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ST. GEORGE -- Some fancy footwork and a feisty bunch of orphans are entertaining crowds in southern Utah at Tuacahn, which is celebrating its 14th year with musical productions in the desert.
Tuacahn's artistic director says he did a little budget tightening anticipating the tough economy but, so far, the shows are doing extremely well.
In the production of "Annie," Grace Etzkorn from Chicago plays the lead. A veteran of the national touring company, she loves performing at Tuacahn.
"It's amazing, especially because it's outside. It's just really cool because you have all the mountains and everything. It's just different," Etzkorn said.
New York actor, Ron Brown, is thrilled to be at Tuacahn.
"I'm familiar with this part of the country, so I knew how beautiful it was. But I've never been exactly here, and when I saw it I said, 'Wow, they built the theater right here!' And I said, 'Well, I'm gonna enjoy myself all summer long,'" Brown said.
The theater's artistic director says Tuacahn has been fortunate in this economy, having its second-best year ever in sales.
"We always tell people: If you've seen these shows somewhere, come see it here because we'll do it a little different. And it's a lot of fun, and people are really catching onto that idea and coming out here and seeing a great production," said Scott S. Anderson, Tuacahn's artistic director.
This season also includes "Footloose," starring a couple of actors from Los Angeles.
"It's a great place. Hot, but awesome. It's a fun place. Obviously, the venue is different than anything else I've ever worked in -- you know, mostly indoor theaters. So, this really lends itself to a whole new adventure," said Kyli Rae, who plays Aerial Moore in "Footloose."
The lead role went to a young man featured in last season's "So You Think You Can Dance."
"I was a finalist in that, and then I got it. Once they asked me to come here, I was just excited to, like, move into a principal role and to be able to play a part like Ren. It's been awesome. I love it," said actor Thayne Japerson.
Both "Footloose" and "Annie" run through mid-October. A third show, "Aida," opens at the end of August and ends Oct. 17. "AIDA" tickets are breaking all previous sales records for the fall.