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

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Ballet West's Cinderella

Last night I had the opportunity to see Ballet West's beautiful production of Cinderella and I absolutely loved it! Featuring sumptuous costumes and sets and a marvelous score by Sergei Prokofiev, this ballet tells the well-known story of Cinderella (albeit with a few differences from the Disney version) with choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton. The stepsisters are portrayed, rather hilariously, by men (Adrian Fry and Christopher Sellers) and the scenes of them getting ready for the ball had me laughing out loud! I also really enjoyed the scene where Cinderella (Beckanne Sisk) dances with a broom as a partner. The Fairy Godmother (Katlyn Addison, one of my favorite dancers) has four fairies representing the different seasons give Cinderella gifts before transforming her into a princess complete with a gilded carriage made from a pumpkin. The ball scenes are delightful with more antics from the stepsisters and I was so impressed by the athleticism of the Jester (Joshua Whitehead). I have to admit that Cinderella's entrance to the ball was absolutely magical and gave me goosebumps. The Grand Pas de Deux between Cinderella and the Prince (Chase O'Connell) is incredibly romantic and very moving with intricate choreography that is dazzling to watch. I thought the giant clock looming over the stage was very effective and the scene of Cinderella leaving the ball is quite dramatic. The final scene is lovely with glitter falling as Cinderella and the Prince dance off stage. The whole production is thoroughly entertaining and I think it is the prefect ballet for children because, while it is definitely a classical ballet, there are so many comedic elements, especially involving the stepsisters, and the story is a familiar one. Cinderella runs at Capitol Theatre through February 25 and tickets may be purchased here.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Utah Opera's Moby-Dick

Utah Opera’s premiere of Heggie and Scheer’s Moby-Dick had three strikes against it.  First, Herman Melville’s novel, upon which the opera is based, is definitely not my favorite.  As an English teacher it pains me to admit that I have never actually made it all of the way through.  I find the endless minutiae about the whaling industry to be mind numbingly dull.  Second, I am not usually a fan of modern operas sung in English.  I much prefer the classics sung in German and Italian.  Third, the run of this opera coincided with the Sundance Film Festival and I didn’t think I would be able to fit it in.  However, the more I learned about the production the more intrigued I became and I decided to get a ticket.  Last night I interrupted my Sundance screenings to see it and I am so glad that I did because it is brilliant!  Surprisingly, I found the condensed version of the novel performed on the Capitol Theatre stage to be anything but dull.  I was completely captivated by the story of an obsession for vengeance.  When the Pequod sets sail from Nantucket, the crew is excited about the riches they will earn, Greenhorn (Joshua Dennis), a newcomer to whaling, is eager for the adventure of seeing the world, Queegueg (Musa Ngqungwana) longs to see his island in the South Pacific again, and Starbuck (David Adam Moore) laments the dangers of whaling and fears that he will never see his wife and son again.  Soon Captain Ahab (Roger Honeywell) tells them that the real mission is to find the white whale that took his leg and offers a gold doubloon to the sailor who spots Moby Dick first.  When the crew is about to harpoon a whale, Ahab orders them to stop because it isn’t his whale.  Three months later the crew is bored and prone to fighting so Starbuck demands that Ahab let them hunt.  After spearing a whale, Starbuck pleads with Ahab to return to Nantucket to repair the leaking oil barrels and to seek medical attention for the cabin boy Pip (Jasmine Habersham) who was thrown overboard.  Ahab refuses and Starbuck contemplates killing him before his obsession dooms them all.  Ahab descends further into madness and, when the whale is finally spotted, deems it his destiny to kill it himself in an epic battle which kills everyone on board except Greenhorn who utters these immortal words when he is rescued: "Call me Ishmael."  The music is beautiful and haunting and I especially loved it when the chorus chants "Death to Moby Dick."  All of the principals sing their roles brilliantly and I was struck by the pathos in every performance, particularly by Moore!  The men's chorus not only sings but does an outstanding job with the choreography to convey the movement on a ship, whether it is raising the sails, harpooning a whale, rendering the blubber into oil, or riding out a storm.  The sets and costumes were constructed by Utah Opera and they are fantastic.  Finally, the build up to the battle between the whale and Ahab is intense and I was not disappointed with the special effects (which I will not spoil for those still planning to see it) in this scene.  I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this opera and I highly recommend getting a ticket to the final performance on Sunday.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Bright Star at PTC

