‘Thriller’ is back, for the 15th time


“Thriller” lives on, even if Michael Jackson is no longer leading the pack.

Odyssey Dance Theatre is performing the Halloween spectacular “Thriller” for the 15th consecutive year this week in the Covey Center for the Arts in downtown Provo.  The show features a collection of Halloween favorites — including Frankenstein, mummies and werewolves  — all real-life depictions of terrifying characters, and all dancing.

The show is in its 15th year for good reason — audiences love the combination of Halloween, humor and genuinely skilled dancers.  Derryl Yeager, founder of Odyssey Dance Theatre and artistic director of “Thriller,” said the show is especially known for its humor.

“80 to 90 percent of the show is really funny,” Yeager said.  “Everyone needs a good laugh, it’s a great way to celebrate the holiday.”

[media-credit name=”Photo courtesy of Odyssey Dance Theater” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]

“Thriller,” Michael Jackson’s most famous creation, is back at the Odyssey Dance Theater.

The show features nearly every style of dance, each infused with humor and classic Halloween motifs.

“There’s step dancing, tap, ballet, hip hop, jazz and river dancing,” Yeager said. “I don’t know what you’d call dancing with chainsaws, but we have that too.”

For years, Yeager looked to incorporate the perfect female villain into the show.  He found that classic Halloween horror stories only feature women as victims, not predators.  This changed a few years ago, when the villain Lorena Bobbitt was incorporated into Thriller’s line-up.  Bobbitt was accused of emasculating her husband with a knife in 1993, leading to her arrest as well as the inspiration for her character in “Thriller.”

Besides the kooky array of characters, the true highlight of the show is the caliber of dancing.  Odyssey Dance Theater is known for their skilled dancers in all varieties of dance.  Chyna Smith, a dancer in the company and recent contestant on “So You Think You Can Dance,” grew up knowing she wanted to dance for Odyssey.

“Even growing up in Idaho I always knew about Odyseey Dance Theatre,” Smith said. “They’re so well known for being so versatile, literally every style of dance. You rarely find a company so universally skilled.”

Smith is dancing the role of Frankenstein’s bride in a ballet duet, as well as other roles in “Thriller.”  The dancers have been rehearsing for the past four weeks, investing hours of practice into this annual show. The show has grown to include two casts — one travels throughout Utah, the other performs solely in Salt Lake City.

Eldon Johnson, associate director and a dancer in the show, said “Thriller” is one of his favorite Odyssey Dance Theatre productions.

“It’s a fun show and audiences love it,” Johnson said.  “The first act is comedy, the second is more horror.  Overall, it’s such a great show because the dancing is so strong.”

“Thriller” opens on Wednesday night and runs through Saturday. The show starts at 7 p.m. with a matinee on Saturday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 for main floor seating and $20 for the mezzanine and balcony. The Covey Center for the Arts is located at 425 W. Center in downtown Provo.

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