“Nothing has come easy at all,” says actor Joseph Kremer flatly. “This was probably the most challenging show I’ve ever done. There was not one bit of it that was easy — not one.”
Kremer steps into a role previously filled on Broadway by Hugh Jackman as the angry, bullying character Denny in A Steady Rain, Keith Huff’s hit play. The Valley actor appeared recently in Southwest Shakespeare Company’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, Phoenix Theatre’s Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and last season’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone with Actors Theatre.
Denny’s onstage partner is fellow Chicago cop Joey, played by Christopher Haines (of iTheatre Collaborative) in the Actors Theatre production closing this weekend. Kremer and Haines are directed by Anthony Runfola, longtime production manager at Childsplay.
“One of the biggest challenges is trying to make this character likeable,” adds Kremer, “because you don’t really want to like him.” The two-man play packs potent emotion, plenty of action, a cataclysmic mistake, and morally challenged characters into 95 minutes on a spartan set. An intermission added for this production doesn’t break the tension, he says. “It doesn’t take you out of the show at all…you pop right back into it because you want to know what’s going on. It starts boiling up right when you get back, too.”
Kremer explains that the play is uniquely split between each cop giving his side of the story. “The play is divided into six sections…it’s definitely two separate parts in many ways…with scenes that we do together interwoven.” For example, he says, “The whole number two section I do on my own — he’s not even in it. He [Haines] faces upstage the whole time.”
“But then there’s the next one,” Kremer continues, “where we’re talking back and forth together…and then parts where we’re talking to each other in front of the audience, like the audience is there.” He laughs. “And that’s what’s pretty wild.”
“That’s something that the playwright did really well,” Kremer elaborates. “He juxtaposed scenes…to create that energy coming back…it just goes like crazy. And you know, every cop show has to have a car chase in it, and this…has one, believe it or not — it’s just me and him onstage, but there is a car chase in it.”
Although some audience members have commented on the play’s often harsh language, including frequent f-bombs, Kremer believes that the verbiage is anything but gratuitous. “I’m the one who has all that language,” he points out. “The other guy doesn’t…and you’ll have to figure out why.”
Kremer adds, “The guy that wrote it…he knows what he’s doing — it’s pretty authentic.” He laughs. “I don’t know how many people I’ve had come up to me after the last three shows that we did, and they were like, ‘You know, I’ve worked for Chicago cops before, and I’ve gotta tell you: you guys nailed it – not only the way they talk, but the language they use…the playwright nailed it, too.’”
A Chicago resident, author Huff boasts writing and production credits on the AMC award-winning television series Mad Men and involvement with Netflix’s House of Cards. He’s developing work for SyFy and HBO, and his other plays include The Bird and Mr. Banks, Dog Stories, Big Lake Big City, and The Detective’s Wife, which follows A Steady Rain as the second in Huff’s trilogy about Chicago law enforcement.
A Steady Rain was critically acclaimed for its innate poetry and won several Joseph Jefferson (“Jeff”) Awards for Best New Work, Best Actor, and Best Production when it was originally mounted by Chicago Dramatists. The 2009 Broadway run starring Jackman and Daniel Craig was named second on a “top 10 plays of the year” list by TIME Magazine.
This production signals the welcome return of Phoenix’s financially troubled but highly regarded Actors Theatre, a company freshly reorganized with massive cutbacks. Performances end with the Sunday matinee on November 10.
If you go:
- A Steady Rain by Actors Theatre
- continuing through Sunday, November 10
- Playhouse on the Park at Viad Corporate Center, 1850 N. Central Ave.
One of the best ways to revel in the season is at Local First Arizona’s Certified Local Fall Festival. In its ninth year, the festival continues the tradition of connecting the community with the local businesses that make Arizona special.
According to Erica Pedersen of Local First Arizona (LFA), the largest alliance of independent businesses in the country, “the Certified Local Fall Festival celebrates everything local to Arizona, and brings the community together in a unique environment that draws attention to the importance of the Buy Local movement in Arizona.”
The Certified Local festivities take place this Saturday, November 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Phoenix on Portland Parkway, located at 10 W. Portland St. This is the second year the festival has taken place in its downtown location, which is conveniently adjacent to the Roosevelt and Central light rail station.
You’ll find food, drinks, entertainment and shopping from much-loved local businesses like Postino Wine Cafe, Short Leash Hot Dogs, Zia Records and Bunky Boutique. Plus, you’ll likely find a few new favorites along the way from among the over 100 participating businesses.
This family-friendly event will have plenty to keep the kiddos happy, including a bounce house, arts and crafts and face painting. And well-behaved pooches are invited, too!
The festival is free to attend and food and drink tickets are $1 each. To sweeten the deal a bit more, the first 500 attendees at the festival will receive a gift bag filled with goodies donated by LFA businesses.
New to this year’s event is an online silent auction. All items were donated by LFA members and include things like staycation packages from around Arizona, spa and beauty packages, local art and sports memorabilia. Bidding is currently underway and wraps up on Saturday at 3pm. Check out items and register to bid online.
