Swans and Simpsons and Hilton sisters? Oh my.
You’ll find all the usual munchkins on the road to the merry old land of Valley performing arts — endless retreads of “Oklahoma!,” more of Jeffrey Siegel’s “Keyboard Conversations,” enough “Nutcrackers” to level an entire army of wooden soldiers (or, to stick with the “Wizard of Oz” metaphor, a band of flying monkeys).
But look closer. Hidden among the same-olds and the yawners are some killer events this season that not only pique our interest but, better yet, stretch the boundaries of what constitutes performing arts.
There are new definitions of “pops” concerts, dance hybrids, an increasing number of acts successfully fusing hip-hop and classical — even a few snarky riffs on pop culture icons “The Simpsons” and, just because they’re freakin’ everywhere, Paris and Nicky Hilton.
‘Nicky Goes Goth’
OCT. 21-NOV. 5 AT STRAY CAT THEATRE
Ron May’s troupe makes a move toward the Edgy Alternative Theater award with a repertory of Sean Graney’s “The Fourth Graders Present an Unnamed Love/Suicide” — a play about a bullied boy’s suicide, presented as a pageant by his classmates — and “Nicky Goes Goth,” Elizabeth Meriwether’s story about what happens when Nicky Hilton — yes, that Nicky Hilton — starts dating a Goth boy.
‘A Vampire Tale’
OCT. 28-NOV. 5
AT PHOENIX THEATRE LITTLE THEATRE
Scorpius Dance Theatre’s dark little Halloween dance gem, “A Vampire Tale,” pumps some creepy heart into that howling time of year. A fable about a young girl who’s seduced by the blood-feasting undead, told in Lisa Starry’s fluid choreography, a haunting soundtrack and just enough spook to fuel a few nightmares.
‘Bugs Bunny on Broadway’
OCT. 8-9 AT THE DODGE THEATRE
Calling all Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner fans: The Phoenix Symphony — following popular forays into soundtrack concerts of “The Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars” — will blend live symphony music from favorite Looney Tunes cartoons with the actual animated features playing on large screens above the stage.
‘Video Games Live’
NOVEMBER AT THE DODGE THEATRE
Pairing symphony orchestras with pop fare is nothing new. The flavor of the moment is ‘‘Video Games Live,’’ a conceptual touring show that brings together an orchestra with scores from hit video games like “Super Mario Bros.,” “Metal Gear Solid” and the “Halo” series. The production, with video projections and gobs of special effects throughout the show, was a smash hit when it debuted in July at the Hollywood Bowl, forcing tour organizers to restructure the national tour. A Phoenix date at Cricket Pavilion in early September was rescheduled for early November at the Dodge Theatre, though final details have yet to be announced.
Nebellen's ‘Mixer With a Twist’
OCT. 28-29 AT THE HERBERGER THEATER CENTER
In Nebellen Dance Company's new show, you'll not only see the company's high-energy dance and hear live DJ sets, you may become part of the performance. The “twist” of the show: Audience members are invited to come in costume, and company dancers will pull people up onstage to dance freestyle. Bring your cardboard mat, yo.
NOV. 4-6 AT SCOTTSDALE CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Savion Glover — the most famous tap-dancer since the late Gregory Hines — returns to the East Valley, but here’s the catch: This time, he won’t bring in da funk — he’s bringin’ da classical. “Classical Savion” will include tap dance to selections by Bach, Mendelssohn and Vivaldi.
Matthew Bourne's ‘Swan Lake’
JAN. 29-FEB. 4 AT GAMMAGE AUDITORIUM
Matthew Bourne turns a darker, and more romantic, eye toward Tchaikovsky’s classic — while satirizing what the piece has become — in a critically acclaimed production that manages to be both lavish and stark. A touring production comes to town midway through the Broadway in Arizona season.
FEB. 22-26 AT MESA ARTS CENTER
Rick Miller reimagines Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” — that dark tale of murderous ambition — through the world of everyone’s favorite jaundiced cartoon creations, “The Simpsons,” in a show that combines 50 impersonated voices to spin a version of the classic Miller calls “85 percent true to Shakespeare.” Putting the “D’oh!” in “False face must hide what the false heart doth know?”
‘Superforce: Action to Die For’
APRIL 15 AT SCOTTSDALE CENTER FOR THE ARTS
See the daredevil acrobatic dances of Elizabeth Streb and her seven performers in Superforce's gravity-defying show that includes components of dance, gymnastics and trapeze performance with — get this — some innovative gadgetry. The company calls it Cirque du Soleil meets “Jackass.” We call that reason enough to check it out.
MAY 13 AT SCOTTSDALE CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Los Angeles-based daKAH fuses hip-hop with orchestral music, incorporating elements of jazz, funk, rock and Latin music into their unusual sound. The 60-member orchestra will play the outdoor amphitheater at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts.