THE ESSENTIAL A&E PICKS FOR SEP 29 - OCT 5 | Entertainment Picks | Salt Lake City Weekly


Broadway at the Eccles: Disney's The Lion King, UMOCA opening reception, Sugar Skull! A Día de Muertos Musical Adventure, and more.

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  • Deen van Meer

Broadway at the Eccles: Disney's The Lion King
After nearly 30 years, Disney's The Lion King has made the transition from improbable family-friendly spin on Hamlet to cultural institution. Two generations have seen the story spun off into direct-to-video sequels, TV series, a CGI-animated blockbuster remake and even an upcoming origin-of-Mufasa prequel feature. Among the most fascinating offshoots of the Lion King brand, however, was director Julie Taymor's 1997 stage adaptation, which added new songs by Lebo M, Mark Mancina and others to the original Elton John/Tim Rice tunes and crafted a stage spectacle of humans transformed into animals.

The familiar story follows the journey of the young lion cub Simba from his destiny as future king of the African savannah, to the killing of his father at the hands of his uncle Scar, to his adult crisis of conscience regarding whether or not to return and challenge the usurper. Comic relief once again comes in the form of flatulent warthog Pumbaa and his anxious meerkat pal Timon, as well as Scar's hornbill majordomo Zazu. Through the use of elaborate costumes and magnificent puppeteered creatures, the story at times even spills out into the audience, turning this beloved narrative into something even richer and more powerful, but as hummable as ever.

Disney's The Lion King makes a stop at the Eccles Theatre (131 S. Main) Sept. 29 – Oct. 23, with performances Tuesdays – Thursdays 7:30 p.m., Fridays 8 p.m., Saturdays 2 p.m. & 8 p.m., and Sundays 1 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. Tickets range from $35.50 - $95.50; visit to purchase tickets, and for up-to-the-moment health and safety protocols. (Scott Renshaw)

  • Tali Alisa Hafoka

UMOCA opening reception
It's easy to understand the appeal of "two for the price of one;" everybody loves the idea of getting more out of their time and money. If you're looking to sample the amazing offerings of the Utah artistic community, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art gives you a chance sample not one, not two, but three new exhibitions all at the same time with this month's opening reception event.

Tali Alisa Hafoka's Carried Across: Meditations on Diasporic Living finds the local artist investigating the far-flung Pacific Islander diasporas through the lens of food, and the way traditional food preparations, and how cultural traditions are continued through gatherings focused around food (an image from the Gauguin series is pictured). Multimedia artist Aïsha Lehmann's My Roots, Your Roots takes on the dichotomy between authentic and perceived identities; inspiration from patterns and plants found in nature, including the idea of the family tree, connect to both those internal and external realities. And Christy Chan's Who's Coming to Save You? employs video, installation and performance to interrogate structural white supremacy in America, and what keeps it going.

The reception for all three new UMOCA exhibitions takes place Friday, Sept. 30 at the museum (20 W. South Temple), from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. The event—which is free and open to the public—will also feature a panel discussion at 6 p.m. on the subject of the art and culture of the Utah Pacific Islander community, tying into Hafoka's exhibition. Visit for additional event information. (SR)

  • Columbia Artists

Sugar Skull! A Día de Muertos Musical Adventure
Día de los Muertos has certainly become more familiar to more Americans in recent years, linked in part to the success of the Pixar animated feature Coco. It's a rich tradition that offers plenty of opportunity for artistic exploration, and that's just what writer Gregory Van Acker, composer/arranger Sinuhé Padilla, director Elena Aráoz and the team at Mexico Beyond Mariachi set out to demonstrate in 2017 when they developed Sugar Skull! A Día de Muertos Musical Adventure in New York.

The story follows 12-year-old Queens, New York resident Vita Flores, who thinks that her family is getting a little too enthusiastic about preparations for Día de los Muertos like putting up ofrendas for dead relatives; she's much more inclined to follow in the footsteps of peers who get into the Halloween spirit. That's when a candy skeleton comes to life and takes her on a magical journey to understand the origins and meaning behind the day that includes encounters with the trickster Chaneques and the iconic figure known as La Calavera Catrina. Full of traditional music, dance and energy, it's a family-friendly chance to experience a cultural tradition with deep emotional roots

Sugar Skull! has started touring the nation after its initial 2018 East Coast productions, and visits Kingsbury Hall (1395 E. Presidents Circle) on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 - $20 for the general public, with $5 tickets available for University of Utah Students. Visit to purchase tickets and for additional event information. (SR)

  • Akashic Media Enterprises

James Dashner: The Maze Cutter
Utah author James Dashner has spent more than a decade now in the world of The Maze Runner, the post-apocalyptic series that subjected youngsters to a series of mysterious tests. From the original trilogy, Dashner has moved on to prequel tales like the Kill Order and The Fever Code, as well as the spin-off "sidequel" Crank Palace featuring the character Newt. Now, for the first time, Dashner is jumping forward in time for The Maze Cutter.

The latest novel takes place more than 70 years after the events of the original trilogy, when the exploits of Thomas and his friends have become legend among their descendants on an isolated island. Then a woman arrives unexpectedly on a boat, bringing information for how life has evolved on the mainland that leads those descendants back to the rest of the world. "After the prequels, I personally thought, 'Okay, this story is laid to rest,'" Dashner said in an interview on his publisher's YouTube channel. "Then after a few years ... the COVID era has me thinking about what happens to a virus and its evolution. So I got super excited to jump back into this world."

Join James Dashner for an in-person book-launch event for The Maze Cutter at the King's English Bookshop at the Center (1511 S. 1500 East) on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $32, which includes a hardcover copy of the book and admission to the signing line. Visit for more information and link to Eventbrite ticketing. (SR)

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