“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

“Bright Colors and Bold Patterns” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – September 26, 2021

STRAY CAT THEATRE’S “BRIGHT COLORS AND BOLD PATTERNS” EXPERTLY PERFORMED BUT DISAPPOINTINGLY ONE-DIMENSIONAL

“BRIGHT COLORS AND BOLD PATTERNS”
Stray Cat Theatre, Studio Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

The pandemic stifled the Valley’s live theater scene but now with safeguards in place, established companies are reopening.  It is especially noteworthy that Stray Cat Theatre is back with its usual interesting shows.  The lesser-known plays the company presents provide Valley theatergoers with well-produced alternatives to shows avoided by our established professional theaters – Arizona Theatre Company, The Phoenix Theatre Company, and ASU Gammage’s Broadway Across … Continue Reading

“Camelot” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – September 19, 2021

“CAMELOT” STILL SUFFERS FROM A SOGGY HISTORIC RETELLING EVEN IN THE WELL-SUNG TPTC STAGING

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

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

When Lerner and Loewe’s “Camelot” premiered in 1960, the original cast – Julie Andrews, Richard Burton, and Robert Goulet – plus a gorgeous but not historically accurate physical production and a catchy musical score made it a modest success.  High expectations were leveled on it because of the team’s previous “My Fair Lady” hit.  Many reasons caused “Camelot” not to become a triumph including T. H. White’s stodgy source material, “The Once and … Continue Reading

“Hamilton” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – September 8, 2021

NEW ‘HAMILTON” TOUR IMPRESSES IN ASU GAMMAGE RETURN

“HAMILTON”
ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Concurrently to the “Hamilton” Broadway reopening of the enormously popular musical that vibrantly explains our country’s birth with a contemporary twist, a new national tour of the show debuted at ASU Gammage, marking the show’s second local engagement.  Like the previous tour, the new one smashingly re-creates the brilliant show with the original’s sharp and defining perfection.

Each familiar historical character is beautifully crafted in accordance with “Hamilton’s” creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s, new interpretations of these figures based on Ron Chernow’s book.  Miranda introduces many … Continue Reading

“Daddy Long Legs” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – June 26, 2021

LOVELY “DADDY LONG LEGS” IS A SUMMER DELIGHT

“DADDY LONG LEGS”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Hormel Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

After years of reviewing Valley theater, I have seen most local shows previously on Broadway or in London.  So, it is especially refreshing to see a musical here I haven’t seen and know little about.  When that show is the tenderly endearing “Daddy Long Legs,” produced smashingly by The Phoenix Theatre Company, there is little more local theater lovers could cherish.

“Daddy Long Legs” traces the unusual but respectable relationship between rich Jervis Pendleton who uses his money to provide higher … Continue Reading