Tag Archives: Strange Bedfellows

NYC in Scottsdale?

My husband James stumbled on a great pizza joint last Friday night while making a pet store run. Lovebirds can’t do pizza, so Trixy got bird food and we got slices from Joe’s New York Pizza in Scottsdale. Cheese for Lizabeth and Hawaiian for me.

March for gay rights in NYC, 1976 (Photo: Warren K. Leffler)

He walked in the door with dinner just after I’d watched a CNN broadcast of a short speech by New York governor Andrew Cuomo. The occasion for Cuomo’s remarks was the passage of a marriage equality act in the New York legislature.

I already had New York on the brain because I was readying for this week’s trip to NYC for Lizabeth’s college orientation. Lizabeth starts a B.F.A. in acting program this fall.

As Lizabeth weighed possible colleges earlier in the year, I was mindful of the political landscape in the various states where she might go to school — though I never mentioned things like my Cuomo versus Christie musings.

Cuomo spoke last Friday night of New York as a “social justice” state. “I’m always proud to be a New Yorker,” said Cuomo. “But tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Yorker.” Cuomo was among those leading the fight for marriage equality in New York.

In his remarks, Cuomo spoke of New York’s leadership in several fights for equal rights — the movement for women’s rights, the push for worker’s rights after the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the most recent battle — equal marriage rights for gay and straight couples.

“Social justice,” said Cuomo, “is an evolutionary process.” He recognized others who’d championed this cause for New York citizens, and praised “the advocacy community from across the nation.” I’m sure some in Scottsdale embraced the vote with a “we’re all New Yorkers tonight” mindset.

I’m thrilled to be enjoying NYC with Lizabeth this week, but there are folks in Scottsdale that I’ll be missing while we’re away. Trixy, Pinky, Rugby — plus James and our other two children, also college students. But also Lizabeth’s teachers from the Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre, where she studied theater last summer.

Before we marched for marriage equality, we marched for women's rights and workers' rights

The conservatory presents its 2011 performance at the Scottsdale Community College Performing Arts Center Wed, June 29 and Thurs, June 30. They’re presenting “Strange Bedfellows,” which is set in my daughter Jennifer’s favorite city — San Francisco. They have a thing for civil rights too.

“Strange Bedfellows” is the tale of Senator Cromwell, “a politician who keeps his women under stern rule.” His son, Matthew Cromwell, is a young congressman who “dutifully follows in his father’s political footsteps — except when he marries a beautiful and determined suffragette.”

It examines “the coming of age of a woman’s right to vote” — and features “the escapades that ensue as the suffragette converts the women in the Cromwell family to her way of thinking.” Who doesn’t love a good conversion story?

I’m told that “shades of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and San Francisco’s brothel district come into play as each side tries to out-maneuver and out-smart the other.” Aristophanes, by the way, was a comedic playwright of ancient Greece.

I know the actors, theater professionals and teachers of Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre played a part in helping Lizabeth achieve her dream of studying and making theater in NYC — and I’m grateful.

Thanks to James and Joe’s New York Pizza, we can always enjoy a bit of NYC in Scottsdale. But this week, we’re carrying thoughts of Scottsdale with us in New York.

— Lynn

Note: Check out the “Stay Fancy Free” blog for more nifty black-and-white photos of suffragettes — plus lovely fiber arts fare. Click here to check out the site where I found the photo shot while the Democratic National Convention was in NYC during 1976.

Coming up: Shakespeare NYC-style, A stroll through the theater district, NYC: museum highlights

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Forbidden love

Funny meets forbidden love in The Mikado at Chandler-Gilbert Community College (Pictured: Cast with Kevin Petersen as Nanki-Poo and Holly King as Yum-Yum at far left)

Forbidden love is easy to find onstage or on the big screen —  and even on all sorts of little screens. I chatted recently with college sophomore Kevin Petersen of Mesa about his role in a tale of forbidden love opening at Chandler-Gilbert Community College Friday, June 24.

Julian Pena as The Mikado of Japan in the CGCC production that runs June 24-29

His character is expected to marry someone of his father’s choosing, something he has no interest in doing. So his character runs away, only to find true love with another. But there’s a catch. The girl of his dreams has been promised, against her will, to another.

She’s set to wed the town executioner, making any thought of carrying on an illicit love affair feel especially dangerous. The young man on the run, who has disguised himself as a traveling minstrel, decides to keep running — but thoughts of the girl haunt him still.

And so he returns to woo her, but with what result? Does he keep his head? Lose his heart? Continue to run? Or settle down? You won’t know until you go. Unless you happen to be a fan of Gilbert & Sullivan, who wrote the work being performed by Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

It’s “The Mikado” — and it’s being presented at CGCC June 24-29. “It’s a really fun and goofy show,” quips Petersen, a vocal music education major who is thrilled with the opportunity to further hone his acting chops. He also appeared in the the CGCC production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” which takes forbidden love to a whole other level.

