For theater enthusiasts and performers near the west coast, Broadway often seems particularly unattainable—a distant idea that only the lucky few get to experience. However, thanks to a collaboration between the Noorda Center for the Performing Arts and a creative team based out of New York, a Broadway-caliber performance has come to Utah Valley University.
“Fly More Than You Fall,” directed by Brigham Young University graduate and Broadway director Jeff Whiting, is currently in previews this month before its intended Broadway run in 2020.
“This is the first night of the first week of the first preview for this remarkable musical,” said Stephen Pullen, Dean of the School of the Arts, before the show. “We couldn’t be prouder, because we have such a special show going up in this wonderful theater.”
The musical stars Lexi Walker as Malia, a 14 year-old aspiring writer. When her mother (Jennifer Fouche) receives a devastating diagnosis, Malia attempts to work through her feelings with her storytelling.
The music and lyrics by Nat Zegree form catchy contemporary numbers, similar in style to musicals such as “Dear Evan Hansen” or “Next to Normal.” The musical styles lend enough interest without becoming repetitive. You could hear some of the numbers on the radio, in a Disney movie, or in a Golden Age musical.
The creative yet simple set, designed by Ann Beyersdorfer, switches between the every-day and the fantastical with ease. At any given moment, the stage could be a cozy small-town home or a dangerous mountain.
Malia has a host of friends to help her through her heartache, including new friend Caleb (Seth Foster), love interest Derek (Josh Durfey), and classmates Olivia, Ricky and Zelda (Rachael Peel, Preston Smith and Chloe Galli King, respectively). All give excellent performances, though Foster is surely the standout. His combination of poignancy and comedic timing gives Caleb a depth not often found in the “comedic relief best friend”.
Walker herself possesses confidence in her movement and stage presence, on top of her knock-out vocals. Co-star Autumn Best, who plays the main character in the story Malia writes, is the perfect foil to Malia. Being more adventurous and confident than her author, Willow gives voice to Malia’s thoughts and feelings with her own impressive vocal performance.
The show features Actor’s Equity Association actors Fouche and Thom Miller as well as Utah talent. Performers include Jason Bowman, McCall Hope Brainard, Lyza Bull, Joseph Campbell, Tyler Fox, Abby Higbee, Levi Hopkins, Tianna Maxwell, Cairo McGhee, Malia Nutter, Preston Smith and Bennett Allen Wood.
“Fly More Than You Fall” will be presented from Sept. 12 to 28 at the Noorda Center. For tickets, visit uvu.universitytickets.com or the Noorda box office.
Featured in photo gallery: Seth Foster, Lexi Walker and Autumn Best. Gallery photos by Jonah Hokit.
Olivia is a theater education major who stumbled into journalism. She’s a little too into movies, pop culture, and Oxford commas (against the desires of her editors). She is also very online. ([email protected])