Tag Archives: Nutcracker

Romeo, Romeo…

A scene from "Romeo and Juliet" performed in 2011 at the Utah Shakespeare Festival (Photo: Karl Hugh). View their current season at http://www.bard.org.

A pair of “Romeo and Juliet” productions come to Valley stages during the 2012/13 season, so those of you who’ve enjoyed one or more of this season’s theater productions featuring star-crossed lovers ala Shakespeare can now experience its grandeur as a work of opera or ballet.

Ballet Arizona presents “Romeo and Juliet” featuring music by Sergei Prokofiev and choreography by artistic director Ib Andersen Feb. 14-17, 2013. Those of you who insist it’s far too early to think of such things should recall just how recently we seemed to be celebrating New Year’s Eve. Time moves quickly, especially in matters of the heart.

Arizona Opera presents “Roméo et Juliette,” written by Charles Gounod, Nov. 16-18. The Arizona Opera production, sung in French with English subtitles, features lyric soprano Jennifer Black of the Metropolitan Opera performing the aria “Je veux vivre.” Talk about a moment.

Love fares no better in most works of opera, which is part of their appeal for those dashed in everyday life by similar dreams and disappointments. Arizona Opera opens its 2012/13 season with another tale of tragic romance set against feuding family — performing Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” Oct. 12-14. Think Scottish moor instead of Italian piazza.

Ballet Arizona opens its 2012/13 season with “Giselle,” composed by Adolphe Adam and choreographed by Ib Andersen, Nov. 1-4. It’s one of four works being performed with The Phoenix Symphony at Symphony Hall. Others include “The Nutcracker” (music by Prokofiev, choreography by Andersen) Dec. 7-24 and “All Balanchine” May 2-5, 2013 (featuring “Serenade,” “Monumentum pro Gesualdo”/”Movements for Piano and Orchestra” and “Western Symphony”).

Ballet Arizona’s 2012/13 season also includes “Director’s Choice” — being performed March 28-31, 2013 at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix — which features “Le Carnival des Animaux” by Alexai Ratmansky (an Arizona premiere), “Diversions” by Ib Andersen and “Untitled” by Alejandro Cerrudo (a world premiere).

Arizona Opera’s 2012/13 season features Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca,” in which passionate diva meets political dissident, being performed in Italian with English subtitles Jan. 25-27. Also Giuseppe Verdi’s “Il Tavatore” (Italian with English subtitles) March 1-3. And Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figero” (Italian with English subtitles) April 5-7.

No worries, by the way, if your Italian feels a bit rusty. If the rest of America can keep up with the Kardashians, you can keep up with a romance language or two. A quick click here will direct you to Arizona Opera offerings from composer bios and opera synopses to tips for first-time opera-goers — plus special programs for youth and adults.

Click here and you can explore education and outreach offerings from Ballet Arizona. Both companies, by the way, are readying for moves to new homes that’ll give them more space for both the artistic and administration elements of their work.

They’re also performing pieces to round out the 2011/12 season — including “Director’s Choice” (March 29-April 1) at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix plus “Topia” (May 2-26) at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix for Ballet Arizona — and “Aida” (March 9-11) and “Orfeo ed Euridice” (April 13-15) for Arizona Opera.

— Lynn

Note: Additional information about performance locations (including Tucson venues/dates) are available at each company’s website. Click here to learn about tonight’s special “season reveal” event at Theater Works in Peoria, and here to explore 12 works featured in the 2012/13 “Live in HD” season from the Metropolitan Opera.

Coming up: Doing time


What a doll!

Tucked away inside of Heritage Square in Phoenix, just steps from the entrance to the better known Arizona Science Center, is a museum packed with vintage dolls and toys. Think Betty Boop, Raggedy Ann and plenty more. Big dolls and small dolls. Boy dolls and girl dolls. Dolls in dollhouses, dolls in baby carriages — even dolls in a classroom complete with blackboard and dunce chair.

A couple of moms were walking through with their children, from preschool through early middle school age, when I arrived. Both moms and children were excitedly pointing things out to one another. The giant dollhouse with panels to each side that swing open into additional rooms. The intricate lace dresses with accessories like parasols, hats and gloves. And unexpected items like toy train sets.

