Thursday, April 30, 2015

"Behind the Scenes" at the Palms Theatre - this Sunday, May 3

From our friends at the Palms Theatre -

SUNDAY, MAY 3 from 12pm - 4pm

Go "Behind The Scenes" as we open our doors for a peek behind the curtain.

While many of you have joined us over the years for dinner and a show, we suspect you've not had the opportunity to experience our view...of you...from stage!

Here's a chance for you to get on stage and backstage for a glimpse at what makes The Palm Theatre tick.

Drop-in for the chance to win some fun prizes, day-of-only deals, tours of the theatre and meet 'n greets with the casts of PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES, GREATER TUNA AND WINNIE THE POOH.

We hope to see you this coming Sunday afternoon!

video preview - PUPPET WARS - All Puppet Players

Tickets are on sale now for All Puppet Players world premiere production of Puppet Wars.

A long time ago… In a galaxy far, far away, is the setting for All Puppet Players newest epic puppet space adventure. Nerds and normies rejoice as every possible sci-fi movie is lampooned in this wacky, puppet centric retelling of one of the greatest film franchises ever made.
The gang's all here in the fur and felt as The Empire begin its push to crush the Rebel Alliance. Relive all of your favorite moments in puppet form and even get a chance to create your own puppets for our Cantina scene. Families are FINALLY welcome as this show is appropriate for all audiences that enjoy the movie. May the "felt" be with you!

May 15th- 30th, 2015 Playhouse On The Park at The Viad Corporate Center

Click here for more information on this production

ticket discount for students - THE TOMKAT PROJECT - Stray Cat Theatre

Brandi Bigley and Chris Mascarelli
(photo: John Groseclose)
For tonight's performance of The Tomkat Project student tickets are only $10 for students with a Valid Student ID.

"...a blisteringly funny account of the undeniably bizarre courtship, then marriage between Scientologist Tom Cruise and actor turned Scientologist Katie Holmes...The cast, all seven, are terrific...THE TOMKAT PROJECT keeps hitting target after wicked target with a pulse that never quits." - David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage

Check out more reviews of this production here.

Click here for more information on this production.

video preview - LITTLE WOMEN - Brelby Theatre Company

Brelby has just released another video preview for their production of Little Women that starts performances tomorrow.

Click here for more information about this production

audition notice - SOUTH PACIFIC - Don Bluth Front Row Theatre - June 8 & 11

Directed by Gary Caswell
Musically directed by Roger McKay
Choreographed by Hannah Gerle

Audition Dates-June 8 & 11 starting @ 5:30pm
To schedule appointment, contact the director at-

Headshot (or any photo) and resume required
Accompanist will be provided. Please prepare 16 bars of an up-tempo Broadway style song
Be prepared for cold reading from the script and light movement

Don Bluth Front Row Theatre
8670 E. Shea Blvd
Suite 103
Scottsdale, AZ. 85260

ENSIGN NELLIE FORBUSH: Female; mid 20s-35; an optimistic and simple Navy nurse from Little Rock, Arkansas who falls in love with Emile; must have subtle comic timing, strong mezzo
EMILE DE BECQUE: Male; leading man; 40-55; a wealthy, cultured and dignified French plantation owner with grit and glamour who falls in love with Nellie; Strong baritone
LIEUTENANT JOSEPH CABLE, U.S.M.C.: Male; 18-30; a young, formal and good-looking officer who falls in love with Liat; must be believable as a member of the Army; soaring Tenor (E3 to G4);
LUTHER BILLIS: Male; 30-45; a shlubby, mediocre entrepreneur; friend to all and a man with a lust for the ladies; strong comedic timing; strong baritone
CAPTAIN GEORGE BRACKETT, U.S.N.: Male; 40-60; a pompous yet competent officer who hides a heart of gold; strong actor
COMMANDER HARBISON, U.S.N.: Male; 35-50; Officious Navy man; Brackett's second-in-command and right hand man; strong actor
STEWPOT: Male; 25-35; a funny, shlubby character man with a strong tenor singing voice (up to high A); one of the sailors and Luther Billis' cohorts;
PROFESSOR: Male; 25-35; a funny character man of the studious type; strong singer; one of the Sailors and Luther Billis' cohorts.
Ngana & Jerome: Male & Female; 6-12; Emile’s children. Sing and speak in French
Sailors- 18-40
Nurses- 18-40


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Scottsdale Musical Theater sets dates for their 2015 / 2016 shows

Scottsdale Musical Theater Company has just announced dates for the shows in their 2015 - 2016 season along with announcing that the next show in their Cabaret Series will be Sunday September 20th - with more info to come as to who will be performing.

