- Kenny Wehn
Soldier Hollow Bike Festival
The Soldier Hollow Bike Festival invites riders of any skill level and age to compete in time trial, track, cross-country and marathon races. Racers must register in advance, although only Union Cycliste Internationale racers must qualify for the competition. Summit Bike Club Executive Director M.J. Turner calls the event "one of the top ranked races in North America." Spectators attend for free, and vendors such as Cannondale and Kodiak Cakes exhibit products and allow attendees to test and buy gear.
The event kicks off on Thursday with professional and amateur time trials throughout the day. During the evening, make your way to the Wasatch Trails Foundation Extravaganza and meet those responsible for building and sustaining Heber Valley's trail system. The short track races on day two test cyclists' sprint and strategy capabilities. Next, competitors navigate difficult terrain for the cross-country event. USA Cycling CEO Rob Demartini speaks at a May 4 banquet. And the festival's first-ever marathon will be run on the final day, May 5.
The Soldier Hollow venue, home to the Nordic events of the 2002 Olympics, features views of green, rolling hills set against a backdrop of snowcapped mountains. Those arriving from out of town—or wanting to set up shop close to the festivities—can visit the website for hotel bookings and campground reservations. Event planners also urge community members to sign up to volunteer. (Colby Russo)
Soldier Hollow Bike Festival @ Soldier Hollow, 2002 Soldier Hollow Lane, Midway, May 2, 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; May 3, 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; May 4, 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; May 5, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., $25-$310 registration; free for spectators, sohobikefest.com
- Robert Holman
Pygmalion Theatre Co.: Sweetheart Come
People and politics are a combustible combination, often forcing those involved to take stock of the unforeseen costs and their own guarded reputations. In Pygmalion Productions' world premiere of Sweetheart Come—written by Utah playwright Melissa Leilani Larson, a semifinalist at the 2016 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference—central character Emma Hauck finds her husband's political ambitions lead to unsettling consequences for their marriage. Seeking a solution, she puts pencil to paper and forms a friendship with one of the couple's newly hired domestic servants, then becomes increasingly entangled in a new web of reality as marriage, stability and despair become intertwined.
"Sweetheart Come plays with expectations, and keeps making me think about what I am seeing," director Mark Fossen says via email. "Pygmalion Productions creates performances that share the human experience through the eyes of women. Melissa has crafted a roller coaster of a play, where a woman's complex experience is centered—but not defined—by her relationships with men."
It's a fascinating character study, all the more insightful given the actual challenges that often befall the families of those who run for office. Problems and pitfalls loom as the candidacy takes its toll. "This play is the full package I look for," Fossen adds. "Exciting, surprising, funny, visually fascinating, and ultimately a show that will prompt long conversations between you and the friends you see it with." (Lee Zimmerman)
Pygmalion Theatre Co.: Sweetheart Come @ Rose Wagner Black Box Theatre, 138 W. 300 South, May 3-18, Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays & May 18, 2 p.m., $15-$20, artsaltlake.org
- Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Napoleon Dynamite: 15th Anniversary Celebration
Technically speaking, Napoleon Dynamite is celebrating the 15th anniversary of its release. But the story of this oddball comedy actually begins with a 9-minute short called Peluca, which premiered at the 2003 Slamdance Film Festival and first introduced audiences to a curly-haired character played by Jon Heder—originally named Seth.
"The first footage I saw was this super-grainy black-and-white," says Jeremy Coon, a BYU classmate of director Jared Hess who served as editor on Peluca and Napoleon Dynamite. "My first reaction was confused, but after screening [Peluca], it was obvious audiences really responded to Jon and that character."
They responded strongly enough to inspire the feature, which emerged from the 2004 Sundance Film Festival to become a surprise hit. Utah Film Center's anniversary celebration presents a screening followed by a Q&A reuniting Hess, Coon and cast members Heder, Efren Ramirez, Tina Majorino, Jon Gries and Aaron Ruell.
It was no sure thing that the quirky comedy about a misfit Idaho high-school student would become a "Vote for Pedro" T-shirt-inspiring pop-culture phenomenon. But Coon recalls knowing that they were on to something at Napoleon's first Sundance screening, during the climactic scene of Napoleon's dance performance at a school assembly. "I was super nervous," Coon says. "Those are all Jon's moves, but it's not like we had a choreographed dance. But when it played, then the crowd in the movie cheers, then the people in the theater are cheering as well, Jared turned around to me and said, 'Dude, we got it.'" (Scott Renshaw)
Napoleon Dynamite: 15th Anniversary @ East High School, 840 S. 1300 East, May 3, 5:30 p.m. VIP photo ops, 7:30 p.m. film screening, 9 p.m. Q&A, $50-$150, utahfilmcenter.org
- Kathleen Sykes
Utah Opera: Norma
If an opera company's usual venue is closed for renovations, one approach would be to simply end the season and tell everybody to come back after the renovations are completed. Or, you could take the show on the road and try something different.
In this "when life gives you lemons..." scenario, Utah Opera chose the latter option. While the Capitol Theatre is under scaffolding, Utah Opera moves a couple of blocks north and takes over Abravanel Hall for a "semi-staged" concert version of Bellini's Norma, with the Utah Symphony providing the accompaniment.
Despite not having a full stage or sets, many of the usual pieces of the puzzle that make opera a thrilling visual spectacle are still present. Fashion designer Bradon McDonald, a former finalist on Project Runway, worked with the company's production team to create a variety of costumes, including a show-stopping gown for the lead character. Behind McDonald's couture pieces are image and video projections by Greg Emetaz that evoke the setting of the ancient city of Gaul.
Marjorie Owens makes her Utah Opera debut in the title role, generally considered to be one of the most difficult roles for a soprano. All-time greats like Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland have tackled it, and Owens is excited for her turn. "One thing I love about this character is that she's the one in charge of her own life," Owens says. "She's not a victim of circumstance." And neither is Utah Opera in turning a difficult circumstance into an interesting opportunity. (Geoff Griffin)
Utah Opera: Norma @ Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, 801-355-2787, May 4, 7:30 p.m.; May 6, 7 p.m., $15-$108, utahopera.org