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Taylorsville Journal

‘Does your mother know that you’re out’ singing and dancing in traffic to publicize your show?

Aug 22, 2019 05:18PM ● By Carl Fauver

Motorists driving in front of the Taylorsville Bennion Heritage Center one Saturday morning this summer got a surprise sneak preview of “Mamma Mia!” if they were lucky enough to hit the red light. (facebook/Taylorsville Arts Council)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

If it’s good enough for Will Smith and cast members of the movie “Aladdin,” shouldn’t it work for the Taylorsville Arts Council production of “Mamma Mia!”?

That was the thinking behind arts council vice chair Susan Holman’s suggestion, “Mamma Mia!” Cast members spend a Saturday morning running in and out of traffic in front of the Taylorsville Bennion Heritage Center (1450 West 4800 South) to perform brief snippets of their show on the crosswalk during red lights.

“I enjoy ‘The Late, Late Show with James Corden’ (CBS) and particularly the ‘Crosswalk the Musical’ segments,” Holman said. “During traffic red lights, performers race into the street, perform for maybe a minute and then run off again when the light changes.”

Several of the late-night television show’s crosswalk segments, including the one with “Aladdin” cast members, can be found on YouTube. And don’t worry, Unified Police gave the “Mamma Mia!” producer the thumbs up.

“I don’t know if (the crosswalk performances) sold any additional tickets, but it was fun,” Holman said. “So, my guess is we will do it again in the future.”

As for the six-night production at Salt Lake Community College’s Alder Amphitheater, veteran Taylorsville Arts Council Director Wendy Dahl-Smedshammer considered it one of their biggest hits.

“I was thrilled with our cast and crew; they were fantastic,” Dahl-Smedshammer said. “We had 60 cast members, a crew of 12, an eight-piece band and great crowds each night. It was wonderful — certainly one of our most successful productions ever. I have been excited to direct ‘Mamma Mia!’ for two years. It was a lot of fun.”

Of all the cast members, only one faced the additional challenge of singing and dancing while seated in the wheelchair she has used since age 5.

“Amanda is a rock star,” Dahl-Smedshammer said. “Her arms are amazing. I have directed about 10 people in wheelchairs over the years. She was one of the best performers I have directed.”

Amanda King, a Colorado native, was making her very first appearance on a Taylorsville Arts Council stage.

“I have never been able to walk, got my first wheelchair at age 3 and really began using it at age 5,” King said. “I never let it slow me down. I began taking piano lessons at age 6 and performed in the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale from age 7 to 9.”

Amanda moved to Utah in January 2016 to attend Utah Valley University. Although this was her first time performing in Taylorsville, she has performed in opera productions at UVU and at the Scera Shell Outdoor Theatre in Orem. 

King also played three seasons of women’s wheelchair basketball for the University of Illinois. And now she is completing her final semester at UVU, working as a student teacher with the Taylorsville High School choirs.

“I learned about the ‘Mamma Mia!’ production from a UVU classmate (Steven Broschinsky) who was the show’s music director,” King said. “I moved up to Taylorsville for my student teaching job in June. So, it was great to make a lot of new friends in the area with cast members. I love the musical community in Utah. It’s much better than in Colorado. I hope I can find a teaching job in this area so I can remain. I would really love to be here when the new (Mid-Valley) Performing Arts Center opens next year.”

Dahl-Smedshammer was also pleased with the performances of the three men who played character Sophie’s fathers: Bill (Daniel Bluck), Harry (Ben Nordby) and Sam (David Oldroyd). 

“I’ve taught voice lessons to David’s daughter, and Daniel’s wife has performed with us before,” she said. “But they had not performed on stage for years. And Ben’s first-ever performance was last summer. They each had their own quirkiness, and the three had incredible chemistry. They were awesome, and I hope they will try out for other shows in the future.”

Like everyone else associated with the Taylorsville Arts Council, “Mamma Mia!” producer Holman and Dahl-Smedshammer can’t wait for the new performing arts center to open in 15 months. But even when it does, Wendy promises some shows will continue away from the new $39 million venue.

“Summer theater has to be outside,” Dahl-Smedshammer concluded. “I can’t wait to stage our first show in the new arts center. But we’ll keep coming back (to the outdoor Alder Amphitheater at Salt Lake Community College) as long as I am directing.”

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