Spring forward with these can't-miss events.
Curtain's up: Theater-lovers in southwest New Mexico may want to whip out their day-planners — there's an on-stage abundance this month. Start with the Theatre Group New Mexico production of Fiddler on the Roof at the WNMU Fine Arts Center Theater in Silver City, April 3-5. Then rejoice at the return of the Melodrama Theatre, beloved by fans for years at the Opera House in Pinos Altos. Renovations there have relocated the boos and hisses to the Red Barn eatery in Silver City for this season, Saturday nights beginning April 25.
In Las Cruces, No Strings Theatre impresario Ceil Herman crosses the Downtown Mall to direct Leading Ladies at the Las Cruces Community Theatre, April 10-26. NMSU's Hershel Zohn Theatre will stage She Stoops to Conquer, the Oliver Goldsmith classic, April 16-May 3. And, back at No Strings' home, the Black Box Theatre, Enchanted April begins its run, April 17-May 3.
In Deming, Theatre For Today presents You Can't Take It With You by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, April 24-26 and May 1-3. Tim McAndrews directs a troupe of 20 local actors at the Deming Depot.
Page-turners: Literature lovers of the on-page, rather than on-stage, variety also have plenty to pick from, proving that April may not be the cruelest month, after all. You can read all about Silver City's Big Read celebration of Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima in this issue's Tumbleweeds section; the books start cracking on April 4. In Mesilla, the 15th annual Border Book Festival takes the whole town on a literary bent, April 16-19.
Folks who prefer their literature with a Western twang, delivered by cowpokes in 10-gallon hats, can mosey on over to the second annual Tyrone Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering at Tyrone Community Center on April 25. Organizers Pete and Dianne Kennedy have assembled a stellar cast that includes the Desert Sons, Jim and Nancy Sober, Eddy Harrison, Mike Dunn, Mike Moutoux and The Copper Creek Wranglers. Daytime performances, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., are free, and tickets to the 7 p.m. show are $10. Proceeds benefit the Tyrone Park and Community Center restoration project.
"You may remember that Silver City had a Cowboy Poetry Gathering for many years and it was one of the most popular ones in the Southwest," says Pete Kennedy. "However, it was dropped in 2000. I have always been a fan of cowboy music and poetry and have missed it since moving to this area. So last year my wife, Dianne, and I decided to organize a gathering here in Tyrone. It was done with a very limited budget and included only volunteer local performers. The event was a complete sellout and many latecomers were turned away due to lack of seats. So this year we decided to expand to an all-day show plus the all-star night performance. We have invited some excellent and well-known performers from around Arizona and New Mexico."
Words and music: For more on-stage entertainment, catch piano-playing comedian Dale Gonyea at the WNMU Fine Arts Center Theater, 7:30 p.m. on April 14, or at Onate High School's Performing Arts Center, 3 p.m. on April 18. At the age of five, Gonyea got up one morning and, without a single lesson, began playing the piano. He's gone on to write songs for Disney's Aladdin, Bette Midler, Ray Stevens and Rich Little, appear live at Caesar's Palace and Trump Castle, and earn an Emmy award and a Grammy nomination (for his spoof, "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow").
On a more serious musical note, Po' Girl, which sold out a Mimbres Region Arts Council folk-series gig in November 2007, returns — this time to the series' new home at the Buffalo Dance Hall, April 24 at 7:30 p.m. Known for a high-energy blending of train-hobo singing, strumming, picking and bowing, Po' Girl combines the talents of singer-songwriters Allison Russell and Awna Teixeira with that of jazz musician Benny Sidelinger (from The Shiftless Rounders). "What makes the group's frisky, soulful sound remarkable is its convincing embrace of old-time jazz and blues," wrote the Boston Herald, while Rolling Stone observed they have "enough sultry ambiance to be at home in either cocktail lounge or New Orleans street corner."
Spring has sprung: April also brings springtime to the Southwest, and Silver City MainStreet marks the season with the 12th annual Celebration of Spring Festival, 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m. on April 18, in Big Ditch Park and throughout historic downtown. Expect live music, free carnations, a raffle, a student art show, dulcimer festival, fashion show, a rummage sale to benefit Literacy Link Leamos (also April 19) and more.
Earth Day is technically April 22, but Las Cruces will celebrate April 18, 1:30-10 p.m., in Young Park. Or wait for the next weekend to celebrate at Penny Park in Silver City: April 25 brings demonstrations, kids activities, native plant sales, earth-friendly info and resources.
Spring also means the 23rd annual Tour of the Gila rolls into town, April 29-May 3, this year with a new sponsor, SRAM, a Chicago-based maker of bicycle components. The action comes right into downtown Silver City on May 2, with racers zooming around a 1.08-mile course and citizens races at 1 p.m.
Leaning to the left: Those who prefer their politics on the progressive side also have a big month in store. On April 14, former 1960s campus radical Mark Rudd will be signing his new book, Underground, 5-7 p.m. at Javalina coffeehouse in Silver City. Subtitled "My Life with SDS and the Weathermen," the book tells the story of the leader of the Columbia University student uprising of 1968 and fugitive member of the notorious Weather Underground in his own words.
Today Rudd lives as a retired community college teacher in New Mexico, his federal charges dropped. Using his disastrous experience with violence in activism to teach others, Rudd says, "I might have been wrong about a lot of things, but I'd been right in opposing the war and about the antiwar movement, which had played an important role in ending it."
On April 19, Amy Goodman of the Democracy Now! Radio program swings through on her book tour, promoting Stop the Madness, co-written with brother David Goodman, an investigative journalist. They traveled the country to detail the ways in which grassroots activists have taken politics out of the hands of politicians and are putting their beliefs into action. She'll speak at the Border Book Festival in Mesilla, then talk at a fundraiser for Gila/Mimbres Community Radio, 3-5 p.m. at the WNMU Global Resource Center.
Back to school: If you've always wondered what it would be like to be a student at WNMU, here's your chance. The university and the Western Institute for Lifelong Learning (WILL) team up April 24 to present a One-Day University program, the first of what organizers hope will be an annual event. The free program at the Global Resource Center, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., features three faculty lectures: Dr. Bill Toth on "The Death of a Shoe Salesman or Bronco Billy Rides Again and Again: The Search for Authenticity and Identity in the American West"; Dr. Manda Clair Jost on "150 Years Since Darwin: All You Ever Wanted to Know about Evolution (But Were Afraid to Ask)"; and Dr. Magdaleno Manzanares on "Freedom of Speech: At Risk in an Age of Increasing Media Options."
Says WILL organizer Frank Merritt, "It's designed to give town folks an opportunity to hear outstanding faculty and see the cultural resources of the university. It is open to anyone, young or old, who wishes to have an educational experience, and includes a free lunch cookout." You must, however, pre-register, since space is limited; call 388-6320 or see www.will-learning.com