Thursday, November 30, 2017

promo photos - A CHRISTMAS STORY - Starlight Community Theater

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs December 1st to 10th

photos by Renee Ashlock

reviews - THE BODYGUARD - National Tour: ASU Gammage

Deborah Cox and Judson Mills
photo by Joan Marcus
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 3rd.

"In 1992 mega pop star Whitney Houston starred in a film in which she played a mega pop-star just like herself. That movie, The Bodyguard, would become a box office hit with a soundtrack album that sold over 45 million copies, and the film's smash single "I Will Always Love You" played on radio stations virtually around the clock for most of the early 1990s. The stage adaptation of the film is in town for a week-long run at ASU Gammage in Tempe and, while the simplistic story, minimal plot development, and characters who are basically caricatures leave much to be desired, Deborah Cox is a complete knockout in the Houston role....Alexander Dinelaris adapted Lawrence Kasdan's film script for the stage, though the cheesy dialogue and situations make for a very uninspired plot. There are also a lot of plot details that are simply glossed over and nonexistent character development. ..Fortunately, while the story is fairly basic, the stage version includes not only the big film soundtrack hits ...but several of Houston's other hits, which are added to flesh out the show. ...The addition of all of those well-known tunes turns the basic storyline into a jukebox musical that is a combination of beloved hit film and Whitney Houston concert. As Rachel, Cox has an incredible stage presence as well as a singing voice that delivers on the vast vocal requirements of the role...At the opening night performance in Tempe, Judson Mills played the part of Frank in act one and, due to illness, Jorge Paniagua performed the role in the second act. Mills is appropriately stiff and stern at first as a professional who is just trying to do his job, but his demeanor and body language also elicit warmth as Frank's feelings go beyond his businesslike exterior. ...Jasmin Richardson is superb as Rachel's sister Nicki, in a role expanded from the film. ...Director Thea Sharrock does an adequate job of adding some liveliness to the plodding plot, but some of the serious moments that are supposed to be scary or shocking risk the chance of receiving unintentional laughter due to the use of slow-motion action and overused sound effects that border on the comical. ...The stage version of The Bodyguard makes for cheesy fun and a nostalgic trip back to the 1980s and the vast song hit catalog of Whitney Houston. However, when Cox isn't singing another well-known Houston hit to huge acclaim and the melodramatic plot and cardboard characters take over, it amounts to a very uneven theatrical experience. But, if you love the songs Houston made famous and the movie, you will most likely love the stage musical as well.. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"...Though it never opened on Broadway, after a longer than expected run in London where it was developed, The Bodyguard The Musical has toured the U.S. since last year. That heart-stopping opening boom heralded its Tempe opening, and what has surprisingly thrilled packed houses across the country will presumably do the same for valley audiences each night this week until its close on Sunday.... Technically first-class and slick with continually moving frames on an elaborate set that slide on and off and up and down, the show, while loud, boisterous, and dazzling in its showbiz glitz, can’t overcome the issue that plagued the film. The wafer-thin plot doesn’t really work. Rachel, the world famous superstar, and Frank, a cautious and considerably restrained ordinary-guy bodyguard, never really seem as though they would ever be together. The book, adapted from the screenplay, bolsters the role of Rachel’s sister Nikki (Jasmin Richardson). It creates an added layer of conflict by having the sibling fall romantically for Frank at the same time as her more famous sister, but it feels like nothing more than a story-telling device developed to fill a void...As with the film, there’s nothing particularly intriguing about Frank, and there’s certainly nothing to convince that a Beyoncé-like superstar, or a Whitney Houston for that matter, would fall for whatever charms she evidently sees in him. ...Deborah Cox is quite superb as Rachel – as a singer/performer she knocks every song right out of the house – and Judson Mills does exactly what the part of Frank requires – he’s solid, no nonsense, and an authoritative presence – but he’s not a superstar. ...But while the dramatic events never feel fully realized, or even interesting, the songs and how they’re performed are what makes The Bodyguard tick....there’s no denying the power of their punch, particularly when they’re sung so well by both Cox and Richardson. ..." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

COMING SOON - Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

photos and cast announcement - FATHER CHRISTMAS AND THE SNOW QUEEN - Theater Artists Studio

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs from December 1st to December 17th

Marney Austin as the Snow Queen
Tom Koelbel as the "Dame" Widow Tremble
Patti Hurtado as Ragdoll
Martha Welty as Signpost and the Empress
Susan Sindelar as the Snow Queen's Wizard, Modo
Julie Lee as Flibberdiggibet, the Snow Queen's Cat
Bill Mosely as The Emperor
Chris Dorto as Pie Man and other numerous roles
Anne Bugbee as Juliet
Elliot Thompson as Richard
ensemble of guest artists from Glendale Community College

photos courtesy Theatre Artists Studio

audition notice - DISNEY'S SLEEPING BEAUTY, KIDS - Fountain Hills Youth Theater -December 4 & 5

