Tuacahn Amphitheatre in St. George Utah
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
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
Stadium seating at Tuacahn offers everyone a great view.
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, 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
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
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
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
Pianist Jon Schmidt performing at Tuacahn
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.
Directions to Tuacahn Amphitheatre
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Tuacahn St. George Utah
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