Tag Archives: Tucson

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”

9/11 on stage and screen

Imagine being asked by an FDNY fire captain to help with writing eulogies for eight men lost in the twin towers on 9/11. That’s just what happened, by some very odd twists of fate, to Anne Nelson — whose work about those experiences launched an unexpected career as a playwright.

Nelson’s “The Guys” is one of many plays looking at life on and after 9/11. Karen Malpede’s “Another Life” tackles a father/daughter difference of opinion about 9/11. David Rimmer’s “New York” follows 15 individuals who see the same psychiatrist in the aftermath of 9/11.

Invasion tackles the bigotry leveled against Arabic men in America

Rehana Lew Mirza’s “Barriers” examines prejudice both by and against Muslims. Steve Fetter’s “A Blue Sky Like No Other” is a one-man show about the playwright’s own experiences on 9/11.

Peter-Adrian Cohen’s “In the Name of God” follows six people who experience crises of faith in the aftermath of 9/11.

Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s “Invasion” tackles issues of identity, language and race in light of prejudice against Arabic men. Richard Nelson’s “Sweet and Sad” listens in as the liberal Apple family chats about loss, memory and remembrance around the dining room table on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. 

My daughter Liz will be intrigued by the connection between this play and War Horse at Lincoln Center

Smoke and Mirrors Collaborative created “Point of Departure,” which considers the obstacles facing post-9/11 passengers at an airport as they try to reach their respective destinations. And an ensemble of cast members in their tweens to early 20s developed ‘Ten Years Later,” which explores what it means to come of age in a post-9/11 era.

There are several others, plus plenty of films — most of which won’t be coming to Valley movie theaters anytime soon, though you’ll be able to buy some of them for your personal film collections (the fancy name for those stacks of DVDs you’re hoarding).

“New York Says Thank You” examines The New York Thank You Foundation, which engages citizens in “giving back” through disaster relief efforts in other parts of the country. www.newyorksaysthankyou.org.

New York Says Thank You is all about giving back

It’s being broadcast by Fox affiliate KUTP Sat, Sept 10 (7pm) and shown in select theaters nationwide. Arizona didn’t make the movie theater cut, be we can watch it streaming live from Action America and AOL starting that same night.

“Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football and the American Dream” follows four football players at a public high school in Michigan where most of the students are Muslim Americans and preparations for a big game take place during Ramadan.

It’s being shown at select AMC theaters around the country, but Arizona didn’t make that list either. So much for attempts to garner street cred with all that “sixth largest city in the country” fodder.

Folks in Arizona who want to experience a bit of 9/11-related filmmaking in a community setting have just a single option this weekend — the screening of “Rebirth” presented by the University of Arizona at the Loft Cinema in Tucson. www.loftcinema.com.

Rebirth will be screened at Loft Cinema in Tucson on Sunday

“Rebirth” follows the lives of five people, including a teenage boy and a firefighter, whose lives were significantly changed by the events of 9/11. www.projectrebirth.org/film.

The film, and additional footage taken by its creators, will eventually be housed at the 9/11 museum in New York City. www.911memorial.org.

If you miss the Tucson screening, watch for it on Showtime Sun, Sept 11 — perhaps inviting friends or family over for your own sofa screening. www.sho.com.

Those of you who worry that this weekend has become nothing more than a giant media fest will appreciate the work of Linda Holmes, who set out to compile a handy viewing guide of 9/11 television specials only to think better of it early in the game.

Here’s a link to her “befuddled note,” which my husband James shared with me recently. I’m starting to wish I had written it myself some dozen or so paragraphs ago: www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2011/09/07/140245859/a-rather-befuddled-note-from-me-to-you-about-september-11-specials?ft=1&f=93568166.

– Lynn

Note: “Stage Mom” will resume coverage of Arizona arts and culture on Monday with “Recipe for Revenge” — a review of Southwest Shakespeare Company’s “Titus Andronicus.”

Coming up: Memorials honoring lives lost in Pennsylvania, New York and Washington, D.C.

