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“Peter Pan” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – June 12, 2024

“PETER PAN” OPENS AT ASU GAMMAGE

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

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

There will be no review of “Peter Pan” because I was sick and could not attend the production.  I have heard amazing things about the production from friends who attended and based on their comments I regret that I was unable to see it.  In over 60 years of reviewing the theater in various cities, “Peter Pan” is the first show I was set to review that I have missed.

The next review in this space will be of the … Continue Reading

“True West” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – May 26, 2024

EXCELLENT PRODUCTION OF SHEPARD’S “TRUE WEST” IS A CHALLENGE TO WATCH

“True West”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

“True West” is a gritty and murky play that looks at the shaky relationship between two very different brothers but reveals that even diverse people can search for similar things including stability and acceptance. A fine Arizona Theatre Company (ATC) production introduces two superb actors as the pivotal siblings.  Couple these rich performances with Jenn Thompson’s sharp staging and a superlative production is the result.  Be warned, though, that this two-hour … Continue Reading

“Fiddler on the Roof” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – May 25, 2024

“FIDDLER ON THE ROOF” AMAZES IN TPTC’S FINE STAGING

“Fiddler on the Roof”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Mainstage Theatre
Phoenix AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

“Fiddler on the Roof” was born in 1964 with Jerome Robbins expert staging that made it a definitive musical.  It has maintained its greatness because the show’s message about universal acceptance and the dread of mindless discrimination are timeless.  It is good to have this remarkable show back in a stellar The Phoenix Theatre Company (TPTC) rendition.

The story, set in Anatevka, Russia circa 1905, explores this largely Jewish town in the context of the coming … Continue Reading

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