Friday, January 31, 2020

photos - THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL - National Tour: Broadway at the Orpheum

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs through February 2

Photos by Jeremy Daniel

audition notice - DEAR EDWINA - Valley Youth Theatre - February 10 & 11

Run Dates: April 3 – 19, 2020
Auditions: February 10 & 11, 2020
Monday February 10: registration at 4:30, auditions start at 5
Tuesday, February 11: registration at 3:30, auditions start at 4

Rehearsals begin as early as February 17, 2020
Tech: March 28 – April 2, 2020

Public performances:

Friday, April 3, 2020 at 7:00pm
Saturdays, April 4, 11, 18, 2020 at 12:00pm and 3:30pm
Sundays, April 5, 12, 19, 2020 at 12:30pm and 4:00pm

Fridays, April 10, 17 & 24, 2020 at 7:00pm
Saturday, April 25, 2020 at 12:00pm and 3:30pm
Sunday, April 26, 2020 at 12:30pm and 4:00pm

School Shows: Thursday, April 9 & 16, 2020 at 9:30am and 11:30am


Dear Edwina is a heartwarming musical about the joys of growing up, from the creators of Junie B. Jones The Musical. The show's heroine is an advice-giver extraordinaire, like a spunky, singing version of Dear Abby.

Thirteen-year-old Edwina Spoonapple would do just about anything to be a part of the Kalamazoo Advice-a-Palooza Festival. While her siblings both have proof of their accomplishments, poor Edwina has nothing. When a talent scout from the convention visits her hometown, she trots out her musical advice, giving shows live from the family garage in hopes of finding her place in the spotlight. She is assisted by her older siblings, quirky friends and neighbors. Together, they set out to tackle the world's problems in number after hysterical number about everything from birthday party etiquette to proper table settings.

Character Breakdown

Edwina Spoonapple: An advice-giving extraordinaire and director/star of the Spoonapple Repertory Theatre. Confident, dramatic, and ambitious, but caring beneath her drive for success.

Billy: Edwina's friend. One of the Vanderploonk twins. He is goofy, outgoing, and boyish.

Kelli: Edwina's next-door neighbor. She is sophisticated ballet dancer, but snobby and a show-off. Actor doubles as Katie Spoonapple.

Bobby: Edwina's new friend, who recently moved into the neighborhood. He is unfamiliar with "show business" and hesitant to join. Outgoing and friendly.

Annie: Edwina's close friend. A girl-scout cookie selling champion who is proud of her accomplishments and eager to put the things she has learned as a girl-scout to good use. Actor doubles as Ann Van Buren.

Scott: Edwina's friend. Humble, shy, and hopelessly in love with Edwina.

Joe/jo: Edwina's older Sibling and musical director of the Spoonapple Rep.

Myra/Myron: Edwina's older sibling. He/she is a percussionist and plays the drums to accompany Edwina and her friends.

Director- Bobb Cooper
Music Director- Tristan Peterson-Steinert
Choreographer- Nathalie Velasquez

For more information about auditions:

Thursday, January 30, 2020

cast announcement - THE 39 STEPS - Hale Centre Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs April 28-June 16

Richard Hannay: Josh Hunt
Annabella / Pamela / Margaret: Emily Mohney
Clown 1: Raymond Barcelo
Clown 2: Andrew Stachurski
Foley Artist: Kyle Webb

reviews - LA CAGE AUX FOLLES - Arizona Broadway Theatre

Jamie Parnell and Michael Ursua
Photo by Scott Samplin
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 22

"...lavish and lovely, with leads that deliver moving performances and direction that doesn't shortchange the emotional pull of the comical but heartfelt story about family. It's a show that is still relevant, with themes, situations and characters anyone can relate to... The show is less shocking now than when it first premiered, and gay rights have taken a huge step forward in the past thirty years, but the central theme of acceptance is still quite relevant....Jamie Parnell and Michael Ursua are perfect as Georges and Albin, respectively. With their constant bickering, expressive gestures, and loving glances, they beautifully form a realistic couple who have been together for over 20 years. ...Their singing voices are sensational. When Ursua sings "I Am What I Am," he stops the show with the power and pathos he brings to that moment, and Parnell's "Look Over There" will most likely move you to tears with the tenderness and strength he instills in Herman's succinct, moving lyrics....a fun and moving musical treat that is also still incredibly timely."
  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"In its current run at Arizona Broadway Theatre, one might ask, notwithstanding the relevance of the show's overarching theme, whether it has passed its prime....Jamie Parnell is a class act as La Cage's host with the most, a spirited master of ceremonies, whose voice has an emotional depth.. If there is another shining moment of vocal performance that grabs one's heart, it is (Michael) Ursua's full throated rendition of the song that has become an anthem of the gay community, I Am What I Am. Both actors convey the mutual devotion that makes their relationship convincing..."  - Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)

audition notice - THE CURIOUS SAVAGE - Paradise Valley Community College - February 27 & 28

