Theater Scene

Natives: Arizona Jewish Theatre Company artistic director Janet Arnold stars in Janet Neipris's contemporary comedy as Viola, a middle-aged divorcée trying to get on with her life after her three grown daughters are gone. When they come for a visit, it's just in time to interrupt Viola's romantic summer trip to France, and with just enough troubles and kvetching to fill two amusing acts. One daughter's a food critic whose husband is ruining her appetite; another has been dumped at the altar; the third brings home a boyfriend who claims to be a sultan but turns out to be a nice Jewish boy from the Bronx. Laughter seems likely. The show runs March 25 through April 9, and performances take place at the Viad Tower, 1850 N. Central Ave. Call 602-264-0402 for show times and ticket reservations.

The Secret Garden: It's pretty much a given by now that some troupe or another is going to dust this one off each year; it seems to be becoming what's referred to in polite circles as a "perennial." To Childsplay's credit, they haven't come near this show in more than a decade, and they are doing the non-musical version by Pamela Sterling, who's currently an associate professor in ASU's theater department. She's done a neat job of wrangling Frances Hodgson Burnett's famous storybook about orphaned Mary, who's left India behind for the gloomy moors of Yorkshire. That's where she discovers the garden, which she and her pals bring back to life with the magical powers of youth and friendship. Directed by Adam Burke, and featuring the vast talents of Childsplay regulars Debra K. Stevens, Jon Gentry, and Dwayne Hartford. The show runs March 26 through April 23 at the Herberger Theater Center's Stage West, 222 E. Monroe St. Call 602-252-8497 for times and ticket prices.

Deathtrap: Theater Works is trotting out this frankly done-to-death perennial, one that's better remembered for the excellent film version starring Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve. Regardless of who's playing it (and this production features mostly local unknowns), Deathtrap really only works if you don't know the windup huzzah. Which is to say that the best audience for this comic whodunit is one that hasn't already seen it -- and at this point, it's anyone's guess who that might be. Through March 26. Theater Works, 10484 W. Thunderbird Rd., Sun City. General admission tickets are $23; call 623-815-7930 for showtimes.

Forever Plaid: Apparently, no theater season is complete without at least one production of this, the story of four dead guys who love to sing. Sparky, Smudge, Jinx and Frankie have returned from the grave yet again -- this time under the direction of Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame member Dee Dee Wood -- to perform the greatest pop hits of the 1950s. Folks who can't get enough of crooners in cardigans and white bucks singing "Three Coins in the Fountain" and "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing" will want to race on over to Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center, 33606 N. 60th St. in Cave Creek, where Desert Foothills is charging from $12 to $22 for another go at this oft-seen tuner through March 26. Call 480-488-1981 for showtimes.

Floyd Collins: The Arizona premiere of Adam Guettel and Tina Landau's Floyd Collins, which replaces Sweet Nothing in My Ear on iTheatre's season schedule, is the company's first-ever attempt at producing a musical. Based on true events that transpired in 1925 Kentucky when a caver named Floyd Collins became trapped 150 feet underground, the musical splits its time between the carnival-like atmosphere aboveground and the interior journey of a single man as he faces his own solitude and impending death. Produced in conjunction with the Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance Department at ASU, the show will perform March 17-26 at the Herberger Theater Center's Performance Outreach Theater, and on the ASU West campus March 29-April 2. Tickets range in price from $12 to $20; call 602-347-1071 for reservations and showtimes.

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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