“Dear Evan Hansen” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – December 2, 2018

“DEAR EVAN HANSEN” A BOLD SHOW THAT TAKES MUSICALS TO NEW PLACES

“DEAR EVEN HANSEN”
Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

“Dear Evan Hansen” is a bold show that goes places musicals haven’t previously explored.  It examines two young men who struggle as life opens to them with the myriad of choices and challenges we all face.  Through the various characters, the show stresses each person’s uniqueness and how this makes a diverse world.

The two main characters – Evan Hansen and Connor Murphy – face life’s questions and issues in diverse ways resulting in different solutions.  … Continue Reading

“Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – November 18, 2018

“ERMA BOMBECK: AT WIT’S END” BRINGS THE WRITERS UNIQUE LIFE BACK

“ERMA BOMBECK: AT WIT’S END”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

If you followed Erma Bombeck and her newspaper and book writings, you will admire Arizona Theatre Company’s affectionate one-woman tribute “Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End.”  Jeanne Paulsen is adept at becoming Bombeck as she moves non-stop on a stylized set that doesn’t depict any specific house that the writer shared with husband Bill and three children first in Ohio and later in Paradise Valley.  The family moved to Arizona in 1971 and she … Continue Reading

Jessie Mueller In Concert – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Theater Review – November 18, 2018

BROADWAY DIVA JESSIE MUELLER DAZZLES IN LOCAL CONCERT

JESSIE MUELLER IN CONCERT
Virginia G. Piper Theater, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Scottsdale, AZ

The luminescent Broadway star Jessie Mueller gave a dazzling concert November 17 at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.  Her wonderful song repertory included mostly musical theater gems including a generous selection of hits from her Broadway vehicles – “Beautiful,” “Waitress,” “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” and the recent “Carousel” revival.  She also sang some touching renditions of a few pop hits.

She began her … Continue Reading

“Elf The Musical” – Phoenix Theatre

Theater Review – November 17, 2018

PERKY “ELF THE MUSICAL” GUARANTEED TO GET AUDIENCES IN A HOLIDAY MOOD

“ELF THE MUSICAL”
Mainstage Theatre, Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Perky, sparkling polished, and lavishly produced holiday musicals that have family appeal are few and far between.  Phoenix Theatre discovers a winner in “Elf The Musical” based on the popular 2003 film that starred Will Ferrell.  PT mounts an energetic and colorful production that is loaded with rapidly changing scenery, a brightly colored holiday wardrobe, familiar characters, D. Scott Withers’ rollickingly flamboyant direction, exuberant Sam Hay dances, and an outstanding cast headed by the comically gifted Toby Yatso.

Yatso … Continue Reading

“The Cake” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – November 11, 2018

STRAY CAT’S SMASHING “THE CAKE” EXPLORES ACCEPTANCE AND TOLERANCE

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

Stray Cat Theatre presents a smashing Southwest premiere of Bekah Brunstetter’s stellar play, “The Cake,” that cleverly dissects and explores today’s disputes regarding acceptance and tolerance. Using a same-sex marriage to explore this pithy issue, the play is an excellent testament to today’s perplexing challenges while the playwright integrates this often touchy discussion with much comic levity.

Set in a small North Carolina town not known for cutting edge thinking, we meet Della, owner of a bakery.  … Continue Reading

“On Your Feet!” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – November 8, 2018

GLORIA ESTEFAN’S HIT SONGS TURN “ON YOUR FEET!” EXTRAVAGANT

“ON YOUR FEET!”
Broadway Across America – Arizona
ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

“On Your Feet!” is an extravagant entertainment that uses a generous collection of Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s hit tunes, Sergio Trujillo’s splashy dances, Jerry Mitchell’s non-stop jazzy staging, and a first-rate cast of impressive impersonators who essay the two lead roles and others associated with the popular artists.

Much dazzling amusement is displayed on stage, but the show is not really a Broadway musical.  It recreates the up-and-down challenges of Estefan’s rise to success and shows Gloria’s determination to succeed … Continue Reading

Lea Michele and Darren Criss In Concert

Theater Review – November 4, 2018

SINGERS LEA MICHELE AND DARREN CRISS DELIVER A WONDERFUL CONCERT

LEA MICHELE AND DARREN CRISS IN CONCERT
ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

Lea Michele and Darren Criss proved on television’s “Glee” how talented the young performers are.  Now touring the country in a superb concert, the pair brought their dazzling talents to ASU Gammage for a single dynamic performance that featured several of their “Glee” song hits, a rich selection of musical theater classics, and several contemporary hits.  The pair is personable, poised, and polished.  They delivered a wonderfully diverse two-hour song fest to a near capacity audience of fans … Continue Reading

“The Trial of the Catonsville Nine” iTheatre Collaborative

Theater Review – October 27, 2018

A BIT OF HISTORY HAS AMAZING PARALLELS TO TODAY’S POLITICS

“THE TRIAL OF THE CATONSVILLE NINE”
iTheatre Collaborative, Kax Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an iTheatre Collaborative production.  The company continues presenting interesting plays that local theaters, other than Stray Cat Theatre, avoid.  The company is currently mounting “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine” which has amazing parallels to today’s political issues.  The play explores the 1968 draft card burning by nine people including two Catholic clergy.  The group took 378 draft files from a Maryland Selective Service office and … Continue Reading

“Fun Home” – Phoenix Theatre

Theater Review – October 14, 2018

A BROADWAY CALIBER LOCAL “FUN HOME” EXPLORES A CHALLENGING TOPIC

“FUN HOME”
Hormel Theatre, Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix Theatre has become an amazing local theater that consistently presents Broadway caliber productions of recent New York hits and classic shows.  Its latest triumph is “Fun Home,” a new style musical that explores issues usually avoided in conventional tuners.  The PT production is presented in an illustrious Robert Kolby Harper sharply-defined staging that features gifted local performers highlighted with talented imported players who develop the musical’s complex characters as these personalities explore non-traditional back stories.

“Fun Home” debuted on Broadway in … Continue Reading

“Native Gardens” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – October 7, 2018

“NATIVE GARDENS” CHAMPIONS REASONABLENESS IN A RAUCOUS ATC STAGING

“NATIVE GARDENS”
Arizona Theatre Company
Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

“Native Gardens” opens the 52nd Arizona Theatre Company season in a raucous production of a new comedy that pokes fun at a feud between two Washington, D.C. families who live in a tony neighborhood.  The neighbors are unable to resolve a border dispute between their respective properties.  Playwright Karen Zacarias uses wry humor that generates wild laughter at the silly situation that the quartet of adults should be able to resolve amicably but can’t.  Both property owners have their … Continue Reading