Thursday, October 18, 2018

WEEK AT A GLANCE: October 15 - October 21

Studio 3 Performing Arts presents The Ultimate Audition Workshop for Parents - October 19

Friday, October 19 from 6-8pm
The Ultimate Audition Workshop for Parents

Finally! The Ultimate Audition Workshop You Never Knew You Needed… until NOW!
Friday, October 19, 2018

We’ve all gone through it… preparing our child for auditions in the ever-changing world of theatre, only we don’t have a background in theatre ourselves.

If you want your child to succeed, you’ve gotta be right there with them!

And we’ve got all the tips and tricks to make your lives EASIER!

You don’t have to be a “stage mom” (or dad) and you certainly don’t have to have a background in theatre. You just need our helping hand.

Don’t wait to sign up as space is limited! Childcare available.

For more information

To get signed up

Growing Pains - Charlie Brown and friends are all grown up and struggling with issues in DOG SEES GOD at Spotlight Youth Theatre

by Haddi Meyer

“Charlie Brown is our 5-year-old imagination, and Dog Sees God is our adult reality.”

That's how Ali Giordano, one of the many talented teens acting in Spotlight Youth Theatre's production of Bert V. Royal's Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, compared this dark satire of the Peanuts comics to the original tales of Charlie Brown and his friends.

Giordano is playing Van’s Sister, the character who is the teenage mirror of Lucy. The Lucy we all know from the Peanuts comic strips and cartoons is gone, and instead Giordano described how she's become a lonely, timid and unstable girl.

“In Dog Sees God she’s all alone. The only person she really has contact with is Charlie Brown, CB (the character's name in the show). When she [was] young she was kind of immature, she thinks she knows what’s real and what’s not, what’s going on in life, but she doesn’t and that’s what’s funny. Now, she’s all grown up, she knows what’s good and what’s bad, what's real, and part of it kind of scares her in a way but in her mind it’s we’ve all grown up and it’s time to move forward.”

All of the characters in Dog Sees God are the darker, angsty, struggling and slightly older versions of themselves, including our faithfully clumsy, snoopy loving Charlie Brown, or in Dog Sees God, CB. Jack Taylor plays our leading man, but he isn’t quite the same Charlie Brown we’ve always known and loved.

“He’s become this big presence at his high school. He’s become a bully, and he’s much more respected now,” Taylor adds.

CB and the other characters aren’t two dimensional either. Each goes through their own path throughout the show. Taylor said of CB, “from the beginning to the end, there is definitely a big change. There is a growth within him.”

Taylor also stated that in order to play his big mean Charlie Brown, he pulled from his own experiences as a victim of bullying.

“Growing up I feel like everyone deals with a bully. I’ve lived in three states and in each one of them there has been at least one guy who isn’t really the best.”

Dog Sees God deals with more issues than just bullying. Director Kenny Grossman described the show as touching “on bullying, homosexuality...teenage drug use, tolerance, awareness, acceptance, teenage drinking.”

Grossman said the show provides a painfully honest look into “the everyday life of a teenager. This show is truth.”

Giordano agreed saying that “some people think that with theatre, you’re lying to people, you’re just acting, but I think with this play, especially, you are telling the truth. We want you to believe in what’s really going on.”

Dog Sees God follows the lives of the main Peanuts crew, under various pseudonyms, as they struggle with the issues that teens across America struggle with everyday. The show focuses on some incredibly dark and intense topics, but the brutal honesty of the show is what makes it so valuable in the modern day and led Grossman to a very specific reason for choosing to direct Dog Sees God this season.

“The number one theme in this show, is teen suicide. Teen suicide in Arizona is the number two cause of death for teenagers. Number one is car accidents.” Grossman explained, “I chose to do this show because it shows a different angle of what teenage life is and what teenagers go through. Not everything is all hunky dory and footloose and fancy free. These are real problems that teenagers face.”

Spotlight is also partnering with Teen Lifeline for the run of this show. Teen Lifeline is a suicide hotline specifically for Phoenix teenagers, and they will be present at every show with a table ready to speak to anyone who might need help. Grossman said his goal was to make teenagers aware that they aren’t alone, and that someone is there to always support them. He also mentioned that after two performances of the show there would be talk backs with the cast, and that Teen Life Line would also be present to speak with anyone who had questions.

“If there is one kid, just one kid that ends up picking up the phone and calling them because of the awareness that happened here, then doing a show like this is worth it.”

The show isn’t all dark and gloomy however. Grossman says the show will “give all the feels. [The audience is] gonna laugh, they’re gonna cry, they’re gonna be angry, sad, nervous. I just want them to feel everything and really appreciate what these young people are doing in the show.”

