"It's not a standard musical," says cast member Clark Webb of Theater Works' Songs for a New World. "It's more cabaret-style." Though the songs, written by wunderkind and Tony winner Jason Robert Brown (who wrote the score at age 20), are separate entities, they all blend together with common themes. "It's about living one moment at a time, and not being afraid to embrace change," says Webb. "These are the themes that thread through the songs to tie them together." The cast comprises six singers, and there is no dialogue other than that within the songs themselves. "It's a refreshing musical, in a way," says Webb. "Not your standard song and dance."
Theater Works is located at 10484 West Thunderbird, just west of Loop 101, in Sun City. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursday, January 29, through Saturday, January 31, with matinees at 4 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, February 1. Tickets are $15 to $22. Call 623-815-7930. - Quetta Carpenter
Desert Dance honors abolitionist
"Freedom of expression" takes on inspiring new meaning, as Desert Dance Theatre presents Sister Moses: The Story of Harriet Tubman. With the backing of African drummers, a string quartet, vocalists and a narrator, the troupe's dancers recount the story of the former slave who put her own freedom on the line to liberate others via the Underground Railroad. "It's an incredible story," says Lisa Chow, Desert Dance artistic director and company manager. Though the production appeals to students studying the Civil War, Chow says the show is geared to all age groups.
In celebration of Black History Month, the company performs the work at 9:45 and 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, February 3, at the Chandler Center for the Arts; 7 p.m. Thursday, February 5, at Desert Vista High School; and 7 p.m. Saturday, February 7, at Tempe High School. Call 480-962-4584 for more information.- Jill Koch
Amazing feats of acrobatics are expected for Chinese New Year
The Peking Acrobats struck a precarious balance on Fox's Guinness World Records: Primetime, balancing six people atop six chairs 21 feet in the air. Guinness got a formidable new record for the "Human Chair Stack," and we developed a dangerous new attraction to dinette sets.
Demonstrating disciplines dating back to China's Ch'in Dynasty (221-206 B.C.), the elite group of gymnasts, jugglers and cyclists tumbles into town this weekend -- just in time for the Chinese New Year. The furniture flies at 8 p.m. Friday, January 30, and 5 and 8 p.m. Saturday, January 31, at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street in Scottsdale. Call 480-994-2787 or see www.scottsdalearts.org for tickets, $26 for adults, $18 for children. - Jill Koch
Dear as Folk
Save the last dance at Independent High
Saturday night fiebre runs high this Saturday, January 31, when Ballet Folklorico Mexicapan marks its 22nd anniversary with a festive folk dance performance. Catch Mexican culture in motion at 7:30 p.m. at Independence High School, 6602 North 75th Avenue in Glendale. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for children. Dial 602-309-0937 for details. - Jill Koch
AZ Opera puts patrons in the know
To further fandom of the opera, Arizona Opera is upping education, decreasing intimidation. Patrons of the company's next production --Gaetano Donizetti's comic opera Don Pasquale --can participate in pre-performance primers and post-show reviews. Free 30-minute lectures begin one hour before curtain time and, after each performance, artistic director Joel Revzen shares production insights through the new "Opera Talkback" program. Aficionados can delve into even more detail at www.azopera.org, where "The Opera Aid Kit" defines opera terminology, answers FAQs and, through downloadable sound bites, provides pronunciation guidance.
Sung in Italian with English surtitles, Don Pasqualetakes the stage at Symphony Hall at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, January 29, through Saturday, January 31, and 2 p.m. Sunday, February 1. Tickets start at $25; call 480-784-4444. Operagoers are invited to arrive early (6 p.m. for evening shows, noon for the matinee) to peruse an exhibition of Western artworks by Ken Freeman; sales benefit Arizona Opera.
Beast in Show
The sounds of music fill the Phoenix Zoo
You've probably been to some raucous concerts, but none could truly be wilder than those in the Phoenix Zoo's new World Music Concert Series. At 2 p.m. Sunday, February 1, Novo Mundo kicks off two months of untamed sounds, from zydeco to soul. Visit www.phoenixzoo.org for details. -Michele Laudig