THE ESSENTIAL A&E PICKS FOR AUG 13 - 19 | Entertainment Picks | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly


ToshoCon Teen Anime Convention, Trans Pride Festival, Murray City Cultural Arts: Little Shop of Horrors, and more.

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  • Angie Wager

ToshoCon Teen Anime Convention
For nine years, the Salt Lake County Library System has provided space for a free annual anime-focused convention designed by teens, and for teens. Understandably, the 2020 ToshoCon Teen Anime Convention (Aug. 14-15, 4 p.m. – 8 p.m., has moved to a virtual space as a way to keep participants safe. But aside from the opportunity to hang out in a physical space socially, this year's event preserves all of the components that have made it so successful: panels created and facilitated by teens; an opportunity for creators to sell their own themed work; and cosplay exhibitions and competition.

According to Angie Wager, senior librarian for Salt Lake County Library System, it took some creative thinking to make all of those pieces work online. The Veridian Center in West Jordan will still serve as the physical location for panelists, but panels will be recorded on site—with social distancing in place—and streamed live to attendees. Cosplay contests were also judged safely on site, and pre-recorded for streaming. Vendors will still be able to sell remotely, though some parent/guardian assistance will be required for financial transactions.

Most importantly, ToshoCon remains a space exclusively for teens, where they can be safe in their interactions. Moderators will monitor the event to insure that adults are not attempting to participate in any way, and to make sure that all comments and interactions remain positive. "We want people just to think about what they're saying or what they're doing—are you being kind, are you being honest," Wager says. "Our ToshoCon community really is welcoming. We don't want anyone to be uncomfortable." (Scott Renshaw)

  • Courtesy Photo

Trans Pride Festival
Despite being the "T" in "LGBTQ," and welcomed into Pride events across the country and internationally, it's still not a welcoming world for transgender people. Conservative culture-war rhetoric has targeted the trans community for years, from "bathroom bills" to bans on military service to snickering over preferred pronouns. When high-profile artists and celebrities continue to diminish and erase the trans experience as genuine, it becomes clear that the fight for equality requires additional exposure.

On Saturday, Aug. 15, from 2:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., Utah-based nonprofit organization Genderbands hosts the virtual 2020 Trans Pride Festival, following up last year's first-ever Utah trans pride event in Provo. The main event is scheduled to feature entertainment, speaker presentations, resources, a trans shopping network and more, all with the goal of increasing trans visibility and providing a mutually supportive community—and it's all accessible safely online. Tickets are free at, with an option to provide financial support at various levels. For those looking to kick the party off a bit early, join the Friday night Pre-Pride Drag Show online on Aug. 14 at 9 p.m., with performers including co-hosts Anna L'Beads and Brigitte Kiss, Madazon Can-Can, Ben Rouge, Jaxon Phoenix, Lizzie McQueen, Kolumbia Monroe, Izzy Gay, Onyx and many more; performers will be accepting tips via PayPal and/or Venmo during the show.

As a way to support the Utah trans community throughout the year, Genderbands—founded in 2015—provides a variety of resources to support gender transitions financially, including gender-affirming surgeries, discounted binders and more. Visit to donate to the organization's work, or to learn more. (SR)

  • Adam Wilkins

Murray City Cultural Arts: Little Shop of Horrors
It's a strange time to be doing live theater, with concerns about safety for the creative team and the audience. As Murray City Cultural Arts brings the musical Little Shop of Horrors to Murray Park Amphitheater (495 E. 5300 South, Murray, Aug. 14-15, 17-22, 8 p.m.,, co-director Adam Wilkins acknowledges that there are plenty of challenges associating with staging a show right now. "All of us have to learn a new normal," Wilkins says, "and that goes for performers as well. ... We still have the art; what can we do, instead of what we've done in the past?"

Little Shop of Horrors is the musical adaptation by award-winning composers Howard Ashman and Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast) of the low-budget 1960 film about a mild-mannered florist who finds himself the caretaker of an alien plant that feeds on human blood. According to Wilkins, while Little Shop made for an ideal choice for a socially-distanced production in its relatively small cast, it also felt like a good choice for our pandemic moment in other ways. "To me, I always like a show that is a comment on the times we're living in," Wilkins says. "Little Shop, in its tone of 'apocalyptic with a smile,' is kind of a reflection of where we are."

With health and safety measures in place for all cast and crew, and an outdoor performance venue limited to a capacity of 200, Little Shop of Horrors presents a chance to support live theater after a long hiatus. "I don't think art is going to solve the problem," Wilkins says, "but art gets you through the problem." (SR)


Gender Wage Gap virtual talk
From its origins more than a decade ago at Utah Valley University as the Utah Women and Education Project, to its current expanded statewide mission to promote education and leadership opportunities for women, the Utah Women & Leadership Project has recognized a need for societal change. That mission doesn't change just because of a pandemic, which means that an event originally scheduled as a live conversation in March is now UWLP's first virtual conversation.

The Gender Wage Gap: Digging Deep to Understand the Complexity (Tuesday, Aug. 18, noon-1:30 p.m., brings together several community leaders to address the subject of how women nationally earn approximately 82% of what men do for comparable work, and how Utah's gap is often even greater. Scheduled panelists for this conversation digging into the factors impacting that disparity include State Senate Minority Whip and former Salt Lake City mayoral candidate Luz Escamilla (pictured); Employers Council Utah attorney Katie Hudman; Utah Associate Commissioner for Workforce and Institutional Research, Carrie Mayne; and YWCA Utah director of public policy Erin Jemison. An opportunity for Q&A will be available after the presentation.

According to UWLP founder and director Dr. Susan Madsen, the most common misperception about the gender wage gap is that it is largely the result of women's career choices. "That is what people often say, but there is so much more to it than that," Madsen says via email. "There is deep socialization with both women and men that impact that, and the systems and processes in place within organizations and society led toward this gap." (SR)

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