Thursday, January 18, 2018

WEEK AT A GLANCE: January 15 - January 21

CHITA RIVERA & TOMMY TUNE - Arizona MusicFest - January 26, 2018

from our friends at AZ Music Fest:

Chita Rivera & Tommy Tune - Just in Time
Friday, January 26, 2018 07:30 PM
Highlands Church

Chita Rivera and Tommy Tune—two of Broadway’s most celebrated legends—join together for an extraordinary concert event.  With a combined 12 Tony Awards to their credit, this stellar duo will perform an evening showcasing the artistry, history and celebrity that have made them iconic stars of the Great White Way and beyond.

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets!

reviews - SHOW BOAT - Arizona Broadway Theatre

Jamie Parnell and Brittany Santos (center) and Cast
photo by Scott Samplin
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through February 10th.

"When Show Boat premiered in 1927 it was hailed as a landmark musical of the time, as it was one of the first shows to successfully combine both comedy and drama with a story that featured a wide range of characters, including parts played by both white and African-American actors. ...focused on such serious topics as racism, addiction and abandonment....was almost like the Hamilton of its time in that it completely changed the way the musical art form was and would ever be again....With a cast who expertly embody their characters and whose voices deliver some stunning vocals on the show's many classic songs, Arizona Broadway Theatre presents a slightly scaled down and edited version of this groundbreaking show, providing a a beautiful production of this rarely produced American musical classic..." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

" 1927, when... Show Boat opened on Broadway, the course of the American musical theatre was changed forever. ...There’s a timeless quality to the score that makes each of the songs as deeply affecting...Throughout, there are fine renditions of the classics....There are cuts to what you may have seen before – the ensemble is understandably the second half feels extremely fragmented;.. but the Show Boat you’ll see on the wide ABT stage remains hugely entertaining; a production bursting with energy and color, performed by a cast full of rich, harmonious voices ..." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

Brelby Theatre Company forms Non Profit Organization

from our friends at Brelby:

The Brelby Foundation is a new non-profit organization founded in Glendale to help promote the arts and promote community outreach through theatre in Arizona. The foundation is hosting their initial fundraising drive now through the end of the month to raise money for artists stipends and theatre maintenance.

The organization fulfills its mission of artistic and community outreach by supporting the Brelby Theatre Company, a local community theatre in its tenth season of showcasing new and original works in the state. For the past ten years, the Brelby Theatre Company has been known for creating original and provocative works and giving new artists a platform to shine. Showing right now is their Second Annual Night of Shorts, a show featuring six original one-act plays written by, directed by, and starring local artists. Putting on these original works is just one example of the dedication Brelby Theatre Company shows towards ensuring all artists in the Valley have a safe space to create and thrive. The Brelby Foundation was created this year to maintain the theatre and promote community and education in the arts by supporting events such as the Night of Shorts and others.

In order to do this, the first fundraising drive of the foundation is occuring now through the month of January. Information can be found at, where you can read a letter from the board and find payment details. Any money raised will go towards paying local artists and writers stipends to ensure they can continue creating works they are passionate about, maintaining the theatre so art is accessible to more patrons, and promoting community outreach events such as public performances. For more information, contact Devan Orr, Secretary at, or visit

Childsplay's Academy Classes start January 27th!

cast announcement - DECIDED - Musical Theatre of Anthem

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs from March 1st to March 4th

Deja: Alexis Rosenbaum
Mad Deja: Tatum Sosnowksi
Scared Deja: Ashley Bragg
Whatever Deja: Jadyn Momeyer
Young Deja: Hannah Kring
Preston: Parker Gates
Liana: McKenna Carlson
Grant: Garrett Hale
Brinley: Ellie Kunnari
Jack: Jayden Hawley
Gracelyn: Marlee Trent
Emma: Ava Mitchell
April: Julia Hughes
Miles: Jack Maplethorpe
Sadie: Morgan Goldberg
Liam: Brody Serafin
Quinn: Hannah Baldwin
Remi: Bailey Hall
Sheri Snap: Lizzie Bonifasi
Shawna Snap: Lexi Woods
Sarah Snap: Sydnee Pelchat
Skyla Snap: Marissa Myers
Sophie Snap: Abby Chazan
Sibyl Snap: Kaitlyn Temple
Mom: Carrie Klofach
Dad: Matt Newhard
Mrs. Belanger: Julie Baldwin

review - ERMA BOMBECK: AT WIT'S END - Fountain Hills Theater

Cathy Dresbach
photo by Carly Weekley
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through January 28th.

