Opening Nights | September 2016

Five productions heading Arizona stages this month

By Richard Schultz, September 2016 Issue.


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Footloose
Sept. 9-25

One of the most explosive movie musicals in recent memory bursts onto the stage. When Ren, (played by Nathan Taylor), and his mother move from Chicago to a small farming town, Ren is prepared for the inevitable adjustment period at his new high school. What he isn’t prepared for are the rigorous local edicts, including a ban on dancing instituted by the local preacher (played by Mark Hackmann), determined to exercise the control over the town’s youth that he cannot command in his own home. When the reverend’s rebellious daughter, Ariel (played by Greta Perlmutter), takes a liking to Ren, her roughneck boyfriend tries to sabotage Ren’s reputation, with many of the locals eager to believe the worst about the new kid. The heartfelt story that emerges is of a father longing for the son he lost and of a young man aching for the father who walked out on him. This Oscar and Tony award-nominated top 40 score is augmented with new songs for the stage musical. Directed and choreographed by Suze St. John, Footloose celebrates the wisdom of listening to young people as well as guiding them with a warm heart and an open mind.

Footloose
Sept. 9-25
Mesa Encore Theatre
Mesa Arts Center
1 E. Main St., Mesa
Tickets: $31; 480-644.6500
mesaencoretheatre.com


Pageant
Aug. 26-Sept. 18

Long before “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” there was a beauty pageant that takes you where no beauty pageant has ever taken you before. In this wacky musical, six contestants (all played by men), vying for the title of Miss Glamouresse, compete in pageant staples such as swimsuit, talent, gown and spokesmodel categories. In this hilarious romp (think: Miss America meets Kinky Boots) judges selected from the audience get to pick the winner – so no performance is ever the same and the suspense is real! The show was conceived by Robert Longbottom (Side Show), with book and lyrics by Bill Russell and Frank Kelly and music by Albert Evans. Pageant debuted Off-Broadway in 1991 at the Blue Angel in New York where it ran for more than a year before playing successful engagements on the West End and around the world.

Pageant
Aug. 26-Sept. 18
Arizona Broadway Theatre
7701 W. Paradise Lane, Peoria
Tickets: $43.50-$82; 623-776-8400
azbroadway.org


The Velocity of Autumn
Sept. 2-17

Postponed since this spring, due to a cast member injury, The Velocity of Autumn is powerful drama by playwright Eric Coble that takes a look at aging. This sublime tale swirls around Alexandra, Velocity of autumna 79-year-old artist played by Judy Rollings, in a showdown with her family over where she’ll spend her remaining years. In Alexandra’s corner are her wit, her volcanic passion and the fact that she’s barricaded herself inside her Brooklyn brownstone with enough Molotov cocktails to take out the block. But her children have their own secret weapon: estranged son Chris, portrayed by Brad Bond, returns after 20 years by crawling through Alexandra’s second-floor window and becomes the family’s unlikely mediator. No sooner are the words “Hi, Mom” uttered than the emotional bombs start detonating. Directed by Rosemary Close, this production explores the frustrations of old age and promises to ignite the nerves of many families embroiled in a similar reality.

The Velocity of Autumn
Sept. 2-17
iTheatre Collaborative
Herberger Theater Center – Kax Stage
222 E. Monroe St., Phoenix
Tickets: $20; 602-252-8497
itheatreaz.org


Love, Loss, and What I Wore
Sept. 2-18
Written by Nora and Delia Ephron, and based on the bestselling book by Ilene Beckerman, Love, Loss, and What I Wore is a collage of comic, sentimental and even some sad moments about what’s hanging inside your closet. Directed by Valley favorite Patti Davis Suarez, the play follows fragmented stories about the nostalgic power of women’s clothing. This cast of women tells funny, wistful and universal memories about their families and loved ones through the prism of their closets. The through line is narrated by Gingy, a wise older woman who reminisces about what she wore at milestones in her life – complete with sketches of the styles. Like a long heart-to-heart with a best friend over coffee, the conversation meanders from a bittersweet story of a stepmother
Love, Loss and What I worewearing the same style bathrobe as her husband’s late wife (to the dismay of the children) to a rant about loathing the need to carry a purse. With odes to everything from cowboy boots to outfits that makes mothers cringe, Love, Loss and What I Wore is unabashedly girly and as timeless as a little black dress.

Love, Loss, and What I Wore
Sept. 2-18
Theatre Artists Studio
4848 E. Cactus Road, Ste. 406, Scottsdale
Tickets: $25; 602-765-0120
thestudiophx.org


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Sept. 2-18

Everyone’s favorite flying car comes to life in the musical adaptation of the beloved family film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It’s a fantastic adventure with an out-of-this-world car that soars through the air and sails the seas. Based on the 1968 film version of Ian Fleming’s children’s book, and featuring an unforgettable score by the Sherman Brothers who wrote the music to Mary Poppins, this charming musical follows an eccentric inventor, Caractacus Potts, who sets about restoring an old race car from a scrap heap with the help of his children, Jeremy and Jemima. They soon discover the car has magical properties including the ability to float and take flight. Trouble occurs when the evil Baron Bomburst sets his sights on magic car. The family joins forces with ingénue Truly
Chitty Chitty Bang BangScrumptious and batty Grandpa Potts to outwit the dastardly Baron and Baroness and their villainous henchman, the Child Catcher. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is filled with stage spectacle and unforgettable songs, including the Academy Award nominated title song.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Sept. 2-18
Fountain Hills Theater
11445 N. Saguaro Blvd., Fountain Hills
Tickets: $35; 480-837-9661 x3
fhtaz.org


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