Former music dance theatre student Libby Lloyd is spending her summer training with high profile musical theatre professionals at the St. George venue.
Libby Lloyd spent months practicing her lines on her own. As an understudy, she hoped to have the opportunity to perform in the role, but never knew when or if that would happen. Then one afternoon she got the call saying she would have to perform that night as Ella in "Cinderella."
Throughout the performance, Lloyd said it was difficult not to get caught up in the emotion and excitement of playing the main role in the show. Instead her job was to "throw emotion out the window and show up and do the work." However, once she took her bow Lloyd said she finally let herself feel the emotion of the performance.
"The whole night was so magical," said Lloyd. "It was so rewarding knowing I had put in the work of learning and rehearsing on my own and that I was able to keep the show rolling. As I walked down the giant staircase in a beautiful dress at the end of the night , I could finally allow myself to feel the emotion and beauty of the role and reflect on what I had done."
"Cinderella" is one of three plays Lloyd has performed in during her time as a cast member for the Tuacahn Center for the Arts.
Lloyd auditioned to be a professional performer for Tuacahn during her last semester at BYU. She had two nights of callbacks, then it was a waiting game. Lloyd was overjoyed when she was asked to be a part of the summer season.
"I'm from Utah and I had gone to a couple shows growing up. I knew they had a really good reputation," said Lloyd.
In addition to Cinderella, Lloyd also performs in "The Prince of Egypt" and "Matilda."
Tuacahn is the third venue to ever perform "The Prince of Egypt," which premiered in Mountain View, California in 2017. The cast was able to work with the show's composer Stephen Schwartz, an industry legend who composed classics like "Wicked" and wrote the original songs for the DreamWorks movie the musical is based on.
"Schwartz was there in our rehearsals helping the musical be everything he intended and imagined it to be," said Lloyd.
Lloyd remembers one rehearsal where Schwartz wanted to rework a song.
"To be in the room while he was making the changes and to be a part of that process was really something special," said Lloyd.
Lloyd is also a featured dancer in "The Prince of Egypt," which means she worked closely with world-renowned choreographer Sean Cheesman, who is known for his work with stars like Michael Jackson and the TV show "So You Think You Can Dance."
Lloyd said one of her favorite experiences of the summer has been dancing Cheesman's choreography in the opening number of "The Prince of Egypt."
"We're dancing as the river," said Lloyd. "We're the vessel that delivers Moses from his birth mother to his adopted mother. Cheesman is great at getting us to dance with emotion to further the emotions and plot of the story instead of just dancing to dance."
Lloyd said collaborating with Cheesman gave her invaluable insight into professional choreography.
"It's been interesting to see Cheesman's process and how he works," said Lloyd. "I was nervous going into it because of how well-known he is in the industry, but he is so kind and wants to put forth a good product just like the rest of us. I'm glad I know him moving forward."
While Lloyd has appreciated Cheesman's mentorship, the work hasn't been easy. "He worked us hard," said Lloyd, as she described grueling days where they would dance for five straight hours and then perform the same night. Despite this, Lloyd said the work was rewarding.
Working with Cheesman hasn't been the only taxing part of Lloyd's time at Tuacahn. Lloyd said making the jump from collegiate to professional, full-time theatre was a difficult transition. During the Fall 2017 semester, Lloyd was a part of BYU's production of "Into the Woods." The cast rehearsed for an entire semester and only performed on a few dates. The opposite is true at Tuacahn. The rehearsal process is short and the cast performs for four to five months.
"You have to learn fast and learn the roles correctly because you're thrown into performing right away," said Lloyd. "It's a hard season. It's really long."
As a cast member, Lloyd doesn't have a lot of time for rest. Lloyd said one of the hardest things to learn was how to preserve her health during such a long process.
"My body hurts, my back is sore. I think I have some bruised ribs. Going full throttle for a few weeks is fine, but with a long contract you realize you have to preserve enough energy to perform and rehearse the next day," said Lloyd. "You can still give a 100% effort and give the audience the show they deserve to see while maintaining some stamina to get through tomorrow."
Despite a steep learning curve, Lloyd wouldn't change a thing. She said her time at Tuacahn has been the perfect transition from school to the professional world. Lloyd plans to move to New York City in January to pursue her a career in acting. She believes the connections she made this summer will prove beneficial to her future.
"A lot of the cast members are from NYC and are Broadway veterans—this is their passion," said Lloyd. "Being surrounded by and forming friendships with professionals who have worked in places I aspire to perform has been great as well as learning from them and getting advice for my career path."
Working at Tuacahn has also given Lloyd the confidence to be in show business.
"This business is hard; there are a lot of no's and rejections," said Lloyd "Everyone here is so talented, but I'm here because I'm talented too. That has been a great realization."