Sometimes referred to as "The Freddy Krueger of Comedy," the comedian-magician better known as The Amazing Jonathan plays the Valley this weekend. The performer, veteran of Letterman, Arsenio and such NBC specials as World's Wildest Magicians and World's Greatest Magic II, favors gruesome shock illusions, like chewing razor blades or guzzling cleaning products. He takes the stage at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 20; 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, May 21; 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday, May 22; and 8 p.m. Sunday, May 23, at the Tempe Improv Comedy Theater, 930 East University (at Cornerstone mall). Tickets are $12 Thursday and Sunday, $15 Friday and Saturday. 480-921-9877.
Principal bass Barry Olson is featured in Vanhal's Double Bass Concerto in D major as Phoenix Symphony Chamber Orchestra wraps up its 1998-99 season at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 20, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. The bill also includes Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite #3, and Schubert's Symphony #2 in B-flat major. Hermann Michael conducts. Tickets are $16 and $20, available at the symphony box office (602-495-1999) or through Ticketmaster (480-784-4444). Phoenix Symphony also rounds off its pops season this weekend; see Friday, below.
Those 21 and older who wish to relive their high school prom--and the recent success of the film Never Been Kissed suggests that there may be quite a few--can give it a try at "The Last Prom," a '70s-nostalgia event sponsored by KSLX-FM 100.7 from 7:30 p.m. to midnight Friday, May 21, at the Sheraton Crescent Hotel, 2620 West Dunlap. The evening, to which participants may come attired in '70s finery, will include a dance competition, live music by Dr. Ruth, and the selection of a king and queen, as well as the opening of a KSLX time capsule full of '70s memorabilia. KSLX employees will be on hand as well, playing archetypical prom roles like gym teacher or principal. Whether anyone will spike the punch, lose (or re-lose) their virginity, moon the crowd or get pig's blood spilled on them, resulting in horrifying psychically induced mayhem, is impossible to say. Advance tickets, which can be had at various locations--Carlson Wagonlit Travel, MotoPhoto, Phoenix Flower Shops and Jerry's Audio/Video--are free; admission is $10 at the door. Call 480-941-1007 for more information.
Suzan Zeder's play Mother Hicks, about a small-town deaf man--played by the actually deaf John Pirone--a medicine woman and a young girl, is presented by the Arizona State University theater department in a special three-performance run at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 21; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 22; and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 23, at Paul V. Galvin Playhouse at ASU's Nelson Fine Arts Center, 10th Street and Mill in Tempe. Tickets are $12, $8 for students and seniors. Drama department chair Bonnie Eckard directs the show. 480-965-6447.
An early triumph on the Arthur Godfrey show launched the career of piano man Roger Williams, and his 1955 recording of "Autumn Leaves," still the biggest-selling piano record ever, assured him a permanent place in the history of square pop. His long, long list of hits--he has 18 gold albums--includes his instrumental renderings of such film faves as "Born Free," "Lara's Theme From Dr. Zhivago" and the "Theme From Somewhere in Time." Williams sits in with Phoenix Symphony in the season's last pops concert, at 8 p.m. Friday, May 21; and the same time Saturday, May 22. The bill includes the Overture to Strauss' Die Fledermaus; Dvorak's Serenade in E major, Op. #22; La Cumparsita by Rodriguez; the "Final" from Stravinsky's Firebird suite; and John Williams' "Main Title" theme from Star Wars, followed by a program of Roger Williams hits to be announced from the stage. Associate conductor Robert Moody leads the ensemble. Tickets range from $16 to $40. Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. 602-262-7272 (Phoenix Civic Plaza), 480-503-5555 (Dillard's).
The next installment of Essential Theatre's Playback Theatre, in which the troupe takes suggestions from audience members and transforms them into improvised scenarios, is titled Do Ask, Do Tell, and presents stories of the life experiences of gays and lesbians. Shows are scheduled at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 22; and 7 p.m. Sunday, May 23, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts Cinema Theatre, just off the main lobby. Tickets are $12, $10 for groups of 10 or more. 7380 East Second Street. 480-994-2787 (SCA), 480-897-6711.
Auditions for a sports reporter between the ages of 8 and 15 to cover the Phoenix Mercury (beginning preseason home play on May 26; see Wednesday, below) will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 22, at the Sears at Metrocenter. The kid chosen will cover two Mercury games, will report for the team's Web site and newsletter, and will receive an official press pass and two additional tickets to watch the games and report on them. A member of the team will emcee the event, and will sign autographs for all participants. 602-395-2999.
Surfside Skate hosts the A.C. Green Youth Foundation Day from 1 to 9 p.m. Sunday, May 23, at 1625 East Weber in Tempe. The Department of Health Anti-Tobacco Hummer and Interactive Trailer will be on the premises, as will the "accident car" display of S.A.D.D. (Students Against Drunk Driving); local DARE officers with their customized cruisers and motorcycles will hand out anti-drug info. World-class pairs skaters Brian Richardson and April Corley will perform, joined by Valley skate group the Tempe Rhythm Crew and, from 4 to 9 p.m., Green himself will be present, and will raffle off a pizza party for 30 with him at Surfside Skate, as well as a spot in his "Leadership Basketball Camp." Admission is $4 for a half-day, $7 for the whole day. Proceeds benefit the Foundation. Skate rental is $1.25. 480-968-9600.
All levels of fluency are welcome when Pam Howard facilitates a meeting of the American Sign Language Conversation Group at 7 p.m. Monday, May 24--and the second and fourth Mondays of each month--in the Music Lounge at Borders Books & Music at 1361 South Alma School in Mesa. It's free to attend. 480-833-2244.
Novelist Mayra Montero discusses her new work The Messenger, concerning the bombing of a Cuban theater during a performance by Enrico Caruso, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 25, at the Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 North Central. The talk will be followed by an operatic performance by Mexican tenor Gabriel Padilla Gutierrez. Admission is free. 602-534-7021.
In an impressively comprehensive display of charity called "Dining Out for Life," Durant's, 2611 North Central, donates 100 percent of the day's revenue, wages and gratuities to benefit children with HIV/AIDS. For reservations call 602-264-5967.
In preseason play, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury takes on the Charlotte Sting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 26, at America West Arena, 201 East Jefferson. Regular-season home play begins at 7 p.m. Monday, June 14, with a game against the Sacramento Monarchs. Tickets range from $8 to $25, available at the arena and Dillard's. For details call 602-252-9622, 602-379-7800 or 480-503-5555.
Vintage country-rock favorites The Everly Brothers--famed for hits like "Bye Bye Love," "All I Have to Do Is Dream" and "Wake Up Little Susie"--kick off the summer concert season at Yavapai College Performance Hall with a show at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 26, at 1100 East Sheldon in Prescott. Admission is $27. 1-520-776-2033 or 1-800-922-6787, extension 2033.