Tag Archives: Midsummer Night’s Dream

Shakespeare in summertime

Barbara Jo Bednarczuk as Featured Performer in The Greenshow at the 2011 Utah Shakespeare Festival. (Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Karl Hugh.)

When Lizabeth and I attended last year’s Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, we pretty much played it by ear. We hit every show and plenty of other activities like the Greenshow, but didn’t give a lot of time to planning what to do when.

We’re heading to Cedar City for several days this week to take in the 50th annual Utah Shakespeare Festival, but this time I’m taking a different tack — researching their many Shakespeare-related offerings before we go. I don’t want to miss a thing.

Literary seminars. Play orientations. Backstage tours. Production seminars. Cabaret performances with festival artists. Plus six productions — three Shakespeare works and three by other playwrights.

Elijah Alexander (top) as Oberon and Kymberly Mellen as Tatiana in the Utah Shakespeare Festival 2011 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. (Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Karl Hugh.)

Happily, our trip coincides with two of their many 50th season special events — “Governor’s Night at the Festival” on Aug 12 and “Bard’s Beach Bash” on Aug 13.

Pity we’ll have to fly home before the Aug 19 “Bardway Baby” show featuring festival actors performing hits from Broadway shows in a concert setting. (I wonder whether “Romeo” and “Juliet” will grace the stage with a “Maria” and “Tony” duet.)

I’m especially eager to enjoy two exhibits on the campus of Southern Utah University. One features costumes, costume renderings and other artwork related to the festival’s costume artists and technicians. Another showcases the festival’s history as documented by its company photographers.

A scene from the Utah Shakespeare Festival 2011 production of Romeo and Juliet. (Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Karl Hugh.)

An exhibit at Cedar City Library in the Park looks at festival posters and souvenir programs through the years. An exhibit in the auditorium theatre lobby celebrates costumes, props and scenery. Additional exhibits are open at area venues, making this an especially fun year to take in the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Folks who attend the festival this month can enjoy visual arts at the Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery, something on my “must see” list this year. Scholars from across the country will be in Cedar City Aug 10-12 for a cross-disciplinary conference called “The Wooden O Symposium,” where they study Shakespeare through the text and performance of his plays.

If you head to the Utah Shakespeare Festival on Aug 28 & 29, you can also enjoy the “Cedar City Fall Arts Festival.” Come October 8-10, students and teachers from Utah and beyond will gather for the Utah Shakespeare Festival/Southern Utah University Shakespeare Competition, something Lizabeth enjoyed while studying with Maren Mascarelli at Arizona School for the Arts.

Someday I’ll figure out a way to stay long enough to enjoy additional Utah attractions like Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Dixie National Forest.

— Lynn

Coming up: Photos, reviews and fun finds from the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 50th season


Art meets gala

It’s time to haul out those fancy pants — because a wonderful variety of Arizona arts organizations are readying for upcoming galas. Here’s a sneak peek at just a few of these special events…

Southwest Shakespeare Company is one of many arts organizations that'll present festive fundraisers during 2011

Theater Works of Peoria presents a “2011 Night at the Oscars Gala Weekend” Jan 14-15 at the Peoria Center for the Arts. Their “Youth Gala” — which features “a theatrical show, buffet-style dinner, karaoke, upbeat dance music and auctions” — takes place Fri, Jan 14. Their “Adult Gala” — featuring “Main Stage entertainment, silent and live auctions, gourmet dining and dancing” — takes place Sat, Jan 15.

Mesa Arts Center presents “An Evening of Musical Magic” Sat, Jan 29 — presented by the Mesa Arts Center Foundation. The event features a reception with hearty appetizers/beverages and a concert featuring local talents, plus a live auction and raffle.

Phoenix Theatre presents a “90th Anniversary Gala” Sat, Feb 5, at Phoenix Theatre. The event features cocktails, dinner, live music and “outstanding professional theatrical entertainment.”

Phoenix Art Museum presents “Carnivale!” Fri, Feb 11 — hosted by the “Museum’s Friends of European Art.” The event features “festive food with live music by Snake Eyes and a silent auction,” with all proceeds from the evening being used to “fund a new acquisition for the European Collection.” Cocktail attire is on you, but masks will be provided.

Watch your local museums for fun events that help raise needed support

Arizona Science Center presents “Galaxy 2011: Infinite Possibilities” Fri, Feb 11, at the Arizona Science Center. The event features cocktails, dinner, entertainment and more.

