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Best British Accent
David Ivers, Dial M for Murder
Along with his duties as co-director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Ivers also shines as an actor, no more so than in 2011’s production of Dial M for Murder. What was most striking was his booming lead performance as a long-faded tennis star turned aspiring murderer. With his angular frame, his hands thrust in his trouser pockets, Ivers was the epitome of a scheming yet debonair Brit, complete with a perfect English accent. Ivers recognized that the character’s true nature was in his voice—bullying, loud, bombastic, authoritarian—and he executed it with true aplomb.
Utah Shakespeare Festival, Bard.org
Best Artistic Charity
Submerged In Art
While most consider The Road Home a seasonal charity, the truth is that it helps those in need every day. Every year, for one day, a group of talented artists and musicians take over Sugar House’s The Tap Room, as well as the vacant space above the bar, to perform and sell their works; all the proceeds go to The Road Home. The list of local artists and musicians who have contributed their time and work is a who’s-who of local talent, all coming together to help folks in need.
Best Outdoor Champion
Peter Metcalf co-founded and has presided over the fledging Black Diamond employee-owned outdoor-gear company since 1989. He moved BD to Salt Lake City in 1991 and helped grow the company until it was acquired in May 2010 for $90 million, becoming Black Diamond Equipment, a publicly traded company. Some worried the acquisition would be an end to an era, that BD had sold out, but it appears to be the opposite. The company is healthier and more visionary than ever. Thus, Metcalf’s stake in seeing Utah conserve its public lands has never been greater. Metcalf continues to lambaste elected officials for their misguided public-land policies and advocate for wilderness as if his career and that of 300 BD employees, as well as thousands of Utah jobs, depended on it.
Best New(ish) News Anchor
Kylie Conway, ABC 4
ABC 4 evening news anchor Kylie Conway arrived in Salt Lake City one year ago, preceding the station’s dizzying 2011 influx of new hires and musical chairs. By fall, the Ohio transplant had graduated from reporter to weekend anchor; as the year closed, she’d snared the weeknight anchor chair alongside local news veteran Brett Hunsaker. Her quick ascension was a no-brainer: Conway has that rare TV-news talent to move from bright and bubbly to serious and solemn seamlessly between stories—and, more importantly, come off as genuinely sincere, not an Anchorman knock-off.
ABC 4, weeknights, 4, 6 and 10 p.m. ABC4.com
Best Local Comic-Con Experience
If you’re tired of wasting piles of cash to get down to San Diego every year, then take a breather, as Utah’s own Anime Banzai brings you all of the excitement of a real convention without all the pretentiousness, hefty prices and waiting lines for more waiting lines. The anime-centric convention has branched out beyond appreciation for the cartoon genre, adding karaoke competitions, art contests, dating games, trivia, fighting demos, and the ever-loving appreciation of women dressed up as their favorite characters. Sexy Metroid? Sexy Link? Sexy Peter Venkman?! Yes, please!
Best Celtic Harper
Many Salt Lakers associate the harp with Elizabeth Smart. And yes, she plays a mean pedal harp. But there are other harps, such as Celtic, electric and cross-strung, for which Salt Lake City has a resident expert in Cynthia Douglass. Douglass was drawn more than 20 years ago to the harp’s harmonies and its healing effect on listeners. Not only has she taught harp and formed three harp ensembles in Georgia, Alabama and Utah, but she also performs locally with Waking Erin in Salt Lake City, where she has lived since 2006.
Utah has been blessed with many resident stargazers who’ve kept the lights on, astrologically speaking, in a town where that hasn’t been easy to do. But Salt Lake City landed a big fish when Christopher Renstrom moved to Utah a few years back. Author of the book (and website) Ruling Planets and daily horoscope scribe for the San Francisco Chronicle, Renstrom is a font of astrological lore and history, both ancient and modern-day. A respected national conference speaker, Renstrom’s focus on ruling planets sets him apart. Locally, he offers classes and readings, and he headlines a monthly astrology slam. His fluent delivery, sense of humor and grasp of the planetary portents will align you with your stars.
Best Dystopian Twist
Christine Seifert, The Predicteds
In a genre where the best-selling series centers on women’s inability to control their destiny, safety and sexuality, The Predicteds, by Westminster professor Christine Seifert, puts a twist on what’s popular and turns questions of (men and women’s) fate into a social experiment. Seifert’s book is for young adults who want to explore the issues of human nature, prejudice and young love without having to wade through thousands of pages of abstinence-only propaganda. Seifert does all of this through the lens of a strong female character, snarky teenage dialogue and an engaging plot wrought with suspense. It’s a read-in-two-sittings kind of book.
Best Environmental Huddle
Community Foundation of Utah Chautauqua
The nonprofit Community Foundation believes in “smart philanthropy,” offering innovative ways for members to invest in Utah, from donor-advised funds to permanent endowments. In November 2011, the foundation sponsored a “Chautauqua” to spark a statewide dialogue on environmental issues. Titled “Our Natural Heritage,” the gathering at Canyons Resort in Park City invited diverse environmental nonprofits—animal-rights, hunting and fishing groups; governmental and faith organizations, and corporations, with the goal of helping citizens be informed and getting opposing sides to talk to each other.
6550 Millrock Drive, Suite 125, Salt Lake City, 801-559-3005, UtahCF.org
Best Movie Making
Homegrown Benjamin Gourley is a 2003 BYU grad who’s written, directed and/or acted in a half-dozen feature films. He got his start in the Mormon cinema bubble in Pride & Prejudice (2003) and Saints & Soldiers (2003), then wrote his own scripts for Moving McAllister (2007), Repo (2010) and The Kane Files (2010), which he also directed and filmed in Salt Lake City. Cohort of Napoleon Dynamite’s Jon Heder, he moonlights as a visual artist who displays his work in downtown SLC galleries. He may also be the only movie guy you know who proudly resists owning a cell phone.