“Intimate Apparel” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – February 18, 2024

STUNNING “INTIMATE APPAREL” MAKES UNIVERSAL STATEMENT ABOUT THE NEED FOR LOVE

“INTIMATE APPAREL”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

There’s something special about the poignant universality of unrequited love.  That’s the heart of Lynn Nottage’s beautifully crafted “Intimate Apparel” which is being presented in a brilliantly staged and marvelously acted Arizona Theatre Company production.

Set in early 20th century New York City, Esther, a talented and hard-working 35-year-old Black seamstress, has saved all her life making intimate apparel for rich women.  She’s never married, yearns for genuine love but has avoided … Continue Reading

“Until the Flood” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – February 17, 2024

“UNTIL THE FLOOD” DISCUSSES TERRIBLE RACIAL ISSUES BUT WEAK STAGING TURNS THE PLAY BLAND

“Until the Flood”
Stray Cat Theatre, Studio Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

An unusually small opening night audience greeted Stray Cat Theatre’s Arizona premiere production of Dael Orlandersmith’s “Until the Flood” with a standing ovation.  Unfortunately, this was an unwarranted reaction to a penetrating play.  Based on the unjustified murder by white cops of Michael Brown, the play is a perceptive and insightful look at the appalling racial treatment throughout the nation but it focuses on situations that occurred … Continue Reading

“The Woman in Black” – Herberger Theater Center

Theater Review – February 11, 2024

“THE WOMAN IN BLACK” IS A WELL PRODUCED WHODUNIT

“The Woman in Black”
Herberger Theater Center, Center Stage
Phoenix, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

British humor and play structure are usually different from American shows. American comedy is often based on a succession of quick one-liners where British comedy usually takes time to build before the laughs begin.  A prime example of these distinctions is the long-running British whodunit “A Woman in Black” which the Herberger Theater Center has imported from London where it just ended a 33-year run as one of the West End’s longest running shows.

The production is … Continue Reading

“The Truth About Winnie Ruth Judd” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – February 10, 2024

“WINNIE RUTH JUDD” FAILS TO MAKE THE NOTORIOUS MURDERER INTERESTING

“The Truth About Winnie Ruth Judd”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Hardes Theatre
Phoenix AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

The notorious murderer Winnie Ruth Judd is a Phoenix legend for her killing of two friends, the dismemberment of one of the bodies, and stuffing both victims into leaky trunks she shipped by train to Los Angeles.  But did she kill the pair or did an accomplice commit the crimes?  That is the question “The Truth About Winnie Ruth Judd” tries to answer in its world premiere engagement at The Phoenix Theatre … Continue Reading

Chita Rivera – A Remembrance

Theater Memorial – February 2, 2024

CHITA RIVERA’S PASSING BRINGS BACK MEMORIES OF HER GREAT PERFORMANCES

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

As has been widely reported, the great theater icon and Broadway star Chita Rivera passed away at age 91 on January 30.  She performed for over 60 years and never gave up.  A terrible 1986 auto accident sidetracked her career but hard work in physical therapy brought her back.  She was nominated for ten Tony Awards for excellence in the theater of which she won two in 1984 for “The Rink” and in 1993’s “Kiss of the Spider Woman” plus a Lifetime Achievement … Continue Reading

“Jagged Little Pill” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – January 31, 2024

“JAGGED LITTLE PILL” IS A DARK AND SOBERING LOOK AT CONTEMPORARY LIFE

“Jagged Little Pill”
Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Jukebox musicals have dominated Broadway since “Mamma Mia’s” tribute to Abba songs and continuing through “Jersey Boys,” “& Juliet,” and “Beautiful” among others. Alanis Morissette’s Tony and Grammy winning musical “Jagged Little Pill,” based on her album, struggled on Broadway due to the Covid crisis but a rousingly exciting touring version is playing this week at ASU Gammage.

The show explodes over ASU Gammage’s gigantic stage in a constantly moving, dynamically throbbing production … Continue Reading

“The Lehman Trilogy” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – January 27, 2024

“THE LEHMAN TRILOGY” IS A HISTORICALLY INSIGHTFUL LOOK INTO A MAJOR FINANCIAL FAMILY IN A TOP-NOTCH TPTC STAGING

“The Lehman Trilogy”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Mainstage Theatre
Phoenix AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

The Lehman brothers’ commodities and financial machinations may not be the household name of other big monetary dynasties.  But Stefano Massini and Marc Silvia’s fascinating “The Lehman Trilogy” turns the tug-of-war between the three founders into an interesting statement on how a major organization’s success can ultimately become its downfall when family members are no longer involved.

The Tony Award-winning play is being presented in a superb Arizona … Continue Reading

“Islander” – Herberger Theatre Center

Theater Review – January 14, 2024

“ISLANDER” IS A UNIQUE WAY OF THEATER STORYTELLING

“Islander”
Herberger Theater Center, Center Stage
Phoenix, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

When the Herberger Theater Center opened on July 19, 1989 with “Party of One,” produced by the now defunct Musical Theatre of Arizona, it was an auspicious debut for a much-anticipated new dual theater complex.  Filled with the latest stage and audience amenities not previously available in the area’s storefront playhouses or college auditoriums, a new dawn for local theater premiered.

Many theater companies were anxious to move to the Herberger and they hoped to better produce their shows in a … Continue Reading

“The Wiz” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – January 3, 2024

“THE WIZ” CAN’T BE HEARD HERE BUT ITS FRESH LOOK SHOULD WORK ON BROADWAY

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

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

“The Wiz” is back in town in a heavily contemporized version of the 1975 Tony Award-winning musical.  The show has always taken a different look at the 1903 L. Frank Baum tale immortalized in the 1939 Judy Garland film with an upbeat score and all Black cast.

The local engagement is part of a year-long road tour with the final stop beginning March 29 on Broadway.  The superb touring cast will bring … Continue Reading

“Scrooge” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – December 10, 2023

ANOTHER CHRISTMAS DELIGHT IN ATC’S “SCROOGE”

“SCROOGE”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Arizona Theatre Company has found the perfect holiday show with its glistening production of the reworked 1992 Leslie Bricusse musical “Scrooge.”  This “Scrooge” does not have the evil and malicious Ebenezer seen in many shows based on Charles Dickens’ melancholy “A Christmas Carol.”

“Scrooge’s” Ebenezer is still a miserly and mean-spirited bah-humbugging Christmas avoider because his troubled youth never made the holiday joyous.  He throws curves at his faithful worker Bob Cratchit and his sickly son Tiny Tim … Continue Reading