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Arizona Theatre Company Premieres Ten Chimneys in Downtown Phoenix

[Source: Arizona Theater Company]

Jeffrey Hatcher’s new play offers a look at the private lives of artists who are always on the stage

Photo by Ed Flores

In the lavish world premiere comedy TEN CHIMNEYS, Arizona Theatre Company reveals what every Broadway star already knows – that the real drama on stage happens when the curtain is down.  Commissioned by Arizona Theatre Company and written by nationally acclaimed playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, TEN CHIMNEYS brings Broadway legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne to life in a romantically charged, comedy that offers a revealing look at the private lives of artists who are always on the stage.

This world premiere directed by ATC Artistic Director David Ira Goldstein runs in Phoenix downtown at the Herberger Theater Center February 17, 2011 – March 6, 2011. TEN CHIMNEYS is sponsored by “Friends of Ten Chimneys,” a group of individual donors dedicated to the advancement of new works and preservation of the Ten Chimneys estate. The Phoenix media sponsors for the 2010-2011 Season are Phoenix Magazine and 99.9 KEZ. This production is also sponsored in part by the Edgerton Foundation.  Arizona Theatre Company’s season sponsors are I. Michael and Beth Kasser.

Love, intrigue, romance and suicide.  And that’s just in the play they’re rehearsing.  In the late 1930s, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, the two most revered stars of the Broadway stage, decide to perform Chekhov’s masterpiece The Sea Gull.  But first they must retreat to ‘investigate’ the play at Ten Chimneys, their legendary Wisconsin estate, where they are surrounded by actors, family and hangers-on.  When a young actress named Uta Hagen arrives, a romantic triangle begins to mirror the events in Chekov’s play about passion and art.

In life and in the theatre, things have a way of circling back. I was a college freshman sitting in the Lunt-Fontanne Theater in New York the night they dimmed the lights for Alfred Lunt, who had died earlier that day.  The next year in acting class, I read Uta Hagen’s Respect for Acting for the first time.  Two years later, when I was a senior, I played Trigorin in my college production of The Sea Gull.  When David Ira Goldstein and I toured Ten Chimneys and someone pointed out that the Lunts had performed The Sea Gull with Uta Hagen in 1938, the strands came together in a flash.  Working on TEN CHIMNEYS has been one of the most enjoyable – and meaningful – experiences I’ve had in the theater.  Here’s hoping it honors the ghosts.”

—playwright Jeffrey Hatcher.

Jeffrey’s witty and delightful new play is a work of imagination, speculation and outright invention about the Lunts and their circle. But it is based on very real people who lived and worked in a very real place. The Lunts loved everything to do with the stage, so TEN CHIMNEYS is a celebration of what we still hold dear about the theatre: the sense of fun, the very real work of exploring a play and the hot-house humanity of artists working in close collaboration. Like all of Jeffrey’s plays it is full of delights with delicious roles for actors and an energetic intelligence for audiences.

—director and ATC Artistic Director David Ira Goldstein

Read about the cast and company’s visit to Ten Chimneys – and see photos of the Lunts’ home – in ATC Literary Manager Jenny Bazzell’s rehearsal blog.

Festival of the Arts celebrates re-opening of downtown Phoenix’s Herberger Theater

The Herberger Festival of the Arts celebrates the grand re-opening of the Herberger Theater Center featuring performances, food, art, live music, film festival shorts by the Phoenix Film Foundation, children’s activity area and more.

Saturday, October 2, 2010
10am – 6pm
Herberger Theater Center – indoors and out!

Click here for an invitation (.pdf).

FREE admission for kids 12 and under & $5.00 ages 13 and up. Tickets must be purchased at the gate the day of the festival.

The Performance Schedule can be found here.

A list Festival of the Arts Participants is here.


Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe in downtown Phoenix. The festival entrance is located off of 3rd Street between Van Buren & Monroe.  Monroe Street will be closed for the festival.

FREE parking at Arizona Center parking garage courtesy of Arizona Center!
Located at 5th Street & Fillmore.

For information or sponsorship opportunities, contact Laurene Austin, 602-254-7399 x105 or email.

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7 healthy signs for the metro Phoenix arts scene

[Source: Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic] — There’s no point in soft-pedaling it: The great financial panic of 2008-09 sent Valley arts organizations into a tailspin.  Cautious consumers sat on their wallets instead of opening them up at the box office, and big corporations had less cash to send trickling down to the non-profits.  So performing companies canceled shows, slashed production budgets and cut staff., a high-profile campaign to raise donations, fell flat.  The latest bad news comes from the West Valley, where the Heard Museum plans to shutter its satellite gallery and the West Valley Art Museum has closed its doors while scrambling to raise $150,000 to keep it afloat.

