2020–21 Performing Arts Season Preview

This season will be one like no other for Valley performing arts organizations. As seasons ended abruptly across the state this spring, companies had to quickly adapt. Theaters were shuttered, employees were furloughed. Many fall seasons were reinvented while others were postponed and some, sadly, canceled entirely. Over the summer, theaters developed alternative programming — something that will continue to carry them to spring of 2021 when, hopefully, live and in-person theater can continue on a broad scale.

In the meantime, arts organizations are looking to Valley residents to help them weather the storm by subscribing to upcoming seasons, making donations if able and engaging with them on social media as they keep the ghost light burning until patrons can return. | CST


ABT’s production of Chicago

Arizona Broadway Theatre
www.azbroadway.org; 623.776.8400

“Everything is ready. The set is still there, the costumes are hanging on the racks and the talent is standing by…we can’t wait to breathe life back into this long awaited show.”

Cassandra Klaphake, artistic producer

Chicago, which closed early in March,will be the first full production to return to the ABT stage — set for January 2021. Outdoor performances and other additional interim programming are in development for the fall.

Arizona Musicfest
www.azmusicfest.org; 480.422.8449

Although its plans for a special celebratory season of performances had to be altered, Arizona Musicfest is undaunted and will kick off its 30th anniversary season in 2021 with Ray on My Mind, Jan. 12.

“Musicfest looks forward to safely reuniting our community as we celebrate our resilience and strengthen our resolve to bring the joy of music to all. Something which we believe is now more vital than ever before.”

Allan Naplan, executive and producing director

Arizona Opera
www.azopera.org; 602.266.7464

Arizona Opera is replacing its planned in-theater productions for the 2020–21 season with alternative programs that can be more safely enjoyed by a larger audience. The reimagined season will offer live, outdoor, socially distanced performances, combined with a collection of digital offerings. Programming kicks off Oct. 2 with its Studio Spotlight Series. On the horizon, the film adaptation of The Copper Queen, set in 1910 Bisbee, this is Arizona Opera’s second world premiere commission and its first foray into sharing the art form more broadly through a streamed, motion picture format.

Arizona Theatre Company
www.arizonatheatre.org; 602.256.6995

ATC has designed a diverse, multi-layered approach to the season, with imaginative ways to stay connected with and entertain audiences, leading to a safe return to Mainstage productions in January 2021. ATC kicks off the first half of its season with digital programming beginning in September with Slow Food, Somewhere Over The Border, Covenant, The Realness and more. The six show mainstage productions will run through November 2021: My 80 Year Old Boyfriend; Pru Payne; Nina Simone: Four Women; Women in Jeopardy!; how to make an American Son; and The Legend of Georgia McBride.

Company, The Band’s Visit North American Tour. Photo: Matthew Murphy

ASU Gammage
www.asugammage.com; 480.965.3434

ASU Gammage will present digital performance programming in September and October in preparation for a return to live, in-person theater in 2021.

Feb. 9–14: My Fair Lady
March 16–21: Tootsie
April 8–25: Disney’s Frozen
May 21–23: Jersey Boys
June 8–13: To Kill a Mockingbird
July 20–25: The Band’s Visit
Aug. 31 – Sept. 5: Mean Girls

Ballet Arizona
www.balletaz.org; 602.381.1096

“We are counting on our return to Desert Botanical Garden in May 2021 to present the much-anticipated world premiere of The Four Seasons.”

Samantha Turner, executive director

The company announced a departure from its previously planned 35th anniversary fall season of main-stage performances. A more digitally focused season is planned, including Inspire, a mixed-rep production scheduled for late October, and Nutcracker Suite, a re-imagined virtual version of the holiday classic set to air in mid-December.

Black Nativity 2019; Photo: Laura Durant

Black Theatre Troupe
www.blacktheatretroupe.org; 602.258.8129

“In 1970 the Black Theatre Troupe was born as a result of the same energy that is sweeping across the nation today. We have always been here to give voice to the Black experience. And we will continue to do so.”

David Hemphill, executive director

The Black Theatre Troupe’s 2020–21 season, Telling Our Stories, will mark the 50th year the company has celebrated and illuminated the Black experience. The season will include Sistas: The Musical, Sunset Baby, Black Nativity, A Soldier’s Play and Ain’t Misbehavin’.

Childsplay
www.childsplayaz.org; 480.921.5700

Childsplay is currently offering classes for ages 4–15 with professional theater artists crafting engaging, participatory and dynamic online drama instruction. The organization also creates fun family activities and creative projects to try online every week. También en español.

Desert Foothills Theater
www.dftheater.org; 480.488.1981

DFT will kick off the season at the Holland Community Center with its production of Disney’s The Lion King, Jr., Sept. 18–27. Keep an eye on the website for exciting fall season announcements.

Don Bluth Front Row Theater
www.donbluthfrontrowtheatre.com; 480.314.0841

Jan. 14 – Feb. 27: Drinking Habits
March 11 – April 24: Sleuth
May 13 – June 26: The Curious Savage
Sept./Oct.: Camelot
Nov./Dec.: It’s A Wonderful Life

Herberger Theater Center
www.herbergertheater.org
602.252.8497

Herberger Theater Center is home to six resident companies — Arizona Broadway Theatre, Arizona Opera, Arizona Theatre Company, Center Dance Ensemble, Childsplay Theatre and iTheatre Collaborative — and hosts other local and touring companies, arts education and outreach programs and its Art Gallery. Herberger plans to once again celebrate the arts in the community at its Festival of the Arts, Nov. 7. This year, a hybrid festival, re-imagined with live performances on an outdoor stage, virtual performances, artist demonstrations and vendor market.

