Tag Archives: Scottsdale Center for the Arts

A delightful detour

Detour Company Theatre was founded in 2000 to “provide quality and authentic arts education and performance opportunities for adults with developmental and other challenges, including deafness, blindness, and autism.”

I learned about Detour from Susan Silverman, director of the classical ballet program at Dance Theater West and artistic director for Story Book Ballet Theater (both in Phoenix). Story Book Ballet Theater collaborates in performance with Detour Company Theater, Free Arts of Arizona and Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Detour’s founder and artistic director, who goes by simply “Sam,” holds an M.F.A. in theatre from ASU — and is currently working with more than forty five performers and “coaches” who blend story, music and dance as their work together builds confidence and self-esteem.

I attended Tuesday night’s rehearsal for their next show — a musical review featuring songs from shows performed during the last decade. Think “The Wizard of Oz,” “Oklahoma,” “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” “Grease,” “Guys and Dolls” and more. Then check out a few rehearsal photos — featuring cast members, coaches, interpreters and director Sam — below…

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The rehearsal was held at the John Paul Theatre on the Phoenix College campus, which you’re already familiar with if you attend Arizona Jewish Theatre Company productions. Turns out Detour is actually performing two shows at the John Paul Theatre this month.

“Into the Woods,” their first production featuring Detour actors as well as Detour coaches, opens Thurs., Jan. 5 and is also being performed Jan. 7, 8, 13 & 14. “Some of Our Best,” which sounded amazing during Tuesday’s rehearsal, runs Jan. 6-8, 12 & 14. There’s no cost to attend because the company has a “free for all, donate as you can policy.”

Detour recommends making reservations on their website or by calling 480-538-0874 so you’ll be assured a seat. To learn more, visit them online at detourcompanytheatre.org.

— Lynn

Coming up: The fine art of costumes, Learning from the masters

Photos: Lynn Trimble

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It takes a village

Sometimes it take a village of 19 youth actors from around the Valley

Sometimes it takes a village — which is just what you’ll enjoy this weekend if you attend a performance by Curtain Call Youtheatre, the educational division of the Arizona Jewish Theatre Company.

They’ll present “A Village of Idiots” — Sat, Dec 11 at 7pm, and Sun, Dec 12 at 2pm — at the John Paul Theatre at Phoenix College. The cast includes 19 young actors from around the Valley in a comedy based on “the tales of Chelm.”

But you needn’t wait until the weekend to enjoy Arizona arts and culture. The Arizona Humanities Council holds an “Authors’ Night/Fundraiser” Wed, Dec 8, at the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix.

The event features nationally renowned authors Matthew Whitaker and Cynthia Hogue, as well as photographer Rebecca Ross, exploring “the journey of Hurrican Katrina evacuee’s grief and hope through stories, poems and photographs.”

See Joel Sartore at the MAC

“America’s Great Wildlife Migrations” featuring Joel Santore, “National Geographic” photographer, also takes place Wed, Dec 8 — at the Mesa Arts Center.

For the “12 to 21” set, the Phoenix Art Museum presents “Speak & Slam 2.0” Wed, Dec 8, at 6:30pm. It’s their second installation of “original poetry and recitation” — held in partnership with the national “Poetry Out Loud” recitation contest. Young poets can practice performing for a live audience or come to support the readings of other youth.

Take time this season to support aspiring performers

Chandler-Gilbert Community College invites community members to attend a free “Student Actors’ Showcase” Fri, Dec 10 at 7pm in room Agave 155. 

They’re also offering a free event Mon, Dec 13 at their Arnette Scott Ward Performing Arts Center — a “Winter Sampler” featuring various vocal and musical ensembles. (Reservations at 480-732-7343 are required.)

The Phoenix Art Museum presents “PhxArtKid Day” Sun, Dec 12, for children ages 5-12 and their adult companions — which is free with museum admission. This “Gifts of the Season” event features exploration of art and the opportunity to create original art with a holday theme.

