UK/AZ You Like It: Phoenix Symphony's A Midsummer Night's Dream, ATOP's The Essential Henry V, ATC's Blithe Spirit and More Stuff From Beyond the Pond: The UK/AZ Festival celebrates the--rather tenuous--connection(s) between England and Arizona. Guest conductor Christopher Wilkins wields the baton in Phoenix Symphony's presentation of Mendelssohn's Dream, which also features thespians enacting key roles from Shakespeare's comedy. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 16; 8 p.m. Friday, October 17; and 8 p.m. Saturday, October 18, at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. Britain's HRH Princess Alexandra and her hubby, Sir Angus Ogilvy, are scheduled to attend Friday's performance. Tickets range from $14 to $38, available at the symphony box office and Dillard's (495-1999, 503-5555). Matthew Wiener of Actors Theatre of Phoenix adapted and directed The Essential Henry V, the Bard's drama about the conscience of the young warrior-king. This week's shows are at 8 p.m. Thursday, October 16; 8 p.m. Friday, October 17; 8 p.m. Saturday, October 18; and 2 p.m. Sunday, October 19, in Stage West at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. The production continues through Sunday, October 26. Tickets range from $19 to $30, available at Herberger and Dillard's (252-8497, 503-5555). Arizona Theatre Company has injected a note of whimsy into the largely tragic UK/AZ stage lineup with Noel Coward's 1941 word-play souffle Blithe Spirit, a lighter-than-air concoction about ghostly doings that's really a commentary on English manners. Former ATC honcho Gary Gisselman directed. This week's shows are at 2 and 8 p.m. Thursday, October 16; 8 p.m. Friday, October 17; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, October 18; 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday, October 19; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, October 22, in Herberger's Center Stage. Thursday's matinee is audio-described for the visually impaired; Wednesday's show is interpreted in American Sign Language. The run continues through Saturday, October 25. Tickets range from $19.50 to $32.50, available at Herberger and Dillard's (252-8497, 503-5555). For info about UK/AZ events not mentioned here, see the Events listing or call 258-6055.
Arizona State Fair: The annual corn-dog carnival opens Thursday, October 16, and continues through Sunday, November 2, at the fairgrounds, 19th Avenue and McDowell. Along with the usual attractions--rides and games on the revamped midway, livestock and ag exhibits--this year's fair includes the separately ticketed "UFO Encounters" and an oddly synchronistic salute to the U.S. Air Force. The usual array of twangers, commercial-alt acts and wheezing has-beens hits the stage at Veterans' Memorial Coliseum, beginning with a couple of the former (Bryan White, Patty Loveless) at 7 p.m. Thursday (for details about Morrissey's Wednesday concert, see below). For general info, see the At the Fair listing or call 268-3247 or 252-6771.
"Swank D'Lux": Valley scenester Jim Cherry hosts this boozy bash on Thursday, October 16, at the Copper Queen, a "perfectly preserved '50s cocktail lounge" at 6933 North Seventh Street. Highlights of the "Swank" affair include the "song stylings" of Sweet 'n Sassy featuring Charleah, a retro fashion show by Straight From Haight, giveaways of Capitol's Ultra-Lounge series, screenings of cheeseball spy and sci-fi movies and other vintage delights. "D'Lux" starts at 7 p.m. and continues 'til 1 a.m. The cover is $6. 340-0715.
"Icons": So there's a future for that mausoleum known as the Scottsdale Galleria after all. A fund raiser for the Smithsonian Institution's under-development Museum of Progress--to be based at the Galleria, 4343 North Scottsdale Road--this traveling exhibit includes about 50 artifacts of Americana from the Smithsonian's collection, from the ruby slippers Judy Garland donned in The Wizard of Oz to the stovepipe hat Abraham Lincoln was wearing when he was assassinated to the Wright Brothers' airplane. Viewing hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays (to 9 p.m. Thursdays), 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through Sunday, November 16. Tickets are $6, $3 for kids ages 6 to 17, available at Ticketmaster; admission is free for younger kids anytime and for all on Tuesdays, but tickets are still required. 424-3998, 784-4444.
Show Boat: Director Harold Prince's splashy but sublime restaging of the Kern/Hammerstein epic, based on Edna Ferber's novel, stars Tom Bosley as Capt. Andy, honeydew-voiced Sarah Pfisterer as Magnolia, basso profundo Andre Solomon-Glover as Joe, John Ruess as Gay Ravenal and Gretha Boston as Queenie. The lush score--including "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man," "Ol' Man River" and "Make Believe"--remains the same. This week's performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, October 16; 8 p.m. Friday, October 17; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, October 18; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, October 19; 8 p.m. Tuesday, October 21; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, October 22, at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe. Thursday's and Tuesday's shows are interpreted in American Sign Language. The run continues through Saturday, November 1. Tickets range from $15 to $65, available at Gammage and Dillard's (965-3434, 503-5555).
Henry Gray: The Louisiana-born pianist isn't as well-known as Otis Spann or Sunnyland Slim, competitors and compatriots from the golden age of Chicago blues in the '50s, but he should be. Gray recorded with Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Billy Boy Arnold and many others before accepting a 12-year gig backing Howlin' Wolf, and the septuagenarian bluesman still plays fine stuff. Chico Chism's Chicago Blues Band, and the Mule share the stage on Friday, October 17, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. Showtime is 9 p.m. The cover is a measly $5. 265-4842.