Urban Arts Gallery: May the Fourth Be With You
Get your eye rolls out of the way: The concept might be based on a groan-worthy pun, but May 4 has still become Star Wars Day for millions of fans. For the fifth year, Urban Arts Gallery looks to the galaxy far, far away—and other pop-culture figures—as inspiration for an annual exhibition.
More than 100 artists submitted work—according to the gallery's assistant manager, Lisa Greenhalgh—filling the walls with around 70 pieces capturing images of iconic characters like Luke Skywalker, Yoda, Admiral Ackbar and even the Tusken raiders set against the arches of southern Utah (in Tim Odland's "Welcome to Utah," detail pictured). As the saga added female protagonists like The Force Awakens' Rey and Rogue One's Jyn, additional inspiration for artists emerged—part of what has given an enduring life to the Star Wars universe, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. "Star Wars has all the classic elements of stories that everyone can relate to and love," Greenhalgh says in an email interview. "I think they've done a nice job expanding the universe and making new movies that have brought in younger audiences."
In addition to the hung artwork, the celebration features a costume contest with prizes, and special character cosplay appearances. As part of a partnership with Salt Lake Comic Con, the May 19 Gallery Stroll offers another opportunity to explore "Heroes and Villains" through art and a costume contest. The fourth is strong in them. (Scott Renshaw)
May the Fourth Be With You @ Urban Arts Gallery, 137 S. Rio Grande St., through June 4; Star Wars Day Celebration May 4, 6-9 p.m., urbanartsgallery.org
Utah Symphony: Rhapsody in Blue
The first few bars of George Gershwin's timeless Rhapsody in Blue are instantly recognizable by almost anybody who hears them—from the beautiful opening scenes of Woody Allen's Manhattan, or even vintage airline commercials. Inspired by the rhythmic sound of the train during a trip to Boston, Gershwin (pictured) originally composed Rhapsody in Blue for two pianos. The opening glissando was then tailored specifically for clarinetist Russ Gorman, giving the piece the classic sound that we recognize today. This is the title piece for the Utah Symphony's upcoming performance featuring award-winning pianist Benyamin Nuss and guest conductor Kazuki Yamada.
The evening begins with Aaron Copland's El Salón México set in an imaginary dance hall. It's Copland's "souvenir" of a trip he took to Mexico—a condensation of the time that he spent and his experiences there.
The performance concludes with Rimsky-Koraskov's Scheherezade, which is based on One Thousand and One Nights and largely considered his most popular work. Fascinated by East Asian themes, Rimsky-Koraskov incorporated them throughout his 1887 symphonic suite. The composer avoided titles for individual movements that clearly linked to specific stories, opting instead to focus on a more general theme of adventure and wonder.
A pre-concert lecture is scheduled 45 minutes prior to the performance in Abravanel Hall's First Tier Room, and is free to all ticket-holders. (Andrea Wall)
Utah Symphony: Rhapsody in Blue@ Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, 801-533-6683, May 5-6, 7:30 p.m., $15-$82, utahsymphony.org
Pioneer Theatre Co.: The Will Rogers Follies
At the end of Will Rogers' life in 1935, he had thrice traveled the globe, was a theater and film star and was a famed humorist and columnist. But like many entertainment greats, his fame slowly faded out of public memory.
With its upcoming run of the Tony Award-winning The Will Rogers Follies: A Life in Revue, Pioneer Theater Co. ushers Rogers back into the limelight. This large production introduces Utahns to the man's life and wit. It also places his well-documented love of humanity center-stage, turning his famous sayings like, "I never met a man I didn't like" into centerpiece songs.
Chryssie Whitehead, who plays Ziegfeld's Favorite and performed in a previous production 15 years ago, says it's a testament to Rogers' persona that the show is still being performed 26 years after its debut. "It was a pretty beautiful idea to make a show about him because he was so well-loved back in the day," she says. "You fall in love with him all over again in this time, in every time period."
The production also taps into the over-the-top theatricality that made the Ziegfeld Follies popular in the early 20th century. The production's costume designer, Patrick Holt, says this show is perfect for those who are unfamiliar with classic musicals and might want a crash course in the genre. "It has all the elements you would expect from this sort of Broadway-style production: Big dance numbers, beautiful ballads and lots of theatricality," he says. (Kylee Ehmann)
The Will Rogers Follies: A Life in Revue @ Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 S. 1400 East, 801-581-6961, May 5-20, Monday-Thursday, 7 p.m.; Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 2 p.m., $40-$62, pioneertheatre.org
Val Kilmer Presents Cinema Twain
When I was younger, I would have thought that Val Kilmer's decision to write, direct, produce and star in a one-man play about American author Mark Twain had "mid-life crisis" written all over it. Now that I'm a bit closer to my own mid-life crisis, I don't think it's necessarily fair to throw around a stigma like that. I mean, it's not like Hollywood is going to greenlight a period piece about Mark Twain and his love/hate relationship with Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Christian Science movement. You want something like that done, then by damn, you do it yourself.
Spurred by the seven years of research that he invested in a film that wouldn't get made, Kilmer created Citizen Twain, a 90-minute character study in which he immerses himself in the persona of Mark Twain. His stop in Salt Lake City is part of "Cinema Twain," a nationwide tour that includes a screening of Kilmer's original play, followed by a Q&A session.
Kilmer's choice to screen his play primarily at comedy clubs should give you a bit of an idea as to what to expect from this exercise in historical performance art. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Kilmer referred to Twain as one of the earliest stand-up comedians. Let's also not forget the part about how attendees can hang out with Val Kilmer while watching Val Kilmer play Mark Twain—and special VIP meet-and-greet opportunities are available. (Alex Springer)
Val Kilmer Presents Cinema Twain @ Wiseguys SLC, 194 S. 400 West, 801-532-5233, May 8, 7:30 p.m., $30, wiseguyscomedy.com