Wicked: Based on a novel by Gregory Maguire, with a book by Winnie Holzman, Wicked is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz but not the Oz of MGM musical fame. This one concerns itself with Oz's seedier side, as seen by a couple of famous witches, Glinda and Elphaba, who become, respectively, the Good Witch of the North and the Wicked Witch of the West. Maguire's is a story that explains how the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow came to be, and isn't above a little political commentary sandwiched between songs. The sparkly score by Stephen Schwartz hasn't gotten great reviews, but the show's popularity refuses to die; folks were lining up for tickets to this one for weeks. Tuesdays through Sundays at 7:30 p.m. through Sept. 3 at Gammage Auditorium, 1200 S. Forest Ave. (Mill Ave. and Apache Blvd.), Tempe. Call 480-784-4444.
Orson's Shadow: Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier are exhumed in iTheatre's season opener. The Southwestern première of Austin Pendleton's off-Broadway hit of last season is a biography of Welles set in 1960, after the star lost his footing in Hollywood and wound up directing a West End production of Eugene Ionesco's The Rhinoceros starring Laurence Olivier and his girlfriend, Joan Plowright. Olivier's wife Vivien Leigh turns up, too, in this fictional rendering of actual events starring very real people. With Christopher Haines, Greg Lutz, and Andi Watson. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, at Performance OutReach Theater at the Herberger Theater Center, 222 E. Monroe St., Phoenix. (The box office and entrance are on the north side, off Van Buren St.) Through Aug. 19. For reservations and information, call 602-347-1071.
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 include dinner, show and tax. Call the box office at 623-776-8400.
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 Sunday, 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.