A Couple of Blaguards: This autobiographical Irish comedy by the brothers Malachy and Frank McCourt tells of the mischievous adventures of their youths in Limerick and their move to America. Graham Thatcher and Alan Austin play Malachy and Frank, respectively, in the production. Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, February 26; 10 a.m. (an "Irish Coffee Matinee" at which coffee and rolls are served) and 8 p.m. Friday, February 27; and 8 p.m. Saturday, February 28, at Kerr Cultural Center, 6110 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. Tickets are $15 reserved, $12 general. The run continues through Sunday, March 8. 965-5377 (Kerr), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
David Spade: The only pressing reason to watch the current NBC sitcom Just Shoot Me, the slight, acidly snide SNL alumnus and Valley homeboy Spade was also a fine onscreen foil for the Falstaffian antics of the late Chris Farley. Spade's above-it-all mockery puts one in mind of a dispassionate and less esoteric Dennis Miller, but it also carries an undercurrent of galled insecurity, like a victimized high school wimp who got even under his breath back then, and through a microphone when he grew up. The comic, who has roots in Arizona, takes the stage at 8 p.m. Friday, February 27; and 8 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday, February 28, at the Tempe Improv Comedy Theater, 930 East University (at Cornerstone mall). The performances are set to be taped for an upcoming HBO special. Tickets, available at the Improv box office, are $20. 921-9877.
Sedona International Film Festival: The fourth annual showcase 'neath the red rocks kicks off at 9 a.m. Friday, February 27, at Harkins Sedona 6 Cinemas, 2081 West Highway 81-A, with a workshop/discussion on the neglected subject "The Working Relationship of Filmmakers and Editors." The heavyweight panel scheduled for this event includes editors John F. Burnett (Grease), Richard Chew (Star Wars), Richard Harris (Titanic) and Thelma Schoonmaker (Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ); director Taylor Hackford (An Officer and a Gentleman); and, most interestingly, the revered sound editor and film theorist Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now). A wild guess: They turn out to be a bunch of cutups. The festival proper begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, February 28; and the same time Sunday, March 1, at the same venue. On the agenda: Mohsen Makhmalbaf's acclaimed Iranian feature Gabbeh; Thomas Patrick Smith's urban drama Disturbing the Peace; Amie Carey and Michael McKean in Les Landau's Archibald the Rainbow Painter; Michael York in Merchants of Venus, Len Richmond's exploration of the sex-toy industry; and Valley filmmaker Karl T. Hirsch's engaging slackerbabble comedy Green. Passes are available in a wide range of prices; the editing workshop is a separate admission of $100, $50 for students. All proceeds benefit Sedona Cultural Park. 1-800-780-2787 or 1-520-282-0747.
Monk on Monk: No, in spite of what the Mighty Karnak might say, it's not what happens when things get lonely down at the monastery. It's an 80th Anniversary Birthday Tribute concert to the late, great jazz pianist Thelonious Monk, performed by his drummer son, Thelonious Sphere Monk; see the story on page 93. Scheduled to sit in with T.S. is a combo of 11, to include Ronnie Matthews, Danilo Perez, Gary Wang, and Willie Williams. The jams, which include works written by Monk Sr. but never recorded, begin at 8 p.m. Friday, February 27, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $24 and $28. 994-2787 (SCA), 784-4444 (Ticketmaster).
The Bartered Bride: This comic opera by Bedrich Smetana, the great Bohemian--in the national sense--composer, tells of the trickery and scheming which surround the betrothal, through a marriage broker, of the heroine Marenka to the dullard Vasek, though she's in love with Jecik. Somehow a circus dancer named Esmeralda also gets involved, and that generally means trouble. The Lyric Opera Theatre presents the work. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, February 27; and the same time Saturday, February 28, at the Recital Hall at the Arizona State University Music Theatre, Mill and Gammage Parkway in Tempe. Tickets are $12, $6 for students and seniors. 965-6447.
Rigo Star's African Revue: The show, which features Pepe Kalle, offers audiences a taste of the central African pop form known as Soukous. It begins at 8:30 p.m. Friday, February 27, at The Women's Club of Phoenix, 302 West Earll. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door. 438-2382, 705-9581.
