Song: Hero of My Story

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Ages 8-11

 
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Michael McLean

MICHAEL MCLEAN has sold more than two million albums of his songs; has written, produced, and directed award-winning films starring Film Legends/Academy Award Winning actors James Stewart and Celeste Holm; and has annually presented his landmark Christmas production, The Forgotten Carols, based on his book, (and adapted for the stage by his son M. Scott McLean) to sold-out audiences (over a million tickets sold) throughout the United States since 1991


M. Scott McLean

Scott McLean is an award winning actor, songwriter, author and playwright. A graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts (NYC) and The National Theatre Conservatory (Denver), Scott lives, writes, acts, creates, and performs in New York City.

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Jeffrey Thomas McLean

While still in High School vocalist Jeff McLean moved to Malibu, California to be mentored and taught by legendary vocal coach Seth Riggs. Within a year he was performing with record producer David Foster at fund raising events, and then he recorded his first of three albums for an indie record label and toured extensively (throughout the United States, Canada, Spain, Norway, Asia and in Jerusalem) Working non stop as a performer and studio singer right out of high school Jeff sang his way around the world on a 5 star Luxury Liner, and then landed at job in the Las Vegas Production of SPAMALOT (being directed by Mike Nichols)  Then came Jeff’s FIRST NATIONAL TOUR of “Legally Blonde” for two years, followed by “Cabaret” at Jason Alexander’s theatre company in LA, and a place in the cast of Tales Of The City in San Francisco.   Working with Broadway Royalty like Jerry Mitchell, Casey Nicola, Marsha Dodge and Jack O’Brien, Jeff turned to vocal coaching, directing and producing young singers/performers in LA and the Intermountain West.  (Ben Platt being one of those students).  His career then introduced him to working in film as the Vocal Coach for the cast of DEAR DUMB DIARY (produced by Janet Zucker and Distributed by Walden Media) Jeff’s passion and professionalism in theatre and film (and associations with some of the best producers/directors in the business) have prepared him perfectly for expanding his role as a Theatrical Producer.  Current projects include, the 25 th  anniversary of THE SECRET GARDEN,  Jerry Zucker’s new musical comedy INTERMISSION, and the newest holiday hit from the 20 th  NY Fringe Festival FAIRY TALE CHRISTMAS with World Premiere at Tuacahn Center for the Performing Arts.

Theater Review: ‘Fairy Tale
Christmas’ at Tuacahn

 
 
 Jennifer Byrne as Sleeping Beauty, Jordan Aragon as Jack, Hannah Record as Cinderella, Courtney Capek as Pinocchio, and Aléna Watters as Snow White. Photo courtesy of Tuacahn.

Jennifer Byrne as Sleeping Beauty, Jordan Aragon as Jack, Hannah Record as Cinderella, Courtney Capek as Pinocchio, and Aléna Watters as Snow White. Photo courtesy of Tuacahn.

 

“Fairy Tale Christmas” is, perhaps, one of the most creative productions to ever grace a Southern Utah stage. That’s saying a lot for a region that is home to both Tuacahn Center for the Arts and the Utah Shakespeare Festival. It’s even more impressive because Tuacahn’s current production of “Fairy Tale Christmas” is a world premiere.

This is the first full production of the new musical, which previously appeared at the New York International Fringe Festival and Tuacahn’s own New Works Festival. The book was written by M. Scott McLean while the music and lyrics were written by M. Scott McLean and his father, Michael McLean, who is probably best known for his beloved musical, “The Forgotten Carols.”

It’s a story about heroes and villains, many of whom will be familiar to children and adults alike. But because it’s Christmastime, those legendary fairytale characters will be transported to the North Pole, where they interact with Santa Claus, of course.

 DeMone as Santa. Photo courtesy of Tuacahn

DeMone as Santa. Photo courtesy of Tuacahn

We first meet the fairytale villains as they begin to hatch a plan to hijack Christmas and destroy the concept of “happily ever after.” Thankfully, Santa has some heroic friends like Cinderella, Snow White and Pinocchio to help him out.

There probably aren’t enough positive adjectives out there to fully encapsulate “Fairy Tale Christmas.” It’s fun and captivating and sweet. It even has surprising depth, offering moments that can be quite moving.

While it takes place in the North Pole, the production inside Tuacahn High School’s indoor Hafen Theatre is quite cozy. This isn’t a high school production, though. All seven actors are Equity professionals and it shows. There’s even a live orchestra that is so good, it sounds as if the actors are singing along to studio tracks.

