Saturday, February 17, 2018

WEEK AT A GLANCE: February 12 - February 18

audition notice - SHREK, THE MUSICAL - CYT Phoenix - February 23 & 24


CYT is holding a no-cut audition for kids 8-18 for SHREK on February 23 & 24, Kids must be currently enrolled in one of their performing arts classes to audition. 

The show will be directed/music-directed by Mark & Rachel Stoddard.

The show runs May 4-13 at the Mesa Arts Center. 

CLICK HERE for more information

photos - THE FLICK - ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs through February 25th





photos by Tim Trumble

audition notice - NIGHT OF ONE ACTS - Now and Then Creative Company - March 3


Auditions for the one acts A WOMAN AND A SUITCASE by F. Thomas Vincent—directed by Cody Goulder—and TYING KNOTS by Allison Bauer—directed by Ilana Lydia—at Now & Then Creative Company are coming up on March 3rd.

Please CLICK HERE to complete the sign up form to reserve a specific 5 minute slot for your audition on Saturday, March 3, 2018.

A WOMAN AND A SUITCASE by F. Thomas Vincent
In this dark comedy, Doris and Henry meet for the first time at a light rail platform. While waiting for the next train to arrive, bizarre antics start to develop, leaving the audience to ask, “What the heck is inside the suitcase?”

DORIS - a very pretty, peculiar woman, wearing 1960s-style dress, with a matching purse and a bow in her hair.
HENRY - a very plain, overlookable man, wearing a gray suit, with an inseam above his ankles, exposing his argyle socks; and retro eyeglasses.
PUBLIC-ADDRESS SYSTEM (PA SYSTEM) - a very soothing, female voice, with a calming effect. Never seen, just heard over a loudspeaker.
EVIE - a very smart, sophisticated woman, wearing a 1960s-style little black dress, pearls and a pillbox hat.
*Note - the roles of “PA System” and “Evie” will be played by the same performer.

TYING KNOTS by Allison Bauer
Knots and Hangers have a very clear job—tie dreams and hang them in the sky. Created in an image that doesn’t believe in dreaming, Hangers starts to wonder what it’s like to move beyond...and finally dream.

KNOTS - gender neutral; late 30s/early 40s; slightly cynical, strict. Does their job and is there to do just that. Does not entertain the idea of the “star strands.” Is a hidden dream offender.
HANGERS - gender neutral; early 20s; young kid who is new to the job; usually hangs stars, not knots them; fidgety, aloof, a bit all over the place; has a kind heart, just needs some work.

If you have any questions regarding auditions or filling out this form, please email john@nowandthencc.com.

photos - THE BOOB SHOW - Phoenix Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs through March 25th








photos by Reg Madison Photography

Friday, February 16, 2018

Exploring Staged Intimacy a Q&A with ASU’s THE FLICK’s Director, Katie Farrell and Lead Actress Kayla Dewees

by Monica Sampson

Action! Lights up; the popcorn is popping, and the concession stand is bustling with hurried movie goers rushing to their seats before the lights dim, just in time for an audience about to enjoy a film. This is your typical movie going experience, an escape from the everyday world, in a dark cinema, pretending to be in the world of each film and for those simple two to three hours, feel like you have left a typical 9-5 day, and are slaying dragons, finding long lost loves, and making dreams come true. What those who work at cinemas; the people who don’t get to experience these movies as an escape? This is the complex, awkward, emotional, and trying world of The Flick, ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre’s newest Mainstage production.

Arizona State University’s theater students are stepping into the roles of underpaid movie ushers in Annie Baker's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama The Flick, which premiered in 2013 at New York's Playwrights Horizons to critical acclaim, and then reopened Off-Broadway at the Barrow Street Theatre, winning the Obie Award for Playwriting.

This complex, emotional, show requires a lot of maturity, flexibility, and commitment from the ensemble. The Flick’s cast is made up of only four actors, who spend roughly 2 hours or more in an intimate set, with moments that could be a little too close for comfort, learning about one another, and themselves in the theater, which helps shape their identities.

