Tag Archives: A Christmas Carol

Much Ado in Mesa

The Mesa Arts Center is especially lovely as the evening sun sets

I headed out to Mesa Friday night eager to see Maren Maclean’s performance in “Much Ado About Nothing.” Much of what our youngest daughter Lizabeth knows about acting, Shakespeare and herself stems from time spent with Maclean, whose Beatrice in “Much Ado” is fantastically funny.

Before taking my seat, I headed to a long table featuring wares being sold to benefit the Southwest Shakespeare Company — where I found a nifty necklace, beaded bracelet and two sets of earrings. Mother’s Day shoppers take note — performing arts venues have some of the coolest stuff at some of the lowest prices.

A Shakespeare bust, perhaps, for the mother who has everything?

I also spied a group of teens and stopped the adult walking with them to ask whether they were part of a school program, since I always like to hear student reactions to Shakespeare’s works. Turns out they were attending “Much Ado” as part of the Arizona Theatre Company’s Open Doors program — and had the opportunity to chat with a trio of cast members after the show.

While a nearly full house was enjoying “Much Ado About Nothing,” which is directed for SSC by David Vining, folks in another theater were watching the Mesa Encore Theatre production of “Ragtime,” which runs through Sunday. Tall MET banners in the MAC lobby herald their next production, the musical “Hairspray,” and reveal some gutsy choices for 2012/13 — including “Spring Awakening” and a “TBA” show signified for now by a pair of eyes peeking out from a purple backdrop.

The East Valley Mormon Choral Association performed Friday evening at MAC

During intermission, I strolled outside the theater to snap photos of red and yellow walls illuminated by Mesa Arts Center — but found myself drawn to a wide flight of stairs, where girls of all ages were gathered in matching navy blue dresses that reminded me of daughter Jennifer’s old chorus uniform. Soon I found a mom — and asked what they were up to. She shared that her 12-year-old daughter is in her second year with the East Valley Mormon Choral Organization, which performed a concert called “From Classical to Broadway and Everything in Between” at the Mesa Arts Center Friday night.

She was kind enough to share her program with me, so I could learn more about the organization — which is currently holding auditions for the 2012/13 season (auditions for the EVMCO symphony take place in August). Friday’s “Easter Concert” featured “I Dreamed a Dream” (from the musical “Les Miserables”), “Stouthearted Men” (from the operetta “New Moon”), “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18” (by Sergei Rachmaninoff) and more. Their 2012 “Christmas Concert” takes place Dec. 1 at Mesa Arts Center.

Students in the ATC Open Doors program spoke with a trio of "Much Ado About Nothing" cast members after the opening night performance

After enjoying the second act of “Much Ado About Nothing,” I stayed for a talkback with members of the cast and creative tream — then made my way to the tiny Southwest Shakespeare Company studio where a trio of “Much Ado” cast members talked shop with Opens Doors participants. Truth be told, teens trump adults with better theater questions every time. Grown-ups eager to learn more about “Much Ado About Nothing” can consult the SSC play guide online and attend today’s 9am “Flachmann Seminar” with Maren Maclean Mascarelli, now the company’s education director.

Before Friday’s performance, artistic director Jared Sakren shared news of SSC’s 2012-13 season, which opens in September with “Love’s Labour’s Lost” and continues with Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” opening in late November. A January “Winterfest!” features “Hamlet” and “The Tempest” presented in rotating repertory by a single company of players. And works by other playwrights include Noel Cowards’ “Private Lives” (Feb/March) and William Goldsmith’s “She Stoops to Conquer” (April).

While admiring some of the Mesa Art Center’s architectual elements, I spied a poster for “Alice: A Wonder-Full New Musical,” coming to MAC in May thanks to Christian Youth Theatre in Phoenix — which is part of a national after-school theater arts training program started in San Diego. The pop/rock work by Jon Lorenz transforms two Lewis Carroll tales into a modern day adventure of high school students more smitten with listening to “The Red Queen” band than finishing their homework.

There’s a simple solution for that, by the way. Less pencil-and-paper homework, and more out-there-in-the-community arts education.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about additional performances, events, exhibits and classes coming to the Mesa Arts Center

Coming up: Tomfoolery meets tango

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The Boy Friend

Actress, director and author Julie Andrews made her American stage debut as “Polly” in a Sandy Wilson musical called “The Boy Friend” — which had fewer than 500 performances on Broadway during the mid-’50s. Her debut in theater director mode came nearly a decade later with a production of “The Boy Friend” performed in NYC, Connecticut and on tour.

