Odyssey Dance returns to ‘Thrill’ Park City | ParkRecord.com

Odyssey Dance returns to ‘Thrill’ Park City

When the Odyssey Dance Theatre began scaring dance-loving audiences in Utah 14 years ago with its Halloween concert "Thriller," it was only booked for four performances.

These days, the company has had to make some adjustments to satisfy the demands of performing 46 shows in seven different venues, which will include a run at Park City’s Egyptian Theatre next week.

First off, artistic director Derryl Yeager created Odyssey II to help with the scheduling. Secondly, since he couldn’t clone himself, he recruited longtime ODT dancer Christina Bluth to act as an associate director to help with the tours that include multi-day runs in Ogden, Salt Lake, Logan, Park City, Provo, St. George’s Tuacahn Amphitheatre and a one-shot performance in Storm Lake, Iowa.

"I envisioned that we’d eventually do a lot of shows, but I didn’t envision creating two companies to do those shows," Yeager said during an interview after a rehearsal last week. "That adds a whole new element to it, because it takes a lot of organization to keep the companies going."

As staggering as the schedule looks, Yeager is happy.

"It’s crazy, but it’s a good crazy because this is what has kept us going all these years," he said.

The production’s growth in popularity can be attributed to a couple of things the theme and the dancers’ talent Yeager said.

"Halloween has always been fun and scary," he explained. "It’s a time to kind of let loose and enjoy things that you really can’t the other times of the year."

Those things include vampires, mummies, Frankenstein’s monsters, aliens and witches, to name a few.

"Over the years, have found some of the pieces we performed have worked better than the others," he said. "Likewise, we found some of the pieces, especially the short films we show during the performance, ran a bit long and didn’t work so well. So, we adjusted things and made everything work better.

"I feel that ‘Thriller’ is constantly in a workshop," Yeager said. "We will constantly mess with it to make it better."

Yeager has the ability to mix and match because there are some main works that keep the show together.

"We have the ‘Frankenstein & Frankenstien’ pas de deux, the hip-hopping ‘The Mummy’ and the contemporary-flavored ‘Salem’s Mass,’ which we have been performing since the beginning," Yeager said. "I mean, I feel that we have been performing those pieces since 1847.

"With those in place, since they are so strong, we can hone the other works into the mix and kind of build on the foundation. That means if we find that one piece sucks, we don’t have to worry that it will kill the entire show."

Of course, there’s the famous "Jason Jam" where three hockey-masked serial killers use scratch awls, baseball bats, machetes and chainsaws to create some foot-tapping rhythms.

"That’s another one of those strong works we’ve been performing since the beginning," Yeager said. "It still is great to watch, and the humor has developed throughout the years, and that includes adding a teddy bear into the piece."

Another selection that has attracted a lot of attention is "Chucky Rama," a piece inspired by the "Chucky" slasher films, which features young dancers performing as the murderous, red-haired doll.

"That piece keeps getting bigger and bigger," Yeager said. "When we first did ‘Chucky,’ we had one cast, but this year, 141 kids showed up to audition. It was a madhouse. We created eight casts and are using 90 kids."

Every year, Yeager reviews past performances and decides if he wants to sub in some of the other works or acts that have been presented throughout the years.

This year, the Egyptian performances will include Bubbles the Clown and the Giggle Girl, who will serve as breaks between some of the dancing.

"Bubbles is very funny," Yeager said. "He’s all dressed in this bright and colorful costume, but he’s, how do I say, it, a dry, sarcastic bitter Bubbles who isn’t impressed with life. He sings the Doors’ ‘People Are Strange’ that will segue into a ‘Glee’ parody.

I don’t know why stuff like this if funny, but it is."

The Giggle Girl is known for her innocent delivery of "I Saw Mommy Killing Santa Claus."

"That piece is very funny, but also disturbing in ways, because she’s so sweet when she describes this horrific murder," Yeager said. "It’s kind of like a testament to how kids these days watch all these violent movies and are desensitized."

In another part of the show, the Giggle Girl will also sing "Do You Want to Know a Secret," which is a duet with an alien partner.

"I like watching the audience when the alien appears, because it’s so unexpected," Yeager said. "Every time he comes out, people’s heads bob up and down and they look around to make sure they saw what they saw. I remember the first time we did the piece, people just freaked out. It was so funny."

Yeager likes bringing the show to Park City, because of the intimacy of the Egyptian Theatre.

"It’s one of our favorite stages because it’s so small," he said. "It’s like an off-Broadway house and it all still works in that context.

"First time we came up there three years ago, we looked at the stage and didn’t know how we would be able make things fit," he said. "After we thought about it, we changed some spacing and made things work."

The dancers who perform in Park City are also going to perform at the Tuacahn Outdoor Amphitheatre in St. George later in October.

"Tuacahn is the largest stage we’ll perform," Yeager said. "It’s huge, but the show also works there. I think that’s a testament to the dancers’ abilities to adjust and adapt to each venue."

Odyssey Dance Theatre will bring "Thriller" to the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St. beginning Friday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 p.m. Additional performances are Saturday, Sept. 28, at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 30, at 6 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 4, and Friday, Oct. 5, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 6, at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 7, at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $12 to $40 and available by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.

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