Pic Hits for the week

thursday
june 6
Les Miserables: As overworked and overplayed as it is (the press kit brags that there have been "27 productions . . . in 14 languages, in 22 countries"), Les Miz still has the power to shame the best Lloyd Webber has to offer. The show's main claim to fame is that it's derived from Victor Hugo's doorstop of a novel about the French Revolution, but the true secrets of its immense success are Claude-Michel Schonberg's stellar, soaring score and Herbert Kretzmer's fine lyrics; the combination peaked on "I Dreamed a Dream," one of the most moving pieces in the musical theatre. Final performances of the touring production are at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 6; 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 7; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 8; and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, June 9, at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe. Tickets range from $15 to $51, available at Gammage and Dillard's. Call 965-3434 or 678-2222.

Road Trip: Arizona Opera's Der Ring des Nibelungen in Flagstaff: The opera company's general director, Glynn Ross, and maestro Henry Holt were the forefathers of Seattle's outstanding annual presentation of Der Ring, and the two have been working on this, Arizona's first presentation of the complete, four-opera Wagner cycle, for about five years. Actually, it's two presentations. The first cycle concludes with performances of Siegfried at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 6; and Gstterdammerung at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 8. Cycle two begins with performances of Das Rheingold at 8 p.m. Monday, June 10; and Die WalkYre at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 11. The second-cycle productions of Siegfried and Gstterdammerung are scheduled at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 13; and 2 p.m. Saturday, June 15, respectively. The scene is Ardrey Auditorium on the Northern Arizona University campus, Knoles and Riordan streets. All shows are sung in German, with English surtitles. Remaining cycle packages and tickets to individual performances are available at the opera's Phoenix office and Dillard's; call 266-7464 or 678-2222.

The Drifters: The group's original leader, the incomparable Clyde McPhatter, died nearly a quarter-century ago, but the Drifters linger on, and many of the act's songs--"Honey Love," "Save the Last Dance for Me, "Up on the Roof," "This Magic Moment"--are for the ages. The doo-woppers perform beneath the stars on Thursday, June 6, at el Pedregal Festival Marketplace at the Boulders, 34505 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, continuing the facility's Music by Moonlight series. Showtime is 7 p.m. Admission is $5; space is limited. Call 488-1072.

Six Women With Brain Death or Expiring Minds Want to Know: Theater League presents a tenth-anniversary revival of the oft-revived all-woman musical inspired by soap operas, supermarket tabloids and other by-products of pop culture's ascension. Bob Sorenson directed this Six Women reincarnation, which stars Debby Rosenthal, Heidi Ewart, Melissa Spevacek, Renee Morgan Brooks, Sherri Hildebrand and Christie Klein. The run continues with previews at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 6; 8 p.m. Friday, June 7; 8 p.m. Saturday, June 8; 2 p.m. Sunday, June 9; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, at the similarly revivified Scottsdale Playhouse, 7219 East Main. The production continues through Sunday, July 7. Preview tickets are $12.50, available at Dillard's; call 678-2222. For general information, call 952-2881.

friday
june 7
Boyracer: This fine group from Leeds, England, has one huge strike against it here in America, land of the shriveled attention span: The band is extremely difficult to pin down, and, more important, to sum up. On its experimental but accessible Zero Hour debut, in full colour, the quartet creates a bloody great, utterly original soundscape sculpted from a stack of totally obvious influences--GBH is first among equals in a wide-ranging set that also includes the New York noise scene, R.E.M., punk, the Wedding Present, techno and the Velvet Underground. A speeded-up Galaxie 500 also leaps to mind, though it's a pretty safe bet that the obscure U.S. act never entered Boyracer's collective consciousness. Flake shares the bill. Showtime is 10 p.m. Friday, June 7, at Stinkweeds Record Exchange, 1250 East Apache, Suite 109, in Tempe. For details call 968-9490.

"La Bandera Vieja": MARS Artspace, 126 South Central, in Luhrs Office Center, hosts this mixed-media exhibition, an indie version of Phoenix Art Museum's institutional "Old Glory: The American Flag in Contemporary Art" (see the Art Exhibits listing). Rose Johnson, Anne Coe, Frank Ybarra, Ramon Delgadillo, Annie Lopez and about 20 others contributed pieces to "Bandera," billed as a collection of works reflecting "the responses of Arizona artists to the American flag as an image with viable abstract qualities and as an emblem of popular culture." The installation opens with a reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, June 7, and continues through Friday, June 28. Regular viewing hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Admission is free. Call 253-3541.

Jim Brickman: The pianist is the unlikeliest artist on the Windham Hill roster. He got his start in the biz writing advertising jingles (the music to Pontiac's "We Are Driving Excitement" is his) and happy fluff for Jim Henson's Muppets. Brickman still performs "The Rainbow Connection," from 1979's The Muppet Movie, but he's better known now as a composer of pop-crossover instrumentals like the smash "Angel Eyes." Brickman performs at 8 p.m. Friday, June 7, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $23.50, available at the center and Ticketmaster. Call 994-2787 or 784-4444.

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