Tag Archives: Arizona tourism

Feelin’ folksy

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Families panning for gold. Kids making corn husk dolls. Folks touring an old one room school house. Women donning garb from territorial times. It’s all part of Prescott’s Folk Art Fair, taking place this weekend on the Sharlot Hall Museum campus — home to all sorts of log cabins, the Blue Rose Theater sporting a casual vibe, a rose garden honoring women pioneers and lots of lovely paths for strolling and such.

I spent a few hours at the fair on Saturday, part of a weekend getaway with my youngest daughter Lizabeth. After living for a year in NYC, she’s convinced there’s little going on in places like Prescott. But that’s not the case. In just a single day, we hit the Folk Art Fair and toured both the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Smoki Museum.

Later, as Lizabeth crashed at our charming little hotel near Prescott’s Courthouse Plaza, I headed to the Prescott Public Library – where folks were participating in an annual drum circle on a large outdoor courtyard. While there, I checked out a block of sidewalk etched with dates and historical highlights — all part of a world timeline that’s continued in other parts of town.

Earlier, we enjoyed lunch at a charming joint called the Firehouse Kitchen. Our waitress was cheerful and attentive, and the chocolate cake we split for dessert was the best I’ve tasted in a lifetime. Tomorrow may find me returning for the peach cobbler, but first I’ll be hitting the Phippen Museum.

Also exploring performing arts venues like Yavapai College Performing Arts CenterPrescott Center for the Arts, Prescott Elks Theatre and such. Plus window shopping along streets lined with antique shops, and checking to see which charming little bookstores are open on Sundays. All make for a lovely bit of mother/daughter time.

Watch for future posts featuring more photos of our Prescott adventures, and click here to learn more about upcoming events in and around these parts.

– Lynn

Coming up: Art meets library, Celebrating National Cancer Survivors Day

Update: I’m now blogging as “Stage Mom Musings” at www.stagemommusings.com. Please find and follow me there to continue receiving posts about arts and culture in Arizona and beyond. Thanks for your patience as the tech fairies work to move all 1,250+ posts to the new site. For the latest news follow me on Twitter @stagemommusings. 6/13/12

Going rogue?

I've always got my eye out for art -- like this "Right Eye from an Arthropoid Coffin" (1539-30 B.C., Egypt) recently spotted at the Brooklyn Museum in NYC

I feel a bit rogue sometimes — writing for an Arizona magazine, but finding such delight in covering NYC arts and culture. So I decided maybe it was time to share with readers in both states, plus others, my rationale for marrying the two. The initial lure, of course, was our youngest daughter Lizabeth. Like many born and raised in Arizona, she’s chosen to further her arts education in NYC — so I visit several times a year in “mom mode.”

But the bridge between Arizona and NYC (plus Chicago and other communities with a heavy arts footprint) is a two-way street. Many who teach and create art in Arizona communities hail from NYC or other parts of the country, and I enjoy giving voice to the places and spaces that’ve nurtured the gifts enjoyed by Arizona art lovers.

Art is all around and deep within us. Traveling without covering regional arts and culture would be like refusing to breath another city’s air. Suffocating. Rather than distracting Arizona readers from the beauty of our own arts bounty, I hope my writing “on the road” inspires a greater appreciation for the multitude of marvels here at home. Photos from a children’s museum in Manhattan or Las Vegas might inspire a family to visit the Children’s Museum of Phoenix or the Tucson Children’s Museum. So it’s all good.

Sometimes it feels like the art is keeping an eye on you -- like "Curious and Curiouser" by Mary Lucking and David Tinapple in the Arizona Science Center lobby

I’m fortunate to have lots of “Stage Mom” readers in NYC, and hope my blogging on both states’ offerings inspires them to consider the depth and breadth of Arizona arts and culture. We get plenty of bad press, and I’m privileged to cover what’s best about our state. Young poets, skilled playwrights, talented musicians, inspiring dancers, gifted actors. Also arts educators in our schools, museums and various community venues. Tourism takes place in both directions — and I’m an unapologetic missionary for the Arizona arts scene.

