Tag Archives: Chris Matthews

Stray cat meets sparrow

Our family cat, Pinky, was a stray kitten with searing blue eyes and tiny gnashing teeth before we rescued her from the roof of a local school that borders a park where she used to play.

Nowadays Pinky loves to sit by a window near the kitchen table where I write. It gives her the best view of all those birds who find our backyard a welcoming habitat. Hummingbirds. Quail. Wrens. Grackles.

When I heard about a play titled “Sparrow” making its Southwest premiere later this year, I did a little homework and discovered — thanks to the Arizona Bird Committee — that Arizona is home to all sorts of sparrows. Fox Sparrow. Swamp Sparrow. Lincoln’s Sparrow. And more.

But Stray Cat Theatre in Tempe is bringing a different sort of sparrow to our neck of the woods. It’s a play titled “Sparrow” that originated at The House Theatre of Chicago in 2007 — a work conceived by Nathan Allen and written by Chris Matthews and Jake Minton. “Sparrow” is the tale of a young girl with special powers.

Emily Book is an elementary school student — the sole survivor of a school bus crash that leaves her hometown devastated. She moves away, only to return for her senior year. It’s a painful reminder, and few are happy to see her. What unfolds next will surprise and stir you.

The Strat Cat Theatre audition notice describes “Sparrow” as a “very physical, ensemble-based work” in which many actors play multiple roles. It’s storytelling intertwined with music and dance, plus sci-fi and graphic novel sensibilities. Reviewers have likened it to “Mean Girls,” “Carrie” and “Wicked.”

With direction by Stray Cat founding artistic director Ron May, “Sparrow” should prove edgy yet accessible, like his production of “Columbinus” a couple of seasons ago. I’m eager to experience all four of this season’s Stray Cat productions — including “Milk, Milk Lemonade,” “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” and “Heddatron.”

In the meantime, I have my own cat to keep watch over the world with me.

— Lynn

Note: “Sparrow,” which is recommended for teens & up, runs Sept 23-Oct 8 at the Tempe Performing Arts Center in the Mill Avenue District.

Coming up: Zoot suit tales, From ukes to clogs, Art in motion

Update: Head to Bookmans Entertainment Exchange in Phoenix this Thurs, July 28 at 1pm for a “Bird-a-palooza” with the Arizona Animal Welfare League. Click here for details.

Update: I’m now blogging as “Stage Mom Musings” at www.stagemommusings.com. Please find and follow me there to continue receiving posts about arts and culture in Arizona and beyond. Thanks for your patience as the tech fairies work to move all 1,250+ posts to the new site. For the latest news follow me on Twitter @stagemommusings. 6/13/12


Make a wave

After a Friday afternoon of movie-going with my son Christopher, I came home and turned on the television to get an update on the dreadful oil spill off the southern coast of the United States.

While reporting the story on his weekday program “Hardball,” Chris Matthews of MSNBC added the following: “This is a teaching lesson for how man can destroy his own habitat.” I can’t argue with that, but I’m certain Christopher would want to add something to it.

As we drove back from Harkins Theatre at Tempe Marketplace, where we’d just seen the movie “Oceans” (rated G, released 4-22-10 by Disneynature), I ran some possible blog titles past him—including “Get your shopping cart out of my fridge.”

It was a reference to one of many striking scenes in the film—which features an animal trying to swim its way around a shopping cart parked smack dab in the middle of its neighborhood.

Christopher liked the idea, but noted that it implies the oceans are nothing more than a food source for humankind. Indeed, the ocean is part of our habitat. The earth is our one and only home. But maybe it’s also got value beyond merely what it can do for us.

The movie “Oceans” left me wondering what we should be doing for the sea. Not because it was preachy or political—it wasn’t. But because it raised my awareness of the ocean’s beauty and bounty in ways few other things have.

Plenty of creatures live there, and I suspect they are every bit as fond of (and worthy of) clean food and water as we are. I don’t expect everyone who reads this to agree with my philosophy here—only to see the movie and have the discussion with their own friends and family.

“Oceans” raises important issues that otherwise get far too little of our attention. As the opening for the movie notes, we seem much more fascinated with exploring the stars than with exploring the seas.

Yet the seas hold no less wonder, no fewer mysteries, and no less potential for helping us to understand our origins and frame our future. I admit to pondering on many occasions why we invest so many resources in outer space exploration when our own inner spaces have been so nihilistically neglected.

Folks who see this flick may walk away with totally different take home messages. I’m all for it. But have the dialogue. See what’s out there. Then imagine the possibilities.

Remember that the ocean covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and contains 97% of the planet’s water, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which also reports that 95% of the underwater world remains unexplored.

“Oceans” runs about 90 minutes and is breathtaking throughout. The narration is lovely—informative but not overbearing or distracting. The audience we sat with, which included preschoolers through grandmothers, was still and hushed throughout.

The movie moves between fierce ocean currents and gentle lapping waves, between suspenseful hunting excursions and sweet animal parent/child interactions. It’s ever tasteful and never terrifying.

“Oceans” is truly captivating—and a must see movie for every family.


Note:  To learn more about “Oceans,” visit the Disneynature website—which features educational materials for parents and teachers. To up your cool factor with the Radio Disney set, be sure you correctly identify the movie’s closing song as “Make a Wave” sung by Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato. Photo: Child’s drawing of Earth, courtesy of NASA

Coming up: A review of “The Secret Garden” (the play)–presented by Curtain Call, the educational division of Arizona Jewish Theatre Company. Performances today and Sunday, May 2, at the John Paul Theatre at Phoenix College. Info at www.azjewishtheatre.org. Tickets at 602-264-0402 or the door.