Families / Kids
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
AZ’s 100% nonprofit music festival returns to Margaret T. Hance Park in downtown Phoenix for a 13th annual celebration on March 11-13, 2016; the 2015 Festival raised more than $120,000 for charity.
Listen up music fans, the 13th annual McDowell Mountain Music Festival (MMMF) will take the stage on March 11-13, 2016 for three full days of music, food, art, culture and more in the Arizona sun. Can’t wait to get your groove on? Presale ticket packages for MMMF 2016 will be available for purchase at a discounted rate starting on August 1, 2015. Plus, the first 150 presale purchasers will receive a special limited edition ticket package directly from the festival organizers, with all details about the package deemed “top secret.”
Boasting a soon-to-be-announced lineup of both top national and local bands (with previous headliners ranging from Widespread Panic to The Roots), the McDowell Mountain Music Festival annually lures thousands of music fans nationwide to the grass-lined fields of Margaret T. Hance Park in downtown Phoenix.
Even better, the MMMF is Arizona’s premier charity-based music festival, with 100-percent of all profits donated to worthy local charities. In fact, with help from contributors, donors, sponsors and, most important, loyal fans, MMMF 2015 donated $120,000 to benefiting charities, Phoenix Children’s Hospital and UMOM New Day Centers, the largest shelter for homeless families in the state.
Previously hosted in late March, the 2016 McDowell Mountain Music Festival was moved up to take advantage of Arizona’s mild spring weather and hopefully ensure the perfect mix of sunny days and cool nights, said MMMF founder and organizer, John Largay. “Spring is an outstanding time in the Valley. We want festival-goers to enjoy the sun and music all the same, and early March is certainly the month for both.”
Additional details will be released in the weeks and months to come, including enhanced experiences for 2016, ticketing options, lineups, partnerships, and more. For the latest information, visit www.mmmf.com, or Facebook (www.facebook.com/mcdowellmountainmusicfestival), Instagram (@mmmf2016), or Twitter (@mcdowlmtnmusic). #MMMF2016
Photos: Jacob Tyler Dunn
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Hop, Skip & Jump into Summer Reading will feature local and regional children’s authors, illustrators, musicians, and artists on Saturday, July 18th at the New City Church in Phoenix.
Families and children are invited to this free fun-filled event celebrating reading on Saturday, July 18th from 10:00am – 1:00pm at New City Church (1300 N. Central Avenue – Phoenix, AZ 85004). Families can meet local children’s book authors, hear exciting stories, participate in singalongs, enjoy tasty snacks, make art and crafts, take home books, and more! Discover Books is donating books so each child will receive a free book to take home. Authors will also be available to sign books available for purchase.
“Reading is fun, reading is essential. When you read you can learn about the world around you, and dream about places you have never been. Reading helps you think, grow and imagine the universe.” – Brenda Thomson, Executive Director, Arizona Humanities
Nancy K. Arnold – Patriotic Pups & Pioneer Pups
Kristin Cetone – Buckaroo Buckeye and Nuts About Reading
Gale Leach – Bruce and the Road to Courage
Conrad Storad – The Bat Book (Afraid of a Bat, What’s Up with That?)
Jacky Turchick – The Pancake Tree
Dianne White – Blue on Blue
In addition to interactive reading activities, this day will feature musical performances, book illustrations, and music by local artists including: folksinger Ted Warmbrand and illustrator Devon Meyer. BookPALS Arizona, an all-volunteer literacy program sponsored by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, will be on hand to distribute books, read aloud and act out stories for elementary school-aged children.
The event is free and open to all. No registration required. For questions or more information, call Ellie Hutchison at 602-257-0335 or visit www.azhumanities.org.
From fireworks to pool parties to baseball to music, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the 4th of July like a true downtowner. Check out our roundup of happenings in downtown Phoenix over the Independence Day weekend, and to give it that extra local touch, you can ride light rail or bike to any of these great events!
“Independence & Music” – An Evening of Music at The Newton: Continue the Independents Week celebration with independent music from North Brother Island, Longbird, Pageant, and Teddy’s Bullet at The Newton.
