Arts and Culture

Friday, September 23, 2016

ART's 'Epic' Fail

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 12:35 PM

Extra turned director, Phil (Matthew Osvog) goes a bit too far in this scene with Carl (Thomas Tyler West), the Queen (Shira Maas), Benny (Zachary Zupke) and Louise (Tyler Reaser) from the comedy Epic Proportions, presented by Arizona Repertory Theatre at the UA. - ED FLORES
  • Ed Flores
  • Extra turned director, Phil (Matthew Osvog) goes a bit too far in this scene with Carl (Thomas Tyler West), the Queen (Shira Maas), Benny (Zachary Zupke) and Louise (Tyler Reaser) from the comedy Epic Proportions, presented by Arizona Repertory Theatre at the UA.

I suppose it has to be done for the students. Arizona Repertory Theatre is a part of the theater program at the UA, and although there are many factors guiding the choice of plays for a given season, one of the foremost would logically be to give students a range of plays that would demand varied skills. That would result in the young thespians being exposed to lots of different types of plays, presenting challenges not only for the actors, but the designers as well.

I really can’t think of another reason that those who make these sorts of decisions would bring us Epic Proportions, a play so unarguably bad that this must be the lesson where you learn how to work with really bad material. Director Brent Gibbs oversees the action here, and in his ever capable hands the cast and crew have worked hard to make us smile at all the silliness.

I wasn’t familiar with this play by Larry Coen and David Crane, and since ART usually brings us really fine productions, I was eager to experience this one.

But what was revealed in a big, bold way was a farce/melodrama sort of thing that’s mostly just a string of jokes and sight gags. The premise of the story seems fodder appropriate for such a treatment. There is a large film crew in the middle of the desert (near Tucson) working on a big-time film—think Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments sort of thing—by big-time director D. W DeWitt—think Cecil B. DeMille. I really don’t know the exact plot of the fictional film, called Exeunt Omnes; I’m not sure we were really given that information because it’s not that important. No, the story that’s ours involves an film extra, Benny (Zachary Zupke), a young man hoping to be “discovered,” his brother Phil (Matthew Osvog) who comes to try to get him to come back home but who is himself sucked into the world of making big Hollywood films in the desert himself, and the brothers vying for the love of Louise (Tyler Reaser), who’s in charge of the extras, which number about 3400. It’s your typical epic melodrama sort of story, with chases and sword fights and mistaken identities and burning bushes that get out of hand and such, but it’s far from epic.

The students give it great effort. The thing is, this sort of stuff is really very hard to do well. Everything must be crisp, the timing perfect, actors fully committed to their personas. And this cast was invested. Sometimes their efforts made you forget that the material doesn’t deserve their investment. But they did well what they were called on to do. I'm sure there have been many
lessons learned.

The opening night audience, which was stuffed with students, seemed to enjoy
themselves immensely. And really, if this is the kind of silliness that might
entice some of them back to see the better stuff, I’m all for it.

Epic Proportions
Presented by Arizona Repertory Theatre
Various times Thursdays through Sundays through Oct. 9
Marroney Theatre on the University campus
Near Park and Speedway
Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Romeo and Juliet Take Tucson

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 2:31 PM

"To be or not to be, that is the question." Or is the question to go or not to go? Well no matter the question the answer is most definitely Tucson's 10th Annual Shakespeare in the Park event. Now, everyone has heard of the reputable Shakespeare in the Park that happens in New York City. But, did you know that for 10 years Tucson has done the same exact thing right in our own backyard? The yearly event is put on by the El Rio Theatre Project and this year the group is tacking the age old classic, Romeo and Juliet
  • El Rio Theatre Project

For a refresher: Romeo and Juliet is a tale of star-crossed lovers who find themselves and their love in the midst of a family feud. The story takes them on a journey of trials and tribulations that will put their love to the test. 
  • El Rio Theatre Project
Romeo and Juliet is arguably Williams Shakespeare's most famous work and it is a sight that you will not want to miss. 

One leg of the show has already passed, but do not fret because there are still two more to enjoy. Make sure to catch Romeo and Juliet either Sept. 22-25 or Sept. 29- Oct. 2. Admission into the event is free, but donations are gladly accepted. Make sure to mark your calendars because I'm sure this play will be to die for. 

For more information check out the event page on Facebook.

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Fruit Fiends Unite for Tucson's Pomegranate Festival

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 11:00 AM

There's an event for all the fruit fanatics out there and it's coming to you this Saturday, Sept. 24. The Annual Pomegranate Festival will be coming to Tucson's Mission Gardens, 946 W. Mission Ln., for the second year in row from 9-11 a.m. 
  • Peggy_Marco/Pixabay

Brought on by the Friends of Tucson's Birthplace in conjunction with the Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture, the festival is a free, all ages event. Festival goers can enjoy the wide variety of pomegranates with other fruit enthusiasts as well as music, tastings and presentations from Jesus Garcia, Nina Sajovec and Alfredo Gonzalez.

