Reviews are by Donald Munro; NR = not reviewed.
Hands Up: 7 Playwrights. 7 Testaments: Fresno State opens a production written by seven emerging African-American playwrights exploring the harsh complexities of the relationship between black Americans and law enforcement. Thomas-Whit Ellis directs. (Opens Friday, Sept. 30)
The Phantom of the Opera: The reimagined national tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-running musical, complete with chandelier, arrives at the Saroyan Theatre. (Opens Wednesday, Oct. 5)
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Waiting for Lefty: Fresno City College opens the 1935 drama by Clifford Odets framed by the meeting of cab drivers who are planning a labor strike. Janine Christl directs. (Opens Friday, Sept. 30)
Camelot: The Good Company Players production at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater is a fine showcase for a classic, gorgeously melodic score that comes from a time when Broadway tunes still played on the radio. But the musical’s book (about Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and the Round Table). is creaky and old-school, and Elizabeth Fiester’s direction and the design of the show feels passive. Jeff Dinmore is a standout as Pellinore, the harumphing older acquaintance who moves into Arthur’s castle. Through Nov. 6.
Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play: After a nuclear disaster wipes out the electrical grid, a theater troupe keeps episodes of “The Simpsons” alive for what’s left of civilization. The Selma Arts Center presents the central San Joaquin Valley premiere of Anne Washburn’s cerebrally feisty dark comedy. It’s the kind of fresh, contemporary piece of theater that can have you marveling at its originality and bathing in its philosophical undercurrents but also rolling your eyes at its ostentatious excesses. Unfortunately, director Juan L. Guzmán and his hard-working cast are swamped by the show’s complicated demands. (Closes Sunday, Oct. 1)
Witness for the Prosecution: In this Good Company Players production of the Agatha Christie classic at the 2nd Space Theatre, you’ll get an old-fashioned whodunit romp complete with stuffy English barristers (David Otero and Noel Adams) wearing wigs. They’re battling over the guilt of the amiable defendant (Alex Vaux in a nice performance) accused of killing an older woman he befriended. But where does his enigmatic German wife (Erica Riggs, mysterious and ambiguous) fit into this? Director Karan Johnson offers a brisk pace and a solid sense of courtroom intrigue, though the big “reveal” could have used more dramatic spark. Through Oct. 9.
NEXT WEEK’S OPENINGS
The Addams Family: Playhouse Merced opens the musical inspired by the TV show and comic classic. (Opens Friday, Oct. 7)
The Rocky Horror Show: Porterville’s Barn Theatre opens the October favorite. (Opens Friday, Oct. 7)