Thursday, September 25, 2014

reviews THE BROTHERS SIZE Stray Cat Theatre

Damon J. Bolling, DeJean Brown and Michael Thompson (Photo: John Groseclose)
"a stunning piece of work.   In The Brothers Size (Ron May's) managed to pull three outstanding performances out of his cast, all of whom add flesh to their characters and a distinct sense of reality to what they’re talking about.  Local audiences tend to hand out standing ovations as though they were free samples.   The performance this reviewer attended didn’t get one, but if any play presented in the valley this year deserved a standing-o it’s this accomplished and heart wrenching production of The Brothers Size." - David Appleford - Valley Screen and Stage

"with three superb actors and direction so effective that they combine to overcome the few shortfalls of the play...though there are some parts that don’t work or are slightly unclear, it is still quite effective and results in a drama that is ultimately moving even if some questions aren’t answered and some confusion still exists. Director Ron May has found three skilled actors to portray these three very different men. The Brothers Size is a haunting, powerful piece of drama but also a play with an element of pretention that could easily sideline the piece with a less talented cast or director. While it doesn’t all work and there are a few moments of confusion and clarity, those are faults of the play and not this production. The Brothers Size ultimately serves as a reminder of the struggles people go through and the obstacles they encounter along the way to become free and May and his actors keep the play churning along with heroic performances and riveting direction to its dramatic conclusion."
-Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway

"an exemplary theater piece for Stray Cat Theatre’s season premiere. The fine production is masterminded by artistic director Ron May, but it is McCraney’s intelligent play that artfully shows how two brothers and a friend struggle to figure out life’s intricacies.  May’s staging is tense and taunt for the struggles these guys face.  May has found three gifted actors who execute these roles with tough realism. “The Brothers Size” is a hard play to sit through but for those willing, it provides insight into the grittier side of real lives." -Chris Curcio- KBAQ

"moving character study of two men who take very different paths on the quest to find a grace note of freedom in an unjust society. Designer Eric Beeck's evocatively ramshackle set creates a torpid bayou atmosphere, and director Ron May guides his three actors toward a vivid intimacy that hypnotizes the audience. It's a modest story told with grand ambition, and beautifully."
-Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

reviews - MEMPHIS, Phoenix Theatre

Reviews are in for Phoenix Theatre's production of Memphis -

"an unstoppable in-your-face energy.  It practically leaps off the stage from the get-go."  - David Appleford - Valley Screen and Stage

"as effective, crowd pleasing and powerful as it was on Broadway.  With a vastly talented cast, impressive direction and creative elements as well as vocals that make the most of the rocking score, Phoenix Theatre’s Memphis is an explosive and engaging production, just as impressive as it was on Broadway, that brings the important message of the story to life in an engaging way.
Gil Benbrook - Talkin' Broadway

" “Memphis” entertains mightily but also leaves audiences with a thoughtful look at one of this country’s biggest challenges.  What a show!" - Chris Curcio - KBAQ

"Phoenix Theatre's season opener is a faithful re-creation of the 2010 Tony Award winner for best musical. A mix of style-perfect pastiche and more contemporary musical-theater hybrid, it thumps and buzzes with good-natured energy.  If you saw "Memphis" in New York or on tour, however, you might get the feeling that this re-creation is just a little bit too faithful, To be fair, the enthusiastic audience at a recent matinee performance would surely disagree with this assessment. But it's a good bet this was their first "Memphis," not their second or third."  -  Kerry Lengel -  Arizona Republic

Click here for more detailed information on the show.

Phoenix Theatre website

Saturday, September 20, 2014

ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, Paradise Valley Community College, October 10 - 19, 2014

Director: Andrea Robertson

Dates: 10/10, 10/11, 10/17, 10/18 (7:30) and 10/12, 10/19 (2:00)

Synopsis: A timeless and classic hit both on Broadway and in the West End. Arsenic and Old Lace is the amusing story of two charming and innocent elderly ladies who decide that by poisoning their poor, lonely lodgers and burying the bodies in their cellar, they are saving these unfortunates from the sorrows of this world - however, not everybody shares their views! This is one of the world’s most widely acclaimed comedy hits!

