some of the special effects to go haywire — or just not work at all. I can vouch, however, that this place packs quite the poltergeist punch. It takes about 30 minutes to walk the entire trail as it twists and turns through the dark woods. There are several creepers waiting in the brush, behind trees and in every dark corner of the forest. Even with your guard up, you’ll still get caught shaking, crying or letting go of the occasional shriek of panic. As strobe lights and cackling skeletons distract you from one direction, a moaning specter comes at you from another. If the apparitions don’t get you, the guys in hockey masks and flannel shirts who look like Jason Voorhees from “Friday the 13th,” will. There’s no telling how many weapon-wielding wild things are creeping in the wings of the broken down shacks and drooping, dilapidated dead-thing dormitories that are scattered throughout the Dark Meadows forest.

The whole time you’re out there you’ll be looking over your shoulder, and just when you think something is dead and gone, it reanimates and comes right for you. I wasn’t able to take any pictures of the coolest — or should I say ghoulest stuff, because Dark Meadows creator Jamie Forbush said he wants every patron to get the same high-quality scare, every time. I have, however, included some previews of what is waiting for you out there.
I certainly recommend the Dark Meadows Manor at Sherwood Hills to any haunted house, haunted hayride or haunted woods enthusiasts. This experience is sure to please your taste for terror. If you decide to go, keep your eyes peeled, you may just see me writing my blog from beyond the grave, giving you a bony, skeletal wave. Until next time, good fright and sweet screams!

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“Who is the Scarlet Pimpernel?” the song goes. In this specific show, it was Kent Braddy who played Percy Blakeney, the revolutionary Scarlet Pimpernel. Braddy, along with the rest of  the Cache Regional Theatre Company, delivered a knock-down opening performance Friday night.

Who needs Broadway, when the Ellen Eccles Theatre consistently hosts high-energy,  fulfilling performances such as this one? Along with Braddy, Sarah Huff and Anthony Eversole showcased their intense passion for the craft, as well as their impressive vocal ranges. Songs like “I’ll Forget You” and “Into the Fire” were beautifully articulated and well portrayed. These people were no joke, but the show was hilarious!

The principals were not the only reason the show went so well. Under the direction of Floyd Salisbury, the veritable army of cast members delivered a relentless three-hour show with charm and exuberance. The copious talent on-stage would have been greatly compromised, were it not for the fantastic orchestra beneath the stage, and their director, Jay Richards.

I must say, this is one of the most entertaining shows, from front to back, that I have ever been to. I’ve seen shows in Las Vegas, Chicago, Toronto and New York City, among others. The charm of the Ellen Eccles Theatre and the talent and committment of the Cache Regional Theatre Company, put Logan, Utah on the entertainment map.

Far and away, the most electric and FLAMBOYANT number in the show was “The Creation of Man.” If you’ve seen the show, or know the lyrics to the song, you may know exactly what I mean. The delivery was way over-the-top. So much so, that I was reeling with laughter and struggling to see through the tears in my eyes. Costume Designer Kody Rash did a wonderful job of putting together the most ridiculous set of “summer-y” get-ups I’ve ever seen a dozen men wear on a stage. The number was so effective, I’m sure the entire audience understood Chauvelin’s perplexity when he finally discovered Blakeney was, in fact, the Scarlet Pimpernel.

I’ve seen enough shows at the Ellen Eccles Theatre– all of which have been hits– to be able to say, don’t pass up the opportunity to visit the theatre while you’re in Logan. If you don’t get a chance to see the troupe in Scarlet Pimpernel, be sure to find a Cache Regional Theatre Company performance that fits your schedule… you will not be sorry; and since I am becoming somewhat of a fixture at the Eccles Theatre, I’m sure you’ll see me there!

Photo taken from the show’s program

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For the average person, Saturday, Aug. 7 was like any other sunny summer Saturday. For me, the day was special, this was the day I attended my first opera. I found out about the Utah Festival Opera through the Visitors Bureau, and having been to five shows of varying content at the Ellen Eccles Theatre already, I was instantly intrigued. The Ellen Eccles Theatre is just south of Center Street, on the west side of Main Street, in downtown Logan. The historic wealth that the theater houses, is invaluable. You can literally sit in your seat before the show starts and spend the entire time looking around at the architecture and intricate artistry that adorn every corner and wall.

The Utah Festival Opera is an annual, season-based schedule of events that includes musical performances of many kinds. I was privy to sit in on the final performance of La Traviata in this, the 18th year of the UFO. Knowing that this was the last show of the season, I figured I was in for a very powerful, emotionally charged performance. The overall production value of La Traviata, which translated, most closely means “The Woman Who Lost Her Path,” was absolutely stunning! This is an opera written by Giuseppe Verdi, adapted from an Alexander Dumas story. These are the guys who wrote Requiem and The Three Musketeers, respectively.

As the curtains rose on Act 1, my senses were instantly overwhelmed by the elegant two-story set, which was polished in every minute detail. As the orchestra played, the stage became flooded with singers dressed in extravagant costumes that seemed to rival the amount of color in the rainbow. By the start of the first song, Libiamo ne’ lieti calici, or “Drinking Song,” I was hooked.

In the beginning of Act 2, which is set in the French countryside, the audience was given a great chance to see just how much work goes into set design and lighting. The background consisted of a large, hand-painted sky-scape filled with clouds and “sunlight.” Throughout the first scene in this act, the light pulsated ever so subtly, creating the effect of sunlight that brightened and dimmed with the characters’ fluctuating moods. The transition into Act 2, Scene 2 was a flawless change of scenery that took virtually no time at all. At every moment I was reminded that this production was of the highest caliber. I was very impressed by the precision with which the whole process was carried out.

By the final act, I could feel all of the torment that Alfredo and Violetta were experiencing, due to the rift driven between them by Alfredo’s father, Giorgio. The bitter cold of Violetta’s illness was portrayed extremely well. The performer’s makeup was so convincing that for a moment I was sure it was someone else; the simplicity of the set and the frigid white shafts of light that fell on Violetta’s pale face added to the feel of desperation.

It may have been my anticipation of the fairly tragic ending, or the riveting vibratos with which the singers delivered their passionate performance…or maybe a little of both, but I had chills and tears abounding! This show was an excellent way to enter into the world of opera. The principles were clearly from highly disciplined backgrounds, and this quality compliments very well the history of opera in Cache Valley. Take it from a guy who just attended his first opera, this show was a great way to break into the scene. I may truly have found a new path to enlightenment! Whether you are new to the opera like I am, or you are a seasoned veteran, be sure to get tickets to at least one show from next year’s season. I guarantee I will be in attendance…maybe we’ll be sitting together!

Photos courtesy of Karen Almond.

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