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UVU teams up with Sundance to produce great summer theater

By Carole Mikita | Posted - Jul 29th, 2013 @ 8:07pm



PROVO — Take a beautiful resort setting and combine it with the talents of Utah Valley University's theatre department and what you get is Sundance Summer Theatre.

Theatre in the mountains began the year after after Robert Redford opened the Sundance Resort in 1970, but it closed for a time in 2002.

In 2008, the resort and the university came together and audiences returned to watching musicals on Mount Timpanogos. Sundance Summer Theatre has just opened its 6th season in a partnership with UVU. The two have been sharing costs as well as profits, and giving young actors college credits and theatrical experience.

"The opportunity to come here and have a partnership with everything that I've learned over the past few years in the classroom, and then have an opportunity to use that in a professional setting, has been incredible," said Ben Henderson, who plays Frank in the school's production of "Annie Get Your Gun."

"All the sets that you see were built by UVU students or alumni in their scene shop," said director Kymberly Mellen. "Painted, designed, built. Our sound engineers, our follow spot operator, the stitchers, the costumes... Almost all of it was done by students."

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The theatre is getting back to its roots with a musical not produced here since the 70s.

"We typically narrow it down to about three productions and then I take those to Robert Redford and we ultimately let him choose the production," said Sundance General Manager Chad Linebaugh.

But this is not the old film version Annie Oakley. The contemporary script brings the message of equality.

You can be comfortable with who you are," said MacKenzie Pedersen, who plays Annie. "And really, it's about finding yourself, what you're good at, what you're bad at and just being comfortable in your own skin.

Since 2008, every season has been a sell-out. Cast and crew are hoping that will continue this year. Theatre goers even look forward to their ride to the theatre: You park in one area, then get on a trailer, and then a big tractor pulls up the mountain to your seats.

"Annie Get Your Gun" runs through Aug. 17.

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Carole Mikita

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