Capitol Steps: If you consider Newt Gingrich unintentionally hilarious and stuff like the recent shutdown of the government funny as a crutch, this troupe's for you. The Washington, D.C.-based Steps were born in 1981, when three congressional aides were drafted to provide entertainment for a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Christmas party. In desperation--they had planned to stage a Nativity play, but quip that they couldn't find three wise men or a virgin in all of Congress--the staffers turned to cheeky digs at their then-bosses. The rest issatirical history. Performing numbers like"Fools on the Hill" and "The Sony Side of the Street," Capitol Steps perform at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets range from $20 to $25, available at the center and Ticketmaster. Call 994-2787 or 784-4444.
Arizona State University "Pass in Review": TheSun Devil marching band reprises the best performances from its fall halftime shows in concerts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe, and3 p.m. Saturday at the Sundome, 19403 R.H. Johnson Boulevard in SunCity West. ASU Wind Ensemble also performs. Tickets are $5, $2 for students, available at Gammage, Sundome and Dillard's. Call 965-3434, 975-1900 or 678-2222.
Phoenix Roadrunners: Arizona's International Hockey Leaguers host the Cleveland Lumberjacks Thursday, the Minnesota Moose Saturday and the Milwaukee Admirals Wednesday. All games start at 7 p.m. at Veterans' Memorial Coliseum, 19th Avenue and McDowell. Tickets range from $10 to $19, available at the coliseum and Ticketmaster. Call 340-0001.
Phoenix Symphony: Pianist Garrick Ohlsson joins the orchestra, conducted by James Sedares, in performances of Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 in D major, Opus 36, and Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Opus 83. Shows are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. Friday morning's program is a "Coffee Classics" concert, with tickets specially priced at $11and $15. Regular tickets range from $12 to $36. They're available at the symphony box office and Dillard's. Call 264-6363, 262-7272 or 678-2222.
Arizona Cardinals: The Cards host the NewYork Giants at 6 p.m. Thursday at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. Tickets are $29, $39 and $54, available at Dillard's. Call 379-0102 or 678-2222.
Valley Art Theatre: Meet the Feebles (unrated), the first film by director Peter Jackson, continues with daily screenings at the cinema, 509South Mill in Tempe. Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (unrated), director Steven M. Martin's ode to the instrument responsible for many of the schlocky sci-fi-flick soundtracks of the '50s, opens Friday. Stop Making Sense (unrated) screens at midnight Friday, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (R) plays at midnight Saturday. Call 829-6668.
Day Without Art: In honor of World AIDS Day 1995 and those who have fallen to AIDS and HIV, many local arts facilities will be dark or hold special commemorations Friday. For details about the related "Light the Mountain" event, see Events listing. For information about other local World AIDS Day events, call Commitment to Life Foundation at 951-6986 or Arizona AIDS Foundation at 483-8306.
Noches de las Luminarias: Desert Botanical Garden's phenomenally popular fund raiser, in its 18th year, features an elbow-to-elbow stroll on luminaria-lighted paths, plus live music by a hand-bell choir, mariachis and other musicians. It's scheduled for 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the garden, 1201 North Galvin Parkway, in Papago Park. Tickets are $8, $4 for kids; all proceeds benefit DBG. Advance purchase is suggested, and early arrival is of the essence. Park at Phoenix Zoo; a free shuttle service runs from the zoo to the garden. Call 941-1225.
The Tempest: Ethington Theatre at Grand Canyon University, 3300 West Camelback, continues its 45th season with composer Lee Hoiby's operatic take on one of the Bard's most dramatic works. The play is the latest installment in Ethington's "Reconstructing Shakespeare" series, which includes upcoming presentations of Richard II and a musical titled Shakespeare and Friends. The Tempest is performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. December 8 and 9. Tickets are $8, $6.50 for seniors and kids. For details and reservations, call 589-2871.
Old Town Tempe Fall Festival of the Arts: The 27th annual blowout, featuring artisans and craftspeople from around the country, isscheduled for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday in the area surrounding the intersection of Fifth Street and Mill. Also on the agenda: kids' activities in Kidspace, health and environmental displays in FitZone and Ecotopia, wine tasting and live music. Call 967-4877.
Phoenix Suns: Charles Barkley and company host the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday and the expansion Vancouver Grizzlies Tuesday. Both games tip off at 7 p.m. at America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson. Afree party at Symphony Hall Terrace, Second Street and Adams, precedes Friday's game; it starts at 5 and continues 'til 10:30. If game tickets are available, they're at the arena and Dillard's. Call 379-7867.
The Turn of the Screw: Arizona State University's Lyric Opera Theatre continues its season with Benjamin Britten's opera, based on Henry James' ghost story. Final performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at ASU Music Theatre, Mill and Gammage Parkway in Tempe. Tickets are $11, $8.50 for ASU faculty and staff, $6 for students and seniors, available at ASU and Dillard's box offices. Call 965-6447.
Poinsettia Festival: The tenth annual celebration of flower power begins at 6 p.m. Friday with a tree-lighting ceremony, and continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Gardener's World, 3401 East Baseline. Highlights include caroling, sleigh and hay rides, design seminars and a poinsettia market featuring about 25,000 of the seasonal favorites. Admission is free; proceeds from flower sales benefit Youth at Risk's scholarship program. For details call 437-0700.
Nutcracker: Ballet Etudes has opened its season with Tchaikovsky's seasonal classic. Final performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue. Tickets are $9 and $12, available at the scene and Ticketmaster. Call 786-2682.
Electric Light Parade: The ninth annual procession, part of APS Fiesta of Light (see Events listing), is one of Phoenix's most beautiful events. The caravan of lighted floats and folks inluminous costumes starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of Central and Missouri, traveling south on Central to Thomas. Prizes are awarded to the most ingenious entries. Viewing is free. For details about the Electric Light Parade Run, see Sports listing. For general information, call 534-3378.
