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Deseret News – Kanye, Tom Holland and all of Utah’s big arts and entertainment moments of 2019

22 December 2019: Deseret News – “Kanye, Tom Holland and all of Utah’s big arts and entertainment moments of 2019
From the 15th anniversary of ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ to Elton John’s farewell tour stop, 2019 was a big year for the Beehive State’s arts scene. Here are some highlights.

Jan. 24 — Jackie Chan

Actor and martial artist Jackie Chan introduced the U.S. premiere of his art exhibit “Jackie Chan: Green Hero” at The Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City.

“How do you use the things you don’t want anymore? It’s about time to show the world I’ve been doing this a long time,” Chan said at a press event for the exhibit.

Jan. 26 — Zac Efron

The 2019 Sundance Film Festival hosted the world premiere of the buzzworthy Ted Bundy biopic “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” released May 3 on Netflix, at the Eccles Center in Park City, bringing with it stars Zac Efron and Lily Collins. Celebrities including Mindy Kaling, Adam Driver, Kevin Bacon, Hilary Swank, Jake Gyllenhaal and Jeff Goldblum also attended the festival.

Jan. 29 — JK! Studios

The original “Studio C” cast left BYUtv to start its own digital comedy network, JK! Studios, launching its first YouTube series, “Loving Lyfe,” on Jan. 29. JK! Studios has since released more series including “Freelancers” and “Summer of Purple” and was also a semifinalist on NBC’s premiere season of the comedy competition “Bring the Funny” this year.

The new “Studio C” cast consists of Tori Pence, Dalton Johnson, April Rock, Arvin Mitchell, Austin Williams, Garet Allen, Ike Flitcraft, Jessica Drolet, Jetta Juriansz, Matthew Galvan and Tanner Gilman.

Jan. 30-March 3 — ‘Wicked’

A national touring production of the popular musical “Wicked” made a stop at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City this year. Renowned actresses Jackie Burns and Kara Lindsay played leads Elphaba and Glinda, respectively.

Feb. 12 — ‘Provo’s Most Eligible’

The viral YouTube dating series “The Bachelor of Provo” became “Provo’s Most Eligible” following a Warner Bros. copyright claim. Season 1 ended in March with Colin Ross asking Annalee Ross to be his girlfriend. Season 2 was filmed this summer and aired this fall, starring three bachelorettes: Lauren Hunter, Elizabeth “Bee” Eide and Ellie Richards. Season 3 is in the works.

March 25 — Jason Alexander

Actor Jason Alexander, known for playing George Costanza on the TV sitcom “Seinfeld,” was the first to perform at Utah Valley University’s new Noorda Center for the Performing Arts in Orem after participating in the building’s ribbon-cutting earlier that day.

“They’re just open to ideas; they’re open to exposing the students to a variety of ways of looking at how to become proficient as an artist, and that is something that you don’t get this fully everywhere else,” Alexander said of UVU in an interview with the Deseret News.

May 3 — ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ 15th anniversary

Some of the “Napoleon Dynamite” cast and crew reunited at East High School in Salt Lake City for a special screening and Q&A celebrating the 15th anniversary of the film’s national release in June.

“The whole thing is surreal,” filmmaker Jerusha Hess said in an interview with the Deseret News. “I feel like the movie isn’t even ours anymore. It’s become this larger beast that belongs to everyone. We have to remind ourselves that it’s our movie, and we created it, because it’s been 15 years, and it’s had a life of its own.”

May 10 — Spike 150

May 10, 2019, marked 150 years since the first transcontinental railroad was completed at the Beehive State’s Promontory Summit. Among the Utah arts scene’s tributes to the anniversary were art exhibits including the Brigham Young University Museum of Art’s “After Promontory” and the Rio Gallery’s “Transcontinental: People, Place, Impact.”

“Some scholars have compared the transcontinental railroad and the network that developed from that to the internet,” said Ashlee Whitaker, the BYU Museum of Art’s acting head curator. “It revolutionized communication, how economies work, how people interact, how people traveled and the growth of communities. It had such a widespread effect.”

June 29 — LoveLoud Festival

Kesha headlined Utah’s third annual LoveLoud Festival. This year’s lineup also included festival founder Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons, K. Flay, AJR, Tegan and Sara, Daya, PVRIS and Laura Jane Grace.

