Friday, February 22, 2019

WEEK AT A GLANCE: February 18-February 24

cast announcement - MAMMA MIA! - Arizona Broadway Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs March 15-April 20

Donna Sheridan: Kaitlin Lawrence
Sophie Sheridan: Alexandra Carter
Bill Austin: Andy Meyers
Harry Bright: Brian Ashton Miller
Sam Carmichael: Matthew Taylor
Tanya: Jessica Medoff
Rosie: Chae Clearwood
Sky: Nicholas Kuhn
Pepper: Jacob Herrera
Ali: Amanda Lopez
Lisa: Erika Wasko
Eddie: Jabriel Shelton
Father Alexandrios: Kyle Yampiro

Ensemble: Jasmine Bassham, Blair Beasley, Liz Fallon, Lynzee Foreman, Renée Kathleen Koher, Cesar Razza, Brendan Trybus, Dyllan Vallier and Brody Wurr

Hale Centre Theatre's Summer 2019 Concert Series!

cast announcement - GOD'S FAVORITE - Stage Left Productions

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs from May 3-May 12

Mike Iacovelli Joe Benjamin
Cindy Miesse Rose Benjamin
Nathan Barnhouse Ben Benjamin
Mackenzie Reppy Sarah Benjamin
Billy Brandes David Benjamin
Peter Hart Sidney Lipton
Lorraine Taylor Mady
Mykhal Polite Morris

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Arizona Regional Theatre announces talk back after this Saturday's performance of NEXT TO NORMAL

Join Arizona Regional Theatre for a talk back following this Saturday's matinee performance of NEXT TO NORMAL, moderated by JT Turner of JALT Media.

The panel will feature author Erin Callinan, Jacob Shaver and director, Chris R. Chávez.

Callinan will be available following the talk back to sign copies of her book Beautifully Bipolar: An Inspiring Look Into Mental Illness, copies of which can be purchased at the show

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets

Finding Fact in Fiction: a conversation with Shelby Maticic, director of BIG FISH at Brelby Theatre Company

Nicholas Hambruch as Edward Bloom
and Addison Bowman as Sandra Bloom
photo courtesy Brelby Theatre Company
by Julia Bashaw

Big Fish was a novel from Daniel Wallace that was turned into a Tim Burton movie and then became a musical from Andrew Lippa and John August. But the musical didn't run long on Broadway in 2013 so while unique, it isn't that well known. Opening this Friday at Brelby Theatre Company in Glendale presents an intimate production of this heartwarming tale.

Shelby Maticic, the director of Brelby's production, describes the story of Big Fish as “It’s about a father and son who are reconciling their troubled relationship as the father is battling stage four cancer. The father is a storyteller and his son Will has grown up not knowing what is real and what isn’t real about the stories that his father has told him about his own life. And so he decides to track all the stories with his new wife and piece it together and figure out who his father is before he loses him.”

Big Fish is a story of adventure, love, and family. As Will dives into all of his father's stories, the audience gets to follow and enjoy the magic of the journey. Brelby sits 65 people, so it is an intimate venue where the audience can forget about life for a while and watch Will’s journey with his father Edward.

Maticic had a number of reasons why she wanted to direct this musical and include it in Brelby’s 2019 season.

“I feel like I have a very close connection with the story. I lost my own Dad to cancer when I was in my 20s and so I definitely connect with a lot of the experiences that Will and his mother Sandra go through. You really do sort of see these different stages of the grieving process for each character in the show. We really strive to do stuff that isn’t really being seen in other venues around the valley. Big Fish is not as popular. And when I found that there was another version of the musical which is called the 'twelve chair version' it solidified doing this production for me because it is cut perfectly for a venue of our size.  I wanted something a little more intimate, something with some name recognition and something that was a little different. It ticked off all the boxes I wanted.”

Maticic and her husband Brian believe that Big Fish is relatable to all audiences, and they are thrilled to be presenting this production. And, if you've seen this musical before, the reduced cast version is something that adds another dimension to the show, for both the audience and the actors.

Shelby Maticic
photo courtesy Brelby Theatre Company
As Maticic says, "Reducing the cast size to twelve actors keeps the show intimate and each artist also becomes pivotal to telling the story effectively."

Maticic expressed many times that she loves this musical so much. “Big Fish has characters that everyone can relate to and I think that as a result, people within any size community can find their story there,” she explained, “and they can find maybe glimpses of their own experiences with their family members. I think that the story is about family and stories that are rooted in truth will always find an audience.”

According to Maticic, the music in the show is quite addictive and will often stay with everyone even after they leave rehearsal. “The music is beautiful and the songs are incredibly catchy they get stuck in our heads. We will all message each other after and ask which song is stuck in your head this morning?” Maticic laughed.

Brian and Shelby Maticic have a special community in Glendale with an adorable backstory. Brelby Theatre is run by the couple, college sweethearts who had a bowling nickname smashing their two names together creating ‘Brelby’. Now the Brelby Theatre Company has grown into a successful independent theater in the West Valley. With Big Fish, audiences will be able to journey with Will through his father’s whimsical stories and just leave their own troubles behind.

“Visually it is a really stunning show,” Maticic said. “There are a lot of fun and vibrant fantasy worlds that are created throughout the script. I think people are going to enjoy being swept up in it for a performance. Sometimes it’s a little stressed out there and it’s nice to be able to escape to a theatre to hear somebody else's story for a while and not think about your own troubles.”

When she was asked what she hopes audiences will take away after seeing this show she smiled. “I hope audiences go home and call their parents,” Maticic expressed. “Or any family member that maybe you sometimes struggle to see eye to eye with. I think one of the important takeaways from the show is that it is so easy to think that you don’t have anything in common with someone but if you take the time to sit down and really listen. There are reasons to connect with one another.”

CLICK HERE for more information on Big Fish at Brelby Theatre Company, which runs February 22-March 10

promo photos - GREASE: SCHOOL EDITION - Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs February 22-March 24

photos by Renee Ashlock

audition notice - BOY GETS GIRL - Mesa Encore Theatre - March 4

Audition Notice Mesa Encore Theatre MET@933 Black Box Performance Space
Boy Gets Girl
By Rebecca Gilman
Directed by Van Rockwell

Sign up for an audition - 8 Actors per time slot

Monday March 4th 7:00pm
Monday March 4th 7:30pm
Monday March 4th 8:00pm
Monday March 4th 8:30pm

CLICK HERE to sign up

Call Backs will be held Tuesday March 5th 7pm
Production date run April 26 to May 12 2019
Audition will be held at the Black Box located at 933 E. Main St Mesa AZ

What to Prepare and Expect
Actors will also be given Sides/Monologue Selections and maybe asked to do Cold Reads from the play

Contact Van Rockwell with any further questions

Theresa Bedell is a successful reporter in New York who loves her work and the life she has made for herself. A relationship with a man would complete the picture and so she agrees to go on a blind date with a friend of a friend. Tony is attractive and funny, but Theresa isn't sure, and after a second date she's convinced they have nothing in common and sees no point in continuing the relationship. Tony, though, thinks otherwise. What at first seems like persistence on his part grows into obsession, and Theresa's annoyance with Tony turns to terror as he begins to threaten her and those around her. Ultimately, Theresa must fight to save herself from being erased by Tony's actions. Set in 2000, eighteen years before #metoo and #timesup, Boy Gets Girl uses the story of what happens when a blind date turns into a living nightmare to examine stalking, sexism, and the nature of the idea of romantic pursuit.

All ethnicities encouraged to audition.

Theresa Bedell – (early to mid-30’s)
Tony – a guy (mid to late-20’s – goes from charming and handsome to a full-fledge monster on the drop of a dime)
Howard Siegel – Theresa’s boss (mid-50’s – 60’s)
Mercer Stevens – Theresa’s colleague (30’s – 40’s)
Harriet – Theresa’s new secretary (19 – 25)
Detective Madeline Beck – A plainclothes police officer (30’s – 50’s)
Les Kennkat – A sexist filmmaker (40’s – 70’s)

promo photos - THE MUSIC MAN, JR - Musical Theatre of Anthem

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs February 28-March 3

Micah Blalack (Harold Hill) and Grace Davis (Marian Paroo)

PHOTO CREDIT: Michele Celentano  

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

promo photos - YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU - Pinnacle Creative Arts

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs February 22-24

Did you know there are kittens in You Can’t Take it With You? That’s right! Meet Sherlock and Watson, the real stars of PCA’s winter play. Come see them steal the show this weekend and even have the opportunity to adopt them. Yes, you read correctly. These two cuties could be yours if you win. Find out how when you come see You Can’t Take it With You - this weekend only!

photos courtesy Pinnacle Creative Arts

42ND STREET - Actor's Youth Theatre - April 25-May 18, 2019

Book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble
Music by Harry Warren and Lyrics by Al Dubin
Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes and Busby Berkeley's 1933 movie

The ultimate show-biz musical, 42ND STREET celebrates Broadway, Times Square, and the people who make the magic of musical theatre. Aspiring chorus girl Peggy Sawyer comes to the big city from Allentown PA, and soon lands her first big job in the ensemble of a glitzy new Broadway show. But just before opening night, the leading lady breaks her ankle. Will Peggy be able to step in and become a star?

Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7PM
Saturday Matinees at 3PM

Dorothy Brock - Drew MacCallum
Peggy Sawyer - Miranda Bellows/Lily Nelson (U/S)
Maggie Jones - Hailey Laidig
Ann Reilly (Anytime Annie) - Taylor Peel
Phyllis Dale - Reagan Plank
Lorraine Flemming - Maddie Sue Miller
Gladys - Ava Saba
Diana Lorimer - Lily Nelson/Mia McFarland/Alyse Negroni U/S
Ethel - Julia Pitman
Julian Marsh - Jakob Ashton Garcia
Bert Barry - Eric O’Dell
Billy Lawlor - Tony Gurrieri
Andy Lee - Devorah "DJ" Coon/ Marguerite Durma
Oscar - Ava Pack
Mac - TBA
Pat Denning - Cole Denham
Abner Dillon - Liam Delgado

ENSEMBLE (Dancers, Policemen, Townspeople)
Zoe Baurele
Emma Benham
Tamara Benham
Natalie Cline
Lindsay French
Shayla Forero
Danika Kussy
Katie Mullen
Alyse Negroni
Anastasia Ramirez

April 25th-May 18th, 2019
Tuscany Theatre
861 N Higley Rd, St 105, Gilbert, AZ 85234


CLICK HERE for more information, and to purchase tickets

The Phoenix Theatre Company’s 2019 / 2020 season!

