Two years ago, the DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival launched the Festival with Tuacahn Miracle in Padre Canyon.  The film, which was produced through the generosity of Dave and Nanette Pugsley and the hard work of Dixie State University film students, will screen twice on Utah KUED public television.  

Screening dates: Sunday March 17, 7 PM and Friday March 22, 8 PM

“We at DOCUTAH are thrilled that KUED has chosen to screen this remarkable film and are grateful to Dave and Nanette Pugsley for their support and for this accomplishment,” said Phil Tuckett, Executive Director, DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival and Digital Film Professor at Dixie State University. 

Tuacahn Amphitheatre is more than a place for family entertainment.  It is a driving force in the community, a place where lives are changed, friendships are made and a world community comes together for professional shows, concerts and other unique events.  When David and Nanette Pugsley thought about making a documentary about how it came to be, they never thought that a film could come together within a year. That is, however, just what happened when they approached Phil Tuckett, Producer and Writer as well as Festival Director for the DSU DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival. The result was a feature length documentary, Tuacahn: Miracle in Padre Canyon.

Dave and Nanette felt that Tuacahn was not only an important piece of the history of Southern Utah, but also a great story about the resource that the venue is and how it has impacted the lives of the community and the performers.

“We are quite excited about this as KUED has been our favored outlet for the film from the very beginning so this is a dream coming true for us. It’s also a credit to DSU Films for the quality film produced and it’s been so pleasing to hear the feedback about the film from the folks at KUED,” said Dave

David Pugsley, a member of Tuacahn’s board for eight years, and his wife, Nanette have been involved with Tuacahn for many years. “We have seen productions on Broadway in New York and then seen the same play at Tuacahn and realized that the Tuacahn production took the story to a whole other level,” remarked Dave. “We approached Tuacahn’s Creative Director, Scott Anderson, who told us if we wanted a documentary, we had to speak with Phil, who immediately saw the value in the idea.”

 The vision that created Tuacahn Amphitheatre was born from a reverence for nature and a desire to preserve that natural magnificence and provide a unique experience for visitors. DOCUTAH joined with Tuacahn Amphitheatre to present a film intertwining the history of this place with a behind the scenes look at just how the incredible Broadway production of Shrek the Musical came together. 

This is a tale of two productions. One is the history of the canyon and the vision which created Tuacahn Amphitheatre as a venue for professional, world-class family entertainment: The other is the story of how a complicated Broadway show is developed, mounted and configured to utilize and adapt to the natural wonder of Padre Canyon.

“We wanted the audience to understand not only the rich history that created Tuacahn, but also how its complex productions come together from conception to execution,” said Tuckett. “By going back in time to reveal the story of the creation of Tuacahn Center for the Arts and Tuacahn Amphitheatre we demonstrate what the founders first envisioned – that Padre Canyon could be more than just landscape – and then we bring the audience forward to the first audition for Shrek: The Musical.” 

Any place an audition was held for Shrek, Tuckett and his Director and Director of Photography, Ben Braten were there – Los Angeles, New York, Salt Lake City, Tuacahn– capturing the drama and documenting the evolution of the work. They worked closely with Anderson as sets were built, wardrobe designed, makeup created and rehearsals took place. To understand and reveal the history, they interviewed those who were involved from the beginning and searched for the images needed to tell that part of the story.

“Ben and I have worked together so many times, that we read each other’s minds. He can go out and pick up additional footage that exactly fits the artistic vision we are trying to achieve,” continued Tuckett. We have been working for several years to put together films which chronicle the history and culture of the Southwest, which we call High Desert Chronicles, and the history of Tuacahn is a perfect complement for that series of documentaries.

“We are very involved in all the performing arts in our community, such as the St. George Musical Theater and the Brigham Playhouse,” said Nanette. Once we got together with Phil on this project, we saw it as an opportunity for two great institutions to do something together, to bring something awesome to our community. It seemed like a perfect fit. Very few places are lucky enough to have Tuacahn and DOCUTAH.”

 “At Tuacahn we say, ‘expect the unforgettable,’ and this documentary will certainly live up to that, bringing audiences into intimate contact with the artists and production crew as they develop and then present a remarkable production, while also allowing viewers to understand how Tuacahn: Miracle in Padre Canyon came to be,” noted Kevin Smith, CEO of Tuacahn.