Saturday, April 30, 2016

Help pick All Puppet Players' Final Show in their 7th Season

CLICK HERE to cast your vote as to which show you want All Puppet Players to do as the final show in their 7th Season.

Fountain Hills Theater's Summer Camps!

Session I - June 6th - 17th   
Comedy & Improv
Monday through Friday 9AM to 1PM  Ages 7-14
Perfect for all experience levels. Students learn comedic timing, improvisation, character development and stage movement.    Tuition: $250
($75 non-refundable deposit upon registration)

Put on Your Dancin’ Shoes
Monday through Friday 1PM to 3PM  Ages 7-14
Learn jazz, hip hop and other dance styles. Be prepared and confidant for dance auditions and to participate in musical theater productions!    Tuition: $125
($50 non-refundable deposit upon registration)

 $350 (non-FH resident) $325 (FH resident)

Session II - June 20th - July 1st   
Musical Theater Audition Camp
Monday through Friday 9AM to 1PM  Ages 7-14
Be prepared to audition  at any theater! Every student completes the camp having a prepared monologue, a resume, a headshot, a song (on CD) with sheet music and will have learned dance combinations as well. A great camp to prepare for the upcoming season shows!   Tuition: $250
($75 non-refundable deposit upon registration)

Put on Your Dancin’ Shoes
Monday through Friday 1PM to 3PM  Ages 7-14
 Learn jazz, hip hop and other dance styles. Be prepared and confidant for dance auditions and to participate in musical theater productions!  Tuition: $125
($50 non-refundable deposit upon registration)

 $350 (non-FH resident) $325 (FH resident)

Session III - July 11th - 22nd   
Broadway Jr.! 
Musical Theater Performance Camp
Monday through Friday 9AM to 1PM  Ages 7-14
Join us for a two-week musical theater class that ends with a 30 minute musical revue featuring songs from Broadway,  Disney and beyond! Put the three musical theater skills, acting, singing and dancing, all together in this fun camp. On the final day, students present an actual stage performance for family and friends, featuring many fun  parts for participants and opportunities for soloists.   Tuition: $250  
($75 non-refundable deposit upon registration)

Teen Camp - June 13 - July 15
Join us for our Summer Performing Arts Teen Camp! Teens of all skill levels are invited to register for an exciting, fun-filled adventure in the performing arts learning audition techniques, stage movement, dance, vocal training, and an introduction to film and video commercials. Camp is open to students ages 12 through high school seniors. Classes are Monday through Friday 10am to 4pm. Students will audition for and rehearse an original musical comedy. All students perform in the production and play to the public for three exciting performances on July 15th, 16th & 17th! Tuition: $695
Optional trip to NYC: Teens spend 5 days & 4 nights in The Big Apple July 20 - 24th. Included in tuition: round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations, day excursions to NYC attractions, tickets to 4 BROADWAY HITS! Please inquire for details. 
Camp & Trip to NYC $2395

Registration Information
Tuition  is  for entire session*

Receive 10% off Mini-Camps when enrolling more than one student per session.
Thanks to the Town of Fountain Hills’ support of our youth programs, we are able to offer a 10% discount to FH residents (excludes Teen Camp)
Discounts cannot be combined.

No refunds once camp begins.

Call 480-837-9661 x3 to register.

*Payment plan available, please inquire.

Limited full and partial scholarships are available. Click here to download an application.

Tuition must be paid in full before class begins, unless other arrangements have been made.
Please make an effort to attend each day!

ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY - Arizona Broadway Theatre - April 29 - May 6, 2016

Have you ever had a really rotten day? Alexander has! He wakes up with gum in his hair, trips on a skateboard and then accidentally dries his face with his good sweater – all before breakfast! Alexander can already tell – it’s going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!

Alexander’s day continues to go downhill as his teacher doesn’t like his drawing of an invisible castle, the shoe store is out of the sneakers he wants, and he accidentally makes a big mess in his dad’s office. It’s enough to make Alexander want to move to Australia!

Laugh and sing along with Alexander’s misadventures in this hilarious  musical based on the wildly popular children’s book by Judith Viorst. Discover, along with Alexander, that sometimes everyone has a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Even in Australia!

Friday Apr 29 2016 10:00 AM
Monday May 2 2016 10:00 AM
Tuesday May 3 2016 10:00 AM
Wednesday May 4 2016 10:00 AM
Thursday May 5 2016 10:00 AM
Friday May 6 2016 10:00 AM

CLICK HERE for more information and to purchase tickets

Friday, April 29, 2016

ticket discount - PICNIC - Mesa Community College

the cast of Picnic
photos: Tom J. McCoy
Mesa Community College has a special Two-for-One Ticket Discount for tonight's performance of Picnic, Friday, April 29th @ 7:30 pm

use Coupon Code: DATE NIGHT

Desert Stages Theatre's Next Stage Capital Campaign and Season Launch Fundraiser - May 13

CLICK HERE to purchase advance events tickets

PHX Stages Q/A: Chanel Bragg

by Gil Benbrook

If you missed seeing Chanel Bragg as Effie White in Desert Foothills Theater's Dreamgirls last year you missed an incredible, nuanced and heartwrenching performance. Bragg's powerhouse vocals and rich portrayal not only won her across the board raves from critics and theatregoers, but she also won an ariZoni award for her performance.

Born and raised in Phoenix, Bragg has appeared at numerous theatres across the Valley. She also co-founded the Soul of Broadway cabaret group and just completed co-starring in Goodnight Moon at Childsplay while in rehearsals for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at Arizona Broadway Theatre, which runs through May 8th. She plays Jewel in the ABT production, and in his review for the Arizona Republic, Kerry Lengel said "She’s a jewel indeed."