Once I’d finished touring the museum, I had nearly as much fun poking around the gift shop — where I spotted items for folks of all ages. I spied several gifts I wish I’d known about when my daughters were dancing in “The Nutracker,” including a trinket box that looks a lot like Mother Ginger and a minature grandfather clock with adorable mouse. Also lots of things perfect for grandmothers, small artists and others.

My favorite finds included “Cinderella” and other miniature books, several sets of nesting dolls, a couple of Star Wars items, coloring books free of pop culture influence, finger puppets and lots of accessories with vintage images of dolls, children, pets and more. I came home with several items for my college-age daughters, and a little something for my mother-in-law too.

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Originally the museum was “The Stevens House,” built in 1901. But today each room houses dolls along shelves, inside display cases and in other settings. My favorites sit near a fireplace and small wooden rocking horse, which looks like a smaller verion of the one my mother built from scratch for my son Christopher. Also the school room, where a tall display case houses “Gepetto’s Workshop” and blackboard drawings include a music scale.

The home’s hallway is filled with photos in what look like antique frames. Inside one frame there’s a charming list titled “Rules of Teachers 1872.” Rule #3 notes that “Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.” Rule #6 states that “Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.”

Apparently teachers were permitted to read the Bible or “other good books” after putting in a ten hour work day, and those who performed “without fault for five years” received an extra 25 cents pay per week. Job duties included whittling writing instruments, cleaning chimneys and bringing two items to school each day — a bucket of water and a scuttel of coal.

The Arizona Doll and Toy Museum is also close to the Rosson House Museum and the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, so you can enjoy several museums during a single outing. If you go before the holidays, take time to explore the museum gift shops for last-minute goodies (all my purchases at the Arizona Doll and Toy Museum were tax free). You’ll be finishing off your list while supporting the ongoing gift of arts and culture to all our families.

— Lynn

Note: Always check museum hours, location/parking details and admission costs before heading out. I paid just $3 for admission to the Arizona Doll and Toy Museum.

Coming up: What’s your sign?

Photos: Lynn Trimble

A pair of pandoras

David Archuleta performs in a holiday show coming to Grand Canyon University Arena

When my daughter Lizabeth studied ballet as a child, I spent far too much time worrying that something outside the dance studio might cause some sort of injury.

High heels and ice skating were taboo in the months preceding “The Nutcracker” (she danced several children’s roles in the Ballet Arizona production). Too much potential for spraining an ankle, I thought.

Though Lizabeth rarely took to the rink, a schoolmate named Maddie invited her every year, for several years, to see ice skaters perform in elaborate arena shows. Lizabeth loved watching the ice skaters, having a holiday tradition to look forward to and spending time with Maddie.

I thought of Lizabeth and Maddie when I learned that the “Pandora Unforgettable Holiday Moments on Ice” show, part of the “Pandora NBC Skating Series,” is coming to the new Grand Canyon University Arena in Phoenix on Sat, Nov 12. It’ll be taped for national broadcast by NBC on Sun, Nov 27 at 4pm EST.

Kristi Yamaguchi inspires ice skating dreams

The event features Olympic champion Brian Boitano skating to a live holiday music performance split between American Idol alum David Archuleta and Mannheim Steamroller, a group well loved by Lizabeth’s grandparents. Olympic ice skaters Ekaterina Gordeeva, Kimmie Meisner and Michael Weiss are also skating in the show. It’s being hosted by Kristi Yamaguchi, inspiration for many a little girl’s ice skating dreams.

Recently I spoke with Archuleta, who shared that his mother “drug him out on the dance floor” just a few days before. Archuleta grew up in a house full of music and dance — with mom dancing salsa and dad playing jazz.

He’s known to many for achieving top two status on “American Idol” during the show’s seventh season, where he broke young hearts and captured several older ones by singing John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

So how did Archuleta’s own musical journey begin? “It was musicals that got me into music,” he recalls. Archuleta recalls singing along at home with a recording of the 10th anniversary performance of “Les Miserables.” After his mom printed out some sheet music from the show, says Archuleta, he learned his very first song. It was “Castle on a Cloud.”

