Tag Archives: Arizona Broadway Theatre

Art meets New Year’s Eve

It's hard to miss the Orpheum Theatre's announcement that they're celebrating with Jerry Riopelle's Rockin' New Year's Eve with special guest Garland Jeffreys

My daughter Jennifer has a lovely childhood friend who often invites her for a New Year’s Eve slumber party. It’s nearly as much fun for me because I always put together a basket of treats they can enjoy together — hot chocolate, a gingerbread house kit, tasty pancake mix and such.

The winter break is a great opportunity to get children together for play dates, but I was never big on hosting them at our house. Instead, I often took them to see shows with friends — or helped them do craft projects together at a local museum or art studio.

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix is presenting a children’s activity with a New Year’s Ever twist that’s just $2 (per craft) with museum admission. It’s called “Celebrate with Sound! Noisemakers for New Year’s Eve” and it takes place Fri, Dec. 30 from 10am-5pm. www.themim.org.

Radio Disney AM 1580 Phoenix presents “Noon New Year’s Eve” Sat., Dec. 31 from 9am-noon at the Phoenix Zoo. The annual event features more than 20 tons of snow, songs from Radio Disney’s “Top 50 Countdown  of 2011,” interactive entertainment, prizes and activities (including resolution writing). www.radiodisney.com/phoenix.

The Phoenix Symphony presents a “New Year’s Eve Celebration” Sat, Dec. 31 at Symphony Hall. The concert, featuring conductor Joseph Young, and soprano Lindsey Geroux, will include “classics from New York to Vienna.” Think Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein, Rodgers & Hammerstein and more. www.phoenixsymphony.org.

Actors Theatre of Phoenix presents a New Year’s Eve performance of “Hunter Gatherers” at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix, and is offering a special theater/dinner package for those who would also like to dine at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant before the show (theater/meal packages are also available on New Year’s day). Call 602-253-6701 to make reservations. www.atphx.org.

Arizona Theatre Company presents a New Year’s Eve performance of “Daddy Long Legs” at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix, complete with complimentary champagne or sparkling cider before the show. Dinner/theater packages for those who would also like to dine at Sam’s Cafe at the Arizona Center that evening are available by calling the box office at 602-256-6995. www.arizonatheatre.org.

Hale Centre Theatre brings a bit of farce to New Year’s Eve festivities with a performance of “See How They Run,” a British comedy featuring the follies of a reverend who marries a former actress — plus a cockey maid and four men donning clergy garb. Two showtimes are available on Sat, Dec. 31, and each ticket includes party favors plus dessert bar and soda. www.haletheatrearizona.com.

Arizona Broadway Theatre in Peoria presents a New Year’s Eve gala titled “Hollywood Nights,” a fancy affair including cocktail/hors d’oeuvre reception, three-course dinner, a “Broadway Showcase,” and dancing on stage as the orchestra plays. The Sat, Dec. 31 event features emcee Cory McCloskey of Fox 10 “Arizona Morning.” www.azbroadwaytheatre.com.

If your Arizona arts group is presenting a New Year’s Eve celebration not noted here, please comment below to let our readers know.

— Lynn

Note: Always check age recommendations and other details before purchasing tickets. For a comprehensive listing of family-friendly events, click here to enjoy the Raising Arizona Kids calendar.

Coming up: Keeping pace with “Glee”

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Winter camps & workshops

Proof (from Greasepaint's Aladdin, Jr.) that the coolest kids do musical theater

Greasepaint Youtheatre of Scottsdale, home to ten young actors performing with Theater League’s “The Wizard of Oz” at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix through Sunday, recently announced the following winter workshops for youth:
 
Musical Theatre Dance
Featuring music from “The Muppets!”
For ages 6-12
Tues, Dec. 27 from 9am-3pm
Taught by Ariana Ziskin, who choreographed “Disney’s Aladdin, Jr.” for Greasepaint Youtheatre earlier this season. Participants will peform at 3pm for family and friends.
 
All Things Shakespeare
Featuring an adaptation of a well-known Shakespeare work
For ages 10 & up
Wed, Dec. 28 from 9am-3pm
Taught by Dawn Rochelle Tucker, education director for Southwest Shakespeare Company in Mesa. Participants will perform at 3pm for family and friends.
 
“A Chorus Line” Dance
Featuring the Broadway choreography from the musical “A Chorus Line”
For ages 12-18
Thurs, Dec. 29 from 9am-3pm
Taught by Anthony Toudjarov, who recently performed in “A Chorus Line” with Arizona Broadway Theatre in Peoria. Participants will perform at 3pm for family and friends.
 
Each Greasepaint Youtheatre workshop noted above costs $40. Call 602-889-7609 to learn more or click here to register.  
 

