“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

“American Mariachi” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – April 20, 2019

“AMERICAN MARIACHI” PROVIDES AUDIENCES WITH AN INSIGHTFUL VIEW OF HISPANIC CULTURE

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

“American Mariachi” introduces a new comedy with music to audiences in one of the first efforts by Arizona Theatre Company to feature a Hispanic themed play by Jose Cruz Gonzalez that looks at a family guided and influenced by mariachi music and turns it into a touching piece about the family’s efforts to establish a women’s mariachi band, something in the Spanish culture that is normally exclusively male.  The play is an entertaining piece that creates … Continue Reading

“Sisters In Law” – Phoenix Theatre

Theater Review – April 19, 2019

“SISTERS IN LAW” PROVES TAME LOOK AT TWO INTERESTING JUSTICES

“SISTERS IN LAW”
Mainstage Theatre, The Phoenix Theatre Company
Phoenix, AZ

“Sisters In Law,” a world premiere play at Phoenix Theatre, tells the story of Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg when they both served on the nation’s highest court from 1993 to 2012.  Audiences learn many things about the two justices but the play, adapted from Linda Hirshman’s book, is a tame look at the ideological differences that separated the first two women to serve on the Supreme Court.

The play tells a lot about … Continue Reading

“The Play That Goes Wrong” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – March 21, 2019

BRITISH FARCE MAY HAVE TICKLED LONDON AUDIENCES IT DOESN’T WORK HERE

“THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG”
Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

“The Play That Goes Wrong” is a typical British farcical comedy which American audiences may find mildly amusing but it rarely creates the wild guffaws like it did for British theatergoers.  But American comedies often fall flat in London so it says something about what audiences on both sides of the Atlantic like.

While on a London holiday, I caught up with the long-running British comedy.  “The Play That Goes Wrong” is still going strong … Continue Reading

Three Local Theaters Announce 2019/20 Seasons

Theater Review – March 13, 2019

2019/20 SEASONS ANNOUNCED BY THREE LOCAL THEATERS

ASU GAMMAGE BROADWAY SEASON

ARIZONA THEATRE COMPANY SEASON

THE PHOENIX THEATRE COMPANY SEASON

The Valley of the Sun’s three professional theaters have announced their 2019/20 seasons.  ASU Gammage will present 10 touring musicals, some are recent Broadway hits, others are recent revivals of classic shows and there are three return engagements of popular shows from recent seasons.  Arizona Theatre Company will mount six plays.  Four are announced but the last two will be selected by ATC’s new artistic director, Sean Daniels.  The Phoenix Theatre Company has the longest season lasting a full … Continue Reading

“Airness” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – March 10, 2019

NEW PLAY FAILS TO MAKE IMAGINARY ROCKERS INTERESTING

“AIRNESS”
Hormel Theatre, The Phoenix Theatre Company
Phoenix, AZ

New plays are always exciting especially if the playwright is also relatively untested.  Audiences approach such a play with no expectations and they wonder if the characters will be unique and if the story is different and interesting.

Such is the situation with The Phoenix Theatre Company’s “Airness” by Chelsea Marcantel.  The local production is only the third time the piece has been presented.  The title refers to a new music phenomenon where performers simulate guitar strumming while miming but not singing rock … Continue Reading

Gavin Creel – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Theater Review – March 9, 2019

CHATTY GAVIN CREEL SINGS MUSICAL THEATER CLASSICS GLORIOUSLY

GAVIN CREEL
Broadway @ Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale Center for the Arts
Scottsdale, AZ

Broadway musical theater star Gavin Creel entered the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts for his solo appearance by roaming toward the stage from the back of the facility as he introduced himself and chatted with audience members.  He even grabbed a patron’s beverage on the way to the stage, had a taste, liked it, and, as he returned it, asked what it was.

That’s the way the entire concert with pianist/music director Seth Rudetsky … Continue Reading

“Detroit ’67” – Black Theatre Troupe/Tempe Center for the Arts

Theater Review – February 23, 2019

RACIAL TENSIONS BLANDLY TREATED IN WEAKLY STAGED “DETROIT ‘67”

“DETROIT ‘67”
Black Theatre Troupe/Tempe Center for the Arts, Studio Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

Racial tension sparked Detroit in 1967 causing the city to become a violent place where riots resulted from intolerance and bigotry against Blacks.  It was a revolutionary beginning to injustice that remains unresolved today.

This brutal struggle forms the basis of Dominique Morisseau’s “Detroit ’67, a regional premiere presented jointly by the Black Theatre Troupe and the Tempe Center for the Arts.  Unfortunately, the play fails to establish the throbbing tension that existed … Continue Reading

“Two Trains Running” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – February 17, 2019

WILSON EXPLORES BLACK PITTSBURGH COMMUNITY DYNAMICALLY IN VIBRANT ATC PRODUCTION OF “TWO TRAINS RUNNING”

“TWO TRAINS RUNNING”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

Playwright August Wilson brilliantly captured the Black experience decade by decade throughout the 20th century in his ten play The Pittsburgh Cycle.  His 1990 “Two Trains Running” which premiered at Yale Rep and opened on Broadway in 1992 didn’t earn Wilson any of his many awards but the play still tells a dynamic story of a once vibrant Pittsburgh Hill neighborhood that has declined.  It is set in a now rundown restaurant … Continue Reading

“Jersey Boys” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – January 26, 2019

“JERSEY BOYS” USES FOUR SEASONS HITS TO TELL THE BAND’S STORY

“JERSEY BOYS”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Mainstage Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Who doesn’t affectionately remember the Four Seasons huge hits including “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” among others?

The hugely entertaining musical “Jersey Boys” uses the group’s hits to provide a wonderfully entertaining show while it tells the interesting story of the Four Seasons’ rise to stardom and details how the song hits impacted the quartet’s members.  And each of these guys … Continue Reading