Pic Hits for the week

thursday
june 27
Lysistrata: Mike Fenlason's Mercury Theater, dedicated to producing classic works with a contemporary spin, takes a vaudevillian approach to one of the all-time classics, Aristophanes' wonderful antiwar comedy. Written more than two millenniums ago, and rarely matched for pure wit in the ensuing span, Lysistrata is about a group of women from Athens and Sparta who agree to withhold sexual favors from their warring lesser halves until the men lay down their swords. Opening performances are on Thursday, June 27; Friday, June 28; and Saturday, June 29, at Mesa's Unlikely Theater, 2950 South Alma School, Suite 6. All shows start at 8 p.m. The production continues through Saturday, July 13. Tickets are $7, $5 for students and seniors; those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Call 777-2771.

Yellowstone: America's first and largest national park is also one of the most difficult to fully appreciate, for oddly contradictory reasons: isolation and overcrowding. There's nothing like being there in the flesh, especially when the Old Faithful-snapping throngs thin, but director Kieth Merrill's homage to the grande dame of the U.S. parks system is the next best thing. The 45-minute movie opens Thursday, June 27, and continues daily, through Wednesday, November 13, at IMAX Theatre, Civic Center Boulevard and Fifth Avenue in Scottsdale. Showtimes are noon and 2, 4, 6:30, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Yellowstone's companion film, Survival Island, shows daily at 1, 3 and 8:30 p.m. Tickets range from $4.50 to $6.50 for individual showings, $7 to $9.25 for double features. For details call 945-4629 or 949-3105.

Forever Plaid: The revival of the Stuart Ross musical, a tribute to the so-called "good-guy" harmony groups of the '50s and, by extension, to the polyester-wearing geeks of the world, features the production's original Valley cast and creative team. This week's performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 27; 8 p.m. Friday, June 28; 8 p.m. Saturday, June 29; 2 p.m. Sunday, June 30; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, at Phoenix Theatre, Central and McDowell. The extended production continues through Sunday, July 7. Tickets are $20. Call 254-2151.

Blake Clark: The mild-mannered comedian has made his name--what name he has to date--on the small screen; Clark's a regular on the ABC-TV sitcoms Home Improvement (as Harry the Hardware-Store Owner, he facilitates Tim Allen's tool habit) and The Drew Carey Show (Jules the Weird Next-Door Neighbor). Sharing the bill is Jimmy Labriola, who also haunts Home Improvement's hardware store. Shows are scheduled at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 27; 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, June 28; 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday, June 29; and 8 p.m. Sunday, June 30, at the Improvisation, Rural and University (at Cornerstone mall) in Tempe. Tickets are $12 and $15. For details call 921-9877.

David Benoit: As contemporary jazzers go, keyboardist Benoit's not half bad. The Bakersfield, California, native has a fine head for harmony and a commendable commitment to the cool, acoustic style of his hero, Dave Brubeck. Steve Laury shares the bill on Thursday, June 27, at Red River Opry, Mill and Washington in Tempe. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $22.50, available at the scene and Dillard's. Call 829-6779 or 678-2222.

friday
june 28
"Between Reality and Abstraction: California Art at the End of the Century" and "Traps": The former exhibit examines various submovements within the California art world during the last three decades--from assemblage to Light and Space to vulgar velvet--and includes mixed-media works by Kim Abeles, Ed Ruscha, Susan Hubshman, Robert Graham, Peter Alexander, Kim Dingle, Darch Huebler, Zizi Raymond and others. "Traps," by Arizona State University instructor Al Price, is anchored by a series of kinetic sculpture that create changing patterns of light, shadow and movement. The installations open Friday, June 28, and continue through Sunday, September 1, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Admission is free. For details call 994-2787.

Let 'er Rip: Herberger Theater Center recently hosted Lynn Redgrave's tony one-woman production Shakespeare for My Father; the center, 222 East Monroe, now balances things out with inelegance personified--in the form of zinger ringer Rip Taylor, star of his own autobiographical (and occasionally serious) solo show, which opens with a benefit performance for Arizona AIDS Foundation at 8 p.m. Friday, June 28, in Center Stage. The rest of this week's performances are at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 29; and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 30. The production continues through Sunday, July 14. Call 252-8497.

Arizona Rattlers: Coach Danny White's minigridiron squad hosts the St. Louis Stampede at 7 p.m. Friday, June 28, at the "Snake Pit": America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson. Tickets range from $8 to $36, available at the arena and Dillard's. For details call 514-8383, 379-7800 or 678-2222.

Road Trip: Flagstaff MusArts Festival: Formerly known as the Arizona Jazz, Rhythm & Blues Festival, MusArts is an offshoot of the Telluride Jazz Festival. The headliners at this year's event are the killer duo of David Lindley and Hani Naser, the James Cotton Blues Band, Stanley Jordan, youngblood jazzer Darryl Hall, and Richard Elliot (for the complete lineup, see the Music listing). Hours are 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, June 28; and 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at Fort Tuthill County Park, located three miles south of Flag at I-17 exit 337 (follow the signs). Late-night jams follow both shows, and a jazz brunch wraps things up at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, June 30. Daily general-admission tickets range from $15 to $25, available at Dillard's; campsites and various package deals are available. For general information, call 1-520-779-1231 or 678-2222.

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