Showing posts with label SLC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SLC. Show all posts

Monday, July 24, 2017

Howard Jones at Red Butte Garden

Last night I went to the Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre to see Howard Jones in concert and I had so much fun!  I absolutely love Howard Jones!  I've seen him at least five times in concert and I've enjoyed every single one because he always puts on such a great show!  The opening band was Men Without Hats and they began with their biggest hit, "The Safety Dance."  That got the crowd up and dancing because you can dance if you want to!  They played their other big hit, "Pop Goes the World," and then a cover of Abba's "SOS" followed by a song from their new album Love in the Age of War called "Head Above Water."  They ended their set with an extended version of "The Safety Dance" which got another big cheer from the audience.  They sounded exactly like they did in their heyday and I enjoyed their set.  The next act was the English Beat and they brought back lots of memories of my high school days with "Tears of a Clown," "Too Nice to Talk To," "Tenderness," and "I Confess."  I was thrilled when they played one of my favorite songs, "Save It For Later," and they joked about it being included on the soundtrack for Spider-Man: Homecoming (I may or may not have squealed when the song played while Peter got ready for the dance because I hadn't heard it for a long time).  They ended their set with "Mirror in the Bathroom" to the delight of the crowd.  Finally, Howard Jones took the stage and my inner fifteen year old was absolutely thrilled!  He began with "Conditioning," "Equality," and "The Human Touch."  Every time I go to a concert there is always one obscure song that I hope the band will play and I hoped Howard Jones would play "The Prisoner."  I was so excited when he played it early in his set!  Then he played all of his biggest hits: "Like to Get to Know You Well," "You Know I Love You...Don't You?," "Hide and Seek" (the crowd sang the chorus just like they did at Live Aid in 1985), an acoustic version of "No One Is to Blame," "What Is Love?," "Everlasting Love," "Life In One Day," and "New Song." For the encore he sang "Things Can Only Get Better" accompanied by the crowd in an exuberant and extended chorus!  So much fun!  It was the perfect summer concert because, while it was extremely hot while standing in line, the temperature dropped quite a bit in time for the music and Red Butte Garden is such a great venue.

Note:  I went to this concert with my friend Cyndi.  We became friends on Facebook because we have a lot of friends in common but we haven't ever done anything together until last night.  We had such a great time and I hope we can get together again soon.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Day at the Clark Planetarium

Since Sean and I had to leave the zoo earlier than planned, we decided to visit Clark Planetarium which is probably Sean's favorite place.  We have been here many times before but there have been some renovations with some new exhibits added.  Sean was in heaven!  The really great thing about the planetarium is that all of the exhibits are free of charge.  There are Earth exhibits about water, wind, volcanoes, and earthquakes; moon exhibits including actual moon rocks, the phases of the moon, and lunar landings; and space exhibits about planets, black holes, and gravity.  Sean really likes playing with the tornado simulator, the gravity floor, and the lunar landing video game.  He could spend hours and hours here.  You can also buy tickets ($7.00) to see 3D movies about the Earth and space in the IMAX theater and star shows in the Dome theater.  While Sean and I were there we saw a show in the IMAX theater called "Amazon Adventure" which was absolutely fascinating.  Clark Planetarium is not just fun for kids.  I like visiting in the evening to see laser shows set to music.  You can go here to find out more information about all of the activities and shows at the planetarium.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Day at Utah's Hogle Zoo

Sean asked me if I could spend some time with him this week so I decided to take him to the zoo on Monday.  Unfortunately, it was really windy and rainy so we didn't stay as long as we wanted to but we had a lot of fun.  I hadn't been there for a long time so I hadn't seen the new African savanna enclosures for the giraffes, zebras, and lions.  There was a new baby zebra which had been born in April and it was so cute (she doesn't have a name yet).  My favorite is the elephant enclosure which houses Christie and her baby Zuri.  Zuri has grown a lot since my last visit to the zoo!  We also went to the Great Ape house and, luckily, some of them were playing outside which was fun to see.  We finally made it to the Asian highlands enclosure to see the tigers Kazek and Cila.  There were lots of animals that we weren't able to see but the rain got to be too much for us to handle and we left after grabbing some lunch at the Oasis Cafe.  There are lots of things to do at the zoo such as the carousel and the train and I have to admit that I am a little bit sad that Sean doesn't like to ride the carousel any more!  Hogle Zoo is a wonderful place to visit (when it is not raining) for children and adults.  Go here for more information about hours and admission.

