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2019 Culture Guide: Theater & Dance

American Idiot
Photo courtesy London Mace

Pictured, from left: Blaise Esperancilla, Mike Vargovich, RJ Viray of American Idiot.

Family & Festivals | Music | Theater &  Dance | Literature and Ideas | Visual Arts

September 5-29

Do I Feel Lucky, Punk?

It’s hard to believe a punk album-inspired musical about three disaffected youths from the suburbs was nominated for a Best Musical Tony and won a Best Show Album Grammy, but that is the case with Green Day’s American Idiot. Troy Heard and company’s intimate downtown venue amplifies the big angst in this sung-through rock musical. Majestic Repertory Theatre, 1217 S. Main St., 8p and 5p, $25,

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September 6-22

Bee Good

Rebecca Feldman’s Tony Award-winning musical comedy, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, livens up the community theater’s main stage this fall with its engaging infusion of improv and audience interaction. Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Drive, 8p and 2p, $22-25,


September 7 & 15

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Exposure Therapy

Think of Aga-Boom as treatment for clown phobia. With high-energy antics, the European-style theatrical troupe entices the audience to join in on the clowning around. It’s a physical comedy performance meant to delight participants of all ages. Windmill (Sept. 7) and Whitney (Sept. 15) Libraries, 2p, free, 702-507-6068


September 20

For Mature Audiences Only

Seriously, A Public Fit Theatre Company wants you to know that its staged reading of Hilary Bettis’ play Ghosts of Lote Bravo is not for everyone. It’s the story of young girls disappearing in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico — often never to be seen again — told through the supernatural visions that one grieving mother receives. The audience is invited to a discussion with the cast and crew following the performance. Clark County Library Jewel Box Theater, 7:30p, free, 702-507-3459


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September 27-October 6

Sorceress Slayers

In honor of Halloween, the Rainbow Company Youth Theatre presents David Wood’s stage adaptation of the Roald Dahl book The Witches. Elaborate costumes add extra spookiness to the story of a boy and his grandma who partner up to take on a powerful witch. Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush Street, Las Vegas, 7p and 2p, $5.50,


September 27-October 19

All About That Face

So, a guy walks into a bar. In the 19th century. Tells the regulars gathered there this super sad love story, and, to drive it home, sketches his beloved’s face on the floor. It inspires a poem, “The Face on the Barroom Floor.” That inspires another painting, on another floor, in Denver, in 1936. That inspires an opera (also The Face on the Barroom Floor), in 1978, which you can see here in Las Vegas, this fall, thanks to Vegas City Opera. Artisan Hotel and Amargosa Opera House, 8p and 4p, $10-$30,


October 2-27

Woke Turkey

Native American playwright Larissa FastHorse penned The Thanksgiving Play in 2015 to call out the ridiculous assumptions of misguided liberals. Vegas Theatre Company (formerly Cockroach Theatre) presents the one-act satire in which four people try to conceive a politically correct Thanksgiving presentation for Native Heritage Month.  Art Square Theatre, 1025 South 1st Street, 7:30p and 2p, $20-35,


October 4-13

Finding Her Roots

Alison Bechdel’s 2006 graphic memoir, Fun Home, follows an adult’s investigation of her father’s past, as she looks for clues about her own identity. Nevada Conservatory Theatre produces the Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori musical adaptation, told through a nonlinear series of vignettes throughout the main character Alison’s life. Starring (pictured, from left) Tatum Rajsky and Glenn Heath. UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre, 7:30p and 2p, $25,


October 4-20

Her Favorite Haunts

The Las Vegas Little Theatre brings Stephen Mallatratt’s creepy stage adaptation of Susan Hill’s novel, The Woman in Black, to its black box. The play-within-a-play tells a chilling tale of transgression, tragedy, and the inability to let go. Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Drive, 8p and 2p, $20,


October 18-19

Fairer Than Death

In 1912, the French composer Maurice Ravel reimagined the ancient Greek pastoral romance Daphnis and Chloe as a ballet, choreographed by Michel Fokine. This fall, UNLV’s dance and orchestra departments team up to reimagine the reimagining, with their updated interpretation blending classical and modern dance. The production, titled In Orchestra 4: Daphnis and Chloe, also includes Ravel’s Bolero, choreographed by dance professor Cathy Allen. UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre, 7:30p, $18,


October 18-November 3

Between Us and Everybody Else

What better moment for John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation, which challenges audience members to confront their bias, privilege, and connection to others? The 1990 play, produced on the community theater’s main stage, tells the story of a young black con artist holding a mirror up to the high society he infiltrates with ease. Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Drive, 8p and 2p, $22-25,


October 24

Hitting the High Notes

Formed in 1999, Opera Las Vegas produced its first full-length performance, Carmen, six years later. Since then, the company has covered classics from La Boheme to Rossini’s Cinderella. This fall’s Encore! Encore! Anniversary Concert celebrates Opera Las Vegas’ two decades of work with a sampler of crowd pleasers from those past performances. Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, 7:30p, price TBA,


