First chance, last chance

Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre performs "Joseph" through Aug 21

Though summer heat means thinner event calendars for some Valley venues, there’s still plenty to do. Every weekend seems to have its own flavor, and this weekend–which features your first and last chance to see several community theater productions–is no exception.

One of my all-time favorite musicals, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” opened last night at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Mesa. It’s fun for all ages and features an interesting mix of upbeat tunes like “Any Dream Will Do” with more soulful selections such as “Close Every Door.”

Last Chance: "Forever Plaid" at Hale Centre Theatre closes Saturday

Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale opens “The Wedding Singer” today, July 9. Though it runs through Aug 1, you might want to see it sooner rather than later. Their shows often sell out, especially when adoring family and friends pack the house to enjoy the show and show their support.

Also opening today is the 13th Annual “Hormel New Works Festival” at Phoenix Theatre, which features staged readings of new works by emerging and established playwrights. It’s a solid out-of-the-ordinary choice for date night or a get-together with friends.

Moira Smiley plays the Musical Instrument Museum on July 9

Music lovers of all ages have a friend in the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, which presents diverse musical performers on a regular basis. Tonight it’s Moira Smiley and VOCO, who specialize in “vocal harmonies and vaudevillian accompaniment.” It’s a one time deal, so head out to the MIM tonight if you can still get tickets and find the vocals/vaudeville combo intriguing. Sat, July 10, kids 8-11 can enjoy “Build a Rhythm Workshop: Making Drums From Around the World” from 10am-noon. $35. Preregister.

On the family-friendly front there’s the “Off the Cuff” Comedy Improv Show” at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe (near other treasures like Hoodlum’s Music & Movies, Wildflower Bread Company and more). The 7pm show features a comedy troupe performing “family-friendly improv created from audience member suggestions.”

Free "Cars & Guitars" opens in Tempe

High on the list of “last chance” shows worth seeing is the Hale Centre Theatre production of “Forever Plaid,” a musical featuring 28 songs steeped in ’50s harmonies, which closes at the Gilbert theater after its final July 10 performance. Their children’s theater will open “The Little Mermaid” that same day, and it’ll run through Nov 27. I’m looking forward to reviewing it once my summer settles down a bit.

Saturday is your first chance to enjoy a unique collection of Fender-theme musical instruments (the company is based in Scottsdale), cars and memorabilia at Tempe Center for the Arts (the exhibit runs through Oct 16). This baby isn’t just fun, it’s free.

"Yellow Bird Dancers" perform Saturday at the Heard Museum in Phoenix

So is the Heard Museum’s “Sizzlin’ Summer Saturday” complete with entry to the Phoenix museum’s 10 exhibits, kids’ activities, music, dance performance and more. Not visiting the Heard Museum is like living a lifetime in NYC but never making it to the MoMA or the Met.

Who would do such a thing?

Another local treasure offering free festivities this Saturday, July 10, is the ASU Art Museum in Tempe. Their 11th Annual “Family Fun Day” from 10am-2pm includes 11am-noon activities with CONDER/dance.

First chance: "The Little Mermaid" opens at Hale this weekend

You can wind down your weekend with a Sunday afternoon performance by a sax quartet and harpist as part of the Phoenix Art Museum’s “Downtown Chamber Series,” for which advance reservations are recommended.

And finally, Sunday is your last chance to see the Great Arizona Puppet Theater perform “Goldilocks,” which they describe as “a slapstick version of the traditional tale.”

Go ahead, explore more than one. You deserve that much happiness this weekend…

–Lynn

Great Arizona Puppet Theater presents "Goldilocks"

Note: Always call ahead to confirm dates, times, location, ages, ticket requirements and such. For more family-friendly fare, start each day with a visit to our online calendar of events and activities happening around the Valley and state (or subscribe to the monthly magazine so you have a calendar to keep in your diaper bag, planner or glove box).

Coming up: Lynn reads a lot into “Despicable Me,” a new movie her daughter Lizabeth prefers to think of as simply fun. Also playing in Phoenix for just a few days this week is “Grease: Sing-A-Long.” Showings in other cities are selling out quickly so don’t delay if you want to join the fun. The PG-13 movie comes to the AMC Esplanade 14 on July 15-18. For times and tickets, visit www.greasemovie.com.

Photos courtesy of artists/venues (Hale Centre Theatre photos by Wade Moran)

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