Tuesday, August 20, 2019

cast announcement - THE WIZARD OF OZ - Don Bluth Front Row Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs October 10-November 16

Dorothy Gale: Abby Cardenas
Uncle Henry: Christian Krugman
Zeke/Lion: David Teply
Hickory/Tin Man: Tom Endicott
Hunk/Scarecrow: Stephen Johnstun
Miss Gultch/Witch: Rachel Weiss
Prof Marvel/Oz: Joe Bousard
Auntie Em/Glinda: Lorraine Bousard
Toto/puppeteer: Christopher Devous

Christian Krugmar
Joey Pietro
Deryl Wayne
Pedro Lerma
Sebastian Stallone
Garry Cox
Frank Aaron
Kennady MacDonald
Keira Jakobsan
Lauren Tye
Corinne Hawkins
Kara Houser
Kristin Alba

Childsplay is looking for Kid Reporters!

Childsplay is looking for Kid Reporters for its 2019-20 season! Kid Reporters are invited to a Childsplay performance, where they get an exclusive backstage tour, interview with cast members and create a video review of their experience for Childsplay to share.

Applications are due by Friday, August 23rd.


reviews - PUFFS - Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre

the cast
photo by Renee Ashlock
by Julia Bashaw

New York based playwright Matt Cox decided to take the well-known story of Harry Potter and tell it from another perspective. The seven books and eight movies in J.K. Rowling's series focus on a boy who discovers he is a wizard and are shown through the lens of Harry’s eyes and his experience as a member of Gryffindor house, one of the four houses at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Cox explored the comical concept of telling the same story but from the view of another house at Hogwarts, the Hufflepuff House. This unique play is called Puffs, or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic. It played Off Broadway in 2016 and Desert Stages Theatre presents the local premiere of the comedy. If you are a fan of the Harry Potter series, enjoy a good inside joke, or appreciate a parody then you will most likely love this production as much as I did. It is a clearly constructed, fast-paced show, that has 11 people performing 60 characters and takes place over seven years of magic in a span of two hours. Dan Ashlock’s directing is sharp and clearly shows through in his actors’ effective comic performances.

The Puffs are considered the losers of the school in this take on the Harry Potter story. They are teased, overlooked, and treated unfairly. For audience members who aren't familiar with the story, in the Potter books and films, students arrive at the magical school of Hogwarts and they are sorted into one of four houses. The houses are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Cox proceeded to write around the Potter trademarks and developed his four new houses: the Braves, Puffs, Smarts, and Snakes. And thus he began to construct how the Puffs would experience their same seven years at a wizard school similar to Hogwarts.

Wayne (Jonathan Gonzales) questions his purpose as a Puff and why he matters at all if he isn’t the hero like Harry Potter. Oliver (Matthew Eads) was a genius in the ‘muggle-world’ (the name of the non-wizard world in Rowling's books) but struggles at magic. He contemplates if he is worth anything without his achievements. And Megan (Jacqueline Anderson) fights with her conflicting instincts to be evil or good. This trio wanders through their seven years together trying to understand their purpose as a Puff.

This trio of actors gels well together with interactions and character development that come across naturally. Anderson’s ability to yell her lines in a form of intimidation and for Gonzales and Eads to not break character is impressive. It's also quite astonishing how quickly the play speeds through the seven years at Hogwarts while still hitting all the major important plot lines. This 11 person cast plays close to 60 characters with different accents, costumes, and mannerisms to make each role specific. It is entertaining as an audience member to see these actors interact with such quick character changes.

The set walls are covered in rock wallpaper that are meant to look like a section of a medieval castle. There are 5 doors built into the set that are strategically used for comical, quick entrances and exits as an actor performing one character exits through one door then reappears seconds later through another door as a different role. The scenic/set design by Rick Sandifer and Dan Ashlock accompanied by Ashlock’s comic staging is so strategically developed on stage that I can not imagine how hectic the backstage must be with actors constantly crisscrossing paths.

