Performers honor the legacy of BYU alum and support arts education

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Notable performers from Utah, including several BYU alumni, are coming together this weekend for a one-night performance at Orem High School, honoring the legacy of former Orem High School drama teacher and BYU alumna Syd Riggs.

The performance will take place on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. in the Orem High School auditorium and will be the 5th annual Syd Riggs Foundation “Why We Tell The Story” concert. The concert will feature notable performers from Utah, including BYU alumni Dallyn Vail Bayles and Natalie Hill, who have both had successful careers in the performing arts.

The Syd Riggs foundation was founded five years ago by Ben Tichy, a former student of Riggs. Tichy said that Riggs, who passed away in June of 2005, had a big impact on his life and career. He started the foundation to continue her legacy of encouraging students in their pursuit of the arts.

Students of Syd Riggs come together each year to celebrate her influence. (Courtesy Amanda Carroll)

“Syd Riggs was my high school drama teacher,” Tichy said. “She was just a very influential person in my life. Very motivational. Very inspiring. And I feel that she had that very similar impact on other people who went on to excel and have very successful careers in the arts.”

Tichy’s initial idea was to create a scholarship in Riggs’ name, to help other students pursue higher education in the arts. When the question came up of how to raise money for a scholarship, Tichy came up with the idea to put on a show.

“Because that is what she loved to do,” Tichy said. “She loved to put on a show.”

Tichy then began contacting friends and others who were connected to Riggs, asking them if they were interested in being a part of the show. Since then, the foundation has grown and will be offering three scholarships to high school students at this weekend’s performance.

“The amount of people that are involved in the show and that are interested in helping out has really grown dramatically in the five years we’ve been doing this,” Tichy said.

Alison Terry, the technical director for “Why We Tell the Story,” became involved with the foundation after attending the first annual performance. Terry, like Tichy, is an Orem High School graduate and was extremely influenced by Riggs.

“If you haven’t been involved in theater, I don’t think you understand the impact a drama teacher can have on young minds,” Terry said.

Terry is also a BYU graduate and recommends the event for students looking for quality entertainment.

“It is an amazing night of entertainment,” Terry said. “It is fairly inexpensive, but very entertaining. The quality of the performances is incredible.”

Jennifer Riding, a senior from Houston, Texas, studying public health, attended the event when her aunt was a cast member. Riding said she could see the passion the cast members had for performing and appreciated their willingness to give back.

“I loved going to the ‘Why We Tell the Story’ performance because I really enjoyed all the musical numbers and could just see a lot of the passion,” Riding said. “Everyone was really passionate about theater. It was really sweet to see how everyone wanted to honor Syd Riggs.”

For more information about the event, visit whywetellthestory.com.

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