Theater and opera this month: ‘Marcus; Or The Secret of Sweet,’ ‘A Steady Rain’ and an all-women cast of ‘Men On Boats’ among the options

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The all-woman cast of "Men on Boats" tells the history of John Wesley Powell’s 1869 expedition down the Colorado River. The play runs Feb. 19-March 15 at the Art Square Theatre, 1025 S. First St. at Charleston Boulevard and Main Street

Coastal elites mock Las Vegas as a cultural desert. A Public Fit Theatre (APF) continues to burst that cliché with outstanding theater like this month’s production of “A Steady Rain,” a one-act play by TV writer Keith Huff, who writes for such critically acclaimed series as “House of Cards” and “American Crime.”

Huff takes his cue from that hit crime docudrama and he bases his plot on a real-life incident that occurred when two cops in a misbegotten attempt to show sensitivity to the gay community returned a young boy to the clutches of cannibalistic serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer after he convinced them that he was the boy’s lover.

Joey and Denny, the cops in Huff’s retelling, are lifelong friends. Together they have lived through domestic affairs, violence and the mean streets. But their loyalty, friendship and trust face a crisis through their failure to correctly assess the situation when they respond to a domestic violence call.

Public Fit veterans, Christopher Brown as Denny and Mark Gorman as Joey, are expertly directed by Erik Amblad in roles that were originated by Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig on Broadway. The taunt drama of the play builds as the two men look back over their lives and friendship in alternating monologues and present-day dialogue.

Scenic designer Eric A. Kroger’s realistically abstract set design brilliantly captures the dark tension of the play.

The play runs Feb. 7-23 with shows at 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. at The Usual Place, 100 S. Maryland Parkway at East Fremont, next to PublicUs. Tickets are $25 to $30 at https://apublicfit.org.

Keep theater afloat and become a donor. APF offers an array of behind-the-scenes experiences and other VIP privileges for those who able to generously provide funding for their productions, education programs and artistic teams.

Find out more at “Outburst,” an evening of storytelling about Missionaries, Emissaries, and Ambassadors, at The Usual Place on Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m.

Or contact APF’s development associate, Gabriella Giocomo, at ggiocomo@ apublicfit.org for more information on how you can keep the culture tap open.

Opening on Valentine’s Day, Nevada Conservatory Theatre at UNLV is presenting “Marcus; Or The Secret of Sweet” by Academy Award-winning writer, Tarell Alvin McCraney, who wrote the screenplay for the 2017 Best Picture Oscar winner, “Moonlight.”

“Marcus” is the final installment of McCraney’s acclaimed “Brother/Sister Plays” trilogy. Interweaving elements of African religion and the Louisiana bayou where he grew up, McCraney tells the story of 16-year-old Marcus, an African American boy who dreams.

As a storm threatens the bayou, Marcus seeks to unravel the mysteries of his tight-knit, inter-generational family. Piecing together his own ancestral legacy, Marcus discovers the special power of being “sweet.”

Showing at the Black Box Theatre in the Ham Fine Arts Bldg. on the campus of UNLV, Feb. 14-23. All seats are $20, and may be purchased at the UNLV Performing Arts Center Box Office, over the phone by calling 702-895-ARTS (2787) or online at pacboxoffice@unlv.edu.

A Valentine’s Day date play is Super Summer Theatre’s In the City Series’ “First Date,”
at the Studio, 4340 S. Valley View, Suite 208. It opens Feb. 16. Tickets are $20 for
general admission. The lobby opens at 6 p.m. Show time is 7 p.m.

Another great Valentine’s Day date play is Super Summer Theatre’s In the City Series’ “First Date,” continuing at the Studio, 4340 S. Valley View, Suite 208 through Feb. 16.

“First Date” is a musical comedy about a dating disaster. Dating virgin Aaron is set up on a blind date with serial-dater Casey for a casual drink at a busy New York restaurant.

As the date unfolds in real time, the couple quickly finds that they are not alone, Casey and Aaron’s inner critics take on a life of their own when other restaurant patrons transform into supportive best friends, manipulative exes and protective parents, who sing and dance them through ice-breakers, appetizers and potential conversational land mines.

Can true love be found before the check arrives?

The Broadway comedy is based on the book by Austin Winsberg with music and lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner. The show is rated PG-13 due to adult language and dating disasters.

Tickets for the In City Series are $20 for general admission. The lobby opens at 6 p.m. with seating at 6:30 p.m. Show time is 7 p.m.

For more information, visit www. supersummertheatre.org or call 702-579- PLAY (7529). For updates on the latest shows, follow Super Summer Theatre on Facebook, Instagram @supersummertheatre and Twitter.

To celebrate African American History Month, the Vegas City Opera Company (VCO) is launching the Voices of Women Concert Series. The first of two free concerts, “Coretta Scott King: Let Freedom Sing,” will be on Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. at Summerlin Library and Performing Arts Center, 1771 Inner Circle Drive, and will honor the widow of the slain civil rights leader.

Actress and opera singer, Carmen Artis leads a quartet of singers through the life and work of Coretta Scott King. From her early beginnings, starting with her groundbreaking civil rights work with her husband, Martin Luther King Jr., and her later life’s work in the fields of gender equality, poverty and the peace movement – this concert features an oral history combined with songs, anthems and spirituals of the times that brings King’s story to life.

The second concert will be on March 15 at 3 p.m. at Windmill Library and Performing Arts Center, 7060 W. Windmill Lane, and will honor African American abolitionist and women’s rights advocate, Sojourner Truth.

Both concerts are free and are sponsored by the League of Women Voters in conjunction with the Nevada Humanities and the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District.

The Voices of Women Concert Series will present the courageous and historic landmark stories of these two groundbreaking women as well as the freedom songs, gospel and art songs inspired by the eras as they tell the stories of the incredible journey of these abolitionists and freedom riders. Dr. Richard L. Hodges has re-envisioned and adapted the two pieces for the stage, with in-depth research into the era and its music as well as what influence these two women had on the nation and Nevada.

VCO is the resident company at the Amargosa Opera House in Shoshone, California, just south of Death Valley National Park. The venerable Death Valley institution is celebrating its 52nd season.

VCO will be presenting a concert version of Puccini’s “La Boheme” on Feb. 8 at the Opera House and “Phantom of the Amargosa Opera” on Feb. 21 and 22.

VCO will be back in Las Vegas for “A Night at the Opera,” on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. at the Windmill Library and Performing Arts Center. This concert of operatic favorites from Mozart, Puccini, Bizet and more, will be performed by renowned operatic artists who have performed internationally and across the United States and now call Las Vegas home. This event is the first collaboration between Vegas City Opera and the Young Artists Orchestra (YAO), and features top students, professionals and alumni from the YAO Academy, Symphony, and Chamber Orchestra programs.

Tickets: General Admission is $20, Student Admission is $10. For ticket information visit https://vegascityopera.org.

Remember your First Time? If you are still looking for a Valentine’s date play, check out “My First Time” from Ken Davenport at The Playhouse, 528 S. Decatur Blvd. near Charleston Boulevard. Four actors share hysterical and heartbreaking stories written by real people about first sexual experiences.

In 1998, a decade before blogging began, a website was created that allowed people to anonymously share their own true stories about their first times. The website became an instant phenomenon as more than 40,000 stories poured in from around the globe. Now, these true stories, and all of their unique characters are brought to life by Poor Richard’s Players in this acclaimed 90-minute play. Due to adult language and themes, this production is for mature audiences only.

“My First Time” runs Feb. 6-15. Tickets are $20. To purchase go to https://www.theplayhouselv.com.

The blood is still flowing at the Majestic Repertory Theatre’s hit of the season, “Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” running through Feb. 9.

Unjustly exiled barber Sweeney Todd returns to London seeking vengeance against the judge who framed him and ravaged his young wife. Sweeney’s vengeance is bitter, but it helps Mrs. Lovett, the resourceful proprietress of the failing pie shop below his barber shop, to discover a new ingredient that makes her meat pies “the best pies in London!”

The score includes some of Stephen Sondheim’s most complex and beautiful music and lyrics, with a story by Hugh Wheeler based on a tale dating back to Victorian penny dreadfuls.

Enjoy this classic musical with a Majestic twist … and make a date night by pairing it with a pre-show meal at neighbor eatery, Esther’s Kitchen. Just don’t order the meat pie.

Performances are at Alios, 1217 S Main St. in downtown Las Vegas. For tickets and more information visit https:// www.majesticrepertory.com/.

Opera Las vegas will hold “A Magical Night of Delights” gala at the Versailles Ballroom
in Paris Las Vegas Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. It will feature acts from Celestia.

