Things to Do

Seven Things to Do in Phoenix This Weekend

Look for Mary Wilhelm's work at Alwun House.
Look for Mary Wilhelm's work at Alwun House. Alwun House

Start fall off right by packing your weekend full of fun. Over the next couple of days, you can see an award-winning musical in Tempe, go see monster-themed art at Alwun House or listen to a performance by the Chandler Symphony.
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This year's Arizona State Fair awaits.
Melissa Fossum

Arizona State Fair Opening Day 2021

The Arizona State Fair has been through more twists than a Tilt-A-Whirl ride over the last year. First, the pandemic caused the cancellation of its 2020 edition, save for a drive-thru food fair event held in its place. Then, fair organizers announced the event was moving to Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, only to reverse their decision and return it to its longtime home at the Arizona State Fairgrounds, 1826 West McDowell Road. And last month, they announced the popular free concert series inside Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum wasn’t happening due to budgetary woes. So what can the public expect when they turn out for opening day on Friday, October 1? Most of the usual highlights, that’s what, including a midway filled with games and thrill rides, plenty of farm animals, and an abundance of deep-fried foodstuffs. There will also be monster truck rallies and rodeos in the grandstand area and all of the usual vendors and exhibits. The fair runs from Wednesday to Sunday through October 30. Hours vary. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and children 5 to 13, and free for kids under 4. Benjamin Leatherman

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Werewolf tales are coming to Taliesin West.
Stacey Walston

Werewolf Legends

Theater geeks were giddy last week when they got to watch four hours of coverage for the Tony Awards and the return of live Broadway theater in New York City. Shakespeare got a shoutout, sort of. Mostly because it’s becoming obvious to more and more people that the theater canon needs to expand far beyond the Bard. Still, there’s no reason you can’t have a little fun with the Southwest Shakespeare Company, which is getting into the spirit of spooky season with a Beau Heckman play called Legends of the Werewolf. We’re told it will answer several of your burning werewolf-related questions, including where they came from and whether they’re still among us. Directed by Mary Way, it’s being performed at the Pavilion Theater at Taliesin West, 12345 North Taliesin West, Scottsdale. The opening night performance for this world-premiere production is 7 p.m. on Friday, October 1. The play continues through October 15. General admission is $35 and premium seating is $45. Make some mental notes while you’re there, in case you find inspiration for a new twist on a classic Halloween costume. Lynn Trimble

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Empyrean and Child by Jimmy Fike.
Alwun House

'Monsters Menagerie'

Strange and eerie things are afoot at the Alwun House, 1204 East Roosevelt Street, as evidenced by the enormous, creepy-looking daddy longlegs spider perched on its front lawn. Inside the historic art venue are the odd, unsettling, and provocative works of more than two dozen local artists making up this year’s "Monsters Menagerie" show. Creations by painters Jimmy Fike and Henry Hermetet, photographer Holly Shoemaker, and others are showcased in the annual exhibition (which has previously been described as featuring “blood-curdling creations, profane noir fantasies, and other unworldly art”). The offerings run the gamut from mixed-media to taxidermy by Echoes of Natura and weirdly repurposed figurines by Thrift Creeper. An artists’ reception will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, October 1. Admission is free. The show runs through October 30. Benjamin Leatherman

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Mariachi music and folklorico dance is coming to Chandler.
Chandler Center for the Arts

Mariachi Festival

If you’re more likely to see a rock concert or hit a jazz club than indulge in a little mariachi music, you’ve been missing out on some talented Arizona performers. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix. The 22nd Annual Mariachi and Folklorico Festival is coming to Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue, Chandler, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 2. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in Mexican music and dance while supporting the Arizona creatives who’ll be taking to the stage. The evening will also include art vendors in the lobby and an exhibition in The Gallery at Chandler Center for the Arts. Tickets start at $35, and VIP tickets are $75. Featured performers include Mariachi Tesoro de Tucson and Ballet Folklorico Quetzalli-AZ. It never hurts to expand your musical horizons, and you might leave feeling inspired to add a lot more mariachi to your life. Lynn Trimble

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The Irish Cultural Center is getting a temporary Hogwarts makeover inside.
Lynn Trimble

Wizarding Extravaganza

We’re not letting J.K. Rowling off the hook here, recalling her epic failure when it comes to transgender rights. But some people find it’s possible to embrace the character of Harry Potter without supporting the writer who gave him life. Hence, popular culture is still filled with references to the fictional world of Hogwarts, where Potter and his friends learned all the finer points of wizardry. The Irish Cultural Center, 1106 North Central Avenue, is transforming its McClelland Library into a unique vision of Hogwarts for its Wizarding Extravaganza from 4 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, October 2. Costumes are encouraged, of course, and you should bring a blanket to sit on if you want to stay for the outdoor evening screening of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Festivities will include themed treats and cocktails, plus photo opportunities and other Hogwarts-inspired activities. Non-member tickets are $40 (or $20 for children under 12). Naturally, the Sorting Hat will be on hand for those who can’t seem to find their inner Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin. Lynn Trimble

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So ready for the return of live classical music.
Chandler Symphony Orchestra

Chandler Symphony

Just when you think you’ll be able to shake the annoying jingle from a certain commercial with a band of kids pretending to play musical instruments while they sing about donating cars to charity, the earworm takes another deep dive into your brain cells. The ire is compounded if you actually play an instrument like the violin, because you know even young musicians learn not to hold the bow like a hacksaw. Thankfully, you can wipe all that frustration away with just a bit of time listening to live classical music by the pros, including the Chandler Symphony Orchestra. They’re performing a free concert at Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue, at 3 p.m. on Sunday, October 3; and the event will also be livestreamed. Vanja Gjumar Nikolovski will be conducting works by composers Emmanuel Chabrier, Franz Liszt, Franz Schubert, and Richard Wagner. Seating is first-come, first-served, and organizers are asking live and virtual attendees to RSVP online. Fair warning: Once you see the finesse of professional bowing, you’ll feel even more angst about commercials that can’t manage to get it right. Lynn Trimble

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Can you spell m-u-s-i-c-a-l theater?

Broadway Buzz

Ever wonder about the inner psyche of kids that compete in spelling or geography bees? Gain a bit of insight with a musical comedy called The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which brings out all the little foibles of six middle school spellers and their three grown-up judges. The show opened on Broadway in 2005, and received two Tony Awards, including one for Best Book (that’s the part of a musical that gets spoken, not sung). Now it’s part of the 2021-22 season for ASU Music Theatre and Opera, which will perform the musical at the Evelyn Smith Music Theatre, 50 East Gammage Parkway, Tempe. The final performance is at 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 3. Tickets are $22. It’s a chance to relive your awkward adolescence, even as you embrace your own quirky, oddball characteristics (past and present). Wear tennis shoes to the show if you must, but remember to tie the shoelaces. Lynn Trimble
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