New theater season offers premieres, favorites

Too much of a good thing can be wonderful — as Mae West, a renowned playwright (among other things), once remarked.

By those standards, Mae would have embraced Las Vegas’ 2014-15 theater season with gleeful gusto.

From Tony-winning musicals (including “Kinky Boots,” which opens its national tour Thursday night at The Smith Center) to edgy theatrical experiences in offbeat locations (the Gateway Motel, anyone?) to world premieres, this season’s offerings reflect the Las Vegas theater community’s increasing maturity.

“The Las Vegas theater scene doesn’t feel like a fringe festival anymore,” says Aaron Tuttle, College of Southern Nevada’s new lead theater faculty member, who’s back in Las Vegas after several years in Seattle.

“It’s growing up,” agrees Troy Heard, creative director for Table 8 Productions, which is mounting its first full season — themed “#LeadUsNot” — since its 2008 founding. “There’s never been this sense of Vegas as an arts community.”

The profusion of local companies — and The Smith Center’s lineup of visiting productions — gives Las Vegas audiences a wide range of choices, Heard says.

They range extends from more traditional fare (at Las Vegas Little Theatre and Super Summer Theatre) to more experimental productions (at Cockroach Theatre) to Table 8’s focus on “more immersive, experiential theater,” where audiences are “not necessarily sitting and watching a show,” Heard explains.

To help you sort out this season’s shows, here’s a preview of what’s coming soon — Thursday, in two cases — to a theater near you. (We’ve tried to make this list as comprehensive as possible, but stay tuned to the Review-Journal for additions to the schedule, along with in-depth details on the productions listed below.)

And so, without further ado, curtain up — and on with the show!

SEPTEMBER

“Arsenic and Old Lace” — This farcical favorite, set in 1940s Brooklyn, N.Y., finds a drama critic contending with his eccentric, not to mention homicidal, family. (Thursday-Sept. 20, Super Summer Theatre, Spring Mountain Ranch State Park; www.supersummertheatre.org)

“Kinky Boots” — The Tony-winning musical, about an unlikely friendship that saves a British shoe factory, kicks off its national tour in Las Vegas. (Thursday-Sept. 14, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, 702-749-2000, www.thesmithcenter.com)

“Boston Marriage” — David Mamet takes aim at puritanism and deceit in this subversive comedy, set in Victorian-era New England, where two female roommates struggle to maintain their decorum. (Friday-Sept. 21, Las Vegas Little Theatre Black Box; 702-362-7996, www.lvlt.org)

“California Suite” — Neil Simon’s four-in-one comedy focuses on various distressed guests at the Beverly Hills Hotel. (Friday-Sept. 14, Chaos Theatre Company and Olde English Productions, in association with Off Strip Productions, Onyx Theatre; 702-732-7225, www.onyxtheatre.com)

“Mrs. Mannerly” — In late 1960s Ohio, one student tries to receive an elusive perfect score in a children’s manners class in this comedy, which debuted at this summer’s VegasFringe festival. (Sept. 12-28, Las Vegas Little Theatre; 702-362-7996, www.lvlt.org)

“9 to 5: The Musical” — Dolly Parton’s score powers this adaptation of the 1980 movie hit about 1970s office workers plotting vengeance against a tyrannical boss. (Sept. 12-27, Broadway Bound, Summerlin Library Theatre; 702- 838-5131, www.broadwayboundlv.com)

“My Children! My Africa!” — South African playwright Athol Fugard explores the tragedy of apartheid as experienced by a black teacher in a segregated township. (Sept. 19-28, Nevada Conservatory Theatre Black Box, UNLV; 702-895-2787, www.unlv.edu/nct)

“The eBook of Love” — Asylum Theatre’s staged reading of a comedy about three couples hoping that the modern communications that have made a mess of things will help them find the right partners. (Sept. 20, Onyx Theatre, www.asylumtheatre.org)

“Merrily We Roll Along” — Stephen Sondheim’s musical of showbiz dreams and friendships gone sour moves backward in time, from disillusion to youthful optimism. (Sept. 26-Oct. 11, Off Strip Productions; Onyx Theatre; 702-732-7225, www.onyxtheatre.com.)