They also plan another classic musical to be announced shortly that will play in the Summer of 2016.

Updated information will be posted here on PHX Stages as well as at

All shows perform at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

Sondheim on Sondheim
Oct. 28-31, 2015
This is the Arizona premiere of this production!

Hello Dolly!
Feb. 3-6, 2016

HERAKLES - Orange Theatre - May 8 - 10, 2015

Orange Theatre presents their latest work-in-progress, Herakles, based on the Greek tragedy by Euripides.

In Orange Theatre’s unique multimedia reimagining of the play, live video and sound effects help tell the story of Herakles, the famous hero who returns home from his adventures to save his family from a tyrant, only to be stricken by a madness that causes him to murder his wife and children. This new work incorporates contemporary texts, live music, and the company’s personal material into the original story, offering a striking, modern take on the age-old tragedy.

Orange Theatre will offer a sneak peek at 20 to 30 minutes of material from this new piece for three nights only on May 8, 9 and 10, 2015 at 8 p.m. This will be the first show at Orange Theatre’s newly renovated warehouse performance space at 1711 W Culver St. (between 19th and Grand Avenues) in Phoenix. All tickets are pay-what-you-can with cash or credit card, and they are available at the door or in advance via the company’s website, Free street parking is available near the venue. The performance on Saturday, May 9 will be followed by an after-party with bar and DJ.

Director/scenic designer Matt Watkins explains, “This work-in-progress showing is the first step in the long-term development process we recently began using to create all of our work. It lets us build each show in stages, take artistic risks and really engage with our audience, letting them in on our process as a piece develops. The audience response has been great; people say they love watching our shows change with each iteration. We’ve wanted to tackle ‘Herakles’ for over two years, and we’re really excited to show our audiences what we’ve been working on.”

Watkins leads the “Herakles” artistic team, with media design by Tucker Bingham and sound design by Stephen Christensen. Joya Scott is the production dramaturg, and John Perovich is the script dramaturg. The production features choreography by Liliana Gomez and original music by Joshua Hill and Jordan Tompkins. The acting ensemble includes Katrina Donaldson as Herakles, William Crook as Amphitryon, and Carrie Fee as Megara.

This new project is only the latest in a recent string of exciting events for Orange Theatre, one of Phoenix’s few experimental performing arts groups. In January, the ensemble won the top award – a grant of $10,000 – at Arizona Art Tank, an initiative of the Arizona Commission on the Arts that rewards innovative arts-based ventures. They were also the winner of Phoenix New Times’ 2014 Big Brain Award for Performing Art.

Phoenix Theatre's END OF THE RAINBOW - a conversation with star Jeannie Shubitz and director Karla Koskinen

by Gil Benbrook

While Judy Garland will forever be remembered as young Dorothy Gale in the iconic film The Wizard of Oz, she also unfortunately is almost as well known for her short and tragic life, dying at age 47 of a drug overdose. Peter Quilter’s play End of the Rainbow is a celebration of the life and the music of this legend. Set a few short months before Garland’s death in 1969, the play features some of Judy’s most famous songs but also exposes the excesses that led to her early demise. Phoenix Theatre is presenting the Arizona premiere of the play through May 17th starring Jeannie Shubitz as Garland.

End of the Rainbow takes place in London in Judy’s suite at the Ritz Hotel.  She is preparing for her six-week long engagement of concerts at The Talk of the Town, with her much younger fiancé Mickey Deans in tow and her trusty friend and pianist Anthony at her side.  The play shows Garland as she struggles with her drug and alcohol addictions and deals with the constant demands from her fans and the overeager press. She also worries about her money problems as the strained relationships she has with these two men start to take a toll on her ability to perform. While End of the Rainbow is a fictional account of the details of those events, it is ultimately an interesting study in how a person becomes the victim of their fame.  Judy feels trapped in her hotel room, overwhelmed with having to perform every night at her Talk of the Town concerts.  So, she lashes out at the two men closest to her at that time in her life, even though they are both trying to help her.

