10 Shows Not To Miss | 2016-2017

LGBTQ themes inspire this season’s must-see productions

By Richard Schultz, October 2016 Issue.

An Act of God | Arizona Theatre Companyan_act_of_god
Tucson: Oct. 22-Nov. 12
Phoenix: Nov. 17-Dec. 4

After conquering Broadway, where Sean Hayes of “Will &Grace” and Jim Parson of “Big Bang Theory” both played the title role, An Act of God comes to Arizona for the first time! The sinfully funny and critically acclaimed new play reveals how God and His devoted angels answer some of the deepest questions that have plagued mankind since creation. He’s finally arrived to set the record straight, and boy is He not holding back! Written by 13-time Emmy Award winner David Javerbaum of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” this sweetly outrageous and gently irreverent  new comedy is sure to be a heavenly highlight this season.

adamanthonyAdam & Anthony Live | Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Nov. 19

Touring together for the first time, Broadway stars Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp perform songs from their solos albums, including clever new arrangements of Jonathon Larson’s timeless tunes from RENT, in Adam & Anthony LiveCelebrating the 20th Anniversary of RENT. Pascal and Rapp first met during the iconic, groundbreaking Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning play, handpicked by Larson for the roles of Roger Davis and Mark Cohen, respectively. Since then, they have become two of the most well-respected and well-loved performers in musical theater.

Billy Elliot | Phoenix Theatrebilly_elliot
Nov. 16-Dec. 24

Based on the international smash-hit film, and featuring a score by music legend Elton John, this musical promises to be one of the highlights of the season. Set in a northern mining town during the miners’ strike of 1984-1985, Billy Elliot is the inspirational story of a young boy’s fight to make his dream come true. Follow Billy’s journey from boxing ring to ballet class where he discovers a passion for dance that unites his family, inspires his community and changes his life forever.

ruthlessRuthless! | Desert Stages Theatre
March 3-April 9

Tina Denmark is a pretty, charming and diabolical 8-year-old girl who “was born to entertain.” With the encouragement of slick and overbearing potential agent Sylvia St. Croix, Tina will do anything to play the lead in her school play … Anything. The question is, where does such remarkable talent and unstoppable ambition come from? The answer may shock you in this camp cult classic that spoofs Broadway musicals, as well as such iconic films as The Bad Seed and All About Eve.

Leading Ladies | Fountain Hills Theaterleadingladies
March 10-26

In this hilarious gender bender comedy by the author of Lend Me A Tenor, two English Shakespearean actors, Jack and Leo, find themselves so down on their luck that they are performing “Scenes from Shakespeare” on the Moose Lodge circuit in the Amish country of Pennsylvania. When they hear that an old lady in York, Penn., is about to die and leave her fortune to her two long lost English nephews, they resolve to pass themselves off as her beloved relatives and get the cash. The trouble is, when they get to York, they find out that the relatives aren’t nephews, but nieces! Romantic entanglements abound, especially when Leo falls head-over-petticoat in love with the old lady’s vivacious niece, Meg, who’s engaged to the local minister. Meg knows that there’s a wide world out there, but it’s not until she meets “Maxine and Stephanie” that she finally gets a taste of it.

kinky_bootsKinky Boots | Broadway in Tucson
March 14-19

Take the ride to Tucson for the show that celebrates the best in all of us! The score is outstanding and the show’s message is heartwarming. The show explores the challenges that shape our journey, the joys that keep us going and the shoes that lift us up along the way! Based on true events, this upbeat musical tells the heartwarming and humorous story of two people with nothing in common or so they think! Charlie is a factory owner struggling to save his family business. Lola is a fabulous entertainer with a wildly exciting idea. With a little compassion and a lot of understanding, this unexpected pair learns to embrace their differences and creates a line of sturdy stilettos unlike any the world has ever seen! It’s Broadway’s huge-hearted, high-heeled hit with songs by Grammy- and Tony- winning pop icon Cyndi Lauper. This joyous musical celebration is about the friendships we discover, and the belief that you can change the world when you change your mind.

Disenchanted – The Hilarious Hit Musical | Mesa Arts Centerdisenchanted
March 26

Think Bridesmaids for Disney princesses! This sidesplitting adult parody of the Disney princess posse will make you blush and feel nostalgic all at once. Poisoned apples. Glass slippers. Who needs ’em? Not Snow White and her sassy squad in the hilarious hit musical that’s anything but Grimm. Forget the princesses you think you know, the original storybook heroines have come back to life to set the record straight. After multiple sold-out runs nationwide, these royal renegades tossed off their tiaras to bring their hilariously subversive, not-for-the-kiddies musical to Mesa, and what you thought about princesses will never be the same!

the_scottsboro_brosThe Scottsboro Boys | Black Theatre Troupe and Phoenix Theatre
April 5-23

This sensational, but true story follows a case that changed history paired with the thrilling, final collaboration by musical theater greats John Kander and Fred Ebb. Set in the prejudicial 1930s South, nine African-American men were ripped from a train, accused of rape by two white women and hauled to jail without a shred of actual evidence against them. The Scottsboro Boys were rushed through trial procedures, found guilty and sentenced to death. What occurred in the years following the trials was a harrowing tale of bravery and strength in the face of great adversity. No other crime in American history, let alone a crime that never occurred, is seen as the landmark set of legal cases stemming from racism that set legal precedent for every citizen to have the right to a fair trial – a fitting and enduring legacy for these nine lives that mattered.

Hir | Stray Cat Theatrehir
April 28-May 13

Somewhere in the suburbs, Isaac has returned from the war to help take care of his ailing father, only to discover a household in revolt. The insurgent: his mother. Liberated from an oppressive marriage, with Isaac’s newly out transgender sibling as her ally, she’s on a crusade to dismantle the patriarchy. Voted one of the 10 best new plays in 2015, Taylor Mac’s sly, subversive comedy reveals that annihilating the past doesn’t always free you from it.

the_book_of_mormonThe Book of Mormon | ASU Gammage
May 18-28

As soon as you finish reading this arts issue, grab your phone and order tickets to this hit musical that returns to the Valley by popular demand! If you missed it last time, don’t let it happen again! This nine-time Tony Award-winning Best Musical, that The New York Times calls “the best musical of the century,” follows the misadventures of a mismatched pair of missionaries, sent halfway across the world to spread the Good Word.

Looking for more on the 2016-2017 arts season?

All The State’s A Stage

The World Awaits

Classical Arts

By The Genre

2016-2017 Arts Calendar