Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Spike Lee, Sammy Davis Jr., Sugar Ray Leonard, M.C. Hammer--any or all of them may take the stage at the Improv this weekend in the person of comedian/impersonator Tommy Davidson. Best known for his work on TV's In Living Color and in films like Booty Call and Woo, Davidson also stays busy on the standup circuit. He plays at 8 p.m. Thursday, January 14; 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, January 15; the same times Saturday, January 16; and 8 p.m. Sunday, January 17, at the Tempe Improv Comedy Theater, 930 East University (at Cornerstone mall). 921-9877.
"Imagine the Dream" is the theme of the Mayor's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute, the 13th annual fund raiser for the City of Phoenix's MLK Fine Arts and Education Program, in observance of King Day on Monday, January 18. The multicultural concert includes an original theatrical production called The Seventh Song, as well as entertainment by flamenco, East Indian and contemporary dancers and jazz, opera and classical music, Hindi and Gregorian chanting and other performers. The event starts at 7 p.m. Friday, January 15, at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. It's followed at 9 p.m. by the Louisiana sounds of Beau Jocque and the Zydeco Hi-Rollers, along with free refreshments, on the Symphony Hall Terrace, Second Street and Adams. Tickets are $40. 262-7272 (Phoenix Civic Plaza), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
Two true vets of American dance, lindy hop king Frankie Manning and tap master Fred Kelly, come to the Valley to teach their moves at the New Year Swing Jam, on Friday, January 15; Saturday, January 16; and Sunday, January 17, at Longview Elementary School, 12th Street and Indian School. The 84-year-old Manning, a former choreographer and dancer with Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, danced in such films as A Day at the Races, Hellzapoppin' and, more recently, Malcolm X. The Tony Award-winning Broadway vet Kelly danced once on film with his better-known brother Gene, in the 1955 Deep in My Heart, and is credited with inventing the cha-cha. The two of them teach daytime classes all weekend, followed by evening dances with music by San Diego-based swing outfit Big Time Operator. The whole shebang costs $140; individual classes are $15; the dances are $10. For details call 994-4639 or 222-9493.
The "Downtown Spoken Word Series" continues Saturday, January 16, with "The Battle of the Groups, Round IX," featuring performances by Diptheria Taproot, the New York City Art Junkies, Bridget Carroll and Jack Green, Hammons Fuel Co., and Vox, Inc.; an open mike follows. Showtime is 7 p.m. Admission is free. MARS Artspace, 126 South Central (in the Luhrs building). 264-6266, 253-3541.
Best known for his golf reporting, sportscaster Jack Whitaker also covered Triple Crown horse racing, the Indy 500, the Olympics and the very first Super Bowl. Whitaker is scheduled as the luncheon speaker at noon Saturday, January 16, at the Terrace Dining Room of the Wigwam Resort, 300 East Wigwam Boulevard in Litchfield Park, in connection with its Visiting Authors program to discuss and sign his book Preferred Lies and Other Tales. It's free to attend with a regular off-the-menu lunch order; for reservations call 935-3811. Barnes & Noble will have copies of the book on sale for signing.
At 40, Barbie's still looking pretty good: tanned, trim and ready to take the blame for the eating disorders and therapy bills of yet another generation of women. You can celebrate the microbabe's big four-oh at the Barbie Doll and Toy Show, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, January 17, at the Crown Plaza North Phoenix at Metrocenter, 2532 West Peoria Avenue. The day kicks off from 9 to 10 a.m. with an "early bird" hour, which costs $15 but offers special-edition items not available during the rest of the day; admission is $15 for those who wish to include this hour. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., it's $5 for adults, $2 for kids under 12. 607-8421.
The performance at 1 p.m. Sunday, January 17, of Arizona Theatre Company's acclaimed production The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm is a benefit--proceeds from the sale of 500 seats go to help sufferers of the wretched disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Call Dawn Thier at 212-1223 for more information or tickets. The performance at 8 p.m. Tuesday, January 19, is also a benefit--the revenue from 400 seats goes to the Family Service Agency; call Sue Tormala for tickets and info. "The Man I Love," "I Got Rhythm" and "Someone to Watch Over Me" are among the soul-healing tunes featured in this revue by Mark Lamos and Mel Marvin that continues the season for the state's official professional theatrical entity. This week's other performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, January 14; 8 p.m. Friday, January 15; 4 p.m. Saturday, January 16; 7 p.m. Sunday, January 17; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, January 20, but if you're planning to check out this show anyway, why not support a good cause in the process? Tickets range from $20 to $33, with discounts available for senior adults, students, military personnel and those in groups of 10 or more; they're available at Herberger and Dillard's box offices. The run continues through Sunday, January 24, in Center Stage at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. 252-TIXS (8497), 503-5555.