Tag Archives: Glee

From Shakespeare to slam

Childsplay meets The Hunger Games July 9-20

I returned home from NYC to a modest stack of mail that included a piece I anticipate reading each spring — the Childsplay Summer Academy schedule. I’m amazed each year by the collection of offerings they put together, and know firsthand that these puppies can fill up fast before dawdling parents decide on summer camp options with their children. So here’s a roundup of a few selections I found especially fanciful…

First, two options in mixed age classes — weeklong “Musical Theatre Marathon” classes for ages 8-15 and one-day “Midsummer Days” classes for ages 7-12. Musical theater themes include Footloose, Aladdin, Wizard of Oz, Sound of Music, Glee Club, Mary Poppins, Lion King and Alice in Wonderland.

I’m especially delighted with that last one given a recent blurb in The New York Times noting a Variety report that Broadway director and choreographer Rob Ashford was recently tapped for a staged musical adaptation of Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” film.

Four “On Stage Classes” including voice, choreographed movement and character work culminate with a performance at the Tempe Performing Arts Center. And there are two special “Middle School/High School” options, including “Deconstruction Zone: To Kill a Mockingbird” and
“Exploring Literature: The Hunger Games.”

Childsplay meets Fancy Nancy in June

Childsplay also offers eight classes in each of four age groups. Options for ages 4-6 include “Story Journeys” a la Fancy Nancy and Pinkalicious. Kids ages 5-7 can enjoy “Step into Spanish,” “Fractured Fairytales” and more. Classes for ages 6-9 include “Story Journeys: Magic Tree House” and “Poetry in Motion,” and choices for ages 8-12 include “Shakespeare’s Tempest,” “Poetry Slam” and “Story Drama: Harry Potter.”

Like many of the works performed by Childsplay for young audiences, several of their camps are literature-based and feature literacy-related themes. Think fairy tales, young adult novels, classic children’s series and more. (The Childsplay production of “Tomás and the Library Lady” opens with an April 7 preview at Tempe Center for the Performing Arts.)

They’ve got “Music Makers” for kids who dig music — plus options tailored to children who love pirates, dinosaurs, superheros and other sorts of adventure tales. Favorites are already filling up, so now’s the time to do your parent homework on the subject of summer camps.

You can jump online to see a full range of options, or call to request their nifty brochure that breaks everything down by age, theme and dates — and shares fun details about everything from extended care options to performances for family and friends.

Childsplay meets Shakespeare's Tempest in June

Camps are offered at two locations — the Campus for Imagination and Wonder and the Tempe Performing Arts Center (home to Childsplay before their move to a new Tempe campus at Mitchell Park named for Sybil B. Harrington).

There’s little sincerity when the orphans in “Annie” chime “We love you Miss Hannigan,” but I’m genuinely grateful for generous donations by Harrington and others that make theater experiences possible for our children and teens.

In a world where developing intellect, creativity, problem solving and social skills is so critical to learning, working, loving and being an active, engaged citizen, theater companies and other arts organizations serving youth are a necessity, not a luxury.

– Lynn

Note: Raising Arizona Kids subscribers receive our summer camp issue each year, and additional information about summer camp options is available at www.raisingarizonakids.com.

Coming up: Tears for two daughters, Women’s art goes global

Musings on the SAG awards

Check out the SAG Foundation auction taking place through Feb. 2

How lovely to finally enjoy an awards ceremony where the acting craft is supreme. No need for pyrotechnics or parades of pop stars. Just simple respect for the work and gratitude for a life that includes it. While the whole affair was a class act, I admit to having a few favorite moments…

