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“Bandstand” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – September 24, 2022

EXCELLENT “BANDSTAND” PRODUCTION CAN’T DISGUISE A DISAPPOINTING MUSICAL

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

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

An endlessly snappy musical tribute to returning but war shocked World War II veterans does not produce an exciting theatrical adventure in “Bandstand” at The Phoenix Theatre Company. Although TPTC’s sharply defined staging with a remarkable ensemble of singing/acting/dancing talents isn’t the issue; the uninteresting musical lets the cast and audience down.

“Bandstand” is plagued with unremarkable and easily forgettable songs that sound like cheap carbons of the era’s musical style and the story is riddled with dullard characters whose … Continue Reading

“The Book of Will” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – September 3, 2022

“THE BOOK OF WILL” AMUSINGLY EXPLAINS PRESERVING THE BARD’S PLAYS

“THE BOOK OF WILL”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Hormel Theatre
Phoenix AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

William Shakespeare’s plays are well known from the myriad of traditional productions presented to the host of vibrant new interpretations.  But the Bard’s plays premiered before the printing of such works was routine and before copyright laws protected the plays from illegal lifting by competing authors.  Therefore, there was a strong possibility that Shakespeare’s masterpieces could have been lost.

Lauren Gunderson’s cleverly witty “The Book of Will” provides a fascinating scenario for how the plays … Continue Reading

“The Lion King” Slow Ticket Sales and Local Broadway Show Runs

Theater Opinion – July 17, 2022

SLOW TICKET SALES FOR “THE LION KING” SHOULDN’T BE AN EXCUSE NOT TO EXTEND LOCAL BROADWAY SHOW RUNS

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Local ducats to “The Lion King” touring show are selling slowly based on dramatically increased paid television and newspaper advertising.  “The Lion King” was booked for four weeks during its fourth ASU Gammage visit beginning July 5 but ticket sales are sputtering.

Watching a recent “Saturday Night Live” television show saw four lengthy and expensive advertisements for the show.  The next day’s Sunday Arizona Republic Arts and Entertainment section had a front-page color ad after many … Continue Reading

“On Your Feet!” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – July 16, 2022

“ON YOUR FEET” EXPLORES THE ESTEFAN’S LIFE AND CAREER IN A SPLASHY ENTERTAINMENT

“ON YOUR FEET”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Mainstage Theatre
Phoenix AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

“On Your Feet” is a delicious confection exuberantly mounted by The Phoenix Theatre Company that pays homage to the great Hispanic vocal artists Gloria and Emilio Estefan.

The show is loaded with songs the artists wrote and others that they made their own.  It is filled with excitingly energetic dance numbers that explode on the stage as the musical tribute delves into Gloria’s life and how, through driving determination, she and her husband … Continue Reading

“how to make an American Son” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – July 10, 2022

ATC’S WORLD PREMIERE PLAY RIDDLED WITH PROBLEMS

“HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN SON”
Arizona Theatre Company, Stage West, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Arizona Theatre Company consistently presents the finest theater in exemplary Phoenix productions until its final show of the 2021/22 season.  The world premiere of a lethargic and weakly written new play by ATC’s artistic associate, christopher oscar pena, “how to make an American Son,” disappoints because so many basic missteps occur throughout the piece.

The short play drags dreadfully with tiresome repetition as it tries to craft a valid message about generational differences in … Continue Reading

“Come From Away” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – June 15, 2022

“COME FROM AWAY” OPENS AT ASU GAMMAGE IN A SMASHING PRODUCTION

“COME FROM AWAY”
Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

After several less than stellar entries, the ASU Gammage Broadway series has brought the outstanding musical “Come From Away” here in a smashing touring production that does justice to the glittering show.

The musical traces the days after 9-11-01 when air traffic was grounded world-wide because of the World Trade Center bombing.  Planes were required to stay put until it was deemed safe to fly again.  Thirty-eight planes landed in Gander, Newfoundland where the … Continue Reading

“Always…Patsy Cline” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – June 11, 2022

TPTC’S “ALWAYS…PATSY CLINE” RECREATES COUNTRY SINGER’S LEGACY IN WONDERFULLY TUNEFUL PRODUCTION

“ALWAYS…PATSY CLINE”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Hormel Theatre
Phoenix AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Not everybody likes country music.  It’s an acquired taste but The Phoenix Theatre Company’s wonderfully tuneful “Always…Patsy Cline” production provides a great introduction to this popular musical style as personified by Cline.  It will turn a non-country music person into a devoted fan.  There are many reasons for the show’s positive impact.

Ted Swindley’s script starts in 1957 just as Cline’s career was beginning to soar.  It mixes renditions of Cline’s songs plus the singer’s friendship … Continue Reading

“Assassins” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – May 9, 2022

SONDHEIM’S “ASSASSINS” PROBES THE PEOPLE WHO WANTED TO KILL AMERICAN PRESIDENTS IN AN AMAZING STRAY CAT THEATRE PRODUCTION

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

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

An amazing cast tackles Stephen Sondheim’s rarely produced musical “Assassins” with winning results in a well-sung, strongly acted, and well directed staging of this very unusual story.  Playwright John Weidman and Sondheim, who was never afraid to produce musicals about subjects rarely presented as singing tales, gather characters from throughout American history who have desired to kill American presidents.

Set in a carnival shooting gallery where … Continue Reading

“Justice” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – May 8, 2022

ATC’S “JUSTICE” TELLS OF THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE FIRST TWO FEMALE SUPREME COURT JUDGES

“JUSTICE”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

The musical “Justice” paints an insightful picture of the first two female Supreme Court justices, Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as narrated by what playwright Lauren Gunderson sees as the first Black woman justice, a prophesy that has come true with the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson.

“Justice” is receiving its world premiere by the Arizona Theatre Company.  It provides fascinating awareness not only to the political differences between the … Continue Reading

“Something Rotten!” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – May 7, 2022

COMICALLY DELIGHTFUL “SOMETHING ROTTEN!” DAZZLES IN SUPERB TPTC STAGING

“SOMETHING ROTTEN!”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Mainstage Theatre
Phoenix AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

In the hilarious musical “Something Rotten!,” comic energy explodes all over The Phoenix Theatre Company stage bringing a richly entertaining and thoroughly amusing show to vibrant and throbbing life.  The show, set during Shakespeare’s time, slams musical theater foibles and the inane plots of too many musicals.

The show succeeds for two main reasons.  One reason is a superb cast of limber farceurs who sing and dance with aplomb while making anything remotely funny in the mockish show … Continue Reading