Adults and kids can attend the Phoenix Art Museum’s “Holiday Festival” Sun, Dec 12, from noon to 8pm — which features the 12:12pm unveiling of a new work of art. Other activities taking place at various times include a scavenger hunt, balloon dancing and more. Think strolling musicians. Adorable critters. And an ice igloo.

Make holiday cards at the Children's Museum of Phoenix

The Children’s Museum of Phoenix presents “Holiday Cards” Dec 7-12 in their art studio. It’s for children and adults who’d like to spend some time making artwork together — and it’s just one of many family-friendly activities and events they offer on a regular basis.

Exciting art projects can also be found at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa, which routinely offers times for children to create art while they’re at the museum to enjoy its many kid-friendly exhibits.

Young Arts of Arizona opened a new exhibit last Friday at their “Purple Space Gallery” in Phoenix. It features artwork by students at Phoenix Country Day School, who were inspired by an “Interpretations of Nature” theme.

If architecture is your thing, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art invites you to attend a free event on Sat, Dec 11. It’s the 11am-2pm “official public dedication” of the Soleri Bridge and Plaza. Related events (some with limited seating and/or an admission charge) are also scheduled — including a “VIP Tour of Cosanti,” a lecture/panel discussion and more.

"HAIR" has a tribe rather than village vibe

Broadway lovers can enjoy the touring production of  “HAIR” this week at ASU Gammage. If you like a bit of brunch with your Broadway, you can enjoy brunch on campus at the University Club before the Sun, Dec 12, matinee performance.

Dance aficionados have several options this week, including the “Breaking Ground 2010” dance and film festival presented by CONDER/dance Fri, Dec 10, at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

Enjoy dance at Chandler-Gilbert Community College

Chandler-Gilbert Community College presents a “Student Dance Showcase” at 8pm Fri, Dec 10, and Sat, Dec 11, at their Arnette Scott Ward Performing Arts Center in Chandler.

And those who donate cans of non-perishable food items to United Food Bank through a food drive at Kriti Dance in Chandler this weekend can enjoy a free trial class in Bollywood style dance Sun, Jan 9, 2011.

Finally, there’s the fine art of civic engagement — which you can practice this week at the State Capitol. Thurs, Dec 9, at 9am, the Arizona Capitol Museum will “celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Arizona Constitution with the opening of a new exhibit.”

It’s titled “We the People of Arizona….” At 2pm Governor Brewer and Secretary of State Ken Bennett will join others in commemorating the centennial of Arizona’s Constitutional Convention.

It really does take a village…

— Lynn

Note: Comprehensive daily listings of family-friendly events in the Valley of the Sun are always available online from Raising Arizona Kids magazine. Always call ahead to confirm event details — day/time, location, cost, age-appropriateness and such.

Coming up: A true Broadway baby

Photo credit: “HAIR” photo by Joan Marcus

World peace and local politics

My favorite arts experiences combine art as escapism with art as engagement.

Take my recent trip with Jennifer to hear Mark Johnson, creator and director of “Playing for Change,” speak about musicians coming together around the globe to promote peace through music.

It was a free event held the day “Playing for Change” performed an evening concert at the Musical Instrument Museum as part of their 2010-2011 theatre and film season.

We first heard “Playing for Change” when they performed at the Mesa Arts Center last season — and once is never enough.

As a small group of “Playing for Change” musicians performed — two vocalists, plus two on guitar and two on drums — I felt swept away from the day, yet fully in the moment.

But afterwards, my escapism shifted to engagement. Now I’m a mom in a movement. Cool.

Music is a fundamental means of self-discovery and self-expression. And a way to discover and explore the people and places all around us — both far and near.

In America, we enjoy another fundamental opportunity to express ourselves while working together for a collective good. It’s voting. And sure as we all tap our toes or hum a tune, we need to do it. The right to vote is something our fellow citizens have fought for and something we must never take for granted.

Would that all people had even a fraction of our freedoms. Sure, you’re free to stay home from the polls. But don’t assume those polls will always be there if people stop paying attention and participating.

