March means madness here in metro Phoenix, where you can't get through a weekend without a festival or seven. And that's just the start. Here's your guide to the best things to do in the Valley this week — from a few St. Patrick's Day happenings and Art Detour to baseball and the release of Brian Jabas Smith's book.
Run Lola Run
Released in America in 1999, German thriller Run Lola Run showcased the potential of cinema in the rapidly approaching new millennium. When her boyfriend loses the cash he was delivering for a gangster, the red-headed Lola has three chances to get the money for her partner. If Lola can’t do it in 20 minutes, he will rob a grocery store. Each attempt to save her love’s skin feels like a philosophical game that deftly combines photography, video, and animation. Hitting theaters in America when moviegoers were still reeling from Keanu dodging bullets in The Matrix, Run Lola Run still holds up.
Run Lola Run screens at 8 p.m. on Monday, March 13, at Alamo Drafthouse Chandler, 4955 South Arizona Avenue. Admission is $5. Visit Alamo Drafthouse's website. Jason Keil
Rockies vs. Royals
Perhaps more so than any of America’s major sports, baseball is unpredictable. Injuries, slumps, streaks, and the rigors of a 162-game schedule in general make for a high degree of inconsistency from season to season. With few exceptions, being good one season does not ensure a team will do well the next.
In 2015, the Kansas City Royals won their first World Series championship in 30 years. The following season, they went .500. That said, terrible teams tend to stay that way for a while; look no further than the Colorado Rockies. Both teams will be looking to improve on last season’s disappointments, albeit under different circumstances. The Rockies host the Royals at Scottsdale’s Salt River Fields, 7555 North Pima Road, at 1:05 p.m. on Monday, March 13. Tickets are $16 and up. Visit the Cactus League website or call 480-270-5000 for details. Rob Kroehler
Home Mask Relations
Can knitting change the world? Once you’ve seen Danish textile artist Isabel Berglund in action, the answer might surprise you. She’s working to dissolve socioeconomic and political divisions through a community-based knitting project called Home Mask Relations.
She’ll present eight free workshops for community members during an artist residency at ASU Art Museum’s Combine Studios, 821 North Third Street, #11. Together, they’ll knit and crochet badges that Berglund and her collaborator, independent curator Elizabeth Kozlowski, will join to create a large-scale art installation representing togetherness, relationships, and home.
The first workshop happens from 1 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14, at the Combine Studios Project Space. They’ll provide the yarn, patterns, and instructions. You bring a favorite knitting needle or crochet hook. Visit ASU Art Museum's website. Lynn Trimble
Since we are totally maxed out with man-children, thanks to one Cheeto in Chief, stories by creatives ranging from Judd Apatow to J.M. Barrie are suddenly unappealing AF. But Finding Neverland offers a different spin on the classic Peter Pan you know, love, and can no longer stand. Based on the film (now rendered unbearable as it stars real-life pirate prince Johnny Depp), the musical follows the Pan author and his friendship with a sick woman and her kids. As you might, ahem, imagine, they inspire him in more ways than one. The stage production, featuring music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy, comes to ASU Gammage Auditorium, 1200 South Forest Avenue in Tempe. Performances continue through Sunday, March 19. For tickets ($30 to $84), see Ticketmaster. Becky Bartkowski
Wednesday Trivia Night
If you pride yourself on staying updated on the latest current events and pop culture news, a night of putting that knowledge to the test is a great way to break up the week. Make hump day more exciting by capping it off at Wednesday Trivia Night. The right answers to questions about movies and music can get first-, second-, and third-place winners some awesome prizes. Show off your smarts starting at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays at Carly’s Bistro, 128 East Roosevelt Street. Admission is free. Call 602-262-2759 or visit the Carly's website. Amy Young
Imagine humans making contact with extraterrestrial life. What would we say, and how would we say it? Artist Dario Robleto has some ideas, and he’s been sharing them as part of a multinational team working on the Breakthrough Message project.
