Theater Scene

Reviews and previews of what's running now

Footloose: Kick off your Sunday shoes. No, seriously. Because the stage musical adaptation of Herbert Ross’ 1984 teen scene flick is back, this time for more than a month at Hale Center Theatre, where teenage rebellion and dance floor angst never die. This drama(!) set to music fell flat on Broadway, but its road companies did big business all over the country, followed by innumerable community and semi-professional productions just like this one. Footloose’s rebel yell is channeled into pop ditties — “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” “Almost Paradise,” and that hyper-groovy title anthem — we all can sing along with, whether we want to or not. Authors Dean Pitchford, Walter Bobbie, and Tom Snow have mostly hung onto Pitchford’s original film story about a small town where rock music and dancing are forbidden. Our Hero moves there, tries to fit in, and, meanwhile, falls for a pretty blonde who likes to tango. Footloose runs July 11 through August 18, with Saturday matinees at 3 p.m. and evening performances at 7:30 Thursdays through Saturdays. Good seats cost $22; all others are $20. Hale Center is located at 50 West Page Avenue in Gilbert. Call 480-497-1181 for more information.

The Nerd: It’s possible to spend an evening with a nerd and enjoy it, and Larry Shue’s far-too-frequently produced comic script proves it. Mr. Shue’s geek is an ostensible Vietnam War hero who wedges himself into the life of his old Army buddy, whose life he claims to have saved in battle. There’s quite a lot of social commentary, much of which gets missed because the yuks come so fast and furious here. The story’s deep implausibility can, at least in better productions, be offset by tongue-in-cheek humor and a sense of fun about all those horrible people we knew (or were!) in high school. The brave among us will give Theater Works’ summer stock production, which plays July 12 through 22, a whirl to see if Peoria thespians will get Shue’s subtler points across. Theater Works can be found at 8355 West Peoria Avenue. If you get lost, call 623-815-7930.

Torch Song Trilogy: The all-new Unnamed Theater company appears to be made up entirely of junior mince: the publicity photo for this production of Harvey Fierstein’s best-known work features a cast of what appear to be a half-dozen well-coifed high school students and one very shiny drag queen. Director Matt Chandler has apparently cast a man to play the female role of Lady Blues, a move less bold than casting 20-year-olds to play the middle-aged and older grownups in this 1981 charmer about an outrageously effeminate gay man with an equally queer foster son. Time — and a theater critic or two — will tell how Chandler has fared. Performances can be found Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 6 p.m. through July 22 at Indian Village Shopping Center, 4015 North 16th Street. Tickets can be purchased online at www.sidebarpro.com, where one can enter a contest to help name this unnamed troupe, or by calling 602-413-0507.

Grease: As the second Broadway revival of this perennial, featuring Phoenix’s own Max Crumm (who was chosen to play Danny via NBC’s recent reality series Grease: You’re the One That I Want!), gets set to launch, Arizona Broadway Theatre is cashing in with its own production this month. Originally staged in 1971 in Chicago as a play with incidental music, this musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey is now the godfather of its teen tuner subgenre. It’s unlikely there’s a single American living who doesn’t know the plot of Grease, but who among us can name the original Danny and Sandy? (That’s Barry Bostwick and Carole Demas.) Among the many stars and has-beens who’ve done the hand jive are Jeff Conaway, Marilu Henner, Patrick Swayze, John Travolta, Treat Williams, Megan Mullally, Rosie O’Donnell, Debby Boone, and Jo Anne Worley. Phew! Compare some of them with the guys at ABT, who’ll be hopelessly devoted to you through July 29 at 7701 W. Paradise Ln. in Peoria. Dinner is served one hour and 45 minutes prior to curtain. Showtimes are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday matinees at 2 p.m., Sunday matinees at 1 p.m., and Sunday twilight shows at 7 p.m. Ticket prices are $39-$49, which includes dinner, show and tax. Call the box office at 623-776-8400.

 
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