LOGAN – The Music Theatre West Encore concert at the Ellen Eccles Theatre over the weekend was the closest thing to a full-scale musical production we’ve seen since March, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
It was long overdue.
The Encore concert was blessed with skillful direction by Debbie Ditton and piano accompaniment by MTW founder Jay Richards. The events featured more than 20 veteran performers, dressed to kill, thrillingly reprising a dozen musical numbers from the company’s productions since 2008. Those performances included solos and duets, some of which were supported by MTW’s trademark lush choral harmonies.
Standout performances among the soloists were Sarah Huff singing “I Could have Danced All Night” from “My Fair Lady,” Trenton Bateman singing “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from “Oklahoma,” Karlee Larsen Workman singing “I Will Fly” from the original MTW production of “Little Women” and young Spencer Needham recalling his spunky version of “Gary, Indiana” from “The Music Man.”
Celeste Bailio and Chrissy Webster set the quality bar high for the duets by hilariously selling an animated rendition of “Marry the Man Today” from “Guys and Dolls.”
Not to be outdone, Siera Perry and Stanton Allen followed up with a breathtaking performance of “How Could I Ever Know?,” the haunting anthem from “The Secret Garden.”
Ensemble numbers in the Encore concert included the upbeat “Go Go Go Joseph” from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” (featuring vocals by Bethany Anderson, Lauren Sidwell, Maxx Tuescher, Ryan Leonhardt and Travis Leonhardt) and a rousing “Into the Fire” from “The Scarlet Pimpernel” (with vocals by Nathan Larsen, Dallin Clark, Bateman, Allen, Teuscher and the Leonhardt brothers).
Marianne Sidwell led the company’s chorus in “Madness Up the Stairs” from the original MTW production of “Jane Eyre” as did Sebrina Woodland in “Getting to Know You” from “The King and I.”
Young Olivia Younker closed the show by singing “Tomorrow” from “Annie” with an assist from the ensemble.
The Encore concert was part of the ongoing Random Acts Community Performance Series hosted by the Cache Valley Center for the Arts, a roster of low-key events intended to gradually lure Cache Valley audiences back into local theaters.
The MTW performers did just that, according to Wendi Hassan, the artistic director of CacheARTS. Given the need for social distancing in the Eccles Theatre, Hassan said the audience turnout for the Encore concert was the first-ever equivalent of a sell-out crowd in this pandemic era.
Seating for upcoming Random Acts events through Aug. 28 will be limited to approximately 100 ticket groups within the 1100-seat Ellen Eccles Theatre to ensure social distancing.
A separate entrance that by-passes the theater’s lobby will be available for attendees who feel the need to take special precautions to avoid public groups.
Events in the Random Acts Community Performance Series will be presented with no intermission, to limit mingling in the theater’s lobby and aisles.
The wearing of facemasks is also mandatory at these performances, thanks to Logan’s citywide mask mandate.
The next Random Acts event is a release party from the album “Insta-Gramo-Phone” by the Utah existential indie rock band Salduro. That event is set for 7:30 p.m on Aug. 22.