Directed by Gary Zaro

When: February 27 & 28, 2020; 6:00pm-9:00pm

Callbacks: February 29, 2020; 12pm– 3pm
(Be prepared to Cold Read)

Where: Studio Theater Building M-East 18401 North 32nd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85032

Contact: 602.787.6595


Additional Info: All performers cast in the production are required to register for the THP 201AA Theatre Production Class (1 credit).

Casting Protocol: Call 602-787-6595 to sign up for a 5 minute audition time slot

Headshot and Resume: Preferred but not required
Prepare: Auditions will be by cold readings from the script

Rehearsals Begin: March 2nd (Monday through Friday from 6:30p-9:30p)
Performance Dates: April 10 — April 19
Performance Times: April 10, 11, 17, 18 @ 7:30p, April 11, 19 @ 2pm

Play Synopsis: Mrs. Savage has been left ten million dollars by her husband and wants to
make the best use of it, in spite of her grown-up stepchildren’s efforts to get their hands on it. Knowing that the widow’s wealth is now in negotiable securities, and seeing they cannot get hold of the fortune, the stepchildren commit her to a sanatorium hoping to “bring her to her senses.” In the sanatorium Mrs. Savage meets various social misfits, men and women who just cannot adjust themselves to life, people who need the help Mrs. Savage can provide. In getting to know them, she realizes that she will find happiness with them, she hesitates to go out into a hard world where people seem ready to do anything for money.

Roles Available: 5 Men, 6 Women

TITUS - eldest stepson of Ethel
LILY BELLE - the middle stepchild of Ethel
SAMUEL - the youngest stepson of Ethel
FORENCE WILLIAMS - Cloisters patient
FAIRY MAY - Cloisters patient
JEFFREY - Cloisters patient
HANNIBAL - Cloisters patient
MRS. PADDY– Cloisters patient
DR. EMMETT - Cloisters Staff Doctor
MISS “WILLIE” WILHELMINA - Cloisters Admin Assistant/Nurse

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

cast announcement - BRIGADOON - Hale Centre Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs April 2-May 9

Tommy Albright: Austin Delp
Fiona MacLaren: Amanda Valenzuela
Jeff Douglas: David Michael Paul
Charlie Dalrymple: Allan DeWitt
Jean MacLaren: Carmiña Garey
Meg Brockie: Brie Wadsworth
Mr. Lundie: Matthew Harris
Andrew MacLaren: Jared Kitch
Archie Beaton: Cameron Rollins
Harry Beaton: Kyle Webb
Maggie Anderson: Ashley Bauer
MacGregor: Noah Delgado
Stuart Dalrymple: Ryan Monaghan
Sandy Dean: Kayla McLemore
Jane Ashton/Ensemble: Angela Kriese
Ensemble: Jeremy Cruz
Ensemble: Karis Eliese
Ensemble: Nick Fernandez
Ensemble: Albert Johnston
Ensemble: Ariana Lucius
Ensemble: Bennett Wood
Ensemble: Emily Woodward-Shaw

reviews - FIDDLER ON THE ROOF - National Tour: ASU Gammage

Yehezkel Lazarov
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 February 2

"...a wonderful cast, exceptional creative elements, succinct and fresh direction and choreography, and a moving portrayal by Yehezkel Lazarov as the musical's beloved milkman, Tevye....Bartlett Sher's direction (re-created by Sari Ketter for the tour) adds many original touches and doesn't stick to the blueprint forged by original director Jerome Robbins...Hofesh Shechter's choreography (re-created for the tour by Christopher Evans) adds completely original dances that are influenced by Jerome Robbins' original, famous signature dance steps ... Even the famous wedding bottle dance in the show has been given a fresh take....Fiddler on the Roof is a very moving and powerful piece of musical theatre. The touring production is fresh and new, and simply splendid. If you've never seen this show before or if you've seen it a dozen times, you are in for a treat from this exceptionally solid production of a popular and timeless musical that tells the heartfelt story of a simple man, his family, and his fellow villagers who are all confronted by some serious issues in a time of change."   -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"In all the times that I have seen FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (and they have been many ~ whether on stage or film), I have never seen a production as inspired, imaginative, and moving in its staging as Bartlett Sher's. The vision of this Tony Award-winning director imbues this musical classic with a singular vitality and soulfulness that distinguishes it from its antecedents...." - Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)

video preview - 35MM: A MUSICAL EXHIBITION - ASU Music Theatre and Opera

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs January 31-February 2

Behind the Scenes: 35mm A Musical Exhibition from ASU School of Music on Vimeo.