"...Erma Bombeck was a household name and the voice of reason for housewives and homemakers across the country....uncanny ability to write in her syndicated columns and books what people across America were thinking. Fountain Hills Theater presents the Valley premiere...which features...Cathy Dresbach, as Bombeck. While the one act play may be slight, Dresbach's wry delivery and ability to breath life into the somewhat disjointed script results in a fun romp through the past...does a fairly good job of painting the backstory to how Bombeck became a success while folding in many of her funny lines and quotable quips. But there aren't a lot of layers or much substance in the show, which barely runs over an hour. ...What's also missing is any drama or a more in-depth account of the trials and tribulations she went through to become as successful as she did. ...Director Ben Tyler and Dresbach do a good job bringing a liveliness to this slightly static show. ...Dresbach is a gifted comic and knows how to deliver some of Bombeck's most famous lines to get laughs.... " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

photos - THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE - YouthWorks at TheaterWorks

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs through January 28th

photos by Carly Weekley

FIFTY SHADES OF FELT - All Puppet Players - February 9 - 24, 2018

written and directed by Shaun Michael McNamara

Start the New Year with a "bang"!

The fourth times the charm as this all-puppet production proves that smut is always better when it comes from fornicating felties. This "limited engagement" only runs for 3 weeks and 7 shows! Get your tickets now as our probing puppets bring their patented naughtiness to Phoenix--only to find we're down for a whole new level of lewd!

Will Ana (and the audience) take the Sex Pledge? Will the Goddess allow a full fuzzgasm? What exactly are those puppeteers putting their hands up? And goodness gracious, what is THAT puppet shaped like? The answer to all these questions and much more will be "revealed" when you see the show that will make every puppet on the "Avenue" blush! Get ready to be FELT up!

Friday, Feb 9 - 8pm
Saturday, Feb 10 - 8pm
Friday, Feb 16 - 8pm
Saturday, Feb 17 - 8pm
Thursday, Feb 22 - 8p
Friday, Feb 23 - 8pm
Saturday, Feb 24 - 8pm

Performance held at Playhouse on the Park at Central Arts Plaza
1850 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Venue is across the street from Phoenix Theatre's campus
The Box Office, located at the entrance of the Playhouse, will open one hour prior to the performance.

CLICK HERE for more information, and to purchase tickets

DIXIE SWIM CLUB - Westbrook Village Players - March 16 - March 25, 2018

by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten

March 16, 17, 23, 24 @ 7 pm (BYOB @ 6:15 pm)
March 18, 25 @ 2 pm (BYOB @ 1:15 pm)

Peggy Oels as Lexie Richards
Linda Siegwald as Sheree Hollinger
Mary Wright as Jeri Neal McFeeley
Francine Rose as Dinah Grayson
Rosa Leigh Sullivan as Vernadette Sims

The Vistas Ballroom
Vistas Recreation Center at Westbrook Village
18825 N. Country Club Parkway, Peoria, AZ 85382
Phone:(602) 566 – 6178

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

photos - CHARLOTTE'S WEB - Desert Foothills Theater

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs through January 21st

photos courtesy Desert  Foothills Theater

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

cast announcement - TWELVE ANGRY JURORS - Zao Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs from April 13 to April 28

Juror Number 1- Clayton Marlowe
Juror Number 2- Kevin Whitaker
Juror Number 3- Charlie LeSueur
Juror Number 4- Diane Senffner
Juror Number 5- Tyler Boettcher
Juror Number 6- Eric Banks
Juror Number 7- Jeff Huffman
Juror Number 8- Matthew Cary
Juror Number 9- Eugene Dower
Juror Number 10- Janis Webb
Juror Number 11- Carol Bennett
Juror Number 12- Peter Cunniff
Bailiff- Doug Ulmer

Directed By Mickey Bryce

cast announcement - JERSEY BOYS - National Tour: Broadway at the Orpheum Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs from January 23rd to January 28th

Bob Gaudio: Tommaso Antico

Tommy DeVito: Corey Greenan

Nick Massi: Chris Stevens

Frankie Valli: Jonny Wexler

Francine and others: Dianna Barger

Lorraine and others: Tristen Buettel

Joey and others: Sean Burns

Bob Crewe and others: Wade Dooley

Gyp DeCarlo and others: Todd DuBail

Norm Waxman and others: Kevin Patrick Martin

Mary Delgado and others: Michelle Rombola

Swings: Ben Bogen, Jonathan Cable, Caitlin Leary, Kit Treece

photos - THE GRADUATE - Mesa Encore Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs through January 28th

photos by Candice Thornton

VAMPIRE BALL: LOVE BITES - Scorpius Dance Theatre & Davisson Entertainment - February 9, 2018

Haydehn Tuipulotu and Amy Symond
photo by Rose Torres/Scorpius Dance Theatre
February 9th, 2018
Club Palazzo/ The Grand Ballroom

The Vampire Ball Returns!

