Reviews and previews of what's on Valley stages now

The Sweetest Swing in Baseball: Rebecca Gilman's comedy/drama is turning up just in time for spring training with a study of the cult of celebrity and how it can screw up both idols and fans. Gilman places baseball bad boy Darryl Strawberry at the center of her story, but this is less a baseball play than an analysis of women and the arts. Arizona Women's Theatre Company will present The Sweetest Swing in Baseball through March 22 at the Cattletrack Compound, 6105 N. Miller Rd. in Scottsdale, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2. Tickets are available at or by calling 480-607-7107.

The Dreamer Examines His Pillow:

John Patrick Shanley's comedy-drama is subtitled A Heterosexual Homily, but what it really is is a snotty, often hilarious commentary on monogamy and what happens when one dares romance in a brave new world. Shanley, author of such well-regarded films as Joe Versus the Volcano and Moonstruck (for which he won an Oscar), has written a naughty three-act in which force and violence reside alongside roses and cooing in each of the romances presented here. Artists' Theatre Project will present The Dreamer Examines His Pillow through March 29 with Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening performances at Soul Invictus, 1022 Grand Ave. Call 602-614-4154 for tickets and showtimes.

East Texas Hot Links: Eugene Lee's rambling, sleepy one-act was often compared by critics to August Wilson's better work when it debuted almost 15 years ago -- not a bad assessment for an otherwise forgotten (but still unanimously acclaimed) play. Set in mid-'50s Texas, this 90-minute drama is set in the Top o' the Hill Café, where discussion has turned to local Klan activity and the young black highway workers who have recently gone missing. Black Theatre Troupe will present Lee's play at Phoenix College's John Paul Theatre (1202 W. Thomas Rd.) through March 30. Call 602-258-8128 for ticket information.

Hello, Dolly!: It's so nice to have her back where she belongs — which, in this case, appears to be one of our better dinner theaters(!) in the East Valley. Almost no one "of a certain age" isn't able to hum much of the score from Jerry Herman's musical comedy classic about matchmaker Dolly Levi, which plays at Broadway Palm Dinner Theater through April 5. Admit it. Right now, you're hearing "It Only Takes a Moment" or "Before the Parade Passes By" in your head. Why not, as the song says, "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" and go grab some pork loin at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, 5247 E. Brown Rd. in Mesa? Call 480-325-6700 for tickets and showtimes.

Gilligan's Island: The Musical: For those of us who can't get enough of the Professor and! Mary Ann!, Gilligan creator Sherwood Schwartz has cobbled together this musical version whose varied distinctions include a world première at Desert Stages, where it is being restaged now through the end of March. Fans will thrill to the sounds of Thurston Howell III singing "It's Good to Be Rich" and watching everyone's favorite TV scientist bellowing "The Professor's Lament." The rest of us will, well, probably stay home. Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale through March 29 at 4720 North Scottsdale Road. Curtain is at 7:30 on Fridays and Saturdays. Call 480-483-1664 for reservations and ticket prices.

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela