“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

“Waitress” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – October 4, 2018

“WAITRESS”  LOOKS AS GOOD AT GAMMAGE AS IT DID ON BROADWAY

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

Broadway arrives locally at ASU Gammage with the opening this week of “Waitress,’ the 2015 New York musical based on the popular film.  The touring production always equals and occasionally looks better and sounds fresher than the Broadway original.  “Waitress” is funny, brilliantly cast, and stunningly executed.  And, wonder of wonder, not a lyric is missed because a superior sound system made every word distinctive.

Set in a small pie shop, the lives of the dessert bakers and its customers … Continue Reading

“The Antipodes” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – September 9, 2018

WEIRD “THE ANTIPODES” IS NOT CONVENTIONAL THEATER ALTHOUGH STRAY CAT PRODUCTION IS STRONG

“THE ANTIPODES”
Studio Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

Like most Stray Cat Theatre productions, the troupe’s latest, “The Antipodes,” is a most unusual piece that is difficult to figure out.  Written by Annie Baker, the playwright has been responsible for past Stray Cat plays most notably “The Flick” that won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama a few seasons back.

“The Antipodes” is set in a conference room where a staff under the direction of Sandy is attempting to tell stories and come up with … Continue Reading

“West Side Story” – Phoenix Theatre

Theater Review – September 8, 2018

RARELY PRODUCED STAGE VERSION OF “WEST SIDE STORY” IS BRILLIANT AT PHOENIX THEATRE

“WEST SIDE STORY”
Mainstage Theatre, Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

The Jets and the Sharks are rumbling stylishly at Phoenix Theatre as the company opens its 99th season with Leonard Bernstein’s melodic masterpiece “West Side Story.”  And while the stellar 1957 musical boasts the brilliant Bernstein score with Stephen Sondheim’s perceptively witty lyrics, the show’s raison d’etre are the magnificent Jerome Robbins (whose name is misspelled in the PT program) dances that this production recreates stunningly with just a touch here and there of creative originality.

This “West … Continue Reading

“The Humans” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – May 31, 2018

‘THE HUMANS’ BRILLIANTLY EXPLORES A COMPLICATED FAMILY’S INTRICACIES

“THE HUMANS”
Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

Thanksgiving is a family time and the Blake’s go through an exhausting and revealing holiday that becomes a fascinating journey of twists and turns exposing positive things that the family can be proud of but also opening up huge wounds in the group’s fabric that it struggles against but cannot ignore.  The myriad of disclosures change the Blake’s inner relationships.  This rich discussion occurs in the 2017 Tony Award winning Best Play, “The Humans,” that is at ASU Gammage through Sunday, … Continue Reading

“Diary of Anne Frank” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – May 20, 2018

“THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK” SHOWS DESTRUCTIVE FORCE OF INTOLERANCE

“THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

Intolerance dooms our world today as it has throughout history.  There are many graphic examples in plays, books, and movies but one of the strongest discussions occurs in “The Diary of Anne Frank” as it describes how two Jewish families survive German evilness during World War II in Amsterdam.  The story is a downer but the gripping Arizona Theatre Company production, staged artfully by artistic director emeritus David Ira Goldstein, pulls audiences into the … Continue Reading

“Little Shop of Horrors” – Phoenix Theatre

Theater Review – May 19, 2018

DAFFY “LITTLE SHOP” WOULD BE FUNNIER WITH BETTER LEADS

“LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS”
Mainstage Theatre, Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

“Little Shop of Horrors” uses an extreme oxymoron to develop a daffy but delightful premise that transforms it into an affectionate and enjoyable musical even though it is now 35 years old.  Phoenix Theatre’s zippy new Robert Kolby Harper production isn’t perfect but it squeezes lots of entertainment from the unbelievable plot.

The show is set in Mushnik’s seedy skid row florist.  Why would anyone try to sell expensive flowers to people lucky to eat and find shelter?  Clueless Mushnik can’t … Continue Reading

“Silence! The Musical” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – May 6, 2018

MUSICAL PARODY “SILENCE!” A ZANY DELIGHT WITH CONSTANT LAUGHTER

“SILENCE!  THE MUSICAL”
Studio Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

“The Silence of the Lambs’” Doctor Hannibal Lecter is the classic evil nemesis.  A vicious murderer who targets women and hides behind his hate, Lecter perpetuates his hateful and unforgiving killings without a bit of remorse as he helps a naïve young FBI agent, Clarice Starling, bring Buffalo Bill, another psychopathic murderer, to justice.  Author Thomas Harris’s 1988 novel was the film’s source and was used by the musical’s creators, Hunter Bell who wrote the book, and Jon … Continue Reading

“Godspell” – Phoenix Theatre

Theater Review – April 22, 2018

REVISED “GODSPELL” NEEDS FURTHER UPDATING TO REMAIN RELEVANT

“GODSPELL”
Hormel Theatre, Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Back in 1971 when “Godspell” premiered off-Broadway, it was a revolutionary show with an early  pop-rock Stephen Schwartz score, a now clichéd religious picture book look at Jesus and his followers, a Bible study version of his betrayal by his disciple Judas, and an over-staged crucifixion.  About the same time as “Godspell,” Andrew Lloyd Webber chimed in with “Jesus Christ Superstar,” another view of the same thing but a show which recently had a dramatically successful rethinking on television.

Although “Godspell” was minimally revised in … Continue Reading