Performing arts students spend a day learning at Eccles Theatre

Oct 24, 2023, 7:17 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly 200 students from the Salt Lake City School for the Performing Arts spent the day at the Eccles Theatre in downtown Salt Lake City Tuesday attending master classes, learning what it takes to create a Broadway touring production.

The students got the opportunity to experience what it feels like to audition for a Broadway touring company and were critiqued by professionals

Following her singing one student heard compliments. “I just loved from the beginning that you were just in it,” Keegan Fitlow, a senior, said.

Fitlow says she has learned to be herself, “Going into college auditions and stuff, I’m going to try to be more myself and not like comparing myself to other people.”

Backstage, the students learned the art of flying in the scenery. “If you look there, you can see the pipe coming in,” one person said.

Handling the ropes was a lot harder and heavier than they expected.

Other things the performing arts students learned

Others learned of the huge variety of lights for each type of production. They are each numbered and most are LED.

Drake Deweerd, a sophomore, said, “There’s some stuff I didn’t know about carpentry and lighting design that I learned that I probably wouldn’t have learned anywhere else.”

Also backstage, there is an art to being a dresser. The students timed each other as they raced to help the head of wardrobe change costumes. Zipping into the floor length dress complete, she asked “How long? 50 seconds! 50 seconds.”

Maggie Merchamp, a senior, has seen shows at the Eccles but Tuesday took her where she had never been.


“Attending like the hair and make-up stuff was really interesting,” Merchamp said.  “Even being able to see the backstage space of Eccles, I’ve never been able to see before….”

Some of the students learned the art of make-up with Tuesday’s challenge, such as cuts and bruises and wounds.

Bethany Hansen, has been the school’s artistic director for the last two years.

“The students are engaged, they’re excited, they’re learning and making the connections they’re going to need to go on in this,” Hansen said. “I see light in their eyes.”

Highlight of the day

Then Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson produced one of the highlights of the day with a surprise announcement.

“You’re all invited, thanks to Broadway Across America,” the mayor said.

And the students cheered. Free tickets for each student to the Broadway touring company production of “Six”. It is a modern musical retelling of the six wives of King Henry VIII with an emphasis on 21st century girl power.The students say they are excited to see a Broadway touring company, especially because they have spent time with the professionals behind-the-scenes learning about all the hard work it takes to create the magic onstage.

Performances of the Broadway touring company of “Six” will take place at the Eccles Theatre in January 2024.

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Performing arts students spend a day learning at Eccles Theatre