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“La Ruta” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – December 4, 2022

“LA RUTA” IS A POWERFUL AND WELL ACTED PLAY ABOUT THE AWFUL TREATMENT OF WOMEN

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

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

We all know, though some deny, that women are not always well or equally treated.  Playwright Isaac Gomez’s powerful “La Ruta,” receiving its Arizona premiere in a robust Stray Cat Theatre production, has chosen the abused and maligned Hispanic women who live in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico but work in U.S. factories as its focus.

The women slave for 12 hours, six days a week in a non-descript factory … Continue Reading

“Cinderella” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – November 20, 2022

MAGICAL “CINDERELLA” IS THE PERFECT HOLIDAY ENTERTAINMENT

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

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

As you enter The Phoenix Theatre Company’s Mainstage Theatre for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s enchanting “Cinderella,” you leave the world of unrest, election deniers, unjustified wars, political discontent, and today’s general turmoil as you escape into a beautiful fairy tale place where dreams come true. There’s melodic music and the well-known story as the show creates a luminescent cloud.  Everybody needs such diversion as we confront daily living.

Based on the 1957 television version that featured a young Julie Andrews, this script … Continue Reading

“Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age” – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Theater Review – November 13, 2022

ALAN CUMMING PRESENTS ENTERTAINING SCOTTSDALE PERFORMANCE

“ALAN CUMMING IS NOT ACTING HIS AGE”
Virginia G. Piper Theater, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Scottsdale, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Alan Cumming is the consummate entertainer as he proved mightily in his high energy, musically interesting solo appearance at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.  He billed his performance “Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age” as he amusingly bemoaned his 57 years.  His candid and raunchy chatter between the dozen musical numbers allowed him to talk openly about his life.  He focused the discussion on his outsize sexual gymnastics … Continue Reading

“The Lion” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – October 23, 2022

“THE LION” IS A TALE OF A CHILD’S CHALLENGING RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS FATHER

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

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

As you enter the theater for Arizona Theatre Company’s “The Lion” the stage is a down home locale with five different guitars prominently displayed across the rear of the stage.  Each instrument will be used by agile star Max Alexander-Taylor playing Ben who sings 15 simple but catchy tunes used to describe his challenging relationship with his father, Rick.  The father heads an American home that also includes two brothers plus … Continue Reading

“Oklahoma” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – October 19, 2022

TOURING “OKLAHOMA” REVIVAL LACKS THE UNIQUENESS THAT MADE IT A NEW YORK AND LONDON HIT

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

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Many Broadway shows use unique casting and are presented in theaters with special audience configurations.  These productions often secure glowing reviews that focus on the performers and staging netting financially successful engagements that make them ripe to tour the country.  That’s especially true with well-known shows. Often, these acclaimed productions fail to duplicate New York castings and tours must play in conventional theaters.

Such is the case with the revival of Rodgers … Continue Reading

“Six” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – October 5, 2022

“SIX” IS DAZZLING AMUSEMENT BUT IT’S NOT A CONVENTIONAL BROADWAY MUSICAL

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

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

“Six” is an entertainment extravaganza but it is not a conventional musical as it tells the story of English King Henry VIII’s diverse half-dozen wives.

The musical’s approach to the historic tale is delivered in very contemporary ways avoiding conventional musical theater storytelling techniques.  The score, which explains much of the story, is steeped in the pulsating beat of modern dance hall style tunes associated with that musical genre.  The song lyrics often have a clever … Continue Reading

“Ghosts of Bogota” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – October 2, 2022

“GHOSTS OF BOGOTA” DOESN’T EXPLAIN THE HISPANIC CULTURE IT EXPLORES

“GHOSTS OF BOGOTA”
Stray Cat Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts Studio Theatre
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Stray Cat Theatre can always be counted on to avoid conventional theater, the kind other Valley companies like Arizona Theatre Company and The Phoenix Theatre Company do with lots of flair and panache.

Stray Cat’s season-opening production, “Ghosts of Bogota,” is no exception but for theatergoers accustomed to orthodox plays, this show is a challenge.  The play, by Diana Burbano, is full of intricate Hispanic traditions not widely understood by everyone and … Continue Reading

“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