Of the Utahns who have been memorable for their appearances on “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” it’s generally because of their bad behavior. That’s sort of the way the shows go.
Whether it was Desiree Valentin getting drunk, dumb and aggressive; Michelle Money saying she’d had an affair with a married Jazz player; or Monica Spannbauer fighting with other contestants and seeming to flirt with one, Utahns have helped build the drama.
Utahn Jef Holm “won” on “The Bachelorette,” getting engaged to Emily Maynard, but that didn’t last long. And of course, no Utahn made more of an impression than Bentley Williams — who told viewers he’d “rather be swimming in pee” than plan a wedding with “Bachelorette” Ashley Hebert, although he spent several episodes lying to her and stringing her along.
Still, they all entertained the show’s rabid fanbase. And local fans will get a chance to experience it up close and personal Friday night, when “The Bachelor Live on Stage” hits Eccles Theater with Park City firefighter Crispin Calvert as the romantic lead.
“I bet they could have had Bentley as the host and people still would come out to watch ‘The Bachelor Live on Stage’ because it’s so different, fun and exciting,” said past “Bachelor” Ben Higgins, who is hosting the show with past “Bachelorette” Becca Kufrin.
Well … Bachelor Nation IS obsessed with the show. And the touring stage version is built to be just that — a live stage event that will pack an entire season’s worth of “The Bachelor” into two hours and 20 minutes (including an intermission). We’re promised “all the drama, fun and romance in one unforgettable evening.”
Calvert is a California native who moved to Utah in 2018, describes himself as an outdoor enthusiast and avid traveler, and is looking for a hiking buddy who can match his outgoing personality. He’ll meet 10 eligible women, and they will face challenges, play games, go on group and one-on-one dates, and go through multiple rose ceremonies as Calvert whittles down the field right there on stage at the Eccles.
Audience members will be able to ask questions, make suggestions and cheer on their favorites.
“There’s going to be this unique anxiety to it where every night [of the traveling show] is going to be different,” Higgins said. “We’ll have to be focused and ready to navigate the unknown.”
‘A genuine and mutual connection’
When Kufrin was approached to co-host, “My first question was — wait, are people expected to get engaged after two hours? I had really no idea.”
Don’t be surprised if the evening doesn’t end with an engagement; that doesn’t always happen on “The Bachelor,” either, and weddings are rare. (Only one of 23 “Bachelor” seasons and three of 15 “Bachelorette” seasons has resulted in a marriage.)
Calvert said he isn’t planning to propose to anyone. “I’m really hoping to meet someone that I have a genuine and mutual connection with. Ideally, we would go on a real date together after the show and see where it goes from there.”
But that’s not really the point of either the TV show or the stage show, which are “just kind of a fun escape” for fans, Kufrin said.
She was herself a big fan of the show before she was on it. “But I did not realize the extent of Bachelor Nation’s love for this show. I just had no idea,” Kufrin said. “And the fact that people have brackets and they have these parties — they’re just very invested.
“It’s like someone who loves a sports team. They just really get behind it and rally behind it, which I really, truly hope we feel on stage all the time.”
Calvert said that many of his friends and family members are “big fans” of “The Bachelor,” and encouraged him to say yes when he was approached about participating by the show’s producers. (The event is being produced by MagicSpace entertainment, which is based in Park City.)
“In fact, quite a few have joked for several years that I should be ‘The Bachelor’ one day,” he said.
He decided to sign on because “it sounded like it might be a very interesting opportunity to meet someone new.”
Some of the women who’ll be onstage at the Eccles will show up on Friday night knowing they’re going to be part of the show; for others, it will come as a surprise when they’re pulled out of the audience. (If you want to participate, you must fill out an application at bachelorliveonstage.com.)
In addition to Higgins and Kufrin, there may be “surprise guest appearances” by other “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” alumni. But probably not Bentley.
“I don’t think I would do it if it was Bentley,” Kufrin said. “I’ll leave it at that.”
Kufrin, of course, has her own high-profile history with the franchise. The 29-year-old was the “winner” of Season 22 of “The Bachelor” in 2018, chosen by Ari Luyendyk Jr. in the season finale. But he dumped her in favor of the runner-up in the reunion show, sparking outrage.
Kufrin went on to be “The Bachelorette” in Season 14 of that show later in 2018, and she’s engaged to the man she chose, Garrett Yrigoyen.
Higgins, 31, first appeared on Season 11 of “The Bachelorette,” where he was he second runner-up. He was then “The Bachelor” for Season 20 in 2016. He chose Lauren Bushnell; they co-starred in a reality show titled “Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?” for one season before they broke up in 2017.
His girlfriend of a year, Jessica Clarke, and Yrigoyen will be on the bus with Kufrin and Higgins as they travel to 66 cities for 67 performances in three months. Salt Lake City is sixth, eight days after the show debuts in Mesa, Ariz.
“It’ll be a wild ride,” Kufrin said. “But what better way to see the country than on a tour bus? It’s going to be a really fun way to cross the country with our partners.”
Both Higgins and Kufrin made their personal lives very public, and that doesn’t altogether end once they’re off the show. But both said they have no regrets.
“You signed up for this. You signed up for a show where one of the most intimate things in your life are displayed,” Higgins said. “Once you do that, I think you’ve committed to at least a period of time in your life to be and to have it public. And that’s OK, because it’s not something to shy away from — especially when the public’s supportive of you.”
And both said that Bachelor Nation has been overwhelmingly supportive.
“I have so many great memories from my time on ‘The Bachelor,’ even though, obviously, that didn’t pan out well,” Kufrin said. “But then I went on to be ‘The Bachelorette.’ And the show has given me, personally, so many things. And now I kind of want to give it back in a way. I mean, the fans are so loyal.”
‘I’m definitely nervous’
You’ve got to admire Higgins and Kufrin for their courage. They’re traveling the country headlining a live stage show despite the fact that neither has any experience as a performer.
“I think the closest I ever came was being in choir my senior year of high school,” Kufrin said with a laugh. “I’m just more nervous that I’m going to trip and fall on my face.”
They will, at least, have five shows’ worth of experience behind them by the time they make it to Utah.
Calvert has never been onstage either, and he “didn’t even realize how big the Eccles Theater was until a few days ago! I’m definitely nervous to be the center of attention in front of so many people, but I’m really excited to meet the women that will be going through it all with me.”
Despite the rehearsals and run-throughs they did before hitting the road, nobody knows exactly what will happen, since each night features a different bachelor and 10 different women.
“It’s wild. It’s crazy. It’s chaotic,” Higgins said. “Just recently we did a run-through of the show and our bachelor is standing up there and he’s, like, ‘This is harder than I thought it was going to be to give that final rose away.’”
If Calvert or any of the other bachelors in any of the other cities makes a connection with one of the women, great. But, again, that’s not really the point of “Bachelor Live on Stage.”
“At the end of each night, we just want everyone to leave having fun, having a good time,” Kufrin said. “And everyone who’s been on stage with us, we just want them to feel good about themselves. Even if they don’t walk away with the rose or continue to date our bachelor, we just want them to feel like it was worth their time and that it was fun and that they were part of such a cool experience.”
One group that seems certain to be entertained is Calvert’s fellow firefighters, who are “planning to attend in full force.”
“They’ve been teasing that I might embarrass myself in front of everyone, but I think they’re also excited about what this opportunity has in store for me,” he said. “No matter what happens, I’m really hoping it will be a fun and memorable night for everyone involved.”