Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Auditions for IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMAS at Zao Theatre announced for June 26

Auditions will begin at 4:00 p.m. We will adhere to the audition schedule as closely as possible.

For your audition, you are asked to prepare a song which displays your vocal ability. You must bring your sheet music with you. You may also be asked to do a cold read from the script.

You will need to have your headshot (or current photo) and resume to submit to the director.

You will also need to submit a completed Audition/Conflict form. This can be downloaded from the audition site.

Call backs will be held at 6:30pm, Tuesday, June 27, 2023.

There will be a dance call following the vocal auditions on Monday, June 26. Lots of tap!

Veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis have a successful song-and-dance act after World War II. With romance in mind, the two follow a duo of beautiful singing sisters en route to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge, which just happens to be owned by Bob and Phil's former army commander. With a dazzling score featuring well-known standards including “Blue Skies,” “I Love A Piano,” “How Deep Is the Ocean” and the perennial title song, White Christmas is an uplifting, wholesome musical that will delight audiences of all ages.

Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin; Book by David Ives and Paul Blake

Playing Dates
Nov 17, 2023 - Dec 16, 2023

Centerstage Church/Zao Theatre
Zao Theatre, 6338 S Kings Ranch Rd, Gold Canyon, AZ 85118

Cast announced for DISNEY'S THE LION KING, JR at Fountain Hills Youth Theater

Mesa Encore Theatre's 4 Part Musical Theatre Audition Workshop Series


Upcoming 4 Part Musical Theatre Workshop Series
June 3-24

Mesa Encore Theatre will be hosting a workshop series on Musical Theatre Auditions lead by Kieara Kurtz-Williams and Gianluca Russo with special guest Lincoln Wright. It will run for 4 Saturdays starting June 3rd from 9am-12pm for $80 for the full session or $25 for a single drop-in session. 

Workshops will take place at 1350 S. Longmore Mesa, AZ 85202 in the old Koreamart-- in the strip mall directly to the left of Gangnam BBQ.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

An In-Depth Conversation with Matt August, Arizona Theatre Company's new Artistic Director

by Gil Benbrook

This may be Matt August's first time serving in an Artistic Director capacity, but he comes to Arizona Theatre Company with close to 30 years of theatre experience, including directing on Broadway, on tours, and in regional theatres, including two plays here with ATC.  

He's worked with many well-known names in the theatre, including assisting Jack O'Brien (who just received his 9th Tony Nomination this year) on several shows, including The Full Monty and The Invention of Love, and is probably best known for directing the Broadway runs and numerous productions and tours of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

I had the pleasure to sit down for an in-depth conversation with August where we discussed a wide range of topics, including his past, how he got into directing, his experiences working with Tony-winning director Jack O'Brien, and what his past and current experiences with ATC have been like, as well as a look ahead at the shows in ATC's upcoming season and some details behind their move to the Tempe Center of the Performing Arts. 

Before we get to your current position with ATC, I’d like to go back to find out more about your past. I believe that most people who have a long career in the theatre began by performing or helping out with the technical aspects in their school productions. Did you participate in any of those capacities?

Matt August: "I came to the theatre through the back door. In high school, I kept getting thrown out of my English class because I was a little dyslexic, so I was always behind everybody else, and thus, I was the class clown. In my senior year, we could get English credit for taking an acting class instead. So I did. I got encouragement from the teacher, who suggested that I continue, and I did. I met some wonderful people I wanted to continue hanging out with. It's a familiar story of people falling in love with the theater. They don't fall in love with the adrenaline of being on stage, although everybody loves that, instead, they fall in love with the people."

They found a community. 

"Yes. The people who they felt most comfortable around, and that was definitely the case with me."

Jack O'Brien and Matt August
Did you see tours growing up in Philadelphia? Or any early plays or shows you remember seeing that had a profound impact on you when you were a teen or young adult?

"In third grade my parents took me to see the tour of Annie. I was smitten. Mary Lombardi’s performance and the entire production put those first hooks into me."

You received your M.F.A. from California Institute of the Arts and a B.F.A. from the University of Colorado. What were some of the most impactful classes or moments from your academic experiences? 

