Friday, September 29, 2017

Laughing Stock: The Gaslight's Phantom Never Gets Old

Posted By on Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Heather Stricker as Christine and Armen Dirtadian as the Phantom in The Gaslight Theatre's current comic adaptation of Phantom of the Opera. David Fanning performs the Phantom through Nov. 5. - THE GASLIGHT THEATRE
  • The Gaslight Theatre
  • Heather Stricker as Christine and Armen Dirtadian as the Phantom in The Gaslight Theatre's current comic adaptation of Phantom of the Opera. David Fanning performs the Phantom through Nov. 5.

Heather Stricker was still a rookie the first time she played Christine opposite Armen Dirtadian’s Phantom of the Opera. The year was 2001 and it was The Gaslight Theatre's third run of Peter Van Slyke’s original comedy adaptation. Dirtadian had played in all of them, as had Joe Cooper, currently portraying a prat-falling Madame Giry. Cooper’s been with the company 31 years.

Dirtadian says reprising that first performance with Stricker is his favorite aspect of the production’s current run, which continues through Sunday, Nov. 5. It’s part of Gaslight’s fortieth anniversary season. “She was out of college at the time, trained in opera as a grad student,” Dirtadian says. “When she called me (for the current production) I jumped on it.”

Stricker now acts in every production and serves as the company’s public relations director. “This is really the best talent in Tucson,” she says. “We do so many shows here that it's a full-time job for a lot of us. The opening cast tends to be the same for each run, so anybody who comes to see every show will always see the same faces.”

Repeatable, long-running productions with multiple stagings each week enable the company to budget for cast continuity and production values that smaller, more risk-taking companies can only dream about. The costumers who create the Phantom’s lavish look operate a retail shop that provides another onsite profit center as does Little Anthony's Diner, which supplies the theater’s food service.

The profitability of its enviable business model may contribute to the Gaslight’s perennial wins in Tucson Weekly’s Best of Tucson, but people come for the fun. “This is something that non-theater people enjoy,” Stricker says. “You can see live music, live performers, comedy ….” She might add that it’s as family-friendly as a Disney movie. Actors take pains to engage the young ones at the front tables, especially throughout the olio after each show. It’s a short, unrelated variety entertainment played almost entirely for laughs.

Putting the Phantom in context, Dirtadian says, “It might be a little serious here at the Gaslight.” That’s like calling Mabel a tragic figure in Pirates of Penzance. But Stricker explains, “The fall shows are a little darker, so you're seeing a kind of spookier one for Halloween. They're still hilarious!”

Gaslight tickets are $20.95, less for children and veterans. Details are can be found online. Tickets are available by phone or in person.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sinema's In: Democratic Congresswoman Joins Race for Sen. Jeff Flake's Seat

Posted By on Thu, Sep 28, 2017 at 5:54 PM


Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema made it official today: She wants a shot at the U.S. Senate.

Sinema has had a colorful career in politics, starting out as a green in her idealistic youth and growing into the kind of moderate Democrat who votes with the Trump/congressional GOP agenda agenda nearly half the time. (Given that she's running statewide in Arizona, that could be an asset, not a liability.)

Sinema is running for the Senate seat now held by Republican Jeff Flake—but it remains to be seen whether she'll actually face Flake, whose tangles with Trump and other heresies (comprehensive immigration reform, free trade) have created real problems with the GOP base. He's facing Kelli Ward (with other candidates considering a run against him) and this week's Alabama GOP Senate results show once again that the advantage of incumbency is no sure thing in a GOP primary.

Cinema Clips: First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers

Posted By on Thu, Sep 28, 2017 at 12:00 PM


Angelina Jolie directs the memoir of Loung Ung (who also wrote the screenplay), a Cambodian woman who, as a child, survived the genocide brought upon her country by the Khmer Rouge in the mid-seventies, after the Vietnam War. The result is a triumph for Jolie and Ung, who succeed in telling the story through Ung’s eyes as a child.

Young Sareum Srey Moch is a movie miracle as Ung, a happy child the day the Khmer Rouge arrive in her town, marking her dad for death and causing her family to flee into the jungle. Jolie keeps the vantage point of the movie through the eyes of this child, ingeniously filming the landscape around her in a way a child would see it: as something beautiful being invaded by monsters. Moch is required to deliver every emotion in the role, and she delivers them in a way that would seem impossible for a child actress.

The movie is terrifying, and it should be. It stands alongside 1984’s The Killing Fields as a fierce, unyielding depiction of this terrible time in human history. Jolie filmed the movie in the Cambodian language, and it is actually Cambodia’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. It’s definitely a contender.

Available for streaming on Netflix during a limited theatrical run.

