Tag Archives: University of Arizona

Family-friendly festivals

I first attended the Scottsdale Arts Festival more than a decade ago when my children were very small. They loved tagging along for all sorts of reasons. The chance to see paintings, sculpture and other works of art. Hands-on arts and crafts projects. Fresh air and sunshine. Even the chance to people and pet watch.

This year’s Scottsdale Arts Festival takes place March 9-11 outdoors at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Folks who attend can experience the works of more than 180 artists from across the country, more than 20 bands and entertainers and a dozen “gourmet” food trucks.

Natalie Irish will be creating artwork with kisses during the Scottsdale Arts Festival that runs March 9-11

Also “one eye-popping art project made of kisses and you” — plus a host of interactive art projects and an Imagine Nation kids area.

The festival runs Fri/Sat 10am-6pm, and Sun 10am-5pm. Children under age 12 are free and students pay just $5 to attend (single tickets for others are $7).

The Mesa Festival of Creativity also kicks off on Fri, March 9 — but it runs through Sun, March 18. It’s being held Mesa Arts Center, and though admission to most events is free, there is a $5 charge to take a “Studio Sampler” class or explore the “Mirazozo” sculpture.

Folks who attend the Mesa Festival of Creativity can add their strand to a community fiber arts project, create an origami bird to help fill trees surrounding MAC, play a giant “Earth Harp,” watch an artist couple painting with break dancing, create a work of chalk art, help build a giant LEGO structure and more. Festival hours are noon to 9pm.

The Tucson Festival of Books takes place March 10 & 11 9am-5:30pm on the University of Arizona campus. The festival features dozens of authors, illustrators and storytellers — including Caldecott and Newbury Award winners. Also entertainment including music, dance and more — much of it with a multicultural vibe. There’s also a special children’s area.

The Irish Cultural Center presents their 29th annual “St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Faire” Sat, March 17 10am-6pm, beginning with a parade up 3rd St. from the Irish Cultural Center to Margaret T. Hance Park in Phoenix. The festival features “music, dancing, piping, a beer garden and dozens of vendors selling artifacts and food” — plus a children’s area. Dress as you will but know that anything other than green will stick out like a five-leaf clover in a field of shamrocks.

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts presents another festival next month. Their “OrigiNation: A Festival of National Cultures” April 14 & 15 noon-4pm will “celebrate indigenous cultures of Arizona, Australia and New Zealand.” The free event features an arts and crafts market, arts and crafts exhibits, children’s activities and workshops, and more. It’s being held in conjunction with the center’s “Discovery Series.”

— Lynn

Note: The Heard Museum also holds several festivals each year, so watch their website for upcoming events as well. And click here if you’d like to learn more about the Red Shamrock Foundation, an Iowa-based organization supporting patients and families who have been through cancer treatment.

Coming up: Another Arizona Centennial, Art meets refugee, Music experiences for the very young

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What’s new in Tucson?

A Cafe Bohemia reading presented in Tucson by Arizona Theatre Company

Folks who head to Tucson this Sunday night can enjoy one in a series of readings of new works. Arizona Theatre Company is presenting a little something called “Café Bohemia” — featuring a hip hop play titled “Used To Was (Maybe Did)” that explores “age old questions within the form.” Think style versus substance, ethics versus selling out, the spirit of hip hop versus the money of hip hop. Presenters are partnering with the Tucson Museum of Art as part of its “Tucson Rocks!” program. 

Arizona Theatre Company’s “Café Bohemia” is a “season of play readings, jams and ideas, featuring diverse new works from bold and inventive playwrights.” Folks who hit these events at the Temple Lounge (located at the Temple of Music and Art in downtown Tucson) get to “participate in the new play process” and “hear works read aloud by the best local and national actors.”

Poetry Joey workshop at the UA Poetry Center (Photo: Annie Guthrie)

It’s no place for the tiny ones, of course, but your mature teens might enjoy giving it a try. Tucson has other things to offer the toddlers to tweens in your life, like “Family Days, which evolved out of the “Poetry Joeys” program at the University of Arizona Poetry Center. They’re held once a month during the academic year from 10am to 1pm, and there’s one scheduled for this Saturday.