9/11 meets Arizona arts and culture

This work by Sam Irving is one of several you can enjoy at exhibits at two Gilbert libraries this week (Photo courtesy of Gilbert Fire Department)

The town of Gilbert is preparing for Sunday’s dedication of a 9/11 memorial to feature an 8-foot long beam from the World Trade Center.

Recently they invited folks to submit photographs, paintings and drawings with a “Memory of Hope” theme. Selected works are on exhibit through 9/11 at the Southeast Regional and Perry High libraries. www.gilbertaz.gov/911memorial.

One of several works currently on exhibit at the Tucson Jewish Community Center

Contemporary Artists of Southern Arizona has created a mixed media 9/11 memorial called “3,000 Souls” that’s being exhibited at the Tucson Jewish Community Center through Sept 26. ww.tucsonjcc.org/arts.

The ceramics program and fine arts department at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix (part of the Tempe Unified High School District) presents a 9/11 memorial Thurs, Sept 9 from 6-9pm (room 149).

The event features “students from dance and theatre,
choir, speech and band, a special slide and musical tribute, the
signing of victims’ names into a tribute vessel to be delivered to New
York in December, and fundraising for the WTC Health Hospital.” The event is free and open to the public. www.desertvista.schoolfusion.us.

Several 9/11-related items, including a huge “National Unity Flag” designed and created in Arizona, will be exhibited Sept 9-16 in the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts atrium.

A “9/11 Memorial Wall” with 2,996 full-color memorial cards featuring biographical information and photographs of 9/11 victims will be exhibited as well.

Scottsdale begins a “9/11 Day of Remembrance” program in the atrium at 1pm on Sun, Sept 11 with a reading of victims’ names.

Keynote speaker Ray Malone, a former New York police office and firefighter, follows in the Virginia G. Piper Theater at 6pm. The evening also includes performances of patriotic music by school bands and choral groups, as well as a candlelight vigil. www.scottsdaleaz.gov.

ProMusica performs with other Valley groups this weekend

ProMusica Arizona Chorale and Orchestra of Anthem will perform Mozart’s “Requiem” (a work being performed by groups throughout the country on 9/11) at two Valley churches on Sun, Sept 11. www.promusicaaz.org.

Mozart’s “Requiem” is also being performed at a “Remembrance and Renewal” concert at UA’s Centennial Hall in Tucson on Sun, Sept 11 at 3pm. It features the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and Tucson Chamber Artists’ professional choir. www.uapresents.org.

The Damocles Trio, who met as doctoral students at The Juilliard School in NYC, will perform the “Requiem Trio” by Spanish composer Salvador Brotons (b.1959) at Tempe Center for the Arts at 2:30pm on Sun, Sept 11.

The work was “written especially for the group to commemorate the tragic terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001.” The piece was first performed in Sept 11, 2004 in NYC.

Tempe officials note that “this concert will be linked to the Tempe Beach Park 9/11 Healing Field and other city commemoration events.” The concert also features the music of Dvorak and Villa Lobos. www.damoclestrio.com and www.friendsofTCA.org.

The Tucson Pops Orchestra, with guest conductor George Hanson, performs “Americana: Remember 9/11″ Sun, Sept 11 at Reid Park in Tucson at 6:30pm. www.sept11tucson.org.

The National Unity Flag will hang in Scottsdale this weekend

Folks looking for additional 9/11 memorials and related events can check with local interfaith or religious groups, performing arts venues, universities or colleges, museums, local governments and community centers for local offerings.

If your Arizona organization is presenting a music, dance, theater or visual arts event in remembrance of 9/11, please comment below to let our readers know.

– Lynn

Note: Several 9/11 remembrance events will be televised, including a New York Philharmonic concert with Alan Gilbert conducting Mahler’s “Resurrection” (Sept 11 on PBS). Listen to KJZZ 91.5 all week for 9/11 memorial coverage (including 9 hours of live coverage on 9/11). www.kjzz.org. Watch the “9/11: 10 Years Later” concert live Thurs, Sept 8 and share your reflections with others at facebook.com/KennedyCenter by clicking on the 9/11 Livestream tab.

Coming up: Remembering 9/11 with literature and love

Kids remember 9/11

This 9/11 Peace Story Quilt on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was designed by Faith Ringgold. It features three panels created by NYC students ages 8-19.

Folks in NYC have plenty of art-related opportunities to reflect on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this week. An art installation “made from 9/11 dust” and paintings “which contain ash from ground zero.” A quilt featuring NYC’s skyline and a quilt with three panels crafted by NYC students (pictured above). www.metmuseum.org.

A roving memorial called “Dances for Airports.” A concert for peace featuring the Juilliard String Quartet. A release of balloons inscribed with poetry in several languages. Even a human chain open to anyone who wants to join hands in Battery Park at 8:46am on Sept 10.

Work by a student from the Calhoun School class of 2006

My favorite events and exhibits feature the words and works of youth — like a series of collages created by 31 thirteen year olds who started 8th grade together at Calhoun School that tragic day. Their “9/11: Through Young Eyes,” a project coordinated by teachers Helen Bruno and Jessica Houston, will be exhibited at the D C Moore Gallery in Chelsea Sept 8 – Oct 8. www.dcmooregallery.com.

Several Arizona youth are participating in a community memorial service called “Moving Memories — Moving Forward.” The Sun, Sept 11 event is being presented by the Arizona Interfaith Movement, which seeks to “build bridges…through dialogue, service and the implementation of the Golden Rule.”

It’s taking place from 11:30am-12:30pm at the 9/11 memorial located at Wesley Bolin Plaza. The plaza is adjacent to the Arizona State Capitol at 17th Avenue and Adams Street just west of downtown Phoenix. Program highlights include remarks by Donna Killoughey Bird, a mother of two whose husband Gary Bird (a UA grad and longtime resident of Tempe) died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

High school student Kris Curtis will play the national anthem on trumpet after emcee Pat McMahon opens the ceremony. Following several prayers and speakers, ten children will “say the Golden Rule from ten different faith traditions.” www.azifm.org.

Eighth grade students from the Temple Emanu-El Kurn Religious School in Tucson will lead a “9/11 Interfaith Memorial Service” Sun, Sept 11 (10am) at Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging. www.handmaker.org.

A new book titled “Art for Heart: Remembering 9/11″ (with introduction by Alice M. Greenwald) features drawings, murals, paintings and poems by children who were affected by the terrorist attack.

“The Day Our World Changed: Children’s Art of 9/11″ (by Robin F. Goodman, Ph.D. and Andrea Henderson Fahnestock) began as a project of the New York Child Study Center in NYC. It was published several years ago, but it’s every bit as compelling today.

Many of the works featured in “The Day Our World Changed” have been donated to the 9/11 Memorial Museum in Lower Manhattan, which first opens for families on 9/11 this year. The general public can visit the museum (with pre-purchased tickets due to high demand) starting 9/12. My daughter Lizabeth plans to tour the museum this week with other students from Pace University. www.911memorial.org.

NBC airs a Darlow Smithson Productions documentary titled “Children of 9/11″ tonight, Sept 5, but folks who miss it can watch local listings for rebroadcast information. More than 3,000 children lost a parent on 9/11, and this special follows 11 of them for a period of one year.

The Day Our World Changed includes this work by Matthew Sussman

If you missed the Sept 1 broadcast of “What Happened? The Story of September 11, 2001,” a 30-minute Nickelodeon program geared for younger viewers, you can watch it online — then read an online discussion guide created by psychologist Robin H. Gurwitch, Ph.D. for Nickelodeon and the American Psychological Association. www.nicknews.com and www.parentsconnect.com.

Stories of more than 40 twins who lost a sibling on 9/11 are the subject of a BBC Wales documentary titled “Twins of the Twin Towers.” It’s being broadcast on Sun, Sept 11 on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

Be thoughtful, in the days ahead, about how much time you spend watching programs that show the traumatic events of 9/11 in graphic detail. Most aren’t suitable for children, and even kids who didn’t lose a loved one on 9/11 can feel traumatized by exposure to the events of that day.