Archuleta will be performing holiday music during the “Pandora Unforgettable Holiday Moments on Ice” show. He recalls his own early attempts at ice skating at an outdoor rink in Utah, where he grew up. It’s tough to find those outdoor rinks in Florida, where Archuleta was born.

“The first time I was afraid I might fall and slip,” recalls Archuleta. But on a recent ice skating adventure just a few months ago in California, he managed to stay on his feet the whole time — probably because he spent a fair amount of time roller blading in his teens.

Archuleta says he’s excited about performing with so many national and Olympic skating champions because his family always watched the Olympics on television when he was growing up. Ice skating was one of their favorite Olympic events to enjoy together. “The Olympics,” reflects Archuleta, “brings everyone together.”

I don’t expect much ice skating from the Arizona Women’s Theatre Company, which presents its second annual “Pandora Showcase” at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts Nov 11, 12, 18 and 19. Their thing is presenting original works by women playwrights. It’s a whole other type of balancing act.

The “Pandora Showcase” features fully-staged favorites from previous “Pandora Festival” offerings. Fans of new theater works will also want to mark their calendars for the 2012 festival, taking place May 18-21 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

My daughter, by the way, no longer takes classical ballet classes five or more days a week. She’s off in New York City, doing her B.F.A. in acting — where ankles still matter, but not so much that she can’t enjoy a bit of rink time down at Rockefeller Plaza.

— Lynn

Note: Visit the GCU Arena at www.gcuarena.com and the Arizona Women’s Theatre Company at www.azwtc.org. Visit www.davidarchuleta.com for details on Archuleta’s “Pandora” performance and his “Constitution Week” concert in Gilbert this weekend.

Coming up: The fine art of bugs?, A trio of tenors, Honk if you love Hans!

Tea times three!

It’s been a while since I did the tea party thing with my children, who now range in age from 18 to 22. But recently I’ve learned of three tea parties that almost leave me wishing I could turn them very tiny again.

The Ballet Academy of Arizona is holding their “Fairy Godmother’s Tea Party” Sun, Sept 25 from 3-5pm in the Camelback Ballroom at the Phoenician Resort & Spa in Scottsdale. It features a high tea (with menus for children and adults), singing, dancing and a silent auction.

Also an appearance by the fairy godmother and a performance by “Jolly Roger” the magician, who’s entertained at several parties my own children once attended.

Ballet Etudes holds their Nutcracker Sweet Tea in November

Yet another charming tea takes place this fall as Ballet Etudes presents its “Nutcracker Sweet Tea” both Sat, Nov 12 (at 10am and 11:30am) at the Wright House Reception Hall in Mesa and Sat, Nov 19 (at 11am) at the Johnson Ranch Golf Course in Queen Creek.

The “Nutcracker Sweet Tea” invites those who attend to explore the “Land of Sweets,” enjoy a light luncheon buffet, decorate their own cookies and listen in on storytime. They’ll also experience a Ballet Etudes performance.

Scottsdale Ballet Foundation presents their “Nutcracker Sweets Tea” Sun, Dec 4 from 11:30am-2pm at the Phoenix Country Club ballroom.

Another delightful dance event takes place Sun, Sept 18 at 1pm. Storybook Ballet, the student ballet company of Dance Theater West in Phoenix, and children from the Professional Artist Series program at Free Arts of Arizona present “Wonderland” at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Free Arts of Arizona is dedicated to healing abused and homeless children through artistic expression, and Dance Theater West is one of many community partners who join them on the journey. RSVPs for this free event are requested by Wed, Sept 14 (602-258-8100 or info@freeartsaz.org).

Like many parents, I spend far too much time chasing espresso when I should be sipping tea instead. How lovely that Valley arts organizations give us opportunities to slow down and really linger over time with our little ones, who don’t stay little for long.