Note:  Currently the zoo has a fun exhibit called Bugzillas with larger than life animatronic bugs throughout the zoo.  Sean really liked the tarantula.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Day at the Natural History Museum of Utah

On Friday I was on aunt detail and I told Sean that we could do anything that he wanted.  He chose to visit the Natural History Museum of Utah on the campus of the University of Utah.  Sean absolutely loves this place and we ended up spending most of the day there.  The museum showcases the history, physical geography, plant life, and earliest peoples of Utah.  There are lots of fun interactive displays for kids and Sean and I enjoyed the Great Salt Lake exhibit and the earthquake exhibit.  Sean's structure withstood the earthquake much longer than mine did!  I absolutely loved the dinosaur displays.  I had never been to this museum before and I quite enjoyed it.  I think it is a great place for both adults and kids because the displays are very informative as well as vibrant and interactive.  I think Sean could have stayed for hours and hours.  Go here for more information about hours and admission prices.

Note:  Currently there is a special exhibit about the Vikings which Sean and I both really enjoyed.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella

Thursday night I went to the Eccles Theater to see the Broadway touring production of Rodger's & Hammerstein's Cinderella.  After watching this musical I can definitively say that I prefer the Disney version of this story.  I really didn't like the commentary on class structure and the fact that Cinderella is now a social reformer who must rescue the prince from everyone in his court deceiving him about the conditions in his kingdom.  I also didn't like the portrayal of the stepsisters who are merely silly instead of mean and end up as Cinderella's sympathetic conspirators.  I'm sure that this is an attempt to make the story more up-to-date for modern audiences but I yearned for the traditional fairy tale because it is so much more magical and romantic.  Having said that, I did love the gorgeous costumes and I was especially impressed by the quick changes from rags to elaborate ball gowns in the blink of an eye all while Cinderella is singing.  I also really loved the choreography, particularly during the "Cinderella Waltz" which is amazing.  Both Tatyana Lubov, as Cinderella, and Hayden Stanes, as Prince Topher, have wonderful voices and my favorite songs were "In My Own Little Corner," "Ten Minutes Ago," "A Lovely Night," and "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?"  Joanna Johnson, a Utah native, is hilarious as Charlotte, one of the stepsisters, and I really enjoyed her in the song "Stepsister's Lament."  There were a lot of little girls in the audience, wearing tiaras that you can buy in the lobby, but if you are planning to take your little girls you should know that this production is very different from the one that they are probably familiar with.  However, the performances, costumes, and choreography make this a fun night out.  It runs at the Eccles Theater through June 4 (go here for tickets).

Note:  The theater was evacuated in the middle of the ball scene because of a fire, which turned out to be a false alarm.  I was impressed that the cast was able to pick right up with the same energy as before the alarm.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Rite of Spring

Last night's Utah Symphony concert was the final one of the 2016-2017 season.  In my opinion it has been an outstanding season as it has featured so many incredible performances of some of my favorite pieces.  Last night was no exception.  The orchestra began with a piece by Tchaikovsky called Souvenir d'un lieu cher (Memory of a dear place).  It consists of three little vignettes which were originally intended for a violin concerto but they were abandoned and later orchestrated by Alexander Glazunov.  I thought all three of them were beautiful with a lovely performance by soloist Simone Porter on violin.  Next the orchestra played Ameriques by Edgard Varese and it was quite spectacular.  This piece was written when Varese moved to New York City after World War I.  He wanted to capture the cacophony of industrialization and one of the main themes involved a siren!  I was very impressed by the sheer number of musicians on the stage (there were 15 musicians on percussion instruments alone!).  After the intermission the orchestra concluded the concert with The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky and it was amazing.  This piece, as the same implies, is about a pagan ritual celebrating the advent of spring and I think it is wild and exuberant.  I really loved all of the themes played by the brass and the timpani and I could definitely see young girls dancing with abandon as I listened.  I really enjoyed this concert (especially since I am now officially on summer vacation) and I recommend getting a ticket to tonight's concert featuring the same program (go here).