– Lynn

Note: Donna Killoughey Bird will share her story several times in comings days. Hear her speak Tues, Sept 6 (noon) at the Mustang Library auditorium or Thurs, Sept 15 (6pm) at the Civic Center Library auditorium in Scottsdale (Register at www.scottsdaleaz.gov). Or meet her Sun, Sept 11 (3pm) at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, where she’ll be signing “Nothing Will Separate Us” (part of the proceeds go to scholarships, service awards and educational support for young adults). www.changinghands.com/event.

Coming up: 9/11 takes center stage, Children’s books inspired by 9/11

Update: Find a collection of children’s drawings from “The Day Our World Changed” at www.pbs.org/newshour/multimedia/911children

Shakespeare for all ages

Kids of all ages enjoyed these performers from The Greenshow-Scottish Night during last summer's Utah Shakespeare Festival (Photo: Lynn Trimble)

While Lizabeth and I attended the Utah Shakespeare Festival last summer, we spent most evenings at something called “The Greenshow” — an outdoor performance of song, dance and comedy attended by festival guests and neighboring families whose children enjoy the lively entertainment and festive feel of the event.

Too often it’s assumed that the works of Shakespeare have little appeal to children — but Lizabeth, now 17, caught the Shakespeare bug several years ago thanks to a Childsplay summer camp with a Shakespeare theme. Valley children ages 8 to 12 will have a similar opportunity this summer as Childsplay Summer Academy 2011 presents “Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night” June 20-24 at their “Campus for Imagination and Wonder” in Tempe.

For teens (16 +) and adults, Verve Studios in Phoenix is offering a four-week intensive titled “Shakespeare Boot Camp” designed to “introduce actors to the language of the Bard in a practical, fun and entertaining way” while preparing them for auditions involving Shakespeare material. The class, which runs 9am-noon each Saturday in April, will be taught by Katherine Stewart, artistic director for Desert Rose Theatre.

Students accepted into the Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre, headed by Randy Messersmith (director of the SCC theatre arts department), enjoy five weeks of intense training in classical and contemporary theater — including Shakespeare. Conservatory auditions (by appointment only) take place Sat, April 2 — and classes (held four days a week) begin May 31. Lizabeth enjoyed training with Randy Messersmith, Maren Maclean, Boyd Branch and others during last summer’s conservatory.

She’s now nearing the final stages of making her choice of where to attend college or conservatory next year. She’s waiting to hear from one final school — but has been notified of her acceptance by all the rest. “There are students,” shared one of her teachers, “who would kill to be in her shoes.” (I’m wondering whether they’d be as excited to wear her purposely mismatched socks.)

Cast member from The Greenshow 2010 interacts with a young girl from Cedar City (Photo: Lynn Trimble)

Lizabeth has also taken classes through the Utah Shakespeare Festival – which has youth offerings this summer that include “Playmakers” (students 8-16), “Shakespeare for Junior Actors,” “Acting I” (students 16+), “Acting II” (students 17+) and “Tech Camp” (students 14-18).

Diverse offerings for educators include “Theatre Methods for the Classroom” (Elementary and Secondary options) “Acting for Directors,” “Tech Camp for Directors” and more.

I’ve no doubt that Lizabeth’s time studying, performing and witnessing Shakespeare’s works has fueled her love for both language and the craft of acting — and honed a sense of humor already sharpened by nature and life experience.

Other than a brief stint as one of the three witches in “Macbeth” during middle or high school (it’s all running together at this point), I’ve had little experience studying or performing the works of Shakespeare. But I’m an enthusiastic audience member who rarely misses an opportunity to see a live performance of Shakespeare’s plays.

This Thurday evening will likely find me at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts for the “Aquila Theatre” production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (they’ll present “Six Characters in Search of an Author” the following evening). Originally from London but now based on NYC, “Aquila Theatre” is described as “a classically trained modernly hip troupe.” Knowing that Lizabeth enjoyed a “Shakespeare and hip hop” class during the recent Arizona State Thespian Festival in Phoenix has me wondering if this is now all the rage.

I’ve also marked my calendar for a live broadcast of Verdi’s “Macbeth,” being shown in three Valley Harkins Theatres at 11:30am on June 13. I’m alerting you to this early because there are plenty of opera buffs in the Valley and these performances often sell out much more quickly than you might expect. Participating theaters are Arrowhead Fountains 18, Chandler Fashion 20 and Scottsdale 101 14. Shakespeare novices can get a good initial feel for Shakespeare’s wit and wisdom by seeing performances of “Macbeth” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Happily, we have our own Southwest Shakespeare Company right here in the Valley. They’re performing Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” through March 26, and open their final production of the current season — “Antony and Cleopatra” — on April 14. Those of you who get your tax returns out the door by then can attend unburdened by the cares plaguing more last-minute types. I say we all make that a goal — and get together in Mesa the evening of April 14 for a serious happy dance.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about “Shakespeare for Kids” from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

Coming up: Dance detours, Art books for kids, Valley theater companies hold spring fundraisers

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

Talkback time: Spring Awakening

After enjoying the touring production of “Spring Awakening” at ASU Gammage last night, Lizabeth and I joined about 100 other audience members at a post-show talkback.

As folks waited for actors to trade in costumes for jeans and make their way back out to the stage, a member of the ASU Gammage team spent some time interacting with the audience.

It led to the discovery that for three people attending the talkback, this was their first time seeing a “Broadway” show. He gently put them on the spot — asking each to offer a 1 to 10 rating of what they’d just seen.

The first person to offer a number said “nine or ten,” while the second offered just the “nine.” The third offered an enthusiastic “twenty” and the crowd clapped in agreement.

By this point, most of the cast was sitting with legs crossed or dangling over the stage — and murmured comments like “I’m in love with Melchior” were being exchanged between smitten fans.

The cast was asked to go down the row and introduce themselves, and to share the names of their hometowns. Answers ranged from Golden, Colorado and Los Angeles to NYC and Philadelphia.

We learned that two members of the cast are just 18 years old — including one who auditioned for the touring production of “Spring Awakening” while in NYC last spring for a college theater program audition.

He was called for the tour just a week after auditioning, and the school he might have attended is no doubt wishing they’d gotten to him first.

It’s a very young cast that includes students still finishing theater degrees and recent graduates of college or conservatory programs. It felt surreal seeing them next to my own daughter who’s making her first audition trip next week.

Audience members asked all sort of questions — from “How did you get your hair to do that?” to “How have audiences in different parts of the country reacted to the show?”

The cast was gracious, staying for quite a few questions — then hanging around to talk with people who approached the stage to snag autographs and photos.

You have just one more evening — tonight at 7pm — to see this touring production of “Spring Awakening” at ASU Gammage. It’s “mature content” fare best for older teens and above.

It’s an important piece of musical theater — and something every Broadway fan should see. If you’ve experienced puberty, you’ll get it. If not, you’re likely too young to attend.

“Spring Awakening” garnered several 2007 Tony Awards — for Steven Sater (best book and score for a musical), Duncan Sheik (best orchestration and score for a musical) and several others. It also earned the 2007 Tony Award for best musical.

If you saw last night’s show, feel free to comment below to share your reflections — or to send me any photos from the talkback that you wouldn’t mind me sharing with readers.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about tonight’s (Jan 28)  7pm show at ASU Gammage. If you missed the show at ASU Gammage or just want to see it for a second (or third…) time, click here to learn about the Feb 1-6 “Broadway in Tucson” run.

Coming up: A cat lover’s take on a dog-friendly musical

Photos: Lynn Trimble

Arizona celebrates civil rights

Arizona has the distinction of being one of the last states to adopt the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday.

While some say we’ve yet to make enough progress in the area of civil rights, plenty of Arizonans are eager to celebrate MLK, Jr. Day on Monday.

