Showing posts with label Sundance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sundance. Show all posts

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Music Man at Sundance

One of my favorite summer traditions is to watch a performance by the UVU Theatre Department at the Sundance Mountain Resort.  It is so great to be up in the mountains where it is a little bit cooler than down in the valley (although last night was really cold) and smell the scent of pine trees while watching a classic musical.  This year they performed The Music Man and I thoroughly enjoyed it (except for the fact that I was so cold).  I love all of the old classic musicals because I remember watching them at my Grandma's house and watching The Music Man definitely brought back some great memories.  The story of a traveling salesman who comes to swindle the residents of River City but discovers love instead is so sweet and this production was fabulous!  I really loved the scenic design.  All of the set pieces were made of wood with a whitewash finish and they made all of the colorful costumes really pop against them.  It was a great effect.  The choreography was stunning and I especially loved the innovative staging of "Rock Island" and both "Marian the Librarian"  and "Seventy-Six Trombones" were show-stoppers!  I also really liked all of the choreography during the scene changes.  My favorite character in this show is always Eulalie MacKecknie Shinn and Elizabeth Hansen was an absolute hoot!  I couldn't stop laughing during her Grecian Urn performance.  Scott MacDonald was just as funny as the befuddled Mayor Shinn ("Not one poop out of you, Madame.") and I also loved Laurie Harrop-Purser as Mrs. Paroo, especially when she was eavesdropping on Marian and Harold through the window!  Greg Hansen was incredibly charismatic as Harold Hill and I loved his rousing renditions of "Ya Got Trouble" and "Seventy-Six Trombones."  Rachel Woodward Hansen played Marian with a sweet mixture of toughness and vulnerability and her voice was beautiful in the songs  "Goodnight My Someone," "My White Knight," and "Till There Was You."  The two of them had great chemistry, especially in "Marian the Librarian," and then I discovered that they are a real life couple!  Other than the fact that I was so cold, it was a lot of fun to see this show.  Unfortunately, last night was closing night but I heard a rumor that they will be performing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat next summer!

Monday, August 3, 2015

We're Off to See the Wizard

One of my favorite summer traditions is going to the Sundance Mountain Resort to see a musical performed in conjunction with Utah Valley University.  Marilyn and I have seen The Sound of Music, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Annie Get Your Gun, Fiddler on the Roof, and Saturday night we added The Wizard of Oz to that list.  It was an absolutely beautiful night up in the mountains, with just a hint of fall in the air.  I really can't explain why I love watching performances outside under the stars but it makes me so happy!  This production of The Wizard of Oz is so charming.  I was actually singing along until Marilyn gave me "the look" but then, just a few minutes later, I caught her singing so I took that as free reign to continue!   Just like in the movie, all of the scenery and costumes in the first act are in very muted tones and then there is a color explosion once Dorothy (Hannah Pyper) gets to Oz.  I think this is the most ambitious set I've ever seen at Sundance, with a yellow brick road on a turntable that is most effective.  The costumes are phenomenal!  I especially loved the Munchkins because the actors are on their knees and their costumes featured legs which could be manipulated.  So funny!  The Scarecrow (Cleveland McKay Nicoll), Tin Man (Maxwell Higbee) and the Cowardly Lion (Wade Robert Johnson) are all fabulous dancers and the choreography is very innovative, particularly in the scene with the poppies.  Pyper has an excellent voice and does a great job with the role of Dorothy.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself and would definitely recommend getting tickets (go here for tickets and more information).  The show runs until August 15 at the Sundance Resort.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Utah Symphony at Sundance

What could be better than listening to the Utah Symphony?  Listening to the Utah Symphony in the mountains, that's what!  It's no secret that I am a huge fan of the Utah Symphony and it's no secret that I love seeing outdoor performances during the summer so you can imagine what a lovely time I had last night listening to the orchestra play some patriotic favorites at the Sundance resort.  It was wonderful to be up in the mountains away from the heat in the valley and the fresh smell of the pine trees was almost intoxicating to me!  The concert featured classics from Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin (I especially loved "An American in Paris"), and John Philip Sousa.  The concert culminated, as these summer concerts often do, with Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.  I absolutely love this piece and, no matter how many times I hear it, it never gets old.  I think it is incredibly stirring (although maybe not as stirring as when the Wasatch Cannoneers participate) and I get goosebumps every time that well-known theme is played at the end of the piece.  I also really love the chimes!  I enjoyed every minute of this wonderful experience and I am so glad that I can be in any number of mountain resorts in about 30 minutes and I'm also glad that I can see a world-class orchestra play all year long.  Go here for more summer events at Sundance (I'm particularly excited about The Wizard of Oz in August) and go here for tickets to see the Utah Symphony perform in various venues around the valley.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sundance Film Festival 2015

