Theater Scene

West Side Story: This deeply sincere take on Arthur Laurents' landmark musical thankfully never tries to impersonate the movie version, which is what audiences who attend West Side Story often want. Instead, Desert Stages' Sharks and Jets dance like kids actually might if they were trapped in Hell's Kitchen and chose to rumba rather than rumble. Their often-imperfect take on Jerome Robbins' complex choreography gives the dances a different, more sincere kind of appeal that makes watching them all the more enjoyable. Ditto Amber Gildersleeve's performance as Maria. Her innocent, charming enactment of the flighty Puerto Rican gal who falls for a white boy, and her impressive singing chops, are almost certainly why Desert Stages mounted this show in the first place. Through Sunday, July 30, at Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre, 4720 N. Scottsdale Rd. in Scottsdale. Call 480-483-1664.

The World Goes Round: A revue of tunes by musical theater legends John Kander and Fred Ebb, this production is directed and choreographed by Jessica Redish under the musical direction of Alan Ruch and John Massaro. A tribute to one of Broadway's most daring and successful teams, The World Goes Round is built around popular gems such as "Cabaret," "All That Jazz," and "New York, New York," as well as other recognizable tunes from Chicago, Cabaret, and Kiss of the Spider Woman. These sing-alongs are balanced with other, lesser-known material, like early collaborations ("Sara Lee"); personal favorite compositions ("A Quiet Thing"); and quintessential Kander and Ebb ("The Grass Is Always Greener"). Through Sept. 10 at 7701 W. Paradise Lane in Peoria. Dinner is served one hour and 45 minutes prior to curtain. Showtimes are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Saturday matinees at 2 p.m., Sunday matinees at 1 p.m., and Sunday twilight shows at 7 p.m. Ticket prices are $39 to $49, which includes dinner, show and tax. Call the box office at 623-776-8400.

I Do, I Do: The story of a marriage is at the center of this intimate and nostalgic work by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones. A tuneful score helps tell the tale of Michael and Agnes, from their wedding day and on through the next 50 years. The joy and angst of wedding-night jitters, raising a family, negotiating midlife crises, quarrelling, separating, reconciling and growing old together are all covered here. Through Aug. 20. Tickets are $18, and discounted group tickets are available through Theater Works, 10484 W. Thunderbird Blvd. in Sun City. Call 623-815-7930 for showtimes and ticket prices.

Vamp: Newly arrived Insurrection Theater Company is kicking off its first season with the Southwestern première of a "girl-on-girl supernatural romantic comedy" that will teach audiences more than they probably need to know about monsters, meteors, and imaginary friends. ITC artistic director Dana Cianciotto takes the reins to direct Ry Herman's story of Chloe, a depressed and slightly insane writer who co-exists in her apartment with a possibly imaginary old woman and with Jesus, a naive but well-meaning Christ figure. When Chloe meets the sexy Angela at a goth club, things go lesbo and soft-focus romantic all at once. Carrie Benton and Erin Del Rosso star as Chloe and gal pal Angela. Vamp plays through Aug. 13 at North Valley Community Playhouse, 13043 N. Cave Creek Rd. in Phoenix. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $15, and are available at the Phoenix Theatre box office and can be purchased by calling 602-254-2151.

Beauty and the Beast: It's back, and this time with food! Everyone's favorite cartoon-to-stage-musical adaptation — with a score by the amazing Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim "Aida" Rice, and a book by Linda Woolverton — has reached that point in its life where it's being optioned by dinner theaters, which makes a perfect kind of sense: Its storybook sets are attractive and old-fashioned, its score busy, its characters instantly recognizable (in good part because we've seen their faces emblazoned on everything from TV screens to lunch pails). You gotta eat, and because both kids and grown-up children apparently need their semi-annual fix of Belle and the big monster who wants to have his way with her, this is perfect dinner-and-light-entertainment fare. The musical runs through Aug. 5 at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre West, 5247 E. Brown Rd. in Mesa. Tickets are $41 to $50 and include dinner. Dinner buffet is at 6 p.m.; curtain is at 8 p.m. Matinee performances and Sunday twilight shows are also scheduled. Call 480-325-6700 for times and dates.

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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