Best Things to Do: Phoenix Comicon, First Friday, Native American Opera | Phoenix New Times

13 Best Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Weekend

New Times picks the best things to do in the Valley of the Sun this weekend, including opportunities to nerd out, watch an original opera debut, and visit Italy (well, sorta). For more events, see our curated online calendar.  Phoenix Comicon The annual entertainment explosion that is Phoenix Comicon has star...
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New Times picks the best things to do in the Valley of the Sun this weekend, including opportunities to nerd out, watch an original opera debut, and visit Italy (well, sorta). For more events, see our curated online calendar. 

Phoenix Comicon
The annual entertainment explosion that is Phoenix Comicon has star power beaming from every angle, with Alex Kingston from ER and Doctor Who, Sean Astin of The Goonies and The Lord of The Rings trilogy, and Star Trek: The Next Generation's Gates McFadden, among many others. In fact, you'll have to resist asking Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, and Martin Kove to re-enact the final moments of 1984's The Karate Kid. Cosplay will lean toward anime, video game, and comic-book personas, and sci-fi/fantasy icons, so score bonus points by dressing up as some obscure character. Need more nerd cred? Catch wreck in the Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown trivia tournaments.

Phoenix Comicon takes over the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 North Third Street, starting on Thursday, June 2, when programming begins at noon and the exhibitor hall opens at 4 p.m. The fun continues through Sunday, June 5. Single-day admission is $15 to $40, depending on the day, and a full pass for all days is available for $70. Visit for more information. Jose Gonzalez

"Gods & Monsters"
Forget the boogeyman or anything allegedly hiding under a childhood bed. "Gods & Monsters," the latest in an artistic collaboration between {9} The Gallery and Artelshow, takes a less literal look at deities and demons.

Featuring 39 local and national artists using fine art and mixed-media pieces, the creative take on the age-old tale of good and evil explores the myths and reality of what it means to be moral — or not.

A free opening reception runs from 6 to 10 p.m. on First Friday, June 3, at 1229 Grand Avenue. The show runs through Saturday, June 25. A special ticketed performance dance component, choreographed by Cavallero/Gomez/Olson, will be presented twice on Saturday, June 11 — though First Friday attendees get a sneak peek. For details, visit or, or call 929-260-4999. Janessa Hilliard

SMoCA Summer Opening
Explore photographs and videos prompting reflection on borders, migration, and environmental demise at the free Summer Opening for Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, 7374 East Second Street.

Created by Sama Alshaibi, an Iraqi-born artist based in Ramallah, West Bank, and Tucson, Arizona, the works are part of a series called "Silsila" (an Arabic noun, meaning "link"). The artist will attend the opening, which takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 3. Museum curators and staff will be on hand, too.

"SouthwestNET Sama Alshaibi: Silsila," the 16th exhibit in a series featuring mid-career artists working in the Southwestern region of the U.S. and Mexico, is one of four exhibitions that will be on view that evening.

Museum-goers can also see "Mel Roman: Coming Out Under Fire," which explores U.S. policy on gay people serving in the military, and two exhibitions offering a behind-the-scenes look at SMoCA. Visit Lynn Trimble

Kokopelli, The Legend: A Native American Opera
Kokopelli is far more than a flute-playing tchotchke sold to tourists. His origin story recalls the time of the Hohokam, a matriarchal society that interacted with this humpbacked trader and trickster who, through generations of art and interpretation has become known as a fertility deity, mischievous man, and spirit of music.

Kokopelli, The Legend: A Native American Opera weaves these narratives together through dance, song, and intricate costumes. Sixty-five original painting depictions by Jim Covarrubias, a fine artist and the show's creator, provide the opera’s onstage backdrop.

At press time, a crowd funding campaign at Indiegogo had raised only $1,130 of its $10,000 goal, but this show will still premiere at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 3, at Tempe Center for the Arts Theater, 700 West Rio Salado Parkway. Those who donate $35 or more through will receive admission (among other thank-yous). Tickets ($35) also available at or by calling 480-350-2822. Janessa Hilliard

It’s a known fact: Clowns are freaky. Many folks are scared of the painted-face jokesters.

But we’re not so sure if sultry clown Scarlett Xander is the exception or the rule. She's one of several performers at Tease, a sensual, adult-themed, vintage-style variety show, and she'll be putting a sadistic spin on classic clown tricks. The night is loaded with burlesque dancers, singers, and comedians. Another performer is Cleodora, whose contortions are aided by aerial chains. Which is all to say: Leave the kids at home. The show runs from 6 to 11:30 p.m. on Friday, June 3, at Arizona Event Center, 1300 South Country Club Drive, #105, in Mesa. Admission is $25, or $125 for VIP. Call 480-779-7716 or visit Amy Young

Snow White
The 1916 live-action film version of Snow White is, like Björk might say, oh so quiet. That won’t be the case, however, when RPM Orchestra takes hold of the silent black-and-white fairy tale on Saturday, June 4. The musical ensemble will provide a live soundtrack to the movie, which served as inspiration for the Disney version that followed, when it screens at 10 p.m. at FilmBar, 815 North Second Street. Those younger than 21 will be admitted with a parent or guardian. For more details and to get tickets ($12), see Becky Bartkowski

Silhouette Animal-Scapes Workshop
You don't want to find them in your tent while you're out camping in the wilderness. But that doesn't mean Mexican gray wolves, California condors, and jaguars don’t deserve your love. They're all endangered species native to Arizona, and part of that giant cycle of life that makes the planet habitable for us humans.