You don't want to be caught off guard of your fruit knowledge at this homage to pomegranates.

Here are few fruit facts to know before going to the Pomegranate Festival:

- Pomegranates are in season from September to February in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the fruit is in season from March to May.

- The pomegranate originated from the Mediterranean area. Today, it is cultivated all over the world including California and Arizona.

- In ancient Greece, the pomegranate was regarded as "the fruit of the dead."   

Click here for more information on the festival.

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Create a Masterpiece, Give the Gift of Art

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 8:43 AM

  • Gifted Custom Art
Creative Juice Art Bar (6530 E. Tanque Verde Road) and Gifted Custom Art will team up on Saturday, Oct. 1 to raise money for the local Boys and Girls Clubs in Tucson. You don't have to be a modern Monet to attend this painting philanthropy event.

The concept is simple: Gifted provides a photo for you and your friends to convert into a painted masterpiece and Creative Juice gives you a place to do it. Registration to the Gifted Giving event is $55 per person and every registration gives one painting experience to a child at the Boys and Girls Club of Tucson - Frank and Edith Morton Clubhouse.    

For more information on how to register, click here

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Looking So Long At These Pictures Of You: Remembering Wendy Van Leuveren

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 7:51 PM

Wendy posed for "A Wendy in the Window" with photographer John Paul Marchand in 2008. While many other photos have emulated this pose over the years, at the time, the concept was all Wendy's, said Marchand. - JOHN PAUL MARCHAND
  • John Paul Marchand
  • Wendy posed for "A Wendy in the Window" with photographer John Paul Marchand in 2008. While many other photos have emulated this pose over the years, at the time, the concept was all Wendy's, said Marchand.

Friends and family of Wendy Van Leuveren are in shock. They’re grieving, and they’re looking for answers. But one thing is very clear—the sudden
death of this well-known and well-loved woman is a tragedy that has rocked many throughout the Tucson community.

On Wednesday, Aug. 31, Wendy took her own life after a mostly-private struggle with mental illness. The death of this beloved mother, partner, daughter, sister and friend came as a surprise to many, as is evident in the numerous posts and comments on the “Remembering Wendy Van L” Facebook page, created on Aug. 31, and had 670 followers as of the evening of Sept. 13.

Loved ones also created the “Wendy Van Leuveren Memorial Fund” to raise money for Wendy’s partner Cameron Green and their young son Escher, to help ease financial responsibilities while they grieve. By Tuesday evening, supporters had raised $5,153 of the $6,000 goal and shared the post on Facebook 390 times.

Wendy moved to Holland earlier this year with her partner and son, leaving behind an abundance of family, friends and admirers in Tucson and across the country.

Her foster-sister and close friend Nellie Cornett‎ posted on the remembrance Facebook page, “Wendy was always bad ass,” remembering the time a teenage Wendy calmly navigated a truck full of youth to safety after the brakes had gone out.

“She was always hungry for being better, doing better, having a principled and moral approach to everything,” Nellie posted. “She always strove to be a better friend.”

It’s obvious, scrolling through the posts, Wendy was a great friend. She was kind and smart—a business woman and community organizer. She was an artist and a great beauty—stunning and stylish. Even those who didn’t know her well—something that many wrote in their FB posts—were touched by her charm.

Loved ones will be holding a memorial to celebrate Wendy’s life on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 4 to 7 p.m., at the Galactic Center at 35 E. Toole Ave. People are encouraged to submit art to be hung on the walls at the memorial—something that reminds them of Wendy. Art and poetry can be submitted into a Google Drive at this linkTo submit art that isn’t digital, email or just bring them to the memorial.

Tannahill Weavers and The Outside Track play Celtic Concert Friday at Berger

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Roy Gullane, founder and guitarist of the Tannahill Weavers, a Scottish trad band, was rolling down the high way from Estes Park, Colorado, when he phoned into the Tucson Weekly Monday. Spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains were flying by the windows as the band van sped south.

“Beautiful,” he declared, praising the American peaks in the thick accent of Glasgow, his hometown. The Tannahill Weavers, a much-honored band now in the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame, had just left a weekend Scottish music festival, their first gig in a multi-week American tour.

After a few stops in New Mexico this week, they’ll hit Tucson Friday night, Sept. 16, for a double bill of Celtic music at the Berger Performing Arts Center. The Outside Track, a young band that played Tucson two years ago, will contribute mostly Irish tunes, and Tannahill Weavers will do the Scottish honors. Each band gets about an hour of stage time.

The Scottish mountains, by coincidence, have a lot to do with the music that the Tannahill Weavers play.

“Celtic and Anglo came together” in traditional Scottish music, Gullane said. The Gaelic speakers in the Highlands had their own music, he explained, and the English and Scots speakers in the Lowlands had theirs. When the highlanders were forced out of their mountain lands in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the two cultures meshed and merged.

Many of the beloved Scottish songs that the band sings, from “Wild Mountain Tyme” to “When the Kye Come Home,” have their origins in this fertile culture clash. The band also writes new songs in the traditional vein. They don’t sing any Gaelic tunes but they do perform many in Scots, a dialect that some call a separate language.

