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Tuacahn Amphitheatre in St. George Utah

Updated on June 25, 2017

Tuacahn Canyon of the Gods

One of my favorite places to visit each summer is the Tuacahn Amphitheatre in St. George, Utah.  Tuacahn is a Mayan word which means “Canyon of the Gods”, and when you experience Tuacahn for yourself you will understand why the name is so appropriate.   Tuacahn is an outdoor amphitheater nestled in the valley of 1500 foot, indescribably beautiful, red rock cliffs.  Seriously , the beauty is so magnificent it makes you want to cry! In southern Utah’s “Dixie” the Tuacahn Theatre is known as “Broadway in the Desert”.   

The spectacular Tuacahn Amphitheatre

Snuggled between the red cliffs of Utah, the stage is set for a wonderful show.
Snuggled between the red cliffs of Utah, the stage is set for a wonderful show.

A brief history of the Tuacahn Amphitheatre

I thought you might be interested in a little bit of history surrounding Tuacahn.  When Orval Hafen, and his wife Ruth, first came to the St. George area at the turn of the century, they stumbled on to the exact location of where the Tuacahn Amphitheatre stands today.  Awestruck by the beauty of the area, and believe me, I know what they felt, they bought an eighty-acre parcel in the canyon and built a little cabin there.  I think, if I were the Hafen’s, I would have lived there forever, but today all that remains of their cabin can be found  directly behind the Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts which is now a part of their original property.

Broadway Style in the Desert, The Tuacahn

The Tuacahn facility draws over 100,000 people each year to their summer productions.
The Tuacahn facility draws over 100,000 people each year to their summer productions.

Stadium seating at Tuacahn offers everyone a great view.

Tuacahn is a great place to take the entire family for a Broadway style show.
Tuacahn is a great place to take the entire family for a Broadway style show.

Tuacahn goes from a dream to a reality.

Then, in 1993, while hiking in the canyon searching for a suitable place to build an amphitheater, which was a dream he had, Doug Stewart, a local resident and noted playwright, stumbled across that same canyon and lowly cabin of the Hafans. He knew instantly that this would be the perfect location for the project he had envisioned.

Stewart raised funds through a non-profit organization which he established to make his dream, and vision, become a reality. Three hundred thousand dollars later, the organization had raised enough money to purchase the 80 acres of land from a collection of investors who lived in Bountiful, Utah, and that was just the beginning.

Today, that plot of land houses a 42,000 square foot facility featuring a 330 seat indoor theater, a dance studio, a black-box theater, a recital hall, a costume shop and scene shop, studios and classrooms, and a gift shop, all of which were built to complement the jewel of Tuacahn - a 1920-seat outdoor amphitheatre, which was completed in the spring of 1995 to the tune of over 23 million dollars.

The original cast recording of Utah- The Musical Spectacular

Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts

Utah's first charter school, located in Ivins, near St. George, at the base of Padre Canyon.
Utah's first charter school, located in Ivins, near St. George, at the base of Padre Canyon.

Utah, the musical debuted at Tuacahn

Initially the Tuacahn was the home of the original musical production called, Utah, which was written by Doug Stewart himself. Although the production ran only four seasons, not quite what Stewart had hoped for, and was attended by over 250,000 patrons, the venue quickly gave way to other Broadway-style productions.

In 1999, Tuacahn tried something entirely different and created their first “Summer Festival of Theatre” by offering two productions instead of the one. The two that debuted were Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. That same year Tuacahn began operation of theTuacahn High School for the Performing Arts, the first charter school in the state of Utah.

The Wizard of Oz at Tuacahn

From the 2003 season at Tuacahn, the Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz made its way to the desert.
From the 2003 season at Tuacahn, the Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz made its way to the desert.

Only at the Tuacahn Amphitheatre can the stage be completely flooded during each performance.

The location of the Tuacahn Amphitheatre is spectacular, but that is not the only spectacular thing about it. The location allows for the stage to be completely flooded with water during its summer performances. This is truly something that must be seen to be believed, and something that Tuacahn is famous for. Productions like Annie Get Your Gun, Guys and Dolls, My Fair Lady, and even Little Shop of Horrors are all enhanced with a scene where the stage is completely flooded during each performance.

Tuacahn and Peter Pan

Wendy, Michael, and John soar high in the air with the beautiful red cliffs behind.
Wendy, Michael, and John soar high in the air with the beautiful red cliffs behind.

Dinner and a show at Tuacahn.

Tuacahn’s “Summer Festival of Theatre” runs from June to October, offering two different productions, depending on the night you choose to go. The 2010 season selections are Tarzan, based on the Disney film, and the 1992 Tony Award for Best Musical, Crazy For You. Tickets for the show range from $17.00 to $56.00 a person, depending on the seat.

For an additional cost of $12.50 for adults, and $9.50 for children 12 and under, you can purchase a pre-show dinner and view the plaza pre-show. The Golden Corral is the provider for the dinner which is enjoyed in an outdoor dining area amid the beautiful red cliffs. While waiting to be seated in the main amphitheater, in the Plaza, you will also enjoy various actors performing energetic and nostalgic musical numbers.

Cinderella at Tuacahn

The costumes and actors are first class at Tuacahn.
The costumes and actors are first class at Tuacahn.

See Tarzan at Tuacahn 2010

Christmas at Tuacahn.

During the Christmas Season, Tuacahn also presents, Christmas in the Canyon. In addition to a live Nativity which is presented in the Amphitheatre with real camels and everything, you can be entertained with lights and wonderful holiday music on the Tuacahn Plaza. Expect a visit from Santa Claus there every night as well. 

The festival is free, but the live Nativity is $2.00 per ticket or $10.00 per family. 

Spend Christmas at Tuacahn

The splendor of lights as Tuacahn is decorated for the holiday season lights up the valley.
The splendor of lights as Tuacahn is decorated for the holiday season lights up the valley.

Pianist Jon Schmidt performing at Tuacahn

Tuacahn offers the perfect venue for performances and concerts.
Tuacahn offers the perfect venue for performances and concerts.

Concerts and other performances at Tuacahn.

The Tuacahn is also the venue for concerts during the off season of the productions. Starting October 2010 the Odyssey Dance Theatre’s “Thriller” performs to add a spooky touch to your Halloween season.

Other performers in 2010 to look for include; Michael Martin Murphey, the “singing cowboy poet”, Justin Hines, performing a Red Rock Center Benefit, Abba Mania, performing a tribute to the musical group Abba, Nathan Osmond & Noteworthy, son of Alan Osmond, accomplished country singer songwriter, and finishing the season with, Now That’s Christmas, a holiday musical review.

The Tuacahn Amphitheatre has a grandeur that must be experienced.

For me, I must admit, the dinner is fair and could be skipped.  The performance however is a must!  They are always professionally done and include amazing costumes and scenery. 

More than anything else though is the experience of the grandeur of the Tuacahn Amphitheatre itself.  Although I have tried to show it with pictures and words, it is simply impossible to describe the beauty of the theatre.  One must simply experience the Tuacahn firsthand. 

Let me know if it makes you want to cry too!

The Red Cliffs that surround Tuacahn.

Simply majestic, enough to take your breath away, or even make you cry.
Simply majestic, enough to take your breath away, or even make you cry.

Directions to Tuacahn Amphitheatre

A markerTuacahn Amphitheatre -
Tuacahn Dr, Ivins, UT, USA
get directions

Tuacahn St. George Utah

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    • In The Doghouse profile image
      Author

      In The Doghouse 7 years ago from California

      @ SimoneSmith- Utah has a ton of cultural things to do there that most people don't even realize exist. St. George is an amazing place to visit. The beauty of the red cliffs is so indescribable, you simply must go and visit someday. The Tuacahn is my favorite place to see a musical.. I think I like it even better than LA, London, or New York!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 7 years ago from San Francisco

      WOW. History, details on the surrounding area, images, video... you've got it all here! This is an AWESOME hub about an AWESOME place... gosh, I hope I can see it for myself someday!

    • In The Doghouse profile image
      Author

      In The Doghouse 7 years ago from California

      @Hello, hello- I am glad you liked Tuacahn. The location is amazing for sure.

      @goldenpath- Sorry to make you homesick for Utah, but I am glad that I introduced you to Tuacahn. Definitely go next summer with your family... it is an experience you will never forget! I love those red cliffs of St. George too!

    • goldenpath profile image

      goldenpath 7 years ago from Shenandoah, Iowa, USA

      Thanks a lot! Before, I only missed Utah a lot. Now you just kicked it into high gear. I did not know of this blessed place. I MUST take the family and go. I think I'll strive for next summer! Thanks!!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for the introduction of such a beautiful place and theather. It is amazing.

    • In The Doghouse profile image
      Author

      In The Doghouse 7 years ago from California

      Hi Steph,

      Thanks for the kind thoughts...this is not the winning hub though! lol I do love the red cliffs of Utah, they are completely unforgettable aren't they. If you ever get a chance go to Tuacahn... it is amazing...

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      So glad you won!! What a great post - I love the gorgeous red cliffs of Utah - I will never forget our trip there when I was in high school. Cheers to you, D!

      Steph

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