Democracy isn’t a finished product, like a painting on the wall. It’s a piece of clay whose shape we continue to mold. It’s an art in many ways. And we’re all sculptors.

Perhaps that’s the appeal of political satire. It reminds us that democracy can be fragile, even fleeting.

Consider one of the Valley’s many Thanksgiving weekend traditions. It’s all the power, conflict, scandal and mayhem you can handle — set to your favorite tunes.

It’s “The Capitol Steps,” a Washington, D.C.-based group performing next month at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

But why celebrate mayhem or scandal? Because we can. Because we have freedom of speech, freedom of the press and more.

Because in America people of all ilks can sit side by side and enjoy songs like “Liberal Shop of Horrors” together.

I suspect “liberals” may laugh the loudest, as they’re one group of many to be musically mocked by this traveling troupe of singing political comedians.

“The Capitol Steps” performs Nov 26 & 27 — featuring works from their current repertoire of timely tidbits. There’s no telling what will be on the front burner by that point. But I’m eager to see what they’ll do with it.

— Lynn

Note: I learned while reading a recent issue of the Arizona Capitol Times that Arizona News Service will present “Rock the Capitol” Dec 8 from 4:30-6:30pm at the Wyndham Phoenix. It’s your opportunity to meet the freshmen of the Arizona state legislature. For information, contact veronica.mier@azcapitoltimes or call 602-889-7137.

Coming up: Stage Mom meets slide show — featuring photos taken by a lovely couple I met while enjoying “Playing for Change” at the MIM.

My “Lucky Stiff” riff

A dead body in a wheelchair. A woman who keeps her badly-needed eyeglasses in one boot and her pistol in the other. A lawyer prone to wearing pinstripe suits — backwards. And a woman who’s out to save the world, one dog at a time.

They’re all part of “Lucky Stiff,” the Flaherty & Ahrens musical being performed at Greasepaint Youtheatre this weekend by students from Arizona School for the Arts, a charter school in Phoenix that prides itself on academic and artistic achievement.

I received a lovely invitation from a social media group to speak at an event this evening, and had several other things on my radar as well — opening weekend for Phoenix Theatre’s “3 Redneck Tenors” and opening night for the Scottsdale International Film Festival at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

I’d hoped to pop in to meet the social media folks before “Lucky Stiff” started at 7pm, but I had box office duty and needed to hit Greasepaint before patrons started to arrive.

It’s been awhile since I’ve done that gig and I’d forgotten how truly fun it is to meet and greet everyone as they arrive. I met several grandparents there to support grandchildren performing in the show.

One, bearing two dozen pink roses for her granddaughter, enthusiastically offered to join the ASA theatre department booster club — and I can tell she’ll be great fun to work with.

A delightful fellow parent I met earlier in the day while chaperoning the ASA Glee Choir for a performance at the federal courthouse in downtown Phoenix came with friends — including one of Lizabeth’s elementary school teachers. And if you’re reading this: We still have the Raggedy Ann doll you sewed so many years ago for the Desert View Learning Center auction.

An actor Lizabeth performed with in “Oliver!” last season stopped by the box office to say hello during intermission, mostly because he’s wondering whatever became of some quotes he gave me ages ago on the Fox TV series “Glee.” Alas — we’re rarely able to use all the good material we find out there.

He told me about his latest project — acting with a Mesa Community College troupe that performs in Valley elementary schools. I felt a little teary eyed when he told me he was playing a lion, recalling how the theater community lost Scott Jeffers last season as he was performing the lead in Childsplay’s “Androcles & the Lion.”

I was volunteering alongside several other parents — all of whom put in far more time than I do (though they surely have less of it to give). One shared with me that she is directing “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” which opened at East Valley Children’s Theatre this weekend, and invited me to come out and see the show. (Whatever will I wear?)

I was reminded that I’ve long wanted to write about playwriting for youth when I visited the East Valley Children’s Center website and discovered that they’ve posted information on their latest playwriting contest — so more on that later. It’s not an easy thing to write about because the people who are out there writing all these shows are way-beyond-busy, but I’m going to keep up the chase.

