The Curtain is Rising

Spring Springs on Theatre

So the wreaths are put away as are the menorahs, and everything you have now is less of everything you had, and is tidy and tucked away in those ubiquitous storage boxes every store in Tucson is hawking. Tucson Weekly-wise that means it's time for the Spring Arts Preview (although, of course, spring is still months away; but what do I know?)

So here is the spring listing of everything you need to know (well, maybe not everything) about the Tucson theater scene in the next few months:

Of course, Live Theatre Workshop has a very funny Buyer and Cellar up and running already—very entertaining, and at Arizona Theatre Company an interesting La Esquinita, USA is already on the boards. (Both of these are reviewed online.) Also already taking flight is Roadrunner Theatre's Becky's New Car and Gaslight's Dos Amigos. The Rogue Theatre's visually alluring The White Snake is a happening thing over on University Boulevard, and Broadway in Tucson's touring show Dirty Dancing is, well, dancing this very week on the Centennial Hall stage.

ATC's Ring of Fire sounds like it might have something to do with Johnny Cash. Surprise! It does! The Man in Black, who had the power to wow you by his mere presence, is celebrated in this musical/concert conceived by William Meade and created by Richard Maltby, Jr. This particular Ring will burn March 4 - 25. From April 15 - May 6, Jeffrey Hatcher, who has seen two Sherlock Holmes-centered plays presented by ATC in the not so distant past, brings yet another, Holmes and Watson. Holmes is supposed to be dead but three asylum inmates claim they are the master sleuth, and one knows something only Sherlock himself could know. How-oh-how will this be sorted out? ATC has a special short-run show called Men are From Mars Women are From Venus-Live based on—you guessed it—John Gray's bestseller. This is a one-man show featuring Eric Coble and is guaranteed to make everyone blush at least a little. ATC sneaks this one in March 31-April 1.

Arizona Repertory Theatre at the UA will likely be wowing us with David Auburn's Proof, which won both a Pulitzer and Tony for Best Play and tests the equation of how a deceased brilliant mathematician, his daughter, her boyfriend and his other daughter create theatrical alchemy. It runs Feb. 8 – 26. Shakespeare's own brand of brilliant will be celebrated with ART's production of one of the Bard's most magical of shows, Twelfth Night, March 5 – April 2. Then high notes will most surely be hit with their season finale, the musical, Evita, running April 9 through 30.

The Rogue has a couple more shows this season. Penelope by Enda Walsh is to run March 2 – 19. It takes a contemporary, sideways glance at the suitors in the classic Odyssey tale. "Competitive courtship"? That's what those rogues are promising us. Then—shhhh! They are taking on the Scottish play! For real! We won't say it here, but those rowdy rogues are shamelessly shouting it to the world. That will run April 27 – May 14. There are also a couple of playreading events that look intriguing. Check the website.

Invisible Theatre will grace us with a sobering production of Lebensraum, Feb. 8-19. Playwright Israel Horovitz imagines an unlikely scenario in which six million Jews are invited to return to Germany as a gesture of reconciliation. It's a relevant story that packs a "political wallop," according to the press release. Then Feb. 23 – 25, Susan Claassen's one-woman show A Conversation with Edith Head will be featured, and March 4 – 5, they sneak in Broadway and film star Melvin Johnson, Jr. as Frederic Douglass in the Arizona premiere of In the Shadow of Slavery by Tom Dugan. They will conclude their season with another world premiere, Let's Live a Little, by contemporary writer Kathleen Clark, a familiar playwright presence at IT, April 18 – 30.

Arizona Onstage was quiet last fall but ramps it up with a production of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, Feb. 17 – March 5. The very funny musical revue has popped up on various Tucson stages for several months with the same folks involved, so it makes sense they would find a temporary home with Arizona Onstage. Then comes a new musical, Stars of David, directed by artistic director Kevin Johnson April 14 – 30. It's also a revue and the theater usually does a very nice job with this style.