With numerous characters also comes a multitude of costume changes. In a conversation I had with director Dan Ashlock, he stated that there are over 80 costumes used in this production. Within seconds these actors have to not only get into the position of their next character but also look different with the use of just a prop, a wig, or a robe. Actress Colleen Thompson does this several times in a row when the play speeds through showing the Puff students in various classes throughout the day. Thompson morphs into three separate teachers in a span of 30 seconds. Costume Designer Richard “Mickey” Courtney and Production Coordinator/Prop Mistress Ellie Steward have the pleasure of organizing and operating this process quickly and effectively to make audiences understand that the actors would need to have certain defining looks or props to distinguish between their multiple roles. Both Courtney and Steward deserve high praise for their involvement in gathering and designing the dozens of costumes and over 120 props in this production effectively, along with respect to the actors who are organized and quick enough to make their entrances and exits.

With each cast member portraying multiple roles, they work very diligently to develop different accents and tones for each character so they are clearly defined. For example, Eric Bond performs one of his roles with quite an impressive Scottish accent and Bear Golden also produces many accents anywhere from Southern to British. William Rippenkroeger, who plays both Cedric Diggory and Voldemort (or ‘Mr. Voldy’), puts on an impressive performance, showing his abilities as an actor to be both spirited and comical with high energy, yet also dark and defiant with a raspy evil voice that is drawn out.  While the show is fast paced and covers a lot of ground, it helps that there is a narrator that breaks the fourth wall and guides us through the story line. In this role, Paul Hartwell effectively delivers his lines with projection and interacts humorously with the front-row audience members. I personally was charmed when he gave the front row audience members chocolate to console them after the evil ‘Dementors’ showed up or when he gave them puffs brand tissues after a certain character dies.

The special effects that bring the magic alive are creatively executed. When magic spells are used, actors produce props out of books, robes, or seemingly mid-air as a prop is thrown on stage by someone hidden in the wings. The timing is done very well and adds to that sense of childlike belief to accept the magic as if it were real. When magic is used in the show, music and sound effects accompany it which adds to the fun.  Sound designer Eric Gibson enchants the audience as they get to hear spell casting magic, school bells, recorded audio tracks and much more.

The last 15 minutes has a beautifully choreographed rapidly paced war scene that will have audiences on the edge of their seats with brilliant lights, blackouts, and fierce music. This is all due to the incredible work of Stage Manager/Lighting Designer Brady Fiscus, and the Sound and Light Techs Renee Ashlock and Abby Golden.

At the performance I attended, there was only one audio cue that was incorrectly repeated but the cast did a good job of improvising to cover it up. There were also a few lines of dialogue that were missed from the cast due to them not being clearly delivered, overlapped with other lines or being delivered while the audience was still laughing at a prior line. However, the voice projection from the entire cast is superb which works well for the intimate Actor's Cafe theatre space.

At the opening night performance, there was a great turn out that had audiences laughing for the majority of the performance, though, while it's a fast paced show, it did seem to run a bit long, possibly due to it being the first time the show was performed in front of an audience. However, Puffs is an enjoyable show and Desert Stages production made me laugh a lot from the bright and clear comedic performances.

With that being said, do not bring children under the age of 13. This play is rated R, the language is quite strong along with some minor graphic displays carried out on stage. Even though it is a spoof based on the Harry Potter stories, it is not exactly appropriate for young wizards.

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs through September 29

Mario Yniguez announced as Music Director for this year's Zoni Awards!

The ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence Board of Directors is pleased to announce Mario Yniguez as this year's ceremony Music Director.

Mario Yniguez is a composer, performer, and director who just graduated from ASU with a BMus in Vocal Performance at ASU. His psychedelic rock fusion band, Harrison Fjord (lead vocal/guitar) was named best band in Phoenix in 2017, opened for Bernie Sanders on his 2016 campaign, and recently broke one million plays on Spotify for their single "Approximately 906 Miles". In 2017, he won an AriZoni Award for his original music composition for Ida (Orange Theatre & Scottsdale Community College).

He was the director of an award-winning young men and women's A Capella choir called Sounds of the Mouth for three years. He played Feste and music-directed/composed for Southwest Shakespeare’s production of Twelfth Night. He has placed 1st in the Arizona NATS Musical theater competition four times and three times in the National Society of Arts and Letters competition.