Its ongoing appeal is evidenced by the numerous school and community theater productions mounted each year — including this season’s production of “The Boy Friend” by students at Grand Canyon University, which opened just last night and runs through next weekend. It’s the final production of their 2011/12 season, and the upcoming season — just announced — looks like this:

• “Much Ado About Nothing” by William Shakespeare, Aug. 31-Sept. 2 and Sept. 7-9, directed by Claude Pensis. I’m told their production of the comedy about two pairs of lovers, originally set on the island of Sicily, will get an “Old West” twist.

• “Beauty and the Beast” by Vittorio Giannini and “Comedy on the Bridge” by Bohuslav Martinu, Oct. 12-14 and 19-21, directed by Michael Kary: Both one-act operas — the first a classic tale of finding love in unexpected places and the second a farce about two countries connected by a bridge — are described by GCU as plenty “family-friendly.”

• “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, Nov. 23-25 and Nov. 30-Dec. 2, directed by Claude Pensis. I’m told the show features Michael Kary as Ebenezer Scrooge. It’s Dickens. Enough said.

• “The Cherry Orchard” by Anton Chekhov, Feb. 15-17 and 22-24, directed by Claude Pensis. Think fall of the Russian aristocracywith an “eccentric” vibe. It’s Chekhov, and it’s rarely performed around these parts — making it one of my favorite pieces coming to Valley stages next season.

• “H.M.S. Pinafore” by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, April 12-14 and 19-21, directed by Michael Kary. GCU notes that the 1878 musical, set aboard a British ship, was the first international sensation for team Gilbert and Sullivan — better known to some for “The Pirates of Penzance.”

It’s a diverse season full of fascinating takes on classic works. Click here to learn more about these and other offerings coming to the Ethington Theatre on the CGU campus (including an April 27 & 28 “Spring Dance Concert”).

— Lynn

Note: British actor, author and all-around astute fellow Simon Callow has authored works on Shakepeare and Dickens that help elucidate their work, life and times. Click here if you’re up for a little theater homework.

Coming up: Of Maine and men, Observing Holocaust Remembrance Day, Actors turned author

Theater meets Christmas

Irving Berlin's White Christmas comes to ASU Gammage in Tempe Dec. 6-11

More than a dozen Valley venues are presenting family-friendly theater fare with a Christmas theme. Here’s an early round-up, listed by city, to help families who celebrate Christmas with holiday planning…

Anthem

Musical Theatre of Anthem presents a “Holiday Show” Dec. 16. www.musicaltheatreofanthem.org.

Fountain Hills

Fountain Hills Theater presents “Christmas Jukebox” Nov. 25-Dec. 18. www.fhtaz.org.

Gilbert

Hale Theatre Arizona presents “It’s a Wonderful Life” through Nov. 26 and  “A Christmas Carol” Dec. 1-23. www.haletheatrearizona.com.

Glendale

Spotlight Youth Theatre presents “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” Dec. 2-18. www.spotlightyouththeatre.org.

Mesa

Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre presents “A Christmas Carol” Nov. 17-Dec. 25. www.broadwaypalmwest.com.

East Valley Children’s Theatre presents “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” Dec. 1-11. www.evct.org.

Southwest Shakespeare Company presents “A Christmas Carol” Nov. 26-Dec. 17. www.swshakespeare.org.

Southwest Shakespeare Company performs A Christmas Carol Nov. 26-Dec. 17 in Mesa

Peoria

Arizona Broadway Theatre presents “Miracle on 34th St.” Nov. 25-Dec. 29 and “A Broadway Christmas Carol” Dec. 9-17. www.arizonabroadwaytheatre.com.

The Homestead Playhouse presents “A Christmas Carol” Dec. 1-4. www.dcranchnet.com.

Theater Works presents “A Christmas Carol” Dec. 2-18. Theater Works/Youth Works Puppet Works presents “Saving Santa” Dec. 3-24 (Sat only). www.theaterworks.com.

