10 Must-See Plays in Metro Phoenix This Spring

Emily Giauque Evans goes out there as a youngster but comes back a star, in Dames at Sea.
Emily Giauque Evans goes out there as a youngster but comes back a star, in Dames at Sea.
Sam Miller

In our groundhog-free city, the astronomically defined season of spring can still be rather delightful, even if the weather doesn't feel that much different from autumn or even winter. Skies are blue, everything smells good (well, better than usual, anyway), and our typically understated vegetation is at its greenest, fluffiest pre-brushfire peak.

When all is fresh and new, and cats and dogs are having lots of sex, it's a great time to look at the rest of the theater season and scope out what you want to nail (other than the shows you already picked out months ago). So here we go, from equinox to solstice, in order of opening dates. Click on the theater links in the headings for tickets and more info:

See also: The 10 Best Plays I Saw in Metro Phoenix in 2013

Dames at Sea Hale Centre Theatre Through April 29

This is the brilliantly written spoof of '30s-style show-biz-set musicals that launched Bernadette Peters' career in a little dump in the Village in 1966. Hale has started a series of minimally staged Monday and Tuesday night performances that run concurrently with its bigger, fancier weekend shows, and Dames, presented here as it originally was -- with an ironically tiny cast enacting Busby Berkeley-style numbers -- is perfect for this time slot, which is in turn perfect for an audience that includes artistic and hospitality professionals who don't have the same nights off as regular people.

Director-choreographer Cambrian James (Damn Yankees, Little Shop of Horrors) has wisely reacquired the adorable, talented Emily Giauque Evans (also Yankees) to play Peters' role, Ruby, an aspiring hoofer fresh off the bus from Utah (you, too?). Throw in a scheming cougar, some sailors, the stock market crash, FDR, and witty, eerily astute re-imaginings of tunes both torchy and danceable (it's possible you've heard "Raining in My Heart," if nothing else from this score) and you have what's called a frothy bagatelle.

Don't Dress for Dinner Desert Foothills Theater March 27 - April 13

From left, Diane Senffner, Roger Prenger, and Melissa Powers in Don't Dress for Dinner
From left, Diane Senffner, Roger Prenger, and Melissa Powers in Don't Dress for Dinner
courtesy of Desert Foothills Theatre

Last weekend I found myself defining farce for someone who probably has seen one before but had never thought about what makes it a special subgenre of comedy (lots of doors, mistaken identity, frustrated attempts to have inappropriate sex). "That sounds fun," she said. Yes, it does.

This continental-style story by Marc Camoletti (Boeing-Boeing), known as Pyjamas pour Six in its original French, translated and adapted by Robin Hawdon, and popping up at community theaters everywhere especially since its 2012 Broadway revival, involves Bernard trying to surprise his mistress, Suzanne, with a romantic meal catered by chef Suzette at his home while his wife, Jacqueline, is away. No potential confusion there! Known funny people Roger Prenger, Diane Senffner, and Deborah Ostreicher are part of the cast of this entry in the intimate and typically goofy Black Box series at DFT.

And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little Theatre Artists Studio April 11 - 27

In the underpopulated and rarely seen category "revived American dramas from the 1960s and '70s" falls the first play ever produced by Chicago's venerable, star-making Steppenwolf, written by Pulitzer-winner Paul Zindel (The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds). Maple and Vine castmates Maureen Dias and Debra Rich (Accomplice), Judy Lebeau, Walt Pedano (Sons of the Prophet), Dolores D'Amore Goldsmith, Dee Rich, and Taylor Updegraff are directed by the keen-eyed Judy Rollings (Doubt, Collected Stories, etc., etc.) in this nasty family-centered story. And yeah, I know a few of those people, but honestly, if you've ever done any theater in the Valley, it's almost impossible not to.

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