Baby, It's Bright Outside: Fiesta of Light; Ahwatukee-Foothills Festival of Lights; ZooLights; "Wild Winter Nights": The City of Phoenix's free Fiesta continues nightly, through Thursday, January 1, 1998, in the area surrounding Symphony Hall Terrace, Second Street and Adams (534-3378). Phoenix's other major display, Ahwatukee's bounteous, white-lights-only bonanza, can be viewed from 5:30 to 11 each evening, through January 1. Related horse-drawn hay rides and "luminary" hikes to South Mountain's Telegraph Pass are scheduled Saturday, December 13; and Saturday, December 20. The fest is centered on Chandler Boulevard about three and a half miles west of I-10 (460-6169). The Phoenix Zoo, 455 North Galvin Parkway, in Papago Park, is garbed in a Technicolor dreamcoat of lights during its sixth annual ZooLights display; this year's version features new exhibits and an hour's extra viewing time per evening. It continues from 6 to 10 nightly (except Christmas Eve), through Sunday, January 11, 1998. The Phoenix Boys Choir performs a related concert on Friday, December 12. Special admission is $4.50, free for kids age 2 and under (273-1341, extension 7810). Wildlife World Zoo's "Wild Winter Nights" features thousands of lights placed strategically around the grounds of the west-side menagerie, 165th Avenue and Northern in Litchfield Park, plus a special exhibit of black-footed penguins from South Africa. The "WWN" display continues from 5:30 to 9 each evening, through Sunday, January 4, 1998; admission is $5, free for kids 2 and under (935-9453). For info about other significant Yuletide doings this week, see below.
Films by Martha Colburn and James Schneider: Baltimore's Colburn and Washington, D.C.'s Schneider are indie auteurs who specialize in the odd and the alt, from trashy punk to geezer trailer trash; Colburn mostly works in Super-8, Schneider in 16mm. Various pieces by the filmmakers screen at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Thursday, December 11, at Metropophobobia, 407 East Roosevelt. Admission is a requested donation of $4. 252-9851.
Suite Dreams: The Nutcracker; The Snow Queen: Ballet Arizona's annual staging of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker has a different vibe this year, with new sets (by Thomas Munn of the San Francisco Opera), costumes and choreography. The Phoenix Symphony--conducted by its former music director, James Sedares--provides the accompaniment. Opening performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, December 11; 7:30 p.m. Friday, December 12; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 13; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, December 14; and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 17, at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. The run continues through Saturday, December 27. Tickets range from $9 to $50, available via the ballet or Dillard's (381-1096, 503-5555). Center Dance Ensemble's traditional season-opener, Hans Christian Andersen's Snow Queen (danced to recorded music by Prokofiev), doesn't have the artistic firepower, or funding, of BA's Nutcracker, but the kidcentric cast gives its all, and the story--it's a ballet noir about good (personified by sweet, young Gerta) and evil (the lovely but toxic title vixen)--transcends the mostly candy-coated offerings of the season. Opening performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in Stage West at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. More shows are scheduled Friday, December 19, through Sunday, December 21. Tickets are $15, $12 for seniors, $7 for students and kids, available at Herberger and Dillard's (252-8497, 503-5555).
Fred Stonehouse/Steve Gompf: Stonehouse is a Milwaukee-born painter who operates in his own fever-pitched realm of imagination; says Fred of the startlingly original pieces in his exhibit "Thirteen Devils & El Libro de los Suenos": "I break the rules of symbolism internationally. . . . I don't have any qualms about it." Valley-based Gompf is a multimedia junkie who transforms his passion for old junk--and faded visuals--into glorious pseudohistory via sometimes disturbing, nickelodeon-style loops "broadcast" on lovingly rehabilitated, oddly threatening machines named televisors. His installation is titled "Steve Gompf & Eadweard Muybridge: Persistent Visions: Televisors and Early Motion-Picture Technologies." The dual exhibits are up through Saturday, January 3, 1998, at the Lisa Sette Gallery, 4142 North Marshall Way in Scottsdale. Viewing is free; hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays (and 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays), noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. 990-7342.
ATOP's A Christmas Carol: Actors Theatre of Phoenix's perennial production of Charles Dickens' ghost story, adapted by Richard Hellesen and featuring music by David de Barry, stars Gerald Burgess as Scrooge, Nicolas Glaeser as Marley and Matthew Mazuroski as Bob Cratchit; Matthew Wiener directed. This week's shows are at 7 p.m. Thursday, December 11; 8 p.m. Friday, December 12; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, December 13; 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, December 14; and 7 p.m. Wednesday, December 17, in Center Stage at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. Wednesday's show is a "priceless performance"; patrons pay what they can afford, but reservations are required (253-6701). The run continues through Sunday, December 21. Regular tickets range from $10.50 to $32, available at Herberger and Dillard's (252-8497, 503-5555).
"Messiah" Sing-Along: Mark Russell Smith leads the Phoenix Symphony Chamber Orchestra, various soloists, the All Saints Episcopal Choir, the Central United Methodist Choir and any and all comers from the audience in a performance of the popular Handel piece. Shows are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Friday, December 12, at Central Christian Church, 933 North Lindsay in Mesa; and 3 p.m. Sunday, December 14, at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 West Adams. Tickets are $10, available at the symphony's box office and Dillard's (495-1999, 503-5555).
Ahwatukee-Foothills Festival of Lights: See Thursday.
ATOP's A Christmas Carol: See Thursday.
Fiesta of Light: See Thursday.
The Nutcracker: See Thursday.
The Snow Queen: See Thursday.
Fred Stonehouse/Steve Gompf: See Thursday.
"Wild Winter Nights": See Thursday.
ZooLights: See Thursday.