Hosted by Drag Divas Stella Prince and Faris DuVal, this vampire-valentine-sexy-stylish affair is perfectly themed for creatures of the night to celebrate the season. Guests are encouraged to dress to the nines in their most captivating vampire or goth attire with a valentine flair. Party the night away with DJs Betty BlackHeart and Self.Destrukt. Performances by internationally renowned dance and aerial company Scorpius Dance Theatre. *Recommended for mature audiences 21+.


Early bird special pricing of $19 on sale now until January 27th. Pre-sale tickets 1/28 through 2/8 $24. Door prices $29.  Pre-paid group sales for 10 or more people $14. All ticket prices include a $4 service fee.

Proceeds support Scorpius Dance Theatre, a Non-Profit 501-C-3 arts organization.

Club Palazzo/The Grand Ballroom
710 N Central Ave
Phoenix, Arizona 85004

Call 602-734-5734 for additional information

audition notice - 6 RMS RIV VU - Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre - January 21

Auditions for our next show in the Actor's Cafe is coming up! Join us for

A vacant apartment with six rooms and a river view is open for inspection by prospective tenants, and among them are a man and a woman, strangers when they meet. As the last to leave, they find themselves locked in and though both are happily married, discover a mutual attraction as they wait out the long night ahead.

Directed by Dan Ashlock Jr

Audition Date & Time:
Jan 21, 2018

What to prepare:
Cold reads from the script
Head shot & Resume
Register at

Show dates & times:
March 16 to April 08, 2018
Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 PM
Sundays at 2:00 PM

Paul - Male late 20's to early 40's - imaginative and funny advertising copywriter
Janet - Female late 20's to early 40's - Paul's no-nonsense wife
Anne - Female late 20's to early 40's - a discontented housewife
Richard - Male late 20's to early 40's - Anne's serious and all-business husband
Eddie - Male any adult age - a crappy superintendent of an apartment building
Woman in 4A - Female 40's+ - an eccentric tenant of the apartment building
Expectant Mother - Female 20s - a potential tenant
Expectant Father - Male 20s - husband of the potential tenant

photos - NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN - Space 55

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

photos by Rodrigo Izquierdo

Monday, January 15, 2018

review - ROMEO AND JULIET - Southwest Shakespeare Company

Kyle Sorrell and Sasha Wilson
photo by Laura Durant
by Monica Sampson

The romance of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet conjures the image of some of the most well known lovers in history. The story of two star crossed lovers, denied their love by fighting families, tugs at the heart of every young lover. It's natural to assume that with Valentine's season right around the corner, a trip to the theater to experience Romeo and Juliet would leave one feeling young and in love.

However, brilliantly in an unexpected contrast, this isn’t the case for Southwest Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It is clear from the moment the audience enters director Patrick Walsh’s production, this take on the classic play is a traditional tragedy and not a fairy tale romance.

Hints of this jagged romance are noted even before the production starts, as one enters the theater the audience is pushed back by an intrusive thrust-stage, made of multi-layers of rock that climb upward. These layers are split down the middle, as if to whisper the divide between the two famous quarreling families, the Montagues and the Capulets.

Technically speaking, this style is reminiscent of the authenticity of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, where audience members known as “groundlings” would spend the production looking up at the actors from the grounds of the theater. SSC's production causes the same physical reaction, as audience members are forced to look up at actors moving up and down this rocky stage; an especially enjoyable, and dangerously thrilling experience during the fight scenes, choreographed by Randy Messersmith. Audible gasps are heard from the audience as actors slice swords through the air, dancing up and down the rocky stage.

Bold artistic choices on this traditional romance are also made by scenic designer Jeff Thompson, costume designer Maci Holster, lighting designer, Kristen Peterson, and hair and makeup designer, Christy Lindsay. Clearly, this team worked together to convey an undaunted approach at the classic tale. No ball gowns, royal rooms, or falling red roses are used in this production. Instead, actors wear stiff Asian-style kimonos over plain black pants and white shirts with color schemes associated with their tribe colors of the Montagues and the Capulets.

