Essentials: Entertainment Picks Feb. 13-19 

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THURSDAY FEB. 13

Odyssey Dance Theatre: Dance Fever and Romeo + Juliet
This is a year filled with various anniversaries celebrating Utah's rich history of performing arts. Odyssey Dance Theatre is one of the younger local mainstays, but it too is marking a significant milestone with its 20th year performing contemporary dance. Perhaps best known for its annual Thriller, ODT also offers the spring show Shut Up & Dance!, where the company typically takes a stab at new show ideas and choreography before possibly adding to its permanent repertoire. But this year, before embarking on an extensive European tour, ODT decided to instead reach into its growing grab bag of contemporary pieces and pull out the crowd-pleasers Dance Fever! and Romeo + Juliet. With the combination of ballet, hip-hop Shakespeare and disco fever, these productions, alternating nights at Kingsbury Hall, provide the perfect testament to the eclectic nature of ODT's dance crafted over its 20-year history. Dance Fever! is designed to highlight the company's diversity by including a wide-ranging selection of pieces instead of just one evening-length production. The first act consists of more traditional pieces, like contemporary ballet works by ODT founder and Artistic Director Derryl Yeager, choreographed to Mozart and Beethoven. The second act time-warps into the disco era with a soundtrack provided by the Bee Gees. The other evening-length work scheduled to share the repertory run at Kingsbury Hall is the story of two young star-crossed lovers, Romeo + Juliet. But instead of courtly curtsies and deft swordplay, ODT's version of things takes place in the streetwise world of hip-hop. (Jacob Stringer)
Odyssey Dance Theatre: Dance Fever @ Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, University of Utah, 801-581-7100, Feb. 13, 7:30 p.m., Feb. 15, 2 p.m.; Romeo + Juliet @ Kingsbury Hall, Feb. 14 & 15, 7:30 p.m., $20-$40. KingTix.com

Mark Slusser: Nature's Own Palette
The term "realism" may be the most confused and misused term applied to painting. In its 19th century avant-garde context, it meant being true to the form as it exists in ever-changing views of nature, or in the light and mood of an interior. In today's vernacular, it refers to consistent, invariably reproduced "realism." Mark Slusser, in his current solo show at the Slusser Gallery, does a superb job of creating representations while paying attention to nuances as they exist in the natural world. His "Coalville Farm," with its cornucopia of vicissitudes to the natural landscape, retains its similitude yet is composed of the kind of nuances that make a painting a "realist" one in the classical sense. But Slusser puts traditional norms of realism to the test with the aptly titled "Galvanized Orchids". The word "galvanized" is the clue in this piece, which at first glance has qualities representing that common understanding of realism. Bur closer inspection reveals a truer realism; the piece is infused with ever-changing details, and is not a staid, static reproduction. Slusser is liberal with the pinks and violets of the orchids, which draw the eye to their vibrancy. The stalk is tall and statuesque; the leaves are an exuberant green, sprouting in a bouquet of whimsy. With their lucid color, pronounced idealism, intense leaves and the intriguingly random setting, these orchids are an expression of resonating truth, and show their full measure as no slavish copy can. (Ehren Clark)
Mark Slusser: Nature's Own Palette @ Slusser Gallery, 447 E. 100 South, 801-532-1956, through March 14, free. SlusserGallery.com

Jamie A. Kyle: Considerations of the Mixed-Media Still Life
A vase with flowers? A bowl of fruit? A carafe of water? A vine with grapes? These are not the ingredients for the still-life examples Jamie A. Kyle presents. Her "#14" showcases an old sewing box with used-up spools of thread; on top are a shell and a white bottle. In the foreground is a glass vial with twigs. All around are obscured and blurred bottles and other objects. And in front are the same objects, rendered loosely in dark charcoal line. Kyle's "#5" features an earthenware jug that is the primary object, portrayed with its own form repeated loosely in charcoal. Twigs and drawings of other objects such as bottles are rendered in charcoal, but not present; all traditional still-life contexts are removed, creating abstract figurative space. Kyle uses black & white, obscurity and blurring, charcoal line, and objects both in and out of the frame to her advantage-it all lends to distancing from any literal still-life presentation toward abstraction. (Ehren Clark)
Jamie A. Kyle: Considerations of the Mixed-Media Still Life @ Salt Lake City Main Library, 210 E. 400 South, 801-524-8200, through Feb. 28, free. SLCPL.org


FRIDAY FEB. 14

Salt Lake Acting Company: Grant & Twain
Elizabeth Diggs' Grant & Twain-a world premiere at Salt Lake Acting Company-focuses much more on one of its two famous subjects. And if there's a problem with the production, it's that the focus is on the less interesting of the two. Diggs sets up the historical context for the friendship between Union Army hero and former president Ulysses S. Grant (Marshall Bell) and celebrated humorist Mark Twain (Morgan Lund), built on Twain's admiration for the legendary soldier and Grant's respect for someone not willing to treat him like a statue to be revered. That relationship informs the narrative's events, set in 1885, as Twain encourages Grant-left bankrupt after being defrauded in a business venture-to finally write a full memoir of his experience commanding the Union Army. Grant emerges as a complicated character, with flashbacks to his interactions with a single representative soldier (Ryon Sharette) standing in for his compassionate but firm leadership, and his relationships with his wife (Kathryn Atwood), servant (Brien K. Jones) and colleague/ personal secretary (David Spencer, above left) evoking his self-effacing personality. He's an introverted, introspective man, and Bell captures that sensibility almost too well, in a performance that similarly seems shy to take command of the stage. Fortunately, there's Lund's Twain to goose the show whenever the energy flags. Though Diggs doesn't dig as deeply into the things that motivate Twain, Lund's thundering delivery provides big laughs and a strong counterpoint to Grant's reticence. For all its moments of biographical insight, the play may be more simply effective as an Odd-Couple comedy. (Scott Renshaw)
Grant & Twain
@ Salt Lake Acting Company, 168 W. 500 North, 801-363-7522, through March 2, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday- Saturday; 1 p.m. & 6 p.m. Sunday, $24-$39. SaltLakeActingCompany.org

