Phoenix Symphony: Though his songs remain widely popular with performers, composer Kurt Weill is one of the relatively unsung--in the other sense of the term--geniuses of 20th-century music. He was even dissed, posthumously, by his longtime collaborator Bertolt Brecht. Weill's stinging, brilliant work is featured in this concert, which includes his 1933 ballet The Seven Deadly Sins and his Little Threepenny Music. Mezzo-soprano Virginia Croskery sings with the Symphony, presumably filling in for Lotte Lenya; she's joined by male singers Daniel Kurek and Darrell Rowader (tenors), Ron Sautter (baritone) and Steven Meredith (bass). Also on the bill are selections from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, including the peerless "Summertime." Hermann Michael conducts, starting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, January 29; and 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, January 30, at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. Tickets are $14 and $38. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, January 31, at the same venue, the Symphony, in celebration of its 50th anniversary, will hold an open house featuring a "musical instrument petting zoo" and other family-oriented activities, including two 45-minute miniconcerts, conducted by Clotilde Otranto. The concerts, at 2:30 and 4 p.m., cost a buck; all other activities are free. 262-7272 (Phoenix Civic Plaza), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
John Matthew Richen: The shimmering, abstract bronze and iron shapes of architecture student turned sculptor Richen, which grace collections from the University of Chicago Medical School to the Scottsdale Mayo Clinic, are displayed starting Thursday, January 29, at C.G. Rein Galleries, 4235 North Marshall Way in Scottsdale. Richen will be present for a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday; the exhibition continues through Tuesday, February 10. Admission is free. Regular hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays (and 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. 941-0900.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Sondheim puts a modern spin on the Plautine arcade comedy of ancient Rome in this, one of the funniest musical comedies the American theater has produced. The adventures of Psuedolus, the household slave who will win his freedom if he procures a virginal courtesan for his young master, are set to such tunes as "Comedy Tonight," "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid" and "Lovely." Southwest Shakespeare Company presents the show. Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, January 29; and the same time Friday, January 30; and Saturday, January 31, at Mountain View High School, 2700 East Brown in Mesa. Tickets, available from the Mesa Community Center box office or from Dillard's, are $20 for adults, $16 for students and seniors. The run continues through Saturday, February 7. 641-7039.
Stringmania: Those of us to whom Shakespeare was referring when he wrote, "Is it not strange that sheeps' guts should hale souls out of men's bodies?" will have a hard time complaining that there's nothing to do in the Valley this week: The Muir String Quartet, now in its 18th season, plays a program of Mozart, Prokofiev and Dvorak at 8 p.m. Friday, January 30, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $18. The ensemble, named for naturalist John Muir, is in residence at Boston University School of Music. The Amabile String Quartet performs one of its "audience-friendly" programs at 3 p.m. Sunday, February 1, at Kerr Cultural Center, 6110 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. Tickets are $12 reserved, $10 general admission. Also at 3 p.m. Sunday, February 1, at the Sundome, 19403 R.H. Johnson Boulevard in Sun City West; and again at 8 p.m. Monday, February 2, at Cactus High School Auditorium, 6330 West Greenway Road in Glendale, cellist Sharon Robinson sits in with the Symphony of the West Valley for some Haydn, Saint-Saëns, Ravel and Tchaikovsky. Tickets are $12, $16 and $20. At 7:30 p.m. Monday, February 2, at Bellevue Heights Church, 9440 Hutton Drive in Sun City, the Emerson String Quartet plays Beethoven and Charles Ives. Tickets are $14, $5 for full-time students. And if that's not enough to leave you strung out, the great Itzhak Perlman takes up the bow at 8 p.m. Tuesday, February 3, at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe. Tickets are $28, $35 and $38. For Muir: 252-0095. For Amabile: 965-5377 (Kerr), 503-5555 (Dillard's). For Sharon Robinson: 975-1900 (the 'dome). For Emerson: 972-0478. For Perlman: 965-3434 (Gammage), 503-5555 (Dillard's). Whew.
Huayucultia: This band of five, variously from Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and the U.S., adds a dash of jazz and a pinch of Aztec spice to the folk music of the Andes. Pronounced why-yoo-cal-tee-ah, the moniker is an Aztec word for "brotherhood." The quintet takes the stage at 8 p.m. Friday, January 30, at Kerr Cultural Center, 6110 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. Tickets are $15 reserved, $13 general admission. At 10:30 a.m. the same day, the group performs a "Coffee at Kerr" program. Admission to this is free, but reservations are requested. 965-5377 (Kerr), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
Diary of a Skokie Girl: Caryn Bark wrote and stars in this "Jewish answer to Nunsense," a one-woman show about growing up Jewish in the title suburb. Theater League presents the production. Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Friday, January 30; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, January 31; and 2 p.m. Sunday, February 1, at the Viad Playhouse on the Park, 1850 North Central. Tickets are available at Dillard's for $19.50 and $22.50. The run continues through Friday, February 20. 503-5555.
