Sunday, March 31, 2019

review - Cirque du Soleil's AMALUNA

the cast of Amaluna
photo by Markus Moellenberg © 2016 Cirque du Soleil
by Gil Benbrook

For over 35 years, Cirque du Soleil has been entertaining millions of people around the world with their many acrobatic themed circus shows, including six that have been running in Las Vegas for years. Amaluna, one of their more recent shows which has been touring since 2012, has come to Phoenix for a month long run. This show is a slight departure from other Cirque shows in that the majority of the cast are women. Even the stellar band is composed entirely of women. In addition to their usual high production standards and staple of lithe athletes who perform some amazing feats, that added element adds a nice shot of “girl power” to Amaluna.

The show is set on an island run by a Queen, goddesses and Amazon women. When a shipwreck washes a group of men on its shore, including the rugged Romeo, Miranda, the daughter of the island's queen Prospera, finds herself falling for him and he for her. Though the couple are faced with individuals and obstacles that threaten to keep them apart. The show's press materials say that it was loosely inspired by William Shakespeare's The Tempest and that the acts depict the trials of love between Miranda and Romeo.

Diane Paulus has directed several Tony nominated musicals, including winning a Tony Award for Best Director for the circus themed revival of Pippin, which opened in 2013 right after Amaluna's first production in Tornto, and her contributions to Amaluna help give some cohesiveness to the story even though the plot is still slight. Scott Pask's set design creates an immersive environment comprised of large tree like towers on the sides of the stage and dozens of branch like elements that provide plenty of eye-popping spectacle with the combination of Matthieu Larivée's ever changing lighting and Mérédith Caron's costumes infusing the production with pops of gorgeous colors. The set, costumes and lighting all include deep and vibrant greens, blues and purples. Composers Bob & Bill’s score provides an aural sense of excitement with its electric guitar heavy chords and soaring vocals from Amanda Zidow, who also plays Prospera.

Anna Ivaseva and Evgeny Kurkin make a winning pair of lovers as Miranda and Romeo, respectively, and they also display their athletic prowess in several featured segments. There is a large water bowl that is at center stage when the show begins which is moved about throughout. Ivaseva joyfully and playfully swims inside the bowl while Romeo looks on. He also joins her for a romantic swim before Ivaseva displays her impressive hand-balancing skills. Later, Kurkin performs a solo routine high above the stage on an upright Chinese pole that finds his agile body held aloft at various angles and his entire body falling down the pole numerous times yet stopped inches from the ground due to his incredible strength and arm control.

Other notable acts include an impressive unicycle duo, who are dressed completely in gold, that whirl and weave about the stage in a joyful fashion. Also, aerialists soar high above the stage and out over the audience on straps that give a sense of majesty and beauty to the production. Feats of strength are displayed in three impressive numbers. First, the Amazon women display their physical agility on several uneven bars that are at different heights. Then the shipwrecked men are flung high above on a teeterboard with the weight of one or more of the men launching another up into the air as they twist, turn and tumble above. Later, a group of agile men and women perform a series of acrobatic stunts using just their interlocked arms to form platforms for the others to land upon after they are hurled into the air. Seeing the members form human pyramids is breathtaking. All three of these acts display numerous awe-inspiring aerial tricks.

Just about every Cirque show includes clowns and in Amaluna a fun duo is used not only to provide comic relief to the show but also a fun distraction in between set changes. The clowns are Maïnha, Miranda’s childhood nurse who finds herself smitten with Tito, Romeo's manservant, who is drawn to the lovable woman. Gabriella Argento and Thiago Andreuccetti provide plenty of charm and fun to the parts and interact warmly with the audience throughout the show.

Also, Vladimir Pestov as Cali, Miranda's pet lizard, performs a juggling act on top of the water bowl with the number of balls constantly increasing yet his ability to keep them flying high above his head never stops. One act that stands alone among the athleticism and clowning capabilities of the group is Lili Chao Rigolo as the balance goddess who uses a large number of palm fronds, which increase in size, to form a large structure with each rib balanced on the next. The end result depicts both the beauty and power of the smallest things in the world.

