Thursday, June 4, 2020

ASU Summer Concert Series Kicks Off With Jason Derulo - Free Virtual Concert today, Thursday, June 4


The ASU Summer Concert series is kicking off today, Thursday, June 4 with a virtual concert by singer, song writer Jason Derulo.

It’s an exclusive free concert for ASU students, alum, faculty – and the entire ASU community to connect during this time.  

The concerts will be produced live and will include a Q&A session following the performance.

Questions can now be submitted by using the hashtag #ASULiveJason for an opportunity to ask Jason Derulo a question during the Q&A.

Live from his studio, Derulo will perform for thousands of members of the ASU Community including students, faculty, alumni and staff. The ASU Summer Concert Series, Live from ASU, was conceived by ASU President Michael Crow as a way to engage with students and the ASU Community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each concert will be an opportunity to reinforce ASU’s commitment to students, culture of innovation, as well as provide an interactive shared experience with artists.

Live from ASU / Jason Derulo
Thursday, June 4
6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
asuforyou.asu.edu

“The live concert experience is part of being together – and now we will be together in new ways with technology and innovation,” says Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, ASU Vice President for Cultural Affairs. “We want to bring memorable experiences with lots of energy and fun and a great way to welcome new students, along with the record- breaking enrollment of 57,000+ ASU students for the summer session. 

“ASU is focused on innovative experiences and we want to create opportunities for people to connect during this time” says Dr. Cassandra Aska, Deputy Vice President and Dean of Students Tempe. “We’re thrilled to generate this type of excitement to the ASU community and bring entertainment to the virtual live stage.”

With more than 190 million records sold worldwide, Derulo is a multi-platinum powerhouse singer, songwriter and entertainer. His debut single “Whatcha Say” has now earned 5x platinum status while “Talk Dirty,” “Want To Want Me” “In My Head,” and “Ridin’ Solo” [feat. 2 Chainz] have reached quadruple-platinum status. “Wiggle” [feat. Snoop Dogg] went triple-platinum and “Trumpets” earned a double-platinum certification. Platinum singles include “Marry Me,” “The Other Side,” “It Girl,” and “I Don’t Wanna Go Home.”

The Tik Tok star’s cumulative streams continue to soar, exceeding 18 billion overall and over 6 billion YouTube views. Jason’s single “Colors” served as the Coca-Cola Anthem for the 2018 FIFA World Cup reaching over 274 million streams across all platforms. At radio, his music has impacted a total audience of 22 billion-plus listeners with a staggering 4.4 billion spins. Jason was a featured performer for the Monday Night Football theme, is an investor in many enterprises, including Catch L.A. and Rumble Boxing with Sylvester Stallone and Ashton Kutcher, and he has a partnership with Warner Chappell Music through his publishing company, Future History. And now, Jason Derulo is back with his much-anticipated project 2Sides (Side 1) the prequel release complete with six all new bangers, which sets the table for the full length project 2Sides coming in early 2020.

The ASU Summer Concert Series, Live from ASU, will be announcing other artists for upcoming concerts in June.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Quarantine Q/A: ASHLEY WHITE

Ashley White
photo by Andre Harrison II
by Gil Benbrook

Our series of "Quarantine" interviews, which focus on individuals involved in the Phoenix theatre community and their reaction to Arizona's stay at home mandate, continues today with a conversation with Phoenix actress Ashley White.

COVID-19 has affected us all in many ways. The theatre community has been harshly impacted with show closures and postponements. We hope this series of daily interviews will be a way to provide some personal insight into what people are doing during this period of time while highlighting familiar individuals from the theatre community in town.

Was there a show you were in or involved with or preparing for when the stay at home order started? 

White: "I was preparing for a callback for Beauty & Beast at Hale Center Theater. I was heartbroken that the show had to be rescheduled."

How have you been personally impacted by our current situation? 

"Regarding COVID-19 I have been blessed to still have my full-time job in which I currently work from home. I have also been able to start two businesses (a podcast  called 'Life Around Us' and a livestream called 'Better Together Phoenix: A Live Stream Experience') however, my heart has truly been shattered regarding the recent events surrounding the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery 

I am very saddened to see the state of our society today. I am currently making use of my business platforms (my podcast and livestream) to let my voice be heard and speak out against the senseless violence that has taken place. It is time to make a stand and evoke change. This is where what we do as creatives is so needed and important. What we do can serve as platforms to speak out and also serve as healing for those who are hurting in this time. I encourage all of my fellow creatives to take a stand and let your voice be heard!

How has your daily routine changed? 

"Due to COVID I am currently working from home for my full-time job however, it has not changed my daily routine too much. It has however allowed me more time in my schedule/day to record for my podcast and build my artist repertoire. "

What do you feel will be different when theater restarts? 

"I can imagine that there may be a chance that we will potentially see more social distancing in theaters as to prevent the further spread of corona-virus."

When do you think that’ll happen? 

"I am hoping that theaters will open sooner then later!!! I miss my theater family and the stage!"

What have you been doing to stay creative during this time? 

"I have learned new monologues and songs to add to my audition repertoire."

Ashley White in Disney's Newsies - Hale Centre Theatre
photo by Nick Woodward-Shaw

Any binge tv shows you’ve watched? 

"I am a huge fan of Law & Order: SVU, I have been re-watching the entire show from Season 1 to Season 21...never gets old andddd I hear that Elliot Stabler is RETURNING to Season 22!!"

Any new hobbies you’ve taken on? 

"I have recently started a podcast called "Life Around Us" with my co-host Anthony Jones (Shameless plug: Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify and Sound Cloud). It is a podcast with two creatives talking about real life and how it "revolves" around us! I also host a bi-weekly live-stream show called "Better Together Phoenix: A Live-stream Experience". It is a platform that was created by creatives as a way for us to continue to operate in our craft amidst the pandemic while maintaining safety precautions. "

How has this experience changed you? 

"This experience has definitely made me more appreciative for my loved ones and what I have. I appreciate even the small things. It has also allowed me to develop my skills as an actor and a singer and opened new doors for me to venture into areas that I have never experienced."

What is the one thing you’re most looking forward to now that Arizona and most states have lifted the stay at home order? 

"I am most looking forward to theater ramping back up. WE NEED THE ARTS!!! As creatives, we are ESSENTIAL!!!"

Ashley White in Aida -Hale Centre Theatre
photo by Nick Woodward-Shaw

Fountain Hills Theater's BROADWAY DRIVE-IN THEATRE postponed to June 11, 12 &13


Monday, June 1, 2020

Quarantine Q/A: JT TURNER

JT Turner
by Gil Benbrook

Our series of "Quarantine" interviews, which focus on individuals involved in the Phoenix theatre community and their reaction to Arizona's stay at home mandate, continues today with a conversation with Phoenix native, actor, and Valley arts publicist, JT Turner of JALT Media

COVID-19 has affected us all in many ways. The theatre community has been harshly impacted with show closures and postponements. We hope this series of daily interviews will be a way to provide some personal insight into what people are doing during this period of time while highlighting familiar individuals from the theatre community in town.

Was there a show you were in or involved with or preparing for when the stay at home order started?

Turner: “Where do I begin?! I've been very fortunate to work with an amazing client base that is always busy - so there was definitely a great deal going on when everything shut down.

Arizona Regional Theatre had just begun rehearsals for Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, and they were also in the pre-production phase for Spring Awakening. So there was work going on for both productions. 

The Madison Center for the Arts was pretty much booked solid between their rental events and the Madison Presents Series. Sadly all of those events were either canceled or postponed and the Foundation was gearing up for their lavish second annual Imagination Gala, NOLA!. I was really sad that didn’t happen - I was looking forward to a New Orleans themed gala. Fortunately, that is slated to take place in November now.

Ballet Theatre of Phoenix was in the middle of their Spring semester while also ramping up to their end of the year recital. I give Jennifer Cafarella (the director of the school) and her staff huge props for hitting the pavement - so to speak - and not only getting all of the classes moved online, but also taking it a step further and reimagining an online version of their end of the year recital. 

David Simmons and the UBU project were in the middle of their in-school residencies, which naturally had to be postponed when the schools suspended physical classes. 

Like Jennifer though, David doesn’t let the grass grow underneath his feet. He got busy offering online workshops, writing new songs and performing in multiple online concerts and cabarets. 

So yeah - there was a lot going on! Sadly, quite a bit of it was canceled or postponed.”

How have you been personally impacted by our current situation?

“My life, like the lives of many, has changed a lot. Permanently in some ways. Like many people in our arts community, it has affected both my personal and my professional life. I definitely have come to realize just how intertwined those two different parts of my life are. I’ve also learned that I take a lot for granted. 

I am anything but bored though, which is interesting because my day starts and ends at my kitchen counter. But thank G-d for computers! And thank G-d for an arts community that takes nothing lying down and that will also jump into action because between the various relief efforts and the explosion of online performances I was fortunate to have been swept up in helping to promote - not to mention the online efforts of my regular clients - I have been quite busy.”

How has your daily routine changed?

“You know what? I have learned that I had no routine and that it was a real problem. 

I am finding that I have developed more of one, although compared to some of my friends, it is downright pitiful in that I didn’t suddenly become inspired to hike or garden. I bought a bike but couldn’t ride it because I couldn’t reach the peddles. So back it went and physical activity and I are still strangers.

