Tag Archives: Fringe Festival

Make some waves

Tile mural at the San Diego International Airport in California

The Phoenix Art Museum presents “Make Waves!” for teens who like to “mix, mingle and create” Fri, March 2 at 6:30pm. Youth who attend can create their own beach-ware accessories, hear sounds of the ocean and view sea-inspired garments during opening night for the museum’s newest fashion show, “The Sea.”

Mesa Community College Act I Musical Productions performs the musical “Rent” featuring book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson through Thurs, March 8 at Theatre Outback.

The Phoenix Municipal Art Collection has more than 1,000 works of art that’ll be featured in rotating exhibits in the newly renovated Gallery @ City Hall. Folks can get their first glimpse Fri, March 2, between 10am and 2pm — when the city unveils “Place: Images of the West,” which includes 23 paintings, photographs and prints from 21 artists inspired by western landscapes.

Scottsdale Community College opens its “13th Annual Spring Painting Exhibition” featuring more than 20 artists Fri, March 2. View the exhibition in the SCC art building Mon-Fri 8am-4pm or Sat 9am-3pm.

Chandler-Gilbert Community College presents the musical “Little Women” March 2-9 at the Arnette Scott Ward Performing Arts Center in Chandler. It’s based on the book by Louisa May Alcott, and features book by Allan Knee, music by Jason Howland and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein.

AZ Musicfest 2012 presents “From A to Z — Abba to Les Miz — Broadway’s Best” Sat, March 3 (a March 2 performance is sold out) at Scottsdale First Assembly. Nat Chandler and Teri Dale Hansen will be singing works from “Chicago,” “Mamma Mia!,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Rent,” “Spamalot” and “Wicked.”

Scorpius Dance Theatre is looking ahead to their next performance of “A Vampire Tale” at the Bram Stoker International Film Festival this fall, raising funds for the trip through an all-day dance class marathon Sat, March 3 from 11am to 8pm. They’re offering hour-long master classes in ballet, modern technique, salsa/cha cha, centemporary jazz, burlesque and hip hop.

Tempe Center for the Arts presents a “Walk-in Artist Workshop” Sat, March 3. The “Plein Air Family Workshop with Ellen Waggener” takes place from noon to 4pm in the Gallery — where families can also enjoy an “Arizona Landscapes” exhibition.

The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture and the Seventh Street Merchants Association unveil new artwork and poetry Sat, March 3 at 1:15pm during the “Melrose on Seventh Avenue Street Fair” (11am-5pm) in Phoenix. The works comprise series 8 of the “Seventh Street Streetscape.”

Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe presents a “Meet and Greet Booksigning” with Roxanna Green Sat, March 3 at 5pm. Green authored “As Good As She Imagined: The Redeeming Story of the Angel of Tucson, Christina-Taylor Green” after losing her daughter last January in the Tucson tragedy and now heads a foundation that bears her daughter’s name.

Arizona State University in Tempe holds an Arizona SciTech Festival event dubbed “Night of the Open Door” Sat, March 3 from 5-9pm. The Piper Writers House hosts author readings/book signings that night with Conrad Storad (author of more than 40 science and nature books for children and young adults) and Stephen J. Pyne (author of nearly two dozen books who specializes in history of the environment, exploration and fire).

Never fear if you’re over 21 but still eager to make waves. You can hit opening night for the “Phoenix Fringe Festival” Fri, March 2 — with offerings that include performance by Dulce Dance Company, a choreopoem presented by BlackPoet Ventures, a trio of short plays from Actors Alchemy and more.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to find additional events for families featured in the Raising Arizona Kids Magazine online calendar. Always check with venues before attending to confirm event details.

Coming up: Five freebies for families


Comedy for a cause

Little did Michael Yichao know, when donning a Munchkin costume as a fourth-grader to perform in a Valley Youth Theatre production of “The Wizard of Oz,” that one day he’d become an MFA acting student hoofing three original works collectively titled “Boys are Dumb, Girls are Mean.”

