Beverley Scherberger

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THEATRE REVIEWS

theatre reviews

Theatre reviews are always the opinion of the reviewer.

When writing a theatre review, attend opening night, if at all possible. The review should appear in the paper shortly thereafter, giving area residents and visitors ample opportunity to purchase tickets. The review should contain the dates and times the show runs, the name and location of the theatre, cost of tickets, and, of course, the title of the play and its director. In addition, it should include a synopsis of the story, names of actors and other personnel associated with the show, and the writer’s opinion of the play ~ good or bad. The writer must give supporting documentation of why he has that opinion so readers can decide if they want to see it.

Written under the name: Beverly Lehnhardt on June 29, 2008

“The Taming of the Shrew” Plays in Tlaquepaque Courtyard

After a hot, muggy day, Sunday evening, June 29 saw the possible beginning of Northern Arizona’s monsoon season. However, following a few minutes of light, refreshing raindrops and rumbling thunder, Mother Nature decided to let William Shakespeare rule the night and those of us assembled in the Tlaquepaque courtyard relaxed. The rain tapered off as the characters took the stage for Act I of SHAKESPEARE SEDONA’s The Taming of the Shrew.

This year, SHAKESPEARE SEDONA is celebrating its eleventh anniversary with three outstanding plays: The Merry Wives of Windsor, Richard II, and Sunday’s opening of The Taming of the Shrew. Founding Artistic Director Jared Sakren must be very proud of this year’s line-up and the extremely talented cast he has assembled.

"The Taming of the Shrew"

“The Taming of the Shrew”

As The Bard is wont to do, several stories are told simultaneously with interconnected, layered plots and sub-plots. In The Shrew, Baptista Minola, portrayed by Sandy Elias, refuses to allow his youngest daughter to be courted until her older sister, Kate, is safely wed. The problem here, though, is that Kate (superbly played by Sarah Wolter) is sharp-tongued, shrewish, and ill-tempered, and her reputation is known far and wide. Although she has a considerable dowry, no suitors come to call on Kate – until Petruchio (played to utter perfection by AriZoni Best-Actor Richard Baird – a joy to watch.)…

Kate’s younger sister Bianca (Nathalie Cadieux) is sweet, lovely, and much admired by many would-be suitors who are anxious to claim her heart. So anxious, in fact, that they switch identities, pretend to be something they are not, and vie for her affections in any way they can. The results are confusing, hilarious, and downright comical.

Meanwhile, Petruchio has found a unique way to ‘tame’ his shrewish wife and friends and family cannot believe the change in her – or in him… Against all odds, these two misfits find and claim each other, creating a world in which they can peacefully and happily co-exist.

After watching Merry Wives on Friday, Richard II on Saturday, and The Taming of the Shrew on Sunday night, I am astounded at the breadth and depth of acting ability of each and every member of the SHAKESPEARE SEDONA troupe. Richard Baird’s Bolingbroke (Merry Wives) and Petruchio (Shrew) are worlds apart in character, yet Baird plays them both with equal aplomb.

Jason Barth portrays solemn King Richard II and Petruchio’s bumbling servant in The Shrew with ease; James Coates, Sandy Elias, Sarah Wolter and the entire rest of the cast are also superbly talented thespians.

The Production Team, including Set Designer Patrick Walsh; Fight Choreographer David Barker; Resident Lighting Designer Paul Black; and Resident Composer Richard Jennings as well as several costume designers, also gave outstanding (backstage) performances.

Sedona is ever a magical place – and never more so than when William Shakespeare’s words echo amongst the red rocks…

The Taming of the Shrew plays in rotation with SHAKESPEARE SEDONA’s other two plays, Richard II and The Merry Wives of Windsor. All three shows run on three consecutive weekends with The Shrew playing on Saturday, July 5 and Thursday, July 10.

All shows begin at 8p.m. and tickets can be purchased online at www.shakespearesedona.com; by calling 1-800-768-9286; or at the Tlaquepaque Information Booth. Dinner and theatre packages are also available.

