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The Daily Herald
Provo, Utah
29 June 2005

Lucy mention:
Lucy Lawless: An actress from New Zealand, Lawless is known for her roles as powerful warrior women in leather. She made her major small-screen debut in "Hercules and the Amazon Women" in 1994 and later took a six-year adventure as Xena in the hit T.V. spin-off, "Xena: Warrior Princess," starting in 1995. In 1997, she made a two-month appearance has Betty Rizzo in "Grease" on Broadway.

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Stadium of Fire plans to celebrate 25 years of fireworks with a bang

Most Americans like to see a few firecrackers on the Fourth of July.

But Alan Osmond, the oldest member of the famous musical family, prefers to see the sky lit up with 1 million or more bursting blazes.

He got his wish when he helped ignite the 1 million firecracker explosion at the Stadium of Fire in 1989.
And this year on July 2, he said he gets to relive the dream.

"After we did it the first time, the fire marshal came up to me and said, 'You nut,' " Osmond said. "This year we are doing it again, and some."

With new producers and new surprises, the Stadium of Fire will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year with nearly three times the fireworks and performers as last year.

"This is going to be a fast-paced, entertaining event that focuses on family, service and celebration, with an emphasis on the latter," said producer Chuck Gayton.

The show will feature a variety of acts and musical genres and will showcase pop star Mandy Moore, country artists Lonestar, classic singer, dancer and actress Debbie Reynolds, actors Lou Diamond Phillips, Louis Gossett Jr. and Lucy Lawless, the Osmonds -- Second Generation and local composer Kurt Bestor.

Other local groups such as the American Fork High School Marching Band, 700 local young dancers and the Hope of America fifth-grade choir also will add an important patriotic element to the show, Gayton said.

The annual event in the BYU football stadium was a small show known as "Panorama" until 1981, when the Osmond family got involved. Alan Osmond said he does not recall who invited his family to add dazzle to the show, but he said he jumped on the chance as fast as he could.

In the first few years, Osmond beefed up the fireworks display and brought in some major headliners such as Bob Hope, Wayne Newton and The Beach Boys. He wrote the song "Stadium of Fire," which still plays in event advertisements, as the theme. For the first several years, the exhibition was even titled, "Alan Osmond's Stadium of Fire."

Osmond said he thinks his name made the title so the city would have someone to blame if the stadium burned down.

"I have always been the nut, the big pyro," he said. "But after a few years when things went fine, I said, 'Get my name off of there. This show belongs to the community, not to me.' "

The show has varied in size and complexity over the years. It grew by several thousand seats when the stadium was remodeled in 1982, and Taylor MacDonald, executive director for America's Freedom Foundation, the organization that puts on Stadium of Fire each year, said this year's anniversary show should prove to be the biggest and most dynamic ever.

The biggest changes this year are the two new producers. Replacing John and Sheri Whittaker, who are running the Freedom Blast in Salt Lake City this year, Gayton and Wayne Baruch have been planning the 25th Stadium of Fire from their Southern California offices. The duo have dozens of years of experience lighting up stadiums and arenas and are currently the head design team for the Hollywood Bowl opening ceremonies. They also have produced the Three Tenors and the opening ceremonies for the Paralympics.

Gayton and Baruch have brought in professional sound and lighting designers and a second fireworks company to create advanced close-proximity pyrotechnics. They also have designed some major changes in the overall feel of the two-and-a-half-hour show.

Instead of bringing in one main headliner who plays a long concert before the fireworks begin, Gayton and Baruch have hired a half-dozen famous names that will each play, perform or host the show for about 20 minutes each.

"We are not just a pop act or a country act," Baruch said. "We have a variety. We have many things for many people."

Gayton said the plan is to run a fast show that changes every few minutes.

And like the former fearless leaders of the show, the pair have dozens of surprises up their sleeves -- just don't expect them to tell you what they are.

"If we told you, they wouldn't be surprises anymore," they said.

