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SUMMER STAGES: There's Plenty of Theater Sizzle in Store During the Valley of the Sun's Summer


While the temperatures are rising in the Phoenix Metro area, theater lovers can be assured of a cool and diverse range of theatrical offerings this summer.

AMERICAN IDIOT will be the premiere offering of Stray Cat Theatre as it moves into its new venue, the Tempe Center for the Arts. The Tony Award winning punk-rock opera ~ a story of "teen rage, love, and loss" ~ based on the music of Green Day and Billie Joe Armstrong's lyrics will be directed by Ron May, the company's founding artistic director, and will feature the choreography of Scorpius Dance Theatre's Lisa Starry. The compelling story of three young men who struggle to find meaning in a post-9/11 world will run from June 24th through July 16th.

The ever popular WEST SIDE STORY is on tap at Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert from July 7th through August 20th. A perfect treat for the whole family, the Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim collaboration about star crossed lovers caught in the turmoil of gang warfare, will be directed by Cambrian James.

Arizona Broadway Theatre isn't taking a rest this summer, ensuring that audiences will continue to be regaled by the company that delivers the goods on musical theater. From July 15th through August 14th, it will present SHREK THE MUSICAL and, from August 26th through September 10th, will follow-up with the production of PAGEANT, the musical comedy with a twist PAGEANT, where six contestants compete for the prestigious title of Miss Glamouresse, and the audience picks the winner.

Theatre Artists Studio continues its tradition, now into its ninth year, of presenting a festival of short plays authored by the playwright members of this vibrant collective of thespians. The eight plays in this year's NEW SUMMER SHORTS 2016 ~ a collection of "some comical, some dramatic, some completely absurd" ~ will run from June 16th through June 26th.

Desert Stages Theatre has scheduled a double-header of hits before it moves into its new digs in Scottsdale Fashion Square. First up is MOON OVER BUFFALO ~ from June 3rd through July 24th ~ Ken Ludwig's hilarious comedy about two traveling actors who receive a call from Frank Capra to replace the performers in his current film. (This was the play, incidentally, that returned Carol Burnett to the Broadway stage.) Next, from July 8th through August 7th is the Sondheim classic take on fairy taledom, INTO THE WOODS.

From June 10th through June 26th, parents and their kids will be treated to Valley Youth Theatre's production of Disney's THE LITTLE MERMAID.

VYT isn't alone in staging Disney productions. Theater Works SummerWorks will present a performance of ALICE IN WONDERLAND JR. on June 24th in its Gyder Stage.

Don Bluth Front Row Theatre has its own summer double-header, featuring a duo of old favorites ~ Noel Coward's 1930's and still delightful chestnut PRIVATE LIVES from July 21st through August 6th and, ending the season, Betty Comden and Adolph Green's memorable SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, from August 11th through September 17th.

From July 29th through July 31st, the adventurous Brelby Theatre Company is presenting what it describes as its Season 8 "summer epic," THE OZ CHRONICLES. "Inspired by L. Frank Baum's unique and engaging world, Brelby's take on the original American fairy tale will feature epic themes of good versus evil, new interpretations of classic characters, and the creative combat that our audiences have come to love and expect from our summer epics."

MY FAIR LADY will brighten the stage of the Tempe Center for the Art from August 18th through the 21st as David Hock's Scottsdale Musical Theatre Company continues its tradition of "presenting affordable theatrical productions of well-known Broadway shows in their entire original Broadway versions with sets, fully costumed and featuring the best of Phoenix area talent along with a full live orchestra." On the talent side of this equation is the good news that Valley favorite, Terry Gadaire will lead the cast as Henry Higgins, the petulant instructor of the one only Eliza Doolittle.

Last but not least, Tuscany Theatre Company will present Tom Stoppard's remarkable and complex ARCADIA. Shifting between the 19th and 20th centuries, Stoppard's themes cover "the nature of truth and time, the difference between the Classical and the Romantic temperament, and the disruptive influence of sex on our orbits in life." The New York Times hailed it as "Stoppard's richest, most ravishing comedy to date, a play of wit, intellect, language, brio and... emotion. It's like a dream of levitation: you're instantaneously aloft, soaring, banking, doing loop-the-loops and then, when you think you're about to plummet to earth, swooping to a gentle touchdown of not easily described sweetness and sorrow...Exhilarating." A cool way to end a hot summer. The show runs from August 11th through August 20th.

All told, Phoenix regional theater promises something for everyone in the Summer of 2016. Enjoy!

Photo credit to Stray Cat Theatre

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