Family Days” feature “youth writing, local music, games, interactive bookmaking workshops, science experiments, storytelling, creative movement activities and other poem-happenings that are designed to inspire youth and their families to explore the world around them through language.” Poetry Joeys workshops, including a new infant sing-a-long class, take place from 10-11am.

As Thanksgiving approaches, remember the importance of spending truly meaningful time with family and friends. Be genuinely grateful for the people in your life, and for the beauty and bounty of language all around us. Happenings like those shared above make it fun and easy to do both. Thank goodness.

— Lynn

Coming up: The wonder of Waddell, What’s new in Prescott?, The fine art of empty bowls, Word play on Thanksgiving day

Tribble time!

We rarely exchange your typical ties and sweaters during the holiday season, but lean instead towards gifts that some might consider a bit geek-ish. I was reminded recently, after learning that something called “Star Trek Live” is headed to the Valley, of the year Lizabeth gave her dad a Tribble.

Tribbles are fictional furry creatures that first appeared in a 1967 episode of the original “Star Trek” television series. I’m told they’re gentle and do a little purring thing, but I’m less qualified than my hubby and daughter Lizabeth to address such things. I’m more of a “Tigger” kind of a gal.

Our other daughter Jennifer admits to being in my camp on this one. “I only try and learn about Star Trek so I can understand my sister,” she tells me. I’m an only child so I find this approach to sistering rather intriguing. Maybe we should both head out Sunday to see the ”Starfeet Academy” show at Mesa Arts Center.

Performers from the science meets live theater production of Star Trek Live: Starfleet Academy coming soon to Mesa

“Star Trek Live: Starfleet Academy” is described by its presenters, Mad Science Productions, as “an interactive adventure.” Think “cutting-edge special effects, audience interaction and on-screen appearances from Captain Kirk and Spock.”

School “Star Trek Live” shows are scheduled for Mon, Nov. 21 and Tues., Nov 22 – and there’s even a 69-page teacher guide available online. It’s a cross between serious science and fun activities like crossword puzzles, but my favorite piece deals with rockets (mostly because my own kids had such a great time making and launching rockets at Desert View Learning Center).

Nowadays we’re keeping an eye on what several cast members from the original “Star Trek” television series are up to. George Takei (“Sulu”) is working to bring a new musical titled “Allegiance” to the Broadway stage, planning first for a premiere and run in San Diego. Where are those darn “beam me up” machines when you need them?

Leonard Nimoy (“Spock”) is still working with that whole logical/illogical thing as he explores the vast realms of poetry and photography. Nimoy’s poetry is part of an exhibition you can enjoy at the University of Arizona Poetry Center in Tucson through Dec. 23. It’s titled “Celebrity Poets” and also pays tributes to works by Suzanne Somers, Viggo Mortensen, Leonard Cohen, Tupac Shakur and others.

The most dedicated “Star Trek” fans among us have already added dates for 2012 “Comicon” events to their calendars. For folks in Phoenix, it’s “Phoenix Comicon,” coming to the Phoenix Convention Center over Memorial Day weekend (May 24-27).

Be sure to look for me if you go — I’ll be the woman with a Tribble in tow.

– Lynn

Coming up: “Occupy Bella”

Harem tales

Enjoy a new twist on A Midsummer Night's Dream at SCC on Oct. 28 & 29

I attended two shows in Scottsdale this weekend — each with something of a harem theme. First, a community college production of a Shakespeare work. Next, a community youth theater production of a Disney tale. Those of you still searching for Halloween costume inspiration take note.

The Theatre Arts program at Scottsdale Community College is performing William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” through Sat, Oct. 29. It’s one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, but director Randy Messersmith brings a unique twist to the work – setting the comedic escapade about the follies of love in ancient India rather than Athens.

