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Playing sisters in “Fiddler on the Roof” are (from left) Hannah Panter, Taryn Story, Aidyn Curtis, Kiki Lemon and Alexia Esquivel. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

What: “Fiddler on the Roof”
Who: MHS Theatre Company
When: April 25-26, 7 p.m., April 27, 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Where: MHS Performing Arts Center auditorium, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.
How much: $10/general admission; $7/staff & students
Info: Purchase tickets online

The big spring musical this year for Maricopa High School Theatre Company is a big Broadway show.

“Fiddler on the Roof” is April 25-27 at 7 p.m. plus a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.

This production will have music performed live by MHS orchestra members and teachers. While teacher Alexandra Stahl directs the play, MHS music director Ivan Pour conducts the music.

Stahl said she’s wanted to direct the musical since she was 18. “It’s beautiful, and it has good themes,” she said. “It’s a beast of a show.”

One of the longest-running shows in Broadway history, “Fiddler” is memorably scored by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick with a book by Joseph Stein. Among the well-known tunes are the title song, “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset.”

In the story set in 1905 Russia, a poor, Jewish couple Tevye (played by Antonio Gonzales) and Golde (Emma Schrader) are struggling to get by while their daughters are coming of age to marry. Yente the matchmaker (Mary Brokenshire) sets up the oldest daughter Tzeitel (Aidyn Curtis) to marry the wealthy but old butcher Lazar Wolf (Douglas Moulton). Tevya agrees to this, not knowing Tzeitel is in love with childhood friend Motel (Brandon Korittky).

Other cast members:
Hannah Panter – Bielke
Alexia Esquivel – Shprintze
Chance Batton – Mordcha
Kade Cruse – RabbiSimon Ty – Mendel
Ashton Chrosniak – Avram
Julie Goodrum – Nachum
Fallon Fruchey – Grandma Tzeitel
Astraya Ellison – Fruma-Sarah
Miles Starks – constable
Zephanie Colppeman – Shaindel
Alex-Ann Velasco – the fiddler
Alex Hurley – Sasha
Joey Russoniello – Yussel

Tyler Hanks, Kasey Cowert, Aleyna Call, Brenna Fitzpatrick, Ash Porras, Eonna Mooney, Zariah Marsh, Lindsey Coms, Olivia Kurpaska, Mia Gross, Destiny Shane, Emme Borthe, Katie Hanks, Scotland JanFrancisco, Morgan Cutrara, Gracee Clark, Emma Carr, John Jackson, Alex Haywood, Haley Raffaele, Nick Perez, Faith Ayala, Princess Jimenez

Meanwhile, second daughter Hodel (Kjirsten Lemon) is falling for Bolshevik tutor Perchik (Ricky Rafaele), and third daughter Chava (Taryn Story) has befriended gentile Fyedka (Derek Blakely). The breaks from traditional behavior cause tumult in the family. Meanwhile, the Russian authorities are pushing to drive out all the Jews.

The cast is peopled with several young performers who have qualified for the International Thespian Society National Competition and are familiar talents from previous productions. Learn more about them here.

Antonio Gonzales plays Tevye the dairyman in “Fiddler.” Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

“It just inspires me,” Stahl said, “because I think of it as in today. There’s the whole theme of Tevye disowning his daughter, and I think of parents today who have gay kids. So, it breaks my heart, but it’s definitely a very real thing that happens in society today.”

Many of the cast members had at least heard of “Fiddler,” and Stahl did not have trouble selling them on the production.

“There’s a lot of really good roles,” she said.

Community members, too, have told her they are champing at the bit to come see the show, “so I’m hoping we do it justice.”

Tickets can be purchased at the box office the day of show or purchased online here.

Seniors Brandon Korittky and Aidyn Curtis rehearse for “Fiddler on the Roof.” Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


This story appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Photos by Raquel Hendrickson

MHS Theatre Company presented a trio of plays with student-directed productions for its winter showcase in the Black Box Theatre at the Performing Arts Center. The students presented “Title of Show,” “Curious Savage” and “Silent Sky.” The showcase was part of a fund-raiser to send 19 students to the International Thespian Festival in Nebraska. The troupe’s big spring musical is “Fiddler on the Roof,” scheduled for April 25-27.