I suppose some of my kinship with NYC was born of years attending touring Broadway productions at ASU Gammage. I take special delight on reporting from NYC about shows I’ve seen on Valley stages — plus shows that’ll likely head our way during future tours. Only seeing “War Horse” performed at Lincoln Center in NYC enabled me to appreciate how fortunate we are that it’ll gallop into ASU Gammage during their 2012-13 season.

Some people seem to spy art wherever they go -- like this "Untitled" (1961) by Lee Bontecou that's exhibited at the Phoenix Art Museum

Some assume that Arizonans are settling for mediocre on-stage and museum fare, but trips to NYC have heightened my appreciation for local offerings. Sometimes I find things that Arizona could use a lot more of — like arts and culture originating in Africa. Other times, I find modest NYC exhibits of Native American or Latino artworks that make clear the excellence of Arizona collections.

Stumbling on the Brooklyn Children’s Museum’s “Pattern Wizardry” in NYC years after I’d taken my children to enjoy the traveling exhibit at Mesa’s Arizona Museum for Youth reminded me, like Dorothy in her ruby red slippers, that you needn’t head over the rainbow to find what’s good and right in the world.

Still, we know that plenty of Arizona families travel — making choices when they do about where to invest precious resources like time and money. In an amusement park world, I’m keen on reminding parents to consider arts and cultural destinations too. Youth theater in San Diego. Orchestral concerts in Los Angeles. Public art in Las Vegas. Dance performance in Orlando. It’s all part of upping their appreciation for aesthetics, and the arts and culture industry so critical to a healthy American economy.

Teach your kids to look for art wherever they go -- like this eye detail on the glass house by Therman Statom located just outside the SMoCA young@art gallery in Scottsdale

It’s easy to take Arizona arts and culture for granted, forgetting just how exceptional our own theater companies from Childsplay to Valley Youth Theatre can be. Seeing touring productions from other parts of the country often reminds me that some of the country’s best artists live right here among us. Wowed as I was by a touring Kennedy Center production of “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical” performed a while back at Higley Center for the Performing Arts, it confirmed my suspicion that Childsplay in Tempe routinely achieves the same high quality of theater performance for students and families.

Seeing works performed during the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City each summer always makes me more committed to attending Southwest Shakespeare Company productions here at home. Admiring works of glass art at the Brooklyn Museum last week left me eager to explore more glass art here at home. Similarly, performances enjoyed here in the Valley up my appreciation for works by artists in other places. During my last trip to NYC, I spent an evening watching local arts programming from Thirteen WNET New York Public Media — eager to watch a show about young poets after covering state Poetry Out Loud finals here in the Valley.

Comparing and contrasting are essential to the craft of theater criticism and other elements of arts reporting, so I’d be foolish to check my memories of places like the Louvre, the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art at the door when entering “Stage Mom” mode. The more I experience, the more I have to share with Arizona readers. “Going rogue” has a lovely ring to it, but there’s a circle to what I do — and Arizona will always be my center.

– Lynn

Coming up: Let’s talk “Bully”

The fine art of dinosaurs?

The Arizona Museum of Natural History opens a new exhibit about flying reptiles in February (Graphic image by Mike Ramos)

When the Arizona Museum of Natural History opens a new dinosaur-theme exhibit in February, families will enjoy new opportunities to learn about pterosaur groupings and diversity. Pterosaur is a fancy word for flying reptile, by the way — a little factoid I picked up during earlier museum adventures with my once dinosaur-enamored son.

Today he’s the proud keeper of a leopard gecko named “Sunny,” who seems to like lounging under his little lamp more than flying. Just one more thing to be grateful for this New Year, I suppose. Christopher and I have been visiting the Arizona Museum of Natural History together for nearly two decades now.

This hanging pterosaur will be part of the First Flight exhibit (Photo: Kathy Neenan)

When their “First Flight: Rulers of the Prehistoric Skies” exhibit opens next month, we’ll be able to explore not only flying reptiles, but also the evolution of flight from insects to birds and bats thanks to assorted narrations, fossils, casts and paleo-art.

