22 Best Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week

Dallin Maybee, Dragonflies, Bison and a Few Favorite Horses (detail), 2011. Gift from the Map(ing) project from the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Printmaking Department, Assistant Professor Mary Hood
Dallin Maybee, Dragonflies, Bison and a Few Favorite Horses (detail), 2011. Gift from the Map(ing) project from the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Printmaking Department, Assistant Professor Mary Hood
Courtesy of ASU
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In metro Phoenix this week, you have the chance to learn a lot: there's a plant science tour, a bachata how-to, and a chance to laugh at yourself with a new brand of insult comedy. Here's your guide. (For more, see New Times' calendar of events.)

Artist Carolina Escobar has lived in desert and tropical environments. And both have clearly seeped into her art practice, which includes large sculptures and small 2-D works inspired by nature in all its odd variations of color, form, and texture. Back in 2012, her works infused the Desert Botanical Garden with rich shapes and pigments.

Now Escobar is bringing her unique sensibilities about the natural world to Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 North Central Avenue. Explore her free “Mapping” exhibition inside The Gallery @ Central from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, May 1. It features drawings of desert plants morphed into tropical plants, flowers, and architectural designs that sometimes convey near-human qualities. Get details at the Phoenix Public Library Website. Lynn Trimble

The Magnificent Seven Screening
Fun fact: John Sturges’ 1960 western The Magnificent Seven is a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s film Seven Samurai. Critics maligned the Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen drama for being a pale imitation of its Japanese counterpart — much like they did when it was remade again last year with Denzel Washington. Time has proven kind to this now thrice-told tale about a septet of gunmen who fight like 700 to protect a poor Mexican village raided by bandits. From the beautifully staged action sequences to testosterone-filled performances and the famous theme by Elmer Bernstein, The Magnificent Seven endures.

See for yourself when the movie screens at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 2, at Harkins Camelview at Fashion Square, 7014 East Camelback Road, Scottsdale. Admission is $5. For more information, visit Harkin's website. Jason Kiel

Plant Science Tour
With all the chatter about climate change, mass extinction, and the many other ways we’re bombarded with apocalyptic gloom, our green little friends who — y’know — create oxygen are oft-overlooked. All of the crises facing our planet are jarring, but if the plants go we’re really screwed. It just so happens that the folks at Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 North Galvin Parkway, are doing their fair share in preserving and propagating those leafy things that keep us from suffocating every day. For an inside look at what they’re up to, stop by on Tuesday, May 2, at 10 a.m., for a Plant Science Tour. The event is included with price of admission, which is $24.95 for adults. Visit DBG website or call 480-941-1225 for details. Rob Kroehler

Straight Outta Oz
Once upon a time, a little girl named Dorothy dreamed she’d been taken by a storm from her Kansas home to the land of Oz. Today, Todrick Hall recounts a similar journey, traveled between Texas and the bright lights of Broadway. It takes the form of a 20-song performance called Straight Outta Oz. It’s coming to Mesa Arts Center, One East Main Street, at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 3. Tickets start at $27.

Hall has performed in Kinky Boots, Memphis, and The Color Purple on Broadway. Even so, he’s best known as the former American Idol contestant with a penchant for making musical YouTube videos with titles like “Beauty and the Beat” and “Twerkin’ in the Rain.” Get show details and tickets at the Mesa Arts Center Website. Lynn Trimble

Democrats for Comedy
We are almost 100 days into Trump’s presidency, and there doesn’t seem to be much for Democrats to do besides laugh it off. And that’s exactly what gems from legislative districts 18 and 26 plan on doing during Democrats for Comedy. Held at Tempe Improv, 930 East University Drive, on Wednesday, May 3, the event kicks of with a cocktail hour starting at 5:30 p.m., followed by the show at 7:30. Forget about the club’s typical two-drink minimum; it won’t be in effect on Wednesday. Which means that for $25, you can eat, drink, laugh, and temporarily forget about the stresses that come with a Republican-dominated government. Visit Tempe Improv's website or call 480-921-9877 for details. Lindsay Roberts

The Throne of Glass author has a new novel.EXPAND
The Throne of Glass author has a new novel.
Josh Wasserman

Sarah Maas
YA superstar Sarah Maas got her start writing fan fiction while still in high school. That self-published story eventually became her best-selling debut, Throne of Glass. Since then, she has published four more novels in that series about a teenage assassin, with a fifth due in September.