Note:  The Utah Symphony will be performing concerts at various outdoor venues during the summer.  I am particularly looking forward to La La Land performed in concert at the Usana Amphitheater and to Leslie Odom, Jr. (from the original cast of Hamilton) with the Utah Symphony at the Deer Valley Amphitheater.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Utah Opera's Don Giovanni

Mozart's Don Giovanni is my very favorite opera.  I've seen it several times and I had the opportunity to see Utah Opera's production last night.  Don Giovanni (Joshua Hopkins) is a rake who spends most of his time trying to add to his considerable list of conquests with the help of his loyal servant, Leporello (Matthew Burns).  The opera opens with the attempted rape of Donna Anna (Melinda Whittington) by Giovanni.  Her father, the Commentadore (Richard Wiegold), challenges him and, in a struggle, Giovanni kills him.  Anna begs her fiancĂ©, Don Ottavio (Aaron Blake) to avenge her honor and her father's death.  Next, Giovanni and Leporello observe Donna Elvira (Caitlin Lynch) lamenting the fact that her lover has abandoned her and, realizing that she is talking about him, Giovanni mocks her mercilessly.  She vows revenge.  Finally, Giovanni openly attempts to seduce Zerlina (Sarah Coit) during her wedding, enraging the groom Masetto (Markel Reed) who also vows revenge.  As all of these characters attempt to exact justice, Giovanni is somehow able to elude them, most notably by having Leporello impersonate him while he attempts to seduce Elvira's maid.  Giovanni can't hide forever as the ghost of the Commentadore returns from the dead to accuse him and send him to hell.  The music of this opera is absolutely beautiful (Oh, how I love Mozart) and the Utah Symphony performs it brilliantly, from the dramatic opening notes of the Overture to the shattering conclusion.  All of the actors sing their roles with so much passion and I was especially impressed with Wiegold, who is quite terrifying in the final scene.  Director Kristine McIntyre, in an attempt to make this opera more accessible to audiences, modernized the setting and gave the production a film noir treatment.  The color palette is entirely black and white with very low lighting.  The action takes place on the streets of a big city and the men are portrayed as gangsters in dark suits, trench coats, and fedoras and the women are either victims or femme fatales in elegant dresses with full skirts.  Without a doubt, this is an amazing production which I highly recommend (there is only one performance left!) but, to be honest, I missed the grandeur of the original setting and I found the alternate ending to be a bit anticlimactic.  I sometimes think that directors underestimate their audience.  We don't necessarily need to have the material  dumbed down made more accessible to understand and enjoy the libretto.  But, what do I know?  My favorite staging of this opera is the Twyla Tharp version in the movie Amadeus.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Will Rogers Follies at PTC

Because I have a rush pass to Pioneer Theatre, I can see the current production any time I want.  I planned to see The Will Rogers Follies on four different occasions but something always came up to change my plans (mostly spontaneous invitations to do other things).  I finally made it to the show last night and it was just delightful.  This extravagant musical tells the life story of Will Rogers (David M. Lutken), America's favorite humorist, as if it were a big song and dance production by Florenz Ziegfeld.  Rogers performs rope tricks, has a little bit of fun with politics (it is rather eerie how much the political situation today resembles that of Herbert Hoover), and sings and dances with a bevy of high-kicking showgirls.  Of course there are a few occasional comments from Mr. Ziegfeld himself (the voice of Donny Osmond) with suggestions to make the show more interesting for the audience, such as moving his wedding to Betty Blake (Lisa Brescia) to the end of Act 1 even though they had four children by this point in the story!  Lutken does an amazing job delivering bits of homespun wisdom (and he's not too shabby with a rope, either).  All of the big song and dance numbers are quite spectacular led by Ziegfeld's Favorite, Chryssie Whitehead, and an incredibly talented ensemble of dancers.  I was especially impressed with "Our Favorite Son."  The wranglers, who are very easy on the eyes, also really impressed me in "Give a Man Enough Rope."  The four children, Kimball Stinger, Ava Hoekstra, Nathan Eliason, and Mila Belle Howells, are absolutely adorable and just about steal every scene they are in.  Finally, the costumes are incredible!  It is worth the price of admission just for the costumes alone; however, there are lots of reasons why you should go see this show and the most important one is that it is just so much fun!  It runs at PTC until Saturday (go here for tickets).

