By Kathleen Vanesian
By Amy Silverman
By Robrt L. Pela
By Jim Louvau
By Kathleen Vanesian
By Benjamin Leatherman
By New Times
By Becky Bartkowski
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum:Phew. It looked for a second there as if theater audiences were actually going to make it through an entire season without one troupe or another dusting off this mammoth musical warhorse. But, thanks to the efforts of Arizona Broadway Theatre, Phoenicians hungry for chestnuts can gnaw on this favored rerun while also dining on lamb strudel (seriously, it’s one of Chef Allen Dowe’s entree choices) at this popular Peoria dinner theater. Sondheim’s early hit combines Roman theater with classic vaudeville shtick and a bunch of songs that most of us can hum in our sleep. Forum plays through June 10 at 7701 West Paradise Lane in Peoria. Dinner is served at 6:15; curtain time is at 8. Call 623-776-8400 to reserve a seat or maybe just to plead with these guys to do more original work from time to time.
The Full Monty: Okay. A stage musical about a group of unemployed blue-collar workers who become strippers is a relatively tasty premise, but maybe not so yummy served up alongside actual entrees. Will audiences want to watch a band of pasty, out-of-shape blokes whipping off their togs while sampling the steak Diane? Will they find funny the scene where Michael Walker sits on a toilet, singing about dieting while scarfing down potato chips and a candy bar? Time and tastes will tell, as Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre’s production of the popular musical adaptation of the 1997 British film continues to go starkers during mealtime. The Full Monty performs at 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 11:45 a.m. on Sundays through June 2 at 5247 East Brown Road in Mesa. Tickets are $43-$52 including the dinner buffet, or $25 for the show only. Call 480-325-6700 for more information.
The Bad Seed:It’s almost too good to be true: Neil Cohen in dirndl and pigtails as Rhoda Penmark, the stage’s brattiest prepubescent, playing opposite Rosemary Close as Rhoda’s long-suffering mom, a lady with a shady past and an impossibly cool secret name. But wait! Both these lucky gals are supported in iTheatre’s sure-to-be-snarky production of Maxwell Anderson’s The Bad Seed by murder mystery perennial Greg Lutz (as excelsior fiend/handyman LeRoy) and the inimitable Paul Braun as landlady extraordinaire Monica Breedlove. Each of these thrilling thespians will be directed by local punk rock legend Robert X. Planet when this much-anticipated melodrama opens on May 11 at the Herberger Theater Center’s Performance OutReach Theater, 222 East Monroe. The show runs through June 2; for reservations, ticket prices, and show times, call 602-347-1071.
The Pillowman: Child abuse and child murder are all the rage in theater these days. There’s John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, about a group of boys still scarred from their abuse by a pedophilic priest. And Frozen, the British import about a serial killer that was so nicely done here by iTheatre Collaborative just last month. And this, Martin McDonagh’s hard, scaly commentary on family dynamics and violence, which poses the question, “Does a fictional depiction of violence inspire criminals?” Actors Theatre’s excellent cast includes Christian Miller and Jon Gentry. The show plays through May 13 at the Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe Street. Call 602-253-6701 for tickets and show times.
Pajama Tops: In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Copperstate Dinner Theatre is trotting out a remount of this, its first-ever production. One can’t imagine that a quarter-century has done anything to improve Mawby Green and Ed Feilbert’s script, one of those silly sex farces in which stereotypically goofy people tease us and each other for two hours before finally not having sex. There’s a ditzy maid, an oafish police inspector, a woman-hating poet who’s secretly gay, and a chic young couple who own the French villa in which the action, such as it is, takes place. Through May 20 at Copperstate Dinner Theater, inside Phoenix Greyhound Park, 3801 E. Washington St. For curtain times and ticket prices, call 602-279-3129.