Friday, January 13, 2017

theatre review - FIDDLER ON THE ROOF - Arizona Theatre Company

the cast
photo by Tim Fulle
Click here for more information on this production that runs through January 29th.

"...Fiddler on the a perfect musical with a beautifully written book and a score full of classic's also a show that seems to be continually produced on a nonstop basis. For their 50th anniversary season, Arizona Theatre Company presents a production of this show, which also recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary, that is as perfect as the show itself. If you've seen this musical before and planned to skip this latest offering, I urge you to reconsider, as ATC's production has both a perfect cast and superb direction that makes the show seem as fresh and emotionally relevant as ever. Set in 1900s Russia, Fiddler on the Roof focuses on the poor Jewish dairyman Tevye, his wife Golde, their five daughters, and the large group of townspeople who inhabit their village of Anatevka. They attempt to hold onto their religious customs and traditions against changing times as they face anti-Semitism and the potential expulsion from their homes by the Russians. ...David Ira Goldstein's direction is spotless and his talented cast achieve rich portrayals with every line of dialogue and lyric well thought out, realistic, and effectively delivered. Eric Polani Jensen and Anne Allgood are simply exceptional as Tevye and his wife Golde....I've seen over a dozen productions of this show and Jensen is on par with Topol, Harvey Fierstein and Alfred Molina, all of whom I saw either on the road or on Broadway......Fiddler on the Roof is an exceptionally powerful piece of musical theatre with a superb book and score that portray the story of a simple group of people who face a changing world. With an exceptional cast and solid direction, Arizona Theatre Company's production breaths a huge amount of heart and life into this fifty-year-old classic and makes it seem as fresh and powerful as ever." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

theatre review -THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD - Tuscany Theatre Company

the cast
photo by Lisa Webb / Southwest Shots Photography
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)
Click here for more information on this production that runs through January 14th.

"The Mystery of Edwin Drood is an incredibly fun musical that combines a murder mystery and a comedy with a huge amount of audience participation on top. Tuscany Theatre Company presents a solid production of this Tony winning Best Musical that features superb direction, great period creative elements, and a very game cast. Created by singer/songwriter Rupert an ingenious show, as Holmes took the final, unfinished novel by Charles Dickens, which focuses on young Edwin Drood and the possible suspects who want to murder him, and turned it into a musical-within-a-musical that includes the audience voting on how the story ends...If Dickens hadn't died before finishing the novel the musical wouldn't be quite as much fun as it is because the audience's involvement in the last quarter of the show provides an amazing way for them to connect with the material. The show is presented as if you are at a lively British music hall in the early 1900s, which gives the actors the opportunity to ham up the parts they play and interact with the audience. The rambunctious narrator continually interjects and interacts with the audience, and the part of Drood is played by a woman. ....Director Andrea McFeely has done an exceptional job in ensuring that both the comedy and the drama resonate. She has also found a way to have the joy that the actors are feeling wash over the footlights and out into the audience. While not every member of her cast is a gifted singer, which is a slight drawback in some of the more vocally challenging songs, they all effectively manage the dual roles they are given with fun facial expressions and exaggerated gestures that play up the humor in the show. ...As the Chairman...Chris Dennis is exceptionally charming and very good. Hillary Low brings a bright, joyful sensibility to the part of ...Drood, and Jared Kitch is quite effective as Drood's uncle John Jasper..who.. is in love with Rosa Bud, Edwin's betrothed. AJ Marshall plays Rosa...with an appropriate sense of mystery beneath a demure exterior. Monserrat Himler is excellent as Princess Puffer, the madam of an opium den...Steve Morgan and Allyson Igielski play brother and sister orphans from Ceylon...(they) are hysterical in their portrayals, with Igielski exceptionally impressive with her vocal skills, diction and accent, and Morgan's wide-eyed comical expressions and gestures superbly delivered. ...Shannon Perkins' rousing choreography delivers plenty of upbeat moments which add to the joy of the show. Creative elements are very good, with Mike Smyth's simple set design using large movable, painted curtains to portray the backdrops of the scenes along with a few smart set pieces. Carrie and Danie Grief's costumes are rich and intricate and perfectly in touch with the characters, the period, and the feeling of being back in the days of the British music hall. Brian Nason's evocative lighting design is quite effective in setting the many moods of the piece, from bright, lowbrow comedy to dark mystery. ...With firm direction, colorful creative aspects, and an enthusiastic cast who have a lot of fun with their parts, Tuscany Theatre Company's production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood will make you laugh and leave you feeling that the magic of the theatre is alive and well at the Tuscany Theatre.. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

theatre review - COOKING WITH THE CALAMARI SISTERS - Herberger Theater Center

Stephen Smith and Jay Falzone
photo courtesy the Calamari Sisters
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through January 29th.

".The fun and frothy Cooking With the Calamari Sisters is a witty spoof of local cable TV cooking shows with large doses of improv and musical comedy ladled on top. This show has played in various theaters across the country and comes to Phoenix for a month long run in a fairly simple production that features two of the show's creators as the lovable sisters. The end result is delicious....Brooklyn born, raised and based Delphine and Carmela Calamari have a New York public access TV cooking show and they have come to Phoenix to share their love of cooking with their fans. Throughout the fast-paced 90-minute show the two sisters will squabble, sing, swear and satiate the audience with the wonders of Italian cuisine as they prepare a three course Italian dinner. They'll also bring up several audience members to help with their cooking demonstration or to serve as contestants in a fast-paced contest. The real fun of the show is that Carmela and Delphine are portrayed by Smith and Falzone in drag. They are both gifted comics with impeccable improvisation skills and also deliver some zany and inspired musical numbers. ...there isn't much of a set, which is a slight detriment to the show, but fortunately the loud and colorful costumes and a few zany props provide plenty of inspiration throughout. Falzone, Smith and Lavender have crafted a fun conceit of a show with two lovable characters and plenty of wacky dialogue and fun spoofy lyrics to well-known Italian songs. Having two of the creators play the sisters for this local stop on the tour makes this a laugh out loud funny affair and a rip roaring good time of a show...." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)