Scorpius Presents 16th Anniversary Season of A VAMPIRE TALE

Kalli Sparish & Haydehn Tuipulotu, A Vampire Tale; Photo: Angel Castro

Scorpius Dance Theatre will present its annual production of A Vampire Tale Oct. 3–12. Dubbed “The Nutcracker of Halloween,” the popular fall haunt is celebrating its 16th season. Fans won’t want to miss this year’s show, as the performance includes exciting new changes with the arrival of longtime Scorpius members stepping into the lead roles as King and Queen of the vampires. This is the first time in the show’s history that there has been an entirely new duo performing the lead roles.

According to choreographer, Lisa Starry, “This year’s production of A Vampire Tale has an imaginative and exciting energy. Our new King, Haydehn Tuipulotu, and Queen, Kalli Sparish, have both been members of Scorpius for over eight years. It’s thrilling to have fresh ideas come to our classic production as they step into our lead roles. Audiences can expect the same high octane, high quality spectacle of Scorpius, and with our new vampire royalty, audiences can also expect several new surprises.”

A Vampire Tale indulges audiences with all the trimmings: dark and sexy drama, quirky and comedic episodes, and visually stunning dance and aerial feats. This popular, sell-out production evolves annually to keep fans coming back for more. In the plot line, a young woman is drawn to the dark side and finds herself lured into an assorted band of bloodsuckers. Frightened yet fascinated by their shadowy showmanship and seductive moves, the girl struggles to avoid becoming part of their underworld when she becomes infatuated with the King vampire.

The production showcases 17 talented dancers and aerialists. In addition to Tuipulotu and Sparish premiering in their roles as the King and Queen of Darkness, longtime Scorpius Dance Theatre dancer Martha Hernandez will return for the fourth year in the role of the Innocent. Making a guest appearance for the fourth year in a row, Louis Farber will play the side-splitting narrator role of Strange Man. Farber is a well-known Valley actor and director, as well as the associate artistic director for Stray Cat Theatre. The production’s original soundtrack is composed by local musician Kristofer Hill.

A Vampire Tale runs for two weekends: Oct. 3–5 at 7:30pm and Oct. 10–12 at 7:30pm. The show is held at The Hardes Theatre at The Phoenix Theatre Company, 100 East McDowell, Road in Phoenix. Tickets start at $25.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call The Phoenix Theatre Company’s box office at 602.254.2151 or visit

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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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

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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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

Second Annual Love Bites Vampire Ball To Be Held February 9

Indulge in an evening of Gothic elegance and dark romance at the Love Bites Vampire Ball presented by Scorpius Dance Theatre and Davisson Entertainment. Returning for a second year, the sexy-stylish vampire affair is perfectly themed for creatures of the night to celebrate the Valentine holiday. The people watching will be just as fangtastic as the entertainment. Guests are encouraged to dress to the nines in their most captivating vampire or goth attire with a Valentine flair. Mix and mingle, strike a seductive pose for photos and strut the stage for the sweetest vamp costume contest.
Drag Divas Stella Prince and Faris Duval will host the event. The evening will be filled with performances by the Valley’s leading contemporary dance and aerial company, Scorpius Dance Theatre. Throughout the night, sip on bloody Valentine beverages from a no host bar and admire alluring live body painting and captivating performance art. Dance the night away to Gothic/industrial/techno beats by DJs Betty BlackHeart and Self.Destrukt.

The Vampire Ball is a 21 and over event, and will be held Friday, February 9, from 8pm to 1am.
Tickets are $20 if purchased online through February 9. Tickets will be $25 at the door. The Vampire Ball will be held at The Grand Ballroom at The Grand, 718 North Central Avenue in Downtown Phoenix. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Photo by Rose Torres

DANSE MACABRE: Scorpius Thrills for a 14th Season in A VAMPIRE’S TALE

By Caitlin C. Miller

Scorpius Dance Theatre, the dark creation of Lisa Starry, returns to its old hunting grounds, the Hardes Theatre at Phoenix Theatre, for its intimate 14th year of A Vampire’s Tale.

Best described as the “Nutcracker for Halloween,” Vampire has become an annual fixture of the Phoenix contemporary dance scene, thrilling audiences just before our other homegrown vampire craze took the world by storm (yes, I’m talking about the sparkling vampires from “Twilight.” Don’t worry, the only thing that sparkles in Scorpius’ Vampire is their personalities).

After years of spectacle on the Hormel stage, Vampire at the Hardes is intimate — the undead inches from the audience. But none of the actual spectacle is gone, just scaled down, which makes the dancing more daring, the aerial stunts more thrilling and the vampires more terrifying than ever. If you’ve seen the show before, give it another go in its new/old home. If you haven’t, you’re in for a real treat.

A Vampire Tale, which kicked off October 26, runs through November 4. Shows are October 28, 2pm and 7:30pm; November 2–3, 7:30pm; and November 4, 2pm and 7:30pm.

