Tag Archives: The Sound of Plaid

Memorial Day music and more

You’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy live music this Memorial Day weekend—including the Phoenix Symphony’s “Red, White and Blue” concert at Symphony Hall in Phoenix on Sat, May 29, at 2:30pm (pre-show activities start at 1:30pm).

If you’re looking for some free musical entertainment, check out the “Free Sunday Night Concert Series” with local musicians at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale on Sun, May 30, at 7:30pm. Take some pocket money for optional food and train/carousel rides.

Bjorn Eriksson, Will Bates, Ryan Kitkowski, Josh Kirkorsky-Greasepaint Youtheatre's "The Sound of Plaid"

Indulge in a little nostalgia as the barbershop quartet “2 Under Par” performs at Greasepaint Youtheatre (formerly Stagebrush Theatre) in Scottsdale on Fri, May 28, at 6:30pm. The concert is free for ticket holders to the 7pm Greasepaint Youtheatre performance of “The Sound of Plaid”–a musical revue featuring pop hits of the ’50s.

If folk music and the blues is your thing, enjoy a “Hollywood Live on Stage” event featuring “The Bacon Brothers Live in Concert” (actor Kevin and musician Michael) at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix on Sat, May 29 and Sun, May 30 (both indoors at 8pm with doors opening at 7pm).

For those of you who like a bit of splash with your music, there’s an “Evening Tour of the Preserve” for all ages at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert on Fri, May 28, at 7pm. The tour features “stories, nature and music” so you might learn a little something too. (The riparian habitat, in which life depends on bodies of water, is considered the rarest natural community in Arizona.)

Plaid's Ryan Kitkowski, Will Bates, Bjorn Eriksson, Maya Granger, Josh Kirkorsky, Emilie Doering

If film is more your thing and you’re eager to enjoy some “adult content” time without the kiddos, visit the Phoenix Art Museum on Sun, May 30, at 1pm for the “No Festival Required” presentation of “Tokyo is Dreaming.” The film portrays several aspects of city life—including work, travel and leisure—plus issues like homelessness and alienation. The film’s director, producer and composer will all attend.

Tonight is “Community Movie Night” at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, presented in partnership with Hoodlums Music & Movies. Tonight’s free showing of “Tank Man” by Anthony Thomas starts at 6pm. The film examines the aftermath in China of the famous 1989 Tiananmen Square protest in Beijing, with special attention to finding the young man who stood firm as a tank continued to advance in his direction.

When the urge to get out of town strikes, consider visiting Arizona museums outside the Valley, including two featuring art festivals this weekend. The “Southwest Indian Art Festival” takes place Sat, May 29 and Sun, May 30 at the Smoki Museum in Prescott. The “Zuni Festival of Arts and Culture” occurs Sat, May 29 and Sun, May 30 at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff.

When all is said and done, sometimes a little playtime is all you really need. Take time on Monday (and every day) to remember and reflect on those we honor each Memorial Day. But leave some time for family fun too. On a day when so many other places are closed, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix will be open.

Emilie Doering, Bjorn Eriksson and Maya Granger have the power of the plaid!

Let your kids think you’re a hero for taking them. They don’t have to know the adventure was all yours…


Note: “The Sound of Plaid” photos by Laura Durant, who also does actor headshots and a weekly listing of Valley auditions. “The Sound of Plaid,” which runs through Sunday, is one of several theater productions happening this weekend. For a comprehensive list of theater and other activities for youth and families, visit the RAK calendar online.


Don’t push my buttons!

Pushing buttons…

It’s a common occurrence when the “teen taxi” is in service.

Sometimes it’s the emotional kind, but usually it’s just the radio that’s in play. I push the ‘70s button, Christopher pushes the ‘80s button, Jennifer pushes the country/western button and Lizabeth pushes the Broadway button.

'50s crooner Eddie Fisher

We get a ‘50s station thanks to Sirius XM, but it’s never had its own button. James and I are at the back of the “Boomers,” born in the ‘60s after the heyday of soda jerks and juke boxes.

So it surprised me when I actually got chills listening to the cast of Greasepaint Youtheatre’s The Sound of Plaid” perform the show’s final number, “Love is a Many Splendored Thing.”

The show—an Arizona premiere of “The Sound of Plaid: The New Glee Club Version of Forever Plaid”—features mostly music popularized in the ‘50s. Think “Lady of Spain” and “Three Coins in the Fountain.”

I attended the Saturday matinee at Greasepaint Youtheatre (formerly Stagebrush Theatre) in Scottsdale, which was also enjoyed by youth from a variety of non-profit organizations—including Free Arts of Arizona, Chrysalis and Girl Scouts.

Collaboration is a many splendored thing, and Phoenix Theatre does it so well.

I never met a mic I didn't like

I’m also rather partial to their take on all things plaid. If ever there was a show with the potential to be a monotonous “one note”—this has to be it. I’m more of a spandex and disco ball kind of a gal, so I really didn’t expect to find this show all that enchanting.

Contemporary crooner Michael Buble

But they had me with the very first notes out of the tuxedo-clad quartet that opened the show (all looking a bit like Michael Buble brandishing braces)—which follows the performance of a high school glee club who’ve come back to earth after perishing in a 1964 crash with another school bus.

Students on the other fictional bus, en route to watch the Beatles’ debut on the Ed Sullivan show, survived—but that’s the last we hear of them. They haven’t got the power of the plaid.

I loved the show’s many references to all things nostalgic. The club sang a round rather than a rap. They pined over LPs instead of iPods. They used words more common many decades ago—uranium, Korea, harmonic convergence—even “Holy cannoli!”

