Tag Archives: Mesa Encore Theatre

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


Showing too much leg?

Three generations of the Gardner family of Surprise attending the Saturday matinee performance of A Christmas Carol at Phoenix Theatre

My first foray into Christmas fare came rather early this year, when I headed down to Phoenix Theatre one afternoon in mid-September as they held children’s auditions for “A Christmas Story.” Kids filed in and out of the Little Theatre, where “A Christmas Story” director Pasha Yamotahari was heading up the open casting call for boys and girls to play characters from six to fourteen years old.

Children were asked to bring a resume plus headshot or photo, and to prepare a 30 second snippet of any Christmas song. Each was given what’s called a side, or portion of the script, to read during the audition – and had time to look it over before taking their turn. Eventually 11 boys and four girls were chosen for two children’s casts.

Director Pasha Yamotahari with young cast members from the Saturday matinee performance of A Christmas Carol at Phoenix Theatre

The cast of “A Christmas Story” at Phoenix Theatre also includes four adults – Harold Dixon (Narrator), Dion Johnson (Old Man), Emily Mulligan-Ferry (Miss Shields) and Debby Rosenthal (Mother). No double casting needed there since bedtimes and homework aren’t really an issue.

A Christmas Story has been extended through Dec. 24

Cast members young and old earned high praise from folks who attended the Saturday matinee on opening weekend. I overheard one gentleman telling his wife “the kids are terrific.” Not knowing that the “cheesy” factor is part of what makes this show so fun, she told him it felt a bit overacted. “The whole thing is overplayed,” he replied, “that’s why it’s so good.”

“A Christmas Story” follows the pre-Christmas adventures of a fictional Midwestern family as Ralphie, one of two young sons, dreams of finding a BB gun under the tree. But his chances aren’t good, because Ralphie’s mother is convinced he’d shoot his eye out with the darn thing. The mom has her hands full with Ralphie’s singular obsession, a younger child’s many eccentricities and her husband’s laser-like focus on winning every contest pitched via U.S. Mail.

Urban Outfitters sells these lovely items

One day the father receives “a very important award” in the mail. It’s a lone leg covered in black fishnet hose – complete with light bulb and lamp shade. He proudly displays the leg lamp so it’s visible from the street, and assumes the nightly catcalls from passersby are meant to congratulate his achievement. What he’s supposedly achieved is never made clear. It’s all part of the gag that keeps audience members in stitches.

Phoenix Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Story” seems a good choice for family holiday entertainment. Younger family members will enjoy watching other children on stage, and older family members will enjoy the show’s nostalgic nod to secret decoder pins, giant erector sets, jumbo tins of car wax and characters like the Lone Ranger. Several families, including three generations of the Gardners from Surprise, looked like they were having a great time at Saturday’s matinee.

Leg Lamp at the House of Broadcasting in Scottsdale

I hadn’t planned to see this – or any other Christmas shows this holiday season. There’s just too much happening in arts and culture outside of the holidays that I’m eager to experience. But I felt Saturday morning like seeing just this one show was somehow meant to be.

While buying something my daughter Jennifer had put on hold at Urban Outfitters, I stumbled onto Christmas fare bearing Ralphie’s mug and the lovely leg lamp. Later I spied an actual leg lamp at a Scottsdale museum dedicated to Arizona broadcasting. I headed home to snag one of the few remaining tickets for Saturday’s matinee – and I had a great time at the show.

Even if it does show a little too much leg.

— Lynn

Note: For a comprehensive list of holiday activities for families, consult the December calendar from Raising Arizona Kids Magazine. For news of a musical theater production of “A Christmas Story,” click here. To learn about the Cleveland house (now museum) used in the 1983 film “A Christmas Story,” click here. Click here for information on a special Dec. 13 performance (plus pre-show reception) benefiting Arizona Citizens for the Arts.

Coming up: Word power, Views beyond the Valley

Update: Mesa Encore Theatre is also performing “A Christmas Story” this season so now you can double the fun by seeing two productions. 11/28/11

Ode to ensembles

This Ballet Arizona photo of their 2009 production of The Nutcracker shows just how beautiful a work can be when it features a rich ensemble cast

Looking back on Lizabeth’s School of Ballet Arizona days, I recall that many of the young students she trained alongside of aspired to perform the role of “Clara” in “The Nutcracker.” For some, being cast in anything short of a lead part was tremendously disappointing. For a few, it felt like abject failure.

