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.
Winter Fest kicks off the holiday season with a fun-packed collection of attractions suited for revelers of all ages. The glittering lights of a 50-foot Christmas tree illuminate gracefully gliding ice skaters, and a 15-foot, life-size snow globe teaches a seasonal lesson on weather patterns. Santa Claus waits to snap smiling photos with guests. Carnival-style attractions, such as a Ferris wheel, laser tag, go-kart racing, and a bounce house provide recreation for visitors young and young-at-heart. Vendors supply tempting eats, refueling holiday shoppers as they visit 300 on-site craft and retail vendors.
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 and currently celebrating 25 years in the business, 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 the latest production from Golden Age Hollywood director C.D. Weasel. 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 backup 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 the Vampire's Wedding transforms the audience into wedding attendees as actors and audience alike try to solve a magic-heavy murder and cure a vampire's curse. "Patrons can't get enough," noted Barbara Yost of the Arizona Republic.
Situated across from the food court at the mall, Picture Show Entertainment's Paradise Valley Stadium 7 screens first-run pictures for audiences seated in high-backed leather rocker seats. The seating ascends diagonally in a stadium arrangement in each theater, each of which also houses a digital screen, while in the lobby, a behind-the-counter staff is presented in crystal-clear 3-D.
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.