Single tickets are $25 with discounts available for Season Tickets and groups.

This year SHAKESPEARE SEDONA is sponsored by Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, Briar Patch Inn, La Quinta Inn Sedona, Wells Fargo Bank, M&I Bank, Best Western Inn of Sedona, Sedona Rouge, Kokopelli Inn and Suites, Sedona Real, and Enchantment Resort.

With only two performances of The Taming of the Shrew and the other two plays remaining this season, order your tickets as soon as possible. Don’t miss these exceptional, Shakespeare-under-the-stars productions.

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Written under the name: Beverly Lehnhardt on June 8, 2007

CMT Takes a Trip Down Memory Lane

The Taffetas

The Taffetas

Canyon Moon Theatre was about three quarter’s full for Friday, June 8’s performance of Rick Lewis’s The Taffetas. Toes were tappin’ and heads were bobbin’ in time to over 40 nostalgic tunes—tunes like Sh-Boom, Johnny Angel, and Where the Boys Are. Anyone who remembers poodle skirts and 45’s will take a fond trip down memory lane with this one!

Set in the 1950’s, the four Taffeta sisters came all the way from Muncie, Indiana, to New York City to perform on the Dumont Television Network’s show “Spotlight on Music.” If all goes well during this show, Ed Sullivan will send their careers skyrocketing…

In Act I, the girls sing a variety of traveling songs: Happy Wanderer, See the USA in Your Chevrolet, Old Cape Cod. Many of the songs are performed as a quartet but there are wonderful solos, duets, and trios, as well. All four actresses have great voices and no matter who is singing at any given time, the performance is top notch.

During Ricochet, playful Donna (Brittany Smith) coaxes an audience member up on-stage to participate—no musical talent needed!—and draws grins and giggles from the other spectators. She seems to enjoy grabbing the spotlight…

We learn that Cheryl (Shilah Larson) is pining for her boyfriend back in Muncie. They split up for some absurd reason, she’s missing him immensely, and some of the songs touch a raw nerve. Older sister Kaye, played by Teri Bays, offers advice in the form of Brenda Lee’s I’m Sorry. Bays has a strong voice and extensive musical experience—and it shows.

Act II is no less charming and enjoyable as the girls sing about, what else…? Boys! With Love Letters in the Sand, Puppy Love, and Sincerely, the girls reveal their hopes and dreams of one day finding Mr. Right. And Cheryl determines to try and patch things up with her guy at home…

Peggy (Christina Halstead) really gets into all of the songs, her energy and enthusiasm gaining momentum as the show progresses. Halstead’s vocal training and musical talent are apparent in her delivery—she obviously enjoys performing.

Teri Bays and Shilah Larson were last seen in CMT’s Suburb: The Musical. Halstead played Sister Hubert in Nunsense and Sally Talley in Talley’s Folly. Brittany Smith is the only newcomer to the CMT stage and her credits include several productions at Mingus High School. Her playful, sexy innocence during her rendition of Mr. Lee was fresh and charming—I certainly hope to see more of her in the future.

Nancy Bright played the sisters’ piano-playing cousin Bette who had “been there” for all of them from their very first performance at the grand opening of the Muncie IGA. The girls have come a long way, baby, and if Ed Sullivan gives them a ‘thumbs-up’ they’ll have it made!

Mary G. Guraldi, Producing Artistic Director, had fun with this one. She said, “It’s the perfect show to begin the summer!”

Daniel Hicks, Craig Junjulas, and Paul Zamazanuk constructed and painted the set—it was perfect, requiring no changes for the different scenes.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable, fun-filled, musical evening out—don’t miss it! It is also the final show of Season IX, sponsored by Bistro Bella Terra and Hilton Sedona Resort & Spa. The line-up for Season X will be announced soon.

The Taffetas will run from now through June 24 with performances on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30p.m.; Sunday matinees begin at 3:00p.m. There is no performance on June 23. All shows take place at Canyon Moon Theatre in the Oak Creek Factory Outlets on 179 in the Village of Oak Creek. Single tickets are $19 and full-time student tickets are $11 for any performance.