I typically work from home, so that wasn’t much of a change, and while I am never late for anything, I am still always rushing out the proverbial door to get to whatever Zoom meetings I have lined up for the day. Between daily fellowship meetings and professional ones, I usually have an average of about eight. What’s mindblowing to me is how that number is consistent with the in-person meetings I typically would attend prior to all of this. I don’t know how I was doing that. 

Food is always available so I spend a lot of time eating and my caffeine intake has probably tripled.” 

You hit a couple of milestones during all of this, right?

“I did! May was a big month for me. I turned 40 on the 17th, which I am trying to adjust to as gracefully as possible, and then yesterday, May 31, I celebrated one year of sobriety. That second one is very important to me, so if I had to hit forty in order to get to it, it was completely worth it."

JT Turner (right) with Brett Dixon
in Cabaret- Fountain Hills Theater
photo by Chris Bendet
Do you think people are surprised when they learn that you’re an alcoholic? 

“ Maybe - maybe not. I don’t know. I think the surprise is when they hear me say I’m in recovery. Then they have a chance to think about it for a moment and I think a lot of pieces come together and it makes sense. I would walk around with a drink in my hand at parties and events as if I’d been born with it and I could always make a case for why any time of the day warranted a drink of some kind. For the better part of four years, drinking was like a second career for me. I laugh, but it's not entirely untrue."

What made you decide to get sober?

“It was really sudden and rather strange because I haven’t had a history of doing good things for myself. It was a Friday and I was sitting in my office and something greater than me seemed to kick into gear and took it upon itself to do what I had never been able to do for myself. I am grateful for that. I am also extremely grateful for and am humbled by the support and encouragement I’ve received from so many people. I made a decision at the beginning to be very open and transparent about it all. Alcohol and addiction carry a stigma, and while I was prepared to receive some negative responses, I don’t think I’ve gotten any. Not to my face, anyway, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by that.”

What has the last year taught you?

“So much! I have learned just how many people, and how many walks of life are affected by the disease of alcoholism and addiction. It’s an equal opportunity disease. It’s not interested in how old you are, how nice you are, what you look like or what gender you are. It pays no attention to sexual orientation and it doesn’t care how little or how much money you make - it just doesn’t care. In fact, some of the most successful and influential people are alcoholics and addicts, and some of the nicest people I have ever had the privilege of knowing qualify as such. What’s important to anyone silently suffering to know is that there is a variety of ways to get help. The best decision I made and that anyone can make is in seeking out that help. 

I’ve also learned that there is nothing to be ashamed of. Certainly, there were shameful things that happened as a result of drinking that I had to come to terms with - and own - but alcoholism and addiction itself is nothing to be ashamed of. Most importantly, I’ve learned that alcohol was merely a symptom of a larger problem. I’ve really embraced the clarity I’ve gained over the last year and the opportunity to grow as a person. My way of doing things wasn’t working. Finding a different and better of living my life is what has saved my life. That’s a pretty powerful realization to come to. The truth is that the recovery process is neverending. It’s a lifelong commitment. Taking it one day at a time, I welcome it.” 

That's great to hear. Let's talk some more about our current situation with the quarantines and the virus. What do you feel will be different when theater restarts?

“Honestly, I think things are just going to feel different for a while. I have friends in the community who worry that we may never again see theatre exist as we’ve known it. I don’t think that’s true. I definitely believe that things will return on a recognizable level, but I think we may see that happen slowly.”

When do you think that’ll happen?

“I think time will tell. There are still a lot of details that need to be ironed out. We just need to keep taking it a day at a time. 

I can tell you that my hope is that things return to normal as soon as possible. What the Valley has going for it is a strong, vibrant and tight-knit arts community. We need one another. While I haven’t done so for a couple of years, performing on the Valley stages enriches me and feeds my soul, and that’s the most important part of a person. We need the arts, we need theatre, and I look forward to seeing everyone on stage together again as soon as it’s safe.”

JT Turner in Fiddler on the Roof - Mesa Encore Theatre
photo by Daniel Perlmutter
Any new hobbies you’ve taken on?

“Nothing new, really, but I have definitely returned to some old ones. I’ve started cooking again, which I really do enjoy. I hadn’t done it in years but I pulled out my own personal cookbook that I’d written all my recipes in years ago and I’ve been cooking a lot and eating really well - TOO MUCH, but really well. I also got a hankering for my blueberry scones a few weeks ago and have been baking those daily ever since. Yay carbs!”

What have you been doing to stay creative during this time?

“Aside from baking - and eating - copious amounts of scones, I also started a SoundCloud account and have been recording music using a cheap recording software. I’ve done three, because they take me a while. I don’t do it terribly well, but it’s been fun for me. I tried that Smule thing everyone else is using, but I didn’t like that I had to record videos of myself in the process.” 

Any binge-watching?

“You know, that is something that has not changed about me during this. I still don’t watch a lot of TV. But I did find  ER and Just Shoot Me! on Hulu and those are two of my all-time favorite shows. So I put them on at night and fall asleep to them. So far I think I’ve probably seen two episodes of each and have slept through about 50 of each!” 

How has this experience changed you?

“I definitely know that I can’t take so much for granted. If this had happened a year ago, I probably wouldn’t have made it through alive. I don’t say that to be funny, or dramatic, it’s just the truth. I would have seen it as an opportunity to do nothing but sit at home and drink, and it would have ended badly.

I needed a slowdown and a time out, and it’s been priceless. I’ve also learned how valuable friendships and relationships of all varieties are. I’ve really come to recognize the village I’m privileged to have become a part of over the last four years. It is made up of a diverse, colorful, and amazing group of people, yes, that includes you, Gil, and I’m extremely happy. I am happy and I am extremely grateful.” 

What is the one thing you’re most looking forward to now that the stay at home order has been lifted and some businesses have started to reopen?

"People. I miss people. Zoom has been a godsend in keeping the world connected, but it could never replace in-person interaction. I miss my clients. I love what I do and I love working one-on-one with them. I also can’t wait to see my family and my friends again. I see my family on Zoom every Sunday and I chat with my two best friends every day on Marco Polo, which is nice, but I want to see them all in person. I wanna give them real hugs." 

The Phoenix Prop Shop Created to Provide Support to Theatres and Schools in the Valley

The Phoenix Prop Shop is a just formed company and resource for school Theatre programs and other non-profit Theatre organizations across the Valley.

Inspired by the Costume Connection, Ron Gingerich formed the Phoenix Prop Shop (a nonprofit corporation) with the plan to consolidate, house and catalog props from those sources and then rent them out at low cost. 

They are asking for theatre companies and schools to answer a short questionnaire so they can find out at what level they can help you 

Here is the link to the questionnaire: https://forms.gle/aY5eSy276oTu1jJ88

Feel free to pass this on to anyone you think may be interested.

If you have any questions, please contact them at info@phoenixpropshop.org

The link can also be found on their website at Phoenixpropshop.org.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Quarantine Q/A: CJ O'Hara

CJ O'Hara

by Gil Benbrook

Our series of "Quarantine" interviews, which focus on individuals involved in the Phoenix theatre community and their reaction to Arizona's stay at home mandate, continues today with a conversation with Valley Music Director and Actor's Youth Theatre's new Artistic Director, CJ O'Hara.

COVID-19 has affected us all in many ways. The theatre community has been harshly impacted with show closures and postponements. We hope this series of daily interviews will be a way to provide some personal insight to what people are doing during this period of time while highlighting familiar individuals from the theatre community in town.

Was there a show you were in or involved with or preparing for when the stay at home order started?

O'Hara: "I was working with ZAO Theatre on Little Shop of Horrors and Studio 3 on Wizard of Oz. "

How have you been personally impacted by our current situation?

"I have personally been impacted in that I've been home so much more and done a lot more virtual lessons. No rehearsals or performances and I haven't been out socially with my usual group of people."

How has your daily routine changed?

"My daily routine is being able to sleep in, making breakfast, checking the news (sparingly), teaching lessons either in-person at the studio or having virtual lessons, spending time preparing for the new school year."

What do you feel will be different when theater restarts? When do you think that’ll happen?

"I think people will be more aware of their surroundings when theatre starts and there won't be as much audience to actor contact after shows. I also think that it's going to be a 'slow burn' to get things back to normal. It'll start soon with some theatres opening doors with social distancing and CDC health protocols. "

What have you been doing to stay creative during this time?

"Staying creative has been a challenge. I purchased some magic books that I've had the chance to read and been experimenting with new effects. I've also picked up the drums and violin to prep for next school year. That's helped keep my creativity going. There's also been times where I've said 'enough work tonight, let's watch a movie'. "

Any binge tv shows you’ve watched?

"I binged the rest of Law and Order: SVU, Schitt's Creek, working on Ozark."

Any new hobbies you’ve taken on?

"No new hobbies, just rekindling some ones that I had put on the back burner for a bit."

How has this experience changed you?

"This experience has taught me a lot about where my gigging money comes from and how I can survive in different circumstances. It's also informed me, for future theatrical seasons, where I want to put my time and energy."

What is the one thing you’re most looking forward to now that it looks like the stay at home order is starting to be lifted?

I am super excited to play the piano at rehearsals and to have jam sessions back. 

