Tucson Local Media: Scene1

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  • Scene 1: “Mindy Anna Jones” now showing at Great American Playhouse

    The latest rendition from the local theater group at The Great American Playhouse rolls back the clock to a time when the mystical Aztecs ruled the land, but that doesn’t mean that 20th century rock songs are in short supply. As musical and well choreographed as ever, the most recent GAP play brings a new twist on a familiar character. “Mindy Anna Jones and the Lost Ark of Time” follows a heroic young archaeologist, Mindy Anna Jones (Jennifer Ackerley Lawrence), as she attempts to keep the powerful Ark of Time out of the hands of the nefarious Roman (Sean MacArthur) and his goons. But there is more than meets the eye to this group of adventurers. The battle for the Ark of Time will lead all who are in pursuit on a wild chase throughout time, creating ample opportunity for clever pop culture references, hilarious set pieces, and even character transformations. The play is penned by local theater staple Nick Seivert. Seivert’s writing style has its own particular formula, one that brings forth a recipe rich in volume and silliness. Seivert also plays the role of the wise and whimsical Montezuma, illustrating his talent for making people laugh both with his acting as well as his writing.The bright shining star of the play is the actress in the title role, Jennifer Ackerley Lawrence. The charismatic superwoman, Mindy Anna Jones is the part Lawrence was born to play, and she embraces the task with perfect transformation, complete with a brilliant smile and a cracking whip. Lawrence has flown beneath the radar in recent GAP productions, but “Mindy Anna Jones” is truly her coming out party. Randy McDonald, now notorious for his bottomless energy reservoir, plays the very confused Orizaba, a lackey to the primary villain. The part was surely written with McDonald in mind, as Orizaba’s role is that of a bling wearing, rap lyric slinging punk in a jumpsuit. Here McDonald is given free reign to do what he does best – get the crowd going. The role was a little over the top at times, but seeing McDonald and Sean MaCarthur tag team a musical mash up of Freddie Mercury and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” with Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” was something special, and may have even been the highlight of the entire evening.  Amy DeHaven is cast perfectly as Augusta, the evil girlfriend of Roman.  DeHaven has no equal when it comes to playing an English accented, smug and ruthless female villain, as femininely treacherous as Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth. 

  • Great American Playhouse brings in the holidays

    The holiday season is upon us, and for Tucsonans, that means slower traffic, delicious tamales, and wearing thermal socks underneath your sandals. For Oro Valley, however, it also means that the Great American Playhouse is bringing an instant holiday classic to the stage. “We’re No Angels” is an original story written by GAP staple Nick Seivert. Seivert’s writing style is noticeably different from frequent GAP penman Sean MacArthur. While MacArthur enjoys paying homage to cult Hollywood films, Seivert prefers completely homegrown allegories with little to no references to the silver screen. Being an unapologetic film-buff, I tend to prefer MacArthur’s witty movie-reference filled scripts, but there is still something respectable to be said about an entirely new product brought forth from the mind of a comedian such as Seivert. “We’re No Angels” begins with the prime action already having taken place. Much in the way Jacob Marley is dead to begin with in Dickens’ masterpiece, “We’re No Angels” heroine Nellie “Thursday” Baxter (Erin Anderson) has already lost a hefty bet to sly gangster Michael “Moose” Moran (Stewart Gregary). And if Thursday can’t come up with the “10 G’s” she owes Moose, she will be forced to marry the despicable crook. All hope is not lost, however. Do-gooders Henry “Bashful” Jones (Seivert), Dennis “Duke” Johnson (Mike Claridge), and Julius “Junior” Moran (Randy McDonald) are determined to save the day. Proclaiming themselves in the likeness of the three angels of the bible, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the trio promises to pull Thursday out of the fiery furnaces of Moose Moran’s devilish grasp, and help make this the “best Christmas ever!”The greatest holiday gift from the Great American Playhouse (other than the top notch food) is the way their cast seems to gel together so fluidly, constantly bouncing off of one another’s improvisations without as much as a hiccup. Seivert is his normal hilarious self as Bashful, except this time something is different. Having penned the script, it is obvious that the actor is especially invested in his performance. Seivert seems more in tune with the play’s content than any other actor on stage.As always, Randy McDonald stole the show with his endless energy as Junior. At times, I became exhausted just watching the youngster bouncing, dancing, and singing his way into the hearts of the audience. If the GAP is a machine, then McDonald is surely the battery, and the crowd just can’t get enough.Erin Anderson appears to be women’s answer to the rambunctiousness of McDonald. Though Anderson has appeared on the GAP stage in the past, this time around it seemed as though the young actress has truly come into her own as Thursday. She raised eyebrows with her comedic timing, and outright talent. Anderson has evolved as an actress, and has now blossomed into something truly great.

