Tag Archives: family events

From aliens to arm wrestling

Got a thing for UFOs? Hit tonight’s free Summer Opening Celebration — and sign up for a UFO-theme family day on June 21 at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

It sometimes feels like aliens from outer space have already landed in Arizona, and no one would be happier than my hubby if it actually happened. He’s a longtime fan of science fiction who’ll be pleased to learn that the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art has UFOs on the brain these days.

Seems we human types once sent a “Golden Record” into space, eager to put our best foot forward in the event our probes made their way to alien lands. But that was the 70s, and this is now. So a Brooklyn-based composer named Judd Greenstein is working with artists who call themselves “New Catalogue” to imagine how humans might represent themselves now.

Folks curious about the project can hit tonight’s “Summer Opening Celebration” at SMoCA — which’ll feature previews of a new work composed by Greenstein that’s being performed tomorrow night at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Tonight’s affair, which runs from 7-10pm, is free and open to the public. You can hit the Lounge at SMoCA to enjoy a no host bar and Dulce Dance Company.

Meet composer Judd Greenstein tonight at SMoCA and enjoy the premiere of a new Greenstein work tomorrow at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Those who attend tonight’s shindig can mingle with artists, curators, dancers and composers — plus check out four new exhibitions. I’m hoping to pop over after we’ve celebrated Lizabeth’s birthday, but will most certainly be in the house tomorrow night as Greenstein premieres “In Teaching Others We Teach Ourselves,” written for violinist Nadia Sirota. Sirota, a string quartet and members of the Grammy-winning Phoenix Chorale will all be taking to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts stage.

Families fascinated by UFOs can hit SMoCA on June 21 for their annual “Family Fun Night,” which promises all sorts of UFO-related fare like creating hands-on art projects that involve sending messages to aliens in outer space. Also “a planetarium for stargazing,” a child-friendly docent-led tour of related exhibitions and plenty of good clean fun. Think blowing big bubbles, sampling refreshing treats and enjoying playtime in the Civic Center Mall fountain (BYO bathing suit).

There’s also a free event taking place June 12 that’s dubbed “Summer Stargazing and Music in Outerspace.” That baby features a curator-led tour of “This is a Present from a Small Distant World” plus an ASU ethnomusicologist discussing musical selections performed by Erin Hales. There’s even stargazing at ASU to follow.

I discovered oodles of good stuff browsing through the summer events and exhibition calendars for SMoCA — from film screenings and author events to art workshops and teen gatherings. I’m especially intrigued by “Arm Wrestling for Art” (July 13) and an online experience called “Out of the Cubical.” Watch for another post featuring pearls shared by Greenstein once I’ve rocked the birthday party vibe here at home.

— Lynn

Note: Pre-register for the SMoCA “Family Fun Night” on June 21 by calling 480-874-4642 (The evening is $20 for a family of four and $4 per extra person). I’m assuming any actual aliens from outer space choosing to land in Scottsdale that evening will get in free.

Coming up: Composer Judd Greenstein talks art, music and life

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


Fun with folk arts

Children making candles at last year’s Folk Arts Fair in Prescott (Photo courtesy of Sharlot Hall Museum)

Kids getting a bit restless? World beyond your house feeling a tad too warm? Wishing you’d spent the long weekend traveling instead of tackling chores? The fine folks in Prescott have a little something to take your mind off such troubles — the 39th annual Folk Arts Fair “Village of Traditions” taking place this weekend at the Sharlot Hall Museum. Think June 2 & 3 from 10-5pm both days.

While you’re there, check out the Phippen Museum. Their “Arizona’s Pioneering Women: Early Women Artists (1905-1945)” exhibition runs through July 8. Weekend hours are Sat. 10am-4pm and Sun. 1-4pm so you can easily enjoy both museums. Admission is $7 for adults, and kids under 12 get in free. Those of you who share my “more museums” mantra can explore three additional museums in Prescott while making the trip this weekend.

The Fort Whipple Museum, housed in a 1909 military officer’s quarters, exhibits medical instruments, Army weaponry, maps, photos, memoirs and more. Admission is by donation and it’s open Sat. 10am-4pm. The Smoki Museum, presenting a “Hopi Summer” exhibition through Aug 31, is open Sat. 10am-4pm and Sun. 1-4pm. Admission is $5/adults and children under 12 get in free. A children’s museum called “the spot” is open Sat. 1-5pm inside the Prescott Gateway Mall (admission is a whopping $3/person).

If musical performance is your thing, you’ll find it at both the Folk Arts Fair and the Blue Rose Theater — which presents “Ted Ramirez in Concert” Sat., June 2. Musical performers for the Folk Arts Fair include Az It Was, Barbara Swanberg, Susan Bailey Smith and Sistah Mary Grace.

Folks who attend the fair on Saturday can enjoy dance performance by a local Irish group. Other fair festivities this weekend include roping, tatting, sheep sheering and quilting demonstrations. Also millinery (hat making) lessons, old-time children’s games and hands-on activities for kids. Think making candles and corn husk dolls.

During the fair, the Sharlot Hall Museum campus will be transformed into “a 19th century Arizona village” featuring several themed districts — animal, clothing, craft, food, folk women and folk men. Living history types donning period garb will be on hand to share practices of times past in Arizona. Daily admission is $5 for adults ($3 for museum members). It’s free for those under age 18. Click here to learn more.

— Lynn

Note: Always confirm event/location details before attending, and remember that all sorts of family-friendly events are described in print and online editions of the Raising Arizona Kids calendar.

Coming up: A couple of crafty chicks, Fun finds for Father’s Day

The Boxer

My kids, now in college, know it’s best not to turn the radio dial when I’m listening to Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” because it was one of my mother’s favorite songs. I’ve still got the album she used to spin between vinyls by John Denver and members of the Rat Pack.

But I’ve got another sort of boxer on the brain today — the sort who takes delight in building houses, cars, puppet theaters and such out of giant cardboard boxes. My kids were magnificent “boxers” during preschool, when teachers would snag discarded appliance boxes and turn the students loose with poster paint and cheap brushes.

To this day, I sigh a little each time my husband takes a cardboard box out to the recycling bin — feeling sad there’s no one around to transform it, and guilty about not shepherding it over to the preschool. I still slow to admire jumbo TV boxes discarded by neighbors, like other people linger over coveted gardens or sports cars.

Now I’m told that boxes have finally made the big time. A group called Polyglot Theatre is coming to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts for a little something called “We Built This City.” No relation to Jefferson Starship, but I still like their vibe. Polyglot will present four interactive performances that involve kids 12 and under in building a city out of cardboard boxes. No need to BYOB. I’m told they’ve already got thousands, which means I’ll have to overcome some serious box envy.

A pair of Polyglot Theatre fans helping to build a city (Photo: Wendy Kimpton)

There’s a 10:30am and 2:30pm performance on both Sat, May 12 and Sun, May 13 — meaning “We Built This City” is perfectly timed for those of you who like to spend Mother’s Day making memories rather than racking up more flowered coffee mugs. Admission is free and no tickets are needed to attend.

When our children were younger, we’d enjoy family picnics on the lush lawns surrounding the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts — bringing our own blanket along in case we weren’t lucky enough to snag one of their picnic tables. The venue notes that refreshments from Shine Coffee and picnic foods will be available.

Jump for joy — it’s Polyglot Theatre time in Scottsdale! (Photo: Wendy Kimpton)

The event itself goes something like this. Thousands of boxes get used to make buildings, tunnels, archways, towers, labyrinths and such. You know, everything but a car elevator. Things go up, then get pulled down. Things get designed, redesigned and reconstructed. I imagine it’s like watching a teenager getting dressed for a date.

Performers facilitate the build while rocking the construction worker vibe — or portraying other fun characters. There’s even a DJ spinning tunes. At the end of the day, “everyone joins in trampling down the city into a gloriously chaotic heap of cardboard rubble.” Warn your kids ahead of time if you think they’ll struggle with seeing their work undone, and bring a camera along to document the occasion.

I’m told that “We Built This City” has been performed in four languages in 10 countries. Previous venues include the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., the Royal National Theatre in London and the Opera House in Sydney. I told you boxes made the big time.

“We Built This City” is free and there’s no need to BYOBox (Photo: Wendy Kimpton)

Polyglot Theatre’s “We Built This City” is part of Scottsdale Center for the Performing Art’s 2011-12 “Discovery Series” exploring the arts of Australia and New Zealand, made possible in part by a grant from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust.

Their 2012-13 “Discover Series” exploring the arts of India opens with musician Ravi Shankar on Oct. 21, and also features performance by the Chitresh Das Dance Company. It concludes with a free outdoor community concert called “OrigiNations: A Festival of Native Cultures” on April 7, 2013.

Their 2012-13 season also includes the “The Daily Show Live: Indecision Tour 2012” (Oct  20), performance by Garth Fagan Dance (Nov. 16; Fagan’s choreography has earned Tony and Olivier Awards), an “ARTrageous” benefit gala with Bernadette Peters (Dec. 1) and “The Complete World of Sports” by The Reduced Shakespeare Company (March 15).

“ARTrageous” holds special meaning because my very first “Stage Mom” blog was inspired by an “ARTrageous” event featuring Kristin Chenoweth. I’m also over the moon about the return of Mandy Patinkin (Feb. 2), whose “Kidults” CD got lots of play at our house after Lizabeth and I saw him perform there when she was just in grade school.

Still, when our new season brochure for Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts came in the mail the other day, it was word of a performance by Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia that I rushed to tell my hubby about first. They’re presenting “A Brown Bear, a Moon and a Caterpillar: Treasured Stories by Eric Carle,” featuring music, puppetry and more (Feb. 24). Having three kids in college hasn’t dampened my zeal for such things. I hope nothing ever will.

— Lynn

Note: Learn more about Polyglot Theatre’s “We Built This City” and Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts offerings at www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org.

Coming up: Culture pearls for Mother’s Day, What a scream!

I’d rather be…

It's "Plan B" time as a bout of bronchitis has me reading "Blue Like Jazz" and watching the "Olivier Awards" online during a weekend I'd hoped to spend at Valley theaters

I did something last week that surely shocked the folks who know me really well. After learning the second leg of my Southwest flight between Newark and Phoenix was delayed, I ended up spending another night in NYC. Too frugal to pop for another night at a hotel, the wheels started turning. What to do with an extra night in NYC?

Too tired for Springsteen? That should have been my first clue.

I remembered that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were performing at Madison Square Gardens, and daughter Lizabeth quickly jumped online to discover that StubHub tickets were posted for prices lower than your average hotel room.

Then things got really weird — becaused I just didn’t have the oomph to get up and go. I love me some Bruce and the band, and was especially eager to see young musicians in his new brass section rock the house, but figured hiking all those arena stairs might be the death of me. (There are worse ways to go, but “gone” is one place I’d rather not be.)

Lizabeth suggested other options more suitable for a mom still recovering from recent knee surgery, including mother-daughter craft time at Make Meaning — but decided to save that adventure for her summer back home since the NYC-based company also has a Scottsdale Quarter location — which buys us more time to choose between glass, soap, jewelry, paper, candles, ceramics and other creative options.

Folks in Arizona can enjoy the Tribeca Film Festival online

We ended up taking the subway to Tribeca — where this year’s Tribeca Film Festival (which has an online component for folks like me who can’t get to the NYC event) opens in just a few days. We enjoyed a splendid stoll, stopping at some her favorite NYC haunts — including Strand Book Store, where I wistfully admired the black and white photo of Springsteen she’d spotted weeks before on a postcard rack near the entrance.

Also dinner at a diner with festive orange and yellow walls that’s called “S’MAC” because the only dish they serve is macaroni and cheese. Think oodles of noodles delivered skillet-style in endless gourmet variations. When I texted James to tell him where we’d landed, he shot back a brief “How hipster of you” reply. I quickly responded in praise of sporting a vocab that includes “hipster.”

Let's hope someone tells the Mother's Day fairy about this baby

I wasn’t hip enough, apparently, because I’d forgotten that it was my last chance to see Simon Callow perform Jonathan Bate’s “Being Shakepeare” at the Brooklyn Music Academy — which prides itself on being America’s oldest performing arts center (think 1861). Silly, really, considering that my last trip to NYC opened with a glorious exploration of Keith Haring works exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum.

After dropping Lizabeth off at her dorm after dinner, I played “musical Starbucks” until the last of them located near Pace University shut out the lights. I was ready to move on after enduring far too many boisterous barista solos. I hailed a cab for the Newark airport, where I snagged the lone electrical outlet at a Dunkin’ Donuts and curbed the urge to indulge as the smell of freshly baked glazed goodies wafted through the air. It beat sleeping on the floor.

I landed at Sky Harbor Airport just as James was hopping a flight to NYC for his turn at Liz time, but realized later that day that pulling the all-nighter was a serious mistake. I was pooped, and in the early stages of the bronchitis that now finds me bedbound during a weekend I’d hoped to enjoy nearly back-to-back shows from a long list of options.