cast announcement - 13 THE MUSICAL - Greasepaint Youth Theatre

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs March 6-15



review - A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER - Fountain Hills Theater

Hector Coris and Nick Gunnell
photo by Stephanie "Tippi" Hart
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 February 9

"Fountain Hills Theater is presenting the Phoenix regional premiere of A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder, the 2014 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, and what a fantastic production it is. The entire cast is sublime, the production values are superb, and the end result is a very enjoyable and highly humorous presentation of what I consider to be one of the cleverest musicals of the last decade....Peter J. Hill's direction is sharp and his cast is top notch. There isn't one weak link, from the leads to the ensemble, which ensures the humor lands beautifully, and there is also plenty of charm in all of the performances....As Monty, Nick Gunnell has a huge task: He has to make us root to see Monty succeed even though he is a calculating and cold-blooded murderer. With a perpetual wink in his eye, a huge dose of lovable charm and infectious, boyish ingenuity, Gunnell pulls it off wonderfully and takes us willingly along on his humorous killing spree. ...Hector Coris is also tasked, and his is herculean, as the actor portrays all members of the eccentric D'Ysquith family, both male and female, who stand in Monty's way.... Coris is a gifted comic and he masterfully pulls off the task at hand through the use of multiple accents, changes in his vocal inflection, and body language, plus some extremely fast-paced costume changes. ...expertly brings out the silly wit of the show with perfect creative elements and a gifted cast, including Gunnell's winning portrayal and Coris' tour de force performance, that add up to a simply exceptional musical comedy treat."   -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Tapping with Tentacles - Bringing the characters of Spongebob to Musical Theatre Life in THE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS MUSICAL

Cody Cooley and the company
 Photo by Jeremy Daniel
by Julia Bashaw

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Unless you have been under a rock for the past 20 plus years you should know the answer to that question. SpongeBob Squarepants is an animated TV show that has been airing on Nickelodeon since May 1st, 1999. The show follows SpongeBob and his friends on their adventures in the wonderful underwater world of Bikini Bottom. The series’ success, admiration, and continuing development led to the idea of a musical. With such well-known memorable characters, Tina Landau and Kyle Jarrow decided to create SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical. It premiered on Broadway in 2017 and now the 2019-2020 National Tour is making its way to Phoenix, Arizona at the Orpheum Theatre.

“It’s an all-original plotline written by Tina Landau our director and Kyle Jarrow our book writer,” explained Cody Cooley, who plays the character Squidward. “It starts off a typical day in Bikini Bottom and within the first 5-10 minutes, we have the news that a natural disaster is going to happen. It’s about how the characters and the community as a whole deal with the situation of impending doom.”

The musical follows the characters through multiple musical numbers that dazzle the audience with bright colors and costumes as the lovable characters try to fix the problem. Obviously,  the characters of the TV show are animated creatures and becoming that animated character on stage can be an interesting process.

“Our director, Tina, allowed us to bring as much of ourselves as possible because the characters are based in a human reality,” Cooley explained. “She describes it as the silhouette or little essences of the character that we play throughout our performance. I didn’t feel boxed in like 'I have to play a cartoon.' I felt like I could approach it honestly. I always identified with Squidward, I think he is funny. I believe he is the more human character of the world that is SpongeBob because the character SpongeBob is such an optimistic and energetic person that you don’t see as often in real life. But you see Squidwards almost every day.”

There are a lot of Squidwards in the world but this particular one wants SpongeBob and all his friends to know that he has talent! Cooley explained that Squidward’s goal is to put on a show at the Bikini Bottom band show and perform an act to show everybody that he has talent. Assuming it is his last chance before destruction hits Bikini Bottom. The number is called “I’m Not a Loser” and Squidward tap dances.

Well, Squidward, who of course is a squid, has multiple legs. Cooley has to wear a costume contraption that gives him two more legs, coming to a total of four that have to tap dance.

“It is like a harness apparatus,” Cooley began to explain. “It’s almost like a corset and it has snaps, velcro, and suspenders to keep it on my body. Then the feet are attached together so I have full control of when they bend and move. Tapping in them was a challenge. I am wearing four tap shoes one on each leg and tentacle leg. I want to make sure the sounds are correct, on top of making it look real, on top of making it look easy. It’s a juggling act but it worked. Luckily, I had access to my tentacle legs any time we were rehearsing which was wonderful. I probably ended up running the number twice a day throughout the rehearsal process which really built up my stamina. Probably the worst part of it was the stamina but other than that it’s just fun.”

