This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

 Thu 13
Mindless entertainment has its place (and this summer, it drives a pink pickup cross-country with Nicole Richie), but folks looking for thoughtful theater can wrap their minds around A New Brain, which heads into its final weekend at Theater Works. William Finn's semiautobiographical musical -- enjoying its Arizona première -- examines a man's new lust for life after he overcomes a potentially fatal brain condition. Sure, it's a "tribute to overcoming tragedy," but this isn't your dreary-diagnosis-movie-of-the-week type of musical: The script has been hailed as "quirky," "thoughtful" and "witty," and -- if that's not entertainment enough -- a giant singing frog hops in and out of hallucinations. Curtain time is 8 p.m. Thursday, May 13; the show continues through Sunday, May 16, at Theater Works, 10484 West Thunderbird in Sun City. Call 623-815-7930 for tickets, $21 for adults, $19 for seniors and military personnel, and $15 for students. See www.theaterworks.org for more information.

Fri 14
Baselines and bass lines blur into a superfreaky Friday at Bank One Ballpark, where D'backs Disco Nite kicks off a three-game series against the Montreal Expos. Fans who get down with their former bad selves -- and bad fashion choices -- have a shot at an embarrassment of riches (well, mostly just embarrassment, but a few prizes are promised). After the whole nine innings, Knight Fever plays that funky music at a free concert on the ballpark plaza. Game time is 7:05 p.m. Friday, May 14, at the BOB, 401 East Jefferson. Tickets range from $8 to $92; call 602-514-8400 or see www.azdiamondbacks.com to order.

Sat 15
Competitors will get served, all right -- with a box of mystery ingredients and a challenge to whip up something tasty. Taking its inspiration from the Food Network's Iron Chef, this weekend's Iron Fork Benefit puts the heat on eight elite chefs, who represent some of the Valley's coolest kitchens: Six, Marco Polo, Furio, Latitude 30, Bistro 24, Devil's Martini, Barmouche and Los Sombreros. A panel of taste makers -- local celebs and members of the Scottsdale Culinary Institute -- will judge the impromptu entrees, while reps from 16 Valley restaurants fork out food and beverage samples. The iron men (and women) get cooking at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 15, at the Arizona Historical Society Museum at Papago Park, 1300 North College in Tempe. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door, and proceeds benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. See www.phoenixnewtimes.com/ironfork for more information and reservations.

Sun 16
Nothing revs up a Sunday drive like a sense of purpose. Hit the highway this Sunday, May 16, for the Canyon River Ride benefiting the American Stroke Association. Registration for the inaugural poker run, $20 per person, runs from 8 to 10 a.m. at Chosa's Harley-Davidson, 922 South Country Club in Mesa. Initiative shall be rewarded: The first 100 riders score tee shirts . . . the first 200 get stuck, so to speak, with commemorative pins. The pack rolls out no later than 10 a.m., and a post-ride party promises food, drinks, raffle prizes and music. To sign up, call 480-600-9588 or 602-969-6747.

Mon 17
Foreign film fan? Enjoy The Silence, one of two short films being screened Monday, May 17, by The Phoenix Jewish Film Festival (staying active in its off-season). A PJFF grand prize winner shot by a student at Hadassah College Jerusalem, The Silence falls upon an Ethiopian village, where an 8-year-old boy suffers severe headaches. His parents disagree about treatment -- his father favoring traditional methods, his mother preferring more modern, Western medicine. The boy ultimately pays for his parents' stubbornness. The second short film, My Dad Is the Strongest, contrasts a child's fantasy world -- where a comic-strip hero and other imaginary figures act as guardian angels and playmates -- with real world pressures to become a cutthroat soccer player. A discussion follows the double feature, suitable for kids 10 and older. Showtime is 7 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center Valley of the Sun, 12701 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. Tickets are $6 in advance, $7 at the door. Call 480-483-7121 to purchase.

Tue 18
Encouraging working stiffs to loosen up, Bikram Yoga Downtown launches a new hot lunch program, Yoga Smoothie Tuesday, at noon Tuesday, May 18. The studio may be "the coolest place in Phoenix to practice hot yoga," but yogis best get set to sweat: Whether by hot yoga, steam room or sauna, this place'll squeeze it out. A 30-minute class meets in a hot room -- to step up detoxification -- and covers five or six postures that can be practiced at home. After class, participants can hit the steam room or sauna, then refresh with a fruit smoothie on their way out of the studio, located inside the Phoenix Suns Athletic Club at Third Street and Jackson. The monthly program is open to the public, no previous yoga experience required. Preregistration, $20, is recommended; call 602-379-7540.

Wed 19
Phoenix Theatre hits the Mother Road -- a.k.a. Route 66 -- for a 2,448-mile trip down memory lane. Opening Wednesday, May 19, ROUTE 66 follows four young men on a sentimental journey along the "Main Street of America," commissioned in 1926 to connect Chicago and Los Angeles. The revue's 32 driving rhythms include familiar favorites: "King of the Road," "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena," "I Get Around," "On the Road Again" and the title track. (What? No "Highway to Hell"?) The road show takes off at 8 p.m. at Phoenix Theatre, 100 East McDowell; the kicks keep coming through June 13. Call 602-254-2151 or see www.phxtheatre.org for tickets, $28 to $32.

 
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