Sets, costumes, music and props convey an “Arabian Nights” feel that keeps the play fresh even for those who’ve seen it performed countless times. With a little time spent on the storyline and characters before attending, it makes for a fun introduction to Shakespeare for teen audiences or those not terribly familiar with Shakespeare’s work.

I attended Friday night’s performance, and was especially impressed by one actor in particular – a recent theater graduate from the University of Arizona. Andy Cahoon, who performs the role of Lysander, has a firm grasp of Shakespeare’s language, delivering his lines comfortably and convincingly.

Sasha Wordlaw shines in seductress mode as she performs the role of fairy queen Titania, and Ryan Wetter’s Nick Bottom is a brilliant bit of buffoonery. Much of this production’s humor derives from movement choreographed by Karryn Allen that’s well executed by the entire cast.

The real stars of this production are two members of the design team, whose work elevates the feel of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to something akin to opera. The combination of scenic design by Kimb Williamson and lighting design by Paul Black does justice to the play’s reputation as a visual feast.

The SCC theater production students who tackled scenery construction for this one, as well as the electrical crew, deserve high praise for bringing the designers’ visions to life. I’m in awe of you, one and all.

I enjoyed costume designer Elizabeth Peterson’s work, but got a bit nervous when a pair of harem pants seemed to hit closer to the bikini line than the belly button. Maybe that’s just the mother in me talking.

The “Midsummer” mask work by Maren Maclean Mascarelli adds much to the show. I’ve seen this woman paper maché, and mold the human medium — and she’s fierce. SCC theater students are fortunate to study with her, and with Williamson and Messersmith too.

Enjoy Disney's Aladdin Jr. performed by Greasepaint Youtheatre through Oct. 30

Greasepaint Youtheatre performs the kid-friendly musical “Disney’s Aladdin Jr.” through Sun, Oct. 30. Whether the Scottsdale theater venue they call home is dubbed “Greasepaint Youtheatre” or “Stagebrush Theatre” depends on who you ask — but no matter, it’s got a perfectly-sized stage for serious productions.

“Disney’s Aladdin Jr.” is directed by Jodie Weiss, events specialist with Childsplay in Tempe. The musical is based on the screenplay by Ron Clementsand, John Musker, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. Jim Luig adapted the musical’s book and wrote additional lyrics.

But it’s the contributions of Alan Menken (who wrote the music), plus Howard Ashman and Tim Rice (who wrote the lyrics) that fans of musical theater most fervently praise. Best loved songs from the show include “Arabian Nights,” “Friend Like Me” and “A Whole New World.”

I attended Sunday’s matinee performance, where the packed house included enthusiastic audience members of all ages. The cast delivered a high-energy performance full of dance, acrobatics, humor and song. Liz Grannis (Princess Jasmine) and Andrey Lull (Aladdin) are well matched as the romantic couple at the center of the story. Lull delivers both a strong vocal performance and a kiss complete with dip.

The script is full of humor — playing on words, adding new twists to songs well loved by the “yuppie generation” and sprinkling dialogue with fun expressions like “riff raff” some of us thought only our mothers were accustomed to using. Actors Jacob Stovall (Jafar), Amanda Rahaman (Genie) and Lexa Rose (Iago) are the perfect comedic trio.

Greasepaint’s production of “Aladdin Jr.” has the feel of a glorious piece of big musical theater — making good use of its large cast in the song and dance department, and adding a trio of live musicians whose performance on keyboard, drums, saxaphone and flute gets the joint jumpin’ with a jazzy big band vibe.

John Luke Osorio serves as musical director and Ariana Ziskin as choreographer. The artistic team boasts some impressive resumes. Josef Rahaman and Kris Rahaman did set and properties design. Nathalie Koyabe did costume design. Pete Bish did sound design. Andrea Williams serves as stage manager.

Lighting design is the work of Bob Nelson, who proves in the production that less can be more. His work is subtle, adding to the ambiance of Agrabah both day and night without screaming at the audience. Be prepared, when you attend, for moderate use of fog and strobe lights.

