Saturday, September 23, 2017

WEEK AT A GLANCE: September 18 - September 24

Presenters announced for the 2017 ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence



YOUTH CEREMONY

Supporting Actress and Actor – Play & Musical: Holly Chavet & Kaylee Kasper -Acting Zone

Scholarship Presentation: Flynnan Janisse

Performance: CATS - Limelight: Meribeth Reeves -ariZoni Board

Lighting and Scenic Design: Jonathan Nilson- Musical Theatre of Anthem

Costume Design and Hair & Makeup Design: Connor Brigola & Shayna Padjen -Limelight Performing Arts

In Memoriam: Richard Powers-Hardt - ariZoni Board

Performance: Les Miserables - Theater Works Youth Works: MaryLou Stephens -ariZoni Board

Sound and Property Design: Iris Lochner & Kaitlyn Hohl -Fountain Hills Theater

Choreographer and Music Director: Lily Castle & Gabe Ozaki - Desert Foothills Theater

Original Script & Original Music Composition: Devon Policci & Phoenix Cyphert -Spotlight Youth Theatre

Performance: Dracula Actor's Youth Theatre - Kandyce Hughes - ariZoni Board

Artistic Specialization: Helene Benigno - Ghostlight Theatre

Actress and Actor in a Major Role – Play & Musical: Steve Hilderbrandt & Mary Farrington-Lorch - Theater Works

Performance:  American Idiot   Spotlight Youth Theatre - Gil Benbrook - ariZoni Board

Director – Play & Director – Musical: Savoy Graca & William Rippenkroeger - Starlight Community Theater

Overall Production - Play & Musical: Calvin Mugge & Kendra Matthews -East Valley Children's Theatre

Closing: Rob Stuart - ariZoni Board


ADULT CEREMONY


Supporting Actress and Actor – Play: Maren Macarelli & Elaine EE Moe -Scottsdale Community College

Supporting Actress and Actor –Musical: Eric Thurnbeck & Will Hightower - Stray Cat Theatre

Guest Actor in a Play: Brett Aiken - Theater Works

Performance: Avenue Q - Scottsdale Community College: MaryLou Stephens - ariZoni Board

Distinguished Service Award: Chris Hamby - Theater Works

Lighting and Scenic Design: Gil Benbrook -ariZoni Board

Costume Design and Hair & Makeup Design: Jennafer Sanker - All Puppet Players

In Memoriam: Richard Powers-Hardt ariZoni Board

Performance: Thoroughly Modern Millie - Hale Centre Theatre: Heidi-Liz Johnson Hale Centre Theatre

Director – Play & Director – Musical: Shari Watts & Shannon Phelps - Fountain Hills Theater

Sound and Property Design: Pat Drapac - Starlight Community Theater
Raquel Jarvill Starlight

Choreographer and Music Director: Mickey Bryce & Peter Cunniff - Zao Theatre

Stage Management Award: Pam Pershing & Suze St. John - Mesa Encore Theatre

Original Script & Original Music Composition: Kevin Dressler & Kara Thomson -Mesa Communty College

Performance:  Nunsense - Ghostlight Theatre & Desert Foothills Theatre: Meribeth Reeves - Desert Foothills Theater / ariZoni Board

Artistic Specialization: Duane Daniels - Space 55

Actress and Actor in a Major Role – Play & Actress and Actor in a Major Role – Musical:  Devon Mahon & Chelsea Jauregui - Brelby Theatre Company

Outstanding Contribution: Katie McFadzen

Performance: Shrek the Musical: Andy Newman & Xandra Gunnel -Queen Creek Performing Arts Center

Overall Production - Play & Overall Production - Musical:  TA Burrows & Christina Robinson - Desert Foothills Theatere

Closing: Rob Stuart - ariZoni Board


The 2017 ariZoni Awards ceremonies are Monday September 25th, Youth Celebration at 5:30 and Adult Celebration at 8:00 - Tickets are on sale now. Click here for more information.

Pulling Strings with Billy in CHICAGO

Chris Fidler
photo by Candy Thornton/Easel Photography
by Jennifer Haaland

Mesa Encore Theatre's (MET's) current production of the musical Chicago features actor Chris Fidler as the suave puppet-master and lawyer Billy Flynn.  Fidler, in suit and tie form, chatted with PHX Stages at the Mesa Arts Center a few minutes before the show last week.

"The story of Chicago--just like every other experience in Billy's life--is about Billy. Everything is for him... the murderesses, the reporters... only exist to contribute to what's happening in his life," said Fidler about the famous show that celebrates wonton crime with songs like "All That Jazz" and "Cell Block Tango."

