Tag Archives: Sound of Music

From Shakespeare to slam

Childsplay meets The Hunger Games July 9-20

I returned home from NYC to a modest stack of mail that included a piece I anticipate reading each spring — the Childsplay Summer Academy schedule. I’m amazed each year by the collection of offerings they put together, and know firsthand that these puppies can fill up fast before dawdling parents decide on summer camp options with their children. So here’s a roundup of a few selections I found especially fanciful…

First, two options in mixed age classes — weeklong “Musical Theatre Marathon” classes for ages 8-15 and one-day “Midsummer Days” classes for ages 7-12. Musical theater themes include Footloose, Aladdin, Wizard of Oz, Sound of Music, Glee Club, Mary Poppins, Lion King and Alice in Wonderland.

I’m especially delighted with that last one given a recent blurb in The New York Times noting a Variety report that Broadway director and choreographer Rob Ashford was recently tapped for a staged musical adaptation of Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” film.

Four “On Stage Classes” including voice, choreographed movement and character work culminate with a performance at the Tempe Performing Arts Center. And there are two special “Middle School/High School” options, including “Deconstruction Zone: To Kill a Mockingbird” and
“Exploring Literature: The Hunger Games.”

Childsplay meets Fancy Nancy in June

Childsplay also offers eight classes in each of four age groups. Options for ages 4-6 include “Story Journeys” a la Fancy Nancy and Pinkalicious. Kids ages 5-7 can enjoy “Step into Spanish,” “Fractured Fairytales” and more. Classes for ages 6-9 include “Story Journeys: Magic Tree House” and “Poetry in Motion,” and choices for ages 8-12 include “Shakespeare’s Tempest,” “Poetry Slam” and “Story Drama: Harry Potter.”

Like many of the works performed by Childsplay for young audiences, several of their camps are literature-based and feature literacy-related themes. Think fairy tales, young adult novels, classic children’s series and more. (The Childsplay production of “Tomás and the Library Lady” opens with an April 7 preview at Tempe Center for the Performing Arts.)

They’ve got “Music Makers” for kids who dig music — plus options tailored to children who love pirates, dinosaurs, superheros and other sorts of adventure tales. Favorites are already filling up, so now’s the time to do your parent homework on the subject of summer camps.

You can jump online to see a full range of options, or call to request their nifty brochure that breaks everything down by age, theme and dates — and shares fun details about everything from extended care options to performances for family and friends.

Childsplay meets Shakespeare's Tempest in June

Camps are offered at two locations — the Campus for Imagination and Wonder and the Tempe Performing Arts Center (home to Childsplay before their move to a new Tempe campus at Mitchell Park named for Sybil B. Harrington).

There’s little sincerity when the orphans in “Annie” chime “We love you Miss Hannigan,” but I’m genuinely grateful for generous donations by Harrington and others that make theater experiences possible for our children and teens.

In a world where developing intellect, creativity, problem solving and social skills is so critical to learning, working, loving and being an active, engaged citizen, theater companies and other arts organizations serving youth are a necessity, not a luxury.

— Lynn

Note: Raising Arizona Kids subscribers receive our summer camp issue each year, and additional information about summer camp options is available at www.raisingarizonakids.com.

Coming up: Tears for two daughters, Women’s art goes global


Art awakenings

Works created through the Art Awakenings program which are being exhibited at the ASU Kerr Cultural Center in Scottdale through Feb. 28

I headed up to the ASU Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale Thursday morning to enjoy an exhibit of art works created through Art Awakenings, a program of the PSA Behavioral Health Agency that’s designed to “promote empowerment and recovery through the power of creative expression with adults and youth who face behavioral health challenges.”

Works by adult artists in the Arts Awakening program are being exhibited at ASU Kerr Cultural Center through Feb. 28 — and you can enjoy additional works, created by young and adult artists at several Art Awakenings studios, at various venues throughout the Valley. Enjoy these photos of works exhibited at ASU Kerr Cultural Center…

“Broken Pieces of Happiness” by Chris Valdez, who wrote: I had a dream that I was walking along a beautiful landscape, and as I walked it started to crack.

“Seeking Enlightenment” (detail) by Eeny Hamlin, who wrote: Between the sea and sky she meditates to connect her mind with the powers of the universe…The artist was striving for serenity, strength, and hope.

