SALT LAKE CITY — After Odyssey Dance Theatre’s European tour was canceled this spring due to COVID-19, the Utah group’s founder and artistic director Derryl Yeager kept thinking the pandemic should be pretty much over by about July.
“That was my thought back in March, and here we are in October and we’re still dealing with it in a major way,” Yeager said.
Because of that, Odyssey Dance Theatre has had to make several adjustments to its popular fall production of “Thriller” this year because of the coronavirus.
For the first time ever, audiences will have the option to watch “Thriller” from home by purchasing a recorded video performance of the show available Oct. 26 for $40 per household at odysseydance.com. Yeager said he would put the video up for about a week, so viewers can choose when they want to watch it.
“We’ve never put one out there, but I videotape the show every year, so I’ve got tons and tons and tons of footage,” Yeager said. “I’m just going to put together a really nice edited version of the show and let people enjoy it at home.”
The dance company will also perform “Thriller” live Oct. 20-24 at the Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City and Oct. 27-31 at the Tuacahn Amphitheatre in Ivins near St. George, with tickets available online.
“Live theater is such a unique thing,” Yeager said. “To experience it with an audience is also really, really important, and the best way to actually experience the show, because having the people around you and you’re all laughing together and enjoying it together, it’s pretty cool.”
Odyssey Dance Theatre had to cancel its usual four-week run in Park City when the theater it had scheduled with shut down due to COVID-19, as well as its traditional two-week run at Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City after the venue closed through January.
Coronavirus precautions at the live performances this season will include a mask requirement, limited seating with social distancing, and shortening the show to an hour and a half with no intermission to limit audience interaction. The production has also eliminated its usual actors dressed as zombies roaming around the audience prior to the show and the “Chucky-Rama” number with 9- to 12-year-old dancers.
“But all their favorite staples will be there, and we’re going to have a thrilling time,” Yeager said.
“Thriller” is known for its collection of Halloween vignette dances including “Thriller,” “The Curse of the Mummy,” “Dem Bones,” “Frankenstein,” “Jason Jam,” “Salem’s Mass” and “The Lost Boys.”
The company’s dancers are thrilled to be performing the fall show, especially since their tour in March was canceled, according to Yeager.
“It was kind of a weird end to the season because that’s usually the highlight of our season is to go on our European tour,” Yeager said. “That tour has been rescheduled for next year, next spring, but we shall see at this point. Everything’s up for grabs and we’re just kind of going with the flow.”
Yeager said though “Thriller” will be a lot different than normal this season and the company will probably just break even on the production, he thinks it’s important to do the show.
“I figured this year, people just need to do something. They’re just so COVIDed out in terms of just the stress and all that stuff, and they see everything around them being canceled right and left,” Yeager said. “The show is such an escape for people. Utah audiences just love it.”