Tag Archives: Wizard of Oz

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


Theater flair minus holiday fare

It’s easy to find holiday-theme fare this time of year, but plenty of folks are searching for other options. If you enjoy live performance but want a break from all the shiny tinsel and twinkling lights, consider some of these theater offerings:

Chandler-Gilbert Community College Performing Arts presents the musical “Chess” through Sat, Dec. 3. It’s rarely performed in the Valley, so this is a rare opportunity to enjoy a local production. The final show is at 7:30pm tonight. www.cgc.edu/arts.

Theater League presents “Wizard of Oz,” a touring production touting lots of special effects, Dec. 6 & 7 at the Mesa Arts Center and Dec. 8-11 at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix. Ten Valley students from Greasepaint Youtheatre are performing as Munchkins. www.theaterleague.com.

Queen Creek Performing Arts Center presents “Glee” for a single performance on Fri, Dec. 9. It’s the tale of a high school teacher who tries to reinvent his school’s glee club. www.qcpac.com.

Cast members from Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. by Arizona Jewish Theatre Company

Arizona Jewish Theatre Company presents the Curtain Call Youth Theatre production of “Fiddler on the Roof, Jr.” (a shortened version of the classic musical) Dec. 10 & 11 at the John Paul Theatre at Phoenix College. www.azjewishtheatre.org.

Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale presents a Children’s Theatre production of “Annie, Jr.” through Dec. 18. Though set in NYC during the Christmas season, it’s a tale with broad appeal beyond the holiday season. www.desertstages.org.

Childsplay presents “Lyle the Crocodile” through Sat, Dec. 24 at Tempe Center for the Arts. True, you’ll encounter some holiday fanfare as Lyle visits the Primm family during Christmas in NYC, but most kids know Lyle from books that find Lyle in bathtubs and other everyday places. www.childsplayaz.org.

ASU Gammage presents “Stomp,” an energetic blend of creative percussion and contemporary dance, Dec. 28-31 in Tempe. It’s a great choice for families with young boys who balk at traditional musical theater fare. www.asugammage.com.

For a comprehensive list of “On Stage” offerings for families, check out Raising Arizona Kids in print or online.

— Lynn

Note: If you have a family-friendly event to share with our readers, please visit the calendar section of the Raising Arizona Kids website to learn how you can submit calendar items for print and online listings.

Coming up: Lemonade for grown-ups

A tale of Times Square

On 9/11, it was Broadway performers who filled Times Square in NYC

The media has been flooding viewers with images of a recent mass demonstration in New York City’s Times Square — dubbed the world’s most visited tourist attraction. It was the site of an “Occupy Wall Street” march last Saturday night, which thousands of people attended.

I had plans that evening to meet my daughter at the Gershwin Theatre in the city’s famous theater district — home to all things wonderful and adored by Broadway fans. We had tickets to see the musical “Wicked” with fellow parent/student pairings from Pace University.

Mamma Mia! meets Priscilla Queen of the Desert in Times Square

I was already in the area exploring sites my husband recommended — the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library and the Morgan Library & Museum. I walked up Madison Avenue to 42nd street, then cut across to the theater.

I suspect this Mamma Mia! man wants to be a firefighter when he grows up

I could tell something was up because various police vehicles in my path were mobilizing and heading towards Times Square. My daughter discovered the protestors as she exited the Times Square subway station, and began to worry she wouldn’t make it to the theater on time.

The Godspell gang sang in Times Square for Broadway Unites on 9/11

Though she beat the curtain time for “Wicked,” a show we’ve previously enjoyed at ASU Gammage in Tempe, others weren’t so lucky — trickling in during the first half an hour of the show. I’m assuming it’s not a typical occurence along the “Great White Way.”

I like to see Times Square filled with folks from The Book of Mormom

The event reminded me that Lizabeth took a lot of pictures last month at a 9/11 commemoration in Times Square called “Broadway Unites.” As the world is watching for images of protests in places like Times Square, it seems the perfect time to remind folks of other gatherings that have taken place there.

