British prime minister David Cameron may say Utah is in the middle of nowhere, but CenterPoint Legacy Theatre is fast becoming the center for British comedies celebrating kooky shenanigans across the pond.
The theater is staging its third production this year that transports audiences to that scepter'd isle. Earlier this season, the theater's main stage was transformed into a posset mill/country home where sardines were all the rage, in the sidesplitting comedy "Noises Off." This past spring, CenterPoint offered up the first production in its black box theater -- the Connie Leishman Performance Hall -- with Oscar Wilde's classic satire "The Importance of Being Earnest."
On this next go-round, the black box theater is being transformed into a vicarage in the farcical "See How They Run," opening Monday, Aug. 6, at the Centerville theater.
The 1943 play by Philip King is set in the fictitious village of Merton-cum-Middlewick, where by play's end there is no shortage of vicar sightings, according to its director, Centerville resident Michael Nielsen.
"It's a typical British farce with lots of mistaken identities, lots of doors slamming, and lots and lots of physical comedy," Nielsen said.
Nielsen grew up in Bountiful and worked for several years as a costume designer in Hollywood. He has been involved with several productions at CenterPoint Legacy Theatre and its predecessor, Rodgers Memorial Theatre. Most recently, he designed costumes for the theater's production of "All Shook Up" and is working on costumes for its upcoming production of "The Scarlet Pimpernel."
Set shortly after World War II, "See How They Run" takes its title from the nursery rhyme "Three Blind Mice." Its cast of colorful characters include the vicar Reverend Lionel Toop, his American actress wife Penelope, her soldier/actor friend Clive who stops by for a visit, and a meddlesome neighbor named Miss Skillon who has it in for Penelope. Throw in a Cockney maid, a Russian spy, some cooking sherry, more unexpected visitors, a plentiful supply of vicar vestments -- and you have a recipe for mayhem.
Nielsen thinks audiences will be delighted with the comedy, whichever night they happen to see the show. The production is double-cast, with nine performers in each cast. Nielsen said the rehearsal process has been a particular delight for him as it allows him to go to his "happy place."
"The cast is brilliant. Every night I'm seeing new and funnier things that they are finding in their characters," he said. "It's just a good chance to sit back and laugh."