All of the emotions and beauty of the show are summed up in Van’s Sister. Giordano focused on one thing she wanted people to understand most.

“I want everyone to see that’s she’s human. There’s no such thing as normal, everyone has something different about them and all and all she is really just a human...but it really teaches the truth. I want people to get the truth from this play.”

CLICK HERE for more information on Dog Sees God, which runs in repertory with You're a Good Man Charlie Brown at Spotlight Youth Theatre from October 20th to November 4th

For anyone struggling with any teenage issues, you can reach Teen Lifeline in Maricopa County, AZ at 602-248-8336 (TEEN), or statewide in Arizona at 800-248-8336 (TEEN) You can also reach Teen Lifeline at

audition notice - ROBIN HOOD - TheaterWorks' Youth Works - November 10

Directed by: Sandi Carll

Farce/Play/High Adventure

HUGE cast and GREAT roles for both guys and girls galore!


Group 1(Ages 7-11) 9:30am: collect paperwork, pass out sides, 10am-11am group audition

Group 2 (Ages 12-14) 10:30am: collect paperwork, pass out sides, 11am-12pm group audition

Group 3(Ages 15-19) 11:30am: collect paperwork pass out sides, 12p,-1pm group audition

Performance Schedule:

Friday, Jan. 11 @ 7:00pm
Saturday, Jan. 12 @ 7:00pm
Sunday, Jan. 13 @ 2:30pm
Tuesday, Jan. 15 @ 9:30am & 11:30am
Wednesday, Jan. 16 @ 9:30am & 11:30am
Friday, Jan. 18 @ 7:00pm
Saturday, Jan. 19 @ 7:00pm
Sunday, Jan. 20 @ 2:30pm
Friday, Jan. 25 @ 7:00pm
Saturday, Jan. 26 @ 7:00pm
Sunday, Jan. 27 @ 2:30pm

Rehearsals are Mon-Thurs 6pm-9pm and Saturday 10-1pm

No rehearsal Nov. 21-25 (Thanksgiving)

No rehearsal Dec. 22-25 (Christmas)

No rehearsal Dec. 29-Jan 1 (New Year's Day)

Tech Week: January 5-10, 2019

Please attend your audition appointment with your audition form filled out. Please bring a headshot and resume if available. A headshot can consist of any recent photo that you are OK with not being returned back to you. Please note all conflicts. No performance conflicts will be honored.

Auditions will consist of cold reads and theatre games. Dress for movement. Please do not be late. These are group auditions.

This hilarious, action-packed retelling of Robin Hood is a show-within-a-show, filled with funny gender-bending characters, high-adventure sword fighting, chaotic chase scenes, audience participation, madcap mayhem and sidekick shenanigans!


Prince John has decreed that the citizens of Nottingham pay weekly taxes or face the penalty of death! His decrees are enforced by the evil Sheriff of Nottingham. The citizens think that all hope is lost until they hear word of a noble hero, Robin Hood of Locksley. Robin Hood, with the help if his very-nontraditional merry men, rob from the rich, give to the poor and save the fair Maid Marion.


If cast there is a $125.00 production fee.

There are day time, school day performances scheduled for January 15th & 16th 2019.

Date: 11/10/2018 (Sat.)
Location: TheaterWorks

CLICK HERE to sign up for an audition slot, and for additional info

photos - DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE -TheaterWorks

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

photos by John Groseclose

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


Get $5 off with promo code “Carnival” for any of the upcoming performances of Something Wicked This Way Comes at Blk Box Phx!

Runs Oct 31 – Nov 11 with performance at the Hardes Theatre at Phoenix Theatre

Two boys are lured to a mysterious carnival that passes through their town. Soon they discover the diabolical truths behind the funhouse mirror maze and its eerie cast of characters. The boys fight to save their town from this sinister carnival that threatens to destroy it.

CLICK HERE to get your tickets today!

Unrooting Prejudice One Show At A Time - a conversation with Douglas Lyons, the creator of POLKADOTS: THE COOL KIDS MUSICAL

Douglas Lyons outside Valley Youth Theatre on opening night
photo courtesy Valley Youth Theatre

by Haddi Meyer

In order to remove a diseased tree, you have to pull out its roots, no matter how deep they run. The roots of prejudice run deep in America, and often people address it on an adult level. However, one man is tackling the issue from the bottom up. Douglas Lyons is an incredibly accomplished actor, writer, and lyricist who, in his own words, strives “to use diverse stories to inspire children through art and remind them of their fullest potential and worth.”

