Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters

Home | Classifieds | Place an Ad | Public Notices | Galleries | Opinions | Obituaries | Contact Us | Subscribe | e-newsletter | RSS | GrandCanyonTourGuide.com
Grand Canyon News | Grand Canyon, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news April 15, 2014


4/17/2012 11:08:00 AM
Enter stage left: curtain to rise on original theater production in Tusayan
Grand Canyon Dinner Theater and Steakhouse to open in early May
Ryan Williams/WGCN
Doug Hallenbeck takes a break from pre-production work as construction continues on the Grand Canyon Dinner Theatre and Steakhouse in Tusayan.
Ryan Williams/WGCN
Doug Hallenbeck takes a break from pre-production work as construction continues on the Grand Canyon Dinner Theatre and Steakhouse in Tusayan.
Ryan Williams/WGCN
Grand Canyon Dinner Theatre Owner Elling Halvorson said he hopes to bring the “mystery of the old west” to Tusayan with on original stage production.
Ryan Williams/WGCN
Grand Canyon Dinner Theatre Owner Elling Halvorson said he hopes to bring the “mystery of the old west” to Tusayan with on original stage production.

Ryan Williams
Managing Editor


TUSAYAN, Ariz. - When it comes to original, cutting edge theater productions, most people likely think of New York's Broadway and off-Broadway offerings. But, visitors to the Grand Canyon are in for a surprise when they walk through the doors of Tusayan's new Grand Canyon Dinner Theatre & Steakhouse.

The venue's original musical, Miss Kitty's Grand Adventure "I'm No Mail Order Bride", opens May 5.

Formerly the Western Discovery Museum, located off Highway 64, the building is undergoing a radical transformation and will emerge as an old west themed dining and entertainment establishment.

The theater is located in what used to be the museum portion of the building. An old west saloon themed steakhouse will be located in the front of the building.

The steakhouse will feature an antique back bar along with wainscoting, punched ceilings and an old potbelly stove among other period décor.

Writer, director, and vocal arranger Doug Hallenbeck said one of the more interesting aspects of the production is the integration of a large video wall at the rear of the stage.

"It's one giant screen," Hallenbeck said. "In a lot of concert venues or Vegas Cirque venues they use a video wall. But, to actually us it in a theater piece, I've never seen it done, actually. It's a little cutting edge."

Hallenbeck said the show opens at a train station. The screen will display a photo of the station to help set the scene with the stage becoming the railway platform.

During musical numbers the screen will come to life much like a music video.

"We go into a more imaginative place, what's in the character's mind," Hallenbeck said.

How did Hallenbeck, based in the Los Angeles area, end up in Tusayan working on a theater piece?

"It's not the easiest thing to get original stuff produced," Hallenbeck said. "So, to have the opportunity to write something is great."

A writer, director, and vocal arranger, Hallenbeck won the 2011 Magellan Award for Best Entertainment on the High Seas for his vocal direction and arrangements for CANTARE on Holland America's MS New Amsterdam. He brings an extensive theatrical background to the Grand Canyon musical.

Creating a historically accurate yet entertaining production has been a challenge according to Hallenbeck but ultimately very rewarding.

"How am I going to take Harvey Girls and other western elements, how can we bring some of these elements in? How can you research this area and incorporate it? It was a challenge to weave in history without going to a documentary feel. And, finding a way to keep it interesting and dramatic with comedy."

As it turns out, Hallenbeck was up to the task. The show, set in the early 1900s, begins with an encounter on the Grand Canyon Railway platform between Miss Kitty, a young girl from Philadelphia who has come to the wild west to work as a Harvey Girl waitress, and a diverse cast of characters, including the devious Captain Ogilvy, the 'shady lady' Madame de Murska, a happy-go-lucky prospector, Cockeyed Frank Carson, who mistakes Miss Kitty for his mail order bride and a handsome young cowboy, Shane Guthrie, who rides to her rescue.

Elling Halvorson, the Dinner Theatre's owner, said he hopes to bring a world-class entertainment experience to the Grand Canyon.

"It only makes sense to combine the great heritage of hospitality and the mystique of the old west," he said. "The Harvey Girls, the Grand Canyon Railway, the rough and tumble wild west, and the amazing beauty of this entire region are rolled into one grand experience for our visitors."

