Arts and Culture

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.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Theater Review: Kenny Finkle's Alive and Well Sets An Oil-And-Water Duo in a Civil War Re-Enactment

Posted By on Fri, Nov 4, 2016 at 3:29 PM

Invisible Theatre is continuing to try to woo us with romantic stories, and although their season's first show didn't inspire too much of the sweet stuff due to an inferior script, their second offering, Kenny Finkle's Alive and Well, is a much better script with a couple of winning characters embodied by two very good actors.

The story takes place in Virginia. The line goes like this: Cute but lonely Southern boy, Zachariah (Sean William Dupont) is escorting, in a most primitive way, a rather prissy journalist along a route favored by Civil War re-enactors leading to Appomattox, the scene of Lee's surrender. Dressed as a Union soldier, the uptight Yankee girl, Carla (Verity Stansall), with a British accent (which may or may not be real—she claims she's from England but is found to be untrustworthy in matters of self-representation) has been tapped to write an article for a magazine about the “Lonesome Soldier,” a phantom said to be sighted regularly along the re-enactment route. She is less than happy to be accompanied by Southern Boy, although it's hard to see why. He's a nice guy, not unintelligent, and is not overtly offensive. He's personable and warm, but she's more interested in what's happening at the ashram in Yogaville, a place in which she'd rather be ensconced, not hiking miles off-course in bad weather or indoors in a ragged cabin in even worse weather. Their journey is ours.
Carla Keenan (Verity Stansall), a northern journalist, insists that Civil War re-enactor Zachariah  (Sean William Dupont) try to stay "warm" in the midst of a torrential rainstorm in Alive and Well, a romantic comedy of life, liberty and the pursuit of romance! - TIM FULLER
  • Tim Fuller
  • Carla Keenan (Verity Stansall), a northern journalist, insists that Civil War re-enactor Zachariah (Sean William Dupont) try to stay "warm" in the midst of a torrential rainstorm in Alive and Well, a romantic comedy of life, liberty and the pursuit of romance!

Mismatched pilgrims, they are. But like in so many other tales that use this convention of oil-and-water companions stuck in each other's company, their differences offer plenty of room for comedy and ultimately reveal that the ol' opposites attract theme is the current sweeping them along.

The script is far from brilliant, but it works well enough to entertain us as we watch the Civil War Re-enactment version of strange bedfellows. This is largely due to the acting skills of our two guides. Stansall's character is not the more immediately likeable one, so Finkle wisely inserts a scene in which she gets tipsy and quite literally lets her hair down. She's a wild woman when intoxicated and that softens us up a bit. Her boundaries snap back in place pretty quickly the next day—as much as anything can snap quickly when nursing a hangover.

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Monday, October 31, 2016

Win Tickets to Ballet Tucson's Opening Night Gala or Fall Concert

Posted By on Mon, Oct 31, 2016 at 11:30 AM

BALLET TUCSON
  • Ballet Tucson
Local ballet fans have a lot to look forward to this year, with Ballet Tucson already promoting upcoming performances of the Nutcracker, Perseus and Andromeda and La Bayadere.

Interested in scoring tickets to these performances? Watch this spot: We'll be doing giveaways all season long. This year our readers voted Ballet Tucson the best local dance company, so you know they're good.

Right now we're giving away a pair of tickets to the Opening Night Gala on Friday, Nov. 18 and the two pairs of tickets to the Fall Concert, which will be performed Nov. 19-20.

Enter below, and we'll get in touch with winners on Friday, Nov. 4:

Fill out my online form.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

The Lantern Fest: Get Your Shine On

Posted By on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 11:00 AM

Celebrate life, love and good fortune in Casa Grande on Friday, Nov. 11 at the annual Lantern Fest, where thousands of people join together to release lanterns into the night sky.

The event kickstarts just before sundown. Friends and families huddle around campfires in the middle of the desert to keep warm and enjoy food, live music, a stage show, face painting, s'mores, balloon artists and more.

Historically, lanterns have been used to symbolize good fortune, request favorable weather, or to celebrate the life of a loved one—just to name a few. The creators of the festival, Sack Lunch Productions, refer to the release of these lanterns as a metaphor for "our highest hopes, deepest regrets and fondest dreams."

The atmosphere is unlike anything else. Everyone at is smiling, hugging, talking and truly taking in every moment. When the sky is completely dark, you'll watch everyone release their beautiful, yellow lanterns up into the sky and soak in the experience together. As the lights float on into the darkness, they begin to look like tiny stars. Then, everyone sits in silence and soaks up the beauty before them.

click image LANTERN FEST GALLERY
  • Lantern Fest Gallery

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Monday, October 17, 2016

The Annual Community Mental Health Arts Show Is Back

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 12:45 PM

Art is a universal language that has the ability to transcend barriers put up by societal differences. The ability to enjoy art, both in its creation and appreciation, is granted to every person regardless of who they are. 