WHAT: Auditions for Fountain Hills Youth Theater’s Production of   “Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, Kids!”
WHEN: 5:45 PM Monday, December 4th and Tuesday, December 5th with possible call back on Wednesday, December  6, 2017
WHERE:  At Fountain Hills Theater 11445 N. Saguaro Blvd., Fountain Hills, AZ
HOW:  Call the theater 480-837-9661 for further information and to register to audition.

Fountain Hills Youth Theater is holding auditions for Male and Female actors ages 8-15 for roles to help us tell the story of the power of love and True Love's Kiss in our production of "Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Kids."  All of your favorite characters and songs from the 1959 Disney movie are just waiting come alive on our stage with your help!

“Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Kids” is produced by Bob and Alisa Feugate, directed by FHYT alum Peyton Jordan, with musical direction by FHYT alum Haylee Klein.

“Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Kids” 5:45 PM Monday, December 4th and Tuesday, December 5th with possible call back on Wednesday, December 6, 2017
(All auditioners should call (480) 837-9661 x3 to register for the audition.)

“Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Kids” auditioners should prepare:
·         16 bars of an upbeat song that best shows off their voice (Bring CD, phone, or sheet music in the appropriate key.
·         1-2 minute comedic monologue
·         Dress to move for a dance audition.
·         Headshot and resume if available
·         List of possible rehearsal conflicts

“Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Kids” is auditioning the following roles:

·         Queen Stefanie-                                                                      Female age12-15
·         King Stefan                                                                              Male age 12-15
·         King Hubert                                                                             Male age 12-15
·         Prince Phillip                                                                           Male age 12-15
·         Flora, a fairy                                                                            Female age 7-15
·         Fauna, a fairy                                                                          Female age 7-15
·         Merryweather, a fairy                                                              Female age 7-15
·         Princess Aurora/ Briar Rose                                                   Female age 12-15
·         Maleficent, a sorceress                                                           Female age 12-15
·         Fumpfel, Pest, Blather, Stench; goon assistants for Maleficent Male/Female age 7-15
·         10-15 people to play assorted fairies, animals, goons, townspeople Male/Female age 7-15

For additional information, please call Fountain Hills Theater Box Office Manager Allison Hacker at 480-837-9661 X4.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

ticket discount - SCROOGE IN ROUGE - Mesa Encore Theatre

FREE Ticket to Scrooge in Rouge! For Opening Night
(or any Thursday or Sunday performance) of Mesa Encore Theatre's Black Box Production of Scrooge in Rouge

When you purchase 3 tickets you get the 4th ticket FREE!*
Go to and enter the promo code SRCM Make Mesa Encore and Scrooge in Rouge your holiday tradition.

*Use the Promo Code as often as you like to get this 3+1 Free deal just checkout again. Promo will only apply when you purchase 3 tickets at a time. So, if you want 8 tickets you will have to order twice. In other words, if you add 8 tickets to your cart for the buy 3 get 1 deal and just the code SRCM you'll still get only $15 off. If you want 8 tickets, with 2 of the 8 tickets to be free, you need to check out twice.


by Gil Benbrook

Meredith Wilson's  classic musical The Music Man comes to the Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix for five performances this weekend in a special "concert" presentation. Featuring a 17-piece orchestra, a cast of 20 actors, as well as The North Valley Chorale, this co-production between local Showtune Productions and Theatre League kicks off the Orpheum Theatre’s 2017-18 Broadway Series.

I recently had the chance to ask Showtune Productions Producer and Musical Director JR McAlexander and Artistic Director M. Seth Reines some questions about this concert presentation and Wilson's beloved show.

Seth, for anyone who hasn't seen this musical before, what can you tell them it's about?

"Music Man is the tale of Harold Hill, a con man who arrives in 1912 River City, Iowa, bringing to its citizens hope, tolerance, women’s rights and a new purpose to life."

JR, this production is being billed as “in concert” – how will this production compare to other versions of Music Man?

"The story is told in its entirety with minimal edits to the material. Music Man in Concert boasts a cast of 20 actors, the North Valley Chorale, a full set of scenic drops, period costumes, stage lighting, and exuberant choreography PLUS a 17-piece live orchestra featuring some of the best musicians in the Valley."

Seth, there are a lot of great characters in the show but also some great messages. Why do you think Music Man is still so popular today and what does it have to say to the younger generation or audience members who are experiencing it for the first time?