Submitted photo

MHS Theatre Company took 30 students to compete in 20 events at the Arizona Thespian Regional competition known as CAFT Jan. 26.

Eleven Maricopa High School students qualified for nationals this summer in Lincoln, Nebraska. Theater instructor Alexandra Stahl said the group musical piece received a perfect score from all three judges.

Superior ratings went to:

Group Musical: Kjirsten Lemon, Aidyn Curtis, Taryn Story, Hannah Panter, Antonio Gonzales, Brandon Korittky, Alexia Esquivel, Kade Kruse, Alex Hurley, Haley Raffaele and Joey Russionello
Monologue: Antonio Gonzales
Monologue: Aidyn Curtis
Monologue: Emma Schrader
Monologue: Emmeline Boothe
Solo Musical: Taryn Story
Solo Musical: Genevieve Burno
Solo Musical: Fallon Fruchey
Duet Musical: Brandon Korittky and Antonio Gonzales
Duet Musical: Julie Goodrum and Chloe Seekings
Stage Management: Keara Burke

To raise money for the Nebraska trip, MHS Theatre Company is presenting three plays repertory-style in February. See all three for $5 in the Black Box Theatre inside the Performing Arts Center for the Winter Show Series:

Feb. 12, 7 p.m.: “The Curious Savage”
Feb. 13, 7 p.m.: “[Title of Show]”
Feb. 14, 7 p.m.: “Silent Sky”
Feb. 15, 7 p.m.: “The Curious Savage”
Feb. 16, 2 p.m.: “Silent Sky”
Feb. 16, 7 p.m.: “[Title of Show]”

The troupe will also have a presentation of event sometime before spring break to help raise money to send the students to Nebraska.

MHS Theatre Company’s spring musical will be “Fiddler on the Roof” April 25-27 in the PAC auditorium.

Adrian DeGuzman, playing Angel, rehearses with the company for the production of "Rent."

The Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “Rent” is coming to Maricopa in June.

What: “Rent”
Who: Maricopa Community Theatre
When: June 6-8, 7 p.m., June 9, 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Where: Leading Edge Academy, 18700 N. Porter Road
How much: $10/advance; $15/door
Info: MaricopaCommunityTheatre.org

Maricopa Community Theatre will present the rock musical in five performances June 6-9 at Leading Edge Academy. Director Carrie Vargas said it took two months to get royalties for the show. MCT is an AriZoni Theatre.

Vargas calls “Rent” a musical about “expressions of love,” whether love for others or self-love. She also said it will be a “unique interpretation.”

“Rent” was first performed in 1996, set during the AIDS epidemic of the late ‘80s in New York’s East Village. Inspired by Puccini’s “La Bohème,” it features characters trying to get ahead while dealing with poverty, drugs, loss and illness.

Randy Rice, who plays Mark, the narrator and a pivotal character in the ensemble, noted “Rent” was a “shocking and provocative show when it premiered. I don’t think you should go to anything that’s just comfortable.”

Like MCT’s “Sweeney Todd” before it, “Rent” is not kid-friendly and has adult content and language that Vargas describes as PG-13 or stronger. She said Maricopa has grown enough and evolved enough to be prepared for “Rent.”

“I liked how divine this show is,” said Adrian DeGuzman, an ASU student who plays eccentric Angel, a cross-dressing performer dying from AIDS who “brings everyone together.”

Maria Santillan plays Mimi in “Rent.”

Gay, lesbian or straight, many of the characters are artists in one medium or another. Several are HIV-positive but pushing forward, a fact that has continuing implications in the plot.

Jerry Allen, a familiar face for MCT, plays Roger, a songwriter whose girlfriend has died and left him in deep depression.

“I’m more like Roger than I think,” Allen said, adding that is what makes the character such a struggle for him. “The music is what pulled me in.”

The score earned one of the four Tony Awards given to the original Broadway version of the musical.

Brittany Randolph, also a returning MCT player, is Joanne, a lesbian and a confident lawyer with connections.

