BY RYAN SPELTS
Ogden Musical Theater was born in 2017. It had been nearly a decade since Utah Musical Theater closed, but Weber County had the vision to bring musical theatre back to Peery’s Egyptian Theater. Kassi Bybee was handpicked for the job and she said, when they first asked her to launch this program, she wasn’t sure it was even possible. However, she believed to her core that if she brought in the right people to help, they could accomplish something amazing, and they have!
Things have been strange and challenging this year with the pandemic; however, support has remained strong for the theatre and the Kids Act Up Theatre Camp that they continued to hold, with precautions in place. Membership in the Camp were sold out, even though there were some strict requirements for all participants. The Camp progressed well, in spite of mask-wearing and physical distancing.
Coming up later this month is a traditional seasonal performance of Five Carols for Christmas. It’s a comedy set in the 1950’s of five women, all of whom happen to be named Carol, who have taken on the task of arranging the annual PTA Christmas performance. It is a hilarious look at all the challenges that arise and the comedy ensues. It’s a great way to get some laughs while celebrating your holiday season!
This musical was actually written and produced by two Weber State educators. Jim Christian is a Professor Emeritus from Weber State University and with 40 years of professional experience as a director, teacher, actor, writer and producer. Jim wrote this musical with friend and colleague Kenneth Plain who is the composer. The musical features original songs combined with some traditional Christmas favorites. Maurie Tarbox is the Artistic Director for Ogden Musical Theatre and she is directing this year’s performance.
Jim said the musical is spun off from his memories watching his mother and her friends. His favorite part of writing the musical has been getting to know each character as he developed their niche and influence in the group. Some are based on actual people. He also loves that it was set in the 1950’s, a fond time in his life.
It is so special to have a musical theater to serve our community, especially one of this caliber. Nearly five years ago when the idea was brought forward, America First Credit Union took a risk and donated to Jim’s dream, an idea really. Their help, combined with the support of RAMP Grants, Stewart Education Foundation and Weber State University, helped get things off the ground. In addition, cooperation and access to Weber State University’s Performing Arts programs provides Ogden Musical Theater the ability to put out top quality events with local talent. “There is no need to hire big names and bring them in; we have all we need here and it exceeds expectations;” said Kassi.
Tickets are on sale now at ogdenmusicaltheatre.org. Social distancing and masks will be required. Since every other row will be left vacant due to social distancing measures, they recommend getting your tickets early, as all shows will likely sell out completely.