THE ESSENTIAL A&E PICKS FOR JAN. 9-15 | Entertainment Picks | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Culture » Entertainment Picks


Rachel Feinstein, Pioneer Theatre Co.: Mary Stuart, Sesame Street Live!: Make Your Dream, David Brooks


  • Comedy Zone Worldwide

Rachel Feinstein
Self-effacing and unapologetically irreverent, Rachel Feinstein's blend of sarcasm and cynicism has made her one of the most entertaining comediennes on the stand-up circuit. Her commentaries on sex, marriage and the absurdities of modern life often find her mimicking an unlikely assortment of characters, from her mother and grandmother, to her husband, a heckler and an unhinged driver who once picked her up at the airport.

Despite her bizarre observations, Feinstein has made it in the mainstream, courtesy of three Comedy Central specials, the Amazon series Red Oaks, Judd Apatow's HBO comedy Crashing, an ongoing guest hosting spot on The View, extensive film credits, late night appearances and Grand Theft Auto video game cameos. She made a big splash initially when she was a finalist on Last Comic Standing, and subsequently teamed with pal—and later maid of honor—Amy Schumer via multiple appearances on the latter's series of comedy specials Inside Amy Schumer.

These days, the two are still tight. Imaginative minds think alike, after all. In fact, Feinstein credits Schumer for extricating her from an embarrassing situation that occurred after Feinstein mistakenly sent a dirty picture of herself to an unintended recipient—a man who was married with kids, no less—making for what she describes as the most humiliating moment of her life. Schumer stepped in and sexted the guy herself, hoping to take the heat off her friend. Frankly, we're not sure how that helped, but we can imagine that the unintended target of their attention felt mighty special. (Lee Zimmerman)

Rachel Feinstein @ Wiseguys SLC, 194 S. 400 West, 801-532-5233, Jan. 9, 7 p.m.; Jan. 10–11, 7 & 9:30 p.m., $15,

  • Courtesy Pioneer Theatre co.

Pioneer Theatre Co.: Mary Stuart
Today's political environment is exhausting. The sustained fast-paced chaos takes the fun out of debate. Why watch the yet-to-boil kettle of today's Cheeto impeached—I'm sorry, Cheeto-in-Chief—when you can catch up with political intrigue already concluded. So much less stress; so much more entertainment.

This aforementioned intrigue comes in the form of Mary Stuart, the 2000 translation by Jean Stock Goldstone and John Reich of Friedrick Schiller's 1800 play. In simplified terms, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth I had a fraught history—one was raised in glamor while one was not, and they both thought they were the true Queen of England. Later, Elizabeth had Mary's head chopped off.

In between the differing childhoods and the head chopping, Mary and Elizabeth exchanged letters. The play depicts the relationship the two had that never moved past the written word. The intrigue! The scandal! The lack of present-day human death as a result of any of it!

Karen Azenberg, artistic director for Pioneer Theatre Co., says, "I always like to include a history play in our season, and the battle of two strong women as depicted in Mary Stuartwas an easy choice to make."

The play is still relevant without directly referencing contemporary chaos. "Additionally, there are religious and political themes that resonate even today—making this 'history' another example of 'those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it,'" Azenberg concludes. (Casey Koldewyn)

Pioneer Theatre Co.: Mary Stuart @ Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 S. 1400 East, 801-581-6961, Jan. 10-25, Mondays-Thursdays, 7 p.m.; Fridays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 7:30 p.m., $31-$40,

  • Feld Entertainment

Sesame Street Live!: Make Your Dream
In the 50 years since its launch on public television, Sesame Street has become the most iconic and influential children's program of all time, a significant force in teaching the ideals of education, mutual respect, understanding and self-confidence to generations of preschoolers throughout the world. The brainchild of the late Jim Henson, it features an intriguing, sometimes bizarre cast of characters—mostly Muppets, of course—that continue to entertain and enlighten admirers of all ages. Its wealth of awards and accolades—among them, two Peabody Awards, four Parents Choice Awards and, most recently, Kennedy Center honors—attest to its ongoing influence and appreciation.

Like its namesake show, Sesame Street's traveling troupes offer the same lessons for learning that are shared on TV. The current production, Make Your Dream, fosters the belief that if one wants to do something badly enough, nothing can get in the way. It's a magical experience that has Elmo pursuing his own dream of discovery, one which reminds us that perseverance can pay off in the end.

Still, for all the life lessons imbued in its story, Make Your Dream infuses its platitudes with songs, dance and visual variety. With a cast of characters that includes Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Grover, Rosita, Count von Count and Gonger, it's a colorful extravaganza capable of providing entertainment for everyone in the audience. Indeed, this is more than mere kid's stuff. Even adults can't resist a little tickle from Elmo. (LZ)

Sesame Street Live!: Make Your Dream @ Vivint Smart Home Arena, 301 W. South Temple, 801-325-2000, Jan. 11, 2 & 5:30 p.m.; Jan. 12, 10:30 a.m. & 2 p.m., $15-$30,

  • Howard Schatz


David Brooks
David Brooks uses his soapbox in a variety of media outlets to promote the idea that, across the political spectrum, there's more that unites us than divides us. Whether it's writing op-ed columns in The New York Times, appearing as a commentator on PBS Newshour, opining on National Public Radio's All Things Considered or debating on NBC's Meet the Press, Brooks has a central thesis that we are stronger when we unite to move America forward.

In other words, he's a lone prophet crying in the wilderness as a hopelessly divided America heads into the 2020 election. Nevertheless, everyone from the most woke progressive to the most unpersuadable Trump supporter might want to take notice of Brooks' arguments that American renewal will need to come as a result of communities coming together while putting extremism aside.

Brooks appears at Weber State University to talk about the latest of his five books, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life. In his book, Brooks theorizes that many people, having climbed life's first mountain of achieving career and personal success, look at the view from the top and decide there must be more to life. That's when they start climbing the second mountain and move from being self-centered to other-centered.

To get to the top of the second mountain requires commitment to family, vocation, faith and community. You might think Brooks is being naïve during this impeachment-saturated moment in American history, but his arguments are worth considering, no matter how you plan to vote next November. (Geoff Griffin)

Browning Presents: David Brooks @ Val A. Browning Center, 1901 University Circle, Weber State University, Ogden, 801-626-7000, Jan. 14, 7:30 p.m., $8-$50,