Holiday Cheers | Arts & Entertainment | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Holiday Cheers 

Contributors' holiday arts activities

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Nothing says Christmas to me like the classic tale from Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. And no one can bring the tale to life locally better than West Valley City’s Hale Centre Theatre (3333 S. Decker Lake Drive, 801-984-9000, through Dec. 23, $17-$30, This is a fairly new tradition for my family, but every year for the past three years we’ve waited in anticipation for the day tickets go on sale. Hale Theatre has been performing this classic for the past 27 years (26 of them with former BYU professor and Dickens scholar Richard Wilkins, pictured, in the lead role), and with its unique theater-in-the-round set, you not only feel like a part of the story, but of the cast as well. I enjoy experiencing the sights and sounds of the holiday while watching the transformation of a mean-spirited penny-pincher into a man who sets out to redeem himself. (Aimee Cook O’Brien)

I keep saying I’m going to do it, and maybe you have, too: Celebrate the real spirit of the season and take back the holidays from mindless materialism and the big-box retail frenzy. Among several local art galleries sponsoring activities for charity, Signed & Numbered (2320 S. West Temple, 801-596-2093, Dec. 10, 7-11 p.m., is hosting a Christmas Art Show with more than 20 local artists, including proprietor Leia Bell, maven Trent Call, Captain Captain stalwart Sri Whipple and others, but the show is about more than just art. I’m cleaning out my closet for old coats to donate in support of the Homeless Youth Resource Center, and scouring my cupboards of non-perishable food for Utah’s Food Bank. Fundraising proceeds support the Christmas Box House. Times are lean for all of us, but there’s nothing like gifting a work of local art. (Brian Staker)

“Hallelujah!” can be sung in many different ways. Community Celebration of Messiah (Grand Theatre, 1575 S. State, 801-957-3322, Dec. 9, 10 & 12, $10-$24, takes Handel’s classic oratorio and gives it a gospel-music twist, with some jazz and R&B thrown in for good measure. This year marks a full decade that local singers have been getting together to form a choir and perform with some of the best musicians in the area, in an event that has become a Christmas tradition in Salt Lake City. There are many Messiah productions that invite you to sing along, but this is the only one where you won’t be able to stop yourself from dancing along while shouting “Hallelujah!” (Geoff Griffin)

The Trees of Diversity exhibit (Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 W. 3100 South, West Valley City, 801-965-5100, through Dec. 29, features Christmas trees decorated with influences from all over the world. From Scotland to Africa and even Fairy Land, the trees are richly decorated with beautiful ornaments and symbols in traditional, cultural and whimsical designs. The decorations often spread beyond the trees to statues, rugs and toys, showing the unique designs that can be found in various regions of the globe, and visitors can vote for their favorites. The exhibit also features impressive gingerbread houses. It’s a great way to celebrate Christmas and get a little geography lesson in at the same time—and best of all, it’s free! (Jennifer Patterson)

If you want to do something that’s entertaining, inexpensive and unique that the whole family will enjoy, try The Grouch Who Stole Christmas (The Off Broadway Theatre, 272 S. Main, 801-355-4628, through Dec. 30, $8-$16, For a reasonable price, you get two hours of live theater featuring local actors in Sesame Street costumes with a little Dr. Seuss and Muppets mixed in. They sing, dance and crack tons of jokes that will appeal to anyone with even a modest knowledge of Utah culture. The familiarity of the characters makes it a great play for kids, and the sarcasm and sly jokes will keep all the adults laughing. (JP)

In Utah, winter generally doesn’t release its unrelentingly frigid grasp until after spring has officially sprung, sinking into the cold, dark depths seemingly to never wake again. But truth be told, the Winter Solstice—the true turning point when nights no longer increasingly encroach upon the warmth of the days—comes right before Christmas, on Dec. 22. In many cultures, it is a perfect opportunity to celebrate a rebirth; in others, it is a perfect time to note the natural rhythms of the universe. So, this year, during the longest night, take full advantage of all the nature at our doorstep with some snowshoeing by moonlight (Solitude Nordic Center @ Solitude Mountain Resort, 12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon, 801-536-5774,; Ogden Nordic, North Fork Park, 801-690-1722,; Nordic Center @ Sundance Resort, 8841 N. Alpine Loop Road, 801-223-4170,; White Pine Touring Nordic Center, Park Ave. & Thaynes Canyon Drive, Park City, 888-649-8710, There truly is nothing so peaceful as a mountainous landscape blanketed in snow, lit only by the streaks of moonlight peeking through the pines. Just remember to bring along a bit of hardtack in your pack, some warm soup, hot cocoa or even a thimble of whiskey. (Jacob Stringer)

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