  • It’s no secret: Gaslight’s “Secret Santa” a hit

    Someone once asked me what my favorite thing about Gaslight Theatre is.I asked them how much time they had.That couldn’t be truer than of the playhouse’s newest comedic gem, “The Secret Santa,” which debuted last week and runs through Jan. 4.Set in the 1960s, the play revamps the age-old tale of Santa Claus with a modern twist – his sleigh has broken down in the Town of Merryville – but that’s not the real dilemma.The Cogsworth Toy Factory is under siege by its owner, CC Cogsworth (Brian Hale) and manager, Barkely Simpson (Todd Thompson), who together plot to halt toy production in order to launch a potentially more lucrative lawnmower factory. Initially unaware of the devious plan, the spirited toymakers are caught off-guard when they discover management’s true motives, and things look grim for the factory workers and Merryville alike. The potential shutdown could mean Christmas passes by as just another day.

  • ATC: Zany musical comedy whodunit, ‘Murder for Two’

    The national tour of the off-Broadway hit, Murder for Two, a laugh-out-loud musical comedy whodunit with the classic feel of a murder mystery and a contemporary homage to vintage comedy – with some cheeky references to murder mysteries that have come before thrown in – takes off in its Southwest premiere at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave., from Nov. 29-Dec. 20.  Arizona Theatre Company’s 2014-15 season is sponsored by I. Michael and Beth Kasser.Murder for Two channels composer Joe Kinosian and lyricist Kellen Blair’s love for both Agatha Christie and the Marx Brothers into a zany 90-minute blend of classical musical comedy and madcap mystery with killer laughs and two performers playing 13 roles – and the piano.  The New York Times called Murder for Two “Ingenious! A snazzy double-act that spins out a comic mystery animated by funny, deftly turned songs.”It’s the story of Officer Marcus Moscowicz, a small-town cop with dreams of making detective.  One fateful night, shots ring out at the surprise birthday party of Great American Novelist Arthur Whitney and the writer is killed --- fatally.  With the nearest detective an hour away, Marcus jumps at the chance to prove his sleuthing skills with the help of his silent partner, Lou.  But, whodunit?  Did Dahlia Whitney, Arthur’s scene-stealing wife, give him the big finish?  Is Barrette Lewis, the prima ballerina, the prime suspect?  Did Dr. Griff, the overly-friendly psychiatrist, make a frenemy? Marcus only has a short amount of time to find the killer and make his name before the real detective arrives … and the ice cream melts!Directed by Scott Schwartz, Kinosian (The Suspects) and Ian Lowe (Marcus) from the off-Broadway production make their Arizona Theatre Company debuts in Murder for Two.BMO Harris Private Bank is the Opening Night Sponsor for Murder for Two.ATC follows Murder for Two with the world premiere of Five Presidents, Jan. 10-31; Romeo and Juliet, Feb. 28 to March 21; and A Weekend with Pablo Picasso, April 4-26.

  • Family letters are transformed into a play about Nazi Germany

    SaddleBrooke resident Susan Shear grew up knowing that her parents had escaped from Nazi Germany in the events that lead up to the Holocaust. But her family really didn’t talk about it and in school, she and her fellow students weren’t taught much more than a paragraph or two mentioning what had happened.Later in life, she began to read up on it and research it when she came to the realization that she just needed to know what happened. Her course in life to study, learn and to try to understand what people suffered through was set in motion.Then, one night she was sitting and talking with her mother.“She said, ‘You know, I do have a few letters.’ And that was her sentence. So she went down into the basement, she gets a tiny little box, and she brings it up.”Enclosed were three or four letters, written in German, from Shear’s aunt, her mother’s sister.Once the discussion and topic of the letters spread throughout her family, she learned her brother had more letters and her uncle had a giant stash of letters written by her grandfather chronicling the events that were taking place in Germany.

