Love is Love is Love — that is the message of ‘La Cage aux Folles’

By Clayton Phillips, Director, ABT La Cage aux Folles

First, there was a French comedy written in 1973 by Jean Poiret. The translation of the title is “The Cage of Madwomen” (or Fools). In 1978 there was a Franco-Italian film of the same title, which is the basis for the musical La Cage aux Folles, which was originally presented on Broadway in 1983. There was also an American film entitled The Birdcage.

At the heart of this story is an older couple who have been together for many years. They care for one another in ways that only a long-lasting and unconditional love allows. They also havea child, whom they love. There may be ups and downs, but there is love. Love that transcends differences of opinions and relies on compromises and understanding. The unique part of this story is that the couple is two men: Georges and Albin. Two men who have been together for a long time in a loving relationship, raising a child who is the biological child of Georges.

This was a time before Marriage Equality was even considered as an option. One of these men owns the club “La Cage aux Folles,” a nightclub with female impersonators as entertainment. The other half of that couple is the star of that club: the incomparable ZAZA! The comedy ensues when their son decides he is marrying a young lady whose family will never accept his family, and they are brought together in a hysterical clash of values and ideologies allowing us to experience fabulous female impersonators and teaching us, along the way, that we can all find a way to get along.

When I first saw the film of La Cage aux Folles in 1978, I loved the premise and how it just presented this older (sometimes bickering) couple with such honesty and love. A same-sex couple, in those days, was usually either comic relief or ridiculed, and this film challenged our perspectives. We see a healthy long-term relationship that, while still mimicking the tradition of a male/female relationship, is complex and loving.

One of the major themes of the musical is “illusion.” The illusion of the images we present. What you see is not always what is the truth. What we see is an illusion, a vision of what we want to be seen. Our illusions, in life, are not as clear cut as a male presenting himself as a female, they run deeper. Each and every one of us present illusions every day. Sometimes they are healthy and sometimes they are not. Love can see past illusion to truth, and true love accepts both the illusion and the truth. Albin sings “I am what I am, and what I am is an illusion,” and we shall discover what is behind that illusion. Love.

Love is Love is Love.


Season 16 Announced At Arizona Broadway Theatre

Drum roll please…. And here is the lineup for Season 16 at Arizona Broadway Theatre!

Ring of Fire – October 16 – November 8, 2020

I Walk The Line
From one of the titans of Country Music, Ring of Fire brings the unforgettable songs of Johnny Cash to life in this concert musical featuring the timeless “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Jackson,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” and more. Though he is never impersonated, a multi-talented cast paints a musical portrait of “The Man in Black” that promises to be a foot-stompin’, crowd-pleasin’ evening that will both move and exhilarate!

Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical – November 20 – December 29, 2020

Even If You’re Little, You Can Do A Lot
Winner of 4 Tony Awards! Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she’s “Naughty.” She expects school to be different, but there she runs afoul of Miss Trunchbull, a kid-hating terror of a headmistress who loves to bring down “The Hammer.” It’ll take a superhuman genius to give Miss Trunchbull what she deserves, and Matilda may be just the one to do it!

Mame – January 15 – February 13, 2021

Life Is A Banquet
Mame follows the madcap adventures of everyone’s favorite aunt and her adoring nephew. Surrounded by an eccentric cast of characters, she celebrates the Roaring 20s, shamelessly spoils her “little love,” and perseveres through life with humor and style, all without missing a dance step. Jerry Herman’s Tony-nominated score is packed with musical favorites “Bosom Buddies,” “We Need a Little Christmas,” “Open a New Window,” “If He Walked Into My Life,” and more.  This year, spend time with the wonderous, the wonderful, the winsome – Mame!

Crazy For You – March 19 – April 18

Someone To Watch Over Me
A banker with show business stars in his eyes travels from New York to Deadrock, Nevada on official business where mistaken identities, love at first sight, and hilarious hijinks resuscitate an abandoned theatre and the spirit of a small town. With a wealth of memorable Gershwin tunes including “I’ve Got Rhythm,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and “Nice Work if You Can Get It,” Crazy for You bubbles over with spectacular show-stopping numbers and glistens with 1930s glamour.

Kinky Boots – April 30 – May 23, 2021

What A Woman Wants
The exhilarating true story about a struggling shoe factory that will lift your spirits to high-heeled heights! Having inherited the factory from his father, quiet Charlie forms an unlikely partnership with cabaret performer and drag queen Lola to produce a line of high-heeled boots and save the business. In the process, Charlie and Lola discover that they are not so different after all. Winner of six Tonys, including Best Musical and Best Score (Cyndi Lauper), Kinky Boots reminds us that sometimes, the best way to fit in… is to stand out!

The Wizard of Oz – June 4 – July 10, 2021

We’re Off To See The Wizard
The classic tale winds its way to ABT! Join Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion as they “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” “Over the Rainbow” toward the “Evening Star” in an attempt to get Dorothy back home to Kansas and give her companions their true hearts’ desire. Based on the 1939 film, with new songs and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and additional lyrics by Tim Rice, this is your chance to travel to “The Merry Old Land of Oz” this summer!

Footloose The Musical – July 23 – August 21, 2021

Out For A Hero
It’s the 80s, and Ren has moved to a quiet backwater town where dance is outlawed. Through explosive choreography and classic pop-rock songs such as “Holding Out for a Hero,” “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” “Almost Paradise,” and the exhilarating title track, Ren challenges the community to reverse the rule and heal from the tragedy that kept their hearts from dancing. Filled with high-energy, unforgettable music, this Tony nominee is the heartwarming story of rebellion, redemption, and closure.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder – September 3 – 26, 2021

Stop! Wait! What?!
Tony Award’s Best Musical of 2014! A distant heir to a family fortune sets out to speed up the line of succession by using a great deal of charm… and a dash of murder! A Gentleman’s Guide is a merry romp filled with unforgettable music and non-stop laughs as low-born Monty Navarro finds out that he’s in line for an earldom. Can he knock off his unsuspecting relatives without being caught on his way to becoming the next Earl of Highhurst? This truly original and fresh new comedy will delight and leave you begging for more!

If you are a current season subscriber or wish to purchase an 8-show subscription, CLICK HERE.

4-7 show subscribers – BUY Mar 23, 2020 – May 2021
Single tickets will go on sale July 6, 2020

Seasoned Culinary Professional, Larry Canepa, Joins ABT as Food & Beverage Service Manager

When Larry P. Canepa reflects on his many years in the dining and hospitality industry, even he is surprised at how fast the time has gone by. With a background in the culinary arts which includes teaching, hospitality management, etiquette training, wine expertise and even a certificate of tea mastery, Canepa’s portfolio is as flavorfully diverse as the menus he has created for his uniqe food and culture ‘food-tainment’ classes.

Originally from St. Clair Shores, Michigan, Canepa sharpened his culinary chops in Phoenix, the city he has called home since moving to the Valley of the Sun 50 years ago. After earning a B.A in Integrated Studies from Arizona State University, Canepa quickly began his foray into the dining and hospitality world, honing his skills at respected Valley establishments such as Missouri’s on Seventh, Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa and The Boulder’s Resort.

Canepa brings over four decades of Food and Wine experience to Arizona Broadway Theatre. He has worked in the business as Chef, caterer, sommelier and Food and Wine educator. He has taught culinary and restaurant operations classes at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Phoenix and Le Cordon Bleu, Scottsdale. His experiences include management and operation of free-standing restaurants, specialty wine stores, hotels and resorts. Chef Larry Canepa owned and operated the award-winning full service catering business, Dinner at Eight for 30 years in the Valley, specializing in intimate private dining and wine seminars.

Canepa continually seeks to enhance his professional skills so has traveled to many European destinations and wine regions, gathering information and experiences that he loves to share. His passion for travel and food and wine has taken him to the markets, cafes and bistros of Paris, the great Champagne houses, Belgium beer producers, the trattorias of Italy as well as extensive tours of the wine regions of Germany, Spain, Portugal, Eastern Europe, Oregon, Washington, Central California and Napa/Sonoma.

Canepa has also completed his Master of Tea certification with the Specialty Tea Institute and is on a professional mission to ‘de-coffee-nate’ America with a unique and contemporary approach to wine and tea.

Canepa maintains an enthusiastic and engaging sense of humor and enjoys culinary travel, food futurism, gourmet cooking, historic home improvement and culinary gardening. He shares his home with his best food critics, a quartet of rescued Miniature Schnauzers, and a pond full of exotic Japanese koi fish…for meditation, not cooking.