When she visits Mesa Arts Center, One East Main Street, at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 4, however, she will be promoting the latest in her “Court of Thorns and Roses” series, another fantasy romance following the high-stakes intrigue of Feyre as she navigates the courts of faerie and the immortal Tamlin. Local author Rae Carson will host.

Tickets are required for this event and are available at both Changing Hands locations with purchase of A Court of Wings and Ruin, $26 for one ticket and one book, $31 for two tickets with one book. Call 480-730-0205 or visit Changing Hands website for more information. Michael Senft

Ember Moon dishes out some pain to Asuka at an NXT live event last year.
Ember Moon dishes out some pain to Asuka at an NXT live event last year.
Sabre Blade/Flickr Creative Commons

WWE Presents NXT Live
Are you up for a night of neon fashion, wacky hairdos, and bouncy moves? Nope, it’s not an ’80s dance party. This is even more emo and theatrical.

Giant flat screens are great, but nothing beats bearing witness to an action-packed sports event in person. At WWE Presents NXT Live, you can be part of the raucous crowd as you either taunt or support the next generation of wrestling superstars as they fight it out for domination. See bodies get slammed to the ground and tossed across the ring in zesty battles loaded with all the chaos and camp that WWE offers. The rumbling begins at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 4, at Comerica Theatre, 400 West Washington Street. Admission is $40. Call 602-379-2800 or visit the Comerica theater website. Amy Young

Bachata Addiction
For those unfamiliar, the words “bachata addiction” might conjure images of a gluten glutton hunched over a mound of crunchy bread. Bachata, however, is not something that rises in the oven or pairs nicely with horchata. Well, the latter might be true. But bachata is, in fact, a style of dancing that originated in the Dominican Republic. As one might suspect, the style shares plenty of similarities with its more recognizable Latin counterparts such as salsa and bolero. In other words, if you’re keen on Latin rhythms, swiveling hips, and close contact while dancing, then you might find your groove during Bachata Addiction at DeSoto Central Market, 915 North Central Avenue, on Thursday, May 4. The event features a 45-minute bachata lesson followed by a Latin dance party. The fun starts at 8:45 p.m. and costs $10. Horchata not included. Visit DeSoto Market's website or call 602-680-7747 for details. Rob Kroehler

Reading is hot at the Hilton Garden Inn in Downtown Phoenix
Reading is hot at the Hilton Garden Inn in Downtown Phoenix
Courtesy of Hilton Garden Inn

PHX Silent Reading Party
Never satiated by reading an endless stream of tweets? Try reading old school, with a book in hand. But don’t go it alone. Thanks to the PHX Silent Reading Party, enjoying books is now a social, not solitary, thing. Check it out from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 4. It’s happening at Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Phoenix, 15 East Monroe Street.

BYOB, as in “bring your own book.” Then read alongside others while you enjoy libations from the cash bar, with $1 from each drink you buy going to Read Better Be Better, a Phoenix-based group working to boost third-grade reading skills and confidence.

There’s live piano music, too. Plus, the company of fellow book lovers. Visit the Facebook page. Lynn Trimble

Don’t drink the ink at the ACME 6 Launch Party.EXPAND
Don’t drink the ink at the ACME 6 Launch Party.
Photo and drawing by Ryan Cody

Arizona Comic Mini Expo
Sometimes an acronym rings just too perfectly. ACME stands for Arizona Comic Mini Expo, and “acme” means the pinnacle of excellence — making it a good name for your convention, not to mention your 16,000-ton weight manufacturing concern. And the ACME 6 Launch Party & Charity Drink & Draw is the acme of fundraisers. Professional comic book artists will sketch fans’ requests (within reason) for $25 per drawing, and proceeds benefit The Hero Initiative, which assists comic creators in need, and the Arizona ACLU.

Zap! and pow! at 7 p.m. Friday, May 5, at Bonus Round, 24 West Camelback Road — the nerd bar (with free classic video games and so many beers) that is, of course, right next to a comic book store. Visit the Arizona Comic Mini Expo website. Julie Peterson

This storytelling collective will continue sharing their stories this next First Friday at the Phoenix Art Musuem.EXPAND
This storytelling collective will continue sharing their stories this next First Friday at the Phoenix Art Musuem.
Courtesy of The Whole Story.

The Whole Story: Part 2
Personal narratives have the potential to broaden your horizon and open your eyes to experiences and perspectives that you might not have seen before. The Whole Story aims to do just that by spotlighting stories that reflect on the black experience in America.