Note:  Kudos to PTC for such a great season!  I have enjoyed every production immensely (I think my favorite would have to be King Charles III) and I am looking forward to next season as well (especially Bright Star).

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Rhapsody in Blue

It was standing room only at Abravanel Hall last night.  The Utah Symphony and guest conductor Kazuki Yamada performed a wildly entertaining concert featuring two quintessentially American composers as well as a quintessentially Russian one and I really enjoyed it.  The orchestra began with El Salon Mexico by Aaron Copland (which was particularly appropriate for Cinco de Mayo).  This piece is based on Mexican folk music and is meant to represent an imaginary dance hall full of dancing couples.  I thought it was lively, exuberant, and full of whimsy and it was a lot of fun to listen to it.  Next came the popular classical jazz piece Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin with pianist Benyamin Nuss.  A thrill went through the audience as we heard the instantly recognizable glissando from a solo clarinet (I have always thought that Tad Calcara, Utah Symphony's Principal Clarinet, would be right at home in a jazz band from the 1920s) and that feeling continued as the theme was repeated in various forms as the piece progressed.  Nuss was absolutely amazing and I honestly can't tell you what was more interesting to watch:  his fingers flying up and down the keyboard or Yamada hopping about on the podium!  After the intermission the orchestra played Scheherazade by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.  I didn't recognize this piece by name but as soon as I heard the big booming notes from the brass I remembered hearing it before.  I loved it!  I especially loved the beautiful theme repeated by a lone violin (Concertmaster Madeline Adkins played brilliantly) and a harp which is meant to represent Scheherazade beguiling her husband with tales of the Orient.  The various movements correspond, loosely, to The Thousand and One Nights and the music is incredibly dramatic.  When the piece ended, the man sitting next to me exclaimed, "That was beautiful!"  I certainly agree!  If you can get a ticket (there were very few empty seats last night) to tonight's performance of the same program, I highly suggest you do so (go here).

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Barber's Violin Concerto

I feel like I am making progress in my appreciation of classical music.  Last night's Utah Symphony concert not only featured a piece that I actually recognized but it also featured a conductor that I really like!  Yeah, I know conductors by name!  Jun Markl is a frequent guest with the Utah Symphony and I have always really enjoyed his interpretations.  I think he is elegance personified on the podium!  When I learned that Markl would be performing with the the Utah Symphony and that the concert would feature Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, I had to get a ticket and I am so glad I did!  The orchestra began with the aforementioned Adagio for Strings and I loved it!  It is mournful and melancholy (Why do I like such sad pieces?) but I think it is exquisitely beautiful!  I love how the theme is developed by the violins and then is picked up by the violas and then the cellos and then, finally, by the basses.  As I listened I closed my eyes and let the music wash over me and I was filled with such a sense of yearning.  I enjoyed this moving piece very much!  Next, the orchestra played Barber's Concerto for Violin with soloist Karen Gomyo.  I was not familiar with this piece but I loved it.  I thought it was incredibly romantic and Gomyo gave a very passionate performance, especially in the final movement.  The second movement featured a theme played by a solo oboe which gave me goosebumps!  After the intermission, the orchestra played Piano Quartet No. 1 by Johannes Brahms arranged by Arnold Schoenberg for the full orchestra.  I especially liked the final movement which was inspired by a gypsy dancing and included a fun theme played by the solo clarinet and a theme played by the xylophone.  The same program will be performed again tonight (go here for tickets) and I highly recommend it for a chance to see Jun Markl in action!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Pictures at an Exhibition

