14 New Pieces in 24 Hours — The 24 Hour Plays Partners With Arizona Theatre Company for New Edition

“Now more than ever, support for Arizona Theatre Company is essential for our survival and our robust return to live theatre. Help us as we continue to be a leader in the arts in Arizona.” —Sean Daniels, Arizona Theatre Company

A group of Arizona actors and writers will work together to write, rehearse, perform and produce 14 new pieces in just 24 hours, as The 24 Hour Plays partners with Arizona Theatre Company on an edition of The 24 Hour Plays: Viral Monologues. Beginning at 7pm ET July 14, the new monologues will be published, one every 15 minutes.

On July 13 at 6pm, actors will share brief orientation-style videos to allow the writers to get to know them better. By 7pm, writers and actors will be paired, and writers will get to work on crafting new monologues especially for their assigned actors. Actors receive their monologues July 14 at 10am, will film their performances throughout the day, and at 7pm their videos begin to be released to the world, completing the 24-hour cycle. The monologues will be available to view on IGTV and online for four days after their initial airing courtesy of an agreement with Theatre Authority, a nonprofit organization managed by Actors’ Equity.

Fifteen Arizona theater companies were asked to identify artists and writers to participate in the project, and 12 are participating including Arizona Theatre Company, Borderlands Theater, Brelby Theatre Company, The Bridge Initiative, Childsplay, The Rogue Theatre, The Scoundrel & Scamp Theatre, Stray Cat Theatre, Teatro Bravo!, United Colours of Arizona Theatre, The University of Arizona and Winding Road Theater Ensemble.

The cast of this special edition includes Damon Bolling, Chanel Bragg, Veronica Conran, Gabriella de Brequet, Veronika Duerr, Louis Farber, Brenda Jean Foley, Jen Gantwerker, Alejandra Luna, Carley Elizabeth Preston, Shonda Royall, Seth Tucker,and China Young. They will perform monologues written by Esther Almazán, Monica Bauer, Susanna Velarde Covarrubias, Sean Daniels, Marvin González De León, Angelica Howland, Shelby and Brian Maticic, Milta Ortiz, John Perovich, Christopher Oscar Peña, Elaine Romero, Jasmine Roth, Mark Schultz, Maybe Stewart and Paul Michael Thompson.

The 24 Hour Plays: Viral Monologues are produced by Coleman Ray Clark and Madelyn Paquette. The artistic director of The 24 Hour Plays is Mark Armstrong.

“It’s an honor to work with Mark Armstrong and The 24 Hour Plays,” said Arizona Theatre Company’s artistic director Sean Daniels in a press release. “As the pandemic hit, they pivoted quickly to digital and became a beacon of hope that artists would still be able to create and connect with audiences. They deserve every bit of praise they have received during this time.”

“To have The 24 Hour Plays: Viral Monologues focus on a single state for the first time shows the quality of artists we have here in Arizona — and Mark is an Arizona State University boy done good. We’re glad to be highlighting the artists that started here and have now taken the country by storm.”

“Sean Daniels is one of the great artistic leaders of my generation,” said Armstrong. “Arizona Theatre Company was a place where I had formative theatergoing experiences and I’m thrilled that they’re getting a forward-thinking reboot under Sean’s inspiring vision. The 24 Hour Plays bring together creative communities around the world and not only are we looking forward to hosting Arizona’s top writers and actors for an exciting round of Viral Monologues, I’m looking forward to the day I can get on a plane and help bring Arizona artists together live and in person for a production of The 24 Hour Plays with ATC.”

Proceeds from this round support Arizona Theatre Company, the official state theater of Arizona. Now celebrating its 53rd Season, the mission of the Arizona Theatre Company is to inspire, engage, and entertain — one moment, one production and one audience at a time.

“Now more than ever, support for Arizona Theatre Company is essential for our survival and our robust return to live theatre. Help us as we continue to be a leader in the arts in Arizona,” Daniels said. “ATC is committed to using all donations raised to help us support our people, our mission and our community.”

The program will be available July 14–18 on IGTV @24hourplays, on The 24 Hour Plays’ Facebook and YouTube channel, and at 24hourplays.com/viral-monologues.

More information for those who would like to support The 24 Hour Plays or attend a live performance in the future is available at 24hourplays.com.

Bragg Named Associate Artistic Director at ATC

Chanel Bragg

Arizona Theatre Company (ATC) announced today that Arizona native Chanel Bragg has been named associate artistic director for the company.

A graduate of Northern Arizona University and Cortez High School, Bragg is a producer, director, teaching artist and performer whose mission is to open doors and shatter stereotypes for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and women in Arizona.

“My career, and life, was changed by the opportunity to be an Associate Artistic Director at a leading LORT theatre, so I have always wanted to provide that opportunity for someone else. For me that person is Chanel Bragg,” said ATC artistic director Sean Daniels. “Also, it’s time for theaters to start hiring and promoting the immense talent that lives in their own towns.”

Bragg, who holds a Master of Arts degree with an emphasis in Innovative Leadership from Western International University, has worked with a range of Arizona fine arts institutions and is a three-time AriZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence recipient. Among the organizations for which she has collaborated are ATC in The Music Man and Cabaret, Black Theatre Troupe, The Phoenix Symphony, Free Arts for Abused Children, Phoenix Theatre, Stray Cat Theatre, Childsplay, Arizona Broadway Theatre, TheaterWorks, Spotlight Youth Theatre and Desert Stages.

“I have spent my career carrying the belief that our Arizona theater community rivals any place in the universe and now I’ve been given the illustrious platform to prove it,” Bragg said.

She is also co-founder of the Soul of Broadway, an AriZoni award winner, producer of The Alexander Project Tribute Band with Live Nation, founder of United Colours of AZ Theatre and a supporting vocalist in the Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra.

“I am inspired by the work Chanel does — onstage and off — her dedication to her community and the joy she brings to every project,” Daniels said. “We are a better organization, and I will be a better Artistic Director, for having her unquestioned work ethic, high level of artistry, fierce passion for equity and inclusion and her truly remarkable and delightful sense of humor helping to lead the way. Though these are unprecedented and sometimes overwhelmingly challenging times, the future remains bright for ATC — especially with hires like this.”

For more information about Arizona Theatre Company, visit arizonatheatre.org.

TICKET GIVEAWAY — A Celebration of Discovery, Originality and Curiosity: SILENT SKY

Amelia White, Veronika Duerr, Tori Grace Hines and Inger Tudor in ATC’s Silent Sky. Photo: Tim Fuller

Enter to win a pair of tickets to Arizona Theatre Company’s Silent Sky. The inspiring story of a 19th-century astronomer who changed our view of the universe. Henrietta Leavitt was instrumental in the understanding and mapping of the galaxies, but her gender meant her work went largely uncredited. This play gives her the credit and voice she deserves.

For the last three seasons, playwright Lauren Gunderson has proudly sat on the list of most-produced playwrights in the country. Arizona Theatre Company proudly brings this brilliant and prolific author’s work to the professional stage in Arizona for the first time. Based on the true story of 19th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, astonishing discoveries await as she maps distant stars in galaxies beyond our own. But this brilliant, headstrong pioneer must struggle for recognition in the man’s world of turn-of-the-century astronomy. During this time of immense scientific discoveries, women’s ideas were dismissed until men claimed credit for them.  Like the recent film Hidden Figures, Silent Sky shines a bright light on women whose achievements have been too long overlooked by the telescope of history. In this exquisite blend of science, history, family ties and fragile love, a passionate young woman must map her own passage through a society determined to keep a woman in her place.

Enter now to experience this play of discovery! (Deadline Nov. 15)
Sunday, November 17
7:30pm
Herberger Theater Center
222 E. Monroe Street, Phoenix

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT: Around Town — November 2019

A lot of excellent music and theater performances will be gracing Valley stages both big and small in November here are just a few of them. —CST

Photo: Tim Trumble

Nov. 1–24

Chato’s Kitchen
Childsplay
www.childsplayaz.org; 480.921.5700

Photo: Axel Dupeux

Nov. 2

Patti LuPone
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org; 480.499.8587

Nov. 5

Penny and Sparrow
Musical Instrument Museum
www.mim.org; 480.478.6000

Nov. 6

David Cook
Musical Instrument Museum

Nov. 8

Kinobe
Musical Instrument Museum

Nov. 8

Vanessa Williams
Arizona Musicfest Festival
http://www.azmusicfest.org; 480.422.8449

Nov. 8–10

Fellow Travelers
Arizona Opera
www.azopera.org; 602.266.7464

Nov. 9

A Tuba to Cuba: Preservation Hall Jazz Band with Yusa and Special Guests
Musical Instrument Museum

