Theater Scene

Previews and reviews of what's running now

 Beehive: What would summer in Phoenix be without an endless parade of jukebox musicals? Beehive is that genre’s queen and, like the monsoon, it arrives every year — usually in August and usually at a wee theater that can’t afford a book musical this time of year. Broadway Palm tends to have bigger budgets and better production values, which is good news for people whose out-of-town visitors want to take in a show this month. This musical tribute to girl singers of the ’60s is built for anyone who thinks a vinyl minidress and a towering bouffant are hilarious, or those who get all goose-pimply during the chorus of “The Beat Goes On” and teary-eyed recalling Pet Clark doing “Downtown.” There’s girl-group patter to fill the spaces between the dozens of memorable pop hits here, which include “Wishin’ and Hopin’,” “Don’t Sleep In the Subway,” and “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me.” Broadway Palm, located at 5247 East Brown Road in Mesa, plans to keep this one afloat through September 22. Tickets are $43-$52 including the dinner buffet, or $25 for the show only. Call 480-325-6700 for more information.

Fahrenheit 451: Ray Bradbury adapted his groundbreaking novel into a play in the late 1970s, although it didn’t make it to the stage until almost a decade later. This local production marks the debut of Chyro Theatre, a group of evacuees from the now-defunct Is What It Is Theatre that is promising (mostly by way of a series of earnest YouTube commercials) to do something “different” with local theater. Although its premiere season includes Butterflies Are Free (argh!), it’s starting out with this much-less-seen number about freedom of speech, youth violence, and the evils of censorship. Co-founder Tom Leveen is directing and playing the lead; most of the rest of the cast is made up of newcomers. The group’s newly renovated space is located in Scottsdale’s Papago Plaza, 1330 North Scottsdale Road. Fahrenheit 451 plays through August 25; for ticket prices and more information, call 480-258-2329. To watch Chyro commercials and learn more about the new troupe, visit

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 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.

Death Trap: Ira Levin’s popular and very creepy tale about the lengths to which theater people will go to get a good review is back, this time in Scottsdale and directed by KatiBelle Collins. Levin’s better work includes Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives, but Death Trap remains his biggest hit, as well as one of Broadway’s all-time most successful productions. It asks us to care about down-on-his-luck playwright Sidney Bruhl, who’s maybe willing to kill to get another stage hit. Let’s hope that Collins is as good a director as she is an actor (her unforgettably dreadful turn in Menopause: The Musical notwithstanding). The show runs through August 25 at the Actor’s Café, 4720 North Scottsdale Road. The curtain goes up at 7:30 on Fridays and Saturdays; tickets cost $20 to $25. Call 480-483-1664 for reservations.

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