The boyish blue color scheme of the Montagues and romantic red for the Capulets almost jabs the audience upon entering the theater, where three pillars with family colored flags stand tall at the top of the bedrock stage. Astutely, these six pillars hold little crosses at the bottom, just large enough for a character to place their kimono upon after their death, as one would place a pebble on a grave for remembrance. Once a character is killed, the presence of death looms over what was once a romantic tale, for the ghost of the character still lingers on stage, kimono flying on the skeleton of the Montague, or Capulet flag.

An additional artistic treat is Peterson's use of red lights, and fog flooding the stage during romantic moments and fight scenes. Crimson red lighting allows the passion of these moments to seduce the audience.

Director Walsh’s take on this piece is visually striking and also a treat for the ear. The show features a live cello player (Ben Vining) whose presence brings the play back to its Elizabethan roots. Vining’s emotional playing scores the entire play, singing along the sweet sounds of a lark, and auditorily reflecting tragic undertones. Whether the fate of a character is good or bad, one simply needs to listen to Vining’s original cello score to foresee their future.

Yet, there are moments when both cello and synthetic nature sounds are heard simultaneously which, at times feels almost like an awkward cacophony of sound. The use of artificial sounds is an insult when the use of a live cello is so easily accessible. However, this is redeemed through beautiful, natural breath exhales, peppered in throughout poignant moments in the piece.

Jodie Weiss and Sasha Wilson
photo by Laura Durant
Acting wise, the shows name sakes’, Romeo (Kyle Sorrell) and Juliet (Sasha Wilson) play off one another well; granted, the romance and chemistry does feel a little rushed and awkward in the first few scenes, but by the time Romeo is comparing Juliet to a summer's day, the romance is well developed from the actor’s and appears quite natural. Sorrell’s Romeo brings a young energy to the piece. This take on Romeo isn’t a classic ingĂ©nue but at times almost feels like a whiny teen, hungry for love, or other physical nourishment. Sorrell’s Romeo is refreshingly enjoyable and feels more true to the text than a hunky, bronzed, and muscular character-read ever could. Juliet’s only flaw is a ridiculous pink fabric dress in the first act, that looks cheap and distracting in comparison to the other players’ elegant kimonos. Wilson’s Juliet tears, temper, and, tempting girlish wiles are captivating every moment her character’s presence is climbing the rocky set. One moment during the second act the actress takes her time to button her wedding dress, even this mundane task is remarkable when authenticized by Wilson, the pleasurable task of putting on a wedding dress, now so laboriously slow, that it feels more like a death march to Juliet's grave.

Surprisingly, most compelling are several members of the ensemble. Michael Bailey’s Friar Lawrence’s excellent diction and performance provides a calm, selfless love creatively juxtaposing the sometimes selfish love of Romeo and Juliet. Juliet's Nurse, played by Jodie Weiss, teases the audience with her wit, begging us for more. Weiss’s Nurse is so fascinating to watch, one could fathom an entire, “Nurse and Juliet” show and be completely entertained and satisfied. This is especially true when Weiss’s Nurse joins Romeo, and his fellow Montague’s, Mercutio (Spencer Dooley) and Benvolio (Rachelle Dart) to ask about Juliet, a scene usually not memorable, but the playful nature between Mercutio, Benvolio, and the Nurse made one wish this interaction were longer. This playful nature is extraordinarily delightful from Dart’s Benvolio; who’s mischievous, flirtatious, and tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the role makes one almost forget Walsh’s dark undertones for the piece. Act two then reveals genuine tears from Dart’s Benvolio for her comrade and cousin Romeo, tugging at one's heartstrings rivaling that of the romance between Romeo and Juliet. Once again brilliantly proving the real foundation of this story through SSC’s portrayal is a mournful tragedy.

Unfortunately, a few critical moments of this historic play are sadly lost to poor enunciation. Lord Capulet (Mike Traylor) and Montague the Matriarch (Karolina Jozwiak) could have taken a note from Shakespeare himself in Hamlet, when Hamlet says to his actors, “Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue.” Hamlet here, referring to one's diction and projection on stage.

From mannequins that fly onstage, hauntingly lit with fairy lights and draped in robes of glorious silks for the dance, to visually stimulating costumes, to the dazzling fight choreography, it's clear director Patrick Walsh’s Southwest Shakespeare's production of Romeo and Juliet is as much a play as it is a visual art masterpiece.