New Times picks the best things to do in metro Phoenix from Friday, September 23, through Sunday, September 25. For more, see our curated calendar of events.
In the Heights
Now that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s rock musical Hamilton has captured our hearts — doing for American history what Pokémon Go has done for walking around outside — Miranda’s first musical, In the Heights, is often marketed as an early work by a breakthrough genius. But it was popular enough on its own back in the day (2008), winning multiple Tonys, Drama Desks, and a Grammy for the cast album.
In the Heights sounds like a modest story about a Dominican-American shopkeeper, Usnavi, and the world around him in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood. But the young adults in the community seesaw between disappointment and hope, the older folks struggle with change, and the script, music, and choreography suck you in and raise the stakes.
The show continues through Sunday, October 2, at Phoenix Theatre, 100 East McDowell Road. Showtime on Friday, September 23, is 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $30 at 602-254-2151 or phoenixtheatre.com. Julie Peterson
While the Phoenix Symphony dives into its new season, the group is still offering plenty of the classics at ticket prices that will have you moving allegretto to snag your seats. The Coffee Classics series serves up hour-long performances from the symphony’s classics program. At 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, September 23, and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 24, guest conductor Matthias Bamert will lead the symphony and chorus in a presentation of Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 — a dramatic and heart-wrenching work and the last of Brahms’ symphonies. The Coffee Classics series will also include works from Leonard Bernstein, Mozart’s Requiem, and more at Symphony Hall, 75 North Second Street, during this season. Tickets range in price from $18 to $39. To get yours and find out more, visit www.phoenixsymphony.org. Heather Hoch
Fall Opening Reception
Visual arts and performance make a great couple, especially in works by Ana Mendieta, a Cuban-born American artist whose influence has reverberated through contemporary art well beyond her 1985 death. Be the first to explore the new “Energy Charge: Connecting to Ana Mendieta” exhibition during this season’s free opening reception on Friday, September 23, at ASU Art Museum, 51 East 10th Street in Tempe.
See works by Mendieta presented with major installations by five contemporary women artists whose art practices are rooted in Mendieta’s innovations involving body art, land art, performance, and film. Then, get a charge out of performances that include the recreation of Mendieta’s 1976 Ñáñigo Burial, in which she created symbolic forms such as the outline of her own body using ephemera including melting wax and blood. It’s a chance to meet several featured artists, and witness their unique performances. The reception happens from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Visit asuartmuseum.asu.edu. Lynn Trimble
Sanctum of Horror: Breach
You may not touch cast members, and they may not touch you. In that single extremely specific way, the annual Sanctum of Horror haunted house is like a strip club, but much better enforced. Having provided our East Valley with more than seven years of world-class ook, the Sanctum folk return this fall with the Breach attraction, a lovely immersive environment featuring a long-abandoned military research facility that’s probably sprinkled with obscure South American super-leeches and their unfortunate victims.
Rustle up your squad and get professionally frightened at the opening night of Breach from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, September 23, at 6555 East Southern Avenue in Mesa. Expect screams. The terror continues through Monday, October 31. Tickets start at $22. Visit www.sanctumofhorror.com or call 480-200-8163. Julie Peterson
If part of your Halloween routine is counting down the days until the Spirit store actually lets you in, then Keen Halloween might be your kind of jam. Ghouls and ghoulettes can check out panels from Haunted Arizona, workshops on How to Create Bat Garland and Ghost Hunting, and such competitions as the Spooky Movie Trivia and Quotes Contest.
There will also be workshops on mask-making, makeup, and spooky home decor. Halloween costumes are heavily encouraged. Insert Crypt Keeper pun here.
Keen Halloween is haunting the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 North Third Street, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 24, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, September 25. Admission is $20 for Saturday, $15 for Sunday, or $25 for the whole event. The husband-and-wife team behind the Phoenix-based Steam Crow founded this all-ages event. For more information, visit www.keenhalloween.com. Lauren Cusimano
Guys and Dolls
Guys and Dolls was selected to receive the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, but librettist Abe Burrows’ testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee led the prize’s advisory board to withhold the award. The musical is nevertheless constantly referred to as “Pulitzer Prize-winning,” so way to discourage Communism, y’all.
The title makes us think of bronies, but “dolls” was the vernacular for “women” in post-Prohibition New York. It’s a sweet, sweet show with charming Damon Runyon dialogue and so many songs you’ll be tickled to recognize, continuing at Don Bluth Front Row Theatre, 8670 East Shea Boulevard #103 in Scottsdale, through Saturday, October 1. Showtime is 7 p.m. for the performance on Saturday, September 24, and tickets are $20 to $25 at 480-314-0841 or www.donbluthfrontrowtheatre.com. Julie Peterson
California artist Ana Teresa Fernández has painted several parts of a U.S. wall along the Mexico border sky blue, imagining ways the wall’s absence would alter the border’s physical and cultural landscape.
Now she’s creating a site-specific art installation with performances at the Rio Salado Project, 2801 South Seventh Avenue, hoping to help transform the area into a community gathering space that reflects its rich roots in Hohokam culture long before colonization took hold and led to landfills replacing flowing canals.
Show up at 5 p.m. on Sunday, September 25, to experience Oasis, her work comprising 900 reflective circles that move with the wind. Then stay for performances by artists including Raji Ganesan, Leah Marche, Liliana Gomez, and Eunique Yazzie, that continue through 7 p.m. Seeing Oasis is free, and general admission for the performances is $7.
It’s all part of ASU’s Performance in the Borderlands lineup for the 2016-17 season. Visit www.tinyurl.com/asupib. Lynn Trimble
AZ Standup Festival
If you think Conan O’Brien is a funny guy, don’t forget to give credit to some of those behind-the-scenes comedy writers who have helped craft his material over the years.
One of those guys is Brian Kiley, who visits the Valley to perform at the AZ Standup Festival. The comedian must be doing something right; over the years, he’s been nominated for 12 Emmys – and has snagged one to take home. Dave Thurston will also be on hand. He’s the event’s producer, as well as a graduate of Chicago’s Second City improv haven and school. Go-time for chuckles is 7 p.m. on Sunday, September 25, at Tempe Improv, 930 East University Drive. Admission is $20 plus a two-drink minimum. Call 480-921-9877 or visit tempeimprov.com. Amy Young
Anonymity is empowering. Just peruse the comments section of literally any YouTube video if you’re not convinced. Better yet? Don’t. For a less upsetting example, consider Lucha Libre wrestlers. They’re cut from a different cloth — a flamboyant and probably bedazzled (like we said, different) cloth. Even with a mask on, most people would be quite disinclined to publicly endure pile-drivers and planchas from a luchador in a silver-sparkle Speedo. Not these warriors. And if the popularity of lucha libre wrestling is any indication, there are a lot of folks out there who appreciate the brazen courage of the luchador. Artistry, violence, and ornate costume design will all collide when Lucha Libre Mexicana visits Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street, on Sunday, September 25. Doors open at 5 p.m., and tickets are $15 and up. Visit celebritytheatre.com or call 602-267-1600 for details. Rob Kroehler