I was always amazed by the dance students who decided to turn down roles other than those they’d been hoping to perform. I was a “dance mom” at the School of Ballet Arizona for nearly a dedade, and spent many a holiday season volunteering with young dancers at Symphony Hall — so I speak from experience on this one.

Dancers who performed the roles like angel, toy soldier or Mother Ginger’s child had every bit as much fun backstage as those who performed the role of “Clara” or the “Prince.” They had lots of time with friends, the experience of waiting in the wings for their turn to dance and the thrill of performing for a packed house.

Lizabeth never expressed disappointment that she wasn’t cast as “Clara” — I think because I’ve long sent the message that every role counts. Parents who taught their children that “Clara” was the singular role to aspire to ended up with teary-eyed ballerinas who sometimes turned down other roles for which they were wonderfully suited.

The ensemble of Peter Pan at Musical Theatre of Anthem -- which is one of ten shows nominated this year for a best youth musical AriZoni Award

I’m not against setting high goals and expectations, but I’m not sure stage parents do justice to their children when they set them up for failure by insisting that only lead roles really matter. Or by spending lots of time trying to drive or second guess casting decisions.

I always taught Lizabeth that directors cast based on the best fit. I love lots of shoes at the mall, but I can’t wear them all. A shoe can be perfectly beautiful and special, but still not come home with me. If I need a high heel, a kitten heel simply won’t do — though frankly, I’m a bigger fan of flip flops and flats.

Not being chosen for a particular role does not mean you aren’t good enough. It does not mean that a director does not like you. It just means you’re not the best fit for the part — sometimes literally, when pre-existing costumes have to be factored into the decision making process.

I spoke recently with three young actors from Fountain Hills Community Theater, and asked their thoughts on the benefit of playing ensemble roles. Andrey Lull noted that there are some shows in which the ensemble is quite significant, singing or dancing for most of the production.

Picture “West Side Story” with only Tony and Maria, but no “Sharks” or “Jets.” Or productions of “South Pacific” and “Mamma Mia!” devoid of dancing and singing sailors. Even Joseph in his technicolor dreamcoat isn’t all that compelling without all those folks who back him up.

Tyler Maxson stars in the Mesa Encore Theatre production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat opening at MAC on Aug 5 (Photo by Sarah Rodgers)

Ryan Smith shared that being an ensemble member is a great way to get your bearing on stage, and to improve skills — like staying focused — that are essential for playing the lead. And Natalie Kilker said something I’ve heard Lizabeth say on other occasions. That ensemble members sometimes have the most fun because they have varied dance and musical numbers, and often get to portray more than one character in a single show.

Lizabeth and I are big believers in standing for all cast members if we feel a show has earned a standing ovation. Why would I wait for “Annie” before standing to applaud if the whole show was magic? It’s rare, I think, that a lead performer is singularly grand separate and apart from the other actors sharing the stage. Never mind that I could watch Andrew Rannells of “The Book of Mormon” sing “I Believe” over and over again on an otherwise empty stage and leave feeling perfectly satisfied.

Acting companies are teams. They’re families. Everyone in your family matters, and so does everyone who makes a show happen — including every single cast, creative and technical team member. To teach your child anything less is to set her up for disappointment — and to deprive her of the many joys ensemble work often brings.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for audition details for Ib Andersen’s “The Nutcracker” being performed by Ballet Arizona at Symphony Hall Dec. 9-24, 2011

Coming up: Celebrating the 50th annual Utah Shakespeare Festival

Ode to hairspray

Two theater companies present Hairspray on Valley stages this summer

Like most little girls, I spent lots of time imitating my mom. I’d try on her pumps and pearls — and sneak dabs of her blush or lipstick. Even wave a can of aerosol hairspray back and forth over my head until my hair looked like a helmet.

Hairspray movies were released in 1988 and 2007

I recall those moments, and growing up during the ’60s, each time I see the musical “Hairspray.” My mom never saw the show, but she would have loved it. It’s an anthem to teen girls who refuse to accept the status quo or let others determine their worth.

And it’s being performed this summer by two Valley theater groups — Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale and Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix. I love seeing the same work performed by different groups because it’s fun to compare their cast, set and costume choices.