Last night's Utah Symphony concert featured one of my very favorite pieces, Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky.  It seems like the Utah Symphony programmed the 2016-2017 season with me in mind as they have featured so many of my favorites (Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, Mozart's Requiem, and now Pictures at an Exhibition).  The concert began with Military March No. 1 from Pomp and Circumstance by Edward Elgar which is instantly familiar to anyone who has ever been through a commencement ceremony.  I enjoyed hearing it and I am looking forward to hearing it again in seven weeks (but who's counting?) when my seniors are unleashed on the world!  The concert continued with Elgar's Violin Concerto with soloist Fumiaki Miura.  I loved this piece so much, especially the second movement which is almost unbearably beautiful and incredibly emotional.  Miura played brilliantly and received a rousing standing ovation!  After the intermission, the orchestra played Mussorgsky's masterpiece which, as the name implies, was written to commemorate the exhibition of ten paintings by Victor Hartmann after his death.  There are ten pieces which correspond to each of the paintings and these are connected by a Promenade (in several iterations played by different sections of the orchestra) which represents walking through the gallery from picture to picture.  I had goosebumps when I heard the opening fanfare in the first Promenade played by the brass!  It is amazing to me how you can almost visualize each painting as the orchestra plays.  I love each piece but I think my favorite is for the painting Byldo which experts believe is a group of oxen pulling a cart (many of Hartmann's paintings haven't survived).  I loved the theme played by the tenor tuba and the timpani because it is so atmospheric.  I always try to hear this piece whenever it is performed and I certainly enjoyed it last night.  You can hear it when this program is performed again tonight (go here for tickets) and I definitely recommend that you do so!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

MJ

Every year in October I have a tradition of seeing Thriller, a Halloween dance concert performed by Odyssey Dance Theatre.  I always enjoy it so much so this year I decided to attend one of their three spring repertory concerts.  I chose MJ which features the music of Michael Jackson and it was simply amazing.  Members of the company performed to "Thriller," "She's Out of My Life," "Workin' Day and Night," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Off the Wall," "Hollywood," "Don't Stop "Til You Get Enough," "P.Y.T.," "Man in the Mirror," "Dangerous," "The Girl is Mine," "Never Can Say Goodbye," "Ain't No Sunshine," "Dirty Diana," "Rockin' Robin," "Billie Jean," and "Jam."  They were all really good but my favorites were "Earth Song," which was a very lyrical dance performed by the whole company wearing flowing earth-tone costumes, "They Don't Care About Us," which featured the female cast tap dancing in black leather costumes (this reminded me of the choreography in the film This Is It), and "Blood on the Dance Floor," which was a very stylized dance performed by the whole company wearing black and red costumes.  I also really loved the finale which was a mash-up of "Smooth Criminal" and "Beat It."  This piece was basically a dance-off between 1920's gangsters and molls and a street gang and it was a lot of fun.  The dancers of ODT are incredibly talented and this concert made me remember how much I enjoyed Michael Jackson as a performer.  I loved the show and I highly recommend it.  ODT's spring repertory program also includes Let It Be, featuring the music of the Beatles, and Purple Rain, featuring the music of Prince.  All three concerts will be performed through April 8 at Kingsbury Hall and tickets may be purchased here.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Lion King

Even though I have seen The Lion King many times (I saw it on Broadway less than a year ago), I don't think that I will ever get tired of it because it is absolutely magical!  I don't think I've ever made it through "Circle of Life" without getting a tear in my eye.  That baby elephant coming up the aisle gets me every time!  I saw the touring company production last night and it ranks right up there with productions I've seen on Broadway and in London.  I enjoyed every minute of it (tears and all).   The stage musical tells the well-known story of how a lion cub learns how to be a king and it includes many of the songs from the animated classic as well as some new ones.  I absolutely love the puppets and prosthetics used to represent the animals.  After a while you don't even see the actors manipulating the puppets.  My favorites are the giraffes and elephants.  The staging is incredible and I especially love the traditional music used as Mufasa and Simba frolic on the grasslands, when Sarabi and the lionesses hunt an antelope, and the wildebeest stampede in the gorge.  I was very impressed with the lead actors in this production and I had goosebumps when Mufasa (Gerald Ramsey) sang "They Live in You" and when Simba (Dashaun Young) sang "Endless Night."  Nia Holloway (as Nala) sang my favorite song, "Shadowland," better than I've ever heard it before.  I also really liked Rafiki (Buyi Zama) and her rendition of "He Lives in You (Reprise)."   My favorite part of seeing The Lion King, as ever, is watching the wonder on the faces of the children as they see all of the animals and this production made me feel like I did the first time I saw it.  It is just so magical!  It will run at the Eccles Theatre until April 16 (go here for tickets) and I highly recommend that you bring the children!