“Donkey on the Roof” by Alfred Mendoza

“Enigma V” (detail) by B Hill

“Fire” by Ignacio Biancas, who wrote: The painting represents me being bold and strong, it represents me expressing the intensity and passion I have within, and the expression that I feel I need to get out.

“Guardian of the Path to the Crescent” by Vincent Cienfuegos

” Inner Worlds” by Amy B. Young

“Jesus and His Horse” (detail) by Alfred Mendoza

“Guardian of the Path to the Crescent” by Vincent Cienfuegos (left), “Pristine Ocean” by Jayne Kerr Turconi (top), “Arctic Adventure” by Cheryl (bottom) and “King Kong” (right) by Kendall Tewers

“Pequento Rio Colorado” by Jon Hansen

“Sunflower” by Tammy Palomino, who wrote: I have been painting flowers for many years…I love to paint them up close, to show not just the colors but the workings of a flower. The stamen, pollen and insects, which are necessary for their existence.

“Willie Nelson” by Jayne Kerr Turconi

“Punk Dudes Go to see Sound of Music” by Lori Wilson

“Sunset Kokopelli” by B Hill, who wrote: My paintings reflect the joy, excitement and satisfaction that I experience while creating. I live to paint, each painting is an original one of a kind investment in happiness.

Most of the works pictured above are for sale. Click here to learn more about Art Awakenings, find additional exhibits of Art Awakenings works or get details about donating supplies or purchasing pieces of art. Click here for information on upcoming exhibits and performances at the ASU Kerr Cultural Center.

— Lynn

Coming up: Finding art in Fountain Hills, Festival celebrates Black History Month, Cholla meets cherry blossom

Puppetry meets Tony Awards®

Handspring Puppet Company will receive a special Tony Award on June 12 for puppets used in the Tony nominated play titled War Horse (Photo by Joan Marcus)

It’s tempting to associate puppetry with preschoolers, especially when you’re a Valley parent whose children first encountered the art form attending shows by the Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix.

Their production of “The Three Little Pigs,” recommended for ages “pre-K and up” runs through this Sunday, so folks with children who’ve yet to experience a live puppet show can check it out this weekend.

But the Great Arizona Puppet Theater knows that adults appreciate good puppetry too. Hence they offer monthly “Puppet Slams” — adults-only shows that they describe as “quirky” and “edgy.” (This month’s slams take place June 3 & 4.)

Cast members and puppets from the Phoenix Theatre production of Avenue Q

Puppets — and those who conceive, design, build and operate them — rarely get the credit they deserve. Creating puppets is an art form, and operating them a skilled blend of artistry and athleticism. Just ask the cast from Phoenix Theatre’s recent production of “Avenue Q.” I’m told even their fittest actors worked some body parts much harder than you might expect while venturing into puppet land.

Valley actress Manda Lee Blunt will soon be learning by doing in the puppetry department as she performs with (and without) a puppet in the upcoming Hale Children’s Theatre production of “Little Shop of Horrors” — being performed at the Gilbert venue this summer (and best, they tell me, for ages 12 & up).

I chatted Friday afternoon with producers assistant Cameron Tryon, who shared that they’ll be using four different puppets in the show. One of the show’s main characters is a plant that grows, and ultimately envelopes one of the show’s human characters. So the final puppet has to be substantial in size.

Puppetry in theater isn’t new, but it’s still rather rare. Broadway works incorporating puppets include not only “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Avenue Q” but also “The Sound of Music” and “The Lion King” — all musicals.

The Lion King, another Tony Award winner, features several types of animal puppets

But there’s a play on Broadway now that features life-size horse puppets. It’s called “War Horse” and it’s nominated for five Tony Awards® — for best play, best direction of a play, best scenic design of a play, best lighting design of a play and best sound design of a play.

The puppets used in “War Horse,” which is based on a novel of the same name, were created by master puppeteers at the Cape Town-based Handspring Puppet Company in South Africa. An article available on the Tony Awards® website notes that they’re crafted of cane, wire and fabric.

Handpsring Puppet Company will receive a Special Award at this year’s Tony Awards® — which will be broadcast on CBS on Sun, June 12. I’d love to catch the play when I’m in NYC helping Lizabeth get settled into college life, but have plenty of puppet-related theater to enjoy here in the Valley in the meantime.