Even though the first number, “South Side Outside,” was slightly noisy on Tuesday (perhaps the sound balance was off at first?), it’s still a dynamic and catchy opener — benefitting, like every other musical number, from director/choreographer Jeffry Denman’s brilliant machinations. The actors’ timing, blocking and dancing was practically flawless, showing Denman’s skills in bringing it all together.

 Hannah Record as Singing Elf, Aléna Watters as Singing Elf, and Jennifer Byrne as Singing Elf. Photo courtesy of Tuacahn.

Hannah Record as Singing Elf, Aléna Watters as Singing Elf, and Jennifer Byrne as Singing Elf. Photo courtesy of Tuacahn.

We first meet the fairytale villains as they begin to hatch a plan to hijack Christmas and destroy the concept of “happily ever after.” Thankfully, Santa has some heroic friends like Cinderella, Snow White and Pinocchio to help him out.

There probably aren’t enough positive adjectives out there to fully encapsulate “Fairy Tale Christmas.” It’s fun and captivating and sweet. It even has surprising depth, offering moments that can be quite moving.

While it takes place in the North Pole, the production inside Tuacahn High School’s indoor Hafen Theatre is quite cozy. This isn’t a high school production, though. All seven actors are Equity professionals and it shows. There’s even a live orchestra that is so good, it sounds as if the actors are singing along to studio tracks.

Even though the first number, “South Side Outside,” was slightly noisy on Tuesday (perhaps the sound balance was off at first?), it’s still a dynamic and catchy opener — benefitting, like every other musical number, from director/choreographer Jeffry Denman’s brilliant machinations. The actors’ timing, blocking and dancing was practically flawless, showing Denman’s skills in bringing it all together.

 Jordan Aragon as Kevin Snickerdoodle and Courtney Capek as Imogene. Photo courtesy of Tuacahn.

Jordan Aragon as Kevin Snickerdoodle and Courtney Capek as Imogene. Photo courtesy of Tuacahn.

Courtney Capek is the heart of the play, giving us the sweet elf Imogene and the equally sweet little Pinocchio, while also portraying Belle and another singing elf.

DeMone is our tour guide through this fantasyland as the tavern owner Barnaby while also playing the small parts of Magic Mirror and Harold the Herald. Yet it’s his soulful Santa Claus that proves to me most memorable, especially with catchphrases like, “Sweet frosty marzipan!”

Hannah Record plays a stereotypical evil monarch as Drama Queen. Additionally, she’s another singing elf and Cinderella, who appears to be the leader of the hero characters. Yet it’s her short stint as Telegram Stan that will have the tears of laughter rolling down your face.

Finally, Aléna Watters gives us the Maleficent-like Medoza and Snow White, while also proving to be the most memorable of the singing elves, thanks to a hilarious, cartoonish accent.

Technically, it’s a brilliant production as well. Brad Shelton did his normally excellent work on the set design, but it’s enhanced by an inventive use of video projection to change sets within milliseconds. Even better are the enchanting flying scenes in Santa’s sleigh. This is next-level technical theater.

Whether you’re singing along with Santa on “Dream Sleigh” (“It’s powered by reindeer poo”) or breakin’ it down with DJ Crownz (Prince Charming’s side job, apparently), “Fairy Tale Christmas” is a whole lot of fun.

It’s not all entertainment though. Part of the storyline rests on Santa’s decision to give presents to all the children of the world, not just the “good kids,” because every child has goodness. And, ultimately, it’s not a story about heroes and villains; it’s a story about people — people who are complicated and nuanced and, yes, maybe even deserving of a little redemption.

All of this comes together to create a clever theatrical production that is just as magical as it is joyful. It’s too bad the Christmas theme will likely relegate a “Fairy Tale Christmas” to a certain time of year because it’s a story for all seasons.

“Fairy Tale Christmas” continues every Monday through Saturday until Dec. 30 (with the exception of Dec. 25 and 26) with showtimes at 7:30 p.m. each day and 4 p.m. matinees on Fridays and Saturdays. It is staged in the indoor Hafen Theatre at Tuacahn High School, 1100 Tuacahn Drive, Ivins. Tickets are $29-$39. Visit Tuacahn.org or call 800-746-9882.

 Hannah Record as Drama Queen, Matt Ban as Giant, Aléna Watters as Medoza, and Jennifer Byrne as Agatha. Photo courtesy of Tuacahn.   

Hannah Record as Drama Queen, Matt Ban as Giant, Aléna Watters as Medoza, and Jennifer Byrne as Agatha. Photo courtesy of Tuacahn.

 

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