Reviews and previews of what's on Valley stages now

The Oldest Profession: The cast of Algonquin Theater Company's first show of the season features JoAnn Yeoman, Judy Rollings, Sharon Collar, Jacqueline Gaston, and Barbara McGrath — and that's all you need to know. That this astonishing cast is performing Paula Vogel's tart story about five aging hookers whose clientele are dying off is one more reason to schlep to Peoria to watch local theater's grandest grand dames emoting (although some of us would be willing to sit and listen while any of these five read the ingredients from the back of a cereal box). Directed by Robert Kolby Harper, The Oldest Profession performs Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2. It runs through January 20 at Phoenix Theatre's Little Theater, 100 E. McDowell Rd. Tickets are $21.50 and can be had by calling Phoenix Theatre's box office at 602-254-2151.

The Busy World Is Hushed: Keith Bunin's acclaimed play about faith and family values is chockablock with new twists on by-now tired themes. Bunin squares off an Episcopal minister with her emotionally troubled gay son, but rather than covering the same old ground about how religion and homosexuality don't mix, he delivers a story that's more about meddling mothers than it is about gays and the gospel. Cathy Dresbach stars in The Busy World Is Hushed, which is presented by Actors Theatre and plays through January 27 at the Herberger Theater Center, 222 E. Monroe St. Call 602-253-6701 for tickets and showtimes.

Nunsensations: The Nunsense Las Vegas Revue: As with any cheeseball network sitcom, it was only a matter of time before

Dan Goggin's incredibly popular series of Nunsense sequels went on location. This, the sixth follow-up to the smash original Nunsense, finds the usual bewimpled Brides of Christ (led by Noel Irick, who's reprising her role as Reverend Mother Mary Regina from an earlier Goggin show) acting silly and singing about it. Copperstate Dinner Theater is enormously proud to have scored the Arizona première of this show, which is directed by Peter Hill and also features Chrystalle Reed, Laura Webb, and Elizabeth Reeves as some of the other Sisters of Hoboken. Transubstantiation jokes continue through March 9, with a special Valentine's Day performance on Tuesday, February 14. The theater is located at Phoenix Greyhound Park, 3801 E. Washington St. Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings, with dinner at 6:30 and curtain at 8, and on Sundays at 5:30 with a 7 p.m. curtain. Show and dinner price is $39.95; reservations can be made at 602-279-3129.

Halpern and Johnson: Lionel Goldstein's play, originally presented as a telefilm in 1983 starring the rather odd pairing of Sir Laurence Olivier and Jackie Gleason, begins at the New York graveside of Florence Halpern, whose husband of 50-plus years is paying his last respects. He's joined there by a stranger bearing flowers, a fellow who may or may not have had an ongoing affair with Florence. Arizona Jewish Theater Company is presenting its first show of the new year through January 20 at its new facility, the Paradise Valley Community College center for the Performing Arts, at 18401 N. 32nd St. Call the box office at 602-264-0402 for ticket prices and showtimes.

Anything Goes: Not to be confused with the super-cheesy '70s game show of the same name (Remember? Pie fights and challenge rounds featuring The DeFranco Family?), this popular book musical is among the better composer-centric homages. Sing-along standards from Cole Porter like "I Get a Kick Out of You," "You're the Top," "It's De-Lovely," "Blow, Gabriel, Blow," and of course, the title tune, presented here as a show-stopper, are all neatly grafted onto a story of mistaken identities and a ship full of tap-dancing Marines. Through February 9 at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, 5247 E. Brown Road in Mesa. Call 480-325-6700 for ticket prices and dinner menus.

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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