Contrary to Billy's warped egocentrism, most would say the plot revolves around Velma and Roxie, two imprisoned murderesses in the 1920s who, true to similar documented cases of the day, were acquitted. If an accused female knew which strings to pull in the system, she won both fame and her freedom. The piece is a satire about sensationalism that existed in journalism at the time.

"It's scary that this story is as relevant as ever," Fidler said. "It's about the unreasonable power that our news sources have, whether or not what they report is actually true."

Discussing how the cast in Mesa sizzles with sultry jazz dance and music, he indicated the kind of flash and twisted fun that results. Fidler further described one of his favorite departures from traditional presentations of Chicago that the MET creative team chose to take.

"We have embraced Bob Fosse's vision at every opportunity, but also added a different element to the number 'We Both Reached for the Gun.' Rather than being a ventriloquist, Billy in our production is a marionette master. I love that angle and it's pageantry. It demonstrates the kind of manipulation Billy is best at."

Those velvety red strings also allow actress Kara Marzulo, an accomplished dancer, the liberty of some great puppet choreography as Roxie, rather than confining her to a seated position. There's so much more fluff and swagger that Billy promotes, too.  Fidler concludes on a humble note, saying he's excited for the nightly audience reaction to a character that was a stretch for him to play.

"Just this week I finally locked in on who my personal Billy is. I actually heard his voice in my head--the tone and inflections--and suddenly knew exactly who he is. He's not like any character I've ever played."

Locked and loaded, Fidler aims to string the audience along on a wild, depraved ride through Mesa Encore Theatre's Chicago.

CLICK HERE for more information on CHICAGO at Mesa Encore Theatre, which runs through September 24th

Friday, September 22, 2017

photos - HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH - Phoenix Theatre / A/C Theatre Company

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs through November 12th











photos by Reg Madison Photography

cast announcement - ANNIE - Desert Foothills Theater



Katerina Anderson.................................................................................. July
Sienna Armstrong.............................................................................. Orphan
Gabby Astrowsky.............................................................................. Orphan
Dorry Bailes....................................................................................... Orphan
Kat Bailes........................................................................................... Sophie
Bronte Bowling............................................................ Annette/Boylan Sister
Scott Chamoff........................................................................ Drake/Bundles
Stella Chamoff..................................................................................... Tessie
Abigail Fontes.......................................................................... Boylan Sister
Avery Gunderson................................................................................... Kate
Lori Hamilton Smith...................................................................... Ensemble
Lilly Hamilton Smith......................................................................... Orphan
Scout-Leigh Holland............................................................................ Molly
Allyson Igielski..................................................................... Miss Hannigan
McKenzie Jessen............................................................................ Ensemble
Peyton Jones............................................................... Manservant/Ensemble
Andrew Lipman................................................................................ Rooster
Erin McFeely........................................................................... Lily St. Regis
Megan McCrory.......................................................... Cecille/Boylan Sister
Drea Metzger....................................................................................... Duffy
Steve Morgan................................................................................. Warbucks
Nora Palermo....................................................................................... Annie
Steve Palermo........................................................................ Hull/Ensemble
William Paynter.............................................................. President Roosevelt
Jonathan Perry Brown............................................... Lt. Ward/Ickes/Wacky
Tira Poole........................................................................................ Ensemble
Josephine Raia.................................................................................... Orphan
Lila Robbins....................................................................................... Orphan
Christina Robinson........................................................................ Mrs. Pugh
Phyllis Strupp.............................................................................. Apple seller
Peter Strupp................................................ Morganthau/Masked Announcer
Lisa Upper..................................................................................... Mrs. Greer
IsabellaVasela-Prendergast................................................................. Pepper

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs from November 10 - 19

photos - KISS AND TELL - Hale Centre Theatre


















photos by Nick Woodward-Shaw; Lighting by Jeff A. Davis

audition notice - SORRY WRONG CHIMNEY - Stage Left Productions - September 30



Playwright: Jack Sharkey and Leo W. Sears
Director: Cody Dull

Rehearsals Begin: October 26, 2017
Performance Dates: December 15, 2017 – December 17, 2017

Audition Dates/Times
September, 30th 9:30a

Callback Dates/Times

October, 22nd @ 6:30p

Show Synopsis

David Tuttle is moonlighting as a department store Santa so that he can buy his wife a fur for Christmas. He tells her he's working late at the office, but she finds out he isn't at the office. A suspected other woman, hypnotism, the notorious Santa burglar Kris Kreigle and his gun toting fiancee, and a confused policeman add up to a rollicking tale that is hilarious Christmas or anytime entertainment.