But what elevates End of the Rainbow beyond a drama that focuses only on a celebrity’s inner turmoil is the music the play features. While most of the drama is set in the hotel suite, there are several times when the hotel suite setting opens up to transport us to one of Judy’s Talk of the Town concerts. Some of Garland’s biggest hits are sung by Shubitz in those sequences.  These musical interludes allow us to see the joy that Garland brought to audiences, even while she was wrestling with her own demons, with her performances of such tunes as "The Man that Got Away," "Come Rain or Come Shine" and her signature song "Over the Rainbow."

While the songs help break up the amount of drama in the play, there is also plenty of humor as well and, in reality, Garland had a wicked sense of humor. In one scene Garland is reminded that Deans will actually be her fifth husband, and not her fourth as she keeps stating. Garland replies with "Who'd I miss? Grumpy, Dopey, Sleepy..." The play also includes some bittersweet moments with Judy talking about the long days she had at MGM as a child actor and the pills she was given to pep her up and others to slow her down. Many of the child actors of that period, like Mickey Rooney, also encountered problems like Garland did as adults, and Judy carefully states, "We all turned out very peculiar."

Though her much younger fiancé Deans is often perceived as using Judy as a meal ticket, the play paints him at first as someone who truly wants to help her.  He even tries to get her sober, stating firmly to her, "No booze, no pills. Nothing!" But Garland’s demons get the best of her and, in an act of desperation, Deans quickly becomes the enabler, giving her drugs and booze to entice her back onstage.  The fog of addiction descends, yet Garland somehow soldiers on.

Shubitz states that while the play portrays Judy at the end of her life, struggling to hold onto love amidst a lifetime of failed marriages and drug and alcohol addiction, Garland is also “trying to reconcile her need for public adoration, and her unpaid debt, with exhaustion and her desire for a simpler and more private life.  What's beautiful about Quilter's play is that he captures the humor, wit and joy with which she armed herself against these struggles.” But it is the connection that Garland had with her audiences that Shubitz believes was her greatest strength and also her unfortunate weakness. “Her warmth and honesty as a performer made everyone who watched her think of her as ‘theirs,’ and this very thing that elevated her to iconic status was at the root of her ultimate breakdown.”

Since Judy is so well known, with a distinctive singing voice and speaking voice, Shubitz has found that preparing for the part has proven to be a bit difficult.  “From the beginning, I have felt that trying to impersonate her would be setting myself up for failure.  You know how it is when you're trying to see a specific star in the night sky, yet when you gaze directly at it, it somehow eludes you?  I think of Judy like that.  If I aim exactly at her, I'll never get there.  I’ve tried to gather as much of her as I can from outside sources and the script, and hopefully in the end we’ve captured her light, as well as her darkness.”

Shubitz has fond memories of Garland, though she says they were originally limited to “the wide-eyed girl with the warm-honey voice from The Wizard of Oz” and some of her other famous musicals like Easter Parade from her MGM days.  Shubitz adds that the older Garland isn’t someone she was that familiar with until a few months ago when she began her research for the role.  “For anyone who's looking to cling to the image of Ms. Garland as the wide-eyed girl from Kansas, they will be...challenged... by this play.”

Director Karla Koskinen also remembers seeing Judy on TV.  She’d often watch The Judy Garland Show with her mother. “I have very vivid memories of my mother actually tearing up when she could see that Judy was unable to perform at the level she was capable of. I think because Judy’s problems with addiction were so public most people realized there was another, darker side to her life.” She adds that End of the Rainbow is a celebration of Garland that all fans will appreciate.  “The play allows us to see her amazing life force, her wry sense of humor that is at times, outrageous, and to see her in concert in very good voice. But the play also shows us Judy near the end of her life. She is scared, tired and lonely, and her addictions are getting the best of her. It’s a human story of how difficult it is to live up to being a ‘legend’ when you both crave the audiences that love you and desperately want to leave it all behind. This struggle is at the heart of the story.”

Koskinen says “the play is about a real woman with an incredible talent that was damaged by the studios and other ‘well-meaning’ people who didn’t know how dangerous the pressure and the drugs really were. It exposes both her amazing strength and her incredible vulnerability.” Koskinen also thinks, in a small way, that the play has a certain appeal to the part of us that secretly likes to see “train wrecks,” especially since there has always been a fascination with Judy Garland’s “tragic” life.  “She denied her life was a tragedy and her two daughters also spoke of how untrue that was. Although their mother struggled with addiction, they both describe their childhoods as filled with happiness as well. Perhaps the audience will think of how we like to compartmentalize stars’ lives based on their public personas. We tend to forget they are real human beings with complex motivations and lives that we know little about.”