Beloved across the Valley, Bragg sat down to answer the PHX Stages Q/A:

Name: Chanel Monique Alexandria Bragg

Where you were born and or raised: Phoenix Arizona! I attended Glendale Community College and then went to Northern Arizona University to study Broadcast Journalism  and Theater Performance. I competed in speech and debate for many years under the directive of Kirt Shineman,  a local playwright, and returned to theatre full time in 2008. I stayed in AZ as I was pursuing my Masters Degree and looking to expand my family at that time.

What your parents did/do for a living: My mother is Choir President at Higher Ground Church of God in Christ. She's been singing my whole life. My father additionally is a singer songwriter. He used to sing in a Christian r&b band called the Power Source. Both of them are amazing singers and currently working and not yet retired.

Siblings/Family: I have three brothers! Anthony Bragg, Christian Bragg, and Mitchell Vantrease. Two step -sisters: Rheanta Sampson, and Kirsten Smith.  One brother in law- Khalid Sampson. Two sisters in law- Shavonda Bragg and Ashley Bragg. A niece and nephew who are my world, and adding two more as my sister in law Ashley is expecting  twins!

Day job/part time job: I was an Academic Consultant for many years for two separate universities. I'm now focusing on theatre/ singing full -time. I also sing in Phoenix Afro Beat Orchestra and I'm co -founder of the Award winning Soul of Broadway Cabaret troupe.

First show you ever saw:  Ain't Misbehavin' starring the Pointer Sisters!!

Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: Actually I didn't officially decide until 2010 when I mustered enough courage to audition for Phoenix Theater's Hairspray. It was my first professional gig. After booking it, I started concentrating on trying to get more professional work. Soul of Broadway back in 2009 was also a professional endeavor in an attempt to create opportunities  to increase diversity within the theatre community locally. I am happy to say that in 2016 the scope of our theater communities looks a LOT different by way of diversity hiring, but there is still much work to be done!

Cassandra Norville Klaphake and Chanel Bragg
in The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas - Arizona Broadway Theatre 2016
Photo by Scott Samplin
The one performance you attended that you will never forget: It was a Black Theatre Troupe production I believe, but when they used to perform at the Herberger.  Still not sure which show, as I was a little girl, but I remember this haunting image of a man hanging from a tree on the screen behind the actress as she sang Billie Holiday's strange fruit. The image is still burned in my memory and I remember as a young girl feeling so much in that song. That show made me the Billie holiday fan that I am today. If only I could remember which one it was!

First stage kiss: Opposite DeJean Brown in A Raisin in the Sun.

Best stage experience you’ve had so far acting? There has been so many. But I guess a standout for me would be when I played Kala in Fort Peck Montana's Tarzan last summer. E.J. Dooring, another valley resident played my son and I have never experienced a more honest and emotional scene than the "You'll be in my Heart" reprise. A close second to that would be Desert Foothills Dreamgirls opposite Miguel Jackson in the "and I am telling you" song.

What has been the most fun or fulfilling aspect of your current/ most recent show?  This is a two-fer as I was in two shows congruently. I just wrapped up Goodnight Moon with Childsplay Theatre whilst rehearsing and opening Best Little Whorehouse in Texas with Arizona Broadway theatre co. Clearly both shows are on different ends of the spectrum, but nonetheless still fulfilling. There is no better feeling than the satisfaction of hearing children collectively laugh, and knowing in that moment that you have impacted their tiny lives by introducing them to art. I feel applause from children is the most earnest. Best little Whorehouse in Texas is fulfilling as I am working alongside great friends and fulfilling one of my theatre bucket lists which is singing along side my fellow torch sister Cassandra Klaphake!

Brady Weber, Chris Mascarelli, Brandi Bigley, Chanel Bragg, and Tim Shawver
in The TomKat Project - Stray Cat Theatre - 2015
photo: John Groseclose
Most challenging role you have played onstage? All 10 plus characters in Stray Cat Theatre's TomKat Project! Every time I work at that amazing theatre I feel pushed to be better and I respect their work so much! If you have never been pushed creatively by either Ron May or Louis Farber, than you haven't truly worked on your craft!
Any upcoming or side projects you can talk about? I will be playing the role of "Justice" in Arizona Broadway Theater's Rock of Ages this summer! There are other possible shows on the horizon so we shall see!!!

What was the first show you performed in and what did you learn from it that you still use today?  A House on Mango Street. I was in the sixth grade, and I was a tree. I wasn't the lead.... Obviously! And after that, I played lots of ensemble and bit parts until I got strong enough to carry my first lead role as Lucy in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown my junior year of high school . I learned it takes time to perfect your craft, I also learned you are not always the right fit for every role, but that doesn't diminish your talent or your light.

Leading role you've been dying to play:  Aida. Heather Headley is a vocal beast and a role model, and I have wanted to play the role ever since seeing the 2001 musical performance of "Easy as Life."
Leading role of the opposite sex you wish you could play:  Colehouse in Ragtime. I love that show so much. The music is stunning.

Guilty pleasure show you’d love to perform in: The Great American Trailer Park Musical is pretty funny. I think I'd have a lot of fun in that show. The Full Monty is another I crave to do!

Pre-show rituals or warm-ups:  I wish I was better at being consistent with my pre-show warm-ups!  However, when I am on my best behavior, I will remember to stretch, and I found a YouTube mezzo/alto warm up that is perfect for waking up my voice! I also pray before every performance for myself and my fellow cast-mates that we have a good show and I express my thanks for being given the talents I have and the opportunity to share them  with an audience.

Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: Well this did not happen on stage but was still as equally embarrassing. I was asked to sing the national anthem at a chess tournament in front of hundreds of children. I went up on the words of the national anthem when I just relied on my old memory and decided not to practice. The kids had to help me sing the rest of the song. I tried to cover the flub with over stylizing, hoping a big American idol type finish would win some of the kids respect, but it did not! Lesson learned! I always review lyrics before a gig now!

Worst costume ever:  Not to call out any theatre specifically but this applies to so many. I will just say as a general note: If you are costuming a curvy lady, please actually look at the measurements that you took and do not insult the actor by bringing clothing 10 sizes too big or 10 sizes incredibly too small as I don't want to feel like jumping off a cliff after a fitting. Hahaha

Best costume ever: Phoenix theater has always costumed me so beautifully, especially during Memphis! But I'll have to give the Best Costume to Childsplay's Good Night Moon and my  "Bear's with Chairs" costumes because those were ridiculously amazing.
Tommy Strawser, Michelle Chin and Chanel Bragg
in Goodnight Moon - Childsplay - 2016
photo: Tim Trumble

Your go to audition monologue/song: Song: "Easy as Life" from the musical Aida; Monologue - A comedic monologue  titled "Live and in Color," it tells the story of a young urbanite playing Juliet as she tries to explain the plot of the Shakespearean play to the audience.

Worst audition experience:  Before I fell in love with the music from Ragtime, I auditioned for the show not knowing any of the music and did not fully prepare. I was called back for Sarah and butchered "Your Daddy's Son " royally! I learned from that experience that I'll never go to a call back  without having some familiarity to the music again!!!

If you could go back in time and catch any performer or show, what would they/it be? Gregory Hines in anything!

Famous past stage or screen star(s) you would have loved to have performed with:  Gene Kelly! Mostly because I'm obsessed with his gorgeous thighs and booty.

Actor/actress in the Phoenix area you'd love to perform with: I have so much respect for so many of the local actors and actresses, but I'd LOVE to play opposite Lillie Richardson, Yolanda London, Shari Watts, Maren Maclean or Katie McFadzen in anything! Or hell, all at the same time... Nevermind, I'd implode! I'm sorry I couldn't name just one. And truthfully I can think of a dozen more!

Your personal acting idols: Viola Davis, Angela Bassett, and Phylicia Rashad.

Performer you would drop everything to go see: Stevie Wonder. It is the one instance in which I think I'd truly be star struck.

Current/recent show other than one of your own you have been recommending
to friends: I was recommending Stray Cat's Stupid F**king Bird, then I was recommending Phoenix Theater's immaculate production of  Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill! Now it's All Night Strut at Phoenix Theatre!

Favorite play(s): Top Dog / Underdog, Tribes, Raisin in the Sun, The Mountaintop, Doubt, Extremities, The Venus Hottentot
Favorite musical(s): Rent, Aida, Ragtime, Hairspray, Memphis, In the Heights
Some favorite modern plays/musicals: Hamilton, Disgraced

Favorite showtune(s) of all time: "Don't Rain on My Parade" from Funny Girl

Chanel Bragg with Matravius Avent in Dreamgirls
Desert Foothills Theater - 2015
Photo: Tiffany Bolock
Most listened song/music on your iPod/Phone? Beyoncé play list . Although I have a lot of  Billie  Holiday and James Brown also in my spotify!

First CD/Tape/LP you owned:  I collect vinyl. My first was Billie Holiday's Lady in Satin! My collection has bloomed quite a bit since then!!!!

Last good book you read: "The Speed of Dark" and  "Room." Still struggling my way through  "Grey" which is the fourth book outside of the "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy .

Must-see TV show(s): Game of Thrones . Just do yourself a favor and watch it. You won't regret it. Superb acting, great plots that leave you on the edge of your seats, and the story lines are soooooo goooood! #teamKhaleesi, #DaenerysTargaryen #motherofdragons

Guilty pleasure binge watching tv show: Scandal ... I know ... So bad.

Last good movie you saw: DeadPool was EVERYTHING.. I did just watch The Danish Girl and loved it too. My tastes are so broad!

Favorite movie: Imitation of Life, Crazy Stupid Love, Love Actually, Moulin Rouge

Music/book/movie that makes you cry: Simon Birch, Patch Adams, What Dreams May Come, Love Actually.... I'll cry EVERY time.

Favorite restaurant in the Valley: Welcome Diner! Peanut butter hamburgers and Brussels sprouts!

Favorite cities: Oregon, Atlanta, San Francisco and of course New York City.

Sports teams you root for: Baseball- Diamondbacks, basketball - Spurs, football Dallas Cowboys, Steelers, and the Packers.  I'm way more into football!

Something about you that might surprise people: I'm a cancer survivor. I thought everyone knew but people are still surprised when I talk about it.

Special skills: I have been salsa dancing since I was 15. I grew up playing the piano, and I'm a pretty good roller skater.

Career you would want if not a performer:  I toggle between being a judge, lawyer, or politician. My original masters degree choice was in Public Administration to prepare for that path, but I changed it at the last second. I value honesty and integrity too much.  I also might have gone into fashion design.

Worst non-theatre job you've had:  I worked at a restaurant at the indoor swapmart at age 15. I was paid under the table! Lol

Best non-theatre job you've had:  I worked at Chase Field at the team shop in high school into my first couple of years of college. I even worked the World Series!!! I had the best boss and worked alongside some pretty awesome friends! Plus watching the players in tight pants everyday at work ... Yes please!

