Arts News

Utah native brings ‘Divas of Hollywood’ to life in new production

Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn, Joan Crawford and 16 other divas will walk onto a Utah stage in a fabulous parody and impression performance. Alan Palmer, in a one-man traveling show, will have a limited engagement of Fabulous Divas of Hollywood, Nov. 18-19.

“The show is just a great time. It’s funny for everyone; gay, straight, queer, old, young. Even if you don’t know who all 19 divas are, the songs are still very funny and you might be surprised how many you recognize,” Palmer said.

Palmer, an Ogden native, is touring the country with his new show, and his previous and similar production, Fabulous Divas of Broadway, was well-received by fans and critics.

At a young age, Palmer was interested in theater and performing, but until his diva shows, he’d never done drag. Growing up in Utah, he participated in all the local theater and productions he could find, but eventually he moved to Chicago to look for more opportunities. He followed his performing dreams to Broadway where he landed the leading role in the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical, Aspects of Love. He even played an alien Power Ranger on the popular children’s TV show for a season. 

“Even though I wasn’t raised Mormon, I still participated in a lot of the road-show performances and other productions and I have to thank them for all the training I received. It was the Mormons who helped me nourish my love for acting and performing,” Palmer said.

But his latest show impersonating 19 famous women is perhaps his biggest challenge yet.

“There are so many fast costume and voice changes, songs and a script I follow,” Palmer said. “It can get a little wacky, but it’s just so much fun for everyone. We don’t print programs on purpose. We want it to just flow and be a surprise for the audience. You never know what’s going to come next.”

Along with diva impersonations, he’s also an award-winning director and choreographer. His impressive list of credits includes the 50th anniversary production of Oklahoma! for Broadway-Grand Opera, the West Coast premiere of the musical It’s a Wonderful Life, the original production of Inaccurate Information at the Hudson Theatre in Los Angeles, the new version of Nunsense A-Men at Open Stage West and tours of Forever PlaidAn Evening of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Godspell. His production company produced Journey of a Jacket that was screened at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, the television series The Club, which was written by Palmer, and released his fourth solo CD Songs for Souls for The Homeless Children’s Charity Project.

Palmer lives with his husband of 21 years and their two children, Aaron, 14, and Haley, 5.

Fabulous Divas of Hollywood runs Nov. 18-19, 7:30 p.m., One Mind Studio, 216 W. Paxton Ave., Salt Lake City. Tickets are available through or at the door on the day of the performance.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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