Tag Archives: Forever Plaid

First chance, last chance

Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre performs "Joseph" through Aug 21

Though summer heat means thinner event calendars for some Valley venues, there’s still plenty to do. Every weekend seems to have its own flavor, and this weekend–which features your first and last chance to see several community theater productions–is no exception.

One of my all-time favorite musicals, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” opened last night at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Mesa. It’s fun for all ages and features an interesting mix of upbeat tunes like “Any Dream Will Do” with more soulful selections such as “Close Every Door.”

Last Chance: "Forever Plaid" at Hale Centre Theatre closes Saturday

Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale opens “The Wedding Singer” today, July 9. Though it runs through Aug 1, you might want to see it sooner rather than later. Their shows often sell out, especially when adoring family and friends pack the house to enjoy the show and show their support.

Also opening today is the 13th Annual “Hormel New Works Festival” at Phoenix Theatre, which features staged readings of new works by emerging and established playwrights. It’s a solid out-of-the-ordinary choice for date night or a get-together with friends.

Moira Smiley plays the Musical Instrument Museum on July 9

Music lovers of all ages have a friend in the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, which presents diverse musical performers on a regular basis. Tonight it’s Moira Smiley and VOCO, who specialize in “vocal harmonies and vaudevillian accompaniment.” It’s a one time deal, so head out to the MIM tonight if you can still get tickets and find the vocals/vaudeville combo intriguing. Sat, July 10, kids 8-11 can enjoy “Build a Rhythm Workshop: Making Drums From Around the World” from 10am-noon. $35. Preregister.

On the family-friendly front there’s the “Off the Cuff” Comedy Improv Show” at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe (near other treasures like Hoodlum’s Music & Movies, Wildflower Bread Company and more). The 7pm show features a comedy troupe performing “family-friendly improv created from audience member suggestions.”

Free "Cars & Guitars" opens in Tempe

High on the list of “last chance” shows worth seeing is the Hale Centre Theatre production of “Forever Plaid,” a musical featuring 28 songs steeped in ’50s harmonies, which closes at the Gilbert theater after its final July 10 performance. Their children’s theater will open “The Little Mermaid” that same day, and it’ll run through Nov 27. I’m looking forward to reviewing it once my summer settles down a bit.

Saturday is your first chance to enjoy a unique collection of Fender-theme musical instruments (the company is based in Scottsdale), cars and memorabilia at Tempe Center for the Arts (the exhibit runs through Oct 16). This baby isn’t just fun, it’s free.

"Yellow Bird Dancers" perform Saturday at the Heard Museum in Phoenix

So is the Heard Museum’s “Sizzlin’ Summer Saturday” complete with entry to the Phoenix museum’s 10 exhibits, kids’ activities, music, dance performance and more. Not visiting the Heard Museum is like living a lifetime in NYC but never making it to the MoMA or the Met.

Who would do such a thing?

Another local treasure offering free festivities this Saturday, July 10, is the ASU Art Museum in Tempe. Their 11th Annual “Family Fun Day” from 10am-2pm includes 11am-noon activities with CONDER/dance.

First chance: "The Little Mermaid" opens at Hale this weekend

You can wind down your weekend with a Sunday afternoon performance by a sax quartet and harpist as part of the Phoenix Art Museum’s “Downtown Chamber Series,” for which advance reservations are recommended.

And finally, Sunday is your last chance to see the Great Arizona Puppet Theater perform “Goldilocks,” which they describe as “a slapstick version of the traditional tale.”

Go ahead, explore more than one. You deserve that much happiness this weekend…

–Lynn

Great Arizona Puppet Theater presents "Goldilocks"

Note: Always call ahead to confirm dates, times, location, ages, ticket requirements and such. For more family-friendly fare, start each day with a visit to our online calendar of events and activities happening around the Valley and state (or subscribe to the monthly magazine so you have a calendar to keep in your diaper bag, planner or glove box).

Coming up: Lynn reads a lot into “Despicable Me,” a new movie her daughter Lizabeth prefers to think of as simply fun. Also playing in Phoenix for just a few days this week is “Grease: Sing-A-Long.” Showings in other cities are selling out quickly so don’t delay if you want to join the fun. The PG-13 movie comes to the AMC Esplanade 14 on July 15-18. For times and tickets, visit www.greasemovie.com.

Photos courtesy of artists/venues (Hale Centre Theatre photos by Wade Moran)

Don’t push my buttons!

Pushing buttons…

It’s a common occurrence when the “teen taxi” is in service.

