That least egotistical species of actors--puppeteers--convenes in Tempe for the Pacific Southwest Regional Puppeteers of America Festival, from Thursday, July 16, through Sunday, July 19, at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel, 60 East Fifth Street. The weekend, which includes public performances, educators' workshops and such prestigious guests as Muppet head writer Jerry Juhl, is locally represented by the Great Arizona Puppet Theater. Among the companies performing their works are Coad Canada Puppets, Bob Baker Marionettes, Parasol Puppets, Chameleon Puppet Theatre, Grey Seal Puppets and Huber Marionettes. Workshop subjects range from "Integrating the Curriculum Through Puppetry" to "German Marionette Control Innovations" to "Wearable Performance Spaces." One-day registration is $45; for the whole weekend, it's $140. The educators' workshop, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday, July 16, is $50, and gets teachers three hours of Arizona recertification credit. For puppet "civilians" who just want to check out a performance, there's a double feature at 10 a.m. Friday, July 17, featuring George and the Dragon by the Parasol Puppets and Something to Crow About by Bob Baker Marionettes; and another at the same time Saturday, July 18, featuring Chen Ping and the Magic Axe by the Johnson Brothers Puppets and The Hubert Marionettes Revue; tickets for these shows are a steal at $5. For more specific information, call 262-2050.
The self-proclaimed "Platypus Man" and standup campaigner Richard Jeni, veteran of four HBO specials, countless Tonight Show appearances and movies such as The Mask, performs at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 16; 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, July 17; the same times Saturday, July 18; and 8 p.m. Sunday, July 19, at the Tempe Improv Comedy Theater, 930 East University (at Cornerstone mall). Expect at least some of the material to be from Jeni's recent HBO special A Good Catholic Boy; says Jeni, by phone: "I used to think that if you did an hour on TV, you couldn't go and do that same hour live. But I've learned the opposite is true. That's precisely the hour audiences want you to do. There's this feeling that if you did it on TV, it must be the best hour you've got, so why would we want to see anything else?" Tickets range from $12 to $17. 921-9877.
The story of a bunch of strapping young country boys who abduct wives for themselves a la the Romans and the Sabine Women isn't very PC, but Seven Brides for Seven Brothers still seems to win over audiences, thanks to such rousing Johnny Mercer/Gene DePaul numbers as "Bless Her Beautiful Hide," "Goin' Courtin'," "Lonesome Polecat" and "The Sobbin' Women." Mesa Community College Chamber Opera Theatre presents the stage version of Stanley Donen's MGM fave. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 16; and the same hours Friday, July 17; Saturday, July 18; Monday, July 20; and Wednesday, July 22, at Theatre Outback, located on the MCC campus, 1833 West Southern. Tickets are $8, $6 for students and seniors, $7 for MCC faculty and staff, $5 for MCC students. 461-7170.
The inimitable sovereign of Texas "nuevo wavo" Latin soul Joe "King" Carrasco, backed by his Crowns, cranks out his Mex-flavored boogie-rock at 9 p.m. Thursday, July 16, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. The cover is $5. 265-4842.
Techies, Trekkies, Webheads and average schmos lost in cyberspace converge for a weekend of cyber info and virtual fun at Arizona Central Internet and Computer Expo '98, slated for 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, July 17; and the same hours Saturday, July 18, at Phoenix Civic Plaza, Second Street and Adams. Admission is $7, $5 for students and seniors, $3 for kids between the ages of 7 and 12. 491-8373.
Have you noticed it's been hot lately? For temporary relief of this annual condition, Downtown Tempe Community hosts the Downtown Cooldown from 7:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 18, at Tempe City Hall, located on Sixth Street east of Mill Avenue. The fun includes a parade of city vehicles, free watermelon slices from Fry's food stores, storytelling, arts activities, dunk tanks, train rides, slides, face painting and, as the main attraction, 20 tons of trucked-in snow to play in. The festivities wrap up with the 11 a.m. screening of the wintry kid flick Anastasia at Valley Art Theatre, part of that venue's ongoing "Free Family Movies" series (see Kid Stuff). All of the above is free. 921-2300.
L.A.-based performance artist Steve Roden serves up an evening of what he calls "in be tween noise," improvising experimental music through the interaction of found objects--rocks, dirt, litter and the like--with contact mikes and guitar pedals. The press release ballyhoos Roden's work as "strangely meditative, austere, personal and slow moving." Much like audience interest, one suspects. The show starts at 9 p.m. Saturday, July 18, at Metropophobobia, 407 East Roosevelt. Admission is a requested donation of $4. 252-9851.
Jazz in AZ's "Sunday Afternoon Jazz Series" continues with a performance by The Milt Cannon Quintet from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 19, at Los Olivos Restaurant, 7328 East Second Street in Scottsdale. The Chicago-born, Prescott-based saxophonist Cannon, one of the state's jazz fixtures, is backed up by trumpeter Tom Miles, keyboardist Barbara Catlin, bassist Steve Millhouse and drummer Dave Cook. Admission is $10, $7 for Jazz in AZ members. 942-8348.
Texas honky-tonk traditionalist Rosie Flores, touring behind her Wanda Jacksonesque Rounder CD A Honky Tonk Reprise (a reissue of her eponymous 1987 Warner CD, with some previously unreleased tracks added), plays solo on Sunday, July 19, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. The Ramblers open the show at 9 p.m. The cover is $5. 265-4842.