But that glorious day has arrived, and Yichao is hoping families will come out to support the work. His “Boys are Dumb, Girls are Mean” trio features three short works that total just 90 minutes.

They’ll be performed Sat, Aug 27 at 2pm at Jester’Z Improv Comedy in Scottsdale, which describes the works as “kid-friendly” and “family-oriented.” The show is free but a suggested $7 donation will help Yichao fund future performances of the work.

He’s hoping to take “Boys are Dumb, Girls are Mean” to a variety of venues — including “Fringe” festivals in NYC and Edinburgh, a London playwriting competition, and children’s theaters in Minneapolis and Hawaii.

This weekend’s performance features “four kids from Arizona as well as two actors and a composer from California.” The local actors are Donovan Fiore (age 12) of Gilbert, Rachel Goodman (age 16) of Phoenix, Harrison Redmond (age 12) of Chandler and Jayna Jordan Sweet (age 16) of Ahwatukee.

The trio of tales includes a comedy titled “Dear Diary,” which follows a high school freshman “dealing with dances and diaries, girls and geeks, best friends and betrayals.” Also “Between: A Musical,” about four kids navigating the space between childhood and adulthood while confronting life-changing moments. And “Travis Tries to Talk to Girls,” a dramedy that explores the impact of heritage, mixed traditions and the Internet on finding love.

Playwright Michael Yichao

Yichao is a familiar face on the Valley theater scene, having performed in several VYT shows, directed productions for his own theater company “CloPet” (currently on hiatus) and more. He graduated from ASU with a double major in English and theater, and is currently entering his second year at California Institute of the Arts.

I’m told that space for Saturday’s performance is limited, and that folks who want to attend should make reservations by e-mailing Yichao at myichao@gmail.com.

— Lynn

Note: Waymire Studio for the Performing Arts presents “Wayward Comedy” Sat, Aug 27 at 7pm in Glendale. Details at http://www.waymirestudio.com.

Coming up: Finding audition opportunities for youth

Theater for grown-ups

Stray Cat Theatre. Nearly Naked Theatre. Folks offering mostly mature-theme works are hoping you’ll book the babysitter and experience some of their upcoming “theater for grown-ups” fare.

I’m as big a fan of “Jungle Book” and “Peter Pan” as the next person, but sometimes a change of scenery is in order. So here’s a sampling of some of your options…

The Great Arizona Puppet Theater presents adult puppet slams several times a year for the age 18 & up set. I’ve never been, but I’m told it draws a good crowd — and I’m eager to join the fun. Their next adult slam takes place at 8pm on Fri, Dec 3 and Sat, Dec 4.

Scene from New Carpa's American Pastorela by playwright James E. Garcia

New Carpa Theater, a company founded in 2006 that specializes in “Latino and multicultural theater works,” presents their latest production Dec 4-19 at the Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center in downtown Phoenix (near Symphony Hall).

“American Pastorela: Show Us Your Papers!” is an unabashedly political play written by James Garcia and directed by Arturo Martinez — who certainly have a lot to add to the Arizona dialogue.

Stray Cat Theatre in Tempe presents “Learn to be Latina” Dec 3-18. It’s written by Enrique Urueta and directed by Ron May — and features the tale of a Lebanese woman told she must feign being Latina to achieve pop singer stardom.

Enjoy a talkback with playwright Enrique Urueta after the 2pm performance on Sun, Dec 5

Both May and Urueta will join the audience for a talk-back session following the 2pm performance on Sun, Dec 5. It should prove an interesting discussion of various issues related to self-identity.

For grown-ups who aren’t particularly fond of holidays or musicals, Space 55 in Phoenix presents “A Bloody Mary Christmas” Dec 3-18 (all Fri/Sat eve shows). Reduced ticket price available with canned food item donation to St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance.

And now for the naked part. Nearly Naked Theatre, which performs at Phoenix Theatre’s Little Theatre, presents an Arizona premiere titled “Devil Boys From Beyond” Jan 8-29.

It’s written by Buddy Thomas and Kenneth Elliott, with direction by Toby Yatso. Think campy space-invader movie from the ’50s or ’60s. This baby won the 2009 award for overall excellence for outstanding play at the 2009 New York Fringe Festival. (Maybe for this one someone will actually wear fringe?)