Sometimes it’s the emotional kind, but usually it’s just the radio that’s in play. I push the ‘70s button, Christopher pushes the ‘80s button, Jennifer pushes the country/western button and Lizabeth pushes the Broadway button.

'50s crooner Eddie Fisher

We get a ‘50s station thanks to Sirius XM, but it’s never had its own button. James and I are at the back of the “Boomers,” born in the ‘60s after the heyday of soda jerks and juke boxes.

So it surprised me when I actually got chills listening to the cast of Greasepaint Youtheatre’s The Sound of Plaid” perform the show’s final number, “Love is a Many Splendored Thing.”

The show—an Arizona premiere of “The Sound of Plaid: The New Glee Club Version of Forever Plaid”—features mostly music popularized in the ‘50s. Think “Lady of Spain” and “Three Coins in the Fountain.”

I attended the Saturday matinee at Greasepaint Youtheatre (formerly Stagebrush Theatre) in Scottsdale, which was also enjoyed by youth from a variety of non-profit organizations—including Free Arts of Arizona, Chrysalis and Girl Scouts.

Collaboration is a many splendored thing, and Phoenix Theatre does it so well.

I never met a mic I didn't like

I’m also rather partial to their take on all things plaid. If ever there was a show with the potential to be a monotonous “one note”—this has to be it. I’m more of a spandex and disco ball kind of a gal, so I really didn’t expect to find this show all that enchanting.

Contemporary crooner Michael Buble

But they had me with the very first notes out of the tuxedo-clad quartet that opened the show (all looking a bit like Michael Buble brandishing braces)—which follows the performance of a high school glee club who’ve come back to earth after perishing in a 1964 crash with another school bus.

Students on the other fictional bus, en route to watch the Beatles’ debut on the Ed Sullivan show, survived—but that’s the last we hear of them. They haven’t got the power of the plaid.

I loved the show’s many references to all things nostalgic. The club sang a round rather than a rap. They pined over LPs instead of iPods. They used words more common many decades ago—uranium, Korea, harmonic convergence—even “Holy cannoli!”

Ed Sullivan & the "Fab Four"

The show featured especially strong vocals, with plenty of stunning solos and heartfelt harmonies. I’d have to give the best overall performance award to Ryan Kitkowski, an Arcadia High School sophomore who plays Jinx with true comedic flair.

I was also impressed by the balance of various creative elements—the live music (piano, bass and drums), the simple but sophisticated scenic design, the polished costumes and the playful props.

The youngest trio of cast members—including 2nd grader Alex Kirby (Gladys), 3rd grader Sam Primack (Lionel) and 4th grader Madeline Bates (Irene)–were both capable and cute. Madeline is the youngest of three Bates siblings in the show, and the cast member I’d pick for “most likely to make it big as a dancer” one day.

The Andrew Sisters

As always, the Greasepaint Theatre lobby was transformed into a world reflecting the cultural context of the show. Patrons enjoyed clips of songs like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by the Andrew Sisters on a tiny black and white television. And yup, they even managed to dig up an old record player.

Exhibits featured photos and descriptions of cultural icons like American Bandstand—and true American idols like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Big Mama Thornton and Bing Crosby. A mock recording studio with stand-up mic and “On the Air” sign made a great setting for snapping souvenir photos.

“The Sound of Plaid” makes for a refreshing afternoon or evening of theater for all ages (recommended for 5 & up). If you want to treat the grandparents in your life to some quality time with the grandkids, get them tickets to see this show.

Dick Clark

Or if you want your child to see the polished, but not plastic, performance of a real live “glee club”—this is the show for you. Long before 3-D televisions invade our family rooms and kitchens, we’ll have plenty of live performance art to transport young imaginations to new dimensions.

But don’t get me started. The tragedy of television time taking over theater time is one of my hot buttons…

–Lynn

Patsy Cline

Note: If, like my daughter Jennifer, the radio button you’re most fond of pushing is for country/western tunes, don’t miss the presentation of “Always…Patsy Cline” coming to Phoenix Theatre on May 19. It’s a touching glimpse into the world of singer Patsy Cline, whose life was cut tragically short by a plane crash in 1963 when she was just 30 years old.

Coming up: Spotlight on summer theater camps, including those offered by Phoenix Theatre, Childsplay, Valley Youth Theatre and more. If your child has had a positive experience with a Valley theater camp (or you’ve seen another youth theater production you’d like to recommend), feel free to comment below to let our readers know.