- Jenny Flynn
Good Company Theatre: Sphere: In Between
Since 2012, Ogden's Good Company Theatre has been serving up provocative, entertaining plays that make it clear you can never be certain what to expect from them. As of their first production of the new year, you can't even necessarily expect a play.
Fulfilling a long-standing desire of Good Company co-founders Alicia and Camille Washington—"Contemporary dance may be new to Good Company Theatre but we have been discussing it internally for years," Alicia says in a news release—the theater this week hosts the dance presentation Sphere: In Between. The show marks the second Sphere collaboration between Natosha Washington's The Penguin Lady Dance Collective, Jo Blake's joBdance and Laja Field & Martin Durov's LajaMartin, following a show at the Rose Wagner Center in December. In Between features existing choreography from the three participants, re-imagined for the intimate Good Company space in a way that makes it particularly suited for the venue's up-close-and-personal audience experience.
According to Camille Washington, the pieces are thematically linked in the sense that they "aim to explore the rawness and emotionality of the human experience through dance in their own ways." She also believes that while dance is a new direction for Good Company, this performance keeps with the company's mission. "The Sphere collaboration is ideal because each of these choreographers/collaboratives is interested in site-specific performance that renegotiates the connection between performers and audiences," she says. "Good Company Theatre has been doing this since the beginning and we hope to continue working with actors, dancers and performers across disciplines who share the same interests." (Scott Renshaw)
Sphere: In Between @ Good Company Theatre, 2404 Wall Ave., Ogden, 801-917-4969, Jan. 17-18, 8 p.m., $20, goodcotheatre.com
- Jeff Roffman / Atlanta Opera
Utah Opera: Silent Night
It's hard to wage a war when you see the enemy as human. This is the core message of Utah Opera's upcoming production of Silent Night, a fictionalized retelling of the real-life 1914 "Christmas Truce." In the midst of World War I, men along the Western Front put down their weapons for a few days around Christmastime, shook hands, sang carols, played soccer with one another and buried the dead.
The opera follows the lives of soldiers of various nationalities navigating the strange truce and their struggle to resume the war afterward. Tomer Zvulun, director, says the show sends a powerful message about camaraderie and friendship.
"I find that message to be extremely positive and important to remember," Zvulun says. "Especially in the background of what we see around us in the world today. Tribalism and conflict is everywhere, and we need that message more than ever."
The opera reflects the international nature of the history of the truce, by being sung in English, German, French, Italian and Latin with English supertitles. "What isn't common for all of us [is] the language we speak or the nationality, but it's our humanity and the fact that we want to celebrate what unites us and not focus on what divides us," Zvulun says.
This is Zvulun's sixth time directing Silent Night. He cites his background as an Israeli combat medic as what keeps drawing him back to this story about soldiers holding on to their sense of self in senseless conflicts. (Kylee Ehmann)
Utah Opera: Silent Night @ Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, 801-533-6683, Jan. 18 & 24, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 20 & 22, 7 p.m.; Jan. 26, 2 p.m., $14.50-$106, utahopera.org
- Mindy Tucker
Trump vs. Bernie
As most political pundits will attest, it's far too early to predict who will be the ultimate contenders in the upcoming presidential showdown. Naturally, no one's ready to discount President Trump's chances, but with the impeachment proceedings hanging over his head, there's always the possibility—however slight—that he'll be ousted from office. On the Democratic side, the slate of candidates has yet to be narrowed down to any clear frontrunner.
That leaves the possibility that it could in fact come down to Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, two of the most unusual and outspoken individuals ever to face off, in the most critical campaign anyone might have ever imagined. Indeed, no two people could be any more different politically, though they share a similar off-the-cuff attitude and eccentricity. That's what makes Trump vs. Bernie a natural collision of comedy and calamity, something akin to what would happen if Abbott and Costello or Laurel and Hardy attempted to emulate the Kennedy-Nixon debates by emphasizing the laugh lines.
Consequently, credit the show's two stars, Anthony Atamanuik (Trump) and James Adomian (Sanders), with infusing this surreal setup with the twisted take on reality we've become all too accustomed to lately. It might in fact bea preview of what's to come if the two actually agreed to take their show on the road and go head-to-head in a series of town hall debates or debacles. When Atamanuik and Adomian previewed the possibilities with a comedy album and a feature on Fusion TV, they predicted how reality and absurdity might be morphed in sync. (Lee Zimmerman)
Trump vs. Bernie @ Wiseguys SLC, 194 S. 400 West, 801-532-5233, Jan. 19, 7 p.m., $25, wiseguyscomedy.com
- Joan Marcus
Fiddler on the Roof
Though Millennials such as myself might be inclined to prepare to write about Fiddler on the Roof by listening to Gwen Stefani's 2009 variation-on-"If I Were a Rich Man" "Rich Girl," that's just evidence of the enduring legacy the show has created since its 1964 Broadway premiere. Broadway at the Eccles brings a new touring production to town this week.
Yehezkel Lazarov—who stars as Tevye, the patriarch living in the show's turn-of-the-20th-century Russian Jewish village of Anatevka—believes that this classic can still bring inspiration to audiences in 2020. "I would love if they will come out from the show and think again about their family, about their community, about the situation outside in the world in terms of refugees and people who need to leave their homes in order to look for freedom," Lazarov says via email.
Since the notion of tradition is so central to the musical—and gives us the title of one of its most enduring songs—Lazarov hopes that the show inspires people to consider their own traditions, and "whether the traditions that they are keeping are hurting someone. ... And, of course, I would love them to come out from the show and to see the happiness, the beliefs, the prayers, the humor, the joy, the dance ... and how all those things are keeping us alive."
When asked what an audience can expect from the current production, Lazarov adds, "After 400 shows, I think I know exactly what they can expect ... Their hearts will be wide open for three hours. Laughs, tears, sunrise and sunset. Love."(Kara Rhodes)
Fiddler on the Roof @ Eccles Theater, 131 S. Main, 801-355-2787, Jan. 21-26, times and dates vary, $55-$135, broadway-at-the-eccles.com