For ten days in January, independent filmmakers, and the occasional Hollywood celebrity, descend upon Park City to screen their movies at the Sundance Film Festival and, hopefully, find studios willing to distribute them for wide-release.  It is an absolutely magical time for film lovers (some travel from all over the world to be here) because many of the films are world premieres.  I always try to see at least one film every year but this year I decided to go for it and see as many films as my schedule (I didn't take any time off but I am thinking about it for next year) would allow.  I had the opportunity to see ten films in seven days at six venues and I loved every minute of my Sundance experience!  Monday night I saw Unexpected at the Broadway Theatre.  A high school Biology teacher (Cobie Smulders) discovers, unexpectedly, that she is pregnant and is conflicted about potentially losing her identity.  When her best student also discovers that she is pregnant, she channels all of her emotions into getting her student into college at any cost with disastrous results. I really related to this movie because I've worked with students to help them get into college and sometimes it was what I wanted rather than what they wanted.  I cried during a particularly heated scene. Tuesday night I saw Entertainment at the Broadway.  This is one of the strangest films I've ever seen.  A third rate comedian (Gregg Turkington) travels through the Mojave Desert to perform at a series of dubious gigs (one is in a prison), stay in one run-down motel after another, and take some bizarre field trips (an airplane graveyard) to pass the time.  It was a powerful character study of a man being driven to desperation which made me uncomfortable (but that was rather the point).  Wednesday night I drove all the way to Ogden (about an hour north of where I live) because I really wanted to see Brooklyn.  This is a very sweet film about an Irish girl (Saoirse Ronan) who emigrates to New York in the 1950s.  I really loved Ronan's performance and this is one of my favorites of the festival.  Thursday night I saw People, Places, Things at the Rose Wagner Theatre.  Will Henry (Jemaine Clement) is a graphic novelist who is getting over a breakup, learning how to relate to his twin daughters, and trying to date again.  This movie was absolutely hilarious with lots of quick and witty dialogue ("I'm a sassy little hobbit").  I also really liked the use of actual comic strips to tell the story.  Friday night I saw a double feature.  First was Z for Zachariah at the Grand Theatre (a really great venue).  I was so excited when I was able to score a ticket to this film at the last minute because I read the book in Jr. High and it has always stayed with me.  After a nuclear war, Ann Burden (Margot Robbie), who lives in an isolated valley protected by mountains, believes that she is the only survivor.  After a year on her own, she is visited by two other survivors who may not be all that they seem.  The movie deviated from the book quite a bit with the addition of a third character but I enjoyed it.  Next I saw Hellions at the Broadway as part of Sundance's Midnight Madness series.  A pregnant teenager (Chloe Rose) must survive Halloween when a group of demon children attack her to steal her unborn child.  This was actually a really awful movie but I had a lot of fun watching it at midnight with a fun crowd.  Saturday afternoon I saw The Diary of a Teenage Girl at the Grand.  A fifteen year old girl (Bel Powley) has a sexual awakening in 1970s San Francisco.  Powley gives an astonishing performance and is considered by many critics to be the break-out star of the festival. I really loved all of the 1970s music used throughout the film, especially Heart's "Dreamboat Annie."  (I really love that song).  Saturday I saw another Midnight Madness film, The Hallow, at the Broadway.  Adam (Joseph Mawle), along with his wife and infant son, moves from London to a remote area in Ireland to evaluate the forest for future development but he is soon warned by his superstitious neighbors that the forest is haunted by spirits.  Soon, these spirits attack and try to take his son.  It was a predictable plot but the tension leading up to the attack was almost unbearable and the creatures were quite scary.  I spent Sunday morning at the beautiful Sundance Resort for a screening of 71.  A British soldier (Jack O'Connell from Unbroken) is left behind after a riot on the streets of Belfast during "the Troubles."  As he tries to make his way back to the barracks, he his both helped and pursued by various factions and doesn't know who to trust.  It was a very powerful and suspenseful movie.  Finally, my friends Rob and Esther gave me a ticket to see the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize winner at the Eccles Theatre in Park City Sunday afternoon and it turned out to be Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.  I was excited because I really wanted to see this film but was unable to get a ticket!  Greg (Thomas Mann), an awkward teenager, and his only friend, Earl, spend most of their time making movies based on classic films (Their version of Midnight Cowboy just about killed me).  Greg's mother asks him to befriend a girl who has recently been diagnosed with leukemia and their friendship is both touching and heartbreaking.  I absolutely loved this film and I laughed and cried through the whole thing.  It is definitely my favorite film of the festival.  The films this year were really great but my favorite part of the festival was getting to have so many wonderful conversations with people from all over the country.  Sometimes I think that people find me to be a bit much when I start talking about music, books, theatre, and movies so it was great to talk to people who are just as passionate as I am.  I am already looking forward to next year!

