The Grand Theatre Blogs

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The History and Making of the Annual Celebration of the Messiah - Behind the Scenes with Grand Voices

It's the final technical rehearsal of the 9th Annual Community Celebration of the Messiah at The Grand Theatre. B Murphy, co-conductor and co-creator of this production, happily greets Grand Voice choir members as they enter the theater. Not only is there great respect for Murphy, but there is also great friendship and camaraderie.

Respect for Murphy is well-deserved. Murphy has a rich, musical past. He began singing gospel at a young age. In the 70s he toured as a member of The Platters, whose hits include "The Great Pretender," "Only You (and You Alone)," and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." Touring with The Pretenders brought Murphy to Utah. In 1978 he moved to Utah and began his solo career. He has directed many choirs, and when he's not spending time co-conducting the Grand Voices, he is commuting to his job in Washington DC.

Murphy is especially proud of this production. He was integral in creating this special celebration of Handel's Messiah back in 2002. Working closely with Deron Hutchinson and Lyle Archibald, he helped craft the sound of this modern, soulful adaptation of a beloved holiday tradition. Not only does Murphy co-conduct the Grand Voices, he works with the choir members in teaching them the energetic and upbeat gospel sound that delight audience members from year to year.

"The most rewarding aspect of this production is the bonds that have been formed amongst choir members and musicians. We have choir members from over seven counties that come together to make Grand Voices. Many of them have created lifelong friendships," Murphy says.

Marie Estrada joined Grand Voices this Fall. "I have encountered a level of professionalism I would have never imagined from such a large group of volunteers." Estrada commutes from Layton to rehearse with the choir and looks forward to participating in Grand Voices for future productions.

Kevin Mathie, arranger and associate producer, has been involved with this annual production for the past six years. He not only works behind the scenes arranging several musical numbers and coordinating the band, but he also played keys in the band for the past four years. "The Messiah is a fun program. It's so different from traditional musical theatre in that with this production, it's all about this music," Mathie says.

Murphy's enthusiasm about this production is apparent. "It's a performance; it's a ministry; it's a celebration!" says Murphy about this 9th Annual Community Celebration of Messiah. "Don't miss it! Many audience members tell me how they've made the Community Celebration of the Messiah part of their Christmas tradition, and I couldn't be happier."

The 9th Annual Community Celebration of the Messiah runs December 10, 11 & 13 at 7:30pm at The Grand Theatre. This production of Handel's Messiah at The Grand Theatre features a full band and the Grand Voices, a choir of over 80 voices, with special guest soloists and narrators. Guest soloists include Ginger Bess, Anise Perry-Drisdom, Carey Drisdom, Dee-Dee Darby Duffin, Kelly Griffiths, Detorea Oliver, and Bruce Williams.

Special guest narrators include: (Friday) Melissa Adams & Lonzo Liggins of the Etta Grace Black Theatre Company; (Saturday) Tom Goldsmith, Reverend of the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake, and Rita Martin, Grand Theatre Board Member and community activist; and (Monday) Dr. Marlin Clark, Dean of Students at Salt Lake Community College, and Marian Howe-Taylor, Community Outreach Manager at Salt Lake Community College.

The Grand Theatre is located at 1575 S. State Street on Salt Lake Community College’s South City Campus. Tickets start at $8 and are available online at or by calling the box office at 801-957-3322.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Handel's Messiah, A 9th Annual Community Celebration - A Modern Twist on Handel's Classic Holiday Oratorio

This modern twist on one of classical music's most cherished and well-known compositions is returning to Salt Lake City for only three days this holiday season. While other versions are typically done as a standard sing along, this production of Handel's Messiah at The Grand Theatre features Grand Voices, a choir of over 80 voices, with special guest soloists and narrators. Guest soloists include Ginger Bess, Kelly Griffiths, Bruce Williams, Dee-Dee Darby Duffin, Anise Drisdom, Carey Drisdom, and Detorea Oliver.

"We are excited to bring back this celebration and reinvention of Handel's beloved Messiah for the 9th year. Handel's baroque style has be completely reinterpreted and transformed into a lively R&B, gospel, and jazz infused concert experience that will delight and surprise all ages," says Richard Scott, Executive Artistic Director of The Grand Theatre. "Audience members will be treated to the familiar solos and chorus numbers with narration interspersed throughout the evening. The original intent of this beautiful oratorio still stands while this new adaptation creates an invigorating variation on Handel's masterful themes."

