BALLROOM REBORN. The long-lost, much beloved El Casino Ballroom is back. Yep, that spunky, southside backdrop for our badly misspent youths -- and a million musical memories from Queen Ida to the Forbidden Pigs -- is giddily breathing in fresh air.
Tonight's grand reopening gala features a Louisiana dance party with Buckwheat Zydeco (called "one of the best party bands in America" by The New York Times), global-warming Cajun chow from The French Quarter, and enough swampland orneriness to ruffle your (gasp!) gray hairs. (See Soundbites in this week's Music section for details.)
Chow time is 6:30 p.m., dance lessons are at 7 p.m., and the music starts at 8 p.m. in the El Casino Ballroom, 437 E. 26th St. at South Second Avenue. Advance tickets are available for $16 at Hear's Music, Antigone Books, and by calling 297-9133. Tickets cost $18 at the door.
GREEN SCENE. Dig your transplanted green thumbs into Gardening for the Newcomer.
Tucson Botanical Gardens offers the ongoing class on the first and third Thursday of each month. And while at the gardens, be sure to check out the newly reopened nursery and long-running gift shop.
Gardening for the Newcomer is from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the TBG, 2150 N. Alvernon Way. Fee is $6, $4 for TBG members. For information, call 326-9686.
THEATRICAL FEAST. Six actors devour WASP culture in The Dining Room, presented by Live Theatre Workshop.
Not surprisingly, this touching, unsettling work by A.R. Gurney takes place around a dinner table, with cast members assuming multiple white-bread roles from the childlike to the ancient. The drama stars JoDee Ann Kaser, Missie Hinske, Linda Andresano, Art Almquist, Mark Hampton and Brendan Murphy, with direction by Amy Almquist.
Show time is 7:30 p.m. in the Live Theatre Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway Blvd. Performances continue at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday, through May 14. Tickets are $11, $10 for seniors and students. For reservations and information, call 327-4242.
IMPROV QUEEN. She's been called "one of the most confident comedians, man or woman, to step on the improv stage." Today funny girl Suzanne Westenhoefer brings her self-assured humor to Tucson.
Since winning a 1990 contest, Westenhoefer has been on the comedic rise, with a solid routine of gay-oriented material that's garnered her rave reviews. She's appeared in venues ranging from Politically Incorrect and the Joan Rivers Show to Ricki Lake, Sally Jesse Raphael and her own HBO Comedy Special. She arrives hot on the heels of her latest CD, I Am Not Cindy Brady.
Show time is 8 p.m. in the International Arts Center, 516 N. Fifth Ave. Advance tickets are $16, available at Antigone Books, Tucson Trunk, and by calling 327-4809. Tickets cost $2 more at the door.
YOUNG MUSICAL LIONS. The Tucson Symphony wraps up its Stone Canyon Club MasterWorks Series with Young and Classical.
Early classics by the masters top today's musical menu, including Dvorak's lush "Serenade for Winds"; Barber's haunting "Adagio for Strings"; the brilliantly orchestrated "Classical Symphony" by Prokofiev; and Arriaga's "Symphony in D Major."
Show time is 7:30 p.m., with a pre-concert discussion at 6:30 p.m., in the Canyon del Oro High School Fine Arts Auditorium, 25 W. Calle Concordia. Tickets are $18, $5 for students, and available by phone at 797-3959.
MOTHERING EARTH. Celebrate our big blue marble with the Earth Day Festival at downtown's Armory Park and Tucson Children's Museum.
This family-oriented affair features food and plenty of ecological tidbits, from information on recycling and solar energy to water conservation. The 10 a.m. parade begins at the museum.
Earth Day Festival is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Tucson Children's Museum, 206 S. Sixth Ave., and across the street at Armory Park. Admission is free. For details, call 818-1722.
KILT CALL. Celtic culture takes center stage at Scotland's Legend and Lore.
The Seven Pipers join the Highland Dancers for this party, which features everything from bagpipes, kilts and swords to dragons, penny whistles, fiddles and drums. The award-winning bagpipe bunch is still reeling from last summer's tour of Scotland's competitions, including the World Bagpipe Championships in Glasgow. Now the band is primed to produce their special brand of "spine-tingling pipe and drum music" for local audiences.
The show weaves Scottish legends throughout, sharing various myths passed down among generations of Scottish families.
Performances are at 2 and 7:30 p.m. in the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd. Advance tickets are $12, $10 for seniors and children, available at Scot Photo and by calling 299-0701. Tickets cost $15 at the door.
WARBLERS EN MASSE. Warm up your chords in good company when Ted Warmbrand throws another Community Sing-Along.
You may know Ted as host of KXCI's long-running "Music From the Living Loom" show. Now he continues his folk music habits -- and refreshes the old-fashioned notion of simply getting together -- with an event that encourages everyone to pipe up. Proceeds benefit ItzAboutTime, a local non-profit, community-oriented group that sponsors folk performances.
Community Sing-Along is from 3 to 5 p.m. in St. Mark's Presbyterian Church, 3809 E. Third St. A $2 to $5 donation is suggested. Call 323-8697 for details.
