An interview series featuring inspiring people who are creating their inspiring dreams, and how they’re doing it. Because, at Blossom of Snow, we believe that our dreams—the deep desires of our hearts—are Divine Callings that lead us to our most prosperous lives. And so, we believe following our dreams is a universal purpose that every human being on this planet shares.
Dream Maker: Christopher Utley
Dad, Director, Actor, and Mr. Blossom of Snow
What’s one of your dreams that you’d like to share with our Blossom of Snow community?
I want to direct a production of Thornton Wilder’s play,The Skin of Our Teeth, on Broadway.
Why is this dream important to you?
When I first read this play, it touched my heart with its depiction of humanity’s challenges and our inherent optimism that helps us overcome life’s obstacles.
How long have you had this dream? How long have you been working towards it?
This dream has been on my mind since 1991, when I acted in a production of it at the Lesher Center for the Arts, in Walnut Creek, CA. I began actively working toward this dream in early 2016.
What’s one of the greatest challenges you’re facing in creating this dream?
The greatest challenge I’m facing is entering the community of legitimate theatre directors. While I have 16 years of directing experience at Disneyland, I’m being asked to prove myself capable, outside of a theme park environment.
How are you overcoming this challenge?
This summer (2017), I’ll be directing the Greenshow at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. This is a perfect opportunity, as this type of production is a natural bridge between the work I do now and the work I’m dreaming to do.
Also, in the spirit of working beyond the borders of Anaheim, CA, I recently directed a large-scale project at Hong Kong Disneyland. While still under the umbrella of Disney, this project required that I step away from my comfort zone and accept creative accountability for a multi-million dollar, international project. A major learning from this experience is that, no matter the size, scope, location, venue, script, cast, or crew, the process of cultivating relationships that enable me to direct people to perform with heart remains the same.
What has been the best part about following this dream?
The first best part about following this dream is enjoying the freedom to create. As with any artist, the initial thrill is in the development of "the thing." Allowing - and pushing - my heart and mind to work together to create new ideas. The next best part will be standing back and observing how the production touches the hearts of the audience.
What keeps you going when times get tough or when you get stuck?
That inherent optimism that Thornton Wilder’s characters rely on when life gets tough! In addition, I’ve worked off and on as an actor for 30 years and learned that the only way to achieve big dreams is to keep moving forward. Working at Disneyland was a dream of mine since I was 4 years old. Following graduate school, I went through three years of rejection before obtaining a staff position. Reflecting on past successes or “dreams achieved” is another tool that helps me continue working toward my dreams.
What have you learned from creating this dream that you never want to forget?
Following our passion is not only a gift to ourselves, but to others whose hearts we touch. I believe we are here for a reason and that we each have unique gifts and talents to share. If they are not shared, we won't be the only people who experience a loss.
How are you personally defining success for this dream?
When the curtain goes up on opening night, I will have achieved my dream. If the audience members’ hearts are touched, then my dream will be successful.
(Banner and far left thumbnail images by Kamee June Photography)