Phoenix

Grand Canyon University presents “Amahl and the Night Visitors” Dec. 2-11. www.gcu.edu.

New Carpa Theater Co. presents “American Pastorela” Dec. 9-18 at the Third Street Theater (Phoenix Center for the Arts). www.newcarpa.org. (Mature content)

Phoenix Theatre presents “A Christmas Story” Nov. 23-Dec. 18. www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Space 55 presents “A Bloody Mary Christmas II” Dec. 1-17 and “7 Minutes Under the Mistletoe” Dec. 17. www.space55.org. (Mature content)

The Black Theatre Troupe presents “Black Nativity” Dec. 2-11. www.blacktheatretroupe.org.

Valley Youth Theatre presents “A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail” Dec 2-23. www.vyt.com.

Scottsdale

Theatre Artists Studio presents “Holiday Music & Musings: From the Page to the Stage” Dec. 2. www.thestudiophx.org.

Sun City

Sun City Grand Drama and Comedy Club presents “Over the River and Through the Woods” Dec. 1-4. www.granddrama.com.

East Valley Children's Theatre presents The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Dec. 1-11

Tempe

ASU Gammage presents “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” (touring production) Dec. 6-11. www.asugammage.com.

If your Valley organization is presenting a theater production with a Christmas, or other winter holiday, theme — please comment below to let readers know.

— Lynn

Note: A calendar of family-friendly events is always available online at www.raisingarizonakids.com. This post will be updated as I learn of additional theater offerings with a Christmas theme. Although most of the events noted above are designed for family audiences, please note that some are “mature audience” only productions.

Coming up: Christmas concerts, A cup of cheer

Update: Some of these shows are extending their runs, so check theater company websites for the latest and greatest information. 11/26/11

What’s new: Shakespeare

Christine Williams (left) as Hermia, Michael Brusasco as Lysander, Ashley Smith as Demetrius and Tiffany Scott as Helena in the Utah Shakespeare Festival 2005 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (Photo by Karl Hugh)

There’s a lovely assortment of Shakespeare coming to the Valley during the 2011-2012 season — thanks to the Southwest Shakespeare Company in Mesa.

Shakespeare works they’ll be performing include “Titus Andronicus” (Sept. 8-24), “Romeo & Juliet” (Jan. 5-21) and “Much Ado About Nothing” (April 19-May 5).

True “Titus” fans, including my daughter Lizabeth (who tells me “Titus” makes Showtime’s “Dexter” look tame), can also experience the work as part of the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2012 season.

Other works being performed by the Southwest Shakespeare Company for 2011-2012 include “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens (Nov 26-Dec 17) and “Art” by Yasmina Reza (Mar 1-17).

Those needing a faster Shakespeare fix can enjoy “Shakespeare at the Biltmore” June 2-11 at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix — featuring the SSC performing Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

Or head to the Utah Shakespeare Festival for the following works being performed June 23-Sept 3: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Richard III,” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

Utah Shakespeare Festival also presents Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man” and Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” June 23-Sept 3. They’ll perform Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off!” June 23-Oct 29.

Those who head to the Utah Shakespeare Festival this fall can enjoy Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” (Sept 22-Oct 29) and Frederick Knott’s “Dial M for Murder” (Sept 23-Oct 29).

Stay tuned to the Southwest Shakespeare Festival website to learn when single show tickets for their 2011-2012 season will be available. Season tickets are available now.

Tickets for the 2011 Utah Shakespeare Festival are already on sale, but folks who aren’t yet Festival members will have to wait until June 23 to get tickets for 2012 productions.

Ashley Smith (left) as Laertes and Emily Trask as Ophelia in the Utah Shakespeare Festival 2006 production of Hamlet (Photo: Karl Hugh)

In addition to “Titus Andronicus,” the 2012 Utah Shakespeare Festival line-up includes Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and “Hamlet.”

Also Friedrich Schiller’s “Mary Stuart,” a stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a modern adaptation of Moiliere’s “Scapin,” Marie Jones’ “Stones in His Pocket,” a Tony-Award winning musical titled “The Drowsy Chaperone” and a holiday show they’ve yet to announce.

Folks who assume Shakespearean companies proffer only “doom and gloom” or “satire and silliness” are quite mistaken — as demonstrated by the diversity of offerings noted above.

