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

“Next to Normal” – Nearly Naked Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ June 6, 2016

MASTERFUL “NEXT TO NORMAL” PRESENTED IN STRONG NEARLY NAKED STAGING

“NEXT TO NORMAL”
Nearly Naked Theatre, Hardes Theatre, Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

The masterful musical “Next to Normal” creates a dynamically insightful look at a psychologically troubled yet emotionally complex central character, Diana, and the impact her devastating illness places both on her and on her supportive family.  It’s probably the most probing American musical ever written.

Although not totally successful, Nearly Naked Theatre’s production rises to many of the musical’s demands and the local staging directed by Damon Dering has a superlative cast and features as Diana … Continue Reading

Three Broadway Plays – “Eclipsed,” “Blackbird,” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

This review aired on KBAQ June 2, 2016

BROADWAY REVIEW I – THE PLAYS – “Eclipsed,” “Blackbird,” and”The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

THREE BROADWAY PLAYS MAKE IMPORTANT STATEMENT ABOUT TODAY’S ISSUES

New York City, NY

Broadway has always been the place to see the latest musicals but it was also where American plays premiered.  As Broadway producing costs escalated and as Broadway audiences focus on musicals, plays usually choose off-Broadway theaters to open except this season where three strong plays emerged on Broadway –  “Eclipsed,” “Blackbird,” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”  All three have remarkable … Continue Reading

“When You Wish: The Story of Walt Disney” – Phoenix Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ May 30, 2016

INSIPID “WHEN YOU WISH…” FAILS TO CAPTURE WALT DISNEY’S DYNAMIC LIFE

“WHEN YOU WISH: THE STORY OF WALT DISNEY”
Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Walt Disney was a creative genius but you’d never know it from the mundane Phoenix Theatre world premiere production of “When You Wish: The Story of Walt Disney.”  The sloppy and sappy Dean McClure musical has an insipid book that doesn’t capitalize on any of Disney’s dynamic entertainment creations or use any of his movie musical themes due to copyright restrictions.  The show even makes his famously supportive relationship with wife Lillian inconsequential.  Trivial … Continue Reading

“The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Leo Tolstoy: Discord” – Arizona Theatre Company

This review aired on KBAQ May 9, 2016

UNTRIED “GOSPEL…” NEEDS DEVELOPMENT AND POLISH

“THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, CHARLES DICKENS AND COUNT LEO TOLSTOY: DISCORD”
Stage West, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

Arizona Theatre Company consistently delivers the Valley’s best theater by bringing in the best actors, hiring gifted directors, and utilizing brilliant designers.  Often they pick winning new and classic plays with artfully crafted stories told by sharply developed characters who present plausible life themes.  Occasionally, new, untried works slip in that haven’t been properly developed and polished.  Such is the case with ATC’s season finale, “The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, … Continue Reading