Tag Archives: Phoenix Symphony

Get out, get art!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Lynn

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

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

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Young actor shares audition tips

By guest blogger Aaron Zweiback

Being a young actor myself, I know how stressful it can be to audition. Sometimes you aren’t sure what to perform, sometimes you get nervous and don’t do your best, and sometimes the competition just seems too talented. That is why I am writing this article: to teach aspiring young actors how to navigate the audition process, and to give them some useful tips.

The first step to auditioning effectively is to be aware of the calendar for upcoming shows. A website that I have found very helpful is durantcom.com, which shows the auditions that are occurring locally. If you have any friends who are also into theatre, make sure to stay in touch with them and share information. Also, make sure you are familiar with the current “season” that is going on at certain theatres that interest you, so you will know what shows will be featuring kids’ roles.

Lto R: Sam Primack (Ralphie) and Aaron Zweiback (Flick) in "A Christmas Story" at Phoenix Theatre

Another important rule to live by that will help you tremendously on your path to a successful career is to always have a monologue and song “in your back pocket” (memorized). This way, you can be completely prepared and ready for an audition if you make an impulsive choice to try for a role but don’t have much time to prepare.

Frequently learn new songs and monologues, because some directors will get bored if you audition for their theatre with the same material more than once. It can be hard to read the minds of directors, because some hate it when you sing a song from the show you are auditioning for, but others don’t seem to mind. You should definitely think about the mood of the piece you are auditioning with, and see if it matches the mood of the show or the character you are hoping to play.

Now, if you are going to try to pursue acting, you must have the essential “tools” for the auditioning process: a photograph of you from the shoulders up (a “headshot”) and resumé (also called a “CV”) are almost always required. You can pay a professional photographer to make you look legit, ask a family member or friend to take some pictures and print them at Costco or a camera store, or even use a school photo that would appeal to a casting director.

Make sure your headshot is recent, so that you don’t show up looking completely different from the picture you are submitting. As for a resumé, simply type up all of the shows you have been a part of and the roles you have played, as well as the years and the theatres in which you performed them.

I have noticed that many young actors worry that they have no experience and therefore nothing to offer. If you feel this way, you can launch your career by attending workshops and camps, and by auditioning for as many theatres and directors as you can. Most of the professionals in town know each other, and they actually encourage actors to learn from their colleagues in different programs. I myself have performed on the main stage and/or participated in summer workshops at Phoenix Theatre, The Phoenix Symphony, Valley Youth Theatre, Childsplay, Desert Stages, and Paradise Valley Community College.

I have also watched my friends act in plays and musicals at Spotlight Youth Theatre, Greasepaint, Arizona State University, and Nearly Naked Theatre, and I hope one day to have an opportunity to perform in those venues as well. It is also tremendously productive to work with a singing, acting, or dancing coach. Choreographers like Molly Lajoie and Katie Casey have given me dozens of new dance steps that I can use on stage, and singing coach Toby Yatso has been hugely important in helping my voice mature.

L to R: Aaron Zweiback (Flick) and Sam Primack (Ralphie) in "A Christmas Story" at Phoenix Theatre

Finally, the most important thing to keep in mind when auditioning is always to keep a positive attitude, regardless of whether you win that part you’ve always craved. Casting a show is a matching process: if you don’t get a role, it does not mean that you did a bad job at the audition or that you have no talent! It simply means that the director didn’t feel you fit the part as well as someone else did, which is something you can’t control.

And if you “only” get cast in an ensemble role and feel discouraged that you didn’t get a bigger part, instead you can celebrate that you were accepted into the show at all. That old saying really is true: “there are no small roles, only small actors.”

I hope these tips have been helpful and that you will use them the next time you audition. I’ll see you at the theatre!

Note: Both Zweiback and Primack are currently performing in “Gypsy” at Phoenix Theatre and Zweiback shared with me that they’ve been cast in “The Color of Stars” with Childsplay. Zweiback attends Arizona School for the Arts in Phoenix, and is also performing in The Phoenix Symphony’s “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Coming up: Art meets architecture, A journey home, Gaga for dance

Once upon a shamrock

Images of three leaf clovers are popping up all over as Valley families with Irish roots prepare to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, which honors the patron saint of Ireland. A nifty PBS “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly” multifaith calendar says he’s “credited with spreading Christianity in Ireland and abolishing pagan practices in the fourth century” — noting that he used the shamrock to “explain the mystery of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.”

