Juilliard String Quartet: Violinist Robert Mann founded and still leads the multiple-Grammy-winning quartet, which celebrates its golden anniversary in '96. Thursday's program includes Beethoven's Quartet in B-flat major, Opus 18, No. 6; Schubert's Quartet in C major, D. 46; and Dvorak's Quartet in Aflat major, Opus 105. Showtime is 8 p.m. at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $18, $5 for students, available at the center and Ticketmaster. Call 994-2787.
Snow Queen: Center Dance Ensemble's annual presentation of the Hans Christian Andersen tale, adapted by Prokofiev, opens with aperformance at 7 p.m. Thursday in Stage West at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. The remainder of this week's performances are at 7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The production continues through December 17. Tickets are $15, $12 for seniors, $7 for students and kids, available at Herberger and Dillard's. For details call 252-8497 or 678-2222.
Arizona International Auto Show: Next year's models--and a few from the next millennium--are displayed in the annual vehicular extravaganza, slated for noon to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday in exhibit halls A through E at Phoenix Civic Plaza, Second Street and Adams. Tickets are $6, $4 for seniors, $1 for children ages 7 to 12, free for younger kids. For details call 262-7272 or 1-800-345-1487.
Nutcracker on Ice: A quartet of figure skaters enacts the major roles in this glitzy touring version of Tchaikovsky's Yuletide chestnut. Peggy Fleming plays the Sugar Plum Fairy, Nicole Bobek portrays Clara, and Todd Eldredge and Brian Orser skate the roles of the Nutcracker Prince and Drosselmeier, respectively. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Thursday at America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson. Tickets are $20, $32.50 and $42.50, available at arena and Dillard's box offices. For details call 379-7800 or 678-2222.
Lynn Linton's "Gift of Love": The Valley songsmith, notable for her good work with and for children, presents this holiday concert for kids of all ages at 8 p.m. Thursday at KerrCultural Center, 6110 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. She and her band--Peter Storn, Ted Sistrunk, Michael Frassetti, Devon Bridgewater and Step Raptis--perform a mix of Linton originals and seasonal standards. Tickets are $10 and $11, available at Kerr and Dillard's. For details call 965-5377 or 678-2222.
Boston Pops: Keith Lockhart, 35, is only the third conductor this venerated symphony has had since the Hoover administration. Lockhart's predecessors? Arthur Fiedler and John Williams. The young conductor leads the ensemble in a performance of orchestral and choral works and carols at 7:30 p.m. Friday at America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson. Tickets are $15 and $25, available at arena and Dillard's box offices. Call 379-7800 or 678-2222.
A Christmas Carol: Actors Theatre of Phoenix's traditional production of Charles Dickens' ghost story, adapted by Richard Hellesen and featuring music by David de Barry, opens with a preview at 8 p.m. Friday in Center Stage at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. The official opening is at 8 p.m. Saturday. The rest of this week's performances are at 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Wednesday. The show continues through December 23. Tickets range from $10 to $23.50, available at Herberger and Dillard's; call 252-8497 or 678-2222. A "priceless matinee," in which patrons pay what they can afford, is planned at 2 p.m. December 22; call 253-6701 for reservations to that show.
Babes in Toyland, and Season to Risk: Call this the "Anti-Christmas" tour, and don't expect either act to cover "The March of the Wooden Soldiers"--at least, not politely. Minneapolis' Babes, led by guitarist/vocalist KatBjelland, are known for their ferocity. Kansas City, Missouri's equally savage Season held its own as the opener on July's skullcrunching Corrosion of Conformity/Monster Magnet bill. Mount Shasta opens the all-ages show at 9 p.m. Friday at Gibson's, 410 South Mill in Tempe. Tickets are $10 in advance, $11 the day of the show, available at the club and Ticketmaster. Call 968-8664 or 784-4444.
Ruby Christmas: Planet Earth Multi-Cultural Theatre, 909 North Third Street, continues its season with this offbeat holiday entry by Sarah Dreher about a tradition-bound mother and her lesbian daughter trying to stake out a plot of common ground during a Christmas visit. This week's performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday; those who wear a real or faux ruby ring to Sunday's show receive two-for-one admission. The production continues through December 23. Tickets are $9, $7 for students and seniors. Call 241-1828. See the review on page 63.
Marlboro Country Nights Dance Showdown featuring Toby Keith: The finals of the national showdown, pitting the winning couples from the five regional championships in a hoof-off for the $10,000 grand prize, start at 8 p.m. Friday at Rockin Rodeo, 7850 South Priest inTempe. Judges Dawn Blorstade and Dean Garrish, reigning United Country Western Dance Council Division I champs, perform an exhibition prior to the concert by Polydor recording artist Keith, which commences at about 10. The cover is $5. Call 496-4336.