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‘Beau Jest’ a humorous holiday relief at Hale Center Theatre

By Rachel Trotter, Standard-Examiner Correspondent - | Dec 28, 2015
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Ben Abbott, (far right) stars in the Tuesday, Thursday, Friday cast of the Hale Center’s “Beau Jest” starting New Year’s Eve.

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Bryan Dayley (far right) stars in the Monday, Wednesday, Friday cast of “Beau Jest” which opens New Year’s Eve at the Hale Centre Theatre in West Valley City.

WEST VALLEY CITY — Four Davis County talents have major parts in the Hale Centre Theatre’s latest humorous play, “Beau Jest,” which kicks off Dec. 31 and runs through Jan. 31 at 3333 South Decker Lake Drive.

The theater has a holiday tradition of two shows on New Year’s Eve at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. with a party theme, featuring live entertainment before the show and a balloon-drop countdown celebration of the New Year at midnight.

Eric Jensen of Farmington directs the six-member cast, which is double cast – one cast for Monday, Wednesday, Friday shows, and one for Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday shows.

Bryan Dayley plays the lead male character(s) of Bob Schroeder and David Steinberg in the Monday, Wednesday, Friday cast. Ben Abbott plays the same role on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Chris Brown plays Miriam Goldman in the Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday cast. All three are from Davis County.

The show tells the story of a Jewish family with a daughter who decides she may want to marry out of the Jewish faith. To convince her parents, she hires an actor to play a Jewish man, who gets confused on what his role really is.

Jensen said the show is not only funny on its own, but locals will enjoy the parallels the show has to LDS culture. “As we watch the show, we all come to see that these parents want what all parents want, for their children to be happy,” Jensen said.

Jensen has a long history with Hale Centre that dates back to the late 1990s, having helped with costuming, directing and teaching at the theater. Previously, Jensen often worked at the Desert Star and Off Broadway theaters in Salt Lake City.

Jensen was on and off at Hale Centre until about three years ago when he was asked to direct a comedy play. Since that time, he has been a regular at directing and loves it. Because of his work in improv at Off Broadway, he said he has a good sense of how to add physical comedy to shows, something he loves.

He also sees that same talent in Dayley, who is a master of improv, Jensen said.

“He tries things at rehearsal that we are able to add in some ways to our shows and it really works,” Jensen said. “He is an improviser and an innovator.”

He also likes Dayley’s great instincts for comedy. “He has a really good leading man kind of look,” Jensen said.

Abbott exhibits similar qualities. “He is a skilled actor and is a tall guy who is great with his eyes,” Jensen said of Abbott, who has traveled the country but has been in Davis County because he has family there. “We hope to keep him here for a while,” Jensen said.

As for Brown, she was so well prepared with the role when she came in for her audition, Jensen had to cast her as the mother of the young girl. “She just walked right onto the script. It was amazing. I couldn’t not cast her,” he said.

Brown is from Long Island, New York, so Jensen said she has a feel for the role of a Jewish mother. “Although the show is set in Chicago, she gets the big-city feel and the Jewish traditions that come with the story,” he said.

Jensen hopes people will come see the show, not only for the great acting from a small and intimate cast, but to relieve a little stress. “The holidays are a happy time but they are also a stressful time. People will love to laugh and forget about that stress,” Jensen said.

Performance times are 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and matinees at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturdays. No performances will be held on Jan. 1, and no children under the age of 5 are permitted to attend shows.

Ticket prices are $29 for adults and $16 for children ages 5 through 11. Tickets for the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. shows on Dec. 31 are $49 per person. For ticket information, call 801-984-9000, visit the theater’s website or visit the box office.

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