With the 2009-10 season revving up this month, anxiety about ticket sales and charitable giving remains high.  But the show must go on, and there are hundreds of dedicated individuals, in the spotlight and behind the scenes, who are working to make sure that the crisis doesn’t spin into an arts apocalypse.  To counter the gloom and doom, here are seven reasons to be optimistic about the state of the arts:

  1. Up-and-coming companies: Arizona Opera and Ballet Arizona remain strong, but they are no longer the only game in town.  The upstart Phoenix Opera has brought in top-notch singers for two years of traditionalist stagings, while Novaballet, entering its second season, is committed to cutting-edge choreography that brings dance into the 21st century.
  2. New works: For theaters, the temptation might be to rely on familiar titles to fill seats.  Yes, there’s a bit of that in the coming season.  But in addition to the return of “The Phantom of the Opera,” ASU Gammage is bringing in-the-now Broadway hits “In the Heights” and “August: Osage County” (last year’s Tony winners for best musical and best play, respectively).  Actors Theatre has four Arizona premieres on the bill, while Arizona Theatre Company will be staging a new adaptation of “The Kite Runner” and commissioning a world-premiere comedy, “The Second City Does Arizona.”
  3. Investments in venues: The building boom that gave us new performing-arts venues in Mesa, Tempe and Peoria isn’t over.  The Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and the Herberger Theater Center are undergoing extensive renovations, while future projects, including an expansion at Phoenix Theatre, are in the works.  The economic downturn is sure to slow the pace of big capital projects, but the momentum hasn’t been lost.
  4. Fresh blood: The Scottsdale center’s rebuilt theater comes with a new artistic director, Jeffrey Babcock, who promises to reach out to a broader audience with splashy events, such as its first Festival of Latin Jazz & Culture.  New leadership always presents an opportunity to rethink ways of doing things, which means we could soon be seeing innovative programming at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, ASU Art Museum and Heard Museum: All are on the lookout to fill director positions this year.
  5. Experienced leaders: Shaking things up can be good, but there’s also something to be said for a steady hand on the tiller.  That’s what many major companies have: savvy executives with track records for success.  At the Phoenix Art Museum, Jim Ballinger has been in charge since 1972, growing it into a multimillion-dollar company that attracts well over 200,000 visitors a year and overseeing two major expansions.  On the artistic side are such leaders as Ballet Arizona’s Ib Andersen, a Balanchine protege who in 10 years has elevated the company to one of the most respected ballets in the country.
  6. International networking: The arts community forms a web that crosses all borders, and some of the greatest performers in the world are Arizona-bound this season.  There’s the incomparable cellist Yo-Yo Ma, of course, at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, which also will host top dance troupes, including the pioneering Paul Taylor and Martha Graham companies.  Then there’s the conducting world’s biggest superstar, the charismatic Venezuelan Gustavo Dudamel, who will bring the Los Angeles Philharmonic to Phoenix’s Symphony Hall for a performance that’s sure to be a highlight of the season.
  7. Grass roots: Even if the unthinkable happened and every major company in the Valley were forced to close, that would not be the end of the arts.  There will always be actors and singers and dancers, and art lovers who want to see them.  In good times and in bad, every generation breeds a crop of optimistic entrepreneurs who aren’t satisfied with how everybody else does things.  Just one example is Chyro Arts Venue, which opened last year in south Scottsdale and offers provocative, independent-minded theater without the benefit of a six-figure budget.  Many such companies come and go, but some will thrive and move to the next level, becoming the Nearly Naked Theatres and Center Dance Ensembles of tomorrow. The future is always unwritten.  [Note: Read the full article at 7 healthy signs for the metro Phoenix arts scene.]

Phoenix arts advocates scramble to protect at-risk groups

[Source: Arizona Citizens for the Arts] — Phoenix arts advocates, like supporters of numerous other programs facing the spectre of significant budget cuts, have expressed concern for the following programs “on the chopping block:”

Pueblo Grande Museum is facing proposed reductions including elimination of a museum curator, museum assistant, two museum aides, a secretary and a semi-skilled worker.  Special events, summer programs and lectures will be reduced by 50 percent; and school tours will no longer be available, and maintenance of landscaping and surrounding grounds will be reduced.

The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture grants budget of $890,000 will be cut by 50-75% or more. These grants along with grants from the state arts commission are typically the only source of unrestricted funds these organizations receive and have been the only source of stable funding they could count on for years to help provide affordable programs to the community.  The city’s grants budget over the last 20 years has never been lower than $460,000.  These reductions will take us well below that number — and with the growth of the city population and inflation over these 20 years, the support given to arts organizations will be dismal, at best. (Imagine how long it would take to rebuild to the current level of support.)

The Heard Museum, which relies heavily on sales made at its famous gift shop has seen a significant reduction in sales, forcing huge budget cuts and program reductions mid-year.

The Shemer Arts Center, a community arts center and Phoenix Point of Pride, is facing closure.

The Phoenix Center for the Arts, an affordable arts education facility, serving local emerging artists and arts organizations and located in the heart of the city is facing budget cut of 70%, essentially shutting down most of its programs serving students and artists.