Catalina Foothills Districts Earns Bragging Rights With Its AzMERIT Scores (Or Maybe Not)

Posted By on Thu, Sep 28, 2017 at 11:00 AM

COURTESY OF PHOTOSPIN
  • Courtesy of PhotoSpin
In early September, it was an article in the Star praising Catalina Foothills District for having the highest AzMERIT scores in Pima County. Last week it was the same thing in the print edition of the Tucson Weekly. Both articles gave Cat Foothills' Assistant Superintendent multiple paragraphs to pat herself and her district on the back.

From the articles, I learned the district achieved its high ratings through its "commitment to rigorous curriculum in schools, ongoing evaluations for its students and professional development for teachers." Also by "developing a curriculum that considers the end goal and works backwards from there to achieve that goal." And by using "authentic real-world scenarios." Wow. Good stuff. Other districts should consider using similar strategies if they hope to match Cat Foothills' success. Especially Tucson Unified, which apologized for its poor scores in both articles and swore it would try to do better.

But I'm not sure Cat Foothills is the district we should be looking to for pedagogical advice. Among its seven schools, the highest passing rate is 77 percent for Language Arts and 74 percent for Math. In a district outside of Pima County, three schools topped that, with Language Arts passing rates from 79 to 84 percent and Math passing rates from 77 to 85 percent. We should really be asking the superintendent in Scottsdale how the district manages to pull such spectacular achievement from its students. I know Scottsdale isn't in Southern Arizona, but listen, if it's getting results, the whole state could benefit by learning more about the secrets of its success.

And while we're at it, we should also be asking a low-scoring Phoenix-area district how it plans to improve. One of its schools has a 16 percent passing rate in Language Arts and a 17 percent passing rate in Math, and other schools are in the teens and twenties. We need to hear the educational improvement plans for . . . Scottsdale? Really? The same Scottsdale district with those 80 percent-plus passing rates?

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The Weekly List: 20 Things To Do In Tucson In The Next 10 Days

Posted By and on Thu, Sep 28, 2017 at 9:44 AM

Your Weekly guide to keeping busy in the Old Pueblo.

Theater and Shows

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Oro Valley Music Festival. Ring in October with this two-day festival full of music, food, drinks and vendors. Of course, the music is the main event, and Oro Valley is really delivering, with performances by big names like Train, LeAnn Rimes, Lee Brice and Gavin DeGraw. There will be vendors, a “selfie spot,” exclusive VIP areas, and even OVMF swag, like socks and T-shirts. Gates open at 12:30 p.m., opening act starts at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 1. The Golf Club at Vistoso, 955 W. Vistoso Highlands Drive. GA: $59.50 for one night or $89.50 for both nights. VIP $129.50 for one night (sold out for Sunday, so Saturday only. Travis Mathew “Awesome VIP” Experience $199.50 for one night or $329.50 for both nights.

Martial Artists & Acrobats of Tianjin
. Martial arts, circus acts, illusions and more! More than 100 performers take the stage in martial arts, balancing acts, acrobatic stunts, contortion and juggling, all accompanied by traditional Chinese music. The award-winning act has traveled throughout the world, and is an audience favorite! 6:30 p.m. Oct. 3, Fox Theater, 17 W. Congress St. $24-$48 (depending on seating, $2 increase for tickets purchased at the door).

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Día de los Muertos: The Musical. This new musical hits the stage with Día de los Muertos just around the corner. The original story and music from Michael Martinez tells the story of a young woman who travels to the the world of the dead after losing her beloved pet. While in the world of the dead, she befriends a monster who teaches her how to celebrate life, and helps her return home from the world of the dead before she is trapped forever. Sunday afternoons at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 1-Nov. 5. Live Theater Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway Blvd. $10 for adults, $7 for children.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Feel the earth move under your feet at "Beautiful," which tells the true story of Carole King's rise to fame. From being part of a songwriting team with her husband, Gerry Goffin, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music, King wrote songs considered to be the soundtrack to a generation. Times vary based on date. Oct. 4 through Oct. 8. Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. Price varies by seating: $29-$80.

Organic, Origami and Open Studios

Between Folds: Classical Origami. There’s something really magical about origami: creating these little sculptures by hand, without using any scissors, glue or tape. And if you’ve ever made a cootie catcher, you know that that origami has the power to unlock worlds of unparalleled fun. Seasoned origami vets can create everything from insects to shores to samurai to cranes with movable wings. See all of these things (except the cootie catcher, probably) and more at this Japanese Yume Gardens exhibit, which runs from their reopening on Oct. 1 through Dec. 31. 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Yume Japanese Gardens of Tucson, 2130 N. Alvernon Way. Free with museum admission: $9 adults, $8 seniors, $7 students and military ID, $5 children 3 to 15, free for children two and under.


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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Sports Scandal Rocks UA Basketball Program

Posted By on Wed, Sep 27, 2017 at 10:40 AM

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Longtime University of Arizona basketball assistant coach Emmanuel “Book” Richardson was one of four coaches arrested Tuesday by the FBI.