Nov. 9

Jesse Cook 
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Nov. 11

Sleater-Kinney
The Van Buren
www.thevanburenphx.com

Nov. 13

Jidenna
The Van Buren

Nov. 13

Charles Lewis Quintet
ASU Kerr
www.asukerr.com; 480.596.2660

Nov. 13 – Dec. 29

The Sound of Music
The Phoenix Theatre Company
www.phoenixtheatre.com; 602.254.2151

Nov. 14

Pedro Giraudo Tango Quartet
Arizona Musicfest Festival

Nov. 14

Portland Cello Project
Musical Instrument Museum

Nov. 14 – Dec. 1

Silent Sky
Arizona Theatre Company
www.arizonatheatre.org; 602.256.6995

Nov. 15

The Four Italian Tenors
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Nov. 15

Union32
Musical Instrument Museum

Photo: Joan Marcus

Nov. 15–17

Blue Man Group
ASU Gammage
www.asugammage.com; 480.965.3434

Nov. 16

Sara Evans
Arizona Musicfest Festival

Nov. 16

Carlene Carter
Mesa Arts Center
www.mesaartscenter.com; 480.644.6500

Nov. 16

The Black Keys
Talking Stick Resort Arena
www.livenation.com

Nov. 16

ERTH’s Prehistoric Aquarium Adventure
The Mystery of the Dinosaurs of the Deep
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Nov. 17

MIM and Arizona Musicfest Present the Young Musicians Fall Concert
Musical Instrument Museum

Nov. 17

Live & Local: Sugar Thieves
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Nov. 19

Bruce Cockburn
Musical Instrument Museum

Gabby Moreno

Nov. 20

Roots Rising! Featuring Matt Andersen, Gaby Moreno and Liz Vice
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Photo: Joel Sartore

Nov. 20

National Geographic Live: Building the Photo Ark
Mesa Arts Center

Nov. 22

Over the Rhine
Musical Instrument Museum

Nov. 22

Cedric Watson and The Bijou Creole Band
ASU Kerr

Nov. 22 – Dec. 15

The Trip to Bountiful
Theatre Artists Studio
www.thestudiophx.org; 602.765.0120

Nov. 22 – Dec. 29

Elf the Musical
Arizona Broadway Theatre
www.azbroadway.org; 623.776.8400

Nov. 22

DIAVOLO | Architecture in Motion
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Nov. 22

Trevor Noah: Loud & Clear
Talking Stick Resort Arena
www.livenation.com

Nov. 23

Teneia
Musical Instrument Museum

Nov. 23

Cher
Gila River Arena
www.livenation.com

Nov. 23 [Show rescheduled to FEB. 16]

Jane Lynch and Kate Flannery: Two Lost Souls
Featuring the Tony Guerrero Quartet
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Nov. 23

Lindsey Stirling
Comerica Theatre
www.livenation.com

Nov. 25

ASU Big Band Night 
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Nov. 27

Musical Interludes Series: ASU Jazz Faculty Recital
Musical Instrument Museum

Dec. 3

The Jacob Jolliff Band
Musical Instrument Museum

2019–20 CITYSunTimes Performing Arts Season Preview

Another spectacular season of dance, music and live theater is just around the corner in the Greater Phoenix area! Performers from around Arizona and all over the world will populate our world-class venues, offering extraordinary entertainment to audiences young and old…and everyone in between. Here is a just a sampling of the outstanding events coming to a stage near you this season. | CST

Arizona Broadway Theatre
www.azbroadway.org; 623.776.8400

Oct. 11 – Nov. 19: Sweeney Todd
Nov. 22 – Dec. 29: Elf the Musical
Jan. 24 – Feb. 28: La Cage aux Folles
March 13 – April 19: Chicago
May 1–24: Bonnie & Clyde
June 5 – July 3: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
July 24 – Aug. 22: Flashdance the Musical
Sept. 11 – Oct. 4: Happy Day

The Hot Sardines

Arizona Musicfest Festival
www.azmusicfest.org; 480.422.8449

Arizona Musicfest’s 2019–20 Festival season includes 27 performances from Nov. 8 through March 13. Festival highlights include Grammy award winner Michael Bolton; multi-talented entertainer Vanessa Williams; country star Sara Evans; TV, stage and screen celebrity Tony Danza; Musicfest favorites Chris Botti and Michael Feinstein; plus, holiday concerts featuring The 5 Browns and New York Voices. Ensembles coming to the Musicfest stage include the legendary John Pizzarelli Trio, The Hot Sardines, Back to Bacharach, as well as Under the Streetlamp.

