Tucson Improv Movement Cage Match Finals
6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21
Red Barn Theater948 N. Main Ave.
Two teams will enter; only one will emerge victorious. But no matter who wins, we all will laugh.
Upstart improvisation troupe Tucson Improv Movement has found a way to turn ad-libbed comedy and off-the-cuff humor into a winner-take-all, no-holds-barred competitive event with its Cage Match comedy series.
"People seemed to really like the concept," said Justin Lukasewicz, who founded Tucson Improv Movement in October 2012. "We have some pretty standard stuff to do, but this allows creativity."
The format is simple: two teams of two or three comedians get their time on the stage to do whatever they want. Then, the audience picks a winner at the end of the night. Four teams were chosen for the competition, with the winner each week moving on. The competition began Dec. 7, and Saturday's show is the "final" between Jacob & Shanna and My Life in the Night.
My Life in the Night edged out Jessica's Cubed by one vote last Saturday, Lukasewicz said. The victorious group will get to defend its title in the next series of shows, and there is a prize that comes with winning.
"Each week the winner gets a WWE-like wrestling belt," Lukasewicz said.
Lukasewicz, who moved here last year, said he was surprised a community of Tucson's size didn't have more improv companies. But he thinks that's going to change soon.
"I think we're at the birth of the time when Tucson is going to go through a little improv renaissance," he said.
Admission to Saturday's Cage Match is $5, cash only. Students and military pay $3.
See Santa Bust a Move
Roof Top Santa Dance
6:30 and 8 p.m., Monday, Dec. 23
4352 E. Bryn Mawr RoadPoet's Square Neighborhood
If you're planning to drive around in search of outstanding holiday displays, you'd be wise to check out the midtown Poet's Square neighborhood on Monday night. For the 25th consecutive year, a group of neighbors will put on "Roof Top Santa Dance," an occasion that rivals Winterhaven's Festival of Lights in spirit, if not in overall glow power. "It's just something to bring people together at this time of year," said Susan Modisett, who will don a Santa suit and dance atop her neighbor's house as part of the 30-minute performance, which will be given twice that evening. "It's become a neighborhood event, and everyone gets involved. About 30 residents of the Poet's Square neighborhood—bounded by Columbus Boulevard to the west, Swan Road to the east, Fifth Street to the north and Broadway to the south—are involved in the show, which includes singers from nearby First Brethren Church and also tells the story of the birth of Christ. Donald Saelens, a dentist who lived in Poet's Square and had an office at Fifth and Columbus, started the tradition. Saelens and his wife put on the show for 12 years before Modisett and her husband, David, took over 13 years ago. After the show, visitors can meet Santa—"It will be a real one, not me," Modisett said—while enjoying hot cocoa and holiday treats. The event is free but visitors are encouraged to bring canned food that will be collected for the Community Food Bank.—B.P.
Big Band Bonanza
Tucson Jazz Institute Winter Concert
2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 22
Berger Center for the Performing Arts1200 W. Speedway Blvd.
For the past five years the Tucson Jazz Institute has cranked out some of the nation's most successful student band ensembles, which have showcased their talents throughout the country in various competitions and concerts.
Now's your chance to hear them up close and personal.
The Ellington Big Band is the featured performer at the institute's winter concert this Sunday afternoon at the Berger Center for the Performing Arts. The band has won the Lincoln Center's Essentially Ellington jazz band competition in New York City three of the last four years, including the most recent competition in May, said Scott Black, director of improvisation for TJI.
"It's like the Super Bowl of competitions," Black said of the event, which in May involved 15 prep ensembles chosen from nearly 100 entries. "Our program is the most successful jazz program in the country."
The Ellington Big Band has also been selected by DownBeat magazine as having the best high school-level CD compilation each of the last two years, Black said.
Comprised of about 100 students from high schools throughout the Tucson area as well as from Rio Rico and Phoenix, the Ellington unit and its accompanying bands will perform in a series of combos, with the music switching back and forth from traditional Christmas tunes to jazz standards.
Black, who has been working with youth jazz musicians in Tucson since 2001, said the region is rich with talent but also has a very supportive family structure that wants to see local musicians thrive.
Tickets for the TJI Winter Concert are available at the Jazz Institute website. They're $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and students. Children younger than 12 are admitted free.
Celebration in the Stars
Holiday Laser and Planetarium Shows
Various times and dates through Jan. 3
Flandrau Science Center1601 E. University Blvd.
The Flandrau Science Center's planetarium and laser shows have gotten a holiday makeover.
Two holiday-themed shows have been added to Flandrau's regular lineup through Jan. 3, combining traditional planetarium presentations and laser shows with the images and sounds we associate with this time of year, said Shipherd Reed, the center's operations and communications manager.
"The shows, I think, are great for a date, and the holiday shows are great for a family excursions," Reed said. "And the exhibits are hands-on and very family-friendly. I think it's very entertaining for kids and parents and grandparents."
The one-hour Holiday of Lights, which is shown at least once a day (three times on Saturdays), is a classic planetarium show that focuses on the winter solstice. It also includes a Tucson Sky Tonight presentation, which Reed says is a great way to learn more about the stars and constellations visible in Southern Arizona skies this time of year.
The Laser Holiday Show, which is 40 minutes long, syncs a laser display with Christmas songs and contemporary music. Reed said this is the second year Flandrau has done the Laser Holiday show, and he hopes it will bring out many of the people who used to frequent the planetarium for its Pink Floyd laser shows, which have returned to the schedule.
"Those shows are kind of a part of Tucson's cultural heritage," he said. "I can't tell you how many times people have said they remember coming here to see Pink Floyd."
Each holiday show costs $5 in addition to the regular $7 Flandrau admission. On Thursdays and Sundays the holiday shows are included in the admission price. For show times, go to flandrau.org.