The Essential A&E Picks for August 30- Sept 5 | Entertainment Picks | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

The Essential A&E Picks for August 30- Sept 5 

Midway Swiss Days, Piff the Magic Dragon, Sackerson Theatre Co., Neftalie Williams

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click to enlarge Swiss Days - MAX PIXEL
  • Max Pixel
  • Swiss Days

Midway Swiss Days

When settlers from Switzerland started arriving in the Heber Valley in the 1860s, legend has it that they chose to stay because the surrounding mountains made them feel like they were back home amid the Swiss Alps. The town of Midway developed such a strong Swiss presence that religious services were held in both English and German in the town's early days.

Jumping from the 19th century to the 21st, the traditions of Switzerland still hold sway in this mountain town, as more than 70,000 visitors are expected at the annual Midway Swiss Days during Labor Day weekend. Midway Town Square will be filled with nearly 200 vendors from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on both days, but people can also enjoy the live entertainment—including Stomp It Out Cloggers, Swiss handbell ringers, a performance of the story of William Tell and choral singing—a 10K and kids' race on Saturday morning, a chuck wagon breakfast and a parade at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Food options will, of course, include grilled sandwiches featuring, you guessed it, Swiss cheese, and an "only in America" offering of Swiss tacos, which brings together Swiss, Mexican and Navajo cultures in one delicious dish. Homemade Swiss delicacies such as bratzlies—a wafer-like cookie cooked on a waffle iron—are also available. If your tastes run to the more traditional, get fired up for the barbecue dinner on Saturday. The event closes on Saturday night with a headlining performance by country-folk singer Robin Harper. (Geoff Griffin)
Midway Swiss Days @ Midway Town Square, 100 W. Main, Midway, Aug. 31-Sept. 1, 8 a.m.-8 p.m., free,

click to enlarge Piff the Dragon - CHRISTOPHER DEVARGAS
  • Christopher Devargas
  • Piff the Dragon

Piff the Magic Dragon

Think you've seen it all? How about a magician in a dragon costume who tours with a small white Chihuahua called Mr. Piffles, who is subjected to all kinds of tricks—from levitation and escaping a straitjacket to getting shot out of a cannon. Fortunately, Piffles doesn't appear to mind. Touted as a mind-reading canine on Piff's current "The Dog Who Knows All 2018 Tour," he's getting full star treatment.

We're more concerned about the owner. Dressing like a dragon seems kinda ... weird. Still, it's serving him well. Piff's appeared on America's Got Talent, toured worldwide, landed a Las Vegas residency, filmed his own comedy special and hosted a personal podcast. His videos have garnered more than 100 million views, and he's been lauded by both The New York Times and, umm, Howard Stern.

Explaining the origin of his costume and curmudgeonly stage persona via email, Piff says, "It's quite difficult, when you're doing magic at weddings or corporate parties, to be grumpy and stay employed. One day, I was going to a costume party, and I didn't have a costume. My sister had a dragon costume under her bed, so I borrowed it. When I got to the party, nobody was in costume. Just me. So I was very grumpy, drinking red wine in the corner. Someone said, 'You should incorporate this into your act.' I tried it and it was a big hit. It was a way for me to make my natural grumpiness socially acceptable." If only grumpiness worked that well professionally for us all. (Lee Zimmerman)
Piff the Magic Dragon @ Wiseguys SLC, 194 S. 400 West, Aug. 31-Sept. 1, 7 & 9:30 p.m., $30,

click to enlarge Seem Naked - LISA HALL HAGEN
  • Lisa Hall Hagen
  • Seem Naked

Sackerson Theatre Co.: Do You Want to See Me Naked?

The Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival is a great place to experiment with theatrical ideas—and sometimes those experiments prove so successful that the creators are keen to try them out elsewhere. Sackerson's production of Morag Shepherd's Do You Want to See Me Naked? debuted at the 2017 Fringe Festival, and has already traveled to the Tucson Fringe. Now, the show returns locally as a fundraiser to finance an appearance at the New York United Solo Festival in November.

According to Shepherd, the one-woman show began as a master's thesis by its star, Elizabeth Golden, about how to portray a sexy overweight woman. The two then collaborated on the script, with Shepherd extensively reworking Golden's original concept to include some context specific to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints history.

The result is a fascinating, funny and unsettling journey into the world of body image, one that incorporates audience participation in creative ways. "I liked the idea of making the audience feel safe, then unsafe; then making them laugh, then making them feel bad about laughing," Shepherd says.

This weekend run also offers a chance for ongoing tweaks to the script, even as Shepherd and Golden are aware that it might be necessary to change even more for audiences in another state. "It continues to evolve as we go with the audience. We just kind of wing it. I trust Liz; she's going to get up there and do what needs to be done with the audience." (Scott Renshaw)
Sackerson Theatre Co.: Do You Want to See Me Naked @ Wasatch Theatre Co., 124 S. 400 West, Sept. 1-3, 8 p.m., pay what you may, reserve tickets at

click to enlarge Neftalie Williams - RYAN JAMES
  • Ryan James
  • Neftalie Williams

Neftalie Williams: Skateboard Diplomacy

Skateboarders at skate parks execute awesome tricks on surfaces it would hurt to trip over, let alone crash into. Skilled skateboarding is impressive to watch, both for the tricks themselves as well as something a little less obvious: No matter how busy a park might be, skaters aren't constantly crashing into one another.

Neftalie Williams studies this and other elements of skateboard culture that, he believes, create a sort of "skateboard diplomacy." A professor, researcher and skateboard diplomat, Williams discusses this phenomenon as a guest speaker in the World Affairs Lecture Series for nonpartisan, nonprofit Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy. Williams' own path to skateboarding entailed makeshift boards put together at home, because it was the best option available. Today, Williams channels his love and passion for skateboarding toward sharing the community he found in the sport to a global level.

Felecia Maxfield Barrett, executive director of UCCD, says, "Diplomacy has no boundaries. This lecture reaffirms our guiding principal of citizen diplomacy, that everyone has the right and responsibility to help shape foreign policy 'one handshake at a time'—or, for this lecture, one flip-trick at a time."

Come at 6 p.m. for a small pre-lecture meet-and-greet reception, or show up at 7 p.m. to discuss politics with a fun twist. (Casey Koldewyn)
Neftalie Williams: Skateboard Diplomacy @ Jewett Center for the Performing Arts, Westminster College, 1840 S. 1300 East, Sept. 4, 7 p.m., 12+, free,

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