Southwest Shakespeare Company of Mesa presents “A Midwinter Night’s Dream Gala” Sat, Feb 19, at the Mesa Country Club. The event features dinner, silent and live auctions, live entertainment and a vintage photobooth. Tickets are available at a reduced price through Dec 31.

Arizona Opera presents “Opera Ball 2011 – The Devil Wears Opera” Sat, Feb 19, at The Ritz-Carlton in Phoenix. The event features cocktails, hor d’oeuvres and a four-course dinner — plus a silent auction and “surprise appearances by artists from the world of Opera and Broadway.”

Arts and cultural organizations like the Children's Museum of Phoenix present gala events with unique creativity and flair

The Children’s Museum of Phoenix presents “Night at the Museum: The Markets of Marrakesh” Sat, Feb 19, at the museum. The event — which is being presented by the “Friends of the Children’s Museum of Phoenix” — features “a fantastic bazaar of eclectic entertainment, fabulous food, live music & dancing, [and] raffle items.”

Stay tuned for news of fundraisers taking place during March 2011 and beyond — including special events for Ballet Arizona, Childsplay and many more.

And snag those babysitters before they get a better offer.

— Lynn

Note: As always, I invite you to drop me a line at rakstagemom@gmail.com if your arts and culture organization is presenting an event, exhibit or performance that you’d like to share with our readers.

Coming up: “Respect: A Musical Journey of Women” takes the stage at the Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix (through Feb 12, 2011).

Art in the checkout line?

Brown paper bags coupled with markers and scissors make fun craft projects, but I have something else in mind for the man who last bagged my groceries...

Sometimes it’s hard to snag a single bagger at the grocery store, but somehow I managed to score two on my last trip. I enjoyed watching their playful “my hometown’s better than yours” banter — and was tempted to side with the gentleman from Chicago given the city’s wealth of art museums.

But then his talk turned to Arizona, and he began to rail against the city of Phoenix for its supposed lack of arts and culture. He’s lucky the eggs were already bagged. I’d just seen “Romeo and Juliet” performed at the newly renovated Hergerger Theater Center downtown, while folks across the way at Symphony Hall enjoyed Ballet Arizona’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

I went into serious myth-busting mode, which I’m going to do a little more of in today’s post. Since running my post on this week’s hidden art treasures, I’ve heard from oodles of folks with more art adventures to share — which I’m happy to pass along for your weekend planning pleasure.

Don’t even think about popping off about how you’ve nothing to do in the Valley if you don’t get out there to enjoy at least one of these art offerings. Arts and culture is grand and growing in plenty of Arizona communities, but you won’t know if you don’t go…

First, for military veterans, active duty service men and women, and their immediate families — the Phoenix Art Museum offers complimentary admission on Veterans Day (Thurs, Nov 11). At 3pm the museum presents a special Veterans Day lecture that explores “the way artists have helped shape the country’s ideas of war.”

For educators, there’s the 19th annual “Party for Educators’ Appreciation” event at Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe, playfully dubbed the P.E.A.C.H. If the name makes you hungry, just head next door to the Wildflower Bread Company — which has one of the Valley’s tastiest breakfast menus at affortable prices.  Or hit the produce section.

If pie is more your style, skip the grocery store altogether and get to know some of the folks who elevate pie-making to a fine art. I hope to find them gathered at this weekend’s “Pie Social” presented by Chow Bella and Roosevelt Row.

The “Pie Social” sounds like a lot more fun than a midnight dash to the fridge for a mug of ice cream to gobble in guilt and solitude in front of the television or laptop. And it’s for a good cause — the afterschool programs of Roosevelt Row and Phoenix Elementary.

You can pie with pride on Sat, Nov 13, from 2-6pm at Fifth St. and Roosevelt in downtown Phoenix — where folks will gather for community pie tasting, celebrity pie tasting, pie crafts, silent auctions and more.

If you’ve been looking for a reason to treat your kids to a trip on the light rail, consider making a day of it by partnering pie with a trip to other downtown art adventures. You’re unlikely to find a better weekend weather-wise, and it’s a great way to enjoy together time before the holiday rush swoops in.

It just so happens that the 5th annual P.A.P.A. event (Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts) occurs that same day at 5pm — starting at 5th St. and Roosevelt. It’s described by organizers as “the world’s only parading art fair” and includes all those must-haves like magicians, balloon twisters, silly hats, lively music, and fun contests with prizes

If your greatest adventures consist of solo trips to the grocery store, you might be ready for your first experience with the “Pandora Showcase” coming to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts this weekend and next.

It’s perfect for those eager to reconnect with the inner woman underneath all those layers of mommyhood. You can enjoy evening shows on Fri, Nov 12, and Sat, Nov 13 — or a Sunday matinee performance.