Murphy, Deron Hutchinson, and Detorea Oliver direct the Grand Voices along with a full jazz band. Members from choirs across Utah have come together to create Grand Voices. These choirs include St. John the Baptist, Gurtar Group, Golden Voices, St. Stephen’s, New Zion Baptist Choir, Calvary Choir, Hilltop Gospel, Utah Gospel Workshop, Unity Baptist Choir, and the Christian Life Center Praise Team.

Performances dates: December 10, 11 & 13, 2010
Times: Evening performances 7:30pm
Location: The Grand Theatre, 1575 South State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84115
Tickets: Prices range from $8.00 to $24.00 with discounts for groups, seniors, and students available.
Reservations: 801-957-3322 801-957-3322 or online at
Wheelchair accessible

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Oliver!" - Kicking Off Our 2010-2011 Grand Season

Delightful, Family Musical based on Charles Dickens' Classic Novel
By Lionel Bart

Oliver! is kicking off The Grand Theatre's the 2010-2011 season and features Max Robinson, who has graced the stages of Pioneer Theater, Salt Lake Acting Company, and the Utah Shakespearean Festival, as Fagin. This British musical also includes a cast of 30 actors and actresses and stars Cayden Maynes in the title role with Max Huftalin as Artful Dodger.

Oliver!, one of the most beloved musicals and winner of many Tony and Academy awards for the original production and 1968 film, vividly brings to life Dickens’ timeless characters with its ever-popular story of the boy who asked for more. This production was the first musical adaptation of a Dickens' novel and premiered in London's West End in 1960. This production features such well-known songs as Food, Glorious Food, Consider Yourself, Where Is Love? and As Long as He Needs Me.

Anne Stewart Mark, professional director and actress, directs and this production with Shannon Musgrave as choreographer and Kevin Mathie, musical director, leading a full orchestra.

Play dates: October 6-23, 2010
Times: Evening performances 7:30pm Wednesday - Saturday, Saturday matinees 2:00pm
Location: The Grand Theatre, 1575 South State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84115
Tickets: Prices range from $8.00 to $24.00 with discounts for groups, seniors, and students available.
Reservations: 801-957-3322 or online at
Wheelchair accessible
Photo by: Debra Macfarlane

Friday, August 20, 2010

"Always...Patsy Cline" - Featuring Erica Hansen & Camille Van Wagoneer

Back by Popular Demand
By Ted Swindley

Always...Patsy Cline is making its return to The Grand Theatre and stars Erica Hansen in her return performance as Patsy Cline. Hailed as the Performer of the Year in 2004, Erica was mentioned as one of theater critic Ivan Lincoln's Most Memorable Performances of his 20 year career. Now in its fifth year as a Fall production at The Grand, Always...Patsy Cline features, newcomer to this show, Camille Van Wagoner as Louise.

The show is based on a true story about Pasty Cline's friendship with a devoted fan from Houston named Louise Seger, who befriended the star in a Texas honky-tonk in l961 and continued a correspondence with Cline until her death. The show's title was inspired by Cline's letters to Seger, which were consistently signed "Love Always...Patsy Cline."

Richard Scott, Executive Artistic Director of the Grand Theatre, directs and this production with Kevin Mathie, musical director, heading up the talented six-piece band. The musical play, complete with down home country humor, true emotion and even some audience participation, includes many of Patsy's unforgettable hits such as Crazy, I Fall to Pieces, Sweet Dreams and Waking After Midnight...27 songs in all.

Play dates: August 19-September 11, 2010

Times: Evening performances 7:30pm Thursday - Saturday, Saturday matinees 2:00pm

Location: The Grand Theatre, 1575 South State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84115

Tickets: Prices range from $8.00 to $24.00 with discounts for groups, seniors, and students available.

Reservations: 801-957-3322 or online at

Wheelchair accessible

Monday, May 24, 2010

Announcing Our 2010-2011 Season

The Grand Theatre is pleased to announce the line up for their 2010-2011 season. This five show season includes the 9th annual Messiah, some familiar favorites, and a Utah debut. In additional to their traditional season, Always...Patsy Cline is returning to The Grand Theatre this August and September and features local favorites Camille Van Wagoner and Erica Hansen.

