Friday, October 29, 2021

photos - HELLO DOLLY! - Zao Theatre

photos by Michael E. Bryce, Sr.

THE SOUND OF MUSIC - Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre - November 19–December 19, 2021

THE SOUND OF MUSIC is a musical with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, and a book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. It is based on the 1949 memoir of Maria von Trapp, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. Set in Austria on the eve of the Anschluss in 1938, the musical tells the story of Maria, who takes a job as governess to a large family while she decides whether to become a nun. She falls in love with the children, and eventually their widowed father, Captain von Trapp. He is ordered to accept a commission in the German navy, but he opposes the Nazis. He and Maria decide on a plan to flee Austria with the children. Many songs from the musical have become standards, such as Edelweiss, My Favorite Things, Climb Ev'ry Mountain, Do-Re-Mi, and The Sound of Music.

Directed and choreographed by Trisha Ditsworth
Music-directed by Cathy Hauan

Friday & Saturday at 7:30pm
Saturday & Sunday at 2:00pm
Appropriate for all ages

Cast list:
Maria Melissa Solomon
Captain Von Trapp Mark Stoddard
Mother Abbess Mary Jane McCloskey
Sister Sophia Meghan Van Dobben/Sharesa Uher Moffit
Sister Berthe Courtney Jacobs
Sister Margaretta Grace Bauer/Jari Haile
Elsa Schraeder Alexandra Utpadel
Max Detweiler Matthew Harris
Liesl Jena Allen
Rolf Bennett Allen Wood
Friedrich Taryn Landis/Zach Phelps
Louisa Kalyani Bhatnagar/Arielle Kutz
Kurt Aaron Bernstein/Michael Jaramillo
Brigitta Rachel Thaler/Santhana Rajasundaram
Marta Sofia Ghelfi/Serena Shorey
Gretl Delaney Carne/Ava Seidensticker
Franz J. Roger Wood
Frau Schmidt Michelle Moya
Herr Zeller Brady Anderson
Von Schreider Carlos Sanchez Beltran

Female Ensemble
Emily Andersen (featured dancer, waltz)
Grace Bauer
Meghan Van Dobben
Jari Haile
Claire Filipowicz
Courtney Jacobs
Mia McFarland
Sophia Mignacca
Sharesa Uher Moffit
Michelle Moya
Reagan Plank
Savannah Swiatkowski

Male Ensemble
Carlos Sanchez Beltran
Eli Franklin
Brady Anderson

I'M NOT SAYING IT WAS ALIENS, BUT IT WAS ALIENS - B3 Theater - November 12 - 21, 2021

by Ilana Lydia
Directed by Gabriel Escudero.

This three-part work depicts people who are marginalized by society and the aliens who ultimately save them.  Both of the humans deal with mental illness, and the third story vindicates their outlandish views.  At once funny and unsettling, Aliens brings up searing questions about how we know who perceives reality correctly.

This marks B3’s first live/virtual hybrid show.  They will be performing on Fridays and Saturdays at 7PM at the First Baptist Church of Scottsdale (7025 E Osborn Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251), and on Sunday evenings on OntheStage, their livestreaming platform.  

Tickets for the Friday and Saturday evening performances can be found at

Tickets for the Sunday evening streaming production can be found at

Jamie Forney as Maria Santiago Ionesco
Valerie Sepulveda as Frank/Bill 
Isaac Salazar as Victor Mason Rodriguez/Rennichild Onolink Trempting III 
Courtney Ekstrom as Zocker Tauck

Run Dates:
Friday, November 12, 7PM @ First Baptist Church of Scottsdale
Saturday, November 13, 7PM @ First Baptist Church of Scottsdale
Sunday, November 14, 7PM @ OntheStage (
Friday, November 19, 7PM @ First Baptist Church of Scottsdale
Saturday, November 20, 7PM @ First Baptist Church of Scottsdale
Sunday, November 21, 7PM @ OntheStage (

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Grey Matters presents THE BEST MAN - the Herberger Festival of the Arts - November 20

Business partners and lifelong friends Tad and Kali face emotional upheaval when a secret between them threatens to ruin their friendship and Kali's relationship with her fiancé and Tad's best friend Jake. 