This is exemplified in the musical he conceived, Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical. The show tells the story of Lily Polkadot, a child with polka dotted skin, who moves to an all square town and the one curious square-skinned boy who decides to befriend her. Polkadots is a powerful story of friendship and overcoming perceived differences, and preaches love and acceptance.

While there is a current tour of the show on the road, Phoenix audiences can see the show right now as Valley Youth Theatre just opened their production, which is the Arizona premiere of the show.

Despite being as busy as any actor/writer/lyricist would be while also performing in Broadway’s Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Lyons found some time to speak with me about the show's meaning, its inspiration, and importance.

This show takes heavy inspiration from the civil rights movement, specifically Ruby Bridges and the Little Rock 9, the group of children who integrated an all-white Arkansas school in the 1950s. It is a perfect way to introduce younger kids to the idea of racism and bullying and what can be done about it. How did the idea to create a show about these issues, which are so relevant to today's society, come about?

“I saw a YouTube video of Phylicia Rashad, and she was being interviewed and she talked about growing up in the Jim Crow south in Houston, Texas, and being a little black girl in a grocery mart with this curiosity for a white only water fountain. When no one was looking she went and tasted that water to only realize that it tasted the same as her water and how ridiculous this idea that you could separate the races and separate humanity. My favorite quote is ‘Humanity had tricked itself into dividing the races’ she said, and that was sort of this light bulb of an idea. It was just kind of like how innocent and curious that children are that they will defy American tradition and division with their own curiosity. It seemed like a perfect way to introduce our issues with race to [use] water fountains in which you put the same identical water in as a backdrop to have this conversation with the next generation.”

As an African American man, did you bring any personal experiences you encountered of racism or bullying to the show?

“Well, living in America everyday is a personal experience when it comes to racism. But yes and no. Honestly, the beauty of Polkadots is that it’s actually honoring a time in history that I don’t think is as comprehensible to us. The fact that we were not allowed to be in the same rooms, in the same balconies, in the same parts of the buses. Racism as it stands is already pretty horrible now, but to think of where we came from it seems a little alien and so truly what we’re trying to do is honor the people who have lived through segregation. My mother was the first the girl of all of her sisters to be in a desegregated school, so it isn’t that far away, you know? I’m honoring people who had to truly endure the negativity and harshness of racism because I have a more glorified, if you will, experience of it because of my ancestors, so I am really trying to honor them.”

Polkadots addresses what many would consider an 'adult' topic. How does the show explain an issue as complex as race relations to children?

“I mean it breaks it down to its smallest form and how stupid it really is. When you take a water fountain and you’re pouring the same water into both fountains and just placing a different title on the outside, it doesn’t make sense and that’s one of the things that Phylicia Rashad said, she said ‘you know with racism I knew what was going on but I didn’t really know why because it really doesn’t make sense’ and it still doesn’t make sense. When you really break it down we’re purely operating on fear and you know being unintelligible to truth, which is passing down the tradition of theatre, that’s all racism is and hopefully this show can stop that tradition with this next generation of folks that are now living in a Trump America.”

Clearly, using polka dots and squares instead of black and white is an interesting way to distinguish the differences between the characters. Was that decision an instant one in creating this show, or were there other ways you had originally come up with as a way for the show to demonstrate racism and bullying?

“I call them mosquito bites, when there are ideas that come to me in my sleep or before I get in the shower. You know like how mosquitoes fly around, and you swat them and sometimes they bite you and Polkadots had come to me actually in the winter of 2014 but I put it on a shelf for six months and it just kept biting at me. In January, February of 2015 I was like, oh my gosh and I just wrote this six page manifesto of what the world would look like, who the characters were and it seemed like a simple analogy for race. It’s really not just black and white though, and that’s the beauty of Polkadots because you can’t patent a pattern. The actress going out on the national tour is an Asian actress playing Lily Polkadot, the idea being that whatever makes you different makes you a polkadot. It doesn’t have to be specific to skin but in the case of what it is based off of it becomes a black and white story but part of why we made it polka dots and squares is that hopefully you can see yourself projected in any of the positions. For instance, if all the squares were black and the polka dot was middle eastern or something. Racism butts its head in many, many different ways. It could be class, poverty, all that stuff.”

This show is subtitled the 'Cool Kids Musical, referring to the group that is considered to be the "in crowd" or the most popular group of kids. Did you ever consider yourself to be a member of that club?  

