“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – October 11, 2019

MARVELOUS LOCAL PRODUCTION OF “THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME” DEBUTS AT THE PHOENIX THEATRE COMPANY

“THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Hormel Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Over the past several seasons, The Phoenix Theatre Company consistently presents the best local productions of Broadway musicals.  And now, with an engaging local premiere production of the 2015 Tony Award winning play “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” they bring the same perfection to a psychologically complex drama that explores the brilliant mind of  the 15-year-old central character, Christopher, … Continue Reading

“The Royale” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – October 6, 2019

BOXING A CONTEXT FOR VIVID RACIAL DISCUSSION IN ATC’S “THE ROYALE”

“THE ROYALE”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

“The Royale” is about African-American heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson but the game is just the context for an important discussion of race relations in 1910.  Johnson was the first Black heavyweight champion in that biased and bigoted post Civil War time when there was a terrific price to pay for this distinction.  A powerful and moving Arizona Theatre Company production of playwright Marco Ramirez’s telling tale makes a gripping performance as the racial situation suggests … Continue Reading

“Miss Saigon” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – September 25, 2019

TOURING “MISS SAIGON” IS DECENT BUT THE MUSICAL IS NO LONGER VIABLE

“MISS SAIGON”
Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

The touring production of the recent Broadway revival of “Miss Saigon” at ASU Gammage is decent but the 1989 musical based on Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” has not stood the test of time.  The now clichéd story of Kim, a Vietnamese woman who gets wooed by the corrupt Engineer into a shoddy life of pleasing U.S. soldiers is overly melodramatic.  Her first conquest, Chris, leaves her with child.  She struggles to keep herself and her son, Tam, … Continue Reading

“Kinky Boots” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – September 1, 2019

“KINKY BOOTS” DAZZLES IN SMASHING LOCAL PRODUCTION

“KINKY BOOTS”
Mainstage Theatre, The Phoenix Theatre Company
Phoenix, AZ

The Phoenix Theatre Company’s smashing staging of the entertaining “Kinky Boots” musical is one of the first regional productions of the hit Broadway tuner that won a slew of 2013 Tony Awards.  The local version explodes with energetic choreography, a superlative cast that delivers dynamic and comically delightful performances, contains sharp staging that give the show a dazzling performance.  Even the remarkable sets look just like the original show while splashy costumes amuse as they capture the characters with superlative definition.

Like I’ve … Continue Reading

“Spamilton: An American Parody” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – June 15, 2019

“SPAMILTON” SPOOFS “HAMILTON” WITH HUMOROUS JABS AND SLAMS

SPAMILTON: AN AMERICAN PARODY”
Hormel Theatre, The Phoenix Theatre Company
Phoenix, AZ

If you know current and historic Broadway musicals well, you will adore Gerard Alessandrini’s “Spamilton: An American Parody” that opened recently in a smashing touring production at The Phoenix Theatre Company.  The musical spoofs Lin-Manual Miranda’s hit musical “Hamilton” and a spot-on company draws every comic nuance from the show.

Alessandrini previously wrote the popular “Forbidden Broadway” spoofs that ran a long time off-Broadway.  Although Spamilton” lampoons “Hamilton” it lambasts but never ridicules the show and, like the “Forbidden Broadway” … Continue Reading

“Once” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – May 26, 2019

“ONCE” A CELEBRATION OF IRISH LIFE AND HOW TAKING CHANCES WORKS

“ONCE”
Mainstage Theatre, The Phoenix Theatre Company
Phoenix, AZ

“Once” is a joyous celebration of life in a small Irish town where long-hidden dreams become realities as residents push each other to explore their inspirations.  Girl pushes Guy, a local repairman who works for his father fixing vacuum cleaners, to explore his passion for creating lovely melodies with touchingly romantic lyrics.  The provincial town doesn’t have room for creative pursuits but Girl encourages Guy to go to New York City to market his tunes.

Girl is trapped in a … Continue Reading

“Things I Know to be True” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – May 19, 2019

CHALLENGING “THINGS I KNOW TO BE TRUE” TAKES ON A DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY

“THINGS I KNOW TO BE TRUE”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

Arizona Theatre Company’s superbly crafted American premiere production of Australian playwright Andrew Bovell’s “Things I Know to be True” is a challenge to watch.  The production is a blessing staged with fascinating patterns by director Mark Clements on Scott Davis’ marvelously designed expressionistic depiction of a family’s house that tells audiences a lot about the dysfunctional six person family audiences are about to meet.

But every character has weird hang-ups that dominate, … Continue Reading

Lea Salonga – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Theater Review – May 18, 2019

LEA SALONGA DAZZLES SCOTTSDALE AUDIENCE WITH SUPERB VOCALS

LEA SALONGA
Virginia G. Piper Theater, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Scottsdale, AZ

Bliss is the word that best describes Lea Salonga’s stunning Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts concert.  Salonga looked dazzling as she slowly walked on stage for the first time since a January skiing accident caused a lengthy recovery with an assortment of devices.  But now all those encumbrances are behind her as a compression stocking hidden by two classy outfits let her still recovering broken leg not stop Salonga.

Let’s put the recovering leg aside and talk … Continue Reading

“Cookin’s a Drag” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – May 4, 2019

WORLD PREMIERE MUSICAL “COOKIN’S A DRAG” IS A ONE JOKE DISAPPOINTMENT

“COOKIN’S A DRAG”
Hormel Theatre, The Phoenix Theatre Company
Phoenix, AZ

It’s rare for a world premiere musical to debut locally so there was interest in The Phoenix Theatre Company’s production of “Cookin’s a Drag.”  While enjoyable, well performed, and a breezy little entertainment, “Cookin’s a Drag” is not a musical destined to be a huge hit.

The show is a one joke story stretched out for way too long so the routine comedy get tiresome and repetitious while the predictable plot is so telescoped in the first few … Continue Reading

“Let the Right One In” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – April 21, 2019

TERRIFYING “LET THE RIGHT ONE IN” IS NOT AN EASY PLAY TO ACCEPT

“LET THE RIGHT ONE IN”
Stray Cat Theatre, Studio Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

Stray Cat Theatre’s production of “Let the Right One In” is a terrifyingly violent play that is challenging to watch as it tells the tale of two losers who struggle to be part of a normal life and to establish a loving relationship but can’t because each character is plagued with scary deviations that separate the pair from regular people.  It is the problem of weird and unusual bringing-up … Continue Reading