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Tuesday, November 24, 2015


By Chuck Graham,


photo by Brian Gawne

Santa's workshop is filled with joy now, but it wasn't easy. Took them the whole play to get there.

Traditionally, the beginning of each Christmas season is marked by the arrival of Thanksgiving. But in Tucson for the past 38 years, the Christmas season is marked by the opening of Gaslight Theatre's Christmas show a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving.

Through those decades the shows have ranged from sentimental to silly to literary (a tribute adaptation of Charles Dickens' “A Christmas Carol” used to be an annual Gaslight gift to the community) to more ham on wry.

This year the doughty theater company is returning to its far-flung tale of global Christmas set sometime during the 1930s, “Race to the North Pole.” Here we find a pair of resourceful vaudevillians, Fearless Frazier and Scat Sweeny, fresh out of money in the Big Apple and squarely on the bad side of disenchanted gangsters Max Pommade and his sidekick Knuckles.

All the roles are double and triple cast, but at the performance I attended Fearless was played by Jacob Brown in a bright red plaid blazer, Scat was Jake Coffin in a slightly more subdued red plaid blazer, while the mobster Max (Todd Thompson) was the sartorial topper with a commanding blue pinstripe zoot suit accented with a white carnation.

Knuckles (David Orley) on the other hand, looked like he was going for the Guinness Book of World Records mark for mis-matched apparel.

Joining in as show business entertainers are the singing dancers Sandy (Janee Page) and Dorothy (Erin Thompson), a pair of pretty and perky damsels with some resources of their own.

They team up with Fearless and Scat at the same time the flashy-costumed human cannonball Wilhelm (Mike Yarema) and his lovely assistant Hilda (Heather Stricker) find a mutual kinship in crime with Max and Knuckles – all four of them bitterly hate Christmas.

Well, you can see where this is going, can't you? Keeping all these pinballs bouncing off their holiday bumpers as a kind of show biz ring master is the brassy Broadway promoter Louise (Jacinda Swineheart).

Every Gaslight show is known for its imaginative set designs by Tom Benson. This adventure takes us from mid-town New York to Morocco to Rio de Janeiro to – finally -- the Big Christmas radio show broadcast around the globe with Santa Clause at the North Pole.

For most of the journey, the “race” is to hit all those port cities, solve a lot of problems, do a show and still reach Santa at the North Pole before he has to depart on Dec. 24 in his gift-packed sleigh – as the four who hate Christmas slowly become hip to the true spirit of this heart-warming holiday.

The after-show olio, “Grandma's Country Christmas Jamboree,” opens with “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” closes with “Leroy the Redneck Reindeer,” includes the “Santa Claus Boogie” and saves a little time for Santa's three “Hillbilly Elves” (the ones with low elf-esteem).

We also learn “What's red and green, hangs from the ceiling and goes 'ribbit...ribbit?' – Mistletoad!

Race to the North Pole” runs through Jan. 3, with performances at various times Tuesdays through Sundays (seven days a week in December) at the Gaslight Theatre, 7010 E. Broadway Blvd. Tickets are $18.95 adults; $16.95 seniors, military and students; $8.95 children age 2-12.

For details and reservations, 886-9428,





By Chuck Graham,


photo by Ryan Fagan


From left, Cyndi LaFrese, Samantha Cormier and Albert Riesgo drink deeply of the Christmas spirit.

About the time you start thinking most of the Christmas jingles you hear are not coming from Santa's sleigh bells but from the disappearing coins in your pocket, that's the time to head for Live Theater Workshop and its holly jolly production with extra berries on top, “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some).”

This secular comedy smash-up directed byMissie Scheffman takes one hundred years of sentimental moments from this best-loved season of treacly treats (especially since the early days of television) and turns them into zippy mincemeat farce (think the Grinch getting a pie in his face). And that's just the first act.

Once the audience has been properly indoctrinated to the possibilities in this blenderized version of commercial Christmas fare, the cast's trio of energized actors comes roaring back out to deliver the most brilliant postmodern re-interpretation of Charles Dickens' “A Christmas Carol” that I've ever seen.

Samantha Cormier commands the stage with a withering impression of curmudgeonly old Scrooge, hunched over with greed and perpetually seething in his desire to keep every penny he has while drooling to acquire still more.

If the playwrights (Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald and John K. Alverez) had asked her, Cormier could have thrown in a little Phantom of the Opera as well as some Jekyll and Hyde.

Playing opposite this focused force of centered selfishness is Cyndi LaFrese in a variety of skit roles ranging from Jacob Marley and the Ghost of Christmas Future to the haloed angel Clarence hoping to earn his wings in “It's A Wonderful Life.”

Albert Riesgo completes this story-telling team, generally setting up the scenes and serving as the straight man who keeps the production well-paced and holding steady.

While a re-cap of Act One is pretty much impossible because there are so many specific references in a blizzard of swirling non sequiturs, here's the general gist of it.

The stage set is dressed like it is ready for one of those all-purpose Christmas television specials, with a brightly colored tree in the corner and stockings hanging on the hearth.

Cyndi (LaFrese) shouts “Lets get ready to jingle!” and the show is on. Please note, there is some audience participation in the first half. You've been warned.

There are descriptions of curious Christmas traditions from other countries, a long bit mixing the Who family of Grinch fame and a famous baseball routine by Abbot and Costello, a note that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created by an ad agency in 1939 and a plethora of other passing pop culture references – including the odd origins of St. Nicholas in the year 241 and the warning “When you stop believing in Santa, that's when you starting getting clothes for Christmas.”

Creating this merry mayhem is LaFrese's time to shine like that tree-topping twinkly star. Her non-stop energy is everywhere, filling every corner of the stage.

If you are one of those people who starts feeling burned out on Christmas music before it gets to be Dec. 1, you may need to see the LTW show twice, at least.

"Every Christmas Story Every Told (And Then Some)” runs through Dec. 27, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, at Live Theatre Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway Blvd. Tickets are $20, with discounts available. For details and reservations 327-4242, or visit




Tucson Fringe Theater Festival 2016 LINEUP ANNOUCED



5PM @ Flycatcher: Monica’s Shorts

5PM @ Congress: My Muse is a Woman Who Hates Me

5:30PM @ Fluxx: American Haiko: Pain

5:30PM @ Zuzi: The Vaudville Show

6:30PM @ Congress: Professor, Comedian, and a Bluesman…

6:30PM @ Flycatcher: Yellow Heaven

7PM @ Fluxx: Geometries

7PM @ Zuzi: Slideshow Fairytales

8PM @ Congress: Faust

8PM @ Flycatcher: The Voices Made Me Do It

8:30PM @ Fluxx: Theory of People

8:30PM @ Zuzi: Rise



12:15PM @ Fluxx: It Ain’t Messy ’til it’s Sally Jesse

12:30PM @ Flycatcher: The Voices Made Me Do It

1PM @ Congress: Taking the High Road

1:45PM @ Fluxx: Theory of People

2PM @ Flycatcher: Movie Mogul

2:30PM @ Congress: Professor, Comedian, and a Bluesman…

3PM @ Zuzi: Rise

3:15PM @ Fluxx: Geometries

3:30PM @ Flycatcher: Yellow Heaven

4PM @ Congress: Faust

4:30PM @ Zuzi: Slideshow Fairytales

4:45PM @ Fluxx: It Ain’t Messy ’til It’s Sally Jesse

5:30PM @ Congress: Taking the High Road

5:30PM @ Flycatcher: Movie Mogul

6PM @ Zuzi: The Vaudville Show

6:30PM @ Congress: Crazy Stand-up by a Grown Up

7PM @ Flycatcher: Monica’s Shorts

7PM @ Congress: My Muse is a Woman Who Hates Me

7:30PM @ Zuzi: Alice OnLine (AOL)



12PM @ Congress: Professor, Comedian, and a Bluesman…

12:30PM @ Fluxx: Geometries

12:30PM @ Flycatcher: Yellow Heaven

1PM @ Zuzi: The Vaudeville Show

1:30PM @ Congress: My Muse is a Woman Who Hates Me

2PM @ Fluxx: It Ain’t Messy ’til It’s Sally Jesse

2PM @ Flycatcher: Monica’s Shorts

2:30PM @ Zuzi: Alice OnLine (AOL)