ABT is thrilled to welcome Canepa and his culinary talent and experience to the team.

Top Ten Reasons To See Arizona Broadway Theatre’s ‘La Cage Aux Folles’

By Maddy Dowler

  1. Men dancing in high heels.
  2. Seth Tucker is hilarious as Jacob, the outlandish butler/maid.
  3. The salted caramel panna cotta is To. Die. For.
  4. Jamie Parnell as Georges with his beautiful voice makes a heart go pitter-patter.
  5. Jacob and those short shorts.
  6. Michael Ursua’s portrayal of Albin/Zaza is show-stopping!
  7. The birdcage number is absolutely gorgeous.
  8. Did I mention Jacob?
  9. The vichyssoise (served hot) is delish!
  10. This amazing night out satisfies all the senses!


Arizona Opera’s Own Katherine Beck and Pianist, Christopher Cano, Will Perform at ‘Sunday Brunch at the ENCORE’

On February 16, 2020, Arizona Broadway Theatre and the City of Peoria bring to the west valley another special Sunday Brunch at the ENCORE featuring Arizona Opera mezzo-soprano, Katherine Beck, and pianist, Christopher Cano.

Katherine Beck

Applauded for her “florid musicality” and “von Stade-like shimmer,” mezzo Katherine Beck has been recognized for her unique sound and honest performances throughout the United States. In 2018, Ms. Beck took First Prize at the Mildred Miller International Voice Competition and Third Place in the Metropolitan Opera National Council’s Western Regionals. A 2nd year member of the Marion Roose Pullin Studio at Arizona Opera, 2019 highlights for Beck include performances of Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro and Mary Johnson in Fellow Travelers. Beck recently created the role of Lisette in the world premiere of Gerald Cohen’s Steal a Pencil for Me at Opera Colorado in January 2018. This summer Beck performed the role of Karolka in Jenufa and covered Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte at Santa Fe Opera.

Christopher Cano

A seasoned recitalist, orchestra soloist and collaborative pianist, Mr. Cano has performed throughout the US, Mexico, Israel, Europe and the Far East.

Having maintained his private studio in New York City since 2002, Mr. Cano has prepared singers for appearances at the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scalla, Chicago Lyric Opera, and orchestral appearances with the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic among others.

As a collaborative artist, he has played in the Master Classes of Licia Albanese, Fedora Barbieri, Anna Moffo, Lauren Flannigan, Martin Katz, Craig Rutenberg, and Suzanne Mentzer. Mr. Cano has also played for the master classes of Marilyn Horne in New York City at Carnegie Hall. As a studio pianist, Mr. Cano has had the distinct privilege of working with some of the great artists and teachers of singing including Marilyn Horne, Sherrill Milnes, Luciano Pavarotti, Marni Nixon, Patricia McCaffrey, Joan Patenaude-Yarnell, Rita Shane and Diana Soviero.

Mr. Cano has been a member of the music staff at the Festival Lyrique en Mer in Belle Isle, France, Toledo Opera, San Diego Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Opera Company of North Carolina, Florida Grand Opera, and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, among others.

Beginning with the 2017/18 season, Mr. Cano was appointed as the Head of Music and Director of the Marion Roose Pullin Opera Studio of Arizona Opera.


Entertainment at Sunday Brunch at the ENCORE Sponsored by:

Arizona Broadway Theatre Holds 7th Annual Broadway Ball

Black Tie Fundraiser Benefits Artistic, Educational, and Charitable Programs

Arizona Broadway Theatre (ABT) will host the 7th Annual Broadway Ball on Saturday, February 29, 2020, at 5:30 pm. Proceeds from this vital fundraising event benefit the artistic, educational, and charitable programs at ABT.

The Broadway Ball features a cocktail hour with complimentary Champagne, a three-course dinner, silent and live auctions, the Broadway Ball Wine Pull, an all-new “Bubbles & Barrels” Whiskey Experience, and much more! Live entertainment includes performances from Mainstage shows and ABT’s teen performance troupe, HyRev. Tickets are $175 per person and can be purchased at the ABT Box Office by calling 623.776.8400 or online at

“The sole purpose of the Broadway Ball is to raise awareness within our community of our mission to bring the highest-quality production values to the stage in the Valley of the Sun as well as raise funds in support of the theatre’s educational programs and community engagement initiatives,” said Brad York, Director of Marketing & Development. “We have an amazing 16-member volunteer committee that prepares all year for this crucial event. I’m so incredibly thankful for their tireless efforts to make this year’s Broadway Ball the best yet!”