"I auditioned for the BFA program at the University of Colorado, got into it, and almost immediately went to London, to the British American Drama Academy, and spent a year studying theater – acting, history, criticism, the New Wave – and seeing four or five plays a week on British and International stages. When I returned from that year, I was a pill to work with as an actor. “Why are you doing it like that? This is the costume? Why are we lighting the scene like this? This is my prop? This doesn't make any sense!” I was a nightmare to work with. I apologize to all the directors that had to work with me!

But what I didn't realize was that I was actually thinking like a director. As soon as I started taking directing classes and started directing, it was like everything in my life made sense.

Fortunately, I had a knack for it. I was pretty good, and I received encouragement. Initially, those teachers helped me find internships that led to going to graduate school, and that led to finding my voice as a director, which led to people seeing my work and inviting me to come and work with them. Following grad school, I spent a long time assisting directors I admired, immersing myself in the creative process and getting to know them as artists. I tried to get to know their institutions, as I wanted to be in the rooms where real work was happening.

One of the things that I brought back from London was this feeling that theater is a metaphor for the things in the world that you need to talk about, and it's a safe space to address those issues. "

Who were some of the people you got to work with?

"I spent a summer working with Robert Wilson, and I spent a year working at the Old Globe for Jack O’Brien and Craig Noel, the founder. I was with Libby Appel at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I spent a couple of months working with Gordon Davidson at the Mark Taper Forum, who left me in charge of his show to move to the Denver Center with the stage manager. And I got to meet incredible directors and work at these big institutional theaters, both as an assistant and then later on as a director, where they would bring me back to direct. And I found that I developed a deep knowledge of institutional theatre and of clarity as to how I wanted my work to be produced."

When you went to London, I know you came to the realization that directing is really what you should be doing. Was there a specific moment you remember as a catalyst for that?

"There was a number of those things. One was this teacher in London, Elaine Turner, who just completely cracked open the way that I thought about all the humanities.  I had a very emotional response to seeing the play Singer by Peter Flannery, with Anthony Sher in the title role, about a Holocaust survivor who turns into a slumlord. And then there was seeing Stephen Berkoff's work, where I had no idea that you could do that kind of work on stage! And the same with seeing Robert Wilson's work and Peter Brook’s work. It was Epic yet Personal; Profound yet Immediate. Thrilling stuff!"

So seeing what all these directors were capable of doing, that was what really opened your eyes?

"Yes, it was inspiring and made me realize that I had the opportunity to create meaningful work. And it also showed me work that I disliked and found infuriating – work that I couldn't believe was getting traction – theatre where I thought, that's the biggest con in the world! "

I know you talked a little about Jack O’Brien. I know you're big on mentorship programs, that you were a mentee under Jack and several other people. Talk about that experience.

"The year I was at the Globe, I worked with everybody except for Jack, including the founder Craig Noel and Jack’s former assistant, John Rando. Jack didn’t direct anything that year. I then went to New York, and I ended up assisting John for a year. After that, I went on the road with the Acting Company as the Staff Repertory Director, where I assisted Nicki Martin. We toured the country with three shows, and then Nikki got the artistic directorship of the Huntington up in Boston, and he asked me to assist him on his first show there, which was this enormous version of Sidney Kingsley’s Dead End.

It was then that Jack came to the opening and at the after party I said, “Jack, I'm really sad I never got to work with you, but I promised myself that when I turned 30, I would stop assisting.”  And he said, “Yeah. Hold your horses. I think I've got something that you might be interested in.” And I said, “What is it?”' And he says, 'It's the new Stoppard on Broadway. Call me in the morning.' And he swans out of the room. 

So I assisted him on Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love.  It was a Lincoln Center production, but they were doing it at The Lyceum. After opening I was bumped to Resident Director, and that was my introduction to working on Broadway. 

And that led to four years of only working with Jack on nine productions of five star-studded shows. And then I was preparing to do another Stoppard production with him, The Coast of Utopia trilogy.  And that's when Grinch reared its head, and a team of commercial producers got the rights to do it in New York. At that point, Grinch had been running at the Old Globe for six or so years. "

So then you steered the Grinch ship through several tours and holiday engagements?

