Pic Hits for the week

december 26
"Converging Cultures: Art and Identity in Spanish America": The installation at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central, details the new society that arose in the Americas in the 16th through 18th centuries, a byproduct of the shotgun marriage of European colonialism and native culture engendered by Spain's occupation. The Brooklyn Museum organized the exhibition of paintings, manuscripts, metal works, textiles and sculpture, which continues through Sunday, February 23, in the Steele Gallery. PAM is closed Wednesday, January 1. Regular hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays (to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays). Special admission is $5, $4 for seniors, $2 for students and children age 6 and up, free for younger kids and members; entry is free to all from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursdays. Call 257-1880 or 257-1222.

Ballet Arizona's Nutcracker: The troupe continues the season with its annual rendition of the Tchaikovsky work, featuring accompaniment by Phoenix Symphony. Final performances are at 7 p.m. Thursday, December 26; 7 p.m. Friday, December 27; 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, December 28; and 2 p.m. Sunday, December 29, at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. Tickets range from $14 to $38, available at the ballet box office and Dillard's; call 381-1096 or 678-2222.

december 27
Mama, I Want to Sing: Vy Higgensen's musical/drama is based on the life of the playwright's sister, vocalist Doris Troy, and Troy's journey from a gospel-steeped Harlem church to the secular world of the pop charts. It's really an excuse to showcase some fine songs, from religious epiphanies to Rodgers and Hart. Black Theatre Troupe's revival of the play opens with performances at 8 p.m. Friday, December 27; 8 p.m. Saturday, December 28; and 3 p.m. Sunday, December 29, at Helen K. Mason Center for the Performing Arts, 333 East Portland. The production continues through Sunday, January 19. Tickets are $16, $14 for students and seniors, $10 for kids 12 and under. Call 258-8128.

Phoenix Coyotes: The National Hockey League franchise continues the season, its first in Arizona, with a game against the Vancouver Canucks at 7 p.m. Friday, December 27, at America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson. Tickets are $8.75 and $26.75, available at the arena and Dillard's; call 379-7825, 379-7800 or 678-2222.

Shear Madness: Hair-brained schemes abound in Marilyn Abrams and Bruce Jordan's broadly comic whodunit about beastly doings at a beauty parlor--an over-the-top adaptation of Swiss playwright Paul Portner's overearnest mystery Scherenschnitt. The Theatre League presentation opens with previews at 8 p.m. Friday, December 27; 8 p.m. Saturday, December 28; 2 p.m. Sunday, December 29; 8 p.m. Tuesday, December 31; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, January 1, at the New Scottsdale Playhouse, 7219 East Main. The official opening is Thursday, January 9; the production continues through Sunday, April 6. Tickets range from $15 to $21, available at the scene and Dillard's; call 675-8811 or 678-2222.

Ballet Arizona's Nutcracker: See Thursday.
"Converging Cultures: Art and Identity in Spanish America": See Thursday.

december 28
Circus Flora: Daniel Balding, formerly of France's Cirque Medrano and Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival, founded this traditional, European-style circus named after, and built around, an orphaned African elephant (who was herself named after a character in Jean de Brunhoff's Babar books). The fourth annual visit by the "circus with a soul" features old standbys like the Flying Wallendas and ringmistress Yo-Yo the Clown (real name: Cecile MacKinnon; real job: Shakespearean actress) and a new attraction titled the St. Louis Arches, featuring eight young students from the Circus Flora School. The company has no caged animal acts. Opening performances are at noon and 4 p.m. Saturday, December 28; noon and 4 p.m. Sunday, December 29; 2 p.m. Monday, December 30; and 2 p.m. Tuesday, December 31, under the red-and-white-striped big top at Chaparral Park, Hayden and Jackrabbit roads in Scottsdale. More shows are scheduled Thursday, January 2, through Sunday, January 5. Tickets range from $10 to $18, available at Scottsdale Center for the Arts and Ticketmaster; call 994-2787 or 784-4444.

Football Fiesta: The street fest, one of myriad warm-ups for Fiesta Bowl XXVI (see Wednesday), features interactive games, displays and other attractions for amateur-pigskin enthusiasts. Hours are noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, December 28; noon to 11 p.m. Sunday, December 29; noon to 11 p.m. Monday, December 30; and noon Tuesday, December 31, to 1 a.m. The scene is Stadium Drive, south of Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. Admission is free Saturday through Monday, $10 on New Year's Eve. For details call 350-0911.

Disney's Beauty and the Beast: The musical-theater version of the fairy tale is billed as a "silhouette" of the movie company's blockbuster "rather than a replica of it." Alan Menken and Howard Ashman wrote the score, which is augmented by seven new songs, six of them collaborations by Menken and Tim Rice. Opening performances are at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, December 28; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, December 29; 8 p.m. Monday, December 30; and 8 p.m. Tuesday, December 31, at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe. The American Cancer Society is selling select seats for Saturday's evening show, with proceeds benefiting the agency (call 553-7129). The touring production continues through Saturday, February 1. Regular tickets range form $20 to $60, available at Gammage and Dillard's; call 965-3434 or 678-2222.

Bull Riders Only Championship: It's the most dangerous game: The cowpokes try to show the sassy bulls who's boss, and the bulls try to stomp the bossy cowpokes senseless. This year's brute to watch is 1,800-pound Grasshopper, billed as the "Cadillac of bulls" and sporting a nonpareil 93 percent cowboy-buck-off rate. The competition commences at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 28, at America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson. Tickets range from $10 to $26.75, available at the arena and Dillard's; call 379-7800 or 678-2222.

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