By Richard Schultz, October 2015 Issue.
Each season, touring shows bring the world closer together. By hosting an eclectic array of themes, performance styles and talent, local stages continue to offer a wide array of titles – from contemporary and popular to classical and even obscure – certain to appeal to varied tastes.
With so much to choose from this arts season, we recommend broadening your horizons by taking in one of these touring shows. The world awaits.
Broadway Across America | ASU Gammage | asugammage.com
Jan. 12-17 If/Then
Tony Award winner and Broadway superstar Idina Menzel (Wicked, Rent, Frozen, “Glee”) will reprise her critically acclaimed performance as Elizabeth, a role and a Broadway musical written specifically for her. This original new musical with unforgettable songs and a deeply moving story by the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning creators of Next to Normal follows two distinct storylines in the life of Elizabeth, a city planner who moves back to New York to restart her life in that city of infinite possibilities. When her carefully designed plans collide with the whims of fate, her life splits into two parallel paths and she finds herself at the intersection of choice and chance. Menzel will be joined by original cast members LaChanze, Anthony Rapp and James Snyder.
Feb. 16-21 The Bridges of Madison County
One of the most romantic stories ever written, The Bridges of Madison County first captured the nation’s attention as a best-selling novel. This two-time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical follows the tale of Iowa housewife Francesca Johnson and her life-changing, four-day whirlwind romance with traveling photographer Robert Kincaid. It’s an unforgettable story of two people caught between decision and desire, and chance encounter becomes a second chance at so much more.
March 15-20 A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Coming direct from New York, this 2014 Tony Award winner for Best Musical tells the uproarious story of Monty Navarro, a distant heir to a family fortune who sets out to jump the line of succession by – you guessed it – eliminating the eight pesky relatives (all played by one fearless man) who stand in his way. All the while, Monty has to juggle his mistress, who is after more than just love; his fiancée, who is his cousin (but who’s keeping track?); and the constant threat of landing behind bars. Of course, it will all be worth it if he can slay his way to his inheritance – and be done in time for tea.
June 14-19 Newsies
They delivered the papers, until they made the headlines. Direct from Broadway and winner of the 2012 Tony Award for Best Score and Best Choreography, this high-energy explosion of song and dance is filled with one heart-pounding number after another. Based on true events, Newsies tells the captivating story of a band of underdogs who become unlikely heroes when they stand up to the most powerful men in New York. It’s a rousing tale about fighting for what’s right and staying true to who you are.
Broadway in Tucson | broadwayintucson.com
Oct. 21-Nov. 1 The Phantom of the Opera
Following an acclaimed sold-out tour of the United Kingdom, Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s phenomenal musical success is bigger and better than ever before. Based on the 1910 horror novel by Gaston Leroux, which has been adapted into countless films, The Phantom of the Opera follows a deformed composer who haunts the grand Paris Opera House. Sheltered from the outside world in an underground cavern, the lonely, romantic man tutors and composes operas for Christine, a gorgeous young soprano star-to-be. As Christine’s star rises and a handsome suitor from her past enters the picture, the Phantom grows mad, terrorizing the opera house owners and company with his murderous ways. Still, Christine finds herself drawn to the mystery man. This production boasts many exciting special effects including the show’s legendary chandelier, staging, choreography, scene and lighting designs.
March 30-April 3 42nd Street
The quintessential backstage musical comedy classic is the song and dance fable of Broadway with an American Dream story and includes some of the greatest songs ever written, including “We’re In The Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffle Off To Buffalo,” “Dames” and “I Only Have Eyes For You.”Based on a novel by Bradford Ropes and Busby Berkeley’s 1933 movie, 42nd Street tells the story of a starry-eyed young dancer named Peggy Sawyer who leaves her Allentown home and comes to New York to audition for a new Broadway musical and becomes a star.
March 28 Star Trek-The Ultimate Voyage
Trekkies, your show has arrived! This lavish production includes an impressive live symphony orchestra and international solo instruments. The concert will pair some of the greatest music written for the franchise as well as the most iconic footage from the films and television seriesin high definition to a 40-foot wide screen. This never-before-seen concert event is perfect for music lovers, filmgoers, science-fiction fans and anyone looking for an exciting and unique concert experience.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts | scottsdaleperformingarts.org
Oct. 17 Margaret Cho’s The psyCHO Tour
Beginning with her early days on the scene in Southern California, comedian Margaret Co has always been the agent provocateur of stand-up comedy. Cho has been developing brand new material for her latest show, The psyCHO Tour (There’s No I in Team, But There’s a CHO in Psycho), which she said is about insanity, and about the anger she feels about everything happening in the world right now – from police brutality to racism to the rising tide of violence against women. From singlehood and Boko Haram to Caitlyn Jenner’s transition and female empowerment, Cho tackles difficult subjects with sensitivity and razor-sharp insight.
Nov. 7 Alan Cumming Uncut
Tony Award winner Alan Cumming is beloved around the world for his range of iconic performances on stage and screen, from his roles as the emcee in Cabaret on Broadway and the CBS drama “The Good Wife” to his appearances in the blockbuster X-Men and Spy Kids films. He is also the author of the recent New York Times best-selling memoir, Not My Father’s Son. Cumming brings his adults-only one-man show to Scottsdale for a night of irreverent humor, showbiz stories and songs.
Jan. 23 See Jane Sing!
From her roles as cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester on the Fox hit series “Glee” to dog trainer Christy Cummings in the improvisational comedy film Best of Show, actress Jane Lynch is known for her magnificent comedic timing and scene-stealing one-liners. The Emmy and Golden Globe award winner performs her acclaimed cabaret-style show, which also features Kate Flannery (Meredith from “The Office”), Tim Davis (the vocal arranger of “Glee”) and the Tony Guerrero Quintet.