Many large and small arts organizations have begun staff reductions and layoffs including the Phoenix Art Museum, the Phoenix Symphony, Ballet Arizona, and Free Arts of Arizona which serves young children, among others.

Due to these drastic budget shortfalls, grant guidelines have been rewritten at the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture.  These will result in elimination of funding to any organization that is not producing arts or located within the city will be cut.  Organizations who’ll see no further grants from Phoenix include Free Arts of Arizona, Herberger Theater Center, Boys and Girls Clubs, Habilitation Center, Artability, Childsplay, and local arts agencies such as the North Valley Arts Council and the West Valley Fine Arts Council.  [Note: For more information from the Arizona Citizens for the Arts, click here.  For City of Phoenix budget hearing information, click here.  For related Arizona Republic article, click here.]

Inaugural Latin@ arts festival to be held in downtown Phoenix, Oct. 8-12

Attend Advocates for Latin@ Arts & Culture’s (ALAC) inaugural festival and celebration of Latino, Xicano, and Indigenous arts and culture in partrnership with the Herberger Theater in downtown Phoenix.  Program activities include: art exhibition, book signings, and live entertainment preceding theater productions.

Opening Night (Wednesday, October 8, 2008)

  • 5:30 PM Art Exhibition featuring: Marco A. Albarrán, Tavo Barrios, José Benavides, Victor Caldee, Francisca Cota, Jim Covarrubias, Francisco Garcia, Francisco Garcia, Zarco Guerrero, Johnny Lozaya, Jorge Moreno, Martin Moreno, Roman Reyes, Jaime Rodriguez
  • 5:30 PM Latin@ Authors’ Book Signing featuring: Frank Barrios, José Burruel, Ph.D., Stella Pope Duarte, Zarco Guerrero, Kathy Cano Murillo, Santos Vega, Ph.D.
  • 6:30 PM Opening On-Stage featuring: Rainie Moreno, 2008 Estrellas Latinas Vocal Artist of the Year & Estrellas Latinas 5; Andres Leal, Clarissa Granado, Monica Castro, Socorro Flores, Southwest Hispanic Culture Association Estrellas Latinas Program.
  • 7 PM New Carpa Theater presents: Por Amor/For Love: An Operachi in One Act.  Written by James E. Garcia & Directed by Marcelino Quinonez.

Theater schedule and tickets available for purchase online at Herberger Theater website.

$15 per ticket for four plays & $20 for musical

  • October 8, Wednesday at 7 PM: Por Amor/For Love: An Operachi in One Act-Performed in English
  • October 9, Thursday at 7 PM: La Calaca Cabaret-Performed in English
  • October 10, Friday at 8 PM: El Grito de una Máscara: Los de En medio II-Performed in Spanish
  • October 11, Saturday at 2 & 8 PM: Vaselina/Grease- Performed in Spanish with Engish super-titles
  • October 12, Sunday at 2 PM: The Women of Juarez-Performed in English

For more information about ALAC, click here.

Viewpoint: New growth, new promise for downtown Phoenix

[Source: Andrew Conlin, Special for The Republic] — For nearly two decades, we’ve heard confident predictions that downtown Phoenix was on the brink of a crucial “tipping point,” when public investment would no longer be needed to generate new development that was both vigorous and self-sustaining.  A term like “tipping point” is a kind of mental shorthand, useful in summarizing complex ideas but sometimes misleading when it comes to making decisions or drawing conclusions.

In reality, we won’t see the beginning of a significant shift from public to private investment until downtown achieves the requisite critical mass.  This will be the moment when the collective energy generated by the diverse collection of downtown businesses, retailers, residences, entertainment venues, and academic and cultural institutions fuses into the nucleus of an energetic and growing community.  Private investors will be drawn to this energy, creating new businesses and helping to further enrich the downtown scene.  This will inspire more people to live and work here, generating new opportunities that will draw new investors.  This development “chain reaction” will, we hope, be self-sustaining and transformational.  [Note: To read the full opinion piece and comments, click here.]

Art spaces humanize downtown says DV 2004 report

Excerpt from”Downtown Voices: Creating a Sustainable Downtown,” August 2004: “Downtown Phoenix has a wide spectrum of arts activities, from large non-profits like the Herberger Theater Center, Phoenix Art Museum, and Phoenix Center for the Arts to medium-sized projects such as Valley Youth Theater, Black Theater Troupe, Museo Chicano, Icehouse, and Great Arizona Puppet Theater to the multitude of small-scale, grass roots projects like Modified Arts, Thought Crime, Paulina Miller Gallery, Trunk Space, Alwun House, and Paper Heart Gallery. 

Within the context of these multiple spaces you have official arts-related non-profit institutions, independent arts-related businesses, and the artists whose works are integral to the success of both.  Many of these smaller entities help create the dynamic, street level, pedestrian-friendly infill that is so desperately needed in and around downtown.”