Saturday’s Voyeur

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After two years of heavy-handed satire that was long on making a point and short on making a joke, “Saturday’s Voyeur” is back in fine form with an entry that is as funny as it is relevant.

The target in this, the 23rd annual skewering of Utah culture and politics, is porn czar Paula Houston. Hysterically played by Jeanette Puhich as a large-hipped virgin maniac, Paula is obsessed with “Johnny Lingo,” which the show describes as a “BYU training film.”

Paula’s had a crush on Johnny all these years, and her pal Gayle Guzicka (Michael Bryon Boswell — yes, a man) lets her know that Johnny was a real guy. The movie glossed over the true events, though, which had to do with evil Bishop Harris (Rock H. White) breaking up Johnny and Mahana’s marriage.

Now, Johnny (Jim Pitts) is a drunken bum in St. George, while Mahana (Heather Ferrel) is a janitor in the “church — I mean, state — office building,” as Paula puts it.

The plot, more joke-centered than coherent, is not awfully important here, but you should know Johnny opens a strip club in Salt Lake and tries to win back Mahana, while getting even with Bishop Harris, Paula and Gayle.

For those unfamiliar with “Johnny Lingo,” it is reenacted in a manner that is hilarious to those who have seen it; the actors deserve a Purple Heart for watching the original enough times to get their portrayals so dead-on accurate.

Director/writers Allen Nevins and Nancy Borgenicht have a fine construction in this show, staging it like a burlesque, complete with a Master of Ceremonies (Paul Kiernan) and several parodies of songs from the similarly structured “Chicago.”

The parody lyrics, never the duo’s strong suit, are serviceable, but it’s Cynthia Fleming’s choreography that takes the cake. The opening number is impressive, and Bishop Harris’ son Chad’s (Geoff Hemingway) “Flashdance”-style coming-out song is the single funniest piece of choreography I’ve ever seen.

Jeanette Puhich’s Paula Houston is marvelously funny, full of subtle character touches but never going over the top. At the other end of the tact spectrum is Michael Bryon Boswell’s Gayle Guzicka (I don’t know why Gayle Ruzicka’s name got changed when everyone else’s is the same), which is obscene, cruel and endlessly amusing.

The second act is significantly less entertaining than the first, getting bogged down in a tangent that parodies a few more Utah issues but doesn’t add much to the show. The highlights make the rest of it worthwhile, though. And I say the show gets bonus points for being called “Saturday’s Voyeur 2001” and NOT adding “A (Something) Odyssey” as its subtitle. Here’s to knowing when a joke is funny and when it’s old! “Saturday’s Voyeur” is back on its game.

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