Essentials: Entertainment Picks Oct. 29-Nov. 4 

Titus Andronicus, Bo Burnham, Utah Jazz and more

FRIDAY OCT. 30

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New World Shakespeare Co.: Titus Andronicus
Revenge and tragedy go hand in hand. So it's no wonder William Shakespeare's first tragic play, Titus Andronicus, focused so heavily on vengeance. This isn't a story for the faint of heart. It's a brutal, bloody affair that New World Shakespeare Co. brings to life on stage using Shakespearean prose, making it more accessible to audiences with modern dress. In Titus Andronicus, the titular character (played spectacularly by Jon Turner) returns from a Roman war against the Goths, holding Tamora (Elise C. Hanson) and her sons as prisoners. When Titus sacrifices Tamora's eldest son and refuses the role of Roman emperor, he sets into motion a horrible series of events starting with Saturninus (Christian Maestas) ascending to the throne and marrying Tamora—who seeks revenge on Titus. Titus' daughter Lavinia (Allison Dayne) marries Saturninus' brother Bassianus (Ava Kostia), and is raped and dismembered while her husband is killed. Lurking in the background and conceiving a nefarious plan is Aaron (E. Cooper Jr.) who happens to be Tamora's lover. As Shakespeare's plays go, this one is something of an anomoly. And directors Blayne Wiley and Hanson emphasize its atypical themes with gender-, race- and age-blind casting of the characters. While that choice makes the story a little harder to follow for those unfamiliar with the material, it's also a refreshing change of pace. Despite the tragic events that unfold, even Titus finds the will—helped with a little humor—to keep pushing forward. (Missy Bird) New World Shakespeare Co.: Titus Andronicus @ Sorenson Unity Center, 1383 S. 900 West, 801-719-7998, Oct. 23-Nov. 1, Thursday-Saturday, 7 p.m.; Sunday, 5 p.m., $15. NewWorldShakespeare.com

FRIDAY OCT. 30

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Mysterioso: Music, Magic and Mayhem
Those looking for family-friendly Halloween plans should consider Utah Symphony's "Mysterioso: Music, Magic, and Mayhem" concert. The show will blend symphonic music and magic acts together to create something wholly unique and entertaining. Conductor Jack Everly will lead the group through works such as Miklós Rósa's "Spellbound Concerto" and Paul Dukas' "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," along with Maestro Everly's own arrangements created for this program. Everly has worked with the Utah Symphony a few times before, including earlier this fall. The performing artists will include quick-change artists David and Dania, vocalist Christina Bianco, illusionist Joseph Gabriel and comedy magicians Les Arnold and Dazzle (pictured). David and Dania appeared on Season 1 of America's Got Talent, making it to the semi-finals before being eliminated. Bianco made her West End debut in a production of Forbidden Broadway at the Vaudeville Theatre in London and has since become a YouTube sensation. (Shawna Meyer) Utah Symphony: Mysterioso: Music, Magic and Mayhem @ Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, 801-355-2787, Oct. 30-31 7:30 p.m. $18-$84. UtahSymphony.org

SATURDAY OCT. 31

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Bo Burnham
So, what had you managed to accomplish professionally by the age of 25? You can be forgiven if you haven't achieved the equivalent of Bo Burnham's rock-star status in the comedy world; not many funny folk have reached the "selling out big theaters" level when they've only just barely become eligible to run for Congress. But Burnham has found his audience through an age-appropriate savvy at maximizing his social-media and online presence. His YouTube channel boasts nearly a million subscribers, and his popular Vines might find him mimicking Phoebe Cates' poolside emergence from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, or performing some particularly goofy sleight-of-hand. While he's been remarkably successful at marketing himself, there's an undeniably unique quality to his material. He takes terrific advantage of the disconnect between his elfin appearance and his naughty-boy punch lines, or sitting down at a piano to perform a lovely lilting melody that turns into a song from God's point of view, or opening up a book of his own poetry and reading one written by a dog: "Roses are grey/ Violets are a different shade of grey/ Let's go chase cars." A Bo Burnham concert performance—like his current "Make Happy Tour"—combines all of these elements with occasional bits of multimedia surreality for a show that's a little bit stand-up comedy, a little bit performance art, and a lot of watching a guy who already seems to have figured out how to put it all together in a way his fans can't get enough of. At the age of 25. (Scott Renshaw) Bo Burnham @ Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, 801-355-2787, Oct. 31, 8 p.m., $39.50. ArtTix.org

