By The Genre | 2016-2017

Here’s our top picks in the comedy, drama and musical categories

By Richard Schultz, October 2016 Issue.


Lost in Yonkers | ASU Lyric Opera Theatre
Oct. 7-Nov. 13

This memory play by Neil Simon is set in a Yonkers in 1942. Bella, a mentally challenged 35-year-old, is living at home with her mother, stern Grandma Kurnitz. As the play opens, ne’er-do-well son, Eddie, deposits his two young sons on the old lady’s doorstep. He is financially strapped and taking to the road as a salesman. The boys are left to contend with Grandma, with Bella and her secret romance, and with Louie, her brother, a small-time hoodlum in a strange new world called Yonkers.

The Fox on the Fairway | Mesa Encore Theatrefox_on_the_fairway
Jan. 6-22

A comedy about golf just in time for the world renowned Phoenix Open – what ideal timing! This zany romp by Ken Ludwig is a tribute to the great English farces of the 1930s and 1940s, as it pulls the rug out from underneath the stuffy denizens of a private country club. Filled with mistaken identities, slamming doors and over-the-top romantic shenanigans, it’s a furiously paced comedy that recalls the Marx Brothers’ classics. A charmingly madcap adventure about love, life and man’s eternal love affair with golf.

3 No Trump | Theatre Works
Jan. 13-29

Local actress Cathy Dresbach has crafted a clever comedy about cards and enduring friendship. Presented as a world premiere, The Ladies of the Club have met every other Thursday to plays cards, chat, eat, drink and laugh. Sometimes they cry, and they laugh some more. They seek answers to life’s great questions: What’s the response to a 2-club opening bid? And why can’t the Phoenix Suns make the playoffs? Who is the evil genius that invented pantyhose? Told with humor and heart, 3 No Trump is the story of ordinary women with an extraordinary devotion to each and the game of bridge.

storefront_churchStorefront Church | Theatre Artists Studio
Feb. 24-March 12

Storefront Church joins Doubt and Defiance to complete Tony, Oscar and Pulitzer winner John Patrick Shanley’s “Church and State” trilogy where, as in all his best works, he calls out authority figures and tests their mettle with moral issues. Set in 2009, the story revolves around Bronx borough president and preacher’s son Donaldo Calderon who’s drawn into a complex financial triangle to save his friends’ home from foreclosure.


King Charles III | Arizona Theatre Company
Tucson: Through Sept. 30
Phoenix: Oct. 6-23

The Queen is dead. Long live the King! After a lifetime of waiting, Prince Charles ascends the throne with Camilla by his side. As William, Kate, and Harry look on, Charles prepares for the future of power that lies before him … but how will he rule? Winner of the 2015 Olivier Award for Best Play, this production draws on the style and structure of a Shakespearean history play, but with modern verve, a comic subplot and even the occasional appearance of a significant ghost. This exciting and provocative new drama of political intrigue, written by Mike Bartlett, explores the people underneath the crowns, the unwritten rules of democracy and the conscience of its most famous family.

John, Stray Cat Theatrejohn_stray_cat_theatre
Sept. 16-Oct. 1

The new play from Annie Baker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Flick, takes place the week after Thanksgiving at a bed-and-breakfast in Gettysburg, Penn. There’s a cheerful innkeeper, a young couple that’s trying to stay together and a house filled with hundreds of inanimate objects. Yet, there is something about this B&B that is decidedly off; it’s dark, foreboding and mysterious. Now in their new home at the Tempe Center for the Arts, Stray Cat is producing the first production outside of its New York City premiere.

Veronica’s Room  | iTheatre Collaborative
Oct. 14-29

From Ira Levin, author of Rosemary’s Baby, comes a harrowing labyrinth of suspense, entwining fantasy and reality. The story begins in 1973, where Susan and her boyfriend, Larry, have been enticed to the Brabissant mansion by the Mackeys, a charming, elderly Irish couple who are struck by Susan’s strong resemblance to Veronica, the long-dead daughter of the family for whom they work. Veronica’s room has been untouched by time and has been left exactly as it was in 1935. The mystery deepens as twist after twist unravels the frail threads of reality. Is it 1973 or 1935? Will Susan ever leave Veronica’s room?