OCTOBER

“Wicked” — The return of the Tony-winning musical detailing the friendship between future “Wizard of Oz” foes the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good. (Oct. 8-Nov. 9, Reynolds Hall, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, 702-749-2000, www.thesmithcenter.com)

“[title of show]” — “Two nobodies in New York” and their friends create a new musical in an off-Broadway award-winner. (Oct. 9-18, Las Vegas Academy Black Box, lvacademytheatre.org)

“Circle Mirror Transformation” — This award-winning comedy-drama focuses on small-town New Englanders in a six-week drama class. (Oct. 10-19, BackStage Theatre, College of Southern Nevada, Cheyenne campus; 702-651-5483, www.csn.edu/pac)

“Nevada” — Three people come to the end of their journey in David Kranes’ memory play. (Oct. 10-19, Nevada Conservatory Theatre, Judy Bayley Theatre, UNLV; 702-895-2787, www.unlv.edu/nct)

“No Exit” — Three dead characters are locked in a room together, for eternity, in Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialist play. (Oct. 10-26, Cockroach Theatre, Art Square Theatre, 702-818-3422, www.cockroachtheatre.com)

“Den of Thieves” — In this comedy-drama, hapless would-be thieves find themselves at the mercy of a murderous gangster and arguing for their lives. (Oct. 17-Nov. 2, Las Vegas Little Theatre Black Box; 702-362-7996, www.lvlt.org)

“Henri” — An intimate exploration of the complexity of Alzheimer’s disease and aging. (Oct. 17-26, Sprat Artistic Ensemble, Troesh Studio Theater, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts; 702-749-2000, www.thesmithcenter.com)

“Rope” — Based on director Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 adaptation of Patrick Hamilton’s 1929 play, two brilliant young men (inspired by real-life murderers Leopold and Loeb) strangle a former classmate, then host a dinner party for the victim’s unsuspecting friends and family. (Oct. 17-26, Poor Richard’s Players, Onyx Theatre; 702-732-7225, www.poorrichardsplayers.com)

“Jonestown” — An immersive experience based on the Rev. Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. (Oct. 23-Nov. 8, Table 8 Productions, location to be determined; www.table8lv.com.)

“My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish and I’m in Therapy” — Steve Solomon returns (and plays more than 20 characters) in this one-man comedy. (Oct. 29-Nov. 2, Troesh Studio Theater, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, 702-749-2000, www.thesmithcenter.com)

“An Apology for the Course and Outcome of Certain Events Delivered by Dr. John Faustus” — This “living room tour” brings the title character to random gatherings, where he shares tales of a life well wasted. (Table 8 Productions, available for private bookings; www.table8lv.com.)

NOVEMBER

“The Last Five Years” — Two New Yorkers fall in and out of love — one going forward in time, the other backward — in Jason Robert Brown’s intimate musical. (Nov. 6-9, Nevada Conservatory Theatre, Judy Bayley Theatre, UNLV; 702-895-2787, www.unlv.edu/nct)

“How I Learned to Drive” — Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of control and manipulation traces the strained, sexual relationship between a young woman and her aunt’s husband. (Nov. 7-16, Rag Tag Entertainment; Onyx Theatre; 702-732-7225, www.onyxtheatre.com)

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” — Christopher Durang’s Tony-winning comedy provides an updated twist on Chekhov as three single, middle-aged siblings ponder their lost lives. (Nov. 7-23, Las Vegas Little Theatre; 702-362-7996, www.LVLT.org)

“A Mother’s Love” — A rising singer struggles to make her own decisions while honoring her relationship with her mother in this autobiographical drama featuring “The Real Housewives of Atlanta’s” Kandi Burruss. (Nov. 8-9, Theatrical Works Live, Thomas &Mack Center; 702-739-3267, www.unlvtickets.com.)

“White Christmas: The Musical” — Irving Berlin’s beloved tunes inspire this holiday favorite (Nov. 10-Dec. 13, Signature Productions, Summerlin Library Theatre, www.SignatureProductions.net)

“The American Clock” — Arthur Miller’s “vaudeville” focuses on 52 characters caught in the throes of the Great Depression (Nov. 13-22, Las Vegas Academy, Lowden Theater for the Performing Arts, lvacademytheatre.com)

“Kindertransport” — This fact-based drama follows the experiences, during World War II and afterward, of a Jewish child whose parents send her to Britain, thereby sparing her the horrors of the death camps. (Nov. 13-15, Jewish Repertory Theatre of Nevada, Temple Sinai, www.jrtn.org)