Musical Instrument Museum
www.mim.org; 480.478.6000

Dustbowl Revival; Photo: Shervin Lainez

The MIM reopened to the public in August with new safety precautions in place. While live concerts have not yet resumed, look for acts such as Dustbowl Revival when the concert hall reopens.

In addition, September is Educator Appreciation Month at MIM. Prekindergarten through 12th-grade educators, school and district administrators, principals, registered student teachers and homeschool educators will receive free general museum admission.

Junie B. Jones; Photo: Michele Celentano

Musical Theatre of Anthem
www.musicaltheatreofanthem.org; 623.336.6001

Sept. 17–20: Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, Jr.
Nov. 12–15: Junie B. Jones, Jr.
Dec. 3–6: Our Town
March 25–28: Disney’s Aladdin Kids
April 8–18: Godspell
April 29 – May 8: 13
June 17–19: School House Rock Live, Jr.

North Valley Symphony Orchestra
www.northvalleysymphony.org; 623.980.4628

NVSO is considering a variety of creative options for the fall season. The organization says it looks forward to sharing that information soon, but, in the meantime, hopes to engage with audiences through its social media platforms.

Phoenix Chorale
www.phoenixchorale.org; 602.253.2224

The Chorale’s April 2020 concert, Birth & Rebirth, was postponed March 18. Now, the concert is expected to open the 2020–21 season, Oct. 16–18. Keep an eye on the website for additional season announcements.

Phoenix Symphony
www.phoenixsymphony.org; 602.495.1999

“As stewards of this historic and beloved institution, our mission and responsibility centers on preserving our future and reuniting in Symphony Hall to celebrate our 75th Anniversary in the fall of 2021.”

Suzanne Wilson, president and CEO

In mid-August, the Symphony announced the cancellation of its 2020–21 season.

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

Enjoy a livestreamed and in-person concert, “A Musical Kaleidoscope,” featuring musical talent in small ensembles and solo performances, Nov. 8. Also, kicking off in September, weekly online choral and instrumental instruction will be available.

Rising Youth Theatre
www.risingyouththeatre.org

The theater assures audiences that “Creativity is not canceled!” Visit their website to check out the “virtual learning space” for K–12 learners. Click “Resources.”

Kalli Sparish & Haydehn Tuipulotu in the 2019 production of A Vampire Tale; Photo: Angel Castro

Scorpius Dance Theatre
www.scorpiusdance.com; 602.254.2151

Celebrating 20 years in the Valley, Scorpius Dance Theatre combines the motifs of humor, drama and both organic and technical movement to form a very distinct brand of dance theater and aerial arts.

Artist Seth Rudetsky in Times Square

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

“All we have to offer this season will help you reconnect to your life and your community.”

Abbey Messmer, programming director

The Center has curated an exciting 2020–21 season — it will be a season of reconnecting, of meeting friends for a performance and connecting to celebrated artists, local creatives, fan favorites and new discoveries. Noteworthy performances are Marc Cohn, Broadway stars in The Seth Rudetsky Concert Series, Mavis Staples, Gil Shaham, KODO, René Marie Quintet and Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, to name a few

Southwest Shakespeare Company 
www.swshakespeare.org; 480.435.6868

Southwest Shakespeare Company’s 27th season kickoff dates have not been announced yet, but the company has an excellent line-up of both contemporary and timeless classics coming to audiences soon.

Becoming Othello: A Black Girls Journey
Mabel Madness
All the Devils Are Here: How Shakespeare Invented the Villain
Shakespeare and the Alchemy of Gender
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
An Iliad
The Tempest
Manahatta

The Phoenix Theatre Company
www.phoenixtheatre.com; 602.254.2151

“To deliver you the best season we can, we are actively preparing for a combination of outdoor live shows and original streaming content featuring local artists. We anticipate announcing shows in October. At that time you would be able to choose your package and select your seats. Once we can be assured of the safety of our audiences, artists, and staff we will be ready to resume indoor programming on our stages —currently scheduled for Summer 2021.”

—phoenixtheatre.com

Theatre Artists Studio
www.thestudiophx.org; 602.765.0120

Current offerings include “EarPlays,” re-imagined vintage radio productions in a variety of genres recorded on stage at Theatre Artists Studio and featuring its artistic members. Coming soon: original “radio plays” from the Studio playwrights, presented via podcast.

Valley Youth Theatre
www.vyt.com; 602.253.8188

Dec. 4–23: A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail
Feb. 5–21: Sleeping Beauty
April 2–18: Junie B. Jones — The Musical
June 11–27: Peter Pan


To further support the arts in Arizona, and the spaces in which they take place, learn about the National Independent Venue Association’s efforts to #SAVEOURSTAGES at saveourstages.com.

NOTE: All performance dates included in the September 2020 print issue were current at publication time. Information has been updated here, but dates/shows are subject to change. For updated information on shows and ticketing, visit the organization’s website.

Hear more from Arizona Theatre Company and Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in our September North Valley cover story; and from Desert Foothills Theater in our September Carefree/Cave Creek cover story.

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: