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This special Andrew Lloyd Webber show — with Donny Osmond’s nephew — is coming to Utah

After more than a year, the Eccles Theater is finally celebrating the return of live performances

SHARE This special Andrew Lloyd Webber show — with Donny Osmond’s nephew — is coming to Utah

People attend a concert at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City on Nov. 2, 2016. After more than a year, the Eccles Theater celebrates reopening to the public with a special show called “The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber.”

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Angela Vanderwell still remembers the people who showed up to the Eccles Theater on March 12, 2020.

Just the night before, the downtown Salt Lake venue had put on a production of the Broadway hit “Dear Evan Hansen.” But as the show about social anxiety and acceptance unfolded inside the theater, COVID-19 news was ramping up in the outside world: Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, had tested positive. And, in breaking news that hit much closer to home, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert had also tested positive.

The next morning, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced that public gatherings in Utah would be limited to groups of 100 people for at least two weeks. And just like that, performing arts venues, including the Eccles Theater, were no longer open to the public.

But the news didn’t reach everyone. On that Thursday night, there were still people who showed up at the Eccles Theater — customers who had traveled from southern Utah and farther to see “Dear Evan Hansen.”

“I still think of the patrons we met at the front door that evening ... only to find the theater closing to public performance indefinitely,” Vanderwell, the general manager of the Eccles Theater, said in a statement to the Deseret News. “That was tough, but we did the right thing — continuing the run for four more performances would have meant another 10,000 patrons in the theater.”

Now, after more than a year, the Eccles Theater is finally celebrating the return of live performances. On Wednesday, the venue announced that Utah musicians and singers will collaborate for a special production in May called “The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber” that will feature songs from “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Cats,” “Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Evita,” among others.

“It is hard to believe the Eccles Theater has not seen a public performance for over a year now, and it amazes me to think of everything our community has been through during that time,” Vanderwell told the Deseret News. “Our Eccles team is thrilled to return to work and welcome our patrons back to the Eccles Theater for this special engagement.”

The Andrew Lloyd Webber production includes a number of well-known performers in Utah: Dallyn Vail Bayles, who most recently played Pontius Pilate in the “Lamb of God” musical film that is currently in theaters; David Osmond who, like his uncle Donny Osmond, has performed the lead role in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” with multiple companies; Lisa Hopkins Seegmiller, a Broadway star and Tony Award-winning soprano who has performed throughout the world; and 18-year-old Lexi Walker, a recording artist who burst into stardom several years ago when many of her performances went viral on YouTube.

Kurt Bestor, an Emmy Award-winning composer and performer from Utah, is collaborating with director Louanne Madorma to produce the production.

“It’s truly a thrill to be involved in this historic reopening — something that would not happen under normal circumstances,” Bestor said in a news release sent to the Deseret News. “You’d never see all of these performers — Utahns who have had starring roles on Broadway and have toured the world — sharing the stage together in a special, limited engagement like this one. They would all normally be busy with separate projects away from home. Each time I make a call to invite someone to join the cast, the reaction is the same. They are ecstatic that this will be their first return to the stage.”

The simultaneous celebration of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music and the return of live performances is a fitting pairing: Throughout the pandemic, Lloyd Webber has been at the forefront of getting the theater industry back on its feet.

Last year, the composer — who turned 73 on Monday — frequently reached out to fans on social media, taking requests and performing songs from his many musicals. Lloyd Webber also launched a YouTube channel called The Shows Must Go On, airing several of his musicals for free on a weekly basis, according to the Deseret News. Donations from the streams went to a number of hard-hit theater organizations, including the Actors Fund, Acting for Others and Broadway Cares.

And, in August 2020, the composer took an experimental coronavirus vaccine to prove he’d “do anything” to help theaters reopen safely, the Deseret News reported.

“Just completed the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine trial,” Lloyd Webber wrote on Twitter. “I’ll do anything to get theatres large and small open again and actors and musicians back to work.”

Tickets for “The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber” go on sale on March 26 at 10 a.m. MDT. With safety measures in place — including reduced capacity, distancing between parties and requiring patrons to wear masks — eight performances will run from May 7-15.

“Utahns and our beloved theatergoers have been strong and resolved apart, and now it is wonderful to be in that moment where we are taking the thoughtful and intentional steps to safely move back into our creative public spaces, especially the performing arts domain, and to exercise one of our deepest human needs, to communally share an experience once again,” Vanderwell said in a statement to the Deseret News.

Note: You can look for other upcoming performances at Salt Lake County venues, or check out the latest updates on big concerts and shows across Utah.