Reviews and Previews of What's Running Now

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.

Seussical: This cheerful tuner based on the much-loved books of Dr. Seuss screams to be seen by — dare we say it? — kids of all ages, even those who haven't yet met Horton (who heard a Who) or visited the Jungle of Nool. Childsplay's version, which has become its annual holiday offering, has been adapted especially for kids by the show's creators. All the fun and most of the songs are still here, with perhaps fewer asides intended for adults and a lighter, less-political overtone. Narrated by the Cat in the Hat himself (played marvelously by Jon Gentry), the stories center around Horton the elephant (D. Scott Withers), who sings and snozzles with a long, colorful parade of familiar characters including Mayzie LaBird (portrayed joyfully by Childsplay fave Katie McFadzen), tail-less Gertrude McFuzz, and Sour Kangaroo. You'll have more fun than the kids at this one — and the kids will be having a blast. Through December 23 at Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe. Call 480-350-2822 for times and ticket prices.

A Christmas Carol: Like those big ugly wreaths swaying from light poles in downtown Phoenix, this delightful musical adaptation of the Dickens classic has become a local holiday tradition. The difference here is that there's nothing ugly about this show, now in its umpteenth remount. It's an Actors Theatre favorite that never looks tired or gets old, in good part because the cast is periodically updated and because the original tunes (by music whiz Alan Ruch) are so darn festive. And any show that carries the playbill credit "by Charles Dickens, adapted by Matthew Wiener and Michael Grady" gets our Xmas vote. Through December 23 on the Herberger Theater Center's Center Stage, at 222 East Monroe Street. Call 602-253-6701 for a performance schedule and to reserve tickets, which tend to go fast.

Crazy for You: Playwright Ken Ludwig's tale of Bobby Child, a well-to-do 1930s playboy who only wants to dance, provides the backdrop for this book musical that's held together with a slew of George and Ira Gershwin's most memorable tunes. Originally conceived by Ludwig and Mike Ockrent, the show was an instant Broadway smash that's had a solid second life in community and dinner theaters — thanks in good part to goofy plot twists (mistaken identity, anyone?), great big giant dance numbers, and all that classic Gershwin music. Songs include "I Can't Be Bothered Now," "Bidin' My Time," "I Got Rhythm," "Naughty Baby," "They Can't Take That Away From Me," "But Not For Me," "Nice Work if You Can Get It," "Embraceable You," and "Someone to Watch Over Me." Visit the fictional (and very musical) town of Deadrock through December 30 at Arizona Broadway Theatre, 7701 W. Paradise Lane in Peoria. Dinner is served 1 hour and 45 minutes before curtain; showtimes are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday matinee at 2 p.m., Sunday matinee at 1 p.m., and Sunday twilight shows at 7 p.m. Ticket prices include dinner, show and tax. Call the box office at 623-776-8400 for a price schedule.

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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