No two productions are ever the same, and seeing multiple versions of a single show gives kids experience in making comparisons, plus analyzing similarities and differences — skills they’ll need for reading, writing, history, math, science and more.

The original cast recording features upbeat songs perfect for retro dance parties

The Desert Stages Theatre production, which runs through Aug 7, will be presented at their Scottsdale venue — which is near Scottsdale Fashion Square. The Valley Youth Theatre production runs Aug 12-28 at the Herberger Theater Center, near Arizona Center, in downtown Phoenix.

Because both are close to shopping and plenty of restaurants, you can take in a show and enjoy other attractions in the area. Still, there’s a downside. Neither is within easy walking distance of a place that’ll sell you hairspray.

For summer birthday parties or back-to-school get togethers, “Hairspray” makes a fun theme. Treat your child and some friends to one of the live productions of “Hairspray,” then get one or both “Hairspray” films for sleepover viewing.

Before there was Harry Potter, there was Hairspray

Find some pictures of Audrey Hepburn or other folks with big hair, and challenge party-goers to see how high their locks will go with a little teasing and hairspray. Then take photos of the results (promising never to post them online).

Encourage guests to dress in “Hairspray” era clothing and accessories. Think bobby socks, headbands and cardigan sweaters. Or take them to a thrift store to see who can find the most outrageous “Hairspray” look.

Let them dance to the “Hairspray” soundtrack or cast recording, eat foods that might have been served in 1962, or play board games from that era. Remind them that Tracy Turnblad never tweeted, and that Mrs. Von Tussle would have frowned (were her face not frozen) on using Facebook.

— Lynn

Note: Theater Works’ Youth Works performs “Hairspray” at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts Feb 3-19, 2012 and Mesa Encore Theatre performs “Hairspray” at Mesa Arts Center May 25-June 3, 2012.

Coming up: AriZoni nominations

Big MAC attack!

Sunday is your last chance to see Mesa Encore Theatre perform The Music Man, which beat out West Side Story to win the 1958 Tony Award for best musical

Knowing the 2011 Tony Awards are right around the corner, I decided to go in search of local productions of Tony Award-winning musicals. I started with shows coming to the Mesa Arts Center after getting an e-mail alert that tickets for their 2011-2012 Broadway series, which includes four shows, start at just $95.

Watch the Tony Awards on CBS this Sunday night to see who wins best musical for 2011

The series includes “Rock of Ages,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “The Rat Pack is Back” — plus “My Fair Lady,” winner of the 1957 Tony Award for best musical. The 1958 Tony Award for best musical went to “The Music Man,” which is being performed at MAC by Mesa Encore Theatre through June 12.

I’ll have to share other Tony Award winners coming to Valley stages in a later post, because I’m experiencing a bit of a”big MAC attack” at the moment. Turns out there’s a ton of good stuff happening at the Mesa Arts Center, so I’ve got MAC on the brain instead.

The Mesa Arts Center has offerings in four main areas — shows, classes, events and museum exhibits. Upcoming shows sound plenty intriguing. There’s “Retro,” “Live Love Dance!,” and even Steve Martin and his banjo buddies. Events to watch for include fall and spring “out to lunch” concert series, the Mesa Arts Festival and celebrations of Dia de los Muertos.

This girl should have signed up for music classes through Mesa Arts Center

Mesa Arts Center offers classes in visual and performing arts. Think blacksmithing for the grown-ups and ceramic “mud pups” for children. Also American tribal dance and belly dance classes. Plus “scenes for teens” acting classes and a “dance sampler” for kids who want to explore various dance options.

Exhibits opening today at MAC’s “Mesa Contemporary Arts” space — a collection of five galleries — include “Picturing Maricopa” and “Women’s Work.” Other current exhibits include “Chicanitas,” “Vermilion Remains,” and “Wood & Substance, Substance & Spirit.”

Another snappy dresser from the Mesa Encore Theatre production of The Music Man

That’s a lot of art for an admission fee of just $3.50. Kids age 7 & under are always free — and admission is free for all on Thursdays (the museum is closed on Mondays). I’m going to have to move this to the top of my “me time” to do list. My grown children would enjoy the works, but they’re already off and running in a million directions this summer. Bummer.

— Lynn

Note: The Theater League 2011-2012 Broadway series also performs at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix

Coming up: Art meets science — with a twist of creative genius

Photo credit: Sarah Rodgers and Wade Moran

Jennifer’s marching orders

THE MUSIC MAN marches onto a Mesa Arts Center stage on May 27

If you’ve ever parented a teen, you know that some days feel like an endless parade of marching orders. And you’re not the one giving them. You’re the one getting them.