Chanel Bragg, DeJean Brown and Joyce Gittoes
in A Raisin in the Sun
photo courtesy Scottsdale Desert Stages Theare
Three things you can't live without: Warm hugs,vinyl player, and slow-dancing.

Words of advice for aspiring performers:  Pay your dues. Don't expect too much when you have so much yet to learn. Being in the ensemble is a vital part of your journey. Don't compare what you have to others. Also don't be afraid of seeking training to get better. Talent is to be cultivated. We didn't just get to this point of our careers overnight. And lastly .... KNOW YOUR TYPE!!! I'll never be Peter Pan, it's ridiculous for me to audition for that! Hopefully this makes sense.

What you love most about theatre in Phoenix: We have so many outlets to perform. Whenever I've worked out of the state, people ask about the theater scene down here in Arizona and they're always so surprised at our ratio of community theaters etc. we have a lot of great theaters in the state which all fulfill a particular niche within theater that needs to be represented. I would recommend young performers to audition at the different houses here to determine if alternative theater is their niche versus classic musicals, etc.  that way when they audition out side of the state they can determine their type and book work.

What you think needs to be changed/improved/different about theatre in Phoenix: We are the sixth largest city of the U.S. with a huge Latin population. Why are we not better at producing work that reflects that?  I am grateful to Phoenix theatre for opening their next season with In the Heights! It is a bold step in the right direction. More theaters locally need to look at their seasons and where there could be more chances for diversity hiring! Not just for Latinos, but African Americans, Asians. etc. Everyone was so up in arms about Hamilton and their casting notice a few weeks back specifying their non-diversity hiring practices, but I then say, Hamilton wouldn't be such a phenomenon if true color blind casting and opportunity for diversity hiring actually existed. Let's change that and see how we can't grow and evolve. Also there is a great base of very talented actors here. Professional houses, please look to hiring more locally. Just because someone has a 917 area code does not always make them the best choice.

And, the “Inside the Actors Studio” 10 questions:
1. What is your favorite word? Love.

2. What is your least favorite word?  Moist... Yuck

3. What turns you on?  Selfless acts. Random acts of kindness.

4. What turns you off? People who are Discourteous.

5. What sound do you love? Baby gibberish and  children's laughter.

6. What sound do you hate? Cats fighting in an alley.

7. What is your favorite curse word?  I have to pick? Lol umm probably the f word. But I'm working on not using it so much. Lol

8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt? I'm hoping to get on the board of an arts coalition for the state to see if I can't have some kind of hand in finding funding for the arts and keeping that represented in our schools.

9. What profession would you not like to do? Anything law enforcement or nursing. The sight of blood, I just can't!

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? Well done my good and faithful servant.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Tuscany Theatre Company's 2016 - 2017 Season Announcement fundraiser - May 7th

review - MEET THE DRYERS - Brelby Theatre Company

Mia Passarella and Devon Mahon
Photo by Anjali Patel
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through April 30th.

 "Brelby Theatre Company's original play Meet the Dryers is a laugh filled journey set on a horrible Thanksgiving Day that focuses not only on this very funny family but on our obsession with social media....a loving family that oozes warmth and love. Brelby's production, while slightly uneven, is very fun, with as much charm and humor as the sweet and comical Dryer family. Teenager James, the youngest Dryer, has an active imagination and has been feeling left out, so he has taken creative liberties to post exaggerated, fictionalized stories about his family online. When the truth about James' online fiction comes out over Thanksgiving it creates even more strife than usual in the extended Dryer family. ...Writers Shelby Maticic, Megan O'Connor, and Luke Gomez have created interesting characters and a plot that is intriguing and keeps us wondering how it will end. ...The trio of writers have created individuals we can all identify with, along with an obsession that we almost all have. While the play is full of warmth and plenty of laughs, there are a couple of small issues. When we first meet each of the Dryer family members we see them instead as the fictionalized version that James has created. This is a bit jarring and confusing at first and, with ten characters to introduce this way and some of these fantasy sequences overstaying their welcome, it takes a while to set the main plot in motion. Also, in the second act, when things get more serious and heartfelt, there are several similar lines that are spoken in overlapping unison by different characters. While this is an interesting and different creative touch, it comes across as slightly pretentious, especially since it is completely different in tone and style from the rest of the play. The cast is composed entirely of Brelby company members which helps in achieving natural and realistic relationships among the characters. They are all gifted in creating believable people and in portraying them realistically with both humor and charm....Director Shelby Maticic has done an exceptional job of staging the action so that all spaces of Chrispen's excellent set are used effectively ...Pretty much everyone today is obsessed with social media...It is that fascination that is expertly portrayed in Meet the Dryers along with a family anyone would love to call their own. While the main plot is slight, and I have a few small issues with the script, it is the combination of fun, identifiable characters with clean and smart direction and creative production design that turns this play into a charming, funny, heartwarming, and zany treat."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

375,000 Page Views!

The site just crossed 375,000 page views!

Thanks to all of you for making PHX Stages your go-to site for all things theatre in the Valley!

Southwest Shakespeare Company announces their Intern Company


Southwest Shakespeare Company is developing a Professional Intern Company for the upcoming 2016-2017 season.

The Intern Company will be compromised of interns who are focused on the performance aspect and and an Intern Company focused on the technical side as well.

Interns will possibly understudy, assist directors, stage managers, costumers, lighting designers, set designers, hospitality, and more.

Classes, workshops, observation, as well as direct contact with the company is provided.