Turns out lots of religious holidays happen this month. March 8 was Purim in Judaism, Holi (the festival of colors) in Hinduism and Magha Puja Day (honoring Buddha’s birthday) in Buddhism. Scientologists celebrate the birth of founder L. Ron Hubbard on March 13, and Christians follow the March 17 celebration of St. Patrick with “Saint Joseph’s Day” in honor of “the earthly father of Jesus” on March 18.

I’m no Irish scholar, but I’ve got a Scotch-Irish spouse and green eyes that protect me from the pinch, and something tells me St. Patrick would have expected more of people than a day spent pub crawling. So while others are trolling for green beer, consider exploring family-friendly St. Patrick’s Day fare with an arts and culture twist.

Families can enjoy Irish music, dance and more at the Phoenix St. Patrick’s Day parade first held in 1983. Its purpose, according to the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix, is “to preserve and enhance the heritage and traditions of the Irish Culture as well as share that culture with the citizens of Arizona.” For some it’s “a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide.”

This year’s parade begins Sat, March 17 at 10am — with a parade from the Irish Cultural Center to Margaret T. Hance Park,  where the rest of the day’s activities unfold. I had a great time at last year’s festival seeing parents carting green-clad children around in decorated strollers and wagons, and watching older couples getting “jig” with it as Irish dance music floated from stage to the lovely lawns just right for dancing.

Remember, as you’re celebrating Irish arts and culture, that the Irish are but one of many groups to immigrate to America — something profoundly illustrated near the end of the musical “In the Heights” when the sign over a business sold by a Latino couple comes down only to reveal an earlier sign from a business run by Irish Americans. Circles of lifes of life, circles of culture — all worth celebrating.

The Phoenix Symphony performs “Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham” Sat, March 17 at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix. Families can “follow and interact with Sam-I-Am” as he rhymes his way through the classic Seuss tale told by folks from The Phoenix Symphony and Valley Youth Theatre. Best to read “Green Eggs and Ham” rather than eat them.

Folks seeking authentic Irish fare can head to a little neighborhood joint in Scottsdale called Randy’s, or hit the MIM Cafe at the Musical Instrument Museum — where the chef often sets the mood for celebrations of holidays and world culture with special menu items created with fresh Arizona-grown ingredients.

The MIM presents a five-piece acoustic Irish band called Trotters Wake Thurs, March 15 at 6pm. I’m told they perform “new and old Irish drinking songs, rebel songs, ballads, and traditional instrumental tunes” on acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle and electric bass. Or hit the MIM between noon and 3pm to enjoy Tramor/Overseas performing traditional Welsh music with bagpipes, flutes, whistles, mandolins, guitar, percussion, storytelling and dance. Then tour the museum’s collection of European instruments to learn more about materials used in making bagpipes and such.

The Children’s Museum of Phoenix art studio, open from 10am to 3pm, is featuring arts and crafts with a St. Patrick’s Day vibe through Sat, March 17. Think shamrock hats, lucky leprechaun wands and green playdough. They’re also celebrating artists Georgia O’Keefe and Salvador Dali and continuing ongoing projects like painting a giant rocket, playing in the puppet theater, and exploring plenty of books and toys.

You’ll find oodles of other fun activities in print and online editions of the Raising Arizona Kids Magazine calendar — including St. Patrick’s Day events presented by Lakeshore Learning Stores, Local Lily, Shamrock Farms and Hubbard Family Swim School.

I’ll be celebrating by revisiting the works of great Irish writers like Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw, and finishing a dark little work by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh. Now that our three kids are in college, we can indulge our drive to spend more time on reading and reflection.

Those of you with younger children can seize St. Patrick’s Day as an opportunity to read with your children about Irish history and culture, or to remind them of the many gifts immigrants continue to bestow upon our country.

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that’s the essence of inhumanity. — George Bernard Shaw

— Lynn

Note: If your arts and culture organization is offering a family-friendly event or activity to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, please comment below to let our readers know. Click here to learn more about submitting event information to our calendar editor.

Coming up: Dancing with the real stars

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

Broadway Rocks!

Kaye Tuckerman as Donna in Mamma Mia! (Photo: Joan Marcus)

He’s young. He’s hip. But will conductor Joseph Young don the spandex jumpsuit to conduct a bit of music from “Mamma Mia” featured in this weekend’s “Broadway Rocks!” concerts performed by The Phoenix Symphony?

