Thorn Again

Opus Cactus returns to the desert

3/20–3/21
After being greeted with acclaim by audiences around the world, "Opus Cactus is coming home," says Moses Pendleton, the renowned choreographer and founder of dance troupe MOMIX.Opus Cactus began as a 24-minute piece commissioned for Ballet Arizona in the late 1990s; Pendleton expanded it into a full suite for his own company.

"I was still interested in the subject matter and thought that there were more things to be done," he explains.

As the title suggests, the work explores the desert's mysteries; in particular, it was the Sonoran landscape that sparked Pendleton's imagination.

Bodies of work: Opus Catcus rolls into Scottsdale.
Bodies of work: Opus Catcus rolls into Scottsdale.
Curtain call: Miss Saigon hits the stage.
Curtain call: Miss Saigon hits the stage.
Pedal pushers: ASU presents The New American Piano.
Pedal pushers: ASU presents The New American Piano.

"It's a series of surreal impressions of the desert, making connection with the human to the plant and the animal and mineral," he says.

Pendleton says he hopes the work will create a mood that evokes a meditative state. The sense of magic was inspired by his experiences out in the desert and his encounters with our state's most stately cacti. He says, "I have to come back there just to pay a little homage to the saguaro."

Performances of Opus Cactus take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 20, and at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 21, at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street in Scottsdale. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased through 480-994-ARTS (2787) or www.scottsdalearts.org.Michele Laudig

Miss Match
The heartbreaking tale of Asian/American romance made famous by Madame Butterfly in the late 19th century has evolved over the years into the Broadway hit Miss Saigon, amplifying an already established story of lovers divided by race, religion and politics.

The latest production of the musical begins a run in the Valley this week, so check your political platitudes at the door and prepare to embrace the human aspect of conflict.

Miss Saigon opens Tuesday, March 25, and continues through April 2 at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 West Adams. Call 602-262-7272 or see www.theaterleague.com for tickets. – Maidi Terry

Mon 3/24
Key Players
Ebony, ivory and choreography at ASU
We all hear and interpret it differently. Think of the guy on those annoying Catherine Zeta-Jones commercials who sings the words "pour some shook up ramen" during the chorus of Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me." When interpreted through a medium such as dance, however, music's finer points find a home in the greener grasses of inspiration. See a merging of the two in The New American Piano, 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 24, at ASU's Evelyn Smith Music Theatre, 40 East Gammage Parkway in Tempe. This season's performance showcases the collaboration of choreographer Elina Mooney and piano professor Madeline Williamson. Admission is free. For details, call 480-965-8796.Craig Wallach

High Drama
Black Theatre Troupe rises from the ashes
Just a few weeks ago, the building that houses the Black Theatre Troupe caught on fire. How appropriate that this formidable organization – now in its 33rd season – is producing a play with the theme of recovering from adversity.

The play is August Wilson's Jitney, set in 1970s Pittsburgh at an underground car company that serves areas of the city the regular taxis won't frequent. The work rounded out a series Wilson wrote to represent various decades of the African-American experience.

"The play is similar to the position we're in now as a company, trying to recover from this fire," says Dave Hemphill, the troupe's executive director. Cycles of adversity are something we're all familiar with. Here's your opportunity to see both the actors and the characters recover, shine and go on.

Jitney runs Thursday, March 20, through April 6 at the John Paul Theatre at Phoenix College, 1202 West Thomas. Tickets are $17-$22; call 602-258-8128.– Maidi Terry

 
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