The King and I: In Thailand, its illegal to own any memorabilia related to either this Rodgers and Hammerstein musical or its source material, Margaret Landons book Anna and the King of Siam. Thats because the Thai government says that both the book and the musical contain such egregious historical inaccuracies about the King of Siam. In America, all we care about is this musicals relentlessly hummable score, which includes such standards as Hello Young Lovers, Shall We Dance?, I Whistle a Happy Tune, Something Wonderful, and Getting To Know You. The story, by Anna Leonowens, tells of her job as teacher to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s, and is considered autobiographical but with objective inaccuracies. Which, today, is merely a popular trend in all memoirs. This Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre version plays all the way through July 28 at 5247 E. Brown Rd. in Mesa. Call 480-325-6700 for tickets and showtimes.
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All Shook Up: One cant help but wonder what Elvis would have said about this, the king (sorry couldnt resist) of all jukebox musicals. We already know what New York critics had to say about Christopher Ashleys homage to Presleys pop music catalog, and it wasnt anything good. The touring production of the show, with its typically cornball book by Joe DiPietro, maintains the energy and the schmaltz of the original, and anyone who can bear the thought of seeing the Elvis songbook morphed into a book musical about teen angst and cross-dressing (no, seriously) may well enjoy what these folks have done to his songs, Ma. Big boos, though, to DiPietros late attempt at promoting interracial dating, which comes too long after Hairspray did it better. All Shook Up shakes from June 12 to 17 at Gammage Auditorium, 1200 S. Forest Ave. in Tempe. Call the box office at 480-965-3434 for show times and ticket prices. Tell them Colonel Parker sent you.
Pillow Talk: It would help tremendously if audiences could only forget Michael Gordons brilliant film comedy based on this 50 stage story about sexual mores and crossed phone lines. Alas, its book only calls to mind our memories of the characterizations created by Doris Day and Rock Hudson in that genre-launching 1959 movie, even though the stage play came first. Still, contemporary audiences clamor for the double entendres and squeaky-clean sex talk of interior decorator Jan Morrow and composer Brad Allen, who share a party line and dozens of pages of bitchy dialogue. Forget Do-Do and La Hudson and give Hale Center Theatres production a shake at 50 W. Page Ave. in Gilbert. The comedy plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30, with Saturday matinees at 3 p.m. Call 480-497-1181 for tickets and cast information.
The King and I, All Shook Up, Pillow Talk, Dream a Little Dream: The Nearly True Story of the Mamas and Papas and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Dream a Little Dream: The Nearly True Story of the Mamas and Papas: Before his death in January, Mamas and Papas co-founder Denny Doherty co-wrote this musical bio of one of folk rocks most influential bands. Why Doherty and co-author Paul Ledoux felt compelled to tell the nearly true story of this seminal pop band is anyones guess. As Doherty wrote, the tale told in this tuner (which is scored with the groups biggest hits, natch) has been stacked up, melded and muddled together. In any case, this is the shows world première as a musical, although Doherty occasionally performed it in a concert version before he died. The cast includes Alisa Schiff as Mama Cass Elliot, Michael Sample as John Phillips, John Ashley Brown as Denny Doherty, and Mishaela Faucher as Michelle Phillips. Heres hoping Faucher is a better vocalist than Michelle, the only surviving member of the band, was. Tickets are on sale at $38 for adults and $33 for seniors and students; PT has extended the show through June 10. Call them at 602-254-2151 or find them online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Phew. It looked for a second there as if theater audiences were 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 dining on lamb strudel (seriously, its one of Chef Allen Dowes entree choices) at this popular Peoria dinner theater. Sondheims 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.