And what of “Lucky Stiff?” Somewhere tonight there’s a weary volunteer or ASA theater teacher trying to make sense of my hash marks on the ‘will call’ sheet. But there are also plenty of proud parents, grandparents, friends and others who had a fabulous Friday evening of farce.

It’s not too late to see the show–which runs again Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The students are all working their farces off and there’s some serious talent in the mix.

I feel so grateful for the many theater folk who come together every day on stages the world over, and hope you’ll join me in honoring their work by going to see a show — any show — with open heart and mind.

–Lynn

Note: This little riff is what I like to call a “bonus blog”– it wasn’t on my editorial calendar but I felt moved to write it after having such a great day of theater play…and about six shots of espresso.

Coming up: You tell me…drop a line and share your ideas for future posts!

“Lucky Stiff” is appropriate for ages 12 & up only.

Making Mother’s Day memories

My Mother’s Day got off to an early start when my 19-year-old daughter Jennifer joined me for an evening of music under the stars at the final concert of this season’s “Desert Sky” outdoor amphitheatre series at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Earlier in the day, mothers from all walks of life gathered nearby at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art for readings of Mothers Who Write participants past and present.

I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the folks who cruise up and down Scottsdale Rd. on weekends searching for just the right bar or dance joint. It’s ever so much lovlier–and livelier—on the grounds of Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza.

I never tire of the magic of this place—with its winding paths through lush lawns and gorgeous gardens, its spectacular public library and lake, its museum of contemporary art and plenty of hotspots that are practically works of art in their own right.

LOVE sculpture in Scottsdale

I’ve been strolling the grounds for more than two decades—including the sweltering late August night I decided to walk my way into labor with my first child, now nearing his 21st birthday. We still love poking around the place with our cameras or picnic fare.

Saturday night Jennifer and I enjoyed performances by two bands featuring fiddles and frivolity—Bearfoot (who’ll play the Sedona Bluegrass Festival on Mother’s Day) and Solas.

We were among several hundred folks who came out to enjoy the night sky, the music both merry and melodic, and the delectable edibles of Arcadia Farms (think apples, Brie, strawberry chicken salad and more).

We passed children frolicking on the lawn, seniors dancing to Michael Buble songs played between sets, romantic types swapping backrubs (all G-rated, mind you) and even a gentleman blissfully napping in his lawn chair before Solas took the stage.

There’s ever so much bickering these days about how our tax dollars get spent, but I couldn’t be more proud of my city than when I see places like Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza bring together people from across generations to enjoy music, theater, dance and visual arts together.

I’m hoping Tuesday night finds me off duty as the “teen taxi” so I can hit the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts for the final film in this season’s “Talk Cinema” series. It’s a “festival-style” experience featuring independent and foreign films with post-viewing discussions.

I’ll be eagerly watching the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts website for news of their offerings during the upcoming season. But for now, I’m off to enjoy some quality ‘me time’ with Betty White on Saturday Night Live before drifting off to sleep with memories of Jennifer (rocking her Irish American pride ala green O’Bama t-shirt with shamrock) gently nudging my shoulder between jigs.

–Lynn

Photo: Cool Kids Camp participants with one of many pieces of sculpture at Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza (courtesy of Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts). Watch for more photos of Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza coming after Christopher and I enjoy some time together sorting through our photo collection and/or heading out for a Mother’s Day photo shoot.

Note: Consider making an arts adventure part of your Mother’s Day celebration. Just check the online calendar for Raising Arizona Kids magazine (and Friday’s “Stage Mom” post) for ideas. Today is your last chance to experience Nilaja Sun’s “No Child” presented by Actors Theatre, and the perfect day to “whizz bang” away with Childsplay and “The Big Friendly Giant.”

Coming up: Review of “The Big Friendly Giant”—based on the Roald Dahl book, adapted for the stage by David Wood and performed par excellence by Childsplay.

Richard III: Magnificent Malevolence

Tragically, there are people who’ve looked into the eyes of pure evil—some long ago in faraway places, others closer to home in our own day and age.