Hear him speak at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central Avenue, at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15, as part of the Contemporary Forum Lecture Series. It’s a chance to learn more about Robleto’s research-driven art practice, which reflects his explorations of music, popular culture, science, war, and American history. The lecture is free, but seating is limited. And here’s a plus: Museum admission is free that day from 3 to 9 p.m., so you can enjoy several exhibitions while you’re there. Make seating reservations at Phoenix Art Museum's website. Lynn Trimble
"How Culture Affects Typography"
Think of your favorite childhood cereal’s box, your cellphone’s packaging, or the title card of your favorite TV show. You’d recognize those letters you know so well anywhere. That familiar typography is basically the brand itself. You can change the words, but using the same typeface will immediately evoke the original tidbit of well-known culture. But the relationship goes both ways. And Nikki Villagomez, graphic design and typography educator, is going to explain exactly how during her lecture, “How Culture Affects Typography.” In conjunction with AIGA Arizona, Villagomez will explore typography in Arizona and beyond, using her own and attendees’ photos, on Thursday, March 16, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Tempe History Museum, 809 East Southern Avenue. For more information on this free event, visit the AIGA Arizona website. Evie Carpenter
As soon as Sir Elton John saw the 2000 film Billy Elliot, about a boy from a rough mining town who fights the odds to be saved by ballet, he knew it needed to be a musical, or so he’s told interviewers. The result, Billy Elliot the Musical, drenches us in the feels the way Oklahoma! and My Fair Lady probably did when their style was a new thing. ’Twas a good call.
The action is set during the 1984-85 coal miners’ strike in the U.K., and hopscotches from studio to home to the picket line. The play’s deeply affecting in a large auditorium, but Mesa Encore Theatre lets it shine in a more intimate space at Mesa Arts Center, in a production that closes on Sunday, March 29. Showtime on Thursday, March 16, is 7:30 p.m. at One East Main Street. Tickets are $28 to $31 at Mesa Encore Theatre's website or 480-644-6500. Julie Peterson
Bikes, a Balcony, and Some Beers
Leave it to the crew at Crescent Ballroom to deliver on a super-straightforwardly named community cycling event. What you read is what you get with the downtown hangout’s weekly gathering called Bikes, A Balcony, and Some Beers. Every Thursday, bicyclists of all levels are invited to meet up on the hotspot’s balcony at 8 p.m. before embarking on a 45-ish-minute easygoing ride through the city. Once that’s wrapped, participants make their way back to the upper level at 308 North Second Avenue for a round (or two) of chilly brews. There’s no charge to join in the March 16 ride, but beer and burrito costs vary. For details on the event, presented by Slippery Pig Bike Shop, New Times, and New Belgium Brewing, visit Crescent Ballroom's website. Becky Bartkowski
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
A live band almost always makes a musical better, and that’s what you’ll get at Brelby Theatre Company’s mounting of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee through Saturday, April 1. The combo serves as infrastructure for William Finn’s exuberant score, which makes big production numbers out of events that may seem humdrum — but everything’s angsty and important when you’re 13, as these spellers are. (Though the actors portraying them are mostly grownups.)
The setting, bringing together six kids from different schools, inherently provides the conflict, competition, and passion that make for great theater. Plus, difficult words! The play is also funny as spit. Voluntary audience participation helps spice things up and delivers some schadenfreude, too, as you watch people other than yourself crash and burn.
Showtime on Friday, March 17, is 7:30 p.m. at 7154 North 58th Drive in Glendale. Tickets are $17 to $25 at Brelby's website or 623-282-2781. Julie Peterson
Looking for more weekend plans? Read on.
St. Patrick's Day
Aside from pubs and workplace parties where Mary’s hunter green sweater is clashing with a lime-colored skirt, you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day 2017 at the Irish Cultural Center and McClelland Library, 1106 North Central Avenue.
That’s where you’ll find educational offerings like genealogy displays, a “Ceili” or social dancing workshop, a 1916 commemoration exhibit, a Celtic authors table, and primers for learning to speak Irish. There will also be a full cash bar, food for purchase from the cooks in the kitchen, and rowdy stuff like sing-a-longs, Irish and Scottish dance, and scavenger hunts.
