About two years ago news of Egyptian Theatre Company’s dissolution shocked the small-town community of Park City, as well as the many fans from the Salt Lake Valley. Though the company is no-longer, the historic theater itself continues to widely entertain.
Randy Barton, the theater’s manager, says that the loss of a professional in-house theater company “was not a departure from how the theater was used in the past – more of an expansion of uses.”
“We no longer are able to mount productions that run for five or six weeks – we now offer more productions than ever,” says Barton.
In the past year, Egyptian Theatre was home to not only Youth Theatre, Odyssey Dance Company and Dark Horse Company Theatre productions, but hosted four of community theater productions including the hit, Hair, of which QSaltLake was a proud sponsor. The theater houses other live performances including stand-up comedians and concerts, and converts to a movie house during the Sundance Film Festival.
“For the first time ever, the theater has had live entertainment on stage every weekend of the year,” Barton glows.
This year appears to continue such an exciting achievement, with already several shows and concerts scheduled. One, which is of considerable note, is the Musicals on Main Series, a collaboration between three incredible arts organizations: Plan-B Theatre Company, Dark Horse Company Theatre and the Egyptian Theatre.
“Dark Horse Company Theatre was born out of this necessity to continue a tradition of edgy, quirky and unique musical theatre for the Egyptian Theatre and Utah in general,” explains company co-founder Daniel Simons.
Jerry Rapier, Plan-B Theatre Company’s artistic director was invited last year to produce and direct the musical Hair, which ran for eight weeks to critical acclaim: This production of the “American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” is wonderfully and gaily depicted by director Jerry Rapier.”
That invitation led Rapier, Simons and Barton to sit down with Egyptian Theatre board members to discuss the upcoming year.
“They wanted to continue presenting Dark Horse Company Theatre’s productions and wondered if, rather than have me directing a show for them, if I would bring in a Plan-B show,” Rapier remembers. “I immediately thought of our 2007 Fabby Award-winning production of Gutenberg! The Musical!.”
And so Musicals on Main was propagated.
“We basically chose the Musicals on Main lineup by bringing ideas to the table that included past successes and new shows that would support each other and also tie in to other things going on in the community,” says Simons.
Dark Horse will open the series this month with a Jonathan Larson musical, tick, tick…BOOM!. Larson is widely known for Rent, which won four Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, all after his untimely death.
(Larson’s Rent is also being staged this May by Pioneer Theatre Company.)
“It [Rent] is his legacy he left behind,” says Simons, “and tick, tick…BOOM! is his story. It is an autobiography, although completed after his death, in his own words, with his own music. It is hauntingly prophetic yet inspirational, as if he had some inclination of his limited time here on earth.”
Next in the series, in June, is Plan-B’s revival of Gutenberg! The Musical! with Kirt Bateman and Jay Perry reprising their roles as Bud and Doug, who are, according to Perry, “two musical geeks, ahem … enthusiasts and best friends who dare to dream an impossible dream that one day the show they’ve written will make it all the way to Broadway.”
The character Doug is gay and he “possesses an uncanny ability to see the … uumm, brilliance in this important musical saga that he and Bud have created: this epic of Johann Gutenberg and his life in Schlimmer, Germany, with all its milkmaids, monks and printing presses,” Bateman quips.
“It felt like kismet,” says Rapier about reviving the show with Bateman (Rapier’s partner of 15 years) and Perry.
“I feel like a little schoolgirl at a Justin Bieber concert,” jokes Bateman, then says more sincerely, “Jay Perry is brilliant. He is also so unselfish, he will make you look so much better and so much funnier than you really are. He and I are like brothers.”
“When Jerry told me about plans to remount Gutenberg I thought Christmas had come early,” adds Perry in a kindred joking manner. “I don’t think I’ve had more fun on stage than in the two productions of Gutenberg with Kirt Bateman.” Again kindred in manner.
The following month, July, Dark Horse returns and closes the series with Gypsy, a well-known musical loosely based on the 1957 memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous striptease artist.
“Gypsy is a large-scale classical piece of musical theater for the summer which fits perfectly with the type of shows Dark Horse likes to do while maintaining an appeal to a very diverse audience,” says Simons. “It’s a musical that appeals to three maybe even four generations.”
The Musicals on Main series, according to Simons, is “an exciting collaboration in which each company involved can bring their strongest attributes to the table to create an incredible end product for Utah.”
“With the evermore-complicated challenges of producing theater, it is exciting to be part of something new: a partnership between three non-profit arts organizations presenting professional musical theater at an affordable price,” adds Rapier.
Ticket package to all three musicals is only $45, or $18-20 per individual tickets.
The first show tick, tick… BOOM! runs March 11-27; the second show, Gutenberg! The Musical! runs June 3-19; and the third, Gypsy, runs July 8-31. All three will be performed at the Egyptian Theatre in Park City. For tickets and more information visit egyptiantheatrecompany.org.