When I went to New York almost two years ago there was one night when the group didn't have theatre tickets together and we were free to get tickets on our own.  I thought about Waitress (which I eventually saw with my friend Esther) and I also thought about Bright Star because I had heard so many great things about it.  But then Hamilton became a possibility and that eclipsed everything else!  Of course, seeing the original cast of Hamilton on Broadway was a dream come true but there was a little part of me that regretted the fact that I didn't get a chance to see Bright Star.  Little did I know that the show would be coming to Salt Lake City so soon and that almost the entire cast would be reprising their roles from the Broadway production, including the incomparable Carmen Cusack as Alice Murphy!  It is fantastic and to say that I loved it would be an understatement.  Featuring music and lyrics by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, the story takes place in North Carolina during the 1920s and just after World War II.  After returning from the war, Billy Cane (A.J. Shively) briefly returns to his small town and his childhood friend Margot (Maddie Shea Baldwin) but he decides to try writing for a magazine in Asheville and meets the uptight editor, Alice Murphy, who once made Hemingway cry.  When the magazine staff tease Alice about her boring existence, we see her (literally) transform into a wild and rebellious girl in love with Jimmy Ray Dobbs (Patrick Cummings).  The narrative goes back and forth from one timeline to the other as Alice learns to deal with heartache and loss and Billy learns the importance of home and the one who really loves him.  There is a plot twist that I predicted almost immediately but I was still completely engaged with the story because the performances are wonderful and the bluegrass music is incredible!  The song "Please Don't Take Him" brought tears to my eyes and I do not know how Cusack can sing it with such emotion night after night.  I think my favorite song in the show is "Asheville" because it is sung by a girl who is worried that the boy she loves will forget all about her when he goes to the big city.  Baldwin fills it with such longing and I liked how the song is staged.  In fact, the staging of the entire show is extremely clever with the ensemble cast moving props and scenery on and off stage seamlessly.  Finally, the band, sitting in a rustic cottage that is moved to various places on stage, is superb.  I especially enjoyed the fiddle solos played by Martha McDonnell.  Pioneer Theatre Company is only the third regional theater to produce this musical and I consider myself lucky to get to see such an amazing cast right here in SLC!  I highly recommend seeing this show, but you better hurry because tickets are going fast!  The rush pass line was the longest I've seen for any show at PTC (Including Newsies!).  Go here for tickets and information.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Something Rotten

My first theatre performance of 2018 was the Broadway touring company production of Something Rotten at the Eccles Theater.  I absolutely loved it!  I didn't know much about this show so when I got to the theater last night I started to read the program and discovered that Adam Pascal plays one of the lead roles!  Squeal!  He originated the roles of Roger in Rent and Radames in Aida on Broadway and I listen to the original recordings of those shows all of the time because I love Pascal's rock and roll tenor voice.  To say that I was excited to see him would be an understatement.  In fact, I haven't been this starstruck at a theatre performance since I saw Lin Manuel Miranda!  I may or may not have screamed like a thirteen year old girl when he first appeared on stage (for about ten seconds).  Adam Pascal aside, the show is hilarious!  It is a fantastic spoof of Shakespearean plays and Broadway musicals (over 60 different musicals are referenced).  Nick and Nigel Bottom (Rob McClure and Josh Grisetti, respectively) are playwrights who are tired of being outshined by William Shakespeare (Pascal).  Nick wants to do something new so he contacts Nostradamus (Blake Hammond) to see what will be popular in the future.  Nostradamus suggests writing a play with singing and dancing in one of my favorite numbers from the show, "A Musical."  Things go slightly awry when Nick asks Nostradamus to look into the future to see what Shakespeare's most popular play will be and, instead of Hamlet, Nostradamus sees omelette.  Nick tries to produce Omelette The Musical while Shakespeare tries to steal his own play back.  I loved all of the references to Hamlet (my seniors just finished reading it), especially the song "To Thine Own Self."  I think I may need to download the soundtrack and play it to my students!  I also really loved all of the references to Broadway musicals.  As an English teacher who is also a theatre junkie, this show was practically written for me!  Adam Pascal did not disappoint and his voice was perfect for the songs "Will Power" and "Hard to be the Bard" because Shakespeare is portrayed as the biggest rock star of the Renaissance.  I had so much fun watching this incredibly entertaining show and I highly recommend it!  Something Rotten runs through January 14 at the Eccles Theater (tickets may be purchased here).

