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Pic Hits for the week

thursday
december 19
Baby, It's Bright Outside: ZooLights; Fiesta of Light and Downtown Holiday Tree Tour; Ahwatukee-Foothills Festival of Lights: Phoenix Zoo, 455 North Galvin Parkway, in Papago Park, is garbed in its usual Technicolor dreamcoat during the facility's fifth annual ZooLights display. The fun continues from 6 to 9 nightly (except Christmas Eve), through Sunday, January 12. Special admission is $4.50, free for kids age 2 and under (call 273-1341). The City of Phoenix's free downtown Fiesta and its second annual, self-guided Tree Tour continue nightly, through Wednesday, January 1. Guided excursions start at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, December 21; and the same time Saturday, December 28 (call 534-3378 or 254-8696). Ahwatukee's white-lights bonanza can be viewed from 6 to 11 each night, through Sunday, January 5; take Chandler Boulevard west about three and a half miles from the street's intersection with I-10, and follow the signs. Hay rides and "luminary" hikes are scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. each Friday and Saturday, through December 28 (call 460-6169).

A Christmas Carol: Actors Theatre of Phoenix's traditional staging of Charles Dickens' ghost story continues with performances at 7 p.m. Thursday, December 19; 8 p.m. Friday, December 20; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, December 21; 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, December 22; 7 p.m. Monday, December 23; and 7 p.m. Wednesday, December 25, in Center Stage at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. The Christmas-night show is a "priceless" performance; patrons pay what they afford (call 253-6701 for reservations). Final shows are at 2 and 7 p.m. Thursday, December 26. Regular tickets range from $16 to $26, available at Herberger and Dillard's; call 252-8497 or 678-2222.

"Converging Cultures: Art and Identity in Spanish America": The installation at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central, details the distinctly 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's Debra Salas-Alcantar presents exhibit overviews at 12:15 and 7 p.m. Thursday, December 19. The museum's closed on Wednesday, December 25. 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 presents its version of Tchaikovsky's work, featuring accompaniment by Phoenix Symphony. This week's performances are at 7 p.m. Thursday, December 19; 2 and 7 p.m. Friday, December 20; 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, December 21; 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, December 22; 2 and 7 p.m. Monday, December 23; and 2 p.m. Tuesday, December 24, at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. The production continues through Sunday, December 29. Tickets range from $14 to $38, available at the ballet box office and Dillard's; call 381-1096 or 678-2222.

Pup Tarts and People Chow: Three Dog Bakery; Arizona Biltmore Celebrity Bake Sale: Dan Dye and Mark Beckloff of the Kansas City-based bake shop, which specializes in canine cuisine, sign copies of their new recipe book, Short Tails and Treats From Three Dog Bakery, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, December 19, at the PetsMart store at 10030 North 90th Street in Scottsdale (call 391-1647); and at 7 p.m. Friday, December 20, at the chain's branch at 6932 East Hampton in Mesa (call 830-7282). The Biltmore's second annual sale features cookies, candies, cakes and similar holiday comestibles from the kitchens of Olympic gold medalists Kerri Strug and Gary Hall Jr., Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Alice Cooper, Barry Goldwater, Jake Plummer and others. It's scheduled for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the resort's conference center, 24th Street and Missouri. All proceeds from sales benefit Arizona Biltmore Children's Charities (call 381-7682).

Phoenix Symphony Chamber Orchestra's "Messiah": Conductor Joseph Flummerfelt leads the ensemble and Phoenix Bach Choir in selections from the Handel work. Shows are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, December 19, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street (tickets are $16 and $20; call 495-1999); 7:30 p.m. Friday, December 20, at Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue (tickets range from $13 to $20; call 495-1999 or 784-4444); 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 21, at First Baptist Church of Phoenix, 7000 North Central (tickets are $17; call 495-1999 or 678-2222); and 3 p.m. Sunday, December 22, at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 447 South Litchfield Road in Litchfield Park (tickets are $17; call 495-1999 or 678-2222).

The Snow Queen: Center Dance Ensemble has opened its season with the troupe's annual presentation of the ballet noir, adapted from Hans Christian Andersen's tale about good (personified by sweet Gerta) and evil (the lovely but toxic title vixen). Final performances, set to music by Prokofiev, are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, December 19; 7:30 p.m. Friday, December 20; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 21; and 2 p.m. Sunday, December 22, in Stage West at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. Tickets are $15, $12 for seniors, $7 for students and kids, available at Herberger and Dillard's; call 252-8497 or 678-2222.  

friday
december 20
Windham Hill's Winter Solstice Concerts featuring Tuck & Patti, Turtle Island String Quartet, and Philip Aaberg: The label's eighth annual winter carnival of contemporary classical (read: new age) music is a perennial highlight--a hushed celebration amid the season's prattle. Pianist Aaberg's exceptional. Shows are scheduled at 8 p.m. Friday, December 20; and the same time on the solstice proper--Saturday, December 21--at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $20 and $25, available at the center and Ticketmaster; call 994-2787 or 784-4444.

Weezer: The L.A. band was teetering on the tightrope called novelty burnout after its Ric Ocasek-produced '94 disc spawned the hits "Undone (The Sweater Song)" and "Buddy Holly." The self-produced Pinkerton, the latest offering from Weezerville, is deeper and slightly darker, but just as catchy. Ash shares the stage. The all-ages show starts at 9 p.m. Friday, December 20, at Electric Ballroom, 1216 East Apache in Tempe. Tickets are $15, available at Ticketmaster. Call 894-0707 or 784-4444.