Cast, photos and review links will be added when available.

WHAT I DID LAST SUMMER, Paradise Valley Community College, February 20 - March 1, 2015

Director: Joe Flowers

Dates: 2/20, 2/21, 2/27, 2/28, (7:30)
2/22, 2/29 (2:00)

Synopsis: A warm-hearted, gently humorous memory play set in a well-to-do vacation colony on the shores of Lake Erie in 1945. Charlie, a rebellious teenager, is summering with his mother and sister (his father is fighting in the Pacific) and finds himself in need of spending money. His search for a job brings him to a bohemian art teacher, Anna Trumbull, an outcast from society and an interesting new mentor. Sensing a kindred spirit in Charlie, she tries to stretch his mind by teaching him painting and sculpture—and exposing him to "radical" ideas about life and love which, in time, persuade Charlie to reject the notion of going back to school and his own family. A showdown between Anna and Charlie's conservative mother, stimulates and shapes the man Charlie is destined to become.

Cast, photos and review links will be added when available.

THE BALLAD OF DOWNTOWN JAKE, Paradise Valley Community College, March 12 - 15, 2015

A contemporary music drama by created by PVCC faculty members Christopher Scinto and Lois Roma-Deeley
Based on the characters and poems from Roma-Deeley’s book HIGH NOTES

Music by Christopher Scinto
Book and Lyrics by Lois Roma-Deeley
Directed by Andrea Robertson

March 12, 13, 14 (7:30p), 15 (2:00pm)

Cast, photos and review links will be added when available.

RADIUM GIRLS, Paradise Valley Community College, April 17 - 26, 2015

Director: Gary Zaro

Dates: 4/17, 4/18, 4/24, 4/25 (7:30) 4/19, 4/26 (2:00)

Synopsis: In 1926, radium was a miracle cure, Madame Curie an international celebrity, and luminous watches the latest rage—until the girls who painted them began to fall ill with a mysterious disease. Inspired by a true story, Radium Girls traces the efforts of Grace Fryer, a dial painter, as she fights for her day in court. Her chief adversary is her former employer, Arthur Roeder, an idealistic man who cannot bring himself to believe that the same element that shrinks tumors could have anything to do with the terrifying rash of illnesses among his employees. Called a "powerful" and "engrossing" drama by critics, Radium Girls offers a wry, unflinching look at the peculiarly American obsessions with health, wealth, and the commercialization of science.

Cast, photos and review links will be added when available.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

reviews KINKY BOOTS National Tour ASU/Gammage

"Kyle Taylor Parker plays the flamboyant Lola with all the grandstanding relish a character like Lola requires.  He’s a walking kaleidoscopic array of color.  When Parker enters the stage, no matter how many of the ensemble are gathered, your eyes are on Lola.  Cindy Lauper won a 2013 Tony for Best Score which remains a little surprising considering the approach.  Despite the different influences and musical styles used throughout, the songs are still essentially more pop than Broadway but at least they’re all delivered with a showbiz flair.  Like the musical itself, there’s an infectious quality to the songs that won’t remain with you for long after the show, but they get the job done while being performed.  You leave the theatre with the echoes of a  disco number still bouncing in you head." - David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage

"an infectious, fun and upbeat crowd pleaser. The national tour of the show that kicked off just two weeks ago is now in Tempe and it is as effective and buoyant as it was on Broadway.  Kyle Taylor Parker understudied the role of Lola in the Broadway production and is a firecracker in this star-making performance. He successfully makes Lola the larger than life person with a soaring voice, evoking a touch of Eartha Kitt in his delivery, and he balances this with a shyness when the character is out of drag and becomes the nervous, soft-spoken Simon. Kinky Boots is a well-crafted "feel good" show with several break out songs and makes for a very enjoyable night out. With a great cast and creative elements that are on par with the Broadway version, the national tour is just as fun and heartwarming as it was on the Broadway." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway

"charmingly entertaining but silly and daffy...The show was every bit as delightful as the New York production. a tuneful score with zany lyrics that revitalized Cyndi Lauper’s song writing career and Harvey Fierstein created an entertaining story based on the popular movie. Kyle Taylor Parker has a field day as Lola as he sashays around stage flouncing hysterically in a succession of wacky heels and colorful outfits.  The entire show entertains so extraordinarily because of Jerry Mitchell’s spirited direction and dazzling choreography."
David Curcio- KBAQ

"The best thing about Kinky Boots is the boots. feels a bit dated at a time when even the news of a gay NFL player is greeted by but-of-course shrugs. Maybe a man in a dress still raises eyebrows in provincial England, but it sure doesn't on the Broadway stage anymore. Indeed, "nice" is the word to describe the show as a whole.  ,,,most of the dances are a lazy hodgepodge of sashaying clichés. Parker is a charismatic winner as Lola, owning the stage in a series of Jackie O-worthy outfits and belting beautifully, if sentimentally, in "Hold Me in Your Heart."  -Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic

"a righteous and literally uplifting kick in the pants of intolerance and stereotyping, featuring a star-spangled cast of characters and theatrical elements. Kyle Taylor Parker gives a virtuoso performance and will knock your socks off as Lola.  As solid and robust as the performances are in this tour of the 2013 Tony winner for Best Musical, it is the conscience and soul of Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper that radiates throughout the show." -Herbert Paine, Broadway World

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

reviews CHARLOTTE'S WEB Childsplay

Debra K. Stevens and Kyle Sorrell
Photo: Tim Trumbule
 Robinette’s thorough and faithful adaptation captures every element that made E.B. White’s classic so popular, but it’s what Childsplay does with the show that makes it come alive.   This is a dedicated cast, many of whom adult theatre-goers have seen in several productions in professional theatres throughout the valley before.   Kyle Sorrell’s Wilbur nicely captures that playful sense of innocence and joy of what it’s like to discover new things and new friends.  When Charlotte makes her first entrance into the barn at night and climbs the ladder to her sparkling web overlooking the enclosure as Wilbur sleeps, you hold your breath.   There’s a sense of wondrous expectation to the moment, as if something truly magical is about to begin." - David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage

"Charlotte's Web, doesn't disappoint. It has an exceptional cast and beautiful creative elements that combine to expertly tell this well-known story of a pig named Wilbur and the spider who helps save his life. Director Anthony Runfola manages the skilled company effectively. While Charlotte's Web touches upon some serious life lessons that teach children about life and death it more importantly shows how friendship, bravery, simple acts of kindness, and helping out others are some of the most important things in life to practice. The play is a sweet telling of the classic children's novel, and the Childsplay production of this classic story has an exceptional cast of gifted actors, colorful sets and costumes, and solid direction that bring the story wondrously to life."
-Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway 

Hats off to Childsplay for mastering the transfer from page to stage of E.B. White's classic Charlotte's Web and for casting an ensemble that renders authenticity and depth to this joyous and heartwarming paean to love, friendship, loyalty, and, yes, mortality. Kyle Sorrell convincingly depicts Wilbur's innocence and vulnerability, trembling at one moment in fear of the chopping block, somersaultingly ecstatic at another about his salvation, and ever humble. Debra K. Stevens commands the loft as Charlotte, exuding grace and elegance, deftly weaving into her web Wilbur's attributes ~ magical declarations to the human observer that Wilbur is a very special pig to be saved. Stevens is regal in her role, epitomizing the most tender of maternal instincts and embodying the spirit of a savior." - Herbert Paine, Broadway World

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES, Grand Canyon University, Nov 14 - 23

This wonderfully adapted short story is a wistful look at Christmas through the eyes of a child. With all of the lyric power for which he is famous, a young Dylan Thomas guides us through holiday scenes familiar to us all: scenes of family and friends and a time of year for looking back on the blessings we have received. Christmas carols, crazy uncles and snowball fights swirl about this evening the whole family will enjoy.

