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 Deathtrap: Theater Works is trotting out this frankly done-to-death perennial, one that's better remembered for the excellent film version starring Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve. Regardless of who's playing it (and this production features mostly local unknowns), Deathtrap really only works if you don't know the windup huzzah. Which is to say that the best audience for this comic whodunit is one that hasn't already seen it -- and at this point, it's anyone's guess who that might be. Through March 26. Theater Works, 10484 W. Thunderbird Rd., Sun City. General admission tickets are $23; call 623-815-7930 for showtimes.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane: This play was a smash in London and bagged four Tony Awards, in part because it's a gorgeous piece of writing that's hard to pull off. It's a small play that requires accomplished actors and firm direction in order to overcome the melodrama of manipulative Mag Folan and her daughter, Maureen. The gals spend a mean two hours battling each other with spite and malice in rural Ireland, which sounds dreary but -- if it's done well -- can be entertaining and even enlightening. The Algonquin Theatre Company production continues through March 19. West Valley Art Museum, 17420 N. Avenue of the Arts (114th Ave.), Surprise. Tickets are $20; call 602-547-8920 for showtimes.

Forever Plaid: Apparently, no theater season is complete without at least one production of this, the story of four dead guys who love to sing. Sparky, Smudge, Jinx and Frankie have returned from the grave yet again -- this time under the direction of Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame member Dee Dee Wood -- to perform the greatest pop hits of the 1950s. Folks who can't get enough of crooners in cardigans and white bucks singing "Three Coins in the Fountain" and "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing" will want to race on over to Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center, 33606 N. 60th St. in Cave Creek, where Desert Foothills is charging from $12 to $22 for another go at this oft-seen tuner through March 26. Call 480-488-1981 for showtimes.

The Melody Lingers On: Songs of Irving Berlin: Maestro Irving Berlin never learned to read or compose music, yet produced dozens of musical theater shows, founded the famous Music Box theater, and wrote thousands of popular music's most famous songs -- all of them in the key of F sharp. This aptly titled revue recounts the story of Berlin's life and the lives his music has touched through much of the past century. The cast features popular crooner Nick Cartel, Stagebrush favorite Katie Olsen, and a newly svelte Kristin Drathman. Directed and co-choreographed by Mark Steven-Robinson with Heather Langam, and music direction by Alan Ruch. Through March 19. Phoenix Theatre, 100 E. McDowell Rd., Phoenix. Call 602-254-2151 for times and ticket prices.

Bunnicula: There's no need to fear, apparently: Bunnicula is here. Jon Klein and Chris Jeffries' musical comedy for kids, based on James and Deborah Howe's popular books, is all about the Monroe family as seen through the eyes of its pets. Harold the Dog and Chester the Cat freak when a bunny joins the family, and really come unglued when they find a tomato drained of its juice. When still more vegetables turn up annihilated, the four-legged duo suspects the silly rabbit in a story filled with song that's strong on messages about why kids needn't fear imaginary monsters. The cast features Childsplay vets Debra K. Stevens and Jon Gentry. Through Sunday, March 12. Tempe Performing Arts Center, 132 E. 6th St., Tempe. Call 480-350-8119 for times and ticket prices.

 
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