— Lynn

Note: Learn more about these family-friendly tea parties at www.balletacademyofarizona.org, www.balletetudes.net and www.scottsdaleballetfoundation.org. Visit Dance Theater West at www.dancetheaterwest.com and Free Arts of Arizona at www.freeartsaz.org. Local resorts like The Ritz-Carlton, The Phoenician, and The Arizona Biltmore offer high tea. Check with Girly Girlz for girl-friendly tea parties (www.girly-girlz.com).

Coming up: Celebrating holidays arts and culture style

From Celtic dance to chorus line

Students from the Celtic Dance Academy, which performs An Irish Nutcracker this weekend

My husband, James, was surprised to find me watching a performance of San Francisco Ballet’s “Nutcracker” on PBS Sunday evening with the sound barely audible.

“What,” he asked, “you have all the music memorized?” Well, yes. Pretty much.

I’ve spent many a December stage mothering young performers in the Ballet Arizona production at Symphony Hall in Phoenix — where every note is another cue.

Time to help three children adjust their mouse heads. Adhere bright red circle stickers to cheeks of toy soldiers. Add wings and halos to dancers donning flowing angel gowns.

The performers and volunteers don’t see the production taking place. They experience only the music, exquisitely attuned to each new measure.

So I was delighted to learn of “An Irish Nutcracker,” being performed by the Celtic Dance Academy Sat, Dec 18, at the Mesa Arts Center — at both 3pm and 7:30pm.

It pairs the classic Nutcracker story with a journey through the “the land of Tir Na Nog where fairies, flowers and gypsies dance to Irish tunes.” So now I can enjoy seeing both the traditional ballet as well as a charming Celtic interpretation.

An Irish Nutcracker is one of several holiday dance performances you can enjoy in the Valley

Many of the Valley’s holiday dance traditions are covered in earlier “Stage Mom” posts — but I’m pleased to share another couple of dance events taking place this weekend at Mesa Arts Center.

Campbell’s Dance Studio presents “The Night Before Christmas” Sat, Dec 18, at 4pm. It’s the story of a family who’ve no presents on Christmas Eve — but discover instead that they know the true meaning of Christmas.

AZ Desert Dance presents “The Night Before Christmas” — featuring “a trip through your favorite mall” — Sat, Dec 18, at 7pm.

Those of you reading the fine print may suspect I’ve erred given overlapping times for events at the same venue. But never fear — because the MAC is home to several performing arts venues (and visual arts spaces), there’s often more than a single event taking place at any given time. Nifty.

There’s also plenty of classic dance on the Valley horizon once this holiday season has come and gone.

A Chorus Line” comes to the Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix Jan 13-16, 2011. The tour also stops at the Mesa Arts Center Jan 11-12.

Broadway buffs don’t need the breakdown, but those not familiar with the show should know that it’s the tale of 17 dancers auditioning for a musical — something they’ve dreamed of, and worked for, most of their lives.

A Chorus Line comes to two Valley venues during January 2011

“Lord of the Dance” comes to the Orpheum Theater Jan 28-29, 2011. Michael Flatley originated the “Lord” role and now serves as artistic director of the production — which couples traditional and modern forms of dance. Think fast, fancy footwork and spirited tunes.

Stay tuned for word of more dance delights coming to the Valley — and drop a line if your child’s school, dance studio or community group is presenting a dance performance that you’d like to share with our readers.

The best dancers are those we call daughter, sister, brother or son — mother, father, teacher or friend.

— Lynn

Coming up: “A Night at the Museum” and other galas to benefit the arts

The week’s hidden art treasures

The week’s most heralded events are often splashed across our local newspapers and noted during television newscasts.

This week they include “Cirque Dreams Illumination” at the Mesa Arts Center and the opening of August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” produced by Arizona Theatre Company — the first a family-friendly event and the second a “mature themes and language” piece.

World music recording artist Scott Schaefer plays didgeridoo, flute and more this Saturday at Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior.

Dozens of kid-friendly activities, arts-related and otherwise, are always available online via the Raising Arizona Kids magazine online calendar (there’s a print calendar in each monthly magazine too).

So what I’ll feature here (and at the beginning of each week) are things you might not have discovered yet — including visual and performing arts presented by Valley schools and other organizations.

