Pic Hits for the week

thursday
december 14
A Christmas Carol: Actors Theatre of Phoenix's traditional production ofCharles Dickens' ghost story, adapted by Richard Hellesen and featuring music by David de Barry, continues with performances at 8p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday and 8p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday in Center Stage at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. The production 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.

1000 Mona Lisas: Vocalist/guitarist Armando Prado, bassist Gianni Neiviller and drummer Rocco Bidlovski compose the hard-core trio. The lineup sounds like a roll call of kneecap-busting bad guys from one of Scorsese's Mafioso flicks, but Prado and Neiviller are arty Hollywood homies, and mild-mannered Rocco hails from Brazil. The band's cryptic-seeming name is pretty straightforward: It refers, says former investment banker Prado, "to a girl who is neither happy or sad--you just don't know which. And '1000' means that there's a lot of them out there." The Mona Lisas' music, too, rocks in a fairly straight line, with a few subversive influences gleaned from producer Geza X (Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Germs). Mr. Mirainga shares Thursday's bill, which has been relocated to Electric Ballroom, 1216 East Apache in Tempe. Cover is $6. For details call 894-0707.

ZooLights: Phoenix Zoo, 455 North Galvin Parkway, in Papago Park, is garbed in its usual Technicolor dreamcoat of lights--600,000 strong--during this glorious annual event. The after-hours fun continues from 6to 9nightly (except Christmas Eve), through January 27. New this year: "The Enchanted Forest," including the Santalike "Mountain Father," costumed characters and nature workshops. Special admission is $4, $3.50 for members, free for kids age 3 and under; discount tickets are available at Fry's stores. Call 273-1341, extension 7810.

Phoenix Symphony's "A Yuletide Celebration": Clotilde Otranto conducts the orchestra in a program of sacred and secular faves, including works by Bach, Pierpont, Berlin, Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. Also planned: a carol sing-along, a performance by the Desert Bells hand-bell ensemble and a visit from Santa. Tickets range from $12 to $36, available at the symphony box office and Dillard's. For details call 264-6363 or 678-2222.

Poi Dog Pondering: Frank Orrall's sometimes twee, occasionally transcendent big band, from Chicago via Austin by way of Honolulu, was dumped by Columbia in 1993 because the group's three albums for the major were subwoofers--financially speaking. Too bad for the suits; sans label meddling, Poi Dog recorded Pomegranate, probably the band's best disc since its 1988 debut on the Texas Hotel label. Showtime is 8 p.m. Thursday at the Rockin' Horse, 7000 East Indian School in Scottsdale. Tickets are $10, available at the scene and Ticketmaster. Call 949-0992.

Snow Queen: Center Dance Ensemble's annual presentation of the Hans Christian Andersen tale, adapted by Prokofiev, concludes with performances at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in Stage West at Herberger Theater Center, 222East Monroe. Tickets are $15, $12 for seniors, $7 for students and kids, available at Herberger and Dillard's. Call 252-8497.

friday
december 15
"Popcorn and Korngold": Pianist Roy Hakes and cellist Blythe Tretick perform Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Cello Concerto, plus other selections the late Warner Bros. house composer wrote for the soundtrack of the 1946 movie Deception, at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Cinema at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. A screening of the unrated film, starring Bette Davis, Claude Rains and Paul Henreid, follows. Call 994-2787 or 953-3558.

Ruby Christmas: Planet Earth Multi-Cultural Theatre, 909 North Third Street, continues its season with this offbeat holiday entry by playwright Sarah Dreher about a tradition-bound mother and her lesbian daughter trying to stake out a plot of common ground during a Christmas visit. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, through December 23. Tickets are $9, $7 for students and seniors. Call 241-1828.

The Cowboy Legends: Fiddle champ Peter Rolland and his saddle pals--guitarist/vocalist Joe Baer, percussionist Ken Bucy and bassist/cellist Gail Rolland--perform "Christmas on the Line," "Silent Night," "Texas Plains," "Rootin' Tootin' Santa Claus" and other seasonal and Southwestern favorites at 8 p.m. Friday at Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue. Tickets are $8, $6 for students and seniors, available at the scene and Ticketmaster. An optional buffet, which costs $5, precedes at 6:30. Call 786-2682 or 784-4444.

saturday
december 16
The Phantom of the Opera: Andrew Lloyd Webber's phenomenally popular musical, based on the novel by Gaston LeRoux, stars Rick Hilsabeck as the title spook, a spiteful composer who haunts the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera House and loves beautiful young soprano Christine (Sarah Pfisterer). Broadway vet Harold Prince directed the touring production, which opens Saturday at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe, with a matinee preview at 2 p.m. and an evening performance at 8. Another matinee is scheduled at 2 p.m. Sunday, and the press opening follows at 7:30. The remainder of this week's shows are at 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Phantom continues through January 27. Tickets range from $15 to $65, available at Gammage and Dillard's box offices. For details call 965-3434 or 678-2222.

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