the_glass_menagerieThe Glass Menagerie 
| Fountain Hills Theater
Oct. 14-30

A faded remnant of Southern gentility, Amanda Wingfield lives in poverty in a dingy St. Louis apartment. Abandoned by her husband, Amanda comforts herself with recollections of her earlier, more gracious life in Blue Mountain when she was pursued by “gentleman callers.” Her son, Tom, a poet with a job in a warehouse, longs for adventure and escape from his mother’s suffocating embrace. Laura, her shy, “crippled” daughter, has her glass menagerie and her memories. Amanda is desperate to find her daughter a husband, but when the long-awaited gentleman caller does arrive, Laura’s romantic illusions are crushed. A drama of great tenderness and beauty, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams rightfully holds a place as a classic among modern American dramas.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time | ASU Gammage
June 20-25

Winner of the 2015 Tony Award for Best New Play, this acclaimed play by Simon Stephens and directed by Tony winner Marianne Elliott brings Mark Haddon’s internationally best-selling novel to life in a stunning production. Christopher, a 15-year-old with an extraordinary brain, is exceptionally intelligent, but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. When he falls under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s dog, he sets out to identify the true culprit, which leads to an earth-shattering discovery and a journey that will change his life forever.


Funny Girl  | Arizona Broadway Theatrefunny_girl_the_musical
Oct. 14-Nov. 13

Funny Girl is a triumphant story of success and a bittersweet love, cast in the elegance of 1920s Broadway. In the Ziegfeld Follies, in Hollywood films and on the radio, Fanny Brice was one of the most celebrated entertainers of her time. With humor, talent and chutzpah, young Fanny, an awkward Jewish girl who “isn’t pretty,” defies the odds and becomes one of the greatest stars of her generation. Her rise to super-stardom, and her turbulent romance with gambler Nick Arnstein, are explored through Bob Merrill and Jule Styne’s unforgettable score, which includes “I’m the Greatest Star,” “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” “People” and “You Are Woman, I Am Man.” Oh, and Barbra Streisand won an Oscar for her performance as Fanny in the 1968 movie by the same name.

Guys & Dolls | Scottsdale Musical Theater Company
Jan. 5-8

Set in Damon Runyon’s mythical New York City, Guys & Dolls is an oddball romantic comedy. Gambler Nathan Detroit, tries to find the cash to set up the biggest craps game in town while the authorities breathe down his neck. Meanwhile, his girlfriend and nightclub performer, Adelaide, laments that they’ve been engaged for 14 years. Nathan turns to fellow gambler Sky Masterson for the dough, and Sky ends up chasing the straight-laced missionary, Sarah Brown, as a result. Guys & Dolls takes us from the heart of Times Square to the cafes of Havana, Cuba, and even into the sewers of New York City, but eventually everyone ends up right where they belong.

bullets_over_broadwayBullets Over Broadway  | Phoenix Theatre
March 8-April 2

Based on the screenplay of the acclaimed 1994 film by Woody Allen and Douglas McGrath, this hilarious musical is a love letter to the golden age of Broadway. David Shayne is a straight-arrow playwright who plans to stand firm against compromising his work, but quickly abandons that stance when his producer finds a backer to mount his show on Broadway. There’s just one catch, however: the backer is a mobster who sees Shayne’s play as a vehicle for his dizzy, talent-free girlfriend. Throw in an aging diva, a savant hit man and a bevy of beautiful chorus girls and this show will knock ‘em dead.

Gypsy  | Desert Foothills Theater
March 31-April 9

Gypsy is the ultimate tale of an ambitious stage mother fighting for her daughters’ success while secretly yearning for her own. This rags-to-riches story of ugly duckling Louise, a tomboy who rose to national fame as Gypsy Rose Lee, the entertainment queen who put class into burlesque, is an American classic. Mama Rose, the pushy backstage mother who lived through her daughters, but paid a high price, is one of the most iconic characters in Broadway history. Set all across America in the 1920s, this musical explores the world of two-bit show business with artful humor, heart and sophistication. The celebrated score, by Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim, boasts one hit after another, including: “Let Me Entertain You,” “Some People,” “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” “You Gotta Get A Gimmick” and “Rosie’s Turn.”

Hands on a Hardbody | Arizona Broadway Theatrehands_on_a_hardbody
Sept. 1-24, 2017

Inspired by true events, 10 hard-luck Texans have an opportunity for a new lease on life that’s so close they can touch it. Under a scorching sun for days on end, armed with nothing but hope, humor and ambition, they’ll fight to keep at least one hand on a brand-new truck in order to win it. This is the Valley premiere of the hilarious musical about a hard-fought contest where only one winner can drive away with the American Dream.

Looking for more on the 2016-2017 arts season?

All The State’s A Stage

10 Shows Not to Miss

Classical Arts

The World Awaits

2016-2017 Arts Calendar