Tuacahn venue, special effects wow New Yorker

Call it fate. Call it synchronicity. Or just call it (if you’re less cosmically inclined) a very cool coincidence.

But when Dan Domenech was a kid, the very first CD he ever got was the soundtrack to the 1992 Disney animated film "Aladdin."

And now – here’s where the cool comes in – Domenech will spend his summer portraying Aladdin in the Tuacahn Center for the Arts’ production of "Disney’s Aladdin — The New Stage Musical."

The show opened Monday and will run though Oct. 19 at the Tuacahn Amphitheatre in Ivins, Utah.

Joining "Disney’s Aladdin" on Tuacahn’s 2012 professional summer season schedule are: the Tony Award-winning musical "Hairspray," which opened Tuesday and runs in repertory with "Disney’s Aladdin" through Oct. 20, also in the Tuacahn outdoor amphitheater; and "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," which will run from July 6 through Aug. 11 in the indoor Hafen Theatre.

Check performance days and times on the center’s website (

"Disney’s Aladdin" is Domenech’s first show at the outdoor Tuacahn Amphitheatre. And, seeing as how he grew up in the suburbs of New York City, Domenech admits that "to come and see this amazing landscape is something else.

"When I got the job, I Googled ‘Tuacahn’ to see the theater; but to see the whole thing in person is a whole other thing. You haven’t seen anything like it."

Domenech’s stage credits include productions of "Rent" and "Wonderland."

He was wrapping up a year-long run in "Rock of Ages" on Broadway when the Tuacahn call came.

"The production values of this show are nothing like I have seen," he says.

"It’s amazing what they do here. And it’s nice to see that the artistic side of the creative process is the driving force here. It’s not about the budget; it’s about what’s going to look good onstage."

And, thanks to that long-ago CD, Domenech has been preparing at least informally for the lead role in "Disney’s Aladdin" ever since he was a kid.

"My dad got (the CD) for me when they had those BMG-for-a-penny clubs," he recalls with a laugh. "He got me the ‘Aladdin’ soundtrack and I listened to it obsessively."

Domenech even would call "Aladdin" his favorite Disney movie, in large part because of the title character.

"Aladdin was just such a cheeky guy," he says. "He’s that boy every boy wants to be; he’s a free-to-do-whatever-I-want kind of guy."

Yet, Domenech says, "in this version they show a little more vulnerability to him. There’s a small back story where he talks about losing his mother and not wanting to steal food and trying to get on the straight and narrow but he has a hard time with that."

The production is the first time Domenech has performed the lead in an outdoor spectacular.

The demands of performing outdoors – taking the form of, most notably, the wind and the heat – require actors to stay fit and "make sure to take care of our bodies and keep our nutrition up," he says.

On the other hand, outdoor performances also offer those moments when "the lights go down and you’re sitting in the audience, and you look up at the sky and see the sky full of stars."

Nature notwithstanding, Tuacahn’s production of "Disney’s Aladdin" offers some pretty impressive man-made special effects, too.

For instance, Domenech says, "We’ve got a flying carpet flying around the whole audience.

"We’ve got a great group of guys out there just to keep us safe, and it’s really fun because I never got the chance to do anything like these special effects we have."

All in all, Domenech says, "this is a perfect way to spend a summer away from New York City."

Contact reporter John Przybys at or 702-383-0280.

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