  • Christopher Plummer reminding us all that acting is the world’s second oldest profession  — something we should share with all those politicians who see themselves as job creators but fail to sufficiently support the arts.
  • Octavia Spencer dedicating her award to the “downtrodden, underserved, underprivileged and overtaxed — whether emotionally, physically or financially.”
  • Betty White patting her “actor” on the back side while cooing “Oh, I remember you sweetheart.”
  • Presenters answering that burning question about how best to prepare for the acting life. Seems Sofia Vergara studied pre-dentistry, while Julie Bowen studied the Italian Renaissance. Edie Falco once did parties dressed as Cookie Monster, Tina Fey wrote for the school newspaper and Betty White sang.
  • Viola Davis describing how Cecily Tyson and Meryl Streep have touched her life — and encouraging kids in her Rhode Island hometown to “Dream big and dream fierce!”
  • Michael C. Hall sporting the red beard and Mary Tyler Moore rocking the black irridescent suit.
  • Alec Baldwin hailing both reading and writing — remarking that nothing good happens on television without great writers and pitching the SAG Foundation’s BookPALS literacy program.
  • Ken Howard reminding us all that acting is “a collaborative art’ while sharing news that both SAG and AFTRA boards have approved a merger so members can move forward with voting.
  • Jean Dujardin confessing that he was a very bad student, didn’t listen in class and was always dreaming.
  • Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Emma Stone sharing three messages from “The Help” — change is possible, every person has a voice and we can all make a difference if given the chance.

I’m happy to report that you can find acceptance speech video and transcripts on the Screen Actors Guild website, so you needn’t rely on others to give you the scoop. And you can click here to learn about the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.

The SAG Foundation is presenting an online auction through Feb. 2 to benefit BookPALS (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools) and Storyline Online – where you and your children can enjoy classic books read by famous folks from Melissa Gilbert to James Earl Jones. The auction supports other SAG programs too.

Auction items include signed scripts, photos, props and such. Also set visits, vacations, sports memorabelia and much more. There’s something for “Glee” fans, “Dexter” fans, “Boardwalk Empire” fans, “Modern Family” fans and plenty of other fans too. Click here to learn more.

– Lynn

Coming up: Advocating for arts education

Theater flair minus holiday fare

It’s easy to find holiday-theme fare this time of year, but plenty of folks are searching for other options. If you enjoy live performance but want a break from all the shiny tinsel and twinkling lights, consider some of these theater offerings:

Chandler-Gilbert Community College Performing Arts presents the musical “Chess” through Sat, Dec. 3. It’s rarely performed in the Valley, so this is a rare opportunity to enjoy a local production. The final show is at 7:30pm tonight. www.cgc.edu/arts.

Theater League presents “Wizard of Oz,” a touring production touting lots of special effects, Dec. 6 & 7 at the Mesa Arts Center and Dec. 8-11 at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix. Ten Valley students from Greasepaint Youtheatre are performing as Munchkins. www.theaterleague.com.

Queen Creek Performing Arts Center presents “Glee” for a single performance on Fri, Dec. 9. It’s the tale of a high school teacher who tries to reinvent his school’s glee club. www.qcpac.com.

Cast members from Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. by Arizona Jewish Theatre Company

Arizona Jewish Theatre Company presents the Curtain Call Youth Theatre production of “Fiddler on the Roof, Jr.” (a shortened version of the classic musical) Dec. 10 & 11 at the John Paul Theatre at Phoenix College. www.azjewishtheatre.org.

Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale presents a Children’s Theatre production of “Annie, Jr.” through Dec. 18. Though set in NYC during the Christmas season, it’s a tale with broad appeal beyond the holiday season. www.desertstages.org.

Childsplay presents “Lyle the Crocodile” through Sat, Dec. 24 at Tempe Center for the Arts. True, you’ll encounter some holiday fanfare as Lyle visits the Primm family during Christmas in NYC, but most kids know Lyle from books that find Lyle in bathtubs and other everyday places. www.childsplayaz.org.

ASU Gammage presents “Stomp,” an energetic blend of creative percussion and contemporary dance, Dec. 28-31 in Tempe. It’s a great choice for families with young boys who balk at traditional musical theater fare. www.asugammage.com.

For a comprehensive list of “On Stage” offerings for families, check out Raising Arizona Kids in print or online.

