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HomeLocal NewsUtahHow was it received? – Deseret News

How was it received? – Deseret News

“Are you the acting group here doing the play?” the waitress at Five5eeds in Park City asked Linus Karp and Joseph Martin. Told yes, she said, “I saw your play with some girlfriends and loved it.” She added, “Thank you for coming here.”

Karp and Martin are the British masterminds behind “Gwyneth Goes Skiing,” the very silly, very entertaining play about actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s collision with retired optometrist Terry Sanderson at the Deer Valley ski resort. The encounter resulted in a trial in Park City that mesmerized the world (and made some of its principals famous).

After the play’s London premiere in December and an additional run to meet demand, it was announced that Karp and Martin — who wrote, directed, produced and performed in the play — would bring the show to Park City in May.

It ran for 10 days at the Egyptian Theatre and sold out every performance. Attendees included Paltrow’s defense lawyers, James Egan and Steve Owens of Epperson & Owens; members of the jury; and attorney Kristin VanOrman, who represented Terry Sanderson in the trial. “So many people have personal connections in some way to either the trial or the people involved,” Martin told me. “It feels quite special to bring those people to a thing that we’ve created.”

Karp and Martin were nervous, however, about how those people would respond. “We’re two people coming in from abroad to make a show about a local event and local people in a very comedic way. We didn’t want to make it seem that we came here to make fun of people.” But the response from everyone involved has been positive, they said. VanOrman even wore the famous four-inch heels from the trial that she told Paltrow she wears to make herself appear taller.

Karp and Martin are used to performing for a younger, rowdier crowd who are familiar with many of the memes referenced in the play. They were unsure how the jokes would land with an older audience in Utah. “I was really nervous the first night, because you just don’t know,” Karp said. But the actors received a prolonged standing ovation that first night and described the reaction to all performances as “so positive.”

They did notice a slight delay in audience reaction. The audiences laugh about a beat later than they do in the U.K., they said. But the jokes about Utah, Park City and Deer Valley got much bigger laughs here than they did in London.

As the first audience member, as far as I know, to have seen the play in both London and Utah, I can confirm that. I was surprised by how much more enthused the Utah crowd was any time Deer Valley or Utah was mentioned. During intermission, I overheard a group of millennials discussing the internet references they understood and I overheard one older woman proclaim that she “didn’t get it.”

Karp and Martin understand that their work isn’t for everyone, and they weren’t bothered when a few seats were vacant after the first half. They expect it. But they have been surprised by how few empty seats they’ve spotted, and how enthusiastically patrons have greeted them after the show. “I don’t think we’ve ever been asked to sign as many autographs in our lives,” Martin said.

The comment they’ve heard most often is the same one we heard from the waitress when we went to lunch: “Thank you for coming here.” After delivering the bill, she asked for a photo with Karp and Martin. They happily obliged.

Martin and Karp say the whole thing feels like a dream — not just performing the play for an American audience, but being in America for the first time. “Growing up in Sweden and now living in the U.K., I consumed American media and culture all the time,” Karp said. “But it still doesn’t really feel real. Like it feels like this is just part of a TV show.”

When I ask what has surprised them most about America, they mentioned two things. The first was the size of our trucks. “I look at these and I’m like, these are not real. These look like transformers,” Martin said.

The second was the friendliness of our people. “U.K. people are friendly. But here, it’s on another level,” Karp explained. “People actually have genuine conversations with strangers.”

At the end of the performance on May 23, a long line formed in the lobby of the Egyptian Theatre while Karp and Martin, still in costume as Gwyneth and Terry, shook hands and took group photos with excited showgoers, beaming as each praised their performance.

“We couldn’t even have imagined this,” Karp told me. ”This has been one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. And I cannot imagine I will have many experiences that top this,” Martin said. “We’ve loved every second.”

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