Utah Repertory Theater Company announces evening of entertainment, celebration at its first 'Gala!'

Published: Saturday, Nov. 16 2013 12:00 p.m. MST

Talon Ackerman

Courtesy Utah Repertory Theater Company

Utah Repertory Theater Company announces an evening of entertainment and celebration at its first “Gala!”

Performances will include musical scenes from the company's first year of productions and selections from "Bonnie & Clyde," which Utah Rep will produce in January. In addition, there will be a guest performer: Utah resident Talon Ackerman, who created the role of Young Clyde in the original production of the Frank Wildhorn musical on Broadway.

The theme of the evening is "Wanted! Dead or Alive," following the company's season-opener, "Bonnie & Clyde," which will be a Utah premiere. The announcement will be made of the company's 2014 season of productions.

Utah Rep's “Gala!” will be held at Utah Arts Alliance (663 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City) on Saturday, Nov. 23, at 7 p.m., which will allow guests to tour the under-construction Cube Theater being renovated by UAA as Utah Rep's resident theater.

Hosting the fundraising event for the nonprofit Utah Rep is Bethany R. Woodruff, the Internet sensation known as "The Poo-Pourri Girl," and Christian Busath, who performed the comic role of William Barfee in "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" national tour.

"One of the greatest things about being a theater company and artists in general is this amazing community we get to be a part of," says “Gala!” organizer Ashley Ramsey, Utah Rep assistant director of development. "There are going to be fantastic performances, great food and a fabulous silent auction with some wonderful prizes to take home."

"We want to celebrate a wonderful year of theater —and raise funds for another," Ramsey said. "We have been so blessed at Utah Rep with the level of talent that has been in our shows. This is our way to showcase these talented performers and entertain the ‘Gala!’ audience."

Utah Valley University Theatre Department chairman Chris Clark will be honored with a Theater Educator Award for "the passion he has to see his students succeed." The popular local director was recently recognized by the national Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival for the university's production of "Vincent in Brixton."

The Reppy Award (a local version of the Tony) will be given to company members for best actors and production team members, and recognition of outstanding contributions.

Students from Utah's Pioneer High School for the Performing Arts will perform "Seasons of Love" from "Rent," following a successful volunteer fundraising event hosted by the students.

Along with introducing the theater community to "Bonnie & Clyde," the theme of the “Gala!” recognizes that Utah Rep is "a bit of a rebel in the theater community," Ramsey said. "The company is producing different shows than any other theater in Utah, and we are very passionate about these great, forgotten or ignored shows."

Utah Rep's inaugural season featured three state premieres, including "Side Show," and "Carousel," the first Utah production in more than 10 years of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic.

Along with his New York City performance in "Bonnie & Clyde," Ackerman performed on Broadway in "Leap of Faith" and the national tour of "Mary Poppins" as Michael Banks. His credits include "The Secret Garden" (Collin Craven), “Peter Pan” (Michael Darling) and "Disney's Beauty and the Beast" (Chip), along with film roles in "Daddy Day Camp," "The Reunion" and "One Good Man."

Scottish native and UVU student Woodruff performed a lead role in the Utah Rep production of "What the Bellhop Saw," and has also appeared in "The Curious Savage" and "The Crucible."

"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" actor Busath has also appeared as Henry in "The Fantasticks" and worked on Broadway in "The Lion King." Following his association with Amy Poehler's The Upright Citizen's Brigade improvisational comedy company, Busath appeared in the notable YouTube video "Real Life Fruit Ninja," which has garnered 25 million views.

“Gala!” tickets are $7 for students and $10 for adults and can be purchased at UtahRep.org or at the door.

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