Musical Theatre of Anthem announces auditions for DISNEY'S CINDERELLA, KIDS, July 5


Musical Theatre of Anthem announces auditions for Cinderella KIDS. The timeless, "rags to riches" fairy tale becomes a new audience favorite in Disney's Cinderella KIDS, an adaptation of the treasured animated film that will charm its way into your heart and remind audiences that dreams really can come true. Poor Cinderella is endlessly mistreated by her wicked stepmother and stepsisters, and denied a chance to go to the royal ball. With a little help from her mice friends – and a lot of help from her Fairy Godmother – Cinderella's dreams come true. She goes to the ball, meets the Prince and falls in love!  

AUDITIONS: Sunday, July 5, 2020: *(Potential dates based on the CDC and WHO Guidelines)
9:00 a.m. - Auditions
11:00 a.m - Dance Call
12:00 p.m – Callbacks

REHEARSALS: 
This production will be run in our summer show format with rehearsals as follows:  
Monday, July 6 - Friday, July 10: 8:30am - 3:00pm

WHERE: MTA’s theatre performance space at 42201 N. 41st Drive, Suite B100, Anthem, AZ 85086

COST: $325 for ages 6-11; 10% Sibling discount; Scholarships available.

DETAILS: Please bring a musical theatre song (or any song they are comfortable with), 16-32 bars or one minute in length. Bring an accompaniment with CD or iPod to sing with. You may also sing acapella if needed. Have your registration materials completed prior to coming to the audition. For materials and additional information and to reserve your spot, visit MTA’s website www.musicaltheatreofanthem.org.

PERFORMANCES: Performances take place Saturday -Sunday, JULY 11th – July 12th, 2020.
Sat. 7/11: 1p.m., 3:00p.m. & 7:00p.m.  |  Sun. 7/12: 1 p.m. & 3:00 p.m.  |

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Quarantine Q/A: PATTI DAVIS SUAREZ

Patti Davis Suarez in Follies 
TheaterWorks 
Photo by Wade Moran
by Gil Benbrook

Our series of "Quarantine" interviews, which focus on individuals involved in the Phoenix theatre community and their reaction to Arizona's stay at home mandate, continues today with a conversation with Broadway and Valley actress Patti Davis Suarez.

COVID-19 has affected us all in many ways. The theatre community has been harshly impacted with show closures and postponements. We hope this series of daily interviews will be a way to provide some personal insight to what people are doing during this period of time while highlighting familiar individuals from the theatre community in town.

Was there a show you were in or involved with or preparing for when the stay at home order started?

Davis Suarez: "It was final dress for Pound, a play about the brilliant, controversial Ezra Pound, by Sean O’Leary.  It was March 12th and the play was ready, we were ready.  So it was extra painful to go dark (temporarily) at Theatre Artists Studio. Ironic that our opening was scheduled for Friday the 13th!  But we will still stage it... just not sure when...  watch this space! PHX Stages will let you know!"

How have you been personally impacted by our current situation?

"Like so many others I’ve had a lot of time to think.  And my bottom line is:  

I’m very very lucky.  Retirement means no paycheck to lose.  I have a place to live, enough to eat, I even cut my own uncolored hair!  Since I’m in the high risk group, I don’t mind the isolation.  I’m sitting on the porch right now listening to the birds. I know how lucky I am. And I know how so many others are suffering. Life really isn’t fair. So I have feelings of guilt along with gratitude!"

Patti Davis Suarez and Larah Pawlowski in
Rabbit Hole - Theatre Artists Studio
photo by Mark Gluckman

How has your daily routine changed?

"Not much (I said I was lucky.) But with so many friends who are seriously impacted, I hesitate to even admit this. I hate to think about the seismic changes ahead for my younger friends. This is a horror for so many."

What do you feel will be different when theater restarts?

"I. HAVE. NO. IDEA.  We will not return to‘normal.’  ‘Normal’ is gone.  We WILL create a new normal, but I have no idea what it will be. The institution of live theatre won’t disappear, I’m sure of that. I appreciate all the streaming that’s going on, but to me Theatre is a collaboration between the audience and the actors. Is it theatre if that communication is missing?  If you can’t feel the audience breathe from the stage?  If you can’t breathe with the actors from the audience?  Bottom line here:  Civilized societies need the arts.  We’ll find a way.  Watch this space...."

What have you been doing to stay creative during this time?

"I picked up an old knitting project..... nope.  Some needlepoint I started in 1980... also nope.  Tried my new mini-watercolor set.... no good (I’m an actor).  Then I saw a Facebook post about Mandala dot painting.  So I found some smooth round river rocks and tried it. Okay, it’s fun. Thanks, Adam.   "

Any binge tv shows you’ve watched?

"Spring Baking Championship, Mrs. America (Phyllis Schlafly, remember her? Yikes! Cate Blanchett is AMAZING.)  Self Made, The Plot Against America, Ozark (the most telly violence I’ve ever sat through ... but the cast and the story, so much fun. And besides, I’m from the Ozarks) The Good Fight, Win The Wilderness.  There’s no rhyme or reason to my streaming. And what if there were no internet????"

Any new hobbies you’ve taken on?

"Is cleaning out my closet a hobby? It IS new for me.  I really should use this time to learn to cook, but I have the palate of an eight-year-old with no interest beyond burgers and mac’n cheese. So, except for dot painting, the answer is ‘NO.’"

Patti Davis Suarez in Doubt, a Parable
Actor's Theatre
How has this experience changed you?

"I have a cleaner closet. (yuk yuk). But seriously, I’m not sure yet. As a child, during the polio scare, I saw friends in iron lungs. That changed me.  As a young adult, I watched friends die of AIDS. That changed me.  911 changed me.  I’m sure this will, too.   But I’m a bit of a pragmatist, and can survive many things that throw others for a loop. I was already a germaphobe so that part has been easy.  I do plan to be kinder in the future.  I may not be able to cut out every single quip, every wisecrack, but I am seriously going to be kinder.... to everyone."

What is the one thing you’re most looking forward to not that the stay at home order has been lifted and some businesses have started to reopen?    

"The return of that live theatre collaboration between audience and actor ... Breathing with the actors when I’m in the audience. And breathing with audience when I’m on stage.  We’ll get there.  Yes, we will!!  Hang in there, my friends!"

Arizona Theatre Company, Sean Daniels Partner With Florida Studio Theatre for "The Playwrights Project"


from our friends at Arizona Theatre Company:

Arizona Theatre Company (ATC) and Artistic Director Sean Daniels will partner with Florida Studio Theatre (FST) in developing a new play, Tampa, as part of The Playwrights Project, FST’s newly launched artistic initiative featuring 32 of the nation’s top playwrights, sketch comedy writers and musical theatre developers.

Tampa, which follows two brothers who, though they are bound by blood, take different paths in life, will be among the new plays brought to fruition nationwide through the project.

The Playwrights Project was “conceived within the first few days of the theatre shutting down due to COVID-19,” said FST Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins.

“Three days after closing the theatre, I had a revelation about Shakespeare—he, like every good artist, instead of following the dark and writing about the plagues of his time, took the road less traveled and followed the light. He wrote, without judgment, about the wonder of humankind. Which made me think that now is the time for FST to inspire the creation of plays. To ask playwrights to write like Shakespeare and reveal humanity’s complexities without judgment.”

Daniels, who attended high school and Florida State University in The Sunshine State but fell in love with theatre growing up in Mesa and attending ATC productions, called the concept “groundbreaking in its creative possibilities,” adding that “Arizona Theatre Company is excited to partner with organizations that are creating new work that we’ll be watching for years to come.  We’re dedicated to being a part of the national conversation, and we do that by working with others we respect so much.”

Among other artists partnering with FST are Thomas Gibbons (Permanent Collection, Bee-luther-hatchee), playwright in residence for Philadelphia’s InterAct Theatre Company, who will work with FST Associate Director At-Large Kate Alexander on a new play exploring the dilemmas that arise with the prevalence of digital manipulation; Kenneth Jones (Alabama Story), a New York-based playwright, librettist and lyricist, who will work with Alexander to create an original play about a family business in Southern America that is at a crossroads; Gabriel Barre, an internationally acclaimed director who directed Amazing Grace on Broadway and in Washington, D.C.; Deborah Brevoort, an award-winning author of plays, musicals and opera librettos best known for The Women of Lockerbie, which is produced internationally; writer, producer and Emmy Award nominee Jason Odell Williams (Handle With Care, Church & State); Carole J. Bufford, one of the most in-demand young performers in New York’s cabaret and jazz scene; and actress and award-wining playwright Sandy Rustin.

Funding for the project comes from the Paycheck Protection Program with material generated to be considered for future FST Mainstage, Cabaret, Sketch Comedy and Children’s Theatre programs.

For more information about The Playwrights Project, visit www.floridastudiotheatre.org.  For more information about Arizona Theatre Company, visit www.arizonatheatre.org.

TheaterWorks Launches SummerWorks Online Classes for Youth



In keeping with its mission to be a place for people of every age to learn about theater, learn to be in the theater and learn to love the theater – even when the coronavirus has forced cancellation of all in-person programming until fall – TheaterWorks remains a West Valley creative driver with the launching of SummerWorks Online classes for youth.

The diverse menu of options for every skill level and youth of all ages “means that no matter where someone lives, there are still engaging opportunities to learn, imagine and create together,” said TheaterWorks Managing Director Cate Hinkle.