“We did it on Broadway at the Hilton and then at the St. James the next year, both with Patrick Page playing the Grinch. And then we went on tour and then to the Pantages for a sit down in LA with John Laroquette as Old Max and Stefan Karl as the Grinch. And it's been on tour since then. We played a couple of sit downs at the Grand Ol’ Opry and to Madison Square Garden three times, once with Tony Winner Shuler Hensley."

You’ve been involved in several mentorship programs, both as a mentee under Jack O’Brien and also mentoring several upcoming directors through the Drama League Fellowship and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation. What was the best piece of advice that Jack O’Brien gave you?

"Jack knew that I wanted to ultimately be an artistic director, and there came a point where he looked at me and said 'you're not going to get a theater until the boards recognize that you're bankable. So go out and direct. Go direct as much as you can independently.' ‘Stop assisting’ was basically his advice. 'You've learned what you need to learn. You know how to do this. You just need to get out of the nest.'”

So then flipping my last question, when you're mentoring someone, what's the most important thing you instill in them? 

"Rigor. Don't get complacent. Learn how to talk to the different kinds of people in the room. Knowing how to communicate effectively and economically, because you only have a certain amount of time. When I was teaching directing, I often said, “You have a finite number of hours to climb Mount Everest. The thing about working on a play is, no matter how far you climb, you have twice as far to go, and it isn't until opening night hits that the producers take the play away from you and say, you're done.' ”

Mark Gagliardi, Armin Shimerman, and Larry Cedar in 
The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord
Arizona Theatre Company - 2016
Photo by Tim Fuller

So speaking of ATC, in 2016, you directed Discord to close out one season, and then you did King Charles III, which opened the 2016/2017 season. I know you were involved with Discord in previous productions before the one at ATC but what was your experience with that production here in Arizona? And I'm assuming it was a positive experience, and that's why you're here today. 

"Well, when we did Discord, ATC was our third production and it kept getting bigger and more technically complex, and as a result, it got funnier and more beautiful. When we got here, we had our most sophisticated version of the show. It was visually stunning. And then they asked me to do King Charles III by Mike Bartlett, which is written as if it's a Shakespeare play. Skip Mercer, the designer I’d been working with who has sadly passed away, took an approach to design it like a big musical, where every scene was going to be different and the scenery was going to be sliding on and off from the sides and flying in.  As we worked on it, nobody in the production department batted an eye. They had such a robust and talented, production department that enabled them to build two of the most visually astonishing shows that I've done in my career.  So it was pretty easy to fall in love with ATC."

And they were back to back shows here 

"Right and at that point, David Ira Goldstein was saying that he was thinking of leaving. And that's when I began the conversation with the board about coming in as the artistic director. "

Peter Van Norden and the cast of King Charles, III
Arizona Theatre Company - 2016
Photo by Jeff Smith

ATC is the only LORT theatre company in the US that produces shows in two different cities. What do you see as the benefits and challenges of having to manage two different performance locations?

"ATC has been around for 56 years and has historically been known for large-scale productions, high-quality work, and this model provides not only an incredible platform for artists but an incredible resource for our communities. Right now, one of the things we’re doing is returning to legacy programming and great, large-scale production value. One of the challenges that ATC has been facing for years is making sure that people know about us and the exceptional work that we’re doing in the Phoenix market."

So right in the middle of the two shows that you did here in 2016 is when ATC had a huge obstacle, a huge financial deficit that almost shut down the company. Did you feel any of the impact of that when you were here? 

"I did not. The only impact that I felt was during the designing of the show, I was told to get ready to do it, but just know that there will come a moment where we might cancel. But we had the show ready to go regardless of whatever was happening." 

So they obviously overcame that, which saw a lot of great community input and support. What do you feel is the biggest challenge that ATC has right now? 

"ATC is not alone in overcoming the challenges that have been felt on a nationwide scale from the pandemic. In the last few years, we had more community, corporate, foundation, and individual support than we’ve ever had. One of our biggest challenges is to continue to create impactful work, foster new audiences, and expand our outreach and education programming. This is why we’ve made so many strategic business shifts that started with our Executive Director Geri Wright and our Board before I was brought on."

