From book-signings and lectures to musical theater and storytelling events, there's plenty to do in metro Phoenix this week. Here's a look at some of your best bets from New Times' curated calendar.
“Boethius, Dante, and the Musico-Literary Beginnings of the First Opera"
Learn about the intersection of myth, music, philosophy, and classic literature as the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies hosts the lecture “Boethius, Dante, and the Musico-Literary Beginnings of the First Opera.”
Musicologist and medieval literature specialist Dr. Juliana Chapman, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Comparative Literature at Penn State University, presents the talk at 12:30 p.m. Monday, November 14, in Room 4403 of ASU’s Lattie Coor Hall, 975 South Myrtle Avenue, Tempe. Professor Chapman will examine fifth-century Roman philosopher Boethius’ treatises on music and their influence on Dante’s classic The Divine Comedy and Monteverdi’s Renaissance opera, L’Orfeo. Admission to the lecture is free, but RSVP is requested at boethiusanddante.eventbrite.com. Visit acmrs.org or call 480-965-5900 for more information. Michael Senft
Ina Garten inspires an intense dedication in her fans. It might seem contradictory, given the James Beard Award-winning Food Network star’s easygoing, airy style of cooking. But it’s precisely those qualities that make her — the woman whose pitch-perfect nickname marries the regal to the carefree — feel so accessible. It’s as if you, just as easily as her husband Jeffrey, could show up at their beach house for dinner, good conversation, and a bottle of wine or three.
Expect to feel right at home when Garten visits Mesa Arts Center on Tuesday, November 15, to share behind-the-scenes stories about her latest cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey, and filming in the Hamptons. An audience Q&A will follow her moderated conversation. Attendees can preorder autographed copies of the book for $35 at www.williams-sonoma.com/inagartentour and pick them up at the show. Tickets to the event are sold separately, do not include a copy of the book (but you need one to pick up a preordered book), and range in price from $41 to $77. Get yours through mesaartscenter.com or by calling 480-644-6500. Becky Bartkowski
And then there are English men, who, the movies would have us believe, deal with stress by becoming wizards, strippers, or ballerinos. It’s like these people never heard of drugs! But it does make the movies interesting — and more likely to be adapted into plays. Billy Elliot the Musical brings a boy’s dreams of dance to the stage, celebrating burly coal miners, wee ballet-studying girls, and ’80s nostalgia with a gritty, glorious score by Elton John. The feel-good (eventually) tuner swept the 2009 Drama Desk Awards, scoring several Oliviers and Tonys as well.
Phoenix Theatre’s production continues through Saturday, December 24, at 100 East McDowell Road. Showtime on opening night, Wednesday, November 16, is 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $36 at 602-254-2151 or phoenixtheatre.com. Julie Peterson
“Preservation & Teardown Culture"
Ever wished Phoenix had more respect for its own architectural history? You’re not alone, as evidenced by an upcoming gathering that’s all about building and sustaining a local culture of historic preservation.
Five professionals in diverse fields including art and architecture will consider Phoenix’s troubled preservation past and share thoughts on how the community can embrace its own history moving forward during Local First Arizona’s “Preservation & Teardown Culture.” It’s happening from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, November 17, at Beth Hebrew Synagogue, 333 East Portland Street.
Speakers include Michael Levine, whose local preservation projects include Beth Hebrew, Bentley Projects, the Duce, and Grant Street Studios. Tickets are $10 and are available through the Local First Arizona website. Visit localfirstaz.com. Lynn Trimble
Often overlooked in the repertoire of Britney Spears is the 2000 hit “Lucky,” in which our favorite ex-Louisianan sings about a “Hollywood girl” trapped in the loneliness of fame who cries, like, all the time. It’s about the unluckiness, as it were, of being perceived as lucky. In the context of Spears’ career and rocky personal life, it merits re-examining. And we can only hope that’s what one of the readers at Thursday, November 17’s Bar Flies literary reading will do, as the theme of the evening is “lucky.” None of them — including Kaila White, Zaida Dedolph, and Anwar Newton — has endured a pop-star career (that we know of), but they’ve certainly experienced luck in one form or another. Hear their stories starting at 7 p.m. at Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue. Tickets are $5 through ticketfly.com. Becky Bartkowski
In Maurice Sendak’s beloved children’s book Where the Wild Things Are, there lies a boundless expanse of imagination in the white space between where Max proclaims, “Let the wild rumpus start!” and where he commands, “Now stop!” That’s where soon-to-be ASU theater graduate Alexandra Jenkins has placed the action of her senior project, a piece of movement theater called Wild Rumpus, a production of student group Binary Theatre.