“It’s a variant of English,” Gullane said, “with some German and Scandinavian. It’s a mishmash. The Vikings had something to do with it.”

Continue reading »

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Friday, September 9, 2016

Coming Apart: Even The Title Could Function As The Play’s Own Review

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 11:34 AM

"Love and Marriage Go Together Like" …  unless you are romance author Frances Kittridge (Susan Kovitz) and her husband comedy columnist Colin (David Johnston) who are going through a trial separation and division of worldly goods while living in the same NYC apartment! - TIM FULLER
  • Tim Fuller
  • "Love and Marriage Go Together Like" … unless you are romance author Frances Kittridge (Susan Kovitz) and her husband comedy columnist Colin (David Johnston) who are going through a trial separation and division of worldly goods while living in the same NYC apartment!

I’m sitting here at one of the best coffee houses in our fair city, sipping a wonderfully strong latte, and even in the presence of a pleasing atmosphere that includes a terrific java jolt, I cannot think of one reason why a theater of the stature of the Invisible Theatre would produce Coming Apart, a totally bland play suitable only for—well, maybe community theater, in its rawest.

Seriously, I’m trying to think of a reason. Artistic director Susan Claassen has a supporting role, but I don’t think that was reason enough, even for satisfying whatever yearning she has to tread the boards. Which, by the way, she does frequently anyway with her show, A Conversation with Edith Head.

Fred Carmichael’s play is lifeless, dull and empty. That sounds harsh, but there’s no way around it.
The piece gives us a couple, both writers, Colin (David Alexander Johnston) and Frances (Susan Kovitz), who after 21 years of marriage announce simultaneously one morning that each wants a divorce. The piece squanders whatever potential that synchronicity might contain. It’s downhill from there, and the distance isn’t a short ride.

What we are in for is a series of memories of their meeting and courtship, in which their accounts differ radically. Well, semi-radically, anyway, coercing from us a chuckle or two. They each have work to do, so they decide to share the house until certain deadlines are met.

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Last Hurrah

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 8:32 AM

The twilight of summer is here (womp womp).

Upsides? Walking out the front door will soon no longer feel like accidentally opening a pre-heated oven. And hey, here's a list of five awesome events to attend before the onslaught that is the first week of school descends upon our once empty, tranquil desert streets.  

1) Silversun Pickups at the Rialto
Although ideally we'd rewind back about a month and blast these driving rhythms through an iPod stereo on some beach in Mexico, we'll just have to enjoy them now at the Rialto when Silversun Pickups roll through on Wednesday, Aug. 17 at 8 p.m. Full of sway-worthy, 90s-esque complex sound, the Pickups are the perfect act to celebrate the angst that comes with the last days of summer. Check them out here.    

2) Open Studios Under the Full Moon
The Metal Arts Village's (3230 N Dodge Blvd) monthly gathering of booze, food and art is happening this Thursday, Aug. 18 starting at 6 p.m. Wander around and meet local artists doing what they do best, followed by some food truck fare and perhaps a summery Hef from Tucson Hop Shop. Family friendly and free, check out the Facebook event page for more details.

3) Twilight Bicycle Mural Tour | COX Plaza Dance Party
This one's for the bikers and dancers out there looking for one more night of empty streets and breathable dance floors. The tour will start at MOCA (265 S Church Ave) at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 19 and will officially set off at 7:15 p.m. After a 2-hour, flat ride showcasing some favorite murals in the area, (and for the non-cyclists among us) the night will end with a dance party at Cox Plaza with DJs BayBay Ruthless + Illslur. Tickets are 5 bucks or free if you're a MOCA member. Here's the info.

4) Wild Style at the Loft 
This month's Staff Selects takes us to the hip-hop glory that was 1980s New York City, a docudrama that features the graffiti, freestyling, scratching and breakdancing that exploded onto the city scene on the heels of a new artistic culture. Even the actors were taken right from the neighborhoods featured in the film. The flick airs Sunday, Aug. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Loft (3233 E Speedway Blvd). You can take a look at the trailer before heading out. 

5) Brew-HaHa Comedy Showcase
Coming in hot a few days after the first day of school, the Brew-HaHa Comedy Showcase at Borderlands Brewery (119 E Toole Ave) is promising an "amazing" show, with plenty of beers on tap just in case the laughs don't land for everyone. The latter shouldn't be too much of a problem with headliner Monte Benjamin at the comedy helm, with local AZians Randy Ford, Charles Engle and Dan Thomson also on the bill. The show, on Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 8 p.m., has a $3 cover, here are the deets. 

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Staff Pick

Heirloom Farmers Markets' 13th Annual Chile Festival!

Heirloom Farmers Markets' 13th Annual Chile Festival| Chile roasting, Chile-themed foods, tamales, salsas, chef demo, live music… More

@ Rillito Park Farmers Market Sun., Sept. 25, 8 a.m.-12 p.m. 4502 N. 1st Ave.

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