Opening Nights | January 2016

Six productions heading Valley stages this month

By Richard Schultz, January 2016 Issue.


THEATRE_ComedyErrorsThe Comedy of Errors, Jan. 16-30

Double trouble is afoot in one of Shakespeare’s most hilarious comedies. They laugh alike, they walk alike and, at times, they even talk alike! You can lose your mind, when there are two sets of twins! As Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant Dromio go looking for their long-lost family in Ephesus, they are thrown into a whirlwind of mistaken identity. For who should reside in Ephesus, unbeknownst to them, but their long-lost twins! Antipholus and Dromio are about to meet their match, leading everyone in the town to see double. In Shakespeare’s farcical onslaught of mistaken identities, fateful romance and family reunions. Much confusion, slapstick and surprise results as a family that once was lost now is found, in a strange, possibly haunted and madly wonderful land.

The Comedy of Errors
Jan. 16-30
Southwest Shakespeare Company
Mesa Arts Center
1 E. Main Street, Mesa
Tickets: $10-$44; 480-644-6500

Riverdance – The 20th Anniversary World Tour, Jan. 12-17

The international Irish dance phenomenon is back! Drawing on Irish traditions, the combined talents of the performers propel Irish dancing and music into the present day. Experience an innovative and exciting blend of dance, music and song. 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.

Riverdance – The 20th Anniversary World Tour
Jan. 12-17
Mesa Arts Center
1 E. Main St., Mesa
Tickets: $47-$77; 480-644-6500

THEATRE_DeathTrapDeathtrap, Jan. 8-24

Seemingly comfortably ensconced in his charming Connecticut home, Sidney Bruhl, a successful writer of Broadway thrillers, is struggling to overcome a “dry” spell, which has resulted in a string of failures and a shortage of funds. A possible break in his fortune occurs when he receives a script from a student in the seminar he has been conducting at a nearby college – a thriller which Sidney recognizes immediately as a potential Broadway hit. Sidney’s plan, which he devises with his wife’s help, is to offer collaboration to the student, an idea that the younger man quickly accepts. Thereafter suspense mounts steadily as the plot begins to twist and turn with devilish cleverness.

Jan. 8-24
Mesa Encore Theatre, Mesa Arts Center
1 E. Main St., Mesa
Tickets: $29; 480-644-6500

THEATRE_IfThenIf/Then, Jan. 12-17

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 Ms. Menzel. 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, Elizabeth’s life splits into two parallel paths as this modern woman faces the intersection of choice and chance. Original cast members LaChanze, Anthony Rapp and James Snyder are also featured in the Gammage performances.

Jan. 12-17
ASU Gammage
1200 S. Forest Ave., Tempe
Tickets: $30-$200; 480-965-3434

THEATRE_WaistWatchersWaistWatchers: The Musical!, Dec. 23-Jan. 24

The struggle to be that perfect weight is often referred to as “The Battle of the Bulge.” Alan Jacobson’s toe-tapping musical is set in Cook’s Women’s Gym and follows the women as they go through the ups and downs of survival in a weight-and-beauty obsessed world. It’s a light-hearted look at four women singing about assorted body issues from dieting, exercise and aging to plastic surgery and sex after 40, and ultimately the relentless search for a positive self-image through 25 popular songs with parody lyrics.

WaistWatchers: The Musical!
Dec. 23-Jan. 24
Herberger Theater Center
222 E. Monroe St., Phoenix
Tickets: $43-$53; 602-252-8497

THEATRE_GrandConcourseGrand Concourse, Jan. 15-31

Having dedicated her life to religious service, Shelley runs a Bronx soup kitchen with unsentimental efficiency. But lately her heart’s not quite in it. Her brisk nature masks an unsettling fear that her efforts are meaningless. When Emma – an idealistic but confused college dropout – arrives to volunteer, her reckless mix of generosity and self-involvement pushes Shelley to the breaking point. With keen humor and startling compassion, this fascinating play, written by Heidi Schreck, navigates the mystery of faith, the limits of forgiveness and the pursuit of something resembling joy.

Grand Concourse
Jan. 15-31
Theatre Artists Studio
4848 E. Cactus Road, Ste. 406, Scottsdale
Tickets: $20; 602-765-0120