Festivities at the Irish Cultural Center run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, March 17. A ticket is $10, or get three for $25. Buy tickets early to be entered for a $100 gift certificate to a local pub, an annual family membership to the center, or a trip to Ireland. Call 602-258-0109 or see the Irish Cultural Center website. Lauren Cusimano
Spark! Mesa's Festival of Creativity
We live in an age of such overstimulation that you’d think inspiration would come easy. Typically, that’s not the case. But this weekend, the East Valley has a little something that might kick start your creative flow.
Spark! Mesa’s Festival of Creativity is an immersive arts experience that includes work by Arizona creatives. This annual event features installations, musical performances, live art-making, and demonstrations where diverse projects and performances are brought to life. Highlights include Kyllan Manney’s Homage to Yayoi Kusama, a large-scale tribute to the Japanese artist, and We Are All Musical, Evan Tobias’ interactive music area. Find your inspiration from noon to 10 p.m. on Friday, March 17, at Mesa Arts Center, One East Main Street. Admission is free, and festivities continue through Saturday, March 18. Call 480-644-6560 or visit Mesa Arts Center's website. Amy Young
Spring Plant Sale
Even if you have a proverbial “green thumb,” having the right plant is key — especially in Arizona. During the Desert Botanical Garden’s Spring Plant Sale at 1201 North Galvin Parkway, experts are on hand to advise you on what succulent, monarch butterfly nectar or host plant, cactus, bare-root plant, shrub, perennial, or groundcover best fits your gardening or landscaping needs. The sale is open to garden members only from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, March 17. But nonmembers are invited to shop from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 18, and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 19. Shoppers can expect to find discount plants for less than $1 and collector plants costing around $3,500. But most offerings will be available for $8 to $30, and there’s no charge for admission to the sale. Visit the Desert Botanical Garden website or call 480-941-1225. Laura Latzko
Whatever your weekend routine, it’s probably time to mix it up a bit. And Art Detour, the annual art walk designed to showcase the local arts scene, makes it a no-brainer. Just show up at one of five trolley stops on Saturday, March 18, and you can make your way to all sorts of interesting art spaces, from galleries and museums to artist studios, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. There’s even an intriguing after-hours lineup, with live music and performances.
Saturday’s highlights include live painting, Taiko drumming, letterpress printing, neon art, an interactive digital public art projection, and an ambient performance by Katharine Leigh Simpson.
Art Detour is presented by Artlink, in partnership with the city of Phoenix and Downtown Phoenix Inc. The event is free, but cash comes in handy for food trucks, pedicabs, and little splurges on art. Visit the Art Detour website for trolley stops and event details. Lynn Trimble
Kiss Me, I'm Irish Run
One way to wake yourself up from last night’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrating is by tightening up the laces on your sneakers and running a half-marathon.
The seventh annual Kiss Me, I’m Irish Run is a fun way to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland. Well, that and soliciting those kisses that the holiday inspires. In addition to the half-marathon, there are some shorter run and walk options. Hang out after for more holiday partying, including music, food, and beverages. Dress appropriately festive and you could win the prize for best St. Paddy’s green. Invoke your inner leprechaun for this fun jaunt that starts at 7 a.m. on Saturday, March 18, at Westgate Entertainment District, 6751 North Sunset Boulevard in Glendale. Registration is $45 to $85. Visit the Irish Run website for more. Amy Young
The Doo Wop Project
For a musical genre founded on the use of nonsense syllables, “doo-wop” has a decidedly no-nonsense appeal. Around the middle of the 20th century in America, doo-wop reigned supreme. So-called bird bands dropping tight onomatopoeia-based harmonies over saccharin I-vi-IV-V chord changes in swing time dominated the radio dial. Formulaic? Most definitely, but the formula worked. And if its fingerprint on subsequent popular music is any indication, it’s still working. Debutantes and doo-wop disciples alike can get their fill of America’s favorite ear candy when The Doo Wop Project, featuring Jersey Boys and Motown: The Musical alumni, visit Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue, on Saturday, March 18. Showtime is 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $28 and up. Visit Chandler Center for the Arts' website or call 480-782-2680 for details. Rob Kroehler
Maybe you’re always talking about wanting to walk more, meet more interesting people, or explore more of your desert surroundings. Now you can walk the talk, with a little help from the Museum of Walking. Based at Arizona State University, it’s all about walking as a way of connecting with diverse landscapes, people, ideas, and experiences.