  • Great American Playhouse re-invents cult classic with ‘Beetle-Juiced’

    It may be hard to believe, but Oro Valley’s Great American Playhouse is already celebrating its one-year anniversary as the premier melodramatic theater in the neighborhood, if not the entire city. This Halloween season, the all-star cast is setting the spooky mood with a Sean MaCarther re-imagining of the Tim Burton 1988 cult classic film,“Beetlejuice”.The GAP’s rendition, “Beetle-Juiced”, introduces Roger and Susan Baldwin (Brian Paradis and Jennifer Ackerly Lawrence). The Baldwins are a cookie cutter couple from the suburbs that seem to be perfect were it not for one minor detail: they are dead. That’s right, the Baldwins are dead to begin with. And even worse, they are trapped as ghosts inside their beloved home with its new owners, Charles and Cordelia Fairmont (Jesus Limon and Amy DeHaven). Cordelia Fairmont and her psychic Otto (Nick Seirvert) have a nefarious ploy to rid Mr. Fairmont of his fortune, but young Timmy Fairmont (Randy McDonald) is wise to the plot against his father. As luck would have it, Timmy is also the only one who can see the ghosts of the Baldwins, and with eachother’s help, the trio may just be able to rid themselves of Cordelia and Otto. But Timmy also calls on the aid of a spooky troublemaker from the netherworld, and things quickly become much more complicated (and hilarious).By now, two things have become unmistakably clear about the GAP. The first is that director and playwright Sean MaCarther has his successful formula down to a particular science. MaCarther is a master of re-invention, recycling and straight comedy. The multi-talented storyteller is a genius when it comes to pulling major ingredients from a famous film of our nostalgic past, and placing his own twist on them. Under a new guise, productions such as “Beetle-Juiced” and the recent “Naomi and Michelle’s Excellent Adventure” become entirely new family friendly creations unique to the GAP.The second hard fact about the GAP is that they, without fail, cast each role with perfect precision, made easy of course by a dynamic group of talented players. “Beatle-Juiced” offers enough diversity in its characters to allow the actors to breath in their roles and to make each character their own. Each of the actors have their own separate moments to shine before the audience, and the overall allure is complimented by a special attention to the detail of costume and stage design, which is particularly on point this time around.An especially delightful aspect of the GAP’s latest product is the “Fractured Fairy Tales Olio”. The team conjures up melodies of the last 60 years of Disney favorites, hosted by the not so traditional fairy Godmother played by Nick Seivert, and including an uncanny portrayal of Marry Poppins played by Amy DeHaven, a Randy McDonald led hip-hop rendition of Little Red Riding Hood, and Sean MaCarthur singing “Under the Sea” in an enormous crab costume. Need I say more? The GAP is back to its old tricks, and it keeps getting better and better.

  • Gaslight’s “Cronan” a hit

    “Buy tickets now and see it later!”That line will make sense to those fortunate enough to have already seen the Gaslight Theatre’s latest production, “Cronan The Barbarian,” kick-started Sept. 4 and running through Nov. 9.For those who haven’t yet, expect what you’ve come to expect of the Gaslight Theatre: A slew of hilarious one-liners mingled into a well-structured script that incorporates a family friendly theme, song and dance, and an acting crew that has mastered the craft of melodramatic and improv comedy.While my timeslot was missing the always popular and spunky Joe Cooper from the lineup, there was enough depth and talent in the acting crew to fill the void, and in “Cronan” that is particularly true of lead Todd Thompson (Cronan), whose high-energy, and mere stage presence demands attention, and Mike Yarema (Pirate Captain, Bragdar the Horrendous, Equinox the Centaur, several soldiers), who somehow has the state of mind and versatility to flawlessly transition between numerous roles that give him nearly no time for a breather.Loosely following the 1982 storyline of director John Millus’ “Conan the Barbarian,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gaslight’s latest gem opens with the introduction of General Ataxia (Armen Dirtadian) heading up a pirate ship full of slaves he and his crew have collected along their journey – slaves who are told they will be land laborers until their death.Among them is Cronan, who unlike his fellow captives, won’t go down so easily. He makes his mission known early and often – he will free the slaves and restore order to his land no matter the cost.

