This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

 Thursday, February 26
Three intertwining stories of terminally ill patients and their loved ones make up the compelling drama of The Shadowbox, presented by Phoenix College Thursday, February 26, through Saturday, February 28. "Even though the setting is a hospice of sorts, the play is neither morbid nor melancholy, but vibrant with the energy of living, of hoping and dreaming, of reaffirming the lives we live, even in the face of certain mortality," says faculty member Gerald Burgess, who directs this production of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play. Showtime is 7:30 nightly, with an additional 1 p.m. matinee on Thursday, at the John Paul Theatre, 1202 West Thomas. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $4 for students. To purchase, call 602-285-7300.

Friday, February 27
BET is where you'll usually see the sharp young comedians in The Crown Royal Comedy Fest, but thanks to a Phoenix stop in their 12-city tour, you can catch them live and in the round on Friday, February 27. Hosted by Rickey Smiley from Comic View and Friday After Next, the show features Sommore (the "Diva of Comedy"), who was the subject of a song by Busta Rhymes, as well as Bruce Bruce, also from Comic View. Doors open at 6 p.m. at Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $35 and $40, and can be purchased by calling 602-267-1600.

Saturday, February 28
Who cares if this is the desert? Arizona still has the highest boat ownership per capita of any state in the union. This weekend, revel in the glorious irony at the Desert Sprints Regatta, presented by the Rio Salado Rowing Club and the City of Tempe at Tempe Town Lake. Among the more than 400 expected rowers from 20 teams across the U.S. are members of the National Rowing Team, who are preparing for the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Spectators can get a great view of the competition's 2,000-meter course from a number of vantage points along the lake, and admission is free. Races run from noon to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 28, and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, February 29. Tempe Town Lake is located at the intersection of Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe. To find out more, visit desertsprints.riosaladorowing.org, or call 480-350-8625.

Sunday, February 29
The old saying about first impressions isn't exactly true with Rapid Dating, a singles event where you can make a first impression every five minutes -- on different people, that is. Geared to ages 28 through 40, this "musical chairs of dating" gives participants the chance to meet 15 or more people within two hours. Everyone wraps up the evening by telling the event organizers who they'd like to meet again, and if the feeling's mutual, they'll be put in contact with their matches the next day. It's probably no coincidence that the next Rapid Dating soiree is scheduled for Sunday, February 29, better known as Leap Day. A 7 p.m. reception with a cash bar and appetizer buffet precedes the 7:30 p.m. dating frenzy at Kazimierz World Wine Bar, 7137 East Stetson in Scottsdale. Admission is $35, and advance payment is required. Visit www.rapiddatingusa.com or call 1-866-727-4328 to register.

Monday, March 1
Through the lenses of three Arizona photographers -- Jeffrey E. Fookson from Tucson, Deborah Ford from Prescott and Mark Whiting from Tempe -- nature is distilled into artistic glimpses of light, texture and shape that are sometimes poetic in their simplicity, sometimes mysterious in their complexity. "In the Natural World," an exhibition featuring their work, opens at Burton Barr Central Library's @Central Gallery on Monday, March 1, and continues through March 29. An opening reception with live music from Alan Jones and Steve Williams will be held on First Friday, March 5, from 7 to 10 p.m. Admission is free at the library, 1221 North Central. Call 602-256-3521 for further information.

Tuesday, March 2
The whole genre of hip-hop thrives on the work of rhyme masters who constantly strive to outdo each other, but even the world's best MCs have to respect the legendary Dr. Seuss, who's probably done more for worldwide rhyme appreciation than Afrika Bambaataa, the Sugar Hill Gang and Run-D.M.C. combined. At the time of his death in 1991, 200 million copies of Seuss' celebrated books circulated the globe in 20 different languages, and many millions more have sold since then. On Tuesday, March 2, students, faculty and staff from Phoenix College host Celebrating a Century of Dr. Seuss, an hourlong reading of favorite Seuss rhymes in honor of the good doctor's birthday. The free celebration, open to grown-ups and kids alike, starts at 1 p.m. in front of the Bulpitt Auditorium on the college campus, located at the intersection of 11th Avenue and Thomas. For more details, call 602-285-7310.

Wednesday, March 3
Blame it on Oscar, but lately we've noticed cinematic celebrations flickering at all corners of the Valley. This week, as part of the New Horizons International Film Festival, catch a free screening of the hilarious but heartbreaking Life Is Beautiful, starring and directed by Roberto Benigni (who won Best Actor and Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards for 1998). The story of a man's attempts to protect his young son from the horrors of life in a concentration camp, it's a film that fits perfectly into the festival's showcase of Holocaust-themed features. Showtime is 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 3, at the Studio Theatre in the M Building on the campus of Paradise Valley Community College, 18401 North 32nd Street. Future screenings include Into the Arms of Strangers at Temple Chai on April 1, and The Pianist in the Studio Theatre on April 28. For further details, call 602-787-7296.

 
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