Tag Archives: Pirates of Penzance

Gilbert & Sullivan on Valley stages

Kids Alive at Theater Works in Peoria is performing H.M.S. PINAFORE by Gilbert & Sullivan May 17, 20 & 23

When I learned from Theater Works in Peoria that their “Kids Alive” program was readying to perform “H.M.S. Pinafore,” an operetta by the famed team of William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, I went in search of Gilbert & Sullivan lore.

Soon I was exploring the “Learn About Opera” section of the Arizona Opera website — which has three nifty sections: 1) interactive games, 2) composers and 3) backstage pass. I clicked on composer bios and uncovered all sorts of gems about “G & S.” I also revisited the “Gilbert and Sullivan” chapter of Kathleen Krull’s “Lives of the Great Musicians.”

Gilbert and Sullivan created works that include “H.M.S. Pinafore,” “The Pirates of Penzance,” and “The Mikado” — and they were the darlings of 1880s theater in England. Their work is brisk and biting, but always good-natured and fun.

Theater Works’ “Kids Alive” performs “H.M.S. Pinafore” Tues, May 17 and Mon, May 23 at 7 p.m. Tickets are just $5 at the door. They’ve also announced a “performance for special needs patrons” on Fri, May 20 at 10am, noting that “a donation of $2/person is requested.”

“Kids Alive,” a program of the company’s youth theater (“Youth Works”), is a “performing group of children that travel to different venues to entertain and inspire the community by singing, dancing and performing short plays.”

Both “Theater Works” and “Youth Works” perform at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts, an intimate facility with several small theaters that enable them to present more than one work at any given time.

If you head to Theater Works June 10-12, you can see Yolanda London (a member of the acting company at Childsplay in Tempe) perform the role of Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” — presented by Theater Works and the Black Theatre Troupe of Phoenix. London is a nuanced, versatile actress who “brings it” every single time she’s on that stage.

The 2011/12 line-up for “Theater Works” includes “Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet,” “The King & I,” “Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol,” “The Dixie Swim Club,” “A Little Night Music” and “All Through the Night.”

Their 2011/12 “Youth Works” productions include “Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland,” “Hairspray,” and “Pinocchio.” Also for youth, three “Puppet Works” productions — “Trick or Treat!,” “Saving Santa” and “The Magical Adventures of Pinocchio.”

Reading about Gilbert & Sullivan is almost as fun as seeing their work performed on stage

If you discover, after seeing the “Kids Alive” production of “H.M.S. Pinafore,” that a single “Gilbert & Sullivan” offering isn’t enough for you, head to Chandler-Gilbert Community College next month for their production of “The Mikado” — which runs June 24-29 at the CGCC Performing Arts Center in Chandler.

The works of Gilbert & Sullivan are a fun introduction to the “operetta” genre — a sort of middle ground between musical theater and opera. Even if it’s not your thing, a bit of time spent with Gilbert & Sullivan will up your arts and culture I.Q. more than most things you can access with a mere remote control.

— Lynn

Note: To learn more about Gilbert & Sullivan, read Carolyn Williams’ new book titled “Gilbert and Sullivan: Gender, Genre, Parody” (part of the “Gender and Culture Series”). Or enjoy “The Fabulous Feud of Gilbert and Sullivan” by Jonah Winter (pictured above).

Coming up: Ten minute plays

Update: Eight, Arizona PBS will broadcast a new production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore” from the Guthrie Theater Fri, Oct 14 at 9pm. It’s followed by an episode of “Arizona ArtsBeat” at 11:30pm.


Art adventures: Queen Creek

Part of the San Tan Historical Society Museum collection

My father has a rather interesting decorating style that reflects his small town upbringing in South Dakota farm country — and his years of buying and selling land in Colorado.

He has a fondness for farm implements and tools, which have adorned several walls and other spaces in his various homes through the years.

Big wheels keep on turnin' in Queen Creek

I can still picture the authentic wagon wheel suspended on a wall, the heavy black anvil sitting atop his cream-colored carpet and the assortment of rusty old parts he managed to display with a true measure of good taste.