For the seventeenth year in a row, Community Partners Inc. is here to celebrate the importance of art and its benefit to a specific group of people. The 17th Annual Community Mental Health art show is an exhibition that focuses on the artistic work of people who are connected to the public behavioral health system. 

click image COMMUNITY PARTNERS INC.
  • Community Partners Inc.

The exhibit is free and will be open from Oct. 26-28 from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., with a public reception held from 5- 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 at the Plaza Arboleda Conference Center, 2502 N. Dodge Blvd.

The show will highlight five different categories of art, each with the purpose to shed light on how art has and will continue to positively affect individuals with mental health effects. 

If you would like to submit art visit http://www.communitypartnersinc.org/arts-show. In order to submit art you must be receiving behavioral health services, but in terms of attendance, all are welcome!

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Tucson Fashion Week: Answering the Community Craving for Fashion

Posted By on Sat, Oct 15, 2016 at 7:05 PM

Models walk the catwalk at Friday night's Tucson Fashion Week at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • Models walk the catwalk at Friday night's Tucson Fashion Week at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson.

I feel something akin to culture shock when I walk into Tucson Fashion Week on Friday night. The showroom and patio at the Museum of Contemporary Art are full of bodacious babes with mega hair and clothes that are too cool—even for Buffalo Exchange.

The three-day event, which began Thursday, Oct. 13, featured different venues, designers, music performances, food and drink each night.  Maybe it’s from living too long in this laid-back desert town, but I’m out of place. The only thing I have that I can relate this scene to is Sex and the City. (Yes, I’m a child of the ‘90s.) So I just imagine I’m Carrie and dive in. Although the lights, the music, the heels and the clothes that seem to defy gravity are unlike an average Friday night downtown, the fashion week’s roots are all Tucson.

“Hopefully we can spread the love a little bit and bring a little awareness around fashion to our community,” says TFW co-director Paula Taylor, who’s worked in fashion for 20 years. “We have this incredible community with so much talent here, and nobody gets to showcase it.”

Taylor and her cohort Melanie Sutton curated the show with local and national talent.
“We’re actually a really international city, and I think we’re starving for content,” Taylor says. “If we provide the platform people will actually come.”

Four years ago, TFW founder Elizabeth Denneau was running the show as a small artsy production. Taylor and Sutton bought it and turned it into the national production it is today.

One of Friday’s presentations features the designs of Tucson-born Quinlan Wilhite. Founder of the fashion company Qmulative, Wilhite began sewing only three years ago when he had an idea for a shirt and asked his grandmother to show him how to sew.


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Friday, October 7, 2016

Race Relations: What Horror Films Are Made Of (This One At Least)

Posted By on Fri, Oct 7, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Folks, something amazing is happening in February. 

No, Saint Valentine is not swooping down from the heavens to help you find your one, true love. 

No, Tucson is not bringing Mardi Gras to Fourth Ave (so please don't let me find you running up and down the street topless, throwing beads everywhere).

And no, the Cardinals are not winning the Superbowl. I'm calling it now—you read it here first. 

What IS happening is a horror film is being released that actually has a legitimate storyline, and...wait for it...THE BLACK GUY DOESN'T DIE FIRST! I don't know which I'm more excited for because the toss-up here is strong. Now, for the guy (or girl) who just read that last part and immediately opened up another search window and typed in the words "horror movies in which the black guy doesn't die first," let me inform you NOW that this article is tongue in cheek, and should be taken with a grain of salt. I am well aware that the Black guy doesn't always die first (and I did the Google search for you—here's an article that backs that up), but that is the long running joke within the Black community, so humor me if you will and read this through. 

Okay, so now that that is cleared up, back to my original point. YES! IT'S TRUE! In February, Jordan Peele (of Comedy Central's "Key and Peele") will be making his directorial debut with his first horror film, called Get Out. Now, I said the Black guy doesn't die first, but that's not entirely true. A Black guy does die first, but not the main character. You're confused. I know. I was too when I first heard about it, but here's the twist: Get Out is a racially charged horror flick (the first of its kind, actually). You're probably wondering what that means—I WAS TOO! Basically, it means that the old lore of White girl brings Black boy home from college to meet the folks, and the folks are cool on the surface, but maybe not *so* cool that they're above letting the Black boy know where he stands, is brought to life, but with a strange, horrific, terrifying twist. 

People, I don't even like horror films, but I will see this one. Not because Jordan Peele wrote, produced, and directed it (Go 'head on with ya bad self), and not because it's considered "racially charged." Not even because the main Black guy doesn't die first. I'm seeing this one because it will finally be a scary movie I can watch without having to holler out "Becky! Don't go up those stairs, girl!"

Yup. I just said that. 

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