Essentials: Entertainment Picks May 1-7 | Entertainment Picks | Salt Lake City Weekly

Essentials: Entertainment Picks May 1-7 

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Tour

RuPaul, the most famous drag queen of all time, is fond of talking about the art of drag as being the perfect way to discover your inner self, and love what you find there. According to RuPaul, “When you become the image of your own imagination, it’s the most powerful thing you could ever do.” Such is the underlining ethos behind the reality competition RuPaul’s Drag Race. After five seasons on television, RuPaul tapped popular judge Michelle Visage to literally take the show on the road. Featuring fabulous winners and popular personalities from past seasons (like Jinkx Monsoon, Sharon Needles, Carmen Carrera, Ivy Winters, Pandora Boxx and Phi Phi O’Hara), the live competition promises to be filled with bawdy behavior and raunchy hijinks. But always at the core of the fun are RuPaul’s heartfelt sentiments like, “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” And remember: “We all came into this world naked. The rest is all drag.” (Jacob Stringer)
Rupaul’s Drag Race Tour @ The Depot, 400 W. South Temple, 801-467-8499, May 1, 10 p.m., $25 in advance, $30 day of show.

Logan Madsen: Syndrome Psychology
The self-portrait is a familiar subject for painters, but the “portrait of the artist as a person with disabilities” is something seen relatively rarely. And that’s a shame, because the visual medium is one of the most effective means of education. Logan Madsen is a 34-year-old Salt Lake City-based artist whose current exhibit uses the medium of painting to depict the realities of dealing with autism as well as Miller syndrome. The rare genetic disease visably affects the development of the face and limbs. Madsen’s works focus on the physical and psychological aspects of his symptoms: “Grab” looks closely at Madsen’s hand, contorted by the effects of the disease, and in “Stuck,” he holds the brush as if eyeing the canvas concertedly. The painting “A Window Into Autism” shows the artist rolled up into a ball as if in a cocoon or in utero, and includes the puzzle-piece logo that is the symbol of Autism Awareness. Madsen is also the subject of a documentary, Logan’s Syndrome, the post-production of which is currently being funded on Kickstarter. The film and his work are about the relationship of mind and body, but also what it means to exist inside a physical body, with all its frailties and difficulties. (Brian Staker)
Logan Madsen: Syndrome Psychology @ Art Access, 230 S. 500 West No. 125, 801-328-0703, through May 6, free.

Momu & No Es: Incoming Video Call
One of the primary benefits that CUAC offers its many featured artists—from Utah and around the world—is a venue to showcase how they view reality from a contemporary vantage point. Currently being hosted is Momu & No Es, an artist collective that works and resides in Madrid and Rotterdam. According to the artist statement, “They develop their art within the framework of storytelling in a way that challenges social roles, inverting the established order to propose other possible options that may transform the establishment.” The artists use various tools—“painting, lights, objects and screens creating a rising plotline or narrative.” The narrative they create has to be pieced together by the viewer from these different variables, and once the viewer has established some sense of what is occurring, this is where the “narrative” gets interesting. It’s not a literal story, but something pieced together in fragments that, when combined, create a framework of meaning. But because this framework is abstract, viewers can explore infinite meanings that come out of the metaphors staged in the production. One primary subject—suggested by motifs such as a repetition of onscreen cyber-erotic couplings—is the increasing dominance of one’s online presences over one’s actual physical life. Tapping into this cultural shift, one might naturally question one’s own life and online friendships, relationships and realities, and the truth or artifice built into them. (Ehren Clark)
Momu & No Es: Incoming Video Call @ CUAC, 175 E. 200 South, 385-214-6768, through June 13, free.

Wasatch Theatre Company: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot
Contemporary popular culture has seen a surge in variations on familiar tales that tell the villain’s side of the story, from the revisionist Oz musical Wicked to the upcoming Disney film Maleficent. But what about offering a somewhat sympathetic view of the man whose very name has become synonymous with betrayal? Who was he before taking those infamous 30 pieces of silver? Stephen Adly Guirgis’ 2005 play The Last Days of Judas Iscariot gives the man who turned Jesus Christ over to the Romans his theatrical day in court. The darkly comedic play finds a trial in purgatory attempting to determine Judas’ fate, with a jury hearing testimony from actual witnesses to the events of his life (including Pontius Pilate and the apostle Thomas), as well as experts like Sigmund Freud trying to explain Judas’ childhood. And Satan himself can’t resist getting involved. (Scott Renshaw)
Wasatch Theatre Company: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, May 1-17, Thursdays-Saturdays 8 p.m., 2 p.m. matinees May 10 & 17, $15.

Pygmalion Theatre Company: Motherhood Out Loud
Think of Motherhood Out Loud as a companion play to The Vagina Monologues—only with fewer “down there” moments. All about women—their mothers, being mothers, becoming mothers—the play has a definite feminist slant, a simple result of the subject matter. And performed in 14 vignettes, each by a different playwright, Motherhood Out Loud has a similar bare-essentials storytelling structure. It’s funny, sad and heartwarming, just as you would expect a play about mothers to be. Motherhood Out Loud can also be unexpected and truthful. “God I hate the park,” says one character. “If anyone had told me I’d be sentenced to five to 10 years in the park, I’d have stuck with a cat.” But for the few moments when characters express their doubts and fears about motherhood, there are dozens more that will leave you wanting to call mom and thank her, or maybe even invite her along with you to the next performance. (Katherine Pioli)
Pygmalion Theatre Company: Motherhood Out Loud @ Rose Wager Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, May 1-17, Thursdays 7:30 p.m., Fridays & Saturdays 8 p.m., Sundays 2 p.m., $20.

