It's hard to say what's more endemic to American life show tunes by Jewish American composers or songs from Disney movies. You probably known more of both kinds than you think, and even some that fit both categories such as Alan Menken's songs for "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin."
The Deer Valley Music Festival returns to that deep river of melody this week with three concerts, two on Tuesday and Thursday featuring the Jewish American songbook, followed by a concert of Disney tunes on Friday. Utah Symphony principal pops conductor Jerry Steichen will conduct both shows.
The Disney show reprises a similar one that filled Abravanel Hall in 2009, but includes some new material. The Mary Poppins Sing-Along will be back, though.
Steichen and stage director Shawn Churchman originated last season's cabaret show at Park City's synagogue, Temple Har Shalom, and the two enjoyed coming up with new tunes for this year's show.
"There is so much incredible repertoire," Steichen said. "The history of Broadway musical theater and Jewish American composers cannot be separated, starting with Irving Berlin and Yiddish theater in New York."
Last year's show was a sellout, which is why this season's show will run for two nights. Steichen will narrate and provide piano accompaniment as Utah singers perform.
The Disney in Concert show will offer eye candy to bring beloved movies to life, along with the added attraction of hearing the songs played by a live orchestra, said Disney producer Ted Ricketts. Ricketts will bring singers from Disney headquarters to perform the songs, while he will run the visual elements of the show at Deer Valley's Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater.
The Disney show is usually performed indoors, but Deer Valley's jumbo flatscreen makes the outdoor version possible, Ricketts said. Video clips from the shows will be familiar to most viewers, but Ricketts says his favorite visual aspect is the storyboard art.
"These are pieces of art that were shown to Walt Disney when a director was pitching a film," Ricketts said. "It's kind of cool that you can go back into the archives of the company and find these things from the original beginnings of the movies."
Highlights from the original show include music from "Beauty and the Beast," "The Little Mermaid," "Mary Poppins," "Aladdin" and "The Lion King." New additions include music from "Mulan," "Pocahontas," "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Toy Story."
"The best thing is that we've got four fabulous singers, a wonderful orchestra and a conductor who has done this before," Ricketts said. "We're really looking forward to a flawless performance."
Steichen said his biggest challenge in putting the two shows together has been choosing from so much great material. "With all those great Disney tunes, how do you narrow it down?" he said. "It's just like the Jewish American Songbook. How do you narrow it down?"
The hills are alive â¦
The Deer Valley Music Festival continues with a cabaret show featuring songs from the Jewish American songbook.
With • Stage director Shawn Churchman, vocalists Casey Elliott, Mary Driggs, JD Dumas, Ashley Gardner Carlson and Elizabeth Summerhays, and conductor/pianist Jerry Steichen.
When • Tuesday, July 31, and Thursday, Aug. 2, at 8 p.m.
Where • Temple Har Shalom, 3700 N. Brookside Drive, Park City
Also • Disney in Concert, conducted by Jerry Steichen.
When • Friday, Aug. 3, 7:30 p.m.
Where • Deer Valley Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater, 2250 Deer Valley Drive South, Park City
More • There will be an instrument petting zoo on the Deer Valley Plaza from 6 to 7 p.m.
Tickets • $22 general admission; $10 students; $60 families; $25-$50 for reserved seating. For both concerts, call 801-533-NOTE or visit http://www.utahsymphony.org/tickets. Prices increase $5 on day of show.