“Sons of the Prophet” – Stray Cat Theatre and Barbara Cook’s “Let’s Fall in Love” Concert – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

This review aired on KBAQ February 25, 2013


Stray Cat Theatre, Tempe Performing Arts Center
Tempe, AZ

The complexities of a family’s inner relationships and the weird carryings on that invade some families is at the core of Stephen Karam’s new play “Sons of the Prophet.”  The award-winning comedy is being presented in an exciting Arizona premiere production by Stray Cat Theatre.  Ron May’s sensitively directed staging brings out the play’s subtleties about the various relationships between the three family members, brothers Joseph and Charles, and their Uncle Bill who is responsible for the boys.  The play also includes others who romp through their lives like Gloria, Joseph’s weird boss.

The play was a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist and was hailed by many New York critics as one of the year’s best plays.  The young brothers are gay and their uncle is loosing it as he struggles to take control of their lives after their father dies.  Joseph has a mysterious ailment and Gloria pressures him to write a history of his family’s connection to “The Prophet’s” author.  More mayhem occurs as a reporter tries to squeeze a story from the family.  While the showcased family is more dramatically flamboyant than most, it’s interesting how the irrational behavior of some influence the calm and rational behavior of others.  With comic flair, the play explores how this family handles life’s wounds that never seem to heal.

May keeps the play’s chatty dialogue vibrantly funny and he’s gathered fine local actors who create memorable characters with thoughtful style and theatrical flair.

The two brothers are played with great feeling by Ian Christiansen as the older Joseph and Maxx Carlisle-King as young Charles.  Eleventh grader Carlisle-King is one of our local theater’s finest actors and he again crafts a believable and complex character.  Their weird uncle is essayed with cranky murkiness by Walt Pedano.  Shari Watts must be singled out for her Gloria, Joseph’s bizarre boss.

“Sons of the Prophet” is a challenging play because it doesn’t slide around serious issues that face many families.  “Sons of the Prophet” continues through March 2 at the Tempe Performing Arts Center in downtown Tempe.  For tickets, call the Stray Cat Theatre box office at 480-634-6435 or order tickets online at www.straycattheatre.org.

Grade: B


Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Scottsdale, AZ

Musical theater star Barbara Cook, who created roles in “The Music Man,” “She Loves Me,” and “Candide,” appeared Saturday, February 23 at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.  To say the 85 year-old singer was superb is understatement.  Ms. Cook’s pristine soprano has been preserved and although she no longer soars through her famous musical theater songs, her show was filled with pop songs that have been orchestrated to compliment her voice.  Let’s hope Ms. Cook makes regular Valley appearances since her Scottsdale show was sold-out.

Grade: A