Cirrque de Soleil's Amaluna continues through April 14th at the Big Tip outside State Farm Stadium. For more information, visit

Friday, March 29, 2019

photos - SEUSSICAL, THE MUSICAL - MCC PAC Musical Productions

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs through April 5

photos by Nick Woodward-Shaw

cast announcement - THE MIRACLE WORKER - Spotlight Youth Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs April 26-May 5

Doctor ... Lindsay Gagnon
Kate Keller ... Bethany Novotny
Capt. Arthur Keller ... Noah Manumaleuga
Helen Keller ... Ava Newton
Martha ... Sara Drago
Percy ... Isaiah Koth
Aunt Ev ... Ellie Klapp
James Keller ... David Devine
Anagnos ... Lindsay Gagnon
Annie Sullivan ... Julia Murphy
Viney ... Anna Koth

Brealynn Haderly
Nealah Haderly
Anwen Maynard
Zoie Alizabeth Moller
Samantha Zell

Thursday, March 28, 2019

ticket discount - THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES - TheaterWorks

TheaterWorks is offering PHX Stages' followers a special discount to opening weekend of THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES.

Use the code "PHXSTAGES" to receive an adult ticket for $29 to any show this weekend!

CLICK HERE to order your discounted tickets now!

ariZoni Adjudicators needed for the 2019 / 2020 Season

Do you love theatre?

Do you have a theatre background, training or are an avid theatregoer?

Are you able to see a dozen shows a year, for free, to help determine the nominees and winners for the ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence for the 2019/2020 season?

The ariZoni Board of Directors are looking for qualified individuals to serve as adjudicators for the upcoming 2019 / 2020 theatre season.

Adjudicators are the anchor of the ariZoni Theatre Awards. Each year the over 30 participating ariZoni theaters put on close to 200 productions.  The Zonis need qualified and committed people to see and score these productions which helps decide the nominees and award recipients for each year.

The ariZoni Board of Directors are looking for individuals with the following qualifications:

1) Have a theatre educational background, experience in performing or creative production aspects, knowledge of theatre arts and/or expertise from an audience member perspective that allows you to accurately and efficiently adjudicate the different types of theatre in town.

2) Able to attend 12-15 performances a year to adjudicate.  The shows will be randomly assigned to you.

3) Able to drive to the various participating ariZoni theatres in town, some of which may be across the Valley from where you live, in order to adjudicate their productions.

4) Able to not allow personal preferences or bias to influence your adjudication scores.

5) Have access to a computer and email account in order to receive notifications from and communicate with the Adjudicator Liaisons, theatre representatives and ariZoni board of directors; and in order to score your ariZoni ballot for each show in our online adjudication scoring system.

6) Able to act and respond in a timely manner concerning:
- coordinating tickets for shows you are assigned to adjudicate at least two weeks before the performances for the show begin
- requesting a substitute due to personal conflicts or conflicts of interest at least two weeks before performances begin
- filling out the scores on your ballot within two weeks of seeing the production

If you believe you meet these requirements and are interested to apply to serve as an ariZoni adjudicator please CLICK HERE and fill out the Zoni adjudicator application form

The deadline to apply is April 15th

ASU Gammage Announces $25 Lottery for every performance of WICKED

 A digital ticket lottery for a limited number of seats will be held for WICKED, which is returning to ASU Gammage with performances from April 2 – May 5.