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Foo Fighters at the Vivint Arena

I honestly don't know how I made it through the school day yesterday because I was so excited for the Foo Fighters concert.  I could hardly stand it because I absolutely love the Foo Fighters!  I have seen them several times in concert but I have to say that last night was probably the best one yet!  They played for over three hours!  They got the night started with "Run" from their latest album, Concrete and Gold, and that got the crowd screaming along with Dave Grohl.  They played a few other songs from the new album, such as "The Sky is a Neighborhood," "Sunday Rain," and "Dirty Water," but they mostly played the hits!  My favorite moment came early on when they played "The Pretender," my favorite Foo Fighters song, with some fabulous extended solos.  In fact, almost every song they played featured epic solos which was just fine with me.  They played "All My Life," "Rope," "My Hero," which included a lot of audience participation, "These Days," "Walk," "Times Like These," "Breakout," "Monkey Wrench," and "Best of You."  Throughout their set they played a few covers, such as "Under My Wheels," by Alice Cooper, "Another One Bites The Dust," by Queen, "Blitzkrieg Pop," by the Ramones, "Let There Be Rock," by AC/DC, and "Breakdown," by Tom Petty (another highlight!). During a cover of "Under Pressure," by Queen, Dave Grohl got behind the drum kit (sigh!).  They also played an awesome rendition of "Dear Rosemary" with Bob Mould, who opened for them.  They ended the evening, as they often do, with "Everlong."  I think Dave Grohl is just so damn cool and he kept up a steady stream of wisecracks at the audience ("I've been playing for two and half hours!  Get up off your asses!").  It was an amazing concert!  Did I mention that they played for over three hours!  The show didn't end until after midnight so I honestly don't know how I will make it through the school day today!

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Bodyguard

Last night I went to see the musical The Bodyguard, based on the 1992 movie of the same name starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner.  I am not always a fan of turning popular movies into stage musicals but I went into this evening's production with an open mind.  The bottom line?  It is like an extended Whitney Houston concert featuring some of her greatest hits, such as "Greatest Love of All," "How Will I Know," "I Have Nothing," "I Wanna Dance with Somebody," "One Moment in Time," "Saving All My Love," and "So Emotional," with some superfluous bits in between the songs.  But, boy, is it a good concert!  Rachel Marron (Deborah Cox) is a superstar nominated for an Academy Award who has been receiving disturbing letters from a stalker.  The head of her security team hires a former member of the Secret Service, Frank Farmer (Judson Mills), to guard her 24 hours a day.  At first his relationship with Rachel is combative because she resents the intrusion but, of course, they soon develop feelings for one another which jeopardizes his ability to guard her.  Rachel's sister Nicki (Naomi C. Whalley), who has been jealous of her for years, develops feeling for him which also complicates the situation.  The story is thin and pretty contrived and the acting is unbelievably stilted, almost ridiculously so.  There is dramatic lighting whenever the stalker is shown but it is so cheesy that I almost laughed several times.  I also did not like when the stalker pointed a gun with a laser sight at the audience.  It made me incredibly uncomfortable in light of all of the mass shootings in recent memory.  However, Deborah Cox is absolutely spectacular, giving an incredible vocal performance and executing dazzling choreography.  I loved her rendition of "I Will Always Love You" at the end of the show!  She is the show and she is the reason to see this production!  It runs at the Eccles Theater through Sunday and tickets may be purchased here.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Lights on Temple Square 2017

