Have you ever wanted to check out a ballet performance, but aren’t ready to shell out the dough for tickets? Don’t get me wrong – performing arts groups need paying patrons, but Ballet Arizona has been making it possible for Valley residents to get a taste of arabeques and pirouettes for free over the past 18 years in order to foster an appreciation of ballet as an art form.
Spontaneous cinematic magic – and messes -- can happen when you give groups of Phoenicians a line of dialogue, a prop, and a requirement to make a three-minute film (including titles and credits) in 48 hours. Such is Welcome Diner’s recipe for its Dinerfest film challenge – plus beer and fried food, of course. Now on its fourth fling, the festival is so popular people fill bleachers on the diner’s lawn in summer to see who will win the year’s Best Film Award and cash prize. Sponsored by Downtown Phoenix, Inc. and Pabst Blue Ribbon. $1 PBR tall cans all night. 6 p.m. September 14 at Welcome Diner. welcomediner.net
Although music-centric eat-and-drink spots seem to be universal and plentiful, the few that grace Phoenix with their tunes are unique and far between. From dueling pianos and impromptu stage crashers to the traditional sound of the Wurlitzer organ, the “piano bars” and restaurants across the Valley won’t leave you flat.
“If Aphra Behn were here tonight, I hope she’d forgive our trespasses,” the groovy hippie chick says in the prologue, touching a white marble bust perched nobly next to a hot pink lava lamp with a zebra-striped base.
So opens Liz Duffy Adams’ play “Or,” in which there are many trespasses -- terrific trespasses and glorious liberties, which historical muse Aphra Behn, if she be anything like legend and this character portrayal, would no doubt forgive but downright appreciate. The play is an entertaining exploration of themes including identity and disguise, feminism and sexuality, and societal paradigms, built around a fascinating female figure from the literary canon and packed with witticisms and dashing dialogue. And Southwest Shakespeare Company’s production of “Or,” is a buoyant and brilliant testament to the talent of the company.
Bring your best improv ideas to the cast of Emmy-nominated show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” on their tour, and you could contribute to the crack-ups. Cast members Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops, Jeff B. Davis, and Joel Murray will perform 90 minutes of gut-busting on-the-spot skits and songs, with the help of audience suggestions. $32-$52. 7:30 p.m. September 11 at Mesa Arts Center. mesaartscenter.com
For Valley residents, September signals the welcome return of cooler nights with less sweltering days. Many Valley shopping centers offer evening shopping and dining as well as free outdoor concerts showcasing some of the Valley’s most talented musicians and bands.
The appeal of tribute bands is an illusion: the illusion that you’re watching one of the biggest music acts in the world perform some of your favorite songs live. In some cases, it’s not possible to see the real deal anymore because the bands are broken up or the players are dead; in other cases, the originals are still touring and the bands are like guitars crossing in the night (Def Leppard plays the Valley the same week as DL tribute band Pyromania), and in some cases, the originals take issue with their tributes -- like litigious Metallica, whose lawyers sent a 41-page cease-and-desist-or-we-will-sue-you letter to one of their tribute bands, called Sandman, for using the band’s name and lettering style in their logo.
Not every tribute band is good. Some could be considered downright insulting to the object of their homages. But maybe that just makes the truly terrific tribute bands worth seeing even more. Here are five very fine tribute bands playing Phoenix in the coming months.
In most parts of the United States, Labor Day signals the end of summer – a time to cover the patio furniture and wheel in the barbecue. Valley of the Sun residents have a little bit more summer to endure. So why not make the most of it and head out to one of the many local resorts that offer Labor Day weekend specials?
Here’s a great equation: Jazz bassist and bandleader Will Goble’s talented quintet + the impeccable acoustics at the Musical Instrument Museum Music Theater = an amazing night of live music. Goble has performed with Grammy-winning pianist Marcus Roberts and drummer and vibraphonist Jason Marsalis, but as we recently observed at an intimate club show, the Valley resident has his own swinging swagger. Presented by MIM and The Nash. $19.50-$23.50. 7 p.m. August 29 at Musical Instrument Museum. mim.org
#2: “Abstract to Absurd” – Carlos Rausch and Cindy Schnackel Art Exhibit at Olney Gallery, September 2
A former PHOENIX magazine Artist of the Month, Cindy Schnackel has a fondness for the absurd, which she colorfully paints on canvases in the form of coffee-drinking chickens and surreal (and sometimes cute) blobby monsters. Argentina-born Carlos Rausch creates large-scale non-representational paintings that combine various shapes and colors into eye-catching but seamless abstract amalgamations. Free. 6 p.m. September 2 at Olney Gallery at Trinity Cathedral. Exhibit open through September 28. azcathedral.org
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