Essentials: A&E Picks Jan. 2-8 | Entertainment Picks | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Culture » Entertainment Picks

Essentials: A&E Picks Jan. 2-8




Owen Benjamin

Stand-up comedy can explore some fairly common general topics: relationships, everyday frustrations, etc. Owen Benjamin visits all of these areas, but he’s also got a secret weapon: music. The son of an opera singer, Benjamin trained as a classical pianist for years before making the move to comedy. He’s landed recurring bits on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, a couple of regular Web series and small parts in movies including The House Bunny and Adam Sandler’s Jack & Jill, and recorded a comedy CD, High Five Til It Hurts. It’s the classic career arc of a comedian on the rise. And Benjamin’s got great material—much of it for adults only—about sex, alarm clocks and the joys of being a dog-owner. “Dogs exist to remind us how great life is,” Benjamin says. “You’re like, ‘Today’s gonna suck.’ Not if you have a dog. … He’s like, ‘Dude, just say the word “outside,” I’m gonna lose my shit.’ … And if you don’t go outside after saying ‘outside,’ you’re the biggest dickhead on the planet. That’s the only time you’ll see the dog look like a Sarah McLachlan commercial.” But he can really kill it when he gets behind the piano, using atmospheric music to underscore his descriptions of the way men’s and women’s minds work, or building to a manufactured crescendo of a power ballad. Then again, by the time the show is over, you won’t need to be told to go nuts for this guy. (Scott Renshaw)
Wiseguys West Valley, 2194 W. 3500 South, West Valley City, 801-463-2909, Jan. 2, 7:30, Jan. 3-4, 7:30 & 9:30, $12.

Natalie Whipple: Blindsided
In 2013’s Transparent, Utah author Natalie Whipple introduced readers to Fiona McClean, a teenager in a world of mutants whose ability to become invisible had made her a valuable asset to her crime-boss father, until an assignment to commit murder inspired Fiona’s mother to have them both flee for an attempt at a normal life. Of course, dad wasn’t inclined to let her go easily. In Whipple’s follow-up, Blindsided, Fiona is still trying to find normalcy, and perhaps even the chance at a happily-ever-romance with Seth, the one boy who can see through her invisibility. But when you’ve lived the kind of life Fiona has, no change is ever that easy. And just a few months after Fiona thinks that her family and friends might be safe, a crime syndicate and the military start prowling around her small Arizona town. Join the author for a reading and signing book-release event. (Scott Renshaw)
The King’s English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9100, Jan. 2, 7 p.m., free.

Satisfaction: A Rolling Stones Experience
It’s not an easy life being part of a tribute band. No matter how talented you may be, there’s always that “but” attached: Sure, you’re good, but you’re just riding on another band’s coattails. Sometimes, though, everything comes together and an act catches the attention of the band to which they pay tribute, and gets a nod of approval. That happened for Satisfaction: A Rolling Stones Experience after nearly a decade of performing, when Mick, Keith and the gang approved them for long-term engagements with the Walt Disney Corporation, making them a de facto “official” tribute band. They even helped with promotional work for the Martin Scorsese-directed Rolling Stones concert film Shine a Light. After more than a thousand performances in Las Vegas and around the world, Satisfaction—with Chris LeGrand as Mick Jagger—continue to be the next best thing to spending a night together with the World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band. (Scott Renshaw)
Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main, Park City, 435-649-9371, Jan. 2, 8 p.m., $29-$50.


Marcee Blackerby: Stand & Deliver

Sometimes, art or a text may stand alone without its author or artists’ persona to qualify it, speaking universally to an audience. Sometimes, however—as in the case of artist Marcee Blackerby—knowing something about her makes a lot of difference. “Marcee has always been a searcher and a finder,” says lifelong friend and veteran Salt Lake City journalist Ann Poore. “She seeks out interesting material in the found objects she uses for her art, and in the people she chooses to sit around her table. She’s a published writer on numerology and Chinese astrology. She once ran away to join the circus, rode with a biker group, was a hippie before that was fashionable—and has done all of this in a wheelchair.” Ken Sanders of Ken Sanders Rare Books, where Blackerby’s works are being exhibited, calls them “art boxes.” With great fondness for Blackerby, he shows me one she made for him with all of his childhood favorites: a Howdy Doody doll, a vintage Dr. Pepper bottle cap, cut-out photos of Sanders when he was no more than 5 years old. One might gauge this artist’s personality with the tongue-in-cheek-ily titled “Avenging Angels”, which uses black feathered wings and gold-leaf dolls on dug-up World War II-era specimens. “[H]er resilience is extraordinary,” Poore says. “Marcee’s art is dreamlike and intricate but immediate and arresting. It’s easy to get lost in and very satisfying in a primal sense.” (Ehren Clark)
Marcee Blackerby: Stand & Deliver @ Ken Sanders Rare Books, 268 S. 200 East, 801-521-3819, through Jan. 4, free.