Enjoy "The Nutcracker Sweet Tea" event with Ballet Etudes at the Wright House in Mesa this Saturday

Some, like the musical “Urinetown” opening Thursday at Paradise Valley Community College, are best for the mature teen and adult set.

Others, like the Ballet Etudes “Nutcracker Sweet Tea” this weekend, are fun for all ages.

The Phoenix Art Museum presents a children’s event (for ages 5-12 with their adult companions) titled  “Define Your Style!” on Sat, Nov 13, from noon-3pm. After touring the “Extending the Runway” fashion collection on exhibit at the PAM, kids will design their own “artistic attire” and use found objects to create a cigar box purse or secret treasure box.

Three of Arizona’s charter schools specializing in the arts present student performance art this week.

Tonight (Mon, Nov 8 ), you can enjoy the chamber singers and concert choir from Arizona School for the Arts performing a 7pm concert at Central United Methodist Church in Phoenix.

Metropolitan Arts Institute presents an Arizona theater premiere in downtown Phoenix Nov 11-13

Metropolitan Arts Institute presents its fall theater production, the Arizona premiere of “Little Brother,” Nov 11-13 at the Playhouse on the Park in Phoenix.

New School for the Arts and Academics presents a dance performance Nov 12 & 13, and I’ll share more details as I learn them.

Another dance option for Nov 12 & 13 is the “SMCC Dance Concert” at the South Mountain Community College Performance Hall — which features dance performance by SMCC students, local high schools and area dance companies.

Music lovers can head to Superior for the Boyce Thompson Arboretum “Live Music Festival” from 11am-5pm on Sat, Nov 13. The event features frontier ballads, Midwestern humor, world music and “olde-time Americana” by the Close Enough String Band. 

Finally, in conjunction with the Phoenix Symphony’s “Rediscovered Masters” series featuring music of composers stifled or silenced during the Holocaust, you can hear a presentation on “The Jews of Central Europe” either Wed, Nov 10, at Temple Beth Isreal or Thurs, Nov 11, at Symphony Hall in Phoenix.

PVCC presents a musical with a social justice theme and one of my favorite love songs

If I’ve overlooked a hidden treasure being exhibited or performed by your organization or venue this week, feel free to share event details in a brief comment below.

And watch for weekly rundowns in future posts — which will replace my Friday arts roundups.

That way I can share both weekday and weekend events to inspire more arts adventures with family and friends.

— Lynn

ASU remounts "And What She Found There" this Tuesday night only

Update: Just heard from ASU about a one-time only remount of a work titled “And What She Found There” taking place Tues, Nov 9 at 7pm at the ASU Lyceum Theatre in Tempe. Info at www.mainstage.asu.edu or 480-965-6447.

Note: Always call ahead to check event details — including location, date/time, ticketing requirements, age guidelines and such.

Coming up: Recent adventures with the Arizona Opera, Playing for Change, the Heard Museum North Scottsdale and the Arizona Science Center; “Hairspray” meets Childsplay?

The magic of holiday theater

The holiday theater season is upon us, and I am doing my happy dance. While others are decking their halls or dropping while shopping, I’m in song and dance mode. I’m trading in tangled holiday lights for sparkling stage lights. I’m trading in fussy decorations for fabulous sets and costumes. I’m trading in all the worries the holidays can bring for all the wonder and magic of watching children dance and sing.

Whip out your calendar and join the fun. Plenty of shows are running now, and plenty more will run past the Christmas holiday—but the bounty of holiday theater peaks between December 4th and 20th, so now is the time to get your favorite show dates in your planner. Don’t let the season slip away without taking in as many of these wonderful performances as possible. (A little friendly competition, anyone?)

Ten or twenty years from now, your child may not remember all those things wrapped in meticulous ribbons and bows. But memories of holiday plays and musicals—because we experience them with family and friends, because they’re magical—endure.  And memories trump materialism every time.

I’ve compiled a list of holiday shows to make it easier for you to find your favorites (be sure and read my last two blogs as well—one featuring holiday dance, the other featuring holiday music). For even more fabulous choices of holiday activities, see this month’s issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine and/or check their online calendar of family-friendly events and activities.

