With the 2014-15 theater season already started and the busy holiday season here before you know it, it's time to mark your calendars with fall's most anticipated productions. Get ready to laugh, cry, and renew your appreciation for the stage, because these shows look promising.
This adaptation of Ken Kinsey's great American novel follows antagonist Randle McMurphy as escapes the confines of prison by declaring insanity only to wage war in the mental ward with Head Nurse Ratched. Already being a book and a movie, the story comes to life on stage. Tickets are $25 for adults and $22 seniors and students. Visit desertstages.org.
Memphis Phoenix Theatre Now through October 12
Phoenix Theatre kicks off its 94th season with the Tony Award-winning musical, Memphis. This rock 'n' rolling production set in the 1950s tells a tale of love, music, and overcoming obstacles. Admission prices range from $30 to $75 for adults. For details and tickets, visit www.phoenixtheatre.com.
A recently paroled brother struggles to find direction in this play by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Set in the Louisiana bayou this heartfelt drama incorporates West African mythology as it delivers a story about relationships and true identity. Adult tickets are $20 in advance ($25 at the door), student tickets are $15 in advance ($18 at the door), and senior tickets are $18 in advance ($20 at the door). Visit straycattheatre.org for more information and tickets.
Radio Golf follows an ambitious black lawyer whose plans to redevelop a bad neighborhood in Pittsburg come to halt when a resistant property owner gives him a glimpse into the history of a home he's about to destroy. This is August Wilson's 10th play in a series that depicts the modern day African-American experience. General admission is $35. Visit blacktheatretroupe.org.
Suffering from 21st century problems? Binary Theatre feels you. Based off of a spring installation by the play's director, Colton Robertson, and Georg Büchner's Woyzeck Drowning But Not Falling expresses the everyday contemporary struggles that keep us staggering but not stagnant. General admission is $8. Details and tickets are available at www.binarytheatre.org.
Copperstar Repertory Co. is bringing everyone's favorite creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky family to the Mesa Arts Center's Piper Repertory Theater in a musical comedy that compliments the Halloween season. Seating prices range from $18 to $24. Tickets and information can be found at www.mesaartscenter.com.
There's a nuclear fallout, and naturally the few remaining survivors happen to be Simpsons fans. As they sit around piecing together memories of Matt Groening's animated series, they transform a cult cartoon into religious following, exposing the power of pop culture. Tickets are $15. Visit www.space55.org for more information.
Three middle-aged sisters reunite for a weekend at their family home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Among the cast of characters is a trophy boyfriend, a fading movie star, a cleaning lady that predicts the future, and two siblings who never really saw a reason to grow up. This Tony-winning play, produced by Arizona Theater Company, delivers comic twists and moments of family tenderness. Seating prices range from $35 to $60. Visit www.herbergertheater.org for tickets and showtimes.
There may not be as much nudity and blood as people would like, but Southwest Shakespeare Company's production of King John is the next best thing to quell your Game of Thrones withdrawal. In this tale of greed, power, and betrayal, some of Shakespeare's best-written characters come to life. Tickets for adults range from $28 to $44, students range from $14 to $18, and tickets for kids ages 12 and under are $12.50. Visit www.mesaartscenter.com for details.
With zombie culture in high swing and Halloween right around the corner, the timing of Theater Works' humorous and horrifying Night of the Living Dead production couldn't be more perfect. Set against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic zombie wasteland, Night of the Living Dead follows a small group of survivors who team up and sometimes turn against each other. Admission is $14. Details and tickets can be found at theaterworks.org.
In this story of a not-so-heartfelt Hollywood, a movie executive is confronted with the choice of making money or making art. Starring Artists Studio member Jesse Ramlawi and guest actors Franc Gaxiola and Heather Cambanes, Speed the Plow offers a biting look at success and sentimentality in the Blockbuster industry. Tickets cost $10 for students, $15 for seniors and military, and $20 for general admission. Visit www.thestudiophx.org for more information.
Revenge of the Space Pandas or Binky Rudich and the Two-Speed Clock Brelby Studio October 24 through November 8
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Oh, Brelby Theatre, you had us at space pandas. In this far-out comedy by the notoriously serious David Mamet, two men and a sheep use a two-speed clock to stop the Earth and send themselves spiraling into new intergalactic territory -- a territory that's guarded by, what else, space pandas. Ticket pricing is $20 for adults, $17 for seniors, students, and military, and $10 for children. For details on this outer-space show, visit brelby.com.
In this Broadway comedy by Pulitzer Prize nominee Theresa Rebeck, four aspiring writers and their accomplished literary instructor bring their emotions and eccentricities to the stage, proving that the pen isn't the only thing that's mighty. General admission is $40, and VIP reserved seating is $46. For details, visit www.actorstheatrephx.org.