I was reminded of his collection when I took my 21-year-old son Christopher on a bit of an art adventure last week. We went to Queen Creek, which is about an hour drive from our Scottsdale home.

With cooler weather, it's time for happy trails again

The weather has finally turned tolerable, and we’re making the most of it. I was lured to Queen Creek by the prospect of exploring the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center — and the nearby San Tan Historical Society Museum.

The museum is located at the southwest corner of Queen Creek and Ellsworth. During your visit, you’ll learn about Frank Lloyd Wright’s connection to the San Tan area, as well as how this community benefited from the German POWs.

The drive to Queen Creek reminded me of bygone field  trip days when I used to have the kids and their friends play “I-Spy” for sights along the streets and freeways.

We spied farm land, farm tools and farm animals

There were no video players in cars, or portable DVD players, back then. I consider it a good thing — because it gave us more time for observation and conversation.

Were Christopher younger, I’d have broken the drive into two smaller jaunts by stopping along the way to explore the airport and museum at Falcon Field in Mesa. (Were I younger, we wouldn’t have needed the pit stop at McDonald’s.)

We headed to the San Tan Historical Society Museum first, since it’s open just one morning during the week (plus Saturday). It’s a red brick building from the mid-1920s that’s listed on a national registry of historic buildings.

See if your kids can guess what once traveled through this chute...

Behind the museum sits a small yard with a half dozen or so pieces of weathered farm equipment once used in the area, which still sports impressive citrus groves.

It took me right back to those weekend visits with dad — and made me wish I’d packed a picnic basket to enjoy on the building’s short stack of steps.

Queen Creek High School is home to the mighty Bulldogs

Next we hit the the performing arts center, which is adjacent to Queen Creek High School — home of the mighty Bulldogs. A bronze bulldog statue sits atop the overhang you pass under to reach the school office.

I’m eager to return to the center to enjoy a live performance — and it looks like I’ll have plenty of options to choose from. They have a main theatre series, a family theatre series and a special events series.

Check out these performing arts offerings in Queen Creek

I have my eye on “Tap Kids,” billed as a “joyous celebration of youth culture” featuring “eight of the nation’s most talented tap dancers.” It’s coming up on Nov 6.

Emmy Award winner Robert Wuhl performs “Assume the Position” on Feb 5. I’m told it “delivers an imaginative, irreverent comedic history lesson” that includes a look at “facts, myths and myths-that-became-facts.”

I’m going to start warming up my smile muscles now.

“One Man Star Wars” hits Queen Creek on Oct 30 and contemporary country group “Gloriana” takes the stage Dec 3.

See "The Brothers Grimm: Out of Order" this weekend

This weekend you can enjoy one of two remaining performances of “The Brothers Grimm: Out of Order” — either Sat, Oct 23 at 2pm or Mon, Oct 25 at 7pm.

Upcoming family theatre productions include “Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Jr.” (Nov 20), “Unstoppable Me!” (Mar 12, 2011) and “Hairspray” (April 9, 2011).

When you head to Queen Creek to take in a show, consider making a day (or even weekend) of it. And tell the fine folks at Eddie Maroni’s pizza joint that we loved the lunch special.

Driving in and around Queen Creek, we spotted all sorts of fun sights — including cattle, horses and sheep. (Alas — my son has little patience for me stopping to photograph every cute animal that crosses my path.)

Being a bit of a sign fanatic, I also took note of the cardboard sign advertising “fresh organic milk” and the yellow diamond-shaped traffic sign with the cattle icon.

As we headed home for dinner, I was reminded of why I spent so much time on similar adventures when my three kids were younger. It was something Christopher said as we left Queen Creek…

“There’s a whole lot of world out there.”

— Lynn

Note: To suggest a Valley city for an upcoming “Art adventures” post, drop me a line at rakstagemom@gmail.com.

Coming up: Pirates meet opera, Once upon “The Wiz,” Stop the “Glee” bashing!

Weekend art adventures

My oldest daughter Jennifer once enjoyed a brief clowning gig as “Jumpin’ Jenn” — an homage to her beautiful, bouncy personality. Jennifer performed with a wonderful clown who took Jenn under her wing for an annual clowning event in the Valley.