N2N presents a full season of Arizona premieres for 2010-2011, including Devil Boys From Beyond

If alternative theater is your vibe, save the dates April 1-10, 2011 — when the 2011 Phoenix Fringe Festival takes place. Just get a sitter and a room for this one people. It makes for a great weekend “staycation.”

With any luck at all, the sitter will simply assume that you’ve developed a quaint fascination with fabric arts.

— Lynn

Note: Other theater companies with offerings enjoyed by adult (and sometimes younger) audiences include Actors Theatre, Arizona Jewish Theatre Company, Arizona Theatre Company, Black Theatre Troupe, and Phoenix Theatre.

Coming up: Traveling tribe comes to ASU Gammage, Southwest Shakespeare Company presents “Twelfth Night,” Family-friendy theater options, Art venues and holiday shopping

This is one “groovy” weekend…

I feel like I might need a translator on this one. When I began thinking about how to characterize this weekend’s arts scene in the Valley, these are the words that came to mind—hip, groovy and cool.

"Hoodlums" welcomes M-Trio

Were my kids not studying or sleeping at this moment (my blogs are often written in the wee hours of the night before you read them online), I’d ask their help in updating my lingo.

No matter, I suppose, since the latest fads will likely change many times over before I catch on to any of them.

I might be able to up my cool factor by attending one of this weekend’s arts-related events that my 18-year-old daughter Jennifer enthusiastically told me about several weeks ago. (This girl would so rock in the world of marketing!)

It’s the ASU Art Museum “Street Party,” a second annual event to support museum exhibits. But don’t race down to ASU in Tempe to catch it. The party—taking place from 4-10pm on Sat., April 10—happens at Hoskin-Ryan Building & Grounds in Phoenix.

I’ve never heard of the place, which is part of its appeal. We can enjoy a whole lot of weekend whimsy and wonder without ever leaving the Valley. Why should tourists have all the fun?

The street party is free for kids, and entry for adults is just $5. The event features live bands (Dry River Yacht Club, The Market, SourceVictoria and the ASU Latin Jazz Combo), food and drink, an “Indie Chic” craft fair, a “kidzone” and art exhibits curated by the ASU Art Museum.

Admit it. You think it sounds pretty cool too.

Free Kids Event at Film Festival

For the film buff, there’s the Phoenix Film Festival taking place this weekend at Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theatres. For the alternative and experimental performance buff, there’s the Phoenix Fringe Festival happening in and around downtown Phoenix.

Theater aficionados will have a hard time narrowing down choices from this weekend’s offerings, which include: “Forbidden Broadway” by Mesa Encore Theatre, “The Diviners” by Scottsdale Community College Theatre Arts, “All the More to Love” by Phoenix Theatre and “Jesus Christ Superstar” (with Ted Neeley) at ASU Gammage.

There’s also “Tomato Plant Girl” by Childsplay, “The Who’s Tommy” by Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre, “The Frog Prince” by Starlight Community Theater, “Stuart Little” by Theater Works and “Rapunzel” by Great Arizona Puppet Theater.

This is when a copy of our monthly magazine, complete with daily calendar of entertaining and educational events from concerts and sporting events to puppet shows and story times, comes in handy. Happily, you can also jump online now or any day of the week to get a full-serving of family fun.

Dance devotees can experience “Ballet Hispanico” at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts this weekend, a venue where I often run into families and mother/daughter duos enjoying evenings of dance and theater together.

AZDance performs this weekend

There’s also “AZ Dance Group” performing at Paradise Valley Community College, one of many Valley community colleges offering diverse visual and performing arts both weekends and weekdays.

Visual arts fans can marvel at the glorious glass works on display starting Friday, April 9, when the recently-expanded “Glass Studio” reopens at the Mesa Arts Center. I’ll have to check with my teens to see which adjective—“groovy” or “glorious”—best pegs me as a middle-age mama.

Someone must be on to me since I only heard about the free preview of “O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show” being presented by ASU Lyric Opera Theater about 17 minutes before it started Friday night. Of course, that one’s not for the kiddies.

A tamer show–featuring “the canvas of album covers”–hits Hoodlums Music & Movies (a funky little Local First joint that originated at ASU) in Tempe Sat., April 10. Their opening party for “The Lost Album Art Show” runs from 7-9pm, complete with live jazz music.

Ballet Hispanico performs in Scottsdale

In the meantime, I’ll keep searching for arts-related events and activities. There’s always something new in the Valley of the Sun—and I love the chase.


Note: If your weekend arts-related event is family-friendly but not featured here, feel free to comment briefly below to let our readers know about it. Suggestions for tasteful post-1970s words are also welcome. “Snaps” to Buzzberry’s at Granite Reef and McDonald in Scottsdale (just west of the 101) for supporting their local schools–I was delighted earlier this week, while grabbing my daily iced Americano, to learn of a PTO movie night happening Saturday to benefit Navajo Elementary in Scottsdale! Way to Buzz!

Coming up: Reflections on art honoring Holocaust Days of Remembrance (April 11-18, 2010)

Faith, photography and conservation?

Ever known someone who always seems to be up to something intriguing? I know a couple of them—mostly theater people—including Randy Messersmith.

Messersmith is the theater arts director at Scottsdale Community College, as well as professional actor, director and producer.

Recently a regional board of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (representing Arizona, southern California, southern Nevada, Utah and Hawaii) honored Messersmith with their “Excellence in Education” award.

You may have seen some of his recent work…

Last fall, Messersmith directed the SCC production of Lisa Loomer’s “Distracted” at Theatre Artists Studio. Earlier this year he directed Howard Sackler’s “The Great White Hope” for Mesa Community College.

So what’s next for a director who just tackled racism and Ritalin?

Try faith and doubt, scarcity of resources, common bonds among outcasts, a back-sliding preacher, an emotionally disturbed yet uniquely gifted boy.

Messersmith is co-directing “The Diviners“–a Depression-era play by Jim Leonard, Jr.–with Daniel Good. I suspect Good is equally fascinating but I’ve never met him, so I can’t speak from personal experience on that one.

“This show,” says Messersmith, “is a beautiful exploration of the importance of faith, friendship and community at a time when hope was fading fast.”

Good adds that “Each of us has those moments of doubt—those times when our patience and faith are tested. This play will speak to that disquiet and hopefully ask the audience some hard, but enlightening questions.”

Many of you may have seen the work of Jim Leonard, Jr.—who writes plays, movies and television works— without knowing it. He’s a consulting producer for the Showtime series “Dexter,” which features a well-meaning serial killer who makes my list of ‘most fascinating among the fictional.’

Leonard also serves on the board of The New Harmony Project, which “creates, nurtures and promotes new works for stage, television and film that sensitively and truthfully explore the positive aspects of life.”

At least one thread within “The Diviners” has special appeal to desert dwellers. It’s the scarcity of water, something I last saw tackled in “Urinetown: The Musical” performed by ASU’s Lyric Opera Theatre.

“The Diviners” will be performed April 9,10,16 and 17 at Theatre Artists Studio in Scottsdale. The studio has more than a few fascinating people in its midst too—including the magazine’s own “Unmotherly Insights” blogger Debra Rich Gettleman.

If seeing this play inspires you to take greater care with water conservation at home, check out tips provided by Salt River Project (SRP) on the education portion of their website, or try playing water-related games from the “Water Use It Wisely” campaign.

If animal or plant conservation is more your thing, get to know SCC’s “Center for Native and Urban Wildlife.” It’s another one of those “who knew?” resources so close to home but too far from mind.

CNUW is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, as well as its own 10th anniversary, with a poetry and photo contest based on this John Muir quote: “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

Contest guidelines are available online, and works must be properly submitted to Emma Olsen at CNUW no later than April 15. Yes, there are prizes for winners!

The brevity of blogging prevents me from saying more here, so just know that I’m a big fan of their work and hope you’ll have some fun creating poetry and photographs inspired by Muir’s words.