The Grand Theatre has revamped their show run dates to include a third week. Traditionally, The Grand Theatre's show run dates had evening performance for two weeks, excluding Sundays. Now the Grand is adding another week while dropping their Monday and Tuesday performances. "Our patrons have expressed great interest in having more options for performances, specifically toward the end of the week," said Richard Scott, Executive Director of The Grand Theatre. "We've added this extra week of performances along with maintaining our two matinees during the first two weeks of the run."

The Grand Theatre schedule of shows includes:

Delightful, Family Musical based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel
October 6-23, 2010

Oliver!, one of the most beloved musicals and winner of many Tony and Academy awards for the original production and 1968 film, vividly brings to life Dickens’ timeless characters with its ever-popular story of the boy who asked for more.

Featuring such well-known songs as “Food, Glorious Food,” “Consider Yourself,” “Where Is Love?” and “As Long as He Needs Me.”

9th Annual Messiah, A Community Celebration
Handel with a twist
December 10, 11 & 13, 2010

A celebration of the season, where Handel’s Messiah is infused with the sounds of jazz, R&B and gospel.

Join us for this modern holiday tradition, now in its 9th season, which captures the essence of Handel’s most famous work and reinvents it.

The end result is a vibrant and inspiring celebration that must be experienced to be appreciated. It’s Handel like you’ve never heard before!

The Glass Menagerie
Illusions and reality meet in this American theatre classic
January 19 - February 5, 2011

A true classic from one of America’s most prolific playwrights in which the truth is presented in the pleasant disguise of an illusion.

A story that deals with failure, family, fathers, broken promises, and tough decisions people must make.

Watch for our outreach programs in conjunction with the SLCC Humanities Department in celebration of 100 years of Tennessee Williams.

The Marvelous Wonderettes
A cotton-candy colored, non-stop pop musical blast from the past
March 9-26, 2011

A regional premiere of an off-Broadway musical that took New York by storm. Meet the Wonderettes, a doo-wop group with hopes and dreams as big as their crinoline skirts and voices to match, while they perform at their 1958 high school prom!

A musical trip down memory lane where we are treated to classic songs such as “Lollipop,” “Mr. Sandman,” “Leader of the Pack,” “Respect,” and many more.

Yeah, we know...the title...But you’re going to love the show!
May 11-28, 2011

Don’t let the name fool you. First an off-Broadway hit and later a Tony-nominated musical, Urinetown is a hilarious tale of greed, corruption, love, and revolution in a time when water is worth its weight in gold. Praised for reinvigorating the very notion of what a musical could be, Urinetown catapults the “comedic romp” into the new millennium with its outrageous perspective, wickedly modern wit, and sustained ability to produce gales of unbridled laughter.

Always..Patsy Cline
Back by popular demand!
August 10 - September 11, 2010

Join us for an evening of music from one of the most influential, successful and acclaimed female vocalists of the 20th century, Patsy Cline. Featuring local favorites Camille Van Wagoner and Erica Hansen in this return performance of this legendary star.

Throughout the show, you’ll hear a variety of Patsy Cline’s hit songs as they are blended into the heartfelt, true story of rare friendship between Patsy and a devoted fan. If you haven’t seen this production yet, you would be “crazy” to miss it!

Beyond their tradition season shows, The Grand Theatre is also showcasing the Excellence in the Community Concert Series throughout the year, 2nd Annual Utah Battle of the Improvs in September, and Tanner Lecture Series in November.

Season tickets are now available by calling The Grand Theatre box office at 801-957-3322. Additionally, single tickets can be purchased online at for season shows and other special events. Season ticket subscribers that purchase their season tickets before July 15th will also be entitled to one show voucher good for any 2010-2011 performance.

Times: Evening performances 7:30pm (no Sundays), Saturday matinees 2:00pm
Location: The Grand Theatre, 1575 South State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84115
Tickets: Prices range from $8.00 to $24.00 with discounts for groups, seniors, and students available.
Reservations: 801-957-3322 or online at
Wheelchair accessible

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Getting to Know the Cast of Bingo: Camille Van Wagoner (Vern)

Camille Van Wagoner plays the role of Vern, the funny, stubborn, and crusty leader of the bingo group, in Utah's debut of "Bingo" at The Grand Theatre.

Camille was last seen at The Grand Theatre in the 2008 production of Michael McLean's "The Ark." Other Grand productions include: "Pump Boys and Dinettes," "Song of Singapore," " Shear Luck," and "The Pirated Penzance."

