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They say all the world is a stage. But when the right talent is involved, all the world flocks to one stage. Several special performers are taking the lead at the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre this summer.
They have an impressive season of concerts and musical theater in store for the summer, featuring old favorites like “Mary Poppins” and “Newsies,” operatic classics like “The Marriage of Figaro” and fresh productions like “Bravo, Caruso.”
Of course, a show is only as strong as its players, and that’s where Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre hits all the right notes. This season highlights some showstopping — or rather show-making — talent. Reserve your seats but don’t plan on sitting too long; these gifted actors and musicians are sure to win a standing ovation.
For some people, there’s just music in the soul. That’s certainly the case for Michael Ballam, Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre’s founding general director. At age 24, Ballam became the youngest person to earn a Doctor of Musical Distinction in the history of Indiana University. Since then, the talented singer, pianist and oboist has shared stages around the globe with the world’s most talented performers.
As the author of more than 40 publications and recordings in international distribution, it’s no surprise Ballam was named one of the 100 Top Achievers in Utah by U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He was also appointed Artist Extraordinaire by the Governor of Utah in 2003. Ballam will take center stage this season as the title role in “Bravo, Caruso.”
With talents that span opera, musical theater, theater and concert performance, it’s no wonder LA Weekly lauded Suzan Hanson as “Best Opera Diva.” But this diva doesn’t require a spotlight; in fact, this season, Hanson’s genius shines from backstage, as she takes on a directing role in “The Marriage of Figaro.” Of course, a star still deserves a spotlight, so be sure to catch Hanson playing Maria Callas in “Master Class.”
Amanda Compton LoPresti
Stand back Julie Andrews and Emily Blunt, there’s some new talent stepping under that umbrella. Amanda Compton LoPresti is taking the Logan stage by storm — with a spoonful of sugar, of course. In her debut season with UFOMT, LoPresti puts her own mark on “Mary Poppins” in the starring role.
Previously performing with the LA Opera and several Chicago theaters, LoPresti’s background also includes assisting in direction and choreography. You can find her most notable performances and roles on her website.
The third time is shaping up to show the charm with Molly Mustonen, whose role as Winifred Banks in “Mary Poppins” marks her third season with Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre. Well-versed (and well-traveled) in musical theater, Mustonen’s repertoire includes roles in “The Music Man,” “My Fair Lady,” The Seagull, “The Crucible,” “Carmen” and many more. Her accomplished career has earned high praise — the New York Times praised her “powerful sound and striking stage presence.”
A veteran of Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre, Stefan Espinosa brings his charismatic presence back to the stage this season, with roles in “Newsies” and “Bravo, Caruso!.” Espinosa, who currently runs the Utah Festival Conservatory of the Performing Arts and teaches theater at Idaho State University, has previously charmed audiences as the baker in “Into the Woods,” Clopin in “Hunchback,” Motel in “Fiddler on the Roof" and Thenardier in “Les Miserables,” to name a few. This year, Espinoza will also serve as fight choreographer for various Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre productions, in addition to his roles on stage.
With stars lighting up the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre stage, this is one season you won’t want to miss. To learn more about the other performers participating in the Logan festival, visit The Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre website.