In the arts: 2020 begins with ‘On Golden Pond,’ ‘Bus Stop’ and ‘Viva Las POPera’

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Did your Christmas flash by in a whirlwind of shopping and parties?

► In the silence of the winter snow the Utah Opera in Salt Lake City is providing us with one last opportunity to discover the meaning of the season with their stirring production of “Silent Night,” a contemporary opera by Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell.

It is Dec. 24, 1914 and all is not quiet on the Western Front during World War I amid the sounds of battle between the French, Scottish and German armies. Slowly the sounds of battle are replaced by Christmas carols during a brief truce.

Director Tomer Zvulun makes his Utah Opera debut in this award-winning production from the 2018 Glimmerglass Festival by Erhard Rom. The Pulitzer Prize-winning opera is based on the Oscar-nominated film “Joyeux Noël” and is sung in English, German, French, Italian and Latin with English supertitles.

Performances are Jan. 18-26 at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 S, Salt Lake City. Tickets are $14.50-$95 at https://my.usuo.org.

Theatre in the Valley has been part of the Henderson community since 1993 and they are making a welcome return this January with a production of “On Golden Pond” by Ernest Thompson and directed by Maggie Saunders.

This classic American comedy-drama debuted off Broadway in 1978. The 1981 film version was nominated for multiple Academy Awards and won for Henry Fonda his only Best Actor Oscar and captured Kathrine Hepburn her fourth, also winning for best screenplay for playwright Thompson.

Retired couple Ethel and Norman Thayer are spending their 48th summer at their vacation home on Golden Pond, in the woods of Maine. Their delightful summer routine – fishing, picking strawberries, enjoying old mementos, listening to the loons’ call – is given a bitterly comedic edge by Norman’s unreliable memory and cantankerously morbid statements. When their daughter, Chelsea, visits for Norman’s 80th birthday, bringing her boyfriend, Bill, and Bill’s teenage son, Billy Jr., the whole family must come to grips with Norman and Chelsea’s mutual bitterness, while Norman blossoms with his chance to mentor young Billy.

The turbulent relationship between father and daughter, the generation gap between young and old, and the difficulties of a couple in the twilight years of a long marriage, combine to illustrate the simple, human moments of which life is made.

The show premiers on Jan. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Sun City Macdonald Ranch at the Desert Willow Clubhouse Stage, 2020 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, Henderson. Performances continue Jan. 17 and 18, at 6:30 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on Jan. 19 at the Cactus Valley Retirement Resort Theater, 11088 Amigo St, Henderson. We will miss Theater in the Valley’s old location in Downtown Henderson.

Tickets are available at the theater or by email at tivrsvp@gmail.com or by calling the reservation line at 702-558- 7275. For more information visit the website at www.theatreinthevalley.org/.

A Public Fit Theatre Company is offering a staged reading of “Cry It Out” by Molly Smith Metzler at the Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road on Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m.

New mothers, Jessie and Lina, become fast friends during their daily naptime/ coffee breaks in their respective backyards. Their intimate discussions change dramatically when a man from “the mansion up the way” inserts himself and his wife into the two women’s daily coffee klatch. For more information visit apublicfit.org.

► Meanwhile, local playwrights and theater enthusiasts are invited to The Playwright’s Tirade. a playwriting workshop designed to create a safe environment for writers to explore and develop new works.

Tirade meets on the second Sunday of each month at 7 p.m. This month the Tirade will meet on Jan. 12 at The Usual Place at 100 S. Maryland Parkway (just off Fremont Street) next to PublicUs Coffee House.

Whether you are a seasoned writer looking to polish a nearly completed script or a new writer looking to develop a brilliant idea, the Tirade sets the stage with a friendly and constructive atmosphere. Playwrights can hear their scripts read by professional actors, followed by a moderated discussion to encourage writers to continue writing and to produce an original work.

The evening is free and will be open to anyone who wishes to attend; writers, directors, actors, producers or theater enthusiasts. Up to a maximum of six scripts will be read each night.

