Tag Archives: Youth Works

Need a puppet fix?

Enjoy Big Bug Circus at Great Arizona Puppet Theater in May

It’s Theater Works meets Puppet Works in Peoria as Pinocchio takes to the stage. The company’s Youth Works presents “Pinocchio” March 9-25 at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts, and children can enjoy a Pinocchio-theme puppet show every Saturday this month at either 10:30am or noon.

East Valley Children’s Theatre presents a series of puppet shows in coming months — each held on a Saturday at 11am at the EVCT rehearsal studio in Mesa. They’ll perform “Bird Brains” March 31, “Hoppy Hearts” April 28 and “Summer Smiles” May 26.  Their next theater production — “The Story of Hansel and Gretel” featuring book by Vera Morris, and music and lyrics by Bill Francoeur — runs June 14-24.

Puppetry is always plentiful at the Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix, which is featured in the “American Puppet Theaters 2012 Calendar” along with 11 other groups including Puppeteers of America, the Owl Glass Puppet Center, Melchior Marionettes, Puppetry Arts Institute and more.

The Three Little Pigs in Party Mode at Great Arizona Puppet Theater

Great Arizona Puppet Theater presents several works during March and April — including “Jack and the Beanstalk” (March 7-18), “Jack Rabbit & The Easter Basket” (March 21-April 8) and “The Metamorphisis of Karaghiozis” (May 2-6). The latter features “hilarious traditional Greek shadow puppets by guest artist Leonidas Kassapides.

The third Saturday in April is the “National Day of Puppetry” so GAPT plans a day full of puppet shows, activities and celebration on April 21. For grown-ups, GAPT offers several adult “puppet slams” each year featuring content too “edgy and quirky” for folks under 18.

Great Arizona Puppet Theater performs “Jack Rabbit and the Desert Tortoise” on April 28 at Higley Center for the Performing Arts. It’s one of more than ten desert theme shows they offer. Others include “Canyon Condor,” “Oh, Coyote!,” “Hotel Saguaro” and “Zoner & The Drip.”

Other GAPT shows suitable for younger audiences include “Big Bug Circus” (May 9-27), “Little Red Riding Hood” (May 30-June 17), “The Three Wishes” (June 20-July 1), “Goldilocks” (June 5-15), ” Old Macdonald” (Jul 18-Aug 5) and “The Princess, the Unicorn, and the Smelly Foot Troll” (Aug 8-26).

Characters from Jack Rabbit and the Desert Tortoise at Great Arizona Puppet Theater

Princess Harriet is having a “Unicorn Party” Aug 26, and young puppet lovers are invited to dress as a princess or troll to enjoy an afternoon of “themed activities, character appearances, and tasty cake.” You can also arrange to use “Peter’s Party Room” at GAPT when your child’s own birthday rolls around.

Upcoming fare at GAPT also includes “Baby Bear Goes to School” (Aug 29-Sept 16), “Hansel and Gretel” (Sept 19-Oct 7) and “Little Bunny’s Halloween” (Oct 10-28). While you’re there, check out their nifty gift shop complete with tabletop puppet theaters, finger puppets, marionettes, hand puppets and my personal favorite — Peepers!

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn how you can support GAPT by attending “Community Night Out With The Suns” on April 7

Coming up: Transformation tales


Theater meets Christmas

Irving Berlin's White Christmas comes to ASU Gammage in Tempe Dec. 6-11

More than a dozen Valley venues are presenting family-friendly theater fare with a Christmas theme. Here’s an early round-up, listed by city, to help families who celebrate Christmas with holiday planning…


Musical Theatre of Anthem presents a “Holiday Show” Dec. 16. www.musicaltheatreofanthem.org.

Fountain Hills

Fountain Hills Theater presents “Christmas Jukebox” Nov. 25-Dec. 18. www.fhtaz.org.


Hale Theatre Arizona presents “It’s a Wonderful Life” through Nov. 26 and  “A Christmas Carol” Dec. 1-23. www.haletheatrearizona.com.


Spotlight Youth Theatre presents “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” Dec. 2-18. www.spotlightyouththeatre.org.


Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre presents “A Christmas Carol” Nov. 17-Dec. 25. www.broadwaypalmwest.com.

East Valley Children’s Theatre presents “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” Dec. 1-11. www.evct.org.

Southwest Shakespeare Company presents “A Christmas Carol” Nov. 26-Dec. 17. www.swshakespeare.org.