The Zoom-based classes and programs will be taught by professional, skilled teaching artists and include development of online productions, dance choreography, script analysis for teens, lessons about Greek theater and myths and developing improvisational skills.

“We recently made the incredibly difficult decision to suspend in-person programming, including summer productions and camps,” Hinkle said. “But we have not for a moment pulled back from our goal to bring creative opportunities to the entire community and our team has been actively generating new ideas to make that happen.”

SummerWorks classes include:


• FORTUNES READ: VIRTUALLY ONLY $1
3-Week Play Production, June 15 - July 2 (Monday - Thursday). Each session is limited to 10 student actors. Everyone signed up will be given a role in the production.
Youth Session (ages 7-12), 10am-12pm Taught by Clara Bentz

Teen Session (ages 13-18), 1pm-3pm Taught by Tim McCandless

Cost: $240

By Kamron Klitgaard. Produced by special arrangement with Pioneer Drama Service, Denver, Colorado

What could be more fun than an online psychic for a virtual theatre production?!  Dawn and her boyfriend Don ask about the results of a potentially career-changing phone call she’s about to get. Don laughs off the seer’s fuzzy prediction as a con, but Dawn takes stock as it seems to come true just moments later!  As more visitors seek answers from the vague visionary, the questions and ambiguous answers pile up nearly as fast as the laughs.  This hysterical one-act is highly entertaining as it explores the lengths to which some people will go to hear what they want to hear.



• DANCE FEVER
June 22–25. Each session is limited to 10 students. A week devoted to musical theater dance choreography. Take one or all four classes.
Ages: 13-18, 10-11:30am; Ages 8-12,1:30 pm

Cost: $15 per class

Each day a fully choreographed number from a Broadway musical will be taught. Instructor: award-winning choreographer Paul Pedersen.

Monday: Guys & Dolls (Luck Be a Lady)
Tuesday: Aladdin (Friend Like Me)
Wednesday: Cats (Jellicle Ball)
Thursday: High School Musical (All In This Together)



• VIRTUAL COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT AND LEMONADE
3-Week Play Production. July 6-23 (Monday - Thursday) Each session is limited to 10 student actors. Everyone signed up will be given a role in the production.
Youth Session ages 7-12, 10am-12pm Taught by Brianna Funk

Teen Session ages 13-18, 1-3pm Taught by Tim McCandless

Cost: $240

By Kamron Klitgaard. Produced by special arrangement with Pioneer Drama Service, Denver, Colorado

This virtual play is written specifically to be rehearsed and performed remotely, with every character in their own home! In this rapid succession of duet scenes, the virtual complaint department takes on some hysterical grievances — everything from Oreo icing to kleptomania and from songs stuck in the head to the price of cheese. With a clever concept of rotating each complainant into the staff position, each character not only airs their own grievances, but must also focus on someone else’s problem and assist them with their complaint. 



• SCRIPT ANALYSIS FOR TEENS
July 6 -16 (Monday - Thursday). Ages 13–18. This class will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30-3:30pm for 2 weeks. Class is limited to 10 students.
Cost: $80.

Learn how to use your script for a more complete understanding of character and decision making for the stage. Emphasis will be placed on subtext as well as finding, using and understanding the character clues provided by the playwright. Script sections for study will be provided by email.

Taught by TheaterWorks Artistic Director Chris Hamby


• GREEK MYTH: In Study and Action
July 6–23 This class will meet Monday-Thursday from 10:30am-12:30pm for 3 weeks. Ages 14-18. Class is limited to 10 students
Cost: $240
Emphasis will be on understanding Greek theater historically and will include acting portions from The Oresteia. Taught by TheaterWorks Artistic Director Chris Hamby

• INTRODUCTION TO IMPROV
July 27-30. Ages 8-12, 10-11:30am; Ages 13-18, 1-2:30pm. Each session is limited to 10 students.
Cost: $60

We improvise every day in our lives. We have an idea of how our day will plan out when we wake up. However, we do not know exactly what we will say when we start interacting with people we know. This course will teach students how to focus and hone those improvisation skills to be able to think quickly on their feet. Students will learn the basic rules of improvisation and how to adapt quickly to different situations through fun and structured exercises. 

Taught by Tim McCandless



• IMAGINATION SERIES: BUDDY CLASSES

All classes are 45 minutes, 10-10:45am. Each session is limited to 8 students. These classes are designed for 3-6 year olds and a buddy.

Cost: $115 (includes supplies); $25 for additional supply bag

Under the Sea, June 15-19
Bugs Life, July 6-10
It’s a Jungle Out There, July 20-24

Weekly Schedule
Monday: Music / Dance - Learn a song and a dance for the theme.
Tuesday: Art project / prop - Make an art project and review the song/dance.
Wednesday: Story time - small plays/ make our own story/ character work etc, review.
Thursday: Art project / Costume - Make a costume piece, review.
Friday: Virtual Performance

All Art projects require a supply kit provided by TheaterWorks that is included in your registration fee.

Taught by Elizabeth Peterson

For complete information, visit theaterworks.org/summerworksonline.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Quarantine Q/A: JAMIE MICHAEL PARNELL

Jamie Michael Parnell
by Gil Benbrook

Our series of "Quarantine" interviews, which focus on individuals involved in the Phoenix theatre community and their reaction to Arizona's stay at home mandate, continues today with a conversation with Valley actor Jamie Michael Parnell, who has appeared in close to two dozen shows at Arizona Broadway Theatre as well as in shows at theatres across the country.

COVID-19 has affected us all in many ways. The theatre community has been harshly impacted with show closures and postponements. We hope this series of daily interviews will be a way to provide some personal insight to what people are doing during this period of time while highlighting familiar individuals from the theatre community in town.


Was there a show you were in or involved with or preparing for when the stay at home order started?  

Parnell: "Yes!  I had just finished my second to last week of La Cage Aux Folles with Arizona Broadway Theatre.  We had been running in Peoria since January and at the beginning of March, moved to the Herberger Theatre Center downtown.  We were lucky, as we had a nice long run... which is far more than a lot of my friends and colleagues got with their productions.  I was just about to start rehearsals for Rocky Horror at Phoenix Theatre.  That has been postponed until the fall.  I was disappointed, naturally, but understood the reasoning completely.  And, now, it is nice to have something so exciting to look forward to. "

How have you been personally impacted by our current situation?

"Well, the most evident impact has been the loss of income.  However, it's interesting.  I know many people who worked typical hourly or salary positions (non-contract work, like most actors) and I can't imagine how they feel.  As actors, we are conditioned to always expect to not have a job at some point.  Or at least, we are conditioned to accept that it is a possibility.  So, in that way, I feel almost better prepared mentally than many of my neighbors.  It is difficult for me to adjust, but I've had practice, in some ways, of being in this position before.  Some people were blindsided by something that they probably never really considered."

How has your daily routine changed?

"Ha! Typically, I don't go to bed, whilst in a production, until at least midnight.  By the time we are finished with the show, it can take some time to wind down and settle enough to be ready for sleep.  Now? 9:30 hits and I'm like "well.... looks like it's time to start getting ready for bed. See you all in the morning!" Never in my LIFE have I gone to bed early.  I've always been a night owl.  Now I can hardly keep my eyes open past 11.  The day after we lost our job we were scheduled to move into our new apartment, so... really everything in our life was new at first.  New routine, new wealth of free time, new home.  It was a blessing to be able to settle in as completely as we did.  However, learning to workout at home has been a challenge.  Never thought I would be the person to say it, but... I miss the gym!"

Jamie Michael Parnell in La Cage aux Folles
Arizona Broadway Theatre
photo by Scott Samplin
What do you feel will be different when theater restarts?

"Many things.  Some of which I probably can't begin to imagine.  But the one I feel will be the most profound is gratitude.  By being able to create we are going to remember how profoundly lucky we are to be creating.  And I think audiences are going to be grateful for the escape.  Theatre-goers are an enthusiastic group.  And I can't WAIT for us to be together again.  It can be easy to lose sight of the beauty of what you have when you are in the middle of it.  Can't see the forest for the trees and all that.  But we've ALL stepped back and we've ALL felt the loss.  This has been difficult, but I also see it as an opportunity to realign ourselves with our desires and our love.  It's going to make better art."

When do you think that’ll happen?

"Hmm... that is difficult to say.  I, truly, would be remiss to give an answer, as I am not in a position to make those decisions.  I know that there is a great deal of information out there and that every day that information is changing and growing.  Different people and different organizations have their own unique needs, and their choices are not going to be easy.  They will never please everyone.  I think I will decline to answer this one because I fear my words might add to the noise.  However, I do want those people who do have to make the decisions know that they're supported in what they choose and I am certain their choices were not made without great care."

What have you been doing to stay creative during this time?

"So many crafts!!  As I said, we moved into our new place the day after we lost our job, so I've been able to scratch my home-improvement itch!  It's really been great.  I read, I crochet, I build furniture, I have been cooking like crazy. AND I finally have a space to grow plants, which is something I have missed for many years.  When it comes to creative outlets, I've yet to not be able to find one.  And above all else... I never stop singing.  Virtual cabarets have been a real boon for me as of late.  They still allow us performers to stay connected and to share what we feel.  They've been a big help.  "

Any binge tv shows you’ve watched?