That was some ten years ago, so folks who head to Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix Saturday morning for the 10am “Cirque Dreams Illumination” audition (for a featured role when the troupe performs at the Mesa Arts Center Nov 9-14) will have one less strong contender.

Get a sneak peek at Cirque Dreams Illumination Saturday at Desert Ridge Marketplace in Scottsdale

The audition is limited to the first 100 attendees so event organizers suggest folks arrive early to secure a place in line. But what of other art adventures taking place in the Valley (and beyond) this weekend? You have plenty to choose from…


“Arab-American Festival.” Sat, Oct 23 and Sun, Oct 24 at Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix. www.arabamericanfestival.com.


“Key Ingredients: America By Food” (A Smithsonian traveling exhibition). Opens Sat, Oct 23 at the Tohono O’odham Nation Cultural Center & Musem in Topawa. www.azhumanities.org.

The traveling Smithsonian exhibit "Key Ingredients" comes to Arizona this weekend


“Tetra String Quartet.” Fri, Oct 22 at 7:30pm. Delightful and talented group of young musicians I enjoyed meeting and listening to recently at the MIM. King of Glory Lutheran Church in Tempe. www.tetraquartet.org.

Tetra String Quartet performs classical works this weekend in Tempe


“Pirates of Penzance” presented by Arizona Opera. Fri, Oct 22-Sun, Oct 24 (times vary) at Phoenix Symphony Hall. www.azopera.com.


“Halloween Storytime featuring Splat the Cat.” Sat, Oct 23 at 11am. Barnes & Noble at 101 Fwy and Shea Blvd in Scottsdale. www.bn.com.


“On Golden Pond.” Opens Fri, Oct 22 at Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale. www.desertstages.org.

“The Brothers Grimm: Out of Order.” Fri, Oct 22, at 7pm (also Sat 2pm, Mon 7pm) at the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center. www.qcpac.com.

“The Wiz.” Opens Fri, Oct 22 at 7pm (and through Oct 31) at Greasepaint Youtheatre in Scottsdale. www.phoenixtheatre.com.


“Cirque Shanghai Bai Xi.” Sun, Oct 24 at 7pm at the Chandler Center for the Arts. www.chandlercenter.org.

“Friends of the Phoenix Public Library Book Sale.” Sat, Oct 23 and Sun, Oct 24. 1330 N. 29th Dr in Phoenix. www.phoenixlibraryfriends.org.

“Otsukimi: Moonviewing.” Sat, Oct 23 from 5-9pm. Assorted cultural activities for kids and adults. Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix. www.japanesefriendshipgarden.com.

To learn more about weekend events in the Valley, visit the online calendar for Raising Arizona Kids magazine — and read earlier blogs featuring everything from Bill Harley’s MIM concert and Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” at ASU Gammage.


Note: The recent post titled “Pumpkins & performing arts” will be updated as I learn of more arts adventures with a Halloween theme. Families can enjoy “Boo at the Zoo” at the Phoenix Zoo this weekend — and stop by the Raising Arizona Kids magazine booth to meet various members of the magazine staff.

Coming up: A “bonus blog” to be posted on Friday — which will share insights from award-winning storyteller Bill Harley in advance of his Sunday performance at the Musical Instrument Museum.

What’s in a weekend?

I hardly know where to start…

This is one of those way-beyond-wonderful weekends when just about everything I’ve ever wanted to experience is here in all its splendor—an art gallery opening, a teen poetry competition, an annual dance event, a school musical, a movie ala ‘wonderland,’ a classic piece of social justice theater, a festival featuring all things native.

If I can’t make it to everything, I plan to at least have one heck of a good time trying—all the while saving a bit of energy for the equally exciting week ahead, featuring other fun happenings like the Arizona premiere of “Avenue Q” at ASU Gammage (remember, parents, that this one contains mature content and language).

If you read my ‘weekend wish list’ below and feel I’ve overlooked something, please share your arts-related plans in the comment section below. I’d love to hear how you and your family plan to enjoy the weekend together.