Character Breakdown

DAVID TUTTLE – a struggling executive
SAMANTHA TUTTLE – his bride of 6 months
NATALIE WELDON – their neighbor across the hall
WILLIAM WELDON – Natalie’s psychiatrist husband
KRIS KREIGLE – a man with a Holiday delusion
SHEILA – Kris’s doggedly devoted fiancee
POLICEMAN – a determined disciple of Law and Order

What To Prepare

Prepare a one-minute comedic monologue. Callbacks will consist of cold reads from the script.

Click here to schedule an audition

Audition Contact
Cody Dull
480-395-3848
auditions@stageleftaz.com


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Researching CHICAGO: the preparation to play "Velma Kelly"

Laura Anne Kenney
Candy Thornton/Easel Photography

by Laura Anne Kenney

At the risk of sounding like a nerd - When preparing for a role, I first look for any source material on which the production is based. It wasn’t until I started digging for information on Chicago: The Musical, (I play Velma Kelly in Mesa Encore Theatre's production) that I found out most of the characters we know and love are actually inspired by real people!

Roxie Hart, Velma Kelly, Billy Flynn, Amos Hart, Mary Sunshine, Hunyak, and even Go-To-Hell Kitty all have real-life counterparts.  But as I started reading about their cases and stories, found in "The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers Who Inspired Chicago" by Douglas Perry and "Ugly Prey: An Innocent Woman and the Death Sentence That Scandalized Jazz Age Chicago" by Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi, the show began to take on a much deeper meaning for me.

Maurine Watkins

Probably the most fascinating character in the story of Chicago is one that never appears in the script: The Writer. Maurine Dallas Watkins was a reporter who covered most of the cases we see in Chicago, and she was the author of the original 1926 play of the same name. Being the daughter of a minister in a conservative Southern home, it was odd that she would want to expose herself to such depraved criminals. But Maurine wanted life experience in order to become a good playwright. She believed she could change the world with her ideas. In some ways I think she was successful. Although we still have sensationalized court coverage today, I think juries are much more impartial towards female defendants. In 1920s Chicago, if you were white, female, and pretty, then you got acquitted almost every time.

I think the point of telling the story through satire was to highlight the ridiculous bias in public opinion. The audacious melodrama that was Beulah Annan’s (“Roxie Hart”, in Chicago) witness testimony was comical enough on its own, and some of Roxie’s lines in Chicago are taken directly from court! Maurine knew that none of Beulah’s ever-changing stories were true, and yet she watched as an entire city gave a murderer the benefit of the doubt. Even now, every audience member who applauds Roxie and Velma’s onstage performance each night is doing the same thing as those Chicago Tribune readers – they are cheering for murderers, fictional or not!  When Velma is first seen at the top of Act 2 of the musical, she calls the audience “Suckers”.  I think that is the voice of Maurine Watkins coming through to all of us!

Hunyak

The story I was most drawn to through my research was actually not Belva Gaertner’s (AKA “Velma Kelly” - the part I play in MET's production), but Hunyak’s, who is portrayed in our production by the lovely and talented Misty West. In real life, she was an Italian woman named Sabella Nitti. Just like in the musical, she spoke no English and was railroaded in court. Many things were wrong with Sabella’s case: the prosecution was unable to identify the body they claimed was her husband’s, her appointed defense attorney was an incompetent loon who accused the prosecution of stealing the victim’s underwear, and her own son was coerced into making a false confession that Sabella agreed was true, but only because she thought her son was a good boy who told the truth and she had no idea he had just thrown her under the bus.

In addition, Sabella Nitti was faulted for being an immigrant. The case was being heard in 1924, the same year as the Johnson-Reed Act, which limited immigration for people from Southern & Eastern Europe. Even sob-sister reporters like Genevieve Forbes (AKA “Mary Sunshine”) joined in on the attacks, calling her “greasy” and focusing on her weathered and dirty appearance. When Sabella Nitti was found guilty and sentenced to hang, she didn’t even understand what happened until she was brought back to the Cook County Jail from the courthouse.

Sabella’s story actually has a happier ending than Chicago’s Hunyak. Attorney Helen Cirese took up Sabella’s case and filed the appeal. She visited her in jail every week, and made sure she was given a makeover, and taught English. The next time Sabella appeared in court, it was for joint hearings with “stylish” Belva Gaertner and “beautiful” Beulah Annan, who were both waiting for the start of their own trials. They all had a nice photo shoot with the press, and everyone was impressed by Sabella’s transformation. In the end, a higher court overturned her original verdict and the charges were later dismissed.

