“Master Harold … and the Boys” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – February 16, 2020

BRILLIANT PERFORMANCES GIVE FUGARD’S “MASTER HAROLD…” A STRONG SLAM AT SOUTH AFRICAN APARTHEID IN 1950

“MASTER HAROLD … AND THE BOYS”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

Three brilliant actors create vivid depictions of the appalling apartheid conditions in South Africa circa 1950 in Athol Fugard’s tensely dramatic semi-autobiographical work “Master Harold” … and the Boys.”

Master Harold is an immature White lad who grew up under the tutelage of his household’s two Black servants, Sam and Willie.  They substituted for his errant and drunken father.  But now with a bit of age, a tad of … Continue Reading

“The Wolves” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – February 9, 2020

A STRONG PRODUCTION, “THE WOLVES” IS LESS COMPELLING ABOUT GROWING UP

“THE WOLVES”
Stray Cat Theatre, Studio Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

Stray Cat Theatre can always be counted on to bring local theatergoers the most trend-setting shows that other local theaters avoid.  Not only do the plays the company presents come to interesting points about our confusing contemporary society, the productions are consistently well staged and sublimely acted.  Theatergoers never leave a Stray Cat production without issues to discuss.

But occasionally the plays probe less dynamic issues that impact current culture.  Such is the case with … Continue Reading

“Fiddler on the Roof” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – January 29, 2020

WHILE A GOOD PRODUCTION, “FIDDLER ON THE ROOF” NEEDS A REST

“FIDDLER ON THE ROOF”
Broadway Across America, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

The one big question about the endless returns of “Fiddler on the Roof” to ASU Gammage is why this over produced musical is back again.  It doesn’t matter if the production is good, bad, or indifferent; the show has played ASU Gammage a myriad of times and it has played just about every other theater in town.

The latest production is decent if not spectacular but it boasts a strong Tevye, the likeable dairyman with his shrewish wife … Continue Reading

Laura Osnes with Seth Rudetsky – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Theater Review – January 24, 2020

BROADWAY’S LAURA OSNES DAZZLES LOCAL AUDIENCE WITH CLASSIC MUSICAL THEATER SONGS

LAURA OSNES WITH SETH RUDETSKY
Virginia G. Piper Theater, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Scottsdale, AZ

Broadway musical theater aficionado, Seth Rudetsky, brings New York stage stars to Scottsdale in his superb Concert Series that introduces major artists to local audiences they might not otherwise get to see.  He combines classic musical theater songs with enlightening informal chat between tunes that lets audiences learn about the singer, including their background and training.

His latest program introduced the gifted Laura Osnes who has based her career on Broadway and … Continue Reading

“Cabaret” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – January 12, 2020

“CABARET” IS A HARSH INDICTMENT OF CONTROL BY A BIGOTED ANARCHIST

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

The 1966 musical “Cabaret” is a harsh indictment of 1930s pre-Nazi Germany.  The historic period brought major societal changes to the “anything goes” freedom that disappeared as rigid and highly discriminatory political control by a bigoted anarchist took hold.

The show brought new depth to the American musical theater as its rough theme had always been avoided by glitzy Broadway fare.  The story, still a reminder of what can happen when a biased ruler dominates a country, deals … Continue Reading

“Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – January 8, 2020

“SUMMER” DOESN’T DO JUSTICE TO AN ICONIC SINGER

“SUMMER: THE DONNA SUMMER MUSICAL”
Broadway Across America, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

Donna Summer was an iconic pop/rock singer but you would never know it from the terrible jukebox musical “tribute” “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.”  The show presents a confusing and unclear picture even though two dozen OF Summer’s hits are sung.  Some of these pop tunes are well sung but they are surrounded by a plethora of lame jokes and too many of the songs have been badly rearranged.

Three performers play Summer at various points in her career but … Continue Reading

“Million Dollar Quartet” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – December 21, 2019

“MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET” ROCKS PHOENIX THEATRE IN A JIVIN’ TUNEFEST OF POP ROCK HITS

“MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Hormel Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

If you aren’t into Broadway musicals but you love the rock ‘n’ roll tunes penned by Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis, you will love “Million Dollar Quartet” where these artists tunes are featured.  The Phoenix Theatre Company’s stellar production allows maximum enjoyment of the hit songs.  If these hit pop tunes aren’t your thing, you will marvel at the production’s faithful re-creation of that December 7, 1956 day when … Continue Reading

“Silent Sky” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – November 17, 2019

“SILENT SKY” RECEIVES RICH STAGING AS IT EXPLORES ASTRONOMER

“SILENT SKY”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

Lauren Gunderson has quietly crafted a major theatrical career and for two years has been the most produced American playwright but even without one play on Broadway.  The Arizona Theatre Company has convinced Gunderson to premiere two new plays and a musical here.  To start off her local connection, the company is mounting a rich staging of Gunderson’s 2013 play “Silent Sky” which takes a touching look at late 19th century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt.  She discovered the “period–luminosity … Continue Reading

“The Sound of Music” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – November 17, 2019

SWEET “SOUND OF MUSIC” GETS STELLAR TPTC PRODUCTION

“THE SOUND OF MUSIC”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Mainstage Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

“The Sound of Music” debuted in 1959 on Broadway where it became an audience success as the final Rodgers and Hammerstein musical triumph.  But the popular show never satisfied theater critics because of its sentimental treatment of the now famous story of nun-in-training Maria who morphs into a governess and finally becomes the wife and mother of widowed naval war hero Captain Georg von Trapp and his seven children.

The Captain disciplines his children like soldiers and never allows them … Continue Reading

“American Psycho The Musical” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – November 10, 2019

STRAY CAT’S UNCONVENTIONAL “AMERICAN PSYCHO” SLAMS RICH IN SUPERB STAGING

“AMERICAN PSYCHO THE MUSICAL”
Stray Cat Theatre, Studio Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

If you are looking for a conventional musical, wait until The Phoenix Theatre Company opens “The Sound of Music” next week.  But if you want to see an unconventional musical that slams the rich and the fake things that impress these phony people, check out the superb Stray Cat Theatre’s Arizona premiere production of “American Psycho” based on the novel that inspired the dark film.

You couldn’t find a bleaker tale to turn into … Continue Reading