"Meredith Willson has woven a rich tapestry of colorful characters and story lines in his Music Man. The show has remained popular because it deals with topics that are as current today as they were sixty years ago: social intolerance, empowerment of women and the importance of creating a more open-minded society. The show also captures a more innocent time in American history that disappeared after World War I. And, for audiences caught up in Hamilton craze, Music Man’s score lays the groundwork for rap numbers on Broadway…60 years ago!"

JR, how does this production come about?

"Mark Edelman of Theatre League was intent of finding a musical theatre classic to flesh out his “Broadway at the Orpheum” season of Jersey Boys, Kinky Boots, and A Chorus Line.  Not finding what he wanted on the road, he came up with the idea of presenting a show from Broadway’s Golden Age “in concert.”  As both Seth and I had worked with Mark on numerous National Tours, he approached my Arizona based company, Showtune Productions, to see if we were interested in Producing the production.  We jumped at the chance to work with Mark again and showcase some of the best musical and dramatic talent in the Valley."

Seth, while this is part of the “Broadway at the Orpheum” 2017/2018 season of national tours of shows, unlike the other Theater League shows at the Orpheum it features a cast made up mainly of local talent. What can you tell us about the cast and the casting of this show?

"Our Music Man features a terrific cast of 19 local actors with our amazing Harold, DJ Canaday, coming in from New York City.  He has done the role numerous times before, which certainly helps with our short rehearsal period of eight days and three days of dress rehearsals at the Orpheum.  Our Marian is local actress Kaitlynn Kleinman, who did the role with the Phoenix Symphony a few years ago. We held a large local audition for adults early this past summer and a children’s audition in late summer. Those auditions plus several invited calls for specific roles yielded our gifted company! We were thrilled with the turnout and Music Man in Concert showcases the very best in local talent."

JR, Any favorite moments in the show?

"Hearing Music Man’s full orchestrations has been a joy. Just getting to play the entire Overture and Entr’Acte prior to each Act is thrilling but the highlight for me is to get to conduct at each performance. Most of the theatre shows today require the conductor to play the keyboard and conduct at the same time. That is what I have done for 30 years including the 8 national tours I musical directed. It is so exciting to be able to conduct almost 70 people onstage."

Seth, what can you tell us about Showtune Productions, who is presenting this concert, in association with Theater League?

"Showtune Productions was formed seven years ago by JR McAlexander to offer a wide range of musical revues and tribute shows to performing arts organizations, retirement communities and concert series throughout the Southwest. While most of our tribute artists come from Vegas, New York and International tours, our musical revues showcase local musicians and performers, many of whom are in Music Man in Concert. Showtune Productions has mounted over 70 different productions and has performed hundreds of performances including many performing arts centers including Stocker Arts Center, Mesa Arts Center, Apache Junction Performing Arts Center, Queen Creek Performing Arts Center, Arizona Broadway Theatre and more. With the success of this Music Man project, Showtune Productions hopes to mount future musical theatre classics “in concert” at the Orpheum and other Theatre League venues around the country."

JR, what do you hope audiences take with them after seeing the show?

"Music Man still resonates with contemporary audiences but, more importantly, the fact that one person, in this case Harold Hill, CAN make a difference to an entire community.

I grew up in a small town (even smaller than “River City”) in Iowa. Music Man was the first show I saw as a child and it mesmerized me.  If we touch even one young person and get them excited about musicals this will help keep musical theatre alive in years to come."

photos - YES, VIRGINIA THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS - East Valley Children's Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs from November 30 to December 10

photos by Don McMahon

promo photos - A CHRISTMAS CAROL - TheaterWorks

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs from December 8th to December 24th

Photos by Josiah Duka of Josiah Duka Photography.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

audition notice - DRIVING MISS DAISY - Desert Foothills Theater - December 2

AUDITIONS: December 2, 2017
CALLBACKS: December 4, 2017
Director: Damon J. Bolling

Winner of the 1988 Pulitzer Prize and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Play, Neil Simon Festival’s Driving Miss Daisy was also an Academy Award-winning film. A warm-hearted, humorous and affecting study of the unlikely relationship between an aging, crotchety white Southern lady, and a proud, soft-spoken African American man.

February 2-11, 2018

Interested auditioners should prepare one comedic monologue and one dramatic monologue - two minutes each.

Character Break Down
The role of Hoke has been cast and will be played by T.A. Burrows.

CLICK HERE for more information and to sign up for an audition slot

photos - SOUTH PACIFIC - Arizona Broadway Theatre

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

photos by Scott Samplin