Last Friday I had a ticket to a Utah Symphony concert and I got downtown and hour and a half early.  During the holidays it can sometimes be tricky to drive and park downtown and I didn't want to take any chances (you won't be seated until an appropriate pause if you are late).  Of course I found a parking spot immediately which gave me an hour and a half to kill.  I decided to spend the time seeing the lights at Temple Square and it was as magical as it always is!  The temperature was really mild and the crowds weren't very big so I enjoyed myself immensely.  I even popped into the Assembly Hall to hear a random high school choir sing Christmas music which I really loved!
Go here for a list of events on Temple Square this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Newsies at PTC

There was a time when the Disney musical Newsies was at the top of my list of shows that I wanted to see.  Such was my mania to see it that I went to Los Angeles to see it at the Pantages Theatre only to learn that the Broadway touring company would be coming to SLC the following year.  Now it seems as if it is everywhere.  The Tuacahn Amphitheatre produced it last summer and both PTC and HCT have the popular show in their 2017-2018 schedules.  I had the chance to see it at Pioneer Theatre last night (I have a ticket to Hale's version next June) and it is fantastic!  It definitely rivals the Broadway versions that I've seen!  In 1899 a group of newspaper delivery boys, let by Jack Kelly (Jonathan Shew), goes on strike to protest Joseph Pulitzer (William Parry) raising the price of newspapers.  With a little help from an intrepid reporter named Katherine (Nadia Vynn) and Governor Roosevelt (Richie Call) himself, the newsies score a victory for all of the working children in New York.  The staging and choreography stays true to the original on Broadway with just a few new touches to keep it fresh and exciting.  The highlight of this show has always been the dancing and the dancers in this show are exhilarating!   The audience practically cheered out loud with every high energy leap and spin!  The big production numbers are so much fun including "Carrying the Banner," "Seize the Day," "King of New York," "Once and For All," and my favorite song in the show, "The World Will Know."  Shew is as handsome, charismatic, and talented as any Jack I've seen before and I loved his affecting rendition of "Santa Fe."  Vynn just might be my favorite Katherine and I was tapping my toes to "Watch What Happens."  I also really liked Stephen Michael Langton as Davey (he played Davey in the Broadway touring company).  Do yourself a favor and take your teenagers to see this show (If they are anything like the students of Hunter High I bet they are dying to see it) but get tickets soon because the theatre was packed on a Monday (go here for tickets).  It runs at PTC until Dec. 20.

Note:  I currently have what I call Joseph fatigue because Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is performed so often in Utah.  I hope the same thing doesn't happen with this show.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

I have been anticipating last night's Utah Symphony concert for weeks!  It featured one of my favorite guest conductors, Mark Wigglesworth (with a name like that how can you not love him?), one of my favorite soloists, Jon Kimura Parker, and one of my favorite pieces by one of my favorite composers, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Sergei Rachmaninoff!  It was worth the wait because it was a never-to-be-forgotten night at Abravanel Hall (stop reading right now and go here for a ticket to tonight's performance of the same program).  The orchestra began with the Overture to Rossini's The Barber of Seville, an opera I really enjoy.  As wonderful as this performance was, honestly, I could hardly contain myself waiting for Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.  I love this piece so much because it is deeply emotional and lush but I especially love the 18th variation (it is featured in the movie Somewhere in Time) because it is so unbearably romantic and I was literally swooning.  Parker gave an incredibly passionate performance and I loved watching his fingers fly up and down the keyboard.  The audience was also thrilled with his performance and gave him a thundering ovation after which he played "Blues Etude" by Oscar Peterson as an encore!  After the intermission the orchestra played Edward Elgar's Symphony No. 1.  I really loved the stately theme (Elgar also composed Pomp and Circumstance) played in variations throughout the piece.  The stirring conclusion (I loved the harps) was a wonderful way to end an amazing concert.

Note:  So far I have spent every weekend in November at Abravanel Hall.  Next weekend I will be taking a break for another one of my passions: hockey!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sean Requested a Jazz Game!

