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


Dead Certain @ Grand Theatre, Liz Miele @ Wiseguys Gateway, Reza Aslan: An American Martyr in Persia @ SLC Main Library, and more.

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Dead Certain @ Grand Theatre
In 2019, The Grand Theatre premiered A Wall Apart, a new musical with songs by Air Supply songwriter and longtime Utah resident Graham Russell, and a book by Sam Goldstein and Craig Clyde. That tale explored love and family dynamics through the lens of the Cold War in divided Berlin. This year, The Grand Theatre continues its relationship with the same creative team with another world premiere musical, Dead Certain—but unlike the real-world grounding of A Wall Apart, this tale takes on a somewhat darker, Halloween-season-appropriate tone.

It's the story of Boyd Denning, an unemployed mortuary assistant from Iowa who considers himself particularly unlucky. Looking for a radical change in his life, Boyd makes a big move to Denver, and finds himself guided toward a work opportunity after a chance encounter on a bus with a fellow named Mr. Parrish. He begins his primary job driving a hearse for the Daley family funeral home, but also gets an offer for an odd moonlighting opportunity offered by Mr. Parrish—one that's hard to accept even before it involves the girl of Boyd's dreams. With great catchy tunes like "I Believe in Love" and "Fix You Up," Dead Certain mixes the kind of music that leaves you humming with a twist of the macabe.

Dead Certain runs at Salt Lake Community College's Grand Theatre (1575 S. State St.) now through Oct. 29, with performances Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and 2 p.m. Saturday matinees. Tickets are $30; visit grandtheatrecompany to purchase tickets and for additional event information. (Scott Renshaw)

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Liz Miele @ Wiseguys Gateway
Stand-up comedy is built on stage persona; some folks turn their jokes outward, and some choose to turn them inward. New Jersey native Liz Miele has developed her self-deprecating style over a career that has already spanned more than half of her life—and like the true pro that she is, she finds the funniest material in the most uncomfortable events in her life.

In her latest one-hour special, The Ghost of Academic Future, Miele builds on the most uncomfortable event in many of our lives: the COVID pandemic: "I had a boyfriend before the pandemic," she says. "I don't anymore. I take responsibility, because I said, 'We should quarantine together.' That's hilarious now, right? It was supposed to be two weeks; anybody can love anybody for two weeks. ... It fast-forwarded our relationship like 40 years. We were like two 70-year-olds: We had no work. We had no place to go. All of our friends are dead."

She also finds humor in the unique experience of being an artist on unemployment, and actually having a regular weekly income. "It's like pretty good money for me," she says. "Remember how they said if you give people who don't make much money too much money, they might not go back to work? That's me. I don't want to be here right now.

You'll want to be there when Liz Miele visits Wiseguys Comedy's Gateway location (194 S. 400 West) Oct. 14-15 for two shows each night, 7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $20; visit for tickets and for additional event information. (SR)

  • Peter Konerko

Reza Aslan: An American Martyr in Persia @ SLC Main Library
The complex intersections between Islam and Christianity have long been a subject of personal and academic interest to Reza Aslan, a scholar and frequent television commentator who himself converted from Islam to Christianity and eventually back to Islam again. Aslan applies that interest to a fascinating, little-known footnote in American/Persian relations in his new book, An American Martyr in Persia: The Epic Life and Tragic Death of Howard Baskerville.

The book's subject, Howard Baskerville, was an American Presbyterian missionary teacher working at the American Memorial School in Tabriz, Persia (present-day Iran) in the early 1900s. That work coincided with the short-lived period in Iran when Mohammad Ali Shah dismantled the country's parliament and began a tyrannical rule that was opposed by a rebel force in the city of Tabriz. Baskerville's support of that opposition and his involvement in helping rescue the besieged rebels in Tabriz, including applying his military background to training the local population, ultimately led to his death during a battle in April 1909 at the age of just 22. Emerging during the current upheaval in Iran, An American Martyr in Persia explores the principles and background that drove Baskerville's activism, as well as the Iran's long history of seeking freedom, and how Americans have both helped and hindered those battles.

Aslan visits the Salt Lake City Main Library's Tessman Auditorium (210 E. 400 South) on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 6:30 p.m., with a book signing after his lecture (copies available at The King's English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East. Admission is free to the public; visit for additional event information. (SR)

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