- Eric Christensen
Odyssey Dance: Thriller
Let's face it: The world is a scary place. As many real-world things as there are to jangle our nerves, however, the Halloween season still offers a chance embraced by many to confront the creepier parts of life, real or fantastical, in a way that feels safe and controllable. And for 25 years, Odyssey Dance has embraced that notion with its hugely successful seasonal production of Thriller.
As anyone who has enjoyed the show over the years knows, Thriller takes some of the most familiar scare-acters from popular culture—Frankenstein's monster, the Mummy, Friday the 13th's masked and machete-wielding Jason—and drops them into high-energy choreography brought to life by Odyssey's gifted troupe of dancers. While much of the popular repertoire remains the same from year to year, each new season brings different twists and surprises, so that even stalwart attendees have something fresh to experience.
While 2020 marked an interruption of sorts in Thriller's typical touring throughout the state—limited-capacity in-person performances did take place, in addition to a streaming option—this year marks a return to all of the production's favorite venues. This week, things get rolling Sept. 24-26 at Park City's Egyptian Theatre (328 Main St.) with additional performances through Oct. 10. Additional shows are scheduled for Peery's Egyptian Theatre in Ogden (Sept. 27-28), Logan's Ellen Eccles Theatre (Oct. 4-5), Kingsbury Hall (Oct. 11-23) and Tuacahn Amphitheatre (Oct. 26-30). Visit odysseydance.com for full schedule and ticket pricing, as well as health & safety requirements for individual venues. (Scott Renshaw)
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Salt Lake Symphony
Community orchestras, like so many other performing arts organizations, found themselves shifting and adapting over the past year, including using safer outdoor venues, offering streaming performances and selecting works that would require fewer musicians to be in the same space together. For the Salt Lake Symphony—a volunteer-driven organization celebrating its 45th season—the 2021-2022 season marks a return to performances with the full orchestra, and a chance to apply some of the past year's reflection on new ideas.
"The events of the previous year's pandemic and social protests have allowed for an expansion of the way we think of presenting concerts and how we might choose music to perform," writes symphony director Robert Baldwin (pictured). "I am particularly looking forward to our April concert that celebrates diversity within the dream of America, with music by Florence Price and Peter Boyer."
For the season opener, Salt Lake Symphony offers a program that includes Verdi's overture from La Forza del Destino, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 and Charles Ives' The Unanswered Question, the latter a unique piece in which strings, brass and woodwinds are conducted individually in independent tempos. The performance takes place at Libby Gardner Hall (1375 E. Presidents Circle) Sept. 25, 7:30 p.m. Admission is only $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors; proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required of all adult patrons, and patrons under 12 will be required to be masked during the performance. Visit saltlakesymphony.org for tickets and additional information, including programming for upcoming performances throughout the season. (SR)
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Being a swarmy smart-ass sometimes pays off. Just ask Jon Lovitz. The characters he famously portrayed during his six-year stint on Saturday Night Live—Tommy Flanagan, The Pathological Liar, Annoying Man, Master Thespian, Mephistopheles, Tonto, Harvey Fierstein and of course, Hanukkah Harry—all shared an insufferable attitude as part of their persona. But unlike most boors and braggarts Lovitz had us cheering for more.
While those oddballs and eccentrics brought him his initial fame, Lovitz's career has continue to flourish, garnering him any number of lucrative voiceover roles, appearances in film and on television, a successful stint on Broadway, choice commercial campaigns, stand-up success, a podcast, and even his own comedy club. Granted, we realize that those obnoxious entities he inhabits have nothing to do with the man's actual personality, but being the clever comedian he is, it can be tough to tell them apart. Perhaps there's more of the aforementioned Master Thespian in him than he himself would care to concede.
Lovitz's chameleon-like ability to shift personas is a credit to his comedic genius, which he's carefully honed over the course of more than 40 years. Or, as Tommy Flanagan was famously known to say, "Yeah, that's the ticket!" Given the laughter we'll be getting in return, that particular ticket is well worth the price of admission.
Jon Lovitz plays Wiseguys Gateway (194 S. 400 West) Sept. 23 - 25 at 7 p.m., with an additional show Saturday at 9:30 pm. Tickets cost $35 and can be purchased at wiseguyscomedy.com or calling 801-532-5233. (Lee Zimmerman)
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Anderson Cooper: Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty
Famously known as one of the journalistic mainstays of CNN and CBS' 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper has collected 18 Emmys and one of the most prestigious honors accorded by the news industry overall, the Edward R. Murrow Award. However, his acumen and accomplishments don't stop there. He's also a New York Timesbestselling author. His latest work, Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty, finds him teaming up with historian and novelist Katherine Howe for a remarkable tale of triumph and travails as personified by a legendary American dynasty, the Vanderbilts.
Cooper has more insight into this all-American tale of rags and riches than most. He is, in fact, the great-great-great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the man who built an economic empire from a humble, hardscrabble existence during the beginnings of the 19th century. By the time he died at the age of 82, he had amassed a fortune that was the envy of all. Nevertheless, it eventually crumbled, leaving his heirs to pick up the pieces. Told from a rare personal perspective, Cooper shares a tale that trumps most others in terms of avarice and ambition. It resonates even now.
The Kings English presents Anderson Cooper via a Zoom event on Friday, Sept. 24 at 4 p.m. Tickets cost $38, and include a hardcover copy of Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty. An access code and password will be emailed 24 hours before the event. Go to eventbrite.com for tickets and instructions. (LZ)