Salt Lake City’s Eccles Theater is planning a big stage production to reopen after a year shuttered because of the COVID-19 pandemic — with a celebration of the works of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.
The show, “The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber,” will feature Utah musicians, cast and crew, Utah composer Kurt Bestor announced Wednesday from the Eccles stage. The show will run for eight performances from May 7 to 15 at the Eccles, 131 S. Main St., in downtown Salt Lake City.
“Just standing on this stage, it feels like home to me,” Bestor said, as he acknowledged that he has missed playing music for audiences.
“Being a year out of performing is nothing I ever want to do again,” Bestor said. “It was tougher than I thought it would be. It’s not been good for my soul.”
Bestor and veteran stage director Louanne Madorma are collaborating to cast, conceive and produce the production, using all Utah talent and crew. The show has the authorization of The Really Useful Group, Lloyd Webber’s London-based production company, and is being supported by the state of Utah through the Utah Department of Heritage & Arts and the “Thrive 125” statehood celebration.
“It is a great first step to getting back to normal, and creating jobs for people,” said Victoria Bourns, director of Utah Arts & Museums.
The show will feature songs from such beloved musicals as “Cats,” “Evita,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and others.
Bestor said the show will be formatted like a concert performance, with a small orchestra — between 16 and 21 musicians, he said — onstage, and the singers coming onstage in turn. Other embellishments, such as dancers or a children’s choir, are still in development and will be added only if it’s safe to do so, he said.
Shows are scheduled for: Friday, May 7, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, May 8, at 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, May 9 (Mother’s Day), at 3 p.m.; Thursday, May 13, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, May 14, at 8 p.m.; and Saturday, May 15, at 2 and 8 p.m.
The Eccles will deploy health and safety protocols for the eight performances: Limited seating capacity, social distancing, and a mask requirement for all audience members.
Madorma has directed or choreographed productions of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Evita” and “Joseph.” Her first role on stage was in a production of Lloyd Webber’s “Starlight Express.”
Among the lead performers:
• Lisa Hopkins Seegmiller, the soprano who won a Tony in 2003 for her portrayal of Mimi in Baz Luhrmann’s Broadway production of “La Bohème.” She lives in St. George.
• Lexi Walker, the 18-year-old Utah singing phenom who has shared the stage with Kristen Chenoweth, The Piano Guys, Lindsey Stirling and others.
• David Osmond, who has performed the title role in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” with five different companies, including a 50-performance run at Kingsbury Hall — taking over for his uncle, Donny Osmond. “Don’t tell Donny, but I kind of like David’s voice better,” Bestor quipped.
• Dallyn Vail Bayles, who has performed in touring productions of “Les Misérables” and “The Phantom of the Opera,” and is originally from Green River, Utah. Bayles and Bestor performed an arrangement of two “Phantom” songs, “Music of the Night” and “All I Ask of You,” at Wednesday’s announcement.
“For audiences, performers, crew, venue staff and the downtown community, this first event in over a year is an important moment,” said Steve Boulay from MagicSpace Entertainment, which manages the Eccles Theater’s performance lineup, in a statement. “We all look forward to experiencing a live performance together knowing that things are getting better each and every day.”
Lloyd Webber, who turned 73 on Monday, has been a strong advocate for reopening live theater worldwide. He took part in the trials for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine because, he said in a tweet last August, “I’ll do anything to get theatres large and small open again and actors and musicians back to work.”
Tickets for the show go on sale Friday, March 26, at 10 a.m., at arttix.org.