Most recently, he music directed Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights at Desert Foothills Theater and is so excited to be music directing the Zoni's!

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets to this year's Zoni Awards, which take place on Monday, September 23rd at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Joseph City Arts' 2019 / 2020 Season!

Please welcome Joseph City Arts to PHX Stages!

Located in northern Arizona, the BG Bennett Auditorium is the heart of Joseph City Arts. Built in 1980, this beautiful auditorium is audience-friendly with Broadway-style house seating, recently upgraded sound system, available orchestra pit, listening devices, and amazing views of the stage in every of the 601 seats. The BG Bennett Auditorium also has a renovated blackbox studio theatre, for more intimate productions, recitals, and events.

Friday, September 27th at 7:00pm

With openers NorthPoint InsideOut and Hannah Kerr, this is going to be a night of worship you’ll never forget! Come escape the valley heat and head up north to see a concert that's not headed your way!

About Jordan Feliz: In 2012, Jordan Feliz left his hard rock band A Current Affair to pursue a solo music career. After a series of part time jobs working as everything from a handyman to a valet, he became a church worship leader. In 2014 he was signed by Centricity Music and released his debut album, "The River". Jordan is best known for the songs "The River" and "Never Too Far Gone" and has won a Dove Award for New Artist of the Year.

Appropriate for all ages. Babes in arm ok, all other children must purchase a ticket and a seat for fire safety reasons.

Tickets available at: josephcityarts.ticketleap.com/jordanfeliz

Northern Arizona Regional Premiere of
Roald Dahl's Matilda 

October 21-26th at 7:00pm

Playing for only one week, come see the musical Rolling Stone says is "unique and unforgettable"! With community members from Winslow, Joseph City, and Holbrook this will be a treat for the whole family! Based on Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book of the same name, Matilda follows Matilda Wormwood, a bright little girl who immerses herself in books. Matilda is discarded and belittled by her dimwitted parents—her father insists on calling her a boy and harps on her “stupidity” for preferring reading to watching the telly—and her hostile headmistress, the outrageous and wicked Miss Trunchbull. Reclusive, but with an ever-growing imagination and sharp mind, and with a caring protector in her teacher Miss Honey, Matilda dreams of a better life, daring to take a stand against unjust forces and to grasp her destiny in her own, tiny hands.
Tickets start at just $8!



December 7th, 2019 at 7:00pm

Live for ONE NIGHT ONLY, GENTRI is back at the BG Bennett auditorium presented by Joseph City Arts, Saturday, December 7th at 7:00pm.

This year, kick of the Christmas season with GENTRI as they once again bring their holiday spectacular “Finding Christmas” to the Eccles stage. With a completely re-imagined show for 2019, The Gents are sure to help you get into the Christmas spirit with epic orchestrations, lush harmonies, and moving storytelling – including some new treats and your favorite renditions of the most beloved and timeless Christmas songs of all time. GENTRI’s Christmas album has not only topped multiple Billboard charts, but has also made the iTunes top-10 holiday list alongside names like Michael Bublé and Pentantonix. You won’t want to miss this fantastic presentation of musical Christmas magic!

GENTRI is comprised of three tenors: Brad Robins, Casey Elliott, and Bradley Quinn Lever. Alongside their music director and producer Stephen Nelson, the Gents have been pioneering a new musical genre that can only be described as cinematic pop. Their original sound combines dynamic three-part harmonies with rich, full symphony orchestrations. Critics have described GENTRI’s music as “strong, brave, and inspiring” as well as “anything but boring.” The Gents have performed for hundreds of audiences all around the globe. They have shared the stage with legends like Journey, One Republic, Alfie Boe, Idina Menzel, Lee Greenwood, and Kristen Chenoweth. Their inspirational music videos have been viewed by millions, and have been featured on NBC nightly news, ABC news, and Inside Edition.

This year, experience the magic of Christmas time with GENTRI’s “Finding Christmas” on December 7th, 2019. This show is sure to be a favorite Christmas tradition for the entire family, and is guaranteed to warm your heart and soul.

