- Rachel Gibson
Elf the Musical
What better way to escape the hustle and bustle of the holidays than with a true Christmas classic, Elf the Musical? Once it became available for community theaters, Scera Center for the Arts in Orem jumped at the chance to produce the musical, which follows the narrative of the iconic movie. Alongside Buddy, audiences take a lively trip through "the seven levels of the candy cane forest, the sea of swirly-twirly gumdrops, and the Lincoln Tunnel" to New York City, on a quest to discover his true identity.
"It has been 16 years since the movie with Will Ferrell was released, and it will be nice to bring the joy from the film to the live stage," says April Berlin, Scera operations manager of marketing & development. "Being lighthearted with a great Christmas message, it is perfect for families."
Following Wednesday performances, ticket-holders can enjoy a post-show talkback with cast and crew on how they create the magic behind the scenes. With the complex decorated to the nines, Scera's multi-layered experience will leave viewers embracing their inner elf, eager to spread Christmas cheer. "When you come to a holiday show here, the experience extends beyond just the theater," Berlin adds. "The audience will also be able to meet and take photos with Buddy and Santa after the show."
The historic 78-year-old center embodies the true spirit of community theater, involving hundreds of volunteers and cast members to successfully pull off their stage productions. Don't be a "cotton-headed ninny-muggins," and head to Orem for this spirited show. (Colette A. Finney)
Elf the Musical @ Scera Center for the Arts, 745 S. State, Orem, 801-225-2787, Nov. 29–Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m., $12-$14, scera.org
- Blake Yelavich
Utah Repertory Theatre: American Psycho
Following its film treatment in 2000, composer Duncan Sheik and writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa turned Bret Easton Ellis' controversial 1991 novel American Psycho into a mighty musical theater extravaganza, launching it on London's West End in 2013 and giving it a Broadway bow two years later. A chilling tale of greed and obsession illuminated with irony and humor, it transports us into the darkest depths of the human psyche.
"American Psycho is a non-stop musical that feels both cinematic and theatrical," director Josh Patterson says via email. "Duncan Sheik's clever score is certain to transport the audience back to the late 1980s. Yet, for all the nostalgia packed within this bloody killing spree, audiences will find American Psycho to be startlingly relevant."
Central to the story is Patrick Bateman, a narcissistic Wall Street banker wholly absorbed with compounding his wealth and some horrific hedonistic fantasies. Although it appears to his coworkers that he's happy and stable, his insatiable desire to inflate his self-image imbues him with a startling pathologic profile.
"In Patrick Bateman's world, Donald Trump is the ideal person to be," Patterson continues. "The truth is murky, image is more important than anything else, the powerful take what they want, and the scariest part isn't even Patrick Bateman."
Notably, Utah Repertory Theatre is among the first theater companies in the U.S. to produce American Psycho after its New York run. The Dec. 7 performance includes a meet-and-greet with the cast and composer. Best to avoid the real psychos and attend this instead. (Lee Zimmerman)
Utah Repertory Theatre: American Psycho @ Regent Street Black Box at the Eccles, 144 Regent St., 385-468-1010, Nov. 30–Dec. 15, dates and times vary, $20, arttix.org
- Candlewick Publishing
Shannon Hale and Dean Hale: The Princess in Black and the Bathtime Battle
In the four years since the husband-and-wife Utah writing team of Shannon Hale and Dean Hale launched the Princess in Black series with illustrator LeUyen Pham, their heroine Princess Magnolia—who combines her love for royal frills with the spirit of a masked crime-fighter—has battled monsters at a playdate, at a science fair, and even at her own birthday party. For the seventh adventure, Magnolia finds herself in a very different place: a goat pasture.
The Hales seemingly have no shortage of scenarios for Princess Magnolia, including this new book's fight to eradicate a stubborn stench. "We always intended it to be an ongoing series," Shannon Hale says via email. "We have no trouble coming up with new ideas for this character. It's wonderful fun. I hope we get to do it for years to come!"
Bathtime Battle marks a continuation of the collaboration between the Hales and artist Pham, who also illustrated Shannon Hale's graphic novels Best Friends and Real Friends. Shannon credits Pham for the unique qualities she brings to Princess Magnolia's unique brand of energy and imagination. "It's incredibly hard to find an illustrator who can do princess dresses as easily as monsters, who can tell a story through art and also do humor," she says. "She can do everything. She's also become one of my best friends. Through the process of doing the Princess in Black series together as well as my graphic novel memoirs, we've become incredible close, and I just admire her so much as an artist and as a human." (Scott Renshaw)
Shannon Hale and Dean Hale: The Princess in Black and the Bathtime Battle @ First Baptist Church of Salt Lake City, 733 S. 1300 East, 801-484-9100, Nov. 30, 6 p.m., free, kingsenglish.com
- Allyson Chard
'Tis the season for holiday markets, festivals and looking at dazzling displays of lights in the cold. And at the upcoming Christkindlmarkt at This Is the Place Heritage Park, you can do it all in one location.
Inspired by long-running and popular Christmas street markets in Germany, Christkindlmarkt is a four-day celebration of German culture and the winter holiday spirit. More than 80 local artisans and food vendors sell everything from handmade crafts to the German pasta dish spätzle.
Allyson Chard, founding member of the festival's committee, says organizers try to ensure Christkindlmarkt is authentic to the German market experience. "We want visitors to come hungry and enjoy the amazing cultural food, along with coming prepared to do their Christmas shopping to find unique gifts," Chard says. "We also hope the market will help put the 'kind' in the greater Salt Lake community as people gather together."
Chard says the event emphasizes giving back to the community. All groups providing the festival's entertainment participate in charity work prior to the event. And more than 800 junior high and high school students undertake service projects when they visit the festival during field trips.
Each night boasts a unique form of entertainment. Wednesday brings the Live Nativity Experience (6 p.m.); Thursday features the light-studded St. Martin's Lantern Parade (6 p.m.), held in honor of a Roman-era saint who cut his coat in half to share with a beggar; Friday (6 p.m.) and Saturday (1 p.m.) will host the St. Nikolaus Parade. (Kylee Ehmann)
Christkindlmarkt @ This Is the Place Heritage Park, 2601 E. Sunnyside Ave., 801-828-5420, Dec. 4-7, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., free, christkindlemarkt-slc.com