Part of this production’s charm is the number of very young cast members, who bring both talent and a serious dose of adorable. Two other actors deserve special mention — Thea Eigo in the role of Abu and Grace Elsie in the role of Magic carpet.

Still, the fun, fabulous feel of this show is a collective triumph for the entire cast and creative team. As I observed those involved in the show before, during and after Sunday’s performance — it was clear that Greasepaint Youtheatre understands the importance of theater as a team sport.

— Lynn

Note: Photos above feature (L to R) Andy Cahoon (Lysander), Paula Vasquez (Hermia), Kaylyn Riggs (Helena) and Chris Ellis (Demetrius) in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Scottsdale Community College — and Andrey Lull (Aladdin), Liz Grannis (Princess Jasmine) and Grace Elsie (Flying carpet) in “Disney’s Aladdin Jr.” at Greasepaint Youtheatre.

Coming up: Born to be blue?, Celebrating birthdays — theater style

9/11 meets Arizona arts and culture

This work by Sam Irving is one of several you can enjoy at exhibits at two Gilbert libraries this week (Photo courtesy of Gilbert Fire Department)

The town of Gilbert is preparing for Sunday’s dedication of a 9/11 memorial to feature an 8-foot long beam from the World Trade Center.

Recently they invited folks to submit photographs, paintings and drawings with a “Memory of Hope” theme. Selected works are on exhibit through 9/11 at the Southeast Regional and Perry High libraries. www.gilbertaz.gov/911memorial.

One of several works currently on exhibit at the Tucson Jewish Community Center

Contemporary Artists of Southern Arizona has created a mixed media 9/11 memorial called “3,000 Souls” that’s being exhibited at the Tucson Jewish Community Center through Sept 26. ww.tucsonjcc.org/arts.

The ceramics program and fine arts department at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix (part of the Tempe Unified High School District) presents a 9/11 memorial Thurs, Sept 9 from 6-9pm (room 149).

The event features “students from dance and theatre,
choir, speech and band, a special slide and musical tribute, the
signing of victims’ names into a tribute vessel to be delivered to New
York in December, and fundraising for the WTC Health Hospital.” The event is free and open to the public. www.desertvista.schoolfusion.us.

Several 9/11-related items, including a huge “National Unity Flag” designed and created in Arizona, will be exhibited Sept 9-16 in the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts atrium.

A “9/11 Memorial Wall” with 2,996 full-color memorial cards featuring biographical information and photographs of 9/11 victims will be exhibited as well.

Scottsdale begins a “9/11 Day of Remembrance” program in the atrium at 1pm on Sun, Sept 11 with a reading of victims’ names.

Keynote speaker Ray Malone, a former New York police office and firefighter, follows in the Virginia G. Piper Theater at 6pm. The evening also includes performances of patriotic music by school bands and choral groups, as well as a candlelight vigil. www.scottsdaleaz.gov.

ProMusica performs with other Valley groups this weekend

ProMusica Arizona Chorale and Orchestra of Anthem will perform Mozart’s “Requiem” (a work being performed by groups throughout the country on 9/11) at two Valley churches on Sun, Sept 11. www.promusicaaz.org.

Mozart’s “Requiem” is also being performed at a “Remembrance and Renewal” concert at UA’s Centennial Hall in Tucson on Sun, Sept 11 at 3pm. It features the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and Tucson Chamber Artists’ professional choir. www.uapresents.org.

The Damocles Trio, who met as doctoral students at The Juilliard School in NYC, will perform the “Requiem Trio” by Spanish composer Salvador Brotons (b.1959) at Tempe Center for the Arts at 2:30pm on Sun, Sept 11.

The work was “written especially for the group to commemorate the tragic terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001.” The piece was first performed in Sept 11, 2004 in NYC.

Tempe officials note that “this concert will be linked to the Tempe Beach Park 9/11 Healing Field and other city commemoration events.” The concert also features the music of Dvorak and Villa Lobos. www.damoclestrio.com and www.friendsofTCA.org.

The Tucson Pops Orchestra, with guest conductor George Hanson, performs “Americana: Remember 9/11” Sun, Sept 11 at Reid Park in Tucson at 6:30pm. www.sept11tucson.org.

