Cross-dressing, gender ambiguity, unrequited sexual longings--in case anyone supposed that these were new concerns of the theater, proof to the contrary is offered by Twelfth Night; or What You Will (the only subtitle Shakespeare ever provided for one of his plays). Southwest Shakespeare Company concludes its season with the Bard's blissful comedy in which heroine Viola disguises herself as a man to get close to the Duke Orsino, whom she digs, but who presses her into service as a love messenger to Olivia, who, thinking Viola's a man, promptly falls for her. It's one of the lovelier plays ever written, yet it has troubling, stinging undertones, particularly in the exceedingly nasty practical joke by which Olivia's drunken uncle Sir Toby Belch and his disreputable friends humiliate the officious, class-climbing steward Malvolio. Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 9; and the same hours Friday, April 10; and Saturday, April 11. All performances start at 8 p.m. at Mesa Amphitheatre, Center and University. The run continues through Saturday, April 18. Tickets are $15, $12 for students and seniors, available at Mesa Community Center and Dillard's box offices. 644-2560, 503-5555.
Future first-round draft picks have been shown off for years at the Desert Classic Tournament, one of the top pre-NBA draft showcases for college seniors. The event kicks off this week with sessions at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 9; and continues at the same time Friday, April 10; and Saturday, April 11, at the Arizona State University Activity Center, Sixth Street and Stadium Drive in Tempe. Advance tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for those 15 and under. The prices go up to $12 and $8 the day of the tournament; $24 gets a three-day package. Tickets are available at the arena and Dillard's. 379-7800, 379-7878, 503-5555.
In observance of Passover and Good Friday, Phoenix Symphony's regular Friday-evening classics concert is held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 9; and 8 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. Tickets range from $14 to $38. Hermann Michael conducts a seasonally appropriate program including Hindemith's Prelude to a Requiem, along with Brahms' German Requiem; soloists include soprano Theresa Santiago, bass-baritone Kevin McMillan and the ASU Choral Union under the direction of George Umberson. 262-7272 (Phoenix Civic Plaza), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
"Curiouser and curiouser!" It's a good bet that's what the heroine of Alice in Wonderland would say if she knew that Ballet Arizona's adaptation of that great work of comic surrealism employs the music of J.S. Bach and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Michael Uthoff directs the work, which stars Bonnie Rich as Alice. Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, April 10; the same time Saturday, April 11; and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 12, at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 West Adams. Tickets are $15, $25 and $33. 262-7272 (Orpheum), 503-5555 (Dillard's), 381-1096 (BA).
If SSC's Twelfth Night doesn't give a sufficient Shakespeare fix, or if you're a West Valleyite appalled at the long trek over to Mesa, consider the two productions being offered by Actors' Renaissance Theatre: A Midsummer Night's Dream is performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 10; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 12; Romeo and Juliet plays at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at Glendale Amphitheatre, 5850 West Glendale Avenue. Tickets, available at the door (cash only) or at Dillard's, are $10, $7 for students and seniors; a "greenshow" precedes each evening performance. The latter show continues through April 19; the former through April 18. 632-0409; 503-5555.
A more youthful side of the imagination of playwright Steven Dietz, whose Rocket Man is currently in its world-premiere run at Arizona Theatre Company, is offered by Still Life With Iris. Childsplay, in collaboration with ATC, presents this new children's play by Dietz--with stage illusions by Steffan Soule--about a young girl searching for her memories in the invisible world of Nocturno. This week's performances are at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, April 11, in Stage West at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. The play is appropriate for kids age 5 and up. Tickets are $12.25, $9.25 for students and seniors. The run continues through Friday, April 24. 252-8497, 350-8101.
The Bunny Trail leads through Peoria this year, as it has since 1976, when Dolly Sanchez organized the first of what has since become the Dolly Sanchez Memorial Easter Egg Hunt. Kids can bring a basket and search for the improbably colored ova starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 11, at Peoria Sports Complex, 16101 North 83rd Avenue. Times are by age group--those 1 year old and younger start their search at roughly 9:20 a.m., 2-year-olds at 9:45 a.m., and so on in 25-minute increments, through age 10 at 11:40 a.m. Other games, rides, make-and-take crafts and the like are featured, including "Bunny Land," "Cottontail Lane" and, somehow ominously, "Hippity Hop Berm." Admission is free; some activities require a fee. 412-7198. A similar hunt, the Easter Eggstravaganza, will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Freestone Park, 1015 East Juniper in Gilbert. It, too, will include additional diversions, including a petting zoo, carnival games, pony rides, a fire truck, face painting, and photo ops with E.B. himself. 503-6200.
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If your kids missed the various Easter egg hunts held on Saturday, there is at least one actually held on Easter Sunday. Twisted Tree Horse Ranch, 1205 North 96th Street in Scottsdale, hosts an egg quest from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 12. A horse-jumping exhibition will be held at the same time. Admission is free, but reservations are required. 860-8215.
The nonprofit Foothills Film Society, dedicated to bringing the art of film to the sparsely cinema'd north Valley, screens Soulmates, an award-winning indie from writer-director Duane Clark (son of Dick), at 7 p.m. Monday, April 13, at the Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center, 33606 North 60th Street in Cave Creek. The story of the friendship between an aging jazz musician and a young composer, the film has won awards at eight film festivals, including English-language audience favorite at the 1997 Palm Springs Film Festival. A discussion follows with director Clark and familiar character actor Bill Cobbs. Tickets, available in advance or at the door, are $6. 488-1090.
Leggy Jasmine Guy stars in the classic musical satire named for the Hog Butcher to the World: Chicago. In this stage adaptation of the 1942 Ginger Rogers movie Roxie Hart, Guy plays Velma Kelly, rival turned pal of the heroine (Charlotte d'Ambroise), and Brent Barrett plays her slick lawyer Billy Flynn. The Kander and Ebb numbers include "All That Jazz," "Razzle Dazzle" and "Mr. Cellophane." Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 14; and the same time Wednesday, April 15, at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe. Tickets range from $33 to $47. The run continues through Sunday, April 19. 965-3434 (Gammage), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
A couple of sweet, kindly old ladies take in gentlemen who are alone in the world, and, to spare them further earthly loneliness, serve them elderberry wine laced with poison. This macabre scenario is the premise not of some Hitchcock thriller but of one of the most durable comedies of the American theater--Joseph Kesselring's Arsenic and Old Lace, a 1941 chestnut which surely must have graced 90 percent of the country's high school stages. The show opens with a special benefit preview at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, at John Paul Theatre on the Phoenix College campus, 1202 West Thomas; admission is canned food for the Joshua Tree Feeding Program. The run proper commences at the same time Thursday, April 16, and continues through Saturday, April 25. Regular tickets are $8, $6 for seniors and $4 for students. 285-7300.