The Best Things to Do in Phoenix This Week

Who's going to take home the coveted improv prize?
Who's going to take home the coveted improv prize?
Jose Gonzalez
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No plans? No problem. This week comes with a packed calendar, with the Phoenix Improv Festival and ZapCon. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times' calendar.

Phoenix Improv Festival
Many talented improvisers from around the United States are flocking to the Valley to join local acts for the Phoenix Improv Festival. From Thursday, April 19 to Saturday, April 21, the event features several showcases of diverse improvisation talent, with such local groups as ImprovMANIA, The Displacers, and Skewed News Hour. Festival favorites include Chicago’s Danny & Arnold, Honey from New York City, and San Diego-based Lipshtick.

For those interested in beginning or developing their own improv talent, workshops will take place throughout the festival. Prices range from free to $50. For more information, locations, and to register, visit phoeniximprovfestival.com. Home base for the event is Herberger Theater, 222 East Monroe Street, where tickets ($14 to $24) are available at the box office and several performances are scheduled to take place. See the Herberger Theater website. Tanner Stechnij

Open Studio and Free Flag-Making Workshop
Flags are a familiar sight for artist Erika Lynne Hanson, an assistant professor of fibers and socially engaged practice at Arizona State University. “I use flags as markers for points of dialogue and discussion,” Hanson says. For an artist residency with Scottsdale Public Art, she will hold an open studio and free flag-making workshop from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, at Noriega Stable Livery, 3804 North Brown Street.

It starts with a walk, followed by a talk about what caught participants’ attention, and then attendees can make flags inspired by the urban landscape. Hanson will have fabric, paint, scissors, and other supplies on hand. “My goal is to get people attuned to the landscape rather than just moving through it,” she says. Visit the Scottsdale Public Art website. Lynn Trimble

Nirvana Food and Wine’s Second Annual Festival
Nirvana Food and Wine’s Second Annual Festival brings a blowout slate of events to Sanctuary on Camelback, 5700 East McDonald Drive in Paradise Valley.

Big-name chefs from Arizona and large cold cities will be “headlining.” The lineup of expensive events begins on Thursday, April 19, with a New Orleans-style masquerade featuring food, jazz, and cocktails as the centerpiece. A hurricane of high-end dinners, golf soirees, and champagne-and-fried-chicken events follows, culminating in a brunch that promises “tequila, tequila, and more tequila.” Locally renowned chefs like Matt Taylor, Doug Robson, and Christopher Gross will cook at events throughout, and the festival will wrap up on Sunday, April 22.

See nirvanafoodandwine.com for the lineup of events. You can get a pass to it all for $444, which is more than half the GDP per capita of Burundi. Chris Malloy

Valentina Catina
Famed Phoenix queen Valentina Knowles hosts The Rock’s twice monthly Thursday night drag revue at 4129 North Seventh Avenue. Every first and third Thursday, Ms. Knowles hosts the Valentina Catina. Which means her cast of talented local queens will help start your weekend early on Thursday, April 19. A $5 cover comes with a drink token that’s redeemable for a domestic beer or a well cocktail.

Doors open at 9 p.m. and the drag show featuring a rotating list of guest starts at 10 p.m. For more information visit the Rock website. Tanner Stechnij

Xtra Ticket
One of the explanations behind the popularity of 4/20 starts at a Grateful Dead concert. A flyer that was passed out at one of the band’s shows invited attendees to “meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing.” Thus a smokin’ holiday was born — or at least further popularized.

The best way to celebrate this special day? Hang at Last Exit Live to see one of the region’s best Grateful Dead tribute bands, Xtra Ticket, perform at a 420 Party. Joining the band on guitar will be Dave Hebert of the Jerry Garcia Band. The night lights up at 9 p.m. on Friday, April 20, at 717 South Central Avenue. Tickets are $12 to $15. For more information, visit the Last Exit Live website. Jason Keil

Sprout Film Festival
Since its founding in 2003, the Sprout Film Festival has inspired and informed its audience about the diversity of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This year is no different.

The touring event will make its way back to Tempe once again and will feature 46 short films focused on people with I/DD. By breaking down stereotypes through empowering and carefully created films, the festival will feature the work of filmmakers from around the world highlighting inclusivity of all audiences.

Sprout kicks off on Friday April 20, at Pollack Tempe Cinemas, 1825 East Elliot Road. The first screening will be at 9:30 a.m., with two more screenings throughout the day. General admission is $5. For more info and showtimes, visit the Arc of Arizona website. Melina Zuñiga

Arizona Record Label Fest
The countdown to Record Store Day is on. Annually, that’s the day to score specially offered music releases and merchandise at participating record stores. To fuel the energy for the shopping extravaganza, a group of Valley-based record labels have teamed up to throw a pre-party.

