“Next to Normal” – Scottsdale Community Players and ThePmvproductions

Theater Review – January 16, 2022

PSYCHOLOGICAL MUSICAL “NEXT TO NORMAL” PLAYS LOCALLY IN IMPRESSIVE STAGING

“NEXT TO NORMAL”
Scottsdale Community Players and The Pmvproductions, Stagebrush Theatre
Scottsdale, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

American musicals don’t usually tackle psychological issues like bipolar disorder but the brilliant 2009 Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey show “Next to Normal” deals with this medical situation in one of Broadway’s best musicals.  The show’s somber theme creates characters with difficult confrontations because this issue is rarely resolved.  Having seen the magnificent New York production that featured Alice Ripley’s award-winning interpretation of Diana, the show’s lead character, makes it hard for any … Continue Reading

“Hello Girls” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – January 16, 2022

PHOENIX THEATRE’S “HELLO GIRLS” TELLS AN INTERESTING HISTORICAL TALE THAT ALSO ENTERTAINS

“HELLO GIRLS”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Hormel Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

An entertaining and charming new musical “Hello Girls” also provides a bit of generally unknown historic background on the winning of World War I.  The show debuted off-Broadway in 2018 and is now receiving its Western United States premiere in a spot-on production at The Phoenix Theatre Company.  It boasts a talented ensemble cast and energetic staging by Cara Reichel who co-authored the show’s book with Peter Mills who penned a hummable score that … Continue Reading

“Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – December 12, 2021

ATC’S “MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY” IS A DELICIOUS HOLIDAY TREAT IN AN ENCHANTING PRODUCTION

“MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Delightful is an overworked word too often used to describe charming theater.  But it is the perfect word for “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley,” the new Arizona Theatre Company production that opened over the weekend.  The comedy is the first of what ATC’s artistic director, Sean Daniels, promises to be an annual holiday-themed production during future seasons.

“Miss Bennet…” utilizes familiar Jane Austen “Pride and Prejudice” characters … Continue Reading

“My Fair Lady” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – December 8, 2021

”MY FAIR LADY” IS BACK IN A SOLID BUT NOT BRILLIANT PRODUCTION

“MY FAIR LADY”
Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Lerner and Loewe’s 1956 “My Fair Lady,” based brilliantly on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” is a masterpiece of America’s Golden Age of Musical Theatre.  As such, the show merits reviving as long as the production either treasures the show with a stellar staging or finds new angles as it tells the story of flower person Eliza Doolittle who becomes a lady under Professor Henry Higgins’ tutelage.

The recent 2018 Broadway revival found new … Continue Reading

“Million Dollar Quartet Christmas” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – November 20, 2021

TPTC’S “MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET CHRISTMAS” IS ENTERTAININGLY STAGED BUT WON’T BECOME A CLASSIC HOLIDAY SHOW

“MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET CHRISTMAS”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Mainstage Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Christmas is upon us and hopefully this year’s festivities will be brighter than during the pandemic as vaccinations improve the situation.  Theater troupes usually celebrate and The Phoenix Theatre Company is the first in the country to premiere a new musical that capitalizes on the success of “Million Dollar Quartet.”  That show captured Memphis music producer Sam Phillips luck in combining four great rock ‘n’ rollers – Elvis Presley, … Continue Reading

“A Man of No Importance” – Mesa Community College

Theater Review – November 7, 2021

THOUGHTFUL “A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE” DEBUTS LOCALLY IN STRONG MCC STAGING

“A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE”
Mesa Community College, MCC Performing Arts Center
Mesa, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

While this website focuses primarily on Phoenix-area professional productions presented by Arizona Theatre Company, The Phoenix Theatre Company, Stray Cat Theatre, and Broadway tours at ASU Gammage, there are occasional university and community theater productions of unusual works that warrant mention because they are an important facet of local theater.

Mesa Community College is presenting a commendable area premiere staging of Terrence McNally, Stephen Flaherty, and Lynn Ahrens’ musical “A Man … Continue Reading

“Mean Girls” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – November 3, 2021

MEDIOCRE “MEAN GIRLS” PLAYS ASU GAMMAGE BUT WHY WASTE MONEY TO SEE IT?

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

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Aren’t you sick of teenage angst?  We all went through it but it seems to find its way into lots of contemporary theater and it now invades the musical theater badly in “Mean Girls” based on the popular film.  Many earlier musicals handled this theme better and avoided the now tired cliches with shows like “West Side Story” and “Grease” coming to mind.

Not only is “Mean Girls” sadly unoriginal about teeny boppers … Continue Reading

“Our Dear Dead Drug Lord” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – October 31, 2021

“OUR DEAR DEAD DRUG LORD” IS SHARPLY STAGED PRODUCTION OF A VIOLENT BUT TRUTHFUL PLAY ABOUT STRUGGLING TEENAGERS

“OUR DEAR DEAD DRUG LORD”
Stray Cat Theatre, Studio Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

As usual, Stray Cat Theatre doesn’t disappoint with its latest production, “Our Dear Dead Drug Lord” which winningly explores teenage alienation, sexual identity, handling racial injustice, religious struggles, the importance of rituals, and young people’s angst.  Four female high schoolers try to find the other’s weaknesses as their impressionable minds probe death and other monumental issues facing them as they try … Continue Reading

“My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – October 24, 2021

ATC’S “MY 80-YEAR-OLD BOYFRIEND” IS A TOUCHING LOOK AT AN UNUSUAL RELATIONSHIP

“MY 80-YEAR-OLD-BOYFRIEND”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

A delicate, touching, and revealing look at an unusual but amazingly sincere relationship between 80-year-old Milton and a much younger woman is explored eloquently by performer/author Charissa Bertels in her one-woman tribute to her inspiring relationship.  Bertels plays both roles with superb definition as she holds the stage dynamically for the almost two-hour play.  That is no easy task in a one-person, multi-character script.

With only pianist Jose C. Simbulan playing this show’s … Continue Reading

“The Rocky Horror Show” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – October 9, 2021

CAMPY “ROCKY HORROR SHOW” IS A WACKY DELIGHT IN TIP-TOP TPTC STAGING

“THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Hormel Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

“The Rocky Horror Show” film is a bizarre, over-the-top camp extravaganza that delights audiences.  The movie has become a cult classic favorite at midnight showings.  But the show was born on a tiny London stage and arrived in this country originally as an obscure off-Broadway type entertainment at a Los Angeles cabaret where Tim Curry starred as the Sweet Transvesite Transexual Transylvanian Frank ‘N’ Furter.

When I attended the LA premiere, I didn’t … Continue Reading