“The Seagull” — Anton Chekhov’s classic focuses on romantic and artistic conflicts among a writer, a fading actress, an ingenue and a symbolist playwright. (Nov. 14-23, BackStage Theatre, College of Southern Nevada, Cheyenne campus; 702-651-5483, www.csn.edu/pac)

“America’s Next Top Bachelor Housewife Celebrity Hoarder Makeover Star Gone Wild!” — The Kinsey Sicks return with a reality-TV spoof featuring jungle challenges ranging from singing and dancing to dating and dieting. (Nov. 20-23, Troesh Studio Theater, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, 702-749-2000, www.thesmithcenter.com)

“Pippin” — The Tony-winning revival of “Wicked” composer Stephen Schwartz’s musical about the young title prince, who searches for meaning in a circus-like world. (Nov. 25-30, Reynolds Hall, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, 702-749-2000, www.thesmithcenter.com)

“Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold” — Sister’s back in this “Late Nite Catechism” spin-off, enlisting audience members to help solve the title mystery. (Nov. 28-Dec. 6, Troesh Studio Theater, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, 702-749-2000, www.thesmithcenter.com)

DECEMBER

“A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant” — In this twisted holiday musical, an all-kid cast presents the story of Scientology. (Dec. 4-20, Table 8 Productions, Art Square Theatre; www.table8lv.com.)

“As You Like It” — All the world’s a stage in Shakespeare’s comedy, which follows two disguised fugitives into the magical forest of Arden (Dec. 5-14, Nevada Conservatory Theatre, Black Box, UNLV; 702-895-2787, www.unlv.edu/nct)

“A Dick Johnson Christmas Carol” — A comedic Yuletide caper from local playwrights Maxim Lardent and Mark Valentin (Dec. 5-14, Poor Richard’s Players, Onyx Theatre, 702-732-7225, www.poorrichardsplayers.com)

“Meet Me in St. Louis” — This musical favorite, based on the 1944 movie classic, focuses on a close-knit family as they reluctantly prepare to leave their hometown — as it prepares for the 1904 World’s Fair. (Dec. 5-12, Rainbow Company, Charleston Heights Arts Center; 702-229-6553, 702-229-6383, www.artslasvegas.org)

“A Muse” — An original dance drama that explores what we see, what we think we see and what others see. (Dec. 11-20, Las Vegas Academy, Lowden Theater for the Performing Arts, lvacademytheatre.com)

JANUARY

“Rumors” — In Neil Simon’s 1988 farce, mysterious events — involving gunshots — disrupt a 10th-anniversary party that’s already been touched by scandal. (Jan. 9-25, Las Vegas Little Theatre; 702-362-7996, www.lvlt.org)

“Bug” —A lonely cocktail waitress, hiding from her violent ex-con husband, becomes involved with a paranoid Gulf War veteran in “August: Osage County” writer Tracy Letts’ award-winning play. (Jan. 16-Feb. 1, Cockroach Theatre, Art Square Theatre, 702-818-3422, www.cockroachtheatre.com)

“The Little Dog Laughed” — When an actor becomes involved with a hustler, his acerbic agent fears her client’s “slight recurring case of homosexuality” might derail his career in Douglas Carter Beane’s award-winning comedy. (Jan. 16-Feb. 1, Las Vegas Little Theatre Black Box; 702-362-7996, www.lvlt.org)

“Spring Awakening” — Frustrated 19th-century teens explore their sexuality in this Tony-winning musical with a score by rocker Duncan Sheik. (Jan. 16-31, Table 8 Productions, Summerlin Library; www.table8lv.com.)

