Collins to work toward increasing visitation to Arkansas by groups and promoting the state's appeal
THE SECOND CITY
8 p.m., Arkansas Repertory Theatre. $20-$35.
It's not an exaggeration to say that comedy as we know it wouldn't exist without the Second City. The 50-year-old Chicago-based improv troupe has long been a breeding ground for “Saturday Night Live,” which, of course, itself has spawned dozens of movie and TV heavyweights. Here's just a short list of some of those Second City alums: John Belushi, Steve Carell, John Candy, Stephen Colbert, Chris Farley, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis, Amy Sedaris and Martin Short. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, this touring troupe is doing skits from each of the last five decades. The players will also be paying homage to classic skits, including ones by Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell. Otherwise, expect a mix of political commentary and social satire in sketch and improv form. The Second City sticks around through Oct. 18. LM.
7:30 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $23-$63.
Never underestimate the staying power of ABBA. Despite dissolving more than 25 years ago, the Swedish pop group doesn't seem in any danger of falling out of the cultural consciousness. They're still selling millions of records every year; in fact, estimates put the quartet behind only the Beatles, Elvis and Michael Jackson in terms of albums sold. And then there's “Mamma Mia!” the jukebox musical inspired by the songs of ABBA. It's celebrating seven sold-out years on Broadway, a film adaptation that's the highest grossing movie musical ever and this international tour. Those who're likely to attend surely know the story, but just in case: A single woman, who owns a small hotel on a Greek island, invites two lifelong friends to come to the isle for her daughter's wedding. The three women once played together in a band called Donna and the Dynamos. Meanwhile, the daughter invites three men from her mother's past in hopes of finding the identity of her father. Singing and dancing ensues. Thursday is your last chance to see the show. LM.
ARKANSAS STATE FAIR
11 a.m., Arkansas State Fairgrounds. $4-$8.
It's all about how you approach the fair. If you're like me — agoraphobic, don't pay for parking on principle and can't stop sneezing within five feet of straw — it's the ninth circle of Hell. But hey, they've got taco-stuffed baked potatoes this year! Other attractions you might care about: a white Bengal tiger show, lumberjacks throwing axes and carving trees with chainsaws, the return of the pig races and the exotic petting zoo (with a camel, kangaroo and zebra), and new, excitingly named rides like Windsurfer and Crazy Chopper. Here are some dates to circle: Oldies act Blood, Sweat and Tears (10/9), the demolition derby and monster truck exhibition (10/10), country star Julianne Hough (10/11), rising country star Jake Owen (10/14), Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm (10/16), the rodeo (10/16 and 10/17) and the fair queen pageant (10/17). Nearly half a million are expected to pass through the gates through Oct. 18. You going to be one of them? Go to ArkansasStateFair.com for more details. LM.
8 p.m., Verizon Arena. $46.75-$86.75.
Just six months after open-heart surgery, Robin Williams is back on the grind, making up dates he was forced to postpone in spring. If surgery has slowed him, he's hiding it well. If anything, it's armed him with new material. On a typically manic late-night appearance on a recent “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” he managed to tie cocaine, baboon masturbation, a pig's nose for truffles, a stripper named Tiny Vagina and Jermaine Jackson's son Jermajesty in, at least tangentially, with his heart surgery. And so it's likely to go at our stop on the “Weapons of Self-Destruction Tour,” which culminates, likely on Broadway, with an HBO taping. Expect 90 minutes that mixes locally tailored bits (Williams, or at least his team, does advance prep work) with topical humor. Tickets from the show scheduled for April will, of course, be honored. LM.
7:30 p.m., Weekend Theater. $14-$18.
After taking on Thornton Wilder to open its season, the Weekend Theater returns to more familiar territory with “Falsettos.” The theater describes the musical as “a nonstop songfest with a message of tolerance.” Delivering the message are a bisexual Jew who leaves his wife and young son for another man, a shrink with whom the wife takes up and the lesbian couple who live next door. That sounds a bit on the nose, but Frank Rich, in his review of the Broadway opening years ago, praised the show's “achingly articulate characters,” and the musical didn't win a Tony for nothing, surely. “Falsettos” runs through Oct. 24. LM.
7:30 p.m., Verizon Arena. $21.75-$59.50.
Sometime after 2001, the year Maxwell's third album entered the charts at number one (it later became his third straight platinum album), the neo-soul leader took a novel path. He took a break. He shaved off his signature Afro, which allowed him to walk the street anonymously. He quit performing and took a prolonged hiatus that didn't really end until earlier this year, when he released “BLACKsummers'night” “I took a break from the responsibility of being a public person. It was nice just to be a person, instead of a performer,” he told the Chicago Tribune recently. How's that for a healthy perspective on celebrity? His take on soul is just as enlightened, full of soaring falsetto and live instrumentation that harkens back to the genre's golden age. Cerebral rapper Common shares the bill along with rising R&B star Chrisette Michele. LM.
OF THE ARTS
3 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. Free.
Robinson Center turns 70 this week, and the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau is throwing a party. The line-up befits the diversity of acts the hall's hosted over the years. Broadway vet and Little Rock native Lawrence Hamilton headlines. He'll also conduct a choir made up of area high school and university students. Mary Steenburgen, with husband Ted Danson (hilarious again on “Bored to Death”) at her side, is expected to share memories. Famous for playing Spock's half brother and marrying the daughter of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, Lawrence Luckinbill, a Fort Smith native, delivers a reading. Little Rock's greatest rapper, 607, performs, hopefully while Ballet Arkansas's Jonathan Bostick dances. Also on the bill: Miss Arkansas Sarah Slocum, soprano Christine Donahue and R&B diva Tawanna Campbell. LM.
7 p.m., Connor Performing Arts Center. $40-$50.
Half a hundred to watch someone read? Calm down, cheapskates. It's a benefit, for a cause literate folks the statewide should embrace — the Arkansas Literary Festival. But goading largesse is not really what the To-Do List is about. Rather, consider this reading because David Sedaris is not just a sharp writer, he's a brilliant reader. It's a skill he's honed well before book tours were his way of life. Ira Glass discovered him reading his diary in a Chicago club and put him on the air, first on a local Chicago station and then on NPR's “Morning Edition.” His NPR radio pieces netted him his book deal (as well as an offer to join “Seinfeld's” writing team and start a comedy newsmagazine with Michael Moore). Even as he's become a blockbuster author, he's continued to do high profile readings — he might be the only writer to regularly do readings on Letterman. In Q&As that often follow, he's said to have improvisational skill to match his actress/comedian sister. Laughs guaranteed. LM
7:45 p.m., Metroplex Events Center. $29.50.
With more than 6 million album sales to their credit, Florida's post-grunge rockers Shinedown have made quite a name for themselves since they got together in 2001. Touring behind “The Sound of Madness,” the band remains in steady radio rotation. Songs such as “45,” “Save Me,” “Devour” and a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's “Simple Man,” have kept the group on the forefront of mainstream rock music, as well as commercial endeavors such as a song on the “Final Destination” movie and “NFL Madden 2009” video game soundtracks. Describing the latest CD, lead singer Brent Smith said the band's goal was a “huge hard rock record that has a lot of crossover potential,” which sheds light on Shinedown's increasing popularity. Australia's modern rock trio Sick Puppies opens the show. PP