THE ESSENTIAL A&E PICKS FOR AUG. 8-14 | Entertainment Picks | Salt Lake City Weekly


Good Company Theatre: The Jungle, Nick Swardson, Craft Lake City DIY Festival, Broadway Across America: The Book of Mormon

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click to enlarge CAMILLE WASHINGTON
  • Camille Washington

Good Company Theatre: The Jungle

If you've ever wanted to see theater shaped before your eyes, you're in luck. An early phase musical production of the landmark 1906 Upton Sinclair novel The Jungle is coming to Ogden. Rob Baumgartner Jr. and Ogden native Nathan Dame are the creative minds behind the musical adaptation of the story, which focused on the terrible working conditions in Chicago's meatpacking plants.

The musical follows a Lithuanian couple, Jurgis and Ona, and the struggles they deal with in a capitalistic and nightmarish version of early 20th-century Chicago. It also tracks Jurgis' journey from a hopeful immigrant to a jaded alcoholic.

This musical is still in its developmental stage, with each performance presented as a staged reading style where the actors have scripts in hand. After every performance, the script is tweaked by Dame and Baumgartner—which means that each performance is the newest version, and the production could look different from night to night.

The Jungle is performed by Ogden's Good Company Theatre, known for its productions of "contemporary works that told the stories of marginalized people," according to co-artistic director Alicia Washington in an interview with SLUG Magazine. Washington also says the horrific treatment of immigrants in the novel still applies to modern times—a main reason the production is relevant in 2019. A socially-conscious musical workshopped for local audiences doesn't come along all that often, so this is a rare opportunity. (Sean Hemmersmeier)

The Jungle @ Good Company Theatre, 2404 Wall Ave., Ogden, 801-417-4969, through Aug. 11, 4 & 8 p.m., $20,

  • Creative Artists Agency

Nick Swardson

Some might consider Nick Swardson a loose cannon. He specializes in unfiltered observations that revolve around ordering food for drunk friends at drive-thrus, imagining babies as unwieldy adults, a fear of frozen drinks, his love of fajitas and the unpleasant result of overindulging at the juice bar. In many ways, he says things the rest of us might—if only we possessed his stand-up skills.

That talent caught the attention of Adam Sandler's Happy Madison Productions following Swardson's early stint writing for the show Malibu's Most Wanted and his role in the Comedy Central series Reno 911. He was then involved in Happy Madison film projects including Grandma's Boy, Benchwarmers and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry featuring Sandler and Kevin James. He's continued to make more movies, among them, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, which he wrote, produced and starred in. Likewise, his first CD/DVD, 2007's Party, provided another big breakthrough when its sales earned it platinum status. It all culminated with his 2010 Comedy Central stand-up special, Seriously, Who Farted. And isn't that a question we've all asked at one time or another?

Swardson's other accomplishments include his early Comedy Central sketch show, Pretend Time with Nick Swardson, voice-over roles in the FXX animated show Chozen and the animated film Hell And Back, the Comedy Central special Taste It! as well as leading roles in the Netflix films The Ridiculous Six (with Sandler and Will Forte) and The Do-Over (starring Sandler and David Spade). Clearly, Swardson's got a knack for making audiences laugh. (Lee Zimmerman)

Nick Swardson @ Wiseguys SLC, 194 S. 400 West, 801-532-5233, Aug. 9-10, 7 & 9:30 pm, $35,

click to enlarge LOGAN SORENSON
  • Logan Sorenson

Craft Lake City DIY Festival

More than 250 artisans, performers, crafters and inventors are coming from every corner of Utah to show off their skills and art at the 11th annual Craft Lake City DIY Festival. Angela Brown, Craft Lake City's executive director and festival organizer (pictured), says this three-day festival provides artists with a platform to sell and network and celebrates everything do-it-yourself (DIY) while shining a spotlight on Utah's unique art scene.

The event has more than just amazing art. There are crafts in the kids' area, performances from dozens of multicultural bands, dance troupes and enough variety of food to satisfy the taste buds of everyone in the family. While these activities are outdoors, for the first time in the festival's history, the vendors, workshops and the Google Fiber STEM Building are located inside, in air-conditioned venues.

Brown says she hopes these changes—as well as Craft Lake City's decision to monetarily sponsor families and artisans from underserved communities—helps make DIY culture accessible to more people. That's an impressive goal, considering that the festival already draws about 20,000 attendees annually. "There's just a satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment when you can create something," Brown says. "I've just felt very passionate about sharing that education and that work with others, and really just encouraging locals to pick up a new tool, a creative instrument, and try something new and see what that looks like." (Kylee Ehmann)

Craft Lake City DIY Festival @ Utah State Fairpark, 155 N. 1000 West, 801-906-8521, Aug 9, 5-10 p.m.; Aug. 10, noon-10 p.m.; Aug 11, noon-7 p.m., $5-$35,

click to enlarge JULIETA CERVANTES
  • Julieta Cervantes

Broadway Across America: The Book of Mormon

Matt Stone and Trey Parker will probably always be remembered first and foremost as the creators of South Park. However, you could argue that they reached their artistic pinnacle when they collaborated with Avenue Q co-writer Robert Lopez on The Book of Mormon, which hit Broadway in 2011 to rave reviews and nine Tony Awards. The R-rated musical comedy follows two LDS missionaries—zealous, persnickety Elder Kevin Price and Star Wars-obsessed serial exaggerater Elder Arnold Cunningham—as they're shipped to Uganda to convert the local tribespeople, most of whom are (understandably) not as down with Heavenly Father as two squeaky-clean Utahns. From there, as they say, the plot thickens.

You might assume that a musical from the South Park guys tackling religion would be caustic, even mean-spirited. While the play isn't exactly uncritical of the LDS faith, most of the laughs are drawn from the contrast between the white-bread wholesomeness of the missionaries and the world-weariness of their prospective converts. Tunes like "I Believe" and "All-American Prophet" might poke fun at the church's more outlandish tenets, but the overall message highlights the positive effect religion can have on people whether their beliefs are true or not.

The Book of Mormon has, unsurprisingly, been a smash hit in the Mormon capital, playing to a sold-out run at the Eccles Theater in 2015 and again in 2017. "Sal Tla Ka Siti" residents have a third chance to see The Book of Mormon when it returns this month, starring Kevin Clay as Elder Price and Connor Pierson as Elder Cunningham. (Nic Renshaw)

The Book of Mormon @ Eccles Theater, 131 S. Main, 801-355-2787, Aug. 13-25, dates and times vary, $70-$165,

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