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THE ESSENTIAL A&E PICKS FOR SEP 9 - 15 

Utah Symphony: Return of the Jedi in Concert, Pioneer Theatre Company: Ain't Misbehavin', The Sting & Honey Company: Waiting for Godot, and more.

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LUCASFILM SLASH DISNEY
  • Lucasfilm slash Disney

Utah Symphony: Return of the Jedi in Concert
No composer deserves more credit for providing that stirring combination of sound and spectacle than John Williams. His riveting orchestrated soundtracks grace an extraordinary array of big screen blockbusters, among them, the Star Wars saga, Jaws, E.T. The Extraterrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park and the first three Harry Potter films. Indeed, with five Academy Awards, 52 Oscar nominations, four Golden Globes, five Emmys and 25 Grammys, Williams remains one of the most celebrated artists in film history, one who sets a cinema standard.

The Utah Symphony's upcoming performance of Williams' complete musical score for 1983's Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi will provide virtual live mutual accompaniment for a special screening of the film classic. Conducted by Conner Gray Covington, the music will elevate the onscreen action as Luke Skywalker and his friends desperately try to rescue Han Solo from the clutches of Jabba the Hut, even as the evil Darth Vader plots to destroy the Rebel Alliance. Expect a stunning sensory experience, one designed to entice serious music lovers as well as those forever enthralled by this sci-fi classic. After all, who better than the Utah Symphony to deliver the soaring sounds this epic entails. We tip our lightsabers in a celebratory salute.

Return of the Jedi will be performed on Sept. 9-10, 7 p.m. at Abravanel Hall (123 W. South Temple). Tickets are priced from $30 - $95, available via the USUO mobile app, online at utahsymphony.org, calling 801-533-NOTE (6683) or through all ArtTix outlets. (Lee Zimmerman)

BW PRODUCTIONS FOR PIONEER THEATRE COMPANY
  • BW Productions for Pioneer Theatre Company

Pioneer Theatre Company: Ain't Misbehavin'
Some people speculate that when COVID finally subsides, the country's gonna go crazy, ushering in a prolonged period of revelry and rejoicing reminiscent of the so-called "Roaring Twenties" a century ago. It was a time that found folks shedding their inhibitions, breaking with tradition and dancing along to the jazz, jump, jive and swing echoing from speakeasies, saloons and practically every place where the upper crust of society gathered.

Whether you believe that prediction or simply want to bask in some nostalgia, Pioneer Theatre Company's production of Ain't Misbehavin' offers an ideal opportunity to recall the joy and jubilation that emerged from an earlier era of peace and prosperity. Taking its cue from the ragtime rhythms and stride piano stylings of musician, composer and entertainer Thomas "Fats" Waller, it's a rowdy, rollicking and often raucous revue, an ideal antidote for these tumultuous times. It boasts several timeless standards—"Honeysuckle Rose," "Black and Blue," "This Joint is Jumpin'," "I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling" and, of course, the title tune—along with a talented cast that gives each numbers the sass and charm they deserve. Given the fact that PTC was forced to cancel its entire 2020-2021 season due to the pandemic, consider this a comeback as well.

Ain't Misbehavin' will be presented at Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 South 1400 East, Sept. 10-25. Showtimes are 7 p.m., Monday – Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $33 - $50. Visit pioneertheatre.org for additional info. (LZ)

LAURA D’AGOSTINO
  • Laura D’Agostino

The Sting & Honey Company: Waiting for Godot
According to The Sting & Honey Company's creative director Javen Tanner, it had long been part of the plan to re-stage the company's very first show, Waiting for Godot, as part of the company's 10th anniversary. As it turns out, the fact that this anniversary falls in the midst of the COVID pandemic might add an additional layer of significance to the play. "After what the last year and a half has been," Tanner says, "it's very existential, such a surreal existential experience to go through this pandemic."

Samuel Beckett's 1953 play—focusing on two characters interacting as they wait for the arrival of the titular Godot—has become something of a paradigm for surrealist theater, but for Tanner, it's important to think about it in terms beyond its academic presentation. "Sometimes the way people were taught this play in high school or college, was that it was this existentialist tract," Tanner says. "But it's a funny play, and a beautiful play. I'm trained as a clown, and it's a clown play. We're hitting the jokes and having fun with it. As I work on Shakespeare, Chekhov and Beckett, the way you get at the depth of the tragedy is through the comedy."

Waiting for Godot plays Sept. 10-25 at the Regent Street Black Box of the Eccles Theater (131 S. Main St.). Performances are Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., with 2 p.m. Saturday matinees; tickets are $12-$25. Masks are strongly recommended for all patrons; visit arttix.org to purchase tickets and for additional event information. (Scott Renshaw)

COURTESY PHOTO
  • courtesy photo

Doctor Finnegan's Circus featuring "Le Carnivale Toxique"
The circus sideshow has always carried a hint of the forbidden, with its history of barkers summoning curious passersby to witness the strange sights within a tent or storefront. That tradition of craziness continues with Doctor Finnegan's Circus, visiting Utah this week.

The Louisiana-based traveling troupe—headlined by Doctor Finnegan, Chip Rascal and the Reverend Sean Theroux (pictured)—has spent more than a decade bringing American sideshow-style entertainment around the country. Their show offers a theatrical spin on familiar offerings like sword swallowing and the bed of nails, and their work has earned them honors like a Top Performance award at the 2019 Southern Sideshow Hootenanny in New Orleans. Their Sunday show this week will featuring an opening act from Salt Lake's own Puppets in the City presenting "Le Carnivale Toxique," a tale of would-be thieves discovering a carnival in the alley where they're hiding out; scheduled performers include the Acrobats of O'possum Imposdiboe, the Fantastique Fishman, Madame Le Roche and the Giant Indestructible Tardigrade. Kenshin Taiko drumming rounds out the wide-ranging experience.

The show visits Salt Lake City's Alliance Theater in Trolley Square (602 E. 500 South, Suite 101) for one show only, a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Sept. 12, with tickets $15 general admission. There will also be a livestream option for watching the performance at home, with tickets $10. Additional local events are scheduled Sept. 10 at Mark of the Beastro, and Sept. 11 at Prohibition in Murray. Visit showclix.com/event/dr-finnegan-s-circus-at-alliance-theater for tickets and, finneganscircus.com for additional information. (SR)

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