"A sea of joy!... Director Tina Landau and her collaborators, including scenic and costume design genius David Zinn and ace choreographer Christopher Gattelli, unspool a host of entertaining production numbers within a world that is an iridescent riot of pinks, purples, greens, blues, yellows, and polka dots.
"Hip, squishy fun!... Most importantly, “The SpongeBob Musical” is more reliant on talented actors and singers than it is on technical dazzle. That’s high praise for a cartoon-based show. Kids will enjoy it, but young adults who’ll want to play these roles themselves someday will dig it the most."
Chicago Tribune Newspaper Article- Shout Out: Ayana Strutz
Read Full Featured Article
The Music Man- Goodman Theatre
"Dancing in this ever changing landscape of silhouettes to BRIGHT! is the talented cast. Some are dancing quite literally, with choreography and performance like the lightest of whipped cream (Choreographer: Denis Jones). There are a lot of partner dancing moves where the female dancers seamlessly float above their partners heads. There are cartwheels galore, as Zimmerman’s trademark of blurring gymnastics and dance find new roots on Iowa terrain."
"Zimmerman puts her trust in a who’s-who of Chicagoland musical theatre stars teaming with a detasseling cadre of nationally- and regionally-credited triple threats to present one of the the best singing/dancing stage ensembles of the year. Simply said, you’ve got to give this Iowa a try. If you don’t, it’s your loss."
“Another triumph for Porchlight. Porchlight Music Theatre’s singularly sensational production remains true to the script. The Porchlight production is full of radiant personalities (and tireless dancer-singer-actors) including... the upbeat attitude of the too short but eternally girlish Chinese-American dancer played by Ayana Strutz, and a slew of others, all distinctive and talented.”
"But this depth also comes from this brilliant cast and their brilliant performances brilliantly directed by Brenda Didier. Of course, the talent is youthful and top-notch, as it must be for such a classic show... Ayana Strutz’s Connie Wong confidently struts and fills the stage despite her diminutive stature."
"Petite aerialist Ayana Strutz, as Charlotte, enters in a plunge from the catwalk on silks, drawing gasps from all ages. She makes cartwheels look as easy as walking, and her gravity-defying performance embodies the beauty as well as the innate creep factor of a spider benefactor (especially when she scuttles around on her hands and feet with her spine bent backwards, chin and tummy in the air). Strutz’s fluid, well-rounded performance gives welcome contemporary color to Charlotte’s musing that if she can fool a bug, she can certainly fool a man."
"Ayana Strutz's sleek movements on the ground and from the silks are nothing short of spectacular... The most impressive transformation comes from Ayana Strutz as Charlotte. Strutz uses her acrobatic skills—descending on aerial silks and scurrying across the floor in a back walkover—to move like a spider, but her poise and dignified manner make her truly arachnid."
"And when Ayana Strutz, the true star of this show as Charlotte the spider, makes her entrance, descending on gymnastic silks and doing a reverse, inverted crab-walk around Wilbur’s pen, the awed crowd applauded." "Charlotte does not touch Wilbur; she’s no hugger. Strutz plays her with a tensile braid of the automatic and the empathetic: She gazes at him, takes him in, and decides, matter-of-factly, to rescue him." - John Timpane (Philadelphia Inquirer)
"One of the most exciting parts of this production is Ayana Strutz, the actress playing Charlotte. Strutz is an acrobat and contortionist, perfect for embodying a spider. She descends from the ceiling in silks, and uses the set as her personal jungle-gym. After the show, she disclosed to the curious kids in the audience that she has only been training as an acrobat for two year after having grown up as a dancer." - Amber Kusching (BroadwayWorld)
"The spider Charlotte is always a key role and this time the role is played by Ayana Strutz, an actress who is also an acrobat trained in circus arts. She uses those arts impressively, doing tumbling, contortions, cartwheels, twisting, and all sorts of acrobatics to portray Charlotte the spider."
"The Arden production doesn’t deck out the actors in a pink pig suit or spider costume. It doesn’t have to. Adam Howard and Ayana Strutz are so convincing, he crawling and snorting in the pig pen, she, sliding up and down black silks extended from above. When either of them move across or above the stage, the audience, filled with children of all ages, goes silent. Strutz, a contortionist, is reason enough to go." - Frank Burd (Montgomery Media)
"Director Ray Jivoff adds a grace note of this aesthetic to this production with Ayana Strutz, an aerialist and contortionist who twists, bends and juggles through most of the play, adding amazement to the already kinetic show."- Gwen Rice (On Milwaukee)
"Again and again performers emerge from the ensemble to delight us with their skills, so frequently that it seems penurious to single out just two – Stephanie Staszak in several dance numbers and Ayana Strutz, whose abilities as mime and circus gymnast are constantly used to enliven numbers."- Dominique Paul Noth (Urban Milwaukee)
"The show moves along fluidly as the dancers’ Bob Fosse-like movements, the soaring voice of Pastrana in the lead role, and the lovely lyrics of many of the songs- keep us engaged and entertained. Minor characters who also deserve to be acknowledged are Kathryn Hausman as Fastrada, the self-serving stepmother, and Ayana Strutz as Catherine’s duck-loving child.
One walks away from this one with a feeling of hope, despite the ever-present difficulties that surround us."- Julie McHale (TimeOut Theatre Critic)