Arizona’s first and oldest arts institution is celebrating 100 years with a full slate of shows that have significance to The Phoenix Theatre Company’s past, present and future. Loaded with blockbusters, crowd favorites and a brand new world premiere musical, the 100th season reflects The Phoenix Theatre Company’s commitment to Broadway-caliber entertainment, inspiring audiences through the arts, and promoting new voices in theatre.

Kicking off the season is the national tour of Spamilton – An American Parody, a satirical take on the production that rocked the world of musical theatre. Beginning in August is Kinky Boots, one of the first regional productions of the musical in the U.S.

“It’s a big beginning to a big season,” said Vincent VanVleet, managing director, The Phoenix Theatre Company. We celebrate the holiday season with The Sound of Music, a beloved classic. Not only is it a family favorite for the holidays, but it was also the show that rescued The Phoenix Theatre Company from the brink of bankruptcy in the 1980s. We are proud to commemorate that triumph by once again bringing this iconic production to life.”

The 2019/2020 season includes more than just shows with historical significance. The selected shows also reflect The Phoenix Theatre Company’s mission: to inspire hope and understanding through theatre.

“Our 100th season is a true celebration of everything we’ve been through as a company, everything we’ve been working toward and everything we believe we can be,” explained Michael Barnard, producing artistic director, The Phoenix Theatre Company. “Classics like Hair, which we produced here on our stage over 20 years ago,bring us back to our roots and pay tribute to some of our milestones over the years, while shows like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Americano! showcase the future of theatre with inclusive modern stories that help us really understand the people around us. With 10 productions and the 22nd annual Festival of New American Theatre, there’s truly something for everyone. We can’t wait to share this historic, celebratory season with our community!”

The full season lineup is 10 shows, including:

  • SPAMILTON – AN AMERICAN PARODY: June 12 – August 11, 2019
  • KINKY BOOTS: August 28 – October 13, 2019
  • THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME: October 9 – November 10, 2019
  • THE SOUND OF MUSIC: November 13 – December 29, 2019
  • MILLION DOLLAR QUARTETDecember 18, 2019 – February 16, 2020
  • AMERICANO! World Premiere: January 29 – February 23, 2020
  • SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIMFebruary 26 – April 12, 2020
  • FESTIVAL OF NEW AMERICAN THEATRE: February 28 – March 15, 2020
  • SOMETHING ROTTEN!March 18 – April 19, 2020
  • THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW: April 15 – June 7, 2020
  • HAIR: May 20 – June 28, 2020

Season ticket packages go on sale to the public on March 20, 2019. To purchase by phone, call (602) 254-2151 or visit

review - TWO TRAINS RUNNING - Arizona Theatre Company

Alan Bomar Jones, Erika LaVonn, Lester Purry, and James Craven
photo by Tim Fuller
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through March 3.

"August Wilson's "Century Cycle" plays focus on the daily lives of different African Americans, with each of the ten plays set in a different decade of the 20th century. While the most famous of these plays is Fences, his Two Trains Running, which is set in 1969, is a poignant and well-crafted piece that follows a group of unrelated individuals whose lives intertwine in a Pittsburgh restaurant they frequent every day. With expert direction and a sensational cast, Arizona Theatre Company's production is simply superb...set in Memphis' restaurant in Pittsburgh's Hill District (the location of all but one of the ten of Wilson's "Century Cycle" plays.) It used to a popular spot with people coming from all over to eat, but now only a few regulars stop by each day. There is change in the air in the form of gentrification and the rise of racial tension in the aftermath of the death, the year before, of Martin Luther King Jr. With the city making plans to tear down twelve blocks in the area, Memphis is hoping to make a nice profit on the building by selling it back to the city. Talk of racial tension, nearby rallies, chants of "black is beautiful," and the hopes and dreams of the residents in the area are threaded throughout the discussions the customers have as they go about their ordinary, daily lives. While the plot is sparse across the three-hour play, Wilson's characters and dialogue are continually riveting, with good pacing and several monologues that draw the audience into their plights. Lou Bellamy, who directed ATC's superb production of Fences back in 2016, is an expert in bringing Wilson's plays to the stage and his work on Two Trains Running is no exception....The cast is as exceptional as the creative designs. They form a well-oiled ensemble who create realistic characters that pull you into their stories. ...While it may focus on African Americans in 1960s Pittsburgh, Two Trains Running is an impressive and visionary work from one of 20th century America's best playwrights that focuses on ordinary people trying to get through their daily lives, something anyone can relate to. With an excellent cast, confident direction, and impressive creative aspects, Arizona Theatre Company's production is compelling theatre. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