“This is really the first year that we’ve gotten the chance to diversify,” Reynolds told the Deseret News. “We obviously want LoveLoud to be as big as possible. We want the LGBTQ youth to feel special and celebrated. But on top of that, we also want this to be a really diverse lineup, and to have a lot of visibility, and a lot of LGBTQ representation.”

July 4 — Keith Urban, Chuck Norris

Australian country star Keith Urban headlined this year’s Stadium of Fire. Actor Chuck Norris was also honored at the 2019 America’s Freedom Festival at Provo as a grand marshal in the Grand Parade.

July 11-12 — Hugh Jackman

Actor Hugh Jackman put on two concerts at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City as part of his “The Man. The Music. The Show.” world tour. Jackman shared moments of his life and career from “X-Men” to “Les Miserables,” and actress Keala Settle joined him onstage to reprise their roles in “The Greatest Showman.”

Vivint Arena also hosted performances from artists including Kelly Clarkson, Muse, New Kids on the Block, Ariana Grande, Backstreet Boys, Jonas Brothers and Post Malone this year.

Aug. 31 — Sting

Rock star Sting joined forces with the Utah Symphony for a concert at USANA Amphitheatre in West Valley City benefiting Zion National Park.

Sept. 4 — Elton John

Rock legend Elton John brought his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour to Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, performing hits like “Bennie and the Jets” one last time in Utah before he retires.

“I have another life to live now. I never thought in my life I’d have a family of my own, but I do now. And that family needs me, so this is why I’m doing this final tour, to say goodbye and thank you,” John told the crowd.

Sept. 6 — President Nelson’s 95th Birthday Celebration

Donny Osmond, Nathan Pacheco, Jenny Oaks Baker and Family Four, Gentri and the Bonner Family joined the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square to perform at a musical event celebrating President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 95th birthday at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

President Nelson also performed Chopin’s “Prelude in C Minor” on the piano in a video shown at the celebration.

“I’m totally overcome with feelings of love and gratitude,” he told the crowd at the end of the event.

Sept. 6-7 — Tom Holland

“Spider-Man” superstar Tom Holland visited the Beehive State for the FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention. Other FanX celebrity guests this year included actor Kiefer Sutherland, Scott Weinger from Disney’s “Aladdin” and Brian Baumgartner from “The Office.”

Sept. 12-28 — ‘Fly More Than You Fall’

UVU’s Noorda Center for the Performing Arts hosted the pre-Broadway world premiere of the musical “Fly More Than You Fall” starring Utah singer and actress Lexi Walker.

Oct. 5 — Kanye West

Rapper Kanye West led a brief worship event at The Gateway in Salt Lake City. That same day, the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was taking place just a few blocks away at the Conference Center.

Oct. 7-8 — Audra McDonald

UVU spotlighted Broadway star Audra McDonald with two shows at the Noorda Center for the Performing Arts. McDonald told college and high school students in a Q&A during her visit “it was a very long, complicated path” for her to find her voice.

“In trying to sound like everybody else, I wasn’t very good,” she said. “The first few times I really started to let my voice take over and stop trying to sound like somebody else … that’s when people started to sit up and pay attention.”

Oct. 17 — Kristin Chenoweth

Broadway’s Kristin Chenoweth stopped by Encircle in Salt Lake City for the LGBTQ family and youth resource center’s “Beyond” weekly music night.

“Hi! How’s everybody doing? I just wanted to stop by. My name is Kristin Chenoweth, and I do Broadway,” she said upon arrival.

Dec. 1 — John Legend

BYUtv premiered an exclusive “Christmas Under the Stars” concert featuring John Legend on Dec. 1. The holiday TV special was filmed at the LDS Motion Picture Studio in Provo in late September.

“It took quite a long time to get him to finally say yes, which is understandable,” Ian Puente, BYUtv’s director of operations and strategy, said of recruiting Legend with a laugh. “It was a huge milestone for us, and we really felt like this was a huge stamp of approval of the work we’ve been trying to do here at the network, to build a shared values, general entertainment brand that people respect and tune into.”

Dec. 12-14 — Kelli O’Hara, Richard Thomas

Broadway star Kelli O’Hara and actor Richard Thomas were the guest artists for the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square’s 2019 Christmas concerts.

“This is the ultimate invitation, isn’t it?” O’Hara said at a press conference before the concerts. “The chance to sing in front of a live orchestra of this caliber with the voices of 365 singers led by this man (Mack Wilberg), I think anyone would jump at the chance, and I just happened to be the lucky one this year that was asked, and I wanted to move mountains to make it work.”