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