Utah Shakespeare Festival
It's another new season of amazing theater in Southern Utah, but this one has more of a spark of the new than many others. For 2016, the Utah Shakespeare Festival christens its brand-new home, the $35-million Beverly Taylor Sorensen Center for the Arts.
The familiar outdoor venue of the Adams Theatre now gives way to the Englestad Shakespeare Theatre, in a location that will also house production facilities and Southern Utah University's Museum of Art. You can join in the gala debut of the new venue this grand opening weekend, kicking off at 10 a.m. on July 7. Enjoy live performances, food, tours of the facility, music and more as Utah Shakespeare begins the next phase of its amazing 50-plus-year history.
The facilities, of course, are only as exciting as the productions you'll see there. The 2016 Utah Shakespeare season again features a mix of the Bard's timeless stories and beloved Broadway favorites. The Shakespeare plays include the romantic comedy of Much Ado About Nothing, the history of young Prince Hal coming into his own power in Henry V (pictured), and the Roman tragedy of Julius Caesar; they're joined by a production of The Three Musketeers in the Englestad Theatre. Meanwhile, the Randall L. Jones Theatre hosts the farcical comedy of The Marx Brothers in The Cocoanuts, along with the popular Cameron Mackintosh staging of Disney's Mary Poppins. You'll want to be part of the fun. (Scott Renshaw)
Utah Shakespeare Festival @ Beverly Taylor Sorensen Center for the Arts, 195 W. Center St., Cedar City, 800-752-9849, June 27-Sept. 10, see website for individual production dates and times, $20-$73. Bard.org
Piff the Magic Dragon
There's nothing more glorious than a magician who knows he's great, yet acts like everything he's doing is a total blow-off. Penn & Teller and The Amazing Johnathan have perfected the art of the smartass magician who can amaze you while acting like it's no big deal, and the latest student of the game is Piff the Magic Dragon.
The London-born comedian started out as one of the youngest performers to join Britain's The Magic Circle, and after a few years honing his craft on stage, he created the Dragon persona—performing on stage in a trademark green dragon costume—in 2008. His two big moments of acclaim came in America when he first impressed Penn & Teller on their show Fool Us in 2011, and then in 2015 as he practically stole the show on America's Got Talent, making it to the final round before being eliminated.
Since then, he's been touring North America and the U.K. in his familiar attire, selling out shows at Radio City Music Hall, the O2 Arena and the Sydney Opera House, as well as being a regular performer at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. Along with his sidekick Mr. Piffles (a chihuahua in a tiny dragon outfit), Piff shows off his sleight-of-hand with cards and objects taken from the audience, all with quick-witted comedy splashed throughout his show. He'll be in SLC for four days, performing two shows a night, with a single performance on June 10 before he flies away to another magical gig. (Gavin Sheehan)
Piff The Magic Dragon @ Wiseguys SLC, 194 S. 400 West, 801-532-5233, July 7-10, 7 & 9:30 p.m., 21+, $25. PiffTheMagicDragon.com, WiseguysComedy.com
Bboy Federation: They Reminisce
The Bboy Federation has done an amazing job at bringing old-school street dance to the forefront of local culture. Since their incarnation seven years ago, the group has been featured at dozens of local events (you may have seen them ruling The Round stage at Utah Arts Fest in June), held competitions across the state, created a league of performers and hosted their own showcases. One of their biggest annual performances, They Reminisce, commands the Rose Wagner for two days with some of SLC's most impressive dancers.
They Reminisce is a history lesson and a mega-performance compilation wrapped into one evening. The show takes audiences on an exploration of hip-hop from its roots until today, exploring every aspect of the genre and its dance so that you have a better idea of where the culture came from and how it has evolved. Everyone who participates in the show takes on multiple disciplines from multiple decades, providing as accurate a historical depiction as they can without throwing in any modern adaptations.
This year, the Federation changes the story but keeps the spirit, telling the journey of a dance crew through a 20-year period during the '80s and '90s. The story helps the audience experience a golden age of hip hop, the media's near abandonment of the medium except its music, and the underground resurgence and revitalization, showing off the shifts in fashion and musical trends that happened along the way. It's definitely a must-attend for those who want to learn more, or simply love hip hop as a genre. (GS)
They Reminisce 2016 @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, July 8-9, 7:30 p.m., $22. BboyFed.com
The ability to transform the body, something we experience every day on an entirely routine basis, into a medium of art is a spectacular thing. Taking that one step further, and moving the performance to the heights, only adds to the spectacle.
On July 8 and 9 in the Wagner Black Box Theatre, the third annual Aerialympics promises to accomplish both. More than 70 competitors of varying skill and experience levels will be performing their routines—making use of poles and aerial silks, hammocks and hoops, among others—to showcase their above-the-ground talents. The competition is the largest of its kind in the Mountain West, and nothing can rival it anywhere else in Utah.
Friday night, since it marks the beginning of the competition, is priced the highest at $30 per person. Luckily, as long as you're willing to wake up a little earlier than you might normally on a Saturday, tickets to the 10 a.m. July 9 performances cost only $16.50 per person, almost half the Friday price.
Since competitors come from various backgrounds and skill levels, there should be enough entertainment for everyone to stay engaged. Plus, the aerial component of circuses is usually the best part anyway. With Aerialympics you can watch that segment for the entire duration without having to sit through any other typical circus acts. (Casey Koldewyn)
Aerialympics @ Rose Wagner Black Box Theatre, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, July 8, 7 p.m.; July 9, 10 a.m., $16.50-$30. ArtSaltLake.org