Click here for more information and to order tickets

ROMEO AND JULIET, Grand Canyon University, Feb 6 - 13, 2015

Tragedy and romance collide in William Shakespeare's passionate tale of star-crossed lovers.  It's love at first sight for young Romeo and Juliet. Their families, locked in a bitter struggle, stand between them. Romeo and Juliet hope to bring their houses together through marriage but fate has different plans. This timeless story explores the perils of young love, the bonds of family and a community torn apart by violence.

Click here for more information and to order tickets

OKLAHOMA!, Grand Canyon University, March 20 - 29, 2015

Rogers and Hammerstein's first professional collaboration is also Broadway's first smash hit. Set at the turn of the century in the Oklahoma territory, there's much ado about who takes whom to the box social. Curly and Will can't seem to catch a break, while Laurey and Annie decide on whom to bestow their affections. Amongst a veritable stampede of famous songs and dances is a touching, and sometimes haunting, look at Americana, which earned Rogers and Hammerstein a Pulitzer Prize.

Click here for more information and to order tickets

Friday, September 5, 2014

photos PHANTOM, Hale Centre Theatre

Click here for more information on Phantom at Hale Centre Theatre

Annalise Webb and the ensemble

Hector Coris, Matt Harris and Mary Jane McCloskey

Stephen Serna

Bryan Stewart and Annalise Webb

Bryan Stewart and Hector Coris

Photos: Nick Woodward- Shaw /Hale Centre Theatre

Monday, September 1, 2014

RUN FOR YOUR WIFE, Palms Theatre, October 9 - November 15, 2014

This superb example of the British farce had A London cab driver, John Smith, literally has two lives,
complete with two different wives, Mary and Barbara. Somehow, he manages to juggle them both
without arousing suspicion. However, he gets caught up in a mugging, and he wakes up in a hospital.
He ends up with Mary instead of with Barbara, with whom he should be at the moment, and he now
has to deal with explaining this problem to both of his wives and the police all at once.

Front row: Caitlin Newman, Victor Legarreta, Erik Hogan and Shannon Connolly;
back row: Jesse Staubach, Joel Duke and Mark Kleinman
Written by Ray Cooney
Directed by Victor Legarreta
Set Designer/Properties: Thomas R. Prather
Costume Designer: Tia Hawkes
Lighting Designer: Chris Kockler
Stage Manager: Cindy Farnsworth

Cast: (in alphabetical order)
Mary Smith: Shannon Connolly
Bobby Franklyn/Reporter: Joel Duke
Stanley Gardner: Erik Hogan
Detective Porterhouse: Mark Kleinman
John Smith: Victor Legarreta
Barbara Smith: Caitlin Newman
Detective Troughton: Jesse Staubach

Photo: Shari Corbett / Palms Theatre

CAUGHT IN THE NET, Palms Theatre. October 16 - November 15, 2014

The hysterical sequel to the hit comedy Run for Your Wife. Two-timing taxi driver John Smith keeps two separate lives, complete with two separate families. His teenage children, a girl from one family and a boy from the other, get acquainted in an online chat room. They decide to meet in person, and John’s already hectic life shifts into high gear as he tries to keep his double life a secret. PG13

Cast, photos and review links will be added when available.

FOREVER PLAID, Palms Theatre, October 16 - November 22, 2014

Forever Plaid is one of the most popular and successful musicals in recent memory.
This deliciously fun revue is chock-full of classic barbershop quartet harmonies, wrapped in
a pitch-perfect theatrical confection!

