Cactus Softball Challenge: Hardballers Mark Grace and Robin Yount, Arizona Cardinals Seth Joyner and Garrison Hearst, Arizona Rattlers manager Danny White and many others join Phoenix Suns Charles Barkley, Danny Manning, Michael Finley, Wesley Person, Wayman Tisdale and Chris Carr in this annual battle, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 28, at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, 5999 East Van Buren. Barkley and former teammate Danny Ainge are captains of the competing squads. Tickets are $10, $20and $25, available at the stadium and Dillard's; proceeds benefit Arizona Special Olympics. Call 230-1200 or 678-2222.
Spalding Gray: The obsessive-compulsive monologist, a.k.a. the "high priest of anxiety," gave us Swimming to Cambodia and Monster in a Box, and he returns to Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street, to tweak his work-in-progress, Skiing to New England. Shows are scheduled on Thursday, March 28; and Friday, March 29, in the center's Cinema. On Saturday, March 30, the artist performs the improvisational piece "Gray on Gray: Everything Reminds Me of Something" in the center's main theatre. All shows are at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12.50 for the Cinema performances, $25 forSaturday's show, available at the scene and Ticketmaster. For details call 994-2787 or 784-4444.
Phoenix Symphony: Guitarist Pepe Romero and mezzo-soprano Linda Childs join the ensemble, led by guest conductor Theo Alcantara, in a program that includes the U.S. premiere of Palomo's Nocturnos deAndalucia Suite Concertante for Guitar and Orchestra and two Falla pieces--"La Vida Breve (Life Is Short)" and "The Three Cornered Hat." Shows are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 28; and 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, March 29, at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. Friday morning's program is a "Coffee Classics" concert; tickets are $11 and $15, and "La Vida Breve" will not be performed. Regular tickets range from $12 to $36, available at the symphony box office and Dillard's. For details call 264-6363, 262-7272 or 678-2222.
The Child Diego: Arizona State University's theatre department continues its season with Carlos Morton's free-associative take on the life of Mexican artist Diego Rivera. The work takes liberties with time and place, but begins and ends with Rivera's late-period painting of the masterpiece "Sueno de una Tarde Dominical en el Alameda Central (Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Central Alameda Park)." This week's performances are at 8p.m. Thursday, March 28; 8 p.m. Friday, March 29; 8 p.m. Saturday, March 30; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 31; 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 2; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, in Lyceum Theatre, located at the north end of Forest Mall on the west side of the ASU campus in Tempe. More performances are planned Thursday, April 4, through Saturday, April 6. Tickets are $11, $8.50 for ASU faculty and staff, $6 for students, available at ASU Fine Arts and Dillard's box offices. Call 965-6447.
Ben Johnson's Pro/Celebrity Weekend: The actor shares the spotlight with rodeo pros like Chance Baldwin and Kerry Kimbro, country singer/barrel racer Lynn Anderson and fellow screen stars Bo Hopkins, Dennis Farina, Tracy Shakespeare and many others in the annual good-cause hoe-down. This year's pro/celebrity roping and penning performances are slated for 7 p.m. Friday, March 29; and 9 a.m. Saturday, March 30, at Gilbert Rodeo Arena, Val Vista and Ray roads. A concert by Marty Stuart follows Friday's show at 9, and is included in the ticket price: $8 in advance, $10 the day of the competition, available at Ticketmaster (call 784-4444). A benefit dinner and auction are planned for 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Chandler's Sheraton San Marcos Resort, Arizona Avenue and Chandler Boulevard; tickets are $80, $150 per couple (call 497-3542). A celebrity golf tourney tees off at 8 a.m. Sunday on the course at the Sheraton San Marcos (call 497-3542). Proceeds from the above events benefit Mesa's Sunshine Acres children's home, Child Crisis Center, and Apache Junction Boys & Girls Club.
Carol Fran and Clarence Hollimon: Pianist/vocalist Fran recorded a version of "Crying in the Chapel" that preceded Elvis Presley's, but she's best known for her work with the Joe Tex Revue. Guitarist Hollimon honed his technique with Bobby "Blue" Bland, Little Junior Parker, Charles Brown and BigMama Thornton. Tiring of roadwork, both musicians gravitated individually to Houston and, thanks to a providential series of recording sessions, to each other. The soulful duo performs Friday, March 29; and Saturday, March 30, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. Dr. Fish Blues Band shares the bill. Showtime is 9 p.m. The cover is $4, free for Phoenix Blues Society members. Fordetails call 265-4842.
Paris Is Burning: Director Jennie Livingston's 1990 movie about the New York City drag-ball scene is one of the fine films of the firsthalf of the '90s, artfully mingling camp and tragedy. The unrated effort shows at7:15 p.m. Friday, March 29, at Kiva Hall, located in the University Center Building onthe Arizona State University West campus, 4701 West Thunderbird in Glendale; the screening continues ASU West Film Society's latest festival of free movies, which sports the theme "documentaries as weapons of change." The series continues through Friday, May 3. For more information, call 543-2787.