Tag Archives: Unstoppable Me

Tough choices

I’ve faced some tough choices lately…

What to pack for a theater trip to San Diego. Whether to try the pepperoni pizza or the rosemary chicken during my first trip to the new cafeteria at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

These are choices plenty of folks never have the luxury of facing, and I feel grateful for them. Last weekend’s tough choices involved Valley theater productions.

Lizabeth and I hoped to get to “No Way to Treat a Lady” at Phoenix Theatre (we heard the leads were phenomenal), “Unstoppable Me!” performed by Cookie Company at Scottsdale’s Greasepaint Youtheatre (we love the casting) and “THIS” — being performed by Actors Theatre at the Herberger Theater Center.

Artwork by Anthony Ulinski

A friend we met for coffee at “Urban Beans” in midtown Phoenix no doubt meant to be helpful when reminding us that “Devil Boys from Beyond” is also on tap these days, but the choice there was a bit easier to make.

“Watching naked men or supporting women playwrights?,” I mused. “THIS,” written by Melissa James Gibson, won out — and Lizabeth ended up going the next day while I took Jennifer, my 19-year-old, to lunch at Chili’s near ASU.

Seems each time I’m there I remind my children that Chili’s was a favorite haunt when I was pregnant. “So,” asked Jennifer, “does this mean I will be getting a new baby brother or sister?” Another not so tough choice. I have a cat.

Lizabeth was quite fond of “THIS” and I hope to share some of her thoughts on the show in a future post. But for now I find myself pondering the weekend ahead, which offers another dizzying array of options in the arts and culture department.

There’s a film called “nomadak tx” playing at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix on Sat, Feb 5, at 2:30pm — which profiles musicians who play an instrument built for two, only to discover it’s a meeting point between both two beings and two cultures.

There’s “The Crucible” — directed by Childsplay’s Debra K. Stevens — being performed Feb 3-5 at Mesa Community College’s Theatre Outback. Every student reads “The Crucible” in school, making this a fun and educational choice.

Lizabeth worked on “The Crucible” during a weeklong Childsplay workshop with Stevens and playwright Dwayne Hartford, which truly enriched her perspective on the Arthur Miller play she was already very familiar with and fond of. 

And yes — it is time already to begin making tough choices about spring break and summer camps. Hence the RAK Camp Fair coming up later this month. If you wait too long to choose, the choice will be made for you as the best camps fill up early on.

I should mention that we faced another tough choice last weekend during our first exploration of “Bards Books” — located next to our latest coffee grind find. Whether to buy all the treasures we found on the spot or wait until we could bring in some no longer needed titles for trade. We chose immediate gratification.

Our latest tough choice was simply whether to get flu shots in the left or right arm. Thank goodness we got that over with, because we’ve got bigger and better choices to make this weekend. And we’re grateful for each and every one.

— Lynn

Note: It’s an especially busy time for theater companies presenting shows for youth, all of whom need your support to continue their good works. Please visit the RAK calendar online to see your many choices of family-friendly performance art in the Valley this month.

Coming up: SCC theatre students hit the road, Pondering 5oo posts


From storybook to stage

Childsplay performs a a musical adaptation of P.B. Eastman’s “Go, Dog. Go!” at the Tempe Center for the Arts Jan 29-March 6

Telling and reading stories is one of the most enchanting parts of childhood. But today’s kids have additional options for enjoying their favorite tales — including movie and stage adaptations of classic and contemporary children’s books.

Consider the case of P.D. Eastman’s “Go, Dog. Go!” The book comes to life this weekend as Childsplay presents a preview at Tempe Center for the Arts.

I’m told the preview and opening night are already sold out, so don’t delay if you’re eager to take in the show.

Childsplay’s “Go, Dog. Go!”– recommended for ages 3 & up — is adapted by Steven Dietz and Allison Gregory, with music by Michael Koerner. 

It runs Jan 29-March 6, with 1pm and 4pm shows both Saturdays and Sundays. An ASL interpreted performance takes place at 1pm on Sun, Feb 27.

Take the kiddos to Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe Sat, Jan 22, at 10am if you’d like to enjoy some charming “Go, Dog. Go!” moments with Childsplay.

Changing Hands notes that children will be “exploring the world of story using dramatic play to guide kids through an exploration of scenes from P.D. Eastman’s Go, Dog Go!” and promises that “They’ll even create some of their own!”

Another book for children was literally “on the go” last weekend as the cast of Cookie Company’s upcoming “Unstoppable Me!” took a bit of the show on the road — performing selections at Desert Ridge Marketplace.

The cast of Cookie Company's "Unstoppable Me!" performed last weekend at Desert Ridge Marketplace

Cookie Company is affiliated with Phoenix Theatre, which offers more mature fare in “No Way to Treat a Lady” through Jan 30.

“Unstoppable Me!” runs Jan 28-Feb 6 at Greasepaint Theatre in Scottsdale. It’s based on the book by Wayne W. Dyer with Kristina Tracy. It has the shortest run of the shows noted here so you have just a small window of opportunity to see it.

This iPhone "app" is proof that some stories have moved to both stage and super-small screen

Though “Unstoppable Me!” is best for K-grade 4 students, I’m eager to see is myself — having recently seen one of its cast members, Walter Belcher, offer a moving performance in the Black Theatre Troupe production of August Wilson’s “Fences.”

Many adult actors who perform brilliantly here in the Valley in works for children also can be seen in works for older audiences (by older, I mean no longer required to do homework).

I’m especially excited about seeing Childsplay’s Yolanda London appear in an Actors Theatre production titled “This” which opens at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix this Friday. And Kristen Drathman, a Valley actor frequently seen in Phoenix Theatre productions, performing in “Go, Dog. Go!”

