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Commentary on “Mad Hatter The Musical” – Herberger Theater Center

Theater Commentary – May 9, 2024

FURTHER SCUTTLEBUTT ON “MAD HATTER THE MUSICAL” SUGGEST IT WAS PLAGUED BY INSURMOUNTABLE CHALLENGES

“Mad Hatter The Musical”
Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Nothing posted to Curtain Up Phoenix has received the number of comments as has the “Mad Hatter The Musical” review.  Many of the received comments requested that they not be posted to the site. The comments have been favorable about my negative reaction to the show but they have indicated further scuttlebutt about the world premiere production.  Why have the reactions been so prolific and so damning about the show? Let’s … Continue Reading

“Mad Hatter The Musical” – Herberger Theater Center

Theater Review – May 5, 2024

“MAD HATTER THE MUSICAL” SPUTTERS

“Mad Hatter The Musical”
Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

World premiere musicals are always challenging and expensive until they have been worked through the creative process and come to real life.  Broadway musicals are developed over time and are then tested on invited audiences without scenery or costumes.  Phoenix area theaters are occasionally getting world premiere shows.  They are often plays that require less development time and smaller investments than musicals.

Not to avoid a new musical, the Herberger Theater Center is ending its first season of self-produced shows by … Continue Reading

“Sleeping Giant” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – May 4, 2024

“SLEEPING GIANT” EXPLORES SCARY SITUATIONS THAT PARALLEL CURRENT LIFE

“Sleeping Giant”
Stray Cat Theatre, Studio Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Stray Cat Theatre has gone through many changes in the last few seasons with mixed results.  For the end of their current season, they have brought back playwright Steve Yockey’s new play “Sleeping Giant.”  He has penned several popular Stray Cat productions including “Mercury,” “Pluto,” “Wolves,” and “Octopus.”

In addition to presenting Yockey’s latest play, Stray Cat’s artistic director Ron May is staging the production after allowing others to put together recent Stray Cat … Continue Reading

“Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes” – Scottsdale Center for the Arts

Theater Review – April 17, 2024

“PATTI LUPONE: A LIFE IN NOTES” DAZZLES AT THE SCOTTSDALE CENTER

“Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes”
Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Scottsdale AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Broadway diva and the reigning queen/icon of the Great White Way, Patti LuPone, dazzled a near-capacity crowd at the Scottsdale Center Tuesday re-creating her recent Carnegie Hall appearance in “A Life in Notes.”  It was a night to remember!  She winningly demonstrated throughout her generous 25 song act that her exquisite voice remains a treasure and her marvelous diction is impeccable.  Her stylish, well staged presentation, attributed to … Continue Reading

“What the Constitution Means to Me” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – April 13, 2024

“WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME” EXPLAINS THE DOCUMENT’S IMPORTANCE

“What the Constitution Means to Me”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Hardes Theatre
Phoenix AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

In these troubled and confusing times, it is nice to know that the United States Constitution protects our rights and freedoms. The complex document is brought to throbbingly exciting life in the artful Phoenix Theatre Company production of “What the Constitution Means to Me.”  Middle-aged Heidi explains key parts in a personal but insightful way of what the document means to her.

Heidi is the play’s sole character until just before the conclusion … Continue Reading

“The Kite Runner” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – April 10, 2024

INSIGHTFUL “THE KITE RUNNER” GETS LOST IN THE INHOSPITABLE ASU GAMMAGE

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

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Matthew Spangler”s theatrical adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling book, “The Kite Runner” is an exquisitely intimate play that dissects the rich Afghan cultural heritage as it exposes its distinctive but destructive class system, women’s second-class stature, and the challenges of immigration.  But the play’s most distinguishing attribute is its exploration of the importance of friendship, something critical in every culture.  This makes “The Kite Runner” a universal piece.

The play begins in 1975 Kabul … Continue Reading

“Master Class” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – March 31, 2024

BRILLIANTLY ACTED “MASTER CLASS” EXPOSES HATED OPERA DIVA MARIA CALLAS

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

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Maria Callas was an egotistical, narcissistic operatic superstar who used her vocal talents to achieve unbelievable world-wide acclaim even when she continued to perform as her gifts faded.  She then used her stature to continue her career to the chagrin of her fans and opera lovers.

Callas was a peculiar artist and her trying personality is graphically recreated in Terrence McNally’s brilliant award-winning play “Master Class” which the Arizona Theatre Company has brought … Continue Reading

More Exclusions On Local 24/25 Broadway Season Show Up In Tucson

Theater Commentary – March 25, 2024

MORE EXCLUSIONS ON LOCAL 24/25 BROADWAY SEASON SHOW UP IN TUCSON

2024/25 Broadway Across America – Arizona and Broadway in Tucson Seasons
Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Looks like I spoke too soon with regard to the Broadway Across America – Arizona series at ASU Gammage versus the Broadway in Tucson series sponsored by the Nederlander Organization at U of A Centennial Hall. Turns out the Tempe eight-show series plus one option includes two shows previously presented in Tucson, two identical shows, plus four shows that haven’t yet played Tucson.  There are … Continue Reading

“MJ The Musical” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – March 13, 2024

“MJ THE MUSICAL” DYNAMICALLY RECREATES THE MULTI-FACETED ARTIST

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

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Michael Jackson was the consummate musical artist – singer, song stylist, and dancer par extraordinaire, plus a character actor – who was taken from the world when his career was about to have a re-birth back to the soaring days of his early success.  Who knows what more he could have created but he left a great legacy and the Tony Award-winning “MJ The Musical” is Broadway’s tribute to Jackson.

The dynamic show landed this week at … Continue Reading

“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – March 9, 2024

“BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL” FEATURES DYNAMIC PERFORMANCES IN A WELL STAGED TRIBUTE TO A GREAT ARTIST

“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Mainstage Theatre
Phoenix AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Not only is singer/songwriter Carole King’s rich and interesting life amazing but “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” includes most of her hit tunes. The Phoenix Theatre Company’s (TPTC) marvelously explosive staging crafted by the company’s producing artistic director Michael Barnard is aided by a superb cast who sing, act, and dance with spit-fire precision keeping the audience joyously entranced for two-and-a-half hours of exciting theater.

TPTC’s shows, … Continue Reading