THE ESSENTIAL A&E PICKS FOR SEP 1 - 7 | Entertainment Picks | Salt Lake City Weekly

THE ESSENTIAL A&E PICKS FOR SEP 1 - 7 

Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Trials, Midway Swiss Days, Decaf Acting Company: Romeo & Juliet, and more.

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Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Trials
The dog days of August may be coming to a close with Labor Day weekend, but in the mountains of Utah at this time of year, "dog days" has a much more entertaining connotation. Once again this year, Midway's Soldier Hollow (2002 Soldier Hollow Lane, Midway) hosts the Soldier Hollow Classic, a four-day festival celebrating the unique skills of sheepdogs and their human handlers.

The centerpiece event is the Sheepdog Championship, with more than 60 participants—including returning 2021 champion Joe Haynes (pictured), with two dogs, Davey and Jim and Soot—vying for the gold medal. The competition puts the human/canine pairs to the test, as dogs working up to 400 yards from their handlers round up wild-range Okelbeberry Rambouillet yearling ewes that have never previously worked with dogs, bringing them down a pre-set course through a variety of gates. At the bottom of the hill, in front of the spectators, the dog needs to separate certain sheep from others and get them into a small holding pen—all in 13 minutes or less.

Beyond the engaging spectacle of the dogs at work, the Soldier Hollow Classic offers a full-fledged festival with food, craft vendors and entertainment, including the Earthwings Bird Show, dog agility demonstrations, the Salt Lake Scots pipe band and, new for 2022, duck herding. The event runs Sept. 2-5, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily, with single-day tickets running $8 - $20 and family passes (2 adults and up to 5 youth) for $50 - $55, parking included. Visit soldierhollowclassic.com for tickets and additional event information. (Scott Renshaw)

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Midway Swiss Days
The Wasatch Mountains aren't exactly the Alps, but the vibe is right at a certain time of year. The giant snow-covered peaks and ample winter recreation make this little corner of the world feel like a little corner of that legendary range. That's not the specific reason that Midway has become home to the annual Swiss Days festivities, but as summer days begin to dwindle and we look towards winter again, it's a perfect time to get a little taste of Switzerland in our back yard.

Dating back to the "Harvest Days" festival in Midway more than 70 years ago, Midway Swiss Days attracts folks from all over the state. It has become so popular that the organizers were concerned a few years ago that it was getting too popular, with the executive committee chairman noting to Heber Valley Life, "We decided that we want to avoid making any changes that will make it grow. It's about as big as it can get and we just want to keep it the same." You're still welcome to come and check out the craft fair of local and national vendors, plus plenty of authentic food and live entertainment. On Saturday morning, things kick off with the 10K race at 7 a.m.; at 10 a.m., downtown Midway hosts the annual parade, traditionally featuring more than 80 entries.

Most Swiss Days events take place at Midway Town Square (75 N. 100 West, Midway), on Sept. 2 – 3, approximately 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily. Events are mostly free and open to the public; visit midwayswissdays.org for additional information. (SR)

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Decaf Acting Company: Romeo & Juliet
Decaf Acting Company was just getting started when the pandemic shut down most performances in 2020. For their return to live production, they're turning to one of the most familiar plays in the English language, while putting their own unique twist on it.

Romeo & Juliet is known for its tragic romance, but according to Elle Shirzad (pictured)—who serves as costume designer for Decaf, as well as playing the part of Romeo—their goal was to draw attention to "the brutality that a feud like that can create. ... Obviously, Romeo & Juliet is one of the world's most famous stories; you study it in junior high and high school, and everyone is familiar with at least the gist of it. We really wanted to focus on the human tragedy of the story less than the romance."

And while Decaf chose a contemporary setting of pre-pandemic 2019 for their show, that doesn't mean they're emphasizing the political division of 21st-century America. "The conversation of broaching those topics absolutely came up," Shirzad says. "We wanted to stay away from the political divide, because you do see a lot of that lately with color-coded Montagues and Capulets. We wanted to leave it more open."

Decaf Acting Company's Romeo & Juliet runs through Sept. 4 at Lightree Studios (740 W. 1700 South, Suite 6), with parking available in the west lot. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursday – Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, and tickets are $15 via eventbrite.com/e/romeo-juliet-tickets-392916482777. Masks are required while indoors; visit facebook.com/decafactingco for additional event information. (SR)

JULIETA CERVANTES
  • Julieta Cervantes

Broadway at the Eccles: To Kill a Mockingbird
While he became a brand name with The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin has clearly always been fascinated by courtroom drama, from his breakthrough play A Few Good Men to his Oscar-nominated screenplay for The Trial of the Chicago 7. So it was no huge surprise when Sorkin turned his attention to a new adaptation of one of the classic courtroom dramas of all time. So in 2018, Sorkin's version of To Kill a Mockingbird came to Broadway, introducing a new generation to Harper Lee's timeless story and becoming the most successful non-musical in Broadway history.

The familiar tale casts Emmy Award-winning actor Richard Thomas as Atticus Finch, the local attorney in Depression-era Alabama who chooses to defend Tom Robinson, a Black man accused of raping a white woman. The story is told from the point of view of Finch's two children, Scout and Jem, and digs into the way Finch both tries to teach his children tolerance, and at times is too forgiving of his neighbors' racism. Of Thomas' lead performance, Washington, D.C.'s Metro Weekly wrote, "Enshrined in the American imagination as an honest and decent country boy, Thomas injects just enough self-doubt and self-awareness into his portrayal to complicate the character's heroic standing without diminishing him as a model of integrity."

To Kill a Mockingbird plays at the Eccles Theater (131 S. Main St.) Sept. 6 – 11, with performance times varying by date. Tickets are $45 - $199; visit arttix.org for tickets and additional event information, including up-to-the-minute health and safety protocols. (SR)

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