We've truly come to anticipate new offerings from Nearly Naked Theatre. After taking home four ariZoni Awards and shaking up Phoenix audiences with a powerfully resonant staging of the controversial play Equus, the downtown performance group's new production, Baylin's Monster, sounds promising. Supposedly the most "family-friendly" play Nearly Naked has ever presented, the funny musical tells the story of a media frenzy in Baylin, Mississippi, after a swamp monster consumes a townsperson. With an original score created by the company, Baylin's Monster is "for actors who love to sing, but may not be the best singers," says director Damon Dering. The run starts Friday, March 14, and continues through April 5. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 7 p.m. or 2 p.m. on alternating Sundays. Admission is $14 for adults and $12 for students, seniors, military personnel and teachers at the Little Theatre at Phoenix Theatre, 100 East McDowell. For reservations, call 602-274-2432.
No celebration of St. Patrick's Day would be complete without some authentic Irish music – it's as essential to the holiday as kilts, corned beef and the color green. Besides, how often can you let yourself get wild to the unmistakable strains of a bagpipe? On Saturday, March 15, the Mesa Symphony Orchestra helps you get in the right mood with "A Celtic Celebration," a free concert of festive, familiar melodies such as "Irish Tune From County Derry" ("Danny Boy") and "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling." And to lend authenticity to the traditional sounds, local bagpipe ensemble the Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band will perform as special guests. Admission is free at the Mesa Amphitheatre, 201 North Center in Mesa. Showtime is 4 p.m., and visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs for seating. Call 480-827-2143 for additional details.
Short of having an actual roller coaster, the Glendale Spring Carnival offers almost as many thrills as an amusement park, featuring a dozen and a half rides with intriguingly gonzo names such as Saber Tooth Tiger, Dive Bomber, Starship 2000 and The Zipper. Admission to the event is free, but take the extra excitement that comes with one-day unlimited carnival ride passes – just make sure that you don't gorge at the concession stands before boarding one of the spinning, soaring, high-speed contraptions. Festivities run from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, March 14, and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 15, and Sunday, March 16, on the campus of Glendale Community College, located at the intersection of 59th Avenue and Olive in Glendale. Ride passes are $18 on the day of the event or $12 in advance from the GCC cashiers office, 623-845-3589. Call 623-842-8434 to find out more.
Before you head out to satisfy your yearly craving for green beer, get a taste of the Tucson Downtown Arts District at Tempe Public Library's latest gallery-worthy art exhibition on Monday, March 17. "From Tucson to Tempe: Dinnerware Gallery" includes work from three artists who are members of the renowned Tucson cooperative art space. Ann Tracy-Lopez creates muted, abstract pieces with charcoal and oil on canvas, while Mexican-born Mauricio Toussaint conveys nostalgia through surreal narratives in his mixed-media paintings. Aili Schmeltz fuses natural with industrial elements in sculptures that combine metal, wood and cloth. The free exhibit continues through May 23 at the library, located at 3500 South Rural in Tempe. For more information, call 480-350-5287.
The Swedish rock 'n' roll invasion doesn't end with The Hives – Sahara Hotnights is making sure of it. The four-piece all-girl band already landed on American shores for a nearly 40-day-long tour, heading to Phoenix for a gig at the Mason Jar on Tuesday, March 18. Giving the Donnas a run for their money in the attitude department, Sahara Hotnights' hard guitar sound is reminiscent of 1970s Aussie power-punk icons Radio Birdman – if a sneering Runaways-era Joan Jett were at the mike. Call it tough love. The Mason Jar is located at 2303 East Indian School. Call 602-954-0455 for further information.
Varietals are the spice of life – if you're a wine lover, that is. Explore the different styles of wine that come from a particular grape varietal at Wednesday's Wine, the newly launched wine program at Lon's at the Hermosa. Every Wednesday, from 4 to 7 p.m., sample any or all of the five featured wines for $9 a glass (a deal, considering that many of the selections are higher-end vintages), $16 for a flight of three three-ounce pours, or $18 for a flight of five two-ounce pours. Themes change weekly, and recent events have focused on Pinots and Syrahs. Visitors are also welcome to a free tour of the restaurant's new underground wine cellar, the showpiece of a multimillion-dollar renovation. Lon's is located at 5532 North Palo Cristi in Paradise Valley. To find out more, call 602-955-7878.