Let's say you're looking to stretch your brain, laugh your butt off, and stroll through some of Phoenix's loveliest historic homes. Sound about right? Good. Because that's exactly what this week's best events offer. Now, it's up to you to put these plans in motion (or find a few more options on New Times' calendar of events).
Whether you’re fighting through an NFL hangover or a case of the Mondays, Mill Avenue’s Blasted Barley Beer Company has the cure: beer and bragging rights.
The locally owned microbrewery hosts weekly trivia on Monday nights at its 404 South Mill Avenue location in Tempe. School all your friends and a selection of strangers starting at 7:30 p.m.
Placing in the top three earns each team a coveted gift card, valued at $30 (first place), $20, or $10. And with game-night menu specials like half-off wing platters and select pitchers, that card will pay for plenty of rounds.
Sip on a Blasted Wit and take everyone to school during this free-to-play trivia event. See the Blasted Barley website or call 480-967-5887 for more. Janessa Hilliard
Matilda the Musical
Matilda the Musical has been running in London’s West End for five years, and the U.S. tour is now visiting ASU Gammage, to the delight of those of us who never get out of town. It’s based on a charming and subversive novel by Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) in which a small bean of a girl stands up to adult bullies at home and at school, making the world safer for the marginalized. So it does work sometimes, if fictionally.
The score is by Tim Minchin, a delightful Australia-born singer-songwriter whose popular hits include one with the lyric, “Praise be to magic Woody Allen zombie Superman Komodo dragon telepathic vampire quantum hovercraft Jesus.” Minchin’s next project: the musical version of Groundhog Day. Seriously.
Matilda opens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 7, at 1200 South Forest Avenue in Tempe. Tickets start at $30 at Ticketmaster or 480-965-3434. Julie Peterson
Drop-in Improv Class
So, you think you’re funny? Prove it on Wednesday, February 8, during Drop-in Improv Class at the Comedy Spot, 7117 East Third Avenue in Scottsdale.
This hilarious how-to is for everyone, from those struggling with public speaking to stand-ups trying out situational comedy or improv veterans looking for more stage time.
The weekly 6 p.m. classes are led by actor and comedian Sean Dillingham, who has appeared in FOX’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine and spent time studying with the legendary Los Angeles improv and theater company the Groundlings, whose famous alumni include Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, and Will Ferrell.
Participation is $10 to play, $5 for a friend. No advance registration is required, but plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early. Sign up online at The Comedy Spot website or call 480-945-4422 for details. Janessa Hilliard
FuckUp Nights Phoenix, which began last fall on the “International Day for Failure,” is a monthly un-conference and outside-of-the office party for those who want to learn from failure — with drinks.
Think of it as a fun, after-hours PowerPoint presentation (yes, they do exist) from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, February 9, featuring stories from Terrance Martin, a master’s graduate with a background in entrepreneurship and global management; Julia Garcia, founder of The Rewrite Project and winner of the Audience Award at Seed Spot’s biannual “Demo Day”; and Aaron Hopkins-Johnson, owner of Lawn Gnome Publishing, who has worked with arts and culture nonprofits for more than a decade.
Bring your business cards (and sense of humor) to Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue. Attendance is free, but registration is encouraged at Eventbrite. Janessa Hilliard
Arizona Drag Stars
Save RuPaul’s Drag Race for your weekend binge-watching, and venture downtown to get up close and personal with a group of wickedly fierce performers from the local drag scene.
Get righteously entertained by the ultra-glamorous Arizona Drag Stars. Nevaeh McKenzie, Luna Love St. James, Barbra Seville, Eddie Broadway, Mya McKenzie, and Dee Jae Galaxy all have at least one thing tucked under their belts: tons of experience entertaining crowds with their diverse talents. Their respective fashion skills aren’t anything to shake a stick at, either. Hair, clothes, and accessories — these ladies are on fucking point. On Thursday, February 9, they’re gonna shake things up with a full night of performances that include comedy, live singing, and seriously sassy behavior. Get ready to get rowdy and raunchy at 9 p.m. sharp at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue. Admission is $10 in advance online and $15 at the door. Call 602-716-2222 or visit Crescent Ballroom's website. Amy Young
Galentine's Day Calligraphy Class
Still sitting on a pile of unsent thank-you notes from the holidays? Mackenzie Lind of Unika Collections may have just the thing to get you excited to send those off. On Thursday, February 9, Lind will be leading a Modern Calligraphy Class at the Farm at South Mountain, 6106 South 32nd Street. Plus, this class is Galentine’s Day themed, so ladies, we’re looking at you. From 6 to 8 p.m., you’ll learn the fundamentals of the art and walk away with everything you need to create your own style. The class is $70, and tickets and more information can be found at the Unika Collections website. Evie Carpenter
Romeo and Juliet
Things get ugly with lovers from feuding families in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. See Ballet Arizona’s take on the timeless tale, featuring choreography by artistic director Ib Andersen, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 9, at Symphony Hall, 75 North Second Street. The ballet, set in 16th-century Verona, features live performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s music by the Phoenix Symphony.