“I was extremely excited when I heard we were going to do ‘Rent,’” Randolph said. “I loved the story and the fact it is focused on love.”

For those who have only seen the film version, Randolph warns the stage version is different.

“It’s very human,” said Maricopa High School graduate Maria Santillian, who plays the complicated addict Mimi. “And it’s very real. It has a lot of awareness of things that are real.”

Photo by Michelle Chance

When one of fiction’s most memorable screwballs is hauled into an insane asylum in Sequoia Pathway Academy’s production of “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” it has all the clinical appearance of an actual mental ward.

Kevin Struble’s terrific set creates a tone that no dialogue can, its clean and ordered lines contrasting the manic psychological situation of the patients. It even includes a fully realized nurse’s station – with sliding glass window – that is pivotal to the action of the high school play.

R.P. McMurphy (Derek Reiher) enters this world of enforced tranquility as a loud agitator spreading hijinks in his wake. He can win over the doctor but not the infamous Nurse Ratched (Kacie Swaffield), as cold and detached as the walls that surround them.

That turns into a power struggle, with patients caught in the middle. A range of mental disorders is on display, and an expose of the deficient treatment too at hand in the 20th century. There is the blatant physical bullying by the staff (Jaiden Simcic and Jillian Alvarez) and the more subtly cruel abuse by Ratched.

Reiher brings a very naturalistic style to his central role and makes projection look easy. He’s clearly having fun in a story that quickly shifts from light to dark. Swaffield is cool and quiet in contrast but still believably as deadly as a snake.

Then there is Chief Bromden, an outsider even among the inmates but full of inner life. Grace Castellanos, in a great example of unexpectedly effective casting, gives Chief’s soliloquies the passionate touch of a slam poet. That is made particularly personal under Craig Fleming’s lighting.

Director David Blanchard’s wise decision to abandon the multipurpose room’s small stage for a floor-level performance has its disadvantages (sight and sound is sometimes muddled for the audience), but one of its biggest benefits is the easier flow of action in the large set piece.

It gives characters like Billy Bibbit (Jeremy Greifer), Dale Harding (Abigail Paternina), Candy (Kaytlin Bovey) and Sandra (Halley Sanchez) room to breathe and react. And the nurses in their nurse’s station are shielded from it all.

The next performances of “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” are Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and then on May 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for adults are $10 at the door.


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Cast members of "And Then There Were None" include (clockwise from bottom left) Tyler Curtis, Lindsay Hubbard, Kade Kruse, Jacob Loomis, Erick Livingston, Hannah Panter, Haley Lemon, Lys Bailey and the first corpse Ethan Stradling.

High school theater students are having fun with Agatha Christie, and so is the audience, this weekend in a student-performed and student-directed production of “And Then There Were None” at Maricopa High School. It is the first time an MHS play has been completely student-produced. The MHS Theatre Company production is directed by senior Dylan Stradling.

Ten strangers, each with a secret, are drawn together to an island resort, where they are bumped off one by one by an unknown assassin. Can they (or the audience) find the killer before there is no cast left at all?

“And Then There Were None” stars Jacob Loomis, Ivie Keene, Tyler Curtis, Kade Kruse, Erick Livingston, Lys Bailey, Lindsay Hubbard, Haley Lemon, Ethan Stradling, Hannah Panter and Brady Hunsaker.

The play opened Thursday and will have performances Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. in the Lecture Hall. Donations go to help state-qualified performers attend the International Thespian Festival in June.

April 1, MHS Theatre Company presents another student-directed play, the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Wit,” which will feature MHS faculty members. It is directed by senior Carlos Venegas. Performances will be in the Black Box Theatre in the MHS Performing Arts Center at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

MHS students who received scores of “Superior” this year at the Central Arizona Festival of Theater to qualify for nationals (and benefit from all donations made during these two student-directed productions) were Dylan and Carlos along with Britney Montgomery, Nikolas Mase, Hannah Panter, Kjirsten Lemon, Ivie Keene, Taryn Story, Joycelyn Cabrera, Adrian Perdomo, Jalen Reyes, Alyssa Hollingsworth, Kari Beijmowicz, Chaienne Zoller, Kade Kruse, Morgan Lee.