Artist Angela Ellsworth, the museum’s co-founder and director, thinks big. She’s hoping 1,000 people will participate in an event called The Walk, the museum’s first large-scale contemplative walk. It’s a three-mile, 90-minute walk along a paved path through the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area, with groups leaving in staggered waves.
The Walk takes place on Saturday, March 18, from 7 to 11 a.m., starting at 2439 South Central Avenue. It costs $25 to participate, with funds raised going toward future Museum of Walking exhibits and programs, plus community partners including the Phoenix Indian School Legacy Project. Visit the Museum of Walking website to register or learn more. Lynn Trimble
If being disruptive isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Tempe arts and culture, you’ve probably never met Ralph Remington. As arts and culture deputy director for the city of Tempe, he’s been working to shake things up a bit at Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 West Rio Salado Parkway.
Case in point: DisruptFEST. It’s a live performance mashup that kicks off at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 18, with a provocative Neil LaBute play called Some Velvet Morning, directed by Remington. It’s billed as “an electrifying story of obsession, desire, and the roles we play.”
DisruptFEST also includes musical performances by Totsy and Ensemble Mik Nawooj. Tickets starts at $30. Learn more at Tempe Center for the Arts' website. Lynn Trimble
Brian Jabas Smith Book-Signing
It’s nothing short of awesome — in the truest sense of the word — when people make it back from the throes of addiction. It’s an extremely rough road to go down with a journey back that’s often substantially harder. We are certainly glad writer Brian Jabas Smith took the round-trip ticket.
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That is only one part of a much-lived life. He’s fronted a rock band and is an award-winning journalist who’s been an editor here at New Times and at Detroit Metro Times. Currently at Tucson Weekly, Smith visits the Valley with Spent Saints, a collection of interconnected short stories that explore life’s rougher edges, like addiction, lost hopes and dreams, suicidal ideations, and heartbreak. Smith will read from the book, and the event will include a live musical performance and a screening of short films based on the book’s stories. Get a dose of hard living at 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 19, at Changing Hands Bookstore, 300 West Camelback Road. Admission is free, and the book costs $15.99. Call 602-274-0067 or visit the Changing Hands website. Amy Young
Sutra in the City
If you think you know how a typical yoga studio looks, you don’t know Sutra in the City. This traveling yoga series pops up in a variety of creative businesses, neighborhoods, and hidden nooks throughout the city, so you can go with the flow all over Phoenix. On Sunday, March 19, it’s time to “be a rebel” when Sutra in the City takes over the Rebel Lounge, 2303 East Indian School Road, starting at 9:30 a.m. Zen out to the serene sounds of acoustic indie duo FOXHEART as they play live during a dynamic vinyasa set. And after a 30-minute meditation session, stick around for the yoga after-party, because it’s a Sunday Funday after all. Tickets are $15 and available through Sutra's website. Evie Carpenter
How can you look at a star-lit sky and not think of Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss (used to great effect in 2001: A Space Odyssey) or Gustav Holst’s classical suite The Planets? Maybe you hear the cosmic echo of your favorite John Williams film score. Now you can take your stargazing to Symphony Hall, where the Phoenix Symphony brings the heavens indoors for their Space Spectacular. The astronomical experience combines these classical favorites, along with the movie themes from Apollo 13 and Star Wars, with NASA images and videos projected above the orchestra.
Space Spectacular takes off at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 19, at Symphony Hall, 75 North Second Street. Tickets start at $11. Visit the Phoenix Symphony website or call 602-495-1999. Jason Keil