So let's talk about the work you're doing. So next season, you're doing five shows instead of six. I'd like to find out a little bit about what was behind the decision to pick each of the different shows. 

"One of those big business decisions was to move from 6 to 5 shows so that ATC is able to produce and create a season filled with shows that are Tony Award-Winners and Pulitzer Prize finalists, including a holiday musical, perfect for all ages. Allowing us to bring top-shelf artists, powerful performances, and inspiring stories to our stages. In short, this season consists of five of the best American plays of the last 60 years.

Coming out of COVID we, like most professional theatre companies, decided to make some key strategic decisions for the sustainability of the company and to invest in the most robust productions we can. Barefoot in the Park is one of the greatest plays ever written. I think it's a nearly perfect comedy. It's a show that has a lot of meaning in it, it's got a lot of emotion in it. It's about two generations struggling to understand each other. It's about a couple where one's a cat, one's a dog, one's a Yin, one's a Yang. They go on this Bacchanalian journey through an evening on the town led by a foreign magi and everybody comes back from that journey transformed. I think it's a brilliant, brilliant comedy and, like I said, a nearly perfect play. So, I wanted to start off with that.

Scrooge is a new version of the musical based on A Christmas Carol that is going to be a perennial production. We're going to bring it back and grow it year after year into a large-scale holiday spectacle that is perfect for families."

Kind of like Old Globe with the Grinch?

"Exactly. I also did a production of A Christmas Carol that ran for five years at Ford's Theater. I've been doing Grinch for 18 years. There is value in building a show that becomes a community tradition. And that's what I want this to be. I want it to be a community tradition that families come to year after year, that they have fun reliving and celebrating. We want to become a centerpiece for the holidays in our communities in Tucson and Tempe, and one that will feature the best of our local actors and give our artist community work through the holidays."
Is this a revised or updated version of the 1992 stage adaptation based on the 1970 film? 

"This is a new version of the show that is based off a screenplay that I was given maybe about 10 or 12 years ago, that I had been in talks with Leslie Bricusse to remake. My feeling was I wanted to put it on stage before we made a film of it. We shopped it around, but it was enormous. It was a big production, and we didn't quite get the traction that we were hoping for. Leslie then got sick and passed away. So I’m very excited to have the chance to bring it to life next season. 

Next is Intimate Apparel, which is a beautiful play. I remember seeing that at the Roundabout Off Broadway with Viola Davis

"Yeah, a beautiful play that hasn’t been done in Arizona. It’s written by Lynn Nottage who is the only two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. It's a beautiful story about a black seamstress in the early 20th Century creating a lingerie business while falling in love and trying to start a family.  

After that is the Tony Winning play Master Class, about the opera diva Maria Callas, a seminal artist of the 20th century, and what she had to give and to sacrifice in order to create work that operated at an elite level. It's a wonderful story by Terrence McNally who we lost to Covid. I had worked with him early in my career on The Full Monty for a number of years, so I wanted to include him in my inaugural season. 

And then we're ending with True West by Sam Shepard, which is really a Quentin Tarantino script before Quentin Tarantino was Quentin Tarantino.  It’s a hilarious, raucous party of a play, which at its core is a knock-down, drag out, Cane vs Abel story. I hope this one will attract an audience that skews maybe a little younger."

I think this is also the 26th year of the Latine Playwright Award.  Are there any other plans for new works, other festivals, other competitions? 

"Yes, we've been administering this award for 26 years, and I’d like to see it expand into a full festival. The plan is to take the two finalists, give them week-long workshops and a weekend worth of performances each."
So staged readings of the winners?

"Yes, to get them in front of people so the authors can see how the plays land, and our audiences can participate in the development process of new work. The hope is that this festival will grow into a larger, more robust festival, and that we will be able to take these plays and put them into our main season. 
We also will be workshopping a big new musical in the spring that will culminate with a couple of performances in the studio space at TCA, and then we plan to present it the following season. So, plenty of new work happening. "

Next season will also bring the move for the Phoenix runs of the shows from the Herberger to Tempe Center for the Arts. How did that come about and what are some of the positives you believe will come from that move as well as some of the challenges you will have to overcome?