First Fridays at The Heard Museum – Native + You: The theme of this month’s Native & You is “Super Kids,” where kids become “super heroes in training.” You’ll find a DJ spinning Brazilian music, Capoeira demonstrations and an artist meet & greet with Joe Hopkins.
“Order, Chaos and Everything in Between” at monOrchid: Check out the opening reception for artist Ryan J. Carey’s solo exhibition, presented by Shade Projects.
Fabulous Phoenix 4th at Steele Indian School Park: This Phoenix 4th of July tradition is celebrating its 30th year with two stages of local entertainment, vendors, kids activities and one of the largest firework displays in the southwest.
AZ Diamondbacks at Chase Field: The Diamondbacks take on the San Diego Padres at Chase Field at 6:40 p.m., but there is plenty going on before and after the game. Tailgate Games start at 5 p.m., the first 20,000 fans will receive a stars and stripes t-shirt, a pre-game ceremony will honor our military and after the game, the ballpark roof will open for a firework spectacular.
Made in the USA Rooftop Pool Party: LUSTRE Rooftop Garden at the Hotel Palomar will keep their “100 Days of Summer” series going with a patriotic pool party on July 4th and 5th. Enjoy live music, specialty cocktails, a patriotic costume contest and a great view of the Chase Field fireworks display.
Red, White, & Booze at Copper Blues: Have a delicious 4th at Copper Blues with a $20 all-American, all-you-can-eat BBQ, live music, spiked snocones and beer garden games.
Bad Cactus Brass Band at The Nash: Celebrate America at Downtown’s premiere jazz venue with the Bad Cactus Brass Band and hot dogs from Short Leash. Rumor has it the band might even head outside during the fireworks!
Funky Soul 4th at Valley Bar: Keep it cool at Valley Bar with DJ MR PHX & DJ M.Rocka’s mix of funk, soul, new soul and old school jams, then follow it up with live band Southside Soul featuring Larry Bailey.
Featured image: Jennifer Stewart/Arizona Diamondbacks
Downtown Phoenix’s own Valley Youth Theatre is closing out their 2014-2015 season with a production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s fractured-fairy tale musical, Into the Woods.
The production opened on June 12 at the Herberger Theater to positive reviews and the final run of the show begins Thursday, June 25, with multiple performances through Sunday, June 28.
It is the first time the production has run locally since the release of the 2014 Oscar-nominated film version starring Meryl Streep and Anna Kendrick. According to Valley Youth Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director, Bobb Cooper, “This is the largest and most lavish production of Into the Woods that has been produced in years in the valley.”
The cast includes 22 local young actors and features the overall high production values that Valley Youth Theatre is known for. According to Cooper, “It is the best entertainment value for the dollar! (Audiences) will love and enjoy the production and will want to come back for more.”
Theater is a key part of downtown Phoenix’s arts and culture landscape. “There is nothing like a live theatrical production,” says Cooper. “It is so important to the experience of visiting downtown and it is imperative to attracting business and retail thereby impacting the economy in a dramatic (pun intended) way.”
If You Go:
What: Into the Woods presented by Valley Youth Theatre
Where: Herberger Theater Center, 222 E Monroe St, Phoenix, 85004
When: Thursday, June 25 – 7:30 p.m.
Friday, June 26 – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 27 – 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 28 – 2:00 p.m.
Tickets: $20 – $39
Photos courtesy of Valley Youth Theatre
It’s unusual to see a Broadway musical enriched with a full symphony orchestra onstage behind the actors, but Phoenix Theatre’s fifth collaboration with The Phoenix Symphony promises the best of both worlds.
“It’s something so unique for an audience, because you’re basically watching a symphonic concert at the same time you’re witnessing a semi-staged production, so it’s just a very cool experience that you’re not going to get anywhere else,” says Phoenix Theatre Producing Artistic Director Michael Barnard, who directs Oliver! at Symphony Hall this weekend. “You can walk out going, ‘Wow — I’ve never seen this show done that way,’ you know? …And it only happens once a year and it’s a really neat collaboration with two arts organizations working in sync with each other.” He adds, “And Tito’s been great.”
“Phoenix Theatre is a great company, and the way we’re collaborating in Symphony Hall is very unique to both institutions,” agrees Tito Muñoz, who’s wrapping up his first season as music director of The Phoenix Symphony. “The wind parts for a lot of musicals are written for a small complement, but it’s the strings that we can augment and have much more than there normally would be,” he says, anticipating a full, lush sound.