Ed Mack is building a lifesize pterosaur for the exhibit (Photo: Kathy Neenan)

Even a lifelike Pteranodon sternbergi created by artist Ed Mack. I’m told that exhibit volunteers are busy building everything from “rock blocks” to puzzles — plus lifesize replicas of the reptiles themselves. Let’s hope Sunny doesn’t get wind of it and expect his own miniature monument.

The "First Flight " exhibit is being built in-house (Photo: Kathy Neenan)

The “First Flight” exhibit will include various sections dedicated to topics like pterosaur anatomy, feeding strategies and babies. Consider reading up on pterosaurs with your little ones before you go. That way they’ll have fun learning new facts while gaining confidence sharing what they already know.

These fingers or toes help to demonstrate pterosaur anatomy (Photo: Kathy Neenan)

The museum shared a bit of “Pterosaur 101″ with me so you’ll also be in the know before you go. Pterosaurs were the first vertebrates to achieve self-powered flight. They had both distinctly-shaped thin hollow bones and membranous wings that were likely flexible and able to change shape during flight.

I’m told that the actual mechanical details aren’t completely understood by paleontologists, so there’s ample room for multiple arguments and opinions. What do you think? Did the evolution of flight take place from the ground up or from the trees down?

You’ll find plenty of answers, and intriguing questions too, as the Arizona Museum of National History continues exploring the fine art of dinosaurs.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn learn more about current and upcoming exhibits at the Arizona Museum of Natural History, and here to learn about public art exhibited on museum grounds.

Coming up: Exploring Mesa’s Main Street, Movie meets message

This post was updated 1/7/12 to amend the exhibit’s opening date

Art adventures: PhxArtKids

After spending last Saturday morning at the Phoenix Public Market, enjoying local arts and crafts in a farmers market setting, I was ready to stroll through cooler fare — so I headed to the Phoenix Art Museum with my college-age son, Christopher. They recently re-opened their PhxArtKids gallery, and I was eager to explore it.

I’ve been enjoying the Phoenix Art Museum with my children, sometimes as a school field trip chaperone, for more than a decade. Thanks to evolving interests and changing exhibits, it never gets old. In many ways, it’s like several museums in one. Sometimes I’m in the mood for European classics. Other days I’m drawn to contemporary works.

But I stop by the PhxArtKids gallery every time I’m there, and hope you’ll enjoy these photos from my most recent visit…

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You can click here to learn more about Phoenix Art Museum offerings especially for kids, but remember that the museum offers a little something for everyone — and that it makes a great escape when summer temperatures soar.

– Lynn

Coming up: “Stage Mom” reviews of “The Book of Mormon” and “War Horse,” this year’s Tony Award winners for best musical and best play

Art meets Arizona Town Hall

Some pretty cool things happened during 1962 in the arts world…

Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev first danced together — during a performance of “Giselle” with the Royal Ballet in London. Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans” exhibit opened in L.A.

The Beatles released their first EMI single — “Love Me Do.” The play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” opened on Broadway. And songwriter/rocker Jon Bon Jovi was born in New Jersey.

In Arizona, something called “Arizona Town Hall” was born. It’s an “independent, nonprofit membership organization that identifies critical issues facing Arizona, creates the forum for education and exploration of the topic and fosters leadership development.”

They’ve held nearly 100 “Arizona Town Hall” events since 1962, but this year’s event is their first to focus on Arizona arts and culture. You’d have a hard time convincing me that 97 other issues have been more important to our state through the years. Still, I’m thrilled that arts and culture finally made it to the top of their list.

The 98th “Arizona Town Hall” convenes this week (May 1-4) in Tucson, with approximately 150 Arizona citizens taking part. I recognized plenty of names when I checked out the list at www.www.aztownhall.org. Steve Martin of Childsplay. Dan Schay of Phoenix Theatre. Bill DeWalt of the Musical Instrument Museum.