Vulnerability is the name of the game when it comes to this play. Characters express feelings for one another, simulate sexual acts on stage, and engage in some interesting concepts about life in a run down movie palace in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Due to the intimate nature of the play, special steps were made to help the students acting in the production feel more comfortable with the content and their partners on stage.

“You have to deal with these themes sensitively. Especially working with young characters played by young people, I have to be delicate in the way I approach these things--the very same experiences may have occurred not long ago in their own lives and I need to be aware of that," said director Katie Farrell. “Additionally, you have to deal with these themes in a way that is palatable to an audience, that will not re-victimize them in any way.”

Before opening night of The Flick at ASU, I had the opportunity to meet with Farrell and lead actress Kayla Dewees, to touch on some of the themes, explorations, and intimacy work that went into this production.

Actress Dewees, plays the only female in the production. In a complex love triangle her character faces some awkward, unforgettable moments in the show, and Dewees expressed, “The show is dense with subject and theme, but one of the main themes that is present throughout the whole piece would be the power of mentality.” Said Dewees.

“Almost every single character is blocked and/or challenged by their mental state. Whether it be depression, love/sexuality, or identity, there are many other topics touched on in every scene that discover these mentalities and sort of weave them through the life of the show.”

Farrell unpacked exactly how the production approached this intimacy with intimacy choreography, much like one would do with a fight scene, except in this case, the same blocking and technique can be used for intimate, vulnerable, or sexually charged scenes.

We asked, “What was the process like for this piece?”

“An intimate work like The Flick requires strong character work--who are you, what do you want, what do you need, etc., so really grasping and loving who these characters are was a crucial part of the process. However, we also took time to get to know one another as people, which I think really helped when we got to intimacy coaching, where the actors explicitly tell one another, "This is where I am comfortable being touched and this is where I'm not comfortable being touched." By the time we got there, everyone was familiar and comfortable enough with each other that there was complete trust in the room and a strong belief that we were all there for the building up of one another.”

I wanted to know, “As a graduate student of a college piece what was important for you in the process of this show?”

Farrell replied, “Again, everyone being comfortable with one another was my main concern. This show depends on strong character relationships and as the friendships grew offstage, they deepened on stage. This cast laughs together regularly, they tell one another how their days are going at the top of every rehearsal, they talk about music together, they check in. They put in the time to care for one another offstage, so when they step into the lights, there is a continuation, and extension, of that caring and respect. I honestly don't think the show would work without that.”

“So, along that same line, walk our audiences through how you approached intimacy for this show?”

“Very carefully! Farrell noted, “As an intimacy choreographer myself, I was very excited to welcome Whitney Nelson (a local Intimacy Coach) on board and we really put our heads together to find the mechanics of what would work, but also made time to work on coaching--making sure the actors are comfortable with one another and de-sexualizing the entire situation and process. The intimacy in this show is non-consensual, so for me, I wanted to be sure we were focusing on the receiver of the intimacy because that experience is the one people need to see and empathize with. A part of any work I do is bringing attention to survivors of sexual violence so that we as a society can better know how to respond to trauma and care for people experiencing it, so I think I very much approached this piece in that way--how can I portray non-consensual intimacy in a way that shows without a doubt that what is happening is wrong? How can I make my actors comfortable while portraying something so difficult? How can I bring my actors and audience into a place where we talk about non-consensual trauma without traumatizing anyone? How can I make space for those conversations?”

Actress, Dewees agreed with her director on this point, noting, “The biggest importance to me in this show, especially as a college student, is that the cast was on the same level with the show. By this I mean, on the same spectrum of understanding and comfortability, but also professionalism. It was important that the objective of the scenes, especially the intimacy scene, are apparent and clear in order to tackle this very serious yet comedic show.”

Overall Dewees agreed, the process of intimacy coaching from Nelson, and the cast made the production more comfortable, and freeing for them to then explore the show’s text, themes, and overall artistic values.

“Good acting takes place when actors feel safe and respected,” said Farrell, “creating a space for them to be comfortable and respected--I can't speak enough to how important this truly is.”