Back for its second edition, this storytelling event will take place on First Friday, May 5, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central Avenue. Tickets are $10 for general public and $5 for museum members and available online. For more information visit the Facebook page. Lindsay Roberts

Read on for more of the best things to do this week.

I Am Van Gogh gets the staged reading treatment at last year’s Caleb Reese Festival.EXPAND
I Am Van Gogh gets the staged reading treatment at last year’s Caleb Reese Festival.
Matt Chesin/Phoenix Theatre

Caleb Reese Festival of New Plays and Musicals
Phoenix Theatre’s annual Caleb Reese Festival of New Plays and Musicals provides protracted catharsis and amusement through Saturday, May 13. Fresh work has been whipped into the shape of two cabarets, staged readings of five full-length scripts, and a program of six short plays.

It’s easy to simply jump in, but promo materials do suggest a couple of points of interest, including:

Metaphorical Shoes, a title that brings to mind their tendency to be on the other foot, be worn if they fit, and await dropping, and
We Should Kill Caesar, which eerily parallels current issues.

The fest commences Friday, May 5, with Community, a play that ponders whether racism or amateur theater is worse, and The Things We Do, by former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods. Both begin at 7:30 p.m. at 100 East McDowell Road. Tickets to individual performances are $10 each at 602-254-2151 or Phoenix Theatre website. Julie Peterson

Bianca Del Rio
Listen! If you also think Beyoncé should calm down, do we have an event for you on Cinco de Mayo. Bianca Del Rio will grace the Valley with her distinct brand of insult comedy — a style of stand-up that is without question best performed by a razor-sharp, scratchy-voiced, New Orleans-based drag queen with dimples.

The “clown in a gown” and season six winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race will teeter onto the stage at Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue in Tempe, starting at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 5. She’s here for the Not Today Satan Tour, and you probably need a break from season nine anyway. Feel free to shout at the stage — just don’t be surprised if/when she calls for security.

Doors for this all-ages event open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $39.50 and up and available by calling 480-829-1300, at the Marquee box office, or online at the Luckyman website. Invite thick-skinned friends at the Facebook page. Lauren Cusimano

"Friends Helping Friends"
Fed up with alternative facts? Try some good, old-fashioned escapism through art as artists come together for “Friends Helping Friends.” The exhibition’s free opening reception happens from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, May 5, at the Icehouse Gallery, 429 West Jackson Street.

The show features paintings and sculptures from more than three dozen Arizona artists – including Tato Caraveo, Michele Bledsoe, Frank Ybarra, Jon Wassom, Constance McBride, and Larry Ortega. Icehouse Gallery is donating proceeds from all opening night sales to support a local gallery owner facing medical issues.

So, basically, the opening is a great way to meet local artists and snag some great art while doing a good deed. Your karma will thank you. See the Facebook page for details. Lynn Trimble

Stella Artois Derby DayClub
Turf Paradise is bringing the atmosphere of Churchill Downs to the Valley with the Stella Artois Derby DayClub. Come dressed to impress in your seersucker suit or your fanciest hat, and sip mint juleps while witnessing the Kentucky Derby on eight big-screen televisions. If cocktails are not your style, there will be a craft beer garden. While the Run For The Roses is known as “the fastest two minutes in sports,” you can spend the rest of the day sampling food and dancing as DJs spin inside air-conditioned tents.

The gates for the Derby to-do open at 10:30 a.m., with live racing beginning at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 6, at 1501 West Bell Road. General admission is $25 in advance and $30 at the door. There are a variety of VIP packages available. For more information, visit The Polo Party website. Jason Keil

Golden Girls Trivia
It’s okay if you got giddy when the entire Golden Girls catalog became available on Hulu. Stand proud — you don’t need to have any shame in your Golden game.

In fact, go show off your love for the long-running sitcom at Golden Girls Trivia. Gather a team of up to four pals and win prizes using your collective knowledge to prove just how much time you’ve invested in the lives of those seasoned Miami housemates, Blanche, Sophia, Dorothy, and Rose. And if you come up short, there are also raffles and cheesecake. Rock your best polyester threads from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 6, at Kobalt, 3110 North Central Avenue, #125. Admission is free, and proceeds from the event benefit the Joshua Tree Feeding Program. Visit the Kobalt website. Amy Young

The Urban Wine & Jazz Walk
Jazz is best experienced with an open mind and a sense of adventure. Expand your musical palate while sampling some reds and whites at The Urban Wine & Jazz Walk. Local establishments will offer samples of wines and appetizers in the afternoon. The evening’s festivities coincide with the International Jazz Day Festival, which features performances outside the Phoenix Public Market.