Note:  I think I enjoyed this production more than the one on Broadway because the sound was better.  I could actually hear Scar and the hyenas.  I did, however, miss eating cheesecake at Junior's after the show!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Pink Martini

Pink Martini has been to Salt Lake City several times to perform with the Utah Symphony but I have always had a conflict whenever they have been in town.  When I saw that they were included in the 2016-2017 lineup, I made sure to get a ticket and have eagerly been anticipating last night's concert for months.  I enjoyed every minute of it.  In fact, it was probably more fun than should be allowed in SLC on a Tuesday!  Pink Martini is a self-described "little orchestra" with 12 members, plus the incredible China Forbes on vocals, created by Thomas Lauderdale, a classically trained pianist with political aspirations, who was dismayed by the bland Muzak he heard at political functions and thought he could improve upon what he heard.  The group he put together is anything but bland!  Their repertoire includes classical, Latin, jazz, pop, and world music and their eclectic mixture was a hit!  They began with "Amado Mio," with a performance by Forbes which gave me goosebumps, and they ended with "Brazil," which featured the American Fork High School marching band and basically turned Abravanel Hall into Carnival in Rio!  In between, they played songs in Spanish, German, Turkish, Armenian, and Japanese along with several in French and, at one point, had the audience singing along in French!  Before each number, Lauderdale, an enthusiastic master of ceremonies, would ask for members in the audience who spoke the language of the song to come to the stage to sing back-up.  The Armenian group even gave an impromptu performance of another folk song.  The highlight of the concert, for me, was when Forbes sang "Song to the Moon" from the opera Rusalka.  This just about blew my mind because it was so beautiful!  Even though I did not know the words to this aria, I had tears in my eyes!  Rusalka just went to the top of my list of operas that I want to see!  Another favorite moment came when Forbes did the traditional introduction of the band members after which they literally introduced every member of the Utah Symphony!  I thought that was hilarious.  I had so much fun at this concert and I will definitely make sure I get a ticket every time Pink Martini comes to town.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Utah Opera's Lucia di Lammermoor

Last night I went to see Utah Opera's production of Lucia di Lammermoor.  The libretto is based on The Bride of Lammermoor by Sir Walter Scott and the incredible music is composed by Gaetano Donizetti.  I loved it!  In fact, I loved it so much that I wondered why I had never seen it before!  In seventeenth century Scotland, Enrico (James Westman) is in financial ruin and the only way to save his honor is to have is sister Lucia (Abigail Rethwisch) marry Arturo (Tyson Miller).  However, Lucia is in love with Edgardo (Mackenzie Whitney), a man who is her brother's mortal enemy.  During a secret rendezvous, Edgardo tells Lucia that he must leave for France but they make solemn vows to each other and he gives her a ring.  They end this touching scene with Edgardo promising to write.  Enrico discovers this relationship and intercepts all of Edgardo's letters.  In his desperation he begs to Lucia to marry Arturo for the good of the family and she finally consents, thinking that Edgardo has forsaken her.  As she signs the marriage contract, Edgardo returns and, in a rage, violently removes the ring from Lucia's finger.  As guests celebrate at the wedding, it is discovered that Lucia has killed Arturo and has descended into madness.  As she lays dying, Enrico is filled with remorse and pity.  When Edgardo learns of Lucia's death, he stabs himself in order to be reunited with her in Heaven.  What could be better than murder, betrayal, insanity, and death?  I really loved every single number, especially Lucia's aria before meeting Edgardo (there is a ghost!), the beautiful duet between Lucia and Edgardo where they declare their vows to each other, and Edgardo's emotional final aria.  However, nothing compares to the famous "mad scene" where Lucia, wearing a white nightgown covered in Arturo's blood, sings of her love for Edgardo while her horrified wedding guests look on.  This aria is in the Bel Canto style and is filled with a dazzling vocal display.  Rethwisch's performance is absolutely visceral and her collapse at the end of it was met with thunderous applause!   I could hardly breathe!  The entire cast is amazing and, in addition to Rethwisch, I was also particularly impressed with Derrick Parker (who recently performed Mozart's Requiem with the Utah Symphony) as a cleric who tries to defend Lucia.  The production is visually stunning with a set that includes a Gothic castle, a haunted fountain, and a snow-filled graveyard as well as beautiful period costumes.  I loved everything about this opera and I highly recommend getting a ticket (go here) to a remaining performance.