Blakeley Slaybaugh as Pinocchio in the musical Shrek (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Though no puppetry will be used in the Hale Children’s Theatre production of “Pinocchio” opening Sat, June 11, I’m still eager to see the show. This tale of a wooden puppet who longs to become a real boy is one of my favorite works of children’s theater because it’s full of fascinating characters and lends itself to wonderfully imaginative sets, costumes and props.

My daughter Jennifer, now 20, performed in a Greasepaint Youtheatre production of “Pinocchio” more than ten years ago — so the show has sentimental appeal. It’s perfect for introducing children to live theater, and great fun to couple with frequent reading of the story about the little puppet with big dreams.

Theater Works in Peoria began adding “Puppet Works” shows just this season, so they’re another local resource for families who want to explore the live theater/puppetry mix.

Be ready to make your own puppets at home once you get back from seeing these shows. Theater inspires creativity long after the curtain closes, so stock up now on craft supplies like popsicle sticks, yarn, googly eyes, markers, construction paper and pom poms that you can turn into puppets or other characters.

War Horse is nominated for Best Play and four other Tony Awards (Photo by Joan Marcus)

And take a peek at the “War Horse” website. There’s more to puppetry than animating old white socks.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about a book titled “Handspring Puppet Company,” which explores their philosophy of puppetry and technical innovations. The book (at right) includes essays by theater professionals and writers who have collaborated with the company — and features numerous photos of the company’s work.

Coming up: Valley venue holds Tony Awards® contest

“Harry” tales

Like so many teens, my now 17-year-old daughter, Lizabeth, grew up reading J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books over and over again – cracking each one the night we bought it and finishing the first read-through by daybreak.

I’ve never made time for the series, aside from ten minutes spent hidden in a small upstairs bathroom the night we brought home two copies of the last book in the series – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Even then, I only read the last several pages. But I feel more inspired now having seen the first part of series finale. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” presents an intriguing storyline with interesting characters, which is more than I can say for a lot of the other movies out there these days.

I’m always most fascinated by Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) because I find his motives and intentions so hard to read. Knowing he despised Harry’s father but adored Harry’s mother gives me one piece of the puzzle, but I’m eager to find that final piece. And, truth be told, I find his black garb and brooding brow strangely appealing.

Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), whose “control freak” qualities have long been evident, is especially endearing when trying to lead her male partner on the dance floor – and when she fidgets for all sort of gadgets to save the day deep within the recesses of her bottomless handbag of sorts.

It felt a little like my mind at times, which seemed constantly to be finding snippets of other stories within this boy wizard saga.

First, there’s the larger historical context – both past and present – in a world of competing ideologies and powerful propaganda.

But also, so many other stories I’ve enjoyed during earlier trips to the movie theater.

Watching Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and friends cross over a tall mountain in escape mode conjured images of Maria (Julie Andrews) escaping with her VonTrapp family from Nazi Germany in The Sound of Music.

I invited my husband James to play an impromptu game of “free association” with me when Lizabeth and I returned home from Monday’s press screening.

One by one, I described scenes from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that felt eerily familiar. For every one, he quickly offered names of corresponding movies like E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial and The Wizard of Oz.

This seems to confirm one of Lizabeth’s oft-made observations about my movie-going experiences. Apparently taking in a movie as a simple way to enjoy a bit of good clean fun is never enough for me — or feels too great an indulgence.

There’s always some deeper meaning and a myriad of connections to other things housed in my head or my heart.

Perhaps that’s the real joy of movie-going. It’s at once a chance to delve farther, dig deeper – both within the small realm we call home and the larger world that is home to us all.

As for this one piece of cinematic art, it’s clearly the best so far in the Harry Potter series.

I wouldn’t take the little ones because there’s some pretty frightening visual fare (it’s rated PG-13). But do take the action-adventure lovers in your life – they’ll love the many chase scenes on land and by air.

Between fairy tales and the “Harry tales,” there’s a whole world of storytelling out there that speaks to us on all sorts of levels.

Are you listening?


Note: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows opened today at midnight throughout the Valley so check your local listings for theater locations and times.

Coming up: Preview of upcoming film festivals in Arizona, Musings on our “Les Mis” movie-going experience