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” — Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical traces the trials and triumphs of the title biblical character. (Jan. 20-25, Reynolds Hall, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, 702-749-2000, www.thesmithcenter.com)

FEBRUARY

“Dixie’s Tupperware Party” — The indefatigable Dixie Longate returns to host another bash featuring funny tales, free giveaways and fabulous Tupperware. (Feb. 5-8, Troesh Studio Theater, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, 702-749-2000, www.thesmithcenter.com)

“Macbeth” — The Utah Shakespeare Festival’s touring ensemble returns with Shakespeare’s bloody tale of political ambition. (Feb. 6-7, Nicholas J. Horn Theatre, College of Southern Nevada, Cheyenne campus; 702-651-5483, www.csn.edu/pac)

“Reckoning” — Asylum Theatre’s staged reading of Chicago-based Jenny Seidelman’s play about three generations of Irish gypsies, known as travellers. (Feb. 8, Onyx Theatre, www.asylumtheatre.org)

“The Lady in Question” — In Charles Busch’s kitschy 1940s Hollywood spoof, all-American concert pianist Gertrude Garnet finds herself on tour, and foiling Nazis. (Feb. 13-March 1, Las Vegas Little Theatre; 702-362-7996, www.LVLT.org)

Nevada Series Touring Show — The latest in Rainbow Company’s original series exploring the Silver State’s past. (Feb. 13-15, Rainbow Company, Historic Fifth Street School, 702-229-6553, 702-229-6383, www.artslasvegas.org)

“Aida” — Elton John’s Tony-winning score gives a contemporary twist to this tale of forbidden love previously musicalized in Verdi’s classic opera. (Feb. 19-March 7, Las Vegas Academy, Lowden Theater for the Performing Arts; lvacademytheatre.com)

“Six Characters in Search of an Author” — Luigi Pirandello’s absurdist classic explores the relationships among authors, their characters and the theater professionals who bring those characters to life. (Feb. 20-March 1, Nevada Conservatory Theatre, Judy Bayley Theatre, UNLV; 702-895-2787, www.unlv.edu/nct)

“Nice Work If You Can Get It” — In the Roaring Twenties, a wealthy playboy and a bubbly bootlegger find romance in a screwball musical mash-up featuring classic Gershwin tunes. (Feb. 24-March 1, Reynolds Hall, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, 702-749-2000, www.thesmithcenter.com)

Spring Shorts — A variety of short plays. (Feb. 26-March 1, BackStage Theatre, College of Southern Nevada, Cheyenne campus; 702-651-5483, www.csn.edu/pac)

“Stage Kiss” — Reality and artifice meld in award-winning playwright Sarah Ruhl’s latest, about the chemistry, and consequences, of an onstage kiss (Feb. 27-March 15, Cockroach Theatre, Art Square, 702-818-3422, www.cockroachtheatre.com)

MARCH

“Motel” — The Gateway Motel provides the setting for a world premiere of a Vegas-centric update of Arthur Schitzler’s “La Ronde,” where audiences go room-to-room to follow newlyweds, escorts and evangelists. (March 12-28, Table 8 Productions, Gateway Motel; www.table8lv.com.)

“Eastern Standard” — In 1987 New York, two couples pursue romance — and struggle with such issues as homelessness, insider trading and AIDS — in Richard Greenberg’s comedy of urban malaise. (March 13-29, Las Vegas Little Theatre Black Box; 702-362-7996, www.lvlt.org)

“Newsies” — This Tony-winning Disney musical, set in 19th-century New York, follows plucky newspaper boys battling publishing tycoons. (March 17-22, Reynolds Hall, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, 702-749-2000, www.thesmithcenter.com)

Nevada Conservatory Theatre-Cockroach Theatre Collaboration — The two theater troupes team up on a yet-to-be-determined project (March 19-22, Nevada Conservatory Theatre, Black Box, UNLV; 702-895-2787, www.unlv.edu/nct)

Thespians’ Choice 2015 — A play or musical presented by the Las Vegas Academy’s Thespians Troupe (March 19-28, Las Vegas Academy Black Box, lvacademytheatre.org)

“Amadeus” — Peter Shaffer’s Tony-winning drama about the rivalry between successful 18th-century composer Antonio Salieri and young genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. (March 27-April 12, Las Vegas Little Theatre; 702-362-7996, www.LVLT.org)

APRIL

“Vegas, Baby!” — A staged reading chosen from hundreds of submissions to Asylum Theatre. (April 4, Onyx Theatre, www.asylumtheatre.org)

“The Real Inspector Hound” — Theater critics find themselves caught up in an Agatha Christie-style mystery in Tom Stoppard’s uproarious, absurdist play-within-a-play. (April 10-19, BackStage Theatre, College of Southern Nevada, Cheyenne campus; 702-651-5483, www.csn.edu/pac)