."...Director Lou Bellamy knows August Wilson...  It’s his passion for the piece that is on display in the new exemplary Arizona Theatre Company production. You can sense it before the play begins from the look of Vicki Smith’s detailed scenic design of the well-worn restaurant, and you can feel it from the way the cast embody their characters; they’re lived-in. Both setting and cast reek of authenticity, a notable achievement on a forum where by default reality is an artificial experience, yet here we’re watching a world inhabited by people who appear all too real...." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"Virtuoso performances are the order of the day in Arizona Theatre Company's revival of August Wilson's TWO TRAINS absorbing and riveting representation of seven individuals, each of whom shares in the struggle to secure a piece of the elusive American Dream. (Director Lou) Bellamy's forte and that of this extraordinary cast is to stoke Wilson's fire into moments that penetrate the wall of the ghetto, expose the audience to the indignities of racism, and evoke empathy for the figures who vie relentlessly against the man for what is their due....Each of the roles in ATC's production is superbly defined...As is the case with all Wilson's works, no one can leave the theatre without indelible impressions of the essence and ironies of life in black America ~ and, in the case of ATC's production, the knowledge that one has watched an ensemble of artists at the top of their game..." Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)

audition notice - IN THE HEIGHTS - Mesa Encore Theatre - March 2 & 3

MET will be holding auditions for In the Heights Mar. 2 & 3 (both 9:30 AM - 1:45 PM)

Call Backs Mar 10 (4-9 PM)

ALL ETHNICITIES WELCOME but we are trying to stay true to Lin-Manuel Miranda's vision and original production, so we are especially looking for Latinx and African-American actors and actresses.  ALL performers need to be comfortable speaking and singing in Spanish.

Vocal Auditions first, by appointment: plan to sing 32-bars from any musical similar in style.  Bring sheet music in the proper key OR an instrumental recording - make sure we can connect it to our 1/8" sound cable!

After the vocal auditions we will send invites to call-backs for reading and dance.

PRE-AUDITION DANCE WORKSHOP: at the MET Black Box stage at 933 E. Main Street, Mesa on Sat. Feb 23 6 PM - 9:30 PM and everyone is encouraged (but not required) to attend as a warm up and to meet the choreographer and director.  Drop-in, no reservation required.

No registration needed for the workshop; wear dance shoes.

Audition registration is via casting manager. CLICK HERE to register

Rehearsals start Mar. 31; performances are May 17 - June 2 at the Mesa Arts Center.

IN THE HEIGHTS, tells the universal story of a vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood – a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. It’s a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind. IN THE HEIGHTS is the winner of the 2008 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Score, Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations.

A conversation with NEXT TO NORMAL's Amy Jo Halliday

Amy Jo Halliday in Arizona Regional Theatre's production of Next to Normal
photo by Arona Spader / JALT Media
by Gil Benbrook

Amy Jo Halliday grew up in Mesa, went to ASU and found herself, at 20 years old, as the youngest woman ever cast in the main female role of Christine in Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit musical The Phantom of the Opera.

After living for 20 years in Portland with her husband and four children, and working for various theatre companies in town, Halliday is back in the Valley and making her return the Phoenix stages playing Diana in Arizona Regional Theatre's production of Next to Normal.

After a busy week of final rehearsals and opening the show, Halliday sat down to answer some questions about the show, her past and why Next to Normal is a show that must be seen.

Next to Normal is a Pulitzer Prize and Tony winning musical, but for someone who's never seen this show, or heard of it, what would you tell them it's about?

"It is about a family who is reeling from the effects of the matriarch's bipolar disorder.  It is a show about how her mental illness affects her and her family. "

What can you tell us about the character you play, Diana?

"Diana is a very intricate character.  She is wife, mother, daughter....and not doing any of these very well.  She lives with bipolar disorder, and is struggling to maintain a "normal" existence. "

Why did you want to play this part?

"I am a mother of 4.  I am a wife and a daughter.  I am an auntie.  Every woman I know struggles daily to stay afloat and to live up to unreachable expectations.  Diana tells the story of every woman and their struggles (whatever they may be) to maintain normality.  Diana is a woman of truth - and I wanted to tell her story. "

How did things you learned in the rehearsal process change the way you view Diana?

"Our director brought in two mental health experts who are living and thriving with bipolar disorder.  From these two women, I learned many things about what living with bipolar looks like.  I was educated on what manic and depressive states look like.  Through the lives of these 2 women, I was able to believe that what Diana was experiencing was TRUTH to her.  It wasn't an act.  It was real.  This changed my idea and portrayal of Diana."

Amy as Christine in The Phantom of the Opera
You played Christine Daaé in the national tour of The Phantom of the Opera. What was the audition process like in order to win such a plum part? And what was that experience like playing such an iconic role in a blockbuster show?

"I went to a 'cattle call' in Los Angeles!  I read about the call in Backstage, and decided to attend knowing that I was perfect for Christine.  A few weeks later I was asked to come to New York to do another audition.  After that audition, I was offered the Christine Understudy, and 3 months later I was moved to the main Christine in the National Tour.  I loved it!  It was a dream come true for me.  I was only 20.  I was the youngest Christine they had ever hired.  The costumes, the wigs, the shoes, the other singers....all were amazing!"