People in the stadium, however, are bound to be surprised by the thousands of firecracker explosions that will take place inside and just above the stadium this year, said Brad Bones, a fireworks designer from Stellar Fireworks in Kansas.

Thousands of close-proximity fireworks that explode near performers and around the audience are being designed by an expert. The fireworks will be carefully choreographed to an original, patriotic musical score written by Bestor that will be performed live by a full orchestra on the field. Bones said anyone watching from outside the stadium "will only see half of the show."

"You've got to be in the stadium to really see what is happening this year," he said.

But those local fireworks fans sitting in parks and on grassy knolls around Provo might find that half the explosions is not bad for a free show.

"There is going to be so much fire this year," Osmond said. "It is just so incredible."

Jill Fellow can be reached at 344-2553 or

The Stadium of Fire

When: Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Where: LaVell Edwards Stadium, 1700 N. Canyon Road, Provo

Tickets: $35-$100

Info: (800) 322-B YU1,

Who: The Stadium of Fire producers have recruited several Hollywood names for the 25th-anniversary event. Each performer will have fewer than 20 minutes on stage during the show to display his or her talents. The talent lineup includes:

Lonestar: Made up of musicians Richie McDonald, Dean Sams, Keech Rainwater and Michael Britt, this awarding-winning country band debuted in 1995 with a self-titled album that turned gold. They have sold over 10.5 million copies of their seven albums collectively. The Texas band is best known for the single hits, "Amazed," "I'm Already There," "What About Now," "My Front Porch Looking in," "Tequila Talkin', " and "Come Cryin' to Me."

Mandy Moore: When Moore was 9-years-old, she became known as the "National Anthem Girl" when she sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" for major sports teams. She debuted as a national singer with the release of her 1999 album "So Real." Now at age 21, she has four other albums under her belt, and has transitioned into acting with roles in "The Princess Diaries," "How to Deal," "Saved!," "Try Seventeen," "Chasing Liberty" and "A Walk to Remember."

Debbie Reynolds: Reynolds's film career began at MGM after she won a beauty contest at age 16. She made her lead acting and dancing debut alongside Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain" in 1952. Some of the singer-dancer-actor's other credits include roles in "The Rat Race" and "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." She was also the voice of Charlotte in "Charlotte's Web." She continues to use her dancing skills on stage and puts nearly all of her money toward her goal of creating a Hollywood museum. Her current collection numbers more than 3,000 costumes and 46,000 square-feet worth of props and equipment.

Lou Diamond Phillips: Phillips is well known for a variety of acting roles in which he played famous or ordinary Latin American men. His face is mostly recognized for his roles in "La Bamba" and "Stand and Deliver." He also held roles in "Young Guns," "Young Guns 2" and more than 50 other films. He is currently working on several films set for release in 2005 and 2006.

Lucy Lawless: An actress from New Zealand, Lawless is known for her roles as powerful warrior women in leather. She made her major small-screen debut in "Hercules and the Amazon Women" in 1994 and later took a six-year adventure as Xena in the hit T.V. spin-off, "Xena: Warrior Princess," starting in 1995. In 1997, she made a two-month appearance has Betty Rizzo in "Grease" on Broadway.

Kurt Bestor: The Utah-based Bestor launched his career writing music for television and movies. His credits include more than 30 film scores and more than 40 themes for national TV programs and commercials. He earned the Outstanding Film Score Award at the New York Film and Television Festival for his music in PBS's "A More Perfect Union." Bestor was awarded an Emmy for his collaboration on the original music for ABC's coverage of the 1988 Winter Olympics. He also conducted his original score during the closing ceremonies for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

Louis Gossett Jr.: Now 69, Gossett has acted professionally since he was 17. He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance as the Navy drill sergeant who makes a man out of Richard Gere in "An Officer and a Gentleman" (1982) and an Emmy for his work in the TV miniseries "Roots." Other well-remembered roles include a USAF colonel in all three "Iron Eagle" movies, a hermaphroditic alien in the sci-fi melodrama "Enemy Mine" (1985) and a decrepit prizefighter in the con movie "Diggstown."