- A.J. Mellor
Christmas in Color
Christmas in Color offers a light show for the Christmas-lover who can't stand the cold. For the fourth year in a row, visitors can glide past singing snowmen, travel through light tunnels, and see dancing lights from the comfort and warmth of their car at displays in Salt Lake and Utah counties.
Todd Glover, representative for Christmas in Color, says their show is unlike any other light display in the state. "The magic of what we do is that we really bring lights to life," Glover says. "Seeing little kids smile as they wonder how these lights are dancing to their favorite Christmas songs, it's amazing."
Visitors to Christmas in Color drive through 1.5 million lights, animated and timed to holiday music that plays through your car's radio. New this year are the more than 1,000 "shooting star" twinkling strobe lights dangling over cars passing through.
And those who visit the show from Tuesday through Thursday can give back to their local communities. Up to 25 percent of proceeds on these days goes back to local schools to use how they see fit. Glover says that Christmas in Color will also be fundraising for Camp Kostopulos, a day camp for children and adults with disabilities.
Tickets can be purchased on-site. However, Glover says purchasing online ensures you a spot, as each display can only accommodate around 1,500 cars, trucks or vans per night. (Kylee Ehmann)
Christmas in Color @ Utah Lake State Park, 4400 W. Center St.; Salt Lake County Equestrian Park, 11161 S. 2200 West, South Jordan, through Dec. 24 & Dec. 26-31, Monday-Thursday, 5:30-10 p.m. & Friday & Saturday 5:30-10:30 p.m., $25-$30, christmasincolor.net
A Christmas Carol on the Air
Soak in the 1840s and the 1930s all at once with the Neil Simon Festival's adaptation of the holiday classic A Christmas Carol. Characters include Scrooge (actor Clarence Gilyard) and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet-To-Come, of course—but there is, simultaneously, a traveling radio theater company, the members of which are attempting to turn the story of Scrooge into a radio show. "You get to see all their machinations as they're getting ready to perform," Richard Bugg, founder and executive director of the Neil Simon Festival, says. The play highlights the conflicts of a miserly man confronted with his misdeeds as well as the day-to-day conflicts of the on-stage radio show cast.
The production was created by lyricist Peter Sham and composer Brad Carroll in 2005. It debuted at the Utah Shakespeare Festival and now finds its home at the Neil Simon Festival, an organization in its 17th season. Bugg says the festival is the only one in the world devoted to the celebrated American playwright.
The play includes original Christmas songs and custom-composed commercials. "You can call it a musical in some ways," Bugg says. "There's lots of audience interaction. It's really a wonderful family show for the holidays." A trio of girls called the Carolettes whip out harmonized melodies for real-life sponsors—Sham and Carroll write new tunes when a new sponsor comes on board. St. George's The Spectrum calls it "marvelously entertaining," so venture down to the warmer regions of Cedar City this holiday season for a new take on something old. (Naomi Clegg)
A Christmas Carol on the Air @ Heritage Center Theater, 150 N. 100 East, Cedar City, Dec. 20-22, 7:30 p.m., $10-15, simonfest.org
- Samantha Kofford
This Bird of Dawning
In a place like Salt Lake City, the winter holidays—with their traditional, potentially rather dominating Christian rituals—evoke a wide range of emotions. Javen Tanner of Sting & Honey Co. has, for the past 10 years, directed a production that includes those rituals—but perhaps not in the way most would expect.
Through music, poetry and mask, This Bird of Dawning tells the Christmas story. More than that, though, it tells the story of the ritual surrounding that story. Tanner says, "One of the most gratifying things about the show, for me, is that it has connected [with] both Christians and non-Christians. The piece does not preach, but it unabashedly digs deep into the ritual of the story."
In addition to directing This Bird of Dawning, Tanner is also its creator, first presenting the production in Manhattan before co-forming Sting & Honey in Salt Lake City. Elements of the show have changed over the course of its 10 years. Certain poems have been swapped out and the performers—all Tanner's students—have rotated through. What has remained, though, is the ritual of it, an approach that sets this production apart. Through its blank-masked performers and reverent atmosphere, ritual is foregrounded. "Though the piece is quiet, the ritual endows it with a kind of wildness you rarely get from contemporary theater," he says. "In that respect, I think of This Bird of Dawning as an act of heresy against the humdrum hegemony of the theatrical establishment. I think Jesus would like it. I think Dionysus would, too." (Casey Koldewyn)
Sting & Honey Co.: This Bird of Dawning @ Regent Street Black Box, 131 S. Main, Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 22, 2 & 7:30 p.m., $10-$15, artsaltlake.org
- Jerry Hymer Photography
Darci Lynne and Friends Live
So who doesn't love a precocious 13-year-old, especially at Christmas? OK, let's not all raise our hands at once. While most parents would point to the ever-so-cheery Darci Lynne as an ideal example of youthful exuberance and premature ambition, we'd guess there are some who grumble and ask, "Why can't my kid show the same initiative? And maybe make a heap of money and support mom and dad for a change?"
In most cases, that amounts to wishful thinking. Lynne is extraordinarily talented—a singer, ventriloquist and one of the youngest competitors to ever achieve top honors on America's Got Talent, culling over 21 million hits on YouTube and tallying more votes for a final performance than ever before in the show's history. Naturally then, with her bubbly personality, adorable attitude, and a bunch of playful puppets that suggest what might happen if Jeff Dunham encouraged his devilish dummies to ransack Sesame Street, she sells out everywhere. The kids love her as one of their own. Their parents, at least those who are bemused and not bitter, see her as a positive and perky role model their children can look up to.
After making the rounds of the TV show circuit courtesy of appearances on Ellen, Today and NBC's Little Big Shots, Lynne's making her own parents proud on her current holiday tour, "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." And while her puppet Petunia, a diva-esque rabbit in the Muppets mold, insisted "I don't want to show off" during a song sung as part of their winning performance on America's Got Talent, we suspect Lynne can't help but try. (Lee Zimmerman)
Darci Lynne and Friends Live @ Eccles Theater, 131 S. Main, Dec. 22, 7 p.m., $29.75-$99.75 VIP (includes meet-an-greet), artsaltlake.org