"We had 37 wonderful years at Herberger Theater Center, but this move was one of those strategic business decisions I have mentioned that we needed to make. We made the choice to move toward the fastest-growing region in the metropolitan Phoenix area. Our TCA move provides us with an opportunity to be the home company at TCA and allows us to continue our work of fostering new audiences, expanding education and outreach, and producing world-class theatre. Plus, the parking is free."

And if you want to bring your audience back, you want to eliminate as many obstacles. That makes perfect sense. How has the change been so far?

“The way next year’s subscriptions have been selling indicates that the change is resonating with our audience. We are selling ahead of past years and it’s exciting to see."

So for my final question, at the end of a job interview you're usually asked, where do you see yourself in five or ten years? Where do you see ATC in five to ten years? 

"ATC has been around for 56 years and I see us being around for another 56 years, producing in Tempe, the Phoenix metropolitan area, Tucson and beyond. We will be producing six, if not more, shows a year.  We will be producing work in three lanes:  Big Tent-Pole productions, classics that feel like a six-course meal and the best new plays from our development pipeline. New play development has always been a part of our history. We’ll have the largest Latine Playwrighting Festival in the country, and we’ll be launching work that will have local, statewide, and national impact. Most importantly, we will be an essential cultural art and entertainment provider for our communities and state. "

Cast announced for YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN at Zao Theatre

Directed by Michael E. Bryce
Musical Directed by David Thomas
Choreographed by Ashley Bauer

and featuring:
Charlie Brown: Jerry Maggio
Sally Brown: Julie Buehrle
Lucy Van Pelt: Brianne Gobeski
Linus Van Pelt: Chris Fidler
Schroeder: Ben Tietz
Snoopy: David Buehrle
Pig Pen: Connor McNutt
Woodstock: Punawai Tietz
Red-Headed Girl: Sarai Phillips-Dunlap
Peppermint Patty: Katie Babbit
Marcy: Calli Rasmussen
Kid 1 (Shermy): Turner McKenzie
Kid 2 (Eudora): Jennifer Webb
Kid 3: Molly Kesner
Kid 4: Olivia Kesner

Playing September 1-16, 2023

Ticket Sales:

Season Subscriptions available online now 

Individual ticket sales begin June 1, 2023

Monday, May 29, 2023

Theatre Artists Studio Announces Fine Art Lottery Fundraiser

We know you love live theatre. We suppose you love visual art, too.  Why not combine both to support the unique mission of The Studio and help us keep our doors open?

Several local, professional artists and collectors have generously donated their personal works to help our fundraising efforts. Works by these artists sell for hundreds and even thousands of dollars. 

You can take home a masterpiece simply by purchasing a Fine Art Ticket in our TOGETHER AGAIN Evening (7:00 pm) performance.

Choose your favorites. Then, purchase your Fine Art Ticket today.

After the evening performance, while you're enjoying a drink and snack, there will be a random drawing of every Fine Art Ticket purchased. When your ticket is drawn, you can select the art piece you want (from all pieces remaining). Every Fine Art Ticket holder will take home one of these wonderful pieces. 

All artwork will be on display in The Studio's lobby during the entire run of our NEW SUMMER SHORTS play festival, and during both performances of TOGETHER AGAIN.

It’s really not a stretch. You know . . .

HOME is where the ART is.


Summer of Dance is back at The Phoenix Theatre Company


Summer Camp Isn’t Just for Kids Anymore

The Phoenix Theatre Company offers adult dance classes for all ages and skill levels

Summer camp is traditionally something for kids, but at The Phoenix Theatre Company, adults are invited to a special kind of summer experience: Summer of Dance. It’s eight weeks of dance classes for people at all skill levels, ages 15 to 80 years old. Professional choreographers teach a variety of classes four nights a week from June 5 through July 27. This is the program’s 15th year in the Valley.

