My "Lucky Stiff" riff

A dead body in a wheelchair. A woman who keeps her badly-needed eyeglasses in one boot and her pistol in the other. A lawyer prone to wearing pinstripe suits — backwards. And a woman who’s out to save the world, one dog at a time.

They’re all part of “Lucky Stiff,” the Flaherty & Ahrens musical being performed at Greasepaint Youtheatre this weekend by students from Arizona School for the Arts, a charter school in Phoenix that prides itself on academic and artistic achievement.

I received a lovely invitation from a social media group to speak at an event this evening, and had several other things on my radar as well — opening weekend for Phoenix Theatre’s “3 Redneck Tenors” and opening night for the Scottsdale International Film Festival at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

I’d hoped to pop in to meet the social media folks before “Lucky Stiff” started at 7pm, but I had box office duty and needed to hit Greasepaint before patrons started to arrive.

It’s been awhile since I’ve done that gig and I’d forgotten how truly fun it is to meet and greet everyone as they arrive. I met several grandparents there to support grandchildren performing in the show.

One, bearing two dozen pink roses for her granddaughter, enthusiastically offered to join the ASA theatre department booster club — and I can tell she’ll be great fun to work with.

A delightful fellow parent I met earlier in the day while chaperoning the ASA Glee Choir for a performance at the federal courthouse in downtown Phoenix came with friends — including one of Lizabeth’s elementary school teachers. And if you’re reading this: We still have the Raggedy Ann doll you sewed so many years ago for the Desert View Learning Center auction.

An actor Lizabeth performed with in “Oliver!” last season stopped by the box office to say hello during intermission, mostly because he’s wondering whatever became of some quotes he gave me ages ago on the Fox TV series “Glee.” Alas — we’re rarely able to use all the good material we find out there.

He told me about his latest project — acting with a Mesa Community College troupe that performs in Valley elementary schools. I felt a little teary eyed when he told me he was playing a lion, recalling how the theater community lost Scott Jeffers last season as he was performing the lead in Childsplay’s “Androcles & the Lion.”

I was volunteering alongside several other parents — all of whom put in far more time than I do (though they surely have less of it to give). One shared with me that she is directing “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” which opened at East Valley Children’s Theatre this weekend, and invited me to come out and see the show. (Whatever will I wear?)

I was reminded that I’ve long wanted to write about playwriting for youth when I visited the East Valley Children’s Center website and discovered that they’ve posted information on their latest playwriting contest — so more on that later. It’s not an easy thing to write about because the people who are out there writing all these shows are way-beyond-busy, but I’m going to keep up the chase.

And what of “Lucky Stiff?” Somewhere tonight there’s a weary volunteer or ASA theater teacher trying to make sense of my hash marks on the ‘will call’ sheet. But there are also plenty of proud parents, grandparents, friends and others who had a fabulous Friday evening of farce.

It’s not too late to see the show–which runs again Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The students are all working their farces off and there’s some serious talent in the mix.

I feel so grateful for the many theater folk who come together every day on stages the world over, and hope you’ll join me in honoring their work by going to see a show — any show — with open heart and mind.


Note: This little riff is what I like to call a “bonus blog”– it wasn’t on my editorial calendar but I felt moved to write it after having such a great day of theater play…and about six shots of espresso.

Coming up: You tell me…drop a line and share your ideas for future posts!

“Lucky Stiff” is appropriate for ages 12 & up only.