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Fun ‘Hula Hoop’ spins audience back in time

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HULA HOOP SHA-BOOP! by Larry Deckel and John Tanner; Provo Theatre Company, 105 E. 100 North, Provo; continues at 8 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays-Saturdays through Aug. 5. Tickets: $7.50-$12.50, student rush tickets available 15 minutes before curtain for $6.50. Call 801-379-0600. Running time: one hour, 35 minutes with one intermission.

PROVO — Provo Theatre Company's latest show, "Hula Hoop Sha-Boop!" is directed by Marcie Jacobsen and is a fun, energetic production showcasing the music, fads and television shows of the 1950s. Presented with skill by its four performers, it offers enjoyable renditions of dozens of familiar tunes with a sprinkling of humor.

However, its main reason for existence — taking one on a nostalgic trip through the 1950s — is the thing that limits this show's appeal. It's hard to feel part of the fun when the performers are asking, "Remember this? Remember that?" and your answer is consistently, "No."

Those who grew up in the '50s are certain to enjoy this musical revue immensely. The first act particularly spends time reminiscing about such items as Barbie dolls and the Hula Hoop, color television, game shows and small-screen favorites like "Perry Mason."

One particularly funny skit recalled how students were taught to "duck and cover" if they ever saw the white flash of "the bomb" being dropped. The audience also enjoyed a session of "Name that Top 10 Tune," with Pez candies given out as rewards.

The show's cast features two married couples — Joy and Quin W. Gardner and Korianne and Neal Johnson. The performers are talented in both acting and singing ability; they take on various roles, such as Elvis and Dick Clark. All four are enthusiastic and charming.

With all the good happenings onstage, the show still left me merely with an appreciation of the talent and little else. I will admit that I hit high school in the 1980s, so I found little to connect with in the play. At times, an event on stage would elicit great belly laughs from a few people in the audience while the rest of us sat silently, not understanding where the humor was coming from. I suspect that the people laughing were the ones who had lived through it all.

There is some humor that will appeal to everyone, much of it presented through the actions and the actors' facial expressions. The show is well-choreographed and blocked, adding much to the musical numbers.

The second act was more easily enjoyed by a wide range of ages as it focused almost exclusively on the music of the era. The cast used songs such as "Book of Love," "Love Potion No. 9" and "My Boyfriend's Back" to support a skit-like storyline of couples dating and falling in love. There was a cute portrayal of couples at a drive-in movie, with the women more interested in the men on the screen than in those beside them.

In the area of quality, this show gets high marks. The set is fun, with the look of a '50s television game show. Giant television screens on either side show pictures of items and people from the era.

The play is highly recommended for those who were doing the Twist and the Mashed Potato during the 1950s. Others who attend should be ready to just sit back and enjoy the music.

E-MAIL: cbabbitt@inet-1.com