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‘Quilters’ creates a pleasing pattern

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QUILTERS, Grove Theatre, Pleasant Grove, through Sept. 27. (801-796-8499, www.grovetheatre.org) Running time: two hours (one intermission, plus preshow buffet).

PLEASANT GROVE — The musical "Quilters" is much like "Monday Night Football" or a "Lifetime Original Movie." You can make a fair guess from the title alone whether this is your kind of show.

"Quilters" employs an array of 16 vignettes concerning pioneer women (for a change, though, not LDS pioneer women), and the stories of their lives are told through their love of quilts and quilting.

The cast consists of six young women and one older woman named Sarah Bonham, played by Wendy Asay. The play begins in modern times, when the young women find a trunk that contains journals and stories of pioneer women from the early 1800s. They act out the various pioneer scenes, and in each, the women of the cast play different characters from the period.

The stories cover a variety of topics, from those you would expect about childhood, sibling rivalry and puppy love, to others you wouldn't quite expect. Each story is connected to a different kind of quilting square, such as a butterfly, windmill, school house and others.

The title does not lie. This is a play geared toward quilters, quilting and quilts in general. Even more than one would imagine. Characters rhapsodize about quilting, the craft is discussed in detail and a song lays out such quilting instructions as "stitch, pull, stitch" etc.

The show, with its multiple stories, is designed to parallel the multiple patterns used to create a quilt. The problem that is intrinsic to using a storytelling device like this is that every time you start to enjoy a certain character or get into a specific story, a new one begins.

The songs, too, are truncated, most clocking in at barely over a minute. Many of them are forgettable, and the few that grab your attention, like the gospel-tinged "Never Grow Old in the Valley," don't go on long enough to feel satisfying.

The high points come when the needles are put down and the focus is more on the characters. For instance, when one girl, played by Katie Lynn Lowder, tells the heart-wrenching story of being left by her man because she was barren, her quiet stoicism says much about her pain and resolve.

Cast members do a wonderful job with their demanding roles. Each actress gets plenty of chances to shine, whether it be the beautiful voice of Sarah Broberg, the comedic accents and delivery of Marrissa Young or the dancing of Jessica Woahn.

For all the men out there who are not looking forward to a "chick-flick" play, never fear. The pre-show Dutch-oven dinner of spicy raspberry chicken, maple and brown sugar ham, cheesy potatoes and peach cobbler is by itself quite nearly worth the price of admission.

E-MAIL: p_thunell@hotmail.com