- Tori Duhaime
Ririe Woodbury Dance Co.: Allegory
A re-envisioned version of Ririe-Woodbury Dance Co.'s popular 2019 The Live Creature & Ethereal Things returns to Capitol Theatre to ask audiences, "If you could tell a story and share it with the entire world, what story would you tell?" A group of dancing, prancing human-sized birds, known as the "Jolly Troop," navigates viewers through the process of answering such questions.
The work by artictic director Daniel Charon not only showcases the talent of Ririe Woodbury Dance Co., but expands the cast to include members of Utah Valley University's Department of Dance to fill the stage. This year's production also features guest artist Tito Vilas, who furthers the compay's efforts to be more inclusive with Spanish-language storytelling during the performance, while otherworldly storybook projections designed by Nicolas Ridruejo provide another grand addition.
This fascinating theatrical adventure is being produced in conjunction with Alexandra Harbold and Robert Scott Smith of Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory, and features an original score by John Paul Hayward with text and lyrics by playwright Troy Deutsch. The larger-than-life excitement can be seen for two evening performances (recommended for children 8 and up) plus one family matinee (of the shortened one-hour version). Both full-length performances tell the new tale in Spanish and English. Come and see the whimsical story they're ready to share with local audiences. (Kara Rhodes)
Ririe Woodbury Dance Co.: Allegory @ Capitol Theatre, Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 50 W. 200 South, $8-$35, all ages, 7:30 p.m., 801-355-2787, ririewoodbury.com
- Joey Carman
It's fair to say that Howie Mandel is a multi-faceted performer—actor, entertainer, voice-over talent, and a fixture on any number of TV competition and game shows. First and foremost, he's a funnyman—a comedian with a ready wit and Everyman sensibility. Whether he's the wacky prankster who once put a latex glove over his head while squealing incomprehensibly as the insurgent intern Dr. Wayne Fiscus on the medical drama St. Elsewhere, or the voice of Bobby on the animated series Bobby's World, he always makes an indelible impression.
Indeed, the Canadian-born comedian has come quite a way from his early days when he was a staple at LA's Comedy Store. Mainstream recognition arrived with the syndicated comedy game show Make Me Laugh, and then a stint as a veejay on Nickelodeon. He staked his claim to television early on, courtesy of a weekly sitcom called Howie, the Showtime series Howie Mandel's Sunny Skies and an ongoing hidden camera segment he fronted while on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. But contemporary audiences likely know him best from his hosting stint on the original Deal or No Deal—later revived on CNBC in 2018—and on America's Got Talent, where he's now the longest-tenured judge on the panel.
In addition, his 2009 memoir Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me—details his struggles with OCD and ADHAD and added "author" to his list of credits. Join him this week for his distinctive brand of comedic storytelling. (Lee Zimmerman)
Howie Mandel @ Dejoria Center, 970 N. State Road 32, Kamas, Jan. 31, 8 p.m., $59-$125, 801-467-8499, dejoriacenter.com
- Guangdong Dance Company
Guangdong Modern Dance Co.: Beyond Calligraphy
Noteworthy as the first touring modern dance ensemble to sprout out of mainland China in 1992, the Guangdong Modern Dance Co. is ready to present its refined composition Beyond Calligraphy to Utah's audiences. The art of Chinese calligraphy bears many similarities to the art of dance, incorporating thoughtful movement, graceful lines and a flair for design.
Choreographed by Liu Qi and expanded from his own original 2005 shorter piece Upon Calligraphy, the work, which has been performed around the world more than 100 times, incorporates five odes in dance form. These individual segments suggest the five forms of traditional Chinese calligraphy—Zuan, Li, Tsao, Hsin, and Kai—which varied in the eras of their historical development, their complexity, and the purposes for which they were used. The performance takes place during the celebration of the Chinese New Year, with its transition into the Year of the Rat. How apt: The rat is often characterized by qualities of peace and contentment—a welcome shift from the din of a contemporary society that relies on a sustained, rapid-fire stream of information.
The flowing costumes, lighting that hugs the body and a score that doesn't always rely on the typical sounds of Chinese music fold into an unhurried spectacle. Beyond Calligraphy satisfies the quest for inner calm by crafting a reminder to find comfort in an anachronism in the digital age: the way we control ink on the paper. (Miacel Spotted Elk)
Guangdong Modern Dance Co.: Beyond Calligraphy @ Kingsbury Hall, 1395 Presidents Circle, 801-581-7100, Feb. 4, 7 p.m., $5-$10, tickets.utah.edu
- Joshua Black
Salt Lake Acting Co.: A Doll's House, Part 2
Stacey Jenson, lead actress in A Doll's House, Part 2 put on by Salt Lake Acting Co., spent 15 years in London after growing up Mormon in Utah. This is one place where she feels connected with her character, Nora Helmer.
For those who don't remember high school English, A Doll's House ended with Nora walking out of her home, leaving her husband and her children. Fifteen years later for these characters, Part 2 begins with Nora walking back in.
"I had to move away from Utah and everyone I knew in order to learn what my interests were, what I believed about the purpose of my life, and how I wanted to experience the world," Jenson says. "I was away from Utah for 15 years—just as Nora was away for 15 years."
In that time, Nora has learned and grown. She comes back in Part 2 to see how much her family mimics the pictures she remembers and how much they have changed with time, too.
"What feels most relevant to me, are the questions of gender and divisions between gender," Jenson says. "In my opinion, the feminist movement is not so much about the gender an individual is born into, but rather those qualities associated with gender and how the qualities associated with femininity like compassion, gentleness and deep listening have been de-valued in favor of masculine qualities like being driven, strong, determined and linear." (Casey Koldewyn)
A Doll's House, Part 2 @ Salt Lake Acting Co., 168 W. 500 North, 801-363-7522, Feb. 5-March 8, $30, saltlakeactingcompany.org