Oakland Ballet: Ronn Guidi wrote and choreographed this adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. It sets the beloved kids' novel (about the English estate garden which is nurtured back to health by a trio of lonely children) to the music of Edward Elgar, best known for the Pomp and Circumstance March. The acclaimed troupe presents the work at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, January 31, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street, in conjunction with the Center's "The Art of Literature" exhibition. Tickets are $30 and $34. 994-2787 (SCA), 784-4444 (Ticketmaster).
Flagstaff Winterfest: The city assures those displaced Easterners (or envious native 'Zonies) who long for the frolics of a frigid climate that their fest includes "sled-dog races, Alpine and Nordic skiing events, snowmobile racing, winter hikes and walking tours, concerts, Native American events, a parade, opening and closing ceremonies, cultural exhibits and activities, stargazing, storytelling and winter sports and games." What, no curling? The monthlong party starts Saturday, January 31, at various venues around Flag; for a schedule, contact the Flagstaff Visitor Center at 1-800-842-7293.
Paul Anka: Okay, so he inflicted "You're Having My Baby" on the world. But he also wrote the theme song for (and appeared in) The Longest Day, and the Johnny Carson version (the real version, in other words) of the Tonight Show theme. Comedian Mark Cordes shares the bill with the former teen idol at 8 p.m. Saturday, January 31, at the Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street. Tickets are $25 and $40. 267-1600 (Celeb), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
The Robert Cray Band: The journeyman bluesman's new album Sweet Potato Pie is well-titled: tasty and substantial. The Columbus, Georgia, native may not have become a star of quite the magnitude that it looked like he might about a decade ago, but he's still a fine, respected performer. John Hammond opens the show at 8 p.m. Sunday, February 1, at the Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street. Tickets are $35 and $40. 267-1600 (Celeb), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
Lincoln's Log: Barry Kornhauser's play for young people takes a different view of the 16th presidency, that of Honest Abe's fourth and youngest son Tad, who turns the White House into his own personal playground, complete with puppet theater. David Saar directs the Childsplay production, which was first performed two years ago at the Fulton Opera House in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The opening performance is at 2 p.m. Sunday, February 1, at Tempe Performing Arts Center, 132 East Sixth Street. Tickets are $15, $10 for students, seniors and groups of more than 10. The run continues through Sunday, February 22. 350-8101.
Deep Purple: This early heavy-metal foundry turns 30 this year, although it hasn't been in existence for all of those years--what with all the infighting, personnel changes and British accents, these guys could have been the model for Spinal Tap. Still, they've managed to release well more than 20 albums, the most recent being 1996's Purpendicular. The Michael Nitro Band shares the bill at 8 p.m. Monday, February 2, at the Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street. Tickets are $26 in advance, $28 the day of the show. 267-1600 (Celeb), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
Jason Bonham Band: The film The Song Remains the Same showed this then-diminutive son of Led Zeppelin drummer John "Bonzo" Bonham sitting down at his old man's skins to goof around a little. He was already good then--legend has it that Bonham pere's bandmates couldn't tell his playing from that of Bonham fils without looking--and he's even better now. His band, alas, serves up fairly generic hard rock, but Bonham sure can play. He takes the stage Monday, February 2, at the Cajun House, 7117 East Third Avenue in Scottsdale. 945-5150.
"Diamonds in the Rough: Japanese Americans in Baseball": This exhibit details the relationship of America's pastime to the Japanese-American community--how it flourished in such neighborhoods in the West and Hawaii during the '20s and '30s, and how it continued to be played in the internment camps after Americans of Japanese descent were imprisoned during World War II. The display opens on Monday, February 2, at the State Capitol Museum, 1101 West Jefferson, and continues indefinitely. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. 255-2110.
Tony and Tina's Wedding: Though nothing except a real Italian funeral can replace a real Italian wedding for drama, the mounters of this interactive theatrical event deserve credit for having the audacity to try. The audience members serve as guests at the title shindig--you get to kiss the bride (gee, what a singularly unenviable gig for an actress), throw rice, share a dance with the groom, and watch the antics of the wacky guests at the reception. A light Italian supper is included. Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Tuesday, February 3; and the same time Wednesday, February 4, at the Memorial Union Building at the intersection of Cady and Orange malls on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe. The run continues through Sunday, March 29. Tickets are $45, but hey, at least you don't have to bring a gift. 965-6822, 965-3434.
Indigo Girls: In support of their most recent album, Shaming of the Sun, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers bring their harmonic talents to an all-ages performance at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 4, at Union Hall, Sixth Street and Van Buren. Tickets are $25 in advance, $26 the day of the show. 253-7100 (UH), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
Lee Roy Parnell: The country/soul man, a former member of Kinky Friedman's Texas Jewboys, performs at 8 p.m. Wednesday, February 4, at Toolies Country, 4231 West Thomas. Tickets range from $18 to $24, available at Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue. 786-2680.