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The theater scene perks way up heading into the new season

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New Year’s shows: LVLT, Cockroach, the Onyx and Smith Center bring a slew of fresh productions in January.
Jacob Coakley

Things are about to get interesting in Las Vegas theater. After a slow month thanks to the holidays, just about every local troupe is waking up from an eggnog coma, half buzzed and half hungover, ready to start something with your good-looking cousin. Here’s what you shouldn’t miss.

First up is Tribes by Nina Raine at Las Vegas Little Theatre. Opening January 8, the show follows the story of Billy—a deaf adult forced by his family to rely solely on lip reading—who discovers the world of sign language and just how monumentally messed up his family is, through a romance with a woman named Sylvia. “The things that we leave unsaid, the feelings that we assume our loved ones understand, and the inability to personalize what we too often intellectualize. Nina Raine examines these themes,” says the show’s co-director, T.J. Larsen, “as well as the nature of self-identity, focused through the lens of the ones we love.”

Middletown opens at the LVLT the week after. It takes its inspiration from the classic Our Town, but remixes it with lyricism and a modern sense of casual despair. It’s a poetic, existential trip into how the current threads of detachment and overwhelming self-awareness interface with community.

Constellations at Cockroach Theatre opens January 14, and shares a love story smart enough to tackle quantum physics yet packed with heart enough to be called “emotionally devastating” by The New York Times. It’s a simple boy-meets-girl story—with the spin that every conversation these two ever had, in every permutation, exists somewhere. Boy woos girls, boy loses girl, boy and girl never get together. Tragedy, romance and transcendence tangle in a fugue-like play that takes people to the heart of the universe and themselves.

The Onyx continues its irreverent revival with seduction and assault. Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Burlesque from burlesque troupe Va-Va-Voom takes it off on January 9. Hosted by “Walt Frozen Disney” himself, the show promises R-rated takes on all your Disney classics—no “Private Mode” Googling required. Then on January 14 Troy Heard presents his latest pop-culture twist, a gender-swapped version of a Tarantino classic, Reservoir Dolls, which promises to put “Like a Virgin” in yet another whole new light.

That same weekend (January 15-17) a presentation of the Pulitzer-winning Driving Miss Daisy from Broadway in the Hood pulls into the Smith Center. This classic play, tracking the relationship between a black driver and his elderly white passenger (and eventually very close friend) balances sweetness with sharp humor, and portrays a relationship that blossoms despite being fraught with societal and personal obstacles. It’s a sweet piece that never devolves into sentimentalism, and it’s worth the trip.

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  • “There’s so many parallels of my life. It’s one of most relatable roles I’ve ever played.”

  • “Immersive theater is the next evolution in entertainment, and it has taken a large turn now that the video game generation has grown up and ...

  • Director Chris Davies points out that the play touches on the issues of immigration reform and women’s rights—without losing any laughs.

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