September 28, 2008
Odyssey Puts Chills in ‘Thriller’
By Scott Iwasaki Deseret News
Splatter films don't scare Odyssey Dance Theatre artistic director Derryl Yeager. It's the smart horror films that get to him."The slashers get to a point where they are just too much and become ridiculous," said Yeager during an interview with the Deseret News. "But a movie like 'The Grudge' really creeps me out. It's all about the nuances. It's about seeing something that shouldn't be there that makes the horror come out for me. It's about the feeling and not as much about the exploitation."
This year, Yeager decided to put more scary elements into ODT's run of "Thriller."
"We have all these pieces that are fun," he said. "We have the 'Mummy's Curse,' which has hip-hop mummies. We have the Frankenstein that's like 'Romeo and Juliet' and, of course, 'Jason Jam.' But there aren't a lot of scary ones. So I decided this year to do a real scary one. And it's based on 'The Grudge."'
Yeager wouldn't say too much about this work, other than the fact that it is in the lines of another scary "Thriller" work, "Home Alone."
"With 'Home Alone,' though, we turned the tables on the audience and made it a way for them to laugh at the fact that they were the ones being scared," Yeager said. "But with 'The Grudge,' there is no irony. It's flat-out scary."
Adding to the creepiness is the fact that Yeager is using "The Grudge" soundtrack score by Christopher Young to highlight the piece.
"He has a gift," Yeager said of Young. "He is so intense, and it really makes this piece dark and horrifying."
Yeager also said the new scary work will offset another fun work called "Mr. Roboto," based on the 1983 Styx song.
"We have this young boy named Tristan Gray who is a great hip- hop dancer who was awarded one of our company scholarships," Yeager said. "And I decided he needed to be showcased, and 'Mr. Roboto' was perfect for him."
A few years ago, Yeager decided to split ODT into two groups so people all over Utah could see "Thriller," which has become so popular that it is rare a show isn't sold out.
"It got too big to just perform one run at a time," he said. "So we split it in two, which gives us the chance to take 'Thriller' to St. George, Logan, Ogden, Provo and Salt Lake," he said. "All the dancers have been wonderful to work with during these runs. They are so professional and learn every piece so they can, no matter where they are or what they are doing, perform or set the pieces."
When Yeager first thought about doing "Thriller," he thought it would be fun to bring it back each year, like a "Nutcracker."
"I was thinking very differently than a lot of companies back then," he said. "It was the total opposite of "Nutcracker" in so many ways. It was Halloween, not Christmas. It was a repertory show, not a story ballet, and it was scary.
"Every time I think back at what it's become for us, I can't help feeling amazed. And to know that people want to keep coming back to it is an awesome feeling. We have a huge supporting audience for the company, anyway, but to see what 'Thriller' has become over these past 11 years is nothing what I had expected."
If you go
What: Thriller, Odyssey Dance Theatre
Where: Val A. Browning Center, Weber State University, Ogden
When: Oct. 9-11, 7:30 p.m.
How much: $27
Also: Oct. 10 and 11, Covey Center for the Arts, 425 W. Center, Provo, 7:30 p.m., $20-$25, 801-852-7007 or www.coveycenter.org; And: Oct. 17-20, Kent Concert Hall, Utah State University, Logan, 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 20, 2 p.m., $15-$25, 435-797-8022 or boxoffice.usu.edu; Also: Oct. 15-Nov. 1, Kingsbury Hall, University of Utah, 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays 2 p.m., $20-$40, 581-7100 or www.kingsburyhall.org; And: Oct. 24-31, Tuacahn Amphitheatre and Center for the Arts, St. George, 7:30 p.m., Oct. 31, 8 p.m., $17.50- $21.50, 800-746-9882 or www.tuacahn.org
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