The Essential A&E Picks for Mar. 31 - Apr. 6 

Creole Carnival, Cowgirls, Lust & Wonder and more

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Globalfest Creole Carnival

Making its way around the world, Globalfest's first tour, Creole Carnival, is performing at Kingsbury Hall this week. This international event highlights the roots of African music and combines it with American sounds—all thematically connected to the now widely celebrated party tradition of the pre-Lent Carnival, mixing faith, magic and festivity.

Three performers will take the stage, all with their own unique musical style. From Brazil, Casuarina will get the crowd swaying to bossa nova, along with some original modern tunes and timeless classics. This five-member group creates a fusion of pop and urban sounds that has been hailed as part of a samba renaissance. From Haiti, Emeline Michel (pictured) will perform her inspiring lyrics and sultry sounds of Haitian rhythms and acoustic jazz. Brushy One String, from Jamaica, uses his acoustic guitar, with just one string, to woo the audience with his soul sounds and reggae-influenced tunes.

Globalfest has created a musical platform in North America over the past decade to bring unity through cultural diversity. The nonprofit organization strives to build an audience for international music in the United States. Artists who perform at the festival are talented musicians given an opportunity to represent all corners of the world and help to bring awareness of the uniqueness embodied in those cultures. Each brings their heritage to life on stage through music, costumes and dance. (Aimee L. Cook)
Globalfest Creole Carnival @ Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, 801-581-7100, March 31, 7:30 p.m., $5-$20.

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Pioneer Theatre Co.: Cowgirls

Classical country? No, not the Loretta Lynn/Merle Haggard type of country. Pioneer Theatre Co.'s production of Cowgirls is a classical—the Chopin/Mozart kind—to country crossover, with strong female empowering tones and slapstick comedy. While it doesn't seem like these two themes should mesh, neither should classical and country music. In Cowgirls, it works.

It's 1994 Kansas, and Jo Carlson (Leenya Rideout) is reopening her late father's country-western bar, where women musicians haven't played for 35 years. That's about to change, as she hires musicians only to find out they're not the Cowgirl Trio, but the classically training Coghill Trio: Rita (Lindsay Zaroogian), Lee (Jessica Bradish) and Mary Lou (Angela Chatelain Avila). They have to prove to Jo and her employees, Mickey (Karis Danish) and Mo (Ashlie Roberson), that they can pull off being country singers in time to save Hiram Hall from foreclosure.

This all-female cast, along with director Karen Azenberg, amplifies Betsy Howie's story and Mary Murfitt's music and lyrics. While some classic country tunes are played from the juke box, the real joy comes from the original, toe-tapping songs.

These women are talented, no matter what genre they're singing or instruments they're playing. But Danish steals the show, especially right before the opening of the show-within-the-show. The only problem is, there's no firm resolution to saving Hiram Hall—although it's implied. Fortunately, Cowgirls is so much fun, it doesn't even matter. (Missy Bird)
Pioneer Theatre Co.: Cowgirls @ Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 S. 1400 East, 801-581-6961, through April 9, Monday-Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 2 p.m. & 8 p.m., $40-62.

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Paula Poundstone

For younger fans, Paula Poundstone's name might be synonymous with the NPR quiz show Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!, where nearly every week she quips with fellow panelists over the news. But Poundstone continues to tour the country frequently as a stand-up comedian, making her one of the busiest working today.

With more than 30 years of performing under her belt, Poundstone has turned herself into a fixture in comedy circles. Whether it's her correspondent pieces for various television shows, as a guest on game shows, her occasional standup specials for Bravo and HBO, her column for Mother Jones, providing commentary for CBS Sunday Morning, or even voicing the mom for a single season in the cult-cartoon show Home Movies, Poundstone works hard to stay funny and be in the public eye.

Wearing her familiar single-colored suit and patterned tie, Poundstone performs live sets that are never the same from tour to tour, featuring a mix of new material and audience interaction. For this current tour, Poundstone tends to weave her interactions with people into personal stories of raising her kids and venting over the politics of the day. Continuing to grow and observe with modern culture, she tears apart how kids have become addicted to their screens, while in the same set, using her feet to re-enact a puppet show for the crowd.

An evening with Poundstone is more than just kicking back with some personal jokes. It can become a personal, funny experience for those lucky enough to be in on the jokes. (Gavin Sheehan)
Paula Poundstone @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, April 1, 7:30 p.m., $46.

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SALT Contemporary Dance

SALT Contemporary Dance returns to the Rose Wagner after a previous successful run of sold-out performances a year ago with an entirely new show. The company itself is just under 3 years old, but their shows have received praise for the ensemble of talented dancers from various ballet and contemporary dance platforms, many of whom have studied at local universities.

Simply titled SALT, this new 90-minute showcase is choreographed by some of Utah's most prominent names in contemporary dance, including Garrett Smith, Brendan Duggan, Gabrielle Lamb, Courtney Mazeika and Jen Pendleton. While the subject matter of the dances is under wraps until the show, this particular grouping of choreographers has been hard at work pushing the boundaries of performing arts. Expect a presentation of modern dance in a forum where you might not expect to find it, that captures the audience's attention with intense emotions. (Gavin Sheehan)
SALT Contemporary Dance @ Rose Wagner Black Box, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, April 1, 7:30 p.m.; April 2, 2 p.m., $20.

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Augusten Burroughs: Lust & Wonder

In his best-selling 2002 memoir Running With Scissors—which was adapted into a feature film—Augusten Burroughs told the story of a singularly messed-up childhood. And while Burroughs may have survived an adolescence dealing with a psychotic mother, living with her bizarre psychiatrist, and being sexually involved as a teenager with the psychiatrist's 33-year-old adopted son, that doesn't mean he wasn't going to spend his adulthood dealing with the fallout.

Lust & Wonder picks up Burroughs' own life story from the mid-1990s through the 2000s, as he struggles to find something resembling normalcy, whether in his career—transitioning from writing advertising copy to his success as a professional literary writer—or in his romantic relationships. That normalcy not particularly easy for him to find, however, as he wrestles with alcoholism, the psychic after-effects of living through 9/11 in New York City, and trying to understand what kind of happiness he can hope for from his lovers.

Where the sheer improbability of the events captured in Running With Scissors made it page-turning reading, Lust & Wonder is in many ways a more conventional story about an urbanite's often-frustrated quest for contentment. But that relative lack of craziness in the narrative itself might also allow for a purer showcase of Burroughs' writing skills—sly and brutally funny enough to turn what could have been a self-pity party into a genuinely engaging search for self-understanding. It's a satisfying journey with a survivor who's trying to reach the point where he has a shot at a happily-ever-after. (Scott Renshaw)
Augusten Burroughs: Lust & Wonder @ The King's English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9100, April 5, 7 p.m., free.

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