IN THE BIG HOUSE. Since 1950, average new American homes have doubled in size, while the average size of families has actually shrunk by half. This paradoxical trend gets a thorough examination in a slide lecture hosted by Women Build Houses.
Group members discuss people "who have dignified their lives" by building and living in very small, very efficient structures.
Lecture runs from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in the Niche Community, 1050 S. Verdugo Ave. A $5 donation is suggested. For details, call 206-8000.
LATIN FEAST. Fiery Latin American culture reaches fever pitch at the third annual Showcase of New and Outstanding Talent.
The spicy musical spread features Chilean folk dancers Huasos; contemporary soloist Suzette Marquez; "Trobodor" Humberto Escobar; and historic tunes by Trio Revolución. That's in addition to a great buffet featuring hot and cold hors d'oeuvres.
The showcase runs from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the Plaza Hotel Conference Center, 1900 E. Speedway Blvd. Tickets are $8 and $12 at the door. For details, call 888-8816.
OPERATIC REBOUND. After a 27-year hiatus, Giuseppe Verdi's classic Un Ballo in Maschera returns to the Arizona Opera Stage.
A controversial work in Verdi's day, the opera is also considered his most sophisticated, a dramatic spectacle of love and political intrigue set in passionate and politically volatile 19th-century New Orleans.
The production features tenors Craig Sirianni and Allan Glassman; baritones Eduardo del Campo and Brian Montgomery; and sopranos Brenda Dawe and Pamela South.
Show times are 7:30 tonight and tomorrow, and 2 p.m. Sunday, at the TCC Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave. Tickets range from $17 to $67, and are available by phone at 321-1000.
RAW IMAGES. Top art hits the floor with new works by Ken Jones and Marvin Shaver, now on display at Raw Gallery.
Jones combines metal, leather, wood and wax in ways that "are both arousing and frightening," while Shaver's painting expertly challenges the notions of land and landscape.
Exhibit opens with a reception from 7 to 10 tonight at Raw Gallery, 43 S. Sixth Ave. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 1 to 7 p.m. Thursday, and during Downtown Saturday Nights. For information, call 882-6927.
RUBBER BURNS. Asphalt heats up this weekend with the Federal-Mogul Drag Racing Series.
Among the competitors is hometown drag king Jim Kelso, who'll roar down the track in his lightning-fast Plymouth Duster. "This Federal-Mogul event is a fantastic opportunity for everyone concerned," Kelso says. "There is so much drag racing history in Tucson." He should know: the hot-rodder owned his first car before his first license, and witnessed the opening of Tucson Dragway in 1971.
Competition gets underway at 8 a.m. today and 9 a.m. tomorrow at Southwest International Raceway, 11300 S. Houghton Road, next to the Pima County Fairgrounds. Daily admission is $15, free for children ages 10 and under. Call 762-9714 for information.
FASHION AFOOT. "Do not follow the path," says the ancient African proverb. "Go where there is no path to begin the trail."
The Barbea Williams Performing Co. does just that in Sacred Secrets of Africa. This choreographic weave "emphasizes fashion that feels dance, fashion that moves poetry, fashion that whispers song, fashion that embraces music, history and spirituality, featuring the most beautiful people on earth and their culture."
That's a tall order to fill, but Williams' troupe has been up to the task for some 27 years, landing endless local and state awards in the process.
Special fashion show guests and pre-show entertainment include La Donna Pierson, who "embraces" Natalie Cole and traditional African song; Yunah June Howard, author of Divine Poetry Inherited; Holiday-esque singer Connie Johnson; rapper Mo-Wattz; Chezale Rodriguez of Sister Friend Song and Rap; and the children, teens and adults of Williams' effervescent troupe.
Event runs from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., with adult and teen dance parties. Advance tickets range from $5 to $25, available at Accent Salon of Beauty, Al's Barber Shop, Antigone Books and Hair on Wheels. Call 628-7785 for information.
FIDDLIN' AROUND. Stringed wunderkinds Johnny Cunningham and Kevin Burke blast into town for the Celtic Fiddle Festival.
Last in Tucson in 1993, Cunningham hails from Portobello, Scotland, where he was a founding member of the groups Silly Wizard and Relativity. He's known for his dazzling fiddle technique, tackling lightning-fast reels and dreamy slow ballads with equal ease.
Burke first played the Old Pueblo in 1982, appearing with guitarist Michael O'Domhnaill. He's particularly known as a master of the intricate County Sligo style.
Rounding out the show are traditional Breton-style fiddler Christian Lemaitre, and master fingerstyle guitarist Soig Soberil. Both are members of the Breton band Kornog.
Show time is 7:30 p.m. in the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd. Tickets are $20, $18 for seniors and In Concert! members, available at Hear's Music, Antigone Books, Harp and Shamrock, and by calling 327-4809.
