Proposals: The world-premiere tour of Neil Simon's latest work for the stage--his 30th--plays the Orpheum Theatre following an L.A. run and in advance of productions in New Haven, Connecticut; Washington, D.C.; and, this November, on Broadway. Terrific actor Ron Rifkin (the recent movie The Substance of Fire) tops a cast that also includes Suzanne Cryer and L. Scott Caldwell in Simon's romantic comedy about a family reunion in the Poconos. Joe Mantello, who helmed both the off-Broadway and Hollywood versions of Terrence McNally's Love! Valour! Compassion!, directed. Final performances are at 2 and 8 p.m. Thursday, September 11, at the theater, 203 West Adams. Tickets range from $32.50 to $45; if available, they're at Phoenix Civic Plaza and Dillard's box offices (call 262-7272 or 503-5555).
"EIDEA: Environment for the Interactive Design of Emergent Art": Sort of a cross between the semipassive interactivity of art viewing and the anything-goes, hands-on-trigger rush of laser tag, "EIDEA" is described by its creator, Robb Lovell of Arizona State University's Institute for Studies in the Arts, as "a crossroads between the real world and a computer-generated artificial life world where images, sound and lights are created and influenced by a variety of factors, including viewer interaction, current weather conditions and emergent phenomena." Enhanced by real, 12-foot-tall "steel fractal trees" and "spherical robots" scooting around busily, the onscreen cyberfauna include "genetic-coded" creatures Lovell calls "boids" (fliers), "turoids" (crawlers) and "wolfoids" (hunters) that, Lovell says, "participants can feed, kill, play with, impregnate or eat. The program imitates behaviors of genetics in the real world. What's on the screen is happening at the moment--it's not prerecorded." The installation continues through Thursday, October 2, at the Computing Commons Gallery, located on the first floor of the Computing Commons Building at Palm Walk and Orange Mall on the ASU campus in Tempe. Viewing and participation are free; hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. For details call 965-3609.
"Inescapable Histories": The retrospective of the career of New York-based artist Mel Chin, the product of China-born parents and an upbringing in a racially mixed neighborhood in Houston, Texas, addresses Chin's deep concerns for personal and Earth history, human rights and, most notable, the environment. (The sculptor/eco-artist is likely best known for his large-scale piece "Maquette for Revival Field," a living sculpture that substituted "hyperaccumulator" plants for his usual medium of marble and was inspired by the "Revival Field" project focusing on the "green remediation" process of removing heavy metals from contaminated soil.) "Inescapable Histories" opens Friday, September 12, and continues through Sunday, November 9, in the Mezzanine and Lower galleries at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Viewing is free; hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays (to 8 p.m. Thursdays), noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. For details call 994-2787.
The Commitments: Following in the footsteps of acts like Spinal Tap, the Monkees, and the Brady Kids, the stars of Alan Parker's appealing 1991 film about the title white-soul group from Dublin, Ireland--which specialized in sweaty, earnest covers of stuff like Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness" and Ann Peebles' "I Can't Stand the Rain"--make the leap from the screen to the stage. The celluloid Commitments who've committed to the tour include lead singer Dave Finnegan, guitarist Kenneth McCluskey and drummer Dick Massey. The party band plays Friday, September 12, at the Bash on Ash, 230 West Fifth Street in Tempe. Tickets are $15 in advance, $17.50 the day of the show, available at Ticketmaster. For details call 966-5600 or 784-4444.
Sister Hazel: Hootie's Blowfish meet Up With People in this band, which hails from the same town as those tuneful ska punks in Less Than Jake--Gainesville, Florida--but couldn't be more different. Named after Sister Hazel Williams, a Gainesville-based missionary, the all-guy group traffics in what used to be called good vibes and in toe-tapping tunes that try real hard, but refuse to stick in the head. Touring behind its major-label debut, . . . somewhere more familiar, Sis is scheduled Friday, September 12, at Gibson's, 410 South Mill in Tempe. Adam Dorfman opens the all-ages concert at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 the day of the show, available at Ticketmaster. For details call 967-1234 or 784-4444.
"EIDEA": See Thursday.
West Side This touring version of the musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, penned by the dream team of Leonard Bernstein (score), Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) and Arthur Laurents (libretto), incorporates the stage directions and choreography of Jerome Robbins' original Broadway version of '57. Performances are at 8 p.m. Saturday, September 13; and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, September 14, at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe. Tickets range from $28 to $40, available at Gammage and Dillard's; call 965-3434 or 503-5555.
Romanovsky & Phillips: The Smothers Brothers of gay folk specialize in swishy, silly stuff like "Homophobes in Robes" and "If There Is a God (He's a Queen)" (the latter contains the couplets "He should not have taken that seventh day of rest/'Cause He could have done a little more work on the Midwest" and "Jesus might have been a carpenter/But his Father was a decorator"). While R&P songs are amusing in small doses--and some even tackle topics of true import, like heterosexism, suicide and San Francisco's "White Night Riots"--the Santa Fe duo's acid-tongued 'tween-tune repartee is the real draw. Comedian Karen Ripley shares the stage at a fund raiser for the Valley of the Sun Gay and Lesbian Community Center. Showtime is 7 p.m. Saturday, September 13, in Bulpitt Auditorium on the Phoenix College campus, 1202 West Thomas. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door. Call 265-7283.
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