SUNDAY NOV. 1

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Plan-B Theatre Co./NOVA: The Kreutzer Sonata
It's perhaps misleading—or, at the very least, incomplete—to describe the Plan-B Theatre Co./NOVA Chamber Music co-production of Eric Samuelsen's The Kreutzer Sonata as "theater." As a unique mix of monologue and concert, it tangles up irrational emotions and artistic creation in a package with a particular visceral kick. Samuelsen loosely adapts the 1889 novella by Leo Tolstoy, as an unnamed man (Robert Scott Smith, pictured) relates the events that he informs the audience quite early on led to him murdering his wife. And as he tells this story of a 19th-century marriage with little actual affection at the outset that rapidly curdles into mutual loathing and jealous rage—a violinist (Kathryn Eberle) and pianist (Jason Hardink) play selections from the Beethoven violin sonata that give the piece its name. The staging is tricky—Smith disappears out of sight for long stretches of the musical performance. But director Jerry Rapier maintains visual interest through simple lighting cues and a filmy backdrop that illuminates to evoke the firing synapses of a brain wrestling with madness. As straightforward as the narrative proves to be—introduced and resolved within the space of an hour—it still resonates with the idea that a marriage—even one bereft of love—is further crippled by a husband's sense of possessing his wife. With the live musicians contributing haunting, sometimes ferocious energy to the proceedings, The Kreutzer Sonata turns into a study of how the phrase "crime of passion" corrupts something beautiful. (Scott Renshaw) Plan-B Theatre Co./NOVA: The Kreutzer Sonata @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, Sundays &Mondays, 7 p.m., through Nov. 9, $15 (this event is sold out. A wait list begins one hour before showtime). ArtTix.org

WEDNESDAY NOV. 4

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Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz
There are two things to look forward to every time winter rolls around: snow at the ski resorts, and 41 home games for the Utah Jazz. The Jazz open their 2015-16 home schedule Wednesday, Nov. 4, against the Portland Trail Blazers. Highlights of the other 40 games scheduled from early November to mid-April include the defending champions Golden State Warriors on Nov. 30 and March 30. LeBron James will appear in Salt Lake City on March 14 when the Cleveland Cavaliers visit. And, when the Los Angeles Lakers visit on Jan. 16, and March 30, it could be Jazz fans' last chance to relentlessly boo Kobe Bryant. Other notable dates are visits from last season's Western Conference playoff contenders Memphis Grizzlies (Nov. 7 and Jan. 2), Oklahoma City Thunder (Nov. 23 and Dec. 11), Los Angeles Clippers (Dec. 26 and April 8) and Houston Rockets (Jan. 4 and Feb. 23). For the first time since 2012, 41 regular-season games could be just the beginning for the Jazz, as the young team is considered a possible contender for the playoffs. After the All Star break last season, the Jazz went a surprising 19-10 while establishing themselves as a tough defensive squad, and previously unheralded center Rudy Gobert became everybody's favorite 7-foot-1 Frenchman. Under second-year coach Quin Snyder, the Jazz return Gobert, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood. While Dante Exum is out injured, the Jazz get Alec Burks back from injury and add draft picks Trey Lyles and Raul Neto. (Geoff Griffin) Utah Jazz Home Opener vs. Portland @ Vivint Smart Home Arena, 301 W. South Temple, 801-325-7328, Nov. 4, 7 p.m., $18.25-$214.50. NBA.com/jazz

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