Hand to God
When two kickass Valley theater companies get together for a co-production, everybody wins. When the play features a foul-mouthed puppet, we’re not terribly surprised anymore, but it does make everything even better.
In Robert Askins’ Hand to God, mounted by Stray Cat Theatre and Phoenix Theatre, Tyrone is a felt American who began life in a Christian puppet ministry in small-town Texas. After he’s teamed with a troubled young man named Jason (whose mom embarrassingly leads the group), Tyrone’s personality evolves. Into what Jason needs, or what he is? All we know is that in rehearsals, people have been so violently amused they ceased to breathe (eventually starting again).
The 2015 Broadway production received five Tony nominations. Enjoy the opening night performance on Friday, February 2, at 8 p.m. The show runs through Sunday, February 25, at Phoenix Theatre, 100 East McDowell Road. Tickets start at $35 at 602-254-2151 or the Phoenix Theatre website. Julie Peterson
Some of the Valley’s best emerging artists are working on master of fine arts degrees at Arizona State University. So, if you want to explore works by up-and-comers on the local arts scene, it’s worth seeing graduate art student exhibitions every chance you get.
Case in point: A pop-up exhibition by ASU students who call themselves The Art Group (or “TAG”). They’re showing about 30 works during a free pop-up exhibition inside the auditorium for the A.E. England building, 424 North Central Avenue. It’s happening from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, February 2, as part of ASU’s five-day, multi-campus Open Door 2018 event.
More than a dozen grad students will have work on view, and the roster will include Emily Ritter, Ryan Eckert, Hao Jiang, Monica Wapaha, Dani Godreau, and Veronica Aponte. They work in diverse media, including painting, photography, ceramics, and sculpture. And they tackle topics from recycling to colonialism. Visit the Art Group Facebook page. Lynn Trimble
Even while just eating a sandwich, dancers can make us discern and appreciate the strength and beauty of the human body. However, performers also remind us that beautiful doesn’t always go hand in hand with good. Halo Movement Collective’s Savage Beauty program of dance, reimagined since its 2015 premiere, weaves a myth of splendor so extreme it can destroy the beholder.
Employing film, photography, and fashion in Halo’s trademark synthesis, the dancers lure the audience through the venue at Unexpected Art Gallery for staggered and scrambled gallery-style performances, including one that features a bungee harness, culminating in a catwalk-staged movement piece. Showtime on Friday, February 2, is 7:30 p.m. at 734 West Polk Street. Additional performances take place Saturday, February 3. Admission is $20. Visit the Halo Movement Collective website. Julie Peterson
Versatile funnyman Pedro Herrera III likes nicknames. He’s got a slew of them. Versace Mariachi, Tamale Kingpin, and Ghetto Vaquero are a few. On Friday, February 2, he appears as Chingo Bling, the Mexican cowboy and rapper. It’s the character he launched his career with, in Texas in the early 2000s. Armed with a bunch of self-parodying tunes examining Mexican American border culture and related stereotypes, he entered the music biz. Stand-up became another way he could get satirical.
Find out why his YouTube channel has more than 25 million views when he performs at 7:30 p.m. at Tempe Improv, 930 East University Drive. Admission to the 21-and-over show is $25, and VIP tickets are $45 and include a meet-and greet. A two-drink minimum is required. Call 480-921- 9877 or visit the Tempe Improv website. Amy Young
DJ Kid Koala, author of the 2003 graphic novel Nufonia Must Fall, wanted to bring to the stage his story of a lovelorn robot who becomes romantically infatuated with an office worker. He enlisted director K.K. Barrett to create a spectacle of sight and sound. Cameras will capture the live puppet show of the story on a miniature set, which will be projected on a screen behind Koala as the Afiara Quartet plays the score.
Experience a new spin on this yarn at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, February 2, at Musical Instrument Museum Music Theatre, 4725 East Mayo Boulevard. Tickets are $48.50 to $68.50. There will be a meet-and-greet with Koala before this performance. For more information, visit the MIM website. Jason Keil
The way things have been going, at first, Women in Horror Month sounded like maybe it wouldn’t be such a cool thing. But it is! For nine years, February’s been a time to celebrate the contributions of women to the horror genre. (The initiative’s newsletter is called Ax Wound, and we’re in love.) FilmBar’s 2018 WiHM salute is A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, a Persian-language American vampire romance from 2014. Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour and starring Sheila Vand, the film moseys through decrepit, noir-ish Taft, California (depicting fictional Bad City, Iran), reveling in its own hip soundtrack and velvety black-and-whiteness. “It’s like Sergio Leone and David Lynch had an Iranian rock ’n’ roll baby, and Nosferatu came and babysat for them,” Amirpour says in the press kit.