“We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the community for this annual event,” says Kimber Lanning, Director of Local First Arizona. “When we first started nine years ago, it was just 25 vendors and several hundred attendees, and now it’s grown into an integral community event. This shows that each year, more and more people are making the connection between our communities’ well being and the strength of our local businesses.”
If you go
When: Saturday, November 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
David Krietor has served as CEO of the newly-formed Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (“DPI”) since April 8, 2013. In that time, he has begun work with community stakeholders to develop the downtown we want. “Your Downtown” shares his thoughts and DPI’s progress with the downtown community and beyond. Read the other chats here.
What is the latest regarding DPI’s organizational capacity?
Financial Tracking. Downtown Phoenix Partnership (DPP) and Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (DPI) have selected a new auditor: CBIZ Mayer Hoffman McCann. Our DPP/DPI controller, Nicole Friedrichs, handled the selection process with guidance from Ron Butler, Ernst & Young managing partner and DPP’s new board chair. Additionally, we put DPI’s Directors & Officers insurance policy in place and filed our annual report with the Arizona Corporation Commission. Our 501(c)6 application remains pending.
Welcome Aboard. By virtue of his new role as DPP chair, Ron Butler will join the DPI board. In addition, Ed Zuercher, acting city manager, and Ken Van Winkle, managing partner with Lewis Roca Rothgerber (a new DPI investor), will also join the DPI board. We are having discussions with three other potential investors, so there’s a good chance our board will grow even further.
Beefing Up. While the DPI staff remains lean (me), we have put in place three contracts to help with our growing work program. Long-time downtown advocate and “connector” Jim McPherson is working with me to craft our bimonthly communication with key downtown opinion leaders and prepare our 2014 DPI/DPP/PCA consolidated program of work. Jim, along with Jill Bernstein, Catrina Kahler, and Carol Poore, also helped draft the new Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA) mission statement document. Dorina Bustamante, another well connected downtown advocate and entrepreneur, has been retained to assist with PCA membership development and programming. Finally, we have entered into a partnership with the Downtown Phoenix Journal to amplify our message. Given our start-up status we are trying to fill gaps in the most cost-effective manner.
What are some recent examples of downtown’s economic and cultural vitality?
Taste of the Trucks. Evans Churchill Neighborhood and Roosevelt Row CDC hosted the 2013 Taste of the Trucks two-day food gala on Saturday and Sunday. Each day featured the best bites on wheels with mobile fare from 25 trucks, local music, and a beer garden.
Here are just a few events through which to experience downtown:
Downtown, Grand Avenue, Roosevelt Row
Evans Churchill, Downtown
Zombie Walk 5. There was a feeding frenzy of a different sort happening Saturday at Heritage & Science Park. Zombie Walk 5 drew an estimated zombie horde of 20,000 who infiltrated downtown in search of live music, kid’s activities, beer and, of course, brains. This free, family friendly event was presented by DPP and featured a 1.2-mile undead shuffle through downtown and a performance from nationally known rockers and zombie enthusiasts Powerman 5000.
A Visual Feast for the Eyes. The Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau (now known as Visit Phoenix) just released a snazzy new video showcasing downtown Phoenix… “where you go to dine beneath the skyline, see live music at a club or concert hall, shop for fashion or gifts at an independent retailer, watch pro sports teams, or take in the arts at a museum. All of this (and more) is within walking distance of downtown hotels, light-rail stations, and the Phoenix Convention Center.”
Leadership and advocacy are critical elements of effective community development? Where do you see this occurring?
Janette Sadik-Khan (transformational transportation guru) does an excellent job of pointing out community “assets that are hidden in plain sight.” Janette visited our region for the NACTO (National Association of City Transportation Officials) Conference to see the seeds of urban progress that are the result of many years of hard work and investment from many partners working collaboratively to change the way our region grows and develops.
One of these successful multi-faceted partnerships, our own “asset hidden in plain sight,” is the Sustainable Communities Collaborative (SCC). A regional effort led by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton in partnership with Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, the SCC’s 35+ public, private, and non-profit partners have toiled behind the scenes to nurture and implement: Complete Streets policies and outcomes; regional bike share; fresh and healthy food options in food deserts; new economic development models; transit-oriented developments connected to the 20-mile light rail corridor; and inclusive urban development decision-making that incorporates community and neighborhood expertise.
Downtown Voices Coalition. Downtown Voices Coalition (DVC) is a ten-year-old broad based advocacy group comprised of individuals from neighborhood groups, community based organizations, arts organizations, and neighborhood scale developers. They meet monthly and have been very helpful to DPI by acting as a sounding board for major new downtown initiatives. While the feedback tends to be very direct, we are eliminating surprises and building better relationships. At the last meeting, attended by Phoenix Mayor Stanton, ASU made a presentation on the design for the new Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and city staff discussed possible high rise private development of the Central Bus Station site at Central and Van Buren. Tim Eigo, a DPI board member, also serves as DVC’s steering committee chair.
