Magic carpet rides and 1960s Baltimore will open Tuacahn Amphitheatre's summer season of musical productions at Tuacahn Center for the Arts.
Disney's "Aladdin" opens Tuacahn's summer season June 4, directed by Scott S. Anderson and choreographed by Deanna Dys, playing through Oct. 19. Based on the 1992 film, with a book by Chad Beguelin, the show features original music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman. Tuacahn's production adds songs written for the film but later cut. The story's based on the classic Middle Eastern folktales of One Thousand and One Nights.
"The best contribution [Disney Theatrical Productions gives] is for us to produce their shows as one of the first theaters to produce them," said Tuacahn CEO and executive producer Kevin Smith. "They're wonderful to work with, because they were one of the first to understand what we can do in this setting."
"Hairspray," based on the 1988 film of the same name directed by Jon Waters with music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman, opens soon after on June 9. Tuacahn's production is directed and choreographed by Derryl Yeager. Centered on teen heroine Tracy Turnblad, the musical charts her quest to integrate a popular Baltimore television show through the power of dance and music. "Hairspray" runs through Oct. 20.
On July 6, the company will "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," a one-act musical about six quirky adolescents' contest for spelling glory, which will run through Aug. 11 in the indoor Hafen Theater. The 2005 comedy won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Book. Tuacahn's production is directed by Scott S. Anderson, with original music and lyrics by William Finn and book by Rachel Sheinkin.
Founded in 1995 as a nonprofit organization, Tuacahn has grown into a company with a $10 million annual budget, and producers estimate the company contributes some $55 million in economic impact to the state.
Tuacahn last month launched a $2.6 million fundraising campaign to increase seating and build a new arts center. With its stage backdrop of 1,500 feet of redrock cliffs in Padre Canyon, Tuacahn has become a popular performing-arts destination next to Snow Canyon State Park in Ivins, outside St. George.
The expansion will accommodate demand for Tuachan's season-ticket shows and growing enrollment in Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts. The Tuacahn Amphitheatre lost an estimated 20,000 attendees during last season's sold-out shows because its current 1,920-seat stadium couldn't hold them, Smith said. The high school's current enrollment of 350 students is set to hit 450 in three years, Smith said.
"We could probably grow faster, but we need to slow down to do it incrementally and do it right," Smith said. "Tuacahn belongs to the people of Utah, but we encourage everyone from all 50 states to help make us the crown jewel of performing arts in southern Utah."
The new arts center will be shared by professional cast members of Tuacahn's productions, as well as students from the nearby charter school. The expansion will add 200 seats to the flanks of existing amphitheater seating, with folding chairs toward the first third of each side, graduating up into "lawn-style" seating that will accommodate lawn chairs and blankets.
One-quarter of the $2.6Â million has been raised already from existing donors, including the George S. and Dolores DorÃ© Eccles Foundation, L. Douglas and Marian Bird Smoot and David and Carol Hansen, Smith said.
There's no set date for the fundraising goal, but Smith said he expects funds to be raised within a year so that the seating expansion and arts center can be completed one year afterward.
"If we need a little more time, that's OK," he said. "But the announcement is coming at the right time with the growth of the school and audience. It allows those already supporting us to contribute to that goal, and hopefully attract new supporters. More than 25 percent of our audience last year had never been to Tuacahn before."
Where • 1100 Tuacahn Drive, Ivins
Musical tickets • $23.50-$79.50; at 800-746-9882 or 435-652-3300, or visit tuacahn.org for more information.
Shows • "Aladdin" runs from June 4 through Oct. 19; "Hairspray" plays June 9-Oct. 19; "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" plays in the indoor theater from July 6-Aug. 11.
Also • For concerts and special events, call 800-746-9882 or visit tuacahn.org.