“Not really, haha but this is kind of the fun thing too. Melvin, the book writer actually really likes the play on words. It can work in two ways. Polkadots is for all the cool kids right, or it can be the cool kids musical. Kids musicals have this bad wrap of being cheesy and corny so it’s kind of like it’s the coolest one of them all, so there are a few play-on-words there. I’ve never been the cool kind. I have always kind of created my own path and the older I’ve gotten the more I’ve seen how to do that. I think the show has made me maybe a little cooler haha, but I’m not like a cool person everyday of my life, no way. It also beckons what is it to be cool? In the end of the show the lyrics [say] ‘You’re a cool kid even if you’re…’ and there’s a listing, ‘you’re a cool kid because you were there, though some people stare, somebody care’ and so we try to meet the kids where ever they are and take that title to everyone it’s not for a select group of people.”

This is Polkadots first performance in Arizona, after debuting just a couple of years ago. Have you made any changes to the show since it first debuted as you've seen it be produced in other cities?

“I think the only thing that changed from Ivrington, which was our developmental production to the Atlantic, and the album was the squadot. We added a rap section, that I think was not there initially. It was just sort of the instructional part of the 11:00 dance number and for the recording we added versed that then went into the show permanently so they’re performing the squadot in a way that it wasn’t performed in 2016 in Ivrington.

What do you hope audiences take away from seeing Polkadots?

“Love, community, not tolerance because tolerance is just dealing with someone different but actual acceptance which is embracing them into your community. I honestly hope it’s just a beam of light in a time that is very dark, unfortunately. To see kids of all different races on stage telling a story of unity and history will hopefully inspire and empower people to keep that mindset fresh and to use it everyday since we’re combating so much division right now.”

CLICK HERE for more information on Polkadots: the Cool Kids Musical, at Valley Youth Theatre through October 28th

cast announcement - JEKYLL & HYDE - Actor's Youth Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs October 18-November 3

Noah Delgado - Dr. Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde
Quincy Cowans - Gabriel John Utterson
Carter Neef - Sir Danvers Carew/Spider
Bryce Vehrs - Simon Stride
Nadia Gilbert - Lady Beaconsfield/Nellie
Thomas Green - The Bishop of Basingstoke
Sara Blue - Lord Savage
Hailey Boiarsky - General Glossop
Joey La Mattina - Sir Archibald Proops
Abby Cardenas - Emma Carew
Drew MacCallum - Lucy Harris
Aaron Clark - Poole
Miranda Bellows - Bisset
Isabel Aksamit - Ensemble
Ava Aagaard - Ensemble
Allison Carter - Ensemble
Caitlyn Miller - Ensemble
Jaide Montefour - Ensemble

review - THE WORLD GOES 'ROUND - Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Kathleen Berger, Patrick Russo, Victoria Fairclough, Michael Paul, and Savannah Alfred
Photo Courtesy of Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
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 27th.

"John Kander (music) and Fred Ebb (lyrics) wrote the scores for over a dozen Broadway musicals. Most likely known for their songs from the hit shows Cabaret and Chicago and the popular title song from the film New York, New York, they also wrote numerous less successful scores. The musical revue The World Goes 'Round features over two dozen Kander and Ebb tunes and makes for a fun, moving and crowd-pleasing journey through the vast songbook of these two collaborators. Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts is presenting the revue for a three-week run in a production that is well directed and well sung by a quintet of versatile Valley performers.... a beautiful testament to the exceptional songwriting talents of Kander and Ebb. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

Monday, October 15, 2018

WEEK AT A GLANCE: October 15-October 21

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



October 27-November 18, 2018

October 31-November 11, 2018

Westbrook Village Players 
November 2-11, 2018

Zao Theatre 
November 2-17, 2018

Fountain Hills Theater 
November 2–18, 2018

Mesa Encore Theatre 
November 2-18, 2018

Now and Then Creative Company 
November 2-18, 2018

November 6-11, 2018 
ASU Gammage

Starlight Community Theater 
November 9-10, 2018

The Second City Guide to the Symphony
Phoenix Symphony Orchestra
November 9, 2018 - November 11, 2018 | 2:00 pm

Brelby Theatre Company 
November 9-17, 2018

Desert Foothills Theater 
November 9-18, 2018

TheaterWorks YouthWorks 
November 9-18, 2018

Stray Cat Theatre 
November 9–24, 2018

B3 Productions 
November 9 - December 15, 2018

reviews - FUN HOME - Phoenix Theatre

Becca Ayers and Rusty Ferracane
Photo by Reg Madison Photography

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 December 2nd.

