Orange Theatre's Blood Wedding Gallops Through Completed Version at ASU Tempe's Lyceum

Courtesy of Orange Theatre
Katrina Donaldson is the Bride in Orange Theatre's Blood Wedding.
The setup: Orange Theatre's industrially flavored, iconoclastic mounting of Lorca's Blood Wedding is similar in many ways to the roughly two-thirds complete work-in-progress version we got to see last winter. The company develops a play in several periods spanning about a year, and viewing multiple iterations reveals some of the decision-making that goes into the creation of art.

If that alone doesn't sound like fun (and if so, understandably -- a lot of people prefer not to witness the making of sausage, either), you're in luck, because the show is still densely packed with complex characters who strut and romp through a Home Depot-y wonderland, managing to symbolize concepts like lust and vengeance while also representing real people.

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Downtown Phoenix's Space 55 Presents a Different 7 Minutes in Heaven Each Saturday in June

courtesy of Space 55
Patrick Hershey and Amy Ouzoonian are Expat, and they wail.
The setup: Space 55's Late Night Series is a thing we've visited and written about before. It's alternative performance for (eventually) every taste, something we both enjoy and pine for more of.

This month, Saturday nights at 9 p.m. bring us 7 Minutes in Heaven, a thing that link kind of describes the content of, but not the concept. (Disclosure: I have performed in 7 Minutes Under the Mistletoe. Space 55 does not select or vet artists or material for its 7 Minutes . . . series -- and that is the concept.)

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The Full Monty from Mesa Encore Drops More Than Trou

Wade Moran
Foreground, Michael Leeth, and left to right, Chad Campbell, Andrew Lipman, Jonathan Holdsworth, and Julian Peña discuss "The Goods" in The Full Monty.
The setup: There really isn't anything wrong with the lemons God gave you, even before you pluckily make lemonade from them. But in 1997, when director Peter Cattaneo showed us the work of screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) in The Full Monty, the desperate, laid-off male inhabitants of economically ravaged steel town Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, became brave, brilliant, sexy heroes. (Oh, yeah -- by stripping for money in front of friends, family, and neighbors, despite zero qualifications to do so, in case you didn't know.) Mesa Encore Theatre's mounting of the fine stage musical that resulted (set in Buffalo, New York) runs one more weekend in the Nesbitt/Elliott Playhouse at Mesa Arts Center.

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Young Frankenstein Is Proportionally Large at Peoria's Arizona Broadway Theatre

courtesy of Arizona Broadway Theatre
From left, Kurtis W. Overby and Adam Vargas put on some Raaarh in Young Frankenstein.
The setup: You may remember a massive hit musical, The Producers, that was based on a Mel Brooks film that, by the time this century turned, not really all that many people remembered. You might not realize that Brooks wrote all the songs for that show, not just "Springtime for Hitler" (which was in the original fake musical in the original movie). He's very musically talented!

Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein are probably considered Brooks' biggest hits, and I don't know whether there'll ever be a musical version of Blazing Saddles, but YF makes a nice, fun musical, and it's stomping into Arizona right now at Arizona Broadway Theatre.

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Bitch of the Baskervilles at Downtown Phoenix's Trunk Space This Weekend Only

Heather Corner
From left, Liz Bragg and Amanda O'Halloran search desperately for a clue in Bitch of the Baskervilles, in a photo that displays vastly greater quantities of hat and lesser quantities of bosom than the real thing.
The setup: Let's set you up, first. You obviously need something to do with yourself this long weekend, based on last night's two-hour-plus karaoke rotations, and now that the chick who sang "Don't Stop Believing" has doubtless been murdered, you can get some investigative tips from Holmes and Watson at Bitch of the Baskervilles, a short new play that's here on a three-day stop on a two-city tour, i.e., get a move on.

A Toronto troupe called Socratic Theatre Collective has collaborated with Current Theatrics, which provided Philippines-born, Dublin-educated, Las Vegas-residing director Ruth Pe Palileo, to produce S. R. Kriger's Bitch of the Baskervilles this weekend in Phoenix and next weekend in Vegas. It's a short, gender-blended parody of the Conan Doyle story with adorable, sexy, steampunky costumes (including the first tiny deerstalkanator hat I've ever seen), some nice, goofy acting choices, and subtly self-referential jokes about literature, stage conventions, and gender [insert noun here].

