In Alumni, Faculty, Music Dance Theatre, Theatre

For his 14th production at Tuacahn, Threlfall and his cast — which includes BYU alums — take a different approach to “The Sound of Music” 

The von Trapp children in Tuacahn’s production of “The Sound of Music.” (Courtesy of Tuacahn Center for the Arts)

BYU professor Tim Threlfall takes the stage at Tuacahn in St. George, Utah as director for the 14th time in his interpretation of “The Sound of Music.” Alongside Threlfall are several BYU theatre and media arts graduates, including Alicia Shumway and Dallyn Bayles.

Threlfall began directing at the Tuacahn Center for the Arts in 1999 — the first year of Tuacahn’s “Broadway in the Desert.” Since then, Tuacahn has grown to include a high school for the performing arts and a seven-month, four-show season with an annual budget of approximately $15 million. 

While Threlfall has directed many other classics at Tuacahn, including “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Grease,” this is the first time he has repeated a show on the St. George stage. However, this production of “The Sound of Music” will be different from what audience members saw nearly 18 years ago.

In Threlfall’s first production of “The Sound of Music” at Tuacahn, he adapted much from the iconic film. Due to stricter intellectual property laws, however, that adaptation was no longer permitted. For the 2019 production, Threlfall focused on using the full script from the Broadway show, which opened 60 years ago. In order to accurately portray the 1959 version, Threlfall spent countless hours researching the original Broadway show and the history of the von Trapp family. 

“For this production, I’ve enjoyed doing an immense amount of research on Maria von Trapp and the von Trapp family,” said Threlfall. “I took a trip to Stowe, Vermont, where the family settled in the United States.”

Threlfall hopes that audience members will gain something new from this production of “The Sound of Music,” which draws on the beloved Broadway script as well as newfound research. Threlfall promises to provide a fresh perspective on a revered story. 

BYU alum Dallyn Bayles (right) plays Captain von Trapp in “The Sound of Music.” (Courtesy of Tuacahn Center for the Arts)

Threlfall is also excited to share the experience with former BYU students. 

Shumway — a veteran of both the Broadway production and national tour of “The King and I” —  was cast as the cover or understudy for the role of Maria. 

“At Tuacahn, we take the covers and understudies very seriously,” said Threlfall. “The runs are long and we need people covering these roles that are every bit as skilled as those playing the main role.”

Bayles, a well-known Utah performer and recording artist, plays the role of Captain von Trapp. He is also playing King Triton in the Tuacahn production of “The Little Mermaid.” 

In addition to Shumway and Bayles, there are five other BYU MDT graduates performing at Tuacahn this summer. 

Tuacahn holds national auditions each year in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Utah with over 1,200 actors auditioning for positions in Tuacahn’s nearly seven-month season. Seven alums landing roles in such a prestigious company is evidence of the dedication and talent of BYU students in the MDT program. 

“They really have to be competitive to win a spot in the company,” said Threlfall. “With so many incredible actors to choose from and many with significant Broadway credits, I am always happy when the casting team likes a BYU alumnus — having seven with us this summer is terrific.” 

Threlfall considers it a delight to work with BYU graduates on the Tuacahn stage and feels proud of their accomplishments in the industry. Out of this year’s seven MDT alums, five have Broadway or Broadway tour credits. 

Tuacahn’s “The Sound of Music” runs July 26-Oct. 26. For more information, visit tuacahn.org.

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