If you’ve never given Shakespeare, or the fine folks who perform his works, a fair shake — maybe this is the season you should give it a shot. There’s a good chance, I think, that you’ll like them a lot.

— Lynn

Note: Paradise Valley Community College performs “Twelfth Night” directed by Eric Schoen June 17-26. Click here for details.

Coming up: “Macbeth” meets movie theater — plus, Valley high school students review “Macbeth”

Pinky’s picks

Update: Pinky has asked me to share this link to a raffle benefiting an organization called “Save the Cats Arizona” — which we learned of from our friends at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. The raffle runs through July 31, 2011.

Several community theaters recently rolled out their 2011-2012 season announcements. But I imagine my cat “Pinky” fancies the new season for Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert more than most.

Hale opens their 2011-2012 season on Sept 2 with an Agatha Christie mystery titled “The Mousetrap” — a work that now holds the distinction of being “the longest running play in the world.”

Pinky isn’t terribly concerned that a murderer may be loose in London’s Monkswell Manor. But she’d love to be on the guest list if there’s any real prospect of finding mice trapped at mealtime.

It’s a Wonderful Life,” which opens at Hale on Oct 14, might seem to hold less cat-appeal, until you recall that the work — featuring one man’s struggle with doubt and disappointment — is set in a small town readying to celebrate Christmas.

We could treat Pinky to piles of pet store treats and toys come Christmas time, but she’d still find her bliss jumping into piles of crinkled up and discarded wrapping paper — and rubbing her wet little nose up against the corners of shiny packages under a tree sporting ornaments she’s sure were placed for her swatting pleasure.

Hale follows “It’s a Wonderful Life” with “A Christmas Carol,” which opens at the Gilbert theater on Dec 1. Even Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge, who takes such delight in denying comfort to the poor and downtrodden, couldn’t ignore the pitiful pleas of Pinky when she’s ready for dinner.

I imagine Pinky would eagerly curl up beside the fire with Tiny Tim, offering a gentle purr as warming as the fire’s glow — and have great fun sitting with Tiny Tim in a chair by a window overlooking bustling holiday season streets.

Hale opens “See How They Run” Dec 31, giving Valley theater-goers a chance to welcome the New Year with comedic farce and fast-paced frivolity. Pinky might not know what to make of this one — with its cockney maid, men dressed as clergymen and a whole lot of misadventures spawned by mistaken identity.

Pinky might favor a different “See How They Run” plot — perhaps something featuring plump quails bobbing their tiny heads as they cross the road, or quivering dogs terrified by cats with an inflated sense of self.

Hale notes that folks who attend their production of “42nd Street” — which opens Feb 16, 2012 — will “love seeing the underdog succeed.” But Pinky”s never pleased when the word “dog” and “success” appear in the same sentence, so this will be a harder sell.

Perhaps she’d be more receptive if we decked her out in a slick tux with tails, then gave her a tophat and cane, so she could try a little soft-shoe during songs like “We’re in the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” or “Shuffle Off to Buffalo.”

I’m afraid to tell Pinky about “Barefoot in the Park” — a Neil Simon comedy featuring the adventures of two newlyweds and a matchmaking mother-in-law — which opens at Hale on Feb 21, 2012. She’s perfectly fine with living the barefoot life, but might resent the “park” mention given her indoor-cat status.

Rabbits hold plenty of interest for cats, so Pinky might be thrilled to learn that a rabbit named “Harvey” is coming to Hale on April 5, 2012. But only until she learns that Harvey, the imaginary companion of Elwood P. Dowd, is more than six feet tall — and invisible.

Pinky spends plenty of time watching our own bunny, named “Rugby” — as well as a pair of lovebirds named “Taffy” and “Trixy” — who occupy pet pads near a staircase perfect for panoramic viewing of all things potentially edible.

I’ll need to have a little talk with Pinky about this next one — “To Kill a Mockingbird,” opening May 25, 2012. It might be a lot like a conversation I had with my husband recently that ended with the quip “you’re so literal.”

The classic work, based on the novel by Harper Lee, is set in the Deep South of the 1930s. It has nothing to do with killing birds — or leaving them as trophies on a “Welcome” mat outside the front door. Instead, it’s a tale of friendship and love amidst of world filled with prejudice and hate.

