Arts and Culture

Friday, January 20, 2017

Dos Amigos and the Gaslight Way

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 1:05 PM

If, while you are attending the theater, you hear boos and hisses and drum ba-da-bings indicating groaner jokes, you are probably at the Gaslight Theatre, purveyor of silliness, song and—well, more silliness. For nearly 40 years, the Gaslight has been providing fun live entertainment suitable for you, your children and your grand-pa's-and-ma's in an unapologetic campy way. Those seeking high art and sophistication should go elsewhere.

GASLIGHT THEATRE
  • Gaslight Theatre
Running now is Two Amigos, a transmogrified version of a 1986 movie, Three Amigos. Here, two friends (didn't see that coming, did you?) come to town where there's a bully rich man, Comandante Maximo (Todd Thompson), who is interested in taking more than he already has and threatens those who might have a seriously well-honed ethical streak. I can't even remember specifically why these amigos (Jake Chapman and Mike Yarema) were needed. Wait—oh yeah, Maximo is challenging the current good-guy leadership, Enrique Bautista (Jacob Brown.) Of course, there are also some women (played by Janee Page, Heather Stricker and Erin Thompson) involved on both sides of the issue. The plot always features the good guys vs. the bad guys, and, yes, it's the guys, not the gals, that get the most attention in Peter Van Slyke's script.

GASLIGHT THEATRE
  • Gaslight Theatre
Besides bringing us very good actor/singers, the Gaslight also feature terrifically conceived and  executed low-tech devices (like escaping on galloping horses that—oh, really, you pretty much have to see to appreciate) and familiar tunes that have also gone through some happy modification. Then musical director Linda Ackermann waves her magic hands over the keyboards and with help from a bassist and drummer coalesces with the actors for some really fine singing and a dance step or two as they convey their Good vs. Evil story. And all this while you are able to eat pizza and munch on free popcorn to your heart's desire.

GASLIGHT THEATRE
  • Gaslight Theatre
The Gaslight features a company of regulars who have this stuff down and make it look easy. But that doesn't mean it is. Not only do they do the headline show, but they always have a themed olio, or variety show, which actually gives you an even better idea of the talent and skill of these performers. So don't get up and make for the exit after the Two Amigos clean up the town and save the day. In this show after the show, the "Country Barn Dance," some of our favorite country singers make an appearance (channeled through the cast, of course.)

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Friday, December 23, 2016

A Christmas Story: The Season Advances, as Done to Green Sleeves

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2016 at 1:07 PM

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Cole and his commotions pierce your scalp. As you turn on your side, ancient Indian arrowheads. Hot water filling ears, tub, and the one one-room tenement flat steam, a rusting locomotive engine breeze. Battling ice for window space, melting into cracked wood finish, Finished, you imagine, by blonde-on-blonde Scandinavian immigrants. Clear as winter ice. Performing now on your left, just behind the rotting sofa, is the radiator. Spitting, bleating, and dripping as you hover over it like a saint. "What child is this who laid to rest on Mary's lap is sleeping..."

Christmas, 1963: Man, she had tinsel on her brain. Waiting outside in a peacoat for her grandparents to arrive. In a one-horse open sleigh, or was it a Pontiac? Yeah, must'a been a Pontiac 'cause it didn't snow that Christmas. Matter of fact, it hardly ever snowed in Tucson.

Just another morning. The details of your insanity. The soundtrack of a waking city bangs upon your windowpane. A fine mist now covers the room as sweatshirt and panties drop to the chewed-puke green rug. "Whom angels greet with anthems sweet while shepherds watch are keeping ..."

Christmas, 1967: The family room was a switchboard yard. Southern Pacific train set careening down the tracks. The dog his under the bed while the cat made frequent attacks on the orange boxcars. Grandfather sunk in Nostalgia. Reminder of his years spent slaving for the railroads. He almost smiled and would call her by her Christian name. Those were gifts that could never be bought.

A finger, a foot, and finally your entire body disintegrates into rising waters form. Slow, deep breath. Your skin, white as bone, immersed in the flood. Nipples, buttocks, freckles, and pubic mound. Laid to rest in moors and in the briars. Caressing yourself. Still alive at 25. So fluid and warm. Molds, animal fat, and fragrance No. 5. Oceanic sleeping in a ceramic pot. "So bring him incense, gold and myrrh; come rich and poor to own him..."

Christmas, 1969: Rich aromas of baking and falter's pipe tobacco filled the kitchen. Her mother spun Crosby and Como. Grandparents watched kids unravel gifts like spools of thread. BB guns and baseball mitts for her brothers. A huge box marked "North Pole" sat off in the corner. The one with three separate booklets of directions in hieroglyphics. Took five sets of batteries, not included, and seemed to possess a mind of its own. Took a class-four operator's license to start, and could only be used under adult supervision. Which was OK because Dad was the only one who would ever play with it from that day forward. It whirred, sputtered, and then ignited before exploding into a thousand pieces, encasing the entire area in a haze of blue smoke and sea of lights.

