Guest Artists Sutton Foster & Hugh Bonneville
Tony Award Winner Sutton Foster and Emmy Nominee Hugh Bonneville Join “Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir”
Actress, singer, and dancer Sutton Foster can currently be seen starring as the lead of Darren Star’s hit TV Land series Younger. Her Broadway roles include Violet, Anything Goes (Tony Award), Shrek the Musical, Young Frankenstein, The Drowsy Chaperone, Little Women, Thoroughly Modern Millie (Tony Award), Les Misérables, Annie, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Grease. Off-Broadway, she has been seen in Sweet Charity (The Pershing Square Signature Center), The Wild Party (City Center Encores!), Trust (Second Stage), and Anyone Can Whistle (City Center Encores!). Her two solo albums are Wish and An Evening with Sutton Foster: Live at the Café Carlyle. She has made numerous television appearances including Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, Bunheads, Elementary, Psych, Royal Pains, Law and Order: SVU, Flight of the Conchords and Sesame Street. Ms. Foster holds an honorary doctorate from Ball State University, where she also teaches.
Photo by Laura Marie Duncan
As this year’s guest artist, Foster joins the iconic Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Orchestra at Temple Square and the Bells on Temple Square hand-bell choir in cherished Christmas carols such as “Christmas Time is Here” from “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Joy to the World,” “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “Silent Night.”
“There’s something that happens when you stand on the stage and you’re sharing this experience not only with the Choir, with the Orchestra, but with 21,000 people. It becomes about everyone, no matter what you believe, coming together celebrating this season, and we are celebrating each other, and we are celebrating love and joy and warmth, and it’s just a roomful of goodwill. And so you forget that there’s 21,000 people, and it all becomes very simple. And so suddenly the room becomes very intimate, which is hard to explain.”
– Sutton Foster
The Gabriel Trumpet Ensemble, an 8-person ensemble led by a former member of the Choir, join for the first time and add a new splendor to the program. The Choir’s principal organist, Richard Elliott, who conceptualizes a distinct and imaginative organ arrangement that has become a fan favorite each year, offers a creative rendition of “I Saw Three Ships” on the colossal 7,708-piece instrument with a percussion ensemble from the Orchestra at Temple Square. And with an emotional take on John Denver’s “Sunshine on My Shoulders,” a favorite of Foster’s, the repertoire goes beyond Christmas music and pays tribute to her late mother through her favorite song.
“For me it’s all about family. My husband and I adopted a baby girl, Emily, and when I said her name in the program, a huge lump came to my throat and I just felt overwhelmed by the emotion and the beauty of my life, and how much it has changed this past year, and celebrating our first Christmas together with all of our family, and being able to celebrate that and celebrate the people that have passed and just bringing in all of the things that I love. I’ve never done anything like this before, and it’s a very powerful experience.”
– Sutton Foster
Sutton Foster: From the Concert
Hugh Bonneville was a member of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, studied theology at Cambridge, and made his professional debut in 1986 in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Following several seasons with the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, he has become a familiar face to television audiences in both comedies and dramas, receiving a Golden Globe and two Emmy nominations for his performance as Robert, Earl of Grantham on Downton Abbey. He received four British Academy nominations for his role in the BBC comedies Twenty Twelve and W1A and a further BAFTA nomination for his role in the movie Iris. His recent films include Viceroy’s House, Breathe, and the forthcoming Paddington 2, in which he reprises his role as Mr. Brown. Mr. Bonneville is an ambassador for WaterAid and is a patron of several charities, including the National Youth Theatre and the Primary Shakespeare Company.
Photo by Stuart McClymont
Bonneville punctuates the program with a spellbinding account of the tragic true story of Horatio Spafford, a prominent, 19th-century Chicago-based lawyer who, after a series of personal tragedies, penned the popular hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul.” A reading of the Christmas story from Luke 2 rounds out the program.
“It’s quite an experience to come into this vast arena, which at the same time feels like a home, and that’s what I think the expression of this concert is all about. It’s about creating an atmosphere that’s both huge in scale, but also intimate in content and its emotional content. And that said, it’s a very special experience.”
– Hugh Bonneville
“Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir” was recorded over three nights in December 2017 in front of a live combined audience of over 63,000 people in Salt Lake City’s Conference Center, located on Temple Square – the no. 1 tourist attraction in Utah, surpassing the state’s five national parks. Tickets were free to the public and sold out in a record seven minutes.
“I’ve never been part of something where the word ‘amateur’ has had a truer sense of the word, coming from the Latin root, ‘amo’ or ‘the love of it.’ The love and the commitment that these people who are volunteering give to this – it’s extraordinary. I’ve never seen it before. And to know that some 500 or 600 people are coming together for the single purpose of celebration through music, word and dance, it’s a rare experience and to be able to share it with so many people, not only live, but on camera, is quite something.”
– Hugh Bonneville
Hugh Bonneville: From the Concert
“Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir” is a storied tradition that dates back decades. Foster and Bonneville join a rich roster of guests that has traveled to Salt Lake City over the years to star in the phenomenon. Gladys Knight, Angela Lansbury, Bryn Terfel, Audra McDonald, Ren.e Fleming, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Natalie Cole, David Archuleta, Deborah Voigt, Santino Fontana, Laura Osnes and Rolando Villazón, among others, have performed as musical guest artists. And Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough, Hollywood star John Rhys-Davies (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy), Emmy and Golden Globe winner Jane Seymour (“Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”), legendary broadcaster Walter Cronkite and the Muppets® from “Sesame Street” have served as narrators.