“The Book of Mormon” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – May 22, 2017

HILARIOUS AND SUPERLATIVE “THE BOOK OF MORMON” RETURNS TO ASU GAMMAGE

“THE BOOK OF MORMON”
Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

When “The Book of Mormon” opened on Broadway in 2011, it created a raucous uproar of extreme hilarity.  Irreverent but never mean or nasty, the musical found the humorous foibles and follies of the rigid Mormon Church and let audiences laugh at the religion’s unyielding rules.  The show won lots of awards and has been a huge hit as it entertains the world.

So when such a popular musical returns to the Valley, the hit show … Continue Reading

“Beehive” – Phoenix Theatre and “Holmes and Watson” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – May 15, 2017

“BEEHIVE” ENTERTAINS MIGHTILY WHILE INTRIGUING “HOLMES AND WATSON” EXPLORES THE DETECTIVE’S DEATH

“BEEHIVE”
Mainstage Theatre, Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Two very different but marvelously produced local theatrical productions opened over the weekend.  A dynamically nostalgic trip back to ‘60s girl group song hits explodes at Phoenix Theatre in the entertaining “Beehive” while at the Herberger Theater Center, playwright Jeffrey Hatcher’s world premiere tribute to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous British detective, “Holmes and Watson,” keeps you intrigued as a succession of unexpected twists and turns results in an unforeseen finale.

With the melodic rock ‘n’ roll tunes of the ‘60s, … Continue Reading

“Once Upon A Mattress” – Theater Works

Theater Review – May 8, 2017

THEATER WORKS “ONCE UPON A MATTRESS” IS A COMIC TRIUMPH

“ONCE UPON A MATTRESS”
Theater Works, Gyder Theater, Peoria Center for the Performing Arts
Peoria, AZ

Back in 1959, there was a small off-Broadway show based on the “Princess and the Pea” that boasted the talents of a then undiscovered Carol Burnett.  The show was so successful, producers moved it to Broadway where “Once Upon A Mattress” added a few new songs and more saucy fun that turned the show into a comic triumph and made Burnett a star.

“Once Upon A Mattress” has a pleasant, if undistinguished, Mary Rodgers … Continue Reading

“Hir” – Stray Cat Theatre and “The Scottsboro Boys” – Phoenix Theatre, The Black Theatre Troupe, and ASU

Theater Review – May 1, 2017

DIFFICULT “HIR” MAKES YOU THINK AND SUPERB “THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS”

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

Dysfunctional families exist throughout America but you’ve never met one quite like the Connor’s who populates Taylor Mac’s often hard-to-watch play “Hir” (Here) that is presented superbly by Stray Cat Theatre.  The dynasty is headed by stroke-impacted father, Arnold, a sexually ambiguous son, Max, a military family man, Isaac, and Paige, the twisted matriarch.

Paige heads the floundering family and her “I don’t care…” attitude has taken over her once conventional Central California Valley household.  The play … Continue Reading

“An American in Paris” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – April 20, 2017

BETTER THAN BROADWAY “AN AMERICAN IN PARIS” OPENS AT ASU GAMMAGE

“AN AMERICAN IN PARIS”
Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

Seeing a big musical in an intimate Broadway theater is the optimum way to enjoy a show.  When a New York musical tours, they are often less grand than on Broadway.  When I saw the brilliant stage musical adaptation of “An American in Paris” in New York, I worried what it might look like here.  But a wonderful surprise awaits local theatergoers who see the show before it closes its local run Sunday.  It’s a … Continue Reading

“Albatross” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – March 20, 2017

ATC PRESENTS A FASCINATING AND VISUALLY EXCITING “ALBATROSS”

“ALBATROSS”
Arizona Theatre Company, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

A fascinating and visually exciting 90-minute play, “Albatross,” is about an 18th-century English sailor, The Mariner, cursed by a never-ending life, who is shoved into contemporary times.  The show is vibrantly alive because of Benjamin Evett’s spellbinding solo performance in the gripping Arizona Theatre Company staging that is aided brilliantly by Rick Lombardo’s inflammatory staging of Cambridge’s The Poet’s Theatre’s original production.  The unusual presentation sparks the play’s stimulating allure because of the performance and a different visual look crafted by three … Continue Reading

“Finding Neverland” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – March 16, 2017

ENGAGING “FINDING NEVERLAND” IS MAGICAL AT ASU GAMMAGE

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

The engagingly fascinating musical “Finding Neverland” tells a magical story of author J. M. Barrie’s development of his fictional icon Peter Pan and the struggles that went into the creation of the other kids.  It shows how Barrie met and wooed the beguiling Sylvia Llewelyn Davies as well as the challenges presented by her sternly unbending matriarch, Mrs. Du Maurier.

When I saw the show In New York, it was a weakly produced dud at the end of an unusually long … Continue Reading

“Bullets Over Broadway” – Phoenix Theatre and “Native Son” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – March 13, 2017

WONDROUS “BULLETS OVER BROADWAY”  AND STRAY CAT’S INSIGHTFUL “NATIVE SON” ARE BOTH HITS ON LOCAL STAGES

“BULLETS OVER BROADWAY”
Phoenix Theatre, Mainstage
Phoenix, AZ

An insightful “Native Son” produced superbly by Stray Cat Theatre is about a down-and-out young Chicago Black man in the 1930s, while a wondrous Phoenix Theatre staging of the musical version of Woody Allen’s 1994 movie comedy “Bullets Over Broadway,” present two diverse productions for local theatergoers.

When Woody Allen’s classic 1994 movie comedy, “Bullets Over Broadway,” was adapted into a musical, Susan Stroman’s Broadway production bombed.  The story is about David Shayne, a 1920s playwright, … Continue Reading

“Riders of the Purple Sage” – Arizona Opera

Opera Review – March 6, 2017

WORLD PREMIERE OPERA BY LOCAL COMPOSER SHOWS PROMISE

“RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE”
Arizona Opera, Symphony Hall
Phoenix, AZ

It’s always exciting when a world premiere performing arts event occurs in Arizona.  And when the world premiere comes from a locally based composer, Craig Bohmler, the work stirs even more interest.  Add a world-famous local visual artist to create the striking sets and the audience at Friday’s night’s Arizona Opera’s performance of “Riders of the Purple Sage” was pulling for the work.  It justified the excitement.

Bohmler’s creative score and Steven Mark Kohn’s libretto are based on Zane Grey’s well-known … Continue Reading

“Sunday in the Park With George” – Theater Works

Theater Review – February 27, 2017

SUPERLATIVE “SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE” AT THEATER WORKS

“SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE”
Theater Works, Gyder Theater, Peoria Center for the Performing Arts
Peoria, AZ

If one person pushed the American musical theater to abandon cutesy, romantic tales with hummable tunes, it’s Stephen Sondheim.  His diverse shows deal with real life situations peopled with complex characters surrounded by masterfully complex music.

The loveliest Sondheim show is his 1984 Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award, and New York Drama Critics Award winner “Sunday in the Park With George” currently playing at Peoria’s Theater Works in a superlative production.  The show … Continue Reading