Note:  For the past five years I have taken my students to see free screenings at Sundance.  Go here for an article in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


One of my favorite things to do during the summer is to head up to the Sundance Resort to see a show performed under the stars.  It is really beautiful at Sundance and it always feels so good to be up in the mountains with the fresh smell of the pine trees.  This year Sundance, in conjunction with Utah Valley University, performed Fiddler on the Roof and it was wonderful.  The set was very innovative with various buildings representing the village of Anatevka.  During specific scenes, the buildings would open up to become the inside of Tevye's house, Mordcha's Inn & Tavern, and Motel's Tailor Shop.  I really loved the staging, especially in "Tevye's Dream."  Fruma Sarah came out on a huge platform which was wheeled around the stage with ghouls dancing around her (I once played Fruma Sarah and I totally embarrassed Marilyn by singing along).  It was very effective!  The choreography was amazing!  I loved the Bottle Dance at the wedding and the Russian dancers in "To Life."  All of the actors did a nice job but David W. Stensrud was particularly charismatic as Tevye (I saw him as the Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol last year at Hale Theatre).  He added a lot of business to make the iconic role his own.  I thought it was hilarious when he started warming up for a fight before he told Golde about Perchik and Hodel.  It was such a fun show to watch because all of the fabulous songs like "Tradition," "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," "If I Were a Rich Man," and "Sunrise, Sunset" are so familiar.  I highly recommend this show for a lovely evening in a spectacular setting.  Go here for information and tickets.  It runs through August 16.

Note:  It is quite the process to get to the theatre.  The upper parking lot was full so they sent us to an unpaved overflow parking area.  The parking attendant laughed at my parking skills!  Next we took a shuttle to the lower parking lot and then a tractor pulling a trailer up to the theatre.  It was a crowded Saturday night so we had to hike quite a ways up the mountain to find a spot to sit.  After the show we had to do it all again to get back to the car.  I had a small meltdown when I saw the line (at least a hundred people) for the shuttle to the upper lot.  It was a really good thing that the show was so great...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I Can't Wait for Summer Vacation!

Sometimes the closing of the school year is hard.  This year is proving to be more difficult than usual so I am concentrating on all of the fun things that I hope to do this summer.

Deer Valley Music Festival
When it gets really hot in the valley, it is nice to head up to the mountains at the Deer Valley Resort and hear the Utah Symphony play under the stars!  You can bring a blanket and a picnic and sit on the hill or there are seats available near the stage.  This is one of my favorite things to do in the summer and we have heard the orchestra play the 1812 Overture (complete with real cannons) several times.  The pictures above are from last year's Bravo Broadway concert, which was fantastic.  I just got my tickets in the mail for the Music of U2 and I am beyond excited!  Go here for a complete schedule and to purchase tickets.

Utah Shakespeare Festival
The Utah Shakespeare Festival is held every summer on the campus of Southern Utah University in Cedar City (a six hour drive south of Salt Lake City).  It is another one of my favorite things to do.  Sometimes Marilyn and I spend several days and see every play and sometimes we go down for one day and see a couple.  Once I drove down to see Hamlet and then drove straight home.  It was worth it.  The pictures above are from the 2010 production of Macbeth, which was awesome.  This year I am really excited to see Into the Woods (they produce non-Shakespeare plays, too) and Twelfth Night. I'm not going to lie, I'm also excited for the raspberry tarts!   Go here for a complete schedule and to purchase tickets.

Tuacahn Amphitheatre
Tuacahn is a natural amphitheatre made out of red rock in St. George (about eight hours south of Salt Lake City).  They perform several musicals in repertory every summer and you can also purchase tickets to a pre-show dinner.  The above pictures are from the 2012 production of Hairspray.  My very favorite production here was Les Miserables because they used the terrain beyond the stage for the epic battle on the barricade.  It was amazing.  This year my student body officers are going to leadership camp at Dixie State University and we get to see The Little Mermaid.  Go here for a complete schedule and to purchase tickets.

Sundance Summer Theatre
Sundance Summer Theatre, in conjunction with the Utah Valley University Theatre Department, has produced a musical at the Sundance Resort for the past several years.  Seeing a musical in the mountains is always a great way to beat the summer heat.  We have seen The Sound of Music (Marilyn sang along with the actors), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Annie Get Your Gun.  Marilyn and I may or may not have squealed when we found out they are doing Fiddler on the Roof this year.  Go here for tickets.
The Utah Symphony also makes an appearance at the Sundance Resort.  Near the Fourth of July they perform a program featuring patriotic music (think John Philips Sousa).  I took my cousin Merry to this concert last year and we both enjoyed it.  I'm thinking of going again.  Go here for more information.

Red Butte Garden Outdoor Concert Series
Red Butte Garden is an amazing venue for outdoor concerts.  This picture is from the Crosby, Stills, & Nash concert in 2012, which was fabulous (even though I was probably the youngest person there).  This year I am going to see Natalie Cole and I am really excited about it.  Go here to check out this year's lineup and to purchase tickets (many shows are already sold out because members have priority to purchase tickets before the general public).

With all of these amazing events to look forward to, maybe I can make it through these next few weeks until summer vacation.  Maybe.
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