Calendar for the week

thursday
september 11
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.

friday
september 12
"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.

saturday
september 13
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.

"Inescapable Histories": See Friday.

sunday
september 14
The Mr. T Experience: The California punk trio, named after the buffoonish '80s TV star, is known for its bitterly anguished, frequently inspired, occasionally vapid songs about love--or, more to the point, the death of feeling that follows the loss of love. Touring behind its new disc, Revenge Is Sweet and So Are You, the Experience (or MTX, as it's known to its loyalists) is scheduled Sunday, September 14, at Hollywood Alley, 2610 West Baseline in Mesa. Call 820-7117.

The Ghosts of Ruby: The excellent PBS series Nature and its peripatetic, silver-haired and -tongued host, George Page, visit southern Arizona's former gold-mining encampment of Ruby to commune with its current (and original) residents: rattlesnakes, centipedes, bats, scorpions, Gila monsters, et al. The show airs at 8 p.m. Sunday, September 14, on KAET-TV, Channel 8. For details call 965-2308.

Tracy Lawrence, and Tracy Byrd: Dang, who can tell these sound-alike Nashville hats apart without a scorecard, or at least an x-ray? (Tracy L. took a couple of bullets in an abortive robbery attempt back in the early '90s, and one's still lodged in his hip.) The Tracys play tag team on Sunday, September 14, at Desert Sky Pavilion, 2121 North 83rd Avenue. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $16.50 and $31.25, available at Ticketmaster. Call 254-7599 or 784-4444.

"Inescapable Histories": See Friday.
West Side See Saturday.

monday
september 15
Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere: Gaiman's the author of the now-defunct DC Comics "graphic novel" Sandman; Neverwhere's his first real book, a work of fictional fantasy. Screenings of the title video, a BBC-produced adaptation of the novel that's not available in the U.S., are scheduled at 7 p.m. Monday, September 15, at Borders Books & Music at 1361 South Alma School in Mesa (call 833-2244); and the same time Wednesday, September 17, at the Borders store at 7320 West Bell in Glendale (call 487-9110).

"EIDEA": See Thursday.
"Inescapable Histories": See Friday.

tuesday
september 16
The Peechees: Retro garage/thrash punk/pop with a burst of real fruit flavor from grrrlish drummer Molly Neuman (Bratmobile, the Frumpies), vocalist/Lookout! Records co-owner Christopher Appelgren, guitarist Carlos Canedo and bassist Rop Vazquez. Could the Berkeley, California, band be the next DIY crew to cross over a la Sleater-Kinney? Don't bet your indie label against it. Sea of Cortez shares the tiny "stage" at Tempe's Stinkweeds Record Exchange, 1250 East Apache, Suite 109, on Tuesday, September 16. Showtime is 10 p.m. For details call 968-9490.

Counting Crows, and the Wallflowers: We'd rather stone Adam Duritz's Crows--one of the truly lame bands of the '90s. But we won't be quite so quick to chuck rocks at the Wallflowers, as some critics have--probably, knowing critics, as a backlash against the group's late-blooming success and acceptance by the mainstream. Hell, good music's good music, and the 'flowers have the potential to be with us for some time; it certainly doesn't hurt that the band's front man, Jakob Dylan, is a dead ringer--in face, voice and presence--for a youngish version of his dad, Bob Dylan. The Gigolo Aunts share the bill on Tuesday, September 16, at Desert Sky Pavilion, 2121 North 83rd Avenue. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets range from $20.75 to $35.50, available at Ticketmaster. Call 254-7599 or 784-4444.

Bailterspace: Jagged, explosive, ethereal--sometimes all of these at once--the trio from New York by way of New Zealand (original incarnations: the Gordons, Nelsh Bailterspace) defines its musical oeuvre as "industrial reductionism." Best known for the '93 disc Robot World, Bailterspace is touring behind a new one titled Capsul. Sunday Puncher opens on Tuesday, September 16, at Hollywood Alley, 2610 West Baseline in Mesa. Showtime is 8 p.m. For details call 820-7117.

Cats: The fourth national touring company of this perpetually on-the-prowl smash--and four lives seem plenty; isn't it time this thing choked on a fur ball?--still dons those God-awful costumes and performs that claws-on-blackboard ode "Memory," among other screechy Andrew Lloyd Webber numbers. The adaptation of T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats returns to Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe. Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Tuesday, September 16; and the same time Wednesday, September 17. More shows are scheduled Thursday, September 18, through Sunday, September 21. Tickets range from $28 to $42, available at Gammage and Dillard's; call 965-3434 or 503-5555.

"EIDEA": See Thursday.
"Inescapable Histories": See Friday.

wednesday
september 17
The Dance Hall Crashers: The anonymous MCA flack who wrote this California band's bio referred to DHC as "the revered Berkeley band." Yeah, right; most critics hate this group, for reasons not dissimilar to the ones for which they now flog Orange County's No Doubt: 1) a backlash against hard-won success (also see the Wallflowers under Tuesday); 2) a bright, accessible sound; and 3) a ska undercurrent that's far from pure. That current is, in fact, all but bestilled on the band's latest, a peppy platter of pleasant pop titled Honey, I'm Homely!--and this from a onetime member of the Moon Records stable, one of the main breeding grounds of third-wave ska. But the disc itself is neither bad nor brilliant; nor is DHC--which often calls to mind the B-52's, especially on tracks that approach true postbubblegum sublimity, like "Stand By" and "Last Laugh." Hepcat opens the all-ages show at 8 p.m. Wednesday, September 17, at the Electric Ballroom, 1216 East Apache in Tempe. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 the day of the show, available at Ticketmaster. For details call 894-0707 or 784-4444.

Cats: See Tuesday.
"EIDEA": See Thursday.
Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere: See Monday.
"Inescapable Histories": See Friday.

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