Thursday, September 18
You know the summer's truly over when Scottsdale Center for the Arts launches its new season. Starting off the busy schedule is an appearance by writer John Edgar Wideman, whose lecture is part of the Solo Voices series, presented in conjunction with Arizona State University's Center for Creative Writing. From a young age, Wideman has been a high achiever; he was an All-Ivy League basketball player and the second African-American Rhodes scholar. As a novelist, he became the first author to win the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction twice, and he was dubbed one of America's premier writers of fiction by the New York Times. Hear Wideman's literary insights at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, September 18, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street in Scottsdale. Tickets are $10. Visit www.scottsdalearts.org or call 480-994-ARTS (2787).
Friday, September 19
Actors Theatre is bringing the heat with its 2003-2004 season, starting with a production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Tennessee Williams play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The story is set in a Southern plantation home, where a wealthy family gathers to toast the 65th birthday of its patriarch, Big Daddy. But the festive atmosphere is deceptive. Brick, the booze-addicted son, suffers guilt over his best friend's death, while his wife Maggie is desperate for affection. And Big Daddy is dying of cancer, but he doesn't know it yet. With a host of unpredictable revelations to devastate the family, the tale is drama at its best. Opening at 8 p.m. Friday, September 19, performances continue through October 5 at the Herberger Theater Stage West, 222 East Monroe. Tickets are $22.50 to $42; contact the box office at 602-252-8497 to purchase. For more information, visit www.actorstheatrephx.org.
On Friday, September 19, and Saturday, September 20, Alwun House hosts encore performances of Skimpies, Terry Earp's celebrated musical comedy about the goddess Aphrodite's return to the mortal realm to peddle enchanted lingerie, transforming the lives of a drag queen, a nun, a housewife and an unfulfilled widow. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $15 in advance or $17 at the door; call 602-564-6606 for reservations. Alwun House is located at 1204 East Roosevelt.
Saturday, September 20
Combine the inventiveness of MacGyver with the frenzied prop use of Gallagher and you wind up with Carrot Top, whose over-the-top comedy act uses music, lasers, smoke and sound effects to turn standup into spectacle. The flame-haired celebrity likens his show to a rock concert, with props standing in for instruments. Indeed, Carrot Top's whole reputation revolves around clever homemade gizmos -- he travels with 35 trunks filled with them. (One of his best-known inventions? Boots with a built-in kickstand, for drunken cowboys.) See this hilarious gadget guru on Saturday, September 20, at the Dodge Theatre, 400 West Washington. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show. Tickets, $25 to $45, can be purchased through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com or 480-784-4444.
Sunday, September 21
Ready for some ambitious antiquing? Head to Prescott on Sunday, September 21, when the annual fall Antiques on the Square fills downtown's tree-lined Courthouse Plaza with booths from more than 60 antiques dealers from across the state. The event is free, and treasures are up for sale from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 1-928-776-1728 for details, or check out www.visit-prescott.com.
Monday, September 22
Ladies looking for some beginning-of-the-week stress relief now have a healthy alternative to happy hour: Muscle Mondays at Gold's Gym, offered through the month of September. Learn how to get a sculpted body at a free "Muscle Strength and Tone" fitness class, held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., where instructors demonstrate techniques using light weights, Dynabands and exercise balls. Then get pampered for free (or cheap) by on-site beauty experts, who offer massages, nail services, makeup applications and skin treatments from 6 to 9 p.m. Classes and services are offered on a first-come, first-served basis at Gold's Gym in Mesa (480-833-0099), Ahwatukee (480-961-1000) and Gilbert (480-497-8686).
Tuesday, September 23
Lately there's been a lot of activity on the local comedy scene, and this week is no different. On Tuesday, September 23, not one but two new events are introduced from hardworking comedy host Jimmy Danelli. Starting at 8 p.m., the new weekly standup show Comedy After Dark premières with headliner Jay Penn, a funny man from Indiana who's been compared to Larry the Cable Guy. Expect stellar acts from across the country in upcoming weeks. Then at 9 p.m., The Jimmy Danelli Show debuts. Danelli says it'll be "a different kind of talk show" with "really off-the-wall guests." In the hot seat for opening night are a stripper and a Rodney Dangerfield impersonator -- let's hope they're not the same person. Admission is $10 (with no food or drink minimum) at The Sets, 93 East Southern in Tempe. Call 480-829-1822 to find out more.
Wednesday, September 24
In the past two years, students at universities across the country have shown an increasingly strong interest in Islamic studies because, more than ever, comprehending current events depends on a familiarity with the world's second largest religion. But you don't have to be a college kid to be curious about the Muslim faith, and you don't have to enroll in school to get an academic explanation of it. On Wednesday, September 24, Professor Janet Lee of the Glendale Community College Religious Studies Department presents "Islam: Its Origins and the Modern Situation," a free lecture on Islamic history and demographics. Part of the ongoing Visiting Professor series, the lecture starts at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Glendale Public Library, 5959 West Brown. Call 623-930-3530 for details.