Doctor’s 18-year musical vision comes to life at Covey Center


Carl Bell, a retired Utah Valley obstetrician, came out of retirement for the third time to produce his play, “Deseret: The Musical.”

After taking a playwriting class at BYU in the ’80s, the idea of a Mormon Pioneer-themed musical has been on his mind. Over the years, Bell has developed characters, crafted dialogue and written melodies as they have come to him.

Bell said he would sing simple melodies around the house that his family picked up on as well; he gradually added lyrics to the tune as the song developed.

“The craziest part about this whole process is that Carl is not classically trained in music,” said show director Kymberly Mellen. “He would sing his melodies into a tape recorder that then got passed on to Karrol Cobb, who would transcribe it onto paper, and then to Kregg Mowrey, who would orchestrate it. I have never worked on a show as ambitious as this was, and it has been fun and richly rewarding from a creative point of view.”

After years of dead ends from theater companies and producers, Bell decided to produce his show himself.

“Its hard when the music is inside you and won’t let you go,” said Bell. “It gets a hold of you heart, and I couldn’t let the characters die with me. I love these characters, and I love their story, and it’s my responsibility to share it.”

The themes of “Deseret” include choice and commitment, which Bell has internalized by his dedication to see his dreams come to fruition.

“I realized that plays can have an effect,” he said. “I think ‘Deseret’ has something to say and is uplifting, and I hope that comes across to the audience through the energy and fun of the story.”

BYU student Peter Layland as the comic relief Niner in Deseret. (Photo by Sarah Hill)


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