You force yourself out of the tub and dry off next to the oven. Cracking paint and peeling last shreds of wallpaper. Ships and lighthouse give way to unforgiving white walls. You shrug, light a cigarette, and dress quickly. Dress warmly and wonder in mom would approve. The salt thrown on the streets has eaten away at your cowboy boots. But you put them on just the same and swear they've shrunk another inch. "The king of kings salvation brings; let loving hearts enthrone him ..."

Christmas, 1971: The odor of candle wax like an unsettled stomach. A statue on the pew. She sat still and alone as stone. Watching imagined snowflakes drift about the beautiful wooden church. Her grandmother blanketed in a huge white quilt. She thought about magic and how at midnight the animals would talk.

You glance in the mirror and slowly a face takes place. Put on water for morning's coffee and another smoke. You lose yourself for a moment in reflections. The midnights spent at the uptown bar and the Seventh Street entry, and finally to last Tuesday, and of the player you took home. So pretty, throw a lock on the door, and descend the dirty staircase leading down and out into another wasted day. "This, this is Christ the king, whom shepherds guard and angels sing.."

Christmas, 1973: Every Christmas day once upon a time. All her relatives gathered at the old house. Women damp with perfume and men with bourbon's breath. Children. Sweet guarantors of one more year's prosperity. Dinner was served complete with each family's endless crusades and picket signs. She called it carving through Cambodia. Secretly, she fed scraps of turkey and pumpkin pie to her dog under the table. After the meal she surprised everyone by sneaking off behind the Christmas tree, quietly sobbing as the light slowly drained from the sky.

"Haste, haste to bring laud, the babe the son of Mary..."

The day slips like a snake onto your shadowed soul. Wind freezing down and the snow tastes of tin. Plodding through top layers of last night's drop. You are surrounded by grey-green buildings where no one seems to live. Veering to the right off Ninth Street, you skid and slide down Hennepin like a bobsled, leaving rails of blacktop exposed. You need someone with a memory. Manholes exhale brown sweat steam, creating layers of colored bulbs blinking and flashing through the mist. A drag queen in red leotards brushes up against you, wishing you a Merry Christmas. The area is run down and you think to yourself that Santa Claus better have a machine gun.

A police car is stopped in the middle of the street outside the pool hall. You shake your hips and pretend not to notice their leering smiles and beady blue eyes. It's starting to snow again as you continue south towards the bridge. Face red and chapped, you peer through eyes that take in each leafless branch bent with snow. An empty car lot is covered with pure, clean, glistening white powder. You pass shops and topless bars where sound pours into the streets from God's ghetto blaster... "Have a Kung-Fu Christmas." The horizon fills with steeples and smokestacks, while the ornaments of nature charge each moment and provide crisp silence. Crowds sway and fall away into snowbanks which hold the face of this earth with frozen discipline. The river is breathing smoke, and you hardly notice an Indian glaciated on a stoop, lips pursed to a bottle of wine. You fight to light up a last wet cig-arette. A different kind of poverty. The wind knifes along the bridge as you step onto it. Beneath you runs the great Mississippi, brown and flowing with chunks of ice and sludge, deep and tranquil... You should have called your parents to let them know their daughter won't be home for Christmas, but you feel so disconnected. All around you the twilight ignites and the entire world is rimmed with frost...

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Tucson Stained Glass Brings Color to the Old Pueblo

Posted By on Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 10:21 AM

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In Tucson Stained Glass, bright glass items hang from the ceiling. The front windows display stained glass projects previous students and artists have completed, no one similar to any other. There are birds, cacti, animals, flowers, and kitchenware. Shelves of multicolored glass plates line the store, flanked by glassmaking supplies and equipment. And in the rear, a kiln and many work tables are laid out, with people hard at work on their next stained glass projects. This is the store Estelle Flores has created.

“All the tools and equipment are here for people to work on their projects, and do whatever they need to do to get done,” she said.

The shop, located at 4444 E. Grant Road in Tucson’s Garden District, is involved in more than just the sale of stained glass. The store offers many classes, and even does out of shop work on buildings around Tucson.

“We have done some church restoration, many years ago we did four very large stained glass windows for Valencia Middle School, for their library,” Flores said. They have also worked on many homes in Tucson.

Flores has been interested in stained glass for decades, and the shop was born out of her passion.

“Stained glass I got into back in 1985, very haphazardly through some friends that I knew at the time,” Flores said. She took a free class and fell in love with the art.

