20 Apr Tuacahn Center for the Arts 2018 Broadway Season
By Lisa Larsen
In the last 23 years, the cast and crew at Tuacahn have mounted some pretty big productions, but this season they will tackle one of truly biblical proportions. Bringing to life the Old Testament story of Moses as The Prince of Egypt, audiences will be swept up in grandeur of this brand new musical based on the DreamWorks animated film with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz of Wicked and Godspell acclaim.
“This will be a visual spectacular,” says Scott Anderson, artistic director for Tuacahn. “We are going to make sure the story is told in the most honest and emotional way, but then we’re going to back it up with all the special effects and natural setting Tuacahn provides.”
Collaborating with Schwartz himself, as well as Philip LaZebnik, who wrote the script, Anderson says directing Prince of Egypt is a project he has greeted with excitement… and some trepidation
“There aren’t any characters more well-known than this,” Anderson says. “It’s such an important piece of spiritual literature, but people are also coming to be entertained. I think this version is able to walk that fine line.”
With such a mammoth story to tell, one can imagine the set itself is an equally huge undertaking.
“I can safely say this is going to be the largest show we’ve ever done,” says Brad Shelton, Tuacahn set designer
Unlike previous daunting projects such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which required one massive backdrop, Prince of Egypt takes place in roughly 18 different locations. Shelton’s staff is meeting that demand by creating a lot of smaller pieces that will move on and off stage throughout the play.
It’s a challenge to which he is happy to rise.
“I love working with other artists and getting to create something that’s never been done before,” Shelton says
In the midst of all this grand designing, the Tuacahn crew are simultaneously focusing on the other three shows in this season’s stellar lineup: Matilda the Musical, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, and the indoor production Million Dollar Quartet. Anderson says his goal when selecting shows each year is to try new things, not just “make a living on the golden oldies.”
Even when Tuacahn tells a classic story like this year’s Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, it comes with a whole new look and feel.
“It’s a much more contemporary take on the characters, but with the traditional songs,” Anderson says.
This brand new version of the classic tale was on Broadway a few years ago, and is still on the national tour. Snagging the rights to a national touring show is a real coup for a regional theater. But that, along with the rights to perform the United States regional premiere of Matilda the Musical is becoming par for the course at Tuacahn. And it’s a reputation Kevin Smith, Tuacahn CEO, says patrons are really noticing.
“Sales are going very well,” Smith says. “We’ve already exceeded the number of season packages we sold all of last year.”
Bringing in new technology each year, such as this season’s addition of an LED wall, will open even more doors through which the stories can be told — particularly in the imagination-driven production of Matilda the Musical based on the book by Roald Dahl.
“Tuacahn’s slogan is ‘expect the unforgettable,’” Shelton says. “We build that expectation on ourselves and we really want to follow through with it.”
The Tuacahn season opens May 25 and continues through Oct. 20. Tickets start at just $29. Log onto www.tuacahn.org for details or call 435-652-3300.