The Rialto Theatre saturates its spacious 90-year-old confines with film, comedy shows, and music performances. Groupon holders can roll into the all-ages nonprofit venue and redeem the $20 gift card for any event on the schedule. The Flor de Muertos film screening on July 22–24 explores attitudes about death in Mexico and the United States, interspersed with concert footage from Calexico ($6–$15). Laughter enthusiasts can inject humor into their veins at Doug Benson's Saturday, September 10 show ($21 in advance; $26 day of show), soaking in absurd comedy and the answers to every Magic Eye ever. Peruse the theater's photo gallery online, which displays high-profile past performances and the tasteful decorations of the Rialto.
Carol Sottosanti inherited her love of hitting high notes and cutting rugs from her father, an opera singer who inspired her to pursue a degree in vocal performance from the University of Arizona. Naturally, Carol wanted her children to also experience the beauty and exhilaration of performing on stage, but she couldn't find a program that would grant her kids the proper exposure and practice they needed. Teaming up with other moms in the community, Carol organized a few small shows starring the neighborhood's charismatic children, and subsequently, Kids Unlimited was born. Since its inception in 1986, KU Studios still produces shows regularly, preparing their young performers with various classes in vocal performance, dance, and acting. Aspiring triple threats can dive into a wide variety of camps designed to hone singing and dancing skills, while promoting awareness of important topics such as bullying or the proliferation of mimes in Tucson. KU's outstanding performers earn their way into small-group ensembles that perform regularly throughout the community.
Over the last three decades, dance guru Kathryn Ferguson has dedicated her career to practicing and teaching the art of belly dancing. First exposed to the form in Casablanca, Morocco, Kathryn continues to put her own spin on belly dancing’s traditional hip shakes and tummy undulations, releasing a series of instructional video tapes and leading classes in her Tucson studio. These Egyptian- and Lebanese-style belly-dancing classes accommodate beginning and intermediate dancers looking to get in shape or shake up the annual family-reunion talent show. The studio's bright yellow walls create an upbeat environment, and full-length mirrors allow them to check for proper form and keep tabs on emerging six packs. In addition to teaching classes at Xanadu Dance Studio, Kathryn also helms the Xanadu Dancers Troupe, which performs regularly at dance- and music-focused events such as the Mediterranean Nights gala.
Live Theatre Workshop's thespians and production crew dedicate their theatrical talent to dramatizing plays in an intimate black-box theater. Paula Vogel's 1998 Pulitzer Prize–winning drama How I Learned to Drive centers on a teenage girl stumbling through a dangerous relationship. The show plays out on the Mainstage, a small theater that seats audience members within reach of the actors, intensifying performances and allowing patrons to see performers' faintly visible muses.
The music factory of PHAT Entertainment marks its 10-year anniversary by thumping and bumping downtown Tucson with a two-day celebration of elephantine beats and contagious dance music. More than 30 performers fill two kaleidoscopic stages and one seemingly boundless clown car. The first day of PHATFest takes over the Hotel Congress, infusing both the outside stage and Club Congress’ innards with a pulsating soundtrack. Friday night's line-up features a dozen specialists in electronic euphoria, including the Arizona debut of mixologist duo Run DMT, licensed knob-twiddler DJ mLe, and the first Tucson appearance of Parisian bass-blasters Dirtyphonics, who have played some of the biggest festivals and most intimate PTA meetings in the world.
A celebration of electronica, hip-hop, rock, and other musical styles, N9NE Fest is an immersive sensory experience with a musical lineup (starting at 7 p.m.) that includes mash-up artist Girl Talk, hit-making crew Far East Movement, and genre-bending twosome Silver Medallion. With the bands providing the soundtrack, festivaliens can soak their groove things in water-park features including the 1,500-person foam pit similar to those used in ancient Persian matrimonial ceremonies. Two enormous water slides will also be on hand, signifying the historical bond between pop music and Newtonian physics, while towers on each side of the stage will illuminate the proceedings with a light show. Foam-fatigued revelers can refuel courtesy of beer and food vendors, and shuttle buses ($4.99 roundtrip) are available to escort festivalgoers to and from the park.