Craig Shoemaker at the Improv: The alchemical comedian has transformed a miserable childhood as a hopeless geek into a he-man mint--he was the American Comedy Awards pick for best standup comedian of 1997, he's slated to host this year's VH1 game show My Generation, and he's to star in the upcoming film The Lovemaster. He used to be slugged by little girls; now he's hit on by beautiful women. He wraps up a four-night stand with final performances Thursday, January 1; Friday, January 2; and Saturday, January 3, at the Tempe Improv Comedy Theater, 930 East University. 921-9877.
Arizona Stock Show and Rodeo: You can get your little ones an early start on the happy trail to cowpunchin' at the Li'l Buckaroos Rodeo, which kicks off the New Year at the Arizona State Fairgrounds, 19th Avenue and McDowell, at 10 a.m Thursday, January 1. A Chili Challenge, a Farm Experience, a Pancake Breakfast and the Cowboy Classics Western Art and Gear Show are all on the schedule for this week's festivities, which run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and the same hours on Friday, January 2; and Saturday, January 3. But the main attraction is the PRCA Rodeo at 7 p.m. on Friday and the same time Saturday. Tickets for the rodeo are $5, $8 and $12; general admission to the grounds is $2. 258-8568.
"Kemal Hadzic: Photographs": Hadzic, now a resident of Arizona, came to the U.S. from his native Bosnia/Herzegovina in 1996 after capturing the images of the siege of Sarajevo featured in this exhibition of his work at MARS Artspace, 126 South Central, in the Luhrs building. The three series in the display, titled Omegapolis, Streets and Grave on Grave, take a quieter, sadder, more elegiac approach--a native's approach--to the horror of the subject than that of the photojournalists who came to Bosnia from elsewhere. The exhibition opens with a reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, January 2, and continues through Friday, January 30. 253-3541.
Pops Concert: Tunes from the Great White Way are highlighted, as are three singers who've made their names there, in this evening with the Phoenix Symphony. The vocalists--soprano Kim Crosby, tenor Craig Schulman and baritone Cris Groenendaal--are veterans of such shows as Guys and Dolls, Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera. They'll flex their larynxes at 8 p.m. on Friday, January 2; and the same time Saturday, January 3, at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. 262-7272 (Phoenix Civic Plaza), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
Five Guys Named Moe: The blues tunes of Louis Jordan are the stars of this Arizona Theatre Company production. They're strung along a musical-comedy plot in which a lovelorn hero is visited, through his radio, by the title quintet, a supernatural team of blues busters whose names are variations on "Moe." Audiences can expect mo'e fun than usual. (See the related story on page 51.) Having kicked off the run with a New Year's Eve gala, the show continues with a preview at 8 p.m. Friday, January 2. The opening proper is at the same time Saturday, January 3. More performances are scheduled at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, January 4; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, January 7. The run continues through Sunday, January 25, in Center Stage at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. Tickets range from $24.50 to $37.50. 252-8497.
Circus Flora: The Flying Wallendas--featuring 8-year-old Alex, who walks the high wire, though he's barely out of the high chair--star in this small circus with a big spirit. They share the bill with the likes of aerialist Sacha Pavlata, equilibrists Nurboll and Almos, acrobat/clown Giovanni Zoppe and a variety of animal acts, including Betsy the Vietnamese potbellied pig, Papagallo the piano-playing Leghorn Rooster, and Flora, the young, poacher-orphaned elephant (and anti-ivory activist) from whom the circus takes its name. Final performances are at 2 and 7 p.m. Friday, January 2; noon and 4 p.m. Saturday, January 3; and noon on Sunday, January 4, at Chaparral Park, Hayden and Jackrabbit in Scottsdale. Tickets range $10 to $18, available at Scottsdale Center for the Arts and Ticketmaster (994-2787, 784-4444).
"Africa! A Sense of Wonder": The exhibit at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central, promises "new ways of looking at the art of Africa" and includes about 80 sub-Saharan objects that date from the 16th to early 20th centuries and range from the sociocultural to the fanciful. Drawn from the extensive collection of Valley resident Richard Faletti and family, "Africa!" was co-curated by Mary Nooter Roberts and Allen F. Roberts; it continues through Sunday, February 8, in the Steele Gallery. Various related in-gallery presentations and performances are scheduled. This week: Storyteller and performance artist Chief Adetunji Olokodana presents "Isomo Loruko: Child Naming Ceremony," a depiction of the first of the tribal rites of passage, at 2 p.m. Sunday, January 4. The museum is closed New Year's Day; regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays (to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays). Admission is $6, $4 for students and seniors, $2 for children ages 6 to 18, free for younger kids and members; entry is free to all on Thursdays. 257-1880, 257-1222.
Social Security: Andrew Bergman, the first-rate comedy screenwriter who collaborated on the script for Blazing Saddles and penned his self-directed wacko classic The Freshman, also authored this comedy about an 80-year-old woman who moves in with her daughter and son-in-law, thereby causing turbulence and finding love. Bob Sorensen directs the Arizona Jewish Theatre Company production, which continues with performances at 8 p.m. Friday, January 2; 8 p.m. Saturday, January 3; and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, January 4, in Stage West at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. The run continues through Sunday, January 11. Tickets are $20 to $22. 252-8497.