Cary Griffiths: Light in Dark Places
Black has always meant many things to the art of Cary Griffiths. Without black, his color would diffuse into irregularity and chaos, without any sense of cohesiveness. How Griffiths has used black in his new series of paintings—where the tone is featured as an element of its own, serving no other purpose—works wonderfully well. It’s much more than opaque, with luscious elements to define it as such, and when used with another color, the black highlights that hue and sets it alight in a manner not possible without such a contrast. Griffith’s abstractions have always been bold, yet this move transcends all of his past achievements. In his artist statement, he says, “It is mysterious, radiating a sense of potential and possibility.” As it has served as a defining element for so many abstract works, as a featured element, of “potential and possibility” and with painterly lusciousness, black becomes elegant, dramatic, provocative and captivating. (Ehren Clark)
Cary Griffiths: Light in Dark Places @ Art at the Main, 210 E. 400 South, 801-363-4088, through May 10, free.


Utah Repertory Theatre & Around the Globe Theatre: Grace

There are moments in a successful theatrical production when electrifying performances take the text somewhere so potent that you need to remind yourself to breathe. In one magnificent scene, Utah Repertory Theatre’s production of Craig Wright’s Grace finds the desperate, yearning core that makes us need to believe in something. Set in Florida, Grace focuses on a young couple, Steve (Johnny Hebda) and Sara (Emilie Eileen Starr), relocated from Minnesota on a faith-inspired mission to open a chain of Gospel-themed hotels. On an opposite end of the belief spectrum are the other two characters: Sam (JayC Stoddard), still recovering emotionally and physically from a tragic accident; and Karl (Jeffrey Owen), an immigrant exterminator who saw the worst of humanity in Nazi Germany. Wright’s play is at times uneven, especially where Steve’s abrupt shift from optimistic zeal to almost psychotic despair is concerned. Yet by framing the action at the outset with an act of violence that comes at the chronological end, and including another “rewind” moment in the middle of the play, Wright effectively explores what it takes for us to be able to keep moving forward. The centerpiece scene for that idea is a moment of connection between Sara and Sam that provides a brilliant showcase for Starr and Stoddard. Both actors bring raw emotion to Grace’s grace notes; it’s easy to believe Sara and Sam have been touched by the spirit, and the audience might feel it, too.
(Scott Renshaw)
Utah Repertory Theater & Around the Globe Theatre: Grace @ The Sugar Space Studio for the Arts, 616 Wilmington Ave., through May 10, Fridays & Saturdays 7:30 p.m.; 2 p.m. matinees May 3 & 10; May 4, 6 p.m., $12-$15 in advance, $14-$17 at the door.


Plan-B Theatre Company: And the Banned Played On

It may seem a bit weird that, in an age where anything goes on the Internet, books could seem like such a threat that they warrant being banned. But yes, books are still routinely challenged in American schools and library systems. Plan-B Theatre Company is proud to highlight many of those banned books and recognize their literary and cultural significance. It’s been six years since the company’s last read-in performance, and this time, it’s focusing on what might initially seem like pretty benign material: the children’s publishing world. Hosting the mayhem is X96’s popular Radio from Hell morning-show team, Kerry Jackson and Bill Allred (sans Gina Barberi, who’ll be out of town). Among the local celebrities lined up to read passages from the challenged works are Mayors Ralph Becker and Ben McAdams, Sen. Jim Dabakis and Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill. The scheduled selections include the likes of Green Eggs & Ham, The Giving Tree and James & the Giant Peach. Kerry and Bill will even do a dramatic reading of Winnie the Pooh. It’s not hard to see, especially with the above works on the list, that banned literature can also be the cream of the literary crop. Perhaps that’s because the best of the written word often challenges contemporary society, and sometimes can pose one hell of a threat when it does.
(Jacob Stringer)
Plan-B Theatre Company: And the Banned Played On @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, May 3, 8 p.m., $25.


Utah Chamber Artists: Spring Concert and Tour Preview

The Utah Chamber Artists’ all a-capella ensemble of 42 singers, led by conductor Barlow Bradford, is preparing for a spring tour through Europe where they’ll perform sacred songs in churches, basilicas and cathedrals in Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. And even if such globe-trotting is out of reach, you can sample their two-week long June tour tonight. Program highlights include a commissioned rendition of “Gloria” by contemporary Lithuanian composer Vytautas Miškinis, as well as music by contemporary German composer Wolfram Buchenberg. Following the performance, the audience is invited to join the choir for light refreshments at the “Abschied Reception” in the Bastian Atrium to wish them well on the prestigious European tour. (Marianna Bouttier)
Utah Chamber Artists: Spring Concert and Tour Preview @ Libby Gardner Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, University of Utah, 801-581-7100, May 5, 7:30 p.m., $15-18.

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