Southwest Shakespeare Company performs A Christmas Carol Nov. 26-Dec. 17 in Mesa


Arizona Broadway Theatre presents “Miracle on 34th St.” Nov. 25-Dec. 29 and “A Broadway Christmas Carol” Dec. 9-17. www.arizonabroadwaytheatre.com.

The Homestead Playhouse presents “A Christmas Carol” Dec. 1-4. www.dcranchnet.com.

Theater Works presents “A Christmas Carol” Dec. 2-18. Theater Works/Youth Works Puppet Works presents “Saving Santa” Dec. 3-24 (Sat only). www.theaterworks.com.


Grand Canyon University presents “Amahl and the Night Visitors” Dec. 2-11. www.gcu.edu.

New Carpa Theater Co. presents “American Pastorela” Dec. 9-18 at the Third Street Theater (Phoenix Center for the Arts). www.newcarpa.org. (Mature content)

Phoenix Theatre presents “A Christmas Story” Nov. 23-Dec. 18. www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Space 55 presents “A Bloody Mary Christmas II” Dec. 1-17 and “7 Minutes Under the Mistletoe” Dec. 17. www.space55.org. (Mature content)

The Black Theatre Troupe presents “Black Nativity” Dec. 2-11. www.blacktheatretroupe.org.

Valley Youth Theatre presents “A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail” Dec 2-23. www.vyt.com.


Theatre Artists Studio presents “Holiday Music & Musings: From the Page to the Stage” Dec. 2. www.thestudiophx.org.

Sun City

Sun City Grand Drama and Comedy Club presents “Over the River and Through the Woods” Dec. 1-4. www.granddrama.com.

East Valley Children's Theatre presents The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Dec. 1-11


ASU Gammage presents “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” (touring production) Dec. 6-11. www.asugammage.com.

If your Valley organization is presenting a theater production with a Christmas, or other winter holiday, theme — please comment below to let readers know.

— Lynn

Note: A calendar of family-friendly events is always available online at www.raisingarizonakids.com. This post will be updated as I learn of additional theater offerings with a Christmas theme. Although most of the events noted above are designed for family audiences, please note that some are “mature audience” only productions.

Coming up: Christmas concerts, A cup of cheer

Update: Some of these shows are extending their runs, so check theater company websites for the latest and greatest information. 11/26/11

Beyond the Bastille

Prise de la Bastille by Henri Paul Perrault, 1928

France celebrates Bastille Day on July 14, the day in 1789 that revolutionaries seized the Bastille in Paris, starting the French Revolution that ushered in the French Republic. The Bastille was a medieval fortress built to protect Paris, but 18th century monarchs used it as a political prison. Bastille Day has been a national holiday in France since 1880.

For American theater-goers, the French revolution conjures images of the musical “Les Miserables,” based on one of Victor Hugo’s many novels. It’s being performed Jan 20-29, 2012 by Greasepaint Youtheatre in Scottsdale — which has enlisted Jon Gentry, associate artist with Childsplay in Tempe, to direct the work.

Before Hugo finished “Les Miserables” (1862), he wrote “Notre-Dame de Paris” — better known to Americans as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” A stage adaptation is being performed Sept 9-25 by Theater Works’ Youth Works in Peoria.

You can enjoy a taste of France this month at the Phoenix Art Museum — which presents “Theatre de la Mode,” an exhibit of mid-20th century French fashion design, through July 31. Featured garments were created for one-third human size mannequins using couture fabrics and details, then placed within elaborate stage sets.

Theatre de la Mode” originated in Paris following World War II as French fashion designers, jewelers, shoemakers, milliners and hairdressers united to raise war relief funds and reinvigorate their industries. Three of 12 scenes on exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum are from the historic 1945 collection. And works by French artists are part of the museum’s permanent European collection.

The French Language Program in the School of International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University will host the “2012 Women in French Conference” Feb 24-25, 2012 — highlighting “the influence, representation, presence and achievement of French and Francophone women from the Middle Ages through the 21st Century.”

Two of five works being performed by Arizona Opera during their 2011-12 season will be sung in French with English subtitles. A new production of “Faust” designed by Bernard Uzan reimagines “Faust” in modern times — trading village fair for nightclub. “Orfeo ed Euridice” is the retelling of a Greek myth featuring sets by New York’s John Conklin.