Note:  Lucia di Lammermoor would be perfect for those who have never been to an opera before.  It is easy to follow and my attention never wavered once during the three-hour run time.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Chess at PTC

A few years ago PTC created a series featuring rarely performed musicals in concert format.  The actors use scripts and there are minimal costumes, sets, and props in order to let the music take center stage.  They began with The Rocky Horror Picture Show (which was so popular that PTC presented it two years in a row) and this year they continued with Chess, the musical that Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of Abba wrote before Mamma Mia.  Even though I only knew one song from the show, the wildly popular radio hit "One Night in Bangkok" by Murray Head (Freddie from the original West End production), I have always wanted to see it.  I am so glad I had the chance last night because it pretty much blew me away.  Against the backdrop of an international chess tournament between the United States and the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War, a member of the U.S. delegation and the Soviet champion fall in love but become pawns (pun intended) in the political intrigue of their respective governments.  This tension makes for a fantastic rock opera filled with anthemic (I couldn't resist) pop songs which I absolutely loved, especially the aforementioned "One Night in Bangkok," "Where I Want to Be," "Someone Else's Story," "Nobody's Side," "Anthem," "Heaven Help My Heart," and "I Know Him so Well."   The three main leads, Matthew Hydzik as Freddie, Coleen Sexton as Florence, and Michael Halling as Anatoly, are absolutely incredible!  I was particularly blown away by Hydzik because he has the type of voice that I find to be very appealing, what I like to call a powerful rock and roll tenor.  In fact, he reminded me so much of Adam Pascal (I bet Hydzik would be phenomenal as Roger in Rent or Radames in Aida) who, incidentally once played Freddie in a concert version of Chess at the Royal Albert Hall in 2008, but I digress.  My favorite moment of the show was Hydzik's rendition of "Pity the Child."  All I can say is, "Wow!"  I highly recommend this concert but there are only two more performances so get your tickets quickly (go here).

Note:  Next year's concert musical was announced last night and it will be In the Heights.  I will get to see two Lin-Manuel Miranda musicals in 2018!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Brahms' Symphony No. 4

Last night, for the second weekend in a row, I found myself at Abravanel Hall eagerly anticipating another Utah Symphony concert.  In my opinion, you can't go wrong when you start the weekend with the Utah Symphony.  Last night's concert began with Introduction, Theme and Variations by Johann Nepomuk Hummel.  I was not at all familiar with this composer (to me, Hummels are the figurines that my Aunt June collected) but I absolutely loved this piece because it reminded me a lot of Mozart.  It featured an oboe and the soloist, Francois Leleux, was incredible.  He played with so much passion and exuberance and it looked like he was having so much fun.  It was certainly a lot of fun for the audience to watch his dramatic expressions and gestures.  Who knew that the oboe was so cool?  Next, Leleux joined the orchestra once again for the U.S. premiere of Aquateinte by Michael Jarrell, a piece commissioned by the Utah Symphony.  It is brilliant and I really liked that it featured so many instruments.  I was particularly fascinated by the myriad of percussion instruments (played by just two musicians).  After the intermission, the orchestra played Symphony No. 4 by Johannes Brahms.  I actually recognized much of this piece (maybe it has been programmed by the Utah Symphony before?) and I liked it because, even though it is quite lively,  it is a bit melancholy.  It was another lovely evening at Abravanel Hall and I highly recommend spending part of your weekend there, too.  This program will be performed again tonight (go here for tickets).

Friday, February 24, 2017

Matilda

To be honest, I didn't have a lot of interest in seeing Matilda, the Broadway musical based on the book by Roald Dahl.  However, I saw it last night and, as is so often the case, I enjoyed it much more than I expected.  It was quite entertaining with outstanding performances by a cast of adorable children.  Matilda Wormwood (the incredibly talented Jenna Weir), a precocious five year old with a penchant for reading and telling stories, is neglected by her mother (Darcy Stewart), an amateur Latin ballroom dancer, and her father (Matt Harrington), an unscrupulous used car salesman, and is terrorized by Miss Trunchbull (Dan Chameroy), the tyrannical headmistress of her school.  The story is quite dark but Matilda triumphs in the end because sometimes you have to be a little naughty and stand up for what is right.  As I mentioned, the children are absolutely adorable and I particularly enjoyed the song "When I Grow Up" (I may or may not have had a tear in my eye during this song).  Miss Trunchbull is hilarious (think of Miss Hannigan crossed with an East German Olympic athlete) but I think my very favorite character is Rudolpho (Eric Craig), Mrs. Wormwood's ballroom dance partner.  His over-the-top performance in the number "Loud" had me (and everyone around me) laughing out loud.  All of the song and dance numbers, especially "Revolting Children," are a lot of fun but I often had difficulty hearing the lyrics which was a little bit disappointing.  The set is very clever and I particularly loved the use of typography throughout (the dancing on the alphabet blocks during "School Song" is amazing).  This is definitely not my favorite musical but I did enjoy it.  The Eccles Theatre was filled with children (some quite young) which really surprised me because I think the story is very dark and most of the humor seemed to go right over their heads (at least the ones sitting near me).  I recommend leaving the kiddos at home for the remaining three performances (go here for tickets).

