OREM — Engemann & Smith Productions, Carl Bacon and Orem Mayor James Evans have teamed up to produce a concert that will hearken back to the days of shows that had something for everybody — big bands, musical theater, instrumentalists, country, pop, comedy, dance and more.
Bacon, one of the show’s producers, described the night as one of “good family entertainment from a group of talented folks, a family-oriented show with a huge Hollywood Bowl sound.”
Those "talented folks" include Utah’s Stars and Friends — meaning the concert will draw mostly from performers who are from Utah, but will still leave the door open for some out-of-state "friends." The concert is June 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Orem’s SCERA Shell Outdoor Theater. Proceeds will go to the upkeep and preservation of the theater, which was founded in 1933 with the goal to “enrich the mind, touch the soul and unify the family,” according to scera.org.
“These are no small potato acts," Bacon said. "We’ll have an array of artists, an eclectic mix.”
Such artists include Jenny Oaks Baker, Dallyn Vail Bayles, Odyssey and Center Stage dance companies, Joshua Creek, Chris Higbee, Reunion, the Engemann family, a 40-piece orchestra led by Ray Smith and more.
There will even be a special appearance via video feed by famous talk show host Larry King, as well as a featured tribute to Engemann of The Lettermen, who passed away in January of this year.
"We also have a few other little surprises along the way,” Bacon added.
Shawn King will be emceeing and singing in the concert. Yes, she is Larry King’s wife, but she is also an Engemann, loves Utah and has strong childhood ties with the SCERA Shell.
“It is such an institution,” said Shawn King, who also described it as a magical place. “It was a great idea to have this fundraiser, and it was something my uncle Bobby really wanted.”
The concept for a benefit concert was something Engemann and Bacon had been working on for a long time, and King explained that before Engemann died, he was very insistent that they make it happen. “That’s not the way he operates. But he said, ‘You’ve got to get this done.’ And now it’s happening, which makes me so happy.”
Along with the satisfaction of preserving the Shell and fulfilling Engemann’s dream, many performers have expressed deep appreciation for being part of an event that celebrates Utah talent.
Bayles, who was born and raised in Utah, has made a career out of musical theater that has taken him all over the country and abroad. Yet he still feels that Utah measures up just as well artistically as any other big entertainment hub like New York. “We have phenomenal talent here in Utah that’s just world-class," Bayles said.
“This is going to be a wonderful evening of entertainment, and I hope that people will come out and support that, support their fellow Utahns who are artists.”
Bayles, who currently lives in Springville, will be moving with his family to Boston in the next couple months to pursue an MFA in musical theater at the Boston Conservatory. But he is very proud to be from Utah and doesn’t plan on forgetting his roots anytime soon.
Bacon said if this first concert does well enough, producers would like to see this turn into a series that will continue to give Utah artists a chance to be showcased and celebrated, all while providing a good family activity.
For King, “It’s tough to find something nowadays for the whole family to go to, and this could be that. You can bring anyone from kids to grandparents. Each show will always have something for everyone.”
King remembered many nights she and her family spent going to events at the Shell. “We all have experiences from when we were kids that stand out, those magical golden moments. I hope this concert will be that — that kids will say, ‘Remember when we went to the Shell?’”
With the number of quality performers Utah has to offer, Bacon thinks Utah’s Stars and Friends concert could stick around for a long time.
“It will be fun to see if we can, well, it won’t be ‘if we can,’ but it will be fun when we make this something that happens throughout the year,” Bacon said. “I’m trusting it’s going to be good.”
Tickets are available on the Utah’s Stars and Friends website, www.utahsstars.com.
Kate Sullivan is an intern for the Deseret News with Mormon Times. She is studying English at Brigham Young University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org