Entries for the lottery for each performance will be accepted until 9:00 a.m. local time the day before the performance. Enter here for your chance to purchase up to two (tickets) at $25 each;
  • Notifications will be sent to fans who are selected to purchase lottery tickets and those who are not via-email at approximately 11:00 a.m. local time the day prior to the performance. Fans selected to purchase will also receive a text SMS message (if mobile number is furnished).
  • Tickets must be purchased online with a credit card by 4:00 p.m. local time prior to the performance using the purchase link in the notification email.
  • Entrants must be 18 years or older.
  • Seat locations awarded by the lottery are subject to availability.

cast announcement - TRIASSIC PARQ - ASU Music Theatre and Opear

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs from April 5-14

Velociraptor of Innocence: Robbie Nelson
Velociraptor of Faith: Thomas Smith
Velociraptor of Science: Nellie Shuford
T-Rex 1: Hahnna Christianson
T-Rex 2: Gigi Sierra
Mime-a-saurus: Brianna McClure
Standby: Anna Sera

audition notice - SEASON GENERALS - Aside Theatre and B3 Productions - April 7

Aside Theatre Company and its resident theatre companies, including B3 Theater are holding general auditions for the 2019 season.

 Auditions will be held on Sunday April 7th, from 12 to 4 PM at Aside Theatre, 3508 N 7th Street, Suite 130B Phoenix, Arizona.  The complex is just north of Osborn on 7th Street, on the West side of the road.

Special instructions:  Aside Theatre Company shares a parking lot with Urban Beans, a 24-hour Vegan café, a good place for refreshments.  Auditioners are welcome to wait at UB until called after checking in with the Stage Manager, as there is no real lobby area for Aside Theatre.  Also, auditioners are encouraged to park on the streets to either side of the complex, to the North or South.

Auditioners may prepare a one minute comedic and one minute dramatic monologue, and may be asked to sing briefly from a song they have prepared.  Auditioners are not required to prepare material, however, and may be asked to read cold from a script in lieu of the contrasting monologues. No accompanist will be provided, and a cappella singing is preferred, although playing accompaniment from one’s phone is allowable.

We would like to encourage every actor to audition.  All are welcome.

Get your slot at:

For additional questions, please contact Ilana Lydia at .

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Drowning in the Desire for Fame and Fortune: a conversation with the leads of Arizona Regional Theatre's AS BEES IN HONEY DROWN

Elyse Wolf
photo by Kimberly Sheperd
by Julia Bashaw

Douglas Carter Beane’s As Bees in Honey Drown debuted Off Broadway over 20 years ago but in our celebrity focused world it is still incredibly relevant today. In Arizona Regional Theatre's production, which opens on April 5th, Seth Tucker is starring as Evan, a writer who is also the bright-eyed talented pupil who is drawn into the sticky trap of fame presented to him by Alexa Vere de Vere, a wealthy powerful manager portrayed by Elyse Wolf.

“It’s a comedy and it is really funny,” Tucker explained. “It’s about a gay writer who is approached by a flamboyant woman who has this incredible life. She goes at a mile a minute, she just talks and talks and talks. She is just hilarious and has so much energy. The show really revolves around her. Well, Evan is infatuated with her and she wants him to write her life story. He starts following her around, they have a connection, but then things go awry.”

“It is a story about fame,” added Wolf, “money, success, power, and lies. It’s an interesting journey for Alexa because she has sort of created herself. She is not who she was born, she is who she wants to be, much to the detriment of the other people in her world. Because she is really just out for herself.”

Through lies and shiny objects, Alexa lures Evan into her fantasy world. Making him think that a life of fame and fortune like the one she leads is what he wants and deserves. Unbeknownst to him, none of it is real.

“It just feels like it pertains exactly to today,” Tucker stated. “Evan just gets swept up in it, she talks about her famous connections, she’s showing him the fancy VIP lounges, and they’re in limos, she is just throwing money everywhere. He gets wrapped up in it, and that is Alexa’s M.O, she sweeps up these young budding promising people and takes advantage of them.”

Not only is Tucker a lead in this production, but he is also directing the play. Directing and leading in the same production is not something that is new for Tucker, he has been doing both simultaneously for quite some time in his career.

