Play Room

The displaced actors of the Algonquin Theater Company have paid the price for their art, and now they are opening a new season in new digs at the West Valley Art Museum, 17420 North Avenue of the Arts in Surprise, with the fitting French play Art. Robyn Allen, Algonquin producer and director, says the troupe members have wanted to perform Art, a comedy about three friends squabbling over a very small piece of arguably overpriced modern art, since before they lost the lease at the Black Box Theater. They never got the chance. "For a year we didn't have a facility," Allen says, adding that they really wanted to stay on the west side.

Cue serendipity, and the West Valley Art Museum made them an offer they couldn't refuse. The museum's largest gallery will be converted into a theater for the three-week run of Art, beginning Friday, September 17. Tickets, $2 to $7 for non-members, are available at the door. For more information, call 623-972-0635. -- C. Murphy Hebert

Bloody Fun

TIMB sees red -- er, read

Wed 9/22
It's an evening of "verbal chaos" at Modified Arts, 407 East Roosevelt, when Theater in My Basement presents The Constant Epiphanies of Billy the Blood Donor on Wednesday, September 22. Local playwright Logan Blackwell says the play is about "a loser college kid . . . trying not to be a loser." Chris Danowski, who's directing the public reading, says Blackwell (admittedly "a stone's throw away" from all of the 26 characters) "operates at a different rhythm." He adds that Blackwell has a funny way of manipulating reality. The play "takes some strange turns." So be prepared for anything when the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door. Visit -- C. Murphy Hebert

Cast Bitch Effort

Chapelle's cut-up crew kicks it at the Improv

Really, who wants to see Leona Helmsley, Paris Hilton and Ivana Trump wearing matching Versace gowns, doing the backup dancer shuffle while singing a stunningly painful karaoke rendition of "Rhinestone Cowboy"? Anybody? Nobody? Thankfully, the "Rich Biatch Tour" has nothing to do with extravagance. It's all about entertainment, as Charlie Murphy (pictured), Donnell Rawlings and Bill Burr -- stars of Comedy Central's Chappelle's Show -- take the stage for a slew of shows at the Tempe Improv, 930 East University, this weekend. The trio has contributed many hilarious moments to Chappelle's Show, including Murphy's "True Hollywood Stories" ("I'm Rick James, bitch!"), Rawlings' "Ashy Larry" character, and Burr's spots as "The Deadpan Sports Commentator." Tickets are $20. Call 480-921-9877 for information or reservations. -- Niki D'Andrea

Drip, drip

Nerd play

Ever had trouble shaking a geek? If so, have we got the play for you. In the case of Willum Cubbert, the leech of a geek is a GI who saved Cubbert's life in Vietnam. "As long as you are alive," Cubbert writes the GI, "you will have somebody on Earth who will do anything for you." The nerd takes Cubbert seriously -- and proceeds to drive him crazy in The Nerd, presented by Theatre Eclectic at 8 p.m. Friday, September 17, and Saturday, September 18, at Kelton Performing Arts Center, 2820 West Kelton Lane. Tickets are $10 to $15. Call 602-978-2211. --Erika Wurst

Star Treatment

Ballet AZ performs under the Milky Way

Looking to impress your significant other with your deep appreciation of the dance, but don't feel like shelling out the dough for a proper date? Then indulge your inner cheapskate and make way for the fancy footwork at the annual Ballet Under the Stars. The Ballet Arizona traditional season opener includes five nights of ballet at five different parks across the Valley -- and it's free. Bring a blanket, beach chairs and a picnic basket (at least make it look like you put forth an effort) to Red Mountain High School in Mesa on September 20, Sahuaro Ranch Park in Glendale on September 21, Washington Park in Phoenix on September 22, Steele Park in Phoenix on September 23 or Tempe Town Lake Beach Park on September 24. Don't be fooled by the freebie admission -- this is ballet. Performances include both classical and contemporary pieces and are about an hour long. For more information, visit www.balletaz. org. -- C. Murphy Hebert

Shel of a Time

Herberger hosts snippets of Silverstein

When it's lunch time and there's nothing to do,
the Herberger Theater might be for you.
Five bucks for a play, and that's pretty lean
for a play based on the works of Shel Silverstein.
Shel's Shorts is a series of vignettes
featuring folks we could never forget,
like little Jimmy Jet, who turned into a TV,
the sad and selfless Giving Tree,
and that stinky Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
who would not take the garbage out.
Okay, enough rhyme. Shel's Shorts, presented by the Blackball Ensemble, runs through September 23 at the Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. The curtain rises at 12:10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Admission is $5, and lunch (optional) is also $5. Call 602-254-7399 for info. --Niki D'Andrea

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