Craig Shoemaker at the Improv: The alchemical comedian has transformed a miserable childhood as a hopeless geek into a he-man mint--he was the American Comedy Awards pick for best standup comedian of 1997, he's slated to host this year's VH1 game show My Generation, and he's to star in the upcoming film The Lovemaster. He used to be slugged by little girls; now he's hit on by beautiful women. He wraps up a four-night stand with final performances Thursday, January 1; Friday, January 2; and Saturday, January 3, at the Tempe Improv Comedy Theater, 930 East University. 921-9877.
Arizona Stock Show and Rodeo: You can get your little ones an early start on the happy trail to cowpunchin' at the Li'l Buckaroos Rodeo, which kicks off the New Year at the Arizona State Fairgrounds, 19th Avenue and McDowell, at 10 a.m Thursday, January 1. A Chili Challenge, a Farm Experience, a Pancake Breakfast and the Cowboy Classics Western Art and Gear Show are all on the schedule for this week's festivities, which run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and the same hours on Friday, January 2; and Saturday, January 3. But the main attraction is the PRCA Rodeo at 7 p.m. on Friday and the same time Saturday. Tickets for the rodeo are $5, $8 and $12; general admission to the grounds is $2. 258-8568.
"Kemal Hadzic: Photographs": Hadzic, now a resident of Arizona, came to the U.S. from his native Bosnia/Herzegovina in 1996 after capturing the images of the siege of Sarajevo featured in this exhibition of his work at MARS Artspace, 126 South Central, in the Luhrs building. The three series in the display, titled Omegapolis, Streets and Grave on Grave, take a quieter, sadder, more elegiac approach--a native's approach--to the horror of the subject than that of the photojournalists who came to Bosnia from elsewhere. The exhibition opens with a reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, January 2, and continues through Friday, January 30. 253-3541.
Pops Concert: Tunes from the Great White Way are highlighted, as are three singers who've made their names there, in this evening with the Phoenix Symphony. The vocalists--soprano Kim Crosby, tenor Craig Schulman and baritone Cris Groenendaal--are veterans of such shows as Guys and Dolls, Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera. They'll flex their larynxes at 8 p.m. on Friday, January 2; and the same time Saturday, January 3, at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. 262-7272 (Phoenix Civic Plaza), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
Five Guys Named Moe: The blues tunes of Louis Jordan are the stars of this Arizona Theatre Company production. They're strung along a musical-comedy plot in which a lovelorn hero is visited, through his radio, by the title quintet, a supernatural team of blues busters whose names are variations on "Moe." Audiences can expect mo'e fun than usual. (See the related story on page 51.) Having kicked off the run with a New Year's Eve gala, the show continues with a preview at 8 p.m. Friday, January 2. The opening proper is at the same time Saturday, January 3. More performances are scheduled at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, January 4; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, January 7. The run continues through Sunday, January 25, in Center Stage at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. Tickets range from $24.50 to $37.50. 252-8497.
Circus Flora: The Flying Wallendas--featuring 8-year-old Alex, who walks the high wire, though he's barely out of the high chair--star in this small circus with a big spirit. They share the bill with the likes of aerialist Sacha Pavlata, equilibrists Nurboll and Almos, acrobat/clown Giovanni Zoppe and a variety of animal acts, including Betsy the Vietnamese potbellied pig, Papagallo the piano-playing Leghorn Rooster, and Flora, the young, poacher-orphaned elephant (and anti-ivory activist) from whom the circus takes its name. Final performances are at 2 and 7 p.m. Friday, January 2; noon and 4 p.m. Saturday, January 3; and noon on Sunday, January 4, at Chaparral Park, Hayden and Jackrabbit in Scottsdale. Tickets range $10 to $18, available at Scottsdale Center for the Arts and Ticketmaster (994-2787, 784-4444).
"Africa! A Sense of Wonder": The exhibit at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central, promises "new ways of looking at the art of Africa" and includes about 80 sub-Saharan objects that date from the 16th to early 20th centuries and range from the sociocultural to the fanciful. Drawn from the extensive collection of Valley resident Richard Faletti and family, "Africa!" was co-curated by Mary Nooter Roberts and Allen F. Roberts; it continues through Sunday, February 8, in the Steele Gallery. Various related in-gallery presentations and performances are scheduled. This week: Storyteller and performance artist Chief Adetunji Olokodana presents "Isomo Loruko: Child Naming Ceremony," a depiction of the first of the tribal rites of passage, at 2 p.m. Sunday, January 4. The museum is closed New Year's Day; regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays (to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays). Admission is $6, $4 for students and seniors, $2 for children ages 6 to 18, free for younger kids and members; entry is free to all on Thursdays. 257-1880, 257-1222.
Social Security: Andrew Bergman, the first-rate comedy screenwriter who collaborated on the script for Blazing Saddles and penned his self-directed wacko classic The Freshman, also authored this comedy about an 80-year-old woman who moves in with her daughter and son-in-law, thereby causing turbulence and finding love. Bob Sorensen directs the Arizona Jewish Theatre Company production, which continues with performances at 8 p.m. Friday, January 2; 8 p.m. Saturday, January 3; and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, January 4, in Stage West at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. The run continues through Sunday, January 11. Tickets are $20 to $22. 252-8497.