3PM @ Congress: Taking the High Road

3:30PM @ Fluxx: Theory of People

3:30PM @ Flycatcher: Movie Mogul

4PM @ Zuzi: Slideshow Fairytales

4:30PM @ Congress: Faust

5PM @ Fluxx: American Haiko: Pain

5PM @ Flycatcher: The Voices Made Me Do It

5:30PM @ Zuzi: Rise




Tucson Theatre Announcements List

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SwanRise Productions PRESENTS Rick Braun’s New Year’s Eve Gala


TUCSON, November 23, 2015 – SwanRise Productions, LLC is pleased to announce that it will once again bring the best New Year's Eve show in the country, Rick Braun's New Year's Eve Gala, to Tucson on Wednesday, December 30, and Thursday, December 31, 2015 at the spectacular JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa.  Ticket sales for the annual event have consistently well outpaced all previous years and a sellout crowd is expected to ring in the New Year in style that cannot be found anywhere else in the country.
This glamorous event features world renowned trumpet player Rick Braun who brings top caliber international jazz musician headliners with him each year.  This year he is bringing high energy saxophonists Mindi Abair and Euge Groove, along with vocalist Larry Braggs, formerly of Tower of Power.  The night's festivities will get started with New York City guitarist Matt Marshak and Tucson vocalist Crystal Stark.  On Wednesday, December 30, the party will get started with a casual concert on the resort premises for attendees of the New Year's festivities.  This concert features the dynamic saxophonist Will Donato from Palm Desert, California and many other surprises.  The two day event will benefit the Autism Society and the University of Arizona scholarship fund of The Black Chamber of Arizona. 

"This themed event is a destination for contemporary jazz lovers across the country with seventy five percent of the attendees coming from outside of Tucson" says Sandy Riser, co-owner of SwanRise Productions.  "Rick Braun is an exceptional musical partner and the team at Starr Pass delivers their best to help us bring an event of this caliber to Southern Arizona."
The evening will include a gourmet dinner, midnight champagne toast, dancing and seven hours of live music.  "The theme we implemented for the event last year was a great hit with our regulars who come year after year" says Pete Swan, co-owner of SwanRise Productions.  "The Blue Chicago theme is no exception with everything from a Chicago Prohibition Speakeasy to a cozy Blues Club to set the stage for all of the live entertainment."

In addition to the reception and dinner, this year will also include an after party in a Chicago Blues club atmosphere featuring local artists Lew Lepley on piano and vocalist Angel Diamond along with a very late night snack.
More information about the event will be available at or
About SwanRise Productions
SwanRise Productions is a concert production company dedicated to bringing live music to a mixture of audience musical tastes in Southern Arizona.  The company is a joint effort by local musician, Peter Swan, and local business owner, Sandy Riser, who collectively have over 60 years of music and business expertise.  They use that expertise to bring an exceptional experience to their concert attendees, while also fulfilling their commitment to raise funds to support the needs of the local community.
Media Contact:
Sandy Riser
520 219 3381


ZUZI! Dance classes and events


From: ZUZI! Dance []
Sent: Monday, November 23, 2015 12:04 PM
Subject: Thanks & Giving

ZUZI! Newsy Nov. 2015



ZUZI! Dance



Solstice Community Workshop

Saturdays & Sundays
Nov. 28, Dec. 5, 6, 12, 13
1:00 - 3:00 pm

Tech week: Dec. 14 - 18
Performances: December 19 (matinee), 

December 20, & 21 (Evenings) 


Men and women of all ages and experiences are invited to participate in this workshop that combines dance, writing and poetry. Venezuelan Winter Solstice tale "The Light Keepers Box" is our central theme and will be our springboard for choreography. READ MORE...

Please note: There will be no ZUZI! classes on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 26.


We now have online registration! CLICK HERE to set up your account and sign up for the Solstice Community Workshop, Guest Artist Series, and WINTER 2016!!