I believe you grew up, or went to school, in Mesa before moving away. What brought you back to the Valley?

"I did!  I grew up in Mesa and went to Mesa High.  After Phantom, I made a conscious decision to not go to New York.  I did not like living on the road, and knew that I would be living in New York only to get work outside of New York.  So, my husband and I decided to go to Portland to finish graduate school.  We loved it so much that we stayed for 20 years.  I had a very busy performance calendar and LOVED the companies and people that I worked for in Portland.  Sadly, I have bad asthma, and the air and mold in Oregon were terrible for my lungs.  After many years of  my breathing getting worse and worse, we decided to come back to Phoenix to see if the dry air could help my lungs.  We have only been here a few months, but my breathing is already improving!"

Is this your first role in a show in the Valley since moving back?

"It is!  My first audition and my first role. "

What's your favorite moment in Next to Normal?

"Hmmmmm.....  today my favorite was the song "Better than before".  I love getting to connect with Andy (Dan) and Kendra (Natalie) during this song.  This is the one time in the show that I really get to smile and be genuinely happy and hopeful."

Amy Jo Halliday
This show focuses on the impact that mental illness and grief has on a family. What type of research did you do in order to relate to the material in the show?

"I read A LOT!  I also have a nephew that is bipolar schizophrenic, and so I talked to his mother (my sister) about his behaviors. "

What do you hope audiences will take away from seeing this production?

"I hope that they will be moved to put their arms around their neighbors.  I hope they will be moved to educate themselves on mental illness.  I hope they will talk about what they have learned."

Why should people go and see it?

"People should come and see our show because our cast is DANG GOOD!!  We love working together, and it shows.  We are honest and raw and real."

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs through February 24th

TheaterWorks' A NIGHT OF INSPIRATION Gala is coming up on March 9

from our friends at TheaterWorks:

TheaterWorks celebrates the 12th Anniversary of the opening of their home, the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts at the Night of Inspiration Gala event to be held on Saturday, March 9, 2019. Guests will enjoy an evening of cuisine, silent and live auctions, dancing and a very special original theatrical performance to benefit the theater’s artistic, educational and outreach programs. “The City of Peoria and TheaterWorks have had a very special relationship for the past ten years. We want to celebrate the last decade of being in our home at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts with the community,” says Managing Director Cate Hinkle.

Individual tickets to the event are $200. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

Event sponsors include Wilhelm Automotive, For Those Without a Voice, D. Miller Charitable Trust, Sun Health, Constance W. McMillin Trust, Mayor Cathy Carlat, Mayor Pro Tem Vicki Hunt, Councilmember Bill Patena, Vice Mayor Bridget Binsbacher, Councilmember Michael Finn, First Bank, APS, National Bank of Arizona, Kathy and Tom Knecht, GCON, Nathan Martinez, New West Oil Company, the Law Office of Mary K. Farrington-Lorch and Mary K. Farrington-Lorch and Martin, Alexia and Cedric Lorch, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Lucidi Distilling Company and Mudshark Brewery.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or contact the TheaterWorks Box Office by phone at 623.815.7930 or by email at  TheaterWorks is located at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts (10580 N. 83rd Dr. , Peoria, AZ 85345).

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

audition notice - ANTIGONE - Now and Then Creative Company - February 23

Saturday 2/23 - AUDITIONS - 10AM to 2PM -

ANTIGONE by Sophocles, translated by Ian Johnston, and directed by Cody Goulder, at Now & Then Creative Company. Please visit this link for all the info and to sign up for an audition slot. All genders, ethnicities, and ages are welcome and encouraged to audition.

Among the most popular of Greek tragedies, Antigone walks the razor thin line between the expectations of a domineering and patriarchal society and her own personal code of honor and morality. Set in the dark and dingy atmosphere of the Victorian era, Now & Then Creative Company's production explores the question, "Why do we allow such tragedies to happen when we see them speeding toward us?" Ensemble in production, movement heavy in performance, Antigone is a tragic ghost story we will continue to hear until we choose to wake from our nightmares.

CLICK HERE for more information and to sign up for an audition

Mesa Encore Theatre's 2019 / 2020 Season!

from our friends at MET:

Chart a course for adventure next season! We travel through space, across the seas and into forbidden forests where we will encounter dark foes, battle monsters in wicked castles, catch giants in the sky, fly with pink dragons and hope that good will always conquer evil. Next season we bring you a beloved Sondheim, a classic Gilbert & Sullivan, a new vision of Robin Hood (a swashbuckling Arizona Premiere), and one of the most popular Broadway shows of all time in Shrek the Musical. We will dabble in high adventure with She Kills Monsters and take a different kind of high adventure in the madcap musical, Reefer Madness. Our Black Box on Main Street will also be on a new quest with Darkside and The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls. It’s going to be a remarkable journey, and we hope that you will come on this adventure with us this September!

