The audience was squished in with people on either side, at their own little round tables, munching pizza and laughing hysterically. “Twi-lite: I was a Teenage Vampire” is a production at Desert Star Playhouse in Murray, was a disappointment, but the visit was all together a pleasantly surprising experience.
The playhouse is very saloon-esque, with cabaret style seating. Audience members are seated at personal tables, each set with a bowl of complementary popcorn and a menu of pizza, chicken tender baskets, veggie dishes, finger foods, deserts, coffee, sparkling lemonade and root beer floats.
Before the start of the play, the playhouse’s professional pianist played upbeat rag-time. To “warm up” the audience, she by played “Take Me Out To The ball game” and “You’re a grand old Flag” while we sang and clapped along. We were also shown different cues to boo and cheer appropriately, including the classic “dun Dun DUN” to announce especially diabolical characters. Seth Goodman, played by Bryan Dayley, is a very square geek, crushing on bubbly cheerleader Chelsea Chambers, played by Corinne Adair. She doesn’t know he exists. Most of the time, she’s obsessing over Edward Cullen with her equally peppy best friend, played by Julie Heaton. To win Chelsea’s heart and actually get her attention, Seth transforms into Bartemus Collins, the new kid at school who’s not really a kid. By following a few simple rules, like rule #1: dressing in designer clothing, #2: treating the girl of your dreams like dirt and #4: always being mysterious, Seth convinces everyone he isn’t your typical teenager, but a vampire.
Bartemus, is a “special, Utah, vegetarian” vampire; he doesn’t drink blood…or caffeine. But, he admits, should he get too close he’ll bite, to which Chelsea squeals giddily and claps. Later, when she asks what Bartemus’s plans are for the night, he says following her home and watching her through the window, a.k.a. rule #7: becoming a stalker.
“How sweet,” She gushes, nearly swooning.
Of course, their romance isn’t smooth sailing when a real, Transylvanian vampire, Leslie, comes into town. Leslie decides to challenge this new vampire on the block and feed himself on, up until then, unsuspecting victims.
The play is a mash up of music and lots of comedy. Though there were some big laughs mocking pop culture and the current vampire fad, as well as a touch of some humor at the expense of Utahan stereotypes, the comedy fell flat after intermission. The second half lost the same energy and flair.
After the show, birthdays and anniversaries were announced with more sung accompaniment from the audience. The second performance was a traditional presentation of all the same cast members, clad in ‘ol-timey Western get-up, from boots and cowboy hats to lace shawls and puffed skirts, singing country hits, old and new.
One bit included acoustic, countrified covers of hit songs like “All the Single Ladies,” “I Kissed a Girl,” “Beat It” and “Oops, I Did it Again.” The final song, another Desert Star Tradition, was “Happy Trails.” A soft, haunting version of the original, with beautiful harmonies that made me think not just some but all the cast members could sing.
Though the actual play was disappointing, it’s still worth seeing. Don’t miss it before March 13th – it’s closing night. Overall the experience was memorable and highly entertaining. For food, comedy, music and live entertainment under $30, see their next production “Pirates of the Car-Rib-Eee-An.”