Paris Opera Ballet will perform in Chicago, Washington D.C. and New York next year as part of their first North American tour in more than a decade. The New York Times reports that Paris Opera Ballet will perform “Suite en Blanc,” “L’Arlésienne,” “Bolero,” “Giselle” and Pina Bausch’s version of “Orpheus and Eurydice.”

If your arts organization has upcoming offerings with a French flair, please comment below to let our readers know. Merci!


Note: To enjoy the flavor of France with younger children, read Le Petit Prince (first published in 1943) or Histoire de Babar (first published in 1931)

Coming up: Fun with arts fundraisers, Ode to Christopher Robin, Film meets journalism, Cinderella tales

Ode to hairspray

Two theater companies present Hairspray on Valley stages this summer

Like most little girls, I spent lots of time imitating my mom. I’d try on her pumps and pearls — and sneak dabs of her blush or lipstick. Even wave a can of aerosol hairspray back and forth over my head until my hair looked like a helmet.

Hairspray movies were released in 1988 and 2007

I recall those moments, and growing up during the ’60s, each time I see the musical “Hairspray.” My mom never saw the show, but she would have loved it. It’s an anthem to teen girls who refuse to accept the status quo or let others determine their worth.

And it’s being performed this summer by two Valley theater groups — Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale and Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix. I love seeing the same work performed by different groups because it’s fun to compare their cast, set and costume choices.

No two productions are ever the same, and seeing multiple versions of a single show gives kids experience in making comparisons, plus analyzing similarities and differences — skills they’ll need for reading, writing, history, math, science and more.

The original cast recording features upbeat songs perfect for retro dance parties

The Desert Stages Theatre production, which runs through Aug 7, will be presented at their Scottsdale venue — which is near Scottsdale Fashion Square. The Valley Youth Theatre production runs Aug 12-28 at the Herberger Theater Center, near Arizona Center, in downtown Phoenix.

Because both are close to shopping and plenty of restaurants, you can take in a show and enjoy other attractions in the area. Still, there’s a downside. Neither is within easy walking distance of a place that’ll sell you hairspray.

For summer birthday parties or back-to-school get togethers, “Hairspray” makes a fun theme. Treat your child and some friends to one of the live productions of “Hairspray,” then get one or both “Hairspray” films for sleepover viewing.

Before there was Harry Potter, there was Hairspray

Find some pictures of Audrey Hepburn or other folks with big hair, and challenge party-goers to see how high their locks will go with a little teasing and hairspray. Then take photos of the results (promising never to post them online).

Encourage guests to dress in “Hairspray” era clothing and accessories. Think bobby socks, headbands and cardigan sweaters. Or take them to a thrift store to see who can find the most outrageous “Hairspray” look.

Let them dance to the “Hairspray” soundtrack or cast recording, eat foods that might have been served in 1962, or play board games from that era. Remind them that Tracy Turnblad never tweeted, and that Mrs. Von Tussle would have frowned (were her face not frozen) on using Facebook.

— Lynn

Note: Theater Works’ Youth Works performs “Hairspray” at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts Feb 3-19, 2012 and Mesa Encore Theatre performs “Hairspray” at Mesa Arts Center May 25-June 3, 2012.

Coming up: AriZoni nominations

Last call for theater camps!

Comedy mask in stained glass window at the Scottsdale theater where Greasepaint Youtheatre camps are held

When I spoke recently with ASU dance major Echo Laney, I asked her to share a bit about the benefits of participating in theater camps. Laney participated in Camp Broadway at ASU Gammage several years ago, and describes it as a life-changing experience.

“Theater camp opens you to new experiences,” reflects Laney. It makes for “nice networking” and helps campers “discover who they are and what they can do.” Reflecting on her own time with Camp Broadway, Laney shares that theater camp “opens the mind” and fuels powerful dreams.

Tragedy mask in stained glass at the old Stagebrush Theater in Scottsdale

I learned the hard way many years ago that many Valley summer day camps start filling up as early as February, but I know plenty of parents have yet to sit down with their children or teens to firm up summer plans — despite the fact that some camps begin next week.