I don’t count myself among them, but after seeing Southwest Shakespeare Company perform “Richard III” Friday night, I’ve seen evil personified with uncanny clarity.

“Richard III” is nothing short of masterful, and warrants a much longer run. But alas—the final two performances are at 2pm and 7:30pm today at Mesa Arts Center.

If you’re a Shakespeare devotee, you have to see it. If you’re a Shakespeare novice, you have to see it. If you’re breathing, you have to see it. It’s that good.

You should never merely read Shakespeare, according to Maren Maclean (Queen Margaret)—who also happens to be teacher and mentor to my youngest daughter, Lizabeth. Instead, says Maclean, Shakespeare’s works are meant to be performed.

Simply reading Shakespeare’s “Richard III” might have left me ambivalent about the moral bankruptcy of its title character, but seeing Bo Foxworth perform the role made it glisten like a perfectly polished dagger in the moonlight.

I’ve seen other actors portray characters devoid of all human decency—including Anthony Hopkins as “Dr. Hannibal Lecter” in “The Silence of the Lambs” and Heath Ledger as “The Joker” in “The Dark Knight.”

But sitting in the audience of an intimate theater as Foxworth’s Richard III gleefully and glibly orchestrates the demoralization or death of everyone around him offers a visceral experience of evil that’s unmatched.

There’s no blood and gore, though you will see a head wrapped up for delivery to Richard III. Two young princes are murdered at Richard III’s behest, but we see only their tender limp bodies as they’re gently laid into a shared coffin.

There’s an elaborate fight scene near the end of the piece which is brilliantly executed with gusto and grace. The scenic design is clean, simple and mostly symmetrical throughout. The lighting is powerful yet perfectly poised.

The subject matter may be dark, but it’s far from morose. Artistic director Jared Sakren, who joined the cast for a “talk back” with audience members after Friday evening’s performance, described the work as “dark but funny.”

Throughout the performance, audience members reacted with a mixture of gasps and giggles. “Shakespeare wrote a lot of comedy into it,” observed Sakren.

You know, I think I’m starting to warm up to this Shakespeare guy.

The cast is superb—from the youngest actors (ages 11, 12 and 15) to those with extensive Shakespeare training and stage experience. Read their bios when you take in the show—you’ll discover some fascinating and intriguing folk.

In closing, let me leave you with a couple of audience member reflections shared with cast members during the talkback…

One gentleman described the comic twist to Richard III’s character as “just delicious”—and “perfectly balanced” with the evil he exuded.

Another imagined himself a judge on a TV reality show competition. “If I was Len on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ I’d say this was your best dance ever.”

–Lynn

Note: “Shakespeare at the Biltmore”–presented by the Arizona Biltmore and the Southwest Shakespeare Company–will take place June 3-5 and 10-12 as part of the Arizona Biltmore “Hollywood & Wine” series which runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Tickets are $30 person or $50 for a “festival ticket” to enjoy both Southwest Shakespeare Company productions. Info and tickets at 800-950-0086 (ask for the concierge desk) or www.arizonabiltmore.com.

Coming up: Update featuring books on Shakespeare recommended by “Richard III” cast members, Enjoying outdoor arts and entertainment (I’m hitting the Scottsdale Center for the Arts with Jennifer tonight to enjoy Solas & Bearfoot under the stars)

Dracula, catwalks and Celtic fusion

Dance meets fashion. Moms with pens meet the podium. Richard III and Dracula meet their fate. Latino art and music meet enthusiastic audiences. It’s all part of another Valley weekend rich in arts and culture.

These are some of your choices for quality grown-up or family-friendly time with the arts…

Dance

Chandler-Gilbert Community College Performing Arts Department presents “Student Dance Showcase” Friday, May 7 & 8 at 8pm. Arnette Scott Ward Performing Arts Center in Chandler. 480-732-7343 or www.cgc.edu/arts.

CONDER/dance presents “Dance for Camera: Dance Film Fest” Saturday, May 8 at 8pm. Short dance films created by local and national filmmakers. Tempe Center for the Arts. 480-350-2822 or http://www.tempe.gov/TCA/.

