A true community theater

This summer, The Grove Theater resurfaced as Showtime Utah. Attempts at success in the venue, which is in historic downtown Pleasant Grove, have been abysmal for as long as most UVU students have been alive. Because of this, many locals shrugged off the Grove Theater’s latest owner, Joan Peterson, as a force that would eventually phase out just like her predecessors.

However, it’s three months in and the theater is doing better than anyone expected.

The Grove Theater was originally a silent movie house. It then transitioned into talkies, and ever since, has been used for live theater. “Because it used to be just a screen up there, there are no side wings for the theater. There’s no backstage! So people tried to do the theater thing … but there really is no way to work it,” Joan said.

But now it seems that the perfect person has come to the perfect venue with the perfect idea. Joan is one of those high-on-life types, and it’s obvious that her energy and penchant for fun spill over onto the stage.

Showtime Utah has three types of shows. On Thursday and Friday nights, a Western band plays while the audience is served a homegrown American dinner from the kitchen behind the stage. Currently, these shows rotate between three different performers or bands. Mama’s Boys is a father and sons group which mixes classic country with re-mixed surprises, like a Doobie Brothers cover. Boots Robinson plays classic country aimed at the Baby Boomer generation with some cowboy poetry tossed in for good measure. Their newest act, Sizzling Strings, is a family of musicians, the youngest of which is three years old.

Each of these shows is centered on a western theme, which matches the decor. And be warned: There are also typical western characters such as the drunken prospector and Black Bart running about in the audience.

While many other theaters have an almost stuffy atmosphere, “You can’t be [uptight] here. We don’t give you that option. You got a crazy sheriff running around. You got a saloon madam running around. … They’re coming to your table, hiding from each other — they’re shooting each other. … You can’t help but lighten up.”

At 10 o’clock when these acts have ended, the theater fuses karaoke with comedy. The audience is invited to sing on stage, while interacting with house comedians. This will go on until everyone has left, usually winding down after midnight. While they try to keep this show rated G, it is not recommended to bring children under the age of six to the late-night performances.

On Monday nights, Showtime Utah presents a genuine variety show. Anyone in the community is welcome to audition for this, and they have booked an impressive array of performers. The acts range from hula hooping to saw playing.

The theater is also available for events. “I really wanted this to be a community theater where the community could use it for what they needed, so we’re pretty adaptable,” Joan said. They’ve already hosted a birthday party, and if you’re into the country-western vibe, it would be perfect for a family reunion or

It seems that the ultimate motivation behind Showtime Utah is one beneficial to the community: to generate fun. “That’s what the word is. This is about having fun.”

Tickets for the Late Night and Monday Night shows are $5, and tickets to the dinner shows are $20 for adults, $10 for children. For more information, go to showtimeutah.com

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