The Urban Wine and Jazz Walk begins at 1 p.m. at any participating location on Saturday, May 6, and the first 300 people who arrive at Chico Malo, 50 West Jefferson Street, will receive a complimentary wine glass. Wine samples range from $2 to $3 each. For more information and a list of participating restaurants, visit the Downtown Phoenix website. Jason Keil

Melissa Fossum

What the world needs is another comic book and cosplay-themed event. No really, they can be totally fun. And as a pregame for Phoenix Comicon, Prom-i-Con — a.k.a. Yucca Prom 2017 — is your chance for a cosplay dress rehearsal.

Hosted at Yucca Tap Room, 29 West Southern Avenue in Tempe, Yucca Prom welcomes the 21-and-over crowd who love to get extra dressed up for this annual evening. Though costumes are not required, you are heavily encouraged to be a sport and don your best cape or gown for a fun night in the two-room music venue. Just try not to sweat off your face paint during sets from Luau and Snakeburner, one of the more boogie-inducing cover bands in town.

The free Prom-i-Con runs from 8 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, May 6. For more information, call 480-967-4777 or visit yuccatap.com. RSVP at this Facebook page. Lauren Cusimano

John Fugelsong performs in the Sexy Liberal Resistance Tour.EXPAND
John Fugelsong performs in the Sexy Liberal Resistance Tour.
WYD Media Management

The Sexy Liberal Resistance Tour
Political and religious satire, blue comedy, and community don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The Sexy Liberal Resistance Tour brings them together seamlessly, combining stand-up, talk radio, and audience Q&As. The show not only responds to today’s hottest political topics with adult humor, it also brings together like-minded left-leaning people. It stars national TV and radio personality Stephanie Miller, John Fugelsang, host of SiriusXM Insight’s Tell Me Everything, and Frangela, a comedy duo featuring Frances Callier and Angela V. Shelton.

The tour visits the Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe Street, on Saturday, May 5, at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $53.50 to $153.50, with the most expensive ticket options including a VIP meet-and-greet with the comedians. For more information, go to the Sexy Liberal website. Laura Latzko

Phoenix Mercury vs. Seattle Storm
It’s a bittersweet time to be a basketball fan in the Valley — the Suns contributing the bitterness and with the Phoenix Mercury the sweetness. The perennial WNBA contenders enter the 2017 season having locked in defensive juggernaut Brittney Griner to a long-term contract, while Diana Taurasi sits poised to become the league’s all-time scoring leader. And having come off of a rare losing season in 2016, the Merc will surely be eager to right the ship with a deep playoff run this summer. First things first: The Valley’s winningest hoops squad (this side of 2010) will do some preseason fine tuning when the Seattle Storm visit Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 East Jefferson Street, at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 7. Tickets are $9 and up. Visit the Mercury website or call 602-379-7800 for details. Rob Kroehler

Jessamyn Stanley
How exactly are you supposed to find inner peace doing yoga if you’re worried about how you look? The key to letting go of your fears and working on your warrior one might just be finding the right environment. Anyone who’s down on downward dog might wanna acquaint themselves with Jessamyn Stanley, the author of the book Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love Your Body.

Stanley will be at Changing Hands for a yoga class, which is already sold out. But she’ll also sign her book at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 7. For $16.95, attendees get a copy of the book and tickets for two to the talk and signing at 300 West Camelback Road. For more information, visit the Changing Hands website or call 602-274-0067. Lindsay Roberts

Happy Cinco.EXPAND
Happy Cinco.
Courtesy of Cinco Phoenix Festival

Cinco Phoenix Festival
Cinco de Mayo started as a way to commemorate Mexico’s victory over France during the Battle of Puebla, but the day has become a celebration of Mexican heritage and culture, especially here in Phoenix. The Cinco Phoenix Festival on Sunday, May 7, pays tribute to Mexican traditions by doing more than just slinging tequila. It features mariachi and ballet folklorico performances, music from New Frequency, lucha libre wrestling, and traditional food such as tacos, burritos, elote, and Sonoran hot dogs. War, Tierra, and Brenton Wood will perform, too. A children’s area will offer inflatables, cornhole, giant Jenga, and an arts and crafts activity led by the Phoenix Fridas. People of all ages can participate in a Frida and Diego costume contest. The festival, which takes place at Washington Street and First Avenue from noon to 10 p.m., costs $5 for general admission and $25 to $35 for VIP ticket options. To find out more, go to the Cinco Phoenix website. Laura Latzko

Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version.

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