Calendar for the week

Circus Flora: The Flying Wallendas--featuring 8-year-old Alex, who walks the high wire, though he's barely out of the high chair--star in this small circus with a big spirit. They share the bill with the likes of aerialist Sacha Pavlata, equilibrists Nurboll and Almos, acrobat/clown Giovanni Zoppe and a variety of animal acts, including Betsy the Vietnamese potbellied pig, Papagallo the piano-playing Leghorn Rooster, and Flora, the young, poacher-orphaned elephant (and anti-ivory activist) from whom the circus takes its name. Opening performances are at noon and 4 p.m. Saturday, December 27; noon and 4 p.m. Sunday, December 28; 2 p.m. Monday, December 29; 2 p.m. Tuesday, December 30; and 2 p.m. Wednesday, December 31, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Additional performances are scheduled Friday, January 2, through Sunday, January 4. Tickets range from $10 to $18, available at the center and Ticketmaster (994-2787, 784-4444).

Social Security: Andrew Bergman, the first-rate comedy screenwriter who collaborated on the script for Blazing Saddles and penned his self-directed wacko classic The Freshman, also authored this comedy about an 80-year-old woman who moves in with her daughter and son-in-law, and the ensuing turbulence. Bob Sorensen directs the Arizona Jewish Theatre Company production. Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Saturday, December 27; 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, December 28; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, December 31, in Stage West at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. Performances continue through Sunday, January 11. Regular tickets are $20 to $22; they're $40 for the New Year's Eve show. 252-8497.

Nutcracker on Ice: Haven't had enough nutcracking yet? This ice extravaganza, which stars Randy Gardiner and Tai Babilonia, serves up the Tchaikovsky classic chilled at the Sundome, 19403 R.H. Johnson Boulevard in Sun City West. Performances are at 3 p.m. Saturday, December 27; and 3 p.m. Sunday, December 28. Tickets are $12, $18 and $24, available at the Sundome and Dillard's (975-1900, 503-5555).

december 29
Save Ferris: This nonpunk outfit from Punk Ground Zero--Orange County, California--sports a ska-tinged sound and a strong female presence at center mike: operatically trained Monique Powell. Touring behind the Epic disc It Means Everything, the band is scheduled at 8 p.m. Monday, December 29, at Gibson's, 410 South Mill in Tempe. Kongo Shock and Showbomb share the all-ages bill. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 the day of the show, available at Ticketmaster. 967-1234, 784-4444.

december 30
Arizona Stock Show: Now in its 49th year, this event at the Arizona State Fairgrounds, 19th Avenue and McDowell, includes rootin' tootin' good times ranging from the gustatory (a Chili Challenge) to the educational (a Farm Experience). Hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, December 30; and the same Wednesday, December 31. The event continues with the PRCA Rodeo scheduled on Friday, January 2; and Saturday, January 3. Admission is free this week; there's a charge for next week's dates, and for the rodeo. 258-8568.

december 31
New Year's Eve Gala Concert: Symphony Hall makes a classy setting for ringing in the new, as the Phoenix Symphony, under the baton of associate conductor Clotilde Otranto, schmaltzes up the place with the music of Johann Strauss and other sentimental faves. There's also a complimentary champagne toast thrown in. The evening kicks off at 8 p.m. Wednesday, December 31 (and wraps up at about 10:30, getting you home in time for Dick Clark). The Hall is at 225 East Adams. Tickets, ranging from $22 to $42, are available from the Phoenix Symphony box office and Dillard's (495-1999, 503-5555).

Andrew "Dice" Clay: The comic whose stage persona is that of a Jersey street lout dishes up his lowbrow stylings in a New Year's Eve show at the Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street, on Wednesday, December 31. Tickets are $26 and $36, and can be had at the Celebrity box office and Dillard's (267-1600, 503-5555).

Five Guys Named Moe: The blues tunes of Louis Jordan are the stars of this Arizona Theatre Company production. They're strung along a musical-comedy plot in which a lovelorn hero is visited, through his radio, by the title quintet, a supernatural team of blues busters whose names are variations on "Moe." Audiences can expect mo'e fun than usual. The run kicks off with a New Year's Eve Gala at 8 p.m. Wednesday, December 31. Tickets for the gala are $50; they're less for the rest of the run, which continues through Sunday, January 25, in Center Stage at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. 252-8497.

"An Evening With Benny Goodman": Mesa Symphony celebrates the New Year with an evening of the clarinet master's works, as well as classical pieces for the same instrument, as a way of remembering Goodman's lesser-known accomplishments as a classical clarinetist. Guest soloist John Denman is featured. Tickets are $10 and $20 for the show, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 31, at Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue. 897-2121, 786-2680.

Craig Shoemaker at the Improv: The American Comedy Awards pick for best standup comedian of 1997--and star of the upcoming film The Lovemaster--deigns to spend his New Year's Eve here in the Valley. The alchemical comedian, who is slated to host next year's VH1 game show My Generation, has transformed a miserable childhood as a hopeless geek into a he-man mint. He used to be slugged by little girls; now he's hit on by beautiful women. He performs Wednesday, December 31, at the Tempe Improv Comedy Theater, 930 East University. His run continues through Saturday, January 3. 921-9877.

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