Limited-Time Classes: 

Authentic Movement with Debby Rosen

Monday, November 23

6:30 - 8:00 PM 

Cost: $15 drop-in

Ages: 14+

Modern/Contemporary with Tammy Rosen

Mondays, November 23, 30, and December 7

6:30 - 8:00 PM

Cost: $13 drop-in

Ages: 14+

Cardio Party-O with Marina

Tuesdays, November 24 and December 2

8:00 - 9:00 PM

Cost: $5 drop-in

Ages 14+

Developmental Patterning (Mind-Body Centering-Based Somatic Practice) with Melissa Buckheit

Monday, November 30 and Wednesday, December 2

6:30 - 8:00 PM 

Cost: $15 drop-in

Ages: 14+






December 5 : Student Showcase


Saturday December 5th at 10:30 AM

$7 at the door


Performance is a vital part of the creative process, integrating learned skills into something more powerful and meaningful - performance gives a dance a life of its own! The Student Showcase is an opportunity for ZUZI! students to share what they've learned and explored this session... READ MORE...   



December 9 - EDGE 82 : Johanna Skibsrud, Armando Guzman & ZUZI! Dance

Wednesday, December 9

7:30 PM 
$5 suggested donation

EDGE is a lit & performance series of local and national writers and cross-genre artists, emphasizing diversity of narrative, identity and literary source... READ MORE... 



December 19-21 : The Light Keeper's Box Solstice Concert


Saturday, December 19 - 2:00 pm 
Sunday, December 20 - 7:30 pm
Monday, December 21 - 7:30 pm


The word Solstice literally means "standing still sun." The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year; it marks the turning from the cold, dark days of winter to the warmer, lighter days of spring and summer. Traditionally, this season was used as a time of reflection, renewal, and community celebration.


This ancient tale is inspired by the Warao tribe of Venezuela who make their home on the Orinoca River delta. In this story of offerings, the Warao preserve a remnant of their ancient "gift culture" in which the giving away rather than selling of parts of the selves of plants, animals, and people is the bloodlike circulation that forms community.


Warao still worship the life in every being on earth and to this end they work with other native peoples to build into Venzuela's constitution, civil rights for themselves as separate cultures.


Collaborators so far: Nanette Robinson (director, choreographer) & Karyn Reim (choreographer, dancer), Monica Boccio & Jennifer Coughlin (aerial dance), Sally Withers (vocals), Elena Martin (flute), Eugenia Woods (script), Cynthia Wasco, Sabrina Geoffrion, Raine Ugstad, and Josie Jamarta... READ MORE...   



ZUZI! Dance

Come in. Be moved. 




We are very grateful to be entering our 19th year serving Tucson with dance and performing arts! At ZUZI! we believe dance is the voice of the soul and that individual perspectives shared and shaped with others creates a healthy community. We could not be here without you. As artists, educators, audiences, and friends of ZUZI! Dance, your contributions make it possible for ZUZI! to continue to develop the creativity and identity of our community. Financial contributions are fully tax-deductible and can be made securely via PayPal by clicking here: 


If you prefer to contribute in other ways, we are also accepting in-kind donations for the silent auction or raffle that accompanies our annual Solstice concert. Please reply to this email or to for details.



About Us

ZUZI! Dance is a non-profit arts service organization committed to catalyzing personal expression and healing for people of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities. Through movement-based art forms and somatic practices, ZUZI! Dance provides opportunities and resources for individuals to discover and confidently navigate their creative paths. We offer classes, workshops, and performances for our community to fully experience live art.



Tucson Theatre Announcements List

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Arizona Citizens for the Arts: Internship Opportunity - Spring 2016


From: Arizona Citizens for the Arts <>
Sent: Monday, November 23, 2015 11:01 AM
Subject: Internship Opportunity - Spring 2016



Arizona Citizens for the Arts has a
2016 Spring internship opportunity available!

We are looking for a talented individual with a love for the arts and a mind for communication.

The spring intern will gain a wealth of experience and assist with our biggest events of the year; Arts Congress and Governor's Arts awards. 

This is an excellent opportunity to gain hands on experience in the arts, public policy, management and advocacy. 

Info and application here:



Tucson Theatre Announcements List

Subscription information at