Theater Scene

Previews and reviews by Robrt L. Pela

Frozen: Bryony Laverys dark, thoughtful drama about a pedophile serial killer won Londons prestigious Barclay Award for Best New Play of 1998, then went on to pile up accolades in New York the following year. Lavery is so skilled a scriptwriter, she manages to avoid the tedium in monologues and to make human a killer without also asking us to like or sympathize with him. Her story is about that killer, the mother of one of his victims, and the psychologist whos trying to determine whether our villain is motivated by evil or an uncontainable need to kill. iTheatres production is a Southwest premiere that runs through March 31 at the Herberger Theater Centers Performance Outreach Theater, 222 E. Monroe. For reservations, ticket prices, and showtimes, call 602-347-1071.

My Fair Lady: The rain in Spain will, these next several weeks, be falling mainly on the theatrical plain of Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, which brings us this famed Lerner-Loewe musical through mid-April. Based on George Bernard Shaws Pygmalion, My Fair Lady contains more classic tunes in its first act alone (Wouldnt It Be Loverly?; The Rain in Spain; I Could Have Danced All Night; On the Street Where You Live) than most composers have turned out in an entire career. The original cast of the shows 1956 debut production, directed by Moss Hart and choreographed by Hanya Holm, included Rex Harrison, Julie Andrews, and Cathleen Nesbitt, and ran for an incredible 2,717 performances, a record at the time. And who can forget Al Hirschfelds infamous playbill cover drawing depicting Eliza as a marionette being manipulated by Henry Higgins, whose own strings are being yanked by a heavenly George Bernard Shaw? This dine-and-ogle version plays through April 14 at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, 5247 E. Brown Rd. in Mesa. Call 480-325-6700 for tickets and showtimes.

Funny Money: Last years screen adaptation of this Ray Cooney farce, starring Chevy Chase and Penelope Ann Miller, made a splash on the film festival circuit, then sank without a trace. The Copperstate staging of Cooneys original play promises to stick around for at least a month in its Valley première. Set in England, Cooneys story involves a mild-mannered accountant, a briefcase full of cash, and a dead guy whos been pumped full of lead. Lets hope this production doesnt also include phony British accents, which always spell death for across-the-pond comedies produced locally. Funny Money plays at the Copperstate Dinner Theater, 3801 E. Washington (inside Phoenix Greyhound Park), through April 8. Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings, with dinner at 6:30 and curtain at 8. Sunday Supper Shows offer dinner at 5:30 and a 7:00 curtain. The $32.95 ticket price includes dinner and the show. Phone in your reservations to 602-279-3129.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona: The gentlemen in question are Old Wills Valentine and Proteus, old pals who are striking out for Milan, although Proteus hopes to bag the fair Julia and would rather stay behind. Once in Milan, the usual cross-dressing, mistaken identities, and presumed infidelities ensue (hey, its Shakespeare), but after much iambic pentameter, everyone gets laid and goes home happy — even the servants! Southwest Shakespeares production takes the stage next week and plays through March 24 at the Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St. in Mesa. Call 480-641-7039 for tickets and showtimes.

Suds: Local critics havent much liked this goofball extravaganza of tunes from the 1960s, and who can blame them? Of the innumerable inane musical revues that attempt to wrap era-specific pop songs around a slim story, this ones the hokiest. To sell its silly tale of a Laundromat owner who attempts suicide and is cornered by a trio of guardian angels, a troupe really needs talented singers with a wide range of singing styles. Reportedly, Desert Stages has chosen a different route. But there are always audiences who dont care whos crooning Wait a Minute, Mr. Postman, You Cant Hurry Love, or Wishing and Hoping; they just want their big slice of 60s pie. This one may be mincemeat, but itll be playing for months on end: Desert Stages plans to keep Suds afloat until April in its Actors Café at 4720 North Scottsdale Road. Curtain is at 7:30 on Fridays and Saturdays; tickets are $20-$25. Call 480-483-1664 for reservations.

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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