Utah Valley University (UVU) and Sundance Mountain Resort raise the curtain on Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical “Cinderella,” premiering Thursday, July 21 and ending August 13 at the Amphitheater outside Eccles Stage at Sundance.
“Cinderella” marks the 14th collaboration between UVU’s Department of Theater Arts and Sundance Summer Theater, a 15-year partnership.
“This show really fits the Sundance Summer Theater because it has a very enchanted setting with the trees in front of us, the stars and the mountains,” said Chad Linebaugh, general manager of Sundance. “Then you insert the great job that the UVU production team did with the set and, in particular, the costumes. They found a very magical way to bring Cinderella to life.
UVU’s partnership with Sundance provides students with both engaged learning opportunities and theatrical work to put on their resume. Students, faculty, staff and alumni are involved in all aspects of the show. Five of the seven lead roles are played by UVU students or alumni, and students participate in the construction and management of costumes, sets and props, stage management, and more.
“What we have are students who develop a range of multi-talented skills and talents,” said UVU acting faculty member and “Cinderella” producer John Newman, “and able to forge a professional career, sometimes in several areas of production.”
“I think the show has that kind of professional standard,” said Dallin Suman, a UVU musical theater graduate and actor who plays Prince Topher.
Suman said that when the director gives him a vocal, artistic or acting note, it’s up to him to apply the direction. “And so, I can go to my voice coach and work on it, or I go home and use my training to go through my script and rework some scenes. Every time you’re held that high, you have to hit that bar. It was very useful for me to be in a setting like that.
A major benefit for Salon students is the opportunity to work closely with current and former UVU faculty in a new capacity. Rob Moffat, a former member of UVU’s acting faculty, is the director, and Amanda Crabb, UVU’s musical theater program manager, plays the mother-in-law, Madame.
“It was so much fun working with [Crabb] outside of school,” said Lizzy Jensen, musical theater junior at UVU and leading lady of the musical, Cinderella. “I had a teacher last year who always said, ‘One day I’ll be your peer. I will not be your teacher. We will work on shows together. So it was really cool to see that come to fruition and to work with Amanda in that way, to learn from her example. I know our relationship will be different now because we worked with each other in a different way than we had before.
UVU’s commitment is evident throughout the production, both on stage and behind the scenes. Both Suman and Jensen feel that their participation in “Cinderella” gave them a prime opportunity to apply what they learned in their own UVU training.
Jensen said she learned an exercise to “bring the text into your body” in one of her classes last year. “I didn’t understand what that meant until I tried to do this show. I would do these exercises, I would “walk the lines,” and I would practice with the punctuation, I would think about the focal points in the lines, and then I would go back to them, and I would be like, “Oh this is so easy. I understand what the playwright was trying to do with that. It’s something I learned a lot last year and was finally able to put into practice this summer.
“I feel like UVU has helped me have a strong work ethic, strong artistic ability, and the emotional intelligence to work with the people around me,” Suman said. “After those five years at UVU, I now have this giant toolbox that I can go through and apply to every new project I’m on.”
For Linebaugh, UVU fits into Sundance like Cinderella’s slipper to her foot.
“I’m so grateful to UVU,” he said. “We’re so thrilled to know where we are with them as a producing partner. I feel like they’ve taken it to the next level this year. They really put so much focus and time and effort attention, and I think it really shows in the quality of the show.
Learn more about the UVU School of the Arts‘ engaged learning practices and come see Cinderella at Sundance. You can buy tickets at the Sundance website.