Into the Woods
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine
September 6-22, 2019
performances at the Mesa Arts Center, One East Main St. Mesa AZ, 85201

Inspired by the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales, including Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Jack and the Beanstalk, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine set out to create a story centering around the the moral struggles of these famous fairy tale characters. Tied together with one original story about a Baker and his wife, their struggle to have a child, and the witch who cursed their bloodline. This community of old and new characters must come together to save each other and their kingdom, ever after!

The Pirates of Penzance
Music by Arthur Sullivan, Book and Lyrics by W. S. Gilbert
November 1-17, 2019
performances at the Mesa Arts Center, One East Main St. Mesa AZ, 85201

Gilbert and Sullivan’s most popular show, The Pirates of Penzance, is a rollicking, delightfully funny tale of a band of soft-tempered pirates. Mistakenly apprenticed to a pirate (instead of a pilot) by his nursemaid Ruth at the age of eight, the handsome Frederic is now twenty-one and, though quite fond of the group of joyous and fun-loving pirates, chooses to abandon his profession and “lead a blameless life henceforth,” dedicating himself instead to their eradication. Beloved since its premiere in 1879, The Pirates of Penzance (or The Slave of Duty) is a delightful farce of a classic that is fun for all ages.

By Ken Jones
November 8-24, 2019
performances at the Mesa Encore Theatre Black Box, 933 E Main St, Mesa AZ 85203

Two American astronauts are stranded in a lunar landing module on the dark side of the moon while a third orbits in the command module. As they work with ground control toward rescue, flashbacks reveal their stories.

She Kills Monsters
by Qui Nguyen
January 10-26, 2020
performances at the Mesa Arts Center, One East Main St. Mesa AZ, 85201

A comedic romp into the world of fantasy role-playing games, She Kills Monsters tells the story of Agnes Evans as she leaves her childhood home in Ohio following the death of her teenage sister, Tilly. When Agnes finds Tilly’s Dungeons & Dragons notebook, however, she stumbles into a journey of discovery and action-packed adventure in the imaginary world that was Tilly’s refuge. In this high-octane dramatic comedy laden with homicidal fairies, nasty ogres, and 90s pop culture, acclaimed young playwright Qui Nguyen offers a heart-pounding homage to the geek and warrior within us all.

Book and Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire; Music by  Jeanine Tesori
February 28-March 15, 2020 
performances at the Mesa Arts Center, One East Main St. Mesa AZ, 85201

Shrek the Musical is a one-of-a-kind, hilarious fairy tale in which curses are reversed, monsters get the girls, donkeys and dragons find love, and princesses are beautiful in all shapes and sizes. With dazzling sets, whimsical puppetry, high energy dance numbers, and laughs by the minute, Shrek the Musical transforms the contemporary children’s book and popular animated feature film into a stage musical that is sure to entertain and make audiences believers in happy endings for all.

Reefer Madness
Book by Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney; Music by Dan Studney; Lyrics by Kevin Murphy
April 3-19, 2020
performances at the Mesa Arts Center, One East Main St. Mesa AZ, 85201

There is a new menace sweeping the nation, ready to ensnare and seduce the youth and drag them down into a life of sin: REEFER MADNESS! In this hilarious, over-the-top satire, the high school drama club, led by the gravely stern Lecturer, illustrates the perils of the “leafy green assassin.”  Reefer Madness is an irreverent parody of the classic 1930s instructional film full of camp, hilarity, mayhem, and madness.

The Legend of Robin Hood
(Arizona Premiere)
By Nathan Makaryk
May 15-31, 2020
performances at the Mesa Arts Center, One East Main St. Mesa AZ, 85201

The Legend of Robin Hood spins a whole new tale more intricate yet more realistic than anything seen before. This swashbuckling show has it all – colorful and absorbing characters, compelling ideas, and enough laughs, tears, sword fights and dramatic plotting to satisfy anyone. This is a pulse-pounding yet meditative new take of a classic tale showing how the medieval English hero became a legend.

FairyTale Lives of Russian Girls
By Meg Miroshnik
June 5-21, 2020
performances at the Mesa Encore Theatre Black Box, 933 E Main St, Mesa AZ 85203

Once upon a time – in 2005 – a twenty-year-old girl named Annie returned to her native Russia to brush up on the language and lose her American accent. Underneath a glamorous Post-Soviet Moscow studded with dangerously high heels, designer bags, and luxe fur coats, she discovers an enchanted motherland teeming with evil stepmothers, wicked witches, and ravenous bears. Annie must learn how to become the heroine of a story more mysterious and treacherous than any childhood fairy tale: her own. This subversive story haunts the audience and carries a powerful message for young women living in a world where not everything ends up happily ever after.

CLICK HERE for more information, and to purchase tickets, when available

THE TAMING OF THE SHREW is just AS YOU LIKE IT: A conversation with the versatile co-Producing Artistic Directors of Southwest Shakespeare Company

Quinn Mattfeld and Betsy Mugavero
photo courtesy Southwest Shakespeare Company
by Julia Bashaw

If it's winter in Phoenix that means it's time once again for the Southwest Shakespeare Company to push the boundaries by starting off the new year in repertory style. Starting this Friday, February 22, they are performing two Shakespearean plays, The Taming of the Shrew and As You Like It, with the same cast, alternating each day of the weekend. Married couple Quinn Mattfeld and Betsy Mugavero are the co-producing artistic directors who joined the company last year and this will be their first time taking the Southwest Stage together with Mattfeld and Mugavero as the leads in The Taming of the Shrew and Mattfeld directing As You Like It with Mugavero as the lead.