Families have all sorts of options — from events taking place at local arts venues, community centers and museums to events taking place at Arizona colleges and universities.

Those who prefer to spend MLK, Jr. Day doing community service can check with volunteer organizations about available opportunities to assist with projects ranging from trash pick up to assembling care packages for folks in need.

The following links will help you find ways to celebrate MLK, Jr. Day with your family — this weekend and throughout the month of January:

Performing arts venues holding MLK, Jr. Day celebrations include Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and Mesa Arts Center.

Universities holding MLK, Jr. Day celebrations include Arizona State University (which has diverse events taking place all month), Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona.

UA in Tucson holds “The Power of a Dream: Martin Luther King Jr. March and Festival” Mon, Jan 17 from 8:30am-4:30pm.

The event kicks off with a welcome on the UA Mall, followed by a 9am march from the UA Mall to Reid Park. Festival activities take place 10:30am-4pm.

UA notes that the 2011 march and festival “will honor Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of the shooting that occured on Jan. 8.”

ASU festivities include an awards ceremony for K-12 winners of a statewide essay-poster contest, a student rally and a children’s march on the campus mall. 

Volunteer organizations offering MLK, Jr. Day volunteer/community service opportunities include HandsOn Greater Phoenix and the Volunteer Center of Southern Arizona.

Volunteer slots are filling up quickly so don’t delay if this is something you’d like to make a part of your family’s day.

If your community is hosting an arts-related MLK, Jr. Day celebration not featured here, please comment below to share brief details with our readers.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. Click here to learn more about the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Coming up: Dreaming Darwin, Musings on “mature content” musicals

Nominate a volunteer!


Feeling challenged by recent events to begin making more of a difference in the life of our collective community? Or inspired by the words and deeds of so many everyday heroes in the aftermath of the recent tragedy in Tucson?

Too often we wait to recognize the selfless acts of others, to fully appreciate their gifts to the community. But this week there’s an opportunity for each of us to act on our gratitude for those who serve the communities we love.

The Arizona Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism has put out the call for nominations for the 10th annual Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards – but you need to act quickly to nominate a worthy volunteer.

Nominations are due by Sat, Jan 15 – but don’t let that discourage you. The nomination process is simple and straightforward, and you can submit a nomination online if that makes the process more convenient. Nomination forms are available at the Governor’s website. 

One award will be given in each of the following categories — youth, youth group, adult, adult group, service-learning practitioner, National Service member, small business, large business, non-profit and lifetime volunteer.

Nominees are judged by a panel of statewide judges, who select award recipients based on four criteria — need, action, innovation and impact. The nomination form walks you through each of these areas.

I nominated a fellow mental health advocate several years ago — and although she wasn’t selected, she received a lovely letter from then Governor Janet Napolitano recognizing her nomination and commending her service.

If your nominee doesn’t win, he or she can still enjoy the warm fuzzies that come with feeling appreciated.

You have plenty of options for how to get the darn thing completed in just another couple of days. You can do the form yourself or enlist the help of others (maybe assigning one person to answer each short question before you compile everyone’s work).

Or you can ask the person you’re nominating to complete a sort of draft of the form that will fill in the blanks with details you might not know. Then you have something to refer to as you’re getting all those ducks in a row.

If you’re lamenting having so little time to turn this nomination around, consider a simple trick that’ll make it easier the next time. Start gathering relevant information now about folks you might like to nominate for this, or another volunteer/service award, in the future.

Suprising folks is lovely — but when all else fails, just come right out and ask them for what you need. Maybe you don’t know all someone has done to earn a lifetime achievement award, but you’re certain that person is deserving. The most humble will need some nudging, but I doubt they’ll mind the interest.

If your specific interest is arts and culture, be sure and save the date for the 30th annual Governor’s Arts Award (2011 nominations have already closed). The awards ceremony takes place Tues, April 12, at the recently-renovated Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix.

Remember too that nominations are being accepted through Mon, March 14, for the 2011 Hon Kachina Volunteer Awards, which recognize Arizona volunteers high-school age or above who volunteer in diverse areas from the arts and education to justice and social services.