She said she was unable to devote much of her time to stained glass until she started working at another shop in Tucson. Partnering with another stained glass shop owner who has since retired, they opened Tucson Stained Glass in 2005.

The classes the shop offers are intended to teach many levels of making stained glass. The shop even offers a free glass cutting class to get people started. “Within two hours, you’re gonna know all the nuances you need to know,” Flores said.

In the free class, students will learn about different methods of glass cutting, curves, how to plan patterns, as well as time saving techniques.

“Once you do that, go into whatever aspect of glass one wants to go into.” she said. “You are ready. You’ve got the fundamentals, and you’ve got the main arsenal of tools you need to do whatever else it is you want to do”.

Her son, Adrian Flores, learned the skill from her, and has learned a lot from being in the shop himself.

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Win Tickets to See The Nutcracker

Posted By on Mon, Dec 5, 2016 at 1:30 PM

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Is it really wintertime without the classic beauty of the Nutcracker? Ballet Tucson says, "of course not!," and they're offering you a chance to see their version of the classic free of charge.

We're giving away two sets of four tickets, and winners can pick which show they want to attend. The options are:

Dec. 22., 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 23, 3 or 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 24, 1 p.m.

We'll be picking winners Wednesday, Dec. 7. Want to go with your three favorite people? Enter here:

Fill out my online form.

Friday, December 2, 2016

After Orlando: An International Theatre Action

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 12:00 PM

Theaters across the globe are teaming up in response to the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida on June 12. Now, actors and theater goers alike are paying respect to the victims, their families and all those affected that night through live acting.

This summer, a gunman shot and killed 49 club goers at the Pulse Nightclub—a venue known for its LGBTQ+ community. This attack is marked as the worst shooting in modern U.S. history. Authorities later found that the attacker had pledged allegiance to ISIS, a terrorist group based in Iraq and Syria, according to CNN.
ADRIAN GRYCUK/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Adrian Grycuk/Wikimedia Commons


After the shooting, playwrights from across the globe curated a collection of new plays in response to the shooting in conjunction with the Missing Bolts Productions and NoPassport Theatre Alliance & Press, according to Playbill.

Members of the Tucson community are invited to watch the UA graduate and undergraduate students in dramaturgy perform a free, staged reading of the 17 plays curated in the special collection. The reading will be held Monday, Dec. 5 from 7:30-8:30 p.m. in the Harold Dixon Directing Studio, UA Drama Building Room 116, 1025 N. Olive Road.

Playwrights include: E.M. Lewis, Jeff McMahon, Jordan Tannahil, Arturo Soria, Georgina Escobar and many others. Some of these plays involve adult content, profanity and scenes of violence.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Youthful Energy and Fine Performances Uphold The Sound of Music at Centennial Hall

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2016 at 4:43 PM

Originating in Centennial Hall on the UA campus, The Sound of Music is spreading across the valley and echoing through our own hills, although they are quite different from the alpine ranges featured in Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's beloved musical.
COURTESY BROADWAY IN TUCSON
  • Courtesy Broadway in Tucson

Presenting group Broadway in Tucson has brought a really fine touring production of the musical our way, and its tale of children and their governess and their emotionally distant father take us on a trip with which many of us who were first introduced to its cinematic version in the mid-'60's are familiar. We revisit anew the growing attraction between the children's father, Captain Georg von Trapp, and their new nursemaid, who quite gently but persistently frees the children of the lifeless consequences of being left with a well-meaning but misguided father. And we are reminded of the alarming undercurrent of the tale: the growing menace in the form of Adolph Hitler, whose spreading power not only claims Austria for his empire, but espouses a dangerous nationalism in which many are deemed unfit and are targeted for destruction.
COURTESY BROADWAY IN TUCSON
  • Courtesy Broadway in Tucson


This version is full of fine performances. Anna Mintzer, who was subbing in the role of Maria opening night, was quite fine and almost avoided the overly optimistic, goody two-shoes nature of her character, especially after she marries the Captain, here capably played by Ben Davis. He sympathetically portrays a widower who clings to his late wife's memory, dooming his children to an unhappy childhood and depriving himself of their great affection.

All of the large cast exhibits great skill and convincing characterizations. Particularly outstanding are Merwin Foard as Max Detweiler and Melody Betts as the Mother Abbess. Her “Climb Every Mountain” would encourage the most shy and downcast among us to identify our dreams and put legs under them.

You can't have a Sound of Music without those cherubic children injecting youthful energy into the proceedings. Here we find a well-behaved and talented group including Paige Sylvester (Liesl); Ashley Brook (Louisa); Kyla Carter (Marta); Iris Davies (Brigitta); Roy Gantz (Friedrich); Austin Levine (Kurt); and Arizona native Anika Lore Hatch as Gretl. The tour must be an excellent kid wrangler, because although so often children tend to steal the show, this group is perfectly integrated.

