Essentials: Entertainment Picks Dec. 18-24 

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THURSDAY DEC. 18

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David Ericson Fine Art: Spring City Ladies
For the holiday season, many Salt Lake City art galleries—such as Phillips Gallery and 15th Street Gallery—feature an assemblage of represented artists in holiday shows. At Art Access and Finch Lane, artists are invited to contribute handmade seasonal arts and crafts. Other galleries, such as Modern West Fine Art, Alderwood Fine Art and David Ericson Fine Art, take time to focus on a few selected represented artists. At Ericson, the current show featuring Lee Bennion, Kathleen Peterson and Sophie Soprano might be considered a holiday show extension, as the themes of these three exceptionally gifted artists from Spring City are well within the warm and generous spirit of the holiday season. Bennion has an unmistakable style that focuses on scenes of the everyday lives of women. Her bright but comfortable palette energizes canvases and brings them to vibrant life. In "Balance," we see a woman who's beautiful in her poise, grace and stature, standing before a vase of flowers. Her hands gesture as if this is an offering. Peterson is well known for her iconic, simplified and stylized portrayal of woman. "Sisters" is a long horizontal canvas with many woman pictured, but they're not necessarily familial sisters; they might represent the spirit of sisterhood, linked side by side, arm in arm. Sophie Soprano takes a chance on flights of fancy with vibrant color and graphic, imaginative canvases. "Band of Angels" (pictured) is a literal flight of a team of horses, galloping through the sky, maintaining peace below. (Ehren Clark) Spring City Ladies @ David Ericson Fine Art, 418 S. 200 West, 801-533-8245, through Dec. 23, free. DavidEricson-FineArt.com

FRIDAY DEC. 19

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Plan-B Theatre Company: Christmas With Misfits
Plan-B Theatre Company's holiday show, Christmas With Misfits, is ultimately a quite satisfying production, although like Christmas—to say nothing of indie theater itself—getting there is occasionally rocky. The show, written by veteran local playwright Julie Jensen, consists of four short pieces centered around various aspects of Christmas as a holiday and the effect of those aspects on a variety of characters played, in turn, by Kirt Bateman (pictured), Colleen Baum and Jeanette Puhich. The first and strangest concerns a little girl who is accompanied home for her safety by a Macy's store elf, who then attempts in vain to get away once he realizes she thinks he's a real elf. Next is another oddity, about two gay friends who decided to have sex for Christmas—only one is a man and the other a woman. It's a lot less confusing if one disregards the entire notion of gender and orientational binary, which seems to be kind of the point. The third is a broadly—and more conventionally—comic sketch about two women dealing with an overbearing man's insistence on showing off his massive and gaudy display of stolen baby Jesus figurines from crêche displays, which builds to an agreeably crazy finish. But the final piece, wherein two elderly friends in a nursing home celebrate what might be their last Christmas, is a wonderfully layered and paced bit of drama. It's affecting, funny and closes the evening out on a high note—one in perfect harmony with the proverbial Christmas spirit. (Danny Bowes) Plan-B Theatre Company: Christmas With Misfits @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, through Dec. 21, Thursday-Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 4 & 8 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m., $20. ArtTix.org

FRIDAY DEC. 19

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The Sting & Honey Company: This Bird of Dawning Singeth All Night Long
Many arts companies have their holiday season traditions to appeal to audiences, from Nutcracker dances to Christmas Carol productions to Messiah sing-alongs. But one of the newer traditions turns back to one of the more ancient sources—the Nativity story itself—for a unique evening that combines theater, movement, poetry and music for a distinctively moving experience. This Bird of Dawning Singeth All Night Long—an original work by Javen Tanner—even predates the official creation of The Sting & Honey Company in 2010, but it has already become the company's much-anticipated seasonal production. Employing performers in kabuki-style masks to act out the story of Jesus' birth, Dawning also incorporates Nativity-themed poetry by writers from Shakespeare to Yeats, creating a dramatic and moving way to look at a tale you may already know by heart. (Scott Renshaw) The Sting & Honey Company: This Bird of Dawning Singeth All Night Long @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2797, Dec. 19 & 20, Friday 7:30 p.m., Saturday 2 & 7:30 p.m., $12. ArtTix.org, StingAndHoney.org

SATURDAY DEC. 20

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College Football Bowl Games
All three of Utah's Division I teams are in bowl games for the first time since 2011, with all three playing their games within 48 hours of each other. You'll see more than enough of your family over Christmas to be sick of them. This is your time to watch football. Of the three Beehive State Division I football programs, Utah State (9-4) has the most wins over the past three seasons (29), and is currently the only school with back-to-back bowl wins. The Aggies will face off against University of Texas El Paso in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl at University Stadium in Albuquerque. Drive 9.5 hours or fly 1.5 hours to see it in person, or stay home and watch it on ESPN. The early line is USU, by 11.5. The early line for the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl is Utah by 5—no, seriously, that's what it is. The University of Utah (8-4) will go up against Colorado State (10-2) on Dec. 20 at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. It's a six-hour drive or a 1.5-hour flight, but you could just stay home and catch it on ABC. And after the No. 22 ranked Utah football team plays on UNLV's football field, the No. 13 ranked Utah men's basketball team plays UNLV that night at the MGM Grand Arena (9:30 p.m., ESPN2). BYU (8-4) will play Memphis (9-3), in the Miami Beach Bowl on Dec. 22 (early line: pick 'em). Tune in to ESPN for the game, or start now and road trip 36 hours (stay on Interstate 80 until you hit Nebraska) to Marlins Park in Miami, or fly 6.5 hours, including a layover. The BYU band will perform at the Last Blast Pep Rally, and the team is scheduled to attend the Commissioner's Dinner, both of which are set for Dec. 21—a Sunday! (Geoff Griffin) Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Utah State University vs. UTEP, Dec. 20, 12:20 p.m., ESPN; Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl: University of Utah vs. Colorado State, Dec. 20, 1:30 p.m., ABC; Miami Beach Bowl: BYU vs. Memphis, Dec. 22, noon, ESPN

SATURDAY DEC. 20

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Parsons Dance Company
When the internationally renowned Parsons Dance Company comes to Park City this week from New York City, it will bring eight dancers, three dances and one contemporary masterpiece: Caught. Premiered in 1982—four years before David Parsons founded his contemporary dance company—and now staged by companies around the world, the solo work is widely regarded as one of the most innovative pieces of modern dance. For six minutes, Caught seems to suspend the dancer in a gravity-defying mid-air performance, as a pulsing strobe light illuminates a series of 100 grand jetes around the stage, creating the illusion of flight. Athletic and powerful—words often used to describe Caught—are also applicable to Parsons Dance Company as a whole, and the three other pieces scheduled for this performance will not disappoint. Presenting some of the choreographer's newest work, Whirlaway is an upbeat celebration of beauty, motion and music that feels like an impromptu party in a smoky bar on the bayou. Performed by the full company, Whirlaway is set to a mix of jazz and funk by celebrated jazz composer Allen Toussaint. Hymn is an intimate but also highly energetic duet by Trey McIntyre, a former Parsons Company dancer, with lots of Parsons flavor, including some stunning footwork more often seen in ballet than in modern dance. And, finally, Bachiana—a series of duets set to music by Bach—plays with the forms and formalities of court dance. In addition to the one-evening performance, Parsons Company members will be teaching an open master class. (Katherine Pioli) Parsons Dance Company @ Eccles Center, 1750 Kearns Blvd., Park City, 435-655-3114, Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m., $20-69 general admission, discounts for seniors, children, Summit County students and teachers. EcclesCenter.org

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