Ed Sullivan & the "Fab Four"

The show featured especially strong vocals, with plenty of stunning solos and heartfelt harmonies. I’d have to give the best overall performance award to Ryan Kitkowski, an Arcadia High School sophomore who plays Jinx with true comedic flair.

I was also impressed by the balance of various creative elements—the live music (piano, bass and drums), the simple but sophisticated scenic design, the polished costumes and the playful props.

The youngest trio of cast members—including 2nd grader Alex Kirby (Gladys), 3rd grader Sam Primack (Lionel) and 4th grader Madeline Bates (Irene)–were both capable and cute. Madeline is the youngest of three Bates siblings in the show, and the cast member I’d pick for “most likely to make it big as a dancer” one day.

The Andrew Sisters

As always, the Greasepaint Theatre lobby was transformed into a world reflecting the cultural context of the show. Patrons enjoyed clips of songs like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by the Andrew Sisters on a tiny black and white television. And yup, they even managed to dig up an old record player.

Exhibits featured photos and descriptions of cultural icons like American Bandstand—and true American idols like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Big Mama Thornton and Bing Crosby. A mock recording studio with stand-up mic and “On the Air” sign made a great setting for snapping souvenir photos.

“The Sound of Plaid” makes for a refreshing afternoon or evening of theater for all ages (recommended for 5 & up). If you want to treat the grandparents in your life to some quality time with the grandkids, get them tickets to see this show.

Dick Clark

Or if you want your child to see the polished, but not plastic, performance of a real live “glee club”—this is the show for you. Long before 3-D televisions invade our family rooms and kitchens, we’ll have plenty of live performance art to transport young imaginations to new dimensions.

But don’t get me started. The tragedy of television time taking over theater time is one of my hot buttons…


Patsy Cline

Note: If, like my daughter Jennifer, the radio button you’re most fond of pushing is for country/western tunes, don’t miss the presentation of “Always…Patsy Cline” coming to Phoenix Theatre on May 19. It’s a touching glimpse into the world of singer Patsy Cline, whose life was cut tragically short by a plane crash in 1963 when she was just 30 years old.

Coming up: Spotlight on summer theater camps, including those offered by Phoenix Theatre, Childsplay, Valley Youth Theatre and more. If your child has had a positive experience with a Valley theater camp (or you’ve seen another youth theater production you’d like to recommend), feel free to comment below to let our readers know.

Cool choices in children’s theater

For many children, the most appealing shows are those that feature other young people.

It just so happens that there are oodles of shows being performed by and/or for children and teens this month—so take advantage of these offerings to spark your child’s interest in live performance art.

Whether our children grow up to become performers, arts administrators, arts advocates, art supporters or enthusiastic audience members, their lives may well be richer for experiencing live theater with all its vivid storytelling and stagecraft.

Broadway Palm West Desert Theatre presents “Charlotte’s Web” through July 2 at Broadway Palm West Desert Theatre in Mesa. www.broadwaypalmwest.com.

Childsplay presents “The Big Friendly Giant” through May 23 at Tempe Center for the Arts. www.childsplayaz.org.

Creative Stages Youth Theatre presents “Robin Hood” through May 22 at Ira Murphy School in Peoria. www.csyt.org.

Fountain Hills Community Theater presents “Midsummer Dreamin” May 14 to 30 at Fountain Hills Community Theater. www.fhct.org.

Greasepaint Youtheatre presents “The Sound of Plaid: Forever Plaid School Version” May 14 to 30 at Stagebrush Theatre in Scottsdale. www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Great Arizona Puppet Theater presents “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” through June 6 at Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix. www.azpuppets.org.

 Hale Centre Theatre presents “Princess and the Pea” through June 26 in Gilbert. ww.haletheatrearizona.com.

Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre presents “Aladdin, Jr.” May 21-June 20 at Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre. www.desertstages.com.

Theater Works presents “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” through May 23 at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts. www.theaterworks.org.

Valley Youth Theatre presents “Willy Wonka” through May 23 at Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix. www.vyt.com.

You can “Double your Dahl” by seeing both Childsplay’s “The Big Friendly Giant” and Valley Youth Theatre’s “Willy Wonka.”

Reading the books before and/or after will add to your child’s understanding of these works, and make for fun conversations about similarities and differences in the stories themselves and the way each theater company chooses to tell them.

Or “Double your Disney” by coupling Desert Stages’ “Aladdin, Jr.” with Theater Works’ “Beauty and the Beast.”

It’s great fun to watch the film versions, but experiencing these shows live may deepen your child’s appreciation for these characters and the challenges they have to overcome.

Remember too that live theater performances make for enchanting play dates and unique birthday outings.

When Lizabeth was younger, we often took a friend along for shows like “Annie” at ASU Gammage or VYT’s “Cinderella” at Herberger Theater Center (t-shirts from the show made affordable and no-fuss souvenirs/party favors).

As long as you’re online checking out these shows, take some extra time to see what else these theater companies offer for youth.

Some, including Childsplay, offer performances for school groups (at the theater or at the school).

Many, including Greasepaint Youtheatre and Valley Youth Theatre, have performing arts summer camps that foster everything from self-confidence and creativity to imagination and teamwork.

Others may be holding auditions for children or teens who might like to make the move from audience member to actor.

All offer time away from the TV, computer, cell phone and refrigerator. Couple a trip to the theater with an après-show visit to your neighborhood park and you’ll engage your child’s body, intellect and emotions for the better.

When you see something you love, please share a comment below and let our readers know—thanks!


Note: You can always find information about “on stage” and other activities with the Raising Arizona Kids magazine online calendar. Check it daily for listings of all sorts of family-friendly activities!

Coming up: Dance delights from professional dance companies, local schools of dance and youth dance companies.