On top of that huge adjustment, there are other challenges that Cooley and the cast have to face. With the show being on the road, the theatre venues change with each new city. This particular musical heavily relies on the space it is performed in. Therefore blocking and staging changes for the cast every time they travel to a new place.

“This show is based around the space that it is performed in because we have a lot of audience interactions and entrances for it to be an immersive experience,” Cooley stated. “However, because it is so designed around the house, what’s been challenging is how that adapts on the road because every space is different. The concept or idea of the show never changes but the venue always changes. It is drastically different than what I am used to. So we have to be adaptive, we will get a break down of each new house in each new city we perform in and it keeps the show alive in that sense.”

Throughout this intense process, performers often learn lessons from their experiences. Cooley shared some of the takeaways he has gained from this musical.

“I’ve learned how to calm my nerves a lot,” Cooley smiled. “Traveling you are on the road and in different places and houses. You are expected to do a lot of work and be on point. I was unsure I could do that, I didn’t want to let the fans down. It is a huge endeavor because this is the first National Tour of the show. So I’ve just been going through the waves of nerves but I’ve learned how to calm them which is great because now I know I can do it. I can calm and center myself to give a good show.”

“It’s a fun time, it is just so fun,” Cooley explained. “It is a true Broadway show and you will identify with the characters. You will walk away smiling no matter if you are a life-long fan of SpongeBob or not, or you’re a kid or you’re 94 you will love the show. I hope audiences walk away with joy. In our first big cast meeting, Tina said what she set out to do with this show on Broadway was about spreading joy and that it was even more the case now being on the road. That’s really what we all want to spread you know?”

CLICK HERE for more information on SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical which plays the Orpheum Theatre in Downtown Phoenix from January 31st through February 2nd 

review - SPRING AWAKENING - Greasepaint Youth Theatre

Ainsley Orozco and Riley Thornton
photo by Laura Durant
by Carolyn Thomas

Sex, rape, abuse, atheism, abortion, questioning authority, suicide, and a generous use of the 'fuck' word: it's the perfect combination for a youth production, right? Actually, it really is. In a youth theatre scene filled with censored and Jr. versions of adult shows (which isn't in itself a bad thing), it's utterly refreshing to see a youth production where teens are allowed free rein to tackle the many heavy issues they are most certainly exposed to. Greasepaint Youth Theatre's production of Spring Awakening does that and so much more, and it showcases some of the amazing talented youth we have in the valley. It's fun, funny, heart-wrenching (seriously, bring tissues), and as relevant as ever.

Based on the 1891 German play of the same name by Frank Wedekind, Spring Awakening was adapted into a rock musical with music by Duncan Sheik and book/lyrics by Steven Sater in 2006. The original cast included now-big names like Jonathan Groff, Lea Michele, Skylar Astin Lipstein, and John Gallagher Jr. in the lead roles. The musical won eight Tony Awards and the cast album won a Grammy.

The story centers around a group of teens in late 19th Century Germany, namely Wendla, Melchior, and Moritz and their friends. They struggle with the unquestionable authority of their rigid, religious schoolmasters, unyielding parental expectations, and lack of knowledge about the world around them. All the while, they struggle to navigate the pressures of adolescence, including many topics adults consider 'too mature' for them, both in the show and out of it. The roles are typically played by 20-somethings, which likely helps most audiences find the 'mature' themes more palatable despite the characters being teens, and the adult roles are typically played by a single man and woman.

As far as performances go, everyone involved deserves accolades. In the spirit of a concise review, only the biggest standouts will be mentioned, but there are many of those as well.

Ainsley Orozco plays the naive, sweet-hearted Wendla with a soft power and hauntingly lovely vocals. She's utterly perfect in this role, a delight on stage. Riley Thornton as the humbly suave Melchior has undeniable conviction in his role. He gives us depth, believable insecurity, and connects with the audience at every turn. George Nassar plays the eager, nervous Moritz with humor and heart. He's relatable and charming in his vulnerability, which makes his journey appropriately heart-breaking in all the right ways.

Kevin Wang, playing Hanschen and Rupert, is hilarious and fully committed through every beat. He had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand every time he had a chance to say anything, even with just his expression. Wang plays especially well off of Alex Flores as Ernst, the two of them are positively wonderful to watch together. Flores is adorably flustered in all the right ways. Liv Boscardin as Martha is soulful and compelling, Kori Schwarz is earnest as Thea, Elle Feinstein plays perfectly sweet and innocent as Anna, and completing the group as Ilse is Tatum Grell, who's positively engaging with soul and heart. The standout of the adult roles is Justus Popken, whose smooth voice and firm presence makes him a believable authority figure in Sonnestitch, Kaulback, and Schmidt.