For those still exploring summer camp options, here’s a nifty list of Valley organizations offering theater camps — complete with links so you can easily learn more about your many options. Don’t delay, because in many cases this really is your last chance…

Actor’s Youth Theatre at www.actorsyouththeatre.org

Ahwatukee Children’s Theatre at www.azact.org

Arizona Broadway Theatre at www.azbroadway.org

Arizona Jewish Theatre Company at www.azjewishtheatre.org

Art and Sol Performing Arts Program at www.artandsolprogram.com

ASU Gammage at www.asugammage.com

Chandler Center for the Performing Arts at www.chandlercenter.org

Childsplay Theatre Company at www.childsplayaz.org

Christian Youth Theater at www.cytphoenix.org

Creative Stage Youth Theatre at www.csyt.org

Dearing Acting Studio at www.dearingstudio.com

Desert Stages Theatre at www.desertstages.org

Do Re Mi School for the Arts at www.doremischool.com

East Valley Children’s Theatre at www.evct.org

Fountain Hills Community Theater at www.fhct.org

Greasepaint Youtheatre at www.greasepaint.org

Kirk’s Studio for the Performing Arts at www.kirksstudio.com

Life’s a Stage Productions at www.lasacting.com

Mesa Arts Center at www.mesaartscenter.com

Musical Theatre of Anthem at www.musicaltheatreofanthem.org

Phoenix Center for the Arts at www.phoenixcenterforthearts.org

Phoenix Theatre at www.phoenixtheatre.com

Scottsdale Conservatory of the Performing Arts at www.scottsdaleconservatory.com

Scottsdale Glee at www.scottsdaleglee.org

Scottsdale Studios at www.gleecamps.com

Spotlight Youth Theatre at www.spotlightyouththeatre.org

Starlight Community Theater at www.starlightcommunitytheater.org

Studio 3 Performing Arts Academy at www.studio3arts.com

Theater Works at www.theaterworks.org

Theatre Artists Studio at www.thestudiophx.org

Valley Youth Theatre at www.vyt.com

Voices: A Music & Arts Studio at www.voicesstudio.com

To learn more about theater and other camps, check out the “Summer Solutions” 2011 camp directory compiled by Mala Blomquist of Raising Arizona Kids.

If you know of another Valley organization offering summer theater camps, please comment below to let our readers know.


Note: Click here for links to camps that participated in the RAK Camp Fair 2011.

Coming up: Celebrating Father’s Day — arts and culture style!

Worlds apart?

I’m hearing the song “Worlds Apart” more than ever these days as I’m teen taxiing with my radio tuned to the SIRIUS-XM Broadway channel — perhaps because of recent flooding on the Mississippi River, or maybe because of political discourse that seems increasingly polemic.

“Worlds Apart” is from a musical called “Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” with book by William Hauptman and music/lyrics by Roger Miller. It ran on Broadway from April 1985 to September 1987. The song accompanies Huck’s realization that a fellow runaway named Jim, though a slave, is a human being.

Today, plenty of folks still fear what they don’t understand. What they haven’t experienced. What seems different. What some call “the other.” But theater is leading the movement to celebrate and embrace differences as reflections of natural variations in our common humanity. And to assure that all people are valued and respected.

One Step Beyond performs at Theater Works in Peoria

One community theater company, Theater Works in Peoria, has partnered with One Step Beyond (also of Peoria) to bring theater classes and performance opportunities to people living with cognitive disabilities. One Step Beyond works “to provide opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities to access the life experiences and resources available to all citizens.” Click here to read a recent post on the rise in developmental disabilities from RAK multi-media journalist Vicki Louk Balint.

One Step Beyond performs their 2011 Showcase in June

One Step Beyond presents their 7th annual “Showcase of the Arts” at Theater Works (located at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts) Mon, June 6 and Tues, June 7. Performances start at 7pm, but folks can come at 6pm to enjoy a “Fine Arts Show” featuring works of visual art for sale.

One Step Beyond offers dance, theater and art experiences

The One Step Beyond showcase will feature performances by “OSB Explosion, OSB Jam Band, Comical Cats and many more.” The One Step Beyond theater department will perform an original play by Natalie Gradilla titled “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” Tickets are just $5 and can be purchased by calling One Step Beyond at 623-215-2449.

One Step Beyond exhibits visual art before the Showcase performance

Theater Works reports that funds raised through the “Showcase of the Arts” will “go towards One Step Beyond’s cultural arts program” — which includes classes in dance, acting, visual arts and more. Their partnership with One Step Beyond includes providing both arts and employment training.