My nephew got a smartphone at the beginning of the school year because he is going to a charter school instead of his home school and it is a bit further away from home.  Sometimes he randomly calls me during the day and I have to admit that I really love it when he does.  One day he called me to ask me to help him organize his school work and I made arrangements to meet him one day and go through his backpack.  We talked about various other things and, as we were finishing our conversation, he casually mentioned that we hadn't been to a Jazz game for a long time.  It was at that moment when I understood the purpose of his phone call.  I told him we would have to look at the schedule to see when the next Saturday home game was and he said it was against the Brooklyn Nets!  You have to admire his preparation!  We went last night and had so much fun!  I usually buy him a shirt (I only take him to one or two games a year and, besides, spoiling is the first article in the aunt by-laws) and he picked the cool shirt he is wearing in the picture.  It conveniently did not have a price tag on it and when it was scanned at the register we found out that it was $55.  What?  It is actually an NBA limited edition shirt for Veteran's Day and the Jazz players were wearing them during warm-ups so I guess it is worth it (said in a sarcastic voice). The Vivint Arena has undergone a really cool renovation so there are lots of great restaurants inside now.  We ate at Hire's which was fantastic but expensive!  Then we always have to get ice cream at half-time.  Ka-ching!  He is an expensive date but I love him so much (either that or I have the word “sucker” on my forehead!).  The Jazz played really well, leading the Nets for most of the game.  Donovan Mitchell had a great game, leading the team with 26 points, and Rodney Hood electrified the crowd with five three-pointers!  The Jazz ended up winning 114-106!  Sean thought he was the good luck charm!  I had so much fun with him and he is already planning our annual winter break Jazz game!

Note:  Ladies and gentlemen I am pleased to announce that my new Jazz crush is Ricky Rubio!  He has great hair!

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Comedy of Tenors at PTC

Several years ago I saw Lend Me A Tenor at the Utah Shakespeare Festival and I thought it was so much fun!  When I found out that the sequel, A Comedy of Tenors, would be a part of PTC's 2017-2018 season I got really excited.  This show is a hilarious romp through an elegant Parisian hotel suite as an impresario (Andy Prosky) tries to get three temperamental tenors (Hansel Tan, Gregory North, and Storm Lineberger) to stop fighting long enough to take the stage for the concert of the century.  Add a bellhop looking for his big break, misunderstandings galore, mistaken identities with comedic results, characters in various stages of undress hiding from each other, and plenty of face slapping and door slamming and you have a delightful evening of theatre.  What makes this show so much fun is the manic physical comedy and all of the actors have superb comedic timing.  At one point, there was so much running around I couldn't keep track of what was happening and there are some astoundingly quick costume changes.  I loved it and I laughed out loud multiple times as did everyone around me.  Oh and by the way, all three of our tenors can really sing!  They performed an impressive rendition of "Libiamo ne' lieti calici" from Verdi's La Traviata.  It is a bit risque in some parts but that just adds to the fun.  I would highly recommend this delightful production (tickets may be purchased here) which runs at Pioneer Theatre until Nov. 4.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Thriller 2017

I love rituals and traditions.  In a world that seems to be full of chaos it is really nice to have something that you can count on and look forward to!  I have recently purchased tickets to quite a few seasonal performances and I have already started looking forward to them.  One such performance occurred last night after putting in a long and difficult week at school finishing up the first quarter (students only care about their grade during the last week of the quarter).  It was exactly what I needed!  In my opinion, it simply wouldn't be Halloween if I didn't get to see Odyssey Dance Theatre's production of Thriller.  The fact that I have seen this show so many times adds to, rather than detracts from, my enjoyment because I anticipate each number as I watch!  I love when the undead begin cavorting in a graveyard during "Thriller," when the break-dancing mummy comes to life in "Curse of the Mummy," when the uncooperative pandas begin acting up in "Miss Alli's Nighmare," when Frankenstein breaks his Bride's neck in "Frankenstein & Frankenstein," when the tap-dancing skeletons start tossing their heads around in "Dem Bones," when a trio of Jasons get crazy with their chainsaws in "Jason Jam," when the scarecrows come to life in "Children of the Corn," when condemned witches come back for revenge in "Salem's Mass," when a group of chucky dolls come to life in "Chucky-Rama," and when acrobatic vampires spin and leap in "Lost Boys."  Even though the numbers are the same from year to year, there always seems to be some new choreography or special effects to keep them interesting.  This year, in addition to the hilarious films of Scott Winn (the twerking stormtroopers are my favorite) in between numbers, there were some amazing aerial numbers choreographed by Aeris Aerial Arts.  I absolutely loved "Bats in a Box" which featured between four and six aerialists performing on a spinning steel box.  It was fabulous and I may or may not have said "Wow" out loud multiple times!  I also really liked "Phantom of the Opera" which featured two aerialists performing on a rope (it reminded me of Cirque de Soleil).  It is such a fun and exuberant show and I highly recommend getting at ticket (there are four more performances at Kingsbury Hall) which may be purchased here.

