The theater season is really heating up, and there are some exciting shows in town. If you haven’t seen The Rogue’s “Celia, A Slave,” this weekend is your last chance — it would be a shame to miss it. And Arizona Theatre Company’s “Chapter Two” is a surprising drama in the hands of director Marsha Mason. The rolling world premiere of “Building the Wall” is at Borderlands; it’s by one of today’s best playwrights. Here are details on those and much more:
Building the Wall — Borderlands Theater. See story.
Celia, A Slave — The Rogue Theatre, 300 E. University. Tucson playwright Barbara Seyda’s poetic writing tells the disturbing (and true) story of a 19-year-old slave named Celia, who was hanged for the murder of her slave master after he repeatedly raped her. Seyda pulled from court records and other sources on the 1855 trial. The play is a series of monologues delivered by deceased characters who were there. It’s devastating, powerful and important, especially now. Cynthia Meir directs a large cast that is up to the emotional and dramatic material. Final performances are 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21-23; 2 p.m. Sept. 23 and 24. $38, with discounts available. 551-2053. theroguetheatre.org.
Seminar — Live Theatre Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway. Better hurry if you want to catch LTW’s production of this smart, sometimes painful, often funny Theresa Rebeck play about four aspiring young novelists who sign up for private writing classes with a hotshot author. Insults, jealousies and seduction follow. Eva Tessler directs and the fine cast is made up of Steve Wood, Josh Parra, Brie Zepeda, Jonathan Northover and Samantha Cormier. Final performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 23. $20. 327-4242. livetheatreworkshop.org.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest — The Community Playhouse, 1881 N. Oracle Road. The adaptation of Ken Kesey’s riveting novel takes to the Community Players stage. An inmate is transferred to a prison for psychiatric evaluation. He’s expecting it to be a lightweight experience. But he doesn’t count on the mean-spirited Nurse Ratched. Final performances are 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 and 23, and 2 p.m. Sept. 24. $15. 887-6239. communityplayerstucson.org.
Chapter Two — Temple of Music & Art, 333 S. Scott Ave. Arizona Theatre Company opens it season with the Neil Simon comedy, directed by his ex-wife, Marsha Mason. The comedy about a recently widowed writer, who is introduced by his press-agent brother to a soap opera actress, was inspired by Mason and Simon’s whirlwind romance. The production zeros in on the struggles of dealing with deep grief, tempering the humor with insight. It continues at various times through Sept. 30. $25-$73. 622-2823. arizonatheatre.org.
Tigers Be Still — Tornabene Theatre, 1025 N. Olive Road. Life ain’t easy in this Kim Rosenstock play staged by Arizona Repertory Theatre. It is packed with layers of grief and pain. But at its center is art teacher Sherry, who is committed to being upbeat. A tough commitment to keep: Her sister has taken over Sherry’s sofa clutching a whiskey bottle and watching TV. That’s what a cheating fiancé can do to you. Her recently-widowed boss spends way too much time in his office with a gun in his lap. He has made his son Sherry’s teaching assistant, and that’s a struggle, too: The poor teen thinks it’s his fault that his mother died in a car crash. Amidst all this turmoil comes the news that a tiger has escaped from the zoo. That could be the least of their problems. Brent Gibbs directs the University of Arizona students. The play is appropriate for ages 13 and up. 1:30 p.m. Sept. 24; 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21-23, 28 and 29. Through Oct. 7. $15-$28 621-1162. theatre.arizona.edu
The Astronaut Farmworker — PCC Center for the Arts West Campus, 2202 W. Anklam Road. The play, geared toward children, is loosely based on the true story of José Hernández, the son of migrant farm workers who dreamed big — to be an astronaut. And he achieved the dream. In the play, Pepito must overcome struggles with the language and balance work in the fields with his studies so that his starry-eyed goal can be achieved. His commitment to learning, the help and guidance of teachers and his family, give him the tools that will one day send him to space. Mickey Nugent directs. Performances are 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 1. $8. 206-6986 or pima.edu/cfa.
Phantom of the Opera — The Gaslight Theatre, 7010 E. Broadway. The Gaslight brings back its Peter Van Slyke version of the classic Gaston Leroux story about an opera singer, a stalking masked man and a famous opera house. Here’s what else the Gaslight is bringing back: Armen Dirtadian as the masked man. And David Fanning as the masked man. Yup the two, who have played the character multiple times on the Gaslight stage, are going to split the role: Dirtadian is the Phantom through Oct. 1; Fanning, who has also been the Gaslight’s Phantom several times, will do the role Oct. 3-Nov. 5. And this piece of news will put Gaslight fans in a frenzy: Joe Cooper is coming out of retirement to reprise the role of Madame Giry. We’re guessing it was just too hard for him to pass up the opportunity to put on a dress and a gray wig again. “Phantom” is at various times through Nov. 5. $19.95. 886-9428. thegaslighttheatre.com.
The Curious Savage — Roadrunner Theater, 8892 E. Tanque Verde Road. Mrs. Savage is a widow and a rich woman — her husband left her $10 million. She would like to do good with it; her step children want to get their greedy hands on it. So they have her committed, where she meets all sorts of misfits who could really use the help her millions can give. The John Patrick comedy is 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 1. Tickets are $20. 207-2491. roadrunnertheatrecompany.org.