– Lynn

Note: If you have a family-friendly event to share with our readers, please visit the calendar section of the Raising Arizona Kids website to learn how you can submit calendar items for print and online listings.

Coming up: Lemonade for grown-ups

Another glimpse at “Glee”

Cheerleaders get a glimpse of a new foreign exchange student on Glee

During the first season of the FOX television series “Glee,” I watched every week with my youngest daughter Lizabeth, then a junior theater major at a Phoenix school for the arts. She’s been a fan of the show throughout, despite the fact that “Glee” lost me during the second season after storylines left me feeling like “House” had a tighter grip on reality.

But I decided to give “Glee” another shot this year, recording (and eventually watching) a recent episode titled “Pot of Gold” — a reference to the Irish heritage of a new character named Rory Flanagan who croons Kermit the Frog‘s “Bein’ Green” while remoaning the bullying he experiences each day. Damian McGinty got the “Rory” gig after winning a competition titled “The Glee Project.” He’s less fascinating by far than the new “House” character Dr. Chi Park, but gets more solos.

I’m giving “Glee” another chance this season, despite some shortcomings it’s hard to shake — the miraculous appearance of costumes without the people who design and build them, props like “Lucky Charms” that fuel faulty notions of nutrition, bizarre boundary issues between birth parents and adopted children, and songs that seem to glorify risky behaviors.

Assuming that “Pot of Gold” was more than a flash in the pan, the third season of “Glee” promises to be an art advocate’s dream — complete with dialogue and plotlines addressing sexy topics like school budgets and political engagement. When the school’s cheer coach rallies for cuts to arts funding as part of her campaign for Congress, a blue-collar “Glee” parent gathers arts support from local businesses and decides to throw his own wrench into the ring.

The school’s production of “West Side Story” is saved and a fierce storyline is born. I’m expecting future episodes to further illucidate issues at the core of arts funding for students — the tanglible academic and career benefits of arts training, the value of funding arts to the same extent as athletics, the role of arts in creating engaged citizens who vote and volunteer in their communities.

It’s easy to pick on the media when we think they’ve gotten it wrong, but more productive perhaps to notice and praise the times they get it right. I’ll be paying careful attention to “Glee” this season, hoping they’ll continue giving voice to the arts at a time when far too many seek to silence it altogether.

– Lynn

Note:  Click here to learn more about arts advocacy in Arizona, and here for information on Disney’s “The Muppets” being released on Nov. 23. For information on “The Glee Project” (including auditions), click here. To learn more about McGinty’s “Celtic Thunder” gig, click here. And click here for information on Irish arts and culture right here in the Valley.

Coming up: A “Star Trek” tale, Fun with animal art, “Dance dad” takes on “Dance Moms”

Update: “Glee” fans might want to keep an eye on the Facebook page for Actors Theatre of Phoenix, where details about an upcoming auction featuring several “Glee” items (including a signed script and a signed cast photo) will be posted in coming days.

“Glee” in 3-D: An affirmation tale

After several seasons of watching “Glee,” a Fox television series about life at a high school boasting both a giddy glee choir and a fierce football team, I was eager to see the “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie” when we got passes to a Tuesday night screening in Scottsdale.

After feeling disappointed many years ago by a live “American Idol” concert in downtown Phoenix (I was mother to a pre-tween at the time), I didn’t expect much going into “Glee 3D.” But the movie, being shown in theaters for just two weeks beginning Aug 12, was surprisingly fun.

I found myself wishing I had the movie’s soundtrack as Lizabeth and I drove a rental car from the airport in Las Vegas to our hotel in Cedar City, Utah where we’re staying during our annual pilgrimage to the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

I expected lively concert tunes, choreography with an aerobics class feel and lots of screaming concert fans. All there. But the  movie also features backstage conversations with cast members. Think Lea Michele sharing Barbra Streisand musings in “Rachel” mode.

