‘Undaunted’ concert to benefit Utah’s oldest non-profit LGBTQ+ organization

Jazz standard “Cry Me a River,” “All I  Ask of You” from “The Phantom of the Opera,” Broadway’s “Book of Mormon” medley, along with Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley medleys — just a few of the songs acclaimed performer Johnny Hebda will perform at his “Undaunted” benefit concert July 14, at 7 p.m. at the Jeanne Wagner Theatre at Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.

Featuring high-energy gay renditions of musical theater and jazz numbers, the concert will benefit the Royal Court of the Golden Spike Empire, Utah’s oldest non-profit LGBTQ+ organization, which has raised over $1 million for charitable causes. Hebda was crowned Mr. Gay Utah XLII after the group’s annual pageant which is held in January. He placed in the top 10 at the national Mr. Gay America last October.

After winning regionals in December, “Undaunted” includes a preview of his performance when he competes at nationals for Mr. Continental over Labor Day weekend. Hebda is the first Utahn to qualify to compete in this prestigious LGBTQ+ pageant.

“Undaunted” is personal to Hebda. He includes portions that are autobiographical as he recounts stories of his life growing up in rural Tennessee in a conservative Mormon family to his days as a Mormon missionary, a BYU grad, and coming out as a gay activist, gay nightlife producer, and influencer, professional actor, theater and arts producer, and Five Husbands Vodka brand ambassador.

“Undaunted is a project that I have poured my heart and soul into. It is autobiographical and showcases my musical and acting talents through my favorite Broadway, jazz, and pop songs, as well as a poignant script that I have written which will make audiences laugh and cry as I share my struggles and successes as an artist,” says Hebda.

Performing with a live band, guest artists, and backup dancers from the  RiRie-Woodbury and Repertory Dance Theater Companies, he includes “Luck Be a Fella,” “New York, New York,” “My Way,” Broadway medleys of popular musicals including “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat,” “The Book of Mormon,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and the currently-running-on-Broadway “The Great Gatsby.” Also featured is an Elvis Presley tribute.

Musical theater and guest artists include Michael Carrasco, with Broadway tour credits, Emily Wells from the Hart Theater Company, drag performances by Miss Gay Utah Eva Chanel Stephens, Ho Shi Minh, and M’Lady Wood, and musical theater actors Colton Hattabaugh, Nathan Brogan, Ren Cottam, and Trevor Dean.

An original film, “Cry Me a River,” directed by Chase Ramsey, scored by April Kerr, and starring Johnny Hebda and Jared Lynton, will also premiere as part of the concert.

“Undaunted” is musically directed by the widely acclaimed Anne Puzey, a co-owner of Audition Advantage who has directed many musical productions along the Wasatch Front and performed with several Broadway luminaries.

“Johnny is one of the most dedicated people I know. There’s no limit to what he can accomplish,” Puzey said. “Audiences will love to follow along with the varied musical genres Johnny will present. Hold on to your hats because there will be a live band, dancers, film, and sequins galore!”

Tickets to “Undaunted,” rated PG-13 for mild language and some adult content, are on sale at saltlakecountyarts.org

CREDIT: Somer Ahonen/Somer Photography

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