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The City Journals

Double the laughter at Utah Children’s Theatre production of ‘The Parent Trap’

May 09, 2018 04:33PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Twins in real life, Mary and Naomi Cernyar, play the twins in “The Parent Trap.” (Photo/Utah Children’s Theatre)

By Christy Jepson | [email protected]

Audience members will be seeing double at the Utah Children’s Theatre production of “The Parent Trap” as identical twins, Mary and Naomi Cernyar take on the lead roles.

In real life, the Cernyar twins have very similar interests, so they have enjoyed having completely different interests and personalities on stage. “It’s a lot more fun being different personalities,” says Naomi who plays the twin, Lottie. But the twins work great together and understand their characters. “It’s really cool having your best friend on stage. I already know her and I know twin things,” said Mary, who plays Lizzie.

The girls were first introduced to the original 1961 Disney movie, “The Parent Trap,” by their grandfather who once took the star of that movie, Hayley Mills, on a date. Since then they have loved the movie and the message that families are important.

“Despite struggles, like divorce, it all comes down to knowing that no matter what, each parent loves their children,” said Sean Sweeney, the actor who plays the twins’ father.

Although audience members may see some similarities between this production and the 1961 and 1998 Disney movies, they will also notice a lot of differences. Both movies and this production are based upon the book “Lisa and Lottie” by Erich Kästner, which was published in 1949. The playwright and director, Joanne M. Parker, has included many of the same characters and situations like the book but has also added some new scenes and characters. 

The play is set in the summer of 1962 where Lizzie and Lottie attend Camp Chickamunga. The two girls, not knowing each other previously, quickly become camp enemies and start playing pranks and tricks on each other. Unfortunately, because of their bad behavior they end up having to stay in the same cabin until they can learn to get along. As they get to know each other they find out that they are identical twins who were separated after their parents divorced. Wanting to get to know the other parent that they have never met, the twins decide to trade places at the end of camp. Lizzie goes back east to meet her father and Lottie goes to California to get to know her mother.

“I love the character I play, Jolene, the twins’ mother,” said Missy Stebbing. “She is a single mom raising her daughter, owns her own bakery and is very self-reliant. It is just a fun heartwarming story with great characters.”

Some other cast members in the production are: Dilworth played by Steve Harmon; Aunt Louisa/Director Chatworth played by Brighton Sloan; Georgiana/Magee played by Meighan Smith; with Maggie Lee and Bryn Swain playing junior counselors. 

“The Parent Trap” will be performed now through May 26 at the Utah Children’s Theatre. Performances are Fridays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $16 and group rates are available for 10 or more. Utah Children’s Theatre is located at 3605 S. State Street in South Salt Lake. To purchase tickets, go to or call the box office at 801-532-6000.