You can hit the “Arizona Town Hall” website for a full list of folks taking part. The Arizona Commission on the Arts promises daily coverage of the event for those of us not fortunate enough to be there. And a final report will be issued with the groups’s findings, which will be available to the public online.

You can read this Arizona Town Hall Background Report online

I’m not keen on waiting for the final report, so I’ve been reading the “Arizona Town Hall” background report – put together in large measure by Arizona State University, with Betsy Fahlman serving as editor.

The curated report “combines the work of nearly 30 Arizona author-contributors, and 10 artists and poets.”

Its 236 pages include a comprehensive history of Arizona arts and culture that should be required reading for anyone who works or plays with the arts.

Specific chapters of the report address areas such as arts education, tourism and cultural heritage, historic preservation, public libraries, museums, parks and the performing arts. Also economic issues, urban revitalization, public art and more.

There’s even fun show and tell type stuff. Figures on the “creative industries in Arizona.” Tables on arts-related employment, state art budgets, federal arts funding and the ever-sexy “per capita spending on states arts agencies.” Graphs showing “availability of arts education” and “per-pupil arts spending.”

But what exactly will “Arizona Town Hall” participants be talking about in Tucson? I browsed a few of their discussion outlines, and found topics like these: What’s unique about Arizona arts and culture? How does the Arizona arts spectrum represent diverse populations?

They’ll also discuss the impact of Arizona arts and culture on our economy, education and quality of life. Plus the roles of private enterprise, private philanthropy, governments and other types of support for arts and culture.

When all is said and done, and their final report is issued, I’m guessing the impact — assuming we all own up to our own responsibilities for enhancing Arizona arts and culture — will make 2011 a year to rival 1962. Except, of course, for that whole Bon Jovi thing.

– Lynn

Coming up: Dance meets fashion, Celebrating “Book Week,” Put on your party clothes!

Update: Final recommendations from the 98th Arizona Town Hall are now available. Click here to see them. The 5/12/11 episode of “Horizon” on Eight, Arizona PBS focused on findings and recommendations from the 98th Arizona Town Hall. Click here to learn more about “Horizon” and the “Arizona ArtBeat” program.

“Memphis” meets movie theater

Alert: Click here to learn how you can help victims of flooding in the Memphis area.

Lizabeth and I are heading to a Broadway musical Thursday night — not in the theater district in NYC, but right here in the Valley — as Fathom Events presents a filmed performance of “Memphis” at several AMC movie theaters.

Memphis” was nominated for eight 2010 Tony Awards, and won four of them. It beat out “American Idiot,” “Fela!” and “Million Dollar Quartet” for the 2010 Tony Award for “Best Musical.”

You wouldn’t have expected as much had you read an early review of “Memphis” by theater critic Charles Isherwood of The New York Times – who described it in an Oct 20, 2009 review as “the Michael Bolton of Broadway musicals.”

Isherwood decribes the musical as “slick but formulaic entertainment,” but that hardly dampens my interest. If anything, it ups the intrigue factor — already quite high because the music for “Memphis” comes from Bon Jovi pianist David Bryan.

“Memphis” explores issues of sex, race and rock & roll in 1950s America. Seems a white high school dropout stumbles into a black nightclub and wows the crowds with his powerful piano licks — then hits plenty of highs and lows before landing a DJ gig that appears his true calling. Falling for a black singer doesn’t make his life any easier.

The club where character Huey Calhoun first finds his bliss is located on Beale Street, an actual music row located in Memphis, Tennessee — where something called the “Beale Street Music Festival” takes April 29-May 1 this year.

I suppose those who get really inspired when “Memphis” meets the movies on Thursday night can hop a plane and live a bit of Memphis in real life this weekend. Other fab events on the Memphis horizon include a May 2-8 “International Salute to Belgium” and a May 12-14 “World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest.”

Memphis has influenced or been home to plenty of famous actors — from Dixie Carter and Justin Timberlake to Kathy Bates and Morgan Freeman. Also musicians Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, B.B. King and Jerry Lee Lewis (depicted in the musical “Million Dollar Quartet“).