Dewees finished by saying, “Working on The Flick was such a fun wholesome process, especially as my first show at Arizona State University. The relationships between the characters in the show are very close and personal and I feel like as the cast bonded we grew immensely with one another, which shows in the piece. The Flick is a such an amazing work of art that exemplifies the everyday life of normal people and that’s what I find extraordinary about it.”

If you are interested in more intimacy for stage work ASU will be offering a workshop on staging intimacy for stage and screen March 2nd and 3rd.

CLICK HERE for more information on The Flick at ASU, which runs through February 25th

A conversation with Molly Lajoie, the director and choreographer of A CHORUS LINE at TheaterWorks

Molly Lajoie (right) and the cast of TheaterWorks' A Chorus Line in rehearsals
photo by JT Turner
by Monica Sampson

“A-Five, six, seven, eight! God, I hope I get it. I hope I get it.”

Those are the famous lines uttered by nervous actors as they step on stage for the first time in the nine time Tony Award winning A Chorus Line, and Arizona audiences can enjoy the smell of the greasepaint and the rush of the crowd again in TheaterWorks' production of this groundbreaking musical, which opens tonight and runs through March 4th.

The show was based off of interviews with actual dancers and their experiences, and in true Chorus Line fashion, PHX Stages sat down with Molly Lajoie the Director and Choreographer for this TheaterWorks production, to hear a little about her own theater experience and have a sneak peak into her directorial process for this production and the show’s themes, and overall impact on the Valley.

“I can’t see myself doing anything else” said Lajoie, on a static phone line, stuck in rush hour traffic on the way to rehearsal.

In addition to appearing in dozens of shows at theatres across the Valley and providing choreography for many others, Lajoie’s desire to direct and choreograph a production of this musical comes from her own acting background, and the time she spent time preparing for this show by acting in it twice, before transitioning into the role of director.

“There's just something about this piece,” said Lajoie, “It never really gets old. Audiences love seeing that opening number, and from that moment the lights come up on stage they’re hooked.”

Molly Lajoie
For Lajoie the process of making this show is more than personal, it feels like a love story, or narrative written especially for Phoenix actors. This is because the show itself is about the story of actors, as they audition for a role in a musical.

In the original production, the actors were based off real actors in New York, and their stories were turned into the music and lyrics we all know, and love. Some of the dancers interviewed even appeared in the original production, playing versions of themselves and reenacting their own life experiences on stage. The story became a relatable tale for actors and audiences as they grew to love the characters fighting for their dreams. Lajoie related the struggle of auditioning, and the connections the actors form in the show as similar to the process Phoenix actors have all gone through, and the connections, bonds, and struggles they inevitably form.

“We are so blessed,” said Lajoie, voice cracking a little as she began thinking about her own ensemble of supportive actors, and theater friends in the valley.

“I really think actors in Phoenix are so supportive of one another, everyone wants to succeed, and we all help one another get there, and that's a lot of what you see in this show too.” She continued by saying, “The story is so heartfelt, its beautiful to see what new spins every actor puts on the characters we all know and love so well.”

Some new and exciting takes on the show can be seen in the use of lightning, as Lajoie described, this version relies heavily on lighting, with a minimal set that, similar to the original Broadway production, features gorgeous tall mirrors, especially choreographed to capture the bodies, and facial expressions of the actors as they glide across the stage.

This might not be the first Chorus Line to hit the Valley, nor will it be the last, but with Lajoie's level of direction and dedication, TheaterWorks' production, to quote a famous line from the musical, looks like it will definitely be, "one singular sensation!"

cast announcement - JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT - Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre



CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs from April 6 to May 6

Joseph: Jacob Herrera
Narrator: Madison Cichon
Jacob/Potifar: Patrick Vaillancourt
Ruben/Pharaoh: Lizi Hartstein
Simeon: Hudson Wilcox
Levi/ Baker: Alyssa Armstrong
Zebulin/Butler: Kyle Hoffmaster
Issachar: Jaxon Wilcox
Asher: Lily Swope
Dan: Michael Ayala
Judah: Jack Yampolsky
Naphtali/ Dance Captain : Allie Rose
Gad: Bennett Curran
Benjamin: Ross Nemeth
Potifars Wife: Hillary Low
Wives:
Jamie Villarreal
Emma Nowicki
Chantel Frankson
Erin Tarkington
Bridget Rhee
Kiara Adams
Katie Tuchi
Talia Novack
Sabrina Kiepke- Narrator u/s
Stephanie Cartwright
Allison Rhee ( understudy)

video preview - BEAUTY AND THE COMPUTER GEEK - East Valley Children's Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs through February 25th

cast announcement - THE SPARROW - Limelight Performing Arts


CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs February 23rd to March 4th

Ryan Avery – Albert McGuckin, Jonathan Simpson

Rebecca Benham – Joyce McGuckin, Student

Tamara Benham – Principal Skor, Phoebe Marks

Audrey Boberg – Carol Schott, Margret Rosenthal

Ciara Bogan – Charlie McGuckin, Young Emily, Townsperson

Libby Carr – Driver, Student, Townsperson

Tilda Ellefson – Sheriff Rosenthal, Evie Sullivan

Vincent Farley--Louie Nash, Townsperson

Grace Fraser – Coach Gerald Adams, Townsperson, Student

McKenna Henry – Skye Thompson, Townsperson

Caitlin Laidly – Michelle Allen, Townsperson

Garrett Linsey - Mark Gilbert, Brad Gomer

Drew MacCallum – Emily Book

Jessica Montecalvo – Tammy Adams, Shannon Baker

Jacqueline Rochin – Allison McGrath, Student

Bonnie Wanstreet – Jenny McGrath

Brett Small – Dan Christopher

Becca Webb – Grandmother, Elizabeth Gilbert

photos - LUNA GALE - Space 55

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs through March 4th








photos by Amy Carpenter

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A conversation with KINKY BOOTS' Lance Bordelon

by Gil Benbrook
Lance Bordelon
photo by Matthew Murphy

The musical Kinky Boots took Broadway by storm in 2013, winning six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The show is about to celebrate its 5th anniversary on Broadway, the West End production just celebrated its 1000th performance, and the show has been presented in cities around the world, as well as on tour. 

The national tour of the show comes to the Orpheum Theatre this week and we got a chance to ask one of the two stars of the musical, Lance Bordelon, a few questions about the show.

In the show you play Charlie, what can you tell us about him?

"Charlie is the son of a shoe factory owner in a small, factory town of Northampton, England. After the sudden passing of his father, he inherits the family business and is quickly faced with saving the factory from closing—all while balancing his own personal challenges of finding peace in himself and the life he sees for himself. Charlie is a real human, a flawed and passionate person. He is constantly trying to move the needle forward and even though he fails, he is growing and learning through every interaction he shares with the people in his life. I think this “imperfect hero” is a very refreshing character to see on stage and one that I feel so lucky to be challenged by and dive into every night. I love that “what you see is what you get” with Charlie. He hides very little of his emotions and thoughts from the audience or his peers, and we see him as transparent as he can be at various times in the show. I think this honesty, even when it may hurt him or those in his life, is very refreshing to see in a character on stage. And this honesty is critical in helping him heal some of his own personal wounds and ultimately lead to growth, forgiveness, and acceptance."

Lance Bordelon
photo by Matthew Murphy
Charlie is both the "straight man" of the musical, and also slightly the antagonist to Lola in the second act when he is faced with a crisis. But, fortunately, he learns from his mistakes. What is it like playing that range in the part and how do you keep it fresh night after night?

"That is a great question! I have definitely increased my physical fitness routines and yoga/meditation to keep a clear mind and endurance to play this role 8 times a week, often in multiple cities a week. But I also remind myself daily when I enter the factory and meet Lola each night, that the shared words, emotions, moments, reactions, etc... this is all new information to me. I try to come into the show without judgments or expectations or anticipations of what WILL happen each night, and just BE. As someone who identifies personally with so many aspects of this story, from the familial relationships to being a member of the LGBT community myself, I remind myself each day of two things that help me stay truly present and “in the room” each night...First, that I have never heard these words before, this is all new information. And second, be honest and tell this story from your heart. More than preparing pre-production, I challenge myself daily with these preparations while out here on the road to stay fresh."

Those sound like excellent rules that would benefit every performer. While the show is a serious musical, there is a lot of humor in the show, including that every character ends up in heels, even you as the straight-laced Charlie. How difficult was it to get comfortable in the high ones you wear at the end of the show?

"Luckily, the boots in the show are all custom made to each of us, so I am very grateful for that! They are slightly smaller than my actual foot, so they are snug and I can really grip the stage a bit. But it definitely took some practice to get the hang of things. Spoiler Alert: I can also say that when I “hit the dust”...some nights it doesn’t take too much effort to make my stumbling look realistic. But on a serious note, I have tremendous respect for Jos N. Banks, who plays Lola, and the Angels that rehearsed for eight hours a day, and have performed eight shows a week since September, in those heels!"

Jos N. Banks and Lance Bordelon
photo by Matthew Murphy
What's your favorite moment in the show?

"I’d have to say my favorite moment in the show is and has always been the duet my character shares with Lola, near the end of the first Act. Up to that moment, the audience sees our stories unfolding and almost paralleling each other, and this moment shows just how much these two people actually have in common. And that’s what I feel Kinky Boots really shows us all, that we as humans have so much more in common than what makes us different or even divides us."

I also love that duet as it really brings the two characters together and provides a great connection not only between them but also with them and the audience. Since the show opened on Broadway the political climate has changed considerably. How do you think the show works in the current climate and what do you think it is about this show that has made it so endearing and enduring to theatregoers?

"I love that there is this central, core message of acceptance of people that are simply different from you. This message isn’t bound by race, gender, creed, politics, background....but transcends all social boundaries and simply reminds us that while we don’t all have to agree with each other, this show challenges us to accept each other with respect, always. I think Kinky Boots is successful for many reasons, but I am most proud of the impact of this show because, much like in the spirit of Lola, this show is an open door, open arms, an open heart, and an open conversation about our shared human experiences. And it’s wrapped up in an incredibly witty book by Harvey, and driven with powerful music by Cyndi. It will entertain just as much as it will make you think."

Kinky Boots has a beautiful message about acceptance, being true to yourself and how when people are presented with a situation that is outside of their comfort zone it has the power to change their mind for the better. What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?

"I couldn’t agree more! When I first saw Kinky Boots on Broadway a few years ago, I had just moved to NYC full-time and was already filled with many mixed emotions in my own personal life. I will admit that I had uncontrollable “ugly tears” throughout the show. I was inspired, entertained, proud, and knew instantly that this piece of art is packed with purpose. It means so much to so many people and I see the impact every single night after the show when talking to audience members at the Stage Door. I became an actor to tell great stories, with honesty and an open heart, that challenge us, make us think, and see the world—maybe even ourselves—in new or different ways. As I said before, the heart of the show isn’t bound by race, gender, creed, politics, backgrounds....but transcends all social boundaries and simply reminds us that while we don’t all have to agree with each other, this show challenges us to accept each other with respect, always."

CLICK HERE for more information on Kinky Boots, which plays the Orpheum Theatre from February 16th to 18th

cast announcement - THE FLICK - ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs from February 16th to 25th


Avery: Corey Reynolds
Sam: Mat Vansen
Rose: Kayla Dewees
The Dreaming Man, Skylar: Evan Welsh

Written by Annie Baker

Directed by Katie Farrell


Five things to know before you go to Phoenix Theatre's THE BOOB SHOW

Sally Jo Bannow
photo by Reg Madison Photography
by Monica Sampson

“If you went a little bigger you’d be perfect,” those were some of the first words that Sally Jo Bannow, writer, co-creator, and star of Phoenix Theater’s The Boob Show, heard after her breast cancer diagnosis.

