The Performing Arts
The primary arts season begins in the fall and ends in the spring, but in the summer you can catch traveling performers, music festivals and live music at the nightclubs and coffee houses. To find out what's happening, pick up the free weekly Anchorage Press, which is given away in racks all over town. Their extensive event and music scene calendar is online, too, at www.anchoragepress.com. Friday's edition of the Anchorage Daily News has a section called "8" that includes reviews and listing information in grid format.
Currently, Ticketmaster (tel. 907/562-4800; www.ticketmaster.com) handles the Sullivan Arena and Egan Civic and Convention Center, and sells tickets at Fred Meyer grocery stores. The Alaska Center for Performing Arts, at 631 W. 6th Ave. (www.alaskapac.org), operates its own ticket agency, CenterTix (tel. 907/263-ARTS; www.centertix.net). The call center and box office in the center should be open Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., but hours may change.
The Anchorage Concert Association (tel. 907/272-1471; www.anchorageconcerts.org) offers a fall-through-spring schedule of classical music, theater, dance, and other performing arts. Whistling Swan Productions (www.whistlingswan.net) promotes folk and acoustic alternative performers in intimate venues. The Anchorage Symphony (tel. 907/274-8668; www.anchoragesymphony.org) performs during the winter season. Anchorage also has lots of community theater and opera, and limited professional theater, including the experimental Out North Contemporary Art House (tel. 907/279-3800; www.outnorth.org), which produces local shows and imports avant-garde performers. Downtown, Cyrano's Off Center Playhouse (tel. 907/274-2599; www.cyranos.org), at 4th Avenue and D Street, is a tiny theater with its own semiprofessional repertory company.
Nightclubs & Bars
For a fun, funny night out, nothing in town compares to Mr. Whitekeys' Fly By Night Club, on Spenard Road south of Northern Lights Boulevard (tel. 907/279-SPAM). The goateed proprietor, a consummate vulgarian, ridicules Anchorage in his crude, political, local-humor musical comedy shows, in which he costars. If you can laugh at dog poop, you'll love it. The summer show is at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; live music follows on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $13 to $21, and reservations are a virtual necessity. The club is smoke-free. They serve good food, too -- dine at the show, not before. (Believe me, I wrote this long before they started using a piece of my writing in one of their shows.)
Blues Central/Chef's Inn, 825 W. Northern Lights Blvd. (tel. 907/272-1341), is dedicated to showcasing the best blues performers available, virtually every night. Major names come through on a regular basis. Shows start at 9:30 p.m. They're also known for their beef.
The most famous bar in Anchorage is the huge Chilkoot Charlie's, at Spenard Road and Fireweed Lane (tel. 907/272-1010; www.koots.com). It has two stages for rock and one for swing and many bars on different themes. The place is huge and full of entertainment, like an adult Disneyland, but can be claustrophobic when crowded, with low ceilings and a dark, roadhouse atmosphere. Moreover, recent well-publicized violence suggests that it is a good place to avoid conflict.
A movie at the Bear Tooth TheatrePub, at 1230 W. 27th Ave. (tel. 907/276-4200; www.beartooththeatre.net), is a chance to sit back with a big glass of craft-brewed beer and a plate of nachos or a full dinner -- it feels a lot like watching at home except for the big screen and the other people around you in the dark. (Well, our home is usually a bit cleaner, but our cooking isn't as good.) The films tend to be independent or second run, either campy or deep. The dining choices include gourmet tacos, pizzas, and other hand-held selections. Everything is quite good. They also put on concerts monthly: check the website. And now the fine print. You must arrive quite early to find a parking place, wait in line to get your ticket, find your seat, then stand in line again to order your food at a counter. The staff brings the meal to you in the theater. Even bad movies sell out and it's often a crush.
There are several multiplexes in Anchorage playing all the current Hollywood output; check the sources in "The Performing Arts" at the beginning of this section for listings and reviews. Theaters closest to downtown are the Century 16, 301 E. 36th Ave. (tel. 907/929-3456; www.centurytheatres.com) and the Fireweed 7 Theater, 661 E. Fireweed Lane (tel. 907/566-3328; www.regalcinemas.com).
For a complete listing of what to see and do in Anchorage, visit the online attractions index at Frommers.com.
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