Hale closes its 2011-2012 season with “Bye Bye Birdie,” opening July 13, 2012 — which follows a teen singing sensation drafted into the military during the 1960s. Having used more than my fair share of “cat eats bird” fodder already, I suppose I’ll have to find a different link to all things feline.

Happily, the musical’s songs include not only “Put on a Happy Face” but also “A Lot of Livin’ to Do” — no doubt a reference to the “nine lives” of cats.

I know pets aren’t typically allowed at community theater productions, so I suppose Pinky will have to settle for nibbling on programs we bring home from Hale Centre Theatre productions.

But you can’t really blame me for conjuring images of my cat with every mention of birds, mice or bunnies. I can only imagine how the dogs living next door might react to seeing the musical “Cats.”

— Lynn

Coming up: Dance and identity

Photo: Christopher Trimble

“A Christmas Carol” for all ages

Mike Lawler (Jacob Marley) and Kim Bennett (Ebenezer Scrooge) performed in the 2005 Actors Theatre production of "A Christmas Carol" and will reprise these rolls for the 2010 run

Enjoying both Dickens’ classic tale and the stage adaptation presented by Actors Theatre for nearly two decades have long been part of our family holiday tradition.

This year’s cast includes plenty of familiar names, including two Valley actors Lizabeth performed with at Greasepaint Youtheatre when she was in grade school — Natalie Ellis (Nurse) of Scottsdale and Maxx Carlisle-King (Young Scrooge) of Phoenix.

There’s also Robert Kolby Harper (Bob Cratchit) of Phoenix, who Lizabeth has enjoyed working with at Phoenix Theatre thanks to their Arizona School for the Arts partnership — and Manuela Needhammer (Hair and Make-up Design), who was Lizabeth’s art teacher at Desert View Learning Center.

Chelsea Groen (L), who performed the role of "Fan" in the 2005 Actors Theatre production, first performed in the Valley at age 5 in a Greasepaint Youtheatre production of "Hansel and Gretel" (my own daughter Jennifer was also in that GY cast)

Just last season, we got to know young Valley actor Christopher Moffitt, who previously performed the role of Tiny Tim with Actors Theatre, when he and Lizabeth were part of Greasepaint Youtheatre’s “Oliver!” cast (Moffitt was the orphaned boy Oliver).

I spoke recently with two of the cast members who’ve performed in “A Christmas Carol” for many years — a mother and son, Stephanie and Casey Likes, of Chandler.

They shared with me — as did Matthew Wiener, the company’s artistic director — that “A Christmas Carol” is a morality tale meaningful in many times and places.

It’s about a change of heart experienced by the miserly Scrooge, and the impact this change of heart has on those around him, including the ailing Tiny Tim.

But I stumbled on another layer of the work the other day while reading a book titled “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” by Thomas C. Foster.

The 2005 cast of "A Christmas Carol" enjoys a bit of fuzzywig dancing -- a stress-buster others might wish to consider this holiday season

Foster begins chapter 13 (“It’s All Political”) by noting that Dickens “was actually attacking a widely held political belief” in 1843.

“The tale,” writes Foster, “attacks one way of thinking about our social responsibility and valorizes another.”

Seems the Puritanism of the two previous centuries was seized upon by “British social thinker” Thomas Malthus. Foster cites Malthus’ belief that by “helping the poor…we would in fact encourage an increase in the number of the impoverished.”

It’s a view not so different from that held by some of America’s contemporary candidates and commentators.

You may or may not agree with Foster’s assertion that “Dickens is a social critic, but he’s a sneaky one.” Or Foster’s belief that “nearly all writing is political on some level.”

For Foster, political writing “engages the realities of its world” and “thinks about human problems, including those of the social and political realm….”

Kim Bennett as Scrooge in the 2005 production of "A Christmas Carol" by Actors Theatre. Head to the Herberger Theater Center Dec 4-24 to enjoy his performance in the 2010 production

When my children were very young, going to see “A Christmas Carol” was all about enjoying a good bit of storytelling that transported us to another place and time.

Before long they were old enough to consider Scrooge’s individual shortcomings and discuss the implications for their own behavior.

Now that all are young adults, they can enjoy it from a whole other perspective — with an eye towards social, economic and political conditions of Dickens’ day.