Date: November 20th, 2021

Time:  1:40p 

Venue:  Herberger Theater Center (Festival of the Arts)

TICKETS FOR THIS EVENT ARE FREE! No reservations required

Tad: Wayne Lundy
Kali: Andrea Hough

review - THE CRUCIBLE - Actor's Youth Theatre

Austin Watts, Noelle Parent, and Carter Neef
Photo by Elise Stoffer
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through October 30

"Arthur Miller's classic 1953 play The Crucible is a semi-fictionalized story of the Salem, Massachusetts, witch hunt trials from the 1690s...Actor's Youth Theatre presents a fairly good production of Miller's work, with a cast of talented teens who deliver passionate portrayals....As John Proctor and his wife Elizabeth, Carter Neef and Noelle Parent, respectively, create three-dimensional characters that are emotionally rich and strong in their beliefs. ...With a cast who have as much conviction in their portrayals as the young girls of Salem did with their accusations, Actor's Youth Theatre's production is quite solid and still just as powerful today as I have to believe it was when it first premiered in the 1950s during the McCarthy era."   -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

Fountain Hills Youth Theater presents, “The Kringle Wrinkle!” A Holiday Murder Mystery Dinner Party Fundraiser, November 5 & 6

Fountain Hills Youth Theater Proudly Presents, “The Kringle Wrinkle!” A Holiday Murder Mystery Dinner Party Fundraiser 

“The Kringle Wrinkle; A Murder Mystery Dinner Party Fundraiser!”  Enjoy a fun-filled evening of laughs, dinner and mystery as you join the staff of the accounting firm, Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe and staff from Acme Department stores for a holiday office party to celebrate their top client’s rise from the ashes of near bankruptcy to liquidity thanks to the help of businessman Colt Winchester and a mysterious new employee for the store, Chris Kringle!  Join private investigator Noel Prima as she tries to unravel the clues to discover…Who Killed Santa?!  Come dressed for a holiday office party, compete in the ugly sweater contest and enjoy a Holiday karaoke sing-a-long! This event will help raise funds for much needed operations and equipment upgrades for Fountain Hills Youth Theater.  

 “The Kringle Wrinkle; A Murder Mystery Dinner Party Fundraiser!” Is an original murder mystery written and directed by Ross Collins and produced by Aimee Avery and Suzanne Tomasello. The show features Iris Lochner, Audrey Alcorn Anthony Alcorn, Sinclair Galakatos, Amelia Tomasello, Allison Avery, Demitra Sedaris, Henry Male, and Ross Collins.

“The Kringle Wrinkle; A Murder Mystery Dinner Party Fundraiser!” will play at Saturday November 5th and Saturday November 6th at 5:30pm at DC Bar and Grill at Desert Canyon Golf Club, located at 10440 Indian Wells Dr. 

Ticket prices are $55 for adults and $35.00 for students.  $5.00 off per ticket when purchasing 8 or more!  Ticket price includes the show and a three-course dinner. Full-service bar is available, plus a 50/50 raffle, prize raffles, and “Clue Buck$” that will be available to help you bribe suspects for the inside scoop! 

A portion of the ticket price is tax-deductible. Fundraiser proceeds benefit the Fountain Hills Youth Theater theatrical productions, workshops and camps. 

Tickets are available online at or through the Box Office at (480) 837-9661 x3. Box Office hours are 10:00am-5:00pm Tuesday-Saturday. For additional information not contained in this press release please call the theater at (480) 837-9661 ext. 3 

Talking to CARRIE director Chris R. Chávez

Director Chris R. Chávez and choreographer Tina Khalil
photo by JT Turner / Jack Sprat Consulting

by Gil Benbrook 

Valley actor and director Chris R. Chávez has appeared in numerous shows in town and also directed both plays and musicals at several theatres, including Scottsdale Desert Stages, Mesa Encore Theatre and Arizona Regional Theatre.  Chávez is back at Desert Stages, where he also directed A Christmas Story-The Play and Chicago: High School Edition, to direct their production of Carrie, the Musical.

For a long time fan of both horror and musical theatre, Chávez is right at home with this show, which was based on the popular Stephen King novel about the sheltered teenage girl who discovers she has special abilities. 

Chávez sat down to answer some questions about the musical and this production, which opened last weekend and runs through Halloween.

How much did you know about the musical version of King's novel before you were hired to direct this production?

"I am part of the cult following of Carrie: The Musical.  I first heard of the musical around 2005 when I picked up a book called "Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops" by Ken Mandelbaum.  The book talked about a number of shows that flopped up the date of publication of the novel, including Carrie.  I just hope one day we can get a sequel to the book or in the least, an update.  Some of the shows in the book definitely need to be produced.  

Why did you want to direct this musical?

"I am a huge horror fan and, of course, a musical theatre fan.  This show was a perfect amalgamation of two of my loves.  Additionally, knowing the history of Carrie, I wanted to take a stab (no pun intended) at my own interpretation."

What type of research did you do before rehearsals started?

"I don't know if you would call it research, really, being that I have been a fan of almost every incarnation of the piece.  I picked up the novel again this Summer. It has been about twenty-five years since I had read it, but I wanted to revisit it to gain a new perspective.  This really helped me in the area of character work.  I also watched the original Brian De Palma movie (the superior of the three movies and one sequel) which is one of my favorite classic horror films.  Lastly, I listened to a podcast called "Out For Blood" which detailed the problematic history of the show up to the 2012 Off-Broadway production and gave me a lot of perspective into the original intent of the show"

What have you discovered about the show during the rehearsal process?

"The biggest thing I have figured out, it is NOT easy. This has honestly been one of the most difficult shows I have ever directed.  The technical aspects alone are quite a feat, but finding actors that could completely carry these roles without being a facsimile of other productions, was also a bear.  That being said, I think audiences will be pleasantly surprised with what we have brought to this thrilling show. "

Do you have a favorite scene or song in the show, and why is it your favorite?

"One of the standouts for me is "When There's No One' sung by the character Margaret, portrayed by the fantabulous Kathleen Berger.  This was a difficult scene/song for us to stage as the song itself is very simple.  With that, we collaborated on something that is so raw and real.  It is probably a scene I could watch every night.  This song was originally written for Barbara Cook in one of the early versions of the musical, but I can say with the utmost confidence that Kathleen makes this song her very own."

Why do you think this story is still relevant today?

"Teens get bullied every day and now with social media, there is much more access and ability to do so.  Carrie may be a horror story, but at the end of the day, it is about humanity and the things that people do, whether subconsciously or not, that can drive a person to the brink.  "

What do you hope audiences will take away from seeing Carrie at Desert Stages?

"With Carrie: The Musical, I hope audiences walk away with something fresh and new, even if they are familiar with the movies, the novel, and the musical.  Additionally, I hope this show will inspire parents who see it to have conversations with their teenagers.  Bullying is still a very real aspect of high school and teenage life.  Teens are often afraid to speak about it for fear of being further tormented.  This needs to stop.  We need to allow those being bullied to speak up and address their concerns.  After all, as it is stated in Carrie, 'What does it cost to be kind?' "

Developer and Philanthropist Judd Herberger Passes Away at Age 79

Herberger Was one of the Original Arizona Land Barons, Business Moguls and Most Generous Supporter of the Arts

A sad day for Arizona. Developer and Philanthropist Judd Herberger passed away from heart failure on Wednesday, October 27th, 2021 according to his wife, Billie Jo. Herberger was 79. 

He moved to Arizona in the 1940s. His parents were instigators of the arts in Phoenix as they were the original benefactors of the Herberger Theatre Center. Beyond supporting Herberger Theatre, Billie Jo and the late Judd Herberger are generous benefactors to create programs in all aspects of the arts, help to continue established programs and support the multitude of arts in every way.   

“Judd was passionate about everything with the arts,” said Wife Billie Jo. “He said goodbye after a fabulous and wonderful life, supporting every aspect of the arts with so many that wouldn’t have begun or continued in Arizona without his passion and help. I will continue to carry on the legacy and our love of the arts and cannot express how much I will miss him by my side.”  

Outside of supporting the arts, Judd and Billie Jo are generous supporters of the Phoenix Heart Ball, benefitting the American Heart Association. Herberger suffered from multiple strokes and heart attacks, ultimately passing from heart failure. Just 10 days before his untimely passing, the Herbergers hosted donors at their home for this year’s Heart Ball event in November.