Koskinen and Shubitz worked together before, on Phoenix Theatre's Light in the Piazza. Koskinen says that when she was asked to direct Rainbow, Shubitz was the first person she thought of to play Judy. "Not only does Jeannie possess an incredible vocal instrument but like Garland, she is very petite. Many people don’t realize Judy Garland was only 4’11 and at the end of her life she was very thin. But even more importantly Jeannie has a keen intellect that is so necessary for doing justice to Judy. Many people speak of how sharp she was. Her quick wit was a result of her lively mind and Jeannie has these same qualities. Another feature I was attracted to in Jeannie is her sensitivity. She is willing to take risks and push herself as an actress.  She will certainly need to do that in this play to bring Judy fully to life."

The process of becoming Judy Garland has been a true discovery for Shubitz.  She didn't know Garland’s work that well but when she began her research for the role she says that she finally got it. “I saw why everyone was positively in love with this woman. She was warm, loving and somehow intimately familiar with everyone.  She used humor to put people at ease.  She never took herself too seriously, and her humor was self-deprecating as often as not. She was a series of paradoxes: simultaneously a mother and a little girl, she was an entertainer in the truest sense of the word and down to the very roots of herself, yet she longed for a simpler more private and quiet life.  She was a force of nature, a dynamo, packed into a tiny 4-foot-11 frame.” Shibbitz adds, “Hopefully we will be able to capture and communicate that essence of her that inspired the love of generations of fans, while also offering a glimpse into the small corners of her life that people may be less familiar with, a more private Judy. I think that with Garland, as with many celebrities today, people are fascinated by the downfall, the tragedy and drama of it all.  I think this is a good reminder to all of us that there is a real human being behind the celebrity persona, a person just trying to get through their day to day.”

End of the Rainbow runs April 29 through May 17.

Photography by Erin Evangeline Photography of Jeannie Shubitz as Judy Garland, with Hair and Makeup by Terre Steed

General Auditions for Southwest Shakespeare's 2015/2016 Season- May 29 & 30

Announcing General Auditions for Southwest Shakespeare Company's 2015/2016 Season

Auditions are by appointment only

Compensation: AEA – Equity Contract & Non-Union

Show/Character breakdown:
Hysteria by Terry Johnson—Freud, Salvador Dali, others
The Merry Wives of Windsor by Shakespeare—all characters
Othello—all characters
The Comedy of Errors—all characters
Wittenberg by David Davalos—Hamlet, Faust, Martin Luther
Twelfth Night—all characters

Synopses of non-Shakespeare Plays:
Hysteria by Terry Johnson –
A tour-de-force of language and wit, this fast-paced farce was a smash hit when it premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 1993. Freud and Dali meet for tea at Freud’s house in Hampstead one summer’s afternoon in 1938.
Wittenberg—It is October 1517 in northern Germany and the characters of Hamlet, his mentor John Faustus, and Faustus’ colleague and Hamlet’s instructor and priest, Martin Luther, all

What To Prepare
Please prepare 2 Shakespeare monologues of 1 minute each. The first is required, the second only upon request. Prepare 16 bars of any song you wish, to be sung a capella.

Call For Crew
Southwest Shakespeare Company is always seeking skilled help.

Appointment Contact

Audition Dates and Times:
5/29 5pm-8pm, 5/30 11am-5pm, 5/31 5pm-8pm
Callback Dates and Times: TBD

Primary Contact:
Rebecca Thornton

Southwest Shakespeare Company Rehearsal Space
55 E Main Street
Mesa, Arizona 85275

55 East Main is located on the same block as the Mesa Arts Center, but further east along Main, on the same block. A red “55” is on the wall outside.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

audition announcement - Murder and a Meal Dinner Theatre Season Auditions - May 3

Director: Derek Davenport and Helene Stich

Compensation: Stipend Pay

Details on all shows available via our website at

Character Breakdown
Needed men and women between the ages of 20-55 for various characters for the following shows:
Deadly Housewives
How to Murder a Millionaire

Additional Info
Current shows on our website (and others) are swapped out, we need actors who can be available on a continual basis to learn new material as needed.
Shows are typically weekend nights, rehearsals weeknights.
This is an ongoing acting opportunity.
Pay includes a set stipend plus tips
Shows are all scripted with additional improvisation. Actors need to be comfortable with both mediums.