I think not — but it is fun to imagine all the fashion options knowing they’ll also be playing selections from “Rent,” “Dreamgirls,””Jersey Boys,” “Hairspray” and “Wicked.” Pointy hat, anyone?

The Phoenix Symphony performs “Broadway Rocks!” at Symphony Hall Feb. 24-26 — with a Sunday matinee for those of you who like to take the kiddos to such things but still believe in proper bedtimes.

Jackie Burns as Elpheba in Wicked (Photo: Joan Marcus)

The concerts are perfectly timed for who plan to see “Wicked” at ASU Gammage — which features favorites from “Defying Gravity” to “For Good.” Practice your “toss, toss” hair flipping now so you’re ready for the big night.

“Broadway Rocks” also includes selections from “The Wiz,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “The Lion King,” “Hair,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “Chess.” Even music from “Jekyll and Hyde,” which I’ve always found especially moving.

It features performance by The Phoenix Symphony Chorus as well as three vocalists — Christiane Noll, Virginia Woodruff and Doug LaBrecque. Lovely choices, but I’ll still be missing D. Scott Withers, whose campy “Edna” stylings in the Phoenix Theatre and Arkansas Repertory Theatre productions of “Hairspray” were delicious.

Van Hughes (Johny), Scott J. Campbell (Tunny) and Nicci Claspell (The Extraordinary Girl) in American Idiot (Photo: Doug Hamilton)

Two touring productions of Broadway shows with a rock and roll vibe are headed our way as well. The Theater League production of “Rock of Ages” comes to two Valley venues April 10-15, and the national tour of “American Idiot” comes to ASU Gammage April 24-29.

Come fall, The Phoenix Symphony will present a concert called “Wicked Divas.” It’s being performed Sept. 28-30 as part of their 2012-13 season “Pops Series” — and feature vocalists Ali Mauzey and Nicole Parker, who’ve both performed in “Wicked.” The concert will include music from “Gypsy,” “Ragtime,” “Titanic,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Carmen” and “Wicked.”

Maybe I’ll pass them my short list of favorite Broadway men — say Mandy Patinkin and Andrew Rannells — in case they want to give equal time to a few of the guys. Or they could just make my daughter Lizabeth’s day by bringing out her favorite trio of J. Pierrepont Finches — Daniel Radcliffe, Darren Criss and Nick Jonas.

— Lynn

Note: The 2nd annual “Symphony Stroll,” presented by Phoenix Symphony Allegro, takes place Sat., Feb. 25 from 4-7pm. Click here for details.

Coming up: Art awakenings

Update: The Carolyn Eynon Singers perform “Broadway Showstoppers from Berlin, Bernstein and Sondheim,” with special guest and narrator David Barker, Feb. 24 & 25 at Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale.

From mariachi to honky tonks

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The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix celebrates 100 years of Arizona music with an exhibit titled “I Am AZ Music” — which opens on Sat, Feb. 18 with a full slate of events and runs through Jan. 6, 2013. Admission to the exhibit, located inside the museum’s United States/Canada Gallery, is free with museum admission.

Several performing arts groups are featured in the exhibit — including the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, which gave its inaugural performance in 1929. Also Phoenix Symphony (founded in 1947), Arizona Opera (founded in 1972 as Tucson Opera Company), Ballet Arizona (founded in 1986) and Phoenix Opera (founded in 2005).

Turns out Arizona’s diverse musical roots include cowboy poets and cowgirl singers. Youth mariachi groups and the father of Chicano music. Funky Broadway and choral tunes. Even skate punk and alternative rock. We’ve even got two state anthems, adopted by the Arizona legislature in 1919 and 1982, so we might be due for a third come mid-century.

Plenty of famous musicians were born in Arizona — or based here when they started out or made it big. Seems Buck Owens was playing honky tonks around Mesa in 1945 and the Earwigs gave their debut performance at Phoenix’s Cortez High School talent show in 1964. The latter, of course, became the Spiders, the Nazz and Alice Cooper.

Waylon Jennings was based in Phoenix when he signed with RCA records, as was Wayne Newton when he launched his singing career at Fremont Casino in Las Vegas. The Tempe-based Gin Blossoms released their first full length album, “Dusted,” in 1989 — two years after Tucson-born Linda Rondstadt released the album “Canciones de mi Padre.”

