THE ESSENTIAL A&E PICKS FOR DEC. 5-11 | Entertainment Picks | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Culture » Entertainment Picks


Southern Utah Dickens Festival, Pete the Cat, Sinbad, Diwali Celebration


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Southern Utah Dickens Festival

Charles Dickens' ghost story A Christmas Carol is as much of a holiday staple as decorating evergreen trees and gingerbread houses. And for those who can't get enough of this classic story, the St. George Dickens Festival offers a chance to step back into late 19th-century London just in time for Christmas.

This festival represents a crossover between your standard holiday market and a pop-culture con for fans of the works of Charles Dickens. Each of the nearly 200 vendors sell handmade and Christmas-themed goods and food in full Victorian-era clothing, operating in booths decorated to mimic the shops and streets of London in the late 1800s.

Visitors can also wander the halls to experience continuous family-friendly live entertainment such as musical acts and mini-performances of scenes from Dickens' novels. In addition to this formal entertainment, the "streets" of the festival will feature the larger than life Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future from A Christmas Carol, carolers, pickpocketing orphans and a visit from Queen Victoria herself.

Father Christmas also stops by each day of the festival. While any child is welcome to go and sit on this Santa's lap, a photo and/or a video costs $25-$65. Organizers do not allow personal cell phone and other cameras for such photos at this event. (Kylee Ehmann)
Southern Utah Dickens Festival @ Dixie Convention Center, St. George, 1835 S. Convention Center Drive, 435-668-9969, through Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., $6-$8,

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Salt Lake Acting Co.: Pete the Cat

Salt Lake Acting Co.'s now-annual kid-friendly holiday productions provide a rare place for children to experience age-appropriate material in a real professional theater setting. They also give the creative team a unique opportunity to tailor their skills to a different kind of audience.

In Pete the Cat—which takes the groovy feline from the popular book series co-created by illustrator James Dean and places him in an entirely original story, with Pete going to live with a human family—actor Jacob Weitlauf plays the title character. They note that the just-under-60-minute show presents a physical challenge—on stage for almost all of the high-energy musical production. They also must tailor their performance to younger viewers.

"Every time you're on stage, you keep the audience in mind," Weitlauf says. "The actor is there to advocate for the character. [Director Penelope Caywood's] responsibility is to be the advocate for the audience. She has worked in children's theater for quite a while, and it's a great help having her there, knowing how from a kid's perspective how they absorb material."

Weitlauf is particularly enthusiastic about their first SLAC holiday show, because it's a chance for them to give back a little of the gift they received as a kid experiencing live theater. "I got into theater as a young child after seeing a performance of a piece of children's theater while I was in elementary school," they say. "It's cool to know that I have the opportunity to inspire young potential artists." (Scott Renshaw)
Pete the Cat @ Salt Lake Acting Co., 168 W. 500 North, Dec. 6-30, dates and times vary, $16-$26,

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Sinbad is what you would call an "old school" comedian. He doesn't rely on profanity, he eschews controversy and he's mostly family-friendly. And taking a stage name from a mythological character is even older-school.

Back in the 1980s and '90s, the now 63-year-old entertainer formerly known as David Adkins was seemingly everywhere, starring in films (Necessary Roughness, Jingle All the Way, Houseguest), on HBO comedy specials, and in television appearances ranging from sitcoms (A Different World, The Sinbad Show) to variety programs (It's Showtime at the Apollo, Soul Train, Celebrity Jeopardy!) to those dreaded reality shows. Add to that a book of essays (modestly titled Sinbad's Guide to Life: Because I Know Everything), a professional association with Apple and a budding music career.

He was even considered a role model of sorts. He once told a reporter, "Black men are already responsible; [we] already take care of our duties, but nobody emphasizes that. I hear all this bad talk against men and their children. I just got so tired of it." Not surprisingly, his wholesome approach garnered him an NAACP Image Award, a Kid's Choice Award nomination and inclusion in Comedy Central's list of the Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time.

Nevertheless, Sinbad has been out of the spotlight for several years now, his absence due to a combination of factors—medical issues, financial struggles and the whims of a fickle entertainment industry. So whether we call this tour a comeback or simply the next chapter of his career, we're happy he's still sailing smoothly with his stand-up. (Lee Zimmerman)
Sinbad @ Wiseguys SLC, 194 S. 400 West, Dec. 6-7, 7 & 9:30 p.m., $25,

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Diwali Celebration

While it's all too natural this time of year to focus solely on Judeo-Christian celebrations like Christmas and Hanukkah, it's also important to remember that other cultures in the community celebrate their own festivities as well. Diwali, for instance, is a five-day celebration that's among the holiest of holidays in India, Nepal and other nations with Buddhist and Hindu populations. Taken from the Sanskrit word meaning "row or series of lights," it's marked by lighting lamps, lanterns and candles that represent the eternal glow that accompanies knowledge and wisdom.

The timing of Diwali is very specific as well. It begins after the conclusion of the summer harvest and ends with the new moon, traditionally the darkest days of the Hindu calendar. The main Diwali observation occurs on the third day of the festivities, and is designated as the official holiday.

As in years past, Salt Lake City's Main Library hosts the local observation, offering locals a perfect opportunity to experience a tradition that dates back several centuries. Sponsored by the Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple of Utah, the India Cultural Center of Utah, Rajas and Shreyas Kamat, Guru and Renu Bandiatmakur and First Utah Bank, the event features music, dance, snacks and the ceremonial lighting of the lamps known as diyas (pictured).

While it's all too easy to get caught up in commercialism, and to succumb to holiday happenstance, it's also nice to reflect on sacred seasonal sacraments. Light one up—a diya, that is—and give in to the meditative mood. (LZ)
Diwali Celebration @ Main Library, 210 E. 400 South, Dec. 7, 2-5 p.m., free,