Youth Works, which is part of Theater Works in Peoria, brings “James and the Giant Peach” to the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts Feb 3-20.

Enjoy "James and the Giant Peach" at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts next month

It’s based on the book by Roald Dahl — which recounts the adventures of James as he finds a way to escape from two odd aunts who take him in after his parents die in a tragic rhinocerous accident.

The adventures of "James and the Giant Peach" exist in book, stage and movie form

Theater Works presents “The Desperate Hours” on another stage Jan 28-Feb 13.

I’ve always been a fan of reading books before seeing them portrayed on stage or screen (whether big screen or handheld device).

Childen who read these stories before seeing them performed have a chance to imagine the setting and characters free of someone else’s images.

But once your child reads or listens to a book, there’s nothing more fun than seeing it come to life on stage. Unless, of course, you finish off an afternoon at the theater by cracking open another exciting book.

— Lynn

Note: Childsplay and Cookie Company productions feature adult actors performing family-friendly works, while Youth Works features young performers presenting family-friendly fare.

Coming up: Theater cats (no Andrew Lloyd Webber required), Musings on “mature content” theater as ASU Gammage presents a touring production of “Spring Awakening,” Valley veterans participate in a national arts contest, It’s a jungle (and farm) out there!

Photos provided by Childsplay (photo by Heather Hill features cast members from a previous run), Phoenix Theatre and Theater Works.

Art adventures: Queen Creek

Part of the San Tan Historical Society Museum collection

My father has a rather interesting decorating style that reflects his small town upbringing in South Dakota farm country — and his years of buying and selling land in Colorado.

He has a fondness for farm implements and tools, which have adorned several walls and other spaces in his various homes through the years.

Big wheels keep on turnin' in Queen Creek

I can still picture the authentic wagon wheel suspended on a wall, the heavy black anvil sitting atop his cream-colored carpet and the assortment of rusty old parts he managed to display with a true measure of good taste.

I was reminded of his collection when I took my 21-year-old son Christopher on a bit of an art adventure last week. We went to Queen Creek, which is about an hour drive from our Scottsdale home.

With cooler weather, it's time for happy trails again

The weather has finally turned tolerable, and we’re making the most of it. I was lured to Queen Creek by the prospect of exploring the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center — and the nearby San Tan Historical Society Museum.

The museum is located at the southwest corner of Queen Creek and Ellsworth. During your visit, you’ll learn about Frank Lloyd Wright’s connection to the San Tan area, as well as how this community benefited from the German POWs.

The drive to Queen Creek reminded me of bygone field  trip days when I used to have the kids and their friends play “I-Spy” for sights along the streets and freeways.

We spied farm land, farm tools and farm animals

There were no video players in cars, or portable DVD players, back then. I consider it a good thing — because it gave us more time for observation and conversation.

Were Christopher younger, I’d have broken the drive into two smaller jaunts by stopping along the way to explore the airport and museum at Falcon Field in Mesa. (Were I younger, we wouldn’t have needed the pit stop at McDonald’s.)

We headed to the San Tan Historical Society Museum first, since it’s open just one morning during the week (plus Saturday). It’s a red brick building from the mid-1920s that’s listed on a national registry of historic buildings.

See if your kids can guess what once traveled through this chute...

Behind the museum sits a small yard with a half dozen or so pieces of weathered farm equipment once used in the area, which still sports impressive citrus groves.

It took me right back to those weekend visits with dad — and made me wish I’d packed a picnic basket to enjoy on the building’s short stack of steps.

Queen Creek High School is home to the mighty Bulldogs

Next we hit the the performing arts center, which is adjacent to Queen Creek High School — home of the mighty Bulldogs. A bronze bulldog statue sits atop the overhang you pass under to reach the school office.

I’m eager to return to the center to enjoy a live performance — and it looks like I’ll have plenty of options to choose from. They have a main theatre series, a family theatre series and a special events series.

Check out these performing arts offerings in Queen Creek

I have my eye on “Tap Kids,” billed as a “joyous celebration of youth culture” featuring “eight of the nation’s most talented tap dancers.” It’s coming up on Nov 6.

Emmy Award winner Robert Wuhl performs “Assume the Position” on Feb 5. I’m told it “delivers an imaginative, irreverent comedic history lesson” that includes a look at “facts, myths and myths-that-became-facts.”

I’m going to start warming up my smile muscles now.

“One Man Star Wars” hits Queen Creek on Oct 30 and contemporary country group “Gloriana” takes the stage Dec 3.

See "The Brothers Grimm: Out of Order" this weekend

This weekend you can enjoy one of two remaining performances of “The Brothers Grimm: Out of Order” — either Sat, Oct 23 at 2pm or Mon, Oct 25 at 7pm.

Upcoming family theatre productions include “Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Jr.” (Nov 20), “Unstoppable Me!” (Mar 12, 2011) and “Hairspray” (April 9, 2011).

When you head to Queen Creek to take in a show, consider making a day (or even weekend) of it. And tell the fine folks at Eddie Maroni’s pizza joint that we loved the lunch special.

Driving in and around Queen Creek, we spotted all sorts of fun sights — including cattle, horses and sheep. (Alas — my son has little patience for me stopping to photograph every cute animal that crosses my path.)

Being a bit of a sign fanatic, I also took note of the cardboard sign advertising “fresh organic milk” and the yellow diamond-shaped traffic sign with the cattle icon.

As we headed home for dinner, I was reminded of why I spent so much time on similar adventures when my three kids were younger. It was something Christopher said as we left Queen Creek…

“There’s a whole lot of world out there.”

— Lynn

Note: To suggest a Valley city for an upcoming “Art adventures” post, drop me a line at rakstagemom@gmail.com.

Coming up: Pirates meet opera, Once upon “The Wiz,” Stop the “Glee” bashing!