- Gavan Nelson
Pinnacle Acting Co.: Mauritius
Let's start by making an admission: Who knew that stamp collecting could be so dramatic that it would inspire a play flush with twists and turns? After all, the hobby might seem humdrum to anyone other than an avid enthusiast. Apparently, there's more to philately, the collection and study of postage stamps, than meets the eye.
Playwright Theresa Rebeck's Mauritius creates a provocative premise through a compelling combination of passion, purpose and intrigue. A deft blend of comedy and drama, it centers on two sisters, Jackie and Mary, who face off with one another after inheriting a stamp collection that's worth a small fortune. The play's title refers to the 1947 Mauritius Post Office collection which, we're told, is among the rarest group of stamps ever issued. Again ... who knew?
Produced by Pinnacle Acting Co., a theater ensemble known for their innovative offerings, Mauritius is directed by the company's co-artistic director Jared Larkin. "In talking about this show, we've been saying, 'Who would have thought a play about stamps would be so intriguing?'" Larkin says via email. "I love how this play shows us how dramatic literature can be engaging without requiring these extreme situations—that something that could seem as banal as stamps really can be intriguing, and that's because the play, at its heart, is really about relationships and our desire to advance ourselves in life."
The lesson is, you either lick all who oppose you, or find yourself forever stamped a loser. (Lee Zimmerman)
Pinnacle Acting Co.: Mauritius @ Jewett Center for the Performing Arts, Dumke Black Box Theatre, 1250 E. 1700 South, 801-810-5793, Jan. 2-18, dates and times vary, $18, pinnacleactingcompany.org
- Ryan West
When it comes to comedy, Erica Rhodes has a long list of references that'll show you she's got laughs on deck. Although she was not always drawn to comedy, she explains via email, "I did start in comedy when I was 10 years old on the radio show A Prairie Home Companion. But I didn't know I was funny until many years later. For a while, I wanted to be a serious actress, but my voice has always been naturally comedic, so I was funny by accident for most of my life. Finally, later in my life, I learned to embrace it more."
Through the years, she has only become more successful. Popular comic Jeff Foxworthy gave Rhodes his stamp of approval by describing her as the best-defined comic voice on the comedy competition show Bring the Funny. Rhodes has dabbled in TV and film, acting in flicks such as Plague Town, Play Nice and Big Sky. Her first comedy album, Sad Lemon, reached No. 1 on iTunes. Rhodes' comedic topics include break-ups, growing older and failed life expectations.
"I love when I feel completely connected and in the moment and the laughter is contagious and it feels like I actually have the capacity to spread joy to people," Rhodes says. "That feels like a really powerful force when it happens." Enjoy relatable laughs with Erica three different nights this week at Wiseguys venues along the Wasatch Front. (Kara Rhodes)
Erica Rhodes @ Wiseguys SLC, 194 S. 400 West, Jan. 2, 7:30 p.m., 801-532-5233; Wiseguys West Jordan, 3763 W. Center Park Drive, West Jordan, 801-463-2909, Jan. 3-4, 8 p.m., $15, 21+, wiseguyscomedy.com
- Renee Huang
Utah Symphony: Debussy's La Mer
The new year will be noteworthy in the world of classical music for the celebration of Ludwig van Beethoven's 250th birthday. To celebrate Beethoven, the very first piece the Utah Symphony will play in 2020 is Beethoven's Leonore Overture No. 3. On the podium is associate conductor Conner Gray Covington, who makes his debut in the Masterworks Series.
The second piece features Kathryn Eberle (pictured) as soloist for Edgar Meyer's violin concerto. Besides being a virtuoso violinist who performs throughout Utah, Eberle is also the orchestra's associate concertmaster, and was also recently appointed concertmaster of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. The evening continues with a Utah premiere performance of Arlene Sierra's Moler. The composition was originally commissioned by the Seattle Symphony and was nominated for a Latin Grammy.
The headline piece is La Mer by Claude Debussy. The three movement symphonic sketch took Debussy two years to compose and premiered in Paris in 1905. It later received enthusiastic responses in America and Great Britain and has since become one of his most performed and admired compositions. The work evokes the tides and movements of the ocean.
The solo performance by Eberle is the first of multiple appearances by female artists in January. Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard will sing highlights from Mozart's catalog in performances Jan. 9-11. Violinist Karen Gomyo will perform Tchaikovsky's violin concerto in concerts on Jan. 30-31 and Feb. 1. (Geoff Griffin)
Utah Symphony: Debussy's La Mer @ Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, 801-533-6683, Jan. 3-4, 7:30 p.m., $10-$92, utahsymphony.org
- Sharon Kain
Repertory Dance Theatre: Emerge
Gliding the New Year in with grace, Emerge presents the fourth annual showcase featuring custom choreography by dancers and staff of Repertory Dance Theatre (RDT). The show presents nine pieces by six dancers and two staff members, including artistic associate and development director Nicholas Cendese.
"Emerge is a unique concert because regular patrons and audience members get to see dancers in a new light," Cendese says. "Rather than just performing on stage, they also get to call the shots and direct the work."
Applying knowledge gained from experiences with the company, the dancers and choreographers offer incomparable individual presentations. Each typically begins with an idea or theme, and using a variety of music and movements, comes up with their own magic formula for interpreting the art of dance.
"My creative process is one of spontaneous creation and development," Cendese adds. "In collaborating with the dancers, I am able to develop movement ideas, patterns, duets, trios, etc., that will then be structured into a larger dance work."
While going into opening night can cause expected nerves and anticipation, the chance to demonstrate distinctive choreography skills is one a dancer cannot pass up. "I enjoy stepping back from the work and looking at it through the fresh eyes of an audience," Cendese says. "It's always a joy to see a work you've created out of your own hands and in the hands of amazing performers who bring all your hard work to life." (Colette A. Finney)
RDT: Emerge @ Rose Wagner Black Box Theatre, 138 W. 300 South, 801-534-1000, Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 4, 2 & 7:30 p.m., $12-$15, rdtutah.org