“Outside Mullingar” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – February 18, 2018

INSIGHTFUL “OUTSIDE MULLINGAR” SHOWS HOW RURAL IRISH HANDLE ROMANCE

“OUTSIDE MULLINGAR”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

Humorous but insightful, playwright John Patrick Shanley takes audiences to rural Irish farmlands in Arizona Theatre Company’s vivid “Outside Mullingar” where we meet two very different families who live on neighboring farms.  The journey Shanley creates provides a view of two divergent people, Anthony Reilly and Rosemary Muldoon, who have known each other all their lives but have struggled to admit their love.

Each has one parent left who push quietly but lovingly in the hope that the unspoken … Continue Reading

“The Boob Show” – Phoenix Theatre

Theater Review – February 18, 2018

REVISED “THE BOOB SHOW” IS LESS PERSONAL, MORE HUMOROUS BUT PROVES LESS GRIPPING

“THE BOOB SHOW”
Phoenix Theatre, Hardes Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Sally Jo Bannow is a multi-talented local performer equally at home in plays or musicals.  In 2003, she confronted breast cancer that in 2015 led to a play with music about the situation.  “The Boob Show” needed polishing but it was a heartfelt and emotional story about how she tackled the cancer battle.

After reworking the piece with the help of Phoenix Theatre’s producing artistic director Michael Barnard, PT is premiering the revised show.  There’s hope that after … Continue Reading

“Hamilton” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – February 7, 2018

“HAMILTON” IS OUTSTANDINGLY INTERESTING AND WONDERFULLY ENTERTAINING

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

Few Broadway musicals come with as much hype as “Hamilton,” the Lin-Manuel Miranda show about Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and our country’s establishment but it is all justified because the outstanding show is interesting and wonderfully entertaining.

We all know our country’s history and the nerve shattering complexities of our founding.  The stunningly well staged show under Thomas Kail’s sprightly direction and Andy Blankenbuehler’s richly integrated choreography has brilliant dialogue that keeps you interested and enchanted because the staging, set, dances, costumes, and … Continue Reading

“Candide” – Arizona Opera

ARIZONA OPERA MOUNTS IMPRESSIVE “CANDIDE”

“CANDIDE”
Arizona Opera, Symphony Hall
Phoenix, AZ

Arizona Opera presented an impressive production of Leonard Bernstein’s Broadway musical/opera masterpiece “Candide.”  The company borrowed the stylish projections and staging from Portland Opera and brought in excellent singers who struggled valiantly with the show’s theatrical moments but generally did fine things with the Scottish Opera version that was used.

Most remarkable was hearing a huge orchestra play Bernstein’s brilliant score with such lush vibrancy using the rarely heard full orchestration.  It was conducted masterfully by Joseph Colaneri.  As many times as I’ve heard the score, I’ve never heard it better performed.  The … Continue Reading

“Hand to God” – Stray Cat Theatre/Phoenix Theatre

Theater Review – February 4, 2018

STRAY CAT AND PHOENIX THEATRE’S EDGY “HAND TO GOD” IS PERVERSELY ENTERTAINING

“HAND TO GOD”
Stray Cat Theatre/Phoenix Theatre, Hormel Theatre, Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

It’s wild, it’s irreverent, it’s blasphemous, it’s derisive, it’s impudent, and it’s very adult.  These adjectives summarize Robert Askins recent off-Broadway and Broadway hit “Hand to God.”  The show deftly uses puppets to assist inhibited characters in a crazy church environment reveal the far side of their bizarre, sexually-oriented thinking.  These dedicated churchgoers live vibrant undercover alter egos.  Some characters, too ashamed to openly discuss their sexual yearnings, reveal their proclivities through puppets.  The … Continue Reading

Kelli O’Hara – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Theater Review – January 28, 2018

BROADWAY STAR KELLI O’HARA DAZZLES LOCAL AUDIENCE AT SCOTTSDALE CENTER

KELLI O’HARA
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Scottsdale, AZ

Magic happened at the Scottsdale Center Saturday as the dazzlingly beautiful Broadway star Kelli O’Hara launched into one of her now famous “South Pacific” song renditions as she began a richly rewarding concert of musical theater classics.

The fabulous evening was hosted and accompanied remarkably by Seth Rudetsky from XM Radio’s Broadway channel.  It was a relaxed but thoughtfully produced performance that allowed O’Hara to tell us about the development of her Broadway career that earned her a Tony Award … Continue Reading

“It’s Only a Play” – Phoenix Theatre

Theater Review – January 28, 2018

PHOENIX THEATRE’S RAUCOUS “IT’S ONLY A PLAY” DELIVERS ROLLICKINGLY GOOD TIME

“IT’S ONLY A PLAY”
Mainstage, Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

There’s abundant raucous laughter and madcap confusion in “It’s Only a Play” at Phoenix Theatre.  The delightfully daffy production is due to Terrance McNally’s hysterical script and a superlative local cast of comic farceurs.  The zany charade affectionately slaps the machinations of producing a Broadway comedy.  Impossibly egocentric performers, a struggling playwright, and a no-clue producer cavort as they mock and laugh at a play’s creation.  There’s even an errant theater critic who gets bombarded by the insiders that … Continue Reading

“Man of La Mancha” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – January 8, 2018

STUNNING “MAN OF LA MANCHA” IS A MUST SEE AT ATC

“MAN OF LA MANCHA”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

The 1965 musical “Man of La Mancha” is based on playwright Miguel de Cervantes life philosophy that has evolved into a clichéd show done to death by every community theater.  The simple show requires one unit set, a prison, where Cervantes, as a late-in-life convict, is imprisoned for his errant life that becomes a tale woven around his lead character, Don Quixote.  The show also triumphed because of its pleasing but well known Mitch … Continue Reading

“The Bodyguard” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – November 29, 2017

SECOND RATE “THE BODYGUARD” WON’T MAKE IT ON BROADWAY

“THE BODYGUARD”
Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

There are many reasons why a second-rate tour of a London show that hopes to be a Broadway musical doesn’t work.  “The Bodyguard,” based on the popular 1992 Whitney Houston/Kevin Costner movie, is a dud.  It debuted in London and is now touring America with hopes of landing in New York.  Chances of “The Bodyguard” passing Broadway critics and audiences high standards are impossible.  The tour is part of the local ASU Gammage Broadway series.

The sloppily produced show is … Continue Reading

“The River Bride” – Arizona Theatre Company – Herberger Theater Center

Theater Review – November 19, 2017

ATC’S “THE RIVER BRIDE” GIVES INSIGHT INTO LOVE & HONOR IN THE AMAZON

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

Arizona Theatre Company’s beautifully etched and stunningly staged production of Marisela Trevino Orta’s “The River Bride” gives audiences illuminating insight into love, honor, and the impact of family in a small Amazon community far removed from the complexities of modern life.

The poetically lyrical play paints a glowing picture of romantic discovery in a culture without many material things as two sisters yearn for the same man.  One sister ends up in an unexpected … Continue Reading