Theater by the numbers

This is the place to be on Aug 6

The fine folks of Space 55 Theatre Ensemble are readying to take their act on the road. They’re performing “The Unhappiness Plays” by Greg Kotis at the New York International Fringe Festival.

First they’re doing a final fabulous performance here in the Valley — Sat, Aug 6 at 8pm. 

Lots of folks know Kotis from a musical titled “Urinetown,” which has been performed by a couple of theater groups here in the Valley. The “Urinetown” tour hit ASU Gammage in 2004.

“Urinetown” is a tale of ‘haves’ versus ‘have nots’ in a world where water and toilets are scarce (think student travels in Europe, which inspired the work). It debuted at the New York International Fringe Festival and was performed Off Broadway in 2001.

“Urinetown” opened on Broadway in September 2001 and closed in January 2004. It earned three Tony Awards – one for best direction (John Rondo), one for best music and lyrics (Mark Hollman), and one for book and lyrics (Greg Kotis).

My point? See “The Unhappiness Plays” now. Keep an eye on the rest of Space 55′s season (with your grown-up friends or mature teens — they don’t do kiddie fare). And check out their education offerings. Think acting classes and private coaching, writing for the stage and more.

Those of you who follow the “Blue Bike Kids Show” will recognize at least one cast member if you hit “The Unhappiness Plays” Saturday night — Valley actor, director and playwright Steve Wilcox (who co-founded Space 55 in 2005). He’s also a member of the “Blue Bike” gang.

This is the place to be on Aug 19

Program your GPS now, so you can quickly jot back and forth between Space 55 and Venue 104, a “performance cafe” in Tempe celebrating its “grand opening” on Fri, Aug 19. Theater folk know owner and general manager Michael Peck from his Chyro Arts days in Scottsdale, and his work on various Valley stages.

Nowadays he’s booking all sorts of local emergent talent for Venue 104. Think live music, theater and independent film – coupled with grazing options like gourmet sandwiches, salads and baked goods. No worries if you’re without GPS because Venue 104 is just two blocks from the ASU light rail stop.

Venue 104 and NewBrave Arts and Entertainment recently announced the first offering in their “2011-12 Season of Theatre” – a Noah Haidle work titled “Mr. Marmalade” that featured Michael C. Hall (now the star of Showtime’s “Dexter”) in the 2005 Off Broadway production.

Like works at Space 55, this is an adult or mature teen offering, best reserved for a night out with pals or partner. Fond as I am of cheery musicals full of talent still sporting braces, it’s nice to enjoy grown-up options now and then.

– Lynn

Note: I’ll be blogging next week from the Utah Shakespeare Festival, which is offering a “Hot August Nights” deal through August 15

Coming up: Performing arts studio opens new West Valley location, A contemporary take on “Romeo and Juliet”

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