Experiencing "A Chistmas Carol" with family and friends may inspire you to try your own twirling dance like the one performed here during the 2005 production

And they can take it a step further, wondering about possible parallels with contemporary thought and public policy — considering lessons Dickens lends to a global community in a modern world.

“A Christmas Carol” is still a well-loved holiday tradition — but it’s so much more.

Explore the many wonders of this tale for all ages as Actors Theatre presents their adaptation for a final season.

You’ll still miss it when it’s gone, but at least you’ll enjoy the special spirit of this season’s production as we all prepare to say goodbye.

–Lynn

Photos, by Jeff Kida, courtesy of Actors Theatre of Phoenix

Note: Click here to learn more about “A Christmas Carol” performed by Actors Theatre — as well as their current production of “In the Next Room” (through Nov 14). Other 2010-2011 season offerings include “This” (Jan 21-Feb 6, 2011), “Andy Warhol: Good for the Jews?” (March 4-20, 2011) and “Circle Mirror Transformation” (April 22-May 8, 2011).

Coming up: Dancing your way through the holidays — plus a show that left Lizabeth saying “My cheeks hurt from smiling so much.”

Theatre of the absurd

Theatre of the absurd. It’s a perplexing mash-up of existential philosophy with unconventional playwrighting and performance art. And you can see it being performed this weekend, and next, at Scottsdale Community College.

It makes for a refreshing break from the absurd political theater swirling all around us of late.

Signs for which “yes” means “no” and “no” means “yes.” Platforms built on love of Constitution that seek to tweak its content in any number of ways. Cries for smaller government from folks eager to tell others what they can and can’t do with their bodies.

Real life not absurd enough for you? Check out "Rhinoceros" at Scottsdale Community College.

“Rhinoceros” is a late-1950s work by playwright Eugene Ioensco, who also wrote “The Bald Soprano” — which SCC’s theatre arts department will present come Spring in the school’s newly renovated performing arts center. Don’t even get me started on the absurdity of contractors and timelines.

I was drawn to the work by its social context of anxiety, fear and hysteria. Think communism and fascism. Think issues of race, ethnicity and identity. Think women who still walked around in hats, high heels and gloves.

Randy Messersmith, director or SCC’s theatre arts department and producer for SCC’s “Rhinoceros” suggested I “think of an episode of Family Guy, with Rhino heads” — noting that the play is appropriate for the sophisticated 14-year-old student and up.

It’s the perfect work to perform given the absurdity some see in contemporary politics. Signs likening our President to a “witch doctor.” Campaign commercials featuring “I’m not a witch” rhetoric.

Attempts to deny the American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to fellow Americans whose religion or sexual orientation we deem inferior — even as these Americans serve at home and oversees to protect and preserve our freedoms.

I encounter the absurd on a daily basis, but it’s harder to recognize when you’re in the middle of it. Seeing “Rhinoceros,” directed for SCC by Boyd Branch, felt like a bit of time travel — and made me wonder what contemporary culture might look like if presented on a similar stage several decades from now.

I can’t claim to be a fan of this particular genre. But I do respect the artistry of Randy Messersmith and Boyd Branch. There’s never a dull moment in their offbeat offerings.

I prefer to get my existentialism from primary sources, many of which I read in their original language during graduate school studies in religion and philosophy. Still, it’s a thing of beauty to see what Boyd and Messersmith have done with this piece.

It’s odd and strangely jarring — just as it should be.

— Lynn

Note: When buying tickets for “Rhinoceros,” ask about their Halloween costume discount performance as well as dates/times for talk backs with creative team and cast members. Also note that several Valley theater productions feature a pairing of politics and performing arts — including “The Sound of Music” by Copperstar Repertory Company (through Oct 30 only at the Higley Center for the Performing Arts) and “A Christmas Carol” by Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert (Dec 1-23).

Coming up: Theater with a holiday twist — from the Radio City Rockettes to an original adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” for Actors Theatre of Phoenix.

Update: Even as I prepare this for posting, three cable news outlets are reporting on suspicious packages aboard cargo planes using vastly different language ranging from “an abundance of caution” to “major (terrorist) event.” This play couldn’t be better timed if you have an interest in how individuals, groups, governments and media outlets gather, process and share information.