It’s been quite a year for the local performing arts scene. Arizona Theater Company barely escaped shuttering by raising $2 million to mount its 2016-17 season. Mesa Arts Center welcomed [nue]BOX as a new resident artist. Stray Cat Theatre found a new home at Tempe Center for the Arts. And iTheatre Collaborative became a resident company at Herberger Theater Center.
Despite recent changes, the upcoming season is shaping up to look a lot like seasons past – with several companies presenting traditional offerings, including Broadway musicals and Shakespeare plays. Still, there are some delightful exceptions – including a robust ASU Performance in the Borderlands lineup.
Here’s a look at some of the most anticipated 2016-17 season offerings, whether you’re into mainstream and classic works, or new and alternative fare.
Arizona Theatre Company opens its 50th season with King Charles III, a play poking fun at British royals, but we’re also intrigued by La Esquinita, USA, which imagines life for 10 people in a town that’s gone from boom to bust. The latter plays from February 2 through 26 of 2017 at Herberger Theater Center. Theater Works performs the farce Noises Off! October 7 to 23 at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts. Southwest Shakespeare Company performs Photograph 51, inspired by British scientist Rosalind Franklin’s role in discovering the double helix structure of DNA, February 24 to March 11 of 2017 at Mesa Arts Center.
As always, several theaters are presenting popular Broadway works. Touring productions coming to ASU Gammage include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which runs June 20 to 25 of 2017. Phoenix Theatre opens its 2016-17 season with In the Heights, the first musical created by Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame, which continues through October 2. Arizona Theatre Company performs An Act of God, directed by Marsha Mason, November 17 to December 4 at Herberger Theater Center.
Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp, who originated key roles in Rent on Broadway, perform together at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts on November 19. Theater Works presents Sunday in the Park with George, inspired by an iconic Georges Seurat painting, February 17 to March 5, 2017 at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts. And Black Theatre Troupe partners with Phoenix Theatre to present The Scottsboro Boys April 5 to 23, 2017.
There’s also plenty of Shakespeare to go around. Brelby Theatre Company performs Macbeth October 28 to November 5 at Brelby Studio, and ASU’s School of Film, Dance and Theatre performs Titus Andronicus at ASU’s Lyceum Theatre from February 17 to 26 of 2017. It's best not to take your date out for pie before seeing that last one. And, of course, Southwest Shakespeare Company has several offerings by the Bard – including The Merchant of Venice, which runs from October 14 to 29 at Mesa Arts Center. There’s even a Ballet Arizona production of Romeo and Juliet with the Phoenix Symphony coming to Symphony Hall February 9 to 12, 2017.
Stray Cat Theatre opens its season with John, a work by The Flick playwright Annie Baker, at Tempe Center for the Arts September 16 to October 1. And iTheatre Collaborative performs Veronica’s Room October 14 to 29 as part of its first season as a resident company at Herberger Theater Center. Nearly Naked Theatre opened its season with 3C, happening through September 24 at Phoenix Theatre’s Judith Hardes Theatre.
Alwun House continues its annual Planet Poe Theatre tradition with dramatizations of Edgar Allen Poe works on October 22. ASU's School of Film, Dance and Theatre performs Men in Boats, inspired by an all-male expedition in 1869, from March 24 to April 2 of 2017 at the Lyceum Theatre. Expect an intriguing twist with that last one — because the cast won't have any cisgender male actors.
New Theater Works
Arizona Women's Theatre Company presents its Pandora Festival featuring new works by women playwrights in Arizona from November 3 to 6 at the John Paul Theatre. Arizona Opera performs the world premiere of Riders of the Purple Sage, featuring music by Phoenix-based Craig Bohmler and sets designed by renowned Arizona artist Ed Mell, from March 3 to 5 of 2017 at Symphony Hall. Phoenix Theatre continues its annual Caleb Reese Festival of New Plays and Musicals from May 1 to 14 of 2017. And Theatre Artists Studio presents a new lineup of Summer Shorts June 15 to 25, 2017.
Ballet Arizona presents its traditional mix of classic ballets, works by contemporary choreographers, and Balanchine showcase – plus free Ballet Under the Stars performances at several Valley venues, including Steele Indian School Park on September 24. Center Dance Ensemble, resident modern dance company at Herberger Theater Company, opens its 2016-17 season with Masquerades October 20 to 23.
CONDER/dance returns to Tempe Center for the Arts with its annual Breaking Ground contemporary dance and film festival, happening January 27 to 28 of 2017. Touring dance productions include the Twyla Tharp 50th Anniversary Tour on October 7 and Paul Taylor’s American Dance Company on April 20, 2017 – both at Mesa Arts Center.
New Dance Works
[nueBOX] presents the first of two Experimental Art Nights, featuring seven dance performances, on September 9 as part of Mesa Art Center’s fall season opening celebration. Center Dance Ensemble premieres new works by artistic director Frances Smith Cohen during Love Stories March 2 to 5, 2017 at Herberger Theater Center, and Scorpius Dance Theatre premieres Animal, a new production choreographed by artistic director Lisa Starry, May 18 to 20, 2017 at Phoenix Theatre’s Hormel Black Box Theatre.
Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version.