Cast, photos and review links will be added when available.

MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, Palms Theatre, November 26 - December 25, 2014

Based on the timeless movie of the same name, MIRACLE ON 34th STREET features a book and score by none other than Meredith Wilson (“The Music Man”). This holiday treasure will warm your heart and fill you with Christmas cheer.

Cast, photos and review links will be added when available.

NANA'S NAUGHTY KNICKERS, The Palms Theatre, January 2 - February 10, 2015

by Katherine DiSavino

Bridget and her Grandmother are about to become roommates. However, what Bridget saw as a unique opportunity to stay with her favorite Nana in New York for the summer quickly turns into an experience she’ll never forget. It seems her sweet Grandma is running an illegal boutique from he apartment, selling hand-made naughty knickers to every senior citizen in the five borough area!
" Nana's Naughty Knickers is a slick comedy by a new playwright, Katy DiSavino…the dialog is crisp and funny, and the action fast-paced...[this] Senior Citizen’s sexy sideline will have you in stitches!"  -  Lancaster Journal
“Audiences may laugh themselves right out of their knickers…[the play] flows in a perfect rhythm,
and hits every high and low note of comedy.”  – The Dayton Examiner
“[A] hearty, laugh-out-loud-great time.”  – River Cities Reader

Cast, photos and review links will be added when available.

ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, Palms Theatre, January 14 - February 14, 2015

A classic musical about the life  of sharpshooter Annie Oakley from songwriter  Irving Berlin.
Featuring musical gems such as “Anything You Can Do” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” Annie Oakley and Frank Butler meet when she beats him in a sharpshooting contest at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and the two have to negotiate between their competitive sides and their blossoming love for each other. 

Cast, photos and review links will be added when available.

MENOPAUSE, THE MUSICAL, Palms Theatre, February 25 - March 28, 2015

This hilarious musical parody staged to classic tunes from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s will have you
cheering and dancing in the aisles. See what millions of women worldwide have been laughing about for over 10 years! PG-13

Book and Lyrics by Jeanie Linders

Cast, photos and review links will be added when available.

LOVE, SEX AND THE I.R.S., Palms Theatre, February 25 - March 28, 2015

by Billy Van Zandt

Mr. Jon Trachtman and Mr. Les Arthur are out-of-work musicians who happen to share an apartment in New York City. To save money, Jon has been filing tax returns listing the pair as married. The day of reckoning comes when the Internal Revenue Service informs the “couple” they’re going to be investigated. Les masquerades as a housewife, aided by Jon’s fiancée, Kate. Complicating matters further Les and Kate are having an affair behind Jon’s back.

Cast, photos and review links will be added when available.

PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES, Palms Theatre, April 15 - May 16, 2015

Music, Lyrics and Book by John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, John Schimmel and Jim Wann

Fresh off a 2014 New York City Center revival, Pump Boys and Dinettes is hybrid of country, rock and pop music that tells the story of four gas station attendants and two waitresses at a small-town dinette in North Carolina. A musical tribute to life on the roadside, Pump Boys premiered Off-Broadway at the Chelsea West
Side Arts Theatre in July 1981 and opened on Broadway on February 4, 1982 at the Princess Theatre, where it played 573 performances and was nominated for both Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Musical.

Cast, photos and review links will be added when available.

GREATER TUNA, Palms Theatre, April 16 - May 16, 2015

by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears, and Ed Howard

Take a trip down south to Texas’ third smallest town, Tuna. First, we meet Thurston and Arles on their talk radio show. The cast of characters, all hilariously played by just two actors, continues to expand as we meet upstanding citizens of Tuna like puppy poisoning Pearl, used gun store owner Didi, and R.R.- an old coot who regularly sees UFOs. You’re in for plenty of laughs with this send-up of small town folks that Variety calls “Howlingly funny.”

Cast, photos and review links will be added when available.