The movie is rated PG, perhaps because of a few revealing costumes peppered with things like feathers and other furry stuff I can’t quite name. Prepare for a couple of crotch grabs too, as “Artie” (Kevin McHale) and the gang whip out the gold sequins for a cover of Michael Jackson’s “PYT.”

Still, the concert is good clean fun. Many of the costumes have a flirty 50s vibe, and the shoes—especially those sported by “Kurt” (Chris Colfer) – are a real kick. I was impressed that “Rachel” spent most of her time in silver flats instead of the stilettos sported by much of today’s sophomore class.

The best fashion piece, however, was a grey wool skirt with black piping worn by “Holly Holliday” (Gwyneth Paltrow) – who performs a single song. Still, it was a tiny wanna-be-Warbler, known to many for his You Tube performances, who stole the show. Think preppy blazer and tie falling to the knees.

The vocal talents of lead cast members are well-established, but I didn’t know others would perform sing so well in a concert setting. “Mercedes” (Amber Riley), and plenty of others, rocked the house. And Kleenex was in order when “Kurt” went solo.

A couple of cast members failed to truly shine in the singing department, but consider the source on this one. I can barely breathe and sing at the same time, let alone gyrate for a full 90 minutes.

The choreography builds as the concert goes along, so don’t fret if you find yourself a bit bored with early numbers. I remember being one of those lovely long-haired dancers once, and it’s clear lots of folks in the concert audience do too.

The camera often panned to middle-aged folks enjoying songs first released when they were youth. Sadly, it’s my generation that gave the world Rick Springfield and “Jessie’s Girl.”

There was plenty of swooning in the audience, and the movie theater, when particular cast members did their thing. Think “Brittany” (Heather Morris), who’s more dancer than singer. And “Blaine” (Darren Criss), one of several “Warblers” (a competing glee choir from an all boys prep school) on the television series.

There are plenty of concerts on film, but “Glee 3D” is more than that. It’s an anthem of acceptance. While performing a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” cast members wore white T-shirts with big black letters describing a trait they’ve come to accept. Nose. Four Eyes. Can’t Sing. Likes Boys. Bad Attitude.OCD.

Scenes of concert and crowd are interspersed with snippets of everyday youth discussing differences that present very real challenges. A teen girl with Aspergers syndrome talks of overcoming social anxieties. A gay teen tells the gripping story of his journey from shame to serenity. And a teen of short stature shares her dream of attending prom.

As we waited in line to board an airplane the day after seeing “Glee 3D,” Lizabeth shared that a friend posted something on Facebook about her plans to see a screening that evening. “Don’t judge,” the friend posted on her Facebook page.

Not to worry. Unless, of course, you show up at the theater with a giant red foam finger marked “Glee.”

– Lynn

Note: Don’t mistake the giant on-screen Slushie-fest and rolling credits for the film’s finale. There’s more, so stay seated (unless, of course, you want to get up and dance).

Coming up: “Glee” connections to Broadway, A playful production of “Romeo and Juliet”

Dance your pass off

That’s just what plenty of young dancers will be doing at Phoenix Theatre this summer thanks to their “all you can dance” pass — a steal at just $65 a month (or $110 for two months).

Those holding the coveted pass can attend as many “Summer of Dance” classes as their little heart desires just by waving that baby when they show up to strut their stuff.

“Summer of Dance” at Phoenix Theatre runs May 21-July 30, with classes held four nights a week – plus Saturdays. Offerings include zumba, techno ballet, turns and leaps, tap (1 &2), musical theatre, yoga and hip hop.

For those of you eager to dance more than your pass off, there’s even belly dancing and burlesque (although a little more pass can be appealing with these dance styles).

For students seeking a “dance intensive” experience there’s the 5-week “Dance Conservatory” at Scottsdale Community College — an “intensive training program for intermediate to advanced dancers.”

The SCC program features pilates, yoga, ballet, modern, hip hop and jazz. “Dancers must be 16 or older and serious about developing and expanding their talents” (and high school students are screened before acceptance).