Riders of the Purple Sage; Photo: Tim Trumble

Arizona Opera
www.azopera.org; 602.266.7464

Sept. 27–29: Shining Brow
Nov. 8–10: Fellow Travelers
Jan. 24–26: La Bohème
Feb. 28 – Mar. 1: Riders of the Purple Sage
April 3–5: Ariadne auf Naxos, comedy becomes divine

Arizona Theatre Company
www.arizonatheatre.org; 602.256.6995

Oct. 3–20: The Royale
Nov. 14 – Dec. 1: Silent Sky
Jan. 4–26: Cabaret
Feb. 13 – March 1: “Master Harold”… and the Boys
April 2–19: The Legend of Georgia McBride
May 14–31: Women in Jeopardy

Lila Coogan (Anya) and the company of the National Tour of Anastasia; Photo: Evan Zimmerman, Murphy Made

ASU Gammage
www.asugammage.com; 480.965.3434

Sept. 24–29: Miss Saigon
Oct. 29 – Nov. 3: Anastasia
Nov. 15–17: Blue Man Group
Jan. 7–12: Summer
Jan. 28 – Feb. 2: Fiddler on the Roof
Feb. 21–23: Beautiful
March 3–8: Once on This Island
April 21–26: Mean Girls
May 26–31: Come From Away
June 17 – July 12: The Lion King

A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Photo: Tim Fuller

Ballet Arizona
http://balletaz.org; 602.381.1096

Sept. 26–29: Director’s Choice
Oct. 24–27: Napoli
Dec. 13–24: The Nutcracker
Feb. 13–16: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
May 7–10: All Balanchine
May 19 – June 6: An Evening at Desert Botanical Garden

Black Theatre Troupe
www.blacktheatretroupe.org; 602.258.8129

Sept. 13–29: Blues in the Night
Oct. 25 – Nov. 10: Breakfast with Mugabe
Dec. 6–22: Black Nativity
Feb. 7–23: Trouble in Mind
March 27 – April 12: Sistas — The Musical

Center Dance Ensemble
www.centerdance.com; 602.252.8497

Oct. 17–20: A Haunting We Will Go: A Tribute to Frances Smith Cohen
Dec. 7–22: Frances Smith Cohen’s Snow Queen

Ella Enchanted; Photo: Tim Trumble

Childsplay
www.childsplayaz.org; 480.921.5700

Sept. 8 – Oct. 13: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
Nov. 2–24: Chato’s Kitchen
Dec. 7–29: Ella Enchanted: The Musical
Jan. 26 – March 8: Elephant & Piggie’s “We are in a Play!”
April 18 – May 17: Suzette Who Set to Sea

Desert Foothills Theater
www.dftheater.org; 480.488.1981

Sept. 27 – Oct. 6: Pirates of Penzance, Jr.
Nov. 8–24: Annie Get Your Gun
Jan. 17–26: And Then There Were None
Feb. 14–23: Honk Jr.
March 27 – April 5: Steel Magnolias
April 17–19: Fair Game
May 8–17: Godspell

Fountain Hills Theater — Mainstage
www.fhtaz.org; 480.837.9661

Sept 6–22: Mamma Mia
Oct. 18 – Nov. 3: Agnes of God
Dec. 6–22: A Christmas Carol — The Musical
Jan. 24 – Feb. 9: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
March 6–22: Footlight Frenzy
April 17 – May 3: The Million Dollar Quartet

Herberger Theater Center
www.herbergertheater.org; 602.252.8497

In addition to being home to six resident companies (Arizona Broadway Theatre, Arizona Opera, Arizona Theatre Company, Center Dance Ensemble, Childsplay Theatre, and iTheatre Collaborative), the Center hosts many other local and touring companies, arts education and outreach programs and its Art Gallery. Don’t miss the 10th annual Festival of the Arts Oct. 26. The free event celebrates the arts in the community with performances by more than 25 arts organizations featuring dance, live music, children’s activities, aerial performances, pet adoptions, food, craft beer and wine tasting and more. Proceeds benefit the Herberger Theater’s Youth Outreach Programs.