Kara DioGuardi of Chicago poses with FDNYers attending Broadway Unites 2011

If you’re planning a trip to NYC, visit the Times Square Alliance online to learn about current offerings and events. Those of you who can’t get to New York for Broadway shows can enjoy touring productions at ASU Gammage, Mesa Arts Center and the Orpheum Theater in Phoenix.

More Times Square fun with folks from Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Fans of “Wicked” will be thrilled to know that the musical returns to ASU Gammage early next year (tickets go on sale at 10am on Mon, Nov. 28). Theater League presents “The Wizard of Oz” in the Valley this December, and true fans of the classic L. Frank Baum story will want to enjoy both shows.

Protestors are popping up all over the place these days, but remember as you’re planning travel to NYC that Times Square is more than just a site for periodic protests. It’s home to shows that amaze and bedazzle — and some of the finest entertainment our great country has to offer the world.

— Lynn

Coming up: Reviews of “Wicked” and “Billy Elliot The Musical” on Broadway

Comedy for a cause

Little did Michael Yichao know, when donning a Munchkin costume as a fourth-grader to perform in a Valley Youth Theatre production of “The Wizard of Oz,” that one day he’d become an MFA acting student hoofing three original works collectively titled “Boys are Dumb, Girls are Mean.”

But that glorious day has arrived, and Yichao is hoping families will come out to support the work. His “Boys are Dumb, Girls are Mean” trio features three short works that total just 90 minutes.

They’ll be performed Sat, Aug 27 at 2pm at Jester’Z Improv Comedy in Scottsdale, which describes the works as “kid-friendly” and “family-oriented.” The show is free but a suggested $7 donation will help Yichao fund future performances of the work.

He’s hoping to take “Boys are Dumb, Girls are Mean” to a variety of venues — including “Fringe” festivals in NYC and Edinburgh, a London playwriting competition, and children’s theaters in Minneapolis and Hawaii.

This weekend’s performance features “four kids from Arizona as well as two actors and a composer from California.” The local actors are Donovan Fiore (age 12) of Gilbert, Rachel Goodman (age 16) of Phoenix, Harrison Redmond (age 12) of Chandler and Jayna Jordan Sweet (age 16) of Ahwatukee.

The trio of tales includes a comedy titled “Dear Diary,” which follows a high school freshman “dealing with dances and diaries, girls and geeks, best friends and betrayals.” Also “Between: A Musical,” about four kids navigating the space between childhood and adulthood while confronting life-changing moments. And “Travis Tries to Talk to Girls,” a dramedy that explores the impact of heritage, mixed traditions and the Internet on finding love.

Playwright Michael Yichao

Yichao is a familiar face on the Valley theater scene, having performed in several VYT shows, directed productions for his own theater company “CloPet” (currently on hiatus) and more. He graduated from ASU with a double major in English and theater, and is currently entering his second year at California Institute of the Arts.

I’m told that space for Saturday’s performance is limited, and that folks who want to attend should make reservations by e-mailing Yichao at myichao@gmail.com.

— Lynn

Note: Waymire Studio for the Performing Arts presents “Wayward Comedy” Sat, Aug 27 at 7pm in Glendale. Details at http://www.waymirestudio.com.

Coming up: Finding audition opportunities for youth

Big MAC attack!

Sunday is your last chance to see Mesa Encore Theatre perform The Music Man, which beat out West Side Story to win the 1958 Tony Award for best musical

Knowing the 2011 Tony Awards are right around the corner, I decided to go in search of local productions of Tony Award-winning musicals. I started with shows coming to the Mesa Arts Center after getting an e-mail alert that tickets for their 2011-2012 Broadway series, which includes four shows, start at just $95.

Watch the Tony Awards on CBS this Sunday night to see who wins best musical for 2011

The series includes “Rock of Ages,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “The Rat Pack is Back” — plus “My Fair Lady,” winner of the 1957 Tony Award for best musical. The 1958 Tony Award for best musical went to “The Music Man,” which is being performed at MAC by Mesa Encore Theatre through June 12.

I’ll have to share other Tony Award winners coming to Valley stages in a later post, because I’m experiencing a bit of a”big MAC attack” at the moment. Turns out there’s a ton of good stuff happening at the Mesa Arts Center, so I’ve got MAC on the brain instead.

