The Sound of Music

Utah Valley University and Sundance Mountain Resort Present The Sound of Music July 22, 2023

Reviewed by Kevin Rolfe

Is there a better setting outside Austria to see The Sound of Music than the Outdoor Amphitheater at Sundance Mountain Resort?  I can’t imagine there is.  The setting was so perfect for the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic.  With tree-lined mountains as its backdrop, there was very little need for elaborate set design.  These hills, if I may, did come alive as the focal setpiece to make this musical visually soar.  The mountain air was crisp and cool.  A welcome escape from the blistering hot summer day down in the valley.  

The partnership of Utah Valley University and Sundance Mountain Resort has been a successful one.  With successful productions like Oklahoma! and Mamma Mia in recent years, it’s no surprise that patrons continue to return to the resort to see quality theater.  And while there are many musicals to choose from, it makes perfect sense that they would bring back another production of The Sound of Music.  The audience called for it, and I couldn’t have been happier to attend the Saturday Evening performance on Jul 22, 2023.  

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Les Misérables

Les Misérables• June 20, 2023• Eccles Theater

Reviewed by Kevin Rolfe

Nick Cartell as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables
Photo: Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Les Misérables, “The World’s Most Popular Musical” made its return to Utah at the Eccles Theater in downtown Salt Lake City.  This show was originally announced as part of the Broadway at the Eccles 20/21 season.  But as we all know, tours were stopped and theaters were closed during that period due to the global pandemic. So when the 22/23 season was announced, and Les Misérables was part of it, patrons lined up (figuratively, I know we don’t actually line up to buy tickets in person anymore) to buy tickets to this beloved musical.  I must admit, I’ve been anticipating this show since it was announced and could not have been more thrilled to be inside the Eccles Theater on June 20 for opening night.  

***This review contains mild to moderate spoilers.  If you can wait “One Day More”, go to the show then come back and read the review.  Otherwise, you have been warned. *** 

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Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical• May 30, 2023• Eccles Theater

Reviewed by Kevin Rolfe

Naomi Rodgers as ‘Tina Turner in the North American touring production of TINA THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL Photo by Matthew Murphy

It’s hard to believe that within a week of the great Tina Turner’s passing, I was sitting inside the beautiful Eccles Theater in downtown Salt Lake City, watching Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.  As I walked into the theater I could overhear several conversations talking about the legend’s passing.  Many patrons lined up to sign a memorial that was set out for Tina Turner. Some stated that they were looking forward to the show because they didn’t know much about her life.  Others claimed to be the biggest Tina Turner fans ever and were excited to see the musical. Either way, there was a different buzz in the theater lobby.  I wouldn’t quite call it a sadness but more like a reverence for the situation.  The timing of the opportunity to see this show just after Tina’s passing did not seem lost on anyone.  

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Hairspray

Hairspray the Musical• April 11, 2023• Eccles Theater

Reviewed by Kevin Rolfe

Photographs by Jeremy Daniel

Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel

The 2022/2023 season of Broadway at The Eccles has been one for the books! Shows like Moulin Rouge, Ain’t Too Proud, and Dear Evan Hansen has thrilled audiences.  Eccles Theater has been packed to the rafters with satisfied patrons. The shows of this season have been excellent, but I must admit, when this season was announced, I was thrilled to see Hairspray on the list.  I didn’t know there was a tour up until that point.  Outside of the occasional regional or community theater productions, my Hairspray musical experience had ended.  I really love this musical so I’m sure you can imagine how delighted I was to see it on the season schedule, and how much more ecstatic I was to be sitting in my seat Tuesday night waiting for the show to begin.  

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Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hanson• February 28, 2023• Eccles Theater

Reviewed by Alisha Gregson

Anthony Norman (Evan Hansen) in the 2022-2023 North American Tour of DEAR EVAN HANSEN, Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

In March 2020, Dear Evan Hansen came to Eccles Theater. Unfortunately, after only a brief run of performances, the production had to cancel its tour early due to the Covid-19 shutdown. Now, 3 years later, the Tony Award-winning musical has returned to Eccles. Thousands of Utahns who previously missed out will finally get their opportunity to see the show. We were fortunate to see the production on March 4, 2020. We hoped that shows would only be pushed back a week or so. Clearly, that wasn’t to be.

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Patti LuPone

Patti LuPone• “Don’t Monkey With Broadway” Tour• February 4, 2023• The Noorda Center

Reviewed by Kevin Rolfe

“It won’t be easy.  You’ll think it’s strange when I try to explain how I feel…” about Patti LuPone at The Noorda Center of the Performing Arts on the campus of Utah Valley University.  What a moment in this venue’s history.  To have a legend of the Great White Way grace this young stage is a massive get for The Noorda.  But as I’ve mentioned before, this venue was up to the level of the great Broadway Legend and her performance and her still after all these years, powerful voice.  The meeting of Lupone’s voice and the acoustics of The Noorda filled the air of the room was a beautiful union.  

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Jessica Vosk

Broadway Star Jessica Vosk• January 25, 2022• Noorda Center

Reviewed by Kevin Rolfe

Photographed by Emily Muñoz

Jessica Vosk is a singer and actress best known for starring in the role of Elphaba, the lead in Wicked both on Broadway and on the show’s national tour.  She has also performed on Broadway in The Bridges of Madison County, Finding Neverland, and the 2015 revival of Fiddler on the Roof.  Vosk has also performed concerts in some of the most famous venues across the country including New York City’s famous Lincoln Center and sold out the iconic Carnegie Hall.  So having Jessica Vosk here in Utah at the Noorda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Utah Valley University was a real honor.

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Ain’t Too Proud

Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations • January 10, 2023• Eccles Theater

Reviewed by Kevin Rolfe

Photo Credit: Emilio Madrid

The Eccles Theater and Broadway at the Eccles started 2023 with a bang.  Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations was a perfect way to start the new year.  The jukebox musical tells the story of one of the most iconic and influential groups in music history.  The Motown legends had so many peaks and valleys throughout their career that it would be impossible to pack all of the history into a Broadway show.  But the production sure tried.  In the late 90s NBC produced an four hour miniseries of the group and even with all the detail they provided, I still had more questions. Each membrer of the classic lineup has a story that could be its own movie or musical. 

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Moulin Rouge! The Musical

Moulin Rouge! The Musical •December 2, 2022• Eccles Theater

Reviewed by Kevin Rolfe

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

When Broadway at the Eccles announced their 2022-23 season and Moulin Rouge! The Musical was listed as one of the shows, I was beyond excited.  Like many of you, I’m a fan of the 2001 Baz Lurhman film starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor.  I had heard great things about the stage version but I had seen very little of the production.  I try really hard not to listen to the cast recording until I’ve seen the production.  And I try to avoid watching too much video footage.  I really want to go in as fresh as possible. 

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory• June 14, 2022 •Eccles Theater

Reviewed by Alisha Gregson

Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel

When I was offered a chance to attend and review Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on June 14th, at the Eccles Theater, I knew it was an opportunity I could not turn down. I have adored Dahl’s fantastic stories for as long as I can remember. His collection of classic children’s books was an influential and memorable part of my childhood. Just as they were for so many others. I have always hoped they would have a similar impact on my children. It just so happens that we are currently in the middle of what we have been calling our “Roald Dahl Summer”. We have been reading through his magical collection and intend to read all his classics before summer is over. Having just recently read Charlie and The Chocolate Factory to them, I was elated to have the opportunity to see the musical. 

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