Southern Avenue; Photo: David McClister

Musical Instrument Museum
www.mim.org; 480.478.6000

The MIM Music Theater’s fall concert series includes more than 50 concerts from September through December, spanning multiple musical genres from across the globe, some performing at MIM for the first time. Artists kicking off the season this month include Kawehi, Greg Laswell, Lúnasa, Southern Avenue, Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, Lucibela, Paula Cole and Pokey LaFarge.

Musical Theatre of Anthem
www.musicaltheatreofanthem.org; 623.336.6001

Sept. 19–22: Frozen Jr.
Sept. 26–29: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Dec. 5–15: Little Mermaid Jr.
Feb. 20 – March 8: The Wizard of Oz
April 30 – May 3: Children of Eden
May 7-9: Cinderella Kids
June 8–20: Annie Jr.

North Valley Symphony Orchestra
www.northvalleysymphony.org; 623.980.4628

Oct. 19: A Scandinavian Tour
December (TBA): Christmas Pops
March (TBA): Women in Music
May (TBA): Across America

Paradise Valley Community College Center for the Performing Arts
www.paradisevalley.edu/cpa; 602.787.7738

This fully professional theater and multi-use facility houses student productions, touring acts and educational programs — from film festivals and student directed one-act plays to concert series, chamber ensembles and faculty jazz concerts. Visit the website for a complete list of upcoming events.

Phoenix Chorale
www.phoenixchorale.org; 602.253.2224

Oct. 18–20: Lux Aeterna
Dec. 13–17: A Chorale Christmas
Feb. 28 – March 1: Cosmos
April 24–26: Birth & Rebirth

Phoenix Symphony
www.phoenixsymphony.org; 602.495.1999

Virginia G. Piper Music Director Tito Muñoz kicks off the 2019–20 season Sept. 20–22 with a celebration of the life and works of Ludwig van Beethoven in honor of his 250th birthday with one of the most famous opening phrases in all of music, the fateful Fifth Symphony.

ProMusica Arizona Chorale and Orchestra
www.pmaz.org; 623.326.5172

Nov. 2–3: Celebrate America
Dec. 14–15: Joy to All the World
April 4–5: Latin Spice
May 16–17: Baroque to Bluegrass

Rising Youth Theatre
www.risingyouththeatre.org

March 2020: Light Rail Plays
June 2020: Face to Face

Kalli Sparish & Haydehn Tuipulotu take on the roles of the Vampire Queen and King in the 2019 production of A Vampire Tale; Photo: Angel Castro

Scorpius Dance Theatre
www.scorpiusdance.com; 602.254.2151

Oct. 3–12: A Vampire Tale
Feb. 7­–8: Animal
April 23–25: 20 Year Anniversary Showcase

Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org; 480.499.8587

The 2019–20 season is jam-packed with legends of world music, acclaimed dance companies, renowned classical musicians, returning favorites and more. A few noteworthy performances are Rufus Wainwright’s Oh Solo Wainwright performance, Mary Chapin Carpenter & Shawn Colvin, DIAVOLO, Jane Lynch and Karen Flannery, internationally known violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, West Coast dance sensation Jacob Jonas the Company, Broadway veteran Patti LuPone and the Villalobos Brothers with Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles.

Scottsdale Community College Performing Arts
www.scottsdalecc.edu/calendars; 480.423.6000

The Scottsdale Community College Musical Theater season includes First Date, Nov. 8–16, and Once Upon a Mattress, April 2–11. In addition, SCC Theatre will present its fall production Oct. 18–26. And don’t miss this season’s performances by Jazz Ensemble, Guitar Ensemble, Cello Ensemble, Concert Band, Choir, the SCC Orchestra and more.

Southwest Shakespeare Company 
www.swshakespeare.org; 480.435.6868

Sept. 20–29: Ladies in Waiting: The Judgement of Henry VIII
Oct. 25 – Nov. 9: Macbeth
Oct. 25 – Nov. 9: The Mystery of Irma Vep
Dec. 20–22: The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged)
Jan. 24 – Feb. 2: Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy, & Louisa
Feb. 21 – March 7: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Feb. 21 – March 7: Richard the Second
April 9–25: Hudson: A Historical Musical

Kinky Boots

The Phoenix Theatre Company
www.phoenixtheatre.com; 602.254.2151

Arizona’s first and oldest arts institution is celebrating 100 years with a full slate of shows that have significance to The Phoenix Theatre Company’s past, present and future. Loaded with blockbusters, crowd favorites and a new world premiere musical, the 100th season reflects The Phoenix Theatre Company’s commitment to Broadway-caliber entertainment, inspiring hope and understanding through the arts, and promoting new voices in theater.

