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COVID-19 Impacts Local Theater & Changes Made At ASU Gammage

Theater Commentary – May 2, 2020

COVID-19 IMPACTS LOCAL THEATER AND CHANGES ARE MADE IN ASU GAMMAGE BROADWAY SEASON

By Chris Curcio

Since live theater will not return until September at the earliest due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local theatergoers are facing the challenge of not attending the art form they love.  For those who value theater, seeing performances on a television, a computer, or a smartphone is nothing like enjoying live theater with other audience members.

For live theater to return the experience must be different.  We can no longer crowd into a playhouse because social distancing must be established.  We must wait … Continue Reading

2020/21 ASU Gammage and Tucson Broadway Season Announcements

Theater Review – March 22, 2020

2020/21 ASU GAMMAGE AND TUCSON BROADWAY SEASON ANNOUNCEMENTS

Broadway Across America, ASU Gammage, Tempe, AZ and
Broadway in Tucson, Centennial Hall, Tucson, AZ

The two 2020/2021 Broadway in Arizona seasons of touring shows has been announced.  Interestingly, many of the shows in the two cities are the same, an occurrence that has only occasionally happened in past seasons.  The ASU Gammage season usually gets the touring Broadway shows at least one season before Tucson but the new seasons share five shows.

The Tempe season does feature the Broadway hit “Frozen,” a major Broadway revival of “Oklahoma,” and the New … Continue Reading

Norm Lewis with Seth Rudetsky – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Theater Review – March 6, 2020

BROADWAY’S NORM LEWIS PROVIDES STUNNING SONGS AND AMUSING BACKSTAGE CHATTER

NORM LEWIS WITH SETH RUDETSKY
Virginia G. Piper Theater, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Scottsdale, AZ

Beautiful voiced Broadway star Norm Lewis brought his stunning vocals for one night to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts interspersed with hysterical backstage insights prompted by series host/pianist Seth Rudetsky.

Lewis’ concert was the final offering in this season’s series presenting Broadway stars singing highlights of their careers with catty banter.  Rudetsky said the series will return next season although no performers have been revealed.

Lewis sang many Broadway hit songs several … Continue Reading

“Once on This Island” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – March 4, 2020

“ONCE ON THIS ISLAND” HAS GREAT T-SHIRTS EVEN IF THE CARIBBEAN LOVE TALE DOESN’T MAKE GREAT MUSICAL THEATER

“ONCE ON THIS ISLAND”
Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

The best part of the touring “Once on This Island at ASU Gammage this week was the festive bright blue show t-shirt with muted tones of yellow that I bought in the lobby before the 90 minute, one-act musical began.  The Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens musical didn’t equal the team’s earlier “Ragtime” triumph.  “Once on This Island” is a morality tale about Ti Moune, a young girl, … Continue Reading

“Americano!” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – February 23, 2020

A WORLD PREMIERE MUSICAL DEBUTS AT THE PHOENIX THEATRE COMPANY

“AMERICANO!”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Mainstage Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

The Phoenix Theatre Company is branching out to present world premiere musicals and plays.  It just closed the new musical “Americano!” that told the true story of Tony Valdovinos, a Phoenix immigrant who had lived in this country since he was two but had never been told by his parents that he was not an American citizen.  This fact stifled his longtime hope to enlist in the Marine Corp when he turned 18.

Before I go further in this commentary about … Continue Reading

“Master Harold … and the Boys” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – February 16, 2020

BRILLIANT PERFORMANCES GIVE FUGARD’S “MASTER HAROLD…” A STRONG SLAM AT SOUTH AFRICAN APARTHEID IN 1950

“MASTER HAROLD … AND THE BOYS”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

Three brilliant actors create vivid depictions of the appalling apartheid conditions in South Africa circa 1950 in Athol Fugard’s tensely dramatic semi-autobiographical work “Master Harold” … and the Boys.”

Master Harold is an immature White lad who grew up under the tutelage of his household’s two Black servants, Sam and Willie.  They substituted for his errant and drunken father.  But now with a bit of age, a tad of … Continue Reading

“The Wolves” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – February 9, 2020

A STRONG PRODUCTION, “THE WOLVES” IS LESS COMPELLING ABOUT GROWING UP

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

Stray Cat Theatre can always be counted on to bring local theatergoers the most trend-setting shows that other local theaters avoid.  Not only do the plays the company presents come to interesting points about our confusing contemporary society, the productions are consistently well staged and sublimely acted.  Theatergoers never leave a Stray Cat production without issues to discuss.

But occasionally the plays probe less dynamic issues that impact current culture.  Such is the case with … Continue Reading

“Fiddler on the Roof” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – January 29, 2020

WHILE A GOOD PRODUCTION, “FIDDLER ON THE ROOF” NEEDS A REST

“FIDDLER ON THE ROOF”
Broadway Across America, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

The one big question about the endless returns of “Fiddler on the Roof” to ASU Gammage is why this over produced musical is back again.  It doesn’t matter if the production is good, bad, or indifferent; the show has played ASU Gammage a myriad of times and it has played just about every other theater in town.

The latest production is decent if not spectacular but it boasts a strong Tevye, the likeable dairyman with his shrewish wife … Continue Reading

Laura Osnes with Seth Rudetsky – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Theater Review – January 24, 2020

BROADWAY’S LAURA OSNES DAZZLES LOCAL AUDIENCE WITH CLASSIC MUSICAL THEATER SONGS

LAURA OSNES WITH SETH RUDETSKY
Virginia G. Piper Theater, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Scottsdale, AZ

Broadway musical theater aficionado, Seth Rudetsky, brings New York stage stars to Scottsdale in his superb Concert Series that introduces major artists to local audiences they might not otherwise get to see.  He combines classic musical theater songs with enlightening informal chat between tunes that lets audiences learn about the singer, including their background and training.

His latest program introduced the gifted Laura Osnes who has based her career on Broadway and … Continue Reading

“Cabaret” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – January 12, 2020

“CABARET” IS A HARSH INDICTMENT OF CONTROL BY A BIGOTED ANARCHIST

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

The 1966 musical “Cabaret” is a harsh indictment of 1930s pre-Nazi Germany.  The historic period brought major societal changes to the “anything goes” freedom that disappeared as rigid and highly discriminatory political control by a bigoted anarchist took hold.

The show brought new depth to the American musical theater as its rough theme had always been avoided by glitzy Broadway fare.  The story, still a reminder of what can happen when a biased ruler dominates a country, deals … Continue Reading