Babcock Theater: She Loves Me
Parfumerie-a
1937 romantic comedy by Hungarian playwright Miklós László-is one of those works you know without even realizing that you know it. In 1940, it was turned into the classic Ernst Lubitsch film The Shop Around the Corner; in 1998, Nora Ephron rendered it as the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan vehicle You've Got Mail. In every incarnation, however, it's the story of real-world antagonists who share their frustrations with an unknown penpal-who turns out to be the person with whom they so frequently clash. The University of Utah's Babcock Theater presents She Loves Me, the 1963 musical version of the story. With songs by the legendary Broadway team of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof), it offers a lyrical Valentine's Day treat about learning, ever so gradually, that you've fallen in love with someone you thought you despised. (Scott Renshaw) She Loves Me @ University of Utah Babcock Theater, 300 S. 1400 East, 801- 581-7100, through Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m., 2 p.m. matinees Saturdays & Sundays, $7.50- $15, free for U students. Theatre.Utah.edu

New World Shakespeare: Love's Labour's Lost
New World Shakespeare has played with creative interpretations of the Bard's works in its other productions, turning Romeo & Juliet into a love story between two women and rendering Macbeth as a post-apocalyptic tragedy. So it seems fitting that the merry iconoclasts use as their Valentine's Day production a Shakespearean comedy about a group of men vowing to give up women. In this unique Shakespeare concoction, the King of Navarre and three of his noblemen take an oath that they'll spend three ascetic years studying and fasting-and most decidedly avoiding the distracting company of the fair sex. Like many such promises, it seems plausible in theory-until the princess of France and her ladies-in-waiting arrive, and they're all soon smitten with one another in various complicated ways. And if you hazard a guess that there will be disguises and mistaken identities involved as everyone woos and (possibly) weds, you're no stranger to Shakespeare's love stories. (Scott Renshaw) New World Shakespeare: Love's Labour's Lost @ The Leonardo, 209 E. 500 South, 801-719-7990, through Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m., 2 p.m. matinee Sundays, $15. NewWorldShakespeareCompany.com


TUESDAY FEB. 18

Banff Mountain Film Festival
Attendees of the 38th Banff Mountail Film Festival will visit beautiful and remote wild places, hear the stories of fearless pioneers in outdoor recreation, dabble in environmental activism and witness astounding feats of mountaineering, skiing, skydiving, canyoneering, white water kayaking and more. Each of the festival's three nights at Kingsbury Hall features a different lineup of the 30 short documentary films on tour. Dubai: A Skier's Journey is a ski film with a rare sense of humor and irony. In it, we meet unlikely ski bums like Mohammad, who grew up in Morocco and moved to Dubai just to ski, which he does six days a week, all year, on an indoor ski hill. I Am Red, a four-minute "visual poem," splices together images of the Colorado River from its origins in the Rocky Mountains to its heart in the deserts of Utah and Arizona. North of the Sun follows young Norwegian surfers to a the frigid waters along a rocky Arctic island in the middle of winter. The charming Keeper of the Mountains introduces Elizabeth Hawley, a nonagenarian who has been chronicling Himalayan expeditions since the 1960s. With her questions like, "Nobody got black fingers or toes. Why not?" delivered with matter-of-fact directness, it's hard not to fall in love with this extraordinary woman. And Streams of Consequence matches stunning nature videography shot in Chile's Patagonia with a story of the current Chilean grassroots movement to keep an extensive dam project from smothering the region's free-flowing rivers. (Katherine Pioli)
Banff Mountain Film Festival @ Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, University of Utah, 801-581-7100, Feb. 18-20, 7 p.m., $10. KingTix.org

Utah Symphony: The Magic of Harry Potter
If you're one of the millions of Harry Potter fans living today, chances are you've read every book at least twice, memorized the films, own your own cloak and wand, and-once you reached a certain age-added a tattoo somewhere reflecting the series. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that after the Utah Symphony announced The Magic of Harry Potter, it had to expand the event to a second evening to accommodate every rabid fan from 6 to 65 years old. Much in the vein of concerts featuring video game tracks or the complete Star Wars soundtrack, this concert will present original themes composed specifically for the film series, as well as familiar works by Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Mussorgsky, for an evening of magic. Tickets are going fast, and there's no room to hover by the chandeliers on your broom, so pick them up while you still can. (Gavin Sheehan)
Utah Symphony: The Magic of Harry Potter @ Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, 801-355-2787, Feb. 18 & 19, 7 p.m. $6-24. UtahSymphony.org


WEDNESDAY FEB. 19

Visitors
More than 30 years ago, director Godfrey Reggio pioneered a singular vision for a documentary experience: a non-narrative film called Koyaanisqatsi that presented a kaleidoscope of images juxtaposing the natural world with the modern human world, set to the music of Philip Glass. Through two follow-ups- Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi-he continued to hone a style that allowed for a unique look at how technological "progress" has changed the world. In Visitors, Reggio once again joins forces with Glass for another wordless exploration of what the modern world is doing to humanity and to the rest of creation. It's an impressionist work that contains only 74 shots in its 87-minute running time, yet is another stunning example of the power of images to convey ideas more succinctly than any narrative. After this week's Utah Film Centersponsored free screening, join KUER's Doug Fabrizio for a live Q&A with Reggio about his work. (Scott Renshaw)
Visitors
@ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, Feb. 19, 7 p.m., free. UtahFilmCenter.org

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