For additional information, visit

Review: Thirteenth A VAMPIRE’S TALE Soars To New Heights

avampirestale_2015– By Caitlin C. Miller

The legend of the vampire is old. And sometimes, it all feels a little old. And especially after a decade of sparkly posers and defanged movie adaptions, vampire fatigue is a real condition. Enter Lisa Starry. In her hands, old becomes timeless. For thirteen years, A Vampire’s Tale has delivered thrills and chills to audiences in the Valley and the United Kingdom, both at the Bram Stoker International Film Festival (dedicated to the man who gave us Dracula) and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

_mg_4602-edit-2Perhaps people reading this review have seen it before, even in the past year or so, and perhaps they think there is nothing new to be seen. But this is not the show it was. There is a new energy in Vampire. You can feel it in every movement undertaken by the extraordinary performers of Scorpius Dance Theatre. They explore the depths of undead emotion and drama with new choreography, telling a more complex story than it did before. It soars to new heights with expanded aerial acrobatic performances, adding storytelling to the spectacle with a new piece on the lyra (aerial hoop) featuring Vampire veteran Haydehn Tuipulotu and the new Innocent, the human dinner (guest), Martha Hernandez. Also new this year is Louis Farber, taking on the role of the Strange Man. He is an odd guide on our tour of the world of the children of the night, eliciting laughs and terror in equal measure. Every member of the cast, from the Queen to the aerialists to the newest members of the ensemble, is gifted with the ability to wrap the audience around their fingers, filling them with a sense of wonder and drawing them into a dark place, filled with danger. It’s unsettling, and the audience adores it.

Warning: contains mature themes, loud music and flashing lights.

A Vampire’s Tale runs through November 5 at Phoenix Theatre’s Hormel Theatre: 100 East McDowell Road, Phoenix. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 602.254.2151 or visit

Photos: Rose Torres

Scorpius Presents Repertory Showcase April 18-19

Scorpius Dance Theatre will bring its unique style of contemporary dance, theatrics and aerial arts to the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts April 18 at 7:30pm and April 19 at 2pm.
The Repertory Showcase will feature 15 diverse works by Artistic Director Lisa Starry and Assistant Directors Nicole Olson and Gavin Sisson. Longtime fans of Scorpius Dance Theatre will recognize familiar pieces from such popular shows as Catwalk and Catwalk….I Love Duran Duran, as well as favorite pieces from Scorpius’ early days. Guests will also be treated to brand new, never seen before works.
Notable returning pieces include “Man Who Stole a Leopard,” an aerial hoop piece from Catwalk…I Love Duran Duran; “A Better Tomorrow,” an emotional duet from the original Catwalk; “Common Resonance,” Starry’s first work that she set on Scorpius; and “Reverence,” an athletic modern ballet male trio created by Olson.
New dances include “River,” an aerial silk duet co-created by Starry and Sisson; “Fade,” Starry’s latest work that was recently presented with Center Dance Ensemble; and “Merrily We Roll Along,” a fun work by Olson, featuring three girls on yoga balls.
Tickets for Scorpius Dance Theatre’s Repertory Showcase are $24 and can be purchased by calling 623.815.7930 or visiting The Peoria Center for the Performing Arts is located at 8355 West Peoria Avenue in Peoria.

REVIEW: Scorpius Dance Theatre’s “A Vampire Tale”

vampire-taleBy Caitlin C. Miller –

The Valley has many events to scare and delight leading up to Halloween, but none are as immortal as Scorpius Dance Theatre’s A Vampire Tale. For 11 years, Lisa Starry’s rhythmic and tantalizing story of what goes bump in the night has held audiences in its thrall. Vampire has been called the “Nutcracker of Halloween” and should be known as one of the greatest annual dance performances in Arizona. It’s more Anne Rice than Stephanie Meyer; these vampires are not your friends, and they don’t have hearts of gold. Like in Interview with the Vampire, the humor is grotesque, and the movement is decadent. Now in a larger theater, the production value has never been better. Featuring a new leading couple, spectacular new aerial pieces and original music by Kristofer Hill, A Vampire Tale is show that cannot be missed.

A Vampire Tale runs through October 11 at Phoenix Theatre. For ticket information, call 602.254.2151 or visit the event website. For information about Scorpius Dance Theatre, visit

Proceed with caution: Vampire features strobe lights, fog effects and loud music.

Final Weekend: Lisa Starry’s A Vampire Tale

Scorpius Vampire Tale - King Vamp and The Innocent - red background med res

Photo by Ed Flores

By Caitlin Miller

Children of the night, rejoice! Lisa Starry’s A Vampire Tale is in its 10th year, and it’s darker and sexier than ever. With influences ranging from industrial to Middle Eastern to ancient Egyptian, Vampire is visually and technically stunning. It’s more of a dark carnival than a ballet, with stunning acrobatics and aerial stunts and a hysterical ringmaster they call the Strange Man.

Lisa Starry, the mastermind of this dark danse macabre, manages Scorpius Dance Theatre like a family, and the performance attests to that. The choreography calls for trust, with the artists tossing each other as though they weighed no more than spider webs. The atmosphere of the show can go from sexy to almost childlike wonder in the blink of an eye, and often the audience becomes so mesmerized (especially during the aerial silks segment at the top of Act 2) that you could literally hear a pin drop. The music is by composer Kristofer Hill, featuring Shubert and Nine Inch Nails, and makes the already captivating show even more of an escape from reality.

Vampire is truly remarkable. But don’t take my word for it. The final shows for this season are on October 18 and 19, so consider witnessing the cult dance spectacle for yourself. Leave your holy water at home. (Features adult themes and strobe lights.)

Lisa Starry’s A Vampire Tale is performed at Phoenix Theatre‘s Little Theatre, 100 East McDowell Road in Downtown Phoenix.  Contact the theatre at 602.254.2151 or For more information about Scorpius Dance Theatre, call 602.258.9511 or visit www.scorpiusdance.comshapeimage_7
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