While battling breast cancer, Sally Jo, naturally went through an exploration of her body, and most of all her breasts. She did so in emails to friends, and loved ones in correspondences called, “Keeping you Abreast.” This hilarious, and introspective attitude through one's journey lead to the eventual creation of her one woman show.

With a name like The Boob Show it's easy to assume one is in for a night of some scantily clad outfits, but this show is a different type of titillating experience.

PHX Stages met with Sally Jo to talk about all things mammary, so before you go, here are 5 things you need to know about The Boob Show!

1. It’s Musical!

Sally Jo is naturally a musical person, and when faced with her breast cancer experience she used music as a tool for healing. This in turn lead to many songs, and musical storytelling experiences. First as therapeutic tools, and now the songs will be featured in the show, as musical interludes, or numbers. Sally Jo will be accompanied on stage by Craig Bohmler, the show’s composer and musical arranger.

2. It's Hilarious!

Sally Jo stressed, the show isn't a show about breast cancer, but all kinds of female and male bodies, and their stories and experiences all surrounding boobs! She even laughed while thinking about the show, which is littered with hilarious moments. “I mean it's hard not to laugh when you think about boobs, they are funny, and wild, and yet they do so very much for us.” said Sally Jo.

3. It's a One Woman Show. 

As the curator of this experience, Sally Jo toyed with having multiple women on stage with her, but in the end, decided on using her own experiences as a storytelling thread. This one woman approach served to highlight many other women's mammary stories. The piece looks at the life of a big chested woman, Sally Jo, and every size in between, all effortlessly played by Sally Jo. She slips in between cup sizes, and characters through the clever work of her costume designer, Connie Furr.

4. It's a Multimedia Experience. 

Although The Boob Show is a solo show, it utilizes some rather creative multimedia storytelling elements. Much like how the costumes serve to differentiate different women in multiple stories; the multi-media served as the same story-telling tool. The show is set in an avant gard, farcical, hilarious world, thanks to the show’s sound designer, Chris Neumeyer and Kristen Peterson, the video designer.

5. It's a Community Affair. 

Although Sally Jo might have faced trials and tribulations during her breast cancer experience; she had a total role reversal while working on the process of this show, most prominently while the show was in workshops at Phoenix Theater. At one point a woman said to her, “Oh my Gosh I need to bring my daughter to see this,” which was followed by another woman's same comments only with her sons.

“That's the overall goal for the piece”, said Sally Joe, it might be a night of entertainment, but she hopes it also opens up a dialog about the way we view, talk about, and understand breasts.

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs through March 25th

THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT - Scottsdale Community College - March 2 - 10, 2018


Scottsdale Community College's School of Film+Theatre presents the stage play "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot," by Steven Adly Guirgis, March 2-3 and 9-10.

The play, directed by Bill True, co-chair  of the School of Film+Theatre, reexamines the plight and fate of the New Testament's most infamous and unexplained sinner. The courtroom drama is set in a time-bending, darkly comic world between heaven and hell.

"Two thousand plus years later and we're still grappling with how we feel about Judas Iscariot," said True.  "On one hand, he's the ultimate betrayer and the most vilified character in the New Testament. On the other hand, some have taken a much more forgiving view."

Lead student actors in the play are Andy Cahoon as El-Fayoumi, Mary Townsend as Judge Cunningham, and John Hull as Judas.

Performances are FREE to attend with a reservation and open to the public. To reserve a spot, visit LastDaysOfJudasSCC.eventbrite.com.

Please note the play contains ADULT CONTENT and is NOT suitable for children.

Showtimes are 7:30 p.m., with matinee performances on March 3 & 10.

When: March 2-3 & 9, 7:30 p.m.
March 3 & 10 2 p.m.

Where: Performing Arts Center, Scottsdale Community College, 9000 E. Chaparral Road, Scottsdale, AZ

Admission: Free with eventbrite registration: LastDaysOfJudasSCC.eventbrite.com.

photos - BEAUTY AND THE COMPUTER GEEK - East Valley Children's Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs February 15th to February 25th










photos by Don McMahon and Kathie McMahon