The National Unity Flag will hang in Scottsdale this weekend

Folks looking for additional 9/11 memorials and related events can check with local interfaith or religious groups, performing arts venues, universities or colleges, museums, local governments and community centers for local offerings.

If your Arizona organization is presenting a music, dance, theater or visual arts event in remembrance of 9/11, please comment below to let our readers know.

— Lynn

Note: Several 9/11 remembrance events will be televised, including a New York Philharmonic concert with Alan Gilbert conducting Mahler’s “Resurrection” (Sept 11 on PBS). Listen to KJZZ 91.5 all week for 9/11 memorial coverage (including 9 hours of live coverage on 9/11). www.kjzz.org. Watch the “9/11: 10 Years Later” concert live Thurs, Sept 8 and share your reflections with others at facebook.com/KennedyCenter by clicking on the 9/11 Livestream tab.

Coming up: Remembering 9/11 with literature and love

Resume tips for young actors

During a recent episode of Lifetime’s “Dance Moms,” lead dance instructor Abby Lee Miller of Abby Lee Dance Company in Pittsburgh invited a Broadway casting agent to her studio.

The agent held individual auditions with young “Dance Moms” cast members, inviting them to sing as well as dance. He also attended a showcase performance meant to spotlight student talents. (Never mind the solo by a mom with misguided mojo.)

While preparing dancers for the experience, Miller explained that three things are needed for auditions — a resume, a headshot and talent. But details were sorely lacking, perhaps because there’s little drama in offering sound resume advice.

A lovely headshot of Maren Maclean photographed by Larry Stone

So I turned to Valley director, actor, coach and instructor Maren Maclean for thoughts on a few of the finer points. Whether your child performs in theater, music or dance, you’ll want to keep track (from the beginning) of training and performance experiences.

It’s hard to construct a complete and accurate resume if you haven’t kept track of the data. Saving programs in a single location is your best bet on this one, and you should start with that very first show (even if it’s just a summer camp show for family and friends).

We went many years without compiling information about our daughter Lizabeth’s music, dance and theater experiences — making the process of crafting her first acting resume more tedious than it might have been otherwise.

When it came to time to finesse the finer points (and to choose the best head shot), we called on Maclean — who does private coaching — for expert advice. For those of you just now putting those resumes together, Maclean shares the following tips:

Tip #1: “Never lie, trust me.”

“Don’t make up the names of theatres to hide that it really was your high school production. Be proud of the high school credit and give credit where credit is due. The theatre world is too small and we talk too much.”

Tip #2: “Take lots of classes.”

‘Take lots of classes and add the details to the ‘training’ portion of your resume. Every class is important and the instructor is a direct facet to your profession[al] theatre network!”

Tip #3: “A one page resume means a one page resume.”

“Don’t go back more than 8-10 years. List pertinent info and learn to let go. It’s hard but a 12 year old credit that you are so proud of can be listed on your website, not on the third page of your five page resume.”

Maclean’s own resume is posted online, so you can visit her website to see a sample. Young actors seeking to polish their auditioning skills have several options. Valley director, actor and teacher Toby Yatso once told me that the best way for Lizabeth to boost her audition skills was to audition. In many ways, it’s about learning by doing.

Joe Kremer and Maren Maclean in a 2010 Phoenix Theatre production of Noises Off! (Photo by Laura Durant)

But there are plenty of places to study and practice auditioning — including acting studios and theater companies. Also private acting coaches who can offer one-on-one instruction and notes.

Recently I read through the 2011-12 class listings for Voices, a music and arts studio in Scottsdale. Their offerings include “Audition Techniques” for 9-12 year olds and “Auditioning Skills” for 13-18 years olds.

If your teen is auditioning for college theater programs, snag those audition requirements early. He’ll want plenty of time to select, learn and polish both monologues and musical selections, which may vary by college or conservatory.