“The Summer of Dance program is not about competition; it’s about dance exploration, developing skills, creating a community and encouraging each other to push beyond our boundaries and develop a stronger level of physical control and expression,” said Molly Lajoie, director, Summer of Dance. “Each of our instructors is passionate about theatre performance and has years of experience in professional dance and choreography.”

Summer of Dance is designed to meet a wide range of interests for participants. The eight-week dance curriculum includes 12 classes a week in a variety of dance styles including tap, hip-hop, musical theatre, contemporary and more. High school and college students often attend classes to advance their abilities to nail the next dance audition. Those looking for a different way to stay active in the heat can also attend Summer of Dance. People with no dance experience? No problem! Anyone interested in trying a dance class but didn’t know where to go can attend Summer of Dance.

“Participants come back year after year because there is always something new and different to learn,” Lajoie added. “Plus, the environment is welcoming, and it is fascinating to see first-hand the dedication and hard work it takes to bring a dance number to the stage.”

Class sizes are small, varying from 10-35 participants and take place weekday evenings at The Phoenix Theatre Company’s campus in Central Phoenix. Offerings range from basic technique and skills, musical theatre combinations, and classes tailored to different dance styles like ballet, tap and jazz. Students can expect a new combination lesson every class and the basics of different styles are reinforced to build confidence, flexibility and proficiency.

Summer of Dance classes are offered Monday through Thursday at 6 p.m., 7:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Each class lasts roughly 70 minutes. Attendees can purchase a season pass for $180, which includes unlimited dance classes. There is also a drop-in rate of $12 per class, as long as there are spots available. To learn more and sign up, visit Summer of Dance | The Phoenix Theatre Company.

Review Highlights: 9 TO 5 - Mesa Encore Theatre

Rochelle Barton, Leia Wasbotten, and McKaylee Todd
Photo by Jennifer Giralo

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 June 4

"Based on the hilarious hit 1980 movie of the same name, 9 to 5 is a musical comedy set in the early 1980s that focuses on three working women who get revenge on their sexist boss. While it didn't have a long Broadway run, it's a very funny and even uplifting musical with a charming score by Dolly Parton, who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song for the film's infectious title tune, and a book by the film's co-screenwriter Patricia Resnick. With perfect leads, fun choreography, and solid direction, Mesa Encore Theatre's production is one the best shows I've seen produced from them, the oldest community theatre in the Phoenix area."  - Gil Benbrook, (click here to read the complete review)

DISNEY'S NEWSIES, JR - Actor's Youth Theatre - June 9-June 17, 2023

Directed by Bruce Goolsby & Elise Stoffer
Music Directed by Elise Stoffer 
Choreographed by Bruce Goolsby

WEEK AT A GLANCE: May 29-June 4, 2023

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.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre presents a special Mental Health Awareness Night before the June 9th performance of NEXT TO NORMAL

CLICK HERE for more information, and to purchase tickets

Cast announced for KINKY BOOTS at Paradise Valley Community College

Charlie Price: Ben Mosedale
Lola/Simon: Frederick Alphonso
Lauren: Amelia Huot
Don: Noah Hines
Nicola: Madison Ablin
Pat: Michaela Davison
George: Jeffrey Middleton
Trish: Jessica Parsons
The Angels: Wesley Geary, Cam Oakes, Donovan Reza, Andrea Rodriguez,
Cameron Sotelo, Paul Yount
Harry/Ensemble: Connor Baloun
Mr. Price: Garry L. Cox
Simon Sr.: Lightening Williams
Young Charlie: Nyle Pack-Smith
Young Simon: Ty Pierre
Richard Bailey/Ensemble: Evan Rusch
Sarah Ayers, Lorraine Barker, Allie Hall, Kathryn LaFrance, Kailey Mazur, Connor
Meyers, Prisma Villegas

