LOGAN – The new round of holiday-oriented Random Acts shows at the Ellen Eccles Theatre got off to an impressive start Wednesday, with an evening of classy caroling, traditional hymns and other seasonal music.
“An Evening of Christmas” began with a haunting instrumental duet of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” performed by Jon Martinez on piano and Benjamin Gale on violin.
Martinez and Gale are both concert-quality musicians. Their solo performances during the hour-long Random Acts show were breathtaking and their duets were even better.
Vocal performances by Danielle Dee Smith and Lisa Benson were equally top-notch.
Ms. Smith’s classically trained voice was ideally suited for performing more traditional arrangements of carols and hymns, including a beautifully heartfelt rendition of “Silent Night.”
With her sultry voice, Ms. Benson was able to turn familiar tunes like Mel Tormé’s “A Christmas Song” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” into sizzling torch songs.
One of the show’s highlights was Gale accompanying Ms. Smith and Ms. Benson in a brilliantly arranged and performed version of “The First Noel” and the violinist even sang solo for a few bars.
Another surprise was Ms. Benson being joined by her sisters Julie Benson Surjolopos and Connie Benson Starks to perform some lovely a cappella singing. The talented siblings perform as “The Benson Sisters” and are slated for their own vintage 1940’s Random Acts show on Dec. 18.
“An Evening of Christmas” was attended by a small but appreciative audience.
CacheARTS director Wendi Hassan says that all upcoming Random Acts performances will fully comply with current state guidelines for organized public gatherings in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Wednesday’s audience seemed to good-naturedly accept those precautions as a current fact of life.
Six additional Random Acts shows are scheduled at the Eccles Theatre through Dec. 23.
Those events, Hassan explains, are being subsidized by grants from the “Create in Utah” program provided through the federal CARES Act by the Utah Legislature and the Utah Division of Arts & Museums.