On any given night at the Tuacahn Amphitheater you can see large crowds of people entering the well-known venue to see a Broadway caliber show. However, on this particularly cool, star lit night, there is something strange and even undead making its presence known to the gathering crowd.
Odyssey Dance Theater’s musical production of Thriller has risen from the grave once again, to the devilish delight of fans in Southern Utah. Unknown to most fans of the popular Halloween production, though, is the fact that the show has not always been a sure howl of a success. Creator and Odyssey Theater Artistic Director Derryl Yeager admits the show almost suffered the same fate of many-a-Halloween monsters.
“When we first started we had four performances at Kingsbury Hall [in Salt Lake City]. The guy called me in about a week before we opened and said, ‘You know, you’ve only sold like 50 tickets to this thing, maybe you should give up and close, you’re gonna lose your shirt on this,” Yeager said.
Yeager’s response was nothing short of a dedicated mad scientist.
“Well, I’ve been in the studio and I know the stuff we’ve been putting together is pretty cool and if I’m gonna go down, I’m gonna go down in flames,” he said.
Neither the show nor Yeager went down in flames. In fact, just the opposite happened as word of mouth spread faster than flesh eating zombies.
The production has grown to two separate companies with over 40 performances a year and still audiences are thirsting for more.
Just like Frankenstein’s monster, Thriller has come to life in ways unthinkable by its mad creator. Whether you’re a ghost, mummy, or vampire, the secret to Thriller’s success is not in necessarily in its tricks, but rather its treats– which was Yeager’s intention all along.
“A lot of people thinks that there is a lot of scary stuff, but there’s really not that much scary in the show really. About 80% of the show is very humorous…for me I really enjoy listening to an audience laugh…and enjoy themselves and celebrate Halloween in very fun way.”