It’s being presented by the Arizona Women’s Theatre Company, which produces “theatrical works by and with women for our community,” including recent plays not previously produced in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

I may have to postpone my pandora for a bit to experience that odd ’50s coupling of prejudice and polka dots as only Phoenix Theatre can present it. I hope to attend their production of “Hairspray,” which opens Fri, Nov 12.

Lizabeth enjoyed a sneak preview with the folks from QSpeak Theatre and came home with a fabulous review — something along the lines of “My cheeks hurt from smiling so much.”

It seems the show presents a bit of a challenge, however, if you’re troubled by feeling the uncontrollable urge to dance along. Personally, I think you should just go for it.

In reality, I’ll likely spend the weekend in teen taxi mode. It’s a busy weekend for the Southwest Shakespeare Company, and Lizabeth will be joining her fellow “Wenches and Knaves” for some fun happenings — which include a festive food and wine tasting Fri., Nov 12, that benefits the company’s education programs (SSC’s intern company will perform “Romeo and Juliet”).

Pie. Pandora. Peaches for teachers. Oodles of theater options for kids and adults — and plenty more. The next grocery store bagger I catch promulgating the myth that Phoenix lacks a vibrant art scene gets the paper variety right over his big head.

— Lynn

Note: No grocery checkers or baggers were harmed in the making of this post. I should also note that the checkers in question do not work at Trader Joe’s. During our last trip to Trader Joe’s, in fact, their fine folks went above and beyond to help us find raw pumpkin seeds for roasting and even pointed out that they were made in the U.S.A.

Coming up: Strolling through Old Town Scottsdale, Mommy musings on mega-movies, Art adventures: Heard Museum North, Holiday theater happenings

Science & Shakespeare?

Next time you have a free Friday evening and want to do a little out-of-the-ordinary Internet browsing, consider searching for information about race-related issues in Shakespearean literature. It’s a fascinating topic.

Still, there’s a more enjoyable way to learn about race as it’s been understood, and misunderstood, throughout history.

You'll see this photo, and hear audio of people offering diverse definitions of race, as you enter the Arizona Science Center's RACE exhibit

It’s the RACE exhibit at the Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix — and tonight (Fri, Nov 5) you can enjoy it with fellow grown-ups, and an expert who’ll share insights on race and medicine.

I took one of my favorite grown-ups along with me to see the exhibit just a few days ago — my 21-year-old son, Christopher, who has been exploring the Arizona Science Center with family, friends and classmates since he was barely tall enough to push the elevator buttons.

We’re preparing a slide show of our visit — during which we enjoyed learning about everything from how people define and experience race to how issues of race impact education and other aspects of society.

One of many exhibit features that invites museum-goers to ponder their own perspectives on race

An interactive exhibit on the science of skin color. A timeline of race-related ideas and actions. A giant world map on the tile floor. A playspace for children to enjoy puppets of many different skin colors. Photos of several people with  hand-written thoughts about their own racial identity. Several conversation areas and plenty to talk about. We found all this — and so much more.

Race is but one of many supposed differences that set the various characters of Shakepeare’s works against one another. For “Romeo and Juliet,” it’s a longtime family feud with tragic ends. But each telling of the story is distinct.

Arizona Theatre Company presents a limited engagement of "Romeo & Juliet" this weekend in Phoenix

This weekend you can enjoy “Romeo and Juliet” presented by Arizona Theatre Company at the Herberger Theater Center. It’s a joint production of The Acting Company and Guthrie Theater, “two of America’s premiere classical theatre companies.”

Phoenix show dates are Nov 4-7 and it’ll have a later run in Tucson. Sat, Nov 6, you’ll have two opportunities to learn more about Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

Jared Sakren, artistic director for Southwest Shakespeare Company, will present a free pre-show lecture at 1pm on Sat, Nov 6, at the Herberger in downtown Phoenix. (Please note that this information reflects an update to the original post.)

That same afternoon, from 3-5pm, the University of Arizona in Tucson presents “Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: A Presentation by UA Professor of English Dr. Peter E. Medine.” Registration is required, and the cost to attend is $20.

Natalia Magnicabelli in Ballet Arizona's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (Photo: Rosalie O'Connor)

You can make a whole “Science and Shakespeare” weekend of it if you also head to Symphony Hall for “A Midummer Night’s Dream” performed by Ballet Arizona with The Phoenix Symphony and the ASU Women’s Choir.