"EVERYTHING.  The era of television that we are currently living in is simply SUBLIME.  Breathtaking performances are everywhere and the artistry is just so fine.  I LOVE Ozark... get ready to feel things.  Also, Little Fires Everywhere.  Reese Witherspoon has been producing some amazing work the past few years, and this is no exception.  Big Little Lies... watched both seasons again. "

Any new hobbies you’ve taken on?

"I did a small embroidery project, which was fun.  I am far from professional, but I enjoyed the process.  I am now looking at weaving.  It's something both my fiancĂ© Stephen Hohendorf and I want to try. "

Jamie Michael Parnell in Show Boat
Arizona Broadway Theatre
photo by Scott Samplin
How has this experience changed you?  

"This isn't something I share readily or openly very often, but I feel it is important.  In years and times past I have been faced with periods of isolation more than once.  Whether or not those periods were self-imposed or a product of the state of the world is immaterial.  Previously the isolation and separation from my community were met with depression (granted it was also a product of depression) and substance abuse.  I entered this period of isolation as a different person; someone who is not tethered to depression and someone who is no longer a slave to alcohol.  This period of isolation has been met with, for the most part, healthy attitudes and expectations and a great deal more grace and mindfulness. I've, luckily, somehow been able to move past those darker parts and have grown on top of them.  Again, not something I share with everyone, as admitting such things comes with a certain amount of risk.  But... if this pandemic has taught me anything it's that risk is all around us at all times.  And, you never know if you will have the chance to tell your truth again.  Nothing is certain.  So, in that way, it's made me braver.  I think some of that comes from the fact that I am now, in a healthy way, living in a situation that would have damaged my younger self.  I find myself seeking hope more, where older versions of myself would have just found doom.  I don't think this experience created that change in me, but it certainly strengthened it and allowed me to contemplate it more fully."

What is the one thing you’re most looking forward to when the stay at home order is lifted?

"Going to the gym.  I mean, I love restaurants and movies and friends... but it's HOT outside and that is making my workouts a lot less enjoyable! I need some A/C!  "

Arizona Theatre Company’s new podcast series, Hang & Focus, on May 29 to feature Ralph Remington and Broadway composer Larry O'Keefe


Arizona Theatre Company’s (ATC) new podcast series, Hang & Focus, will feature interviews with key arts leaders and the award-winning Broadway composer and lyricist of Bat Boy: The Musical, Legally Blond: The Musical and Heathers: The Musical.

Hosted by ATC Artistic Director Sean Daniels, on Friday, May 29, Daniels will chat with Ralph Remington, Artistic Director at the Tempe Center for the Arts, and Larry O’Keefe, who won the Lucille Lortel Outstanding Musical Composer Award for Bat Boy: The Musical. The play received eight Drama Desk Award nominations and won two Richard Rodgers Awards and the Outer Critics’ Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical. 

Hang & Focus is available on the Arizona Theatre Company website as well as on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and YouTube

 “I think it’s important to hear from arts and civic leaders in Phoenix about exactly what we all hope the Phoenix arts scene will look like after COVID. I’m inspired by the work both of them do and can’t wait to hear more,“Daniels said. 

New episodes are released every Friday and Sunday. 

Actor's Youth Theatre's 2020 Summer Classes




Seth Tucker partners with PHX Stages to Present Special Concert in Benefit of ariZoni Theatre Awards Relief Fund


Seth Tucker in Partnership with PHX Stages - the top local source for theatre in the Phoenix metropolitan area - presents a special episode of Garage Concert in benefit of the ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence Theatre and Artist Relief Fund. 

The Garage Concert Series premiered on March 24, 2020, and was devised as a way to keep the performing arts online and to help support artists whose projects had been canceled or were cut short by the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic. 

A 48-minute online musical, episode five offers a parodical spin on high school reunions and unrequited love told by some of your favorite Broadway and film villains, and gay icons, with a special appearance by everyone’s favorite Supreme Court Justice, RBG.

Featuring Tucker and 17 of the Valley’s finest performers, the one-night-only event will air on Saturday, June 6, 2020, at 7:00 PM on the PHX Stages Facebook page. Sponsors for the event include Brock Pro Entertainment, JALT Media, and The Davis Alliance. 

Audiences are invited to show their support to the Arizona theatre community by donating to the ariZoni relief fund and can donate anytime on the relief fund website.

The ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote and celebrate the theatrical arts in Arizona, established the AZ Theatre and Artist Relief Fund to support artists and theatres during the Covid-19 Pandemic. It is their hope that the fund will continue as an ongoing resource to the Phoenix arts community.  Since its launch on April 3, 2020, the fund has raised over $7,500 in combined - raised and matched -  funds. The organization will match dollar for dollar up to the first $5,000 in donated funds.

CAST INCLUDES: Seth Tucker, Kyle Sorrell, Katie Rodin, Kaitlynn Bluth, Alicia Ferrin, Rachel Redleaf, Erik Stefan Dunn Schneider, Noah Manumaleuga, Sarah Ambrose, Brianna McClure, Thomas Hastings, Kevin Fenderson, Brandi Bigley, Kade Bailey, Mary Ott, Cade Trotter, Teresa Murphy and Michael Schauble.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Quarantine Q/A: RICHARD POWERS HARDT

Richard Powers Hardt
by Gil Benbrook

Our series of "Quarantine" interviews, which focus on individuals involved in the Phoenix theatre community an
d their reaction to Arizona's stay at home mandate, continues today with a conversation with Valley director Richard Powers Hardt.

COVID-19 has affected us all in many ways. The theatre community has been harshly impacted with show closures and postponements. We hope this series of daily interviews will be a way to provide some personal insight to what people are doing during this period of time while highlighting familiar individuals from the theatre community in town.

Was there a show you were in or involved with or preparing for when the stay at home order started?

"Yes!  And I still am, we are in Zoom rehearsal for Reza's Art at the Ghostlight Theatre.  I also helped to prepare the ariZoni adjudicator training for next year, which we just had over 100 people attend over 4 Zoom training sessions."

How have you been personally impacted by our current situation?

Powers Hardt: "Definitely been impacted but I am lucky enough to still be working, I'm a teacher so I teach classes online every day. "

How has your daily routine changed?

"Most days I get up later. I'm afraid I am much more sedentary of late, but I feel like Jimmy Stewart sometimes, I know exactly what's going on in the neighborhood, when the mail comes, who walks their dog when, if there is a murder committed across the street, I am there. I am counting the days til the pool is warm enough to enter. I find myself locating a lot of little things to do I have needed to do for a long time, organize files, rearrange my study, read plays and I have been trying to do some writing. "

What do you feel will be different when theater restarts?

"It will definitely take a while for the audience to feel safe to go back. We have to be ready for that. It would be nice if theatres got a break on royalties for a while until they are back up and filling the seats again. I fear that we may lose some companies because of this and hope the community will come together to help each other survive, whether that means volunteering sets and costumes from a warehouse or cross promoting or even money. When one theatre thrives it is only good for the rest of us. I think there will be more than one discussion between theatres, directors and actors about when it is safe to go back on stage. I know the theatres have to pay the bills, and I also know as a director, I will never ask an actor to come back on stage before they are ready and feel safe to do so. It's understandable. Actors and theatres want to perform. I  have no doubt there are actors who would want to get back out there as soon as possible and I also know there are actors and directors who believe it won't be safe til end of summer or even early fall. Theatre people are extremely resilient and they are collaborators, I believe we will work through this together in the long run in a way that is both sustaining and supportive for everyone involved. Sounds a bit Pollyanic, naive' even,  but I do believe in theatre people and their inherent ability to overcome obstacles. Hell, we've been a 'dying art form' since the invention of film, but we're still here and we will be long, long after I'm gone. "

When do you think that’ll happen?  

"Even though the governor has opened some things up, I honestly don't think we will be able to have large gatherings throughout the Summer.  "

What have you been doing to stay creative during this time?

"Directing, teaching (yes ask any teacher, teaching is extremely creative)  playing 'Draw Classic' with family and theatre friends.   I feel like I'm busier now than before the shut down.  "

Any binge tv shows you’ve watched?

"Wow, strangely enough, not really. I find myself less interested lately. I did watch Doom Patrol on DC Universe which was pretty brilliant actually. I am interested in The Outsider on Netflix, but haven't watched it yet. I am binging less than I thought I would be. I have listened to a lot of music. Discovered a great young folk singer named Max Morin."

Any new hobbies you’ve taken on?

"Zooming. Zooming with my daughter in Cincinnati while we play Azure."

How has this experience changed you?

"I think I found out that I can handle this better than a lot of people. I love directing, I love the theatre and my theatre friends. But I can handle me time very well. I have very little problem with being just with me and my wife Kim, we get along even being around each other 24/7. The other morning, we got up at 4 am and went out to Lake Pleasant just to take photos of the sunrise. It was very affirming."

What is the one thing you’re most looking forward to not that the stay at home order has been lifted and some businesses have started to reopen?    

"Seeing if any of my online blocking actually works on stage.   And eating out. "

The Phoenix Theatre Company to offer its 12th season of Summer of Dance, this year online



 
from our friends at The Phoenix Theatre Company:

Across the state, retailers, gyms and fitness providers are reopening for public use. The Phoenix Theatre Company is taking an extra step to keep its staff, artists and patrons safe by offering its programming online. As Summer of Dance enters its 12th season The Phoenix Theatre Company is keeping the rhythm alive by moving dance classes online.
 