“When we do a show at Phoenix Theatre – and even on Broadway any more – pit orchestras aren’t much bigger than 14,” says Barnard, “so to be able to have 56 pieces is quite remarkable. It definitely has its challenges, but it’s really quite lovely, and you don’t get that opportunity.” He continues, “It’s just completely unaffordable other than this kind of concertized version.”
Before his appointment in Phoenix, Muñoz served as music director for France’s Opéra National de Lorraine and the Orchestre symphonique et lyrique de Nancy. “Between opera and musical theater…the only big difference is that everything is amplified,” he says. “And generally speaking, in opera the stage and the theater are vehicles for the music, so the music is the most important part of the art in opera. In musical theater that’s not necessarily the case.”
Muñoz grew up conducting musical theater throughout high school and college before playing as a violinist for Broadway shows in New York. He explains, “I think there’s a little bit more balance between the storytelling, the production itself and of course the musical numbers, but there’s a lot of underscoring dialogue, there’s a lot of scene change music.”
Although this is his first official pops concert with The Phoenix Symphony, he’s confident in the musicians’ expertise. “The orchestra does so much pops that this kind of thing is nothing new to them, actually…they’re well versed in musical theater.”
First produced in London in 1960, Oliver! was written by Lionel Bart, who based his musical on Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. The novel was Dickens’s social commentary on the Poor Law of Victorian England, and was published in serialized form between 1837 and 1839. As a 25-year-old author Dickens drew on his own experiences working in a shoe-blacking factory as a child when his family was trapped in debtors’ prison. His misery during those years was aggravated by a bullying coworker named Bob Fagin, after whom Dickens named a villain in Oliver Twist.
Set in England, the plot follows the orphaned Oliver’s difficult and abuse-filled journey from workhouse – where we hear the famous tune “Food, Glorious Food” — to a dangerous community of pickpockets overseen by Fagin (“You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two”). After a kidnapping and a murder, Oliver ultimately finds his way to better fortune in a comfortable household thanks to a kindly benefactor.
This production’s cast includes familiar Phoenix Theatre favorites D. Scott Withers as Fagin, along with Toby Yatso, Johanna Carlisle, Yolanda London and David Simmons. Sixth-grader Vincent Jacovo stars as Oliver with 12-year-old Asher Angel as The Artful Dodger, a youthful criminal.
“It’s so easy with these kids,” says Muñoz. “They’re unbelievably well trained; they’re fantastic onstage.” Adds Barnard, “Hats off to their parents, and hats off to the other youth theaters that have helped prepare them for an experience like this…they’ve done a good job.”
He continues, “I think the challenge is always in making sure that you can get the best out of the kids without losing your ability to get the best out of the adults as well. Molly Lajoie has been the choreographer in particular for the kids, so she’s been a big help in that regard.” Phoenix Theatre’s technical team also features music director and rehearsal pianist Jeff Kennedy.
Other challenges include timing and staging constraints. “The entire show has to come in with intermission under two hours and 15 minutes [due to the Symphony’s contract with its musicians],” explains Barnard. “Second – and probably one of the bigger challenges – is [that] we only use the apron of the stage because the symphony is occupying the bulk of the stage.” Muñoz elaborates: “We’re having the staging…in front of the proscenium, and so the orchestra’s onstage but behind all the action…so it’s a very big symphonic sound.” He says, “I’m not facing the action, so we’re doing it very much electronically – the singers have a couple of monitors so they can have a visual of my baton…and then I also have a monitor in front of me that shows the stage.”
Barnard continues, “Scenically speaking, we want to just do just fragmented or suggested locales because we want the audience to see the symphony orchestra – that’s part of the fun. So you just have to sort of think it out – necessity becomes the mother of invention. But since this is our fifth collaboration we’ve sort of learned a lot about how this might work.” He adds wistfully, “This also could be our last. I’m not really sure why, but from what I understand it’s not part of the Symphony’s calendar for next season, so this may be the swan song. I’m sad about that because I love that collaboration.”
If you go:
- The Phoenix Symphony and Phoenix Theatre perform Oliver!