Scorpius Dance Theatre presents “Catwalk” through Sunday, May 9 (times vary). Original contemporary dance production fusing funky local fashions, sexy athleticism, and choreography by Lisa Starry. Phoenix Theatre (staged on a Little Theatre runway). 602-254-2151 or www.scorpiusdance.com.

Festivals

Chamber Music Sedona presents “Sedona Bluegrass Festival” through Sunday, May 9 (times vary). Creekside at Los Abrigados. 928-204-2415 or www.chambermusicsedona.org.

Hoodlums Music & Movies presents “Hoodstock 2010: Two Days of Rock & Art to Help Kids” Friday, May 7 and Saturday, May 8 (times vary). Hoodlums in Tempe (with participating merchants). 480-775-2722 or www.hoodlumsmusic.com.

Film

Tempe Center for the Arts presents “Border Film Festival” Friday, May 7 and Saturday/Sunday, May 8 & 9 (times vary). Features five of Paul Espinosa’s award-winning documentaries for PBS exploring the history and culture of the Southwestern border region (followed by moderated discussion with Espinosa and humanities scholar). Free admission. 480-350-2822 or www.tempe.gov/tca/calendar.

Music

Chandler Symphony presents “Sound from the Southwest-Music of Hispanic Composers” Friday, May 7 at 7:30pm. Chandler Center for the Arts. 480-899-3447 or www.chandlersymphony.org.

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts presents “Outdoor Desert Sky Series: Solas & Bearfoot” Saturday, May 8 at 7:30pm. Features Celtic fusion of Irish, folk and country music with “jazzy improvisation and global rhythms.” Scottsdale Civic Center Amphitheater. 480-994-2787 or www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org.

Southwest Symphony presents “From Paris…With Love” Saturday, May 8 at 2:30pm. Mesa Arts Center. 480-644-6500 or www.mesaartscenter.com.

Theater

Desert Hills High School Theatre Department presents “Dracula: The Musical?” Through May 8 at 7pm. Mesa Arts Center. 480-644-6500 or www.mesaartscenter.com.

Mesa Arts Center presents “Penn and Teller” Friday, May 7 at 8pm. Features unique combination of magic and comedy. Mesa Arts Center. 480-644-6500 or www.mesaartscenter.com.

Southwest Shakespeare Company presents “Richard III” through Saturday, May 8. Mesa Arts Center. 480-644-6500 or www.mesartscenter.com (Read “Stage Mom” review in tomorrow’s post).

Visual Art

Artlink Phoenix presents “First Friday” May 7 6-10pm. Tour more than 70 galleries, venues and art-related spaces via free shuttles or self-guided map. Tours start at Phoenix Art Museum. 602-256-7539 or www.artlinkphoenix.com.

The City of Phoenix presents “Opening Reception: Arte Latino en la Ciudad” Friday, May 7 from 6-8pm. Phoenix Center for the Arts. 602-262-4627 or www.phoenix.gov.

Writing

Mothers Who Write presents the “8th Annual Mother Who Write/Mothers Who Read Mothers Day Weekend Reading” Saturday, May 8 at 2pm. Scottsdale Center for the Arts. Current/former students read their work. Admission free but some material may not be suitable for children. www.motherswhowrite.com.

Additional activities (including several children’s theater productions) are noted on the Raising Arizona Kids online calendar. Please check with presenting venues and companies before attending to confirm event date/time, recommended ages, location and cost.

–Lynn

Note: If you’re excited about an event we didn’t have room to mention here, feel free to comment briefly below to let our readers know.

Coming up: Roald Dahl makes his way to two Valley theater productions

Show & tell (top to bottom): Poster for CGCC Student Dance Showcase, Poster for Hoodlum’s Hoodstock, Photo of Solas (coming to Scottsdale Center for the Arts), Photo of Penn and Teller (coming to Mesa Arts Center) and Painting of Richard III (who no doubt sends his regrets because he’s dead)