Director Bob Sorenson, assisted by Casey Likes, brings this rock musical to life in a way that really lets every actor on stage shine and keeps the story moving at just the right pace. Their design elements bring together a measure of the expected aesthetic given the period and some inventive additions to keep it fresh. Musical Director Curtis Moeller deftly brings Duncan Sheik's melodies to life, though sadly due to some volume issues it was difficult to hear the full extent of his work over the instrumental tracks. Unfortunately, it was sometimes difficult to hear the actors singing at all over the tracks, which is regrettable given their incredible vocals.

Choreographer Johnna Watson also pairs the expected (for those familiar with the show) and the unexpected in a delicate balance that shows off the talent of this cast. Set design by Pete Bish and Chase Budden is simple and effective, it allows for freedom of movement and also quick scene changes to keep the show progressing without delays. Maureen Watson's prop design compliments the set, adding context with little details to place the audience firmly in each scene. Lighting by Stacey Walston is bright and as vibrant as the characters, though it isn't always consistent in terms of keeping the actors fully illuminated. Costumes by Diana Likes play perfectly to familiar audience expectations while still adding a personal touch that adds to the production, particularly in the final number.

A note to the audience: Take these actors seriously, and take the show itself seriously for the sake of the actors if nothing else. Opening night was lively, but the audience was far too eager to laugh at moments that were meant to be serious. Treating this like a 'kids show' is definitely not the way to go.

Greasepaint's Spring Awakening is a phenomenal showcase of creativity, talent, and raw emotion. Be prepared to laugh, to cry, and to get far more invested in a group of teenagers from the 1800s than you thought possible.

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs through February 2

photos - FIDDLER ON THE ROOF - National Tour: ASU Gammage

CLICK HERE for more information on this production, which runs January 28-February 2

photos by Joan Marcus

review - LAURA OSNES IN CONCERT WITH SETH RUDETSKY - Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Laura Osnes

highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

"For the past several years, the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts has been hosting a series of concerts entitled "The Seth Rudetsky Concert Series" which feature Sirius XM "On Broadway" radio host Rudetsky with a Broadway performer whom he accompanies on piano and also interviews between songs. This weekend, Rudetsky's guest was Laura Osnes, a two-time Tony Award nominee who won the hearts of TV fans and Broadway lovers when she appeared on the TV reality competition show "Grease: You're the One That I Want," winning the role of Sandy in the 2007 Broadway revival of Grease. For over 90 minutes in Scottsdale, Osnes entertained the audience with humorous and heartfelt stories, plus soaring songs from many shows, including the six Broadway musicals in which she has appeared. Osnes received her two Tony nominations for Bonnie and Clyde and Cinderella, and her clear, soaring soprano voice was on display throughout this concert...Osnes was entirely engaged and generous, not just to the audience but also to Rudetsky, commenting on how great his piano accompaniment was, even though they only rehearsed that afternoon and hadn't done a concert like this in more than a year...The beauty of the concerts in the "Seth Rudetsky Concert Series" is that they provide enjoyable songs performed by Broadway performers along with engaging conversations about their experiences. The Scottsdale Arts venue has unobstructed views and clear sound, which adds to the enjoyment and makes these evenings of songs and stories incredibly entertaining."   -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

Laughing Pig Theatre brings 24 Hour Theatre to East Valley

Laughing Pig Theatre is looking to bring 24-Hour Theatre to the East Valley! We are looking for 5 writers, 5 directors, and 10-20 performers to create and perform 5 original short plays within 24 hours.

There will be a mandatory welcome meeting on Friday, February 28th to select casts and meet writers. Then, writers will have all night to write their scripts. On Saturday, February 29, the directors and casts will rehearse all day and perform their shows that same evening. Because it’s on Leap Day, you could get to spend your extra day doing unforgettable, creative theatre!

Please fill out the application at the link below:

Applications will be accepted until midnight on January 31. If we feel the need to hold face-to-face auditions for performers, you will be contacted to arrange an appropriate time.

Monday, January 27, 2020

WEEK AT A GLANCE: January 27-February 2

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


Hale Centre Theatre 
December 31, 2019-February 8, 2020

Don Bluth Front Row Theatre 
January 9-February 15, 2020

The Phoenix Theatre Company 
December 18, 2019-February 16, 2020

Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre 
January 10-February 23, 2020