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Theater review: HCTO’s ‘Pillow Talk’ features guise, gals and lies

Kevin Goertzen and Heather Shelley star in “Pillow Talk,” Hale Center Theater’s newest comedy, which runs through Sept. 3.
Kevin Goertzen and Heather Shelley star in “Pillow Talk,” Hale Center Theater’s newest comedy, which runs through Sept. 3.
Suzy Oliveira

“PILLOW TALK,” through Sept. 3, Hale Center Theater Orem, 225 W. 400 North, Orem (801-226-8600 or; running time: 2 hours, 5 minutes (one intermission)

OREM — Pillows are supportive when we’re tired, act as dream and drool catchers and are perfect for lying on at the end of a long day.

Or is it laying on?

Either way, in “Pillow Talk,” Hale Center Theater Orem’s newest romantic comedy, there’s a lot of lying going on, but not the napping type. It's the type of lying that involves flat-out schemes to deceive and even a fake identity.

It all takes place in New York City in the late 1950s, a time when people didn’t get tendonitis from texting. Phones were only used for talking, and some people had to use a party line for their calls — in other words, share a phone line with a stranger in another home.

But a party line wasn’t so much of a party if your co-owner was a chatterbox. Such is the case of Jan Morrow, played by Heather Shelley, who is coupled on a phone line with Brad Allen, played by Kevin Goertzen.

Brad, a long-winded lothario and songwriter, charms his way into women’s hearts with lengthy phone conversations and gushy songs. His penchant for wooing may come from a case of composing procrastination. Or maybe the women are muses. Whatever the cause, he strings along quite a few — and happily so.

Jan, costumed in classy ensembles and pillbox hats, encompasses the cuteness of this decade but is a bit of an anomaly for the time: a single, successful interior designer. But keeping her business afloat proves to be difficult when her phone is constantly tied up.

Brad and Jan have some heated phone conversations regarding their shared line and write each other off as archenemies. But then something game-changing happens: Brad finds out that Jan is attractive. And she’s not just attractive; his best friend and producer, Jonathan Forbes, played by Geoff Means, just happens to be pursuing her.

Which is when the crooning casa nova decides he wants a glimpse of his phone fiend. He likes what he sees and decides to make a move. But of course he can’t as Brad Marrow, Jan’s No. 1 nemesis, so he introduces himself as Rex Stetson, a native Texan visiting New York. Jan, who’s put off by Manhattan men, finds herself immediately charmed by Rex’s dreamy drawl, cowboy adages and perceived sincerity.

Jan has always been a challenge to Brad but now poses as a challenge in a whole new light.

Their relationship is played out on a split stage: half Jan’s apartment, impeccably decorated in pretty pastels, and the other half Brad’s, a plain pad for the bachelor musician.

In the show, which is based on the movie of the same name, some of the funniest moments come from Jonathan, who executes the world’s most ridiculous and awkward kiss; Alma, Jan’s snoopy and wisecracking housekeeper, played by Karen Baird; and Pierot, Jan’s flamboyant co-worker, played by Jaren Hinckley.

Like the movie version starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson, “Pillow Talk” is a fun and frothy flashback. It’s lumpy in a few places — some of the dialogue cadences felt off — but is anything but a snoozer.

As Jan, Shelley channels the elegance and bubblegum sweetness of Doris Day but with her own take on the character and situation. Goertzen doesn’t initially seem like a playboy but becomes endearing as he maneuvers through the crazy situations he creates, balancing Brad and his alter ego Rex well.

Deceit doesn’t lay (or is it lie?) the best foundation for a strong relationship, according to most love experts, but this is a romantic comedy, and anything is possible when cord-crossed lovers meet.

Content advisory: Suitable for all ages, although it may confuse children who cannot grasp the idea of sharing a phone that doesn’t even take pictures.

Emily Edmonds is an online communications instructor for BYU-Idaho. She is the former editor of BYU's Marriott Alumni Magazine. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's in mass communications from BYU.