Greening Downtown. DPP staff worked closely with the City of Phoenix to secure 15 permanent Chinese Pistache trees on First Street between Adams and Monroe streets. These permanent tree wells were not originally a part of the First Street re-design, however DPP’s Ray Cabrera worked with the City to fix the dormant street-level irrigation and secure the trees. This block was measured to be the hottest (as in warmth!) in downtown Phoenix during the Urban Form Project in 2008, and these trees should help transform this stretch into a pedestrian-friendly cool spot. Read more about the project here.
Greening More of Downtown. On Thursday, October 24, the City of Phoenix, Phoenix Biomedical Campus, and Evans Churchill Community Association held a small celebration with Councilman Mike Johnson at the site of the final tree planted on 5th Street north of McKinley:
What other items would you like to share?
I found this article that readers might like it. San Diego is about two years ahead of us in merging their downtown organizations, but we may be ahead of them in terms of connectivity with our neighborhoods. Read the article here.
I just learned that at their annual conference in Albuquerque, the board of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) will be electing downtown’s very own Chevy Humphrey, executive director of the Arizona Science Center, to the role of ASTC board president. ASTC is an international organization representing science centers and museums with more than 600 members in over 40 countries worldwide dedicated to furthering the public understanding of science among increasingly diverse audiences. Congratulations Chevy!
Also, congratulations to the Grand Avenue Merchants Association for organizing a festive Grand Avenue Festival, and to the City for working with the neighborhood to design and implement an impressive streetscape improvement project. If you haven’t visited Lower Grand lately, I encourage you to do so.
View photos from the Grand Avenue Festival here:
Grand Avenue Festival photos by Steve Dreiseszun
1st Street Tree Planting photo courtesy of City of Phoenix
Featured screenshot image from Visit Phoenix “Downtown Phoenix” Video
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Preserve Phoenix, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving historic places within the city, invites you to join them on November 1, 2013 from 6- 9 PM to celebrate the renovation of the DeSoto Building, a wonderful, enduring example of the city’s early car culture that sits prominently at the intersection of Central Avenue and Roosevelt.
Originally built in 1928, the building, formally known as the CP Stephens DeSoto Six Motor Cars building, served as an auto dealership until 1955. Since that time it has been used for a number of different purposes and most recently served as an antique shop. Throughout the years, as the building’s uses changed, so, too, did the façade. At some point, the large showroom windows were covered in stucco and the garage doors were added to the back and side. By the time it was purchased by its current owner, Ken Cook, it had deteriorated significantly and was in need of substantial repair.
After purchasing the DeSoto, Ken Cook began working with architect Bob Graham of Motley Design Group to oversee an extensive and faithful restoration of the DeSoto that has put new life, not only into the structure itself, but also into the gateway area of downtown Phoenix. At Preserve Phoenix, we understand that undertaking such a task is a daunting effort fraught with risk. Therefore, when we see owners with the dedication and tenacity to see such a project through, we want to recognize and celebrate their achievement.
We have arranged to open up the building to the public on this coming First Friday. We have hired a lighting expert to highlight the architectural features of this massive warehouse and, in keeping with the art gallery tradition of First Fridays, will host an exhibit of historic photographs from the archive of Vintage Phoenix. The photographs, which will be projected in slide show fashion on the exposed brick walls of the DeSoto, will provide a rich perspective on the building’s history and help viewers better understand the evolution of downtown Phoenix.
The November 1st event is free and everyone is welcome. For those of you who care about preserving Phoenix’s history, we strongly encourage you to come and show your support for an effort that has made a significant contribution to the preservation of our city’s heritage.
If You Go
Where: DeSoto Building, SE corner of Central Avenue and Roosevelt Street
When: Friday, November 1 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
An Afternoon Adventure in High Rise Living and Midtown Lifestyle
The Midtown Museum Neighborhood Association is proud to announce the first Annual Midtown Urban Living Tour. Slated for November, 2nd from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm, the tour will feature some of Midtown’s finest high rise buildings.
The Urban Living Tour will showcase homes in seven celebrated Midtown communities. Tour goers will have the rare opportunity to explore: Artisan Lofts on Central, Chateau on Central, Villa del Coronado, Regency House, Tapestry, One Lexington and Executive Towers.
In true urban fashion, we encourage tour goers to enjoy the convenience of riding the Light Rail for travel between communities. There will be bike racks at each property for cyclists and pedi-cabs available for easy transportation. After exploring high-rise living stop for a bite at one of the many excellent restaurants found in Midtown.
As significant as it is in the development of Phoenix, Midtown gets less attention in the history books, perhaps because it represents an “in between” phase between the city’s original settlement and the tremendous outward growth that followed. Today, this sector of Downtown is home to a bustling business district, world-class museums and culture, fine restaurants, lush parks and a diverse mix of housing options. We invite you to see for yourself why Midtown is the crossroad of live, work and play in Phoenix.
Images courtesy of Midtown Museum Neighborhood Association
If You Go
Where: Park your car at Park Central Mall and walk, bike or take light rail.
When: Saturday, November 2, 3:00 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Cost: Before Saturday, buy your tickets online for $12.00. Day of event tickets will be available for $15.00 at Park Central Mall.