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.

Arizona Christmas Mariachi Festival: Everyone's favorite hot number, Vikki Carr (real name: Florencia Bisenta de Casillas Martinez Cardona), headlines this fourth annual fest. Also on the bill: the stellar Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose L. Hern‡ndez, the all-female Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, Mariachi Campanas de America, Mariachi Tlaquepaque, Ballet Folklorico de San Juan, and Arizona Girls' Chorus. Showtime is 8p.m. Saturday at America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson. Tickets range from $15 to $50, available at the arena and Dillard's. Call 379-7800.

Bad Xmas Pageant 10: Appropriately subtitled "Peace on Everybody: The Tenth Annual Trashing of the Yule Season," the foul-mood fest at Metropophobobia, 621 North Third Street, features performance-art grinches Mike Darrah, Peter Ragan, Ralph Cordova, Leslie Barton, Jeff Falk, Annie Lopez, Chad Bush, Michele Delgado, and New York ArtJunkies, plus vile videos and films. Showtime is 9 p.m. Saturday. Admission is a $5 donation, $4 with a canned-good item for Andre House. For details call 252-9851.

ASU Sun Devils Basketball: Bill Frieder's Arizona State University cagers host California State University at Sacramento at 2 p.m. Saturday at ASU Activity Center in Tempe. For details call 965-3434.

Phoenix Feline Fanciers Cat Show: The acrobatic Friskies Cat Team and the refined Fancy Feast Cat, bewhiskered stars of big and small screens, are special guests at this year's show, slated for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday in Exhibit Hall A at Phoenix Civic Plaza, Second Street and Adams. Trainer Scott Hart puts the famous felines through their paces in performances at 1 and 3 p.m. each day. The show proper features more than 450 cats competing for the Fancy Feast Cup and the Friskiest Cat Award, honoring the top pedigreed and nonpedigreed animals, respectively. Admission is $6, $4 for seniors, free for accompanied kids under 12; proceeds benefit Winn Feline Foundation. Call 262-7272.

Lorie Line and Her Pop Chamber Orchestra: At the dawn of the Nineties, pianist Line was playing background music at a Minneapolis department store. Today, the new-age performer/composer heads her own multimillion-dollar company--she markets herself--and the 11member Pop Chamber Orchestra. Shows are scheduled at 5 and 8p.m. Saturday at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $25, available at the center and Ticketmaster. Call 994-2787.

Phoenix Roadrunners: Arizona's International Hockey Leaguers host the Las Vegas Thunder at 7 p.m. Saturday and the Michigan KWings at the same time Wednesday at Veterans' Memorial Coliseum, 19th Avenue and McDowell. Tickets range from $10 to $19, available at the coliseum and Ticketmaster. For details call 340-0001, 258-6711 or 784-4444.

sunday
december 17
Silverchair: The Australian trio plays aggressive, surprisingly decent stuff, given that not a single one of the members has facial hair or a driver's license. All in their mid-teens, the 'chairs are on a (chaperoned) tour of America in support of their Murmur/Epic debut, Frogstomp. See the story on page 99. Smile shares the bill. Showtime is 3 p.m. Sunday at Party Gardens, 5555 East Van Buren. Tickets are $12, available at the club and Ticketmaster. For details call 231-0488 or 784-4444.

John Bayless: The Texas-born pianist, best known for his Bach Meets the Beatles series, joins conductor James Yestadt and Sun Cities Symphony of the West Valley for a performance at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Sundome, 19403 R.H. Johnson Boulevard in Sun City West. The program includes works by Ibert, Tchaikovsky and Gershwin. Tickets are $12, $16 and $20, available at Sundome and Dillard's box offices. For details call 975-1900 or 678-2222.

Fiesta Bowl 10K: The 14th annual romp across downtown Tempe and the Arizona State University campus starts at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at the intersection of Fourth Street and Mill. A one-mile fun run and a 5K walk are also planned. Registration precedes at 7:30. The fee is $15, which includes brunch. A health/fitness fair follows. Call 277-4333.

Messiah Sing-along: Conductor Irving Fleming and Scottsdale Symphony and Chorale present this performance of Handel's masterwork. Audience members are invited to bring their own scores and add their voices to the mix. Showtime is 3 p.m. Sunday at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Admission is free; seating is limited. For details call 994-2787 or 945-8071.

monday
december 18
Anthrax: Death metal is dead, but this groundbreaking group, one of the movement's founders, lives. Onstage, the New York quartet--John Bush, Scott Ian, Frank Bello and Charlie Benante--concocts a keen mix of razor-edged topicality and head-banging parody, as any band named after a cattle disease should. Deftones, and Life of Agony share the all-ages bill. Showtime is 8 p.m. Monday at Electric Ballroom, 1216 East Apache in Tempe. Tickets are $12.50 in advance, $15 the day of the show, available at the club and Ticketmaster. For details call 894-0707 or 784-4444.

tuesday
december 19
Ballet Arizona's Nutcracker: The troupe continues its tenth season with this presentation of Tchaikovsky's classic, choreographed by the ballet's artistic director, Michael Uthoff. Phoenix Symphony, conducted by James Sedares, performs the score. This week's performances are at 7p.m. Tuesday and 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesday at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. The show continues with daily performances, except on Christmas, through December 29. Tickets are $18, $26 and $33, available at ballet and Dillard's box offices. For details call 381-1096 or 678-2222.

wednesday
december 20
Phoenix Suns: Charles Barkley and company host the Washington Bullets at 7 p.m. Wednesday at America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson. If game tickets are available, they're at the arena and Dillard's. For details call 379-7867, 379-7800 or 678-2222.

"Gods, Goddesses and Mere Mortals: What Are They Doing?": Karen Hodges, associate curator at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central, explores classical myths and imagery in various works included in the museum's new exhibit, "Italian Paintings From Burghley House," at 7p.m. Wednesday and 12:15 p.m. December 21. The installation features 6016th- to 18th-century masterworks from the Elizabethan mansion of Brits John Cecil and Brownlow Cecil, the fifth and ninth earls of Exeter. Artists represented include Dolci, Bassano, Calandrucci, Giordano and Recco. Admission and viewing are free. For general information, see the Art Exhibits listing or call 257-1880.

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