SWEDISH SOIREE. They're called Sweden's premier masters of acoustic sound. Find out why when the colorful Frifot arrives in town.
Dedicated to the roots music of their homeland, the band integrates traditional tunes with modern and jazz elements. The result is lovely music ranging from waltzes and airs to fast polskas on twin fiddles, as well as vocals from cow herding and love songs to a cappella, all sung in Swedish.
Frifot includes Per Gudmundson on fiddle and bagpipes; Ale Möller on mandola, hammered dulcimer, flutes and harmony vocals; and Lena Willemark on fiddle and vocals (her style revives the art of kula -- piercing chants, traditionally sung by women cowherders in the mountains of her native Alvdalen region in midwest Sweden).
Show time is 7:30 p.m. in the International Arts Center, 516 N. Fifth Ave. Advance tickets are $12, $10 for seniors and In Concert! members, available at Hear's Music, the Folk Shop, Antigone Books, and by phone at 327-4809. Tickets cost $2 more at the door.
DIXIELAND ROMP. Rob Wright's Dixieland Showband first appeared at the 1996 Oro Valley Jazz Festival. Since then, the group has spread its old-time festive sound across the entire valley. Tonight, Wright and his merry band further their musical march at The Gaslight Theatre.
Dishing up a repertoire of traditional and standard songs, they encourage the audience to sing along, do a little dancing, or just tap their toes. Featuring banjo, drums, trumpet, trombone, clarinet and vocals, this festive ensemble makes it tough to just sit and listen.
Show time is 7 p.m. in The Gaslight Theatre, 7010 E. Broadway Blvd. Tickets are $8, $6 for seniors, students and military, $5 for children ages 12 and under. Call 886-9428 for reservations.
BRAZILIAN EQUALITY. Though behind much of the world in many respects, Brazil is on the cutting edge when it comes to female cops.
In fact, several police stations in São Paulo are run exclusively by women, endowed with the authority to investigate crimes committed against women, such as domestic violence and rape. This advance started in 1985, in the wake of Brazil's re-democratization efforts.
Sociology Professor M. Cecilia MacDowell Santos of California State University discusses the effectiveness and symbolism of these all-female stations in a lecture from 3 to 5 p.m. in the UA Modern Languages Building, Room 303, east of the Administration Building on the main Mall. Call 626-7242 for information.
STILL AFLOAT. One of America's greatest musical masterpieces comes to Tucson in Show Boat.
Called "glorious and bold, the Great American Musical" by The New York Times, Show Boat was adapted in 1927 by composer Jerome Kern and librettist Oscar Hammerstein from Edna Ferber's best-selling novel. It features a bevy of timeless tunes including "Ol' Man River," "Can't Help Lovin' That Man," "You Are Love" and "Bill." (See this week's Arts section for details.)
Curtain is 7:30 p.m. in UA Centennial Hall, inside the main gate east of Park Avenue. Evening and matinee performances continue through Sunday, April 23. Tickets range from $28 to $40, and are available at the Centennial Hall box office, and by calling 621-3341.
YUK THERAPY. Aiming to prove that laughter is indeed good medicine, Richard Sense dishes up a heavy dose of yuks -- including stories, jokes and puns -- guaranteed to heal your fractured funny bone.
Richard Sense appears at 7 p.m. in Woods Memorial Branch Library, 3455 N. First Ave. Admission is free. For details, call 791-5647.
VOCAL AMBASSADORS. Our hometown Sons of Orpheus choir brings vocal goodwill to Tucson with Hungary's Fidelissima Choir.
Called Europe's "concert choir cum laude," the ensemble has sung in far-flung climes ranging from Italy and Austria to Poland and Germany.
They share their globetrotting sound at 7:30 p.m. in UA Crowder Hall, on the southwest corner of the pedestrian underpass at Speedway Boulevard and Park Avenue. Tickets are $10 at the door, $8 for seniors and students and $5 for children under age 14. Call 760-9655 for information.
POETS PERSONIFIED. Persona, the award-winning UA undergrad literature and arts magazine, presents its annual contributors' reading.
These budding and accomplished writers share their visions in both fiction and poetry. The evening also includes a screening of short films by students and an informal reception.
Free event begins at 8 p.m. in the UA Modern Languages Auditorium, east of the Administration Building on the main Mall. Call 321-7760 for details.
INSPIRATION AFOOT. Dreams take flight with an evening of "dance, celebration and discovery" presented by Inspiration Heels.
Tonight the Heels celebrate life through choreography by Molly Cofman and guest artists Sam Watson and Amy Ernst. Sparked by a tragic accident that left UA grad Tony Peth quadriplegic, the performance aims to raise awareness about spinal cord injuries, as well as highlight the pure beauty of movement.
Thought-provoking poetry sets the stage for modern and jazz pieces by the UA Dance Department troupe. Proceeds are earmarked for Peth's medical costs.
Show time is 7:30 tonight and tomorrow in the UA Ina Gittings Theater, on University Boulevard east of Campbell Avenue and north of the main Mall. Tickets are available for $10 by phone at 626-6056.