Calendar for the week

thursday
july 31
"The Great Dinosaur Extinction": The installation focuses on various theories about why the great beasts perished, and features the remains of a number of rare ones--including the large predator Acrocanthosaurus; the only complete skeleton of a Pachycephalosaurus ever found; and, naturally, a T. rex or two. The exhibit, making its inaugural pit stop on a two-year national tour, continues through Sunday, September 7, at Mesa Southwest Museum, 53 North Macdonald. This week's related events include appearances by Utahraptor discoverer James Kirkland at 2:30 and 4 p.m. Friday, August 1; and 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, August 2. The museum's hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $4, $3.50 for students and seniors, $2 for kids ages 3 to 12, free for those younger. Call 644-2230.

Pageant: In Mixed Company brought us Alan Ball's frothy Five Women Wearing the Same Dress; the froth quotient's also high in the troupe's production of this interactive musical by Albert Evans, Bill Russell and Frank Kelly, which might be subtitled Six Guys Wearing the Same Gown. The dudes in question don pumps and sashes in pursuit of the "Miss Glamouresse" title and accompanying tiara. This week's performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 31; 8 p.m. Friday, August 1; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, August 2; and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, August 3, in Stage West at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. The run continues through Sunday, August 17. Tickets are $19.50, $17.50 for students and seniors, available at Herberger and Dillard's; call 252-8497 or 503-5555.

"Canyonland Visions" and "Crossing the Frontier": The former exhibit, organized by Fort Worth, Texas' Amon Carter Museum, features 117 paintings and photos of the Colorado Plateau region dating from the mid-19th century to the late 20th, including 46 never-before-displayed watercolors by Prussia-born adventurer/naturalist Heinrich Balduin Msllhausen. The latter installation, sponsored by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and subtitled "Photographs of the Developing West, 1849 to the Present," includes more than 200 works by the likes of William Henry Jackson, Timothy O'Sullivan, Skeet McAuley, A.J. Russell, Robert Adams and Frank Gohlke. The exhibitions continue through Sunday, September 28, in the Steele Gallery at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central; see the Art Exhibits listing for information about related gallery talks on Thursday, July 31. Viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays (to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays). Admission, to the Steele Gallery only, is $5, $4 for seniors, $2 for students and children age 6 and up, free for younger kids and members; entry is free to all from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursdays. Call 257-1880 or 257-1222.

Alexandra Nechita: The "petite Picasso," an 11-year-old abstract/cubist painter of no little notoriety, would be better served skinning her knees on some playground. As with most "kid art" that receives the stamp of approval from the adult world--from the blues mimicry of young-gun guitarist Monster Mike Welch to Nechita's aching-to-be-anguished stabs at modernism--the gifts might be there in raw form, but there's a lack of the kind of context gleaned from life experience and those aforementioned scabs of youth. Still, try telling that to smitten media behemoths like NBC, CBS and CNN, which have fallen all over themselves in the rush to grant the Rumania-born, California-reared Alexandra airtime--and a legitimacy she hasn't earned. Nechita is scheduled to appear at a show and sale of her works slated for 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, July 31, at C.G. Rein Galleries, 4235 North Marshall Way in Scottsdale. Admission is free. For details call 941-0900.

friday
august 1
John Hammond, and Little Charlie and the Nightcats: Hammond's one of the world's top white bluesmen, and the son of the legendary producer of the same name continues to churn out his raw, self-taught take on the Delta blues. Little Charlie Baty and his solid West Coast jump crew have been plugging away for more than two decades. The acts link up for a promising evening of subgenre juggling on Friday, August 1, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. After Hammond and the Nightcats play individual sets, John joins Baty's band for a late-night jam. The show starts at 9. The cover is $12. Call 265-4842.

The Twins: The Unlikely Theater Company continues its commendable commitment to the standards (via its "classic wing," the Mercury Theater) with Michael Fenlason's contemporary update of Roman playwright Plautus' comedy about a bad case of mistaken identity engendered by the at-birth separation, and eventual reunion, of the title brothers. Opening performances--at the troupe's new home: Mesa Arts Center, 155 North Center--are at 8 p.m. Friday, August 1; and the same time Saturday, August 2. The production continues through Saturday, August 16. Tickets are $12, $10 for students and seniors. Call 952-1955.

Ben Lee: Though he's a lot older and a helluva lot wiser than art ingenue Alexandra Nechita (see Thursday), the 18-year-old Australian singer/songwriter is just as much a victim of his own (and the recording industry's) impatience. Has the term "dues-paying" lost all meaning? Lee, at least, has a way with words, albeit words about subjects--first love, the pangs of puberty, the emerging self--that have been wrung dry as a cornhusk by now. Gentle Ben performs Friday, August 1, at Hollywood Alley, 2610 West Baseline in Mesa. The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $8, available at Dillard's. Call 820-7117 or 503-5555.

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