Alice in Wonderland. This 3-D Disney movie—featuring the work of writers Lewis Carroll and Linda Woolverton, director Tim Burton, and actors Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter—opens Friday, March 5th. The film spans three genres—action/adventure, family and science fiction/fantasy—and has a “PG” rating due to “violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar.” It follows Alice, now 19, as she “embarks on a fantastical journey to find her destiny and end the Red Queen’s reign of terror.” (Check future posts for my review—or let me know what you think if you’re lucky enough to see it before I do.)

Sweeney Todd. This production—the spring musical presented by Verde Valley School in Sedona—is free and open to the public. It’s being performed twice at VVS’s Brady Hall: Saturday, March 6th at 7pm and Sunday, March 7th at 3pm. The original Broadway production of Sweeney Todd opened in 1979 with Sweeney Todd (a bitter barber bent on revenge) played by Len Cariou and Mrs. Lovett (a brazen baker bent on bolstering business) played by Angela Lansbury. If you’re only seen the 2007 film version (rated R for “bloody violence”)—directed by Tim Burton and featuring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter—you really should see a live production. The original Broadway run garnered seven Tony Awards, including best musical book (Hugh Wheeler) and best score (Stephen Sondheim).

Warehouse 1005. This studio and gallery opening—featuring works by artists affiliated with Art Awakenings—takes place Friday, March 5th, between 9am and 4pm. Art Awakenings is a program of PSA behavioral health agency focusing on “empowerment and recovery through creativity.” Established in 1971, Art Awakenings seeks to “enhance and empower the mental health community through creativity, innovation, and diversity.” Their studios and galleries, including the new site at 1005 N. 1st St. in Phoenix, serve more than 800 artists annually. Friday’s events at Warehouse 1005 include a meet and greet from 9-10am, opening ceremonies and reception from 10am to 1pm, and an open house from 1-4pm. From 6-10pm, they’ll participate in the First Friday Art Walk.

Target Day of Music. This event–featuring The Phoenix Symphony–takes place Sunday, March 7th at Phoenix Symphony Hall. The event is free, and designed for “families and music lovers of all ages.” Highlights include “festival activities” (such as an “instrument petting zoo”) starting at 1pm and “a special performance by The Phoenix Symphony” beginning at 3pm.

Pirates of Penzance. This production–the spring musical presented by Chandler-Gilbert Community College–takes place March 4th-6th, 8th and 12th at 7:30pm (plus 2pm show on March 6th) at the CGCC Annette Scott Ward Performing Arts Center in Chandler.  The work, originally a late 19th century opera by Gilbert and Sullivan (libretto by W.S. Gilbert, music by Arthur Sullivan), has been adapted through the years. The 1981 Joseph Papp production on Broadway–featuring Rex Smith, Linda Ronstadt and Kevin Kiline–earned a Tony Award for best revival. The 1983 film version featured the original Broadway cast with one exception: Angela Lansbury (currently in “A Little Night Music”) replaced Estelle Parsons (currently in “August: Osage County”) as Ruth. For tickets (general: $10, student: $7, matinee: $5), call 480-732-7343.

Remember too that there are plenty of other fun things going on this weekend—many of which have been featured in previous posts. Here’s a brief sampling, complete with links to the organizations sponsoring them and our earlier posts with additional details.

ASU Dance Annual. Features the “best works created by the ASU dance department.” March 5th to 7th at the Paul V. Galvin Playhouse on the Tempe campus. Friday: 6:30-8:30pm, Saturday: 7:30-9:30pm and Sunday 2-4pm. $7-$20.
Poetry Out Loud. State finals in the national Poetry Out Loud recitation competition. March 5th from 7-9pm at the Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix. Free.
Indian Fair & Market. Features the works of more than 700 top American Indian artists at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. $15/day includes admission to museum exhibits.
The Laramie Project. A “breathtaking theatrical collage developed from interviews surrounding the Matthew Shepard murder in Laramie, Wyoming.” (Recommended for ages 13 & up.) Presented by QSpeak/Greasepaint Youtheatre March 5th-14th at Stagebrush Theatre in Scottsdale. $12.

For an ongoing list of fun activities for families, visit the Raising Arizona Kids magazine online calendar at www.raisingarizonakids.com.

Have fun out there!