“(This) Friday night we do The Taming of the Shrew, Saturday night we do As You Like It. It is a repertory fashion.” Betsy explained. “We are using the same set for both plays but with different aesthetics placed and different elements.”

The Taming of the Shrew was written by Shakespeare near the beginning of his career and As You Like It was written near the end. Southwest Shakespeare is doing these two comedies together because they are so different from each other.

The Taming of the Shrew is about a woman named Katherine who is considered an untamable woman where no man wants to marry her and for every man who does, she refuses. Petruchio is recruited as a wife for Kate and at first, he agrees because she is the daughter of a wealthy man and he will inherit money. But as Mattfeld and Mugavero explain, the story grows and is so much more than the title suggests.

“It’s interesting,” Mattfeld started, “We give Shakespeare the benefit of the doubt and realize that there is depth and complexity in his stories when we are talking about Hamlet or Macbeth or Othello. But when we talk about comedy we tend not to do that which is odd. The Taming of the Shrew on the surface is a story about a crazy woman and a guy who has to control her. But then you look at it closely and there is a different meaning and you see what Shakespeare’s intention was.”

“It’s these two misfits who meet and find acceptance with each other,” Mugavero added. “What happens in our telling of it, is that Kate and Petruchio are equal with each other. All you hear from these other characters is how Kate is this horrible shrew and that no one wants her. But there is really no moment where she is showing her awfulness. She is a misunderstood woman.”

“And for Petruchio,” Mattfeld added, “it is all about money. But then he meets Kate, and from that point on in the script, he never says another word about money.”

This is Mattfeld’s first time being in this play, he explained how he always avoided this comedy because it is a hard show to tackle due to the subject matter. However, now that he is in it, he has been able to see Shakespeare’s genius and purpose of this show. Especially in his use of disguise and masks throughout the telling of the story. In The Taming of the Shrew, many characters use disguises, physically and metaphorically, in order to trick other characters in order to further their own means.

“Petruchio points out to people how silly these masks and disguises are and that they can be used to your purposes they are only as useful as you let them be.” Mattfeld explained. “Petruchio wears a lot of masks too. Petruchio has no idea how to deal with Kate. So he is throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. So I take that and see a guy who doesn’t have a clue but is pretending in front of everybody else that he’s got it.”

Mugavero, on the other hand, has performed in this play before, twice actually. But she never played the role of Katherine and she wasn’t sure if she wanted to but overcame that when she discovered and understood who she was.

“I never wanted to play her because I thought that wasn’t me,” Betsy admitted. “I always thought she was a tall woman, commanding presence, with a big personality. But whenever I’m afraid of something that means I should probably do it. So now I am finding that there’s no reason that Katherine can’t be small and mighty.”

As a married couple who are working together as leads in this production, the duo expressed how that experience has been and how their relationship has added to there acting abilities in this production.

“The trust we have with each other it is so easy to work together, especially in a play like this,” Mugavero smiled. “Working with someone who I have a family with and an inherent trust with, it made us find more fun.”

“In addition to the fact that I am working with my wife,” Mattfeld stated, “I am also working with my favorite actress. It is really nice, this addition to the personal thing is the professional thing. I lucked out on both.”

“Same,’ added Mugavero. “I am honored to work with Quinton, he is such a good comedian and he inspires me to do better.”

The Taming of the Shrew opens first and opening night is just in a couple days. The couple expressed their excitement and what they hope audiences will take away, after seeing this classic Shakespeare play.

“I always so want people to leave the theatre after seeing a Shakespeare play and go 'I enjoyed that.' I don’t want them to say it was boring and I didn’t understand it. I want them to know that we have amazing smart actors in this show who translate the text to the audience really well. We have a great director who has crafted a story that is really fun. My goal is to have an enjoyable Shakespeare experience because I feel that people are afraid of it.”

Quinn Mattfeld and Betsy Mugavero
“And I always want people to come out of a Shakespeare play having experienced something that they did not expect,” Mattfeld added.

But they are not done yet. They have an entire other production going on that opens the following day As You Like It opens on Saturday, February 23rd and is being directed by Mattfeld, with Mugavero as the lead Rosalind. And keep in mind, it is also the same cast of actors, performing two Shakespeare shows at the same time.

“Our cast is awesome” Mugavero smiled. “The same actors that are in The Taming of the Shrew and also in As You Like It. So when audiences come to the plays they get a chance to see them play two completely different roles, two different eras, two different design concepts, two different plays! It is really cool we love the idea of a company of actors like Shakespeare did where everyone plays different roles in every show.”