Call 282-6212 or visit www.canyonmoontheatre.org to buy tickets and find out if Ed Sullivan pulls through for the Taffetas! Tickets are also available at Rycus’ Corners in VOC and at Clothing Reflections in the Basha’s shopping center in West Sedona.

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Written under the name: Beverly Lehnhardt in January of 1007

CMTC’s Most Recent Hit: 37 Postcards

"37 Postcards"

“37 Postcards”

Despite the cold and rather inclement weather Saturday, January 20, Michael McKeever’s 37 Postcards played to a nearly full house at Sedona’s Canyon Moon Theatre. Already, the buzz around town is that it’s a play not to be missed! Whether in the mood to laugh or cry, if you’re feeling pensive or merely need to be entertained, this play about family and ‘coming home’ will fill the bill. The question is: “Can you really go home again?”

Avery Sutton, played so well by Jeff Shipper, has been traveling abroad for the last eight years on an unlimited trust fund. He returns home to introduce his fiancée, Gillian Moore (Danielle Miller), to the loving family he left years earlier; however, things are not as he remembers…

Avery’s mother, Evelyn Sutton, artfully portrayed by Tricia Greer, is thrilled to have her son back home again but is confused on some rather important issues. His father, Stanford (Gerard Maguire), is equally pleased to have Avery at home but doesn’t miss an opportunity to ‘swing a few’—practice his putting. Aunt Ester (Delia Taylor Whitehead) shocks Avery by confiding in him about the development of her ‘cottage industry’, a very lucrative, work-from-home, phone-sex operation. Shondra Jepperson plays Avery’s feisty, 97-year-old Nana who was supposed to have died the previous year and is found to be very much alive and living in a “little room off the kitchen”.

All of the “wonky”, eccentric relatives seem to be living in a fantasy world that allows them to keep from facing reality, but occasionally the audience glimpses the numerous truths the family is avoiding. Totally confused, Avery tries to reconcile what he remembers with “what is” and attempts to come to terms with his own feelings. Meanwhile, his totally overwhelmed fiancée finally confesses her real motive for being there with Avery and flees, leaving Avery despondent and on the verge of running away once again. But his desire to ‘do good’, to help others, and to make a difference with his life forces him to face some startling facts: would he make a bigger difference by leaving or by staying at home?

As this weirdly dysfunctional clan attempts to reconnect, their deep love for each other becomes even more obvious—and every single audience member should be able to relate to one or more of the daffy characters or the issues they face.

Producing Artistic Director, Mary G. Guaraldi.

Producing Artistic Director, Mary G. Guaraldi.

Producing Artistic Director, Mary G. Guaraldi, has assembled an extremely talented cast for this endearing comedy—“…a comedy with a heart.” The timing, the facial expressions, the tones of shock and incredulity in the voices of the actors sound so authentic that it is hard to remember this is a play—rehearsed repeatedly until just right.

The set, the “…main room of the Connecticut home of Mr. and Mrs. Stanford P. Sutton”, looks very believable, real, and very expensive. This ‘well-appointed’ look proves to be an important factor with Avery’s fiancée. “Kudos!” to Doug Boyd, RodBeach, Allen Powell, and Daniel Hicks for creating this credible set.

The tears in the eyes of many audience members and the resounding standing ovation at the play’s end are no small tribute to Mary’s dedication to bringing the best possible professional theatre to Northern Arizona. Lucky us, to have it located right here in Sedona! It is totally enjoyable—an absolute delight!

37 Postcards will run from now through February 4 with performances on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30p.m.; Sunday matinees begin at 3:00p.m. All shows take place at Canyon Moon Theatre in the Oak Creek Factory Outlets on 179 in the Village of Oak Creek. Single tickets are $19 and full-time student tickets are $11. Call 282-6212 for tickets or more information; tickets are also available at Rycus’ Corners in VOC and at Clothing Reflections in the Basha’s shopping center in West Sedona.