Melissa Etheridge: The sandpaper-voiced heartland rocker returns for her first Valley visit in a year and a half. Touring in support of the recent disc your little secret, Missy performs at 8 p.m. Friday, December 20, at Veterans' Memorial Coliseum, 19th Avenue and McDowell. Tickets are $40, available at Ticketmaster; call 784-4444.

Sonny Rhodes: The turbaned one (real name: Clarence Smith) plays stylish, occasionally fearsome, stuff on his lap steel. Touring behind his new King Snake disc, Out of Control, Rhodes performs Friday, December 20, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. Showtime is 9 p.m. The cover is $5. Call 265-4842.

Ahwatukee-Foothills Festival of Lights: See Thursday.
Arizona Biltmore Celebrity Bake Sale: See Thursday.
Ballet Arizona's Nutcracker: See Thursday.
A Christmas Carol: See Thursday.
"Converging Cultures: Art and Identity in Spanish America": See Thursday.
Fiesta of Light and Downtown Holiday Tree Tour: See Thursday.
Phoenix Symphony Chamber Orchestra's "Messiah": See Thursday.
Three Dog Bakery: See Thursday.
The Snow Queen: See Thursday.
ZooLights: See Thursday.

saturday
december 21
Bette Midler: The Divine Miss M lives up to her self-billing in many ways, but her stock plummets when she trades in the crude, randy shtick that got her there for the chart-savvy, saccharine-coated-crooner Bette. A Midler show's always worth attending; just save that pop-stand run for when she launches into "The Wind Beneath My Wings" or anything else from the Beaches soundtrack onward. Showtime is 8 p.m. Saturday, December 21, at America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson. If tickets are available, they're at the arena and Dillard's; call 379-7800 or 678-2222.

Lorie Line and Her Pop Chamber Orchestra: Line's a fairly decent musician and a whiz-bang promoter. Her product: herself. At the dawn of the decade, the pianist was playing background music at a Minneapolis department store. Today, the new-age performer/composer heads her own multimillion-dollar company and the Pop Chamber Orchestra. Lorie and company perform a seasonal show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 21, at Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue. Tickets range from $20 to $28. Call 786-2680.

Ahwatukee-Foothills Festival of Lights: See Thursday.
Ballet Arizona's Nutcracker: See Thursday.
A Christmas Carol: See Thursday.
"Converging Cultures: Art and Identity in Spanish America": See Thursday.
Fiesta of Light and Downtown Holiday Tree Tour: See Thursday.
Phoenix Symphony Chamber Orchestra's "Messiah": See Thursday.
The Snow Queen: See Thursday.

Windham Hill's Winter Solstice Concert featuring Tuck & Patti, Turtle Island String Quartet, and Philip Aaberg: See Friday.

ZooLights: See Thursday.

sunday
december 22
Montell Jordan: Montell's no Barry White, but Jordan inherited the basso profundo's golden touch with the ladies; actually, make that platinum. Touring in support of his sophomore smash, More . . . , Montell performs Sunday, December 22, at the Mason Jar, 2303 East Indian School. Call 956-6271.

Road Trip: Besh-Ba-Gowah Festival of Lights in Globe: The wonderful archaeological park, on Jess Hayes Road in the mining town east of the Valley, hosts a miniature version of Desert Botanical Garden's Noche de las Luminarias event on Sunday, December 22. The free "desert glow" starts at dusk. Call 1-520-425-0320.

Ahwatukee-Foothills Festival of Lights: See Thursday.
Ballet Arizona's Nutcracker: See Thursday.
A Christmas Carol: See Thursday.
"Converging Cultures: Art and Identity in Spanish America": See Thursday.
Fiesta of Light and Downtown Holiday Tree Tour: See Thursday.
Phoenix Symphony Chamber Orchestra's "Messiah": See Thursday.
The Snow Queen: See Thursday.
ZooLights: See Thursday.  

monday
december 23
Phoenix Suns: Coach Danny Ainge and company continue the season with games against the Denver Nuggets at 7 p.m. Monday, December 23; and the Los Angeles Lakers at 4 p.m. Wednesday, December 25, at America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson. If tickets are available, they're at the arena and Dillard's; call 379-7800 or 678-2222.

Ahwatukee-Foothills Festival of Lights: See Thursday.
Ballet Arizona's Nutcracker: See Thursday.
A Christmas Carol: See Thursday.
Fiesta of Light and Downtown Holiday Tree Tour: See Thursday.
ZooLights: See Thursday.

tuesday
december 24
Winter's Eve Gala: Jewish Association of Singles Services sponsors this black-tie-optional affair at 6 p.m. Tuesday, December 24, in the Grand Ballroom at Radisson Resort Scottsdale, 7171 North Scottsdale Road. Highlights include music, dancing, dinner and a silent auction. Tickets are $35, $30 for JASS members. Call 482-8956 or 249-1832.

Ahwatukee-Foothills Festival of Lights: See Thursday.
Ballet Arizona's Nutcracker: See Thursday.
"Converging Cultures: Art and Identity in Spanish America": See Thursday.
Fiesta of Light and Downtown Holiday Tree Tour: See Thursday.

wednesday
december 25
Salvation Army Christmas Dinner: The nonprofit's annual feast is slated for noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday, December 25, in exhibit halls A and B at Phoenix Civic Plaza, Second Street and Adams. Admission is free, and everyone's welcome. Call 262-6225.

Ahwatukee-Foothills Festival of Lights: See Thursday.
A Christmas Carol: ("Priceless" performance.) See Thursday.
Fiesta of Light and Downtown Holiday Tree Tour: See Thursday.
Phoenix Suns: See Monday.
ZooLights: See Thursday.


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