Kent Burnham

photos - PETE, OR THE RETURN OF PETER PAN - Childsplay

for more information on this production, which plays Saturday and Sundays through May 22nd, CLICK HERE

photos: Tim Trumble

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Childsplay's 2016 / 2017 Season

2016-2017 FLEX TICKETS ON SALE NOW! CLICK HERE to purchase your Flex Tickets

By Allison Gregory, Adapted from the book series by Barbara Park


Weekends, Sept. 11 - Oct. 16, 2016: Saturdays (1 & 4pm), Sundays (1pm)

Location: Tempe Center for the Arts Theater

Price: $12 - $26

In this brand new Junie B. play, the hilarious kindergartner learns a lesson about respecting other people’s belongings and will leave kids laughing for days!

Book and Lyrics by Dwayne Hartford, Music by Sarah Roberts


Weekends, Oct. 22 - Nov. 13, 2016: Saturdays (1 & 4pm), Sundays (1pm)

Location: Tempe Center for the Arts Studio

Price: $12 - $26

Gearing up for the election season, this high-energy, multi-media rock musical takes a non-partisan look at what it means to be president!

Book and Lyrics by Jenny Millinger, Music by Todd Hulet, Based on the books by Susan Lowell

Weekends, Nov. 19 - Dec. 31, 2016: Saturdays (1 & 4pm), Sundays (1pm)

Location: Tempe Center for the Arts Theater

Price: $12 - $26

A world-premiere musical adaptation of the beloved book by Susan Lowell!

By Katie Mitchell, Adapted from the Book by Dr. Seuss


Weekends Jan. 14 – Feb. 19, 2017: Saturdays (1 & 4pm), Sundays (1pm)

Location: Tempe Center for the Arts Studio

Price: $12 - $26

From the moment his tall, red-and-white-striped hat appears at their door, Sally and her brother know that the Cat in the Hat is the most mischievous cat they will ever meet. Suddenly a rainy afternoon is transformed by the Cat and his antics. Will their house ever be the same? Can the kids clean up before mom comes home? With some tricks (and a fish) and Thing Two and Thing One, with the Cat in The Hat, the fun’s never done!

By David Saar

Weekends, Feb. 26 - March 12, 2017: Saturdays (1 & 4pm), Sundays (1pm)

Location: Tempe Center for the Arts Studio

Price: $12 - $26

A beautiful story about a young artist’s remarkable voyage, and the strength and courage of all children. 

By Colleen Neuman


Weekends, March 25 - April 2, 2017: Saturdays (1 & 4pm), Sundays (1pm)

Location: Tempe Center for the Arts Studio

Price: $12 - $26

In a world where imaginary friends seem real, and real friends are scarce, Vanessa discovers both. 

By Finegan Kruckemeyer


Weekends, April 8 - April 16, 2017: Saturdays (1 & 4pm), Sundays (1pm)

Location: Tempe Center for the Arts Studio

Price: $12 - $26

An award-winning play about a grumpy boy and his dreams!

Book and Lyrics by Rachel Rockwell, Music by Michael Mahler, Based on Lewis Carroll’s books "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Lookingglass"


Weekends, April 23 - May 21, 2017: Saturdays (1 & 4pm), Sundays (1pm)

Location: Tempe Center for the Arts Theater

Price: $12 - $26

Don’t be late to this musical adventure of the favorite tale!

cast announcement - ANNIE - National Tour: ASU Gammage

for more information on this production, which runs May 4th to May 8th, CLICK HERE

Heidi Gray: Annie
Gilgamesh Taggett: Oliver Warbucks
Lynn Andrews: Miss Hannigan
Chloe Tiso as Grace
Garrett Deagon: Rooster
Lucy Werner: Lily
Jeffrey B. Duncan: FDR
Todd Fenstermaker: Drake/Ensemble
Ruby Day: Star to Be/Ensemble
Theresa Rowley: Mrs. Pugh/Ensemble
Connor Simpson: Bundles/Ensemble
Daniel Forest Sullivan: Lt. Ward/Ensemble
Sunny/Macy: Sandy.

Orphans: Sage Bentley, Bridget Carly Marsh, Molly Rose Meredith, Emily Moreland, Annabelle Wachtel, Casey Watkins

Ensemble: Chelsey Lynn Alfredo, Timothy Allen, Jonathan Cobrda, Madisen Johnson, Brianne Kennedy, Tyler Lenhart, Kelsey Shaw,

reviews - BRING IT ON - Spotlight Youth Theatre

Phoebe Koyabe, Katie Czajkowski, Carly Grossman, Maggie Waller, Sam Primack,
Trey DeGroodt, Clay Rollon, and Brandon Reyes
Photo by Alayne Vogel
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through May 8th.

