Friday, December 6, 2013

miracle on south division street

  photo by Tim Fuller

Shocking news surprises the Nowak family (from left) Beverly (Alida Holguin Gunn), Clara (Toni Press-Coffman), Jimmy (Seth Fowler) and Ruth (Carley Elizabeth Preston).
 A lovely warm-up for an ecumenical holiday season is found at Invisible Theatre in its sprightly production of "Miracle on South Division Street" by Tom Dudzick. Not to be confused with Kris Kringle's Christmas shopping "Miracle on 34th Street," this miracle of a much different kind is set in Buffalo, New York, in 2010.

Gail Fitzhugh directs a tightly knit cast of four to deliver plenty of laughs while reminding us that family devotion will always be more important than religious differences. Anyone who grew up back east will recognize the spot-on characterizations in three generations of the Nowak clan of Polish-American Catholics who staked their claim to the New World just before World War II.

First, we are reminded how urban blight has taken its toll on the once prosperous upstate city of Buffalo. Clara (Toni Press-Coffman) has grown up in this house on this street where her deceased father ran a barber shop for 60 years.

Back in 1942, Clara's grandfather was visited by the Virgin Mary shortly after he opened his Buffalo barbershop. To honor this occasion, he had a statue of the Holy Mother erected on the spot. Although the Church has refused to recognize this miracle, Clara has become the keeper of its flame.

Her grown children – angry Beverly (Alida Holguin Gunn), bitter Ruth (Carley Elizabeth Preston) and genial Jimmy (Seth Fowler) – have not embraced their grandfather's shrine with any particular devotion, which only increases Clara's determination to keep the faith.

As the neighborhood has deteriorated, the shrine has become ever more important to Clara. Her sincerity and her dizzy grasp of current events are portrayed with smiling sympathy, even as Ruth and Beverly seem to lose patience with their mom.

Jimmy, the youngest, is the typical little brother in his 20s who always tries to keep balance in the family. All this interplay makes "Miracle on South Division Street" a wonderful ensemble piece that just becomes more buoyant the more complications set in.

Performed in 90 minutes without an intermission, once all the characters have established their identities, Ruth kicks over this house of traditional beliefs with her news of a deathbed confession that rattles this family to the core, but in a humorous way that has a happy ending.

"Miracle On South Division Street" continues through Nov. 24 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, plus 4 p.m. Saturday Nov. 23, at the Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.

Tickets are $28. For details and reservations, 520-882-9721, or visit







Monday, December 2, 2013


University music prodigy to perform on stage with Jazz Legends, Oct. 18

Elvis Presley once said, "Rhythm is something you either have or don't have, but when you have it, you have it all over."


In the case of Max Goldschmid, he "has it." This 19-year-old prodigy of music, now attending the University of Arizona, has won awards all over the nation for his extreme talent.


His cache of instruments includes soprano, alto, and tenor saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet, trombone, trumpet and slide trumpet, electric guitar, upright and electric bass, and whatever else he can get his hands on.

Jazz Legend's 2012


With jazz running through his fingers since age 6, Goldschmid has been invited to perform during this year's Jazz Legends on Friday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. - an honorable invitation never bestowed on an emerging artist in the concert's 13-year history.


Goldschmid will play a trumpet duo with the internationally-acclaimed Byron Stripling, and five additional famed musicians, during Jazz Legends benefit concert at Tucson Country Club, 2950 N. Camino Principal.


Millions have heard Stripling's trumpet and voice on television commercials, theme songs ("20/20" and CNN) and soundtracks of beloved movies.


Los Angeles' first-call trombonist Andrew Martin has contributed to albums with Pussycat Dolls, Coldplay, Kanye West and Michael Buble.


Saxophonist Rickey Woodard has performed with Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Krall, Frank Sinatra and The Temptations as well as toured with Ray Charles Band.


Kenny Drew played a solo piano tribute to Duke Ellington on Ellington's 100th birthday and was winner of the 1990 Great American Jazz Piano.


Drummer Joe La Barbera's first professional appearance was at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas with Frankie Randall and the Buddy Rich band in 1968. He later joined world renowned singer Tony Bennett, recording some of Bennet's finest albums.


Nicki Parrott, on bass and vocals, has worked side-by-side with guitar greats like Paul McCartney, Slash and Steve Miller, performing at major festivals around the globe, in Broadway shows and documentary appearances.


These memorable musicians will come together for Jazz Legends - a performance invigorating a passion for jazz from listeners, enthusiast to novice, each year.


With a range of ticket prices, the experience is available for all to attend. Front row seats include a three-course dinner before the show for $125, preferred seating tickets are $60 and general admission is $45. Dinner begins at 5:30 p.m. and the concert starts at 7 p.m.  


Proceeds raised from the event help SAACA continue free arts education and therapy programs in the schools and the community.


An emerging legend

Goldschmid received his introduction into jazz music with the Tucson Jazz Institute (TJI) as a youngster. There he learned from Doug Tidaback, Scott Black and other Tucson favorites, and he was quickly absorbed by Tucson's jazz scene. 


He plays weekly with the Arizona Roadrunners, a traditional Dixieland jazz band that was featured in 2008, 2009 and 2010 in the Jerry Lewis Telethon on live television.


He has received awards at numerous competitions, including the Outstanding Soloist award at the prestigious Fullerton College Jazz Festival; first chair alto sax in the Arizona All-State Jazz Band; the 2008-2009 Outstanding Musician award from the TJI; soloist awards for alto sax and trombone at the 2010 Next Generation Festival in Monterey, Calif.; the double solo award for clarinet and saxophone at the 2010 Essentially Ellington Competition at Lincoln Center in New York City; and most recently second place in the International Trumpet Guild jazz improvisation competition in Grand Rapids, Mich.


Goldschmid is also a composer. He wrote several original tunes for his studio album, "Maximum Exposure," and participated in the Tucson Symphony Orchestra's Young Composers Project for four years, producing a full-length symphony each cycle.


2013 Jazz Legends benefit concert

When: Friday, Oct. 18 - 5:30 p.m. dinner (optional ticket upgrade) and 7 p.m. concert

Where: Tucson Country Club, 2950 N. Camino Principal

Cost: VIP concert seating with three-course dinner $125 per person, $60 for Section B and $45 for Section C (no dinner with Section B and C prices)

        Phone: 520-797-3959 (SAACA office)