By Benjamin Leatherman
By Robrt L. Pela
By Katrina Montgomery
By Robrt L. Pela
By Kathleen Vanesian
By New Times
By Ray Stern
By Eric Tsetsi
Trainspotting: The heck with rehab. Anyone wanting to kick narcotics addiction should just go see this gloriously ugly production of Harry Gibson's meditation on addiction's dark night. The play, based on the Irvine Welsh novel and best known from director Danny Boyle's popular 1996 film adaptation, is really just a series of monologues, spoken directly to the audience by heroin addict Mark Renton. The superb cast steps directly into enactments of several revoltingly realistic acts of violence and deprivation, expertly directed by Ron May. The play works best as a warped commentary on the horrors of drug addiction by striking a simple single note: This is a repulsive life, from which there's no escaping. May is good at conveying the tribal insularity of druggies with tightly confined movement and claustrophobic configurations of actors, all of whom -- especially Kyle Sorrell in the lead -- are exemplary. Through Saturday, June 3, at Metro Arts, 1700 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix. Call 480-820-8022.
The Woodsman: Is What It Is Theatre all but vanished last year, but resurfaces this month with an original adaptation (and Southwest première) of the 2004 film that starred Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. The story follows Walter, who's just been released from a 12-year prison sentence for committing a horrible crime. His family has disowned him and the police are hounding him, but he's trying to be good. Despite the love and support of his new girlfriend and a court-appointed therapist, Walter again caves to temptation -- surprise! -- and confronts his own personal demons. The folks at the theater are cautioning against bringing kids to The Woodsman "due to thematic elements." Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 p.m., through Saturday, June 3, at CAFA Theater, 7475 E. McDowell Rd., Scottsdale. Tickets are available via the theater's Web site at http://iswhatitis.org/.
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas: Musical tarts! Dancing hookers! This late-'70s perennial tells the story of a bordello that existed for decades in Texas and was shut down after a snarky newsman wrote about the "loveless copulation" that visitors to the Chicken Ranch were enjoying. When this musical premièred in 1978, both the title and subject matter were considered scandalous; today, Whorehouse is as tame as a box of kittens. Somehow, it still has an audience. This production features Sarah Wolter as Angel and Pamela Blair as Mona. Through June 11 at Phoenix Theatre, 100 E. McDowell Rd., Phoenix. Call 602-254-2151.
Epic Proportions: This comedy by playwrights Larry Coen and David Crane came about after the pair noticed an extra in a biblical epic they were watching on television being crushed by a falling column. Coen and Crane (who's best known as co-creator and executive producer of TV's Friends) began to wonder what this guy's day had been like before that giant Styrofoam column landed on him, and the result is the infrequently produced backstage story about a couple of bit players who rise through the Hollywood ranks via the usual stage comedy shenanigans. Through Sunday, June 4, at Copperstate Dinner Theater, which is located inside Phoenix Greyhound Park at 3801 E. Washington St., Phoenix. Tickets are $32.95, which includes dinner. Call 602-279-3129 for reservations and showtimes.
Aida: What do gay rock icons do with their downtime? Why, they write Disney rock musicals, of course. Set in ancient Egypt, Sir Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida grafts a pop-rock score busting with ballads and high-kicking dance numbers onto that old saw about an Ancient Egyptian princess who falls in love with her conqueror, the Egyptian captain Radames. Disney's take on Nubian handmaidens is certainly more wholesome than anything the pre-Sir version of Sir Elton might have presented, but Aida is still hardly a show for the whole family. See for yourself at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, 5247 E. Brown Rd., Mesa. Call 480-325-6700 for showtimes and prices. Through June 10.