Review Highlights: BEN BUTLER - Don Bluth Front Row Theatre

Keath Hall, Justin Hosten, and Leonidas Karandreas
Photo by Stephanie Cartwright

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 July 8

"Based on real people and events, and set at the dawn of the Civil War, Richard Strand's Ben Butler is a fictionalized play about a factual encounter that focuses on a runaway slave named Shepard Mallory who seeks his freedom from the Union Army general Benjamin Franklin Butler. As characters spar not with guns but with words, Strand's script is peppered with humor and fleshes out the intriguing characters to ensure there isn't anything dry about this history lesson. Don Bluth Front Row Theatre's Arizona premiere of Strand's very entertaining play is exceptional, with a crackerjack cast and sure-footed direction....Under Lee Cooley's clear and spirited yet also sensitive direction, the cast deliver sharp, realistic performances saturated with humanity. As Butler, Keath Hall is wonderful. ... When you have a playwright who knows how to write a good character, solid direction, and an actor like Hall, you end up with a man who is not only intriguing but also fascinating to watch....With witty dialogue that makes for a lively repartée, insightful encounters, and interesting characters, Ben Butler is a fascinating historical biographical drama about the Civil War and also a crowd-pleasing comedy treat."  - Gil Benbrook, (click here to read the complete review)

"...A pivotal episode in the march to Emancipation... unearthed and recreated in Richard Strand’s compelling history play, BEN BUTLER....(Keath) Hall has immediate physical command of the stage. He excels in accentuating the nuances of Butler’s moods with a host of revealing expressions If there’s a Laurel to Butler’s hardy disposition, it is Lt. Kelly...perfectly captured by (Leonidas) Karandreas. This young actor is the comedic jewel of the play. Justin Hosten does admirably well in portraying Shepard Mallory’s intellect, tenacity, and desperation..a compelling piece of work, heightened by the astute direction of Lee Cooley...The innovation here is that he has also maximized the in-the-round to great effect, ensuring that the pacing and blocking remain brisk and engaging. The bottom line is that Cooley and his cast have rendered a thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking theatrical experience." 

Friday, May 26, 2023

BrockPro Entertainment presents "Ship Happens: The Ultimate Yacht Brock Experience" at the Phoenix Theatre Company, June 3 & 4

Ship Happens: The Ultimate Yacht Brock Experience is ready to take a cruise into your venue!

Join the hottest cruise around as we sail away to some of the hottest soft rock hits of the 70's and 80's!

Featuring the greatest songs from Toto, Boz Scaggs,The Doobie Brothers,Michael McDonald, Christopher Cross and so much more!

With Mark 4man, John Knispel, Lynzee 4man and Taylor Caprara steering the ship, and a live band featuring tasty solos, fun arrangements and live saxophone jams, SHIP HAPPENS really sets the mood for a Yachty good time. 

Dance, Sing, and cut FOOTLOOSE with SHIP HAPPENS!


Tickets only $10!!!

June 3rd - 2:30pm & 7pm shows
June 4th - 2pm & 6:30pm shows

Auditions for CAPTAIN FANTASTIC at Starlight Community Theater announced for June 4


Directed by Kelly Swope

Pity poor Waldo Puppybreath! In the spirit of fearless journalism, he has written an editorial for the school paper suggesting that the proposed site for a new high school building is actually a swamp! The land speculator is not amused. The high school bully, a dead ringer for the Godfather, is muscling in on the Prom Queen Contest. And the biology teacher is demanding Waldo's resignation from the paper because it's interfering with his studies of the anatomy of a cat. In such trying times, Waldo draws strength from his comic book Wonder Heroes. So, when knocked out in a fight with the school Godfather, he enters a twilight world where all the characters of Act One are transformed into the colorful and totally unbelievable characters of Waldo's beloved comic books.  This is a fast-paced comic book farce with a zany romance, some rip-roaring chases, slapstick action and of course good triumphing over evil!

We will be casting one Teen Cast (12-19).

Auditions will be held in person at Starlight Community Theater.  

TEENS Please prepare a Modern Comedic Monologue - 1 to 2 minutes long 
In-person auditions are Sunday, June 4, from 9 am to 12 pm. 

AUDITION TIMES There is only one timeslot for auditions and auditioners are expected to stay for the whole time.  The audition will consist of performing monologues and cold reads from the script.

Please fill out an audition form online at: 
Please send your theater resume & headshot (optional) to

VIDEO SUBMISSION This option exists for actors who have a conflict for June 4.  

Actors should prepare a video submission of a comedic monologue as directed above.  The deadline to submit a video is 11:00 pm on Wednesday, May 31. Submissions after this date will not be considered. 

CALLBACKS- At this time, we are NOT anticipating any callbacks.

PERFORMANCES and most rehearsals will be in person at Starlight Community Theater, 1611 W. Whispering Wind Dr. Suite #9, Phoenix, AZ 85085.  COVID immunization recommended for all members of the production.  COVID safety precautions will be adhered to during all rehearsals and performances appropriate from the guidance of our health officials. A maximum rehearsal schedule can be found on the Starlight webpage calendar (  Some rehearsals may be held on Zoom.  Performances are August 11-20.

PRODUCTION FEE - The cast must pay $150 production fee to participate.

Cast announced for DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at Hale Centre Theatre

Belle: Brie Wadsworth-Gates
Beast: Zac Bushman
Gaston: Cameron Rollins
Maurice: James Brown
Lefou: Joshua South
Babette/Ensemble: Amanda Valenzuela
Cogsworth: Raymond Barcelo
Mrs. Potts: Kathleen Richards
Chip: Beni Bermudez
Chip: Cole Douglas Vinson
Madame De La Grande Bouche: Ivana Martinic
Lumiere: Brandt Norris
Silly Girl/Ensemble: Ava Cusiter
Silly Girl/Ensemble: Brianna McClure
Silly Girl/Ensemble: Diana Stapley
Ensemble: Kale Burr
Ensemble: Vinny Chavez
Ensemble: Tyler Durfee
Ensemble: Gillian Elliott
Ensemble: Miles Hull
Ensemble: Taylor Hull
Ensemble: Joseph Strode
Ensemble: Bennett Wood
Ensemble: Kristie Zamora

Belle Understudy: Brianna McClure
Beast Understudy: Tyler Durfee
Gaston Understudy: Kale Burr
Lefou Understudy: Joseph Strode
Babette Understudy: Kristie Zamora
Cogsworth & Maurice Understudy: Jere Van Patten
Mrs. Potts & Madame De La Grande Bouche Understudy: Gillian Elliot
Lumiere Understudy: Vinny Chavez
Female Swing: Nicole Knox
Male Swing: Jeremy Cruz

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Auditions for YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN at Actor's Youth Theatre announced for June 7

Auditions for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown are coming up fast! Auditions will be held at Tuscany Theatre on Wednesday, June 7th, 6:30pm - 9:30pm and callbacks will be Thursday, June 8th, 7:00pm-10:00pm. Sign up for a spot by following the link below!

A 32 bar cut of a song in the style of the show and a 1 minute comedic monologue.

For video auditions, please submit them by noon on Wednesday, June 7th to with the subject line YAGMCB AUDITIONS 

Video auditions should include a 32 bar cut  in the style of the show and a 1 minute comedic monologue.

Directed by Jason White
Music Directed by Xelha Castrejon
Choreographed by Ashley Bauer Webb

Review Highlights - THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL - Fountain Hills Theater

Hillary Low, Janine Smith, Elizabeth Bridgewater, Adam Gobeski, and Lacey Dixon
Photo by Patty Torrilhon

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 June 4

"When the name of a musical is The Great American Trailer Park Musical, you know you're in for a bawdy comedy that will poke fun at and parody the low-class residents who live in a trailer park. The musical has an abundance of wit and plenty of adult humor, but it also has a quaint charm that, while it makes jokes at their expense, manages to make the characters entirely endearing. Fountain Hills Theater's production is an energetic, over-the-top comedy with a cast that seem to be having a ball bringing these hilarious characters to life. The show takes place in rural Florida's fictional Armadillo Acres trailer park and centers around its residents...David Nehls' score features some fun lyrics and a nice mix of comical numbers and ballads, but the songs are mostly forgettable. Betsy Kelso's book is fast paced and fun, with some poignant moments...Director Peter J. Hill does a great job of keeping the pace brisk, the laughter high, and the cast's performances fairly in check to not cross too far into broad caricatures. He also includes a lot of visual gags to add even more humor to the already funny book."  - Gil Benbrook, (click here to read the complete review)