The Arizona Record Label Fest includes five bands and one DJ representing labels President Gator, Slope, Dirty Water, No Affiliation, 80/20, and Cactus Man, who will take the stage to rep their labels and show their skills. Styles will range from local masters of video-game music, Minibosses, to Moonlight Magic, who keep things mellow with their swanky lounge tunes. Mean Motor Scooter, First or Last, Bear Ghost, and DJ Gila Man complete the lineup.

See what some local labels have to offer at 7 p.m. on April 20 at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue. Tickets are $5 to $7. Visit the Crescent Ballroom website. Amy Young

Ada Palmer
Ada Palmer is a true polymath. In addition to her day job as a history professor, the Harvard-educated Palmer performs with the filk group Sassafrass at cons and Ren fairs across the country. She’s also an award-winning science-fiction novelist.

That’s the hat Palmer will be wearing when she visits the Poisoned Pen on Friday, April 20. Palmer will discuss her “Terra Ignota” series, set in a 25th-Century Earth ruled according to Enlightenment philosophy. Alas, all is not for the best in that best of all possible worlds, as a criminal and a spiritualist attempt to hide the existence of God in a society where religion is outlawed.

Palmer’s signing starts at 7 p.m. at 4014 North Goldwater Boulevard in Scottsdale. Visit the Poisoned Pen website for more information. Michael Senft

FYI: Trivia Night with Anwar Newton
You might have heard of Anwar Newton, the stand-up fave who hosts recurring shows This Week Sucks, Tonight! or Literally The Worst Show Ever. There’s no denying that the Phoenix-based comedian is good at what he does — and then some. Doubling as a pop-culture wiz, Newton will host a night full of film, TV, and music references, putting your pop-culture IQ to the test with a chance to win prizes and claim yourself a master. Maybe.

Join the fun and challenge Newton during FYI: Trivia Night with Anwar Newton on Friday April 20, at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, 7374 East Second Street. The event starts at 7 p.m. Individual tickets are $15, and $20 for a pair. Each ticket comes with one complimentary drink. Visit the SMoCA website for more info. Melina Zuñiga

Geek out.EXPAND
Geek out.
Benjamin Leatherman

Way back in the day, specifically the 1980s, arcades weren’t just a place to drain your quarter collection or waste an afternoon. They were major social hubs where you could show off your skills, see and be seen, or just geek out.

ZapCon in Mesa will pay tribute to these pixel paradises of yore when it serves up two days of classic arcade action.

The main hall of the Mesa Convention Center, 263 North Center Street, will take on an arcade-like atmosphere and feature hundreds old-school games and pinball units available for play. Numerous bleeps and bloops will fill the air on Saturday, April 21, and Sunday, April 22, as joystick jockeys and pinball wizards get their game on or participate in various tournaments and competitions. And best of all, you won’t need any quarters.

Doors open at 10 a.m. each day. Admission is $30 for Saturday, $20 for Sunday, or $40 for the weekend. (Kids rates are also available.) Visit the ZapCon website for more info. Benjamin Leatherman

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres
In his first two starts in the Major Leagues in April 2015, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Archie Bradley outpitched arguably baseball’s two best, Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw and World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner. Two games later, the clean-shaven rookie was hit in the face with a 115-mph line. He was never an effective starting pitcher again.

Fast forward to 2017. Bradley reinvented himself as the team’s best relief pitcher and reinforced his facial security with a bushy cushion that has made him a fan favorite.

On Saturday, April 21, the D-backs will celebrate Bradley and the beard by giving away Archie Bradley Audio Bobbleheads to the first 20,000 fans in attendance at the 5:10 p.m. game against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field, 401 East Jefferson Street. Tickets begin at $19 via Ticketmaster. Stuart Warner

Pinewood Classic
Giving beloved childhood activities an adult twist has become a big thing over the last decade or so. Hence the reason why pastimes like dodgeball, kickball, or even coloring books have all been re-embraced by grownups looking for a good time.

The Valley’s annual Pinewood Classic is along the same lines. Inspired by the Pinewood Derby races made popular by the Cub Scouts, the event involves local adults crafting custom-built wooden cars weighing five ounces or less, many of which feature cute or clever themes. These pint-size vehicles are then raced along a 40-foot-long track set up outside of Short Leash Hotdogs, 110 East Roosevelt Street, with the winners getting prizes.

This year’s classic takes place on Saturday, April 21, starting at noon and will feature races for both adults and kids, as well as live music and beer vendors. Admission is free. Call 602-795-2193 or visit the Facebook event page. Benjamin Leatherman

Arizona Rattlers vs. Green Bay Blizzard
Traditionally, a sports team’s name was intended to strike fear into the hearts of opponents and to galvanize the team around a common identity. It makes you wonder what the rallying cry for Idaho’s Butte Pirates might involve, or how team morale is affected when schools prefer Biblical names, such as Michigan’s Watersmeet Nimrods. But if Arizona’s snakes have anything to say about it, old traditions die hard. Not only are the Diamondbacks off to an impressive start, the Arizona Rattlers — true to their moniker — have drawn first blood this season as well.