AJTC Curtain Call production of "Fiddler on the Roof, Jr." (Photo: Mark Gluckman)

Curtain Call Youtheatre with Arizona Jewish Theatre Company, which presents “Fiddler on the Roof, Jr.” through Sunday at Phoenix College, recently announced several winter workshops being held at Temple Chai in Phoenix:
 
Squeak and Meow
Featuring fairy tales about cats and mice put into musical theater form
For ages 4-7
Wed, Dec. 21 and Thurs, Dec. 22 from 9am-3pm
Taught by Elizabeth Peterson, performer with The Blue Bike Kids Show. Participants will perform at 3pm on Dec. 22 for family and friends.
 
A Bit of Glee
Featuring acting, singing and movement techniques
For ages 8 & up
Wed, Dec. 21 and Thurs, Dec. 22 from 9am-3pm
Taught by Ariana Ziskin, who directs the Bravo troupe at East Valley Children’s Theatre. Participants will perform at 3pm on Dec. 22 for family and friends.
 
The Great Flying Ship of Ivan the Impossible
Featuring song, dance and story based on a fairy tale about Ivan and his friends
For ages 4-7
Wed, Dec. 28 and Thurs, Dec. 29 from 9am-3pm
Taught by Elizabeth Peterson, performer with The Blue Bike Kids Show. Participants will perform at 3pm on Dec. 29 for family and friends.
 
Mythology Comes to Life
Featuring ways to build characters for the stage through voice and movement
For ages 8 & up
Wed, Dec. 28 and Thurs, Dec. 29 from 9am-3pm
Taught by Colin Ross, member of the 2011-12 acting company for Childsplay
 
Each Curtain Call Youtheatre workshop noted above costs $120 ($200 for one child taking two workshops). Click here to learn more.
 

Actors appearing in Annie, Jr. at Desert Stages Theatre

Desert Stages Theatre, which has a children’s theater performing “Annie, Jr.” through Dec. 18, recently announced three winter workshops taking place at their Scottsdale theater:
 
Music Theory Class – Musical Tools for Industry Success
Featuring a crash course in reading music and music theory
For ages 12 & up
Dec. 19-23 from 2-4pm
Taught by Mark 4man, DST mainstage music director.
 
A Little Bit of Broadway and Pop
Featuring song and dance to music participants help select
For ages 4-10
Dec. 26-30 from 10am-2pm
Taught by Desiree Vaughan, who performed in DST’s “Bye Bye Birdie” earlier this year. Participants will present a performance for family and friends.
 
Princess Parade
Featuring song, dance, arts & crafts and the opportunity to transform into your favorite prince or princess
For ages 3-12
Dec. 19-23 from 10am-2pm
Taught by DST instructors.
 
Prices for each Desert Stages Theatre camp noted above vary (from $100-$250). Click here for details.
 
— Lynn
 
Note: If your theater company or performing arts venue is offering winter break classes for children or teens, please comment below to let our readers know. Please note that workshops noted above may have minimum/maximum enrollment figures.
 
Coming up: Youth theater meets improv

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

To baby or not to baby…

I headed out to Peoria with Lizabeth on Saturday for our first experience with Arizona Broadway Theatre, something that’s much easier now than when she was tiny thanks to all those fabulous freeways.

We were eager to see D. Scott Withers, an actor and director we know from Childsplay and Greasepaint Youtheatre, perform in the Arizona Broadway Theatre production of a musical called “Baby” that follows the lives of three couples at different ages and stages. All have babies either on board or on the brain.

After raising three children Alan (D. Scott Withers) and Arlene (Caroline McPhee) learn that they are expecting a fourth child (Sun Photography)

Withers shared with me after the show that “Baby” was one of his favorite musicals during the 1980s, and recalled expecting to play the role of college student “Danny” one day. Instead, he plays “Alan” — half of an older couple that I find the most fascinating of the three.

I was eager to escape from “debt ceiling” debates that have left me screaming at the television of late. And all the 1980s fare, including polyester track suits and permed hair, certainly did the trick. So did the many poignant and comical moments shared by each of the couples.

“Baby” is full of one-liners that cut to the very core of parenting’s many challenges, but also songs that capture its exquisite beauty. It’s a “must see” for couples expecting a baby and new parents, as well as those of us changed by the wisdom, wonder and weighty issues parenting brings.

College student Lizzie (Elizabeth McMonagle) surrounded by women eager to touch her tummy and share childbirth memories (Sun Photography)

It’s been a long time since I saw a musical that made me cry, but the final song of Act 1 (“The Story Goes On”) caused a gusher. “I Chose Right” in Act I and “Easier to Love” in Act 2 are just as moving. “Baby” is full of music best described as “sweet” and the story itself is truly charming.

It was a treat to experience both good acting and stellar singing in a single production. There’s little dance in “Baby” — but more basketball dribbling than you might imagine, and even a little orchestrated time with baseball bats.

“Baby” is a true-to-life glimpse into how relationships ebb and flow over time, and how children alter the mix in both glorious and gut-wrenching ways. I was glad to have experienced it with my youngest daughter.

Nick (Brad Rupp), Danny (Nick Anastasia) and Alan (D. Scott Wither) with ensemble members in BABY at Arizona Broadway Theatre in Peoria (Sun Photography)

I’m hoping to enjoy more Arizona Broadway Theatre productions this season. They’re presenting an intriguing mix of works, including several I have yet to experience. Think “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Tarzan” and “The Odd Couple.”

If big dance numbers are your thing, check out Arizona Broadway Theatre’s “A Chorus Line” (Oct 14-Nov 19) or “The Will Rogers Follies.” The latter features two songs that capture my approach to life better than most — “Give a Man Enough Rope” and “Never Met a Man I Didn’t Like.”

We didn’t opt for dinner before the show, but it’s a fun option for Arizona Broadway Theatre-goers — and you can check the menu options online before deciding whether to wine and dine while you’re there.

The cast of BABY at Arizona Broadway Theatre in Peoria (Sun Photography)

It looks like speciality drinks are tailored to each show, with “Baby” choices including “The Empty-Nester,” “The Oopsie!-Tini” and “The Pacifier.” Still, I’m more of a coffee and cheesecake or gelato type gal.

It’s easy to imagine a great evening out with friends at Arizona Broadway Theatre. I wish we’d known of it years ago when planning a milestone anniversary party for James’ parents.

I still remember seeing “Man of La Mancha” with my father at a Denver dinner theater when I was young. It felt magical and larger than life — and it beat the heck out of trout fishing.

— Lynn

Coming up: Superheros in Scottsdale, Tea party tales, Pictures from AriZoni nomination night

Disney alert!

As I said goodnight to my daughter Lizabeth one evening this week, I thought of how she’d soon be heading off to college. And I remembered one of her favorite sayings, from a Disney movie we saw together nearly a decade ago.

Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind…or forgotten.

It’s a mantra of sorts for the main character, Lilo, who discovers that her family is anything but typical. And that’s okay.

Disney stories are full of themes — like chasing dreams and overcoming adversity — that appeal to folks of all ages. So it’s no surprise that Disney books, movies and toys line the shelves (on a good day) of so many homes.

But there’s a special magic to seeing the “house of mouse” brought to life on stage. If there’s a Disney-lover in your family, mark your calendar now for these live productions of Disney classics, many of which have the added charm of being performed by young actors.

Camp Rising Star and Starlight Community Theatre in Anthem present “Disney’s 101 Dalmatians Kids” at 1pm and 7pm Sat, July 23.

They’re performing at the Safeway Shopping Center in Anthem (3665 W. Anthem Way, Ste 119-B). Tickets are just $5 at the door — making this a fun, affordable escape from the heat.

I used to shop the Outlets at Anthem for bargains on kids clothes when my children were younger.

Folks who hit the Anthem outlets Sat, June 23, between 2:30 and 4pm can enjoy a Disney “Shake it Up!” dance party presented by Radio Disney AM 1580. Dalmatians and dance — I like it.

Fountain Hills Community Theatre’s Youth Theatre presents “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” Aug 26-Sept 11 — and Desert Foothills Theater’s Gecko Teatro presents “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” in May 2012.

If your children love Disney, I don’t need to tell you that seeing the same show twice isn’t a problem.

You’ll have two chances to enjoy “Disney’s Aladdin, Jr.” come October. It’s being performed Oct 13-15 by Musical Theatre of Anthem and Oct 21-30 by Greasepaint Youtheatre in Scottsdale.

Mesa Arts Center presents “Choo-Choo Soul With Genevieve!” — from Disney Junior — for two Oct 8 performances that feature beatbox artist DC and musician Genevieve Goings. Think trains, hip hop, numbers and letters.

Lizabeth and I wanted to see a touring production of “Tarzan” while we were in Cedar City for last year’s Utah Shakespeare Festival, but we just didn’t have time to take everything in.

So I was excited to learn that Arizona Broadway Theatre is presenting the Arizona premiere of “Tarzan The Stage Musical,” based on the Disney film, April 20-May 27, 2012.

I remember seeing the Disney movie “Tarzan” with my three children when they were all 10 & under — and still get misty-eyed when I hear Phil Collins sing “You’ll Be in My Heart.”

Like most families, we can almost mark time by the stream of Disney stories through our lives. Our children are all grown now, but I’m glad we made time — when they were young — to enjoy all those afternoons of theater together.