Raise the stakes at 10 p.m. Saturday, February 3, at 815 North Second Street. Admission is $12. Visit the Film Bar website. Julie Peterson
The uterus has inspired some pretty impressive artwork through the years, by artists including Judy Chicago and Georgia O’Keeffe. But they’re not alone. Phoenix-based artists used diverse imagery, including female anatomy, to explore reproductive rights during last year’s “Nasty Women: Phoenix Unite” exhibition at Grand ArtHaus, 1501 Grand Avenue. And now, they’re doing it again.
More than 100 artists, including Megan Koth and Patricia Sannit, have submitted work for the latest “Nasty Women” art show, which is designed to promote civil rights for women, immigrants, the LGBT community, and others who’ve been marginalized by mainstream politics.
See what they’ve come up with from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, February 3. Arrive by 7 p.m. to hear readings curated by Deborah Sussman. Featured writers include Phoenix poet laureate Rosemary Dombrowski and New Times contributor Sativa Peterson. The free event also includes T-shirt screen printing. Proceeds from all art sales benefit Planned Parenthood Arizona. Visit the Phoenix Nasty Women website. Lynn Trimble
The less linguistically inclined might be forgiven for thinking the term “lucha libre” translates to “free lunch.” But we all know there’s no such thing, not even in Spanish. Instead, this lovely morsel of Latin alliteration translates to “free fight,” which of course manifests as “men wrestling in decorative costumes.”
So when Live Lucha Libre comes to Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue, on Saturday, February 3, the costumes will be grand, the pageantry will be grander, and the wrestling will be real (sorta). And to reiterate: The burritos will not be free. The 21-and-over event starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 and up via the Crescent Ballroom website. Rob Kroehler
Ready for the Alien Invasion? Nah, we don’t mean a visit from outer space travelers. This is a massive truck – crafted to look like a sci-fi vehicle — making an appearance at this year’s Monster Jam. That bad boy will appear alongside other fierce autos like Grave Digger, Raminator, and Wonder Woman.
See more than 50 vehicles that have been modified into tools of destruction. These beasts on wheels will display speed and smashing power as they crush and crunch their way through the arena, competing for top spots.
The jam starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday, February 3, at University of Phoenix Stadium, 1 East Cardinals Drive in Glendale. Tickets to the event are $15 and up, and passes to the preshow pit party (which runs from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.) are an additional $10. Visit the Monster Jam website. Amy Young
Why compromise your comfort when you can party in your pajamas? On Saturday, February 3, throw on your most comfortable footie PJs and join the 2018 Tempe Onesie Bar Crawl.
The 21-and-over pajama party kicks off at 6 p.m. at Handlebar Tempe, 680 South Mill Avenue, #109, and ends at 2 a.m. with an after-party at the The Funky Monk. Besides the opportunity to stay cozy, this crawl also includes a complimentary drink or shot at the check-in locations.
Tickets are available for $15 to $20. For more information, visit the Facebook event page. Lindsay Roberts
Most of us have met the parents of at least one significant other. From raging bigots to people who are just a whole lot classier than we are, we’ve come to expect the unexpected. In Mad Gravity, Tommy’s fiancée’s folks are Dadaist performance artists whose living room is a full-time theater with a full-time audience. Elements that enhance that challenge: Tommy and Dakota are teenage sweethearts, the other set of in-laws is also visiting, and a comet is approaching Earth. P.S. The audience is played by the audience. Mind = blown!
Mesa Encore Theatre presents the quirky play through Sunday, February 18. Sunday, February 4’s showtime is 2:30 p.m. at MET’s Black Box, 933 East Main Street. For tickets, $15, visit the Mesa Encore Theatre website or call 480-834-9500. Julie Peterson
It pays to be on mural watch in metro Phoenix, where the scene is thriving. But you’ll miss some exciting pieces if you’re only taking to the streets. Case in point: Cheyenne Randall, a Cheyenne River Sioux artist, is undertaking a new mural project at the Heard Museum, 2301 North Central Avenue, and on the Navajo Nation in Grey Mountain, Arizona.
Randall’s creating mural art at various spots both inside the museum and around its eight-acre campus. Get a glimpse of Randall’s work in progress on Sunday, February 4, when museum hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Museum admission is $18, which also gets you into the museum’s many exhibitions.
The project is meant to democratize art while exploring themes such as colonialism, celebrity culture, fetishizing the natural world, and identity, as it “creates connection points between the Heard and indigenous communities of Arizona,” according to museum materials. Visit the Heard website. Lynn Trimble
Hate capitalism? You aren’t alone. The authors behind the Oasis Zine have delved into the anxieties that come with capitalism by reimagining our current society as a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Now, the zine’s next issue is launching. And it will explore anti-capitalist themes through a collection of essays, poetry, and art.
Get a copy of the new issue at the free Oasis Zine Issue 2 Release Party at Wasted Ink Zine Distro, 2222 North 16th Street, on Sunday, February 4. Attendees will be able to meet the authors and hear readings of the zine from 7 to 9 p.m. Visit the Facebook event page. Lindsay Roberts