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Draper Journal

Juan Diego, Corner Canyon to provide families with some favorite shows this school year

Sep 05, 2019 12:13PM ● By Julie Slama

Corner Canyon High will present “Elf, the Musical” on its stage in November. (Artwork courtesy of Corner Canyon High)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Footloose and fancy free, students will turn up their dancing shoes to a musical filled with great songs at Juan Diego Catholic High late November.

But before that, the community has the chance to get in the holiday spirit with the newly beloved “Elf, the Musical” at Corner Canyon High.

“Elf” will be performed at 7 p.m., Nov. 14–16, and again Nov. 18 on Corner Canyon’s stage, 12943 South 700 East. There will be a 1 p.m., Saturday matinee. Tickets are $8 in advance through and $10 at the door. 

Footloose will be at 7 p.m., Nov. 21–23 and again Nov. 25 at Juan Diego’s auditorium, 300 East 11800 South. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for students and free to those 5 years old or under.

While “Elf” didn’t hold auditions until late August, it didn’t mean theater students sat around the summer idle. About 40 theater students, along with parents, community members and others interested, joined director Phaidra Atkinson, theater teacher Case Spalding and choir director Melissa Thorne in June for a trip to New York, where they not only toured sites such as the Statue of Liberty, 9/11 memorial, Empire State Building, Coney Island and several museums, but they watched up to nine Broadway musicals.

“We had a talk-back with ‘Beetlejuice’ and asked the actors about what New York living was like and what it takes to be on Broadway, and to learn what it is like behind the scenes with technical theater, but this wasn’t a class and we didn’t take workshops. It was a group of us getting together to explore New York and appreciate its entertainment,” Atkinson said, adding that she takes a group of those interested every other year.

Soon after, on July 7, she learned that Corner Canyon could be one of the first high schools in Utah to perform “Elf” as the rights were released.

 “I’m super excited about it,” she said. “We’ll start rehearsals the week of Sept. 3 and have 10 weeks to put it on. It’s a fun Christmas show, which will get everyone pumped up and in the mood.”

There are several differences between the musical and the 2003 film, starting with the narration being done by Santa Claus instead of Papa Elf, who doesn’t appear in the musical at all, and that Walter Hobbs isn’t obsessed with work, but rather, forgetful and overworked and doesn’t believe in Santa. The store location and names of elves also were changed. 

“Elf” appeared on Broadway in 2010–11, 2012–13, and again in 2017, had four North American tours, and appeared for 10 weeks in the West End of London in 2015–16.

Before the Chargers perform “Elf,” they will take their stage Oct. 2 with their Shakespeare Showcase, which will feature their ensemble piece from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The ensemble, scenes, monologues and more will be performed Oct. 3–5 at the annual high school Shakespeare competition, hosted by the Utah Shakespeare Festival and Southern Utah University, in Cedar City. Corner Canyon students are six-time winners at the Shakespeare competition.

The rest of their season includes “Broadway Backwards,” a student-directed showcase which will help raise funds for Chargers for Charity, at 7 p.m., Dec. 18 in the school’s Little Theatre.

“Check Please” will highlight “a horrible dating experience,” according to Atkinson, at 7 p.m. on March 6–7. Students will perform the show at their region competition in March and state in April.

The season’s ending show for the cast is “Little Shop of Horrors,” at 7 p.m., May 13–16, with a 1 p.m. Saturday matinee.

Sandwiched in between productions, about 100 students will gather for socials, perform service and attend Pioneer Memorial Theatre productions as part of the drama club.

“It’s a place where students feel safe and can express themselves, and be part of the community,” Atkinson said.

Juan Diego also will take the stage in Cedar City as part of the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s high school competition, said director Joe Crnich. He plans to take his ensemble, scene, monologue, dance, choir and tech teams to compete. 

However, students already will be in rehearsals for “Footloose,” a show he chose for this year’s students.

“It’s fun and we have students who will be an amazing cast for it,” he said. “The music is great and the script for the musical is even better than the movie.”

The 1998 musical was made based on the 1984 film, which starred Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer. The musical appeared on Broadway in 1998 and ran for 709 performances. It also appeared on the Strand in London and had national tours in both the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

Shelti Thompson will choreograph the show.

“I want this to not only be fun, but a lesson in tolerance. I want them to try to step in another’s shoes and see their perspectives — to learn from our past,” Crnich said.

After “Footloose,” Crnich will work with students who will perform “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night,” based on the 2003 mystery novel by British writer Mark Haddon. The book has earned several awards including the Whitbread Book Award for best novel and book of the year.

The play, which opened on the West End, tied the record for winning the most (seven) Olivier Awards, including Best New Play in 2013. It’s a story within a story about the mystery surrounding the death of a neighbor's dog that is investigated by young Christopher Boone, who has autism, and Boone’s relationships with his parents and school mentor. 

“Our advanced theater students will read the novel and we’ll have discussions about tolerance, love, acceptance, forgiveness. The book is a brilliant read and the script is just phenomenal,” he said.

The rest of the year will include students competing in their one-act play at region and state in the spring as well as presenting their showcase in May.