Thru Oct. 13: Kinky Boots
Oct. 9 – Nov. 10: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Nov. 13 – Dec. 29: The Sound of Music
Dec. 18 – Feb. 16: Million Dollar Quartet
Jan. 29 – Feb. 23: Americano!
Feb. 26 – April 12: Sondheim on Sondheim
Feb. 28 – March 15: Festival of New American Theatre
March 18 – April 19: Something Rotten!
April 15 – June 7: The Rocky Horror Show
May 20 – June 28: Hair

Theatre Artists Studio
www.thestudiophx.org; 602.765.0120

Sept. 27 – Oct. 20: Rathmines Road
Nov. 22 – Dec. 15: The Trip to Bountiful
Jan. 17 – Feb. 9: The Christians
Mar. 13 – Apr. 5: Pound
May 1–24: By the Water
June 11–21: New Summer Short

Valley Youth Theatre
www.vyt.com; 602.253.8188

Oct. 11–27: They Chose Me
Dec. 6–23: A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail
Feb. 7–23: The Princess and the Pea
April 3–19: Dear Edwina
June 12–28: Peter Pan


Fiddler on the Roof comes to ASU Gammage Jan. 28 – Feb. 2.
Photo: Joan Marcus

AMERICAN MARIACHI — Soundtrack of Life, Love & Remembrance

By Marcos Nájera

There are many wild and colorful stories chronicling the true origins of mariachi music. Some stories credit the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortés with bringing theatre orchestra musicians with him from overseas when he landed in what is now modern-day Mexico. Meanwhile, others speculate that the word ‘mariachi’ comes from a now-extinct indigenous Mexican language. In written form, the word reportedly started to appear around the year 1852 — specifically in a letter written by a priest named Cosme Santa Anna.

Fast forward over a century later to Northern California. That’s where you’d find a young José Cruz González who’d fallen in love with mariachi music. He even remembers the first album that touched his heart as a boy back in the 1960s.

“It was a record that my mother played by Javier Solis,” recalls González. “She had to clean the house — we all had to clean the house. One of our first homes was an abandoned bracero barracks. And she always had her records playing.”

González grew up in the farming village of Watsonville with his mom, Maria Jesus González, and an extended family who made their living by picking crops in the countryside. All the while, mariachi music would play in the background.

“I didn’t stop doing fieldwork until I left for college. But as time went on, I even started to learn to play mariachi music as an adult,” laughs González. “I audited a class. I started on guitar and then moved on to other instruments. But I didn’t even know what the terminology was. When they’d say they were ‘starting on the downbeat,’ I had no clue what they meant. And so, it was like learning the most difficult language on earth. That’s how unprepared I was!”

Gonzales would listen to his music teachers tell him about their memories of mariachi. The stories reminded him of home and the people confronting life’s everyday challenges underscored by these beloved Mexican folk songs. It all inspired González, who is now an accomplished playwright, to pen American Mariachi.

The theatrical comedy tells the story of a Latina named Lucha. Her mom battles dementia while Lucha tries to figure out how to help.

For González, it’s a storyline he knows all too well. His own mom was diagnosed with early dementia last year.

“My brothers and I wonder what are the next stages,” says González. “As she forgets more and more.”

But that’s exactly where music and theater can play important roles says González. He is quick to point out that these art forms can help people, himself included, reimagine tough times in life.

Lucha, the play’s protagonist, does exactly that. When she notices that her mom’s memory starts fading and even the simplest of subjects become tough to talk about, a bold idea strikes Lucha. She decides the best way to communicate with a hurting parent is to turn to music’s healing power.

So, she forms an all-girl mariachi band. After all, mariachi had always been her mom’s favorite music.

Here’s the catch. González set the play in the 1970s during a time when macho attitudes towards women in music reigned supreme, the mariachi community notwithstanding.

“It’s a tradition that’s passed on from father to son,” explains González. “So, these women take on that challenge and all

heck breaks loose for them! But in the end, these ladies do it all wonderfully and really put it together, because music is memory.”