Your children may especially enjoy this ballet production both because of the subject matter and because several School of Ballet Arizona students perform with the company for this work.

The production, choreographed by Ib Andersen with music by Felix Mendelssohn, takes place Fri-Sun, Nov 5-7. Tickets for the work, in which a mischief-maker and a magical spell cause fairy and human kingdoms to intertwine, start at just $17.

Knowing there are so many truly magical events taking place this weekend, including others mentioned in previous posts and/or on the Raising Arizona Kids website, makes me think the science I’m most in need of just now is cloning.

Is there an app for that?

— Lynn 

"Twelfth Night" by Southwest Shakespeare Company opens Nov 27 at Mesa Arts Center

Note: Support Arizona’s own Southwest Shakespeare Company with a wine- and food-tasting event in downtown Mesa from 6-10pm on Fri, Nov 12. Enjoy treats and sweets, fire dancing, entertainment by SSC interns and “wenches and knaves” and more. Tickets $25 in advance ($30 at the door) — which also includes non-alcoholic refreshments. Click here to learn more about “A Taste of Shakespeare.”

Coming up: The beginning of the end for Harry Potter, Getting to know the Grinch, Valley playwrights of the youth and grown-up variety

Cool choices in children’s theater

For many children, the most appealing shows are those that feature other young people.

It just so happens that there are oodles of shows being performed by and/or for children and teens this month—so take advantage of these offerings to spark your child’s interest in live performance art.

Whether our children grow up to become performers, arts administrators, arts advocates, art supporters or enthusiastic audience members, their lives may well be richer for experiencing live theater with all its vivid storytelling and stagecraft.

Broadway Palm West Desert Theatre presents “Charlotte’s Web” through July 2 at Broadway Palm West Desert Theatre in Mesa. www.broadwaypalmwest.com.

Childsplay presents “The Big Friendly Giant” through May 23 at Tempe Center for the Arts. www.childsplayaz.org.

Creative Stages Youth Theatre presents “Robin Hood” through May 22 at Ira Murphy School in Peoria. www.csyt.org.

Fountain Hills Community Theater presents “Midsummer Dreamin” May 14 to 30 at Fountain Hills Community Theater. www.fhct.org.

Greasepaint Youtheatre presents “The Sound of Plaid: Forever Plaid School Version” May 14 to 30 at Stagebrush Theatre in Scottsdale. www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Great Arizona Puppet Theater presents “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” through June 6 at Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix. www.azpuppets.org.

 Hale Centre Theatre presents “Princess and the Pea” through June 26 in Gilbert. ww.haletheatrearizona.com.

Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre presents “Aladdin, Jr.” May 21-June 20 at Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre. www.desertstages.com.

Theater Works presents “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” through May 23 at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts. www.theaterworks.org.

Valley Youth Theatre presents “Willy Wonka” through May 23 at Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix. www.vyt.com.

You can “Double your Dahl” by seeing both Childsplay’s “The Big Friendly Giant” and Valley Youth Theatre’s “Willy Wonka.”

Reading the books before and/or after will add to your child’s understanding of these works, and make for fun conversations about similarities and differences in the stories themselves and the way each theater company chooses to tell them.

Or “Double your Disney” by coupling Desert Stages’ “Aladdin, Jr.” with Theater Works’ “Beauty and the Beast.”

It’s great fun to watch the film versions, but experiencing these shows live may deepen your child’s appreciation for these characters and the challenges they have to overcome.

Remember too that live theater performances make for enchanting play dates and unique birthday outings.

When Lizabeth was younger, we often took a friend along for shows like “Annie” at ASU Gammage or VYT’s “Cinderella” at Herberger Theater Center (t-shirts from the show made affordable and no-fuss souvenirs/party favors).

As long as you’re online checking out these shows, take some extra time to see what else these theater companies offer for youth.

Some, including Childsplay, offer performances for school groups (at the theater or at the school).

Many, including Greasepaint Youtheatre and Valley Youth Theatre, have performing arts summer camps that foster everything from self-confidence and creativity to imagination and teamwork.

Others may be holding auditions for children or teens who might like to make the move from audience member to actor.

All offer time away from the TV, computer, cell phone and refrigerator. Couple a trip to the theater with an après-show visit to your neighborhood park and you’ll engage your child’s body, intellect and emotions for the better.

When you see something you love, please share a comment below and let our readers know—thanks!


Note: You can always find information about “on stage” and other activities with the Raising Arizona Kids magazine online calendar. Check it daily for listings of all sorts of family-friendly activities!

Coming up: Dance delights from professional dance companies, local schools of dance and youth dance companies.