Essentials: Entertainment Picks July 3-9 

click to enlarge Saturday's Voyeur
  • Saturday's Voyeur

THURSDAY JULY 3

Salt Lake Acting Company: Saturday’s Voyeur 2014
After 30-plus years, Saturday’s Voyeur is more of an institution than a piece of theater. It’s practically an annual general conference for Utah’s frustrated socio-political minority: an opportunity to gather and share testimony, even if most of the ideas have become terribly familiar. That makes it somewhat fitting that this latest satirical musical revolves around a conference weekend, with devoted brothers and sisters preparing a modesty pageant in honor of U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (Eb Madson). Meanwhile, one Mormon family experiences strife as Sister Marriott (Olivia Custodio) pushes back against certain church doctrines and her closeted gay husband (Justin Ivie). And the ghost of a devoted Temple Square docent (Jenessa Bowen) haunts the halls interacting with a rebellious angel Moroni (also played by Madson). As usual, the loose plot threads are just enough to hold together the string of blackout sketches and song parodies. While it’s somewhat disappointing to hear writers Allen Nevins and Nancy Borgenicht returning to familiar material like Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love,” they find much better material stretching into less obvious sources, including a hilarious bit set to Thomas Rhett’s “Beer With Jesus.” If there’s a primary frustration with this Voyeur, it’s that it seems so focused on tweaking Mormon hypocrisies and public-policy overreach that it all but ignores a huge local issue: December’s federal court ruling in support of same-sex marriage. The production’s cast and exuberant staging keep it lively, but maybe there can be just as much fun to be found in the little victories. (Scott Renshaw)
Saturday’s Voyeur 2014 @ Salt Lake Acting Company, 168 W. 500 North, 801-363-7522, through Aug. 31, Wednesday-Saturday 7:30 p.m., Sunday 1 & 6 p.m., $40-$55. SaltLakeActingCompany.org

Simon Pegg, FantasyCon
  • Simon Pegg, FantasyCon

FantasyCon
Like Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, Salt Lake City’s FantasyCon is set to begin with one helluva dwarf party. The kick-off event for the multi-day fantasy convention will feature eight dwarves, two hobbits and a wizard, who all journeyed from Tolkien’s Middle Earth to party together on one stage to the fine dance stylings of DJ Frodo—that is, DJ Elijah Wood. Promoted as being one of the most interactive conventions on the market, FantasyCon not only provides amazing access to various guests from the world of fantasy movies, television and literature, but is also a great way for fans to soak in the culture via immersive experiences. There will be real movie sets and props that visitors are invited to explore, as well as a bunch of hands-on craft and demonstration opportunities. Or, if you feel up for the something even more interactive, there are live gaming and live-action role-playing opportunities galore. Then there are panels and discussions on such wide-ranging topics as Iceland’s influence on the world of fantasy, how to make realistic cosplay outfits and making your personal fantasy a reality. If you like more debate-oriented panels, consider Disney Princesses vs. the female royalty from Game of Thrones, Twilight’s werewolves vs. vampires, and Lovecraft vs. Rowling. The point is that FantasyCon is far more than a chance for an expensive photo op with the likes of Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, The World’s End) and Frodo. Although, of course, you’re welcome to do that, too. (Jacob Stringer)
FantasyCon @ Salt Palace Convention Center, 90 W. South Temple, 801-534-4900, July 3-5, $10-$150. FantasyCon.com

click to enlarge Modern West Fine Art: Lenka Konopasek
  • Modern West Fine Art: Lenka Konopasek

Modern West Fine Art: Lenka Konopasek
Often it is when an artist is most unpredictable that the audience stops and pays closest attention. Modern West Fine Art is currently hosting an exhibition focused on recent art by Lenka Konopasek, and those who know Konopasek’s work—which tends to deal with the collision of man and nature—might be surprised that she’s showing at a gallery that focuses on Southwestern art with a classically modern aesthetic. The works in the show, curated by gallery manager Lauren DeHerrera, combine Konopasek’s familiar subjects of mass destruction with a less familiar theme of rodeo cowboys. What might come of this unpredictable and unexpected pairing? In the painting “Targeting,” all elements are rendered with a stylized ambiance. A vertical canvas emphasizes the structure of a town being consumed by flame and smoke as a tower of billowing blues, oranges and white fill the blackness of a sky. “It is a struggle of wills where human structures are being reclaimed and handicapped by nature’s might,” Konopasek says in her artist statement. “Rodeo Picture Show” is an image of a cowboy struggling to stay upon a raging bull. It’s more stylized for the sake of dramatic forcefulness, and features the same elements of surreal color surrounded by black. “I portray the rider as well as the animals in their struggle to overpower each other,” Konopasek says. What resonates here is that in both subjects, man is played against nature—and in Konopasek’s work, the result is beautifully chaotic. (Ehren Clark)
Lenka Konopasek @ Modern West Fine Art, 177 E. 200 South, 801-355-3383, through July 11, free. ModernWestFineArt.com