As every loyal Elvis fan knows, Memphis is home to Presley’s “Graceland.” Tennessee museums include the National Civil Rights Museum, the Memphis Rock n Soul Museum, the Memphis Zoo and the Children’s Museum of Memphis.

I have a feeling I’ll want to jump on a plane bound for Tennessee come Friday morning. Thankfully, I’ve got lots of reasons to stick around — including tickets to see the Arizona School for the Arts performance of “Triangle” and the Actors Theatre performance of “Circle Mirror Transformation.”

Come to think of it, perhaps the good folks of Memphis ought to think about coming here to enjoy a bit of Arizona arts and culture…

– Lynn

Note: “Memphis” is also being shown at Cinemark Mesa 16 (home to performances from the Metropolitan Opera in NYC and other special events).

Coming up: Like everyone else…

Update: We had a great time attending “Memphis” at a Mesa movie theater Thursday night. The movie theater venue lets viewers see actors up close, enjoy behind the scenes happenings and watch interviews with cast/creative team members that they can’t experience during live theater performance. I liked the musical as a story of the difference one person, or a small group of people, can make — but Lizabeth and I agree we’d enjoy it more as a concert or play rather than a piece of musical theater. You still have the weekend to see “Memphis” in select movie theaters. It’s perfect for those who enjoy rock and soul, those interested in the history of the civil rights movement, those who appreciate the marriage of history and music, those who like a lot of dance with their Broadway, and those who want to see what happened when Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan got inspired to write music that might help us all like each other more than we hate each other.

Arizona meets Smithsonian

I’ve always been awed by the size and scope of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. — which describes itself as “the world’s largest museum and research complex, with 19 museums, 9 research centers and more than 140 affiliate museums around the world.”

But I’ve often taken for granted the fact that there are several Smithsonian Affiliates right here in Arizona, including the following:

  • Arizona Historical Society (Tucson)
  • Arizona State Museum (Tucson)
  • Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum (Bisbee)
  • Challenger Space Center (Peoria)
  • Heard Museum (Phoenix)
  • Sharlot Hall Museum (Prescott)
  • Tucson Unified School District (Tucson)

The newest Arizona museum to earn Smithsonian Affiliate status is the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, another museum that never ceases to amaze thanks to the breadth and depth of diverse offerings both musical and music-related.

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I’ve always found that trips to the MIM feel more like exhilerating jaunts around the world than stuffy strolls through museum corridors. Just as the Heard Museum in Phoenix features a comprehensive collection of American Indian arts and culture, the MIM features a comprehensive collection of music-related artifacts.

If you’ve yet to explore the Musical Instrument Museum, or other museums noted above, you’re missing the opportunity to enjoy some of the country’s finest museums right in your own backyard.

– Lynn

Coming up: Valley venues performing Broadway classics

Photos courtesy of the Musical Instrument Museum

Art adventures: Roosevelt Row

Recently I headed downtown with my son Christopher eager to shoot some photos. We decided to stroll a bit along “Roosevelt Row” after the bold graffiti art caught our eye.

We grabbed drinks at a cute little place called “Carly’s” (home to the “Twilight” homage painting in the slide show below), then walked over to the “Eye Lounge” art gallery (next to “Modified Arts,” which was closed at the time).

In a little gift shop next to “Eye Lounge” exhibit space, we found all sorts of eclectic gifts, some more odd than others. Funky ties. T-shirts featuring the fanged rabbit art of Sebastien Millon. Jewelry by local artists.

Here’s a slide show featuring just a few of our many fun finds…

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While we don’t know the names of artists who created the graffiti we encountered, I do want to share the names of two artists whose work on exhibit at “Eye Lounge” is included in the above slide show.

The gold skull is part of a Crystal Phelps exhibition titled “Fielding Form” and the sculpture is a work titled “The Obsessive Man” by Benjamin Phillips — a cautionary tale, perhaps, for editors who have little too much fun wielding the red pen.

Click here to learn more about “Roosevelt Row” — a fun place to support local merchants, discover unique events and just kick around with a camera.