Don’t want to wait for the shows that open next weekend? Get your holiday happiness on now with Childsplay’s Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (a world premiere based on three of Barbara Park’s best-selling books). It’s already playing at the Tempe Center for the Arts (it runs through Dec. 27th). We saw our first Childsplay show well over a decade ago and they still continue to amaze, amuse, delight and inspire us.

Also playing now is Desert Stages Theatre’s The Snow Queen (it runs through Dec. 20th at their theater in Scottsdale). Gerry Cullity wrote the book, music and lyrics for this production, which is adapted from a Hans Christian Andersen tale.  We’ve never been to Desert Stages, so I’ll have to mosey over and check this out before too long. I’ve run into plenty of parents who’ve told me their children had great experiences performing there.

Broadway Palm Children’s Theatre in Mesa presents Frosty the Snowman: A Magical Adventure Dec. 4th-29th, complete with a “unique kid-friendly luncheon buffet.”  Fountain Hills Youth Theatre presents The Nutcracker—a play—touted as a “hilarious original re-telling” from Dec. 4th-20th. Laughter. Lunch. More laughter. What’s not to love?

Greasepaint Youtheatre (affiliated with Phoenix Theatre but performing at Stagebrush Theatre in old town Scottsdale) presents Oliver! Dec. 4th-20th. My lovely Lizabeth is performing in this one, so you better buy your tickets now before I snatch up the very last of them! It’s been years since I’ve seen her perform there and I’m just a tad bit excited!

Oliver! is directed by D. Scott Withers, one of the Childsplay artists who first fueled Lizabeth’s love of theater, so we know to expect nothing less than magic with a twist after seeing his productions of Rent and Pippin last season. Come for the 2pm Dec. 5th show and help support Greasepaint’s food drive for St. Mary’s Food Bank (bring a canned or boxed food item to enjoy ticket savings).

Valley Youth Theatre near downtown Phoenix presents A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail Dec. 4th-23rd. They’ve run this show for years because Valley audiences just can’t get enough of it. There’s really nothing like the power of Pooh. Grab your favorite stuffed animal—Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger or Roo—and take them along to enjoy it too!

Another returning classic is A Christmas Carol presented by Actors Theatre of Phoenix Dec. 12th-24th at Herberger Theater Center. It starts a bit later than the others, so you can pace yourself. In the meantime, check out the Actors Theatre website—it’s seriously fun and will leave you feeling smarter than before your visit. The show itself—featuring some of the Valley’s most talented and beloved cast and crew—will leave you inspired.

Arizona Broadway Theatre presents A Christmas Carol: The Musical at their dinner theater in Peoria November 27th-December 27th. Their cast also includes many seasoned actors and talented youth. And who doesn’t love the idea of combining two rare family experiences–a sit down dinner and a night of entertainment out on the town?

The award for biggest holiday “menu” goes to Theater Works, performing at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts—which is offering three holiday shows this year. One, a concert featuring Christmas carols sung by Youth Works, happens Dec. 16th (doors open at 5:30pm). Check their website for info on the accompanying firefighter toy drive and food bank food drive. The others, playing Dec. 4th-20th, are Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Miracle on 34th Street.

ASU Gammage is bringing Annie to Tempe as part of the Broadway Across America series, and their timing couldn’t be more terrific. Annie runs Dec. 29th-Jan. 3rd, so it’s the perfect anecdote for that letdown we sometimes feel when all the packages have been torn open and family members start their journeys back to faraway cities and towns. Annie is a truly timeless Depression-era tale you may find especially poignant this season as so many families are struggling.

Make time for joy. Make time for theater. Make time to be grateful. Make time for theater. Make time for memories. Make time for theater. Make time…


Note: Always call and/or click presenting companies/venues for complete and up-to-date event information. To learn about special ticket prices and promotions, sign up for e-alerts from your favorite music, dance and theater organizations. As always, I welcome your comments if I’ve overlooked something wonderful. I’m especially eager to hear about performing arts experiences celebrating diverse holidays, so thanks for sharing those too!