In 1998, a 21-year-old gay college student was beaten and left to die in the hills outside Laramie, Wyoming. The hate crime made headlines throughout the nation; the community, population 27,000, became synonymous with intolerance.In the year and a half following Matthew Shepard's death, stage writer Moisés Kaufman and members of the New York-based Tectonic Theatre Project traveled to Laramie, where they conducted 200-some interviews with people of the town. The residents' words were woven into The Laramie Project, hailed by Time magazine as "one of the best plays of 2000."
Beginning Friday, April 11, Stray Cat Theatre presents the chronicle of a community shaken by scandal. Performances continue, Thursday through Sunday, through May 3 at the VYT Performing Arts Outreach Center, 1121 North First Street. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students, seniors and military personnel. Call 602-253-8188, extension 2, or see www.straycattheatre.org to purchase. - Jill Koch
If you can't take the HEAT, find another place to spend Saturday night. The Desert Dance Theatre concert, comprising works by company members and internationally known choreographers, fires up the Orpheum Theatre, 203 West Adams, at 8 p.m. April 12. Tickets are $10 to $18; call 602-262-7272. - Jill Koch
Rise and Shine
We're suckers for a happy ending: An estimated 200,000 will attend Jesus the Christ, the world's largest annual outdoor Easter pageant, at Mesa's Temple Visitors Center, 525 East Main. The 400-person cast, plus sheep and donkeys, takes the stage at 8 p.m. April 10 through 12 (Spanish performances) and April 15 through 19 (English). Admission is free; see www.easterpageant.org. - Jill Koch
Broadway legend moves Inside the Music
Anyone who has followed a passion against all logic or lived the life of an artist has probably been touched by A Chorus Line's Cassie, who belts "What I Did for Love" in response to the question: "What would you do if you could never dance again?" Though Donna McKechnie had appeared in a few Broadway shows by the time she got the role of Cassie, it remains the role for which she is best known. McKechnie's résumé reads like a wish list for musical theater actors and dancers, and she has won just about every theater award there is, including a Best Actress Tony.She now stars in Inside the Music, a tale of a Midwestern girl in the 1950s who runs away to become a dancer. Christopher Durang had a hand in crafting the book, and director Tommy Walsh also worked on the piece, which features choreography and songs by McKechnie. The one-woman show provides a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a legend onstage, live and right in your own backyard.
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Donna McKechnie: Inside the Music takes the stage at 8 p.m. Friday, April 11, at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 West Adams. Tickets range from $20 to $40 and can be purchased by calling 602-262-7272. For more information, call 602-543-2787.- Quetta Carpenter
Brazilian troupe cuts a red-hot rug
Dirty dancing, indeed. Though tango's beginnings are oft debated, one theory maintains that the dance originated in the brothels of Buenos Aires as a reenactment of the prostitute-pimp relationship. Risqué beginnings or no, the sensual fusion of Cuban, African and Italian rhythms is hot stuff -- and the Valley is about to get a glimpse of true tango.Brazilian dance company Tango Buenos Aires, considered to be among the most authentic representatives of the tango, dances into downtown's Orpheum Theatre on Tuesday, April 15, and Wednesday, April 16. The troupe performs to tango's traditional instruments - piano, violin, guitar and flute - as well as the bandoneon.
Showtime is 8 p.m. at the theater, 203 West Adams. Tickets, $27 to $40, are available through 602-262-7272 or www.tickets.com.- Jill Koch