Broadway in the Desert and outdoor theatre at its finest
I was ill-prepared for the magic that is Tuacahn Amphitheatre. I hesitated even writing this article because I worried that I would gush too much but the fact is, I’m dying to gush about Tuacahn. This unparalleled theatre company is doing things I’ve never seen outside of a Broadway show. My friend Morgan (whom I met through theatre) and I saw Disney’s The Little Mermaid and When You Wish during our girls’ trip to The Inn at Entrada in the greater Zion area of Utah. Before The Little Mermaid on Monday night, we got a VIP backstage tour and learned all about Tuacahn.
Tuacahn Amphitheatre is one of the top ten regional theaters in the nation and it’s easy to see why. Tuacahn produces five Broadway shows each year, many of which are Disney, and the production level is out of this world. The three amphitheater shows run May – October. Tuacahn also produces an indoor show and a Christmas show each year. During the backstage tour, we learned that Tuacahn makes all of their costumes and set pieces, which adds such a custom, high-quality look to each show.
Tuacahn has a longstanding partnership with Disney and they’ve been allowed to produce many of their shows, including When You Wish. Tuacahn partnered with Disney to create a full production of When You Wish and hosted the world premiere in 2015. Tuacahn recreated it this year with new numbers from Moana and The Princess and the Frog.
Tuachan auditions 1,500 actors each year to find their exemplary cast, many of whom are straight from Broadway. Josh Strickland, who plays Tarzan, Hercules, and Prince Eric at Tuacahn this summer, played Tarzan on Broadway. The talent at Tuacahn is unbelievable. Moana (Alize Cruz) sounded exactly like Moana and had her final note met with roaring applause. Ariel (Emily Grace Tucker) could have easily been Ariel in a live action adaptation with her perky mermaid demeanor and gorgeous mezzo-soprano. Every ensemble member was an incredible dancer, hitting each mark of intense choreography with Rockette-level precision. My favorite voice in When You Wish was that of Snow White’s Prince Charming, played by Jon Rose. I melted into my seat when he sang I’m Wishing/One Song with a tone as clear as a Belle. I mean bell. *wink*
Now, the special effects. I mean, the special effects! During our backstage tour, we learned that Tuachan can actually flood its stage. Sadly they didn’t flood the stage for either show that we saw but I can’t even wait to see that in future years! Morgan cried throughout When You Wish. We gasped and shrieked so much that the tiny Tuachan veteran sitting in front of us kept turning around and grinning at us, clearly amused that we had never experienced live animals nor fireworks in our hometown theaters.
Tuacahn pulls out all the stops for its shows. The mermaids do not walk around the stage. They swim around via flying machine, of course! Remember how the Disney movie ends with fireworks at Prince Eric and Ariel’s ocean wedding? Imagine our surprise when Tuacahn shot off actual fireworks above the theatre during the wedding scene. Tears were rolling down our cheeks. I even snapped a photo of Morgan when the lights came up to show you!
That didn’t even compare to the magic of When You Wish. Tarzan zip lines over the audience. Moana’s catamaran wrecks right in front of you. Live horses (whom we got to meet backstage!) run across the stage while Pocahontas sings “Colors of the Wind.” Mary Poppins makes her entrance via flying umbrella. “You Ain’t’ Ever Had a Friend Like Me” rivals the best Broadway effects I’ve ever seen (Beauty and the Beast: Be Our Guest, for the record). The genie’s dance number is a sight for sore eyes, with custom projections behind him making it look like a thousand genies were dancing in time with him. Can your friends do this? asks the genie as he points and a firework explodes on stage left. Can your friends do that? he asks again as he points and blasts another firework stage right.
The number of course ends with fireworks over head and you think Tuacahn can’t possibly get any better…and then they fly in a magic carpet that Aladdin and Jasmine climb on to to sing “A Whole New World.” Yes, Rosies, they sang the iconic Alan Menken song while flying on a magic carpet with custom-designed scenery whizzing behind them on a projection screen. I felt like I was transported right into the movie. Or at least a Disney park! This is Tuacahn. This is theatre.
If you are a Disney fan or a musical theatre fan, Tuacahn Amphitheatre alone is worth a trip to St. George. Walk, don’t run, and tell them The Rose Table sent you! Get tickets here plus get 35% off with the code ROSE35 now through September 24, 2019. (New sales only, limit 6 tickets, restrictions apply.)
P.S. The premium seats have a fantastic view and come with cushions and water bottles. I also took a handheld fan (from my Mulan dinner party if you must know) to keep cool. The sun is blocked by the canyon around 4 pm in the summer so it’s not as hot as you might think looking at the St. George temperatures. We were comfortable even though my weather app said it was 100 degrees. Don’t let that deter you! You’re in the shade and the canyon is quite breezy.
P.P.S. Another moment that made Tuacahn so special? I got to hang out with my favorite Disney vloggers Chris and Amanda Provost from Provost Park Pass! You might remember them from my Cinderella Ball. I’m a proud Provost Park Pass Patreon subscriber. If you haven’t checked out their Disneyland channel on YouTube, go check it out. You’re wellllllllcome!
Tuacahn Amphitheatre was featured in the St. George episode of The Rose Table! Watch it here:
Disclaimer: This article is intended to be a general resource. Any recommendations are based on personal opinion. A portion of this article may have been compensated but opinions are my own, always. I’m not a fan of negativity so if I don’t like something, I don’t write about it. I’m here to tell you about the best of the best!