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Popular show returns to playhouse

Musical carries implicit gospel-oriented messages

Having set an attendance record of 35,894 last year at the Promised Valley Playhouse, the musical "Celebrating the Light" has begun another season's run and promises to be successful again this year, according to Janielle Christensen, production manager.

The show stars the BYU Young Ambassadors in a musical revue written, composed and directed by Michael McLean, a veteran of local theater and LDS-oriented motion pictures and sound recording."Celebrating the Light" opened June 21 and will run Tuesdays through Saturdays until Sept. 1, except for July 20 and 21, when the International Vocal School presents two evening concerts at the playhouse.

Curtain time is 7:30 each evening. Seating is reserved and tickets cost $5, with a 10 percent discount for groups of 20 or more. Admission for a family of six is $25. Reservations can be obtained by calling the Playhouse at (801)364-5696, or by mail order from 132 S. State Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84111.

Unexpected popularity last year made it necessary to turn many people away, Sister Christensen said. "At the end of last year, we had already sold tickets for this year. We had very impressive opening ticket sales of $10,000 compared to $400 in advance sales last year."

The show this year remains basically the same, but being in the form of a musical revue, it is flexible enough to allow for a few changes based on the backgrounds and experiences of the performers. Of the 16 cast members only three are returning from last year, Sister Christensen said.

Although it does not overtly preach Mormonism, the musical is replete with gospel themes. It surveys past history and contemporary situations in which people have risen above their circumstances and acted according to the light within themselves.

McLean based portions of the musical on experiences of the cast. For example, the opening number, "Give Me a Chance," is performed by Lita Little, one of the cast members returning from last year. The song was inspired by her experience while serving in the England Leeds Mission. Sister Little, who is black, and her Hispanic companion encountered a man who she described as very racist and against religion.

"But somehow the Spirit worked on him and he gave us a chance to teach him," she said. "Because of that we have another brother in the gospel."

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