So it was last week when Jennifer announced I needed to cover a certain musical theater production in one of my posts. Marching orders from Jennifer are nothing new, though typically they involve instructions for cooking or teen taxi runs.

Jennifer is about as interested in musical theater as I am in plane geometry. But she’d run into someone at ASU who got to telling her about auditions for an upcoming production of “The Music Man” — and she offered to pitch a post on the topic.

Clearly, Jennifer did a masterful job of trumpeting this tale of music meets con man — because you’re reading about it now. It wasn’t such a hard sell, really, since the work is a classic in the pantheon of American musical theater.

It even features that most quaint of characters in the digital age — a librarian who helps people find and read books the old-fashioned way. There’s a whole other post in there somewhere, but I’ll save that for another day.

“The Music Man” is being presented by Mesa Encore Theatre May 27-June 12 at the Mesa Arts Center, but folks who purchase their tickets between May 9 and May 18 can see the show for just $10 (Use the promo code “RIVERCITY” when ordering online or through the MAC box office).

Mesa Encore Theatre recently announced its 2011-2012 season — which features an eclectic mix of shows, including “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” one of my all-time favorites.

Other Mesa Encore Theatre offerings for 2011-2012 include “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” “Proof,” “A Christmas Story,” “TBA,” “Ragtime,” and “Hairspray.” I love this line-up, which feels like an overflowing buffet of all my favorite comfort foods with some spicy new dishes thrown into the mix.

Resident companies of Mesa Arts Center also include East Valley Children’s Theatre — which presents “The Adventures of Pinocchio” June 16-26. And Actor’s Youth Theatre brings “Les Miserables School Edition” to the MAC stage June 28-July 2.

Mesa is also home to Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre — which performs “Smoke on the Mountain” through May 14 and opens “Seussical” on May 18. “Seussical” is an energetic bundle of charm that features favorite Dr. Seuss characters playfully proferring pearls of wisdom for all ages.

Mesa Arts Center welcomes several touring Broadway productions each year. Upcoming Theater League shows coming to MAC include “The Wizard of Oz” (Dec 6 &7), “The Rat Pack is Back” (Jan 10 & 11, 2012), “My Fair Lady” (Jan 31 & Feb 1, 2012) and “Rock of Ages” (April 10 & 11, 2012).

Jennifer will be thrilled that I’ve shared news of “The Music Man” and other Mesa happenings, mostly because I’m now free to fix her a bowl of pasta — just the way she likes it. Though Jennifer moved from teen to young adult with her birthday in April, she still likes giving marching orders in the kitchen. And I’m still happy to take them.

— Lynn

Coming up: “Stage Mom” picks for the 2011/2012 season, Spotlight on Desert Stages, Celebrating “International Museum Day”

“Hairspray” is big fun

Shawna Quain, Chase Todd, Lillian Castillo, Antyon Le Monte and D. Scott Withers (center) of Phoenix Theatre's "Hairspray" Photo: Laura Durant

Big hair. Big props. Big set pieces. Big band. Big vocals. Big dance numbers. Big talent. Big message. Big fun.

You’ll find it all in Phoenix Theatre’s production of “Hairspray,” which runs through Dec 12.

I’m often drawn to particular shows for sentimental reasons. They remind me of an early childhood experience, relate somehow to a cause I support or feature folks we know as teachers or friends.

This time around it was three actors in particular.  

D. Scott Withers, who’s been with Childsplay in Tempe just a wee bit longer than I’ve been a mom, perfectly plays Edna Turnblad’s transformation from mousy to magnificent. (Though, sadly, his ironing skills appear to be lacking.)

Toby Yatso, a Phoenix Theatre artist-in-residence and member of the theater faculty at Arizona School for the Arts who plays Corny Collins, offers a performance that blends pristine attention to detail with a big, bold bundle of energy. (An observation shared with me by an astute ASA student who also attended on Saturday.) 

And Dion Johnson, who we first met a decade or so ago when Lizabeth was one of many daughters to his King in the Greasepaint Youtheatre production of “The King and I,” makes for a hilarious hat-donning and hip-thrusting Wilbur Turnblad. (With him, Edna doesn’t hear the bells — she feels them.)