  • Prime Time Review: Shakespeare in the Park returns with ‘King Lear’

    One of the primary allures of the Tucson climate is the seemingly endless amount of outdoor entertainment that can take place nearly year round. Games of golf, family picnics, hiking expeditions, and films underneath the stars have become community favorites in years past, but one local theater group is quietly bringing a much more educational twist to the list.The El Rio Theater Project is gearing up for their 8th annual production of Shakespeare in the park with the classic tale “King Lear”. The series of performances began in 2006 as part of a vision experienced by long time Tucson theater staple Michael Givens. Givens had a dream of making quality theater more accessible to people who do not usually purchase tickets to expensive productions. By performing for a fee in a public space, El Rio Theater has become a community theater that places more emphasis on the importance of exposing community members to classic plays rather than seeking monetary profits. Givens and his team of top-notch players are true to their word and true to their vision, as there is no price for admission (though a small donation is welcome).Following last year’s comedic park performance of “The Merry Wives of Windsor”, “King Lear” promises to be a much more dark and gritty spectacle in the night. The tragedy focuses on a waning leader who decides to forfeit his estate, electing to divide it among his three daughters, Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia. But there is a catch. King Lear, blinded by hubris, wishes to be showered with flattery from his daughters before they receive a portion of the kingdom. When two of the daughters deceive the Lear by lying about the extent of their love for him, a series of tragic events unfold that bring about devastating consequences for the entire kingdom.  Providing the perfect opportunity for a night out with the family, a cozy date under the stars, or a class outing, the Shakespeare in the park performances are sure to deliver something special for all groups of entertainment seekers, outdoor enthusiasts, and literature buffs alike. The team of performers remind those attending to bring a blanket and a picnic basket, and prepare to become lost in a timeless allegory written over 400 years ago, yet still captures constant and universal nuances of the human condition that speak to audiences in the 21st Century. The play will take place at Himmel Park at 1000 N. Tucson Blvd. at 7 p.m. on Sept. 19-21, Sept. 25-28, and Oct. 2-5, and yes, the weather should be lovely.

  • Broadway Tucson presents Flashdance, Nov. 4-9

    FLASHDANCENovember 4-9, 2014Centennial HallCelebrating its 30th Anniversary, the pop culture phenomenon of FLASHDANCE is now live on stage. With electrifying dance at its core, FLASHDANCE-THE MUSICAL tells the inspiring and unforgettable story of Alex Owens, a Pittsburgh steel mill welder by day and a bar dancer by night with dreams of one day becoming a professional performer. When romance with her steel mill boss threatens to complicate her ambitions, Alex learns the meaning of love and its power to fuel the pursuit of her dream.***Please note there is no Sunday evening performance***Recommended for ages 12+. Contains language and some adult content.

  • “Ghostblasters” a blast at Gaslight Theatre

    Who you gonna call when you want to see a hilarious spoof of the 1984 film “Ghostbusters”? The Gaslight Theatre, of course. In its latest production, “Ghostblasters,” the Gaslight Theatre manifests another comedic work of art under writer/director Peter Van Slyke, starring Mike Yarema and Jake Chapman as ghost-hunting protagonists tasked with saving the city from a flurry of trouble-making spirits. As is the usual with Gaslight shows, this one starts out high-energy and doesn’t let up for the duration, in the process seamlessly revisiting some of the most memorable scenes from the “Ghostbusters” series, the third and latest film of which is rumored to be going into production next year. But “Ghostblasters” doesn’t share in that speculation. With a running date of June 12 through Aug. 31, this one is already made, and made well.Initially set in New York City’s Metro University Science Lab, we are introduced to scientist/ghostblaster Zack Freeman (Yarema), and parapsychologist/ghostblaster Wally Beaker (Chapman), who are in the process of creating a hi-tech device that will allow them to visualize ghostly spirits. 

