“Ladies In Waiting: The Judgement of Henry VIII” – Southwest Shakespeare Company

Theater Review – April 15, 2018

SSC’S “LADIES IN WAITING…” PROVIDES INSIGHT INTO KING HENRY VIII AND HIS SIX WIVES

“LADIES IN WAITING: THE JUDGEMENT OF HENRY VIII”
Southwest Shakespeare Company, Pavilion Theater, Taliesin West
Scottsdale, AZ

After years of mediocre productions helmed by artistic director Jared Sakren, weak directors, and inept acting ensembles, Southwest Shakespeare Company struggled financially as audiences shrunk and the company’s reputation fell significantly.  With a new professional artistic team from New York City, things have improved dramatically.

The event that attracted this critic’s attention was a professional Shakespearean actor who had played roles here recently and penned a look at British … Continue Reading

“Low Down Dirty Blues” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – April 9, 2018

MEANDERING “LOW DOWN DIRTY BLUES” HAS FAMILIAR SONGS BUT NO SPARKLE

“LOW DOWN DIRTY BLUES”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

Arizona Theatre Company’s “Low Down Dirty Blues” is a tiny musical revue with lots of familiar bluesy songs made famous over the years by such soulful singers as Ma Rainey, Mae West, Pearl Bailey, and Sophie Tucker.  The show was compiled by Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman.  ATC brought Myler here to stage his piece and hired an outstanding cast of singer/musicians and solo artists who perform these tunes with rampant fervor.

But the revue … Continue Reading

Vanessa Williams – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Theater Review – April 8, 2018

BROADWAY’S VANESSA WILLIAMS SINGS WELL BUT TELLS SOME INTERESTING MUSICAL THEATER STORIES

VANESSA WILLIAMS
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Scottsdale, AZ

You got a lot of talent when you attended Vanessa Williams’ solo concert at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.  You get an experienced and sultry singer who has perfected her song interpretations.  She augments her vocal brilliance with fascinating and revealing stories about the challenges she’s had as a Black performer turning her career into a stellar achievement.

She also referenced how much she learned about song styling from the great Barbara Cook who passed away … Continue Reading

“The King and I” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – March 22, 2018

STRONG “KING AND I” TOURING REVIVAL STILL ISN’T EQUAL TO BROADWAY

“THE KING AND I”
Broadway Across America – Arizona
ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

The 2015 Broadway “The King and I” revival is difficult to review as a touring show.  It stopped here this week.  On Broadway this rethinking of Rodgers and Hammerstein classic 1951 masterpiece was a revolutionary look at the familiar show.  This “King and I” moved into the audience on Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre’s thrust stage.  A 30-piece orchestra was underneath the jutting stage that was withdrawn for the overture.  This large orchestral ensemble played Rodgers’ … Continue Reading

Christine Ebersole In Concert – Scottsdale Center

Theater Review – March 18, 2018

WITH SONGS AND STORIES CHRISTINE EBERSOLE REVEALS HER RICH BROADWAY CAREER AT THE SCOTTSDALE CENTER

CHRISTINE EBERSOLE
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Scottsdale, AZ

Talented Broadway diva Christine Ebersole had a harrowing trip from her New York City home to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts to appear in the popular Broadway at Scottsdale Center series.  Ebersole was a replacement for Laura Benanti who was already substituting for Kristin Chenoweth.  After a rousing opening song from Ebersole’s Broadway “42nd Street” triumph, we heard about her trip here.

She arrived with host and pianist Seth Rudetsky at 5:30 a.m. … Continue Reading

2018/19 ASU Gammage Broadway Season Announced

Theater Article – March 13, 2018

2018/19 BROADWAY ACROSS AMERICA – ARIZONA SEASON ANNOUNCED AT ASU GAMMAGE

2018/19 ASU GAMMAGE BROADWAY SEASON ANNOUNCEMENT
ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

Announcing the 2018/19 Broadway Across America – Arizona series has become a big production for ASU Gammage, the local venue that presents the touring versions of major Broadway hits.  It stars Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, Executive Director of ASU Gammage.  While Jennings-Roggensack implies that she selects the shows local audiences see, the season is dependent on Broadway producers willing to take a gamble that sending a show around the country will prove financially viable.  Tempe needs most, if not all, … Continue Reading

“Million Dollar Quartet” – Phoenix Theatre

Theater Review – March 10, 2018

“MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET” ROCKS PHOENIX THEATRE IN GREAT PRODUCTION

“MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET”
Mainstage Theatre, Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Hearing Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes,” Johnny Cash’s “Sixteen Tons,” Elvis Presley’s “Party,” and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” in a musical comedy is not traditional but in “Million Dollar Quartet” those rock ‘n’ roll legends are heard with more than 20 of their pop tune hits as this rollicking show pays a glorious tribute to these four singers discovered by entrepreneur Sam Phillips.  The show recreates the December 4, 1956 reuniting of this quartet at Phillips’ Memphis Sun … Continue Reading

Megan Hilty In Concert – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Theater Review – February 25, 2018

BROADWAY’S MEGAN HILTY CHARMS LOCAL AUDIENCES AT SCOTTSDALE CENTER

MEGAN HILTY
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Scottsdale, AZ

While growing up, Broadway star Megan Hilty discovered her vocal pipes and distinctive Broadway belt but early teachers headed her toward an operatic and classical music career.  Thankfully for her Broadway musical hits, Hilty realized that classical singing would limit her singing appearances and she just wanted to perform regularly.  So she took her Broadway belt and used her Carnegie Mellon University training to perfect her musical theater skills.

In a sold-out Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts appearance, she sang … Continue Reading

“Outside Mullingar” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – February 18, 2018

INSIGHTFUL “OUTSIDE MULLINGAR” SHOWS HOW RURAL IRISH HANDLE ROMANCE

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

Humorous but insightful, playwright John Patrick Shanley takes audiences to rural Irish farmlands in Arizona Theatre Company’s vivid “Outside Mullingar” where we meet two very different families who live on neighboring farms.  The journey Shanley creates provides a view of two divergent people, Anthony Reilly and Rosemary Muldoon, who have known each other all their lives but have struggled to admit their love.

Each has one parent left who push quietly but lovingly in the hope that the unspoken … Continue Reading

“The Boob Show” – Phoenix Theatre

Theater Review – February 18, 2018

REVISED “THE BOOB SHOW” IS LESS PERSONAL, MORE HUMOROUS BUT PROVES LESS GRIPPING

“THE BOOB SHOW”
Phoenix Theatre, Hardes Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Sally Jo Bannow is a multi-talented local performer equally at home in plays or musicals.  In 2003, she confronted breast cancer that in 2015 led to a play with music about the situation.  “The Boob Show” needed polishing but it was a heartfelt and emotional story about how she tackled the cancer battle.

After reworking the piece with the help of Phoenix Theatre’s producing artistic director Michael Barnard, PT is premiering the revised show.  There’s hope that after … Continue Reading