In addition to philanthropy and supporter of the arts, Herberger was a successful businessman and landmark homebuilder, investor and a developer of Kierland, amongst other successful ventures.

The Herberger family is requesting privacy and prayers at this time.  

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

reviews - MY 80-YEAR-OLD BOYFRIEND - Arizona Theatre Company

Charissa Bertels
photo by Tim Fuller

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 November 7

"The importance of friendships, of any shape or size, and the power of forgiveness are just two of the themes of the charming, delightful, and surprisingly deeply profound new musical My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend. Based on a true story, this one-woman musical makes its regional debut in a smartly directed and impeccably acted production at Arizona Theatre Company prior to a planned Off-Broadway production in 2022. The show stars Charissa Bertels, who conceived the musical and based it on true events in her past. ...Bertels is a powerhouse performer. She is on stage for almost the entire 100-minute, one-act show, and she is constantly magnetic, passionate and genuine. ...Sean Daniels' direction delivers not only a wonderful, multi-faceted performance from Bertels but also makes sure the pacing of the show never lags and that the truth and honesty of the characters and the messages of the play are beautifully told. ...proves to be funny and fun and also a deeply moving and universal story about the power of friendships and the importance of connections between human beings."   -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"A delicate, touching, and revealing look at an unusual but amazingly sincere relationship between 80-year-old Milton and a much younger woman is explored eloquently by performer/author Charissa Bertels in her one-woman tribute to her inspiring relationship.  Bertels plays both roles with superb definition as she holds the stage dynamically for the almost two-hour play.  That is no easy task in a one-person, multi-character script....It is rare that such a true situation evolves into such a moving piece of theater and not only is Bertels gifted but director Sean Daniels, Arizona Theatre Company’s artistic director, carefully plans the play’s every movement to intensify the emotionalism of the piece.  It is simply presented so nothing detracts from the play’s tender message about how a sincere relationship can result when two people so enrich each other." -Chris Curcio, Curtain Up Phoenix (click here to read the complete review)

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE - Yavapai College Performing Arts Center - December 16 - 19, 2021

Join us this Christmas in Bedford Falls!  Frank Capra’s classic holiday tale of a man redeemed, a town restored, and an angel getting his wings returns to the Prescott stage in captivating story and song - presented by YC’s Performing Arts Department under the direction of Dr. Craig J. Ralston.

Thurs, Dec 16 | 7pm
Fri, Dec 17 | 7pm
Sat, Dec 18 | 2pm
Sat, Dec 18 | 7pm
Sun, Dec 19 | 3pm
TICKETS: $45, $35 & $25 Adult | $10 Youth or 928.776.2000

Pete Bailey - Aidan Moloney
Zuzu Bailey - Amaya Centeno
George Bailey - Andre Sylvester
Harry Bailey #1 - Angel Morado
Joseph - April Siebersma
Janie Baley - Ariella Centeno
Tommy Bailey - August Freedman
Sam Wainwright - Brian Eckles
Ernie - Cassidy Swearingen
Potter's nurse - Crystal Ogden
Joe Hepner - Daniel Markey
Pa Bailey - David Centeno
Clarence - David Salyers
Potter - Dick Eckhart
Harry #2 - Duncan Calhoun
Mr. Reineman - Duncan Marshall
Franklin - Frank Malle
Violet & Mary u/s - Georgia Harrington
Uncle Billy - Greg James
Ruth #1 - Jade Meintjes
Bert/Carter & George Bailey u/s - Jake Eriksson
Carter & Mr. Reineman u/s - Kai Clack
Cousin Tilly - Lauren Carroll
Mrs. Thompson - Lee Howard
Shirley the bank teller - Linda Miller
Marty Hatch - Makena Morishima
Mrs. Hatch - Marnie Uhl
Mrs. Martini - Mary Rizk
Mary - Maya Traver
Mr. Gower & Clarence u/s - Monte Reichert
Ma Bailey - Stephanie Zeh
Shirley u/s - Talia Weiss
Ruth #2 & Violet u/s - Tatum Calhoun
Mr. Martini - Wesley Traver
Chorus - Ash DiChristina, Natalia Stephanova

WEEK AT A GLANCE: October 25-31, 2021

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