  • Great American Playhouse continues streak of excellence

    By now the Great American Playhouse has gained notoriety across north Tucson as a rowdy melodramatic theater that fills its auditorium with laughter and energy.  On weekend evenings, the theater is commonly filled to the back with audience members who join in on the fun by singing along with the familiar ballads, booing at the villains, and cheering for the heroes. The roof threatens to fly off the foundation on these crowded evenings of rowdiness.  You can imagine my surprise, then, when I attended the theater’s Sunday afternoon showing of their newest production “Naomi and Michelle’s Excellent Adventure”, and found the auditorium half full. It seemed as though it would be a different crowd than I had grown accustomed to in prior GAP experiences, as the audience appeared tired from the mid-day heat, from large Sunday lunches, and from the thoughts of beginning a new a work week. I sat in my seat, and prepared myself for what I fully expected to be a toned down and lazy rendition of GAP’s newest play, lacking the perennial punching power that the company has become known for.Boy, was I ever wrong.By the beginning of the second act, the Great American players had won over the crowd completely, and I had entirely forgotten that attendance was far less than that of a weekend evening. You never would have guessed by the volume and energy that filled the room.  In “Naomi and Michelle”, playwright Sean MacArthur blends elements of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” to bring us a wonderfully silly tale about two hip high school girls from the fictional Oro Valley High in the year 1984. Naomi and Michelle are facing academic probation on account of their less than radical grades in American history. Unless they can pull off an incredible final presentation, the girls will be forced to sit out of the championship volleyball game. But as luck would have it, the desert dwelling duo happens upon a time machine that ultimately takes them on a journey throughout American history, opening the floodgates for hilarious occurrences between the clueless teenagers and the most prominent men and women in America’s formation.The GAP is comprised of much more than actors. These are all out performers, feeding off the orchestration of musical director Mike Padilla to deliver a top-notch over-the-top invention.Sean MacArthur seems to lead the way of the talented team, as he masterfully slips into historical role after historical role as John Adams, John Muir, and American General MacArthur (as well as a few secret cameos). Nick Seivert and Jesus Limon are comedic naturals, undoubtedly in their element in a company such as GAP. The mere presence of Limon and Seivert seems to bring the hilarity up a notch whenever they appear on the stage.  Amy Dehaven may be the most diverse part of the GAP comedy machine, as she masters roles ranging from a stereotypical 40-something high school volleyball coach, to the tough and rugged cowboy Frank James, to a refined and principled Susan B. Anthony. Jacinda Rose Swineheart has established herself as an ever-faithful centerpiece of the team. With Swineheart, you always know what you are going to get, a strong presence, talent, and a bounding energy. Swineheart’s partner in crime, Dennis Tamblyn flows in a similar vein as Seivert, unmistakably self aware that just about anything he does is funny. In this production, he conquers as Todd, the metro and evil high school cheerleader who, as malicious as he is, is impossible to hate. Most of the team’s energy is pumped from the bottomless reservoir that is the young Randy McDonald. McDonald has a way of stealing the show with his comedic precision and dancing. GAP’s young aces are Erin Anderson and Jacqueline Williams, who play the title roles. They bring much promise and stability to a group oozing with talent, and are perfect as oblivious 80’s teens who begin to learn valuable life lessons.

  • Tucson Fringe Theater calls for submissions

    The Tucson Fringe Theater Festival is proud to announce its acceptance of performer applications for its 2014 festival. The Tucson Fringe Festival is an unjuried and uncensored performance, art, and theater festival promoting accessibility for presenting established and emerging artists, and unrestrained artistic freedom.  Tucson Fringe is looking for writers, performers, actors, directors, sign twirlers, puppeteers, balladeers, auctioneers, playwrights, bards, jugglers, raconteurs, stage managers, state legislators, other clowns, artists, guitarists, creative alarmists, poets, thespians, musicians, sirens, comedians, really talented sign twirlers, dancers, prancers, knowers of answers, and other prognosticators.The Festival will take place Sept. 12 through Sept. 14 at Club Congress in downtown Tucson.  The priority deadline for performer applications is June 23.  Interested performers may apply to for a single performance during the festival, or a two-night residency.Interested artists can visit www.tucsonfringe.org for more information.Tucson Fringe is also looking for volunteers for the upcoming festival.  Rewards for interested individuals may include free admission to upwards of at least half of one festival performance, a sense of accomplishment, free leftover popped corn, a feeling of moral superiority, a commemorative festival lanyard, and more.Tucson Fringe Theater Festival strives to expand upon an already thriving theatrical community by promoting affordable opportunities for artists to craft original ideas while presenting a wider array of performance practice.  Downtown Tucson provides an ideal backdrop for bringing together arts patrons of all demographics and the creative force that is Fringe.  Fringe doesn’t curate.  Fringe restores the artist’s creative influence.  Fringe is affordable.  Fringe is unique.  Fringe doesn’t preach.  Fringe gives all the money back to the artist.  Fringe is a laboratory for ideas.  Fringe is community.

  • Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute on Tour

    Celebrate the new year with Tucson Desert Song Festival soloists!Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute on TourSunday, January 18, 2015, at 3:00 pm,Leo Rich Theater at the Tucson Convention CenterArizona Friends of Chamber Music is a proud participant in this year’s Tucson Desert Song Festival, presenting Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute vocalists, tenor Michael Brandenburg, mezzo-soprano Catherine Martin, and soprano Simone Osborne, with pianist and program director Kevin Murphy in our season’s second Piano & Friends concert. General admission is $30, student tickets are $10. The Arizona Friends of Chamber Music can be contacted at (520) 577-3769, or explore our website to purchase  tickets and learn more about commissioning, underwriting, and other excitingAFCM programs.

  • Tucson Jazz Festival

    January in Tucson will be defined by America's indigenous art form: Jazz. Make history and jam out during the 13-days of jazz music, food, and festival fun at the inaugural HSL Properties Tucson Jazz Festival Friday, Jan. 16 through Wednesday, Jan. 28.Click here to buy your tickets!The Tucson Jazz Festival has an internationally diverse offering.  The world-class event kick-offs with JOEY DeFRANCESCO QUARTET, the award-winning TUCSON JAZZ INSTITUTE ELLINGTON BAND and guest of honor JIMMY COBB. The festival continues with performances by ROBERT GLASPER EXPERIMENT, DIANNE REEVES, DAVE BENNETT and JD SOUTHER with special guest BILLY CHILDS.  Stellar players like TONY MALABY  and RACHEL ECKROTH return home. ALLAN HARRIS and TUCSON HARD BOP QUINTET with guest guitarist DAVE STRYKER pays tribute to Nat “King” Cole and GABRIEL ESPINOSA & HENDRIK MEURKENS will have you dancing all night long. BURT BACHARACH will conclude the festival at the Fox Tucson theatre.Artists performances include musical showcases in downtown Tucson hotspots including the historic venues Club Congress, the Rialto and The Fox Tucson theatres with live music throughout the city every day of the week.

  • Pima College Music Presents two shows

    what: PCC Music presents Dr. Jonathan Ng Tenorwhere: PCC Center for the Arts Recital Hall, West Campus, 2202 W. Anklam Rd.when: Sunday, February 8 at 3 p.m.tickets: $8 with discounts available

  • 'The Grand Budapest Hotel,' 'Birdman' tied for most Oscar noms

    It's officially award show season and, while the awards won't be given out until Feb. 22, the Oscar nominations were released today.“The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Birdman” are tied for the most nominations this year, each being recognized in nine categories. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is a comedy written and directed by Wes Anderson and inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig. It tells the tale of two concierges who team up after one is framed for murder.  Michael Keaton stars in "Birdman" as a forgotten actor, once famous for his portrayal of the titular superhero, Birdman. Keaton hopes to reinvent his failing career by writing, directing, and starring in a Broadway adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story.See the trailers for the two big films below. Trailers for the other nominated films over at the Oscars' website.