The defending champs will look to uphold their fearsome reputation against the Green Bay Blizzard on Saturday, April 21, at Phoenix’s Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 East Jefferson Street, at 6:05 pm. $8 and up. Visit the Rattlers website or call (602) 379-2000 for details. Rob Kroehler

Phoenix Night Market
Cosplay-friendly might not be the first thing you’re looking for in a farmer’s market, but if it’s part of the gig, why not? At Phoenix Night Market, you can don your costume of choice or just regular clothes while you spend the evening perusing for-sale goods from more than 40 vendors. Grab some dinner while you’re there. Krazy Taters will do it up with different-style spuds, and you can probably guess what Noodle Bar will be serving up.

Drop some dollars from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Phoenix Public Market, 721 North Central Avenue. Admission is free. Visit the Facebook event page. Amy Young

Watch words dance during American Voices.EXPAND
Watch words dance during American Voices.
Center Dance Ensemble

American Voices
Watching high school students read poetry inspired Frances Smith Cohen, artistic director for Center Dance Ensemble, to create American Voices. The annual production features work by various choreographers, each working with a poem they’ve chosen as the foundation for their piece. See this year’s show at 2 p.m. at Sunday, April 22, on the Kax Stage at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe Street. It’s an intimate space well-suited to poetic movement.

Center Dance Ensemble is the resident modern-dance company at Herberger Theater Center, but this production features both modern and contemporary dance. American Voices includes performances by several guest artists, including Nicole Olson and Halo Movement Collective. Cohen describes it as “a very diverse and unique offering.” Tickets are $16. Visit the Center Dance website. Lynn Trimble

Complimentary Yoga Class
It’s hard to be a broke person who enjoys the bougie side of life. But on April 22, you can enjoy a day of poolside yoga and mimosas for super cheap.

Grab your yoga mat, and a water bottle, and get to 2401 East Camelback Road. That’s where Kandi Neal will lead a complimentary class on the rooftop of the very fancy Camby hotel. After class, you can sip $2 poolside mimosas. And yogis will get 10 percent off brunch at Artizen Kitchen & Bar.

There will be a complimentary valet for the event. For more information (or to invite a friend), visit the Facebook event page. Lindsay Roberts

Good morning, good morning. Wanna spend a day in the life celebrating 50 years since the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band?

RAIN will bring the acclaimed — some say the greatest of all time — to life at Comerica Theatre, 400 West Washington Street, on Sunday, April 22.

Relive a classic work of art with a little help from your friends for $38.50 per person. We hope you will enjoy the show, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Visit the RAIN tribute website for details. Dillon Rosenblatt

In the cinematic world of Delicatessen, it’s best to know where your meal came from before choosing a wine to pair it with. This black comedy, filled with eye-popping visual gags, is about a butcher who murders people and sells their meat in his shop. French wines will be available to sample before the movie begins. You know, to help prepare you for the subtitles.

Raise your glass at 6:30 p.m. for the wine tasting. The film begins at 7:30 on Monday, April 23, at 815 North Second Street. Tickets are $15. For more information, visit the Film Bar website. Jason Keil

Musical Theatre Spring Showcase
The musical theater kids are all right. Want proof? Mark your calendar for Lyric Opera Theater’s Musical Theatre Spring Showcase, when Arizona State University’s song-and-dance students will perform the best they have to offer.

Cheer on these up-and-coming triple threats when they take the stage at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 23, at Phoenix Theatre, 100 East McDowell Road. Worth noting: This show contains adult language and mature themes; a.k.a. it’s probably best to leave the kids at home.

The ArtBar will be open to facilitate mingling before and after the show. Admission is free, but reservations are recommended via the Phoenix Theatre Ticket website. Becky Bartkowski

Caliente Tuesdays
Make the day after Monday less mundane at Caliente Tuesdays, where you can shake what you’ve got. This weekly dance party features tunes selected by DJ Johnny Galvez to get guests moving with a variety of Latin dance styles, including salsa, merengue, and bachata. Don’t worry if you’re rusty, free dance lessons kick off the night at 8 p.m. — so you can show off the rest of the evening. Drink specials like $4 drafts and $6 margaritas might also help with those nerves.

Strut your stuff until midnight on April 24 at Gypsy Bar, 50 West Jefferson Street. Admission is free. Visit the Facebook event page. Amy Young

Rachel Bess
Rachel Bess creates spellbinding oil portraits through the collision of traditional techniques with contemporary characters. She’s showing 18 paintings in “Adventure and Control” at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, 1 East Main Street. Typically, Bess paints people she knows, reflecting the complexity of their interior lives. “They all have this mood I can’t seem to get away from,” she says of her paintings. “It’s searching.”

Lately, she’s been fascinated by the sea. “Maybe that’s part of being a desert rat, or showing the force of nature overall,” Bess says. “I tend to paint small because I want people to have intimate conversations with my paintings.”

Get a good look between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25. The show continues through Sunday, August 5. Visit the Mesa Arts Center website. Lynn Trimble

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