What Zephryn Conte does with a beat is easily defined: anything she wants. To be more precise, Conte, who's "somewhere between 40 and ageless," uses her omnipotent rhythmic abilities to channel dance, song and rhyme into one performance -- the Zephryn Conte Jazz/Poetry Experience, on Wednesday, July 28, at Scottsdale's Kerr Cultural Center, 6110 North Scottsdale Road.
"I like to write from paradox and polarity," says Conte, a Boston native. "I believe that's how we live, trying to balance it all." Conte's balancing act includes poetry that "explores some of the deeper questions in life," with jazz standards including "Come Dance With Me."
"It's very beatnik. It's almost like that's the voice I've chosen."
Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. show are $14.50; call 480-596-2660. -- Joe Watson
Opera students hit the highs
Holding these class notes takes more than a colossal backpack. Participants in the Summer Opera Workshop at Paradise Valley Community College show us what they did on their summer vacation this Wednesday, July 28, presenting a free recital of operatic scenes and ensembles. In its second season, the workshop is "a group of very regular folks with very normal day jobs," says PVCC's Rod Fensom. "People you'd never expect to be opera singers."
Showcasing selections from Mozart, Verdi and Puccini -- as well as works by Carlisle Floyd and Leonard Bernstein -- the recital starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Studio Theatre on campus, 32nd Street and Union Hills. Call 602-787-6595. -- Jill Koch
Four-way sex farce
It's damn fun watching others fail at love, ain't it? When it comes to schadenfreude, we're all player-haters at heart. The sex farce Ashes to Ashes -- starting Friday, July 23, at Phoenix Greyhound Park's Copperstate Dinner Theater, 3801 East Washington -- embodies this spirit. R.J. Spaulding, a frustrated Broadway playwright, wakes up after a weekendlong bender to discover he's engaged to three women, while still hitched to his "alimony-hungry" estranged wife. The vicarious thrills continue, as the trio of would-be fiancèes strips down to their unmentionables. "We've got girls running around in their skimpies -- and a strange rubber doll on the set," says Peter J. Hill, director and playwright. The sticky situation persists through September 12; tickets, $32.95, include a full-course dinner. Call 602-279-3129 or see www.copperstatedinnertheaters.com. -- Benjamin Leatherman