Note:  I have been attending this concert for twenty years!  I remember the first concert distinctly because I had just started teaching at Westminster College in 1997 and I ran into two of my students.  Last night I only saw one of my HHS students!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Bob Dylan at the Eccles Theater

I first saw Bob Dylan in concert many years ago at Deer Valley and I was really disappointed.  I literally couldn't recognize what song he was singing because he performed most of them with very different arrangements and different phrasing.  I suppose he has earned the right to do as he pleases but it is something you have to understand in order to enjoy his show.  When I found out that he was coming to SLC again, I decided that I could listen to "Mr. Tambourine Man" any time I wanted on my iPod and this concert would be an opportunity to see an unbelievably talented musician, a rock and roll icon really, jam with a group of equally talented musicians in a live show so I bought a ticket.  This time around the fact that nearly every song was virtually unrecognizable mattered not because it was Bob Dylan on the stage!   He can jam.  With a mane of unruly hair and a permanent scowl on his face, he spent as much time behind a baby grand piano as he did standing with a microphone in one rock-star pose after another.  He played for over two hours and his set featured an eclectic mixture of hits and covers of the old standards.  Of the former, my favorites were "Things Have Changed," which is how he opened the show, and "Blowin' in the Wind," which he played as part of the encore.  Of the latter, I particularly enjoyed "Melancholy Mood" and an incredibly atmospheric rendition of "Autumn Leaves" (which rivaled the version performed by Leslie Odom, Jr.).  Dylan performed with a five member band, each of whom played multiple instruments, and they sounded amazing.  He did not acknowledge the audience in any way but, again, it simply didn't matter because he is pretty much the coolest dude around.  If there is anyone cooler than Bob Dylan, I have yet to see him!  This same concert will be performed again at the Eccles Theater tonight (tickets may be purchased here) and I recommend it if you want to see an incredible live show.  Stay home and listen to your iPod if you want to hear the songs the way you remember them from your youth!

Friday, October 13, 2017

An American in Paris

I have wanted to see the Tony Award-winning musical An American in Paris for a long time so I was thrilled when Broadway at the Eccles announced it as the first show of the 2017-2018 season.  I was able to see it last night and I thought it was wonderful.  The story follows the movie of the same name (a personal favorite) pretty closely.  A U.S. soldier named Jerry Mulligan (McGee Maddox) decides to remain in Paris after World War II and meets an aspiring ballerina named Lise (Sara Esty).  He pursues her and they begin to fall in love.  However, Lise has become engaged to Henri (Nick Spangler) out of a duty she feels to him and his family for protecting her during the war and Jerry is pursued by a wealthy heiress (Emily Ferranti) who wants to promote his art.  Will they choose love or duty?  Both Maddox and Esty are incredible dancers and the choreography is absolutely stunning, especially in "I've Got Beginner's Luck" and "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise."  The final 18-minute ballet to the tune of "An American in Paris" is simply spectacular and it was amazing to me that the leads have the skill and stamina to perform such demanding choreography at the end of a Broadway show!  It was a lot of fun to hear the well-known songs, written by George and Ira Gershwin, such as "I Got Rhythm," "'S Wonderful," "But Not For Me," and "They Can't Take That Away From Me."  I loved all of the costumes but the sets are so creative!  The minimalist sketches that Jerry draws throughout the show are often projected on screens to transport audience members to the middle of Paris.  This is an old-fashioned and incredibly romantic musical that reminded me of the big Hollywood extravaganzas of the 1950s.  Who could ask for anything more!  I highly recommend seeing it if you get a chance and this particular production runs at the Eccles Theatre until Sunday (tickets may be purchased here).