Above all, model calm and collected behavior for your child. Even the super-talented young “Dance Moms” cast members buckled under the pressure after seeing both teacher and parents in nervous-wreck mode.

Your child’s first resumes and early auditions won’t be perfect. But trust your child to live and learn a bit of it on his own. Surround your child with supportive teachers and mentors, and do some of your own letting go.

— Lynn

Note: Plenty of actors post their resumes online too, making it easy to check out what sorts of formats and such are out there. Click here to see the resume for Kyle Harris, who holds a BFA in acting from the University of Arizona. Harris performs the role of Tony in a touring production of “West Side Story” coming to ASU Gammage next month.

Coming up: Finding audition opportunities for children and teens, Fall Glee camp, Tea parties without politics, Dance and disabilities

Don’t judge a diva by her cover

Patti Lupone's memoir makes for great Tony weekend reading

After opening a gift from my husband late last year, I exchanged a knowing glance with my daughter Lizabeth. Think smirking, and rolling our eyes. It was the one book I’d never imagined myself reading. A memoir by legendary actress Patti LuPone. We’ve always considered her more of a diva, as if that was some kind of crime.

But on the eve of the 2011 Tony Awards, I find myself turning to the memoir with a newfound admiration for LuPone, who tells her own story with fluid writing and thought — plus grace, gratitude and humor. I like it. I see a lot of LuPone in Lizabeth, though it’s unlikely she’ll appreciate my saying so before she’s braved some time with the book for herself.

LuPone enjoyed early dance and piano lessons, caught the performing bug at the tender age of four, and hated most academic study with a passion. She played cello, took the laissez-faire approach to Juilliard auditions, and counted on a small group of teachers and mentors who really “got her.”

LuPone first performed the role of Rose in Gypsy in 2006 at the Ravina Festival (Photo: Patti LuPone website)

“A Memoir” by Patti LuPone would be wise summer reading for theater students eager to learn more about the craft of acting, the path to self-discovery and the means for avoiding so much folly along the way. The book will also interest breast cancer survivors, and those of us labeled “stage mother” by self or others.

LuPone’s own mother spent much of her time driving daughter Patti and twin boys Billy and Bobby to and fro. “My mother was not a stage mother in any respect,” writes LuPone. “Mom’s life force was driving us from one lesson to the next. If she was a stage mother, it manifest itself in her pride in her three kids.”

The final three chapters of LuPone’s memoir are devoted to her time with the musical “Gypsy.” She begins as follows: “Rose Hovick–Madame Rose–is commonly stigmatized as the mother of all stage mothers, but that’s not the woman I see.”

LuPone earned a 2008 Tony Award for her Broadway performance of Rose (Photo: Patti LuPone website)

“I see a woman,” write LuPone, who loves her daughters. She’s ferociously driven, but she loves her kids.” LuPone performed the role of Louise (“Gypsy”) as a 15 year old but admits she “didn’t pay any attention to the character of Rose.”

LuPone first played Rose in 2006, and went on to sweep all sorts of 2008 theater awards — including the Tony Award for best actress — for her portrayal of Rose in “Gypsy” on Broadway. “I know,” writes LuPone, that Gypsy will remain one of if not the best experiences I’ve ever had in my career.”

She’ll bring “The Gypsy in My Soul,” a collection of story and song, to Arizona next year — Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts on March 3 and UA’s Centennial Hall in Tucson on March 4.

Get your tickets now. Read the book right after. Then mark your calendar for the Phoenix Theatre production of “Gypsy” — which runs March 7-April 1, 2012. I’d love to see LuPone extend her Arizona stay long enough to enjoy opening night.

The only thing better would be having LuPone in the house on April Fool’s Day. By her own admission, LuPone can be a bit reckless. LuPone says she loves to laugh, and it’s clear from even a cursory reading of her memoir that “mischief” could have been her middle name.

— Lynn

Note: Both LuPone and Laura Benanti are nominated for a 2011 Tony Award for “best performance by an actress in a featured role in a musical” for work in “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.”

Coming up: Feeling blue, Stage meets suffragette, What a difference a move makes