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

“Hostage” – iTheatre Collaborative

Theater Review – January 22, 2019

POWERFUL “HOSTAGE” DEALS WITH 1980 EVENT THAT HAS RELEVANCE TODAY

“HOSTAGE”
iTheatre Collaborative, Kax Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

“Hostage,” a powerful political drama set in 1980, has relevance today.  Michelle Kholos Brooks’ play is being presented in a winning Arizona premiere production by iTheatre Collaborative.

The play tells about Kevin Hermening’s incarceration when Tehran students took over the American Embassy and held 52 Americans for over a year.  The play imagines Kevin’s mother, Barbara, and a trip to visit her son in captivity.  Mother and son talk with Kevin’s guards about why United States actions have made Kevin … Continue Reading

Audra McDonald In Concert – Scottsdale Center for the Arts

Theater Review – January 20, 2019

AUDRA McDONALD DELIVERS SMASHING SOLO PERFORMANCE SINGING MUSICAL THEATER CLASSICS

“AUDRA McDONALD IN CONCERT”
Broadway @ Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Scottsdale, AZ

Six time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald dazzled a capacity Scottsdale Center for the Arts audience with amazing solos of musical theater classics.  Many songs represented shows McDonald did originally on Broadway.  With music director and host Seth Rudetsky, McDonald told interesting stories about her legendary Broadway career in between her songs as well as affectionate tales about her children including her surprise daughter, two-year-old Sally.

McDonald sang with her beautifully luminescent soprano … Continue Reading

“Two Mile Hollow” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – January 19, 2019

OFF-KILTER “TWO MILE HOLLOW” MAKES FUNNY POINTS ABOUT RICH PEOPLE

“TWO MILE HOLLOW”
Stray Cat Theatre, Studio Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

An off-kilter wealthy and bizarrely unreal family is moving out of its mansion so they gather to partake in the joys of reconciliation but is it a happy occasion?  One guess in Stray Cat Theatre’s sharply staged and well-acted production of Leah Nanako Winkler’s “Two Mile Hollow.”

The play makes an important statement about superficiality in families that can’t get along and the playwright points out that money doesn’t necessarily create contentment.  The message is … Continue Reading

London Theater Review of Seven Current Plays

Theater Review – January 13, 2019

LONDON THEATER REMAINS THE ENGLISH SPEAKING FINEST

“THE INHERITANCE”
Noel Coward Theatre

“COMPANY”
Gielgud Theatre

“EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE”
Apollo Theatre

“THE COMEDY ABOUT A BANK ROBBERY”
Criterion Theatre

“SWITZERLAND”
Ambassadors Theatre

“THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG”
Duchess Theatre

Although the Phoenix theater scene grows richer and more diverse over time, true theater lovers must head to New York to see the latest in trend-setting contemporary theater.  Just about every theater piece seen in Phoenix starts in New York.  But for truly fabulous theatergoing, London is the place to see the best in English speaking comedy, drama, and musical theater as occurred on a recent five-day London trip … Continue Reading