Fall Theater Preview 2017: 12 Must-See Shows This Season
September 22, 2017 by David Stevenson
Believe it or not, autumn officially begins today. That means theater season kicks into high gear starting this weekend, and every day through November, you can find world-class theater, music and dance. From intimate jazz clubs like The Nash to grand spectacles at Symphony Hall — Downtown Phoenix has the very best performances of the season. Check out our top picks from the Black Theatre Troupe, A/C Theatre Company, Ballet Arizona and many more.
Set in 1960s Louisiana during the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays, Caroline Thibodeaux — an African-American mother of three — finds herself in the midst of a family conflict involving the Jewish family she works for. Combining gospel and opera with the sounds of Motown, this heartfelt musical illuminates the tumultuous times of the civil rights era, while exploring racial, social and family issues we still struggle with today.
Both hilarious and devastatingly heartbreaking, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is the story of a fictional rock and roll band fronted by genderqueer singer-songwriter Hedwig Robinson. After gracing Broadway, the silver screen and sold-out theaters across the U.S., A/C Theatre Company is putting their own spin on one of the most unique characters to ever hit the stage. With an electrifying glam-rock score with nods to early punk and David Bowie, this show is thrillingly progressive and thoroughly entertaining.
Guest conductor Stuart Chafetz and The Phoenix Symphony join forces to celebrate two of Broadway’s legendary talents — Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins. Featuring classic hits, dance numbers and historic collaborations from “West Side Story,” “The King and I,” “Gypsy,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and many more, this show appeals to people of all ages. If you like musicals, you’ll love this special presentation by The Phoenix Symphony.
Intimate and recognized as one of the best jazz clubs in U.S., The Nash is the perfect place to see American jazz pianist and composer Emmet Cohen. Known for his measured rhythm and warm harmonic vocabulary, in every performance, Cohen reveals an artist that is deeply passionate and committed to his medium.
Combining operatic singing and ’60s pop culture, “Hercules vs Vampires” is a crazy mashup of live opera with scenes and score from the cult-classic film “Hercules in the Haunted World.” The original film, starring bodybuilder Reg Park and horror legend Christopher Lee, is projected above a live orchestra while singers perform the music to a new, original score. Hokey battles against fiendish monsters included.
A legendary story of romance, sorcery and betrayal, Swan Lake revolves around Queen Odette and her lover, Prince Siegfried. In this struggle between good and evil, the malevolent sorcerer, Von Rothbart, separates the lovers and sets the stage for tragedy. What makes the performance is Tchaikovsky’s beloved music played by The Phoenix Symphony, coupled with the unparalleled talent of Ballet Arizona.
As Joe Bonamassa enters his 26th year as a professional musician, he remains remarkably innovative and authentic. Bonamassa’s career began onstage opening for B.B. King in 1989, when he was just 12 years old. Today, he is known worldwide and has released 15 solo albums in the past 13 years.
His name alone speaks volumes. The beloved cellist returns to Phoenix after a five-year hiatus in this special concert at the historic Orpheum Theatre. Yo-Yo Ma’s multi-faceted career is a testament to his lifelong search for new ways of communicating with audiences, and to his personal desire for artistic growth and renewal.
“Madagascar” brings all our favorite characters from the movie together: Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the Hippo and, of course, those hilarious, plotting penguins. Follow along as they escape from the Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected and outlandish journey. What sets this production apart is Valley Youth Theatre’s impeccable cast with amazing talent — it never disappoints.
The practice of memorializing heroes and warriors through song has existed for nearly as long as music itself. So what better way to celebrate veterans, than with epic tales of sprawling battlefields, regal monarchs and faithful knights. This Veteran’s Day, the Helios choir honors all members of the armed forces, past and present, with masterpieces including the Sanctus from “Misa de la batalla escoutez” by Francisco Guerrero, John Dowland’s “His golden locks,” Christopher Tye’s “In pace,” and “Pax ergo vestras” by Michael Praetorius.
Set in a fishing village along the Amazon River, two sisters struggle to find happiness, love and self-determination. When a fishermen suddenly pulls a mysterious stranger out of the river — a man with no past who offers both sisters an alluring, possibly dangerous future, their world is turned upside down. Blending Brazilian folklore, lyrical storytelling and fantastic acting by the Arizona Theatre Company, this is the age-old struggle of trying to stay true to your family, while staying true to yourself.
“The Music Man” / Theatre League / Orpheum Theatre / Dec. 1-3
Trouble comes to River City when a fast-talking conman gets his heart stolen by the well-to-do local librarian. “The Music Man” is witty, warm and family-friendly. With charasmatic acting by the Theatre League, including great singing roles portrayed by both children and adults, Meredith Willson’s six-time, Tony Award-winning musical comedy is truly a cross-generational treasure.
For more things do this season — including outdoor movies, festivals and must-see concerts — check out our extensive fall event lineup: Live It Up DTPHX.