Sunday, September 20, 2009

Review of Hands Up! in the 2009 Page To Stage Festival


Photo by Jessica Montana Ballard (courtesy of Wasatch Theatre Company) featuring Tim Butler (Jason Lurcher) with the devil-possessd Tolstoy puppet in "Hands Up!"

Here are the headlines I came up with:



Yes, all the headlines are true. Get this, I went to a PG-13 play tonight performed by a community theater group, the Wasatch Theatre Company in their annual Page-To-Stage festival. It was so crazy and funny. The story is an adaptation of a bestselling book, The Good, the Bat and the Ugly by British author Paul Magrs. The play opened September 12 and plays again on September 25 and 27 of 2009. The $15 ticket price admits theatre goers to all three shows which includes Short Shorts by local playwrights, and another new play, Making Waves. For complete information, visit or

Mary Anne Heider, a librarian at the Salt Lake City main library, helped turn the book into a gigantic musical extravaganza. She recruited George Plautz, who wrote the lyrics for the songs, Rick Plautz and Matt Heider who composed the music, and of course the actors brought it all to life.

I’ve never seen anything this insane before. The very talented cast sang, danced, and ran wild for two and half hours! It was long (one ten minute intermission), but oh so funny. One actor would play a puppeteer (all puppeteers are “bonkers” by the way), while another actor wearing all-black stood beside them holding the puppet, and doing the voice of said puppet.

The star of the show was Tolstoy, the long-eared bat puppet possessed by the devil, played masterfully by Scott Allen Curry—a co-director of the play. Tolstoy does his best to turn sixteen year old Jason Lurcher (played by Tim Butler) toward evil. Unlike the picture above, Butler wore Harry Potter glasses and a funny wig during the show. The play chronicles poor Jason’s journey to follow in his infamous puppeteer father’s footsteps. The big questions for me are: Will Jason go mad like his father did before him? (and) Which puppet will be murdered next?

The whole cast did a great job, but the stand-outs for me were thirty-year veteran actress Sallie Cooper, playing Jason’s mother, (Eilene “mum” Lurcher who yearns for stardom on the "tele"). Also, Scott Curry as Tolstoy made the show.

The writing was extremely witty, and often hysterical. The music, by Matt Heider, and Rick Plautz was top notch. Overall, the play reminded me of watching the The Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time.

Hands Up! just blew my mind, though I admit it took me a few minutes to get into what was going on. Once I understood the absolute lunacy of the show, I loved every batty minute of it.

Paul Genesse
Author of The Dragon Hunters
Book Two of the Iron Dragon Series

1 comment:

paul magrs said...

Very, very pleased to hear about this!

all best,
paul magrs