More than 25 years ago, the performer known as Zohar first experienced belly dancing on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. She told the staff that she would become one of those performers—nine months later, she was back on board, complete with jangling coins on her hips. Since then, she's performed for Meryl Streep, members of the Saudi royal family, audiences at New York's Lincoln Center and Radio City Music Hall. Today, she prefers teaching the art to others over performing live, and many of her students have become professional dancers themselves.
The Valentine's Day improv workshop and performance—a three-hour experience—prods the funny bones of individuals and couples in a series of comical exercises. Afterward, attendees take in a perpetually polished performance put on by Flashbang Improv!. For those who don't believe in workshops, Valentine's Day, or gravity, this deal also carves out room to catch one of two standalone performances, each slapped up with a smorgasbord of fresh material from one or both participating groups.
For more than two decades, The Mystery Mansion Dinner Theater has kept diners guessing with ghoulishly goofy whodunits. The rotating repertoire includes Murder at Greystone Manor, which takes place on the set of Golden Age Hollywood director C.D. Weasel's latest production. Before filming can begin in earnest, starlet Clara Simpleton comes down with a bad case of cold feet and cold everything else. Femme fatale and back-up actress Jewel Precious seems the obvious suspect, but the stunningly punny characters know well how to hide their motivations behind a flurry of gags and one-liners. Murder at Bedside Manor takes place in a shockingly OSHA-noncompliant hospital staffed by such consummate professionals as Barb Bituate, Old Doctor Young, Young Doctor Young, and Nurse Scratchit. "Lame jokes, puns, goofy costumes, and thin plots are the stock in trade at the Mystery Mansion," noted Barbara Yost of the Arizona Republic, adding, "Patrons can't get enough.
When musician Joe Grotto got lucky in Vegas in 1994 and pocketed $75,000, he played it smart. Instead of blowing it all on a flashy convertible or a self-portrait carved into a human-size diamond, he used his windfall to build an intimate music venue with a state-of-the-art sound system. Joe began by booking manic rockers, brutal metal bands, and raucous blues guitarists before expanding to include more all-ages shows as the years passed. The success of the venue, which earned recognition as 2008’s Best Rock Club from the Phoenix New Times, has helped draw talented, original groups of all kinds to the stage. The limelight isn’t just reserved for established artists, either; on Wednesdays, bands looking for a place to play can sign up for the open mic, and on Monday, acoustic musicians steal the show.
Although its focus is on music, Joe’s Grotto hasn’t neglected other aspects of entertainment. The full bar pours draft brews such as Kilt Lifter, Blue Moon, and Shock Top while guests shoot pool at a pair of tables, play games on two Megatouch game machines, and throw darts or annoying companions at electronic targets. Out on the patio, revelers order more drinks from an outdoor bar, where a screen lets them watch inside happenings and a mister, cooler, and heater keep the fresh air comfortable all year round.