THE ESSENTIAL A&E PICKS FOR DEC 17 - 23 | Entertainment Picks | Salt Lake City Weekly


SLAC Digital: Climbing With Tigers, Swaner Preserve: Water/Ways, Odyssey Dance: It's a Wonderful Life, and more.

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  • Courtesy Photo

SLAC Digital: Climbing With Tigers
In a time when most new live performances aren't possible, many organizations are offering audiences a chance to re-acquaint themselves with previous productions, or experience them for the first time, via streaming recordings. This month, Salt Lake Acting Co. launches its now SLAC Digital platform with a presentation of its 2016 production of Climbing With Tigers.

The show adapts the picture book by writer Dallas Graham and 9-year-old Nathan Glad, which presents an allegory for Nathan's own condition—Osteogenesis imperfecta, or "brittle bones disease"—through a bird named Blue (Austin Archer, pictured) who longs to fly but fears that his own brittle bones won't withstand it. And so with the help of a magical narrator (Robert Scott Smith), Blue finds a Jolly Troop of birds and sets off on an adventure to find a legendary tiger, whose tail might have magical healing powers.

Director Alexandra Harbold's production has a genuinely fantastical quality, employing projected animation and puppets, while Archer and Smith carry the show as the only human actors through energetic performances ideal for young audiences. But the show also radiates a labor-of-love effort, part of the bigger project by Graham to collaborate with children on telling the stories of their critical illnesses.Climbing With Tigersoffers a charming and whimsical presentation of a family-friendly narrative, while managing to connect emotionally with the struggle to be brave when every day is a struggle. Experience it via through Dec. 20 on a pay-what-you-can basis, with viewing free for Salt Lake Acting Company subscribers. (Scott Renshaw)

  • Museum on Main Street

Swaner Preserve: Water/Ways
In the American West, water is always an issue. Settling in deserts has changed the way humans manipulate, commodify and distribute water. It even became the motivating force in one of the classic mysteries of all time, Chinatown.

Yet for all of its power as a force of nature and a force to change human behavior, how much do you really know about water, and the powerful pragmatic and symbolic role it plays in our lives? This month, the travelling exhibition Water/Ways—developed through the Smithsonian Institutes Museum on Main Street program—comes to Swaner Preserve and Eco-Center (1258 Center Dr., Park City, Dec. 19-March 27, 2021, presenting interactive exhibits and educational information on a wide range of topics related to water. While it investigates the realities of where water is (and isn't) in the world—and how those realities shape everything from political power to human migration and settlement patterns—it also looks at water as inspiration for art, as part of religious ritual and other ways it influences human cultural experience. Along the way, there's a look at the more contemporary attempts to manage water resources and preserve its cleanliness for all its roles in the world.

Water/Ways is free to the public during Swaner Preserve operating hours (Fridays-Sundays, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.). Visit the website for information about COVID procedures and visitor requirements, including capacity limits. Take this deep dive into the waters of our world in a way you've never quite seen them before. (SR)

  • Odyssey Dance

Odyssey Dance: It's a Wonderful Life
Speaking of recorded versions of previous performances (see SLAC Digital: Climbing With Tigers on this page), Odyssey Dance became yet another participant in this alternate format when planned live performances of their It's a Wonderful Life had to be cancelled due to closures of Salt Lake County venues. So if you can't get enough of one of our most beloved and life-affirming classic holiday stories, here's a unique interpretation.

Those familiar with the 1946 movie already know the tale of George Bailey, a small-town man who wonders if the world would have been better off had he never been born—and gets a chance to find out thanks to an angel-in-training. Odyssey Dance Company artistic director Deryl Yeager transformed the story into a dance-based production in 2008, with an original score and choreography. "It has the look of a Broadway show, but the story is told through dance and the use of voice-overs very much like the film," says Yeager via press release. "An amazing team of artists collaborated on the production, including Sam Cardon, who wrote a moving, original score; Doug Ellis, whose fabulous scenic designs were expertly crafted by Lynn Clark at Scenic Service Specialists; and, of course, the phenomenal dancers of Odyssey Dance Theatre."

This year marks the first time ever that Odyssey Dance's It's a Wonderful Life is available for home viewing. Visit to purchase a video link for $40, now through Jan. 5—and while you're there, purchase half-price tickets for 2021's Shut Up and Dance production, made possible through the Shop In Utah grant. (SR)

  • Salty Dinner Theater

Salty Dinner Theater: Santa Nights
Dinner out and theater out are two concepts that both don't seem to fit very well into the current pandemic "normal," so it's understandable that the itinerant Salty Dinner Theater has had to think differently about presenting entertainment to audiences, including cancelling its 2020 shows. For the holiday season, however, they're adapting to circumstances with a festive presentation that allows the whole family to enjoy things safely.

Salty Dinner Theater's Santa Nights invites guests to a drive-in presentation where everyone enjoys the show from their cars. Performers will present a program of holiday favorite songs, broadcast directly to a car radio station that will be shared with attendees when they arrive. The event will also include a visit from Santa Claus himself, along with a live reindeer, who will visit each car individually for masked interaction and photos opportunities. It's a great way to tick off a bunch of Christmas entertainment boxes in a responsible setting—and you can even bring your own dinner along to make it a little bit more like actual dinner theater.

Santa Nights visits three different locations for 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. performances on individual nights: Thursday, Dec. 17 in Salt Lake City at Carmelle Reception Center, 4075 S. Highland Dr.; Saturday, Dec. 19 in Clearfield at Talia Event Center, 22 E. 200 South; and Monday, Dec. 21 in American Fork at the Towne Theater (20 W. Main St.). Tickets are just $20 per vehicle or free to Salty Dinner Theater season ticket holders, and reservations are required at (SR)

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