LOGAN – From the moment that you walk into the Morgan Theatre on the Utah State University campus to see the ongoing production of The Tempest by William Shakespeare, you can sense that you’re about to see a dazzling production filled with state-of-the art special effects.

That’s because the stage magic by director Paul Mitri’s artistic and production crews is already on display even before the show’s non-existent “curtain” goes up.

The audience was greeted by a rugged seashore landscape, with waves lapping on the apron of the stage thanks to clever projection and audio techniques while the background atmosphere gradually builds to an epic thunderstorm.

Then The Tempset actually begins and the audience is barraged with more beautiful effects that are so convincing that occasionally you might think that you’re watching real magic.

It’s an absolute tour-de-force and a splendid finale for the USU Theatre Arts Program’s 2023-24 season.

The effects don’t take anything away from the student actors on-stage, however. They merely enhance their performances.

One of Shakespeare’s last plays, The Tempest is a tale of revenge and magic that gradually morphs into a comic romance where everybody lives happily ever after. That could be boring, but not in this production.

The play also serves the USU swan song for many of the theater troupe’s departing veteran performers. They include Sumner Jones Shoell as Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan and a magician; Timo Rasmussen as Alonso, the King of Naples; Harmon Roy Jackson as Antonio, the usurping brother of Prospero; Levi Hopkins as Ferdinand, the prince of Naples; Ryan Adams as Sebastian, the younger brother of Alonzo; and Mason Lorenzo Garcia as Gonzalo, a trusted advisor.

Also in the cast is the always watchable (but thankfully not graduating) Mia Gatherum as Miranda, the sweetly naïve daughter of Prospero. She has the best line in the entire show: “Oh brave new world, that has such people in it.”

The cast’s performances are all top-notch, but the awesome talents of Brinn Francis, Marin Robison and Ethan Shaw combine to very nearly steal the show.

Shaw is the monster Caliban, who is introduced to alcohol by Stephano (Ms. Francis) a drunken butler and Trinculo (Ms. Robison), an equally besotted jester.  Their drinking scenes – which hilariously go on and on – are priceless and the rubber-legged Ms. Robison has developed a real genius for physical comedy.

Shaw’s portrayal of Caliban – the lonely monster who “cries to dream again” – is actually a joint effort, with three other actors helping to animate his elaborate prosthetic costume.

The eerie, sensual portrayal of the fairy Ariel by actresses Ollie Chieppa, Megan Christiansen, Willoughby Stanley and Es Barnes is equally unforgettable.

But a real tip of the hat goes to the often-slighted artistic and production crews of The Tempest.

Those unsung heroes include tech director Amy Critchfield; Mark Hulse for lighting design; Audrey Kearl for projection design; J.S. Peterson for set design; and Dennis Hassan for another example of his trademark huge puppets, as well as a host of other backstage wizards.

All performances of The Tempest will be staged in the Morgan Theatre in the Chase Fine Arts Center on the USU campus.

Evening performances of the play at 7:30 p.m. nightly are slated for April 17 to 20.

Tickets for The Tempest can be purchased at the USU Box Office in the Chase Fine Arts Center or by going online to https://utahstateaggies.evenue.net/events/UM

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