What To Prepare
Actors should prepare for cold reads from the script. Bring a resume/headshot if you have one, otherwise there will be audition form for you. Bring 2 performance based references.

Audition Details
Orange Tree Golf Resort
10601 N. 56th St
Scottsdale, Arizona 85254
Auditions are in the Valencia room, accessible outside the front of the building.

Audition Dates and Times:
Sunday May 3rd 10am-2pm
Callback Dates and Times:
Wednesday May 6th 5pm-7pm

Primary Contact:
Helene Stich

FANCY NANCY, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, May 2, 2015

Book and Lyrics by Susan DiLallo
Music and Lyrics by Danny Abosch
Directed by Sam Viverito

Based on the popular Fancy Nancy Books
Written by Jane O’Connor
Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Celebrating its 15th year bringing award-winning Off-Broadway musical theater to children across the country, Vital Theatre Company performs this charming adaptation of the best-selling Fancy Nancy children’s books. Fancy Nancy and her friends Bree, Rhonda, Wanda and Lionel are going to be performing in their very first show, Deep Sea Dances. Nancy is positive – that’s fancy for 100 percent sure – that she and Bree will be picked to be mermaids. When another girl wins the coveted role of the mermaid, Nancy is stuck playing a dreary, dull tree. Can Nancy bring fancy flair to her role, even though it isn’t the one she wanted?

"A fun and engaging show that will appeal to all members of your family … "
– Disney With Children

Click here to order tickets

Childsplay seeks a Master Carpenter for their 2015-2016 season

Childsplay, Arizona’s professional theatre for young audiences, is seeking a Master Carpenter for the 2015-2016 season.

Duties include set construction, installation, maintenance and strike.  Assist as needed with all aspects of build, load-in, tech, maintenance, and technical needs for all productions and events. Assist with organization, maintenance, and inventory for the Scene Shop. Must have experience in welding and rigging, ability to drive trucks and work with crews for load in and strike. Must be able to manage multiple projects, maintain organization, and be detail oriented.

The contract is from July 6, 2015 – April 30, 2016.

Please send resumes and references to  No phone calls please.

Don Bluth Front Row Theatre -2015 Youth Summer Camp

There's Still Time To Enroll!

2015 Youth
Summer Camp

Camp Begins June 1st 

performance dates for Seussical: June 25-26-27

For more information or to Enroll call:

THE BRIDGE INITIATIVE will introduce their June symposium events this Sunday May 3rd

The Bridge Initiative is planning an ambitious slate of workshops, readings, and a fully-produced world premiere play over the course of a two-week period June 8th-21st, 2015.

This Sunday, May 3rd, 2015, at 7:00 p.m  join Bridge Initiative co-producing artistic directors Brenda Jean Foley & Tracy Liz Miller and other artistic associates as they unveil the planned programming, introduce several members the artistic staff who have been already been hired, as well as solicit ideas for any additional programming the community is interested in offering for consideration.

There will also be opportunity to sign up for auditions to be held May 4th

Mesa Encore Theatre's Black Box on Brown, 318 E. Brown Road, Mesa, AZ 85201
                   (NW corner of E. Brown and N. Mesa, next to Native restaurant)

Click here for more information

video preview- LITTLE WOMEN - Brelby Theatre Company

Check out these video previews for Brelby's Little Women, the Musical, that opens this weekend.

Click here for more information on this production that runs through May 23rd.

photos - GREATER TUNA - The Palms Theatre

For more information on this production, that stars Devon Nickel and Alan Craig and runs until May 16th, click here.

photos: Toni Kallen

Monday, April 27, 2015

WEEK AT A GLANCE - April 27 - May 3

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

And Click Here for a complete day by day calendar of what shows are playing.


Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
May 2, 2015

Arizona Biltmore Resort and Mesa Arts Center


Don Bluth Front Row Theatre
April 10 - April 27, 2015

Actor's Youth Theatre
April 22 - May 1, 2015

Starlight Community Theater
April 17 - May 2, 2015

Phoenix Theatre
April 15 to May 3, 2015


Phoenix Theatre
April 29 to May 17, 2015

Arizona Theatre Company
April 30 - May 17, 2015

Desert Stages Theatre
April 30 - May 17, 2015

Musical Theatre of Anthem
April 30 - May 17, 2015

Brelby Theatre Company
May 1 - 22, 2015

Mesa Community College
May 1 - 9, 2015

Fountain Hills Theater
May 1 - May 10, 2015

Brelby Theatre Co
May 1 - May 23, 2015


Stray Cat Theatre
April 24 - May 9, 2015

Desert Stages Theatre
April 10 – May 10, 2015

Arizona Broadway Theatre
April 17 - May 10, 2015

Hale Centre Theatre
April 9, 2015 - May 16, 2015

Desert Stages Theatre
March 27 - May 17, 2015

Palms Theatre
April 15 - May 16, 2015

Palms Theatre
April 16 - May 16, 2015

April 25 - May 24, 2015

reviews - THE TOMKAT PROJECT - Stray Cat Theatre

Brady Weber, Chris Mascarelli, Brandi Bigley,
Chanel Bragg and Tim Shawver
(photo: John Groseclose)
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

 "THE TOMKAT PROJECT is a blisteringly funny account of the undeniably bizarre courtship, then marriage between Scientologist Tom Cruise and actor turned Scientologist Katie Holmes.  Performed by seven actors who play more than fifty characters between them, THE TOMKAT PROJECT chronicles how Tom Cruise wanted a girlfriend and how the church aided him with his search.  The play needs no set and very little in the way of props, just the talent of seven players, though scenic designer Eric Beeck has effectively created the look of what appears to be the back of a theatre or a somewhat messy studio soundstage complete with hanging cables, a stepladder and two desks that flank either side.  Playwright Ogborn (a bespectacled Brady Weber) lets us know from the beginning that what we’re about to see is a satire based on truths, media reports, imagined conversations, and downright lies, though the lies are more for comic effect than an effort to misinform.  When a conversation is real, Ogborn holds up a sign telling us that what we’re hearing is verbatim.   The cast, all seven, are terrific.  Kellie Dunlap, Chanel Bragg, David Choley and Tim Shawyer jump from exaggerated character to character at a moment’s notice while the remaining three stick to their singular, assigned role.  Brandi Bigley’s Katie has just the right amount of mid-western cuteness that sticks out like a sore thumb when surrounded by west coast sharks, and while Chris Mascarelli looks nothing like Cruise, he nevertheless manages to promote the essence of the movie star with a distinctive Cruise laugh and hand gestures.  The standout is David Chorley’s hilarious David Miscavige.  He plays the current church leader as a hammy, fey London thespian.  But, unfortunately, you can’t have everything, and things seem to fall apart when playwright Ogborn steps out of the role of narrator and inserts himself into the play by engaging in a debate with Vanity Fair correspondent Maureen Orth (an excellent, bitchy portrayal by Kellie Dunlap).  The issue is initially interesting, even thought-provoking, when the perspectives of Cruise and Holmes are reversed as the two writers argue over who was really manipulating who, but the scene spirals downwards as characters become physical with ear-piercing screams and shouts, resulting with Orth forcibly dragged off- stage and out of the theatre.  It’s difficult to say who’s at fault; Brandon Ogborn’s script or director Louis Farber’s interpretation of the scene.  Up until that moment, Farber had displayed an admirable talent for farce by keeping all the action moving at a crisp pace without having his cast looking like community theater players bumping into each other while attempting Monty Python.  I suspect the issue is with Ogborn’s script, and the play never fully recovers. Still, up until that moment, THE TOMKAT PROJECT keeps hitting target after wicked target with a pulse that never quits. " -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"The Tomkat Project follows the crazy courtship, marriage, and divorce of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. While not everything about Tomkat is successful, it is a humorous play, with several laugh out loud moments, and Stray Cat has assembled a small and very talented cast who play the dozens of characters involved in the Cruise and Holmes story with chameleon like grace. Playwright Brandon Ogborn has crafted an interesting comedy that follows the relationship from its strange beginning to its even stranger end, the media obsession, and the parade of crazy characters who were involved. He also includes the many bizarre situations and interviews that happened during that time and his play has a nice payoff in the second act.  