Note:  Broadway at the Eccles will be announcing the 2017-2018 season on March 8 and I can't wait!  I am beyond excited that I will get to see Hamilton again!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Women in Jeopardy at PTC

Yesterday was a dark and dreary day filled with intermittent rain and snow showers.  I was definitely in need of something to raise my spirits and I found it at Pioneer Theatre in the form of a new play by Wendy MacLeod called Women in Jeopardy.  It is a hilarious farce set in present-day Salt Lake City involving three divorced middle-aged women who get caught up in an intrigue and I laughed out loud more times than I can count.  Mary (Anne Tolpegin) and Jo (Rosalyn Coleman) are concerned when their friend Liz (Elizabeth Meadows Rouse) becomes involved with Jackson Scull (Joe Gately), a man whom they rather fancifully suspect is a serial killer.  In their minds, their suspicions are confirmed when Jackson wants to take Liz's dimwitted daughter, Amanda (Betsy Helmer), on a camping trip in a remote area of Southern Utah.  They share their concerns with Sgt. Kirk Sponsullar (Joe Gately), who looks remarkably like Jackson, but to no avail.  In desperation, Mary recruits Trenner (CJ Strong), Amanda's ex-boyfriend, to try to convince her not to go on the trip but he interprets this to mean that Mary is interested in him.  Chaos ensues when they all meet up at a campsite in the middle of the night.  This production is filled with amusing situations, lots of physical comedy (I laughed so hard that I couldn't breathe at Trenner's ill-fated attempt to seduce Mary), and fast-paced dialogue filled with lots of fun local humor (a line about Democrats had the entire theatre in hysterics).  All of the actors have great comedic timing and I was particularly impressed with all of the quick costume changes.  I highly recommend this fun comedy which runs at PTC through Saturday (go here for tickets).  It is the perfect antidote for the winter blues!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mozart's Requiem

The very first Utah Symphony concert I attended, back in college, was a performance of Mozart's Requiem.  It is has been my very favorite piece of music ever since I heard it in the movie Amadeus and I always take every opportunity that I can to hear it performed live.  Last night I was able to hear the Utah Symphony perform it once again and it was magnificent!  I find the mythology surrounding the composition of this piece to be fascinating.  The fact that Mozart died before it was complete makes one wonder whether he knew he was dying and, therefore, writing the mass for himself.  It is almost as if Mozart was wrestling with Death itself as he wrote the music that lifts the soul up to God.  I find the music to be incredibly stirring and I especially love the "Confutatis" and the "Lacrymosa" (which I performed in college when I was in the choir.)  The orchestra was joined by the Utah Symphony Chorus and the University of Utah Chamber Choir as well as soloists Joelle Harvey, Sarah Coit, Benjamin Butterfield, and Derrick Parker and they performed this piece beautifully.  I closed my eyes many times during the performance and let the music carry me away.  I was completely overcome by the end of it!  After the intermission, the orchestra continued with Symphony No. 4 by Charles Ives and this piece was epic, to say the least.  When Ives composed this symphony, he was concerned with philosophical questions about existence and it reflects both chaos and beauty.  It was sometimes cacophonous with more performers (and instruments) on the stage than I have ever seen before playing complicated melodies with different rhythms (there were even two conductors) over top of each other.  However, underneath the turmoil was peace and I especially liked the third movement.  It was definitely a never-to-be-forgotten evening at Abravanel Hall last night and I highly recommend getting a ticket (go here) to tonight's performance of the same program.
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