See? We told you the Tucson theater scene was going to warm up. This is just the beginning — plays are slated to open almost every weekend of this month. Until then, here are some fine ways to start your new year off right:
House of Blue Leaves
Pope Paul VI was a superstar.
So when he visited New York City back in 1965, the city went wild, hungry to touch the hem of his fame.
It’s that pandemonium that serves as a backdrop for John Guare’s Tony-nominated black comedy, “The House of Blue Leaves,” now on the Live Theatre Workshop stage.
The play opens with Artie sitting at a piano and singing. He aspires to be a singer/songwriter, but he can’t even get the attention of the people at the bar.
At home, Artie’s frustrations continue. His wife, Bananas, is, well, bananas, and he is plotting to send her away. His mistress, Bunny, is all for it. And she’s all for Artie moving to Hollywood — she hungers for fame as much as he does.
The action takes place in Artie and Bananas’ Queens apartment. Coming through the doors: a trio of nuns who long to get close to the pontiff, though truth be told one of them wants to escape the convent; Billy Einhorn, a childhood friend of Artie’s and a big-time Hollywood producer; the mentally unstable Ronnie, Artie and Bananas’ son, and Corrinna Stroller, Billy’s slightly deaf girlfriend and a famous actress.
On the surface, this is the story of Artie’s dreams of making it as a songwriter and the obstacles in his way. But Guare, who has a lyrical way with language, has much more in mind: the American lust for celebrities, the quest for fame and how it is used to measure failures and success, and betrayal.
Sure, it sounds heavy. But you’ll laugh. And you’ll go home knowing you’ve had more than cotton candy theater.
Roberto Guajardo directs the production and the cast includes Keith Wick, Avis Judd, Shanna Brock, Taylor Rascher, Janet Roby, Bob Kovitz, Bree Boyd, Pat Timm, Emily Gates, Margaret Smith and Brian McElroy.
Previews are 7:30 p.m. Jan. 4 and 5; opening is 7:30 p.m. Jan. 6. Regular performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 10 at Live Theatre, 5317 E. Speedway. Previews and Thursdays are $15; all other performances, $20, with discounts available. 327-4242 or livetheatreworkshop.org.
A Twist of Lemmon
Jack Lemmon won two Oscars, made more than 60 films and was one of the most beloved actors of the last century.
When he died of cancer in 2001, his son, Chris, began to write down his memories, turning them into a book called “A Twist of Lemmon: A Tribute to My Father.” That book eventually became a one-man play, but with a twist: Rather than serving as the narrator, Chris Lemmon has taken on the persona of his father.
Invisible Theatre brings Lemmon and his play here for two performances.
The production includes photos, film clips, and Lemmon often at the piano, playing music he has composed.
“As a study of Jack’s life it hits all the right marks,” says the London theater blog Playhouse Pickings of a performance in that city.
“Chris presents a loving, respectful portrait of his father and achievements, but is not overly sentimental in an honest account.”
A Delicate Ship
It begins with a knock on the door.
Sarah and her boyfriend, Sam, are having an idyllic evening at home in Anna Ziegler’s “A Delicate Ship,” Something Something Theatre Company’s current offering.
That knock is made by a longtime pal of Sarah’s, Nate. He says he is in love with her. Sam says the same.
The past comes swirling up. Discussions about life and love fill the apartment. And the tug of war for Sarah’s affection takes on an intensity she would rather wasn’t there.
The memory play has gotten high praise. Among the accolades is this from the New York Times: “Ms. Ziegler’s quietly lyrical language has a luminous beauty, and her talent for creating characters whose complicated depths are just visible on their surfaces is still more remarkable.”
Joan O’Dwyer directs, and the cast consists of Nick Watts, Shira Elena Maas and Stephen Dunham. It previews at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 4 and opens at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 5. Regular performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays at the Community Playhouse, 1881 N. Oracle Road. The preview is $15; all other performances, $22, with discounts available. 468-6111 or Somethingsomethingtheatre.com.