Don’t walk—run!—to purchase your tickets for 37 Postcards as this play could easily sell out for each and every performance…

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 Written under the name: Beverly Lehnhardt in June of 2007.

SHAKESPEARE SEDONA Brings Romeo and Juliet to Sedona

Famous balcony scene in "Romeo and Juliet."

Famous balcony scene in “Romeo and Juliet.”

Opening on Saturday, June 24, SHAKESPEARE SEDONA celebrated the anniversary of their tenth season by performing Romeo and Juliet at Sedona’s Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. The sold out crowd once again enjoyed the star-studded evening; warm, gentle breezes; and elegant, old world appeal of this timeless outdoor venue. How appropriate a setting for the most tragic and famous of all William Shakespeare’s plays…

The Bard filled this play with polar opposites: love and hate; youth versus old age; poisonous yet medicinal plants; love that is both a dream and a madness (“cold fire, sick health”). The play sets out to define the relationship between love and hate as stated by Romeo at the beginning of Act I: “Here’s much to do with hate, but more with love.”

The Director’s Notes advise that it’s “…all too easy to feel comfortably removed from…the explosiveness and destruction of the violence that surrounds the lovers…as a relic of a quaint and ancient time. (Romeo and Juliet’s relationship) is spurred on by an urgency born of a world and a time that does not allow for patience or leisure. If one finds happiness or love, it must be seized and held for as long as the world will allow.”

Romeo Montague (played by Philip Herrington) and Juliet Capulet (Tara Hutchison) meet by chance at a gala given in the house of Juliet’s father. Romeo is goaded into crashing the fete by his friends who are tired of his unrequited love for Rosaline. Once he lays eyes on the lovely young Juliet, however, he is smitten, unaware that she is a Capulet. Juliet, too, is quite taken by the dashing young man whose looks, manner, and flowery words capture her heart in a brief first meeting—also unaware that he is her family’s sworn enemy…

The legendary balcony scene is played to perfection using one of Tlaquepaque’s second-floor shop’s balconies. Juliet, clad in a modest, white, high-necked, to-the-ankle nightdress, her long, dark hair hanging loose over her shoulders, is the picture of fresh-faced innocence. As she leans on the balcony rail staring thoughtfully out into the night, she mouths his name to herself, then utters the famous line: “Romeo… Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?” The longing is there in her voice…

Having scaled the garden walls to be nearer his heart’s desire, Romeo steps forth to answer her call. Oblivious to the fate that awaits them, they pledge their undying love and make plans to marry the very next day. Aided by her nurse (Vanessa Kiernan), Juliet meets Romeo and they are married by Romeo’s friend and confidante, Friar Laurence (David Barker).

Later that day, violence erupts in the streets once again and as Fate would have it, Romeo is inadvertently in the thick of things; he slays Lady Capulet’s (Diane Senffner) nephew—and Juliet’s cousin—Tybalt (Beau Heckman) after Tybalt kills Romeo’s friend Mercutio (Matthew Bowdren).

Banished from Verona, Romeo comes to Juliet’s bedchamber to spend one night with her as husband and wife before fleeing to Mantua—to stay would mean certain death.

Well-meaning friends, strange apothecaries, and lousy timing conspire against the star-crossed lovers. Believing Juliet is dead, Romeo takes his own life; Juliet awakens from her drugged sleep to find her beloved dead at her side. Unable to go on without him, she uses a dagger to end her misery—and so ends the tragic tale…

Not one of Shakespeare’s more up-lifting plays, the saga emphasizes the futility and dire consequences of hatred, vengeance, and violence. It takes the ultimate sacrifice of two young lives to end the bloody feud between the Montagues and the Capulets.

A newcomer to the SHAKESPEARE SEDONA stage, Philip Herrington plays Romeo as a passionate young man, so deeply in love with Juliet that he would offer friendship to her cousin Tybalt, a sworn enemy of his family. Although Romeo had only known Juliet for five days and had only four encounters with her, Herrington’s passion makes the ensuing events believable.