Sabella’s story is important because that stigma she carried with her is still present in today’s world, as are a lot of themes in Chicago, which is why I think so many people still relate to the show. On one hand we are being entertained with catchy jazz tunes, dancing, spectacle, and funny one-liners. On the other hand, I think by recognizing that Roxie & Velma are duping everyone, we are perpetuating the hope that the piece “might have an effect on the conditions [that it] ridicule[s]”, as Maurine’s Yale drama professor, George Baker, once said.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

the 2017 ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence College Scholarship recipients and Special Award Winners



Recipients of the ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence college scholarships
Presented thanks to the generosity of the Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation to four very deserving candidates pursuing a career in some field of theatre:
Viva Valdez 
Brandon Reyes 
Kathlynn Rodin
Karson Cook


The 2017 Max McQueen Distinguished Service Award:
Judith Hardes

The 2017 Excellence in Stage Management Award:
Wendy Rodgers Smith

The 2017 Kyle Lawson Outstanding Contribution Award:
D. Scott Withers

The 2017 ariZoni Awards ceremony is Monday September 25th, Youth Celebration at 5:30 and Adult Celebration at 8:00 - Tickets are on sale now. Click here for more information.

photos - WHISPER SWEETLY - Brelby Theatre Company

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs through September 30







Photos by Anabel Olguin

EARLY BIRD SPECIAL - Second Show Added! November 10



FIRST SHOW SOLD OUT!!

SECOND SHOW ADDED!!!!

Friday, November 10th

7:30pm

At The Don Bluth Front Row Theatre

$15

Call 480-329- 5298 for Tickets
Earlybirdspecial2017@gmail.com

review - EAR - Space 55

photo by Amy Carpenter
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 October 1.

"macabre, bizarre, and pretty darn funny..Space 55 Ensemble is fully loaded with shock value in “Ear,” a new play by Phoenix writer Ashley Naftule. Inspired by van Gogh’s infamous severed appendage, this absurdist comedy is about a painter (not-so-slyly named Vincent) who decides to give a piece of himself to his girlfriend on their six-month anniversary. Things get a lot weirder from there...You’re never going to guess where all this is heading. Just hope you have the stomach for it." - Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

promo photos - THE ADDAMS FAMILY - Desert Foothills Theater

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs from October 7th to October 15th







Photos by Gregory Wright

MEDEA - Now & Then Creative Company - November 10 - 19, 2017


Medea by Euripides, translated by Ian Johnston

Directed by Gerald Thomson

Abandoned by her husband when he pursues a new marriage for political gain, Medea struggles to protect herself and her children from exile.

CHORUS - Niesha Esene
Jen Gantwerker
Alexandra Utpadel

CREON/
MESSENGER - Robert Altizer

JASON - George Gonzalez

MEDEA - Vickie Hall

NURSE - Debra Lyman

TUTOR/
AEGEUS - Larissa Brewington

Performance Dates:
11/10, 11/11, 11/17, 11/18 at 7:30PM; 11/12, 11/19 at 2PM

nowandthencc.com.

photos - MY LOVE MY LUMBERJACK - B3 Productions

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs through September 23




photos courtesy B3 Productions

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

audition notice - A CHRISTMAS CAROL - Theater Works - September 30



Adapted by Richard Powers Hardt
Director: Chris Hamby

Rehearsals Begin: November 1, 2017
Performance Dates: December 8, 2017 – December 24, 2017

Show Synopsis

A Christmas Carol tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come.

What to prepare

ADULTS (18+)

Please prepare one, 1 minute monologue. Preferable dramatic.

YOUTH (8-17)

Please prepare one, 1 minute monologue. Preferable dramatic. You may also request a side be sent to you to prepare ahead of time in lieu of a monologue.

Additional Info

All performers 18+ will receive a $100.00 stipend.

There is no fee to audition. There is no participation fee for youth performers for this production.

Click here to schedule an audition

Audition Contact
Chris Hamby
623 815-7930
chamby@theaterworks.org

Character Breakdown

SCROOGE

CRATCHITT

FRED

MRS. BARLEY

MRS. PORT

JACOB MARLEY

GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST

YOUNG EBENEZER

FAN

DICK

EBENEZER

FEZZIWIG

MRS. FEZZIWIG

BELLE

GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT

BRAGG

SHELLEY

JANIE

MRS. CRATCHITT

BELINDA

PETER

WENDY

MARTHA

TINY TIM

HARLAND

ROSE

ALICE

IGNORANCE

WANT

GHOST OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE

BURTON

MASON

CHARWOMAN

UNDERTAKERS MAN

LAUNDRESS

OLD JOE

BOY

HEADMISTRESS

CHILDREN

CAROLERS