Front Row Reviewers

Aug 19, 2012 | Theater Reviews

Valley Center Playhouse Lights Up the Stage with Lights Out

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers

A Utah Theater Review by Jennifer Mustoe

Lindon’s Valley Center Playhouse presents Lights Out, directed by Karla Hernandez. I am sorry to report that Monday, August 20th is its last date. But if you like mystery theater, you may want to head over to Lindon, Utah and try to solve the whodunit before it’s too late.

Though, I will say, nobody dies. This is a family theater and produces family shows. With a fair amount of blackouts, screams, a few flashlights, and a spooky voice that shouts in the dark, this is a good time for mystery and theater lovers.  But there are several plot twists and I didn’t really know who was doing what until the end. And I liked it that way.

Agnes Harwood, played by Lynn Bauman, needs to sell her father’s estate. She has the mansion and grounds but no money, so she and her lovely daughter, played almost to perfection by Jennie Martin, have a weekend party and invite some potential buyers.

I liked Bauman’s performance – she has a lot of excitement and showed Mrs. Harwood’s distress at her dilemma. As I said, Jennie Martin’s performance was so good – she stayed in character the whole time and I’m glad she was in almost all the scenes. Tyrone Svedin played Jennie’s love interest, murder mystery writer Neil Parker. It was Parker’s job to unravel the mystery. Svedin did a fine job as the dashing author and seemed to have a good rapport with his costar.

Vicky Wayne, played by Joyce Gunther, was a fun character. What struck me most was Gunther’s amazing voice. She should do voice over. It was like warmed honey. (I realize as I write this, maybe Gunther does do voice over. I should have asked…) Without giving the plot away, her scenes with Carl Emerson, played with flair and wonderful physicality by Mike Black, were the sweetest in the play.

Ella Tucker, the maid, played by Pam Winrow, was a larger part than I thought it would be. I had a hard time following some of Ella’s lines – Winrow speaks a little too quickly. But she was really funny when she kept having to fend off the attentions of Benny King, the handyman, played very convincingly by Daniel Paredes.

Helen Freeland, played by Rachel Snow, was an interesting character and though necessary to the plot, didn’t seem to have enough to do. But once Snow got onstage, she used quirky hand movements and facial expressions to look spooky.

The couple that I didn’t really understand was the Bates, Susan, played by April Winkleman, and her husband John, played by Ray Felix. Because the play was a little too long, these characters seemed to be the least necessary. They sort of flitted in and out of the scenes, and though the actors portrayed their characters well (especially Winkleman’s swishing her handkerchiefs all over), they didn’t move the plot along much.

The show’s real star was Shane Raben, who played William Patterson Vaughn, the realtor. Raben cried, danced in place, rhymed lines that may have sounded goofy for some actors, but he did them so well, he got almost all the laughs in the show. I want to see more of this actor. His was a finely-crafted performance.

What I liked in the show was this:

  • The costumes were great. Lots of color, rich fabrics, very fun and cheerful.
  • The set pieces in Valley Center Playhouse’s theater in the round all looked very polished and comfy. The whole play takes place in the one room, so nothing had to be moved. Which was nice.
  • Shane Raben came out and spoke as his wavery, frightened character to let the audience know it was intermission. It was really cute.
  • There were a couple of nods to other mysteries, like using the “Perry Mason” theme song, and yes, there was a library, and there was a candlestick. Nice.

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What I wasn’t as fond of:

  • The swamp cooler was really loud and windy. Though I could hear the actors well, I finally went and turned down the swamp cooler (one of the patrons showed me where the controls were) and it was much better.
  • The music that led into the show and after intermission was way too loud.
  • Some of the direction was choppy and some of the actors didn’t have much chemistry between them.
  • The play was too long.
  • The Valley Center Playhouse needs new seats. There, I said it. Long play + uncomfortable seats = me with a backache. Sad face.

Since this show is closing on Monday, I’ll go ahead and promote the next show, which opens August 24th. It’s called Conflict Turns to Love. According to the program, “The Morris and Foster families are worse than the fuedin’ McCoys and the Hatfields.”

The Valley Center Playhouse provides fun for the whole family, so check them out and go see a show there. You’ll be glad you did.

The Valley Center Playhouse

780 N 200 East, Lindon

$7.00, Students/Seniors/Children $5.00, Family $25.00, Group rate $5.00.

No children under 5 or babes in arms.

Shows play Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays 7:30 PM  



Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers


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