Our days are comprised of small thoughts, words and deeds that together create the life we live and the impact we have on others.

Especially given all the American people experience together as we build, improve and sustain our democracy — it’s important to recognize those who serve our communities through generous gifts of time and talent. 

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about volunteer opportunities (including many that are “family-friendly”) available through HandsOn Greater Phoenix.

Coming up: Arizona celebrates MLK Day

Weekend whimsy

There’s a little something for everyone when it comes to family arts and entertainment this weekend. Here’s a roundup by category–featuring everything from concerts and musicals to nature walks and museum exhibits–with a bit of whimsy thrown in just for fun…

From sweeping beauties to singing mermaids

Theater performances include “Cinderella: A Ragtime Musical” at Desert Stages in Scottsdale, “Grease” at Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix, “The Little Mermaid” at Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Mesa, “Two Bad Mice” by Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix, “Into the Woods” at Theater Works in Peoria (featuring a fabulous raffle)

From choral auditions to singing with Elmo

Music events include “Phoenix Boys Choir auditions” at the Phoenix Boys Choir in Phoenix, “Andreas Klein” (piano) and “Rahim Alhaj” (Iraqi oud) at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, “Breakfast with Elmo” (including song and dance) at Family Time in Gilbert

From movies in the park to movies at the museum

Community movie events include “Movie Night at the Park” (“Hoot” plus lessons on burrowing owls) at Estrella Mountain Regional Park in Goodyear, “Dinner and a Movie” (“G-Force”) at Eddie’s House in Scottsdale, “Movies in the Ballpark” (“Cars”) at Goodyear Ballpark, “Kid’s Night Out Movie Night” (“Spirited Away”) at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa

From art walks to hands-on art projects

Art activities include “Downtown Chandler Art Walk” (art/entertainment), “Free Art Friday” (art projects/games) in Tempe, “Great Expectations and Dreams: Arizona Teens Speak Up” at ASU Downtown (to benefit PCH cancer/blood disorder patients)

From baseballs to carved dolls

Museum exhibits include “Goose Bumps! The Science of Fear” and “Solarville” at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix, “Play Ball: The Cactus League Experience” and “Jump to Japan: Discovering Culture Through Popular Art” at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa, “Therizinosaur: Mystery of the Sickle-Claw Dinosaur” at the Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa (adjacent to the Arizona Museum for Youth), “What Moves Us: Art of Transportation from the Permanent Collection” at the ASU Art Museum in Tempe, “Visions: Text Messages” at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, “Hopi Katsina Dolls: 100 Years of Carving” and “More Than Child’s Play: American Indian Dolls” at the Heard Museum in Phoenix

From flashlight tour to wildflower walk

Nature activities include “Wildflower Walk” at The Arboretum at Flagstaff, “Hummingbird Banding” (professionals band, onlookers watch) at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, “Summer Saturday Evenings” at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, “Silent Sunday” at South Mountain Park in Phoenix, “Flashlight Tours” at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix

For additional details–including dates/times, fees/reservations, recommended ages and such–check with hosting venues. Additional information on many of these events/activities is also available through the online calendar for Raising Arizona Kids magazine.

–Lynn

Note: If you’re on the prowl for art-related books, music or movies, try your luck at the free “Bargain Book Sale” from 9am-4pm today at the North Valley Regional Library in Anthem.

Coming up: From lemons to lemonade, Multicultural performance art, Season openers from Valley theaters, ASU Libraries’ Child Drama Collection, All about art walks, More movie reviews

Graphics from Cafe Press. Click here to see their extensive selection of gift items in black, white and beyond.

Update: Thanks to Carley Conder for sharing the news that renowned choreographer Charlotte Boye-Christensen, freelance choreographer/teacher/dancer originally from Denmark, is in Arizona for a six day residency. To enjoy a free showing of Boye-Christensen’s new work set for CONDER/dance, attend a Sat, Aug 21, performance at ASU FAC122 (11:45am-noon).