10 Shows Not to Miss | 2018-2019

LGBTQ and social justice themes inspire this season’s must-see productions

By Staff, October 2018 Issue.

Whether you prefer the type of performances that require you to use your imagination or the variety that document the most literal of human experiences, the odds are that you’ll find a show that sparks your interest in the season ahead.

From politically charged Native Gardens and Two Trains Running to a controversial baker in The Cake and a drag queen with a spatula in Cookin’s a Drag, Phoenix stages will showcase a variety of LGBTQ and social justice themes this season.

Here are our top 10 must-see professional shows for 2018-2019:

  1. Native Gardens

Arizona Theatre Company

Tucson: Sept. 8-29

Phoenix: Oct. 4-21

Karen Zacarías’ hilarious new comedy is the story of high-powered lawyer Pablo and his wife, Tania, a doctoral student, who are working toward the American Dream. They move into a well-to-do, mostly white neighborhood in our nation’s capital. A delicate disagreement over a long-standing fence line soon spirals into an all-out, ludicrously comic border dispute, exposing both couples’ notions of race, taste, class and cultural privilege through a refreshing comedic lens.

“A true breath of comic fresh air. It’s a biting, perceptive, and ultimately hopeful sendup to our fraught relationships with those around us – even right next door … ” – DC Theatre Scene

  1. Fun Home

Phoenix Theatre

Oct. 18-Nov.4

If you missed the national tour of this Tony Award-winner at ASU’s Gammage last season, don’t miss Phoenix Theatre’s regional premiere! Based on out cartoonist Alison Bechel’s autobiographical novel, Fun Home follows Bechel’s coming to terms with her closeted father’s suicide while dealing with her own sexual identity.

“The emotional honesty of Fun Home gives it a universal accessibility. This is a proud lesbian musical that also happens to be one of the best new musicals of our era.” – Los Angeles Times

  1. The Cake

Stray Cat Theatre

Nov. 9-24

Sometimes a cake isn’t just a cake. Jen lives in New York, but has always dreamed of getting married in her small North Carolina hometown, so she heads down south with her partner to ask Della, her late mother’s best friend, to do the honors of making the wedding cake at her bakery. Della’s cakes are legendary, even earning her a spot as a contestant on the “Great American Baking Show.” She is overjoyed at Jen’s request until she realizes there’s not just one bride, but two, forcing her to re-examine some of her deeply-held beliefs, as well as her own marriage. Food, faith, and family loyalty take center stage in a paradigm-shifting comedy sure to leave you hungry for more.

“I laughed, I cried, I learned, I loved.…Bekah Brunstetter has written that rarity among LGBT-themed plays, one that might actually inspire baby steps towards mutual understanding.” – StageScene LA.

  1. Dear Evan Hansen

ASU Gammage

Nov. 27-Dec. 2

A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. Dear Evan Hansen, a deeply personal and profoundly contemporary musical about life and the way we live it, won six Tony Awards in 2017, including Best Musical, and the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album.

“One of the most remarkable shows in musical theater history.” – The Washington Post.

  1. Two Mile Hollow

Stray Cat Theatre

Jan. 18- Feb. 2, 2019

When the Donnellys gather to divide their belongings after the sale of their oceanfront mansion, both metaphorical and literal storms start brewing. Two Mile Hollow cleverly explores the age-old genre of plays about affluent white families retreating to their waterfront homes to battle it out with brutality, awe and compassion. Only this time, none of the white characters are played by white actors.

  1. Two Trains Running

Arizona Theatre Company

Tucson: Jan. 19-Feb. 9

Phoenix: Feb. 14-March 3

One of Pulitzer Prize-winning author August Wilson’s most beloved works, and part of his 10-play cycle, Two Trains Running focuses on the crossroads of a revolution. There’s a new president in the White House. Racial tensions are on the rise. But no, it’s not 2018. It’s 1969, and the Civil Rights Movement is sending tremors through Pittsburgh’s Hill District. Two Trains Running explores a time of extraordinary change and the ordinary people who get left behind.

The New York Times called Two Trains Running, “Mr. Wilson’s most adventurous and honest attempt to reveal the intimate heart of history.”

  1. I Am My Own Wife

BLK BOX PHX

March 7-16, 2019

I Am My Own Wife closes out BBP’s inaugural season. Pulitzer- and Tony award-winning show, written by Doug Wright, is based on a true story of an East German transgender woman, Charlotte von Mahlsdorf. The play, a vivid portrait of a unique person whose ability to endure and survive the Nazi onslaught and the repressive East German regime.

  1. Sisters in Law

Phoenix Theatre

April 3-28, 2019

This stunning world premiere of this new play features the relationship between polar opposite modern-day legends, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sandra Day O’Connor, sitting together on the United States Supreme Court.

Previously examined by Linda Hirshman in her New York Times Bestseller by the same name, the relationship between associate justices was summed up by publisher Harper Collins’ as “Republican and Democrat, Christian and Jew, western rancher’s daughter and Brooklyn girl – transcends party, religion, region, and culture – Strengthened by each other’s presence, these groundbreaking judges, the first and second to serve on the highest court in the land, have transformed the Constitution and America itself, making it a more equal place for all women.”

  1. Harlem Shakespeare Festival’s All Female Othello

Southwest Shakespeare Company at Taliesin West

April 19-28, 2019

Debra Ann Byrd, founder and artistic director of the Harlem Shakespeare Festival, leads an all-female cast in the title role of Othello, the Moor of Venice. This unique vision of one of Shakespeare’s most-famous plays about jealousy, intrigue and betrayal is brought to the stages of Scottsdale as you’ve never seen it before. Do not miss this once-in-a-lifetime production, straight from New York City to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West.

  1. Cookin’s a Drag

Phoenix Theatre

April 24-May 19

Grab your spatula and touch up your lipstick. Cookin’s a Drag points the spotlight – and the TV camera – on Betty D. Licious and her scrumptious back-up boys for her fifth anniversary special, cooking on live TV. What could go wrong? This world premiere features music and lyrics by Clint Edwards, with additional lyrics by Michael Barnard. Based on the book by Michael Barnard with additional book text by Vincent VanVleet and D. Scott Withers.