* You are viewing the author archive

“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

Lea Salonga In Concert – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Theater Review – May 6, 2022

BROADWAY’S LEA SALONGA DAZZLES IN IMPRESSIVE LOCAL PERFORMANCE

LEA SALONGA IN CONCERT
Virginia G. Piper Theater, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Scottsdale, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Back in 1991, I saw the original Broadway production of “Miss Saigon.” The impeccable cast featured a young performer marking her New York debut as the tragic Kim.  That 18-year-old was Lea Salonga.  She was impressive then and continues to maintain her remarkable allure today.

The diminutive Salonga appeared solo at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts with a brilliant and jazzy back-up quartet as the singer used her magnificent voice to … Continue Reading

ASU Gammage Announces 2022/23 Broadway Season

Theater Announcement – April 20, 2022

BROADWAY ACROSS AMERICA’S 2022/23 ASU GAMMAGE SEASON DISAPPOINTS AS MAJOR TOURS BYPASS TEMPE

2022/23 Broadway Across America Arizona Season Announcement
ASU Gammage
Tempe AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Two words came to mind after the 2022/23 Broadway Across America season at ASU Gammage was announced.  The first word was “disappointment” at the lack of four big Broadway hit musicals all touring and all playing nearby cities.  The shows missing include “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations,” “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical,” “Jagged Little Pill,” and Broadway’s biggest recent triumph, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”

The second word that … Continue Reading

“Cosi fan tutte” – Arizona Opera

Opera Review – April 9, 2022

DELIGHTFUL “COSI FAN TUTTE” CLOSES ARIZONA OPERA SEASON WITH A FLOURISH OF RICH MUSIC AND COMIC FUN

“COSI FAN TUTTE”
Arizona Opera, Symphony Hall
Phoenix AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater/Opera Critic

In an earlier Arizona Opera review this season, I stated that our local company had joined the ranks of this country’s finest regional opera presenters.  That qualification was brilliantly maintained in this season’s closing opera, Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte.”  It was lushly sung and acted plus it was a visual delight in a stunning new production designed and built here.  The opera comically tells of spirited young lovers and the … Continue Reading

“Nina Simone: Four Women” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – March 27, 2022

ATC’S BRILLIANT “NINA SIMONE” DEFINES HOW RACIAL INEQUALITY DAMNS SOCIETY

“NINA SIMONE: FOUR WOMEN”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Songstress Nina Simone brought much more to her original songs and classic pop renditions.  So Arizona Theatre Company’s “Nina Simone: Four Women” is not just the typical glitzy but superficial jukebox musical we’ve come to expect as Broadway struggles to find new material.  The Simone tribute intersperses her racial and political thinking between the tunes as the script reveals just how violated the singer became for her revolutionary thoughts.  This brilliant Simone … Continue Reading

“Tootsie” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – March 16, 2022

“TOOTSIE” ANOTHER DUD IN ASU GAMMAGE BROADWAY SERIES

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

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

We all remember “The Band’s Visit,” February’s touring Broadway musical at ASU Gammage, and how awful it was even though it won a Best Musical Tony Award telling audiences just how dreadful that “winner” was.  Now audiences are treated to another Broadway loser, “Tootsie,” that is an unbelievably boring dud even though its film origins were amazingly comic.

“Tootsie” is loosely based on the hit movie that starred Dustin Hoffman as an out-of-work and unpopular Broadway actor who dresses … Continue Reading

“Sheepdog” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – March 13, 2022

“SHEEPDOG” PROBES INTERRACIAL PARTNERSHIPS WITH INTENSE INSIGHT IN A SUPERB STAGING

“SHEEPDOG”

Stray Cat Theatre, Studio Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts, Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio

Theater Critic

As local theatergoers have come to expect, Stray Cat Theatre delivers a stellar and exemplary Arizona premiere production of Kevin Artigue’s, “Sheepdog,” that hits hard and revealingly at many of today’s prime relationship issues.

It focuses on Amina, a Black police officer and her budding relationship with fellow White officer, Ryan, who kills a Black man.  Is the murder accidental or even justified?  Ryan sees the man pull something from his jacket … Continue Reading

“A Little Night Music” – Arizona Opera

Theater/Opera Review – March 7, 2022

THE PROBLEMS WITH AN OPERA COMPANY PRODUCTION OF A CLASSIC MUSICAL

“A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC”
Arizona Opera, Symphony Hall
Phoenix AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater/Opera Critic

When an opera company tackles a musical theater piece, you can count on two things – great singing that is often superior to the best theater company and the score played by a large ensemble allowing the performance of nuanced orchestration rarely heard in the current small, shallow Broadway orchestras.  Both things happened glowingly in the Arizona Opera’s staging of Stephen Sondheim’s brilliant “A Little Night Music.”  Other things critical to a successful musical theater … Continue Reading