I also give big marks to Antyon Le Monte, who makes his Phoenix Theatre debut as Seaweed, and Chase Todd, whose performance as Link Larkin makes you wonder whether the stork delivered him in a skinny tie and dancing shoes.

My daughter Lizabeth was thrilled to see Yolanda London make her Phoenix Theatre debut in “Hairspray” (Kamilah, Hooker, Female Ensemble). She’s another longtime favorite from Childsplay, where Lizabeth has enjoyed London’s big talent and big heart as an instructor in their Childsplay Academy.

She’s one of many women whose performances made us smile ourselves silly and tap our toes like there’s no tomorrow.

Jacqueline Rushing (Little Inez) was last seen in Mesa Encore Theatre’s “Once on This Island” and I became a fan the second I read these words in her “Hairspray” bio — “In her spare time she enjoys writing stories and inhaling books.”

Andi Watson, who plays the delightfully devious Velma Von Tussle, was last seen as Poppy in Phoenix Theatre’s “Noises Off.” Her off-stage adventures include “photography and maternity casting.” She’s also co-founder of Living Arts Studio.

Daughter Amber Von Tussle is capably played by Jacqueline Dunford, a music major at Scottsdale Community College making her professional theater debut.

Shawna Weitekamp (Penny Pingleton) is a Phoenix Theatre repeat offender (it’s a good thing) whose bio advocates the benefits of eating healthy chocolate. Perhaps she can get the folks in San Francisco to replace all those banned Happy Meal toys with candy bars.

Lillian Castillo plays trailblazing teen Tracy Turnblad in Phoenix Theatre's "Hairspray" Photo: Laura Durant

Audience favorites included Lillian Castillo as the spunky and single-minded Tracy Turnblad, whose insistence on racial integration on the dance floor shows that one person (often a teen) truly can change the world.

Also De Angelus Grisby (Motormouth Maybelle), whose bio includes this note to sons Roman and Elijah — “Thank you for allowing your mother to dream out loud on the stage.” Her vocal performance of “I Know Where I’ve Been” left the woman sitting next to me dabbing tears away with a tissue while other audience members stood to applaud.

They didn’t wait until the show was over, which tells you just how moved they were by her soul — and the collective strength of the ensemble singing behind her. It was the finest vocal performance I’ve ever experienced in Valley theater.

The creative team is no less impressive. It includes director Michael Barnard, choreographer Robert Kolby Harper, and resident music director Alan Ruch. Michael J. Eddy, also well loved in youth theater circles, is production manager and lighting designer.

Phoenix native Katie McNamara, a graduate of Southern Utah University and one-time prop artisan with the Utah Shakespearean Festival (now the Utah Shakespeare Festival), does property design with pizzazz. The equally impressive scenic design is by Robert Andrew Kovach.

Wig designer Gerard Kelly did “Hair” on Broadway, but my one criticism of the show is that not all the coiffed cast members turned it loose during their final dance numbers — looking like they feared their hair might end up flying across the room. So ladies, let your hair down.

A few things of note in this particular musical…

References to bygone days and ways are plentiful. The more you know about Geritol, Perry Como, Ripple, Cooties, Mydol and Green Stamps — the more lines you’ll meet with laughter.

The sexual inuendo is relatively tame but there’s enough of it to satisfy those who go for such things. And “Hairspray” is a dream for one-liner lovers with quips like “I lost my man and my hair deflated in one day.”

Lillian Castillo and D. Scott Withers of Phoenix Theatre's "Hairspray" Photo: Laura Durant

Whether you go just for the fun of it or for the fabulous social justice vibe of this “Welcome to the ’60s” musical, you’ll find plenty of what you’re looking for.

I think it’s an especially powerful show for teens in an age of face-to-face and online bullying.

The message is simple, but timeless.

Big is beautiful. Black is beautiful. Being yourself is beautiful.

Above all, follow your dreams. Remain loyal. And keep moving forward.

— Lynn

Note: The musical “Hairspray” features book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman. Click here for Phoenix Theatre ticket information. Read yesterday’s post titled “Saturdays & serendipity” to learn more about Lynn’s “Stage Mom” adventures before and after the show.

Coming up: Art in the animal world, Pearls from “Playing for Change,” Art adventures: City of Surprise, Museum exhibit that asks “Are we that different?”