Richardson’s arrest was for allegedly receiving more than $20,000 in bribes from former sports agent Christian Dawkins and financial advisor Munish Sood, in exchange for recruiting prospective and current Arizona players, according to the FBI’s documents.

The University of Arizona’s athletic department suspended the ninth-year coach Tuesday, releasing a statement that said in part:

We became aware of the situation involving one of our men’s basketball coaches Emmanuel Richardson this morning. We have been working in conjunction with the University, and have confirmed that Richardson has been suspended effective immediately. We will cooperate fully with authorities as they move through their investigation.
Richardson, along with University of Southern California‘s Tony Bland, Auburn’s Chuck Person and Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans, were among the 10 people charged Tuesday with federal crimes.

According to the FBI reports, Richardson agreed to take the money to guide his player’s to use Dawkins as a manager and Sood as a financial adviser once their careers in Tucson ended.

Acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon Kim announced the charges Tuesday, laying out the charges facing the coaches, as well as financial advisors and representatives from an unnamed sportswear company.

According to the complaint, Richardson on June 20 agreed to take a $5,000 bribe in a meeting with an undercover FBI agent and Sood.

Richardson, according to the same complaint, also requested $15,000 more from the officer to lock down a player, identified by Richardson as a “top point guard in the country.”

Richardson faces upwards of 60 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine if convicted of all charges, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

Dusk Music Festival: Get Jazzy With DJ Jazzy Jeff

Posted By on Wed, Sep 27, 2017 at 10:03 AM


Coming up next weekend: It's the second annual Dusk Music Festival, featuring more than a dozen acts on Friday, Oct. 6, and Saturday, Oct. 7. The Weekly is highlighting some of the performing artists ahead of the festival kickoff. Today: DJ Jazzy Jeff!

"In west Philadelphia born and raised, on the playground was where I spent most of my days."

DJ Jazzy Jeff wrote lyrics for the Fresh Prince that were true for himself. West Philly native, DJ Jazzy Jeff has has a successful career spinning records and working with Will Smith as well as opening his own production company called A Touch of Jazz. As a critically acclaimed DJ, he has won a DMC Championship and has many Grammy and American Music Awards and nominations. He will take the stage at Dusk Music Festival on Friday, October 6 at 5:55 p.m.

For more information about DJ Jazzy Jeff at Dusk Music Festival, click here!

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

UA's Latest Space Robot Stops By Earth, Sends Snapshot of the Planet

Posted By on Tue, Sep 26, 2017 at 4:00 PM

NASA/GODDARD/UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
  • NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona
OSIRIS REx, Tucson’s favorite space bot, swung by the earth last Friday to say hello, take some pics, and to borrow some of the planet’s gravity in order to launch off toward the asteroid Bennu, the spacecraft’s destination site.

“We made the decision to to use nature to help us to get us to our destination,” said Heather Enos, deputy principal investigator of the OSIRIX REx mission. “What that means is we actually used the earth’s gravity in order to propel us onto our destination into the orbital plane necessary to match our target, Bennu."

While it was nearby, the OSIRIS REx team used the opportunity to recalibrate the spacecraft’s instruments, including the MapCam camera. MapCam captured this image on Sept. 22, from a vantage point 170,000 kilometers (or 106,000 miles) away from the earth. It's largely of the Pacific Ocean, but you can see Australia in the lower left and Baja California in the upper right.

Dante Lauretta, the principal investigator of the UA-led NASA mission, said the photo represents one of his favorite new angles of the earth.

"What if we were an alien species and we sent a flyby spacecraft to the earth and they took this picture?" he asked "It really looks like it is an ocean world... It is a nice reminder of how beautiful and important the oceans are, and our planet is."

The black marks at the top of the photo—the OSIRIS REx team calls them "icicles"—are the result of a camera designed to take pictures of a very dark (darker than coal) asteroid trying to take pictures of a very bright earth.

"[This] meant we had to take the images as fast as possible, and as a result of that very fast data acquisition rate, there [were a few] readout issues," Lauretta said.

Lauretta described Friday and Saturday as the second most exciting days of the mission so far—besides, of course, the day of the launch. The team spent Friday evening huddled around their monitors and waiting for the images to arrive. When one of the team members finally pulled it up, a mad scramble ensued to get the image up on the big screen, and the whole team was left in awe.

"It felt like I was actually in space and I was looking at that image," Lauretta said. "Because OSIRIS REx is us. We built it, and we own it and we really feel like it's a projection of ourselves that's out there exploring the solar system."

Follow OSIRIS REx on Twitter or Instagram, and see the OSIRIS REx website to learn more about the mission.

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Staff Pick

James G. Davis (1931-2016): Down at the Tower Bar, A Retrospective

Celebrating the career of Tucson artist James G. Davis with a selection of paintings and prints made… More

@ Etherton Gallery Sat., Sept. 9, 7-10 p.m. and Tuesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Nov. 11 135 S. Sixth Ave.

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