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

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.

Deadline For Arts Award Nominations Approaches

Governor's Arts Award logoNominations for the 31st annual Governor’s Arts Awards, which will be presented in six categories to individuals and businesses who have made substantial and outstanding contributions to arts and culture in Arizona, must be in by December 16.

Nomination categories are Artist, Individual, Community, Arts In Education Organization, Arts In Education Individual and Business. Honorees will be selected by an independent panel of judges. Winners will be announced at the Governor’s Arts Awards ceremony in March at the Herberger Theater, 222 East Monroe in Downtown Phoenix. The Governor’s Arts Awards are presented by Arizona Citizens for the Arts (www.azcitizensforthearts.org) in partnership with the Arizona Commission on the Arts (www.azarts.gov) and the Office of the Governor. Since 1981, 144 artists, individuals, arts and cultural organizations, educators and businesses have received Governor’s Arts Awards.

Nominations must be completed online by 5pm, December 16. To complete a nomination application, go to www.governorsartsawards.org. For more information, call 602.253.6535.

Valley Youth Theatre Holds Auditions

Freckleface Strawberry is coming to VYTAuditions for the Arizona premiere of Freckleface Strawberry The Musical and the classic “super soul musical” The Wiz are being held on January 9 and 10 at 3:30pm at Valley Youth Theatre (VYT) at 525 North First Street on the southeast corner of First and Fillmore in Downtown Phoenix. Actors only need to attend one audition date.

There is no fee to participate in VYT’s main stage productions, and if cast, each actor will earn a stipend of $300 toward secondary education through VYT’s  scholarship program. No other local youth theatre offers such a program.

Freckleface Strawberry runs April 6-22, 2012 at VYT and The Wiz runs June 8-24 at the Herberger Theater Center.

For more information about auditions, call 602.253.8188, Extension 4, or visit vyt.com/on-stage/auditions.aspx.

Freckleface Strawberry is coming to VYT

%d bloggers like this: