Essentials: Entertainment Picks May 7-13 

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Wasatch Theatre Co. & Silver Summit Theatre Co.: The Little Dog Laughed
The world can change a lot in a decade. Douglas Carter Beale's The Little Dog Laughed premiered in 2006 and is, to all appearances, intended to be a contemporary piece. The story concerns a closeted gay actor whose agent endeavors to keep him in the closet, even as he finds himself falling for a male prostitute (who is also, because nothing is simple, closeted), who is in a kind-of-sort-of relationship with a woman. Timeless cynicism about show business abounds, but there are also, a decade later, oddly dated elements: One is this is a universe in which bisexuality doesn't seem to exist, despite both male leads seeming to fit the label to some degree. There's also a bit of cringe-worthy casual racism, and the women are written as gay men in skirts. But, in spite of the script's creakiness and elements of obsolescence, Wasatch Theatre Co. and Silver Summit Theatre Co. have collaborated on a splendidly entertaining production that even audiences holding the above-listed grievances can appreciate for its creative staging—which irons out the problem of the script and, despite some meta-theatrical quips, is structured more like a screenplay than a work for the stage—and energetic, winsome acting. Camilla Edsberg, in particular, shines as the unscrupulous agent. As a warning/enticement, this production contains "adult" language and full nudity, so hire a sitter for the kids and have a fun evening out. (Danny Bowes) Wasatch Theatre Co. & Silver Summit Theatre Co.: The Little Dog Laughed @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, April 30-May 16, 8 p.m.; matinee Saturday, May 9 & 16, 2 p.m., $15.


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2015 Mountain West Arts Conference
For the ninth year, the Utah Division of Arts & Museums presents its look at the Utah arts. It is an essential gathering to gain an overview of the Utah arts locally, as well as a place for artists, arts organizations and anyone interested in the arts to gain access to information, resources and contacts. It is so popular, in fact, that the full-day registration is sold out as of press time (although it is still possible to register for the Governor's Award luncheon). Highlights of the conference include the morning keynote address from National Endowment for the Arts chair Jane Chu (pictured) and the afternoon keynote with Utah Symphony music director/conductor Thierry Fischer. The theme of Chu's address, "Engaging Americans in the Arts," has never been more salient, and it's a unique opportunity to hear Chu speak. The day-long event also includes breakfast and the Governor's Leadership in the Arts Awards luncheon, this year slated to honor Plan-B Theatre Co., local arts agency Epicenter, educator Carrie Trenholm for Education Leadership in the Arts, and Kathy Cieslewicz, museum curator & director at Dixie State College in St. George. Workshops include "Awake in the Arts: Mindfulness, Wisdom & Compassion," "Coming Together to Grow Arts Education in Utah" and other subjects that demonstrate how fundamental the arts are across a spectrum of disciplines, and how they touch everyone's lives. Breakout sessions yield insights into arists' lives, working methods and what makes them tick. (Brian Staker) Mountain West Arts Conference @ Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 W. 3100 South, West Valley City, 801-965-5100, May 7, 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.



Pioneer Theatre Co.: The Music Man
Pioneer Theatre Co.'s final show of the 2014-15 season is its best, and that's no mean feat. Meredith Wilson's The Music Man ascended long ago to iconic status, being a nimble crowd-pleaser with healthy doses of cornball (in the non-pejorative sense) Americana and indelible songs. Heck, even the Beatles covered "Till There Was You." PTC's iteration derives its particular spark from director/choreographer Karen Azenberg's ability to merge a clear and warm affection for the material with a magnificently grandiose sense of the stage as something vast. Azenberg uses the physical space of the stage to great effect here, both in the marvelous dance sequences and in the ingenious use of dimensional interplay with George Maxwell's maximalist sets. This artistry serves the material well, and makes this staple of the American musical theater seem as fresh as if it were brand new—a high calling for a show over a half-century old. But, then, The Music Man is timeless. George Dvorsky makes an excellent "Professor" Harold Hill, managing to clearly delineate the character's charm and duplicity—making sure the former always holds a comfortable lead over the latter, even when employing the latter in the former's cause. Lizzie Klemperer, as Marian, is just as good and nuanced and the two have splendid chemistry. The show is a resounding success, and something every theatergoer, regardless of how many times they've seen it before, should see again. (Danny Bowes) The Music Man @ Pioneer Theatre Co., 300 S. 1400 East, 801-581-6961, May 1-16, Monday-Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 8 p.m.; Saturday matinee, 2 p.m., $43-$64.



Pete Ashdown: "The Black Box of Information"
The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art exhibition Panopticon explores "the monitoring gaze" as it applies to daily life, from actual physical surveillance methods to social structures that impact our behavior because we sense that they're watching and judging us. As part of a new series connected to the exhibition, XMission founder Pete Ashdown (pictured) will dig into some of the nuts & bolts of a real world that's always monitoring us. In his lecture "The Black Box of Information," Ashdown—who ran for U. S. Senate in 2006—will draw on his experience running an Internet service provider to discuss the ways government entities and private businesses keep tabs on us, and how we can maintain privacy in such a world. This event is the first in a series of lectures titled "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" ("Who will guard the guardians?"), which will feature philosophical and literary perspectives on surveillance, in addition to a screening of Terry Gilliam's 1985 film, Brazil. (Scott Renshaw) Pete Ashdown: "The Black Box of Information" @ Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, 20 S. West Temple, 801-328-4201, May 5, 7 p.m., free.



Sugar House Art Walk
Sugar House has long been touted as one of the more walkable communities in the Salt Lake valley, and the neighborhood proves especially inviting to those on foot the first Friday of most months with the Sugar House Art Walk. Sugar House is as conducive to artistic adventures as it is to pedestrian ones, and a host of local businesses and art studios open their doors to those on the stroll, with artists often on hand to answer questions. They have even been known to offer snacks. The artistic cornerstone of the neighborhood, Rockwood Studios, always shows an eclectic array of its resident artists' work, and it's a revealing opportunity to see artists in their working environment. Local businesses like Smith Crown and Cameron Wellness Center display local art on their walls. A beverage at Joffee's Coffees or Sugar House Coffee keeps the conversation flowing, and these shops feature the locals' work on their walls, too. One of the most fascinating stops is Saltgrass Printmakers: To many spectators, printmaking is an arcane, obscure art form; here its manifestations take myriad fascinating forms. The location often host exhibits and classes from highly skilled artisans, both local and from outside the region. Galleries like Unhinged and Local Colors (Stacy Tonozzi's "Shadowed Trees," pictured, will be on desplay here) host exhibit openings often timed to coincide with the monthly event. With the warmer weather, it's an ideal time to take in one of the most foot-friendly segments of Salt Lake City, which has made itself a home for the arts. (Brian Staker) Sugar House Art Walk @ various locations in Sugar House, May 8, 6-9 p.m.

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