Ogborn wrote the play based on facts, rumors, theories, lies, "and, when appropriate, Wikipedia." Ogborn is also a character in the play, serving as the narrator, and his play lays out the many mysteries surrounding the Cruise/Holmes relationship, the potential role that Scientology played in it, and the erratic behavior that Cruise exhibited during their time together. While the majority of the play is made up, there are many actual conversations reenacted when a sign is held up that reads: "This dialogue is verbatim." These parts include the many notorious interviews that happened throughout the TomKat craze. We relive Cruise's disastrous press interviews, including his TV interview with Matt Lauer where he debates Brooke Shields' use of drugs for post-partum depression and calls Lauer "glib." The infamous couch jumping interview with Oprah Winfrey, where he professes his love for Katie, is a comical highlight. Each of these reenactments are hilarious and cringe worthy, knowing that the idiocy we are seeing actually happened.  And while the first act is humorous, Ogborn turns the tables in act two with the appearance of Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth who wrote a scathing article on Michael Jackson as well as one painting Holmes as the victim in her relationship with Cruise. Ogborn ponders the question: what if Katie Holmes is the villain in the story? Was she the one being used or the opportunist out to further her career? Was Cruise simply naïve and being manipulated by The Church of Scientology to further the Church's best interests? This twist, and the debates Ogborn has with Orth, and replays of scenes we've already witnessed but now with the victim roles reversed, elevate the play into a thought-provoking commentary and a cautionary tale about not believing everything we read and about just how far from the truth celebrity gossip might be. However, while there are many funny parts, Ogborn doesn't quite write as comical as he could, with some of the set-ups for the wackier moments not having as funny as a payoff as they should.  Director Louis Farber stages the proceedings with a fast pace and a cast of seven who are exceptional. Chris Mascarelli has a fairly good handle on Cruise's famous mannerisms and way of speaking, and actually makes you feel sorry for him. Brandi Bigley has Holmes' signature mannerisms down pat, from her constant need to touch and often move her hair to how she sometimes talks out of the side of her mouth in a somewhat quiet way. The rest of the cast vividly play dozens of characters. David Chorley is brilliant as the conniving, manipulative Scientology front man David Miscavige. Tim Shawver is just as good as Katie's confused dad, who is determined to get her away from Cruise. Kellie Dunlap morphs with a refined ease between Katie's mom and the relentless Orth. Chanel Bragg is a hoot as Oprah...and has a blast as Cruise's male lawyer. The TomKat Project ponders many "what if?" questions in our wacky world of celebrity fascination. Ogborn's play may not answer the many questions that are raised into the TomKat relationship, and could be funnier than it is, but it is an interesting study and an exposé of how the media can both help and destroy a celebrity. The ending is comically sweet, with the audio from an actual conversation between Winfrey and Cruise played out over the speakers in the theatre, in which Winfrey states "This is unbelievable," and Cruise responds, "I know, I know." While Winfrey is speaking about the view from Cruise's Colorado home it could just as easily apply to the entire TomKat history and Ogborn's in-depth, well-researched analysis of it and Stray Cat's crackerjack cast." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"the craftily devious look at Tom Cruise’s sexuality in “The TomKat Project,” the season closer for his Stray Cat Theatre...associate artistic director, Louis Farber, staged the hysterical slap at the popular actor.  With seven actors portraying a host of wacky characters surrounding Tom Cruise and his wife, Katie Holmes, “The Tom Kat Project” looks with a squinted and skewed look at Cruise’s unusual situations and his rhapsodic devotion to Scientology beliefs.  Director Farber keeps things flowing swiftly as the revelations and bizarre shenanigans flow furiously. Seven actors play 54 characters ranging from Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Nicole Kidman, and Tom Hanks to Cruise’s baby, Suri.  The superb ensemble goes back and forth among the characters with ease as they define each person with clear distinction.    Brady Weber plays playwright Brandon Ogborn as a crafty narrator.  Chris Mascarelli essays Cruise with awesome stature but also amazing denials of what he does.  Brandi Bigley is a loyal and trusting Holmes.   Tim Shawver has a field day with Spielberg.  Chanel Bragg creates a wacky Winfrey, Kellie Dunlap is a wild Suri, and David Chorley is a bizarre Scientology preacher." -Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

