Dixie State University brings “Sanctuary: The Story of Zion”
by Steve Lemmon
This summer, Dixie State University brings to the OC Tanner stage at the gates of Zion National Park, “Sanctuary: The Story of Zion”, a musical celebration of the people, projects, and passions that made Zion National Park the sanctuary that it is today. As the producer, I have assembled an extraordinarily creative group to present the journey of Zion through theatrical storytelling, original music and song, archival photos from the National Park collection, and multimedia video elements.
“Sanctuary: The Story of Zion” is a neo-variety show written by award-winning storyteller and songwriter Sam Payne. Musical director Ryan Tilby not only uses original compositions to help Payne tell the story of Zion but also incorporates old standards reflective of the eras through which the musical journey travels. Payne and Suzanne Christensen, both well-traveled professional storytellers, narrate “Sanctuary” as musical prodigy Tilby leads the musical accompaniment. They are joined onstage by acclaimed Nashville musicians Drew and Lacey Williams and high-energy vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Nic Chamberlain. This all-star cast may be the most talented group of musicians ever assembled on a single stage in Southern Utah.
The production is aptly named “Sanctuary” as it captures the unique meaning that the beloved national park has held for its visitors and residents throughout history. “It’s our sanctuary,” the chorus of the title song proclaims, “The canyon is our shelter from the storm / And it holds the memories / Of the people who knew Zion was their home.”
The show features cameo appearances from world-renowned rock climbers, search and rescue personnel, park rangers, and more — all of whom explain their love affair with Zion National Park and what the unique canyon environment means to them.
“Sanctuary” is a great family show and appeals to outdoor enthusiasts, students of local history, descendants of first peoples and pioneers, and anyone who loves to hear a compelling story told with humor and music. The O.C. Tanner Amphitheater, which will host the production, is owned and operated by Dixie State University.
Built in 1978, the venue itself is worth the price of admission. The amphitheater sits in a quiet side canyon off the main road running through Springdale. Directly behind the stage, the audience
gazes at the towering red cliffs of Zion National Park, which serve as the perfect backdrop against which to unfold the story of Zion National Park.
“Sanctuary: The Story of Zion” opens at the OC Tanner Amphitheater in Springdale on July 1 and 2 with subsequent shows on July 22 and 23, August 19 and 20, and September 3 and 5. Tickets are $15 for adults and $6 for youth, and the entire family can attend the show for $38. Purchase tickets at dsutix.com or thestoryofzion.com or at the door on the day of performance.