Theater Scene

Jesus Christ Superstar: Who in the world does He think He is? He'll tell you -- in song! -- if you'll get yourself down to Desert Stages Theatre. Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's famed musical is here again, resurrected just in time for Easter. And Passover! Lloyd Webber's tuneful retelling of the greatest story ever told makes music out of the final seven days of Jesus' life, as reported by his former pal Judas Iscariot. This one's directed by Gregg Temple, with Edgar Andrew Torrens as Judas and Myles Vann as Mr. The Christ. This done-to-death rock opera was first introduced as a concept album in 1970 before opening on Broadway. The score popped off two chart hits: the title song from the original cast recording, and a cover of "I Don't Know How to Love Him" by Helen Reddy. No, really. The show runs through April 30; performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $22 in advance, $25 day of show. Seniors and students pay only $20. Reservations are recommended. Desert Stages Theatre is located at 4720 N. Scottsdale Rd. in Scottsdale. Call 480-483-1664 for more information.

American Menu: Bravo to Black Theatre Troupe for scheduling Don Wilson Glenn's critical, exhilarating drama about five black women whose lives are changed forever when the body of a young black boy is found that morning in one of their backyards. Taking place in the days immediately following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Glenn's story is set in the kitchen of a segregated Texas lunch counter where the five women work. Through April 26 at Phoenix College's John Paul Theatre, 1202 W. Thomas Rd., Phoenix. Call 602-258-8128.

Lend Me a Tenor: Ken Ludwig's funny farce capitalizes on two stereotypes: the romantic, overly emotional Italian, and the larger-than-life world of opera. The planet's reigning heartthrob tenor (that would be the Italian) is scheduled to make a rare appearance in Cleveland, causing that city's opera fanatics to wig out in anticipation of his arrival. Gags based in (what else?) mistaken identity play a central role here; there's also a backstage romance but not so much as a single aria. Curtain goes up at 8 p.m. through April 15 at Tempe Performing Arts Center, 132 E. 6th St. in downtown Tempe. Call 480-350-8388.

Natives: Arizona Jewish Theatre Company artistic director Janet Arnold stars in Janet Neipris' 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 through Sunday, April 9, and performances take place at the Viad Tower, 1850 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. Call 602-264-0402 for showtimes 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, it hasnÕt come near this show in more than a decade, and it is 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 through April 23 at the Herberger Theater Center's Stage West, 222 E. Monroe St., Phoenix. Call 602-252-8497 for times and ticket prices.

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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