Get your tickets now at josephcityarts.org 

Utah Shakespeare Festival Presents
Romeo and Juliet 

February 22, 2020

Come see the Tony-Award winning Utah Shakespeare Festival as they tour to northern Arizona with their stunning production of Romeo and Juliet!

Playing for one night only on Saturday, February 22nd at 7:00pm this is a production you'll not want to miss!

Get your tickets now at josephcityarts.org 

Joseph City High School Presents

March 27-28, April 3-4 at 7:00pm

Become a believer! Shrek is headed your way! Set in a mythical “once upon a time” sort of land, Shrek the Musical is the story of a hulking green ogre who, after being mocked and feared his entire life by anything that crosses his path, retreats to an ugly green swamp to exist in happy isolation. Suddenly, a gang of homeless fairy-tale characters (Pinocchio, Cinderella, the Three Pigs, you name it) raid his sanctuary, saying they’ve been evicted by the vertically challenged Lord Farquaad. So Shrek strikes a deal: I’ll get your homes back, if you give me my home back! But when Shrek and Farquaad meet, the Lord strikes a deal of his own: He’ll give the fairy-tale characters their homes back, if Shrek rescues Princess Fiona. Shrek obliges, yet finds something appealing–something strange and different–about this pretty princess. He likes her. A lot. But why does she always run off when the sun sets?

Come see why audiences love this new fairy-tale and get your tickets now! josephcityarts.org 

4629 2nd North
Joseph City, AZ 86032


Kent Welborn and Heidi Haggerty Welborn
photo by Mark Gluckman
by Carolyn Thomas

At Theatre Artists Studio, Resisting Irrelevancy: A Quirky Collection of Quick Comedies delivers exactly what the title promises, a night of laughs through a variety of short plays that have just enough of a common thread to tie the show neatly together with a satisfying end. The production takes a perfectly suited 'less-is-more' approach with just the right amount of set and design to truly let the actors and the writing shine.

Written by Debra Rich Gettleman, an award-winning journalist on top of being an actor/producer/playwright, Resisting Irrelevancy toes the line of having a strong overall point-of-view without restricting each set of characters to a single voice. Each short play stands alone, with the exception of two that feature recurring characters, yet each 'quick comedy' does an excellent job of complementing its counterparts. Gettleman's note in the program to the audience rings true, leading with "Have you ever felt like you were invisible, like no matter how loudly you scream, no one can hear you?" It's hardly a sentiment that seems applicable to a series of comedies, but it works. It really does.

Gettleman blends comedy with sometimes all-too-real issues women (and aging women in particular) face, but she does so in a way that presents women as they are: flawed, frank, and funny as hell. In her attempt to 'resist irrelevancy', she even peppers in some tasteful lesbian jokes, which are difficult to find these days. Unfortunately, one very brief mention ventures into dangerous territory with a sex reassignment joke that rubbed me quite the wrong way, but it's hard to say if the intention was simply misguided, or from a place of truth (gender and sexuality are a big grey area, but the implication of lesbians wanting reassignment surgery simply for sex reinforces some negative stereotypes that I'm not comfortable with). With my seminar on gender and sex at its end, it's fair to say that overall, Gettleman's Resisting Irrelevancy does a solid A- in terms of staying relevant, and a firm A+ in creativity.

Resisting Irrelevancy has not a single weak link in the cast, but there are several stand-outs that deserve mention. Angee Lewandowski is lovable, hilarious and earnest in both roles that she plays in BFF and S.A.L.T., her vulnerability truly brings the humor to life. Dolores D'Amore Goldsmith and Marcia Weinberg are a perfect pair in Sweet Potatoes, positively witty and perfectly matched. Meg Sprink shows versatility and expressive range in K.I.N.D.and Presbyopia, her timing, movement, and subtlety make her a vibrant addition to this stellar cast. Patti Moran, also in Presbyopia and BFF, shines in the second act with humor and flavor reminiscent of Schitt's Creek. Kent Welborn displays a sincerity with his humor, an ease that makes both his darker and more likable character memorable. Heidi Haggerty Welborn is Kent's perfect partner in Jimbo Juice, she brings a frantic desperation that anyone who's had to limit their carbs or calories knows all too well, and gives us a softness that plants Jimbo Juice and Jimbo Juice 2 firmly in the minds of the audience well after they've left the theater.

Richard Powers Hardt's direction allows the actors to shine and brings out the elements that really make comedy not just land, but stick with you. A simple set with movable elements, also designed by Hardt, allows for quick changes and cleverly uses each piece with the utmost efficiency. Nothing goes to waste, and the set pieces serve each set they form uniquely without overwhelming the simple stage. Visual Media Design by Hardt and Rick Herman provide simple and highly effective visual cues that give the audience a firm sense of place in every scene. Stacy Walston's lighting design is similar: simple, yet effective. Kimberly Powers Hardt's property design similarly benefits the production, giving just the right nudges toward realism without cluttering the spaces or distracting. It all works together seamlessly to achieve a unified vision, which is all any production can strive toward. Sound design by Richard Powers Hardt and Bruce Howden adds just the right touches to bring each scene to life, and where others might have added extra ambient sound to fill the quiet, Hardt and Howden opt to let the actors be the focus which turns out all for the better. The costumes provided by the cast show personality, but remain simple and effective, much like the rest of the creative elements.

Resisting Irrelevancy at The Theatre Artists Studio proves that simplicity is far from overrated. It isn't trying too hard or trying to compensate, as there's nothing to compensate for. The actors take their rightful spotlights, and the script shines through brilliantly with the simple purity of the creative elements. Each aspect elevates the others, which elevates the production as a whole. All in all, Resisting Irrelevancy is a night of laughs and thoughtful dialogue with a just-right ending.

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs through September 1

Monday, August 19, 2019

WEEK AT A GLANCE: August 19-August 25, 2019

Click on any show title to get more information on that production

Greasepaint Youth Theatre 
September 6-8, 2019

iTheatre Collaborative 
September 6, 2019 – September 21, 2019

Fountain Hills Theater 
September 6 – 22, 2019

September 8-October 13, 2019

Ghostlight Theatre 
September 12-22, 2019

Space 55 
September 13-29, 2019

Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre 
September 14-September 22, 2019

ASU Music Theatre and Opera 
September 15, 2019

Mesa Community College PAC Productions 
September 19-21, 2019

Musical Theatre of Anthem 
September 19-22, 2019

Space 55 - SHAWNAPALOOZA! - August 31, 2019

Shawnapalooza! Fundraiser

hosted by Genevieve Rice

August 31, 2019 @ 7:30PM

Join us for this one-night-only, no-holds-barred variety show fundraiser featuring some of best acts to grace our stage during the past 13 years of “7 Minutes in Heaven” shows.

Proceeds will be used to bring Space 55 founder Shawna Franks back to town for a special performance later this year.

The lineup of performers includes: * Arcana Collective * Willa & Thea Eigo * Ryan Gaumont * Jose Gonzalez * Ashley Naftule * Kim Porter * Stacey Reed, Javier Gilmore & BJ Garrett * David Tabor * Tom Tuerff * Steve Wilcox.

Tickets at: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/1015309

cast announcement - THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE - Childsplay

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs September 8-October 13

The Musician and The Voice of Edward: Kyle Sorrell
The Traveler: Katie McFadzen
The Woman: Debra K. Stevens
The One Man: David Dickinson
The Other Man: Ricky Araiza

Sunday, August 18, 2019

DISNEY'S FROZEN, JR - Starlight Community Theater - August 23-September 7, 2019

Music and Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez, Book by Jennifer Lee
Based on the Disney film written by Jennifer Lee and directed by Chris Black and Jennifer Lee

A story of true love and acceptance between sisters, Frozen JR. expands upon the emotional relationship and journey between Princesses Anna and Elsa. When faced with danger, the two discover their hidden potential and the powerful bond of sisterhood. With a cast of beloved characters and loaded with magic, adventure, and plenty of humor, Frozen JR. is sure to thaw even the coldest heart!

Friday and Saturday at 7PM
Saturday at 2PM
additional performance on Thursday, Sept. 5 at 7PM

CLICK HERE for more information, and to purchase tickets

audition notice - ANNIE GET YOUR GUN - Desert Foothills Theater - September 7 & 8

Director: Eric Schoen
Music Director: Kent Campbell
Choreographer : Chelsea Neiss

Rehearsals Begin: September 12, 2019
Performance Dates: November 7, 2019 – November 24, 2019

Audition Dates/Times
Sat. Sept. 7, 10am - 2pm
Sun. Sept 8, 2pm - 6pm

Callback Dates/Times
Mon. Sept 9, 6pm - 8pm

Audition Venue:
Holland Community Center, Orion Bldg
34250 N. 60th St, Orion Building, Scottsdale, AZ 85266

Annie Oakley is a poor but spirited and happy country girl,  who lives by her native sharp shooting quickly makes her the star of Buffalo Bills Wild West Show where she meets and falls in love with expert rifleman Frank Butler.  Unfortunately the tough outspoken Annie is not Frank's idea of what a wife should be and the two remain at competitive odds. Then Annie is initiated into an Indian tribe, whose Chief, Sitting Bull, gives her some advice: only by deliberately and discreetly losing a shooting contest can she win Franks' affection. What will she do?

Character Breakdown
Frank Butler (Lead): Male, 30-60
A suave sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill’s show–he enjoys his status as a heartbreaker and star of the show, and would like to keep it that way; low A-high F. Ethnicity: All Ethnicities

Annie Oakley (Lead): Female, 18-40
Backwoods woman, an incredible talent as a markswoman, has no idea about “nuthin’ cept shootin'”; she immediately falls head over heels for Frank, who prefers a more dainty type of woman; a happy, endearing country girl who is an amazing markswoman; illiterate, not very “lady-like”; strong singer-comedian who carries the show; mezzo-belt, low G-high F. Ethnicity: All Ethnicities

Dolly Tate (Lead): Female, 18-40
Frank Butler’s “lovely” assistant, an over-the-top, bigoted, ambitious, and mean-spirited woman whose principal role is to make everyone else miserable; she does this in a very funny way. Ethnicity: All Ethnicities

Buffalo Bill Cody (Lead): Male, 35-75
middle-aged soldier/Indian scout turned showman; runs the “Wild West Show” that features sharpshooters Annie Oakley and Frank Butler, and plenty of musicians, cowboys, cowgirls, Indians and assorted family members; low B–high F. Ethnicity: All Ethnicities

Charlie Davenport (Lead): Male, 30-70
middle-aged manager of the Wild West Show, always setting the scene for this show-within-a-show.
Ethnicity: All Ethnicities

Chief Sitting Bull (Supporting): Male, 35-80
leader of the Sioux Nation, adopts Annie as his daughter and puts his money into show business with the Wild West Show in order to be near her; has keen insight into human nature, which he shares through many one-liners.
Ethnicity: All Ethnicities

Pawnee Bill (Supporting): Male, 35-80

Little Jake, Annie’s Little Brother (Supporting): Male, 5-14

Jessie, Annie’s Little Sister (Supporting): Female, 6-16

Nellie, Annie’s Other Little Sister (Supporting): Female, 6-16

Adult Ensemble (Chorus / Ensemble): Males & Females, 13+

Children Ensemble (Chorus / Ensemble): Males & Females, 4-13

Tommy Keeler (Lead): Male, 17-26

Winnie Tate (Lead): Female, 15-26

What To Prepare
Prepare two contrasting songs - 30 measures each - from a musical that is NOT Annie Get Your Gun
Dress for movement
Cold Readings - material provided

Rehearsals are typically Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 7 pm - 10 pm / Saturday 10 am - 1 pm as needed.
Not every actor is needed every rehearsal.
Tech week is mandatory November 2 - 6.
Show runs three weekends, done the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving.

Each actor receives at least two complimentary tickets to the production.
We have a professional photographer take your headshot for the playbill and publicity.

Audition Contact
Kelly Weigel

CLICK HERE to schedule an audition