Utah Symphony: Pixar in Concert
The 13 feature films made by Pixar Animation Studios have given kids of all ages plenty of memorable characters and stories, but also lots of wonderful music. The characters and stories, as great as they are, become only more powerful when set to a musical score that captures the essence of what is happening on the screen. This weekend, fans of the movies will get the chance to hear that music played by a full symphony orchestra, with high-definition clips from the movies shown in the background to help set the stage. The program will feature 13 different numbers. The list includes music from Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, A Bug’s Life, Wall-E, Cars, Up, The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc., and the most recent original Pixar story, Brave. The compositions, by Randy Newman, Thomas Newman, Michael Giacchino and Patrick Doyle, range in style from jazz to pop to classical, and have won three Oscars and 10 Grammys since Toy Story—Pixar’s first feature—premiered in 1995. If you’re going to have talking toys, robots falling in love, cars with personalities and friendly monsters, you’re going to need some imaginative music to keep up with the groundbreaking developments on the screen. Whether your favorite characters are Woody, Lightning McQueen, Nemo or another computer-animated creation that comes to life on screen, the evening will present a chance to focus on the music that has helped to create great memories for many movie-goers. (Geoff Griffin)
Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, 801-355-2787, Jan. 3-4, 7 p.m., $18-$50.

Tala Madani
Iranian-born, Los-Angeles based painter Tala Madani is the second recipient of the Catherine Doctorow Prize for Contemporary Painting. Her animations, now on display at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, utilize broad strokes, both in the painterly sense and in their subject matter. They present cartoonish portrayals of masculinity—paunchy, middle-age men, often clad in swimming trunks. Her color palette partakes of the bright hues of American abstraction, and there is something very in tune with the West Coast at work here. The blank, white backgrounds on these panels, serial as in the mode of cartoons, reinforce the cartoon sensibility, but the lack of captions denotes a tacit understanding between her subjects, a secret world we can observe but never really penetrate or decipher. There is also a tension between the humorous aspects of her works and the competitiveness and violence exhibited by the characters that disfigures them to the point that they’re at times rendered into abstract figures, instituting the painterly gesture as one of violence and disruption to the subject. Her work is a striking demonstration of the power that painting can possess. The first recipient of the Catherine Doctorow Prize for Contemporary Painting, Kim Schoenstadt, exhibited works using the visual language of architecture. The prize was established in 2011 by the The Jarvis & Constance Doctorow Family Foundation at UMOCA, and has become a major part of the museum’s commitment to showing innovative and challenging works of art. (Brian Staker)
Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, 20 S. West Temple, 801-328-4201, through Jan. 4., free.

Wasatch Theatre Company: Road Show
For a production with a 15-year history, Stephen Sondheim’s Road Show isn’t exactly the household name that many of the composer’s other shows are. That’s because it has evolved through multiple names and incarnations—from Wise Guys to Bounce to Road Show—since it debuted in New York in 1999. But they’ve all followed the story of the Mizner brothers—Addison and Wilson—told in flashback after Addison’s death. In the late 1890s, the two brothers head north from California for the Yukon gold rush, but approach their opportunity for wealth from very different perspectives—Addison working relentlessly, Wilson diving into gambling and shady deals—as their respective quests for success take them across North America over the course of several years. Wasatch Theatre Company’s production gives the sibling dynamic even more energy by casting real-life brothers Cameron and Quinn Kapetanov as Addison and Wilson. (Scott Renshaw)
The Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, Jan. 3-18, 8 p.m., 2 p.m. matinees Jan. 4, 11 & 18, $15.


Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

From the dispiriting depths of a 1-14 start full of injured players, the Utah Jazz have become an almost respectable team, as young franchise cornerstones Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward have, at various times, showed flashes of super-stardom potential. The last loss before that upturn, coinciding with Burke’s addition to the starting lineup: a 95-73 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, one of the top teams in the Western Conference. This week, the Jazz get a chance for some home payback, and to discover just how far they’re progressing as the season moves toward the halfway mark. Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and company come to town with a series of impressive victories under their belts. Are the Jazz becoming the kind of team that can give the top dogs in the NBA a real fight? This early in 2014, we might get a glimpse at the future. (Scott Renshaw)
EnergySolutions Arena, 301 W. South Temple, 801-325-7327, Jan. 7, 7 p.m., $7.75-$256.