The Mesa Arts Center has offerings in four main areas — shows, classes, events and museum exhibits. Upcoming shows sound plenty intriguing. There’s “Retro,” “Live Love Dance!,” and even Steve Martin and his banjo buddies. Events to watch for include fall and spring “out to lunch” concert series, the Mesa Arts Festival and celebrations of Dia de los Muertos.

This girl should have signed up for music classes through Mesa Arts Center

Mesa Arts Center offers classes in visual and performing arts. Think blacksmithing for the grown-ups and ceramic “mud pups” for children. Also American tribal dance and belly dance classes. Plus “scenes for teens” acting classes and a “dance sampler” for kids who want to explore various dance options.

Exhibits opening today at MAC’s “Mesa Contemporary Arts” space — a collection of five galleries — include “Picturing Maricopa” and “Women’s Work.” Other current exhibits include “Chicanitas,” “Vermilion Remains,” and “Wood & Substance, Substance & Spirit.”

Another snappy dresser from the Mesa Encore Theatre production of The Music Man

That’s a lot of art for an admission fee of just $3.50. Kids age 7 & under are always free — and admission is free for all on Thursdays (the museum is closed on Mondays). I’m going to have to move this to the top of my “me time” to do list. My grown children would enjoy the works, but they’re already off and running in a million directions this summer. Bummer.

— Lynn

Note: The Theater League 2011-2012 Broadway series also performs at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix

Coming up: Art meets science — with a twist of creative genius

Photo credit: Sarah Rodgers and Wade Moran

Broadway tales

After years of seeing touring Broadway shows at ASU Gammage in Tempe, Lizabeth will soon be enjoying shows on Broadway (Photo: James Trimble)

While Lizabeth and James were back East a while back for college theater program auditions (hers, not his), they faced plenty of tough choices. Which pizza joints to frequent. Which tourist attractions to explore. Which Broadway musicals to take in.

They ended up seeing a straight play off Broadway one night. Their other two choices, dictated in part by what they could snag last minute tickets to, were “Jersey Boys” and “American Idiot.”

It never occured to us that “Green Day’s American Idiot” might be making its way to Arizona, but we learned just recently that the rock musical is part of the 2011-2012 “Broadway in Arizona” series at ASU Gammage in Tempe.

Lizabeth saw American Idiot on Broadway -- but I'll be enjoying it during April 2012 at ASU Gammage in Tempe (Photo credit: James Trimble)

“We always like to have something new,” explains Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director for ASU Gammage and Assistant Vice President of Cultural Affairs at ASU.

Other “new” offerings in the 2011-2012 “Broadway in Arizona” season at ASU Gammage include the “Blue Man Group.”

You might say Gammage is poised to “rock our world” this season.

But there’s also more sentimental fare — including “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” “West Side Story,” and “Rogers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific.”

Lizabeth will be thrilled that one the shows she missed on Broadway, “Million Dollar Quartet,” is also coming to town. “La Cage Aux Folles” should prove equally fabulous and fun.

Thanks to three 2011-2012 special engagements (shows that aren’t part of the season ticket package), your gift-giving decisions just got a whole lot easier.

For winter holidays, give tickets to “Stomp” (Dec 28-31, 2011). For Valentine’s Day, think “Wicked” (Feb 15-March 11, 2012). Trust me — a change in theme from pink to green will be ever so appreciated. And for Mother’s Day or year-end teacher gifts, there’s “RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles.”

Especially during tough economic times, reflects Jennings-Roggensack, people appreciate the familiar. She sees the season as a perfect blend of the new and exciting with the familiar and comforting.

Lizabeth was thrilled when she learned of the 2011-2012 ASU Gammage line-up, because we’re longtime season ticket holders who rarely miss a show. At some point, however, the bad news struck her. She’ll likely be in New York — either studying or auditioning — when these shows hit Arizona.

But we’ll have a great time swapping “Broadway in Arizona” and Broadway in New York stories…

— Lynn

Note: ASU Gammage offers “Camp Broadway” June 6-10, 2011 for youth ages 10-17.

Coming: More new season announcements

“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