Think Childsplay’s “Tomas the the Library Lady,” Theater Works’ “All Through the Night” and/or “Sakura no Ne” (a collaboration with the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix), Cookie Company’s “Charlotte’s Web,” Valley Youth Theatre’s “Freckleface Strawberry,” Rising Arts’ “Sleeping Beauty,” and Desert Stages Theatre’s “Altar Boyz” and/or “How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying.” They’re all places I’d rather be at this point — but nobody wants to sit by the constant cougher, it’s never nice to share such things.

I'm rooting for RSC and Roald Dahl while watching the Olivier Awards online

Instead, I’ve developed a bit of a plan B. Watching streaming video of Britain’s Olivier Awards, especially eager to see how the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “Matilda the Musical” (based on the book by Roald Dahl) fares. Cuddling up with Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz” and Paul Torday’s “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” (hoping I’ll bounce back enough this week to catch them on the big screen). And reading online guides for upcoming productions like “Red” (Arizona Theater Company) and “Much Ado About Nothing” (Southwest Shakespeare Company).

Those of you with more bounce in your step can find plenty of ways to enjoy the rest of your weekend by exploring the Raising Arizona Kids calendar in print or online. If you experience an especially nifty concert, art exhibit, dance performance or show — feel free to comment below to let our readers know.

— Lynn

Coming up: Art meets Earth Day, Musings on Mental Health Month

Note: Remember too that you can explore a comprehensive list of summer camps on the Raising Arizona Kids magazine website — click here to find this and other resources for readers. (Final shameless plug — Subsciptions to Raising Arizona Kids magazine make easy, practical and affordable Mother’s Day gifts.)

No need to BYOC…

One of many families who took part in "Chalk It Up!" last April

Public art meets performance art. That’s how the fine folks presenting Prescott’s 4th annual “Chalk It Up!” event describe the melding of concrete with pastel chalks within a festival setting — something you can experience first hand April 21 & 22 in Prescott’s Summit Plaza. Those of you who’ve long suspected you’d never excel in either visual or performance art now have a fun opportunity to try your hand at both. The results might surprise you.

“Chalk It Up!” presenters note that this unique art form has been around since the 16th century, though most individual works survive for only a few days. Seems their annual event is “family-friendly, community-centered, artistic endeavor to cultivate and support the creativity in people of all ages and cultures.” But beware of putting chalk into the hands of little ones still mouthing everything that comes their way.

We once had a home where the spacious tree-shaded patio was covered in square tiles perfect for chalk art, and our children (now in college) used to love drawing all sorts of designs both alone and with friends. Looking back, I suppose I should have spent more time doing the same.

It’s hard to go wrong with a piece of chalk. It’s plenty affordable and easy to erase, and the “Chalk It Up!” website offers tips — both practical and artistic — for folks who attend. The event is free, and everyone gets a 12-piece box of pastels plus a 4 x 4 ft. space for working their magic. No need to BYOC, though water-based chalks (not oil-based pastels) are welcome. The uber-ambitious can preregister if they’d like a bigger bit of canvas.

Those of you concerned that your chalk art isn’t yet ready for prime time are free to practice at home. In matters such as these, the fun of making mistakes sometimes tops the thrill of achieving perfection. Or so I’m told. Folks fond of people-watching can hit the event to see how chalk turns the common man into artistic muse. Though you do run the risk of contagion.

BYOC -- Bring your own creativity to the 2012 "Chalk It Up!" event in Prescott

Lest the Prescott landscape get awash in a sea of stick figures, “Chalk It Up!” has secured a few featured artists who elevate chalk art to fine art. Watch for the work of Chris Brake and daughter Kimberly while you’re there. Also Cyndi Kostylo and Holly Lynn Schineller.

In the meantime, send me some photos of your family’s chalk art creations — whether crafted on concrete or construction paper. I’d love to feature them in a future post.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about Prescott lodging and events — plus library, theater, art gallery, music and other offerings.

Coming up: A playwright gets personal

Get out, get art!

After hitting just a single night of this year’s “Phoenix Film Festival,” I’m giving serious thought to running away from home. Not forever. Just through next Thursday when the festival comes to a close. With so many amazing offerings, it seems silly to drive back and forth from theater to laundry room and such.

