Utah Valley teems with talent

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HappyValleywood copyIf you watch shows like “The Voice” and “So You Think You Can Dance” with millions of other Americans, chances are, you’ll see a contestant from Utah County gracing the stage.

And it’s not just our talent that is Hollywood-worthy — it’s our terrain, which translates into picture-perfection on the silver screen.

“Utah is one of the largest markets for TV and film production,” says Chris Clark, chair of the Theatre Department at Utah Valley University. “Part of this has to do with the variety of our scenic terrain — Utah can be deserts, mountains, suburbs and cities. And it’s a great proximity to Los Angeles, which cuts a lot of costs. But there’s also a talent factor. People have a great work ethic and are at the top of their game here.”

Clark is an experienced actor and director who has produced more than 30 plays and has performed in many other productions — for both stage and screen. Clark and his wife, actress Lisa Valentine Clark, are an integral part of the arts in Utah Valley.

Clark gave his insight on what makes Utah Valley the place to be for rising stars and filmmakers.

Christopher Clark

Christopher Clark is the chair of the Theatre Department at Utah Valley University. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Clark)

In addition to having one of the nation’s most prestigious dance studios (Center Stage in Orem), the valley is bustling with students and recent graduates who are looking to make their names in the world. That paired with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ film production headquarters in Provo, The LDS Motion Picture Studio, adds to the fact that the valley is what Clark calls a “hotbed of talent.”

Hotbed or not, the stigma remains that in order to make it big, performers need to leave our landlocked state and move to Los Angeles or New York. But Clark says, why the rush?

“I sometimes feel that people are in such a hurry to move to New York and Los Angeles that they forget how great the quality of work is here,” Clark says. “Actors for the stage and screen can get their union cards here — it’s much harder to get them in New York and Los Angeles. There are great casting agencies and a lot of work here. I just think our talent pool is exploding, and there are a lot of eyes on us in the entertainment community.”

If you want to get your eyes on some of the valley’s local talent in action, check out the Utah County premiere of “In the Heights,” which Clark is directing at Orem’s Hale Center Theater this October.

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Kim calls Utah Valley home, but she spent her high school years in Australia, where she learned to drive on the other side of the road and tolerate Vegemite. Since earning an English degree at BYU, Kimberly has worked for Covenant Communications, Utah Valley Magazine, Daily Herald and Eat My Words. When she isn't writing, Kim loves traveling, teaching Pilates, and spending time with her husband and three children. Read more from Kim at talkingwordy.com.

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