TWINKLE TOES. Tap your inner Astaire and Rogers when Shamus Sean McManus hosts another Social Dance.
The onetime Dubliner dishes up a melodic smorgasbord of recorded tunes, featuring everyone from Sinatra to jazz great Maynard Ferguson. Dancers are also welcome to bring their own favorite CDs.
Dances run from 7 to 11 p.m. each Sunday in the Viscount Suite Hotel, 4855 E. Broadway Blvd. Admission is $4. All profits benefit American war veterans. For details, call 745-6500.
SLEIGHT-OF-HANDERS. Top-shelf illusion rules in It's Magic, featuring a bevy of local talent.
Highlighting the show are Gene and Charlene Collins. Gene has spent two decades entertaining audiences all over town, along with appearing as "Top Hat" on the one-time TV series The Young Riders. He's also competed in the international, invitational Contest of Magic at Bailey's in Las Vegas. He mixes beautiful music with the mastery of manipulation to deliver an unforgettable evening.
Also on the bill is Norm Marini, a past president of the Society of American Magicians and regular winner of Tucson's magician of the year awards.
Show time is 7 p.m. in The Gaslight Theatre, 7010 E. Broadway Blvd. Tickets are $10, available at Williams Magic and Novelties. For information, call 790-4060.
SPAZ-CAT. Funnyman Bobcat Goldthwait laughs his way into Tucson for appearances at Laff's Comedy Caffe.
From voice-overs for The Simpsons and Beavis and Butthead to tons of stand-up, the Catman has done it all. He's even starred in his own FX variety series, Bobcat's Big-Ass Show. But he perhaps remains best known as "Zed" in the Police Academy flicks.
Influenced by George Carlin, Andy Kaufman, Monty Python and '70s punk bands, Goldthwait still says, "Johnny Rotten has more to do with me than Johnny Carson."
Show times are 8 and 10:30 tonight and tomorrow at Laffs Comedy Caffe, 2900 E. Broadway Blvd. Tickets are $14 for the early show, $12.50 for the later performance, and available by calling 323-8669.
ANOTHER WAY. Two Faces of Forgiveness discusses ways to heal the wounds of murder.
This unique forum features Bud Welch, who lost his daughter in the Oklahoma City bombing, and James Hamm, a convicted killer who was eventually freed and went on to earn a law degree. The two discuss their journey out of despair and violence.
Forum begins at 7 p.m. in St. Frances Cabrini Church, 3201 E. Presidio Road. A $5 donation is requested. Call 325-6240 for information.
LIVING LEGEND. He's been on the entertainment scene practically since your granddaddy wore knickers. We're talking about none other than Carl Reiner, who arrives in town for a UA Hillel Foundation fundraiser.
Besides simply being Rob's dad, Carl Reiner conceived The Dick Van Dyke Show, and directed Steve Martin in The Jerk and All of Me. He's the proud owner of 12 Emmys and one Grammy.
The legend speaks at 7 p.m. in UA Centennial Hall, inside the main gate east of Park Avenue. Tickets are $30 and $35, available at the Centennial Hall box office (621-3341).
DARKER SHADE O' GREEN. Quintessential Productions gives St. Paddy's Day a different twist with A Skull in Connemara.
This black comedy by Martin McDonagh provides a hilarious glimpse of life (and death) in modern rural Ireland. It centers around a gravedigger with a big secret known to all -- or is it?
Ireland's most acclaimed young playwright, McDonagh is also the author of The Beauty Queen of Leenane and The Lonesome West. Skull continues his often humorous exploration of the tension between Ireland's traditions and encroaching modernity.
Preview performances are at 8 tonight and tomorrow on The Quintessential Stage, 118 S. Fifth Ave. Regular performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 4 p.m. Sunday, through April 9. Tickets are $12, $10 for seniors, students and military, and available by calling 798-0708.
FREE TRADERS. Proving that politics can't stop art, the local scene heats up for a lightning performance by ¡Cuban'smo!
More than a year before Ry Cooder revived the Buena Vista Social Club's fortunes, ¡Cuban'smo! was leading the Cuban music invasion to these shores. The 1996 release of their self-titled first record broke the island's music scene wide-open, while their 1997 follow-up, Malembe, introduced the band as Havana's hottest export. The release of Reencarnacion a year later only continued the trend.
Through it all, they remain a modern, 14-member Cuban group which never leaves the clave, nor loses sight of the great Cuban dance rhythms that have influenced the world since the '30s.
Show time is 7:30 p.m. in the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Advance tickets are $20, available at Hear's Music, Antigone Books, the Congress Street Store, Zip's University, Guitars Etc., and by calling 881-3947. Tickets cost $23 at the door.