Note: Gail Cochrane wrote about CNUW for Raising Arizona Kids in her 2006 article titled “Helping Kids Connect with Nature.” Debbie Wohl Isard wrote about “Distracted” and SCC’s Messersmith for her A.D.D. (Attention Dear Debbie) blog titled “Distracted: An Arizona Premiere.”

Coming up: Celebrating National Poetry Month, Diverse offerings of William Shakespeare works, The fine art of funny, The Phoenix Fringe Festival (“Family Fringe” takes place Friday, April 2, at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix–and it’s FREE!)

Ballet Arizona meets Picasso?

If you’re a parent, you likely feel—at least once a day—that you’re in the presence of genius. Perhaps it’s when you hang that scribbled-on page from a coloring book on your refrigerator door, or see your child assemble puzzle pieces in the reverse order from how they were removed (that one always got me with my son Christopher).

You may also feel that way if you head to the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix this afternoon (Sunday, March 28) for “Classic Innovations” presented by Ballet Arizona, a trio of works that’s part of their 24th season and marks Artistic Director Ib Andersen’s ten-year anniversary with the company.

“Classic Innovations” includes three works…

The first is “Raymonda,” which premiered in 1898 in St. Petersburg, Russia. It features choreography by Marius Pepita and music by Alexander Glazunov.

After years of enjoying the work of Ballet Arizona’s more seasoned dancers, I took special notice of Matthew Poppe (an apprentice dancer in his first season with Ballet Arizona) and the other younger dancers during this piece.

My 16 year-old Lizabeth spent nearly half her young life training with the School of Ballet Arizona. Poppe and some of the company’s other young dancers, including Chelsea Saari and Ginger Smith, were just a few years ahead of Lizabeth and the other dancers in her level.

I recall how much Lizabeth looked up to them.

Several of the company’s young dancers, including trainee Megan Chmelik, attended Arizona School for the Arts, where Lizabeth now studies theater but continues to find her ballet training invaluable.

You may have heard of another dancer who studied at Arizona School for the Arts and trained with the School of Ballet Arizona–David Hallberg, principal with American Ballet Theatre in New York.

Just like those refrigerator drawings evolve over time, so too have the youngest dancers with Ballet Arizona. Let the critics share their insights about the craft of this company. As a parent, it’s the personal and professional development of these dancers that I find most compelling.

The second work is “In the Night,” which premiered in New York, New York in 1970. It features choreography by the legendary Jerome Robbins and music by Frederic Chopin (which was masterfully played by pianist Dianne Chilgren, a special guest artist for the evening).

I happened to be sitting in front of a gentleman from New York who was clearly a true Robbins aficionado, so I asked his thoughts on the performance. “I love everything Ballet Arizona does,” he told me.

The gentleman then shared that he’d seen his first Ballet Arizona performance in 2004, written a large check to the company that very night, and since experienced many a fine performance. “Their ‘Nutcracker’ rivals any production I’ve seen anywhere in the world,” he told me.

Take note, parents…

This lovely man shared that he’s been seeing “The Nutcracker” since he was just knee-high. If you’ve been assuming your child would never enjoy the ballet, think again.

Between the dance, music, costumes, lighting and sets, there is plenty in live dance performance for children to enjoy.

And if you take them to see “Classic Innovations” today, they’ll be able to say one day that they were among the first to see the first work performed by Ballet Arizona in a national festival.

The third work is “Diversions,” which premiered right here in Phoenix on Friday evening. It features choreography by Ib Andersen and music by Benjamin Britten (Diversions for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 21).

Ballet Arizona will present Andersen’s “Diversions” on their “Kennedy Center Tour,” scheduled for June 17 and 19. But you can see it today if you can get to the Orpheum Theatre (and find that tickets are available) before the final performance—at 2pm.

To learn more about the festival at which they’ll perform, and about an opportunity to win a trip to see them perform in Washington, D.C., just visit the Ballet Arizona website.

The work is quite wonderful and will no doubt do Arizona arts and culture proud.