The School of Ballet Arizona offers several summer programs — including a “Master Class Series 2011” presented in partnership with the Southwest Classical Dance Institute, open to intermediate and advanced dancers ages 10 and up. They also offer summer intensives for dancers of various age and ability levels.

Other ballet schools, such as the Ballet Etudes School of Dance in Gilbert, offer a variety of summer intensives and classes — so check with dance companies and schools in your area for more details about what’s out there.

We lived for many years in the Arcadia neighborhood of Phoenix, near a dance studio called Dance Theater West where both my daughters enjoyed all sorts of classes during the summer and the school year.

Dance Theater West is the academy of Center Dance Ensemble, resident modern dance company of the Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix, as well as Storybook Ballet Theater.

But the moms I met there loved it for another reason — the coupling of strong training with sensitive support that makes for a healthy body image and positive relationships with fellow dancers.

The “Summer of Dance 2011” program at Dance Theater West includes a ballet intensive workshop with a “Peter Pan” theme (ages 11-teens), several musical theater workshops for the 10-to-teen set (“Chorus Line,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” and “Glee”) and “Summerdance for Kids” options for ages 6-9.

Dance Theater West summer classes for the little ones include “Dance With Me Mommy,” “Dance Me a Story,” and “Ballet with Mom.” You’ll find a lovely photo of two budding DTW ballerinas in the June issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine.

Finally, a little something from the fine folks at Kriti Dance – best known to many for performing during basketball game half-times. Think Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury.

Kriti Dance, which specializes in Bollywood-style dance, offers an adult and teen workshop every Sunday in June – plus summer sessions for kids (ages 5-8) and youth (ages 9-13).

Between techno ballet, Bollywood and burlesque, children and teens (and even you) have plenty of amazing dance options this summer. I’m tempted to try some of them myself, but maybe just around the house. I’d hate to find myself surrounded by people laughing their passes off.

– Lynn

Coming up: Of treadmills and thumb pianos

A glimpse of “Glee”

The popular FOX television series “Glee” has inspired all sorts of show choirs and glee clubs to spring up throughout the country.

Arizona has plenty of glee groups affiliated with theater companies (Valley Youth Theatre), youth arts organizations (Scottsdale Glee), performing arts venues (Chandler Center for the Arts) and schools (Arizona School for the Arts).

Recently we put out the call — via the “Stage Mom” blog and social media for Raising Arizona Kids magazine — for photos of local glee clubs. Featured below are the two glee groups who shared their photos with us. Enjoy!

Christine Kyhn warms up Scottsdale Glee for a family sing-a-long

Young campers from the Glee Camp at Chandler Center for the Arts

Fabulous interns from Glee Camp in Chandler

Scottsdale Glee during a recent family sing-a-long

Glee Camp youth pose at Chandler Center for the Arts

Glee Camp participants on stage at Chandler Center for the Arts

Members of Scottsdale Glee pose after rehearsing

Choreography time during Glee Camp at Chandler Center for the Arts

A bit of glee from Glee Camp at Chandler Center for the Arts

Never fear if your group isn’t included here. Just send your photos to me at rakstagemom@gmail.com and you may see them in a future post!

– Lynn

Note: If your Valley organization offers a spring break camp with a theater theme, please let me know. But don’t delay — I’ll be posting a list of spring break theater camps Thursday night.

Coming up: Theater that feels like home, My fondness for “Fiddler,” Drama in Wisconsin — then and now, Arizona meets American Ballet Theatre

From peach to poodle

I headed out Saturday to see the opening performance of “James and the Giant Peach” at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts. It’s being presented by Theater Works’ Youth Works through Feb 20 – and it’s a truly charming take on Roald Dahl’s book of the same name.

I ran into a fellow stage mom at the box office, who told me to “take a lot of pictures of the aunts.” A lovely idea but impossible because my camera is in NYC for a week with my 17-year-old daughter Lizabeth.

