Opening Nights | January 2017

Eight productions heading to Arizona stages this month

By Richard Schultz, January 2017 Issue.

Love Letters
Jan. 6-15

lovelettersThis funny and poignant tale of what could have been details a friendship sustained throughout the years and an affirmation of the adage that your first love is the hardest to forget. Two friends, rebellious Melissa Gardner and straight-arrow Andrew Makepeace Ladd III, have exchanged notes, cards and letters with each other for more than 50 years. Through these messages from second grade and summer vacations to college and well into adulthood, they discover that though they have spent a lifetime physically apart but, perhaps, they are as close spiritually as only true lovers can ever be.

Love Letters
Jan. 6-15
Fountain Hills Theater
11445 N. Saguaro Blvd., Fountain Hills
Tickets: $25; 480-837-9661 ext. 3

fox-on-the-fairwayThe Fox on the Fairway
Jan. 6-22

A tribute from Ken Ludwig (Lend Me A Tenor and Moon Over Buffalo) to the great English farces of the 1930s and 1940s, this farce takes audiences on a hilarious romp which 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.

The Fox on the Fairway
Jan. 6-22
Mesa Encore Theatre, Mesa Arts Center
1 E. Main St., Mesa,
Tickets: $31; 480-644-6500

My Life on A Dietmy-life-on-a-diet
Jan. 7-8

Hollywood legend, Renee Taylor takes the audience on a trip through her more than 60-year career in movies, Broadway and such iconic roles as Sylvia, Fran Drescher’s overbearing, food-loving mother on “The Nanny” and Ted Mosby’s neighbor, Mrs. Matsen, on “How I Met Your Mother.” Throughout this show, she shares how her perseverance and dieting, as well as her 47-year marriage to actor and director Joe Bologna (who staged this play), have been the true constants in her life. The journey includes dieting advice she received from Hollywood stars including Joan Crawford and Marilyn Monroe, as well as stories of many other stars she knew and with whom she worked.

My Life on A Diet
Jan. 7-8
Invisible Theatre
Berger Performing Arts Center
1200 W. Speedway, Tucson
Tickets: $42; 520-882-9721


Photo by Joan Marcus.

The Illusionists – Live from Broadway
Jan. 17-22

This spectacular production, which has shattered box office records around the globe, is packed with thrilling and sophisticated magic of unprecedented proportions. Audiences will witness stunning acts of grand illusion, levitation, mindreading, disappearance and, for the first time ever in history, a full view water torture escape during which acclaimed escapologist Andrew Basso will hold his breath for more than four minutes as he attempts to escape from his underwater cell. This group of world-class performers takes their cues from the great illusionists of the past, such as Harry Houdini, and pairs it with a contemporary set and costume design aesthetic. You won’t believe your eyes!

The Illusionists – Live from Broadway
ASU Gammage
Jan. 17-22
1200 S. Forest Ave. Tempe
Tickets: $20-$125; 480-965-3434

Night of the Chicken: Curse of the Crusty Clawnight-of-the-chicken
Jan. 13-29

When a science experiment gone wrong first turned Andrea Hafferton into a teenage werechicken, she thought she had it pretty bad. Now, three episodes later, things are even worse! Andi is forced to give a disastrous pep rally speech, Taco Tuesday gets cancelled, and someone lays an egg and blames it on her! Meanwhile, she still has to keep everyone at Ronald Reagan Junior High from discovering her monstrous secret. Written by Carrie Behrens and directed by Kim Porter, the fourth installment of this radio play series will be performed onstage with live sound effects.

Night of the Chicken:
Curse of the Crusty Claw
Space 55 | 636 E Pierce St., Phoenix
Tickets: $15

saturday-night-feverSaturday Night Fever – The Musical
Jan. 13-15

Put on your “Boogie Shoes” for one of the most loved dance stories of all time! It’s 1979 in Brooklyn, New York, and Tony Manero is young man with only one ambition in life: to become the disco king. When he meets Stephanie, who also dreams of a world beyond Brooklyn, they decide to train together for a dance competition and their lives are forever changed. Based on the 1977 film that became a cultural phenomenon, the electrifying score is packed with legendary hits from the Bee Gees, including the classics “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever,” “Jive Talking,” “You Should Be Dancing” and “How Deep is Your Love?”

Saturday Night Fever – The Musical
Jan. 13-15
Theater League
Orpheum Theatre
203 W. Adams St., Phoenix
Tickets: $35.25-$82.25; 602-262-7272

Winterfest: Hamlet & Much Ado About Nothinghamlet
Jan. 13-28

Southwest Shakespeare is staging two of William Shakespeare’s greatest works in repertory.Hamlet is a milestone in Shakespeare’s dramatic development – a portrait of a man torn between two forces: the need to remain morally pure and the need to take revenge. One of the cleverest comedies The Bard ever penned, Much Ado About Nothing, features one of the most engaging and unlikely romantic couples in all of Shakespeare, Beatrice and Benedick. In all its intrigues, battles of wits, buffoonery and drama, this romantic delight looks beneath the surface of love – past human frailty to humility and forgiveness.

Winterfest: Hamlet & Much Ado About Nothing
Jan. 13-28
Southwest Shakespeare Company
Mesa Arts Center
1 E. Main St., Mesa
Tickets: $15-$44; 480-644–6500

fiddler-on-the-roofFiddler on the Roof
Through Jan. 29

Featuring a cast of 28, under the direction of David Ira Goldstein, Arizona Theatre Company’s debut of Fiddler on the Roof also marks company’s largest production in more then 30 years. Based on the stories about Tevye the Dairyman by Sholem Aleichem, this international stage sensation tells the follows Tevye, a poor milkman whose love, pride and faith help him face the oppression of turn-of-the century czarist Russia. When Tevye’s eldest daughter, Tzeitel, begs him to let her marry a poor tailor rather than the middle-aged butcher who he has already chosen for her, Tevye must choose between his own daughter’s happiness and those beloved traditions that keep the outside world at bay. Meanwhile, there are other forces at work in Anatevka, dangerous forces that threaten to destroy the very life he is trying to preserve. This 1964 Tony Award-winner for Best Musical is includes a timeless score, featuring “To Life,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset” and “Matchmaker, Matchmaker.”

Fiddler on the Roof
Arizona Theatre Company
Tickets: $30-$80

Tucson: through Dec. 31
Temple of Music and Art
333 S. Scott Ave., Tucson
520- 622-2823

Phoenix: January 6-29
Herberger Theater Center
222 E. Monroe, Phoenix