“My Name is Asher Lev” — Chaim Potok’s novel inspires an award-winning stage adaptation, about an artistic prodigy whose talents conflict with his life as a Hasidic Jew. (April 16-19, Jewish Repertory Theatre of Nevada, Temple Sinai, www.jrtn.org)

“My Friend, the Fox” — In this family-friendly tale, a clever fox befriends a kindly woodsman and helps him find a happy ending (April 23-May 2, Las Vegas Academy, Lowden Theater for the Performing Arts, lvacademytheatre.com)

“Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play” — Anne Washburn’s imaginative dark comedy takes place after the fall of civilization, as “The Simpsons” metamorphoses from pop culture to mythology. (April 24-May 10, Cockroach Theatre, Art Square Theatre, 818-3422, www.cockroachtheatre.com)

“Mr. Popper’s Penguins” — A new adaptation of the beloved tale about a house painter and his high-stepping, tap-dancing penguins. (April 25-May 3, Rainbow Company, Charleston Heights Arts Center, 702-229-6553, 702-229-6383, www.artslasvegas.org)

New Works Competition Winner — The debut of the latest contest winner. (April 24-May 10, Las Vegas Little Theatre Black Box; 702-362-7996, www.LVLT.org)

“Cinderella” — Rodgers and Hammerstein’s TV musical hits the stage, recounting the beloved fairy tale anew. (April 28-May 3, Reynolds Hall, 702-749-2000, www.thesmithcenter.com)

MAY

“All New People” — In Zach Braff’s comedy, a young man’s suicide attempt is rudely interrupted by a daffy Englishwoman who’s come to show his Jersey Shore abode to potential renters. (May 1-17, Las Vegas Little Theatre; 702-362-7996, www.LVLT.org)

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” — Triumphs, traumas and tunes share the spotlight in William Finn’s musical about the title competition. (May 1-10, Nevada Conservatory Theatre, Judy Bayley Theatre, UNLV; 702-895-2787, www.unlv.edu/nct)

“Miss Margarida’s Way” — The audience becomes a captive eighth-grade class as the omnipotent title teacher delivers lessons on biology, geography — and her own obsessions. (May 7-23, Table 8 Productions, location to be determined; www.table8lv.com.)

“Annie” — Everybody’s favorite Depression-era orphan returns to the stage in this revival of the Tony-winning musical. (May 26-31, Reynolds Hall, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, 702-749-2000, www.thesmithcenter.com)

“Keepin’ It Country” — Super Summer Theatre kicks off its 2015 season. (Date to be determined, Super Summer Theatre, Spring Mountain Ranch, www.supersummertheatre.org)

JUNE

“Big Fish” — Based on Daniel Wallace’s 1998 novel and its 2003 movie adaptation, this musical explores the relationship between a tale-spinning salesman and his skeptical adult son. (June 10-27, Super Summer Theatre, Spring Mountain Ranch, www.supersummertheatre.org)

“Native Speech” — An underground disc jockey trapped in a future hell makes up news for entertainment, until he discovers his fictions becoming fact. (June 12-28, Cockroach Theatre, Art Square Theatre, 818-3422, www.cockroachtheatre.com)

“Veils” — In Cairo, two college students — an African-American Muslim and her Egyptian roommate — explore faith, friendship and more. (Asylum Theatre, dates and location to be determined, www.asylumtheatre.org)

JULY

“Bye Bye Birdie” — An Elvis-like rock ’n’ roll star wreaks havoc in a small Ohio town in this musical favorite. (July 8-22, Super Summer Theatre, Spring Mountain Ranch, www.supersummertheatre.org)

“The Bourgie Willie B” — A Manhattan stockbroker plans to woo a hip-hop starlet in a farcical romp that explores America’s ever-widening culture gap. (July 24-Aug. 3, Asylum Theatre, Art Square, www.asylumtheatre.org)

AUGUST

“Tarzan” — Disney’s animated version of the ape man’s jungle reign gets the musical treatment. (Aug. 5-22, Super Summer Theatre, Spring Mountain Ranch, www.supersummertheatre.org)

SEPTEMBER

“Lend Me a Tenor” — In Ken Ludwig’s madcap, Tony-winning farce, desperate measures must be taken after an opera superstar’s inconvenient lapse into unconsciousness — or worse. (Sept. 3-19, Super Summer Theatre, Spring Mountain Ranch; www.supersummertheatre.org)

Contact reporter Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272.

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