Zane Reisert (Old Green Grasshopper) and Evan Arganbright (James)

After the show, I hung around to chat with cast and family members — including a young actor named Evan Arganbright who performed the role of “James.”

He reminds me of Lizabeth during her early years with Greasepaint Youtheatre in Scottsdale.

For a time, it’s all about the cute factor — and Arganbright has it.

I’ll share a bit more of his story, and a review of “James and the Giant Peach” in a future post.

On my way home, I got a call from my 21-year-old son, Christopher, who finished a volunteer gig early and was waiting for the teen taxi.

I picked him up and we headed to Tempe to get my 19-year-old daughter Jennifer, an ASU student who still heads home on weekends for laundry, tech support and life’s little essentials like Dr Pepper.

We got to Tempe just before 4pm — and a lightbulb went off. I dropped Christopher off at a burger joint and headed back to the Tempe Center for the Arts, where Childsplay is performing “Go, Dog. Go!” (based on the book by P.D. Eastman) at 1pm and 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays through March 6.

Scene from a former Childsplay production of "Go, Dog. Go!"

I got to TCA in the nick of time, and took a seat near one of three houses (the dog house) that anchor the set.

“Go, Dog. Go!” is performed “theater in the round” style, so preschoolers were seated all around the circular floor-level performance area.

They were giggling nearly non-stop, as were more than a few of the grown-ups sitting in rows behind them.

Both “James and the Giant Peach” and “Go, Dog. Go!” are performed in relatively small spaces — and even feature somewhat similar lighting for scenes with a starlit sky. One is done with a giant set piece (a rotating peach) in the center of the space, while the other features three houses around the perimeter of the performance area.

Each production puts a unique spin on things. The “James and the Giant Peach” set includes a screen showing puppetry mirroring the action of the play. The “Go, Dog. Go!” set extends to the theater’s first balcony — where a character named Hattie (sporting some serious pink) glides along while asking, “Do you like my hat?”

I had to duck out during the “Go, Dog. Go!” intermission to take care of some things for my own kids, but stopped on the way to admire the books, CDs and even pink poodle purse at the Childsplay display tables on the way out.

I’ll share more about the performance, and the educational lobby display, in a future post. I expect to see the show again with Lizabeth once she’s done with college audition travels.

It’s just as well, I suppose, that I got called away early. I fear my own uproarious laughter, more like snorting really, was a bit too much for the more subdued grown-ups in the audience — though someone from Childsplay did laud my “setting a good example” for those less inclined to let go and let dog.

Before scurrying out of the Tempe Center for the Performing Arts, I was lured by visions of glass in the venue’s dedicated exhibit space — stumbling first on a trio of works by Angela Cazel Jahn, co-founder and former artistic director for the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.

Today she’s part of the “eye lounge” artist collective in downtown Phoenix. Cazel Jahn also is a dedicated stage mom, in the most positive sense of the word, and I hope to share more of her story in a future post as well.

TCA's exhibit of glass art features several intriguing mixed-media works

The current TCA Gallery exhibit also features works coupling glass with neon, metal and other intriguing materials.

The exhibit space is modest in size with a very intimate feel–making it a perfect introduction for children to the world of art exhibits and museums.

My final stop before getting Jennifer and going home was a longtime Mill Avenue haunt called “The Shoe Mill” — where we found a rugged but stylish pair of black leather boots that we photographed via cell phone for Lizabeth. How odd, I thought, that a teen surrounded by NYC shopping options might find the finest boots back home in Tempe.

Eventually the three of us made our way home, happy to be off our feet and out of the cold (by Arizona standards) weather. Soon the washing machine was humming and we were waiting word from Lizabeth about her first day of auditions.

But that’s a story for another day — and it’s her story, not mine, to tell.

The little girl who once would have joined me for a day of peaches and poodles is making her own way in the world of theater, and I couldn’t be more proud of her hard work, talent and passion for the craft.