“The show is good for all ages,” says Petersen. Not something you can say about many of the more contemporary tales of forbidden love out there these days. Petersen believes its many subplots add to the work’s appeal. Think Japan in an age of British Imperialism. 

Holly King (Yum-Yum) and Kevin Petersen (Nanki-Poo) during a dress rehearsal for the CGCC production of The Mikado

Petersen’s older brother Jacob, who auditioned hoping to enjoy a bit more brother-to-brother time, is also performing in “The Mikado.” He loves the way Gilbert and Sullivan, both British, manage to poke fun at their own culture through characters who pride themselves for supposed superiority over Japanese characters and ways.

Two of Jacob Petersen’s children also perform in “The Mercado” — and Petersen himself did several theater productions during his student years. He agrees the work is good for audiences of all ages — noting that there’s a lot of action constantly moving the work forward.

Marren Sanders as Katisha in Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado at CGCC

Jacob Petersen shares that this production features some “modernized” language that makes the dialogue more accessible and easier to understand than it was originally. When the executioner riffs about folks he might like to do away with, for example, he offers a modern-day twist.

After chatting with the Petersen brothers, I have a whole new appreciation for “The Mikado.” I used to think “old” and “operetta.” Now I think “classic” and “comedic.” If you’re not familiar with the works of Gilbert & Sullivan, or you’re game for supporting students working to translate their artistry for a new generation, set aside some time to enjoy “The Mikado” at CGCC.

Short of finding and following a Lady Gaga tour bus, this seems your best chance to enjoy paper mache wigs and all the good fun that goes along with them.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for “The Mikado” show dates/times and ticketing information. If you missed their production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” click here to learn when you can enjoy the musical performed by Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert.

Coming up: Review of “War Horse” on Broadway, Theater Works presents “Romeo & Juliet,” More comedy meets community college, “Stage Mom” hits NYC museums

Photos courtesy of Chandler-Gilbert Community College

Strange bedfellows

Bill (Michael Sheen) and Kate (Maria Bello) make strange bedfellows in the film Beautiful Boy

Bill and Kate make strange bedfellows in a recently released film titled “Beautiful Boy,” which I saw at Harkins Camelview 5 with my 18-year-old daughter Lizabeth last weekend. The film’s creators describe it as “an unconventional love story of a married couple on the verge of separation.”

The woman, Kate (Maria Bello), sleeps in a dark four-poster bed placed against a neutral-colored wall decorated with three white diamonds, one centered above the other two, that appear to be made of antique fabric or lace. The man, Bill (Michael Sheen), sleeps in another bedroom, or on a couch — and spends a lot of time searching online listings for his own place.

They sit on separate beds, talking on different phones, as their son Sammy (Kyle Gallner) calls home one evening. He’s away for his first year of college, and this night will be his last. The next morning, he commits a horrible act of school violence before turning the gun on himself.

But “Beautiful Boy” isn’t his story. It’s the story of his parents’ relationship in the aftermath of his act. It’s eloquently conveyed by a script and director who use various beds and sleeping arrangements to move the audience through the evolution of their marriage, and their attempts to come to grips with “shared grief and confusion.”

This is a quiet film with a loud voice. The writing, acting and directing are exceptional — and the visual elements are exquisite. It was written by Shawn Ku (also the film’s director) and Michael Armbruster. In a “director’s statement” available online, Ku writes of a friend’s death and his family’s ties to a university where a tragic shooting really did take place.

Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre 2011 performs Strange Bedfellows later this month

To experience strange bedfellows of an entirely different sort, head to Scottsdale Community College Wed, June 29 or Thurs, June 30 at 7pm — when a comedy titled “Strange Bedfellows” will be performed by students from this summer’s Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre, a five-week intensive theater training program held at SCC and headed by Randy Messersmith.

Set in San Francisco during 1896, “Strange Bedfellows” tells the story of “the coming of age of a woman’s right to vote.” Apparently outrageous escapades abound as a suffragette converts the women in an especially chauvenistic family to her way of thinking.

Seems the two sides — men favoring the status quo and women working for significant social change — try to out-maneuver and out-smart each other, creating all manner of chaos (and comedy) along the way. The show first opened on Broadway in 1947 and ran for 229 performances.

Messersmith notes that Colin Clements and Florence Ryerson, a husband and wife playwriting team, wrote more than 50 plays and screenplays during their prolific careers. Director Elaine E.E. Moe shares that “Strange Bedfellows” is long on satire, double entendres and innuendo — but says its themes remain poignant, relevant and thought-provoking for contemporary audiences.

Whether navigating personal grief and loss, or larger societal shifts, couples often become strange bedfellows. And the rest of us, it seems, never tire of watching.

— Lynn

Note: Tickets for “Strange Bedfellows” run $10 ($8 for students or seniors with valid I.D.), and can be purchased through www.showup.com or at the door (box office opens one hour prior to show). Both the film and play featured in this post are recommended for older teens and up.

Coming up: Playing “20 Questions,” Lynn & Liz see “War Horse” on Broadway, Art meets economy