Billed as the untold story of the witches of Oz, predating Dorothy’s untimely drop-in, the highly popular musical kicks off The Smith Center’s first full Broadway season. It’s a wise move on the part of the venue’s powers-that-be to lure in the masses. Whether they come in droves for October’s staging of The Addams Family is yet to be determined. (Now through Oct. 7, Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center)
Atlas Theatre’s fall season starts with a steamy production of Patrick Marber’s dark melodrama focusing on two couples actively engaged in the pursuits of lust, extramarital affairs and soul-wrenching self-destruction that should, if played right, have audiences squirming in their seats. It’ll be interesting to see what this cast, under the direction of Chris Mayse, does with the scathing script, which boasts a level of brutality up there with Harold Pinter or Edward Albee. (Aug. 31-Sept.15, The Box Office)
Side Man, The Pillowman
Las Vegas Little Theatre’s main stage will be transformed into a sultry jazz club for Warren Leight’s Tony Award-winning play, a chaotic rampage through time, space and dysfunctional family relationships — punctuated with plenty of jazz riffs and metaphors. And just in time for Halloween, LVLT will stage Irish playwright Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman, a creepy tale of a fiction writer whose grisly tales of child murders skirt a bit too close to the truth. (Side Man: Sept. 14-30, Las Vegas Little Theatre. The Pillowman: Oct. 19-Nov. 4, Fischer Black Box at Las Vegas Little Theatre)
It can be slim pickings when it comes to pre-holiday, family-friendly theater, but the Rainbow Company Youth Theatre is in full force this fall, staging a musical comedy based on Mark Twain’s famous tale of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Actress Kristen Bell made her Broadway debut as Becky Thatcher over a decade ago, so who’s to say this production won’t launch the career of another plucky young star or two? (Oct. 5-14, Charleston Heights Art Center)
Robert D. Dunklery directs CSN’s performance of Yasmina Reza’s play, chronicling a tumultuous relationship between three men and one peculiar painting. Friendships are strained, secrets divulged and actors are pushed to their limits with lengthy monologues. While the Tony Award-winning play has been staged recently in Vegas, it could be worth it to see how this performance measures up. (Oct. 12-21, CSN Backstage Theater)
Nevada Ballet Theatre, Pilobolus Dance Theatre
The Nevada Ballet Theater has its inaugural performance at Reynolds Hall in October, joining forces with the Pacific Northwest Ballet and Ballet West to perform George Balanchine’s three-part masterwork, Jewels. (Oct. 13-14, The Smith Center) If that’s not your thing, the jaw-dropping dance acrobats from the contemporary Pilobolus Dance Theatre, performing a couple weeks later on the same stage, may just blow your mind. (Oct. 24)
A State of the Union Conversation: An Evening with Frank Rich and Fran Lebowitz
The Smith Center loves a good conversation like any of us, and it launches its Speaker Series with a doozy: The wit-blessed author Fran Lebowitz and the take-no-prisoners columnist Frank Rich, commentating on social and political issues from a New York perspective, but with a flamboyant honesty we Las Vegans can appreciate. (Oct. 17, Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center)
One-Act Plays, Ah Wilderness
You want to support the arts, especially the work of broke, hard-working student playwrights, but you’re just not sure it’s worth sitting through a full-length student production, right? CSN has the answer: a night of one-act shorts. If you get bored with one play, no worries, it’ll soon be over, and the next one might knock your socks off. (Oct. 26-28, CSN Backstage Theatre) Or, you can just go to CSN’s performance of Eugene O’Neill’s Ah Wilderness (Nov. 9-18).
Perhaps known best by the masses for his Academy Award-winning co-authoring of 1998’s Shakespeare In Love, Tom Stoppard’s 1993 play Arcadia is a heady, modern drama set in two alternating eras, exploring everything from chaos theory and advanced mathematics to the essence of truth. Is it the greatest play of our age, as many suggest? Let the Nevada Conservatory Theater’s stab at it help you decide. (Nov. 30-Dec. 9, Judy Bayley Theatre at UNLV)
A John Waters Christmas
Want to celebrate the sort of holiday spirit where it’s preferable to be naughty rather than nice, and Santa might just be a drag queen? The Pope of Trash finally brings his raunchy, Christmas-themed one-man show to Las Vegas, a city whose key he should have acquired long ago. (Dec. 5, House of Blues)
KELLE SCHILLACI, MIKE PREVATT
Second City Touring Company: Laughing Matters (Sept. 28, Artemus W. Ham Hall at UNLV), NY Polyphony (Oct. 7, Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center), Wisdom, by CSN Department of Dance (Nov. 30-Dec. 1, Nicholas J. Horn Theatre at CSN
An autumn of Shakespeare
The Bard abides — all across Vegas (and beyond) this fall.
Billed as “95 minutes of unrelenting intensity,” Table 8’s Hamlet, directed by Troy Heard, premieres at the Onyx Theatre. Featuring a trim cast, the pared-down version promises to cut to the core (and horror) of the dysfunctional family drama. (Sept. 7-30)
Across town, Henderson’s (free!) Shakespeare in the Park series will showcase a likely more traditional version of Hamlet, showing at four different outdoorsy locations throughout October and featuring the Las Vegas Shakespeare Company. Didn’t know we had a Shakespeare Company? Now you do! (Oct. 6-27)
Shakespeare’s famous star-crossed lovers in Romeo and Juliet will take the stage in October, performed by the Nevada Conservatory Theatre at UNLV. (Oct. 5-14, Judy Bayley Theatre) And if that’s not enough Bard for your buck, the Utah Shakespeare Festival continues its run in Cedar City, Utah. And, yes, they’re performing Hamlet. (Through Oct. 20) KELLE SCHILLACI
Of maestri and men
This year’s International Allegro Guitar Competition will be split between Houston and UNLV. To get in the spirit, make for Artemus W. Ham Hall on Sept. 21. An eclectic foursome that includes Sergio Assad and French jazz/folk/improvisational strummer Roland Dyens performs a warm-up concert, as does Christopher McGuire, who got his blues chops from family friend Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Down the valley, Russian music is meat for the Henderson Symphony’s Oct. 12 concert. Music Director Taras Krysa leads the HSO in Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony and Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina Prelude, while violinist Dimitri Berlinsky is spotlit in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, all amid the warm-sounding acoustical splendor of the Henderson Pavilion.
Heading into its first full Reynolds Hall season, the Las Vegas Philharmonic does so as a rudderless ship. Charmless music director David Itkin unceremoniously resigned via e-mail in May. Rather than burden herself with a lame-duck maestro this year, Philharmonic CEO Jeri Crawford showed him the door. In lieu of Itkin, the LVP promises “an exciting array of guest conductors” (read: job applicants), none of whom has yet been announced. However, Philharmonic audiences can console themselves with the return of popular cellist Zuill Bailey, who will join pianist Nevah Perlman and violinist Philippe Quint in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto. The Smith Center video system will also get the first of several in-concert starring roles, illustrating Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (in the familiar Maurice Ravel orchestration) Oct. 20. DAVID MCKEE