As You Like It is based around the character Rosalind who is the daughter of Duke Senior. Duke Frederick overthrows Senior and banishes him and Rosalind from the court. Frederick’s daughter, Celia, is friends with Rosalind and convinces her to run away and escape persecution into the forest. Together they flee and Rosalind dresses up as a man named Ganymede and Celia disguises as a poor lady, Aliena. A man named Orlando is in love with Rosalind and is also hiding in the forest from his older brother. Rosalind crosses paths with Orlando, but as a man in her disguise.

“She is so brave,” Mugavero explained about Rosalind. “She is in the forest, the man she loves comes and instead of changing she doesn’t. She wears her disguise and decides to challenge him and his love Rosalind to see if he really loves her as much as he says he does. She is in an oppressed society where woman aren’t allowed to have a voice. But as soon as she puts on the male clothes then she passes as a male and she suddenly has conversations with people that she would never be allowed to talk to before. Through that, she gets to discover herself.”

Mattfeld is acting in The Taming of the Shrew but is the director for As You Like It. It is a regular challenge to switch roles like this but an even harder one while the plays are in rehearsals and production at the same time.

“It is mental gymnastics,” laughed Mattfeld. “On stage, I am responsible for my part of the story from the inside, and as a director, I am responsible for the whole story from the outside. It requires mental dexterity but it is good. It is nice to have a show where I am sitting in the audience watching and then one where I am actually doing.”

He further explained what appealed to him about the concept of As You Like It that made him want to direct it. “It really is a play that is divided in half between the court and the forest,” Mattfeld explained. “It is supposed to be that everyone goes from the court, the bad place, to the forest, the good place, and everything is solved. However, Shakespeare makes the court a place of too many rules and the forest a place of no rules. Which just makes things more complicated and it doesn’t solve anything. It is a complicated story and there are so many puzzle pieces to put together. So I thought it would be a really interesting challenge to direct and I think it will be a really cool experience for our audiences to see.”

This is the first time Mattfeld has directed while his wife was in the cast. They expressed how it has been fun and interesting because they get to challenge each other but also make each other better. Mattfeld stressed how he believes it is important to have creative tension, that way the best results can come from the discussions and trial and error.

“Rosalind is really challenging,” expressed Mugavero. “It is an exercise for me on holding interest for the audience and keeping them engaged in what Rosalind is achieving and going for. I love her I am inspired by her and it is a gift for me to get to play her. I want audiences to take away that you are not defined by anyone, you get to make your own roles because that’s what Rosalind does. Shakespeare really gives us an opportunity to see people pursuing what they want with all of their heart and with every bit of themselves. And that’s gotta inspire people.”

With versatile, talented casts and the words of Shakespeare, both of these shows should inspire with their own messages for audiences to take away. And I couldn’t put it better than Mattfeld, “the great thing about Shakespeare is, I don’t think there is a message that doesn’t end with a question mark.”

CLICK HERE for more information on both of these shows and to purchase tickets

review - NEXT TO NORMAL - Arizona Regional Theatre

Nathan Sheppard, Amy Jo Halliday, and Andy Albrecht
photo by Arona Spader / JALT Media
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through February 24th.

"Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's Next to Normal is a highly accessible musical that provides a look into the impact that mental illness and grief have on a family. With a gifted cast and confident direction, Arizona Regional Theatre is presenting an impressive and solid production of this emotional roller coaster of a musical which won the Pulitzer Prize as well as Tony Awards for its excellent score and orchestration....Chris R. Chávez's direction never falters. He is incredibly considerate of the subject matter and the characters, and stages the action very well on the multi-layered set...As Diana, Amy Jo Halliday manages to beautifully capture the confusion and emotional scars of a very complex woman....Andy Albrecht projects compassion, loyalty and endless support as Dan...Kendra Richards and Nathan Sheppard are flawless as...Diana and Dan's argumentative daughter Natalie...and their son Gabe...Jennifer Adams' music direction delivers superb sound from the six-person onstage band and lush vocals from the entire cast....a moving and impactful reminder of how mental illness effects not just the individual afflicted with the disease but everyone around him or her as well.. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

Sesame Street Puppeteer, David Stephens, Offers One of a Kind Puppet Manipulation Master Class at TheaterWorks!

David Stephens
Photo by Richard Parsons
David Stephens invites you to come learn all of the wonders of puppet manipulation in his upcoming Puppetry Master Class. This Puppetry Master Class will take place in the Root Studios February 24 from 1pm-4pm at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts. Puppeteer, David Stephens, has been enchanting families all over the country with his skillful work with puppets for over 20 years.

The Puppetry Master Class is a one day only event designed for ages 14 and older. This three hour workshop will begin your foundation of puppetry knowledge. He will cover the basics of lip sync, eye contact, voices and movement. This class is perfect for actors interested in learning additional skills and puppeteers interested in gaining and improving their abilities. For more information on David Stephens, please visit

Registration for the Puppetry Master Class is now available. Registration is $100 per person. The master class takes place in the Root Studios of the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts (10580 N. 83rd Dr. , Peoria, AZ 85345). To purchase tickets or find out more about TheaterWorks or our upcoming classes, contact the Box Office at (623) 815.7930 or visit

promo photos - 13 THE MUSICAL - Spotlight Youth Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs February 22-March 10

photos courtesy Spotlight Youth Theatre