“Liberace” – Phoenix Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ September 26, 2016

“LIBERACE” DRAGS WITH BLAND TELLING OF ENTERTAINER’S LEGEND

“LIBERACE”

Hormel Theatre, Phoenix Theatre

Phoenix, AZ

The “Liberace” world premiere finds playwright Brent Hazelton explaining the details about Mr. Showmanship’s convoluted life with an emphasis on his upbringing and the complexities of producing his famous nightclub entertainment.

The show is only noteworthy for those of us who saw Liberace live and on television multiple times during his heydays during the 1950s to the 1970s.  Liberace was indeed a unique entertainer.

But for those with limited exposure to Liberace, the show drags with its exhaustive detail but bland retelling of his … Continue Reading

“John” – Stray Cat Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ September 19, 2016

STRAY CAT’S “JOHN” MAKES TOO MANY CONFUSING POINTS SO NOTHING IS CLEAR

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

Stray Cat Theatre is one of the Valley’s most innovative and exciting theater companies as it avoids popular Broadway hits to present the latest offbeat off-Broadway plays and musicals.  The company even tackles a world premiere Black comedy by local playwright Ron Hunting later.  But to open this season, they present one of the first regional productions of Annie Baker’s recent off-Broadway play, “John.”  The playwright won a Pulitzer Prize for her … Continue Reading

“Cabaret” – ASU Gammage

This review aired on KBAQ September 15, 2016

STARS DON’T HOLD “CABARET” REVIVAL TOGETHER AT ASU GAMMAGE

“CABARET”

Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage

Tempe, AZ

The Roundabout Theatre “Cabaret” revival opens the new ASU Gammage Broadway season.  The production’s raison d’etre was star Alan Cummings’ different slant on the Emcee who escorts audiences through a decadent look at corrupt and bigoted pre-Nazi Germany.  Since Cummings isn’t touring, Randy Harrison tries to duplicate the Broadway star’s interpretation but Harrison lacks Cummings’ sexy spark and sleazy style.

And it’s not just Harrison who fails to hold this revival together.  Especially disappointing is Andrea Goss’ lackluster Sally.  … Continue Reading

“In the Heights” – Phoenix Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ September 12, 2016

SMASHING “IN THE HEIGHTS” OPENS AT PHOENIX THEATRE RIVALLING BROADWAY

“IN THE HEIGHTS”

Phoenix Theatre, Mainstage Theatre

Phoenix, AZ

Broadway arrived at Phoenix Theatre with the weekend opening of a smashing staging of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first New York musical, “In the Heights.”  This 2008 show proved a multiple Tony Award winning creation and prophesied Miranda’s current Broadway hit, “Hamilton,” that arrives next season at ASU Gammage.

Miranda starred in the Broadway production as Usnavi, a storeowner who knows and treasures his barrio’s customers.  The insightful and unique musical explores with splashy panache the diverse Mexican-American neighborhood in Manhattan’s … Continue Reading

Summer Hiatus

To All Curtain Up Phoenix Readers:

During the summer live theater and performing arts hiatus in the Phoenix area, Curtain Up Phoenix will take a vacation.  There will be no new review postings to this site during July and August.  In September, regular postings of new theater and other performing arts events reviews will resume.  To all Phoenix area theatergoers, have a relaxing summer and please join me again in September for reviews of the exciting new 2016/17 season of theater and other performing arts events.

Chris Curcio, July 3, 2016

“American Idiot” – Stray Cat Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ June 27, 2016

DYNAMICALLY STAGED “AMERICAN IDIOT” CHANGES IMPRESSION OF SHOW

“AMERICAN IDIOT”
Stray Cat Theatre, Studio Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

When I saw “American Idiot,” based on Green Day’s 2004 phenomenal album, as a Broadway musical in 2010, I was not a fan.  The modern rock score through me.  The show is now having its local premiere at Stray Cat Theatre in their new home at the Tempe Center for the Arts and my reaction changed dramatically because of at a dynamically presented production staged brilliantly by Ron May and performed exquisitely by an impressive … Continue Reading

Broadway Musical Failures – “American Psycho – The Musical,” “Finding Neverland,” and “Waitress”

This review aired on KBAQ June 20, 2016

THREE BROADWAY MUSICAL MISSES – “AMERICAN PSYCHO,” “FINDING NEVERLAND,” AND “WAITRESS”
New York City, NY

Musicals will always be Broadway’s biggest favorites but sometimes new musicals come up wanting.  During my recent New York City trip, two musicals were sad misses and one disappointed considering the movie it was based on.

Two weeks ago I reviewed the musical hits including the “Shuffle Along” and “She Loves Me” revivals, last season’s Best Musical Tony winner, “Fun Home,” and “Tuck Everlasting.”  This season’s Broadway musical duds were “American Psycho,” based on the 2000 horror film proved the goriest … Continue Reading

Four Broadway Musical Successes – “Shuffle Along,” “She Loves Me,” “Fun Home,” and “Tuck Everlasting”

This review aired on KBAQ June 9, 2016

FOUR BROADWAY MUSICALS SUCCEED – “SHUFFLE ALONG,” “SHE LOVES ME,” “FUN HOME,” AND “TUCK EVERLASTING”

BROADWAY REVIEW II – THE MUSICAL SUCCESSES
New York City, NY

Musicals draw big Broadway crowds because audiences want to see them.  During this year’s Big Apple trip, seven of the ten shows I saw were musicals.  A disclaimer up front is in order.  For the first time in over 20 years of reviewing New York shows annually, I was unable to see Broadway’s biggest hit, “Hamilton” because there were no press seats until after this weekend’s Tony Awards.

Unfortunately, none of … Continue Reading

“Newsies” – ASU Gammage

This review aired on KBAQ June 16, 2016

DAZZLINGLY PERFORMED “NEWSIES” ENTERTAINS MIGHTILY

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

There are no surprises in “Newsies,” the latest Disney musical, but the simplistic plot is presented in a dazzlingly performed dance production that explodes all over the ASU Gammage stage.  The mostly male cast are accomplished dancers who deliver Christopher Gattelli’s stunning choreography with fanatical energy that is fascinating to watch and provides spirited entertainment.

Alan Menken’s mediocre score, Jack Feldman’s humdrum lyrics, and Harvey Fierstein’s blandly uninteresting book don’t make much of a musical without the exciting production.  The show traces the … Continue Reading

“Avenue Q” – Phoenix Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ June 13, 2016

AMUSINGLY POINTED “AVENUE Q” A PHOENIX THEATRE HIT

“AVENUE Q”
Phoenix Theatre, Hormel Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix Theatre revives for the third time its hysterical production of the wacky “Avenue Q.”  It is amusingly pointed as it takes funny slams at today’s societal variations.  Returning and new performers become a brightly-paced ensemble who deliver “Avenue Q” with jabbingly amusing fervor.  “Avenue Q’s ” live cast give the show’s wily puppets their sharp tongued voices.  The show even warns that it is for “mature audiences and contains full puppet nudity.”  The lippy and often vulgar dialogue has been … Continue Reading