Four decades ago, Andersen danced the role of Romeo in the Royal Danish Ballet production choreographed by John Neumeier, which lives on thanks to YouTube.
Tickets for Ballet Arizona’s Romeo and Juliet, which continues through February 12, start at $25. Arrive 45 minutes before the curtain goes up to enjoy a free pre-performance chat, so you’ll have a bit of back story about the ballet and how Ballet Arizona is bringing Shakespeare’s words to life. But remember, romantics, after you’ve seen the show: Don’t try this at home. Visit the Ballet Arizona website. Lynn Trimble
La Esquinita, USA
Beyond the circus of Donald Trump tirades about changes on the American landscape, artists are exploring issues facing contemporary society in creative, constructive ways. Case in point: Playwright Rubén González performs his solo show, La Esquinita, USA, at 8 p.m. on Friday, February 10, at the Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe Street. It’s being presented by Arizona Theatre Company.
González developed the play, which explores the lives of 10 people at a bus stop along the 40A Red Line, through the New Works Lab for El Teatro Campesino, a Latino theater company founded by Luis Valdez in 1965 along a Cesar Chavez picket line in California. La Esquinita, USA (for ages 16 and up) continues through Sunday, February 26, and tickets start at $25. Visit Arizona Theatre Company's website for details. Lynn Trimble
Me, My Quantified Self, and I
Thanks to our newfound political status quo, understanding how digital spaces affect humans might be more important than ever. Thankfully, we have Jessica Rajko, an artist keen on exploring how, as she says, we perform data and data performs us.
Heady, right? That’s the premise of her new dance work, Me, My Quantified Self, and I, which debuts at Unexpected Art Gallery at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, February 10. Shows continue through Sunday, February 12, and auxiliary programming includes a performance from Jeepneys, a discussion about digital human rights, and cyber consultations. Step away from your Twitter trolls and take a seat at 734 West Polk Street. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Find details at Jessica Rajko's website. Becky Bartkowski
A couple things you might not know about comedian and actor Craig Robinson: He has a master’s degree in education and started off as a grade school teacher in the Chicago public school system. He found out he was also pretty funny, and later joined the Second City. The rest is history.
Now known for roles like Daryl from The Office, the “I Seen’t It” guy from Pineapple Express, and Reg Mackworthy from Eastbound & Down, Robinson is putting on five shows at Stand Up Live, 50 West Jefferson Street, #200, from February 10 through 12. Showtimes on Friday are 7:30 and 10 p.m.
Tickets are $30 for general admission, and there’s a two-drink minimum for this 21-and-over event. Visit Stand Up Live's website for tickets and information, or call 480-719-6100. Lauren Cusimano
World Championship Hoop Dance Contest
Each year, tradition meets art and athleticism during the Heard Museum World Championship Hoop Dance Contest — where American Indian and Canadian First Nation men and women compete on equal fields for the title of World Champion Hoop Dancer.
The two-day competition is hosted annually at 2301 North Central Avenue in the Central Courtyard, Libby Amphitheater, and other spots. Things kick off on Saturday, February 11, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with gates opening at 9 a.m. (Hours are the same for Sunday, February 12.) Tickets are $18 for adults, or $12 for American Indians and Heard members, and they include museum admission.
This outdoor event is lawn seating only, so bring folding chairs, blankets, and water. For more information, call 602-252-8840 or visit the Heard Museum website. Lauren Cusimano
Willo Historic District Home Tour & Street Fair
Are you a house stalker? You know, the kind of person who’s dying to know what homes look like inside, as you pass by on your evening stroll.
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The residents of the Willo Historic District are kind enough to give you a day off from straining your eyes. Their annual Home Tour and Street Fair lets you get inside some of the homes in this neighborhood that has become a coveted residential destination. On Sunday, February 12, get a firsthand look at how these historic houses have been restored and decorated. Outside, the street fair features different local vendors. The fair runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Third Avenue and Monte Vista Road. Admission is $18. Visit the Willo Historic District website for more information, including a parking and trolley option. Amy Young
You might have noticed that a highly polarizing figure assumed office in our nation’s capital recently. And for numerous reasons, not least of which is a promise to build an impenetrable wall along our nation’s southern border, interest in emigration to Canada has skyrocketed. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 East Mayo Boulevard, is hosting Experience Canada, which offers visitors a taste of Canadian music, culture, and cuisine.
So if you’re one of those eyeing our friendly neighbors to the north, consider stopping by the MIM on Sunday, February 12, for a closer look at your escape route. Sure, Canada has a dreamy prime minister, but they’re also responsible for Nickelback and Loverboy. These are things you’ll need to know. Festivities run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and are free with cost of admission, $20. Visit the MIM's website or call 480-478-6000 for details. Rob Kroehler