Eccles Center lights up stage with belly-dancing, ballet and big-name singers |

Eccles Center lights up stage with belly-dancing, ballet and big-name singers

As Park City prepares for another season of winter sports, Teri Orr of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation wants make the town appealing even after the lifts shut down.

Here’s a clue: It’s not hot chocolate.

"I hope we have helped create an arts and culture scene that is as good as our recreation," she said.

Orr and her staff may have done just that. Although the sluggish economy and dwindling sponsors forced organizers at the nonprofit performing arts center to schedule about half as many performances as usual for their winter lineup, Orr said the eclectic mix of dancers, humorists and veteran singer/songwriters should appeal to audiences in Park City.

Tickets went on sale Oct. 1 for all 13 shows scheduled from mid-Oct. to the middle of April. Former Talking Heads leading man David rne kicks off the season with a performance at the Eccles Center on Oct. 11 called "David Bryne on Tour: David Byrne on Tour and Brian Eno." Rocker Ryan Bingham and chanteuse and fiddle player Natalie Mac Master perform in December and Three Dog Night, the band that still brings joy to the world, plays a New Year’s Eve show Dec. 31.

Mac Master performs "Christmas in Cape Brenton" on Dec. 20.

All shows start at 7:30 p.m., except for Three Dog Night, which starts at 8 p.m.

The foundation usually books its New Year’s act to perform a couple of matinees, but the economic downturn made organizers decide on a single performance to ring in 2009.

Another notable absence in the lineup this winter is the lack of a children’s theater. In previous years, the foundation has sponsored a series of performances under the umbrella Pillow Theater, but they had to put the kibosh on the tradition for lack of a sponsor willing to donate about $30,000.

Orr added that it’s not too late for a sponsor to step up to help stage the productions.

Despite rising costs in food, gas and housing — three important factors when bringing in talent from out of town — the foundation decided not to raise ticket prices. "It certainly doesn’t cost less to bring talent in than it did last year," Orr said. "But we felt like this was something we could do to get people to come to the theater."

More than ever, in times of gloom, it is important for people to attend theater, stage and music venues to bolster their spirits, Orr said. "We want people to leave their worries in the parking lot," she said.

The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, located at 1750 Kearns Blvd., is an intimate venue than nevertheless attracts big names. It’s also the place where organizers take risks and introduce up-and-coming acts.

One of the goals of the organization, Orr explained, is to attract acts that people would not otherwise see in Utah. An example is Miles Copeland’s "The Art of Bellydance" that plays March 21. Some critics have compared it to the Irish Dancing extravaganza "Riverdance."

The season’s other big dance show, Grupo Corpo, piqued Orr’s interest six years ago when she saw the Brazilian troupe perform at a dance festival. She sat transfixed in the third row, she said, as the sweat flew off the dancers. "I’ve never seen a more athletic dance company, anywhere," she exclaimed. "The sets are otherworldly and the costumes are either teeny or they’re huge."

She added that the Park City Performing Arts Foundation makes a concerted effort to bring the world to Park City with international acts.

If audiences revel in the exotic, Orr said, they will also enjoy a taste of the familiar. The foundation plans to stage Eve Ensler’s "Vagina Monologues" on Valentine’s Day for the fourth year. The show will feature local performers and raise money for the Peace House Women’s Shelter in Park City.

"It’s become an annual tradition," Orr said, not just a girl’s night out.

As hearts and minds thaw in the spring, The Hot 8 Brass Band, featured in Spike Lee’s documentary on New Orleans "When the Levees Broke," plays April 4.

Ballet West of Salt Lake City puts on a region premier the following week.

The season ends with Sarah Vowell, best-selling author and contributing editor for National Public Radio’s "This American Life." Vowell is also known as the voice of teen superhero Violet in the Pixar animated film "The Incredibles."

The economy may have dried up some sponsors, Orr said, but the reputation of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation and the Eccles Center has helped lured big acts that, a few years ago, would not have considered Park City for a tour stop.

In addition to opening with music icon David Bryne, Orr said the Eccles Center may host an as yet unannounced female singer this winter who specifically requested playing at the venue.

She said the bottom line for locals is the bottom line. "If people are on the fence about buying tickets, this is a year that could really make a difference for us," she said.

Orr also noted that the Eccles Center will once again play host to the Sundance Film Festival in January.

Info boxes:


All Park City Performing Arts Foundations shows are presented at The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts (1750 Kearns Blvd., Park City). Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. with the exception of Three Dog Night on Dec. 31, which begins at 8 p.m.

Punch cards (good for 10 seats to any regular season show or shows) are currently on sale for $550 (Platinum seating), $450 (Gold seating), $330 (Silver seating), or $250 (Bronze seating). Punch cards may be used for one performance or multiple performances; therefore, seats must be reserved in advance.

Individual tickets range from $18 – $65 for regular season shows. New Year’s Eve’s Three Dog Night concert tickets range from $25 to $125 and the V-Day benefit performance tickets are $30 for reserved seating and $18 for general admission. Tickets for children 12 & under are half price and seniors receive a 20-percent discount. For all regular season performances, tickets are $5 in the C- section for Summit County students (K-12).

Tickets and information are available at The Eccles Center box office, 435-655-3114 or


David Byrne – Oct. 11

Ryan Bingham Dec. 6

Natalie Mac Master – Dec. 20

Three Dog Night Dec. 31

The Vagina Monologues: Valentine’s Day Celebration – Feb. 14

Marcia Ball – Feb. 7

Loudon Wainwright III & Leo Kottke – Feb. 14

Aquila Theatre Company – Feb. 27 & 28

Grupo Corpo – March 10

The Art of Bellydance – March 21

The Hot 8 Brass Band – April 4

Ballet West World Premiere – April 11

Sarah Vowell – April 18

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