Environmental artist Lauren Strohacker, whose work explores cohabitation and conflict between humans and other animals, is leading a free Silhouette Animal-Scapes Workshop at Scottsdale Civic Center Library, located at 3839 North Drinkwater Boulevard.

Scottsdale Public Art presents the event from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 4. Participants will use drawing, cutting, and collage to create a two-dimensional, multi-layered landscape of animals on the brink of extinction. Visit Lynn Trimble

Rock of Ages
Headed for the June 29 Maltese première of the classic-rock jukebox musical Rock of Ages? You can save a bundle on that Malta trip at Arizona Broadway Theatre, whose production continues through Sunday, June 19.

The tuner features a heroine named Sherrie Christian (useful), and tied Man of La Mancha for most Broadway performances (impressive). The unpopular 2012 film forwent Sherrie's bathroom sex with Tom Cruise's character (shifting the burden onto an entertainment journalist, which is at least something) and added So. Much. Plot. The live version is better.

Saturday, June 4's showtimes are noon and 5:30 p.m. at 7701 West Paradise Lane in Peoria. Prices vary with demand, starting at $72 for dinner and show, or $47.50 for show only, at 623-776-8400 or Julie Peterson

Experience Italy
If you can't escape to Tuscany for the weekend, at least you can celebrate Europe's boot this weekend as the MIM hosts "Experience Italy."

Held in conjunction with the "Stradivarius: Origins and Legacy of the Greatest Violin Maker" exhibit's final weekend, this festa Italiana features activities for all ages, including musical and dance performances and kids’ make-and-take crafts. The museum's Café Allegro will also feature an Italian-inspired menu that will go well with a nice chianti.

The festivities run from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 4, and Sunday, June 5, at 4725 East Mayo Boulevard. Activities are free with paid admission: $20 for adults, $15 for teens, $10 for children 3 to 12, and free for children younger than 3. Stradivarius exhibit admission is $10; $7 with museum admission. Call 480-478-6000 or visit for more information. Michael Senft

Femme Fest 2016
A sampling of work from the Valley's best femme musicians, artists, and poets will be available for appreciation at the appropriately named Femme Fest 2016, which takes place from 3 to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 4, at 51 West Venue, 51 West Southern Avenue in Tempe. Acts include poetry by Trejon Dunkley, art by Kat Cronn, and music by Sun Concious.

The event is hosted by Hush Baby Collective, an Arizona-based creative space here to put on events, shows, and gatherings – and release the occasional zine – all to promote local creative types.

Tickets are $6 for either the day or night events. All proceeds are going to Girls Rock! Phoenix – a local nonprofit organization that emphasizes education, music, arts, and performance to further empower young women. For more details, see Lauren Cusimano

Copa America Centenario
Fans of soccer already know just how big of a deal it is that Copa America is coming to the United States. In celebration of its 100th anniversary, the international tournament, which has historically determined a South American champion has moved its festivities decidedly north of the border, expanding the field from 12 to 16 teams along the way. It's entirely possible that — for the first time in tournament history — a North or Central American team could become the de facto South American champion … sorta. Soccer fan or not, history will be made when Mexico takes on Uruguay at 5 p.m. at Glendale’s University of Phoenix Stadium, One Cardinals Drive, on Sunday, June 5, making even the $65 nosebleeders seem well worth it. Visit or call 623-433-7101 for details. Rob Kroehler

Next to Normal
We're tickled by the current proliferation of rock musicals, but we're also primed to enjoy an earlier one, Next to Normal, which garnered a 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt (If/Then). That’s big potatoes, and Nearly Naked Theatre serves them up crispy.

The almost entirely sung-through show follows the struggles of a family with a mentally ill mom, including moments of humor, terror, and devastating heartbreak. Sprinkle in hallucinations and an array of unsatisfactory treatment options, and you'll start to get the picture.

Settle in to be unsettled at 6 p.m. Sunday, June 5, at Phoenix Theatre, 100 East McDowell Road. The run continues through Saturday, June 25. Call 602-254-2151 or visit for tickets. Prices start at $32 but may increase with demand. Julie Peterson

Phoenix Bridal Show
If hearing the tune duhhh, dum, da-dum inspires a mixture of excitement and terror, first off, we apologize for the lack of trigger warning. And second, we'd like to tell all you stressed-out engaged people who will just plain lose it if they watch one more Katherine Heigl movie that there might be a less horrible path to planning your wedding. Billed as the state's "most complete and relaxing" expo, the Phoenix Bridal Show is set to feature the latest trends in getting hitched, complete with pro planners, samples from caterers, a discounted gown sale, and the Valley's go-to cake personnel all at the Sheraton Grand Phoenix, 340 North Third Street, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 5. So take a deep breath and snag your ticket ($10 for a single, $32 for a group) at Becky Bartkowski

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