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Eight Things You Didn’t Know About Tuacahn

Tuacahn2 DaveBecker

Tuacahn Center for the Arts is a mecca for magical shows of all kinds, drawing talent and audiences from near and far. There is still a lot of mystery behind the magic though, and that magic extends far beyond the stage. Here are some facts from behind the scenes of Tuacahn that make for performances like you’ve never seen.

1. Tuacahn is an overachiever

Tuachan’s current performance lineup is much larger than the founders’ original plan, which was to put on only one performance a year: “Utah!” While the show did tell a compelling story about Jacob Hamblin founding the area and even featured a flash flood on stage (yes, you read correctly – more on that later), Tuacahn needed more shows to keep audiences coming back to Padre Canyon.

Enter “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Debuting in 1999, this show marked the beginning of Tuacahn’s repertoire expansion and venture into a much wider array of offerings. More shows and concerts were featured each year following, and that momentum continues today with a year-round schedule of diverse performances, featuring everything from Disney performances to professional bull riding, with even more growth on the horizon.

2. Tuacahn is literally Broadway in the Canyon

Thanks to Tuacahn’s close relationship with Disney Theatrical Productions, many of the performances on Tuacahn’s stage are just finishing their tenure on Broadway – which is no small feat. Regional institutions nationwide vie to host the most beloved productions in the country as they are fresh off of Broadway and beginning their travel stint. 

When the production and crew arrive in Ivins, they occupy the entirety of the onsite living quarters and often overflow into local hotels. Talk about a full house! From there, the nationally recruited and auditioned talent and crew spend their tenure at Tuacahn practicing for and performing in the multiple shows that go on every week.

A keen audience member might notice familiar faces between the different Disney performances, and they would be right. These actors do it all – literally. It’s the same crew every night! The actor you see in the leading role one night might be a backup dancer the next, which is a testament to how talented and versatile these groups are.

These productions bring the momentum and energy from The Great White Way, only to be further amplified by the magnificent Padre Canyon walls. 

3. Tuacahn thinks outside the box – and inside too

Tuacahn is known for its stunning outdoor ampitheatre, but its lesser-known indoor theater, the Hafen Theater, hosts powerful productions as well. 

The Hafen Theater is smaller than its outdoor counterpart, but the caliber of performance remains larger-than-life in shows such as the critically acclaimed “Beautiful” and the local favorite “White Christmas.” The indoor setting allows audiences to connect intimately with the actors and stories – all from the comfort of a climate-controlled environment. 

4. Exceptional is Tuacahn’s middle name

In the backstage area of the outdoor amphitheater, you will find an exceptionally long tunnel used for all things behind the scenes. The tunnel is just as dramatic as the performances it helps put on, being hidden away so inconspicuously and requiring insider know-how to find the entrances and exits. Performers use this feature to sprint to their next stage entrances and execute quick changes out of sight of the audience, while the crew uses this tunnel in part to pull off the flooding stage feature Tuacahn is known for. 

‘Flood’ and ‘stage’ probably aren’t images that mix easily in your mind, and our description won’t do it as much justice as witnessing it for yourself. But when you do, expect instant chills and slightly wet feet if you’re sitting near the front of the stage.

As if the backstage tunnel wasn’t already cool enough, it has “memorial murals” painted on the walls. Each mural pays homage to the shows that have graced Tuacahn’s stage and features the signatures of everyone who participated in the show. 

David Archuleta, a popstar known for his second place finish in season seven of “American Idol” and 2008 hit single “Crush,” is one of those signatures. Archuleta made his theatrical debut at Tuacahn in 2022, playing the lead role of Joseph in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and later performed his Christmas tour “The More The Merrier” at Tuacahn. 

5. Tuacahn puts the rock in red rocks

Did someone say tour? Yes, we did. In addition to Tuacahn’s extensive theatrical offerings, they host concerts as well. Big names like Willie Nelson, Scotty McCreery, Martina McBride, Lindsey Stirling, The Beach Boys, America and more have performed in Padre Canyon, and even more phenomenal acts are slated to take advantage of the natural acoustics in the coming seasons.

6. Tuacahn does everything in-house

So what doesn’t Tuacahn do? Honestly, nothing. In addition to the hefty talent required to put on a good show, there are several other aspects of performances and Tuacahn’s general operations that require a unique and diverse workforce. 

Live animals, fireworks and even a flooded stage are just a few of the elements that make Tuacahn performances stand out from the rest, and maintaining those features requires the expertise of full-time professional animal wranglers, pyrotechnicians (one of only four licensed in the state of Utah) and engineers, respectively.

The Tuacahn workforce is the real star of the show. They build their own sets and props from scratch in a dedicated construction and welding center. They have a robust hospitality staff responsible for maintaining the Tuacahn gift shop, restaurant and talent living quarters. They have an entire team of professional makeup artists, costume designers, seamstresses and even wig experts who create new, customized costumes for the entire cast of every new show that comes in, also from scratch. They have a volunteer workforce of nearly 300 that helps with logistics and show execution.

Again, we ask, what doesn’t Tuacahn do? Seriously. We can’t think of anything.

7. Tuacahn has childcare available during showtimes

Oops, we weren’t entirely done with the list yet. Tuacahn also employs full-time childcare professionals.

Tuacahn stays true to its mission of being a family-friendly establishment by offering childcare services, called Showcare, to families attending performances. You can make a reservation for younger audience members from infants to seven-year-olds to enjoy an evening of play with other children and certified childcare professionals while the rest of the family enjoys a good show. Everyone wins!

8. Tuacahn doesn’t take time off

Want to enjoy Tuacahn beyond scheduled showtimes? Well, you’re in luck.

Tuacahn hosts a free, outdoor Saturday Market year-round. Booths with crafts, artwork, food, clothing, botanicals and more line the sides of Tuacahn’s unique, flowing water display. Market-goers can browse the offerings with friends, family and/or pets. Local live music performers and delicious food trucks have also been known to attend this market, so bring your listening ears and an appetite with you. 

If shopping isn’t your thing or you would like to leave your pet at home, you can hit up the Padre Canyon hiking trail to get a full view of the ampitheatre as you make your way into Snow Canyon. This trail is moderately strenuous, complete with stunning views of both the natural and manmade.

No matter how you choose to experience Tuacahn, you will undoubtedly be enchanted. Whether it is by the performances, beautiful setting, talent, special effects, fireworks or the spectacular combination of all of the above is up to you.