American Mariachi was originally commissioned by and developed at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company in cooperation with San Diego’s Old Globe in 2015. Before its upcoming Arizona Theatre Company premier, the show was previously workshopped at Cal State Los Angeles, where González currently teaches.

American Mariachi opens this April at the Herberger Theater Center (www.arizonatheatre.org). |CST


Photos courtesy of Arizona Theatre Company

Bold, Direct, Unforgettable

Montreal-based circus The 7 Fingers brings Cuisine & Confessions to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in February. Image: Sophie LeClerc and Olivier-Tetreault

Montreal-based circus The 7 Fingers brings Cuisine & Confessions to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in February. Image: Sophie LeClerc and Olivier-Tetreault

The 2016-17 Performing Arts Season Is Here

By Kathryn M. Miller ~ Change is good. It forces one to adapt, which brings about resiliency – something that Arizona performing arts organizations are familiar with. As the performing arts season gets underway in the Valley, organizations are rising to the challenges of the times – and coming through brilliantly.

After nearly 30 years, the Scottsdale Cultural Council changed its name to Scottsdale Arts (www.scottsdalearts.org) to “engage more effectively with the public and the next generation of audiences.” Remarking on the changes, Scottsdale Arts president and CEO Neale Perl said, “Scottsdale Arts is bold and direct, and perfectly represents the fundamental mission of our organization – to provide our city’s residents and visitors with exceptional arts and educational experiences – now and into the future.”

Arizona Theatre Company (ATC) is another organization meeting challenges and changing times head-on. After facing a potentially season-cancelling fundraising slump, donors across the state rallied, providing the funds needed for ATC to present its 50th Anniversary Season – something for everyone to celebrate.
“Next season will be a year-long celebration of a half-century of unforgettable theatre in Arizona,” said ATC artistic director David Ira Goldstein, announcing the season (www.arizonatheatre.org). “It will be an opportunity for the thousands of professional artists and staff, and the audiences of millions who have joined with us over that time, to take a deep bow. In putting together this Golden Anniversary season, we have tried to assemble an exceptionally ambitious season that reflects many of the strands of our diverse, wide-ranging and exciting history.”

With live music, theater and dance, the Valley’s performing arts organizations are ready to enrich, provoke, educate, inspire and, of course, entertain this season – don’t miss a moment. |CST

The CITYSunTimes 2016-17 Performing Arts Preview begins on page 68.

Final Weekend For Arizona Theatre’s ROMEO AND JULIET

Arizona Theatre Company’s (ATC) current production of Romeo and Juliet is served up with a bit of fun and plenty of brio, with a hip, 60s Italian vibe that reflects the youth and effervescence of the play’s namesake couple. Under the direction of Kristen Brandt, this timeless tale is brought to life by David Lee Cuthbert’s staging design, Kish Finnegan’s spot-on costuming and the pitch-perfect music and soundscape of Michael Roth.

Chelsea Kurtz (Juliet) and Paul David Story (Romeo) bring a beautifully tragic sense of optimism and youthful passion to the title roles. Richard Baird (Mercutio / Friar Lawrence) and Leslie Law (Nurse / Prince) are at turns delightfully comic (a welcome distraction to the tragedy that we know is just around the corner) and deadly serious. While Kathryn Tkel offers a welcome, fresh take on the would-be peace keeper Benvolio.

Romeo and Juliet runs through April 12.

Next up for ATC is A Weekend with Pablo Picasso. For more information, visit www.arizonatheatre.org.

Photos by Tim Fuller

Performing Arts In The Valley – Giving Shape To Life

JessicaLangDance2Preservation Hall Jazz Band - 3a

RachelBartonPine

By Kathryn M. Miller ~ The object of art is to give life shape – so says a gentleman by the name of William Shakespeare. Nearly 400 years after his death, his works are still being brought to life onstage, and still have the power to shape and move an audience. That is, after all, the purpose of live performance.

Valley performing arts organizations are gearing up for the 2014-15 season and are looking forward to engaging with audiences by sharing their energy and excitement.

“The new season promises to be one of the most entertaining and varied in ATC’s long history,” said Arizona Theatre Company’s (www.arizonatheatre.org) artistic director David Ira Goldstein in announcing details of the new season. “All of these productions will be surrounded by a wide array of opportunities for audience engagement and involvement, and supported by community outreach, education and learning opportunities for all ages.”