“It’s got to be difficult for him,” Wolf assumed. “He has to be able to be in the scene and then step out of the scene and think not only as an actor but as a director too. He’s been doing a great job so it hasn’t been too crazy for me. He has found a really nice balance of being able to think through what he wants blocking wise, and then get up on the stage with me and try it. He is a real collaborator, he is really good at saying ‘how does that feel, anybody have any thoughts’ and as an actor, I thoroughly appreciate that.”

Wolf didn’t know much about As Bees in Honey Drown before Seth reached out. Once she got hold of the script, she fell in love. She was thrilled to become Alexa Vere de Vere.

“I read it and the second I read it I was like 'yes! yes! yes!' ” Wolf explained enthusiastically. “Alexa Vere de Vere is really a challenge and a joy because she is a lot, she is just over the top. She is flowery in language, boisterous in spirit, and she is wordy! She is imaginative, she has created this history for herself because she is not a real person. She has created this whole persona and what’s even more fun, is that she bases her character on some very famous movie characters. People like Sally Bowles and Auntie Mame, all of these iconic divaesque women. It is so exciting to play a character like that.”

“Alexa Vere de Vere is bright and fast,” smiled Tucker. “She loves the finest things. She is one of those people that when you see her, you want to know her. That’s how she draws people in. I think Alexa is good at finding certain types of young impressionable people who have promise. She knows the power of attention and stardom, the desire that these people have for fame and success for money. She is able to capitalize that.”

Having to portray someone so selfish is not the hardest challenge Wolf has had to encounter, as the whole point of acting is to become somebody else. Instead, the biggest obstacle Wolf has had to overcome is memorizing Alexa Vere de Vere’s long intricate monologues.

“I literally am talking for 75 pages,” Wolf stated as she showed me pages full of yellow highlighted lines. “It’s not easy dialogues or monologues to memorize because she doesn’t speak sequentially and she uses very flowery language. It almost feels a little Shakespearian sometimes. The hardest part of this experience is trying to find new ways to memorize. So not only do I have to memorize it but then I have to figure out how to make it a new fresh idea as it is coming out of my mouth, which is a whole other challenge.”

Arizona Regional Theatre is billing the play as “A Witty Comedy that Stings.” This 22-year-old play’s story might be uncomfortably familiar but is still has a biting relevance to society today.

“The lesson, which I don’t think Alexa learns,” began Wolf, “but perhaps is a parable-type thing to the audience is that even when you create the world you think you want, you may still not be happy. She preys on people's desires for fame and fortune and for all the things that people think that they want, but may not actually be happy when they get them.”

“It is a tale as old as time,” Tucker stated. “How easily people get wrapped up in the pursuit of fame, attention, and money. A lot of times people can end up empty-handed, empty-souled, just empty. It puts things into perspective. This character Evan started getting fame when Alexa comes into his life and then he just wants it. He thinks this is the life he should be a part of. But it might not bring any of the things he wanted, it might take everything from him.”

Even though there are some heavy messages that might linger, Tucker and Wolf want to assure audiences that this play is a comedy and that they will still have a wonderful time.

“I think it is a very funny show I am hoping people will laugh,” smiled Wolf. “It is a funny show about a tragic person. She’s not very much a sympathetic character but, she’s damaged and I think people will be able to see that and at least feel sympathetic for that. She is tragic in a very entertaining way.”

CLICK HERE for more information on Arizona Regional Theatre's production of As Bees in Honey Drown, with performances at the Phoenix Center for the Arts, April 5th-April 14th.

review - THE DEATH OF KINGS: SEIZE THE CROWN - Southwest Shakespeare Company

Steven Armstrong (center) and Cast
photo by Laura Durant
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 March 31.