Kristin Wurr, Co-chair of the Ball, has strong convictions about why ABT and the Broadway Ball are important to her.

“Many people know that Arizona Broadway Theatre is a place you can experience the magic of professional live theater. I don’t think as many people know that ABT is an educational venue where children like my son learn not only dancing, voice, and acting skills, but life skills such as how to work with others, how to manage time, how to overcome obstacles – skills they need to succeed in whatever career they choose. When you attend the Broadway Ball, you help ABT continue to inspire patrons like me, as well as the stars of tomorrow. ABT is part of our community’s family. Please come be a part of it.”

To ensure the success of this festive yet critical fundraiser, ABT is also seeking sponsors to help defray the costs associated with the Ball to assure that all funds raised can be directed toward the organization’s artistic, educational, and charitable programs.

“Corporate, individual, and community partners will be the key to success,” says ABT CEO/Executive Producer Kiel Klaphake. “Sponsorships allow ABT to continue fulfilling its mission to enrich lives through the power of the performing arts.”

Portions of sponsorships are tax-deductible and range from $1,000 to $25,000. Those wishing to support this important event through a generous sponsorship should contact Sally Jane Kerschen-Sheppard at

“We have some incredible auction items this year,” says Jamie Boscardin, Co-Chair of this year’s gala. “From an eight-day Rhine River Cruise generously donated by Viking Cruises to a Phoenix Suns package for four including tickets, food, drinks, and parking, to a Sedona vacation package, we are working hard to secure highly-biddable items.”

For more information or to purchase tickets for the Arizona Broadway Theatre 7th Annual Broadway Ball, contact the Box Office at 623.776.8400 or online at

[Photos from 2019 Broadway Ball]

The Woman Behind ‘ARETHA: A Tribute to the Queen of Soul!’

Her name is Charity Lockhart and she has been entertaining audiences since she was six. As the daughter of a Pentecostal pastor and a music teacher mother, Charity grew up immersed in gospel music. As a young girl she studied violin, piano, classical and jazz vocals. At twelve, she was the lead singer in the teen band Revelation, who opened for popular gospel artists including Commissioned and the Mississippi Mass Choir.

Charity studied music performance and music therapy in college, while winning the title “Miss Wright State University” and first runner-up to “Miss Ohio.” After college she performed in Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. Back in the U.S. she landed the role of Young Melba Moore in the national touring company of “Still Standing,” a musical based on the life of the legendary R&B performer. “Working with Ms. Moore was an incredible honor and experience,” she says.

When life in Ohio became intolerable, she found comfort in the bible verse “God will supply all your needs…” (Philippians 4:19). Through faith, she and her two young children left Ohio with nothing but her instruments, $100 and trash bag filled with clothes. She drove to Phoenix, living in her car and singing in nightclubs until she made enough to rent an apartment. “It was a humbling experience, but I learned about the powers within me; dreaming, hoping, praying and expecting a good outcome every day.”

Charity wasn’t down for long, quickly rebuilding her career. Now she splits her time between Arizona and Japan, where she tours each summer. When not traveling, she enjoys teaching Glee Club at the Boys and Girls Club of America.

Through the ups and downs, music gave her strength.

“I believe in the power of music to heal and change lives. I’ve learned to live in love and enjoy every moment with gratitude,” she says.

Charity pulls from her varied experiences to create music that’s soothing to the mind, body and soul.

“When people come to see me perform, no doubt they’ll be entertained,” she laughs, “But they’ll also feel love, joy and peace. I always tell my audiences, expect to be transformed.”

ARETHA: A Tribute to the Queen of Soul!
February 17, 2020 at Arizona Broadway Theater

In this spectacular homage to one of the greatest female vocalists of all time, Aretha Franklin. Aretha’s iconic career spanned six decades, inspiring and influencing generations of aspiring musicians and vocalists. In her life, she recorded countless classics, garnered 18 Grammy Awards, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the USA’s highest civilian honor), and earned the #1 spot on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of The Greatest Singers of All Time.

This stunning concert stars the immensely talented Charity Lockhart accompanied by spectacular vocalists and musicians as they celebrate the legendary life & music of ARETHA FRANKLIN!