Now in its 19th season, Utah's version of "tableau vivant" (living pictures) has moved from American Fork to the Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City. This is a more splendid setting for a show entitled "Come Share the Splendor."
But the idea of the pageant remains the same. Against a scenic backdrop, actors pose in costume. The effect is pretty - sometimes approaching the beauty of the original work of art.Tableau vivant is a unique form of theatre. Scenery, lighting, music, costumes and staging are all even more important than they are in regular theater. Acting is nonexistent. All that is required of the volunteer "actors" in this pageant is that they can hold still.
A flowery and dramatic narration accompanies each of the 22 scenes presented. Some of the scenes are of paintings, some of sculptures. One clock, one piece of jewelry and a plate are also reproduced.
In this year's version, the producers allow us to watch how they put together one scene - "The Finding of Moses," an oil painting by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Later in the evening they leave the curtain open while they take apart a scene of Winslow Homer's painting, "Snap the Whip." These scenes that offer glimpses of how the magic is created are the most interesting of the evening.
The sculptures, too, are interesting. The actors' muscles, the way their clothes drape, these details that make the original artwork so beautiful also give depth to the tableaus.
If art is your passion, you may be disappointed in the Utah Pageant of the Arts. Some of the backgrounds are quite flat.
If your passion is theater, the lack of action and plot may have you squirming in your seat.
On the other hand, if you've never seen it before, the sheer novelty of the pageant will probably hold your attention. And if you like tableaus, if you enjoy a celebration of the human body as it holds a pose, a pleasant evening awaits you this summer at the Capitol Theater.