Arizona Broadway Theatre’s (www.azbroadway.org) executive producer and founder Kiel Klaphake is excited to celebrate the theatre’s anniversary season with audiences.

“This momentous season is all about being bold,” says Klaphake. “ABT has become synonymous with full-scale, high-quality musical spectacles, so going into the 10th anniversary season we knew the productions had to be some of the biggest musicals to date with mesmerizing scores, stunning choreography and incredible stories. We know you won’t be disappointed.”

However, many arts organizations continue to struggle in a down economy, and continued support from audiences, donors and cultural organizations is important. The City of Scottsdale Cultural Council awarded $59,000 in grants in recent months to 12 local nonprofit arts and cultural organizations for projects that serve the Scottsdale community. The City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture also stepped up and announced that it will award $805,346 to 47 area nonprofit arts and culture organizations.

“We know that these grants provide critical operational support to many of our arts and culture organizations, and for others this funding enables essential community outreach programs to flourish,” says Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Executive Director Gail Browne. “With 5.1 million attendees, the arts and culture sector in Phoenix is a $300 million economic engine that generates $14 million in tax revenue. That’s a return of $20 for every $1 invested through the arts and culture grant program.”

The funding is in place, the stage is set. The third ingredient for a successful theatre season is an engaged audience, and with everything from Alvin Ailey’s modern dance to Shakespeare’s classics, the 2014-15 performing arts season in the Valley is sure to breathe new life and energy into those who experience it. |CST

Look for the 2014-15 Performing Arts Preview beginning on page 56.

Review: Around the World In 80 Days

Kyle Sorrell, Bob Sorenson, Mark Anders, Yolanda London and Jon Gentry in Arizona Theatre Company’s Around the World in 80 Days. Photo by Tim Fuller/Arizona Theatre Company.

Kyle Sorrell, Bob Sorenson, Mark Anders, Yolanda London and Jon Gentry in Arizona Theatre Company’s Around the World in 80 Days. Photo by Tim Fuller/Arizona Theatre Company.

By Caitlin Miller –

When you hear the name Jules Verne, the first thing that usually comes to mind is adventure. And the first thing that comes to mind when you think of adventure is action movies. Some of the most well-loved action/adventure movies are based off of or in part inspired by Jules Verne – from A Trip to the Moon by the legendary Georges Méliès to the more recent Journey to the Center of the Earth with Brendan Fraser. But action and adventure usually don’t come to mind when you think of a night at the theater. Arizona Theatre Company’s (ATC) production of the quintessential Verne story, Around the World In 80 Days, will change that assumption for the theater-goers of Phoenix.

From London to India to Hong Kong to the Wild West, Around the World kept the audience on the edge their seats and rolling in the aisles more than any Hollywood blockbuster. With beautifully crafted, moving set pieces and a charming series of projected backdrops, the aesthetic of this show would be enough to make this reviewer give it two thumbs up. But it’s the cast, who evolve and adapt to character changes as seamlessly as the set they perform upon, that makes the show. Five performers play upwards of 15 separate characters, each a believable individual, and execute quick-fire costume changes – both on and offstage – with  fantastic speed and equally exciting humor.

Bob Sorenson returns to Herberger Theater Center with his perfect comedic timing in tow in a role that showcases his special talent in playing multiple characters. Mark Anders and Kyle Sorrell also make thrilling returns to ATC as (respectively) the show’s fastidious hero, Phileas Fogg, and the blustering Sir Francis, as well as many other hilarious characters Fogg meets on his journey around the world. Making her debut with ATC is the wonderful Yolanda London, showing off her range in at least three different roles, but shining as the beautiful and brave Aouda. But the stand-out, show-stopping, scene-stealing performance of the show is definitely Jon Gentry as the Fogg’s heroic servant, Passepartout. His delivery had the audience laughing hysterically with its outrageousness. We laughed at his jokes and sighed at his disappointments and more than a few hearts were broken with his last “It’s all my fault.”

I cannot recommend any show more than this one. Around the World in 80 Days will definitely make you laugh, will possibly make you cry and will have you associating adventure with theater from now on.

Written by Mark Brown and directed by David P. Saar,  Around the World in 80 Days runs at Herberger Theater Center through April 13. For more information, call 602.256.6995 or visit www.arizonatheatre.org.

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