"Meditations on China" at Phoenix Art Museum: Subtitled "An exploration of Nature and Chinese Art," this exhibit, which opens on Saturday, February 28, in the Steele Gallery of the Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central, includes paintings, scrolls, sculptural rocks and furniture, all of which demonstrate the traditional Chinese view that nature itself is an artist. Among the featured works is Ah-Leon's Bridge: Illusion in Clay, "a weathered 60-foot Chinese footbridge, in reality made of stoneware." Also on display at PAM is "Worlds Within Worlds: The Richard Rosenblum Collection of Chinese Scholars Rocks." Scholars' rocks are those collected since ancient times for their "aesthetic and spiritual qualities"; they are one of the earliest known examples of what is now called "found art." This collection, organized by Robert D. Mowry, curator of Chinese Art at Harvard University Art Museums, includes more than 80 rocks from the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. In addition, the exhibition will feature "Art and the Chinese Scholar: Paintings and Furniture of the Ming and Qing Dynasties." Various related in-gallery presentations are scheduled throughout the run of the exhibit, which continues through Sunday, April 19. 257-1222.
The Peking Opera: Traditional Chinese opera--the kind that Jackie Chan studied as a kid, the kind featured in the Chen Kaige film Farewell, My Concubine--involves not only singing but dancing, mime, acrobatics, martial arts and juggling. It promises a feast of high theatricality. The company takes the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday, February 28, at Gammage Auditorium. Tickets are $19, $22 and $25. Mill and Apache in Tempe. 965-3434 (Gammage), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
Franklin Templeton Tennis Classic: Formerly known as the Arizona Men's Tennis Championships, this tourney features a field that includes defending champ Mark Philippoussis, Andre Agassi and Boris Becker. After two days of free qualifying rounds, the tournament proper begins at 10 a.m. Monday, March 2, and continues daily through Sunday, March 8, at the Scottsdale Princess resort, 7575 East Princess Drive. Individual tickets, available at Dillard's, range from $8 to $50; a variety of ticket packages is available for more. 922-0222, 503-5555.
Smokey Joe's Cafe: This Tony-nominated musical, directed by Jerry Zaks, showcases the songs of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the two nice, middle-class Jewish boys whose collaborations were largely responsible for turning black R&B and rock into a mainstream form. Their canon includes "Hound Dog," "Stand By Me," "Charlie Brown," "Yakety Yak," "There Goes My Baby," "Jailhouse Rock," "Love Potion #9" and the estimable "On Broadway"--to name a few. Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 3; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe. Tickets range from $29.50 to $43.50. The run continues through Saturday, March 7. 965-3434 (Gammage), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
Sugar Ray, with Save Ferris: Touring in support of its Lava/Atlantic album Floored, the aggro popsters Sugar Ray, fronted by vocalist Mark McGrath and backed by Craig "DJ Homicide" Bullock, comes to the Valley with assurances that it's added melody to its repertoire of musical skills. The nonpunk outfit Save Ferris, which, like Sugar Ray, hails from the Punk Ground Zero of Orange County, California, sports a ska-tinged sound and a strong female presence at center mike: operatically trained Monique Powell. Along with Incubus, and Goldfinger, the band shares the all-ages bill with Ray. The show starts at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, at Hayden Square Amphitheatre, Fourth Street and Mill in Tempe. Tickets are $17, available at Dillard's. 503-5555.
Chumbawamba: After at least a decade as a Brit political-fringe band with anarchist leanings, this lot broke through a few months back with the eminently catchy "Tubthumping." It's since suggested shoplifting its Republic/Universal CD Tubthumper to concert audiences, leading some retailers to keep it behind the counter, like porno. One does wonder if the Chums would show political solidarity with Republic/Universal if the label decided to become anarchist before paying them their percentage. The band plays at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, at Hayden Square Amphitheatre, Fourth Street and Mill in Tempe. Tickets, should you be bourgeois enough to pay for them, are $15 in advance, $17 the day of the show. A3 opens the all-ages show. 503-5555 (Dillard's).
George Hickenlooper's Dogtown: The admired documentarian Hickenlooper, who directed the classic moviemaking chronicle Hearts of Darkness, turns to fiction with this feature about ennui amongst small-town Generation Xers. Rory Cochrane of Dazed and Confused stars as a struggling actor who returns to his small Missouri hometown and reconnects with his beauty-queen ex-girlfriend (Mary Stuart Masterson). Jon Favreau, Harold Russell, Karen Black, Shawnee Smith and Maureen McCormick also appear. Hickenlooper himself is scheduled for an in-person Q&A, moderated by yours truly, after this special screening by the Arizona Film Society's "Phoenix Independent Series," which starts at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, at AMC Town & Country 6 Theatres, 20th Street and Camelback. Tickets are $5. 970-8711.