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“Calendar Girls” – Phoenix Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ January 25, 2016

STELLAR CAST FAILS TO MAKE TRIVIAL VERY BRITISH “CALENDAR GIRLS” FUNNY

“CALENDAR GIRLS”
Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix Theatre is a master of musical theater productions.  They consistently deliver fine stagings of new and old shows and both classics and contemporary hits.  Once each season, PT presents a non-musical production on its Mainstage.  Often these plays are the company’s least impressive offerings.

The very British comedy, “Calendar Girls” by Tim Firth is this season’s show.  Based on the popular 2003 English film, there’s nothing wrong with the stellar cast of mostly women gathered by director Elaine “E.E.” Moe.  … Continue Reading

“Beau Jest” – Hale Centre Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ January 18, 2016

STRONG HALE CENTRE “BEAU JEST” CREATES DIVERTING COMEDY

“BEAU JEST”
Hale Centre Theatre
Gilbert, AZ

“Beau Jest” is a frail comedy that pokes fun at the foibles of Jewish traditions.  Written by James Sherman in 1991, it’s not a profound play with penetrating characters, but it is amusing if the production has solid acting and a crisp pace, audiences are guaranteed to guffaw at the modest but amusing jokes and stereotypical Jewish character slams.  Gilbert’s Hale Centre Theatre production fits the necessary requirements perfectly.

Like “The Book of Mormon,” it slams and jabs at faith rules and issues … Continue Reading

“If/Then” – ASU Gammage

This review aired on KBAQ January 14, 2016

LOCAL AUDIENCES SEE BROADWAY’S “IF/THEN” WITH ORIGINAL LEADS

“IF/THEN”
Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

It’s a treat for local theatergoers to see a Broadway musical shortly after its New York run.  It’s especially lucky when the four critically acclaimed original leads reprise their roles here.  Such is the case of 2014s “If/Then,” with New York stars Idina Menzel, LaChanze, Anthony Rapp, and James Snyder intact.

“If/Then” was written for Menzel.  It’s a none-too-dynamic biographical view of Menzel’s own life challenges hidden in a lightly veiled story about Elizabeth, an urban planner.  Tom Kitt’s score … Continue Reading

“C***” – Nearly Naked Theatre

INTERESTING TITLE BUT CONVENTIONAL STORY IN NEARLY NAKED SHOW

“C***”
Nearly Naked Theatre, Hardes Theatre at Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Although its amazingly graphic title makes it impossible to say it on air, the current Nearly Naked Theatre production is a slangy euphemism for a male body part, but the local premiere is a very conventional story about a confused man trying to figure out his sexual identity.  It’s a common issue many people face.

The answer for the central character, John, is initially elusive but by the play’s conclusion he  likely resolves his confusion although the man’s conclusion is apt to plague him on … Continue Reading

ASU Gammage Executive Director Colleen Jennings-Roggensack

This commentary aired on KBAQ January 11, 2016

ASU GAMMAGE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S 22 YEARS OF SUCCESSES

From time to time, a theater critic needs to admit that his thoughts about the local theater scene aren’t always on target.  I’ve often wondered about Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, ASU Gammage Executive Director, and her goals for Gammage.  On reflection, though, my concerns have not been supported by her many Gammage successes.  As we look back on her 22 years at Gammage, we see that she’s always had local theater in her sights as she brings Broadway tours to town to enhance what is available to local … Continue Reading

“Snapshots” – Arizona Theatre Company

This review aired on KBAQ January 4, 2016

SUPERB “SNAPSHOTS” PAYS TRIBUTE TO STEPHEN SCHWARTZ

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

Several musical revues pay tribute to various composers and Broadway musical theater teams.  Recent examples include “Jersey Boys” take on Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, “Beautiful,” the Carole King tribute, “Mamma Mia’s” ABBA accolade, and Leiber and Stoller’s “Smokey Joe’s Café.”  In “Snapshots,” Arizona Theatre Company’s superb premiere show homage is given Stephen Schwartz, composer of Broadway smash hits like “Wicked,” “Godspell,” and “Pippin” among his 12 shows represented in “Snapshots.”

But co-conceivers Michael Scheman and David Stern developed … Continue Reading