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THE ESSENTIAL A&E PICKS FOR OCT 7 - 13 

Wasatch Theatre Co.: Gruesome Playground Injuries, Utah Opera: The Barber of Seville, David Spade @ Wiseguys, and more.

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COURTESY WASATCH THEATRE COMPANY
  • Courtesy Wasatch Theatre Company

Wasatch Theatre Co.: Gruesome Playground Injuries
Doug and Kayleen meet for the first time in the nurse's office of their elementary school—Kayleen with a stomach ache, Doug feeling the effects of jumping off the school's roof. But that's just the beginning of the unique relationship chronicled in Gruesome Playground Injuries, as the play jumps achronologically through time—sometimes forward 15 years, sometimes back another decade—to track how Doug and Kayleen's paths tend to cross during times of physical (and emotional) pain. The result is an unconventional love story between two maybe-soulmates as they figure out how the potential for intimacy is connected to letting your wounds show.

Playwright Rajiv Joseph described to Broadway.com how the story was inspired by a conversation with a friend. "He was just telling me about all these crazy injuries he had endured over the course of his life—so many, in fact, that they seemed to mark the time," Joseph says. "And when I started thinking about that, I wondered if a story about a relationship could be measured in the same way. That led me into thinking about Doug and Kayleen as characters, and the different sorts of injuries they might go through, and how that might connect them, or might push them away from each other."

Local playwright Morag Shepherd co-directs Wasatch Theatre Co.'s production of Gruesome Playground Injuries, with in-person performances at the Box at the Gateway (124 S. 400 West), Oct. 7-8 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, available at wasatchtheatre.org (Scott Renshaw)

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Utah Opera: The Barber of Seville
Among the many artistic casualties at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 was Utah Opera's scheduled production of Rossini's classic The Barber of Seville. Eighteen months later, the creative team has returned to at last offer to local audiences their inventive, more contemporary take on the tale of Figaro, the barber who becomes a would-be matchmaker when a wealthy count asks for his assistance in winning the heart of the lovely Rosina.

As originally scheduled director Jimmy Marcheso told City Weekly via email ahead of the planned 2020 production, this version reimagines the story with the twist of setting it in 1980s Spain. "It's Rossini as if it were a Pedro Almodóvar movie," Marcheso said. "It's a great jumping-off point for the irreverence of the piece ... We play the music of Rossini the way Almodóvar is able to play with time, melodrama, romance, camp and surrealism."

That doesn't mean you still won't get all of the glorious music that you know and love, including the Bugs Bunny-immortalized "Figaro! Figaro! Figaro!" aria as performed by baritone Michael Adams. Incorporating the bold costume and production design from the 2014 production by Opera Philadelphia (pictured), The Barber of Seville promises a delightful evening. Performances run Oct. 9-17 at the Capitol Theatre (50 W. 200 South), with specific dates, times and ticketing information available at utahopera.org. Proof of vaccination or negative test taken within 72 hours of entry will be required for all patrons; masks will be required for all unvaccinated patrons, and encouraged for all patrons. (SR)

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David Spade @ Wiseguys
By and large, being a snarky smart-ass doesn't lend itself to creating enduring popularity, much less stardom or success. Nevertheless, David Spade's decidedly impish approach has made him a bankable star on screens big and a small. An Emmy and two-time Golden Globe nominee and recipient of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, he created an indelible impression early on as a cast member on Saturday Night Live portraying obnoxious characters like the sarcastic flight attendant who whisks passengers off the plane with a dismissive "buh-bye," to the receptionist at Dick Clark Productions who curtly asks aspiring applicants, "And you are ...?"

After leaving SNL in 1996, Spade's career continued to flourish, courtesy of the hit buddy movies Tommy Boy and Black Sheep with his pal, the late Chris Farley, and solo vehicles as Joe Dirt, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star. He returned to television courtesy of two hit sitcoms, 8 Simple Rules and Just Shoot Me, voice-overs for Bevis and Butthead, and an abbreviated stint with his own late-night show, Lights Out With David Spade.

Offscreen, he has an admirable track record as well, given his relationships with several celebrities and starlets. It's earned him an enviable reputation, with at least one entertainment outlet referring to him as the George Clooney of the comedy world. Clearly, cynicism can be seductive. Spade performs Oct. 8-9 at 7:30 p.m. at Wiseguys Gateway (194 S. 400 West). Performances are indicated as sold out as of press time, but check wiseguyscomedy.com for updates, and for health and safety protocols. (Lee Zimmerman)

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Pygmalion Theatre Co.: Tragedy Averted
William Shakespeare's plays have lent themselves to many spinoff interpretations, including taking supporting characters and giving them the spotlight. This might seem particularly necessary for Shakespeare's female characters, who rarely took center stage. Playwright Alexandra Petri saw some of that potential and turned it into Tragedy Averted, which gathers women from several of Shakespeare's most celebrated tragedies into a comedy that serves as the in-person season opener for Pygmalion Theatre Co. "Shakespeare's ladies are fascinating, and perhaps not as well defined as some of the male characters," says Teresa Sanderson, who directs Pygmalion's production. "It leaves a lot of possibilities of where you can take them."

In this instance, Petri takes them to a summer camp, where King Lear's Cordelia, Othello's Desdemona, Romeo & Juliet's Juliet and Hamlet's Ophelia—under the supervision of camp mistress Lady M—share thoughts about often being defined by the men in their lives. Combining familiar quotations with contemporary language, it's a clever mash-up that answers the question, "What if all these Shakespeare women stayed up late playing 'Never Have I Ever?'"

According to Sanderson, getting back into the live theater space with a lighthearted show feels like the right choice for what has been a serious time: "Thank God for laughter. We can laugh long and hard in those masks, and we have. It is nice to start back up with a comedy." Tragedy Averted runs Oct. 8-23 at the Rose Wagner Center (138 W. 300 South), with proof of vaccination/negative test and masking required. Visit saltlakearts.com for tickets, dates and additional info. (SR)

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