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Theater Review: Some Non-Traditional Holiday Cheer in A Christmas Survival Guide.

Posted By on Sat, Nov 26, 2016 at 1:20 PM

There's plenty of Christmas on Tucson theater stages. You may know some of the more obvious choices, but there might be one you're not familiar with. Let's get you up to speed.
Possibly flying under your radar is the St. Francis Theatre. It operates as part of the St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church, but its purpose is not just to do church-y shows heavy on religious content. The congregation believes that being creative artistically is actually a connection with the divine, so they encourage and nurture music, visual arts and theater.
Bring on the eggnog, please! A Christmas Survival Guide cast (from left): Matthew Holter, Jodi Darling, Carson Wright, Geoffrey Gale (Music Director), Julee Gell, Sue Bishop.
  • Bring on the eggnog, please! A Christmas Survival Guide cast (from left): Matthew Holter, Jodi Darling, Carson Wright, Geoffrey Gale (Music Director), Julee Gell, Sue Bishop.

How 'bout that? They've been around for years and they don't shy away from doing challenging shows. That would include their current show, A Christmas Survival Guide, a musical revue written by James Hindman and Ray Roderick, with musical arrangements by John Glaudini.

Featuring singers Matthew Holter, Jodi Darling, Carson Wright, Julee Gell and Sue Bishop, the revue combines some familiar Christmas tunes, often with a twist, with some unusual ones. Jose "Chach" Snook directs, and with the help of an impressive five-piece band, these guys rock.
The piece uses a fairly silly convention to build the show around: There's a book, "A Christmas Survival Guide," that provides insights and gives helpful instructions about helping folks negotiate the very stressful holiday season, and maybe even have some fun along the way. Then the songs are offered as examples of what the book refers to. Sort of.

There are songs about dreading going to Christmas parties, and about being alone and blue, and even about the need for a wish list for adults. There's a take-off on the addicts' bible called The Twelve Steps of Christmas, and, yes, there's also a medley of songs we've learned from TV Christmas shows, such as Frosty the Snowman, as well as a couple of traditional Christmas carols.

There are some really impressive voices on display. Interestingly, several in the group are involved with teaching theater arts and music in our public schools, and those kids are in very capable hands. They'll likely glean a lifelong love of the performing arts from these capable teachers.

One of the best features of the show is the band. Not content to have just one pianist accompanying the songs, the group has invested in some fine musicians, and this gives the show a richness that a lone pianist could never provide. Dean Moore on drums, Catherine Gale on flute, Jacob Landi on guitar and Lisa Brown on bass comprise the ensemble, with music director Geoffrey Gale on piano.

The group is limited in terms of set design and lighting, so the performances are what matter most, and by and large they don't disappoint. I would suggest that they not treat the readings from the book as sort of a throwaway. Yes, it's a convention, but it's the convention that allows the show to have a context and thus possibly some impact.

Check it out. It's a different sort of Christmas show delivered quite capably.

A Christmas Survival Guide
. Presented by St. Francis Theatre 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 4 4625 E. River Rd. $18-$25 Running time: 2 hours with intermission. 775-2390; artmeetsheart.com

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A 2nd Act: A Story of Survival

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2016 at 12:53 PM

When cancer strikes it can seem like the end of the world. With a mother that has been diagnosed with cancer not only once, but twice I completely understand the effects that it can have not only on the person, but on the families as well.

With cancer, times can seem rough, at some of the darkest moments it can feel that there is no way out, but if my mother taught me one thing it is that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, there is always a way to live the best life you can, and there is always a second chance.

In light of my mothers multiple encounters with cancer I have always paid special attention and tried to participate in any cancer awareness event I come across. When I found out that Tucson was doing it's part to join the conversation with the A 2nd Act production, I couldn't help but smile because all I could hear is my moms words ringing in my ear.

A 2nd Act: Survivorship Takes the Stage is an inaugural production put on in Tucson that features local women reading their personal stories and explaining how they took their lives back after the news, how they seized their "2nd Act."

click image A 2ND ACT
  • A 2nd Act
The mission of this production is for these women to inspire others by showing that their live after cancer can be just as meaningful as it was before.

A 2nd Act is a celebration of courage, it motivates the audience to pursue their own "2nd Act" regardless of the situation, cancer or not.

Tickets to this event are $22, and some of the proceeds will go to micro grants and seed money for women who are actively trying to pursue their own "2nd Act" after cancer.

The event will take place on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. It will be held at the Berger Center for Performing Arts, 1200 W. Speedway

Tickets and more information are available at www.A2ndAct.org.

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