— Lynn

Coming up: Going Grimm, Girl power!

New season “sneak peeks”

Families can enjoy a taste of Broadway in Arizona this month as ASU Gammage in Tempe presents their 2011-2012 season preview event Mon, July 25 at 7:30pm. The event features a free “sneak peek” at the upcoming season — which includes classics like “West Side Story” and “South Pacific” plus newer works like ‘Million Dollar Quartet” and “American Idiot.”

ASU Gammage promises pre-event family activities in the ASU Gammage lobby, special guest appearances and free dessert after the preview event. The preview event will be your first opportunity to purchase mini-package subscriptions if you’d like to attend only some of the shows in this season’s line-up.

Tempe Center for the Arts presents their “TCA Fall Arts Kick-off” Fri, Aug 19 from 6-8pm. It features live music, artist demonstrations, gallery tours and more. Fall season information and special advance ticket pricing will be available.

Popular TCA programs include the Lakeshore Jazz Series, Performance With a View, Poetry in April, Songwriters’ Showcase, Sonoran Chamber Music Series, Tempe Symphony Orchestra and Walk-in Wednesday Open Mic Night.

Several “partner groups” perform at the TCA — including A Ludwig Dance Theatre, Arizona Academy of the Performing Arts, Arizona Wind Symphony, Childsplay, CONDER/dance, Desert Dance Theatre, Tempe Community Chorus, Tempe Live! Theater and Tempe Symphonic Wind Ensemble.

The last “sneak peek” event I attended was presented by Mesa Arts Center, which has a lovely complement of founding resident companies including Ballet Etudes, East Valley Children’s Theater, Mesa Encore Theater, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Sonoran Desert Chorale, Southwest Shakespeare Company, Symphony of the Southwest and Xico Inc.

I had a great time gathering information about diverse programs, meeting fascinating artists and chatting with fellow art lovers. The next MAC preview event is a three-day “Season Kick-Off Festival” taking place Sept 9-11.

Keep an eye on Valley venues like Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts because many hold fall or spring “preview” events that offer a taste of their dance, music and theater menus. Who doesn’t love a free nibble now and then?

— Lynn

Note: A “Fall for the Arts Festival” presented by Arizona Broadway Theatre and Leadership West Oct 8 from 10am-4pm will feature live performance by various arts groups, creative activities for children and more.

Coming up: Introducing kids to classical music, Disney musicals on Valley stages, Art promoting peace

Baby meets Broadway

Valley actor D. Scott Withers isn’t a father in real life, but says that hasn’t been a problem in tackling the role of a 40-something father of three in a musical titled “Baby” opening July 22 at Arizona Broadway Theatre in Peoria. Like all actors, Withers has done plenty of things onstage that he’s never done in real life.

He’s quick to point out that despite the musical’s appeal to parents or those expecting a child, it’s really a work about relationships. “The baby,” he says, “just puts a magnifying glass on them.” Seems his couple, the oldest of the three, experiences an unexpected pregnancy just as they’re preparing for life in the “empty nest.” One is thrilled, but the other — not so much, really.

The youngest expectant parents in “Baby” are college students. Another couple deals with infertility. “Parents will recognize these relationships,” says Withers. But plenty of folks without kids love the work for other reasons. Withers describes “Baby” as a cult favorite among musical theater lovers.

“The music,” says Withers, “is fantastic.” Think catchy, upbeat numbers and beautiful ballads. Just ask my daughter Lizabeth, who knows to crank up the volume every time the SiriusXM Broadway channel plays “The Story Goes On.”

Still, Withers says it’s “not a dance show.” Instead, it’s a “character driven” musical with a small cast. All the more reason to rejoice that seasoned actors like Withers are involved. Withers is a longtime “associate artist” with Childsplay in Tempe whose other plans this season include directing “The Music Man” and performing in “Gypsy.”

Baby” features book by Sybille Pearson, music by David Shire and lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. It was performed on Broadway in 1983 and 1984. Withers’ preference for the music over the writing is shared by several who’ve reviewed the work.

It’s infrequently performed in these parts (Withers recalls a Theater Works production from a decade or so ago), meaning that those who worship at the altar of musical theater will want to make the pilgrimage to Peoria for this production. For all its charms, “Baby” is a show that’s unlikely to come around again anytime soon.

After years of watching Withers perform in Childsplay shows like “Go, Dog. Go!” and “A Year With Frog and Toad,” I’m eager to witness his work with more mature fare. If his “Alan” in “Baby” is even half as engaging as his “Edna” in “Hairspray,” Valley audiences are in for a real treat.

— Lynn

Coming up: Performing arts “sneak peek” events, Childsplay’s 2011/12 season, Parenting meets performing arts, From book to stage, Girl power!