LOGAN – Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre has announced the headlining stars of its upcoming 2024 summer season.

This year’s blockbuster will, of course, be the northern Utah premier of the Andrew Lloyd Weber masterpiece Cats.

“We have hoped to produce this show for years,” explains Michael Ballam, the founding general director of UFOMT, “but…the stars have finally aligned.

“We have assembled a group of amazing dancers who have performed Cats on Broadway and in national or international tours.”

Cats is a sung-through musical based on a 1939 poetry collection by T.S. Elliot called “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” It holds the record for the longest running musical in Broadway history, having been seen by an estimated 73 million people.

Cats will star Adrien Swenson as Grizabella. She is familiar to local audiences, having previously performed here in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 2022 and in Elton John’s Aida in 2023.

The show cast will also include Michael Nansel, Tony Mowatt and Maryn Tueller, under the direction of director/choreographer Lauren Haughton Gillis and conductor Andreas Mitisek.

Given the wealth of talent being imported for Cats, the UFOMT is also mounting the Broadcast classics Anything Goes and Guys and Dolls.

Featuring 10 of composer Cole Porter’s biggest hits and jaw-dropping tap dancing, Anything Goes has deservedly been revived on Broadway several times, according to Michael Ballam.

Leading the cast as the unlikely star-crossed lovers Hope Harcourt and Billy Crocker are Tristan Reynolds and Ian Saverin, respectively. Local audiences will remember Ms. Reynolds’ breathtaking performance as Laurie Moss in the UFOMT’s 2022 outdoor production of The Tender Land.

Other cast members will include newcomers Haley Sicking and Trevor Martin.

Director/choreographer Michael Jenkinson will helm Anything Goes, with Mitisek also conducting.

Another crowd-pleasing blast from the UFOMT’s past will be Guys and Dolls, last seen by local audiences in 2010.

With music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, Guys and Dolls is loosely based on the short stories of Damon Runyon. Its score is dazzling and its script is filled with quaint New York dialects and affectations.

Local favorites Stefan Espinosa and Vanessa Ballam will appear in Guys and Dolls as Nathan Detroit and perennial fiancé Miss Adelaide. Also performing will be Trevor Martin as Sky Masterson and Caitlin McKechney as “mission doll” Sarah Brown.

The show will be co-directed and choreographed by George Pinney and Alyssa Weathersby, with music conducted by Karen Keltner.

Opera lovers will be treated to a double-header this summer, with a reprise of Gianni Schicchi, a dark farce by Giacomo Puccini, and Buoso’s Ghost, a relatively contemporary sequel to the 1918 one-act comedy.

Gianni Schicchi was last performed here in 2016 as part of an evening of Puccini’s minor works.

Its plot centers of the greedy family of wealthy Florentine Buoso Donati. Hours after his death, all they care about is being left out of his will.

The tables are turned with the help of trickster Gianni Schicchi, but not the way they expect.

In Buoso’s Ghost, the fun begins two hours after the events in Gianni Schicchi with the trickster trying to unravel the circumstances of Donati’s death.

Naturally, Micheal Ballam will reprise his memorable 2016 performance as Schicchi, along with co-stars Luke Norvel and Emily Hansen. The one-act operas will be directed by Suzan Hanson with music conducted by Ms. Keltner.

Finally, the UFOMT will stage the rock musical Little Shop of Horrors, a small-scale show perfect for the intimate size of the Utah Theatre.

Based on a 1960 low-budget film of the same name, the horror-comedy follows a hapless florist who raises a plant that not only talks, but also feeds on human blood and flesh.

The cast of Little Shop of Horrors will be mostly home-grown talent, starring Stephan Espinosa and Vanessa Ballam doing double-duty with the always watchable Lee Daily and newcomer Eric J. McConnell along for the ride.

The show will be co-directed and choreographed by Pinney and Weathersby, with music conducted by Dallas Aksoy.

The UFOMT 2024 summer season will begin on Friday, July 5 with an evening performance of Little Shop of Horrors and continue through Saturday, Aug. 3.

All performance will be staged in the Ellen Eccles and Utah theaters in downtown Logan.

Tickets can be purchased by calling the UFOMT box office at 800-262-0074 or going online to www.utahfestival.org.

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