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Review: Singing nuns, Disney stories on stage for another entertaining Tuacahn season

First Published      Last Updated Aug 10 2015 04:21 pm

Review » Singing nuns and Disney stories come alive as Tuacanh fashions another entertaining season.

Ivins • Utah theater enthusiasts love a good musical and, for 20 years, Tuacahn has delivered.

Using a combination of familiar Disney stories and popular touring Broadway musicals, the outdoor amphitheater that began playing a nightly musical extravaganza called "Utah!" has grown up.

According to artistic director Scott Anderson, Tuacahn is on track to sell close to 300,000 tickets this year for its run of "Beauty and the Beast," the premiere of Disney's "When You Wish" and one of the first regional presentations of the musical "Sister Act."

Anderson said the five-month theater season, coupled with concerts before and after the season, generates about $75 million annually for southern Utah.

The theater is known for its special effects that often include flying actors, fireworks, live animals, floods, 3-D animation, vintage cars and state-of-the-art sets.

"Disney has been good to us," said Anderson. "We have staged some regional premieres of shows coming off Broadway. We put on 'Aladdin' before it went to Broadway."

The big risk this year was "When You Wish," a new concept from Disney.

"It was our production but their idea," said Anderson. "It is a brand new show that has never been done. What life it has after this year, we don't know. By audience reaction, it's the favorite show this year."

Here is a look at the three musicals being staged by Tuacahn that run through the middle of October:

Disney's 'When You Wish' • If you like listening to greatest-hits albums, you will no doubt enjoy seeing this new production, a compilation not only of Disney's greatest hits, but of Tuacahn's as well. Those who have attended Tuacahn shows in the past will recognize scenes, scenery and in some cases even actors.

Expect to see the flash flood from "Utah!" re-created onstage. There is a wall of water used for "The Little Mermaid," a flying carpet that sails over the audience with live actors from "Aladdin" and a grand entrance from Mary Poppins, who flies in from the canyon that serves as the backdrop for the stage.

Don't expect to find much of a story line. If you are looking for some cathartic moment of drama or even comedy, you should find another show.

The plot features a young girl played wonderfully by 12-year-old Lehi actress Bridgett Biggers seeing her dreams come to life.

Those dreams contain songs and scenes from "Aladdin," "Beauty and the Beast," "Cinderella," "Enchanted," "Hercules," "The Jungle Book," "The Little Mermaid," "Mary Poppins," "Mulan," "Newsies," "Pinocchio," "Pocahontas," "Snow White," "Tangled," "Tarzan" and "The Tigger Movie."

Biggers has an amazing voice and is more than capable of tying the various segments together.

Each segment uses some of Tuacahn's special effects, including scenes projected on water, live animals, flying characters and a stage covered with water. Of course, the show ends with fireworks.

Fans of Disney music will love this compilation of song and dance — some familiar, some less so — and will leave the amphitheater humming a favorite song.

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Tuacahn 2015

“Sister Act” » Through Oct. 15, various dates, 8:30 p.m., until Sept. 1, then 8 p.m.

Disney’s “When You Wish” » Through Oct. 16, various dates, 8:30 p.m., until Sept. 5, then 8 p.m.

“Beauty and the Beast” » Through Oct. 17, various dates, 8:30 p.m., until Sept. 2, then 8 p.m.

Where » Tuacahn Amphitheatre, 1100 N. Tuacahn Drive, Ivins

Tickets » $22.50-$79.50; www.tuacahn.org