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“Silent Sky” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – November 17, 2019

“SILENT SKY” RECEIVES RICH STAGING AS IT EXPLORES ASTRONOMER

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

Lauren Gunderson has quietly crafted a major theatrical career and for two years has been the most produced American playwright but even without one play on Broadway.  The Arizona Theatre Company has convinced Gunderson to premiere two new plays and a musical here.  To start off her local connection, the company is mounting a rich staging of Gunderson’s 2013 play “Silent Sky” which takes a touching look at late 19th century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt.  She discovered the “period–luminosity … Continue Reading

“The Sound of Music” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – November 17, 2019

SWEET “SOUND OF MUSIC” GETS STELLAR TPTC PRODUCTION

“THE SOUND OF MUSIC”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Mainstage Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

“The Sound of Music” debuted in 1959 on Broadway where it became an audience success as the final Rodgers and Hammerstein musical triumph.  But the popular show never satisfied theater critics because of its sentimental treatment of the now famous story of nun-in-training Maria who morphs into a governess and finally becomes the wife and mother of widowed naval war hero Captain Georg von Trapp and his seven children.

The Captain disciplines his children like soldiers and never allows them … Continue Reading

“American Psycho The Musical” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – November 10, 2019

STRAY CAT’S UNCONVENTIONAL “AMERICAN PSYCHO” SLAMS RICH IN SUPERB STAGING

“AMERICAN PSYCHO THE MUSICAL”
Stray Cat Theatre, Studio Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

If you are looking for a conventional musical, wait until The Phoenix Theatre Company opens “The Sound of Music” next week.  But if you want to see an unconventional musical that slams the rich and the fake things that impress these phony people, check out the superb Stray Cat Theatre’s Arizona premiere production of “American Psycho” based on the novel that inspired the dark film.

You couldn’t find a bleaker tale to turn into … Continue Reading

“Anastasia” – Broadway Across America – Arizona ASU Gammage

Theater Review – November 1, 2019

“ANASTASIA” TELLS RICH HISTORIC STORY WITH DULLNESS AND CLICHES

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

“Anastasia” musicalizes the well known life of the last Russian Czar’s fourth daughter.  It is a grand story not only about the young woman’s maturation but also about the crumbling reign of the aristocracy that sought personal wealth while everyday Russians suffered.  The historical tale demands a big production to represent the conspicuous consumption of the ruling class but it must also display the common man’s plight.

Unfortunately, Terrence McNally’s book inspired by the film tells the story with dry, plodding … Continue Reading

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – October 11, 2019

MARVELOUS LOCAL PRODUCTION OF “THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME” DEBUTS AT THE PHOENIX THEATRE COMPANY

“THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Hormel Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Over the past several seasons, The Phoenix Theatre Company consistently presents the best local productions of Broadway musicals.  And now, with an engaging local premiere production of the 2015 Tony Award winning play “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” they bring the same perfection to a psychologically complex drama that explores the brilliant mind of  the 15-year-old central character, Christopher, … Continue Reading

“The Royale” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – October 6, 2019

BOXING A CONTEXT FOR VIVID RACIAL DISCUSSION IN ATC’S “THE ROYALE”

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

“The Royale” is about African-American heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson but the game is just the context for an important discussion of race relations in 1910.  Johnson was the first Black heavyweight champion in that biased and bigoted post Civil War time when there was a terrific price to pay for this distinction.  A powerful and moving Arizona Theatre Company production of playwright Marco Ramirez’s telling tale makes a gripping performance as the racial situation suggests … Continue Reading

“Miss Saigon” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – September 25, 2019

TOURING “MISS SAIGON” IS DECENT BUT THE MUSICAL IS NO LONGER VIABLE

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

The touring production of the recent Broadway revival of “Miss Saigon” at ASU Gammage is decent but the 1989 musical based on Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” has not stood the test of time.  The now clichéd story of Kim, a Vietnamese woman who gets wooed by the corrupt Engineer into a shoddy life of pleasing U.S. soldiers is overly melodramatic.  Her first conquest, Chris, leaves her with child.  She struggles to keep herself and her son, Tam, … Continue Reading

“Kinky Boots” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – September 1, 2019

“KINKY BOOTS” DAZZLES IN SMASHING LOCAL PRODUCTION

“KINKY BOOTS”
Mainstage Theatre, The Phoenix Theatre Company
Phoenix, AZ

The Phoenix Theatre Company’s smashing staging of the entertaining “Kinky Boots” musical is one of the first regional productions of the hit Broadway tuner that won a slew of 2013 Tony Awards.  The local version explodes with energetic choreography, a superlative cast that delivers dynamic and comically delightful performances, contains sharp staging that give the show a dazzling performance.  Even the remarkable sets look just like the original show while splashy costumes amuse as they capture the characters with superlative definition.

Like I’ve … Continue Reading

“Spamilton: An American Parody” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – June 15, 2019

“SPAMILTON” SPOOFS “HAMILTON” WITH HUMOROUS JABS AND SLAMS

SPAMILTON: AN AMERICAN PARODY”
Hormel Theatre, The Phoenix Theatre Company
Phoenix, AZ

If you know current and historic Broadway musicals well, you will adore Gerard Alessandrini’s “Spamilton: An American Parody” that opened recently in a smashing touring production at The Phoenix Theatre Company.  The musical spoofs Lin-Manual Miranda’s hit musical “Hamilton” and a spot-on company draws every comic nuance from the show.

Alessandrini previously wrote the popular “Forbidden Broadway” spoofs that ran a long time off-Broadway.  Although Spamilton” lampoons “Hamilton” it lambasts but never ridicules the show and, like the “Forbidden Broadway” … Continue Reading

“Once” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – May 26, 2019

“ONCE” A CELEBRATION OF IRISH LIFE AND HOW TAKING CHANCES WORKS

“ONCE”
Mainstage Theatre, The Phoenix Theatre Company
Phoenix, AZ

“Once” is a joyous celebration of life in a small Irish town where long-hidden dreams become realities as residents push each other to explore their inspirations.  Girl pushes Guy, a local repairman who works for his father fixing vacuum cleaners, to explore his passion for creating lovely melodies with touchingly romantic lyrics.  The provincial town doesn’t have room for creative pursuits but Girl encourages Guy to go to New York City to market his tunes.

Girl is trapped in a … Continue Reading