Play On

Written by Alexa D'Angelo Category: Arts Issue: August 2014
Group Mid-Level
Character count 2500

Valley performing arts groups offer a plethora of productions this season.

What could a Memphis deejay in the 1950s have in common with a cantata based on medieval poems? Probably nothing, aside from the fact that both are components of upcoming Valley stage productions.

Phoenix is getting an A-list of onstage entertainment this fall season. Productions range from a mariachi opera about immigration to the story of two middle-aged siblings whose world is turned upside down when their larger-than-life sister arrives. Here’s a spotlight on some of the stagecrafts coming this season.

Carmina Burana
Phoenix Symphony Music Director Michael Christie makes an epic choral coda in his final season as he leads off with Carmina Burana. The scenic cantata composed by Carl Orff in the 1930s was based on 24 poems from the medieval collection of the same name. The cantata begins with the famed “O’ Fortuna” and ends with a reprise (and typically standing ovations). Carmina Burana will run September 19-20 at Phoenix Symphony Hall, 75 N. Second St., Phoenix, 602-495-1999, Tickets cost $18-$79.
PHM0814PFILE014 Memphis
Tony Award winner for the 2010 Best Musical, Memphis is loosely based on the life of Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips, one of the first white deejays to spin records by black musicians in the 1950s. The music ranges from early rock ‘n’ roll to gospel to rhythm and blues and helps to tell the story of main character Huey Calhoun, who uses his life-long affinity for African-American music to start a revolution of sorts, playing more soul music for his predominantly white listeners. Runs September 17-October 12 at Phoenix Theatre, 100 E McDowell Rd., Phoenix,
602-254-2151, Ticket prices start at $30.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is the tale of a dysfunctional family weekend centered around three middle-aged siblings. A take on a combination of plays by Russian dramaturge Anton Chekhov, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike provides abundant comic relief in the hands of Arizona Theatre Company. “Will Vanya and Sonia ever find happiness? Are our lives ruled by choice or fate?” ATC Artistic Director David Ira Goldstein muses. “And will Spike ever put his shirt on?” Runs October 9-26 at the Herberger Theater, 222 E. Monroe St., Phoenix, 602-256-6995, Tickets cost $44-$72.
Cruzar la Cara de la Luna
The Arizona Opera presents the world’s first mariachi opera. Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, meaning, “To Cross the Face of the Moon,” tells the rhythm-rich story of a family that branches on both sides of the Mexican-American border. The family’s emotional journey is punctuated with intense mariachi melodies performed by legendary Mexican folk ensemble Vargas de Tecalitlán. Runs October 10-12 at Phoenix Symphony Hall, 75 N. Second St., Phoenix, 602-226-7464, Ticket cost $25-$135.