2021 Fall Arts Preview: Acting Up: The post-pandemic curtain rises

Courtesy photo
The hit musical “Hamilton” was postponed multiple times from Broadway In Tucson due to the pandemic, but is on schedule to debut Nov. 17.

Ahh, there’s really nothing like a live theater show, is there? If you’re a theater fan who’s been itching to watch a curtain go up and transport you to another world, then to feel all blissed out and grateful for artists in general for several hours afterward, then get excited! The Tucson theater community is delivering this year. This by-no-means-exhaustive list of fall shows is a good place to start, whether you’re looking for a way to spend a couple of nights out this fall or hoping to fill every weekend with live theater.

Arizona Theatre Company

ATC shows are performed in the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave.

My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend. ATC is starting off this season with a musical! This story is about what happens when a Broadway actress in her twenties crosses paths with a classically-minded man in his eighties. Hint: It is charming. And it’s also based on the true story of Broadway performer Charissa Bertels (who also stars in this production)! Winner of the Kleban award for best new libretto, this show is an absolute pleasure. Previews are Sept.25 to Sept. 30, and the show runs from Oct. 1 to Oct. 16.

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberly. FINALLY. A sequel to Pride and Prejudice, and for the stage, no less! Truly a perfect gift for the holiday season, this show picks up two years after the close of the book. When the family gets together for Christmas at Pemberly, Mary Bennet, who is still unmarried and kind of sick of being the goody-two-shoes middle sister, connects with an unexpected guest. This show is full of energy, wit and enchantment. Runs Nov. 6 through Dec. 4.

Scoundrel and Scamp

Scoundrel and Scamp is located at the Historic Y, 738 N. Fifth Ave.

Babel. Did someone say dark sci-fi comedy starring a man-sized stork with a cigar? Sign us up. This play by Jacqueline Goldfinger, set in the near future, is the winner of the 2018 Generations Award and the 2017 Smith Prize for Political Theatre. And it’s absolutely fascinating, telling the story of the lengths two couples go to in order to get pregnant and raising questions about eugenics, the social value of a child and the risks people are willing to take for love. Sept. 16 through Oct. 3.

Mary’s Wedding. The night before her wedding in 1914, Mary has a dream about a thunderstorm, and about meeting Charlie, a man taking shelter in a barn with his horse. They fall in love, but the world around them is erupting into war. Epic, hopeful and romantic, this show won the Alberta Literary Award for Drama in 2003, the Alberta Playwrighting Competition 2000, and the Betty Mitchell Award for Outstanding Play in 2002. Showing Oct. 21 through Nov. 7.

A Sonoran Desert Carol. So, we’re all a little bit tired of the classic rendition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, right? This one will redeem your weary theatergoing eyes! Adapted by the Scoundrel and Scamp’s associate artistic director Claire Marie Mannle, this rendition has a borderlands twist, complete with Mexican hot cocoa! Settle in for a night of delightful physical theater with this show. Shows Dec. 9 through Dec. 19.

Broadway in Tucson

Hamilton. You might not have heard of this li’l ol’ play, written by an obscure playwright, but it’s worth at least giving a hopeful artist a chance, right? Just kidding, of course. Hamilton is only one of the most popular pieces of media to come out in the last 10 years or so. So it’s really exciting that, after being delayed by COVID-19, this show is finally coming to Tucson! It’s won a million awards, it’s about Alexander Hamilton, you probably already know the entire plot, so we’ll just leave it at that. Plays Nov. 17 through Dec. 5 (but get your tickets ASAP!) Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd.

The Gaslight Theatre

The Gaslight Theatre is located at 7010 E. Broadway Blvd.

Frankenstein. Frankenstein is one of those shows the Gaslight likes to bring back every few years, because it’s just that fun. The silliness and excitement of the Halloween season, sprinkled with just a little bit of spookiness, sets the mood perfectly for a trip to the Gaslight. Come scream and laugh your way through this show. Showing Sept. 2 through Nov. 7.

Elf’d. This hilarious parody of a holiday movie with a remarkably similar name is sure to get you in the holiday spirit. Join Dudley the Elf as he journeys from the North Pole all the way to New York City in search of some Christmas spirit—which, as we all know, makes the world go ’round. Runs Nov. 17 through Jan. 1, so if you’re the kind of person who likes to make Christmas last into the following year, the Gaslight has got you covered.

Invisible Theatre

The Invisible Theatre is located at 1400 N. First Ave.

Looped! If you haven’t heard of Tallulah Bankhead, the Hollywood Golden Age actress, you’re in for a treat with this show. If you have heard of her, it just might be because you heard the story about how it once took her EIGHT HOURS to record a single line of dialogue. The whole show, which had a Broadway run in 2010, is based around this scene, and around Bankhead’s enormous personality. You’ll be cracking up at this portrayal of an infamous Hollywood incident. Showing Sept. 15 to Sept. 26.

50th Anniversary Retro-Spectacular Cabaret. The Invisible Theatre is celebrating 50 years this year! Come party with them at this show, featuring some of your favorite stars from over the years, from Randy “Cher” Roberts and Richard Glazier to Crystal Stark, Samantha Cormier and Will Clipman. Directed by Betsy Kruse Craig, the show runs only on Oct. 30-31, at the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway.

Pima Arts

(Pima Community College)

Little Shop of Horrors. Did you know that Alan Menken did the music for this beautifully bizarre show, featuring a human-eating plant, an evil dentist and some totally sick harmonizing? I mean, Alan Menken did the scores for The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Tangled. The range! In the Pima Theatre adaptation, Arts Division Dean Steven James Higginbotham is making his directorial debut and telling the story to the lens of a 1960s comic book. You’ll be singing, laughing, and screaming in terror along throughout this show about Seymour, Audrey and the bloodthirsty Audrey II. Showing Nov. 11 to Nov. 21.

Elf Elegies: Essential Workers of the North Pole. The pandemic had us all thinking a lot about the people who keep our world running. Like, the people who stock grocery stores. What would we do without them? Retail workers? Maintenance people? Holding this place together! One group we might not have thought of were Santa’s elves. This show, written and performed by PCC students, tells the story of the North Pole elves who actually DON’T specialize in making toys. Come see a holiday show told through the eyes of an essential elf. Dec. 4-5. Free, but donations accepted!

Live Theatre Workshop

Live Theatre Workshop is located at 3322 E. Fort Lowell Road.

Bloomsday. This sweet, extremely Irish story tells the story of Robbie and Caithleen, who fell in love many years ago during a James Joyce literary tour in Dublin. (Told you it was extremely Irish). When they reunite after 35 years apart, they travel back in time to relive the unlikely, unstoppable events that brought them together. This show is by Steven Dietz, one of America’s most prolific playwrights. Showing Thursdays through Sundays from Sept. 2 to Oct. 9

Southern Arizona Performing Arts Company

Nunsense. This hilarious show is about the misadventures of five nuns—Sister Leo, Sister Robert Anne, Sister Mary Amnesia, Mother Superior Sister Regina, and Mary Hubert. Tragically, it is the story of ONLY five nuns, because the rest of the sisterhood died after eating poisoned vichyssoise prepared by Sister Julia Child of God. And so, they are left to stage a talent show to raise the money needed to bury the dearly departed. This show runs Sept. 24 through Oct. 3 at Desert View High School, 4101 E. Valencia Road.

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