'Outstanding Cast' Announced for STRAIGHT at Utah Rep

'Outstanding Cast' Announced for STRAIGHT at Utah Rep

An "outstanding cast" has been assembled for the regional premiere production of the watershed LGBT off-Broadway hit STRAIGHT.

"I chose each cast member not just for their talent and skill," said director JC Carter, "but because they embodied exactly how I imagined the characters when I first read the script."

"A 'Boys in the Band' for today's generation," STRAIGHT is funny, sad, sexy and surprising, and considers the morally complex issue of a generation that prides itself on the pretense of acceptance.

STRAIGHT is "a must-see," according to Out Magazine. "It's not very often that I leave a theater emotionally raw. STRAIGHT is a charged and powerful play."

Authored by Scott Elmegreen and Drew Fornarola, the New York Times reviewed the comedy-drama as "Smart, bracing and brimming with clever wisecracks and thought-provoking observations on sexual identity." The Huffington Post wrote, "'Hamilton' isn't the only theatrical revolution going on in New York. Another smaller revolution unfolds every night during a one-act, off-Broadway play called STRAIGHT--about a revolution of expectations. One's own. One's friends'. And society's."

The acclaimed actors in the three-person STRAIGHT are John Valdez as Ben, Andrea Peterson as Emily and Dallon D. Thorup as Chris.

Valdez's recent credits include Adrian in the Amazon TV series "Amarog" and fight choreographer for Cobb & Co. Theater's "The Three Musketeers." He has been studying acting in school, on stage and in film with the intent of becoming a professional full-time actor. Using a mix of Stanislavski's system and Strasberg's method, Valdez brings a grounded realism to each of his characters in order to portray an accurate and honest human experience. He is a certified stunt professional through the United Stuntmen's Association and is a second-degree black belt in kung fu.

Peterson recently played the lead role in Utah Rep's production of "The Other Place." She has also worked with Salt Lake Acting Company on the world premiere of "Winter" and performed at the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival in the world premiere of "Exposure," another Utah Rep staging. When not wearing the many hats of stage and film, she is producing videos and podcasts for Salt Lake magazine and teaching film for stage actors at the University of Utah. She recently wrote, directed and edited two short films, "Past a Moment" and "Sisters," and has been nominated for awards for Robyn Cage's music video "Theatre Noir."

STRAIGHT marks Thorup's seventh Utah Rep production. Past credits include "Footloose" (Ren), "Sweeney Todd" (Beadle Bamford), Utah Rep's staging of "Amadeus" (Venticelli), "Damn Yankees" (Joe Hardy), "Seussical" (The Cat), "The Addams Family Musical" (Fester Addams), "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (Gideon), "Shrek the Musical" (Pinocchio), and "Romeo and Juliet" (Benvolio).

"Something like STRAIGHT would normally never be done in Utah," said Carter. "Or it would take years for someone to be 'brave enough' to produce it. I know the Hale Centre Theatre Sandy would never touch it. But this isn't a story that should wait until we're 'ready.' This is a story that needs to be told now, because it takes place now. This play is new and fresh and addresses not just sexuality, but the very real struggles of a generation trying to find and define themselves. And being able to bring this story to life on stage was an opportunity I didn't want to pass up."

Utah Rep's staging of STRAIGHT was initially rejected for production at Salt Lake City's Sorenson Unity Center, which prompted a national debate on theater censorship and public offerings at state-owned theaters.

Carter, a Utah Rep board member, previously directed the well-reviewed "Grace," "Amadeus" and "Doubt: A Parable" for the company. He has also directed Steve Martin's "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" and Sam Shepard's "True West."

PHOTO BY BLAKE YELAVIC

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