Borderlands Theater seems to be thriving under new leadership. From Feb. 1 – 12 they will present a one-woman show written and performed by Lisandra Tena. It's called Guera, and the audience will have some choices to make as this waitress character presents "the menu" of her life. Then an Arizona group called the Fifth World Collective will provide much to think about as they pose the question, "How would your life be different if Christopher Columbus had been assassinated?" Hmm. This will be revealed March 30 – April 9.

Relative newcomer Roadrunner Theatre will bring us Nana's Naughty Knickers Feb. 10 – March 5. This sounds like an all out fun one, when granddaughter and grandma become questionably ethical entrepreneurs. They were actually instrumental in the I Love, You're Perfect, Now Change all-over-town-happening musical.

The winding of Winding Road Theater has led them to choose to do their shows downtown at the Cabaret Theatre and the east side in the APCOT center, home to Roadrunner. From March 16 – April 9 they will present The Language Archive, by Julia Cho, a "lyrical bittersweet comedy" featuring a linguist whose "language is failing him." From May 11 – June 4, Ron Carlson's News of the World will give us a collection of short stories in a manner resembling news from tabloids, with characters from a world "both magical and dangerous." Remember, you've got a choice of sites to see these shows so there's no excuse for missing them.

Live Theatre Workshop is busy all the time, and besides Buyer and Cellar currently running, the company will have up next The Cripple of Inishmann, Feb. 16 – March 25. Written by talented Martin McDonagh and featuring a young "cripple" who, when a film crew comes to town in 1934, wants to be in a documentary about the western coast of Ireland. It will display McDonagh's way of mixing humor, poetry and tragedy. Next up will be Below the Belt by Richard Dresser, "an absurdist corporate comedy," claims LTW's website. It runs March 30 – May 6. Then May 11–June 10 is Annapurna, a "profound and funny" story about how love lasts.

The musicals continue to arrive courtesy of Broadway in Tucson. Motown the Musical plays Feb. 21-26, and then maybe the most exciting offering of the season, Kinky Boots, will hit the stage with Cyndi Lauper's Tony-winning score March 14 -19. The Bodyguard will arrive April 12 and run through the 16th.

The oddly named Something Something Theatre Company will continue their "Women Who Dare" season with What Every Girl Should Know, February 9 – 26, featuring a tale of reform school girls and freedom. Dov and Ali will follow April 6 – 23. Then a new adaptation of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew happens April 27 – May 14.

Our dear, wacky Gaslight Theatre will follow up Dos Amigos with Curse of the Pirate's Gold, March 3–June 4, and then Spider Guy, June 8–August 27.

There are a number of shows that don't fit neatly into categories. LTW's new vision of Etcetera, their edgier late-night offerings, features local playwright/director Michael Fenlason's Naked, the weekend of February 4-5. It features the character Joan, stripped of what she holds dear, moving across America, a "sacred and profane" landscape. Then Saturday and Sunday, May 20 and 21, Identity, a "piece of devised theater" explores how identity is created, both by oneself and others.

A new theater, Digna, will reveal their premiere production Digna, Feb. 23 and March 2–5 at the new YWCA. The group says "Digna Theater/Teatro Digna" wishes "to intertwine art, beauty and human rights in a journey to enhance awareness, and action." The group features some longtime participants of Borderlands.

Then fairly recent NYC transplant Monica Bauer, writer, actor and director, is testing the waters for a new theater she calls Theatre Here and Now. She has penned the first show The Maternal Instinct, which she says is about "the love of science and the science of love." That happens March 3–19. It's already an award-winning piece and will be directed by Maria Caprile.

And let's not forget Pima Community College's theater department offerings. Of particular interest is Lin-Manuel Miranda's In the Heights, Feb. 23–March 5. Yes, the playwright also crafted the phenom, Hamilton.

The Community Players and the Comedy Playhouse also are fine community theaters, and there are a couple of other theaters in town that offered no information about the spring. Be sure to check listings regularly.

My sprint concluded, I'm out of breath—and space. Get out there and buy tickets, try something new, laugh, cry and be called to action. The curtain is rising.

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