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THE ESSENTIAL A&E PICKS FOR FEB 10 - 16 

Utah Symphony: Bravo Broadway! A Rodgers & Hammerstein Celebration, Ballet West: Romeo & Juliet, Ananya Dance Theatre, and more.

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Utah Symphony: Bravo Broadway! A Rodgers & Hammerstein Celebration
The recent passing of Stephen Sondheim found many people reflecting on the rich history of the American musical theater, and its most celebrated practitioners. Few creative teams in that form boast a résumé like that of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, whose works as a team from 1943 - 1959 are among the most beloved ever to grace a stage (and occasionally a TV studio): The Sound of Music, Oklahoma!, The King and I, South Pacific, State Fair and Carousel. And that's not even including shows like Babes in Arms and Showboat that the two men worked on with other collaborators.

All of those great musicals and more will be represented when the Utah Symphony brings us A Rodgers & Hammerstein Celebration, conducted by Jerry Steichen. Accompanied by vocalists William Michals, Hugh Panaro and Scarlett Strallen, the Symphony will offer lush orchestrations of such classic songs as "Where or When," "The Sound of Music," "Edelweiss," "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," "Some Enchanted Evening," "Shall We Dance" and "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning." It's a chance to experience some of the greatest tunes in the musical theater canon, in the acoustic miracle that is Abravanel Hall.

This Bravo Broadway! presentation at Abravanel Hall (123 W. South Temple) includes two performances, March 11-12, both at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $17.50 - $72; face masks are required for all attendees, and proof of vaccination or negative COVID test are required for all attendees over the age of 12. Visit utahsymphony.org for tickets and additional information. (Scott Renshaw)

COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo

Ballet West: Romeo & Juliet
William Shakespeare's works have inspired artists in multiple creative forms across five centuries, yet that inspiration has also manifested itself in multiple layers. In 1935, Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev wrote the score for a ballet version of Romeo & Juliet, which eventually premiered in 1940. That beloved composition, however, has itself subsequently been the foundation for other choreographic interpretations, including a version by Michael Smuin that debuted in 1976 at the San Francisco Ballet. That version became popular enough that it first made its way to our own Ballet West in 1988—but it's been 25 years since it has graced a local stage.

We can now welcome back Smuin's Romeo & Juliet, as the iconic tale of young lovers divided by their families' quarrels manifests itself through beautiful dance and that stirring Prokofiev score. Soloists Beckanne Sisk, Jenna Rae Herrera and Katlyn Addison alternate performances as Juliet, with Chase O'Connell, Jordan Veit and Hadriel Diniz as their respective Romeos. In a live setting once again with the Ballet West orchestra, it's as lushly romantic as any version of the story you've known before.

Ballet West's Romeo & Juliet plays the Capitol Theatre (50 W. 200 South) Feb. 11 – 19, with tickets $20 - $119. Due to popular demand, an additional performance is scheduled for Feb. 26, 7:30 p.m. at the Eccles Center in Park City (1750 Kearns Blvd.), with tickets $20 - $200. Individual venues' policies may vary, but Ballet West requires face coverings for all audience members, regardless of vaccination status. Visit balletwest.org for tickets and additional event information. (SR)

ISABEL FAJARDO
  • Isabel Fajardo

Ananya Dance Theatre
In 2004, Twin Cities-based dancer and University of Minnesota dance professor Ananya Chatterjea set out to bring BIPOC women together for a project that would allow them to take charge of telling their own stories through dance, when they often felt marginalized in the larger concert dance community. The result was a feminist dance company rooted in the Odissi classical dance form of Chatterjea's native Kolkata, India, and informed also by Indian martial arts and yoga. And the choreographic philosophy was designed around a commitment to social justice.

More than 15 years later, Ananya Dance Theatre has become a nationally-recognized force, touring with distinctive works. Their latest creation, Chatterjea's 75-minute production Dastak: I Wish You Me, premiered in October 2021, described by the company as "a meditation on borders, loss, belonging, home and liberation." The title comes from a Farsi word for "knockings," referring to an inner sense of being moved to action by awareness of injustice, while the subtitle by writer Sharon Bridgeforth evokes a desire for the wellness of others as much as for yourself. Structured through the four ancient elements of earth, fire, air and water, Dastak uses movement to call viewers to a greater sense of connection across perceived boundaries.

Ananya Dance Theatre brings Dastak: I Wish You Me to Kingsbury Hall (1395 E. Presidents Circle) on Friday, Feb. 11, 7:30 p.m., with tickets $10 - $30. The venue requests the wearing of masks indoors at all times, and refunds are available due to illness. Visit kingsburyhall.org for tickets and additional event information. (SR)

JEREMY DANIEL
  • Jeremy Daniel

Anastasia: The Musical
Disney discovered a gold mine when it figured out a way to wring more creative life out of its animated feature films by turning them into stage musicals like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. Not surprisingly, other studios wanted to follow suit, but the transition can be a little more challenging when the original source movie itself was not a musical. Shrek managed that trick with its stage adaptation, and so did Anastasia, the 1997 animated feature from director Don Bluth, which premiered in its musical stage version in 2016.

The subject matter is a bit unusual for a story initially aimed at family audiences: the legend of a girl who might be the sole surviving member of the Russian Romanov dynasty, which was mostly killed during the Bolshevik Revolution. In this version of the tale, a pair of con artists come up with a scheme to groom a young girl to pretend to be the surviving granddaughter of the Dowager Empress, in an attempt to extract money. The girl they find, however—an amnesiac street sweeper named Anya—might not be a fake after all. With original songs by the celebrated team of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (Seussical, Ragtime) and a book by Tony Award-winning writer Terrence McNally, it offers a sophistication beyond its kid-pic origins.

This touring production of Anastasia plays the Eccles Theater (131 S. Main St.) Tuesday, Feb. 15 through Sunday, Feb. 20, with tickets $79 - $119. Face coverings are required for all attendees; visit broadway-at-the-eccles.com for tickets and additional information. (SR)

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