FRIDAY JULY 4

Egyptian Theatre: A Chorus Line
It’s probably remembered best for its closing number, “One,” in which the cast members form a single kick line—dressed in identical costumes, joining their voices in a unified, ironic celebration of a “singular sensation” even as they play the anonymous background roles in a stage production. But the dramatic force of the musical comes from the way it makes sure those players never seem anonymous again. Launched from the real-life recordings of stories from several Broadway performers, the story—with a book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante—follows a group of 17 finalists for a show’s chorus needs of “four boys and four girls.” On a bare stage, they share their stories, featuring great Marvin Hamlisch/Edward Kleban songs like “The Music and the Mirror,” “I Can Do That” and “What I Did for Love.” Newcomers looking for a break and veterans hoping for one last shot—theirs are the stories behind the stories we see on a theater stage. (Scott Renshaw)
A Chorus Line @ Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main, Park City, 435-649-9371, July 4-27, Thursday-Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 6 p.m., $35-$70. ParkCityShows.com

Sugar House Arts Festival
The Sugar House Arts Festival may not be the size of the Park City Arts Festival or the Utah Arts Festival, but this annual event has some serious staying power. This year will be its 15th go at gathering local artists, vendors, food purveyors and music performers in the middle of the charming Sugar House commercial area. Perhaps the most unique part of the arts fest is the annual Pet Parade. Designed to point out the pet-friendly atmosphere of both the festival and Sugar House in general, the parade is a short 1.3-mile walk for you and your favorite animal companion (costumes definitely encouraged). The walk should help you get acquainted with the new Sugar House—like the colorful Sugarmont Plaza and brand-new tunnel called The Draw, linking Sugar House Park with Hidden Hollow—while re-familiarizing yourself with the beloved old. That’s the balance the arts fest itself strikes, too—holding on to its bohemian roots, while developing a new path into its bright future. (Jacob Stringer)
Sugar House Arts Festival @ 1100 E. 2100 South, July 4, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., free. SugarHouseChamber.org

MONDAY JULY 7

Dr. Strangelove
  • Dr. Strangelove

Gallivan Center Free Movies: Dr. Strangelove
Open-air movies have become a Utah summer tradition in multiple venues, from the lawn of the Utah Capitol to public parks around the Salt Lake Valley. The Utah Film Center and Gallivan Center’s own spin on that tradition is to provide a month of themed classic films—and in July 2014, that theme is picking one of the classic film comedies from four consecutive decades. The Monday night program kicks off with Dr. Strangelove, director Stanley Kubrick’s savage Cold War-era adaptation of the novel Fail-Safe, about a mentally unhinged American general who threatens to start a nuclear war. Featuring some of the most memorable quotes in movie history—“Gentlemen! You can’t fight in here. This is the War Room!”—and a brilliant triple performance by Peter Sellers, it’s laugh-because-you’re-trying-not-to-cry stuff. Bring your low-backed chair or lawn towel, and get ready for a month that also features Annie Hall, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Groundhog Day. (Scott Renshaw)
Dr. Strangelove @ Gallivan Center, 239 S. Main, 801-535-6110, July 7, 8:45 p.m., free. UtahFilmCenter.org

WEDNESDAY JULY 9

Wicked
  • Wicked

Broadway Across America: Wicked
When Utah loves a musical, it really loves it. That much was clear when the Broadway smash Wicked made its first stop here as a touring production in 2009, and again during a 2012 return engagement. Performances quickly sold out; audience members took photos with the stage’s impressive dragon setpiece. It wasn’t just a theatrical production; for many of those who attended, it was an event. That event is back in Utah, with the magical show adapted from Gregory Maguire’s novel by Winnie Holzman (book) and Stephen Schwartz (songs) returning to the freshly refurbished Capitol Theatre. Veteran fans and newcomers alike can share the story of two witches-in-training in the land of Oz—the spoiled, beautiful Galinda, and the scary-looking, introverted Elphaba—who become unlikely friends during their school days. But as often happens with friends, things come between them—perhaps a man, perhaps the way Oz’s talking animals are being treated. And there can be more than meets the eye behind why someone becomes known as “wicked.” The spectacular, colorful production is a delight for younger viewers, and the grand themes of love, loss and friendship provide storytelling satisfaction to all ages. Above all, perhaps, there’s the soundtrack of instant-classic songs. From “The Wizard and I” to “I’m Not That Girl” to “Popular,” they’re a combination of earworm catchiness and show-stopping energy. And when Elphaba floats above the stage for the first-act closer “Defying Gravity,” it’s easy to understand why Wicked can make an entire audience feel like it’s soaring, too. (Scott Renshaw)
Broadway Across America: Wicked @ Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, 801-355-2787, July 9-Aug. 24, $65-$175. ArtTix.org

Phyllis Barber: To the Mountain
Most memoirs are about a journey of some kind—beginning at a certain place, and making an often difficult transition to somewhere better, somewhere healthier, somewhere more complete. Veteran writer and Park City resident Phyllis Barber takes a slightly different approach in her new book To the Mountain: One Mormon Woman’s Search for Spirit, as she describes a journey that takes her far from where she started, only to bring her back to that same place again. “Ever since I fell off the precipice of knowing, I’ve been searching for places where Spirit resides,” Barber shares in the prologue, introducing us to a quest that begins with her separation in the 1990s from the Mormon faith into which she was born. In beautiful prose, the book follows her through many explorations—in Christian communities with Southern Baptists, with Buddhist monks in Tibet, in an Islamic society and with goddess-worshippers—before she ultimately finds her way back to a very different understanding of that original Mormon faith. (Scott Renshaw)
Phyllis Barber: To the Mountain @ The King’s English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9100, July 9, 7 p.m., free. KingsEnglish.com

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