By Grisha Syssoyev
A new season opens this February at the Center for the Arts at Kayenta, bringing a wide range of theatrical and musical performances to southwest Utah audiences. On display in the center’s new Lorraine Boccardo Theatre are opera and flamenco, drama and storytelling, inspiring gaiety and thoughtful reflection. February will showcase a mix of old favorites and visiting talent, bringing together performing and visual artists from the local community and around the country in the pursuit of engaging and meaningful art.
“Us. Here. Now: The New American Drama Series,” a program of monthly staged readings directed by Kathryn Mederos Syssoyeva, returns Feb. 5 with “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,” Simon Stephens’ dazzling, Tony Award-winning adaptation of Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel. A joint project of the Center for the Arts and DSU’s theater department, “Us. Here. Now.” presents award-winning contemporary drama expressing our most urgent social and political realities; performances are followed by an audience talk-back about the art and the issues.
Flamenco guitarist and symphonic composer Robert Earl Longley follows Feb. 8 with a blend of classical guitar and the folkloric traditions of Andalusia. A New Orleans native steeped in that city’s rich jazz and blues tradition, Longley interweaves an array of influences in performance: jazz, blues, classical guitar, and the melodies of southern Spain. In his own words, “There’s nothing legitimate about what I do. I know I am the bastard child of flamenco and classical guitar, and I prefer it that way.” His original compositions include ten albums and scores for three theatrical films and his soundtracks have been heard at the Sundance Film Festival.
In anticipation of Valentine ’s Day, the St. George Opera Company returns Feb. 10 with “Moonlight Romance,” arias and love songs from opera and musical theater to make anyone swoon and featuring Philippe C. Hall, Amy Neilson, Candace Washburn, Madison Hurst. The evening will round off with dancing and a decadent dessert bar by Harmon’s as well as complimentary adult beverages.
A Kayenta favorite, Coyote Tales is back Feb. 13. Founded by Victoria Topham in an effort to foster community spirit, Coyote Tales is an evening of open-mic storytelling. This month’s theme is “Enchantment.” Attendees are invited to put their names in a hat in hopes of being chosen to share a tale of up to five minutes, signing up beforehand so that they may have time to refine and rehearse their stories. Go to coyotetalesstories.com. Participants will tell tales of courtship, romance, fascination, and delight.
The featured performance from off-Broadway Feb. 16–18 is “Vietnam … Through My Lens,” a one-man show written and performed by former combat photographer and writer Stu Richel. A collection of memories, photos, and stories from his time in the service, “Vietnam … Through My Lens” premiered in New York City in 2014 and has toured across the country since. Made vivid by projections of his photos, Richel’s story is not, as he puts it, “about guts or glory” or “some political statement.” The play is one soldier’s journey: an intensely personal account of war and an exploration of the unique bond between veterans. The documentary film by Luke Hansen, “A Soldier’s Sanctuary,” based on his father’s experience as a Vietnam veteran, will be shown Feb. 15. Sponsored by Dave and Carol Hansen, admission is free or by donation to benefit the VA performance Feb. 18 for the vets who can’t travel. Veterans receive two free tickets. Call (435) 674-ARTS (2787), or go to kayentaarts.com.
The Center for the Arts at Kayenta is actively exploring the rich opportunities created by the opening of the Lorraine Boccardo Theatre, forming new relationships and lasting partnerships with other theatrical institutions and artists. The center has so far had a successful winter, and if February’s showings are any indication, it is looking forward to a promising spring.