Though the somewhat abstract show wasn’t created specifically for young audiences, it’s suitable for them, along with the rest of us. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, November 17, through Sunday, November 20, at 951 South Mill Avenue in Tempe. Admission is $8 or $5 with a donation of nonperishable food. Purchase advance tickets at binarytheatre.org. Julie Peterson
Stephenie Meyer Book-Signing
The author who inflicted sparkly vampires on the world is back with an adult thriller and a mega launch party in her hometown.
Changing Hands welcomes Stephenie Meyer to Mesa Arts Center, One East Main Street, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 18, for a discussion and signing of The Chemist. The novel follows a mysterious woman with unique talents on the run from a clandestine government agency. Joining Meyer in conversation is award-winning YA author Rainbow Rowell.
Tickets are required. For $25, you’ll get admission for one and a copy of The Chemist. For $5, you get admission for one and a coupon to buy the book. If you can’t make it, don’t worry. Signed copies are available for $28, and the event will be streamed live on Facebook. For more information, call 480-730-0205 or visit changinghands.com. Michael Senft
American Heritage Festival
No matter where you land on the political spectrum, you’ll probably agree that the words “American heritage” are about as open to interpretation as the Bible’s Book of Revelation.
Ours is a land wrested from its native inhabitants, a nation founded by individuals fleeing religious persecution, and a country built on the backs of immigrants. So much for congruity. The ironic beauty in our inability to agree on a definition of “American heritage” is that we were probably never meant to. So what better way to celebrate your wildly subjective sense of American identity than a real-life romp through our history books at the American Heritage Festival at Queen Creek’s Schnepf Farms, 24610 South Rittenhouse Road, on Friday, November 18? The “largest living history event” in the Southwest begins at 10 a.m. and is open to all ages. Admission is $15 at the gate. Visit americanheritagefestival.com or call 480-777-1776 — no joke — for details. Rob Kroehler
An Act of God
It’s been a while since we’ve curled up with a box of wine to binge-watch our troubles away with a Trading Spaces marathon on TLC. Before the current spate of renovation shows in which Toronto semidetacheds are sledgehammered into pieds-à-terre we’ll never, ever have, we ogled Ty Pennington when he was a mere carpenter and enjoyed the bubbly warmth of host Paige Davis.
Davis, at least, is back among us as Deity in Chief (a lateral transfer, in our opinion) in Arizona Theatre Company’s An Act of God, a lighthearted look into the mind that’s in charge of us all. God’s tools will, we hope, include a staple gun and bolts of cheap fabric.
Get closer to the Lord at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe Street. Showtime is 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 19. Performances continue through Sunday, December 4. Tickets range from $25 to $100 at arizonatheatre.org or 602-256-6995. Julie Peterson
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Arizona Coyotes vs. San Jose Sharks
Much has been said in recent months about the youth movement within the Phoenix Suns organization — and rightly so. The Suns are one of the youngest teams in the NBA.
But the Suns have nothing on their puck-slinging counterparts. The Arizona Coyotes are the youngest team in the National Hockey League. Furthermore, they are helmed by the youngest general manager in NHL history, 27-year-old John Chayka. And as with the Suns, expectations are low but hopes are high for the young Coyotes, with the franchise content to take its lumps while its up-and-comer core struggles and grows together. The Yotes host the decidedly older San Jose Sharks at Glendale’s Gila River Arena, 9400 West Maryland Avenue, at 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 19. Tickets are $15 and up. Visit nhl.com/coyotes or call 623-772-3200 for details. Rob Kroehler
Director and writer James Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar is the highest-grossing movie of all time, about a half-billion dollars in front of Titanic, another of Cameron’s films. In spite of its chart-topping box-office success, the film has its fair share of critics. The folks at Cirque du Soleil aren’t among them. The innovative and frighteningly flexible troupe of tumblers, gymnasts, dancers, and the like have based their latest show, Toruk, on Cameron’s Avatar and its fictional planet of Pandora. With a visually stunning display of multimedia, the Canada-based troupe whose name translates to “Circus of the Sun” will bring the distant moon and its inhabitants to life on Sunday, November 20, at Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 East Jefferson Street. The family-friendly show runs at 1 and 5 p.m. Tickets are $35 and up. Visit cirquedusoleil.com or call 602-379-7800 for details. Rob Kroehler
Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version.