All sorts of things caught my eye on this weekend’s festival schedule — including a free “Kids’ Day” for families presented by IFP Phoenix from 9am-2pm on Sat, March 31 (where you can also see three family films for just $5 each — including “Chimpanzee” from Disney at 1:05pm).

Also high school shorts, college shorts, animated shorts, a silent auction, a preview of Phoenix Comicon 2012 and plenty of live performance art by folks from Scorpius Dance Theatre to Carol Pacey & the Honey Shakers. Even workshops on topics like “Casting Indies” and “Life as an Indie Actor.”

A film titled “Kerry and Angie” that’s part of a Saturday morning “Arizona Showcase” is directed by Amanda Melby, head coach and owner at Verve Studios in Scottsdale — one of many performing arts groups to participate in this year’s RAK Camp Fair. Folks who attend the Actors Theatre production of “Body Awareness” at the Herberger Theater Center will get to see Melby in action.

Those seeking more family-friendly fare have another great option in the “Children’s Day & Kite Festival” taking place Sat, March 31 from 10am-3pm at the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix — which features martial arts, games, food, face painting and other activities. Families are invited to wear kimonos and bring a kite along (or make kites during the festival). Best they not offer kimono-making. I would only embarrass myself.

Fans of Rodgers & Hammerstein can enjoy a double dose of musical theater this weekend as Greasepaint Youtheatre performs “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” and The Phoenix Symphony performs “An Evening with Rodgers & Hammerstein” (don’t let the name “fool” you — Sunday’s show is actually a matinee). The latter is a collaboration with Phoenix Theatre featuring direction by Michael Barnard and a collection of vocalists that bears a startling resemblance to my list of favorite people.

Your last chance to see the Scottsdale Community College production of “The Miracle Worker” by William Gibson is Sat, March 31 at 2pm and 7:30pm — and I happen to know first hand that at least one of the show’s young actors is cuter than the dickens. If acting is hereditary, she’s also rocking her role.

— Lynn

Note: Family-friendly activities are always available in print and online calendars from Raising Arizona Kids magazine.

Coming up: Two of the most imporant hours of my life

Theater works

Happy campers participating in Youth Works Academy through Theater Works in Peoria, which hosts a free Summer Camp Expo this Saturday

Theater works in all sorts of ways. Think jobs, creative outlets for artists, shared experiences for citizens, positive experiences for youth and more.

Theater Works in Peoria is introducing folks to its summer camp options for children and teens this Saturday via their 2nd annual Theater Works Summer Camp Expo, which features drama-related activities for children and the opportunity to talk with Theater Works youth program staff about summer camp options for preschoolers through teens.

More fun with Youth Works Academy

The Sat, March 31 event takes place from 11am-1pm. Admission is free, and lunch (think hot dogs) is included. Sometimes theater works for tummies too. Folks who attend can enter for the chance to win a pair of silver passes to Castles N’ Coasters. If you’re game, just RSVP by March 30 to Athena Hunting at 623.815.1791 ext. 107. Theater Works, by the way, is located at 8355 W. Peoria Ave.

Theater works as well in forming community collaborations, like the Theater Works partnership with Ro Ho En (the Japanese Friendship Garden) in Phoenix to present “Sakura no Ne” (“Root of the Cherry Tree”) April 13-22. Also in helping us reflect on historical events and their meaning for our lives. Hence the April 13-May 13 Theater Works production of “All Through the Night,” a play inspired by stories of German gentile women during and after the Third Reich.

Jay meets giggling girls during Youth Works Academy

Theater Works recently unveiled their 2012/13 season, which opens with “Doubt” and wraps up with “Accomplice.” In between, there’s everything from “The Music Man” and “A Christmas Carol” to “Burning in the Night: A Hobo’s Song” and “Musical of Musicals.” This season’s “A Little Night Music” opens tomorrow night — Wed, March 28.

When you hit this Saturday’s Theater Works Summer Camp Expo, be sure and ask about other ways they’re making theater work for youth — from theater workshops and classes to puppet shows and special programs for homeschool students.

When theater works, we’re all better for it.

— Lynn

Note: Theater Works is seeking designers for the 2012/13 season — and Robyn Allen is accepting resumes at rallen@theaterworks.org. Also, a friendly reminder — The Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards take place tonight, March 27, at the Herberger Theater Center. Click here for details.

Coming up: Fun with freckles!