October 24-27

Swan Time

Courtesy Nevada Ballet

If you haven’t seen Swan Lake, why not? What’s wrong with you? It’s, like, the ultimate balletic tale of good and evil, love and obsession. And it’s Tchaikovsky. TCHAIKOVSKY. Seriously, you’re lucky Nevada Ballet Theatre is producing the Ben Stevenson-choreographed classic again this year. But it’s one weekend only, so don’t get complacent or anything. Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center, 2p and 7:30p, $35-$150,


October 25-November 10

About Nothing

Despite its lack of theatricality, Annie Baker’s The Flick won the 2014 Pulitzer Price for best drama. Critics struggle to pin down the three-hour play’s narrative, which meanders in and out of three underpaid movie ushers’ mundane routines — sweeping, running projectors, catching the occasional love scene — nevertheless, most agree it’s a deeply moving portrayal of three young adults just shy of fulfilling their potential. Nevada Conservatory Theatre presents the work in its intimate Black Box Theatre. UNLV’s Black Box Theatre, 7:30p and 2p, $25,


October 25-November 17

Passive Regressive

A former poet, now alcoholic has gone missing. His bitter, prescription drug-addicted wife is distraught. Various family members descend on their small Oklahoma hometown for a missing-person emergency. Arguments ensue. What’s not funny about that? Apparently, nothing, judging from the smash-hit status of Tracy Letts’ 2007 comedy-drama, August: Osage County, about confronting one’s Midwestern past. A Public Fit presents the Pulitzer Prize winner on its main stage. The Usual Place, 100 S. Maryland Parkway, 7:30p and 2p, $25-$30,


November 13-December 8

It’s Secondary, Dear

Vegas Theatre Company presents Holmes and Watson, which opens with Dr. Watson in a late 19th-century asylum on Scotland’s Starkhaven Island trying to determine whether one of the inmates is his longtime partner in crime-solving. The master sleuth had gone missing following his confrontation with archenemy Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls and is presumed dead. The suspenseful mystery that unfolds is Jeffrey Hatcher’s 2017 contribution to the post-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle continuation of Sherlock Holmes’ adventures. Art Square Theatre, 1025 S. First St., times vary, $20-35,


November 14-17

Motion Sensers

UNLV professor Victoria Dale’s piece, prepared for the International Association of Blacks in Dance’s annual conference, is the highlight of Brushstrokes of Motion, a presentation of student and faculty works. Dance lighting, design, and stage management majors also contribute to the production. Dance Studio 111 in the Ham Fine Arts building, 7:30p and 2:30p, $18,


November 16

If These Flutes Could Talk

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s late 18th-century piece, The Magic Flute, makes an ideal introduction to opera for kids, in part because it’s a fairytale, and in part because it’s what was then called a singspiel — an opera with spoken lines, or what we would simply call a “musical” today. Vegas City Opera adapts the original as The Princess and the Magic Flute, making it explicitly family-friendly. Durango Hills Park, 3545 N. Durango Drive, 2p, free,


November 23

Lighten Up, Santa

On a dark stage, performers wear costumes and manipulate puppets outlined in brightly colored lights; this is Lightwire Theatre’s signature combination of artistry and technology. The company applies the approach to A Very Electric Christmas, its original holiday tale of a young bird named Max who gets separated from his family as they’re flying south for the winter and finds himself lost and alone at the North Pole. Charleston Heights Arts Center, 2p, $12.50-$25, 


November 26-December 1

Mean Fun

Courtesy The Smith Center

The Smith Center celebrates the holidays with the crowd-pleasing Broadway musical Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Narrated by Max the Dog, it’s the classic story of theft, penance, and cardiac expansion. Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center, times vary, $30-$128,


January 16 - February 9

Beyond Meat

Majestic Repertory Theatre hails the vegan backlash with its presentation of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. If you like meat pies, you’ll love this gruesome tale of revenge by pastry. Christopher Bond adapted his 1973 play from a character in Victorian pulp fiction; Stephen Sondheim subsequently interpreted the story as a musical — his most musical musical, actually, since 80 percent of the work
is either sung or spoken over accompaniment. The method worked: Sondheim’s version won the Tony Award for best musical. Majestic Repertory Theatre, 1217 S. Main St., 8p and 5p, $30,


February 7-23

What’s Wrong, Tough Guy?

A Public Fit faces the new year with teeth bared, figuratively speaking, by staging A Steady Rain, the gritty buddy drama by House of Cards and Mad Men writer Keith Huff. Told through two cops’ alternating monologues, it’s a timely story of the hubris, bad judgment, and corruption that privilege breeds. The Usual Place, 100 S. Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, 7:30p and 2p, $25-$30,


February 22-23

Kinetic Aesthetic

Choreographer Nicolo Fonte sets bodies in motion to the thrumming crescendo of Maurice Ravel’s Bolero for this intense, modern production, presented by Nevada Ballet Theatre. Also part of the mid-winter program are George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments and an original work by company dancer and choreographer Krista Baker. Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center 7:30p and 2p, $63-$140,


Desert Companion welcomed Heidi Kyser as staff writer in January 2014. In 2018, she was promoted to senior writer and producer, working for both DC and State of Nevada. She produced KNPR’s first podcast, the Edward R. Murrow Regional Award-winning Native Nevada, in 2020. The following year, she returned her focus full-time to Desert Companion, becoming Deputy Editor, which meant she was next in line to take over when longtime editor Andrew Kiraly left in July 2022.