Meet Larry West, the "Electra" director

Max Huftalin, a BFA in Theatre Performance at Westminster College (left), plays the role of Orestes, and Melanie Nelson (right) plays Electra. Watch as brother and sister reunite after spending several years apart. Photos courtesy Max Rutherford, Lounge Productions

Max Huftalin, a BFA in Theatre Performance at Westminster College (left), plays the role of Orestes, and Melanie Nelson (right) plays Electra. Watch as brother and sister reunite after spending several years apart. Photos courtesy Max Rutherford, Lounge Productions

The 45th annual Classical Greek Theatre Festival kicked off its month-long run at Westminster College with the show Electra, directed by Larry West.

The Classical Greek Theatre Festival (CGTF) is an annual event that opens at Westminster College and travels to other locations. The festival was created to “introduce and sustain the appreciation of ancient Greek theatre,” according to the mission statement on Westminster’s website.

CGTF incorporates music, dance and modernization into each show. Even though Electra is placed in ancient Greece, West was able to modernize it.

“I think it’s important to bring [classic shows] to a contemporary audience,” said West, regarding the modernization. “I’m always looking to what will speak to a young audience.”

West has been directing for over 40 years and has now participated in the CGTF seven times.

“If you’ve seen Greek shows in the past, some are very traditional,” West said. “Mine tend to not be.”

Intimidated by seeing Electra? No need to worry.

“It’s significantly funnier than you might think,” said Max Huftalin, a senior getting a BFA in theatre performance, who plays the role of Orestes. “Don’t get put off by the idea of it being Greek and melodramatic.”

West is a well-respected man in the Salt Lake City acting community, not only for his directing skills but also for his passion, said fellow cast member and Westminster student Amanda Corbett.

Huftalin, who hadn’t worked with the director previous to Electra, described West as a “phenomenal individual.”

Melanie Nelson playing the title role in the play, Electraby Sophocles. Follow Nelson as she takes on Electra’s tale of revenge. 

Melanie Nelson playing the title role in the play, Electraby Sophocles. Follow Nelson as she takes on Electra’s tale of revenge. 

“Work with him if you ever have the chance to, in any capacity,” Huftalin said.

Not only did West create a new take on this ancient Greek story, he also left his actors with some advice.

“I’ve learned a lot from him,” said Corbett, a senior getting a BFA in theatre performance who took part in the chorus.

Corbett was originally intimidated by West because he’s a “big deal around town.”

“On the night before we opened, [West] said, ‘The most important part of a show is the actors,’” Corbett said. “We are here to tell these stories, and that’s important.”

During the month of rehearsals for Electra, West was able to demonstrate how hard work can create success.

“He’s had an entire career off of this,” said Allison Smith, a senior getting a BFA in theatre performance, who plays the role of Chrysothemis. “You can make a living off of this. It’s possible.”

Not only did the actors enjoy their time with West, but West enjoyed his time with them.

“I loved working with this cast,” West said. “They were just so supportive of each other.”

Miss the performance of Electra at Westminster? Be sure to see it at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center, Brigham Young University, Weber State University and Red Butte Garden. Find details for each show at westminstercollege.edu/greek_theatre.