Calendar for the week

thursday
december 11
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).

friday
december 12
"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.

saturday
december 13
"Africa! A Sense of Wonder": The exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central, promises "new ways of looking at the art of Africa" and includes about 80 sub-Saharan objects that date from the 16th to early 20th centuries and range from the sociocultural to the fanciful. Drawn from the extensive collection of Valley resident Richard Faletti and family, "Africa!" was co-curated by Mary Nooter Roberts and Allen F. Roberts; it opens Saturday, December 13, and continues through Sunday, February 8, 1998, in the Steele Gallery. Various in-gallery performance pieces are scheduled; the first, "Gone Cross the Waters" by musician/dancer Sule Greg C. Wilson, starts at 2 p.m. Sunday, December 14. Viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays (to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays). Admission is $6, $4 for students and seniors, $2 for children ages 6 to 18, free for younger kids and members; entry is free to all on Thursdays. 257-1880, 257-1222.

"Arizona Christmas Mariachi Festival" featuring Graciela Beltran, and Pedro Fernandez: The annual fandango, in its sixth year, is one of the area's more unusual holiday offerings--a warm and fuzzy tarjeta de Navidad from south-of-the-border way. Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose L. Hernandez, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan, Mariachi Las Adelitas, and Mariachi Guadalupano are also scheduled. Showtime is 8 p.m. Saturday, December 13, at America West Arena, 201 East Jefferson. Tickets range from $20 to $55, available at the arena and Dillard's (379-7800, 503-5555). For info about the similar, though unrelated, "Fiesta Navidad," see Sunday.

"Bad Xmas Pageant XII": Subtitled "The Revenge of Rudolph," the annual foul-mood fest features pissy poetry and performance art and vile video works by Valley grinches Steve Gompf (also see Thursday), Annie Lopez, Stephanie Brewer, Mary Kay Zeeb, Peter Ragan and many others. Showtime is 8 p.m. Saturday, December 13, at the Scorchydome, 718 West Polk. Admission is a $5 donation, $4 with a canned-good item for the Andre House. 253-4430, 252-9851.

Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers: The West Coast blues crew is rock-solid but by no means spectacular, with the exception of Honey Piazza, Rod's better half and a pretty damned magnificent barrelhouse pianist; check 'er out. Note: Par for the course, the host venue, the Cajun House, axed the scheduled opener, John Hiatt--one of the most consistently commendable songsmiths of the last couple of decades. The Flyers perform Saturday, December 13; the House is at 7117 East Third Avenue in Scottsdale. 945-5150.

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.

sunday
december 14
"Fiesta Navidad" featuring Mariachi los Camperos de Nati Cano: L.A.-based Mariachi los Camperos was featured on Linda Ronstadt's various collections of Spanish-language songs, including the original: Canciones de Mi Padre. The group headlines the "Fiesta," which also features a performance by Ballet Folklórico Ollin. Shows are scheduled at 4 and 7 p.m. Sunday, December 14, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $18 and $22, available at the center and Ticketmaster (994-2787, 784-4444). For details about the separate "Arizona Christmas Mariachi Festival," see Saturday; for info about a related special edition of SCA's weekly "Sunday A'Fair," see the Events listing.

"Africa! A Sense of Wonder": See Saturday.
Ahwatukee-Foothills Festival of Lights: See Thursday.
ATOP's A Christmas Carol: See Thursday.
Fiesta of Light: See Thursday.
"Messiah" Sing-Along: See Friday.
The Nutcracker: See Thursday.
The Snow Queen: See Thursday.
"Wild Winter Nights": See Thursday.
ZooLights: See Thursday.

monday
december 15
Puff Daddy and the Family, and Busta Rhymes: As a movement, hip-hop is illin'--and that's bad meaning bad--but music-exec-turned-performer Sean "Puffy" Combs (a.k.a. Puff Daddy) is doing quite nicely, thanks, with his hip-pop hybrid. Puff's new disc, No Way Out, has spawned a trio of smashes--including the genre equivalent of "Candle in the Wind 1997": "I'll Be Missing You," Combs' tribute to his late partner, Christopher Wallace (a.k.a. the Notorious B.I.G.). The well-named Busta Rhymes has had his share of crossover success, too--and he's decidedly no gangsta--but the dreadlocked Brooklyn youth does infuse his quirky, wild-eyed exhalations with bold dollops of Jamaican dancehall and neopsychedelia--as on the super track "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See" from Busta's new disc, When Disaster Strikes (see the story on page 100). Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Monday, December 15, at America West Arena, 201 East Jefferson. Tickets are $32.50 and $42.50, available at the arena and Dillard's (379-7800, 503-5555).

Ahwatukee-Foothills Festival of Lights: See Thursday.
Fiesta of Light: See Thursday.
"Wild Winter Nights": See Thursday.
ZooLights: See Thursday.

tuesday
december 16
The 007's: Hollywood's Sprague Brothers (Frank and Chris) and masked bassist Mr. X play "secret agent spy music" like the theme from Goldfinger, plus "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" and other Cocktail Nation curiosities. Phonoroyale opens at 9 p.m. Tuesday, December 16, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. The cover is $3. 265-4842.

"Africa! A Sense of Wonder": See Saturday.
Ahwatukee-Foothills Festival of Lights: See Thursday.
Fiesta of Light: See Thursday.
Fred Stonehouse/Steve Gompf: See Thursday.
"Wild Winter Nights": See Thursday.
ZooLights: See Thursday.

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