Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus: The Greatest Show on Earth is back for its annual 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 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. Final performances are at 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 4; 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 5; 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 6; and 1:30 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, July 7, at America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson; a downtown fireworks display follows Thursday's evening show. Tickets range from $11.50 to $15.50, available at the arena and Dillard's; discounts are available for kids and groups. Call 379-7800 or 678-2222.
Warped Tour '96: The caravan of attitude boasts two stages full of hard-and-fast alt-rock bands--Fishbone, Pennywise, NOFX, CIV, Deftones, Blink 182, Rocket From the Crypt, Dance Hall Crashers, Lagwagon, fluf, Unwritten Law, Red 5, and the Suicide Machines--and some mighty slacker stylin' in the Amateur World Skateboarding Competition; see the story on page 98. Showtime is 3 p.m. Thursday, July 4, at Desert Sky Pavilion, 2121 North 83rd Avenue. Tickets are $15.25, available at Ticketmaster; proceeds benefit Camp Pacific Heartland for kids with HIV or AIDS. Call 254-7599.
Phoenix Firebirds Versus Las Vegas Stars: The Valley's Triple A affiliate of baseball's San Francisco Giants continues its Pacific Coast League season with a west-side match versus Sin City's Stars at 6:05 p.m. Thursday, July 4, at Peoria Sports Complex, 16101 North 83rd Avenue; a fireworks spectacular follows the final out. More contests against the Stars are planned at 7:05 p.m. Friday, July 5; 7:05 p.m. Saturday, July 6; and 6:05 p.m. Sunday, July 7, at Scottsdale Stadium, 7408 East Osborn. Call 275-0500.
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, a parody of soap operas, tabloid journalism and other by-products of pop culture's ascension. This week's performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 4; 8 p.m. Friday, July 5; 8 p.m. Saturday, July 6; 2 p.m. Sunday, July 7; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 10, at the Scottsdale Playhouse, 7219 East Main. The production continues through Sunday, August 4. Tickets are $19.50, $9.75 for Thursday's show, available at Dillard's. Call 952-2881 or 678-2222.
More Fourth of July Fun: For other Independence Day options, see Kid Pics and the Events and On the Road listings.
Nico-Icon: Director Susanne Ofteringer's documentary tells tales on the late, Berlin-born Nico (real name: Christa Paffgen), model, actress, Teutonic chanteuse, Andy Warhol cohort, short-lived Velvet Undergrounder and, in the bitter end, a star-crossed junkie who perfectly embodied the Velvets' tune "Black Angel's Death Song"; see the review on page 67. The unrated film opens Friday, July 5, and screens daily, through Thursday, July 11, at Valley Art Theatre, 509 South Mill in Tempe. Call 829-6668.
Here in America: Performance artist Robert Post, a deft physical comedian, sends up philosophy, politics, the media, basketball, ballet school and a bunch of other frankly indescribable stuff in his solo touring show, billed as "an evening of illegitimate theatre." Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Friday, July 5; 8 p.m. Saturday, July 6; and 2 p.m. Sunday, July 7, in Stage West at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. The production continues through Sunday, July 21. For reservations and details, call 252-8497.
Mark Wills: The rest of the world's going to Atlanta; peach-blossom-cheeked Georgia whippersnapper Wills (real name: Mark Williams; stage-named after: swingin' Bob Wills) is making a pit stop in hotter-'n-Hades Phoenix on his way to the big time. Mark, who claims influences as diverse as George Jones and Jon Bon Jovi (he'll hopefully grow out of the latter), is touring behind his eponymous Mercury debut and the single "Jacob's Ladder." Showtime is 8 p.m. Friday, July 5, at Toolies Country, 4231 West Thomas. The cover is $4. For details call 272-3100.
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. This week's performances are at 8 p.m. Friday, July 5; and the same time Saturday, July 6, at Mesa's Unlikely Theater, 2950 South Alma School, Suite 6. 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.