Not too many years ago, it sometimes looked as though there were more people on the stage than in the audience for shows at the Forum at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill, the 159-seat boutique theater added to the Main Stage in 1999.
Not because the plays weren't worth seeing; they were always terrific and usually something you wouldn't see any place else around here — Master Class, Death of a Salesman, Love Letters, Veronica's Room, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Same Time, Next Year, Agnes of God, Gin Game, to name a few.
It's just that the Forum couldn't seem to find its audience.
Then one day, the audience found the Forum, and it has been onward and upward since then — so much so that many of us ended up sitting in hastily added plastic lawn chairs for last season's stellar Driving Miss Daisy, which sold out every performance.
Indeed, some would argue that the most enjoyable show of the 2008-09 season at Stage West was the delightful The Foreigner, which showcased several of the area's best actors and introduced Stage West audiences to young Devin Devi, a stage natural.
And as the actors and directors spread their wings and soared with these timeless shows, the crowds soared with them.
I suspect that's why Stage West is adding one more night to its heretofore weekend-only schedule. The board recently announced that instead of opening on Fridays, the shows will back up and open on Thursdays, giving another 159 people a chance to see the show from a real theater seat.
That means the thriller Deathtrap will open Oct. 8; the quirky comedy A Company of Wayward Saints will open Feb. 4; and the melancholy The Shadow Box will open April 8.
Tickets are still $10 a show or $20 for all three. Call (352) 683-5113 for details.
Seesaw for awards
The race to see which Stage West director wins the most HAMI Awards has gone back and forth over the years, with comedy wizard Saul Leibner winning one time and musical specialist Barbara Everest winning another.
Out of 18 HAMI Awards given for Main Stage direction since the 1991-92 season, when HAMI was born, Everest and Leibner have won 13.
His wins: Lend Me a Tenor (1993-94); Lost in Yonkers (1996-97); Moon Over Buffalo (1998-99); Rumors (1999-2000); Brighton Beach Memoirs (2001-02); and 45 Seconds from Broadway (2006-07).
Her wins: The Secret Garden (2000-01); Mame (2002-23); Jekyll & Hyde (2003-04); Sweet Charity (2004-05); My Fair Lady (2005-06); Camelot (2007-08); and 1776 (2008-09).
It will be interesting to see how this seesaw saws in coming years.
The award-winning television drama Big Love on HBO is one of my favorites, not only because of the intriguing story about polygamy, but also because it's set in Sandy, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City that is mere miles from where my No. 1 (and Only) Son lives, Cottonwood Heights.
I've driven along the highway that appears in the opening scene and photographed those pink mountains that look like a painted movie backdrop, all of it too beautiful to describe in words or see in pictures.
But there's one thing that has mystified me during the three years I've watched Big Love.
Where's the snow?
Where are the snow boots? Parkas? Longjohns? Roaring fireplaces?
A northeast Utah summer is about 10 or 12 weeks long, with snow on the ground nearly nine months of the year. I was there in July, and many mountaintops and shaded gullies were still white.
But in Big Love land, it's always a scorching summer hot enough for sleeveless shirts and the backyard pool, even when school is in session.
When are the Henricksons going to drag out the snow tires or go skiing?
And another thing…
If as many people attend Sunday church services as they tell survey companies they do, why are the streets and roads almost empty all day Sunday? Wouldn't Sundays look like a hurricane evacuation scene?