By Lee Champion
Local talent has finally created a full-blown secular musical from scratch.
“Heidi,” the musical version of the classic novel by Johanna Spyri, is making its debut in the Ragan Theater on UVSC’s campus.
Steven Smith, a former BYU student who studied music composition and has since worked with BYU music professors on various projects, wrote the lyrics and music as well as directed the production.
He said that Rene Sheets wrote the musical a few years ago, then came to Smith and asked for his help. Smith took on the job and rewrote the music and lyrics.
Some BYU students were heavily involved in many aspects of this production, from performing or directing to makeup and hair design.
There were some very effective scenes, such as when Klara took her first step out of her wheelchair. The audience became silent, and I was sent to the edge of my seat from the feeling that entered the theater from the lighting and performance from the young actor.
My personal favorite was a song between the love interests of the musical, Richard Sesemann and Fraulein Rottenmeir.
As I was watching this scene, I felt the beginning stages of a power from this particular song. And it is this power that has made musicals, such as “Jekyll and Hyde” what they are.
Smith said he wrote this song a few years ago for his sister, and recreated it for “Heidi.” It was the first song added to the musical, and the rest of the music was built around it.
Smith said the show is still in the works and there are plans of re-editing the musical to fix some spots. Smith plans on taking the musical as far as he can.
However, the musical still needs some work. The set for the Swiss Alps, did not make me feel like I was in the Alps. I sat there wondering why the Alps looked like a sheet of purple marble.
So I decided to use my imagination, after all it is the theater. Then the set changed to the inside of a house. This set was great, and I wondered why they couldn’t have done that to the Swiss Alps.
Besides the set, some of the scenes are short and feel as if you are applauding more than watching a performance.
There were also a few instances when some of the characters were more concerned about making the song sound ‘pretty’ than putting their characters deep feelings into the song.
However, there was some great comic relief by James Stevens, 22, a junior from Idaho Falls, Idaho, majoring in media music, who played the role of Sebastian. When the script was feeling a little too heavy, he would stumble on the stage and make some sarcastic comment that sent the audience roaring.
Marcie Jacobson, a graduate from BYU in musical theater and is working part-time teacher for BYU, shined from the moment she walked on stage as the part of the maid, Hildagard. She instantly drew me in with her strong, listen-to-me voice that left me wanting more stage time for her. I could have listened to her, and only her, sing all night.
“Heidi” runs until Sept. 23, with shows every night except Sundays at 7:30 p.m., with matinees on Saturdays at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $7.50 for the evening shows and $5.50 for the matinees, with $1 from each ticket going towards various local charities.