“Summer of Dance is about developing skill, sweating and having fun,” says Robbie Harper, associate artistic director and Summer of Dance program director, “it’s not about competing—we’ve created a community where we encourage each other to push beyond our boundaries while developing physical control and expression.”

Summer of Dance is a safe space to learn, sweat and have fun. Everyone is welcome regardless of how they identify, skill level and background. Classes are open to all dancers age 10 and up. Offerings range from basic technique and skills, musical theatre combinations and classes tailored to different styles. Dancers can expect a different combination every class and the basics of different styles are reinforced to build confidence, flexibility and mastery.

Classes start June 1 and continue until July 23. Classes are offered Monday through Friday at 5pm, 6:15pm and 7:30pm. This year, pass prices have been lowered to provide options for every budget. After purchase, dancers will receive a private link to access classes via Zoom. To learn more and sign up, visit www.phoenixtheatre.com/summerofdance. To learn more about The Phoenix Theatre Company’s digital programming, visit www.phoenixtheatre.com and follow its Facebook and Instagram.

 
Summer of Dance Pass Options

Single Class Drop-In Pass

This is perfect if you need a flexible class schedule or if you want to try out Summer of Dance Online. Purchase now or right before class starts.

$10.00 per class with reduced price options

Weekly Pass

Buy your classes for the whole week upfront. This option is great if you’re unsure an All Access Dance Pass is right for you. At any time, you can upgrade by calling our box office at 602.254.2151.

$40.00 per week

 
All Access Dance Pass

Dance your way through the whole summer with unlimited access to all of our Summer of Dance classes.

$140.00 for the whole season


Summer of Dance Classes

Technique and Skills
Every Monday
6:15 pm - 7:15 pm
Taught by Lauran Stanis
This class replaces Musical Theatre 1 and focuses on the basics. Terminology, Technique and application. This is perfect for the beginner OR for the more advanced dancer who is looking to brush up their skills.

Musical Theatre Combos and Character
Every Monday
7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Taught by Molly Lajoie
This class focuses on Character Development and Retention of a combination.  Technique, skills and terminology will be taught within the class with specific attention given to the acting component.  This class is for movers and dancers to grow in their audition performance. Appropriate dance shoes are recommended.
Materials needed: jazz shoes, jazz sneakers, character shoes

Musical Theatre Combos and Style
Every Thursday
6:15 pm - 7:15 pm
Taught by Molly Lajoie
This class focuses Style and strong Technical Skills.  New combinations will be taught weekly at a brisk audition pace.  This class is to prepare the dancer for quick retention and performance for an audition.  It is considered and intermediate/advanced class. Appropriate dance shoes required.
Materials needed: jazz shoes, jazz sneakers, character shoes

Heels and Precision
Every Wednesday
7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Taught by Molly Lajoie
This class is designed to work the dancers balance and technique in character heels required for professional auditions. Half of the class will consist of a warm-up, physical conditioning, balance and technique in heels.  The second half will consist of a short combination with a focus on body awareness and “nailing” the combination perfectly, with a smile on your face!  Different styles of dance will be used for the combinations, but all will be done in character heels.  This class is for the intermediate/advance dancers.  

Tap 1
Every Monday
5 pm - 6 pm
Taught by Hilary Hirsch
This class focuses on the fundamental building blocks of tap including terminology, technique, balance, weight shift and clarity of sound.  It’s perfect for the “never tapped before” dancer or the “I took a class one time in college” performer.  It’s always good to review the basics. All levels welcomed.
Tap shoes recommended.

Tap 2
Every Wednesday
6:15 pm - 7:15 pm
Lauran Stanis
This class moves a little faster than Tap 1. It still reinforces the same building blocks but introduces more combination work. Good for beginner/intermediate levels or for dancers looking to brush up their skills.
Tap shoes recommended.

Tap 3
Every Thursday
7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Lauran Stanis
This is an intermediate/advanced class that moves faster than the beginning class and focuses more on pick-ups, pull backs and more intricate combination sequences. Not recommended for beginners.
Tap shoes required.

Ballet for Everyone
Every Tuesday
7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Taught by Nicole Olson
This is ballet practiced to a funky beat.  This class focuses on terminology, strengthening and stretching.  This class is open to all levels. However the more advanced ballet students might find it more intermediate. This class is perfect to help create line, strength, flow of movement, control, balance and foundation of terminology that is essential in all forms of dance.
Please wear appropriate dance shoes. Ballet shoes or bear claws are good.

Contemporary Dance
Every Wednesday
5 pm - 6 pm
Taught by Nicole Olson
This class introduces more of a modern dance sensibility. It focuses and technique and expression. All levels are encouraged to attend but this class tends toward a more intermediate or advanced dancer. Floor work and leaps are part of this class. Please ask instructor for alternate moves if needed.
Please wear appropriate dance shoes. Bare feet are fine.

Hip Hop
Every Tuesday and Thursday
5 pm - 6 pm
Taught by Nick Flores
This class for the student who loves the dancing they see in a music video. It’s a more urban expression with a whole new sensibility that will challenge dancers of all levels. This class is fun and fast paced and focuses on isolation, weight shift, strength and endurance. Combinations change every class. All are encouraged to attend but the beginner dancer will need to have patience and determination.
Please wear appropriate dance shoes. Street sneakers are okay.

Classical Jazz
Every Tuesday
6:15 pm - 7:15 pm
Taught by Lauran Stanis
This jazz technique class is heavily influenced by ballet and modern dance forms. This type is performed from the core, with clean and strong lines emanating from the hips and chest. Each week will explore the specifics of various jazz masters and their personal styles including Bob Fosse, Jack Cole, Gus Giordano, Luigi, and Matt Mattox. Look forward to strong contractions, isolations, parallel passes, shoulder twists, and hinges.

Mesa Encore Theatre to stream their production of THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE beginning May 29



Mesa Encore Theatre will be streaming their recent production of Pirates of Penzance. The first of multiple streams of the show will begin Friday 5/29 at 7PM.

You can view the show at no charge by logging onto the Facebook page HERE

Pirates of Penzance was produced earlier this season by MET and was directed by David Chorley.  Donations can by made to MET by going to www.mesaencoretheatre.com and clicking the DONATE button at the top of the page.

ASU Gammage High School Musical Theatre Awards Winners for 2019-2020

Chandler High School won the Best Musical Award for its production of All Shook Up

from our friends at ASU Gammage:

Although in-person award shows have been put on hold for the time being, that didn’t stop the sixth annual ASU Gammage High School Musical Theatre Awards (HSMTA) from taking the virtual stage on Saturday, May 23. The online event recognized and celebrated Valley high school students and faculty that produced musical theatre programs for the 2019-2020 school year.

Desiree Ong, educational enrichment program manager of ASU Gammage, said the team at ASU Gammage still wanted to offer a way for students to celebrate their hard work.

“The class of 2020 has had such a difficult year, and with other ceremonies and events getting canceled, we still wanted to hold our celebration even if it meant going online,” Ong said. “We want to send a message that the arts are important and valued in our community, and we want to encourage students to pursue their passion and continue their lifelong love of the performing arts.”

Last fall, 24 high schools were chosen through an application process. Of the 24 schools, 15 were able to finish their productions before statewide school closures.

The first half of the ASU Gammage HSMTA Virtual Showcase featured short video performances from 24 Valley high schools. Winners were announced in 14 categories and selected by a panel of adjudicators comprised of theatre professionals, teachers and enthusiasts in Arizona.

Best Lead Male Award winner Brach Drew
Marcos De Niza High School

Chandler High School won the best musical award for its production of “All Shook Up.” Brach Drew of Marcos De Niza High School won best lead male for his portrayal of The Cat in the Hat in “Seussical.” Angelica Santana of Dobson High School won best lead female for her performance of Nina in “In the Heights.”

Normally, the two winners would go on to compete in the national HSMTA (known as the Jimmy Awards) in New York City. Unfortunately, the 2020 Jimmy Awards were canceled. Instead, this year’s winners each received $500 due to the generosity of ASU Gammage VIP patrons Pat Langlin-Brazil and Ronald J. Harten.

The ASU Gammage Leadership Award is normally presented to two graduating seniors for their leadership not only on the stage, but in their community and school. This year, four graduating seniors were chosen and granted $500 to use toward furthering their education: Macey Clausen from Casteel High School, Aunah Johnson from Shadow Mountain High School, Jordan Wiener from Arizona School for the Arts and Luke Morton from Williams Field High School.

Participating schools included American Leadership Academy Gilbert North, American Leadership Academy Queen Creek, Arizona School for the Arts, Casteel High School, Centennial High School, Chandler High School, Chaparral High School, Desert Mountain High School, Dobson High School, Hamilton High School, Marcos De Niza High School, Maricopa High School, Mingus Union High School, New School For The Arts & Academics, Notre Dame Preparatory High School, Perry High School, Phoenix Country Day School, Queen Creek High School, Red Mountain High School, Saguaro High School, Sandra Day O’Connor High School, Shadow Mountain High School, Shadow Ridge High School, and Williams Field High School.

“It’s been a really difficult year for everyone, and we want you to know at ASU Gammage, we are here to support you, and we look forward to you all returning to the theatre,” said Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director of ASU Gammage and ASU vice president for cultural affairs, in a closing statement on the night of the ceremony. “We look forward to the time when we all can be together.”