– Lynn

Note: Lizabeth has studied with each of the actors performing in Childsplay’s “Go, Dog. Go!” — which makes watching them perform even more meaningful as a mom. Click here to learn about Childsplay summer classes. Click here to learn about Theater Works summer camps. Click here to learn about “Glee” camp with “Yellow Dog” actor Kristen Drathman. Finally, click here to learn about the 2011 RAK Camp Fair featuring diverse camp options for Valley children and teens.

Coming up: Valley teachers talk theater

Got glee?

Fond as I am of watching the FOX television series “Glee,” I’m a bigger fan of Valley kids who “do the glee” in real time.

Those snappy numbers and catchy tunes don’t come to life quite as quickly off-screen, according to Valley actor and Mesa Community College (MCC) student Tyler Pounds.

Still, they’re every bit as fun — and have much to offer in terms of fostering creativity, teamwork and self-expression.

If your child is game for a bit of glee, consider a spring break camp with plenty of acting, singing and dancing.

Your choices include the “Spring Glee Camp” at Chandler Center for the Performing Arts — which runs March 21-25 and features “professional coaching in all aspects of musical theatre” by Kristen Drathman.

The camp runs 9am to noon that week, is designed for campers ages 8 & up, and takes place at the Chandler Center for the Performing Arts.

Drathman describes the camp as “a wonderful motivator and social outlet to get kids off the couch and doing something artistic, athletic and fun for the break.”

“Musical theater,” she told me, “works the body as well as the mind.”

Then Drathman added this quip: “Singing and dancing all morning…I mean, who wouldn’t want to do that!”

Turns out Drathman also gets to spend many of her evenings singing and dancing because she performs regularly on Valley stages — though she’s currently performing for more of a matinee crowd as the “Yellow Dog” in Childsplay’s “Go, Dog. Go!” at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

Other options include the “Musical Theatre Glee Camp” being presented March 14-18 by an organization that’s fairly new to the Valley — Scottsdale Glee.

Camp hours are 9am to noon, but afternoon sessions focused on music appreciation and exploration are available at additional cost.

Scottsdale Glee instructors include Christine Kyhn, Nola Enge and Lisa Fogel. The camp (as well as other Scottsdale Glee programs) takes place at Shepherd of the Hills United Church of Christ in Phoenix — which is also home to one of the Valley’s “parent cooperative” preschools.

It’s just a hop, skip and jump away from Arcadia Music Academy, which is housed at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church — where my daughter Lizabeth first studied violin with Cynthia Baker.

Chandler Center for the Arts and Scottsdale Glee also offer summer options with a glee theme, plus other activities and opportunities for children interested in the arts.

As a mom whose children have missed far too many summer opportunities because of lingering too long over the oodles of choices out there, I offer three pieces of advice.

First, start asking around now. Second, attend the Raising Arizona Kids magazine camp fair next month. Third, get your child registered before popular programs like “Camp Broadway” at ASU Gammage are full.

While Pounds and others correctly note that characters on the television show “Glee” are often stereotyped to the extreme, I’m convinced that musical theater in real life does more to break down barriers than build dividing walls between students.

– Lynn

Note: Pounds is one of several students who’ll perform in the Arizona State University Lyric Opera Theatre Student Workshop production of “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” — which runs Jan 28-Feb 6. He’ll also be performing the role of “William Barfee,” as will William Marquez, in “The 39th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” being presented by MCC’s Act I Musical Productions March 3-12. Both contain mature content not suitable for children — so enjoy them with a friend, then take the kids to see a puppet show.

Coming up: More summer theater camps, Art in the round, Film festival meets Arizona politics, Art and healing, Talkback time: “Spring Awakening” at ASU Gammage, Valley students create art to commemorate “No Name-Calling Week”

Got GLEE? Send me a digital photo (or photos) of your Glee club or camp in action and it might be featured in a future post spotlighting Glee groups in the Valley. Please send by Fri, Feb 4 to rakstagemom@gmail.com.

Musings on “mature content” musicals

I finally broke down and watched the movie “Shutter Island” with my 17-year-old daughter recently after someone who’d seen it mentioned how much she’d probably enjoy it.

I’m one of those quaint parents who’s not a big fan of the under-17 set seeing movies with an R-rating, although Lizabeth saw plenty of “mature content” musicals before turning 17.

Folks who watch “Glee” will recognize the actress in this poster from “Spring Awakening” on Broadway (Photo: Joan Marcus)

She’s seeing “Spring Awakening” for the second time this week when it returns for two nights only to ASU Gammage.

Last time it toured in Tempe, we surprised her with tickets for on-stage seating — since rows of audience members sit stage left and stage right for the entire production.

This time around we’ll enjoy it together from seats in the house — and it’ll be our second “mature content” musical for the week.

About the time this gets posted, we’ll be seeing “Next to Normal” at the Balboa Theatre in San Diego.

Lizabeth first saw “Next to Normal” at the Booth Theatre during a high school trip to NYC and DC last year, but Alice Ripley didn’t perform the night Lizabeth attended.

We’re thrilled to be seeing Ripley perform in the touring production — and will offer more musings on our return.

People often ask me what theater material is and isn’t appropriate for certain ages. My answer to this mirrors my take on most parenting issues. It depends on the child.

Families have different values. Children have different sensitivities. And everyone has a different take on art.

When I spoke a while back with Paris Bradstreet, a member of the touring cast for “Spring Awakening” at ASU Gammage, she noted that primetime television offers far more violence and sexual content than the plays and musicals folks fear as too racy.

Touring cast of “Spring Awakening” (Photo: Andy Snow)

Since we spoke, MTV has started airing a weekly series called “Skins” — billed as “a journey throughout the lives of nine high school friends stumbling through teenage adolescence.”

Think partying with drugs and alcohol, trading sexual favors, popping pills, reading porn and more.

Pay attention when theater offerings have content advisories, but do more digging.

Sometimes the things parents fear, like the brief and barely lit nude scene in “Hair,” are far more tasteful than what your kids are seeing on television or in movie theaters.

Bradstreet observes that “mature content” fare often sails right over the heads of younger children.

If your tween or teen is old enough to know when a character is simulating sexual activity (with self or others), it’s unlikely the thought of sex has yet to cross his or her mind.

And as the mom of a teen who has seen everything from “Rent” to “Avenue Q,” I can assure you that no Broadway show has ever inspired her to run right home and start swearing up a storm or sneaking out at night for some sinister purpose.

Touring cast of “Spring Awakening” (Photo: Andy Snow)

If anything, it’s taken the glamour away from activities that would otherwise derive power from their mystery.

Who wants to raid a liquor cabinet after watching the mother in “August: Osage County” drink herself into oblivion? Who wants to shoot heroine after seeing a drug user in “Rent” contract AIDS?

I hadn’t realized, when we rented the movie “Shutter Island,” that it involved a mother killing her children. I only recall the slick little DVD case warning against language, cigarette use and nudity.

Apparently it’s the smoking killers who most offend. But all is well if they’re fully clothed.

I wasn’t entirely sure after watching “Shutter Island” that I’d made the right call.

But I am sure that much of what our tweens and teens experience via television, video games and the Internet is far more rude and crude than anything I’ve ever seen in a work of musical theater.

– Lynn

Note: One of the best ways to gauge the age-appropriateness of content is to view something for yourself before deciding whether it’s okay for your child or teen. If you check with friends, ask enough of them to get a good sampling of opinions — which will give you more insight than a single thumbs up or thumbs down.

Coming up: Good clean fun with children’s theater, All things “Alice,” Spotlight on Sedona

Update: ASU Gammage has just announced special pricing for certain tickets to “Spring Awakening.” Use the code “SPRING” when ordering tickets in price levels 1-3 (excludes balcony seating; additional fees apply). Offer not valid on previously purchased tickets or in conjunction with any other offers. Tickets available from ASU Gammage and Ticketmaster.