Theater Works at the Peoria Center for the Peforming Arts is a bustling place — with shows for children and adults on multiple stages, summer camps, workshops throughout the year and various fundraising events.

Their next free workshop (for children ages 7-12, and ages 13 & up) takes place Sat, May 28, at 10am. It’s titled “Why Shakespeare?” — and it’ll focus on helping kids understand why Shakespeare’s famous works “have been around for hundreds of years,” and teach kids how they can “learn to act out his amazing stories!”

Shakespeare only feels worlds apart until you get to know him better. So head to Theater Works in Peoria, where you’ll discover all sorts of people and playwrights who all see the same sky, just through different eyes.

— Lynn

Note: To register for the free Shakespeare workshop, contact Chris Hamby of Theater Works at 623-815-1791 (ext. 108) or chamby@theaterworks.org.

Coming up: Ode to season tickets, Last call for summer theater camps, Art adventures: Tempe Center for the Arts

Photos courtesy of Theater Works

Gilbert & Sullivan on Valley stages

Kids Alive at Theater Works in Peoria is performing H.M.S. PINAFORE by Gilbert & Sullivan May 17, 20 & 23

When I learned from Theater Works in Peoria that their “Kids Alive” program was readying to perform “H.M.S. Pinafore,” an operetta by the famed team of William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, I went in search of Gilbert & Sullivan lore.

Soon I was exploring the “Learn About Opera” section of the Arizona Opera website — which has three nifty sections: 1) interactive games, 2) composers and 3) backstage pass. I clicked on composer bios and uncovered all sorts of gems about “G & S.” I also revisited the “Gilbert and Sullivan” chapter of Kathleen Krull’s “Lives of the Great Musicians.”

Gilbert and Sullivan created works that include “H.M.S. Pinafore,” “The Pirates of Penzance,” and “The Mikado” — and they were the darlings of 1880s theater in England. Their work is brisk and biting, but always good-natured and fun.

Theater Works’ “Kids Alive” performs “H.M.S. Pinafore” Tues, May 17 and Mon, May 23 at 7 p.m. Tickets are just $5 at the door. They’ve also announced a “performance for special needs patrons” on Fri, May 20 at 10am, noting that “a donation of $2/person is requested.”

“Kids Alive,” a program of the company’s youth theater (“Youth Works”), is a “performing group of children that travel to different venues to entertain and inspire the community by singing, dancing and performing short plays.”

Both “Theater Works” and “Youth Works” perform at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts, an intimate facility with several small theaters that enable them to present more than one work at any given time.

If you head to Theater Works June 10-12, you can see Yolanda London (a member of the acting company at Childsplay in Tempe) perform the role of Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” — presented by Theater Works and the Black Theatre Troupe of Phoenix. London is a nuanced, versatile actress who “brings it” every single time she’s on that stage.

The 2011/12 line-up for “Theater Works” includes “Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet,” “The King & I,” “Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol,” “The Dixie Swim Club,” “A Little Night Music” and “All Through the Night.”

Their 2011/12 “Youth Works” productions include “Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland,” “Hairspray,” and “Pinocchio.” Also for youth, three “Puppet Works” productions — “Trick or Treat!,” “Saving Santa” and “The Magical Adventures of Pinocchio.”

Reading about Gilbert & Sullivan is almost as fun as seeing their work performed on stage

If you discover, after seeing the “Kids Alive” production of “H.M.S. Pinafore,” that a single “Gilbert & Sullivan” offering isn’t enough for you, head to Chandler-Gilbert Community College next month for their production of “The Mikado” — which runs June 24-29 at the CGCC Performing Arts Center in Chandler.

The works of Gilbert & Sullivan are a fun introduction to the “operetta” genre — a sort of middle ground between musical theater and opera. Even if it’s not your thing, a bit of time spent with Gilbert & Sullivan will up your arts and culture I.Q. more than most things you can access with a mere remote control.

— Lynn

Note: To learn more about Gilbert & Sullivan, read Carolyn Williams’ new book titled “Gilbert and Sullivan: Gender, Genre, Parody” (part of the “Gender and Culture Series”). Or enjoy “The Fabulous Feud of Gilbert and Sullivan” by Jonah Winter (pictured above).

Coming up: Ten minute plays

Update: Eight, Arizona PBS will broadcast a new production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore” from the Guthrie Theater Fri, Oct 14 at 9pm. It’s followed by an episode of “Arizona ArtsBeat” at 11:30pm.