The Essential A&E Picks for October 5-11 | Entertainment Picks | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

The Essential A&E Picks for October 5-11 

Norm Macdonald, Thriller, An American in Paris and more.

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  • Brillstein Entertainment Partners

Norm Macdonald
Known for his dry sarcasm and understated delivery, Norm Macdonald is that snarky guy you were always wary of. Was he giving you a compliment, or subtly putting you down? Either way, Macdonald has never shied from telling the truth, even at his targets' expense.

The Canadian-born comedian's initial claim to fame came after his first of five seasons on Saturday Night Live in the early '90s. While spot-on impressions of Larry King, Quentin Tarantino, Burt Reynolds, David Letterman and Bob Dole garnered immediate accolades, his role as anchor of "Weekend Update" brought him notoriety due to his caustic comments that appeared controversial even by SNL standards. He mercilessly targeted Michael Jackson, Hillary Clinton and disgraced Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry, using his biting satire and supreme cynicism to shred his victims unapologetically at every opportunity.

His stint on SNL didn't end well; after a series of typically caustic comments about the embattled O.J. Simpson, Macdonald was removed from "Weekend Update" by producer Don Ohlmeyer. Macdonald suspected it was Ohlmeyer's friendship with Simpson that caused his dismissal, and though he stayed on afterward, he eventually quit, making no secret of his dissatisfaction.

Nevertheless, Macdonald's success has continued unabated ever since, both on film and on TV, including his roles as a judge on Last Comic Standing, his unlikely portrayal of Colonel Sanders for KFC and his most recent special on Netflix, Hitler's Dog, Gossip & Trickery. Still, live stand-up is the best way to experience his savage satire. (Lee Zimmerman)

Norm Macdonald @ Wiseguys SLC, 194 S. 400 West, 801-532-5233, Oct. 5, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 6-7, 7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m., $32, 21+,


  • Sharon Kain

Repertory Dance Theatre: Sanctuary
Since its designation, Bears Ears National Monument in Southern Utah has inspired a lot of things: excitement, controversy—even a dance. As a tribute, planned long before Donald Trump and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke made Bears Ears a political hot-button issue, Repertory Dance Theatre commissioned a new work by New York City-based Israeli choreographer Zvi Gotheiner—with whom the company has a long-standing and close relationship—that might explore through movement the extraordinary landscape preserved within the monument's boundaries.

Dancing the Bears Ears premieres this week as part of RDT's season opening performance, Sanctuary. The evening's program is also scheduled to include Andy Noble's 2015 work Tower and Eric Handman's 2007 Ghost Ship.

Before choreographing Dancing the Bears Ears, Gotheiner and the RDT dancers traveled to Southern Utah to spend time among the mesas and canyons, and to meet with members of the conservation nonprofit Utah Diné Bikéyah (UDB). In a recent panel discussion organized by RDT in advance of the premiere, UDB board member Mary Benally talked about why she is excited to see the Bears Ears-inspired work:

"You see that ugly rock over there. You pick it up. You look at it up close. There are minerals and so much beauty. It's like the rock formations are singing to you—the plants, the animals, they talk to you. As a dancer, I can just see what you can do with it." (Katherine Pioli)

Repertory Dance Theatre: Sanctuary @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, Oct 5-7, 7:30 p.m., $15-$35,


  • Eric Christensen

Odyssey Dance: Thriller
It might seem crazy now that Odyssey Dance's annual Halloween-themed Thriller production is practically a Utah institution, but 21 years ago, the then-fledgling company's first production almost ended before it began. "The first four performances were set up at Kingsbury Hall," Odyssey Artistic Director Derryl Yeager recalls, "and about a week before we opened, [they] called and said, 'You've only sold 50 tickets; maybe you should cancel it.' ... I thought, 'I think we've got something special here. If we're going to go down, let's go down in flames.'"

Only 300 or so tickets were ultimately sold for that first run, but response was strong enough that, within a few years, performances were selling out. This year, demand for Thriller is so high that two different companies are required for the more than 50 performances scheduled for Salt Lake City, Park City, Utah County, Southern Utah, Ogden and Logan.

For the collection of dance vignettes centered around famous monsters, much of the content has remained consistent for more than two decades, including the dancing hockey-mask-clad killers of the "Jason Jam" and the choreographed zombies a la Michael Jackson that give the production its name. But there are also slight tweaks to the lineup every year, including this year's addition of aerial arts, plus a new segment based on the superhero team-up Justice League. "When people come back year after year, it's not exactly the same show," Yeager says. "We're just so grateful and thankful we've got something people want to come back and see." (Scott Renshaw)

Odyssey Dance: Thriller @ Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, 801-581-7100, Oct. 6-30, dates and times vary, $35.50-$55.50; additional dates at other locations,


  • Matthew Murphy

Broadway at the Eccles: An American in Paris
The music of An American in Paris has been wowing audiences since its Carnegie Hall premiere in 1928. The pairing of that great music with dance and story been dazzling viewers since the film premiered in 1951 and went on to win six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. And, for six nights, fans of this enduring classic have a chance to experience it live at the Eccles Theater.

Originally composed by George Gershwin to represent the impressions of American tourists in Paris and inspired by the compositions of Maurice Ravel, it tells the story of love and hope in post-World War II Paris. Two American veterans and a wealthy Frenchman work to create a show that brings light into a recovering city, but their dedication to the art is challenged by their competing love and devotion to the same woman, Lise.

With music stemming from the golden era of movie musicals, it's not hard to see why this show won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Orchestrations. Beneath its jaunty tunes lie the pain of war and a nostalgia for a time of innocence lost. But, as Gershwin said, "Nostalgia is not a fatal disease," and the production shows how devotion to past ideals of love and hope can build to a better tomorrow. It's hard to think of a better message for the world right now.

A captioned performance for An American in Paris is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Oct. 14. For access to captions, select seats located in the orchestra right section on the main floor. (Kylee Ehmann)

An American in Paris @ Eccles Theater, 131 S. Main, 801-355-2787, Oct. 10-15, times vary, $40-$85,

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