The signature joke formula of the frequently brilliant young comedienne Wendy Liebman is the added phrase that makes an initially innocuous remark go bad. "I'm a writer," Liebman will say, in her prim yet spacy voice, and then, as if to herself, she'll add, "I write checks. . . . Mostly fiction." It's the punch line as casual, dying-fall afterthought. Liebman takes the stage at the Improv at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 8; 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, April 9; 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday, April 10; and 8 p.m. Sunday, April 11, at the Tempe Improv Comedy Theater, 930 East University (at Cornerstone mall). Tickets are $10 and $12. 480-921-9877.
More one-woman comedy: Valley actress Nancy Therese Guilliams plays the title role in Willy Russell's Shirley Valentine, about a working-class housewife's romantic trip to Greece. The show opens with performances at 8 p.m. Friday, April 9; and 8 p.m. Saturday, April 10, at Kerr Cultural Center, 6110 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. Tickets are $10, $7 for students. 480-965-5377 (Kerr), 480-503-5555 (Dillard's).
The St. Petersburg State Ice Ballet, a company of 34 skaters of Olympic rank under the choreography of Konstantin Rassadin, presents Swan Lake on Ice, a glaceed version of the Tchaikovsky masterpiece, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 9; 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, April 10; and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 11, at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 West Adams. Southwest Dance presents the troupe. Tickets, ranging from $28 to $36, are available at Dillard's box office; call 480-503-5555.
And for more musical fantasy, Lerner and Loewe's much-loved Brigadoon, about a Scottish village that appears for only one day every hundred years, is performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 9; and the same time Saturday, April 10, at the Sundome, 19403 R.H. Johnson Boulevard in Sun City West. Tickets for the touring show range from $9 to $29. 623-975-1900 (the 'dome), 480-503-5555 (Dillard's).
Sea-adventure author Clive Cussler pays a visit to our landlocked state on Friday, April 9, at Camelback Inn, 5402 East Lincoln Drive in Scottsdale. Drinks and hors d'oeuvres begin at 5:30 p.m.; a talk and book signing follow. The cost is $40; an additional (tax-deductible) donation of $25 to the event's sponsor, Arizona Center for the Book, is appreciated. Reservations and prepayment are required. Call 602-265-2651, extension 600.
Also on the bibliophile beat: Numerous exhibitions, sales and author signings will be offered at the Arizona Book Festival, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 10, at Margaret T. Hance Deck Park, Central and Culver. Among many others, Mel Weiser will discuss his behind-the-scenes memoir Nick Nolte: Caught in the Act at 10:30 a.m. on the West Stage, with a signing to follow from 11 a.m. to noon in the Changing Hands Bookstore booth. Anne Perry is scheduled to sign her newest work, Bedford Square, from 1 to 2 p.m.; and a variety of children's activities is also offered. Admission to all events is free. Call 602-257-0335 for more information.
Crazed Russian folk-rockers Limpopo, whose music can be heard on the soundtrack for the film Armageddon, take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 10, in the auditorium at Arcadia High School, 4703 East Indian School. Tickets are $12, $7 for kids 12 and younger. Call 1-310-836-0532 for more information.
Jamaican and African music are celebrated for the fifth annual time at Reggaefest, from noon to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, April 10; and from noon to 9 p.m. Sunday, April 11. The acts include Michael Roze, Ras Shallow, Justin Hinds, The Wailing Souls, Hepcat, Boomshaka, and Native Roots. Also on hand is a marketplace of ethnic foods, crafts, clothing, jewelry, artifacts, toys and literature. The scene is Symphony Hall Terrace, Second Street and Adams. Tickets are $15 per day at the gate; weekend passes cost $25--a limited supply is available at Rasta Tings, 847 West University in Tempe. 480-966-8363.
Reportedly not putting in an appearance at Reggaefest is tenor Andrea Bocelli, the matinee-idol alternative to Pavarotti; he is, however, scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. Sunday, April 11, at America West Arena, 201 East Jefferson. Tickets, if any are left, range from $45 to $350. 602-379-7800 (AWA), 480-503-5555 (Dillard's).
L.A.-based tunesmith Chris Laterzo is the featured artist at the "Songwriter's Circus," a music and spoken-word festival that kicks off at 6 p.m. Sunday, April 11, at Balboa Cafe, 404 South Mill in Tempe. Other featured performers for the evening include Brian Burgess, David Insley and Barry Graham. There's no cover. 480-966-1300.
The ongoing Phoenix Symphony Close-Up series continues from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday, April 12, at Borders Books & Music at Biltmore Fashion Park, 24th Street and Camelback, Suite 200. This month, assistant principal oboe and English horn player Paula Engerer will perform on and discuss that unusual and little-understood instrument. Admission is free, but seating is limited; the event includes a drawing for free PS tickets. 602-957-6660.
Borrowing a title from H.G. Wells, Shemer Art Center and Museum hosts "The Shape of Things to Come," a juried show of contemporary sculpture. It opens with a reception at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 13, and continues through Friday, May 7. Works by Eddie Shea are featured in the Front Gallery; sculptures by Larry McLaughlin continue indefinitely on the museum grounds. The mission-style facility, a former residence, was built between 1919 and 1928. Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. 5005 East Camelback. 602-262-4727.
"Carlinda's Song," choreographed to the Portuguese blues form known as Fado by guest artist Marta Renzi, is one of six dance pieces that make up the program at the ASU Spring Dance Concert. The work is named after Carlinda Rebelo, a longtime custodian in the university's dance building who overheard the music, which she had loved since she was a child in Lisbon, as Renzi listened to it in the studio one day, and rushed in in tears. Rebelo appears in the title role in Renzi's piece, a narrative about a dressmaker and the mannequin who symbolizes the various men in her life. Also on the bill at the annual event is "Thin Air," by dance professor Cliff Keuter; "The Collective," by dance professor Marion Kirk Jones; an Argentine tango piece called "Tango Para Hoy," developed by dance graduate students Danilea Borgialli and Jeff Musgrove; "Nothing in Particular," choreographed by the Murkofsky/Tsukayama Dance Theater; "A Sense of Place," by student Nova Mejia; and "Tango in the Emotional Vineyards" by Wendy Longmire-Davis. The concert opens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 14. It continues at the same time Thursday, April 15; Friday, April 16; and Saturday, April 17; and at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 18, at the University Dance Laboratory at Nelson Fine Arts Center, 10th Street and Mill in Tempe. Tickets are $12, $8 for students and seniors. 480-965-6447.
Under the baton of maestro Aturo Diemecke, the Orquestro Sinfonica Nacional de Mexico (a.k.a. Mexico's National Symphony) takes the stage at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 14, at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe. Tickets range from $9 to $39. 480-965-3434 (Gammage), 480-503-5555 (Dillard's).