  • ‘Selma’: Powerful! Inspiring ‘must-see’ film

    One extremely profound and historic moment (of many) during the film “Selma” occurs when viewers witness President Lyndon B. Johnson finally acquiesce to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. over his desire to conduct a protest march in Alabama. The dramatic White House scene, in which President Johnson places a call to Alabama Governor George Wallace at this insistence of Dr. King, is magnified tenfold when viewers can’t help but notice a portrait of George Washington staring down at LBJ from an Oval Office wall. The symbolic message to the audience is clear. After nearly 200 years as a country—built in large part upon the backs and suffering of African-Americans--the United States was finally turning a new page on that grim chapter of our nation’s history.“Selma” is a powerful, must-see film on a multitude of levels. The movie seamlessly educates, inspires and shocks audiences with knowledge, faith and unfiltered images. It unapologetically documents the importance church played in American society at one of our nation’s most trying times. The film denotes the vital importance religion played in spawning renewed support from all regions the country, particularly white church goers and religious leaders. No religious spirit and kind heart was touched more so by the outpouring of followers than Martin Luther King, Jr.Director Ava DuVernay’s brightest achievement in “Selma” is the palpable intensity felt, heard and seen by moviegoers as the film marches along. “Selma” justifiably depicts the deadly and graphic violence which took place against blacks in the 1960s. The multiple illustrations of inhuman treatment are necessary in this movie to fully understand the ruthlessness of so many…for so long. In contrast, and perhaps more importantly, we can see and appreciate Martin Luther King’s remarkable kindness towards humanity and strong conviction that peaceful protests should remain non-violent despite sustained cruelty by others.The film’s most endearing quality is the growth found in the main character over its 2-hour span. We find Dr. Martin Luther King’s fortitude comes primarily from three sources—faith in his religion, support from the people, and resolve from his wife Coretta Scott King. As King gains strength from each of these pillars in his life, he’s able to handle confrontations and setbacks dealt from Washington DC, Alabama whites, and even some black militants—all attempting to derail his organization’s movement. It’s impressive in “Selma” to see Dr. King gain influence and power from his church podium, leading a march across an Alabama bridge, or challenge a U.S. president and its citizens into action.  Aside from the obvious bond to his faith, this movie sheds light on the momentous part Coretta Scott King played in her husband’s life and his Civil Rights successes.“Selma” is more than just a film about eliminating barriers to black voters. It’s a movement about one man’s place in our history--going from spiritual leader to national preacher. With steadfast determination and non-violent tactics, Dr. King used the church to gain momentum for his march between the cities of Selma and Montgomery, Alabama. In comparison to the harsh treatment from the white establishment, Martin Luther King Jr. and his non-violent ways convinced many religious organizations and whites to ultimately join his cause. The most influential of those who came around to accept Dr. King’s hastened timeline, and later signed the Voter Rights Act of 1965, was the President of the United States at the time, Lyndon B. Johnson. After almost 200 years, the voices and votes of those who’d suffered the most over that period were now going to be heard and counted--finally. That’s the grateful tribute of “Selma” to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his peaceful, non-violent means to achieve a justified end…and the real reason to see this exceptional, historic story.Grade: A

  • Local arcades offer fun for all ages on 4th Avenue

    With last summer’s opening of the modern streetcar, a bridge has been made that connects Tucsonans to a multitude of restaurants, bars, and shops along the most happening stretches of downtown. This is all well and good for the adult crowd, but what about the kids? Surely there must be some family friendly havens within the night-life fray. Luckily for those asking such questions, a couple of hot spots do exist - and in what better form than the arcade? For over 40 years arcades have enchanted our youth with brilliant lights and the piercing sounds of bells and whistles that fill the room with an intoxicating excitement. Nostalgic for adults and fresh to children, the classic arcades located along the streetcar route are sure to be a big hit for families looking for something out of the ordinary. D & D Pinball touts itself as Arizona’s premier spot for pinball machines, and they are not lying. The business is dedicated to the aesthetic aspect of the gaming industry, which explains why they go to great lengths to polish and preserve each unit in their pinball room stacked full of over 30 classic machines. Customers can carry their cup of quarters along the aisles, picking and choosing their next game among a selection that includes familiar icons such as Indiana Jones, AC/DC, The Addams Family, The Simpsons, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, The X-Men, even Elton John. Serious pinball enthusiasts may want to keep a close eye on D & D Pinball, as the game room has been known to host pinball tournaments with prizes from local businesses. They also have a multi-video game unit, which allows arcade-goers to play classics such as Centipede, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Pacman, Frogger, and Galaga. D & D is open Thursdays through Sundays and is located at 331 E. 7th Street. Generation Cool is another fun zone for arcade seekers. The business specializes in retail, selling forgotten items from millennial childhood such as Michael Jordan shoes from the 80’s and 90’s, Steve Urkel dolls, a cardboard cutout of Macho Man Randy Savage, or Saved By the Bell trading cards. But inside Generation Cool is a much more hands on experience in the form of vintage arcade cabinets. Though not an exceptionally large game room, Generation Cool has tracked down some of the classics. Pacman, Street Fighter, Rampage, NBA Jam, and The Simpsons are among the games available to play, and each cost a quarter.  Generation Cool is open seven days a week, and is located at 404 N. 4th Ave. Parents and kids alike who are looking for something out of the ordinary this weekend may want to check out these hidden Tucson gems. They aren’t hard to find - just follow the lights and the laughter.

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