Demonstrating inventive takes on old myths is par for the course at Great Arizona Puppet Theater, whose adaptation of Cinderella won the 2010 UNIMA-USA Citation of Excellence in puppetry. Behind the scenes, professional puppeteers guide the characters through kid-friendly narratives, both ancient and original. Their performances often include a timely moral that parents can discuss with children with the help of accompanying study guides, which encourage guests to analyze themes and ask questions such as "how can puppets talk if they have no brains?"
The puppet masters have more than 50 tales in their collective memory. They perform them in the historical, hand-painted theater space five days a week, as well as at area schools and functions. By crafting scripts that address Arizonian themes, including the conservation of endangered condors and figures in Native American folklore, they hope to educate and engage their young spectators. Guests can interact with the stories even further by adopting puppets from the onsite gift shop or by attending a private party, where they create their own hand puppets out of paper bags. Additionally, seasonal adult shows prove that puppetry can be as edgy as any other art form.
Live Theatre Workshop's thespians and production crew dedicate their theatrical talent to dramatizing plays in an intimate black-box theater. Paula Vogel's 1998 Pulitzer Prize–winning drama How I Learned to Drive centers on a teenage girl stumbling through a dangerous relationship. The show plays out on the Mainstage, a small theater that seats audience members within reach of the actors, intensifying performances and allowing patrons to see performers' faintly visible muses.
Voted the Best Local Performing Arts Troupe by readers of the East Valley Tribune in 2011, National Comedy Theatre’s ensemble of players concocts improvised situations at lightning-fast speeds, relying on audience participation and their own wits to elicit thunderous laughter and applause. After turning to their all-ages crowd for assistance in shaping games and scenarios, the cast employs knowledge gleaned from operating-room sketches to tickle ribs with anatomical exactitude. The show often favors spontaneity over prudence, with performers gleefully stepping into their roles as acrophobic skydiving champions or long-winded court stenographers. Audience members get to select the winning team at the conclusion of the show, and can learn the form themselves during improv classes.
In the award-winning one-woman show Golda's Balcony, four-time Tony-nominee Tovah Feldshuh portrays former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and the endless struggle for peace in the Middle east. For Dancing on Ice, winter sport enthusiasts can get an intimate view of skating celebs as tango, swing, waltz, and solve algebra equations on the center ice. A recent $6.7 million renovation equipped the Chandler Center with refurbished seating, increased accessibility, a stage makeover, and an unmistakable new theater smell. See the Chandler Center's online calendar for more information about each show.
At Stand-Up, Scottsdale! bellies ache from a rotating selection of nationally known comedians seen on Comedy Central and late-night talk shows. The intimate 180-person venue, where such local legends as David Spade got their start, beckons a cast of talented funny persons that changes regularly. Voted Best Comedy Club this year by Arizona Foothills magazine, the ha-ha hot spot has recently hosted performances by noted names including Dana Carvey, Frank Caliendo, and Norm Macdonald. With a recent appearance on Spike TV's "Bar Rescue," they now boost a full menu of pub-food appetizers and entrees keeps would-be hecklers otherwise occupied, and Wednesday evening open-mic nights allow rookie comics to test their mettle.