Jazz lovers can celebrate Christmas Eve with the sounds of Nuance, a quartet featuring bassist Dennis Sexton, guitarist Stan Sorensen, flutist Tony Vaca and the Reverend David Felten on the sax. The ensemble will play at a candlelight celebration from 9 to 11 p.m. Thursday, December 24, at Asbury United Methodist Church, 1601 West Indian School. The music is preceded at 7 p.m. by a children's Christmas pageant at the church, which describes itself as "distinguished by its diverse congregation and love-centered, progressive theology." Call 279-2369 for more information.
Blues lovers can make out all right on Christmas Eve, too: Luther Jackson--Michael Jackson's much cooler uncle--and his band Loose Cannons are slated to play their traditional blues sounds on Thursday, December 24, the Blue Note Cool Cafe, 8040 East McDowell in Scottsdale. Showtime is 8 p.m.; there's no cover. 946-6227.
It's Christmas Day. Eat too much, revel in consumerism, develop bitter silent grudges against your loved ones if they fail to sufficiently recognize the perfect thoughtfulness of your gifts to them. Also, seven new movies--Down in the Delta, The Faculty, Little Voice, Mighty Joe Young, Patch Adams, Stepmom and the wonderful Shakespeare in Love--are scheduled to open here Friday, December 25. Something for everybody. See Film section for details. If you're bound and determined to have some live entertainment, there's the generically titled "Stand-Up Comedy Show" at TGI Friday's in Scottsdale; see Comedy listing in Thrills.
The Flying Wallendas are the stars of Circus Flora, the small circus with a big spirit. The high-wire greats share the bill with, among many other acts, Flora, the young, poacher-orphaned elephant (and anti-ivory activist) from whom the circus takes its name. Opening performances are at 4 p.m. Saturday, December 26; noon and 4 p.m. Sunday, December 27; 2 p.m. Tuesday, December 29; and the same time Wednesday, December 30, at Chaparral Park, Hayden and Jackrabbit in Scottsdale. The run continues through Sunday, January 3. Tickets range from $10 to $20, available at Scottsdale Center for the Arts and Ticketmaster (994-2787, 784-4444).
"Florence Unger" replaces Felix and "Olive Madison" replaces Oscar in Neil Simon's The Odd Couple--Female Version. Arizona Jewish Theatre Company continues its season with the show about cohabiting divorcees. Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Saturday, December 26; and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, December 27, in Stage West at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. Tickets are $26, less for students and seniors; available at Herberger and Dillard's. The run continues through Sunday, January 10. 252-8497, 503-5555.
If the Christmas season hasn't given you your fill of Dickens, there's always Oliver, Lionel Bart's musical adaptation of Oliver Twist, presented by Greasepaint Scottsdale Youtheatre. Performances of the holiday-vacation show are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 26; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, December 27; 2 p.m. Monday, December 28; 2 p.m. Tuesday, December 29; and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 30. The run continues through Sunday, January 3. Tickets are $6. Stagebrush Theater, 7020 East Second Street in Scottsdale. 990-7646.
Down Tucson way, the Barbea Williams Performing Company celebrates another of the holidays that crowd this season with "Kwanzaa: Mask Folklore With Dance, Song and Story." The show "uses Kwanzaa songs, symbols, rituals, principles intertwined between traditional folktales." Opening performances are at 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, December 26; and the same times Sunday, December 27; at Tucson Center for the Performing Arts, 408 South Sixth Avenue. Tickets are $10 in advance; $12 at the door; $8 in advance and $10 at the door for students and seniors; $5 for kids under 12. 1-520-628-7785.
Saturday, December 26, is also Boxing Day, the British Commonwealth holiday in which gifts were traditionally given to service workers. Valley Britpub George and Dragon, 4240 North Central, will be open that day. Says a spokesperson, "We don't have anything special planned, but we do expect a lot of people to come in and get tanked." 241-0018.
The perennial never-even-quite-a-bridesmaid of Valley sports, the Arizona Cardinals wrap up another home season. The NFL gridiron grapplers take on the San Diego Chargers at 2 p.m. Sunday, December 27, at Sun Devil Stadium, College Avenue and Stadium Drive in Tempe; and if they win, they clinch a playoff berth. Tickets are $40 and $50 for sideline seats, $20 for end-zone seats, available at Dillard's box offices (503-5555), 379-0102 (Cardinals).
While the Cardinals (see Sunday) continue to break our hearts as often as not, and the Suns are AWOL, the Phoenix Coyotes continue, at this writing, to kick ass and take names, all with a minimum of public hoopla. The NHL team faces off against the Los Angeles Kings at 7 p.m. Monday, December 28. The next home match-up is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, December 30, against the New York Rangers. Tickets range from $18.50 to $200. America West Arena, 201 East Jefferson. 563-7825 (Coyotes), 379-7800 (AWA), 503-5555 (Dillard's).