You can head to “Roosevelt Row” and surrounding areas this weekend, March 19 & 20, for an event dubbed “Art Detour 23.” It runs Sat 10am-6pm and Sun noon-6pm in the “Arts District of Downtown Phoenix.”

Guided tours of “Roosevelt Row” — departing from the information booth at 515 Arts — take place Sat at 10:45am and 12:45pm.

Click here to learn about other “Art Detour 23″ offerings — which include demonstrations, artist talks, meet & greets, live music performances and fashion events.

Just promise me you won’t buy the last fanged bunny top. It’s just the sort of thing my teens would enjoy finding in their Easter baskets.

– Lynn

Note: Roosevelt Row also participates in First Friday and other downtown Phoenix events.

Coming up: Art programs for kids

Photo credit: Lynn Trimble

From jungle to farm

Greasepaint Youtheatre presents "Disney's Jungle Book" in March

Most Valley residents associate Scottsdale with art shows, upscale malls or shops selling souvenirs of the Southwest.

So families may be pleasantly surprised to discover the farm and jungle fare coming soon to Scottsdale stages.

Longtime supporters of Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale recall the many talents of founder Gerry Cullity, who died in 2005, but whose work lives on in so many of the company’s works.

Gerry and Laurie Cullity came to Arizona (during the ’90s) from the East Coast, where they’d been active with the Barn Theatre in New Jersey.

So it’s no surprise that Gerry Cullity’s many adaptations of children’s stories for the stage include a musical production of “Charlotte’s Web.”

The show (directed by Laurie Cullity) opened Feb 18 and runs through March 20. Desert Stages describes it as “a musical hoe-down” and “spirited country gospel musical.”

Cullity notes that her husband’s fondness for the E.B. White tale of Wilbur and Charlotte (plus a gossipy goose, a gloomy sheep and a grouchy rat) stems from its “great message of friendship.”

Scottsdale is also home to Greasepaint Youtheatre, which has long performed at the venue formerly know as Stagebrush Theatre (once home to the now defunct Scottsdale Community Players).

The venue also features Cookie Company productions presented by Phoenix Theatre (their production of “Charlotte’s Web” runs March 25-April 3) — so there are plenty of family-friendly offerings in this neck of the woods.

But it’s the jungle, not the woods, that families will be enjoying at Greasepaint Theatre next month as Greasepaint Youtheatre presents “Disney’s Jungle Book” (directed by Scott Storr) March 4-13.

Greasepaint describes the show — which features familiar characters like Mowgli, Baloo and King Louie — as “jumpin’ with jazz,” noting that it’s “specially adapted from the beloved film.”

Given their relative proximity, it’s easy to make a full day of taking in both shows — spending time in between enjoying the many art galleries, restaurants and shops of downtown Scottsdale (known to us old-timers as “Old Town”).

– Lynn

Note: Find more information on Valley performing arts with a family focus in monthly print and daily online editions of Raising Arizona Kids magazine

Coming up: A modern dance legacy

More Q & A: Spring Awakening

Note: This post addresses “mature content” issues

The original “Spring Awakening” was a play written in 1891 by Frank Wedekind of Hanover, Germany — who lived 1864-1918, and found his works banned and performed in censored form.

It’s plenty tough to talk about youth sexuality in the 21st century — so imagine writing about the gripping challenges of puberty during more repressive and authoritarian times.

The cast of the current touring production of “Spring Awakening” shared during a recent talkback at ASU Gammage that they’re proud to help tell this important story.

They also answered diverse questions from audience members — including those paraphrased here with corresponding answers:

Q: How do you get your hair to do that? (Asked of Coby Getzug, who performs the role of Moritz, whose long hair is styled straight up during Act 2)

A: A lot of hair spray and a flat iron, seriously. I’ve been growing it since September — it’s not a wig.

Q: What is it like to perform in this venue (ASU Gammage) since it’s three times larger than most Broadway theaters?

A: Every house has a different feel, and every audience has a different flavor. That’s part of what makes touring so fun.