Hallenbeck said Halvorson and Theater General Manager ClayAnn Cook hired a top-notch music director to update the show's

"The music is definitely from the era, so we went back into that era and found some great stuff," he said. "(Music Director Edward Harris Roth) updated it. Even though a song may have been written in 1900, it has a more up beat arrangement with some country elements, some western elements, some of them are a little more jazz and there is definitely some blues.

Roth has toured with Grammy winners Coolio and Mya, and has played keyboards on recordings including Will Smith, Sophie B. Hawkins and Angie Stone.

The show's choreographer, Laura Nickerson, has worked with Kelly Monaco on "Port Charles," on the stage musicals "Cats," "Mamma Mia," "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" and "Once on this Island," the television pilot "Celebration Station."

The show's actors hail from Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York. Jini Scoville (Miss Kitty), Joshua Taylor Hamilton (Shane Guthrie), Jeffrey Ricca (Captain Ogilvy), Luis Alex Rodriguez (Cockeyed Frank Carson), and Evelyn Connors (Madame de Murska) have appeared in stage productions throughout the U.S., Europe, on cruise ships, as well as in films and TV. Their understudies are a talented cast from Northern Arizona University's School of Music.

Halvorson and Cook were actively involved in the development of the production. As the production took shape, "table reads" were conducted. Hallenbeck said at one such reading four of the productions actors were cast.

Along with the theater experience, the Grand Canyon Dinner Theatre lives up to its name serving a family-style dinner during the show delivered to every table featuring flame-seared steaks, chops, poultry, and fish specials as well as vegetarian options. The wait staff will also wear period costumes, with the waitresses donning vintage Harvey Girl-style uniforms.

The Dinner Theatre is lined with building facades reminiscent of an old west town, accented by wagon wheel chandeliers. The playroom has been built to create the look and feel of an 1890s gaslight theatre, complete with red velvet draperies and lamp posts much like those that stood originally on the streets of Tombstone in the early 1900s.

The dinner video pre-show is projected on two huge video screens and features a look at life in the west, both past and present.

For more information, visit www.grandcanyondinnertheatre.com.







Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Article comment by: Linda Edstrom

So glad to see that Doug is spreading his talent in a new venue. We in the east enjoyed his talents very much. Would like to hear from you, Doug.

Posted: Friday, April 20, 2012
Article comment by: Chris Cross

this is the first concrete example of the new things that halvorsen and stillo will be bringing to the South Rim....I for one am excited

Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Article comment by: John Franklin

This is just the type of thing we need at the South Rim to recapture visitors from Flagstaff, Williams and the West Rim. If there is more to do here, people will stay longer

Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Article comment by: Brian McGaw

As much as I like the idea of an original theater production about the Grand Canyon, looking at this company's website makes me think that this is just another attempt to make a stay at the Grand Canyon more like a Carnival Cruise.



Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. The email and phone info you provide will not be visible to the public. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to 1300 characters or less. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit your comment entries to five(5) per day.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Required
Last Name:
Required
Telephone:
Required
Email:
Required
Comment:
Required
Passcode:
Required
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.
   


Advanced Search

    Recently Commented
Council mulls Tusayan name change
Obituary: Cornelius Michael Verkamp
Guest column: name change discussions spark statewide interest
Grand Canyon School track season underway
Valle business remains a family affair

HSE - We want to hear from you
Find more about Weather in Grand Canyon, AZ
Click for weather forecast






Find It Features Blogs Milestones Submit Extras Other Publications
Home | Classifieds | Place an Ad | Public Notices | Galleries | Opinions | Obituaries | Contact Us | Subscribe | e-newsletter | RSS | Site Map
Superior Propane

© Copyright 2014 Western News&Info, Inc.® Grand Canyon News is the information source for Grand Canyon, Arizona and surrounding communities. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Williams GC Newspapers Inc. Grand Canyon News Online is a service of Williams GC Newspapers Inc. By using the Site, grandcanyonnews.com ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the site's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the site. Click here to submit your questions, comments or suggestions. Grand Canyon News Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2014 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved