Saturday’s Voyeur

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Whatever you’ve heard about Salt Lake Acting Company’s infamous “Saturday’s Voyeur,” it’s probably true.

Offensive and sacrilegious? Sure. Crude, gross, sexual and sophomoric? Oh, yeah.

Riotously, painfully, hysterically funny? Most definitely.

This year’s production — the “Titanic Technicolor 20th Anniversary Cruise,” as it is described — mocks in song and dance nearly every Utah news story of the past year, as well as the dalliances of a certain U.S. President, not to mention the crimes of a sperm-bank doctor from several years ago.

The show is mostly a parody of that ubiquitous Utah phenomenon “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Most of the music is from that show, with parody lyrics by “Voyeur” writers/directors Nancy Borgenicht and Allen Nevins. The plot follows Andrew Boyd Packer (a play on “Joseph” composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, and of course also on LDS Apostle Boyd K. Packer), a Native American BYU student who is also gay. Andrew (Aaron Swenson) is resented by his fellow Young Ambassadors, who feel he is unworthy to be at BYU, so they lock him in the basement with all the banned Rodin sculptures, telling BYU President Merrill J. Bateman (Christopher Lazzaro) that Andrew has moved to Salt Lake to live the gay lifestyle (“There’s one less homo in Orem,” they sing, to the tune of “Joseph’s” “There’s One More Angel in Heaven”).

Eventually, Andrew is rescued and comes to the aid of U of U coach Rick Majerus (played brilliantly by Spencer Ashby), who has had some troubling dreams of late. He becomes Rick’s right-hand man, and when the Young Ambassadors find themselves in a slump, they come to Andrew (not recognizing him, of course) for advice.

Everything wraps up nicely, with gays, short skirts and various other forbidden things now being allowed at BYU.

Offended already? Then don’t go.

The subject of homosexuality is discussed abundantly in this show. Wendy Weaver (Marilyn Alldredge), the Spanish Fork volleyball coach who was fired for being a lesbian, is featured, along with her partner (Elizabeth Whitney). In one of the cleverer moments, Joseph’s multi-colored coat is compared to the gay flag and its rainbow of colors (and now that you mention it, they DO look alike…).

There’s plenty of straight sex, too, though, with Bill Clinton (Lazzaro again), Monica Lewinsky (Carolyn Stone) and the hideous Linda Tripp (Michael Boswell) acting out their story in the basement where Andrew is trapped.

A couple of popular characters from previous “Voyeur” shows make return appearances, those being Joe Waldholtz (Kenneth Wayne) and Dr. Cecil Jacobsen (Ashby again). Jacobsen, if you don’t recall, was convicted several years ago of using his own sperm to impregnate women when he worked at a fertility clinic. His song, to the tune of “Gaston” from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” is probably the best-written song in the show — the words rhyme, it’s funny, it’s satirical — but it’s also by far the crudest, grossest part of the evening.

One could easily argue that the character shouldn’t even BE there, since he was in the news in the early ’90s and has been largely forgotten by now. In fact, I will argue that: This character shouldn’t be in the show.

“Saturday’s Voyeur” does not satirize Utah culture so much as it tosses it in a blender and then spits it out all over the audience — and I mean that as a compliment. Where true satire holds up something that is ironic or odd or just shouldn’t be, and then points out what’s wrong with it, “Voyeur” merely holds it up and shoots at it.

For example, just mentioning the nude Rodin sculptures that were banned from BYU is not satire, even if the opinion is expressed that the ban was silly. If they had pointed out the irony inherent in the fact that 90 percent of BYU students, while unable to see those nude sculptures, saw much more nudity than that, in living color, when they all went to see “Titanic” — well, THAT would be satire.

So “Saturday’s Voyeur” is more carefully orchestrated anarchy than it is satire, an iconoclastic punch in the mouth of Utah culture with something to offend nearly everyone. The fact that there is little in the way of a “point” or a “message” should be of comfort, though, for it reminds us that this is all in fun, and no harm is intended. Even though the show ends with anything and everything being permitted at BYU, one can hardly take that as being what the show REALLY thinks will or should happen; it’s just sort of a silliest-case scenario.

The cast is largely an ensemble, with most actors playing multiple roles, and no weak links in the cast. A few stand-outs are Alexis Baigue, who plays Rick Majerus’s ball boy, among other roles; Natalie Banks, who is perfect as the Rose look-alike in the opening “Titanic” parody; and Kori Hazel, who carries things along well as the Narrator.

I had heard of "Saturday's Voyeur" but had never seen it before now. I saw one couple, on a date, walk out mid-way through the first act, which surprised me. How could they possibly have wound up there without knowing what they were getting themselves in to? Dating requires doing a little homework first, as that young man learned that night.

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