COMING SOON -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

" is refreshing that the recent musical Bring It On takes little more than the name and theme of the 2000 cheerleading movie it comes from. With a completely new plot and characters, the musical is an exuberant evening of comedy, music, dance, and energetic cheerleading acrobatics. Spotlight Youth Theatre presents the Phoenix regional premiere of the show in a high energy production with superb direction and featuring an excellent cast of teenagers. The plot follows high school senior Campbell, the perky, driven cheerleading team captain of the Truman High School squad. When she is redistricted to Jackson High, which is over in the "hood," she goes from being the top of the pack to the outcast who has lost her main goal. Not only does she not quite fit in but Jackson doesn't have a cheerleading team. ...Jeff Whitty's witty script does coast a little in the beginning until Campbell gets to Jackson High, where it really takes off, but it also doesn't always go where you think it will go, which is refreshing. ...With a score by three different composers you might think that the music wouldn't quite gel, but it does, with many effective numbers including rousing ensemble numbers and soaring ballads with music styles that range from traditional musical theatre to R&B, hip hop, and even a little rap....Carly Grossman plays Campbell with the appropriate amount of high energy as well as fear for her new surroundings...Grossman also has realistic acting skills to pull off the loneliness and confusion of suddenly being an outsider along with superb vocal skills to also effectively sing about that experience. As Danielle, the leader of the "crew" at the new school whom Campbell attempts to befriend, Phoebe Koyabe has the perfect blend of sass and "you think you're better than me but you aren't" attitude but also displays a compassionate side as well. ...At just 15, Koyabe's soaring vocal abilities are exceptional. Grossman and Koyabe also instill their parts with a clear sense of vulnerability beneath self-assured exteriors. Maggie Waller is Bridget, who also gets redistricted along with Campbell. ..Waller is a comic gem in the part...Trey DeGroodt is exceptional as La Cienega, one of Danielle's crew. I absolutely love how this character, who is clearly either transgendered or simply a gay man who prefers to wear drag, requires no explanation, back story, or heartbreaking revelation and is completely accepted by the Jackson students, no excuses required. DeGroodt's portrayal is cliché-free and full of substance and style, from his line delivery to the way he walks, sings, and dances....Director Kenny Grossman draws superb, honest performances from his cast with everyone delivering realistic, caricature free portrayals....Choreographer Lynzee Foreman seamlessly weaves together the cheerleading sequences into the story...The only downside in the dancing is due to the low Spotlight ceiling which doesn't allow for any high flips and pyramids (which were a huge highlight when I saw the show on Broadway) to be incorporated into the cheer sequences....With an exceptional cast, sure-footed direction, and vibrant choreography, Spotlight Youth Theatre's production is a fun filled, high energy, high flying time that does full justice to this story about self-esteem, true friendship, and acceptance."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

Arizona Broadway Theatre's Academy Theatre Arts Camps - Summer 2016

ABT’s Academy for Young Performers provides children interested in the performing arts the opportunity to explore their creativity and expand their imagination. All classes focus on acting, music and movement instruction. Classes are great for beginners, but also effective for those with theatre experience.

Each weekly session runs Monday through Friday with the first session starting on May 30th and the last weekly session beginning on August 1st

Summer 2016 sessions are now open. For registration, call 623-776-8400 or CLICK HERE to for more information

photos - BLUE GALAXY - Space 55

for more information on this production, which runs April 29th to May 22nd, CLICK HERE

photos: Glen Goldblatt

review - URINETOWN - Tuscany Theatre Company

Lauren Scoville and Adam Bei
Photo by Lisa Webb / Southwest Shots Photography
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through April 30th.

 "... Urinetown is a musical that is a crowd pleaser...nominated for ten Tony Awards, winning three, including awards for the very funny book by Greg Kotis and the witty score with music by Mark Hollmann and lyrics by Hollmann and Kotis. Tuscany Theatre Company's production of this satirical comedy is well directed with simple yet vibrant creative elements and a cast who know how to correctly wink at the audience as they dive headfirst into the material to ensure that the satire lands effectively, while also instilling their characters with plenty of warmth. The musical is set in the not too distant future. Water has become so scarce that private bathrooms have been banned, doing your business in the street or even behind a tree faces severe consequences,; and a corporation has been put in charge of a series of pay toilets scattered across the land ...Kotis also instills a playful parody of famous musicals and musical conventions into the proceedings while also shedding light on such serious topics as greed, capitalism, and even ecological disaster. Hollmann's music is ever changing, with brisk, upbeat numbers, charming romantic ballads, and a rousing gospel tune; and the lyrics are continually witty and colorful. ...Director Andrea McFeely knows exactly how to guide her cast to deliver the satire, romance, and self-mocking tones of the piece, and they do so, for the most part, perfectly. As Bobby and Hope, Adam Bei and Lauren Scoville are simply adorable. Scoville's sweet nature and Bei's determination make them a realistic couple with a shared purpose. /.. Harold LeBoyer is OK as Hope's father. I just wish he were a little more strong and forceful to project a sense of menace and darkness in the role....While most of the ensemble work well there are a couple of actors who cross the line from satire into overacting and McFeely would be wise to pull them in line in order to not draw attention away from the intended focus of a few scenes. Karli Giles Kemper's assured music direction delivers lovely vocals throughout, including some tight harmonies from the ensemble during the rousing "Run, Freedom, Run!." Shannon Perkins's choreography is excellent...Urinetown is an extremely clever musical with an ever-changing plot, interesting characters, and some very catchy musical numbers. While it may not appeal to everyone, since it is dark and satirical, it is very creative and ultimately an extremely appealing show. Tuscany Theatre's production has very good leads and a strong supporting cast that, when combined with spot on direction and choreography, make for a very solid production."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

promo photos - CURTAINS - Fountain Hills Theater

for more information on this production, which runs May 6th to May 22nd, CLICK HERE

Michael Stewart as Frank Cioffi and Karylin Veres as Nikki

Leslie Haddad as Carmen Bernstein and Michael Stewart as Frank Cioffi

Erin Ryan and Asher Sheppard

Erin Ryan and Leslie Haddad

photos: Patty Torrilhon

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

reviews - THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS - Arizona Broadway Theatre

Cassandra Norville Klaphake and Mark DiConzo
Photo by Scott Samplin
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through May 8th.

"...Best Little Whorehouse delivers a rollicking good hootenanny of a time with a fun, high-energy cast, some good voices and great choreography from Kurtis W. Overby.... Ironically, in a show where the title suggests no shortage of good time gals, the strongest and certainly the most entertaining of characters tend to be the male roles.  From the side stepping Governor (Michael Weaver), the senator caught with his pants down (Bob Downing) and the overzealous, bewigged TV presenter Melvin P. Thorpe (Andy Meyers who also doubles as director), the boys are given the best opportunity to grab laughs and act as broadly as required. ... musical highlights include The Aggie Song with its energetic hoedown choreography, Twenty-Four Hours of Lovin’ sung with great gusto by Jewel (Chanel Bragg) and Doatsey Mae’s (Renee Kathleen Koher) self-titled song. ...Miss Mona, the brothel’s proprietor, is here played ABT’s Casting and Artistic Producer Cassandra Klaphake...brings that sense of authority and tough-love leadership that Miss Mona requires, but as a singer, her voice and sound aren’t altogether suited to the style of the songs.  As previously proven, ...given the right part, Cassandra succeeds, but here with Carol Hall’s score, Cassandra’s approach doesn’t work as well. ...Mark DiConzo’s very funny portrayal of Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd.  It’s not quite approached in the laid-back, good ol’ boy style..instead, DiConzo injects an unexpected vein of energetic physicality to his movements and overall profane-laden delivery that makes his sheriff continually entertaining....that elevates this already fun night of musical theatre into something more."  -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"Based on a true story, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas may not be the best musical ever written but it does feature some catchy tunes and lovable characters. Arizona Broadway Theatre's production features an impressive cast and lush creative elements that combine to overcome many of the flaws of this underdeveloped and anticlimactic musical. Set in the fictitious small town of Gilbert, Texas, in the 1970s, Miss Mona is the proprietress of the Chicken Ranch, the local brothel. Mona is fierce but compassionate and extremely loyal and protective of her girls. She is also loyal to the local Sheriff Ed Earl and we soon discover that they also share a romantic past. When the big city investigative TV reporter Melvin P. Thorpe threatens to expose the Chicken Ranch in an effort to protect the morals of the citizens, it threatens Mona's livelihood as well as her relationship with Ed Earle. The lively score by Carol Hall features memorable, folksy country western tunes and upbeat ballads. But the book by Larry L. King and Peter Masterson, which is based on King's investigative story about the actual Chicken Ranch, is sorely lacking in character and plot development...Fortunately, the ABT production plays up the romance between Mona and Ed Earle, which helps give some shading to their characters, and features an exceptional cast and superb choreography by Kurtis W. Overby, which help bring plenty of showbiz razzle dazzle to the proceedings. Director Andy Meyers, who also is a hoot as Thorpe, does his best to try to make some sense of the minimal plot. He draws fun portrayals from his cast, with the female ensemble making each of Mona's girls a distinctive character. ...Cassandra Norville Klaphake isn't just all business as Mona, but also projects a motherly love for these young women. Her earthy voice interjects feeling into her songs. Mark DiConzo is a comic joy as Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd, adding "good old boy" ticks and mannerisms to his stage movement and a deep Texas cadence to his vocal delivery. It all adds up to a very funny portrayal. ....Meyers and Overby create several showstopping moments ...By playing up the romance between the leads, which adds heart and heat to the production, and clarifying a few things with wise directorial choices, ABT's production does what it can to sidestep the flaws in the original book. With a very good cast and some impressive choreography, the end result is a high energy, extremely professional production that provides a fun, nostalgic look back. Just try not to pay too much attention to the lack of plot developments."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"Arizona Broadway Theatre's presentation of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,"...made for rip-roaring, musical dinner theatre last night. Fast-paced and innocently scandalous, the evening whisked by with winks, romps and stomps...the central conflict ...involved the confrontation of morally gray, profitable tradition with present-day government stirred up by news media. Headed by working girl turned countrified Madam, Miss Mona, and the well-intentioned, old-fashioned Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd who is sweet on her, the story and a number of fiddling, fun songs unfolded like a rigged poker game....Cassandra Klaphake starred as Miss Mona. With a rich lower register, her speaking and singing voice lent themselves very well to Miss Mona's tender, maternal side. She and Sheriff Ed Earl (Mark DiConzo) had a cute rapport which made for crowd titters and even a few misty eyes near the end, during Dodd's "Good Old Girl" number. Director Andy Meyers played a powerful Melvin P. Thorpe, the show's overeager evangelical watchdog news reporter. His flamboyant character was the undoing of the Chicken Ranch as well as a lively production jump-start when he and his back up ensemble entered.... Chanel Bragg who played housekeeper Jewel at the Chicken Ranch. Her "Twenty Four Hours of Lovin" electrified the 'boarding house's' soft lighting as she single-handedly powered the stage and inspired the working girls to join in....That Texas, and now Arizona, has a whorehouse in it is far less criminal, and far more enjoyable, than the darn sensational media mongrels would have us believe. On this particular ABT brothel--with a tasty dinner and drinks to boot, it is money well spent." -Jennifer Haaland, (click here to read the complete review)

"...Arizona Broadway Theatre’s current production is polished and fun with a crackerjack cast of singing actors. Cassandra Norville Klaphake stars as “don’t call me a” madam Miss Mona, showing off her solid silver pipes...But the biggest laughs are earned by Mark DiConzo as the crooked sheriff with aw-shucks charm and Andy Meyers (who also directs) as the proto-televangelist Melvin P. Thorpe...Renée Kathleen Koher as the deeper-than-she-seems Doatsy Mae and Chanel Bragg as the fiery housekeeper, Jewel...this local star’s big, bluesy belting always transcends stereotypes. She’s a jewel indeed....."   - Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

