May I be frank?
When any one corners me and whines that there’s just not much in the way of fine arts in the Valley, I want to slap them silly.
No fine arts? Where are they living? Under Gov. Hunt’s tomb?
Between art galleries, concerts, dance, film festivals, museums, opera, symphonies and theater, there’s enough fine (and, admittedly, some not-so-fine) arts to keep a culture lover criss-crossing the Valley morning, noon and night. And not just from September through May. Nowadays even June, July and August have their fill of arts activities.
Don’t believe me? Just check out our performing arts listings (inside) for the 2011-12 season.
Choosing favorites is a matter of taste. With my innate love for theater, the picks listed below are but a handful of highlights of the theater year for me.
Hope to see you there. Or at any of the hundreds and hundreds of cultural events staged during Arizona’s 100th birthday year.
Two East Valley theaters mark milestones
Mesa Encore Theatre celebrates 75 years since its humble origins with Mesa Parks and Recreation in 1937.
Tempe’s Childsplay marks its 35th year since founder David Saar persuaded a handful of fellow ASU grads to “put on intelligent shows” for kids.
Mesa Encore Theatre performs at Mesa Arts Center. See their season lineup and get tickets at (480) 644-6500 or mesaencoretheatre.com
Childsplay’s shows are at Tempe Center for the Arts. Find a season schedule and tickets at (480) 350-2822 or childsplayaz.org
Arizona Theatre Company nabs two Tony winners
Regional theaters such as Arizona Theatre Company fight tooth and nail to be the first to produce Broadway’s latest Tony winner. Having just one fresh-off-Broadway hit is a feather in a theater’s cap, but to secure two red-hot Tony-crowned plays is an artistic director’s season scheduling dream come true.
That dream is a reality for David Goldstein. ATC’s artistic director snared “God of Carnage” and “Red,” winners of back-to-back best play Tonys in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
Says Goldstein, “It wasn’t hard to get the rights. We just had to be patient. And put up the money. Both are wonderfully strong plays dealing with moral issues but with a sense of humor — a twisted sense of humor in the case of ‘God of Carnage.’ Getting these plays made it easy to bill this as a truly award-winning season for ATC.” “God of Carnage” runs Nov. 17-Dec. 4. “Red” is on stage May 3-20, 2012. Both are at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix. Tickets are $32-$69. For information, call (602) 256-6995 or visit arizonatheatre.org
New plays celebrate Arizona Centennial
Assuming Arizona hasn’t seceded from (or been kicked out of) the Union by February, the state will celebrate its 100th birthday on Feb. 14, 2012. With the state’s birthday party fund short of cash, arts groups are getting into the centennial act with low-cost salutes the Grand Canyon state’s first 100 years.
One of the earliest efforts is “The Arizona Centennial Plays.” Running Oct. 21-30 at Arizona State University’s Nelson Fine Arts Center in Tempe, these new Arizona-themed works are produced by a group whose name is longer than some of its plays: Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts School of Theatre and Film.
Dan Schay, Phoenix Theatre’s producing director, is directing at the invitation of School of Theatre and Film professor and playwright Guillermo Reyes.
“During the past four years, ASU drama students have helped with our new works festival,” says Schay, “So Guillermo asked me to solicit new plays with Arizona themes.
“I’m directing them all, and they are all over the place. From a short about former governor Raul Castro to a fanciful treatment of the shootout at the O.K. Corral. Despite the variety of topics, they share a tone that makes them hang together in their own right.”
Tickets are $8-$16. For information, call the ASU Herberger Box Office at (480) 965-6447 or visit theatrefilm.asu.edu