The world can thank us as well for alternative rock bands sporting names like “Meat Puppets” (they started in Phoenix in 1980) and “Jimmy Eat World” (they lived in Mesa when their debut album was released in 1994). Phoenix-born Stevie Nicks as inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and Glendale-born Jordin Sparks won “American Idol” in 2007.

The “I Am AZ Music” exhibit includes displays dedicated to Native American music and music rooted in Latino culture. Folks exploring this and other MIM exhibits can wear a device that plays corresponding music prompted by one’s proximity to each exhibit, making for a multi-sensory experience without all the fuss of turning something on and off.

Those who attend the public opening and celebration (Sat, Feb 18 from 10am-5pm) can enjoy the “I Am AZ Music” exhibit, explore the MIM’s many galleries and enjoy several special activities — including musical performances, lecture/demonstrations, a curator-guided tour of “I Am AZ Music” (1:30pm) and more. Details and times are available online at www.themim.org.

— Lynn

Coming up: A double dose of Dorothy

Seuss sightings

Copperstar Repertory Co. presents Seussical at Higley Center for the Arts in March

Don the striped felt hats and ready the green eggs and ham — because all things Seuss are headed our way as families ready to celebrate the March 2 birthday of the man who brought us all those “things you can think.”

Fountain Hills Youth Theater opens its production of “Seussical Jr.” this Friday, Feb. 3. It’s family-friendly fare featuring favorite Seuss characters including Horton the Elephant, The Cat in the Hat, Gertrude McFuzz, Lazy Mayzie and Jojo.

Front (L to R): Elysha Nemeth and Skylar Bickley, Back (L to R): Emily Spets, Patrick Moyse and Peyton Jordan in Seussical Jr. at Fountain Hills Theater

Musical Theatre of Anthem opens its production of “Seussical Jr.” Feb. 17 at Boulder Creek High School in Anthem. “Seussical Jr.” features songs like “Horton Hears a Who,” “How to Raise a Child,” “It’s Possible,” “Green Eggs and Ham” and “All Alone in the Universe.”

The musical “Seussical” presented by Copperstar Repertory Co., in partnership with Higley Center for the Arts, opens March 23. “Seussical,” which debuted on Broadway in 2000, is based on more than a dozen Seuss stories. It’s longer than the later “Jr.” version and contains a military thread removed from the musical’s adaptations for youth.

I took daughter Lizabeth to see “Seussical” when the touring production starring Cathy Rigsby came to ASU Gammage as part of its 2002-2003 season. She was about 10 years old at the time, and loved everything about it. She still does.

“Seussical” features book by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, whose names are as famous to musical theater folk as Dr. Suess is to the rest of us. Flaherty wrote the music for “Seussical,” and Ahrens the lyrics. Their first team venture was a 1988 musical called “Lucky Stiff.”

Lizabeth performed in the Arizona School for the Arts production of “Lucky Stiff” at Greasepaint Youtheatre before heading off to NYC for college theater studies. It was directed by Toby Yatso, who’ll be narrating “Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham” for the Phoenix Symphony on March 17.

Cast members from the Musical Theatre of Anthem production of Seussical, Jr. (Photo: Olga Smirnoff)

“Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham” is being conducted by Joseph Young and performed at the Orpheum in Phoenix. It features Allison Stanford (soprano) and Aaron Zweiback (boy soprano) and Bill Wanser (percussion) as well as Yatso and actors from Valley Youth Theatre

I first saw the talented Zweiback perform during a Childsplay Academy performance featuring selections from the musical “Grease,” but he’s since performed with Phoenix Theatre and VYT.

The Phoenix Symphony production allows families to “follow and interact with Sam-I-Am as he rhymes his way through Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.” It’ll feature “a rendition of Gerald McBoing Boing, an animated short film by Dr. Seuss and selections from Seussical the Musical.”

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax,” from the creators of “Despicable Me,” opens in movie theaters nationwide March 2. It follows the adventures of a 12-year-old boy seeking to win the girl of his dreams, and features lots of big names from Zac Efron and Taylor Swift to Betty White and Danny DeVito.

One Seuss, Two Seuss. Theater Seuss, Musical Suess. It’s all good. But I’m still not sporting the big hat.

— Lynn

Note: Check your local libraries and bookstores as Dr. Seuss’ birthday draws near for special Seuss-inspired activities for children and families. Click here to explore a PBS Independent Lens presentation called “The Political Dr. Seuss,” and here to enjoy PBS’ “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That.”

Coming up: Here piggy, piggy…