Opening Nights | May 2015

Five productions heading Valley stages this month

By Richard Schultz, May 2015 Issue.


Broadway in Tucson

Set in New York City at the turn of the century, Newsies is the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a ragged band of teenaged newsies, who dreams only of a better life far from the hardship of the streets. But when publishing titans Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack finds a cause to fight for and rallies newsies from across the city to strike for what’s right.

Newsies is inspired by the real-life Newsboy Strike of 1899, when newsboy Kid Blink led a band of orphan and runaway newsies on a two-week-long action against Pulitzer, Hearst and other powerful newspaper publishers.

The stage version introduces seven new songs by the original team of Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, while keeping many of the beloved songs from the 1992 film, including “Carrying the Banner,” “Seize the Day,” “King of New York” and “Santa Fe.”

Through April 26
Broadway in Tucson – UA Centennial Hall
1020 E. University Blvd., Tucson
Tickets: $25-$100; 520-903-2929


A Weekend with Pablo Picasso
Arizona Theatre Company

Herbert SiguenzaThe work of Pablo Picasso forever changed the way the world looks at art. This one-man show, written by and starring actor and artist Herbert Siguenza (pictured), will forever change the way that audiences think about Picasso. In a performance that explodes with color, Picasso’s most intimate thoughts rip through the air with each thundering brushstroke as Siguenza creates six new masterpieces live on stage in this Arizona premiere.

Picasso was the first rockstar artist – a ferocious pacifist, obsessive art maker, flamboyantly opinionated philosopher and self-proclaimed clown – who relished his passionate views about love, death, war, beauty, eternity and creativity.

_shwgrphc_PICASSOSiguenza creates a joyful and mesmerizing portrait of the maestro, based on the writings by Pablo Picasso, as he dances, sculpts, shares secrets, clowns, draws and impersonates a matador while extensively quoting the father of modern art. Todd Salovey directs this Arizona premiere, set in 1957, detailing three days with a genius inside his private studio on the southern coast of France.

Siguenza, an accomplished visual artist and has exhibited both nationally and internationally, is also a founding member of the performance group Culture Clash. Along with Richard Montoya and Ric Salinas, Culture Clash is the most-produced Latino theatre troupe in the United States.

A Weekend with Pablo Picasso
April 30-May 17
Arizona Theatre Company
Herberger Theater Center
222 E. Monroe, Phoenix
Ticket: $43-$67; 602-256-6995


Brandi Bigley as Katie Holmes, Brady Weber as Brandon Ogborn, Christopher Mascarelli as Tom Cruise. Photo by John Groseclose

Brandi Bigley as Katie Holmes, Brady Weber as Brandon Ogborn,
Christopher Mascarelli as Tom Cruise. Photo by John Groseclose

The Tomkat Project
Stray Cat Theatre

Don’t expect a Hollywood ending from this biting satire about the three-way marriage of Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and Scientology. Based on actual interviews and completely imagined scenes, seven actors portray 54 characters, including Oprah Winfrey, Matt Lauer, Josh Hartnett, Steven Spielberg, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jennifer Lopez, and, of course, Suri Cruise.

Structured like The Laramie Project, The Tomkat Project chronicles the Scientology saga and skewers our collective obsession with celebrity. The TomKat Project is ultimately a commentary not only on Tom and Katie’s relationship, but the nature of celebrity culture, the way the media covers it, and what it means for us as the gossip hungry public. “The desire is to suggest, not re-create,” playwright Brandon Ogborn instructs in his stage directions.

Directed by Louis Farber, the show’s cast includes Christopher Mascarelli as Tom Cruise, Brani Bigley as Katie Holmes, Tim Shawver as Steven Spielberg, Kellie Dunlap as Scarlett Johansson and Chanel Bragg as Oprah Winfrey.

The Tomkat Project
April 24-May 9
Stray Cat Theatre
Tempe Performing Arts Center
132 E. Sixth St., Tempe
Tickets: $25; 480-227-1766


End of the Rainbow
Phoenix Theatre

End%20of%20the%20RainbowRenowned the world over for her unique and distinct presence and lauded as the “the greatest entertainer who ever lived” by Fred Astaire, Judy Garland was a true gem of the stage. Jeannie Schubitz brings the legend back to life in this dramatic and powerful portrayal. Schubitz expertly celebrates Garland’s savage wit, legendary tenacity and once-in-a-generation voice.

Set against her infamous 1968 London comeback, End of the Rainbow takes a dive into the relationships that molded the once-glittering starlet’s last days and the personal demons she couldn’t escape. She’s as feisty sober as she is high on pills – all the while teetering between scared and courageous and needy and independent as hell.

This scored play, which features many of her signature anthems, including “The Man that Got Away,” “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” showcases Garland in concert and commemorates her life as an inextinguishable force.

Karla Koskinen directs a cast that also includes Jeremiah James, Jeff Kennedy and Caleb Reese.

End of the Rainbow
April 29-May 17
Phoenix Theatre
100 E. McDowell Road., Phoenix
Tickets: $30-$70; 602-254-2151


The Soul Justice Project
Mesa Arts Center

The Soul Justice ProjectBest known in locally as an organization that employs spoken word to empower young people, Phonetic Spit presents its inaugural performance event. The Soul Justice Project, an interdisciplinary performance event to combat the silencing of marginalized voices. The performance uses Newspaper Theatre – a branch of Augusto Boal’s theatrical form, Theatre of the Oppressed – along with a fusion of spoken word, live music, movement and personal narratives to shine a light on polarizing issues currently in the headlines.

The goal of The Soul Justice Project is to use the arts to humanize issues that are challenging to discuss and to create a platform and safe space for dialogue.

“We’re not naïve enough to believe that this show will change the world, but we do believe in the power of words to ignite first steps,” said Tomas J. Stanton, the show’s artistic director

Stanton is working collaboratively with numerous Valley-based artists and educators to develop the performance including director Xanthia Walker, choreographer Sydney Jackson, choreographer and dancer Liliana Gomez, dancers Jay Bouey and Ashley Baker; and poets Joy Young and Myrlin Hepworth.

The Soul Justice Project
May 1
Mesa Arts Center
1 E. Main St., Mesa
Tickets: $22; 480-644-6500