She has worked at many of the local theaters, including: Hale Centre Theatre, The Egyptian Theatre, Salt Lake Acting Co., Rogers Memorial Theatre and Pioneer Theatre Company.

Some of her favorite roles include: Dolly in "Hello, Dolly!," Mrs. Lovitt in "Sweeney Todd," Carmen in "Curtains," Penelope Pennywise in "Urinetown" and Rose in "Song of Singapore."

If you haven't had the opportunity to see Camille perform, you won't want to miss "Bingo!" She is an amazing vocalist and actress and truly captures the essence of her characters. We are delighted to have her in this production.

But don't just take our word for it, read what others have said about Camille's past performances:

- "Van Wagoner plays the bossy widow with ease and attitude, whether she's prancing across the stage narrating the action or handing out calling cards to guide those less fortunate than her." (Review of "Hello Dolly" - Roxanna Orellana, Salt Lake Tribune, 2009)

- "Mrs. Lovett is uproariously portrayed by Camille Van Wagoner, whose performance stands far alone in the limelight." (Review of "Sweeney Todd" - Chuck Bunch, Q Salt Lake, 2007)

- "...Van Wagoner sizzles in "Be Good or Be Gone," putting Jim squarely in his place after he stands her up." (Review of "Pump Boys and Dinettes" - Ivan Lincoln, Deseret News, 2006)

Get Tickets Today!
Play dates: May 11-22, 2010
Times: Evening performances 7:30pm (no Sundays), Saturday matinees 2:00pm
Location: The Grand Theatre, 1575 South State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84115
Tickets: Prices range from $8.00 to $24.00 with discounts for groups, seniors, and students available.
Reservations: 801-957-3322 or online at

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Director's Notes on Eurydice

Thank you for joining us for our production of Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice. This play has been one of the most produced shows throughout the country in the past five years, and we are delighted to bring it here for your enjoyment. Part of Sarah Ruhl’s success is her lean, almost film like dialogue. Her very idiosyncratic voice has taken the classic Greek myth or Orpheus and Eurydice and turned it, skewed it to reflect the feminine perspective while adding a touch of Alice in Wonderland and Dorothy in the land of Oz. Eurydice explores the life circle of love, memory of experiences, death and the world of the afterlife in a highly evocative and theatrical style that is both entertaining and provocative.

My very special thanks to the cast, crew and design team for joining me on this challenging journey and for their outstanding realization of Sarah Ruhl’s world. We hope you enjoy our efforts.

As you all know these are difficult times for everyone and that is especially true for the non-profit artistic world. As some of your know the Grand has been gradually exploring new programming choices to develop and expanded audience base. If you enjoy this production please tell your friends, colleagues and family to come see if and support our efforts to bring exciting, high quality theatrical productions to our community at affordable prices.

Again thank you for your patronage and watch for our production of Bingo: The Musical this coming May. Bingo was an off-Broadway hit and is great entertainment. Also watch for our 2010-2011 season announcement and please plan on joining us and enjoying our grand efforts.

Thank you,
Richard Scott

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday night with Eurydice...

It’s the night before tech rehearsal and the cast has the night off to relax, ponder and regroup before we start into the process of getting Eurydice ready to open in a little over one week. What do we do? Talk about Eurydice!! We’re engrossed, we’re ingrained, we’re down to crunch time. I had the pleasure of chatting tonight with Stephanie Ogden who plays the role of Eurydice, an ingenue unlike any other. Trust when I say that she’s every bit as compelling offstage as she is in the show.

A 2009 psychology graduate of the University of Utah, Stephanie began her journey into theatre in her last year of college. A singer and dancer growing up, she took an acting class because it was something she always wanted to do. After that, she developed more than just an acting bug, she came down with a full-blown acting fever that gets stronger with each rehearsal. She definitively says, “I ended up falling in love with it,” and as such performed in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Beehive Theatre in Ogden and in the Egyptian Theatre’s A Christmas Carol.

Which brings us to our performance of Eurydice at The Grand. Stephanie got the script prior to auditions and felt compelled to be part of the story because it was unlike anything she had read before. It seems most people are at least a little familiar with the classic Greek tale, but Stephanie was interested in this particular adaptation. “This show is very much a love story, and the play presents love as a force that is strong enough to last beyond the grave.” She continues, “but love is also very fragile and can be lost with one misstep.” Ultimately the story is a tragedy, but it’s not without hope.

We talked further about how love is presented in Eurydice, and going into rehearsals Stephanie first focused on the relationship between Orpheus and Eurydice. She then realized the play examines many different kinds of love. Stephanie says, “When I found that Eurydice meets her father in the afterlife I saw the love in the show as both romantic and paternal, and that love breaks the barrier between living and the underworld.” This play examines what it means to love, live in the moment, then potentially lose someone you love. “How do you go on living without someone you love? How do you remember your loved ones and keep them alive after they’re gone?” Stephanie muses. “These questions have all become more apparent as we’ve gone through the rehearsal process.” She hopes audiences will relate to love in their own ways and look to their own experiences to enrich what they will see on the stage.

To people who are still wondering what this play is all about, Stephanie thinks that the performances will be not only entertaining but also refreshingly thought-provoking. This show is sure to take audiences to remarkable places that may not resonate until they’re already there. She puts it most eloquently, “This play is surprising in its simplicity and its power.” We could talk about the script for hours and still wonder what it all means, for the nuances in the show are as simple or as complex as you would like to delve. Stephanie sums this up in one of her favorite lines in the show (as spoken by Little Stone) Love is a big, funny word by “hoping people take home with them the idea that love is strange and wild thing, but it’s wonderful. It's what we live for and the script shows us that love will endure when we're gone.”

Audiences are going to be blown away by not only the show itself, but also the beautiful hearts of the people in the show. The wonderful spirit of the group of people cast in Eurydice resonates through more than just the words being spoken, and each is touched in their own way. We agree that you're going to be astonished by this experience.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"You have to speak the language of stones."

People have a morbid curiosity about death; part of the fascination with death is the great unknown. What happens when we die? Is there a light? Is there a calm? Is there... Elvis? It seems nobody knows what happens when we die because, well, we're dead.

In the traditional story of Orpheus and Eurydice, we follow Oprheus' journey toward the unknown as he travels to the underworld to, ultimately unsuccessfully, bring back to life his true love. In this story, we learn what Eurydice encounters in the underworld as if she were an ethereal Alice in Wonderland. Except in this story she is thrown down the proverbial rabbit hole without a potion to shrink her down or a piece of cake to make her big again. Author Sarah Ruhl takes Eurydice to a world filled with "high pitched humming sounds" where conversations are held in the "language of stones."

We examine the underworld as a strange place where people are made to lose memories of their mortal life by riding an elevator that rains with the water of forgetfulness. Moreover, audiences are made to think about how all this death-stuff could relate to their own lives.

Many of us in the cast had costume fittings this week, which is always an amazing chance to fit together more pieces of the rehearsal puzzle. The clothes are nothing short of beautiful and are sure to become characters themselves, as will the sound design and the set. Costumer Brenda Van Der Weil wonderfully meshes real with surreal to make us look outstanding, and today it was exciting to try on that which always seems to propel cast members into a higher state of readiness for opening night.

Get your tickets now, otherwise we might have to dunk you in the river.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Eurydice: What's in a Name?

Eurydice is a play by modern playwright Sarah Ruhl, a take on Virgil's tragic Greek tale of "Orpheus and Eurydice" and Orpheus's journey to the Underworld after Eurydice's untimely death. Yet it's told from Eurydice's perspective and shows just what happens beyond her journey. This is going to be a beautiful show filled with humorous twists and melancholy turns, peppered with a hint of an Alice in Wonderland-esque feel. Director Richard Scott's brilliant casting coupled with understated insight will make for a truly original and heartfelt regional premiere of this play. As for me? I play the part of a stone, one of the "guardians" to the Underworld and after just a few weeks of rehearsals can assure you this show will be one heckofa ride. I feel confident to say the cast, in a word, is very excited about it.

Throughout the rehearsal process, I'll be writing a few blog posts to give you some "sneak peeks" on the show, even some backstage thoughts into what it takes to present a show like this on stage. Conventionally, this play is very much a love story. But this is an unconventional script and there are many levels which we hope audiences will take home with them and ponder.

So to begin, what's in a name? Let's start with how to pronounce the title, Eurydice. It's pronounced like yur-ID-a-see. It's not YURI-dice. It's not yur-WHY-deece. Concentrate the emphasis on the ID in the middle syllable: id, like your unconscious mind, which is where it seems this play could take you.

More to come...
Share This Page
Salt Lake Community College 2009.
All rights reserved.