"Yeehaw! Arizona Broadway Theatre blows the roof off the THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS with a non-stop hit parade of Lone Star big star moments. Leading the pack is Cassandra Norville Klaphake as Miss Mona, the madam of the legendary brothel that inspired Carol Hall, Larry King, and Peter Masterson to pen the tale of tricks and treats. Klaphake delivers a commanding performance as the mother hen who guards her coop with a righteous blend of good business sense and sentimentality. She has to be on guard as the forces of morality inveigh against her enterprising ways....Doing double duty as the show's director (well done!) and as Melvin P. Thorpe, the ultra showman reporter (Zindler incarnate), Andy Meyers parades across the stage with panache in high rolling song and swivel toed dance....Mark DiConzo is Texas gold as the reluctant enforcer of the law, Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd, with a fancy for Miss Mona. Kurtis Overby's choreography is splendid and exhilarating...ABT's production is a rousing affair featuring one heck of a gold star ensemble. And it ends with Ms. Klaphake closing out with a tear-inducing rendition of I Will Always Love You ~ and for that and for the rest of the show, who can't help but love THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS."  -Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)

A conversation with Dwayne Hartford, author of PETE, OR THE RETURN OF PETER PAN, opening this weekend at Childsplay

Dwayne Hartford
by Gil Benbrook

With the current and recent Broadway productions of Finding Neverland and Peter and the Starcatcher, the recent film Pan, and the live TV broadcast of the Peter Pan musical a little over a year ago, it seems audiences are still enamored with J. M. Barrie’s story of the boy who wouldn’t grow up.

Opening this Saturday at Childsplay is the world premiere production of Pete, or the Return of Peter Pan. This modern day sequel to Barrie's tale is written by Dwayne Hartford and stars Gavin Brown as Peter and also features Childsplay favorites Debra K. Stevens, Katie McFadzen and Jon Gentry. 

Besides writing Pete, or the Return of Peter Pan and other original works at Childsplay as a Playwright-in-Residence, Hartford has appeared in and directed numerous productions as an Associate Artist, going back to 1990. But he is soon to assume the title of the role of Artistic Director, replacing David Saar who is retiring after almost 40 years with the company. 

Hartford sat down to answer some question about his play and his new job, exclusively for PHX Stages.

What do you think is the on-going appeal of Barrie’s story?

"The story is a celebration of the innocence and freedom of childhood.  The childhood wish for a place where the rules of the adult world have no power, is pretty universal and powerful."

Gavin Brown as Peter
photo: Tim Trumble
What made you decide to write Pete, or the Return of Peter Pan?

"When David Saar, Childsplay's founding artistic director announced his plans to retire, it was decided that his last season as artistic director would be a celebration of him.  The Peter Pan story is very personal to him.  Childsplay has never produced the play, for various reasons, including its size and some of its messages that are not so appropriate for today's audiences.  David asked me to write a new Childsplay Peter Pan story.  I happily accepted the challenge."

What can you tell us about the play, and how long have you been working on it?

"Pete or the Return of Peter Pan is a modern day story.  The children in the play are the great-great grandchildren of the original Wendy.  Peter Pan takes them to Neverland, where they encounter fairies, pirates, Ninja-like warriors, and pterodactyls.  It's a Neverland and Peter Pan for 21st century children.  I've worked on the play for over two years."

How much has the play changed over the two years that you’ve been writing it? And have you made any major changes to it during the rehearsal process?

"The play has evolved quite a bit over the two years.  From the start I was interested in how Peter Pan can adjust to the present time without growing up, without maturing.  I became intrigued with the role of memory in growing up, and in growing old.  The first draft of the play was very much an homage to the original J.M. Barrie play and novel.  Over time, the play grew into it's own story, with its own structure.  There are still tips of the hat to the original, but it can now stand alone.

I continued to make changes to the script throughout the rehearsal process. I re-wrote much of the second act during rehearsals, as we figured out the story.  I re-wrote the big climactic scene two days before tech began.  I am very very fortunate that the wonderful actors were up for the challenge."

Did you encounter any difficulties in writing the play?

"I would say the biggest difficulty was finishing the play!"

the cast of Pete, or the Return of Peter Pan
photo: Tim Trumble
What type of message do you think your play offers for modern audiences? 

"I hope the play encourages young people to play, have fun, be a good friend, and honor the uniqueness of everyone."

Well, those are all very good messages to encourage. Let's talk now about your new title. You will soon be assuming the title of Artistic Director, taking over from David Saar. What was the most important words of advice that David gave you in assuming these duties? 

"David encourages me to dream big and let it be someone else's job to worry about limitations at first."

What do you believe your biggest challenge will be in taking over as Artistic Director?

Live theatre everywhere is challenged to prove its value and need in the 21st century. My challenge will be to produce strikingly original theatre that continues to speak to and for our audiences - theatre that helps them to make sense of our ever-changing world."

What do you see as the future of Childsplay under your leadership and how do you plan to expand upon David’s mission when he founded the company?

"Childsplay is very much a mission driven ensemble.  I see Childsplay seeking new and exciting ways of bringing the power of live theatre to young audiences.  I see a theatre that is a reflection of the communities we serve, telling stories that resonate with these communities in ways that make these communities feel that they are welcome participants in the live theatre experience."

Monday, April 25, 2016

WEEK AT A GLANCE: April 25 - May 1

Click on any show title to get more information on that production

And Click Here for a complete day by day calendar of what shows are playing.




Tuscany Theatre Company
April 21 - 30, 2016



Spotlight Youth Theatre
April 22 to May 8, 2016