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Avenue Q: We Can Tell You How to Get to It (Go to Phoenix Theatre)

courtesy of Phoenix Theatre
Colin Ross (right) and two unseen puppeteer/actors operate part of the ensemble of Avenue Q during the number "Purpose."
The setup: Avenue Q, a sort of adults-only musical parody of Sesame Street that exists and functions, nevertheless, completely independently of the kids' show, opened in 2003 and won a cluster of Tonys. One would think its songs and subject matter, apparently quite topical at the time, would feel dated and stale by now, but happily for the show (maybe not so happily for the prospects of people like its 22-year-old characters), it works as well as ever.

Phoenix Theatre
's current production, a revival of its 2011 staging, still has two more weekends to run and, surprisingly, a lot of you have never seen Avenue Q and you need to remedy that immediately.

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ARTELPHX Is Immersive, Fun at The Clarendon Hotel in Phoenix

Categories: Review, Visual Art

Becky Bartkowski
Funkhouser's installation was certainly the most Instagrammed of the evening.
Beginning on Thursday of last week, my social media accounts started exploding with pictures of Daniel Funkhouser's hypnotizing installation piece "Familiar Glass with Theatrical Spectacle with Transparent Illusion and Artselfie." (With a title like that, who could resist?) The work was one of many included in this year's ARTELPHX, a festival of multi-media art installations and performance pieces that took over The Clarendon Hotel for three nights this past weekend.

For the most part, the art was top-notch (especially Funkhouser's piece), but any shortcomings in the artwork were generally overshadowed by the completely stunning experience of wandering through the hotel's external corridors to seek out the next installation.

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Space 55's New Short Plays Heyre Be Dragons . . . In My Mind, Plus Late-Night Serial Captain Jack's Space Attack

courtesy of Space 55
Claire Monet and Colt Watkiss play siblings facing an extraordinary issue in Carrie Behrens' Intuition, one of eight short plays in Heyre Be Dragons . . . In My Mind.
The setup: One of the myriad ways Space 55 Ensemble enriches our community is by developing, training, and showcasing new writers, whether they're creating solo performance pieces or plays with several characters, a plot, the whole nine yards. Space 55's current mainstage show, Heyre Be Dragons . . . In My Mind, is a fully staged collection of very short plays by local playwrights, all hanging together, per the directors' notes, in their focus on the "many things we still do not understand about why we think and feel the way we do." My favorite! (Well, not alone at 3 a.m. in my mind, but my favorite topic for good art.)

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Ballet Arizona's All Balanchine Showcases Ballet's Expansiveness

Categories: Dance, Review

Episodes Choreography ©The George Balanchine Trust. ©Rosalie O'Connor Photography.
Kenna Draxton and Joseph Cavanaugh were entrancing in Episodes
I honestly can't decide whether Ballet Arizona's annual homage to legendary choreographer George Balanchine is best suited to ballet experts or complete novices. Saturday night's performance of All Balanchine at Symphony Hall had something for everyone, with three ballets that truly showcased three distinct types of choreography from Balanchine's hundreds of well-loved works.

We're spoiled here in Phoenix in this regard. Although Balanchine's choreography laid the foundations of modern ballet, his work isn't allowed to be performed by just anyone.

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Finding Vivian Maier Doesn't Quite Capture Its Elusive Subject

Vivian Maier/Maloof Collection

Five years after her death, Vivian Maier is a superstar. An art world darling who might very well, were she alive, appreciate the attention her gorgeous portraiture is receiving. And who would likely not, if the secrecy with which she lived her life is any indication, be thrilled about our interest in her mysterious past.

Maier, for those who've missed her story, is the former nanny whose photographic genius was discovered in several storage lockers in Chicago in 2007. More than 150,000 images, most unprinted, were auctioned off as detritus to three different second-hand dealers, each of whom recognized the value of -- and beauty in -- Maier's work.

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