By Evelyn Hendrix
It’s nearly dusk in the desert, and a dozen teenagers are up to something. It involves an ax, a saw, a washboard and one very loud goat. Fortunately, a shrewdly placed camera catches everything on film.
But, these teens aren’t worried that their parents might see their antics. Instead, they are making a music video—one that is sure to tug at a few heartstrings. It will be part of the youth cultural celebration presented Saturday, March 1, marking the opening of the new Gilbert Arizona Temple.
With nearly 12,000 youth, 12 to 18 years old, from the 25 stakes within the temple district participating, the celebration held at Gilbert’s Discovery Park will be the largest of its kind. Nearly 6,000 adult volunteers have helped in many ways, from supervising and organizing, to making costumes.
After months of practice, the youth will act, sing and dance for the President Thomas S. Monson, President Henry B. Eyring and other distinguished guests. Due to space limitations, the performance will not be open to the public, but will be shown live via satellite at 7 p.m. March 1 in chapels across the Valley. It may even be possible to watch the celebration from home, as Phoenix’s ABC15 is considering airing the performance live with no commercial interruptions.
“We’re 90 percent sure that it will be on channel 15,” says Roseanne Tidwell, celebration chairperson.
Sister Tidwell explains that work on the celebration began long before the temple announcement in 2008. A few years earlier, she was working on a script for a multi-stake dance festival, along with Jason Barney, Richard Madsen and his brother, Robert Madsen, a professional composer and musician.
“Then, all the dance festivals in the Church were cancelled so the money could go toward building temples,” she says. Unwilling to give up on their hard work, they continued to tweak music and lyrics until it evolved into a musical about Daniel, the Old Testament prophet.
“Daniel made the decision to pray even though it carried the sentence of death,” Robert Madsen explains. The Bible story inspired him to write a song titled “I Choose This Day.” Sister Tidwell entered the musical in a Church contest.