Writers interested in participating, must submit material to Mark Gorman at mgorman@apublicfit.org. Material must be submitted no later than the Thursday night prior to the readings. Scripts are chosen on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Super Summer Theatre’s offseason In the City Series continues at the Studio with “First Date” Jan. 30-Feb. 16. Presented by Super Summer Theatre and Hynes-Sight Entertainment, “First Date” is a musical comedy about a dating disaster. Dating virgin Aaron is set up on a blind date with serial-dater Casey for a casual drink at a busy New York restaurant.

As the date unfolds in real time, the couple quickly finds that they are not alone, Casey and Aaron’s inner critics take on a life of their own when other restaurant patrons transform into supportive best friends, manipulative exes and protective parents, who sing and dance them through ice-breakers, appetizers and potential conversational land mines. Can true love be found before the check arrives?

The Broadway comedy is based on the book by Austin Winsberg with music and lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner. Show is rated PG13 due to adult language and dating disasters.

Tickets for the In City Series are $20 for general admission. The lobby opens at 6 p.m. with seating at 6:30 p.m. Show time is 7 p.m. The studio is at 4340 S. Valley View, Suite 208. For more information, call 702-579-PLAY (7529), visit supersummertheatre.org or e-mail info@ supersummertheatre.org. For the latest show updates, follow Super Summer Theatre on Facebook, Instagram @ supersummertheatre and Twitter.

Vegas City Opera is performing two concerts in January at the historic Amargosa Opera House in Shoshone, California (just over the Hump and past Pahrump).

On Jan. 4, join VCO for “A Night at the Opera” and on Jan. 31, experience their hit, “Viva Las POPera.” Both shows start at 7 p.m. at the Amargosa Opera House where VCO is the company-in-residence. For ticket information visit vegascityopera.org/.

►The carnage has just begun at the Majestic Reparatory Theatre. Still in warm blood from “The Manson Family: An Opera” and “Krampus,” a Christmas horror story, director Troy Heard is going to immerse you into one of the darkest American musicals, “Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” opening Jan. 16.

Unjustly exiled barber Sweeney Todd returns to London seeking vengeance against the judge who framed him and ravaged his young wife. Sweeney’s vengeance is bitter, but it helps Mrs. Lovett, the resourceful proprietress of the failing pie shop below his barber shop, to discover a new ingredient that makes her meat pies “the best pies in London!”

The score includes some of Stephen Sondheim’s most complex and beautiful music and lyrics, with a story by Hugh Wheeler based on a tale dating back to Victorian penny dreadfuls.

Tickets can be purchased at tickets. vendini.com/ticket. Performances are at Alios, 1217 S Main St. in downtown Las Vegas. For more information visit majesticrepertory.com/.

► For something a little more sweet than bitter, try everyone’s favorite opera, “La Bohème” by Puccini at the Arizona Opera in Phoenix, Jan. 24-26 and Tucson, Feb. 1-2.

Starving poet Rodolfo is living the bohemian life in 1830s Paris. When Mimì enters his apartment in search of a flame to light her candle, the pair ignite a romance that burns brilliantly through the ages.

If the story sounds familiar, then you’ve seen “Rent,” the contemporary retelling of the opera (which in turn was accused of ripping off the plot of novelist Sarah Shulman’s “People in Trouble). The opera’s music is better and probably more familiar. “La Bohème” is the perfect “starter” opera.

For tickets and information, visit azopera.org or call 602-266-7464. Performances are at Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix and Tucson Music Hall.

► One of the most anticipated plays of the season is the Las Vegas Little Theatre’s production of William Inge’s “Bus Stop,” playing Jan. 17-Feb. 2 on the Mainstage.

Inge’s Tony nominated play was made into a critically acclaimed movie directed by Joshua Logan and staring Marilyn Monroe and Don Murry. Although promoted as a romantic comedy in the 1950s, the #Me Too movement is certain to bring out the play’s darker undertones for contemporary audiences.

When a blizzard strands four bus passengers overnight in a small-town diner, Bo, a boastful but innocent cowboy falls in love with the night club singer, Cherie, who is determined to pursue her career, not get married to some shit-kicker from Wyoming.

A woman choosing a career over marriage, a man who ropes his gal to drag her to the altar, kicking and screaming, will today’s audience still be laughing?

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