Dennis Rowland: The familiar Valley jazz act jams at 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 2, at the Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central, as part of the venue's relaxing, inexpensive First Friday Jazz Concert Series. Tickets are $10, $6 for members. 257-1880, 257-1222.
World of Wheels: Fans of the traditional first human invention will find all things wheeled on display at this yearly event, which showcases award-winning vehicles from national motorhead periodicals. There will be vintage cars and trucks, Low Rider Magazine's car and truck of the year, Hot Bike Magazine's "All Harley Revue," and even an exhibit of lowrider bicycles. As is customary, a pulchritudinous young woman will be on hand for autographs and photo-ops--this time it's Donna D'Errico of Baywatch. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, January 2; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, January 3; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, January 4, at Phoenix Civic Plaza, Second Street and Adams. Admission is $10, $4 for children, available at the gate. 262-7272.
"Physical Fiction: Electronic Installations by Sara Roberts": Northern California teacher/technologist Roberts is a master of inventive, viewer-responsive electronic installations that create "portraits of common relationships." In her piece "Elective Affinities" (named after the Goethe novella), Roberts tracks the complex interplay between four occupants of a moving car. Explains the exhibit's curator, Heather Sealy Lineberry, "Depending upon [his or her] location, the visitor triggers a soundtrack of thoughts. . . . The story will be different each time you visit, depending on which soundtracks are activated as you move around the space." The show continues through Saturday, January 31, in the Experimental Gallery at the Arizona State University Art Museum at Matthews Center, located at the intersection of Cady and Tyler malls on the ASU campus in Tempe. Viewing is free. The gallery is closed New Year's Day; regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. 965-2787.
Rock Out: "Worlds Within Worlds" and Punk Rock Karaoke: Does a true rock lover make a distinction between the musical or geological? Certainly not. If you're a serious rockhound, you can indulge both passions Saturday, January 3--contemplate the profound spiritual tranquility of prized Chinese stones in the afternoon, and howl Dead Kennedys tunes in the evening. Start your day by checking out "Worlds Within Worlds: The Richard Rosenblum Collection of Chinese Scholars Rocks" at the Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central. Scholars' rocks are those collected, since ancient times, for their "aesthetic and spiritual qualities"; they are one of the earliest known examples of what is now called "found art." This collection includes more than 80 rocks from the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. We hope that Rosenblum didn't acquire them from the same person who sold us our Florida swampland. It's on display from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and it's free (257-1880 or 257-1222). If you're not too worn out from looking at rocks all day, you might want to hit Hollywood Alley, 2610 West Baseline in Mesa, for some old-fashioned Punk Rock Karaoke--if you've always wanted to vent your rage at society by publicly performing songs by Social Distortion or Black Flag with a live-band accompaniment, you'll get your chance at 9 p.m. Saturday. The cover is $3 (820-7117).
World Golf Finals: . . . and then there were four. Davis Love III, Ernie Els, Colin Montgomerie and Hajime Meshiai are the survivors out the field of 32 golfers in the Andersen Consulting World Championship of Golf, a yearlong elimination tournament. Their final, Highlander-esque playoff takes place Saturday, January 3; and Sunday, January 4, at the Grayhawk Golf Club, 8620 East Thompson Peak Parkway in Scottsdale. Tickets are $100 for both days, and are limited to 5,000 spectators. 861-1600.
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Los Angeles Piano Quartet: Schubert, Beethoven and Saint-Saëns are on the bill when this West Coast foursome takes the stage at the Bellevue Heights Church, 9440 Hutton Drive in Sun City. The Sun Cities Chamber Music Society sponsors the all-ages show, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Monday, January 5. Tickets are $14, $5 for students. 972-0478.
The King and I: Hayley Mills plays Anna, nanny to the children of the royal house of Siam, in this touring production of the successful Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved musical chestnut, which features such favorites as "Getting to Know You," "Whistle a Happy Tune" and "Shall We Dance?" Vee Talmadge plays the hardheaded, soft-hearted King. Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Tuesday, January 6; and the same time Wednesday, January 7, at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe. Performances continue through Sunday, January 11. Tickets range from $33 to $47, available at Gammage or Dillard's (965-3434, 503-5555).
The Reverend Horton Heat: The irreverent rocker from Dallas, Texas, is the opposite of a holy man, but the Interscope recording artist will restore your faith in rockabilly. Hallelujah. The all-ages fun starts at 8 p.m. Tuesday, January 6, at Gibson's, 410 South Mill in Tempe. Tickets are $12.50 in advance, $14 the day of the show, available at Ticketmaster. 967-1234, 784-4444.
"Celebrating Poetry, Art and Literacy": If you love books, chances are you're also a sucker for bookmarks. The City of Scottsdale has played to this weakness with this reading of works by notable poets and artists, commissioned by the city's Public Art Program to adorn a set of bookmarks. Fritz Scholder, DeLoss McGraw, W.D. Snodgrass, Dale Chihuly, Wanda Panduren, Lois Roma Deeley, Rick Noguchi, Demetria Martinez, Rex Lee Jim, Marvin Jim and Cynthia Miller are among the wordsmiths featured. Some of these bards--the ones from Arizona--will read from their works at 8 p.m. Wednesday, January 7, in the Cinema Theatre at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Admission is free, and those who attend get a set of bookmarks. 994-2787.