Q: How does the fact that you’ve seen others perform this show before you effect the way you portray your own character in this production?

A: You want to honor what they created with the original, then take it and make it your own.

Q: As you perform for different audiences around the country, is there a point where you can tell whether or not they are with you?

A: You might guess that my scenes sometimes don’t get the best reaction. When people don’t appreciate my line about Bobby Maler looking nasty in his khakis, it’s a pretty good sign that they won’t like the lyrics to “My Junk Is You.” Sometimes my favorite audiences are the ones that don’t have a good reaction because I just want to scare them.  (Answered by Devon Stone — whose character, Hanschen, figures prominently in two of the musical’s most controversial scenes)

Q: I notice there are several differences between this production and the last tour of “Spring Awakening” at Gammage. What’s changed this time around?

A: The hydraulics are too much to travel with (referring to a scene that originally includes a platform suspended by ropes, where a male and female actor simulate sexual activity). They require their own bus and take longer to put together than we have in a typical performance day (which starts at about 8am and includes an afternoon and evening performance); Sexual scenes are more graphic and intense in this production, which helps the audience feel more from it.

Q: I was blown away that you all stayed so in character and that everyone is so committed to their role. You were brilliant, truly. Is it hard to keep from getting emotional when you’re up there playing these characters?

A: I cry a lot, especially during rehearsals when we do the funeral scene [there are three tragic deaths in this show] and then they say “Okay, we’re done — you all have a good night!” But overall, the feel of the show is very hopeful. (Answered by Courtney Markowtiz, who performs the role of Ilsa, and serves as dance captain); When we take out those microphones, we’re no longer our characters. We’re our modern day characters going through what the characters were going through then. The characters were, are still, and will continue to be relevant. We have to remember what a great story it is and how it really affects people — that’s what keeps us moving forward. (Answered by Getzug)

Q: What else keeps you going?

A: It’s pretty fun. I’m the oldest one in the group. These are all fetuses and I’m 24 [referring to fellow cast members, include a young man and woman who are just 18 years old]. I waited tables for two and a half years in New York City. I’m from Florida, which is pretty flat — so I’m psyched to travel and see all the mountains and everything. (Answered by George E. Salazar, who performs the role of Otto); The most exciting part is working with talented, great, good people and sharing the show in parts of the country that don’t normally get to see this type of theater.

Q: What are some of the challenges of touring?

A: Living out of a suitcase and never really knowing what is under those hotel mattresses. And the fact that it’s exhausting. But every single night there’s someone in the audience who really needs the show. Everyone can relate to the show. It’s not so far from anyone’s life. And it’s such a beautiful, vital message.

My 17-year-old daughter Lizabeth was one of several people whose questions had to go unasked due to time constraints (perfectly understandable given that actors like to sleep and eat just like the rest of us) — but the cast did stay after the formal talkback to interact with audience members one-on-one.

Lizabeth has seen “Spring Awakening” several times and was hoping to ask cast members about the “mature content” rating for the show — and what they think about younger teens seeing the production.

She’s convinced that plays and musicals dealing with mature situations open the door for parent/teen dialogue — and that parents have nothing to fear from exposing children to works that include language and behavior they wouldn’t necessarily condone for their own children.

I’m inclined to agree. People have bodies. Sometimes we explore them. Sometimes we share them. Sometimes we use colorful language. And sometimes we skate desperately close to making choices with tragic consequences.

I wouldn’t encourage a parent to take a child or teen to this show without first having a good knowledge of its subject matter (and reading or listening to the show’s lyrics) — but I certainly don’t labor under the delusion that telling kids sex doesn’t or shouldn’t happen will make it so.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to read a companion post on the Jan 27, 2011 “Spring Awakening” talkback at ASU Gammage, and here for more details on tonight’s show. The current ASU run has ended, but you can see “Spring Awakening” in Tucson Feb 1-6.

Coming up: Spotlight on “Beauty and the Beast” — as a woman who performed in a touring Broadway production choreographs the show for a local youth theater company, Springsteen meets art and culture, The fine art of civil discourse