Going out with a “bang”

Growing up in an athletic-centered household, the only time HSMTA lead male winner Brach Drew heard the phrase “it’s showtime” was in regards to game day. However, all that changed when Drew auditioned and got into his first play in the fourth grade. After having to do his first  quick change in the school’s restroom and making it back to the stage in time to meet the expressions of audience members, he knew the connection he had made with them was something special. 

Since then, Drew has been in musical after musical. A native to Tempe, Arizona, his Christmas present for the past three years has been season tickets to ASU Gammage. 

Like so many other performers, Drew didn’t realize Marcos De Niza High School’s production of “Seussical” would be the last he performed in before statewide school closures.

“We went out with a bang, and I’m really grateful for that,” Drew said. 

On the night of the HSMTA ceremony, Drew sat huddled with his family in the living room and kept a Zoom call open with his fellow cast members. When he heard his name called for best lead male, Drew felt relieved.

“I put in so much work the past four years of high school developing my craft, and it paid off with receiving this recognition,” he said.

Drew remembers that when he was a freshman, upperclasswoman Briana Fleming won the 2017 best lead female award. He got to congratulate her and the two took a picture together. It was in that moment that Drew decided he would work hard and do whatever it took to get there — and get there he has done.

To his theatre director Patrick McChesney, saying “thank you” hardly feels like enough.

“Know that everything I’m doing is to show gratitude for what you gave me — all the time, the energy, the sacrifices you’ve made for my growth. I will not take these things for granted, and I will live my life and perform because it’s you I give credit to,” Drew said.

Being heavily involved in high school, Drew said he hopes young adults will take advantage of their time and enjoy the fullness of their high school experience because it could change in an instant.

“The idea of being yourself is excruciatingly important in musical theatre, performance and life,” he said. 

Drew will be majoring in Theatre Arts at the University of Arizona in the fall. With the funds awarded, he hopes to use it to pay for materials needed in his theatre classes. He also is interested in pursuing a minor in Spanish or American Sign Language to become an interpreter.

Taking a bow

Best Lead Female Winner Angelica Santana
Dobson High School
HSMTA lead female winner Angelica Santana’s theatre journey started her freshman year at Dobson High School. Her school was putting on a production of “The Little Mermaid,” but her cross country practices interfered with her getting the chance to audition. Her sophomore year, a group of friends and her boyfriend encouraged her to audition for “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Santana initially thought she hadn’t made it in due to another student with the same first name getting casted. After a conversation with her theatre director Simon Navarro, however, she realized she had gotten a role in the ensemble.

“I used to have the biggest stage fright, but after performing in that show all of that went away and I just wanted to get better so I could get a bigger role in the future,” she said. 

After much hard work and dedication, Santana landed the role of Nina in her school’s production of “In the Heights.” Although the school never got to perform the show, Santana was still able to create a video submission for the HSMTA ceremony of her singing “Breathe.”

Santana watched the awards ceremony in her living room with her boyfriend and younger sister. When it was announced that she had won best lead female, she felt as if she’d stopped breathing.

“My jaw just dropped, my hands went over my face and I just started crying,” Santana said. “It was such a surreal moment and felt like the cherry on top; it was sad that we didn’t get to perform our show, but I was super excited that I had won.”

Santana said her choir director Whitney Murray made her into the singer that she is today, and her theatre director Simon Navarro supported her to get her to a higher place each year. At the end of the day, she said that’s all she could ask for.

Santana will be majoring in social work at Arizona State University’s West campus in the fall. She hopes to continue theatre in some capacity during college, whether that be in a club or community production.

“Theatre holds such a special place in my heart — with all of the friends and people that I’ve met through it,” she said. “It’s just a big part of my life now.”

ASU Gammage High School Musical Theatre Awards 2019-2020
http://www.asugammage.com/HSMTA

SCHOOLS
American Leadership Academy Gilbert North - Thoroughly Modern Millie+
Tiffany Garner
American Leadership Academy Queen Creek - Les Miserables+
Jenifer Hansen
Arizona School for the Arts - Mary Poppins
Robert Chambers
Casteel High School - Fiddler on the Roof+
Alyssa Pitner
Centennial High School – Shrek
Laura Colletti
Chandler High School - All Shook Up*
Stephanie Likes
Chaparral High School - Sweeney Todd
Ed Como
Desert Mountain High School - Little Shop of Horrors
Marilyn Mumaw
Dobson High School - In the Heights+
Simon Navarro
Hamilton High School - Frozen Jr.*
Christina Vail
Marcos De Niza High School – Seussical*
Patrick McChesney
Maricopa High School – Newsies*
Alexandra Stahl
Mingus Union High School – Shrek+
James Ball
New School For The Arts & Academics - Andrew Lippa's Wild Party+
Amy Abbruscato
Notre Dame Preparatory High School - Into the Woods
Cecilia Henrich
Perry High School - Zombie Prom
Randy Duren
Phoenix Country Day School - West Side Story*
Keith Burns
Queen Creek High School - Into the Woods+
Kyle Spitler
Red Mountain High School - Mamma Mia+
Matt Erickson
Saguaro High School – Footloose
Tim McCandless
Sandra Day O'Connor High School - High School Musical
Toni Fioramonti
Shadow Mountain High School - Willy Wonka
Teresa Minarsich
Shadow Ridge High School – Footloose+
Kendra Schroeder
Williams Field High School – The Addams Family
Heather Gillen
Single asterisk (*) indicates Finalist
Bolded name indicates Winner
+Show was postponed or cancelled due to AZ schools closure in March 2020

BEST LEAD MALE
American Leadership Academy Queen Creek - Kyle Atkinson*
Arizona School For The Arts - Zachary Snyders
Casteel High School - Gabriel Pino
Centennial High School - Anthonee Trifari
Chandler High School - Nainoa Aguano*
Chaparral High School - Kyle Hoffmaster*
Desert Mountain High School - Jack Yampolsky*
Dobson High School - Robert Schaefer*
Marcos De Niza High School - Brach Drew*
Maricopa High School - Joseph Russoniello*
Mingus Union High School - Zachary Smith
Notre Dame Preparatory High School - Bennet Curran
Perry High School - Manuel Edrozo*
Phoenix Country Day School - Kevin Wang*
Queen Creek High School - Scotty Hagen*
Saguaro High School - Logan Holmes
Sandra Day O'Connor High School - Johnathan Bacon
Shadow Mountain High School - Keegan Sinur
Shadow Ridge High School - Lucas Morais
Williams Field High School - Brennan Merrill*
Single asterisk (*) indicates Finalist
Bolded name indicates Winner

BEST LEAD FEMALE
American Leadership Academy Gilbert North - Kylie Payne
American Leadership Academy Queen Creek - Gabriella Sanchez*
Arizona School For The Arts - Katie Brown
Casteel High School - Amithy Vallone
Chandler High School - Autumn Towne
Chaparral High School - Ashley Thomson*
Desert Mountain High School - Macie Wilson*
Dobson High School - Angelica Santana*
Hamilton High School - Kristiana Corona*
Marcos De Niza High School - Marianna Adams
Maricopa High School - Emma Schrader
Mingus Union High School - Vanessa Alcala
New School For The Arts & Academics - Amanda Goldberg
Notre Dame Preparatory High School - Olivia La Porte
Perry High School - Sydney Volker*
Phoenix Country Day School - Allie Dever*
Queen Creek High School - Delaney Starks*
Red Mountain High School - Amber Looper
Saguaro High School - Daphne (Ronnie) Mizquez*
Sandra Day O'Connor High School - Kayla Howard
Shadow Mountain High School - Aunah Johnson
Shadow Ridge High School - Kaylea Vance
Williams Field High School - Gracie Gamble*
Single asterisk (*) indicates Finalist
Bolded name indicates Winner

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
American Leadership Academy Queen Creek - AJ Klomp
Arizona School For The Arts - Charles Moore
Casteel High School - Hunter Stanley
Centennial High School - Chris Brattin
Chandler High School - Avery Chisenski*
Chaparral High School - Kyler Glazier
Desert Mountain High School - Drake Stanton*
Dobson High School - Nathan Payne
Hamilton High School - Nicholas Moriarty
Marcos De Niza High School - Kyrian Sowards*
Maricopa High School - Jae Luna
Mingus Union High School - Santana Alvarado II
Notre Dame Preparatory High School - Jacob Fevurly
Perry High School - Jonah Romanoff*
Phoenix Country Day School - Lucas Oland*
Queen Creek High School - Jaxon Ballingham
Saguaro High School - Jack Thomas
Sandra Day O'Connor High School - Jaden Roesch
Shadow Mountain High School - Trevar Howell
Shadow Ridge High School - Tristan Richards
Williams Field High School - Kale Klein
Single asterisk (*) indicates Finalist
Bolded name indicates Winner