"Billed as "a biting satire about the three-way marriage of Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and Scientology," Stray Cat Theatre's season finale is a sort of docu-comedy that re-creates media interviews and mixes them in with the wildest imaginings of playwright Brandon Ogborn. The results are one part TMZ, one part "SNL" and one part WTF, the latter not necessarily in a good way....The danger sign is that the playwright has written himself into the script. At first, the character serves as a superfluous narrator, but in the second act things take an unfortunately meta turn as Ogborn (Brady Weber) questions his own narrative and presents an alternative theory that casts Holmes as the devious mastermind behind the entire tabloid spectacle.  Unfortunately, it's not a very credible narrative and, more importantly, it's not a very funny one, either. Instead, it suggests that Ogborn isn't really sure what point he's trying make.  A bit of free advice for playwrights: If you have one of your actors joke that "the audience is getting bored," you need to make absolutely sure it isn't true." -Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

"Stray Cat Theatre strikes again with a compelling, uproarious, and perfectly incisive staging of Brandon Ogborn's The TomKat Project, the quasi-fictional accounting of the very public and stormy relationship between Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, and David Miscavige.  Having learned some lessons about how far to push the envelope on the Church, the playwright (smartly portrayed by Brady Weber) advises the audience at the show's outset that "the following scenes are based on rumor, gossip, hearsay, theory, fantasy, lies and when appropriate, the Internet."  But, you ain't seen nothing yet until you've been transported into Mr. Ogborn's wacky version of the behind the scenes Tom-foolery related to the 14-year (1998-2012) affaire de coeur of America's transitory lovebirds, Tom & Katie.Mr. Ogborn has...turned it upside down and inside out and conceived a hilarious multi-tiered confection of provocative comedy.  First and foremost, he has scribed a lively send-up on the making of celebrity and the mindless complicity of the media and Hollywood big shots in turning straw into gold. Next, he submits the romance as an intrigue of sorts, where nothing in the motivations and causality of the TomKat marriage may be as it seems and where the audience is compelled to keep its collective brains and eyes very wide open. And the icing on this oeuvre, bless the playwright's heart, is the laying bare of the mumbo jumbo and connivances of pseudo-churches.  Directed by Louis Farber, this production is like SNL on steroids, but with a top gun cast, nimbly firing off memorable caricatures of the famous, infamous, and those on the periphery of fame. It's a roast that will leave you breathless with the weight of the fast and furious performances of seven actors who are at the top of their game, playing over fifty distinct roles.  Chris Mascarelli plays Cruise like a fiddle, plucking away mercilessly at the vainglorious actor's vulnerability at one moment and his superficial machismo at another. Brandi Bigley's Katie is a marvelous contrast to Mascarelli's celebrity psycho. She captures the apparent sweet innocence and vulnerability of the aspiring actress.  David Chorley delivers a scathing, jaw-dropping, and hilarious portrayal of a charlatan and puppeteer in action, a needy nutcase wearing the mask of a nefarious tyrant, swooning over Tom and ever-conspiring to control his flock. Tim Shawver is remarkably versatile and engaging as he switches roles. Chanel Bragg is wildly amusing and spirited in her varied portrayals of such luminaries as Bert Fields, Tom's attorney, and Nicole Kidman, and, especially in her turn as Oprah. Kellie Dunlap brings an energy to the stage that is vivid and inspired.Thank heavens or, more rightly, Mr. Ogborn for a play that courageously skewers the celebrity kebabs and nabobs upon whom, with endless fascination, society dines.  Thanks loads to Mr. Farber and an extraordinary ensemble for an extraordinary staging of this play.  By all means, run to see this show. Every zing will pull the strings of your heart and mind." -Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)

Sound Board Operator needed for Hale Centre Theatre's WIZARD OF OZ

Sound Board Operator

Attention all Sound Board Operators: Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert is hiring for Wizard of Oz as well as possibly for future shows! 

Wizard of Oz plays Thursdays through Saturdays May 21st - July 3rd. Applicants must be available for every show plus the tech week - about 9 weeks total.  Send your resume to

High school diploma or equivalent plus 2 years of related experience.

Required Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:
• Knowledge of basic theatrical directions and terms.
• Knowledge of the process of audio engineering to effectively accomplish work.
• Knowledge of professional audio systems to implement their use in executing needs of production.
• Knowledge of acoustics and how it relates to selection and placement of audio devices.
• Knowledge of computer systems and networks to effectively accomplish work.
• Skill in recording and mixing audio sources.
• Skill in solving problems creatively.
• Skill in effective communication to ask informed questions and relate information to others.
• Ability to hear and analyze small differences in audio sources.

Position Purpose:
The Sound Board Operator is responsible for mixing and running sound for Hale Theatre.

Key Result Areas:
• Mix and operate sound for Hale productions and events to ensure consistently high production values.
• Set-up/load-in audio equipment as needed for productions and events.
• Operate mixing console.
• Operate sound computers for playback and recording.
• Maintain the artistic intent of the sound designer throughout the run of the production.
• Interface with production departments to facilitate sound production needs during technical rehearsals and during the run of a show.

• Work with stage crew to facilitate operation of shows.