Feb. 13 One Night With Joan Collins
Joan Collins possesses a star quality that circles the globe. In five decades, she has come to define what it means to be a living legend. As an accomplished actress, author, producer, humanitarian and entrepreneur, she has built a career that places her in the unrivaled ranks of international superstar and icon. In this candid and highly entertaining one-woman show, Collins, as glamorous as ever, shares behind-the-scenes stories and videos, including rarely seen outtakes, from her showbiz career.
Feb. 20 Broadway Back Together: Avenue Q
The talents of the original cast members of the Tony Award-winning smash hit Avenue Q are showcased here in one-of-a-kind concert. Performers John Tartaglia, Ann Harada, Stephanie D’Abruzzo and Alex Gemignani share stories and favorite songs from Avenue Q and their many other Broadway and TV appearances.
Mesa Arts Center | mesaartscenter.com
Nov. 10-15 Evil Dead – The Musical
This hilarious, record-breaking Canadian musical tells the outrageous story of five college friends spending the weekend in an abandoned cabin in the woods after accidentally unleashing an evil force that turns them all into demons. Those familiar with the show will remember that audience members sitting in the designated Splatter Zone get covered in fake blood as the production incorporates some fun “real-life” effects during certain scenes. In addition to some dismembered limbs, demons telling bad jokes and catchy tunes, such as “Look Who’s Evil Now” and “All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons,” the show features a saucy combination of wit and sexual innuendo.
Jan. 12-17 Riverdance – The 20th Anniversary World Tour
The international Irish dance phenomenon is back. Drawing on Irish traditions, the combined talents of Riverdance performers propel Irish dancing and music into the present day. Experience an innovative and exciting blend of dance, music and culture. Of all the performances to emerge from Ireland – in rock, music, theatre and film – nothing carries the energy, the sensuality and the spectacle of Riverdance.
March 12 The Screwtape Letters
This is a smart, provocative and wickedly funny theatrical adaptation of the C.S. Lewis novel about spiritual warfare from a demon’s point of view. The play, set in an eerily stylish office in hell, follows the clever scheming of one of Satan’s Senior Tempters, Screwtape. He advises his nephew, a junior tempter, on enticing a human “patient” toward damnation. In this topsy-turvy, morally inverted universe, God is the enemy and the Devil is our Father below. The stakes are high as human souls are hell’s primary source of food.
Theater League | theaterleague.com
Jan. 15-17 Million Dollar Quartet
On Dec. 4, 1956, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins gathered at Sun Records in Memphis for what would be one of the greatest jam sessions ever. brings that legendary night to life, featuring a score of rock hits that includes “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “That’s All Right,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Walk the Line,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Matchbox,” “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Hound Dog.” This musical captures the singular moment when four major talents came together to become a red-hot rock ‘n’ roll band.
Feb. 19-21 The Producers
Based on the Academy Award-winning 1968 film of the same name, this is the story of down-on-his-luck theatrical producer Max Bialystock and mousy accountant Leo Bloom. Together, they hatch the ultimate scam: Raise more money than you need for a sure-fire Broadway fiasco, and pocket the difference. With tunes and a book by superstar comedian Mel Brooks and co-bookwriter Thomas Meehan (), this big-time Broadway musical is truly one of the funniest shows around.
March 18-20 Ragtime
At the dawn of a new century, everything is changing and anything is possible. Set in turn-of-the-century New York, follows the stories of an upper-class wife, a determined Jewish immigrant and a daring young Harlem musician – all of whom are united by their desire for and belief in a brighter tomorrow. This Tony award-winning musical, for Best Book and Best Musical Score, is truly a timeless celebration of life.
Chandler Center for the Arts | chandlercenter.org
Feb. 27 Steppin’ Out Live with Ben Vereen & Trio
Broadway legend Ben Vereen has been dazzling audiences for more than half a century. The show highlights Vereen’s unique artistry, combining a tribute to Broadway and Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. and features such hit songs as “Defying Gravity,” “Stand By Me” and “My Way,” “Steppin’ Out Live.”
March 4 The Second City – Fully Loaded
Chicago’s legendary sketch and improv comedy theatre returns to Chandler featuring hilarious sketches, songs, and improvisation. This must-see night of classic sketch and improv features some of Chicago’s brightest stars doing what they do best: finding laughs in everything from hot-button issues to headlines.
March 8-13 Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding
This one-of-a-kind night of entertainment is staged as a festive celebration in which the audience doesn’t just watch, but participates directly in everything from the first toast to the last slice of cake. As two colorful and madcap Italian-American families come together as one, everyone in attendance joins in the fun as guests of the bride and groom. Everyone loves a wedding, especially when it’s enlivened by surprises and unexpected family drama. By blurring the line between fantasy and reality, the show’s magic and draws the audience in through eating, drinking, dancing and conversing. Before you know it, you’ll be caught up in the celebration, partying along with the rest of family and friends, as if you’ve known them for years.
Higley Center for the Arts | higleyarts.org
Nov. 21 Wyatt Earp: A Life on the Frontier
Meet the man, not the myth, behind the story Hollywood didn’t tell. Set in the mid-1920s, an elderly Wyatt Earp tells of his adventures during the final days of the American frontier from Arizona to Alaska. Earp reluctantly speaks to fictional reporter Mr. Noble of his time in Tombstone, Ariz., his life afterward and the sometimes-turbulent 47 years he spent traveling and prospecting with his wife, Terry Earp. This one-man play, written by Terry Earp, features the contemporary Wyatt Earp (a descendent of Virgil Earp) as his famous relative.