The Brigham Young University Department of Theatre and Media Arts and interdisciplinary Music Dance Theatre program will present the U.S. premiere of The Count of Monte Cristo, a new musical from Tony Award-nominated composer Frank Wildhorn and Tony Award-nominated lyricist and book writer Jack Murphy. It will be presented in the de Jong Concert Hall of the Harris Fine Arts Center and will run from Thursday, Jan. 22 to Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015.
Tickets for the performances are $21-28 each. A discount of $5-6 off per ticket is available with a BYU or student ID. Senior citizens and BYU alumni save $2 per ticket. There will be no Sunday or Monday performances. Tickets go on sale to the public Monday, Nov. 24, at 9 a.m. For tickets visit the BYU Ticket Office in the Harris Fine Arts Center or Marriott Center, by phone: 801.422.2981 or visit byuarts.com.
Based on the classic novel, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, the musical tells the story of a man betrayed by those closest to him and his long journey of revenge and redemption. The musical comes from writer Jack Murphy (Wonderland and The Civil War) and composer Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Bonnie and Clyde). The musical previously premiered in Switzerland and Korea.
The opportunity for BYU to stage The Count of Monte Cristo came when Wildhorn visited BYU to perform and teach master classes. After spending time coaching students on their vocals, Wildhorn was so impressed with their level of talent that he approached Jeff Martin, BYU producer of performing arts, and asked if BYU would like to present the U.S. premiere of his musical.
“The show has enjoyed incredible success in Europe and Asia, and I wanted to establish the piece there before bringing it to American audiences,” said Wildhorn. “Now that we have done that, I felt the time was right. I thought it would be a fun way to get it started here in the United States with my great relationship with BYU, and I'm excited to see what will happen now.”
The two leads, BYU students Preston Yates and Shae Robins, have spent time with Wildhorn to prepare for their roles as the titular Count and Mercedes, respectively. Robins described the opportunity to prepare with one of Broadway’s most acclaimed composers and to perform in the premier as once in a lifetime.
“It’s amazing to work with somebody of that caliber when you’re still in college,” said Yates. “To learn from Frank Wildhorn, who’s done so much — I didn’t expect to get this opportunity while at school.”
Led by director Tim Threlfall, the production will receive additional support from within the College of Fine Arts and Communications from musical director Gayle Lockwood and the BYU Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christian Smith, who will provide musical accompaniment. Nathan Balser, assistant professor in the BYU Department of Dance, provides choreography for the production. Balser has Broadway credits of his own, having performed in Legally Blonde and with Kristin Chenoweth in Promises, Promises. Jeffrey Martin, producer of BYU performing arts, serves as creative producer on the project.
The BYU cast also includes Taylor Morris as Fernand Mondego, Cameron Smith as Baron Danglars, Matt Krantz as Gerard de’ Villefort, James Bounous as Jacopo, Brian Clark as Abbe Faria, Barry Bounous as Louis Dantes, Cayel Tregeagle as Albert, Cassie Austin as Valentine Villefort, Lauren Hughes as Louisa Vampa and Caroline Lambert as Gabriella.
The design and production team for The Count of Monte Cristo includes Rory Scanlon, scenic designer; Michael Krazeck, lighting designer; La Beene, costume designer; Jeff Carter, sound designer; Travis Coyne, technical director; Jennifer Reed, production manager; Holly Mancuso, dramaturg; and Crysta Powell, stage manager.