"A dysfunctional family with secrets and the budding sexuality and self-discovery of a teenage girl who would later on, in her early 40s, struggle to find a way to piece together the facts about her past makes for the emotionally rich and rewarding musical Fun Home. Based on Alison Bechdel's 2006 autobiographical graphic memoir "Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic," this show won five 2015 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Phoenix Theatre's production is superb, with an excellent cast and spotless direction and is presented in their intimate Hormel Theatre which proves a perfect setting to provide an up close and emotional connection to these characters and this story that is full of much heartbreak and pain but also joy and hope....has a universality to it that expands it way beyond a story only about characters who are struggling with their sexuality. ...Director Robert Kolby Harper's staging masterfully connects the time periods of the musical together in a swift and seamless fashion with expert use of the beautiful and mostly transparent set design from Douglas Clarke. ..As the older Alison, Becca Ayers' inquisitive nature and sense of urgency works incredibly well to portray this woman who is attempting to discover facts and insight by observing moments in her past...Rusty Ferracane is equally as good as Bruce, a man who wants everything to be perfect and polished on the outside, including the way he is perceived, but underneath, the pain and the truth start to chip away at the cracks just as the adult Alison is beginning to piece together the memories of her past to find the truth about herself, her father and her family. ...Olivia Fearey is exquisite and full of charm as Young Alison. ..As Medium Alison, Kaitlyn Russell's exuberant performance of "Changing My Major" perfectly captures the joy of one's first sexual experience...As Alison's mother Helen, Elyse Wolf creates a nuanced portrayal of this stern, neglected and suffering woman. excellent production of this highly accessible work about coming of age while also coming to grips with the events and truths of your painful past. It's a show about painful memories but also one about hope, love and understanding." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"...Because of Hormel’s setting, what may have caused audiences in large auditoriums to question exactly what it was they were watching is here never an issue. The intimate staging of Robert Kolby Harper’s direction is always clear. Despite the jumps, the fantasies, and the cross-over through time boundaries, there’s never a moment when you’re unsure as to where you are in the narrative..." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

JEKYLL & HYDE - Actor's Youth Theatre - October 18th-November 3rd, 2018

The epic struggle between good and evil comes to life on stage in the musical phenomenon, Jekyll & Hyde. Based on the classic story by Robert Louis Stevenson and featuring a thrilling score of pop rock hits from multi-Grammy- and Tony-nominated Frank Wildhorn and double-Oscar- and Grammy-winning Leslie Bricusse, Jekyll & Hyde has mesmerized audiences all of the world for decades.

An evocative tale of two men – one, a doctor, passionate and romantic; the other, a terrifying madman – and two women – one, beautiful and trusting; the other, beautiful and trusting only herself– both women in love with the same man and both unaware of his dark secret. A devoted man of science, Dr. Henry Jekyll is driven to find a chemical breakthrough that can solve some of mankind's most challenging medical dilemmas. Rebuffed by the powers that be, he decides to make himself the subject of his own experimental treatments, accidentally unleashing his inner demons along with the man that the world would come to know as Mr. Edward Hyde.

Thursday-Saturday at 7pm
Saturday matinees at 3pm
Tickets: $15

Where: Tuscany Theatre, 861 N Higley Rd, St 105, Gilbert, AZ 85234

audition notice - THE LION IN WINTER - Mesa Encore Theatre - November 19 & 20

Audition Notice – Mesa Encore Theatre MET@933 Black Box Performance Space

Directed by Janis Webb

CLICK HERE to sign up for an audition

Audition Dates - 8 Actors per time slot
Monday November 19th 7pm
Monday November 19th 8pm
Tuesday November 20th 7pm
Tuesday November 20th 8pm

Call Backs will be held Monday November 26th
Production date run February 1st – 17th 2019

Audition will be held at the Black Box located at 933 E. Main St Mesa AZ

What to Prepare and Expect
Actors are to present a (1) One Minute Monologue of their choice in the Style of the play
Actors will also be asked to do Cold Reads from the play

Contact with any further questions

Henry II, King of England (55, British accent)
Although aging, he is still physically fit and mentally vigorous.

Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry’s wife. (60, British accent)
A handsome woman with great authority and presence. A thoroughly feminine woman capable of holding her own in a man’s world.

Richard Lionheart, the oldest son. (35, British accent)
Handsome and impressive. War is his profession and he is good at it.

Geoffrey, the middle son.(30, British accent)
Cunning and sly, he is the smartest of a very smart family.

John, the youngest son. (25, British accent)
Chubby, sweet faced and awkward. He is 25 going on 15.

Alais, a French Princess. (27, French accent)
Beautiful and serene, but a pawn in the plotting of this family. Totally in love with Henry.

Philip, King of France. (23, French accent)
Very handsome and impressive. He is open and direct, and although he is young, he is very wise.