Thursday, March 20
Phoenix International Raceway throws a huge party in honor of this weekend's IRL IndyCar Series races Thursday, March 20, when it hosts the Tempe Speedfest at Tempe Beach Park. Motor on over to this free festival starting at 5 p.m., when Valley gear heads will gather for live music, a silent auction, show cars, racing simulators, a kids' zone and plenty of ice-cold Budweiser. Racecar drivers will be on hand from 6:30 to 8 p.m. to sign autographs for fans, and activities continue until 9:30 p.m. at the park, located at the intersection of Rio Salado and Mill in Tempe. Visit www.phoenixraceway.com for more information.
Friday, March 21
Desert Foothills Theater concludes its season with a new production of Sweet & Hot: The Songs of Harold Arlen an energetic revue dedicated to the music of the legendary composer known for writing some of America's most familiar hits, from "Over the Rainbow" and "Stormy Weather" to "That Old Black Magic." (Sounds like something that just might inspire audience members to sing along.) Under the direction of Dee Dee Wood and with choreography by Helena Saraydarian, the show takes viewers from Coney Island to the Caribbean through singing and dancing set to the rhythms of a live band. Sweet & Hot opens at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 21, and continues through April 6 at the Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center, 33606 North 60th Street, one half-mile south of the Carefree Highway in Cave Creek. Tickets are $20 for 8 p.m. shows on Fridays and Saturdays, $18 for 2 p.m. Sunday matinees, and $10 for students at any performance. All seats are reserved; call 480-488-1981 to purchase.
Saturday, March 22
Curious to know the history behind your favorite pieces of Native American art and antiques? Then pack 'em up and head over to the Heard Museum between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 22, to find out if the experts think you have a treasure on your hands. Heard Museum Council Native Art Appraisal Day will be set up a lot like PBS' Antiques Road Show, with art appraisers giving advice and insight on an item's age, materials, tribal significance and value. Appraisals cost $30 for the first item, $25 for the second and $20 for any additional items; admission to the museum on the day of the event is included in the cost. The Heard Museum is located at 2301 North Central. To find out more, visit www.heard.org or call 602-252-8848.
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Sunday, March 23
With murder, gambling and gold chains galore, The Soprano's Last Supper is a novel twist on traditional dinner theater themes, bringing the HBO hit to the pasta-laden dinner table in a hilarious spoof on America's favorite mobsters. Join the Baritone family for a secret Mafia commission meeting, full of all kinds of underworld fun stuff we can't even divulge without being given a pair of cement shoes. Let's just say that all visitors will have it "made" at this Italian celebration, which starts at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 23, in the ballroom at Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 Maricopa Road in Maricopa. Tickets are $49.50 and include dinner; reservations can be made by calling 1-800-944-5639.
Monday, March 24
Tempe Public Library's recent exhibition of art by Tempe District High School students demonstrated the presence of an impressive pool of young creative talent in the Valley. Add four years of training and guidance at Arizona State University, and you can only imagine what these kids will come up with. On Monday, March 24, the public can get a sense of what's going on at the college level when ASU's Northlight Gallery presents the BA/BFA Exhibition, a faculty-juried photography exhibition of work by graduating seniors earning photography degrees. An opening reception will be held at 7 p.m. on March 31, and the exhibition continues through April 1 at the gallery in Matthews Hall, located at the southeast corner of Tyler and Forest malls on the ASU campus in Tempe. Call 480-965-6517 for information.
Tuesday, March 25
Cutting-edge science meets avant-garde, multimedia art at the Institute for Studies in the Arts, where engineers collaborate with composers, choreographers, playwrights and visual artists to explore creative expression through technology. Among several current ISA projects is Motion, an effort by more than two dozen team members to create tools for capturing and analyzing dance movement. At 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 25, An Evening with Bebe Miller brings the resident choreographer to the Intelligent Stage to discuss her choreography for the project. Admission is free, and the stage is located on the second floor of Matthews Hall, located at the southeast corner of Tyler and Forest malls on the ASU campus in Tempe. To reserve seats or for information, call 480-965-9438.
Wednesday, March 26
You don't need to be an expert in Japanese animation to appreciate the films of anime legend Hayao Miyazaki. After all, his films have lately become mainstream hits among moviegoers of all ages, from My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke to last year's highly acclaimed Spirited Away. On Wednesday, March 26, catch a free screening of one of his earliest works, The Castle of Cagliostro, a funny, action-filled adventure about a mischievous band of thieves whose latest scheme is sidetracked by a princess trying to escape from the clutches of an evil count. The screening starts at 7:30 p.m. in room 101 of the Nursing Building, located on Arizona State University's main campus in Tempe. For more information, visit www.asu.edu/clas/asian/cas.html or call 480-965-7184.