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Utah Opera's La Boheme

In honor of its 40th Anniversary, Utah Opera began the 2017-2018 season with the same opera chosen for the inaugural season, Puccini's La Boheme.  It is one of my favorite operas so it was a treat to be able to see it for the second time this year!  It was a marvelous production of a magnificent opera and I loved every minute of it.  The libretto is about a group of artists living in a garret apartment in Paris in the nineteenth century.  Marcellus (Michael Adams), a painter, is in love with Musetta (Utah native Celena Shafer) but their relationship ends because Musetta is a flirt and Marcellus is jealous.  Rudolpho (Scott Quinn), a poet, is in love with Mimi (Jennifer Black) but their relationship ends because Mimi is dying of consumption and Rudolpho feels guilty that he can't take care of her.  Marcellus and Musetta have a volatile relationship that is really fun to watch, especially in the amusing aria "Quando m'en vo" or "Musetta's Waltz" which is staged very well in this production.  But Rudolpho and Mimi are ill-fated lovers who are heartbreaking to watch and their beautiful duet at the end of Act I, "O soave fanciulla," brought spontaneous tears to my eyes!  Quinn and Black have beautiful voices and great chemistry with each other.  I always enjoy Shafer, a perennial favorite with Utah audiences, and she gives a great performance.  Adams, who has been diagnosed with bronchitis, began Act I but couldn't continue so John Nelson sang from the side of the stage as Adams continued to act the role.  At first it seemed strange but, after a while, I didn't notice any more and Nelson has a great voice.  I also enjoyed Ao Li and Samuel Schultz as the other bohemians.  The costumes and the set are fantastic (San Francisco Opera had larger and more elaborate sets in their production but Utah Opera's set worked well for the size of the stage at Capitol Theatre).  I loved this production and I highly recommend getting a ticket!  It runs at Capitol Theatre through Oct. 15 and tickets may be purchased here.

Note:  I was sitting on an aisle and a very distinguished older gentleman stopped near me saying that he was dizzy.  I smiled at him and suggested that the cause of his dizziness was the loud pattern in the carpet whereupon he answered, "No.  I'm just old."  I laughed so he stayed and flirted with me outrageously until the curtain rose!  During the intermission he came back to talk to me which was fun because he was charm personified!  Opera lovers are great!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at PTC

I wasn't sure if I would be able to see PTC's production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time because of my crazy schedule right now.  But I have heard nothing but rave reviews from everyone I know who has seen it!  I decided I better try to squeeze it in and I am so glad that I did last night!  It is absolutely wonderful and I loved it.  In fact, you should stop reading right now and go here for tickets to one of the few remaining performances (it runs through Saturday, Sept. 30).  Christopher Boone (Harrison Bryan) is a fifteen-year-old math prodigy with an amazing memory who is also autistic.  He has difficulty in social situations, doesn't like loud noises or having his routine disrupted, and cannot abide having anyone touch him.  When he is wrongly accused of killing his neighbor's dog, he decides to solve the murder himself (and write a book about it).  As he uncovers clues to the mystery, he discovers secrets about his own family which leads to a journey, literally and figuratively, of self-discovery where he learns that he can do anything.  It is also a very powerful story about two parents, Ed (Tom O'Keefe) and Judy (Stephanie Howell), trying to find an emotional connection with their special needs son and some of their interactions with Christopher are heartbreaking.  The story is told as Christopher reads his book aloud with some excerpts read by his teacher Siobhan (Melissa Miller).  The staging of this play is brilliant!  The set looks like a series of building blocks placed together with items such as tables, beds, chests of drawers, and even a rat cage (I loved when Christopher introduced his pet rat to people by saying that it doesn't have the bubonic plague), pulled out from a block when needed.  There are six actors who play all of the rest of the supporting characters who enter and exit the stage with clever choreography and blocking.  I was especially impressed with the choreography and sound design during scenes in train stations and on the underground because they mimic the sensory overload that Christopher is experiencing.  The entire cast is excellent but Bryan gives a deeply affecting performance.  The role is emotionally and physically demanding and he nails it!  Christopher's behavior is often very frustrating and Bryan is somehow able to make him into a likable character that you cheer for in the end.  I cannot praise this production enough and I only wish I had time to see it again!  Do not miss it!

Note:  If you go, stay in your seat through the bows.  Trust me on this!

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.
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