Zion Theatre Company

Add More Meaning To Your Life

Reviews

Farewell to Eden

"The finely crafted play was first recognized by Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival adjudicators, winning a major national award for playwright Mahonri Stewart...This anniversary production is handsomely staged under the direction of Ronnie Stringfellow by the Zion Theatre Company. The play is further distinguished by having the playwright’s sister play the lead character, one that she helped form during the development process. Played to perfection by Sarah Stewart, Georgiana Highett is a high-bred intellectual of the upper classes in Victorian England....This is not merely a conversion-to-the-truth story, but Farewell to Eden is a uniquely rewarding character study that is so splendidly played as to make it highly recommended."

Blair Howell, Deseret News

"[Mahonri Stewart's script is] highly literary...The trio of actors who played the siblings were talented enough to shoulder intensive roles that demanded great subtlety... That subtlety that pervaded the evening is likely due to the skilled hand of Ronnie Stringfellow, who understood the character- and dialogue-driven nature of Farewell to Eden. Stringfellow kept the action moving at a pleasant pace, and fostered the relationships among the characters that are essential to a successful production of this play... Farewell to Eden is a quiet little play, but an intriguing one full of plot twists and authentic character development. It is certainly the best play written by Mahonri Stewart that I have ever seen, and this production probably has the most pleasantly understated acting that audiences can find in Northern Utah right now. This tenth anniversary production of the play would be a thought provoking experience for anyone who catches Farewell to Eden this month."

Russell Warne, Utah Theatre Bloggers Association

"First off, the script is one that makes me, a former English major, wish I was back in school so I could trot off to write a paper about its symbolism or perhaps deconstruct it from a feminist point of view. Yet, this depth doesn’t keep it from being accessible. Witty banter, symbolism, broad range of characters, historical figures popping in and out, romantic stories that avoid clichés, and did I mention witty banter and fully fleshed out characters? Please sign me up. I’d like to see it again to make sure I caught all the witty banter... Ronnie Stringfellow has done an excellent job with direction. I felt the scenes were well-balanced visually, especially when the entire cast was on stage…it was clear to me that a lot of thought had gone into the character development, and it showed abundantly in the actors’ performances.”

Kara Henry, Front Row Reviewers

Persuasion

“Zion’s Theater Company has, thankfully, produced Melissa Leilani Larson’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s beautiful Persuasion…I highly enjoyed Stringfellow’s great performance as Anne Elliot, and the director could not have asked for a better actress…I was able to let go of my preconceived characterizations and enjoy these actors in their production. Listening to Jane Austen in perfect accents and diction is a treat itself. It was a funny and touching night at the theater and I look forward to my next chance to see Persuasion onstage.”

Amber Peck, Utah Theatre Bloggers Association

“I can’t remember when I became a Jane Austen fan. It goes so far back that it seems like it’s always been a part of me… This was adapted for the stage by Melissa Leilani Larson, and boy, was I not disappointed…Stingfellow understands the sweet, patient and intelligent Anne Elliot, playing her with depth and energy… Argyle and Stringfellow’s pain and awkwardness upon seeing each other after nearly eight years are palpable. These two literally gave me goose bumps at the climax of the show… This show and I were a perfect fit. I’m trying not to gush. Perhaps I’ll just let loose and gush. If you like Jane Austen or period pieces, go see this show. You do not want to miss it.”

Kara Henry, Front Row Reviewers

Swallow the Sun

“This is a play built on the tension between spiritual and secular approaches to life. And the playwright pulls no punches… To his credit, playwright Stewart doesn't gloss over such things but allows them to find their own level. He lets the audience decide what to think, while lobbying for us to dwell on Lewis' incredible insights into Christianity and the souls who choose to embrace it. I liked the play very much. Yet I liked even more the notion that writers and playwrights are no longer giving us ‘dual versions’ of religious souls — one version where the subject can do no wrong and a ‘revisionist’ version where he or she sins at every turn. Artists have finally begun to offer us fully fleshed out, rounded portraits of spiritual souls.”

Jerry Johnston, Deseret News

“In Stewart’s latest offering, Swallow the Sun, which is about C.S. Lewis, you will laugh, you will think, and you will enjoy it…Ken Foody, who plays C.S. ‘Jack’ Lewis is amazing. I loved his characterization, his confidence onstage, his sensitivity. …his supporting cast was amazing, too… The themes of the show: what defines family; is there a God, and if so, who is He; and what effect do our friends have on our beliefs, are strong, poignant, and well made. There are laughs in this show – many inside jokes that those of us who are familiar with Lewis’ work… Plan for discussion after the play. This performance and this play will stay with me for a long time.”

Jennifer and Caden Mustoe, Front Row Reviewers

“Stewart also has a deep knowledge of the writings and biography of C. S. Lewis. In many places, Stewart draws on Lewis’s own words and concepts for the content of dialogue… Stewart uses Lewis’ ideas and words from The Four Loves, the Chronicles of Narnia, ‘The Weight of Glory,’ and significantly, the novel Till We Have Faces, a portion of which appears in the epigraph. This accuracy is an authorial choice that respects the people and that ultimately adds to the believable and unique characterization and setting of the plays.”

David Allred, The Association for Mormon Letters

“Well-written, funny, and thought-provoking…Swallow the Sun is a captivating journey from doubt to belief.”

Scott Hales, The Low-Tech World

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

“Minson as Jadis, the White Witch, had the right mix of coldness, sharpness and cruelty. When she walked, she owned the stage. I very much enjoyed seeing this transformation from the last show I saw her in, Persuasion, where she played a sweet, calm character. Jones as the lion Aslan commanded the stage—using his rich voice with a hint of rasp to give depth to the character. The supporting cast really helped lift this play up, which might have fallen a little flat without them. Their chemistry was very palpable onstage, and really brought me into the story.”

Kara Henry, Front Row Reviewers

The Hobbit

“I enjoyed the Japanese Bunraku style in which the puppets were handled, where the arms were manipulated by sticks, and the puppeteers wore shoes that attached to the puppet’s feet, allowing them to walk their puppets along the stage as they moved. Two puppets that stood out for me were the dragon Smaug and the creepy Gollum, which was realistic enough to frighten the little girl sitting next to me as he slithered and sniffed his way into the audience. The “big people,” i.e. Gandalf, King Bard, Elrond, etc., were played by actors in costume, which made the diminutive puppets look very much like the creatures they were portraying. I thought this a very clever way to perform such a story, wherein are characters of all shapes and sizes.”

Elise Hanson, Utah Theatre Bloggers Association

Videos Available!

Videos of two past shows, Farewell to Eden and Prometheus Unbound , will be available soon for download via Vimeo.  

Trailers can be found here:
Farewell to Eden
Prometheus Unbound.

Reviews

  • "There's genuine wit and bite in the dialogue, and the characters are sharply drawn"
    Eric Samuelsen, Irreantum Magazine
  • "Farewell to Eden is brilliant. It's complicated, not very predictable and has a lot of depth and characterization"
    Sharon Haddock, Deseret News
  • "Farewell to Eden is intelligent and extremely well-written. The set was good and the costumes were stunning. The plot line is far from predictable. Much is not as it seems and t..."
    Nan Parkinson McCulloch, Association for Mormon Letters