Salt Lake Acting Co.: Climbing With Tigers
Some works of art are bigger than themselves. You know them when you see them—or, more often, when you feel them.
That feeling was pouring out of the opening night of Climbing With Tigers, Salt Lake Acting Co.'s adaptation of the picture book by writer Dallas Graham and 9-year-old Nathan Glad. The story is an allegory for Nathan's own condition—Osteogenesis imperfecta, or "brittle bones disease"—through a bird named Blue (Austin Archer, pictured) who longs to fly but fears that his own brittle bones won't withstand it. And so with the help of a magical narrator (Robert Scott Smith), Blue finds a Jolly Troop of birds and sets off on an adventure to find a legendary tiger, whose tail might have magical healing powers.
Director Alexandra Harbold's production has a genuinely fantastical quality, combining projected digital animation of Blue's colorful bird friends (by BYU Animation Program alum Jarom Neumann) with a simple, versatile set and stunning props, like a puppeteered tiger's head. As the only visible human actors, Archer and Smith carry the show through energetic performances ideal for young audiences.
But the show also radiates a labor-of-love effort, part of the bigger project by Graham to collaborate with children on telling the stories of their critical illnesses. Climbing With Tigers offers a charming and whimsical presentation of a family-friendly narrative, while managing to connect emotionally with the struggle to be brave when every day is a struggle. (Scott Renshaw)
Climbing With Tigers @ Salt Lake Acting Co., 168 W. 500 North, 801-363-7522, through March 27, Tuesday-Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 3 p.m. & 7 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. & 6 p.m., $15-$25. SaltLakeActingCompany.org
Pygmalion Productions: Selma '65
Pygmalion Productions' Selma '65 starts out like a movie. A screen displays images from the civil rights movement, while audio clips of activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. can be heard over the speakers. These audio visual aids are used throughout Selma '65, but it's Tracie Merrill (pictured)—as the one-woman show taking on the roles of both Viola Liuzzo and Tommy Rowe—who brings this true story to life.
The narrative follows the march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., in March 1965, as Viola, a white woman living in Detroit, transports volunteers to their homes with the help of a young black man named Leroy. Viola tells Leroy about her childhood in the segregated South, her children and her third husband. Meanwhile, Tommy, an FBI informant undercover with the Ku Klux Klan, gives his account about the operation to his handlers, along with a few personal details that mirror Viola's life. Eventually, Tommy and Viola's lives intersect in a horrific way.
Merrill effortlessly moves between the performances as Viola and Tommy; under the direction of Lane Richins, with lighting by Pilar Davis, it's always evident which role she's playing. Merrill makes playwright Catherine Filloux's story come to life—even if it's not the most well-known event from this important part of U.S. history. At times, it's not easy to watch, but Selma '65 is another reminder of how far we've come as a nation and how far we have yet to go. (Missy Bird)
Pygmalion Productions: Selma '65 @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, through March 19, Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Sunday, 2 p.m., $20. PygmalionProductions.org
Utah Opera: Aida
After more than a decade, Giuseppe Verdi's grand opera Aida is returning to Salt Lake City. The five Utah Opera performances taking place in March feature a production totally new to Utah audiences. Stage director Garnett Bruce previously oversaw Utah Opera's critically acclaimed 2014 production of Madame Butterfly, and with this upcoming show, he'll tackle the challenge of evoking Egyptian legend and historical events using song and dance.
Two Metropolitan Opera and Utah Opera veteran performers appear in the show: soprano Jennifer Check in the title role, and bass-baritone Alfred Walker in the role of her father, Amonasro. Marc Heller will tackle the role of Egyptian warrior Radames, and Katharine Goeldner makes her Utah Opera debut with the role of priestess Amneris. Daniel Charon is the choreographer for the show, while Ari Pelto serves as music conductor and Alice Bristow is costume designer.
The central drama focuses on the love triangle between Radames, Amneris and Aida. Verdi wrote Aida as a commission from the Khedive of Egypt for the opening of the new Cairo Opera House, and it remains one of the most important works in the Italian opera repertoire.
Utah Opera principal coach Carol Anderson offers a free opera prelude lecture in the Capitol Room one hour before curtain for each show. There will also be a free Q&A session held by artistic director Christopher McBeth immediately following each performance. (Shawna Meyer)
Utah Opera: Aida @ Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, 801-355-2787, March 12, 14, 16 & 18, 7:30 p.m.; March 20, 2 p.m., $18-$107. UtahOpera.org
St. Patrick's Day Parade
It's time to don every shade of green you've got, blare your House of Pain playlist, and make your way over to The Gateway as the St. Patrick's Day Parade commands the streets of downtown Salt Lake City.
2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Irish Republic, and to help commemorate the occasion across the globe, the Hibernian Society has been holding events including free film screenings and live performances, which will be taking place through April 11. But the biggest event is the annual parade that runs seven blocks on the city's west side. The parade itself features a cavalcade of local businesses (including City Weekly) and supporters of the Irish community, including some of Utah's most impressive bagpipers in full attire, as well as a slew of local celebrities, politicians, non-profits and many proud Irish families showing off their heritage.
The party carries on after the parade is finished. The society hosts its annual Siamsa, this year at The Complex. There you can enjoy traditional Irish food, music and dance while getting to know many of those who help put these events together.
If history is any guide, there's a 50/50 chance Mother Nature may not play nice, so remember to bring a jacket, just in case. (Gavin Sheehan)
St. Patrick's Day Parade @ The Gateway, 300 N. 300 West to 200 S. 500 West, Salt Lake City, March 12, setup at 9 a.m., parade at 10 a.m.; Siamsa @ The Complex, 536 W. 100 South, 11:30 a.m., free. IrishInUtah.org
It sometimes feels like a kiss of death for a comedian to be labeled an "impressionist." There's a suggestion that there's nothing to their act but funny voices, and that the success of their comedy is built on how much those funny voices resemble real voices.
Pablo Francisco may have a gift for mimicry, but those versatile vocal cords are about more than pretending to be Cher or legendary movie-trailer announcer Don LaFontaine. On his Comedy Central specials They Put It Out There and Ouch!, Francisco applies his talents to other funky sounds. So when he fires up a routine about the guttural lyrical stylings of death metal, he can inhabit the singers when they say, "My musical influences are Cookie Monster ... and Jabba the Hutt." And yes, when he presents a fake movie trailer imagining Jackie Chan as a standup comedian—well, it's almost like you could close your eyes and see it all unfold right in front of you. (Scott Renshaw)
Pablo Francisco @ Wiseguys Salt Lake City, 194 S. 400 West, 801-532-5233, March 10, 7:30 p.m.; March 11-12, 7:30 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.; $20. WiseguysComedy.com