Opera review: ‘This is Halloween’ offers plenty of sweet treats in its mixed bag

Soprano Alba Franco performs "Queen of the Night" aria from Mozart's "The Magic Flute" during "This is Halloween" production by St. George Opera, Ivins, Utah, Oct. 27, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

REVIEW — St. George Opera’s “This is Halloween” can be described as a mixed trick-or-treater’s bag, offering a variety of fun surprises for audience members of all ages.

Performers sing during production of “This is Halloween” by St. George Opera, Ivins, Utah, Oct. 27, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

The set-up is simple: Jack, the mayor of Halloween Town, introduces various creepy characters — denizens of that haunted hamlet — and they in turn come out on stage and perform.

Among the highlights:

  • A soprano vocalizing an impressive aria from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.”
  • A vampire waxing eloquent (in German) about his thirst for blood.
  • A young werewolf singing “Whistle a Happy Tune” from “The King and I.”

“This is Halloween” premiered Saturday afternoon at the Center for the Arts at Kayenta in Ivins, then followed with an evening show that night at that same venue. This week, on Monday and Tuesday nights, the production will be hosted at Brigham’s Playhouse in Washington City — see event details below.

The opening matinee I attended with my wife and two youngest daughters, ages 10 and 13, was highly popular with both girls, who also got to trick-or-treat before the show, won prizes during the in-show drawing and met the cast members in the lobby afterward.

The cast, comprising more than a dozen talented performers, including several children, showed they were up to the task, keeping things moving rather briskly throughout the 90-minute program, which included a 10-minute intermission at the halfway point.

Alba Franco, Candace Washburn and Amy Nielsen perform as mystic card readers during “This is Halloween” production by St. George Opera, Ivins, Utah, Oct. 27, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

The entire ensemble opened the show with “This is Halloween” from “Nightmare Before Christmas,” and ended it with the “Double, Double, Toil and Trouble” song from Harry Potter, in turn inspired by Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.”

Drawing inspiration from classic operas like “Carmen” to popular Disney films like “Tangled,” “This is Halloween” revels in such juxtapositions of old and new, embracing both the serious and silly, mixing frightful and the fanciful. Seemingly, a little bit of everything makes it into the production’s cauldron of trick and treats.

Interspersed among the musical numbers are three separate short scary stories written by Gary Payne and brought to life by ghostly characters on stage. Each vignette lasts only a few minutes, but the tales are entertaining, if a bit creepy — still family appropriate, though.

One of the stories, “Red Shoes,” is performed by Amy Nielsen, general and artistic director of St. George Opera. She and the show’s several other adult performers embody their various characters convincingly, accentuated by spot-on makeup, costumes, set design and props. The youngsters in the cast may have more limited stage time, but they also have their turn to shine, whether it be via candle or glow-in-the-dark mittens.

All in all, “This is Halloween” offers a fun, family-friendly evening of Halloween enjoyment. Admission tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children and students with a valid ID card.

Event details:

  • What: St. George Opera’s “This is Halloween.”
  • When: Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 29-30, 7 p.m. Arrive early for pre-show Halloween activities, including trick-or-treating and a silent auction.
  • Where: Brigham’s Playhouse, 25 N. 300 West, Washington City.
  • Admission: Regular $15, children and students $10. To purchase tickets, click here.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • KR567 October 29, 2018 at 8:36 am

    I sure hope the socially challenged doesn’t get offended by these ghoulish pictures lol !

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