Another newcomer to SHAKESPEARE SEDONA is young Tara Hutchison who plays Juliet so well. Her youth, her innocence, her passion matching Romeo’s, is another reason this play works. A history major at ArizonaStateUniversity, Tara definitely has a stage presence—I hope she continues to appear in Sedona productions.

Beau Heckman previously appeared in SHAKESPEARE SEDONA’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Here, he portrays Tybalt as a deep-voiced, attractive man full of hatred and vengeance, more than willing to take Montague lives. Again, the passion shows and helps convey the story line’s credibility.

Joe Kremer, as the Prince of Verona, is concurrently playing Proteus in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. The roles are very different yet Kremer never misses a beat or loses his character. My hat is off to his talent in playing both rolls simultaneously in such a professional manner! I look forward to seeing him in more SHAKESPEARE SEDONA productions.

Another actor playing concurrent roles is Trey Clevenger. He plays Juliet’s father, Capulet, as well as the Duke of Milan in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. In one memorable Romeo and Juliet scene, where Capulet is incensed over Juliet’s refusal to consider marriage to Paris, Clevenger places his hands on either side of Juliet’s head, speaks lovingly yet sternly about the duties of a good daughter, and then lifts her high off the ground solely by his hold on her head. Drawing gasps from the audience he then tosses her away from him and leaves her in a sobbing heap. His stature, his strength, his absolute authority are apparent in this scene—Juliet has no hope of avoiding marriage to Paris. Her desperate actions following this scene are made more credible by Clevenger’s brilliant performance.

Vanessa Kiernan makes her SHAKESPEARE SEDONA debut as Juliet’s nurse. With many acting credits to her name and a brash and bawdy, yet loving and devoted-to-Juliet performance in Romeo and Juliet, I hope to see more of her in the future, too.

All supporting cast members were excellent as well—this is the best production of Romeo and Juliet I’ve had the pleasure to see.

Fight Director David Barker ensured that no real blood was spilled during the realistic and intense swordfights—cast, crew, or audience members!

Costume Designer Hayley Larsen outfitted the cast in gorgeous clothes befitting the period. The Prince of Verona wore a beautiful ankle-length, fur-lined robe that was, indeed, fit for a prince…

Jared Sakren, Founding Artistic Director of SHAKESPEARE SEDONA, put his talents and experience to good use when selecting crew members and casting this play. Thank you, Jared, for providing such excellent live theatre entertainment for Sedona, the VerdeValley and, indeed, all of Northern Arizona!

Romeo and Juliet and The Two Gentlemen of Verona will run concurrently through July 14.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona will be performed on Saturday, June 30; Saturday, July 7; Thursday, July 12; and Friday, July 13.

Romeo and Juliet will be performed on Friday, June 29; Thursday and Friday, July 5, 6; and Saturday, July 14.

All shows begin at 8:00p.m. with the courtyard box office opening at 7:00p.m.

Three Tlaquepaque restaurants, El Rincon, Rene at Tlaquepaque, and Oak Creek Brewery, are offering dinner and theatre packages that include special entrée and ticket prices. For more information on package deals contact Tlaquepaque at 928-282-4838 or visit www.tlaq.com.

Call 1-800-768-9286 or visit www.shakepearesedona.com to order tickets–$25 each and $10 student rush tickets. Group discounts are available online. With opening nights for both plays sold out, tickets for all other performances will go fast. SHAKESPEARE SEDONA always offers a very professional and thoroughly enjoyable theatre experience—but these plays are exceptional in every way. Don’t miss out!

SHAKESPEARE SEDONA is an indigenous Sedona arts organization with 100% of its activities and programs occurring within Sedona.

Local sponsors for Season X are: TlaquepaqueArts & CraftsVillage, Sunterra, Briar Patch Inn, La Quinta Inn Sedona, Kokopelli Inn and Suites, Sedona Real, The Hampton Inn, and Enchantment Resort.

 

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