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
American Leadership Academy Queen Creek - Camille Christman
Arizona School For The Arts - Lily Gosar
Casteel High School - Macey Clausen
Centennial High School - Sophia Phu
Chandler High School - Charlize Cornejo*
Chaparral High School - Abby Manhoff
Desert Mountain High School - Sophia Vanella
Dobson High School - Angelica Lopez
Hamilton High School - Raven Harris*
Marcos De Niza High School - MaKayla Johnson
Maricopa High School - Julianna Goodrum*
Mingus Union High School - Charlie Green
Notre Dame Preparatory High School - Kendall Luther
Perry High School - Halle Mason
Phoenix Country Day School - Kira Liljegren
Queen Creek High School - Brynley Wilhelm
Saguaro High School - Tyler Velarde*
Sandra Day O'Connor High School - Elise Sheppard
Shadow Mountain High School - Makenna Staley
Shadow Ridge High School - Autumn Wooten
Williams Field High School - Donelly Clark*
Single asterisk (*) indicates Finalist
Bolded name indicates Winner

BEST VOCALIST
American Leadership Academy Queen Creek - Justin Palmer
Arizona School For The Arts - Emilee Robles*
Casteel High School - Lucas Keller
Centennial High School - Jordan Sampson
Chandler High School - Nainoa Aguano*
Chaparral High School - Kyle Hoffmaster
Desert Mountain High School - Macie Wilson
Dobson High School - Carmen Williams
Hamilton High School - Kristiana Corona
Marcos De Niza High School - Brach Drew*
Maricopa High School - Haley Raffaele*
Mingus Union High School - Mikayla Gaydon
Notre Dame Preparatory High School - Ruby Purcell
Perry High School - Sydney Volker*
Phoenix Country Day School - Allie Dever
Queen Creek High School - Hope Niven
Saguaro High School – Daphne (Ronnie) Mizquez*
Sandra Day O'Connor High School - Kayla Howard
Shadow Mountain High School - Karson Sinur
Shadow Ridge High School - Ethan Wallgren
Williams Field High School - Gracie Gamble
Single asterisk (*) indicates Finalist
Bolded name indicates Winner

BEST DANCE ENSEMBLE
American Leadership Academy Queen Creek - "Master of the House" The Thenardiers
Arizona School For The Arts - "Step in Time" Dance Ensemble*
Casteel High School - The Wedding Dance Ensemble
Centennial High School - "Morning Person" Dance Ensemble*
Desert Mountain High School - Doo Wop Ensemble*
Dobson High School - 96,000 Dance Ensemble
Hamilton High School - "In Summer" Dance Ensemble
Marcos De Niza High School - "Chasing The Whos" Dance Ensemble
Maricopa High School - "Seize the Day" Dance Ensemble*
Mingus Union High School - "Morning Person" Rat Tap Dance Ensemble
Notre Dame Preparatory High School - "Act 2 Finale" Dance Ensemble
Perry High School - "Blast from the Past" Dance Ensemble
Phoenix Country Day School - "Dance at the Gym" Dance Ensemble*
Red Mountain High School - "I'm Free/Heaven Help Me" Dance Ensemble
Saguaro High School - "Let’s Hear It for the Boy”
Sandra Day O’Connor – “We're All in this Together" Dance Ensemble
Shadow Mountain High School - "The Candyman" Dance Ensemble
Shadow Ridge High School - "Let's Hear It for the Boy" Dance Ensemble
Williams Field High School - "Tango DeAmor" Morticia, Gomez & Ancestors
Single asterisk (*) indicates Finalist
Bolded name indicates Winner

BEST SET/PROP
American Leadership Academy Queen Creek - Finn Helser
Arizona School For The Arts - Arizona School for the Arts Production Team
Casteel High School - Casteel Crew
Centennial High School - Jessica Moran
Chandler High School - Chandler High Set/Prop Design Team*
Chaparral High School - Team 203*
Desert Mountain High School - Mikayla Glancy*
Dobson High School - Dobson High School Stagecraft
Hamilton High School - Hamilton Set and Prop Crew*
Marcos De Niza High School - Presley Symington*
Maricopa High School - MHS Tech Theatre
Mingus Union High School - Shenoah Williams
Perry High School - Joyce Poon
Queen Creek High School - Queen Creek Tech Team
Saguaro High School - Saguaro Set/Props Design Team
Sandra Day O'Connor High School - SDOHS Stagecraft Class
Shadow Mountain High School - NVAA Set/Props Team
Shadow Ridge High School - SRHS Set Team
Williams Field High School - WFHS Set Team
Single asterisk (*) indicates Finalist
Bolded name indicates Winner

BEST LIGHTING
American Leadership Academy Queen Creek - Christian Bribiescas
Arizona School For The Arts - Arizona School for the Arts Production Team
Casteel High School - Ander Rice
Chandler High School - Chandler High Lighting Team*
Chaparral High School - Michael Bouchard*
Desert Mountain High School - Harm Agena*
Dobson High School - Nyle Rivera
Hamilton High School - Abby Flanigan*
Maricopa High School - MHS Tech Theatre*
Mingus Union High School - Porter McDowell
Notre Dame Preparatory High School - Notre Dame Tech Team*
Perry High School - Melana Fiandaca
Queen Creek High School - Kelsi Anderson
Saguaro High School - Matthew Steward
Sandra Day O'Connor High School - SDOHS Lighting Crew
Shadow Mountain High School - NVAA Lighting Team
Shadow Ridge High School - SRHS Lighting Team
Williams Field High School - WFHS Lighting Team
Single asterisk (*) indicates Finalist
Bolded name is the winner.

BEST SOUND
American Leadership Academy Queen Creek - Ashton Spencer
Arizona School For The Arts - Edwin Anderson
Casteel High School - Barrett Burgess
Centennial High School - Campbell McWilliams
Chandler High School - Chandler High Sound Team*
Chaparral High School - Amanda Bell*
Desert Mountain High School - Rowan Kozinets*
Dobson High School - Gabe Wallace
Hamilton High School - Andrea Flores-Pena
Marcos De Niza High School - JJ Johnson*
Maricopa High School - MHS Tech Theatre
Mingus Union High School - Weylan Connell
Perry High School - Perry Sound Team*
Queen Creek High School - Lennon VanAusdal
Saguaro High School - Lexi McNally
Sandra Day O'Connor High School - SDOHS Sound Crew
Shadow Mountain High School - NVAA Sound Team
Shadow Ridge High School - SRHS Sound Team
Williams Field High School - WFHS Sound Team
Single asterisk (*) indicates Finalist
Bolded name indicates Winner

BEST COSTUMES
American Leadership Academy Queen Creek - Mikelle Redd
Arizona School For The Arts - ASA Production Team
Casteel High School - Grace Kimmel
Centennial High School - Madelyn Stuckey
Chandler High School - Chandler High Costume Team*
Chaparral High School - Sophie Streich*
Desert Mountain High School - Ollie Clarke*
Hamilton High School - Hamilton Costume Crew*
Marcos De Niza High School - Dorian Williams*
Maricopa High School - MHS Tech Theatre
Mingus Union High School - Amaya Lathon
Perry High School - Colton Marks
Saguaro High School - Saguaro Costume Design Team
Sandra Day O'Connor High School - SDOHS Costume Crew
Shadow Mountain High School - NVAA Costume Team
Shadow Ridge High School - SRHS Costume Team
Williams Field High School - WFHS Costume Team
Single asterisk (*) indicates Finalist
Bolded name indicates Winner

BEST HAIR & MAKE-UP
American Leadership Academy Queen Creek - Phoebe Chandler
Arizona School For The Arts - Anna Spelleri*
Centennial High School - The Contour Queens
Chandler High School - Chandler High Hair/Makeup Team*
Chaparral High School - Sierra Tooke
Desert Mountain High School - Cara Richman*
Hamilton High School - Jessica Wastchak*
Marcos De Niza High School - Dakota Estrella*
Maricopa High School - MHS Tech Theatre
Mingus Union High School - Mingus Hair and Make-up Team
Perry High School - Perry Makeup Team
Queen Creek High School - Jordan Tyler
Saguaro High School - Tyler Velarde
Sandra Day O'Connor High School - SDOHS Hair and Makeup Crew
Shadow Mountain High School - NVAA Hair and Makeup Team
Shadow Ridge High School - SRHS Hair/Makeup Team
Williams Field High School - WFHS Hair and Makeup Team
Single asterisk (*) indicates Finalist
Bolded name indicates Winner

ASU GAMMAGE LEADERSHIP AWARD NOMINEES
Arizona School For The Arts - Jordan Wiener
Casteel High School - Macey Clausen
Centennial High School - Emily Sielewicki
Chaparral High School - Charles "Cannon" Cook
Desert Mountain High School - Lauren Reilly
Hamilton High School - Griffen McClendon
Maricopa High School - Haley Lemon
Mingus Union High School - Vanessa Alcala
Queen Creek High School - Hope Niven
Red Mountain High School - Riley Siegler
Saguaro High School - Tyler Velarde
Shadow Mountain High School - Aunah Johnson
Williams Field High School - Luke Morton
Single asterisk (*) indicates Finalist
Bolded name indicates Winner

EXCELLENCE IN STAGE MANAGEMENT AWARD NOMINEES
Arizona School for the Arts - Alex Jerome
Casteel High School - Carter Wise*
Chaparral High School - Cole Carney*
Desert Mountain High School - Trevor Enault
Hamilton High School - Reiley Nymeyer
Maricopa High School - Keara Burke
Mingus Union High School - Asa Marette
Saguaro High School - Alysya Mitchell
Shadow Mountain High School - Maya Channer
Williams Field High School - Tatum Mason*
Single asterisk (*) indicates Honorable Mention
Bolded name indicates Winner