CSI: PROVO — DECAFFEINATED DNA, Desert Star Cabaret, 4861 S. State, Murray (266-2600). Running time: 2 hours (one intermission).
MURRAY — Popular television series are always ripe for parody — and no one in the valley is as slick at parody than Desert Star.
Longtime Desert Star collaborators Ben E. Millet (playwright) and Scott Holman (lyricist and director) turn forensics experts loose in Utah County, probing a celebrity murder case that takes the police by surprise (it's not just another stolen tricycle).
To accommodate various schedules, the cast of "CSI: Provo" is double-cast, with some performers doing not only alternating roles in this show but also in "My Big Fat Utah Wedding" across the hall in Desert Star's Dinner Theater venue.
The opening matinee on Saturday was a mix of actors from both casts.
Ed Farnsworth was hilarious as Gil Grimace, a science teacher at Utah Valley State College during the day and a Provo City police forensics expert at night. On the day of his oft-postponed wedding to LaVell and Patti Edwards' daughter, LaVelle, Gil is suddenly summoned to a crime scene at the base of the Brigham Young University bell tower.
Not only is Gil beside himself with the excitement of probing a real homicide, he's also beside his assistant — Darlene Small (Brooklynn Pulver), who juggles forensics work with being a soccer mom and Relief Society president. Instead of disposable rubber gloves, she makes do with embroidered oven mitts.
This is supposed to be a mystery, so I won't divulge any of the key plot elements.
Other major players in the action include Ginger Bess Simons as LaVelle, who is constantly being left at the altar by her absent-minded groom (they were originally getting married in the temple, but after Gil failed to show up twice, they were told don't come back) and Matthew O'Malley as Shelby Snoot, a BYU instructor who is also wooing LaVelle.
Jack Drayton and Jennifer Tanner are LaVelle's sports-oriented parents (there are only blue M&M's in the candy dish, LaVell gives the others to charity and flushes the red ones down the toilet), with Ben Millet as Chief Biggs and Bob Longoria in several roles, including Kurt Bestor, the bishop and the BYU president's wife.
Yes, Bestor comes up for some gentle ribbing, as do the Missionary Training Center cafeteria, Mr. Mac and Tahitian Noni Juice (the tropical health drink company based in Utah County), among others.
Ben Mayfield's piano accompaniment keeps things moving briskly along.
The entire ensemble ends the show with a 20-minute "Travelin' Vacation Olio" routine showcasing their singing and dancing talent in a revue setting.
There are hints in the playbill that, like the original "CSI" television series, this parody may eventually spawn its own spin-offs. Over the next few seasons, Desert Star fans could see "CSI: Ephraim" or "CSI: La Verkin." The possibilities are endless.