Opera Las Vegas (OLV) is celebrating their 20th anniversary of bringing opera to Sin City with “A Magical Night of Delights” at Paris Las Vegas, 3655 S. Las Vegas Blvd., on Feb. 22 from 6-10 p.m.

This star-studded evening of revelry and merry-making benefits the company’s upcoming June production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” The benefit will also honor Jan Jones Blackhurst with OLV’s 2020 Arts Leadership Award.

Tickets are $175-$2,500 at http:// www.operalasvegas.com/ or call 702- 263-6604. Through Feb. 7 get $25 off your ticket price by using the promo code “Magic.” Self-parking at Paris Las Vegas is included in the ticket price.

OLV will be celebrating opera’s African American legacy by honoring the accomplishments of beloved African American singers, conductors and composers in the concert, “Opera Legends in Black” at the Windmill Library Theatre, 7060 W. Windmill Lane on Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. The concert is free.

OLV singers and musicians will pay tribute to superstars like Leontyne Price, William Warfield, Jessye Norman and Simon Estes. Selections from the “ragtime” opera “Treemonisha” by composer Scott Joplin, George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess,” Terence Blanchard’s “Champion” and Kurt Weill’s and Maxwell Anderson’s “Lost in the Stars” will be featured.

For more information go to http:// www.operalasvegas.com/ or call 702- 263-6604.

In the Las Vegas Little Theatre’s (LVLT) Fischer Black Box Theatre is “Shows For Days,” by LVLT audience favorite Douglas Carter Beane (“The Little Dog Laughed”) about a Podunk community theatre staging Tennessee Williams in the hinterlands and the young man who discovers it and his own sexuality in the ‘70s — sound familiar?

The play runs through Feb. 16. Tickets range from $20 to $25 at www. LVLT.org or contact the Box Office at 702-362-7996.

Arizona Opera is reprising their first commissioned opera, “Riders of the Purple Sage,” which made its world-premiere to sold-out crowds in 2017. An intimate story set in the epic landscape of the American West, “Riders” is an adaptation of the Zane Grey Western classic.

The opera tells a powerful story of strength and redemption through love, loss, conflict and adventure across breathtaking Southwest vistas that are brought magnificently to life by world-renowned Arizona artist, Ed Mell.

For tickets and information, visit azopera.org or call 602-266-7464. Performances are at Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix, Feb. 28 – March 1 and Tucson Music Hall, March 7 and 8.

Keeping to a Western theme, the St. George Musical Theater is presenting “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” through Feb. 22 at St. George Opera House, 212 N Main St. in St. George, Utah.

Based on the famous MGM film, now adapted for the stage, this musical Western tells of the wooing and winning, by seven cowboy brothers, of seven brides.

For information and tickets go to https://www.sgmusicaltheater.com/.

Downtown but just as much of the Wild West, “The Nevada Series” from the Rainbow Youth Theatre tells the story of Nevada from Helen J. Stewart to Mark Twain.

The show will be presented at the historic Fifth Street School, 401 S. Fourth St., Downtown, Feb. 14-16. Tickets are $6. To purchase or for more information go to https://www.rainbowcompany.org/.

“Men on Boats” by Jaclyn Backhaus does not have any actual men or boats or water but this history of John Wesley Powell’s 1869 expedition down the Colorado River is faithfully presented complete with dialogue pulled from Powell’s diary.

Why, if not to be campy, would a playwright do this? Backhaus said in an interview, “It’s interesting for me to take that idea of male conquest, give it to someone who usually doesn’t have that right, and put that into the roles themselves. It begs the question of what histories are we lacking.”

Masculinity and manifest destiny meet their gender-flipped match in Vegas Theatre Company’s highly physical show that seems to ask the question, what aren’t we seeing? Would an audience notice the lack of women in an all-male cast?

Barbara King, fresh from her outstanding performance in “August: Osage County” at A Public Fit, is part of a talented ensemble of women whose task is more challenging than it may seem— not to “act” like men.

This intriguing, fun and very physical play proves that our s u p p o s e d l y parched cultural landscape is lush with adventuresome theater and talent.

Plays Feb. 19-March 15 (no show on the first Friday of the month), Art Square Theatre, 1025 S. 1st St. at Charleston Boulevard and Main Street in the Arts District.

For information and tickets go to https://www. theatre.vegas/menon-boats or call 702-383-3133.

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