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.

Blake Clark: See Thursday.
Forever Plaid: See Thursday.
Lysistrata: See Thursday.
Yellowstone: See Thursday.

saturday
june 29
Arizona Local Jam '96: Alice Cooper's boots, Rob Halford's shirt and other metal-head memorabilia goes on the block at this fund raiser, which also features scheduled performances by Valley groups Idly Rove, Grey Daze, Digger, Freudian Slip, Fred Green, Dead City Love, and Firesky. It starts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at the Mason Jar, 2303 East Indian School. Proceeds benefit the Arizona division of the American Cancer Society. Call 956-6271.

3TG Co.: Anne Thibault's Boston-based improv-comedy troupe, in town for a workshop, joins its local sponsor, Improvisational Theatre Society, for a free, collaborative performance of ITS' A.M.U.S.E. show at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at the Old Adobe Theatre, 525 North First Street. For workshop details, call 262-2132. For general information, call 252-5530.

"Between Reality and Abstraction: California Art at the End of the Century" and "Traps": See Friday.

Blake Clark: See Thursday.
Flagstaff MusArts Festival: See Friday.
Forever Plaid: See Thursday.
Let 'er Rip: See Friday.
Lysistrata: See Thursday.
Yellowstone: See Thursday.

sunday
june 30
Al Green: The '70s soul master created standards like "Let's Stay Together" and "You Ought to Be With Me" before giving it up for God in the '80s. The practicing minister has returned to the nongospel scene from time to time, and he'll reportedly "sing it secular" on Sunday, June 30, at Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street. Wayman Tisdale and the 5th Quarter share the bill. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $28.75 and $37.75, available at the scene and Dillard's. Call 267-9373 or 678-2222.

"Between Reality and Abstraction: California Art at the End of the Century" and "Traps": See Friday.

Blake Clark: See Thursday.
Flagstaff MusArts Festival: See Friday.
Forever Plaid: See Thursday.
Let 'er Rip: See Friday.
Yellowstone: See Thursday.

monday
july 1
Butthole Surfers: Gibby Haynes, Paul Leary and their fellows in Austin's rankest band--bar none--have been signed to Capitol Records (Frank Sinatra's label!) for the better part of the '90s, but most Lone Star media outlets (not to mention our own paper tiger, the Arizona Republic) continue to abbreviate or otherwise disguise the group's intentionally offensive name. Duh. See the story on page 95. Touring behind their latest disc, Electriclarryland, the Surfers headline a bill as brash as Texas on Monday, July 1; Dallas acts the Toadies and Reverend Horton Heat share the stage, along with Seattle's Supersuckers (Leary produced their latest album). Showtime is 5:30 p.m. at Mesa Amphitheatre, Center and University. Tickets are $20 in advance, $21 the day of the show, available at the scene and Dillard's. Call 644-2560 or 678-2222.

Brainiac: But for its point of origin (the suddenly ubiquitous Dayton, Ohio), this group is mighty original, like Devo at warp speed, if you can even begin to assimilate that. As good as Brainiac is at submerging promising pop songs beneath rattling walls of Moog-enhanced noise--and it's just great at that--the Timmy Taylor-led quartet might be better at composing album titles; its first two full-length CDs, both for the Grass label, were Smack Bunny Baby and Bonsai Superstar. Its latest, for Touch and Go, is the finely rendered Hissing Prigs in Static Couture. See the story on page 96. The group is scheduled on Monday, July 1, at Boston's, 910 North McClintock in Tempe. Trans Am shares the all-ages bill. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $6, available at Alternatix. For details call 921-7343 or 244-8444.

"Between Reality and Abstraction: California Art at the End of the Century" and "Traps": See Friday.

Yellowstone: See Thursday.

tuesday
july 2
Tori Amos: The confessional singer/keyboardist, who began her professional life as a heavy-metal act billed as Y Kant Tori Read, hasn't done anything that Kate Bush and Jane Siberry haven't done better--except, possibly, her keening cover of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," from the Crucify EP. But this doesn't diminish Tori's obvious talent; Bush and Siberry are pretty fast company. See Coda on page 104. Amos performs at 7 and 10 p.m. Tuesday, July 2, at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. Tickets are $25.75 in advance, $28 the day of the show, available at Phoenix Civic Plaza and Dillard's box offices. Call 262-7272 or 678-2222.

"Between Reality and Abstraction: California Art at the End of the Century" and "Traps": See Friday.

Yellowstone: See Thursday.

wednesday
july 3
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus: The Greatest Show on Earth returns for its annual Valley visit, with host Dinny McGuire presiding over the three rings of fun. This year's featured act is Airiana the Human Arrow, whose raison d'etre is being launched from the world's largest crossbow. Other highlights include high-wire acts the Quiros of Spain, the Flying Vargas, and the Flying Tabares; animal trainer Graham Thomas Chipperfield; Kenya's Samson Power, who lifts weights with his teeth; and more clowns than you can shake an oversize shoe at. The run begins with a performance at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, at America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson. More shows are planned Thursday, July 4, through Sunday, July 7. Tickets range from $11.50 to $15.50, available at the arena and Dillard's; discounts for kids and groups are available. Call 379-7800 or 678-2222.

Third of July Celebrations: Early fireworks are promised at three free celebrations on Wednesday, July 3. The Light Up the Sky Festival begins at 6 p.m. at El Oso Park, 75th Avenue and Osborn, and the fireworks start at 9:15 (call 262-4539). The 3rd of July Celebration at Paradise Valley Park, 17642 North 40th Street, kicks off at 6:30 p.m., with the fireworks scheduled at about 9 (call 262-7782). The annual 3rd of July extravaganza in downtown Cave Creek starts at about 9 p.m. (call 488-9118).

"Between Reality and Abstraction: California Art at the End of the Century" and "Traps": See Friday.

Forever Plaid: See Thursday.
Yellowstone: See Thursday.

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