"...Irwin Appel had the idea to combine eight of William Shakespeare's history plays into two condensed parts titled The Death of Kings...Appel has further consolidated his adaptation into one 90-minute piece, The Death of Kings: Seize the Crown...The result is a fun, fast and thrilling theatrical history lesson that will entertain those who are already fans of Shakespeare and also serve as a perfect introduction for those unfamiliar with his history plays....With dialogue from the plays and bits of narration to string highlights from the eight works together, we witness the exploits of Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Richard III, and Henry VII, as the battle between the houses of York and Lancaster plays on while conflict, deception, and mayhem reign and well-known characters such as Joan of Arc play supporting parts in this historical adventure tale....beautifully shows the succession of the crown from one man to the next, ultimately tying together all of the kings and the characters in the plays. ...Appel's direction is spotless...aided by the impressive contributions of movement choreographer Christina McCarthy, fight director Jeffrey Mills, and composer and musician Jim Connolly. Together they create some impressive stage images. ...The fourteen actors, all seniors in the acting program at UC Santa Barbara, are all exceptional as they form a tightknit ensemble, play multiple roles, and provide narration that bridges the piece together. ...Dylan Broxson projects a firm, regal tone as Richard II in his narration that bookends the play. When he puts the crown back on his head at the end of the piece it is almost haunting in its simplicity, beauty and effectiveness, seamlessly tying together all of these men and women and showing that no matter who wears the crown, some things never change and the battle for power never truly ends." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

Scottsdale Musical Theater Company's 2019 / 2020 Season!

Scottsdale Musical Theater Company - one of the biggest producers of musicals in the Valley - is pleased to announce its slate of shows for 2019-2020!

April 25 - May 5, 2019
The Tony Award-winning jazz age musical features TV favorite and Grammy Award winner Dawnn Lewis (TV’s “A Different World”, “Major Crimes”, “Veronica Mars”, Sister Act: The Musical) as Muzzy Von Hossmere and Kelly Methven (50th Anniversary International West Side Story tour, Rock of Ages) as Jimmy Smith! TICKETS ON SALE NOW!

July 11 - 21, 2019
Everyone’s favorite TV weatherman and anchor, Cory McCloskey stars in this classic musical featuring the hits “Hey, There”, “Hernando’s Hideaway” and “Steam Heat”! TICKETS ON SALE NOW!

September 26 - October 6, 2019
The lyrical adventures of Cervantes’ Don Quixote come to life in this breathtaking musical featuring the immortal song “The Impossible Dream”.

December 12 - 22, 2019

SMTC will present a wonderful holiday musical suitable for the whole family celebrating the spirit of the season!

April 16 - 26, 2020
To celebrate Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday - and the 40th anniversary of the original Broadway show, SMTC is proud to present his Grand Guignol classic about a barber who seeks revenge on those who have wronged him.

July 9 - 19, 2020
One of the all-time great musicals about a con-man music salesman who turns a stubborn Iowa town on its head. You’ll relive lots of classic tunes like “Goodnight, My Someone”, “Trouble”, “The Wells Fargo Wagon” and “Lida Rose”.

Additional Guest Star casting will be announced at a future date.

Performances will be held at Tempe Center for the Arts (700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe AZ)

Tickets can be purchased at or by calling (602) 909-4215. Group rates are also available.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

audition notice - JASPER IN DEADLAND - Brelby Theatre Company - April 6

Auditions for the Arizona premiere of Jasper in Deadland will be held by appointment on April 6th from 11am-2pm.

Callbacks will be held by invitation only on April 7th from 10am-1pm.

Auditioners will be asked to prepare a 1 minute contemporary monologue, and a 16 bar song selection from a contemporary musical. We will not be providing an accompanist.

*Video submissions will be accepted through April 4th.*

Brelby welcomes all artists to audition, and is open to nontraditional casting options. Please come show us your talents.

To reserve your audition spot, email with your name, digital headshot/resume, and any information about conflicts during audition times.


Rehearsals: May 13th-June 20 (Mon-Thurs 6:30pm-10:00pm, some from Sundays 2-8pm)
Performs: June 21-22, 28-29, July 5-6 @ 7:30pm
June 22-23, 29-39, July 6-7 @ 2:00pm


Jasper in Deadland
Music & Lyrics by Ryan Scott Oliver
Book by Hunter Foster
Directed by Shelby Elise Maticic
Music Direction by Helen Morris

Jasper in Deadland tells the story of 16-year-old Jasper, who journeys into the Afterlife to rescue his recently deceased best friend, Agnes.  But in this version of the hereafter – known as “Deadland,”  a hybrid of mythology, religion, and superstition – the dead forget Life…  And so, too, will Jasper, if he can’t get past the seven circles of Deadland, fearsome Cerberus, heavenly Beatrix, mysterious Mr. Lethe, and ultimately himself.  Can Jasper bring his best friend back from the dead, or will he join the dead forever?
Character List (We have some flexibility of casting depending on our audition pool. We may end up with a cast of 12 with doubling, or we may expand to a larger group.)

Mr. Lethe
Little Lu
Some douche
Blind Justice
Lethe's Girls
Daughters of Danaus
Factory Workers/Corpses/Citizens

Southwest Shakespeare Company's 2019 Summer Conservatory

for more information, contact program director Clay Sanederson at or CLICK HERE to register

audition notice - SEASON GENERALS - Arizona Broadway Theatre - April 4

Arizona Broadway Theatre will be holding adult (ages 18 and up) auditions for singer/actor/dancers on Thursday, April 4, 2019, from 5:00pm to 8:00pm, for productions in our upcoming 15th season as well as for the final shows of our 14th season.

If you are interested in auditioning, please email and submit your info for an appointment time slot. You should include your name, your headshot and resume. You will receive a confirmation email to let you know that you have been accepted to audition. This email will also include a time that you will audition.

If you receive a confirmation email, you should prepare TWO contrasting vocal selections (16 bars each). Please bring your music (in the correct key and clearly marked) for the accompanist, as well as a hard copy of your headshot and resume.

Callbacks, if needed, will be scheduled at a later date. If called back, you will be provided materials to prepare.


Adult Singer/Actor/Dancers
Ages 18+



Thursday, April 4, 2019
5:00 – 8:00 PM


The Encore Room
Arizona Broadway Theatre
7701 W. Paradise Lane
Peoria, AZ  85382

Questions? Please contact Austin Sanchez at

promo photos - SEUSSICAL, THE MUSICAL - MCC PAC Musical Productions

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs March 29-April 5

photos courtesy MCC PAC Musical Productions

photos - DEATH OF A SALESMAN - Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs through April 14

photos by Paige Corbin

cast announcement - SIMPLY SIMONE - Black Theatre Troupe

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs April 12-28

Nina One: Sharmaine King
Nina Two: Kenyata Christina White
Nina Three: Kylelahsay Draper
Nina Four: Jennifer Robinson

Director & Choreographer: Patdro Harris
Musical Director: Brenda Hankins

promo photo - BIG RIVER - Hale Centre Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs April 4-May 11

Monday, March 25, 2019

WEEK AT A GLANCE: March 25-March 31

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

Phoenix Theatre
April 3-28, 2019

April 3-May 5, 2019 
ASU Gammage

Arizona Theatre Company 
April 4-21, 2019

Hale Centre Theatre 
April 4-May 11, 2019

Spotlight Youth Theatre 
April 5-14, 2019

Arizona Regional Theatre 
April 5-14, 2019

ASU Music Theatre and Opera 
April 5-14, 2019

Brelby Theatre Company 
April 5-13, 2019

Mesa Encore Theatre 
April 5-21, 2019

Valley Youth Theatre 
April 5-21, 2019

Space 55 
April 5-28, 2019

All Puppet Players 
April 5-27, 2019

Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre 
April 5-May 5, 2019

Ghostlight Theatre 
April 4-April 14, 2019