Chris Claremont: The longtime writer of Marvel Comics' wildly popular X-Men comic book stops at the All About Books and Comics location at Christown Mall, 19th Avenue and Bethany Home, on Saturday to stump for his new DC Comics series, Sovereign Seven. Claremont will discuss and sign copies of the new work from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is a donation earmarked for Central Arizona Shelter Services, Inc. For details call 277-0757.
Las Posadas: West Valley Fine Arts Council hosts this all-day festival honoring the Hispanic celebration of Mary and Joseph's search for shelter (posadas). Highlights include a tree-lighting ceremony and entertainment by Mariachi LosHalcones, LaFuerza, and Ballet Folklorico de Santa Maria. The fest starts at 11:45 a.m. Saturday and continues 'til 8 p.m. in the area surrounding the intersection of Central and Western avenues in Avondale; an ecumenical prayer service precedes at10:30 a.m. at nearby St. John Vianney Church, 539 East La Pasada Boulevard in Goodyear. Admission to both events is free. Call 935-6384.
International Christmas XV: The annual holiday show, held in conjunction with APS Fiesta of Light (see Events listing), starts Sunday at Bank One Center Concourse, 201 North Central. The highlight of the free event, as always, is the display of live Eldarica pines decorated in the traditional styles of Japan, Iceland, Serbia, Sweden and 38 other nations. ICXV also features an exhibition of wooden Santa carvings by Joseph Cabeen, the Nativity collection of Bill Wilbur and a doll show by Arizona Doll and Toy Museum. Hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily (including Christmas Day), through December 29. Choral concerts are planned atnoon Monday through December 20; see Music listing for the schedule. For more information, call 221-1005.
Caio Pagano: The Brazilian pianist performs at 7 p.m. Sunday at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street, continuing the venue's "Evenings With Steinway" series. The program includes the prelude to Villa-Lobos' "Bachianas Brasileiras"; Bach's Toccata in Eminor, BWV 914; Beethoven's Sonata No.31 in A-flat major, Opus 110; and Brahms' Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Opus 5. Tickets are $9, available at the center and all Ticketmaster locations. Call 994-2787 or 784-4444.
Ballet Arizona: The state's official troupe continues its tenth season with a performance at 3 p.m. Sunday at La Sala, located in University Center Building on Arizona State University West campus, 4701 West Thunderbird in Glendale. The program includes "Meistens Mozart," "g major," "Calcium Night Light," "Young Green/Fresh Grass" and "Trio for the End of Time." Tickets are $10, $8 for seniors, $5 for students, available at the scene and Dillard's. Call 543-2787 or 678-2222.
Son Volt: Jay Farrar, leader of the defunct Uncle Tupelo, heads up the new roots-rock outfit. Touring in support of its debut, Trace, Son Volt performs at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Rockin' Horse, 7000 East Indian School in Scottsdale. Tickets are available at the scene and Ticketmaster. For details call 949-0992 or 784-4444.
St. Lawrence String Quartet: The Canadian ensemble, comprising violinists Geoff Nuttall and Barry Shiffman, violist Lesley Robertson and cellist Marina Hoover, has pocketed numerous honors since its formation in 1989, including an invitation by Isaac Stern to play at the White House. The group performs Beethoven's String Quartet No. 4 in C minor, Opus 18; Schumann's String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Opus 41; and Sir Ernest MacMillan's "Two Sketches," a work based on French-Canadian airs, at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Sundial Auditorium, 103rd Avenue and Boswell in Sun City. Tickets are $12, $1 for students. Call 972-0478.
ZooLights: Phoenix Zoo, 455 North Galvin Parkway, in Papago Park, is garbed in its usual technicolor dreamcoat of lights--600,000 strong--during this glorious annual event, which starts Tuesday. The after-hours fun continues from 6to 9 nightly (except Christmas Eve), through January 27. New this year: "The Enchanted Forest," including the Santalike "Mountain Father," costumed characters, nature workshops and more. Coming in January: Super ZooLights, featuring a football-themed sound-and-light display. Special admission is $4, $3.50 for members, free for kids age 3 and under; discount tickets are available at Fry's stores. Call 273-1341, extension 7810.
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ASU Sun Devils Basketball: Bill Frieder's Arizona State University cagers host New Mexico at 7 p.m. Tuesday at ASU Activity Center in Tempe. For details call 965-3434.
Dash Rip Rock: If there were a Roadhouse Hall of Fame, this Louisiana trio would be a charter member, having played at just about every juke joint, pool hall and barbecue pit from Baton Rouge to Barrow, Alaska. Dash, named after Elly May Clampett's reluctant beau in The Beverly Hillbillies, bellies up to the bar at Tempe joint Nita's Hideaway, 1816 East Rio Salado Parkway, on Wednesday. Piersons share the bill. Showtime is 9:30 p.m. Cover is $5. For details call 967-9531.
Arizona International Auto Show: Next year's models--and a few from the next millennium--are displayed in the vehicular extravaganza, slated for noon to 10 p.m. Wednesday through December 8, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. December 9 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. December 10 in exhibit halls A through E at Phoenix Civic Plaza, Second Street and Adams. Tickets are $6, $4 for seniors, $1 for children ages 7 to 12, free for younger kids. For details call 262-7272 or 1-800-345-1487.
My Fair Lady: David Birney and Jodi Benson (voice of Disney's The Little Mermaid) star in this production of the Lerner and Loewe musical. Performances are at 8 p.m. Wednesday through December 8, 2 and 8 p.m. December 9 and 2 and 7 p.m. December 10 at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. Tickets are $26.50 and $32.50, available at Dillard's. Call 262-7272.