I never tire of watching seasoned Ballet Arizona dancers like Astrit Zejnati and Natalia Magnicaballi, two of the dancers who will perform “Diversions” at the Kennedy Center.

But I’m convinced that friends and family of dancers who’ve taken to the professional stage with Ballet Arizona more recently had best start thinking about how they’re going to hang those Picassos on their refrigerator doors.


Coming soon: The Phoenix Fringe Festival—featuring its first ever “Family Fringe” event–which runs April 2-11.

It’s all caught on film

Most folks, whether film buffs or film know-nothings (I’m the latter), have heard of the Cannes International Film Festival in France, the Aspen Filmfest in Colorado and the Sundance Film Festival in Utah (and yes, Sundance fans, there is “an app for that”). But did you know there are quite a few film festivals that take place right here in Arizona?

One of these festivals, the Arizona Student Film Festival, is right around the corner. I’ve never been to a film festival, but I’d like to make this my first. You’ve got to admire youth who can create works in one of the three featured categories—30 second public service announcement (on water conservation), microshort (1-5 minutes) and short (5-12 minutes). It would take me that long to figure out how to turn on the video camera.

The festival comes to Harkins Valley Art Theatre on Mill Ave. in Tempe Saturday, Jan. 16th. I adore this theater venue—as does my youngest daughter Lizabeth—because it leaves me feeling transported to any earlier time when movie theaters felt at once both more quaint and more spectacular. The movies they show, one at a time because there’s just a single screen, are always edgy and endearing. I expect nothing less from the young filmmakers whose works will be shown during the festival.

The 16th Annual Sedona International Film Festival takes place Feb. 21st-28th and features “independent film programming in all genres” as well as various series or tracks including family, classics and green/sustainable. While it’s too late to submit work for consideration for this year’s event, the call for submissions for the 2011 festival will open this May.

Submissions are also closed for the 2010 Phoenix Film Festival, the event’s 10th anniversary, taking place April 8th to 15th at Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theatre. The festival will feature “independent films from around the world, celebrities, filmmaking seminars, student filmmaking seminars and parties all week long.” (I wonder whether a clever filmmaker might film the weeklong parties for consideration at the 2011 festival.)

There’s still time to submit works—“in the categories of narrative and documentary features, documentary, dramatic, comedy, experimental and animation shorts”—for the 2010 Arizona International Film Festival’s THEREEL FRON TIER Film & Video Competition. The AIFF’s “19th edition” of showcasing films takes place April 15th to 25th. They’ve issued a special call for works by young filmmakers (18 and under) for their Indie Youth program. Submissions will be accepted through Feb. 12th “in the categories of dramatic, comedy, documentary, experimental and animation shorts.”

The deadline is also fast approaching for submissions to the Annual Short Film and Video Festival presented by the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts in Tempe. The festival “is open to all film and video makers worldwide” and reviews entries submitted by students of all ages. Projects should be “no longer than ten minutes in length” and must be submitted by Feb. 5th. The festival takes place in April.

The Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival takes place Feb. 20th to March 24th at the Harkins Scottsdale Camelview Theatre and the Harkins Chandler Crossroads Theatre. The festival “brings a terrific slate of new feature films to the Valley.” Organizers note that “you definitely don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy!”

Later this year, you can enjoy the 10th Annual Scottsdale International Film Festival, scheduled for Oct. 1st to 5th at the Harkins Camelview 5 Theatre (another venue that routinely shows movies you won’t find elsewhere but really ought not to miss).

If your New Year’s resolutions include trying new experiences, meeting new people or upping your C.Q. (culture quotient), film festivals may well be the way to go. Life’s too short to live on reruns and beer commercials.


Update: Get the scoop on another Arizona film festival in the comment section below. You’ll find further details at http://www.thea3f.net/

Note: Local, national and international creators of experimental and adventurous live theater are invited to submit work for consideration to the Phoenix Fringe Festival. Deadline is Tuesday, Jan. 5th. Festival is scheduled for April 2nd to 11th. Visit www.phxfringe.org for details.