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Thursday 2

HILARIOUS HORROR. The Arizona Theatre Company dishes up holiday humor with The Mystery of Irma Vep.

A "screamingly funny" tongue-in-cheek spoof on classic horror tales, Victorian literature and pop culture, the story unfolds in the misty bogs of Mandacrest, where various fiends are running amok. Unfortunately, it's also where Lord Edgar has brought his second wife, Lady Enid, to pursue their life of bliss.

That prompts whispered questions by increasingly odd servants: Can the new Lady of the manor ever replace the first Lady Hillcrest? Is the first Lady Hillcrest really dead? And what of her young son, Victor, and his pet wolf, Victor? Those are just a few of the devilish questions in a frolicking fanfare that finally reveals the secrets of Mandacrest amidst "shrieks of terror."

Preview performance is 7:30 p.m. in the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave. Preview tickets range from $20 to $22, and are available at the ATC box office, all Dillard's outlets, or by calling 622-2823. Performances continue through December 18; times vary. Tickets range from $23 to $25, with half-price tickets available one hour before curtain time at the ATC box office only.

SHAKESPEARE IN YUKS. The immortal bard's funny bone is revived with Much Ado About Nothing, presented by the UA Activities Board.

Hard-working students entirely produced and directed the modern deconstruction of Shakespeare's classic comedy, which promises a "fun evening of laughter and free theatre." That's right -- this clever little production won't set you back one thin dime.

Performance is 6:30 p.m. in The Cellar, on the lower level of the UA Student Union. Performances continue at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow, 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For details, call 621-8046.


Friday 3

NATIVITY REVISITED. The shepherd's journey to Bethlehem is revisited with a twist in Borderlands Theater's production of A Tucson Pastorela.

An ancient folk-art form, the pastorela is also Mexico's most popular form of theater, with more than 2,500 versions of the story performed across the country annually.

Borderlands provides its own take on tradition, providing the "B-plot of the Nativity" written by Max Branscomb. This time, the timeless morality play is loaded with temptation, distractions and mortal peril, spiced by music, great costumes, poetic dialogue and a chuckle or two dished up by four ribald "vatos locos."

Opening celebration performance is 7 p.m. in the PCC Black Box Theatre, 2202 W. Anklam Road. Tickets are $15 including a reception, and are available at Antigone Books, PCC Center for the Arts box office, Borderlands box office, or by calling 882-7406. Performances continue at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, through December 19, with a special 3 p.m. performance on Saturday, December 18. Tickets are $11 and $12, with $8 student rush tickets available one hour before curtain time. Tickets are $4 for children.

EMERGING MOVEMENT. Budding talents show their stuff at NEW ARTiculations' Emerging Choreographers' Showcase.

The rising dance designers include Elizabeth Breck, Kathy Halstead, ZUZI Move It! Dance Lab, Bisbee's Dance Matrix, Alexandra Beller, students from the UA, PCC and Rincon/University High, and NEW ART's own performers and directors.

"It's an opportunity for individual and new choreographers to present a dance without having to create enough work for an entire concert," says director Tammy Rosen. "I think it's important for us to provide a venue for choreographers who might not otherwise have a chance to show (their) work."

Performances are 8 p.m. today and tomorrow in The Historic Y, 738 N. Fifth Ave. Tickets are $5 at the door. For information, call 882-0318.

CRACKED CROWD-PLEASER. Holiday high-steppin' takes center stage with Ballet Arizona's performance of The Nutcracker.

This year's production reaches stunning visual heights. Thomas Munn, of the San Francisco Opera, has created a set with multiple projections, creating 3-D images on transparent vinyl and painted backdrops. A towering tree made of 3,000 dyed ostrich feathers "grows" over 50 feet high. And the costumes: Working around the clock, 25 artists led by designer Judanna Lynn eventually used more than 4,500 yards of fabric and 100 pounds of beads for the dazzling display.

The Nutcracker itself requires 120 different roles, from the coveted Clara to the exacting Russian Trepak. For this show, some 54 kids from around the state were selected to play toy soldiers, angels, bon-bons and little mice.

Performance is 7:30 p.m. in the TCC Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave. Performances continue at 2 and 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $11 to $42, with discounts for children and seniors, and are available by calling 321-1000.


Saturday 4

COMMUNITY CHORDS. Tune up your vocal chords for the Tucson Arts District's Downtown Saturday Night Holiday Celebration.

This yuletide gala warms up with a Holiday Parade, beginning at 6 p.m. in front of the Tucson Children's Museum, 200 S. Sixth Ave. The parade will wind through downtown to the Tucson/Pima Main Library, 101 N. Stone Ave., where it will be followed by a lighting of the Peace Tree, and a nativity scene ceremony.

Then the celebration gets turned up a few octaves with the fifth annual Community Carol-Sing, beginning at 7:15 p.m. in the Ronstadt Transit Center. Live accompaniment will be provided by Linda Lou Reed and the Merry Minstrels. Of course, chubby Ol' St. Nick and the Missus will be on hand to spread cheer, and plenty of music and other entertainment follow. Fourth Avenue will also get in on the celebratory scene with a music mix from 7 to 10 p.m. in front of Magpie's, at Fourth Avenue and Fifth Street.

All events are free. For more information, call 624-9977.

COMPOSING MOSE. Just inside the eastern rim of the Mississippi Delta, the jazz world took a tiny step forward when Mose Allison was born on his granddaddy's farm back in '27. And our cowtown enjoys a big step toward musical history when the legendary musician rolls into the Rialto Theatre. Tucson's own folk/blues master Stefan George opens the show.

The son of a self-taught stride piano player, Allison followed the musical path his father had abandoned in favor of the family business. At an early age, Allison's ability to play by ear supplanted any formal training. By high school, he was picking out blues and boogie by jukebox heroes Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Louis Jordan, and his prime inspiration at the time, Nat King Cole.

And he's still at it, with a chest-full of classic recordings -- and decades of accolades -- following in his wake. "I don't know any musicians that don't love Mose Allison," says Bonnie Raitt. The New York Times calls him "an American original, truly a national treasure."

Show time is 9 p.m. in the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Tickets are $10, and available at the Congress Street Store, Zip's University, Guitars Etc. and Hear's Music. For information, call 798-3333.

FESTIVE FURBALLS. Household critters from rodents to Rottweillers get the yuletide treatment when Santa arrives at PetsMart for holiday photo sessions. Proceeds will benefit less fortunate animals.

Pets and their people will receive two Polaroid photos from each session, one in an "exclusive peppermint candy ornament," the other in a holiday frame. The cost is $9.95, with $5 of that donated to local animal welfare groups.

The photo shoots run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and tomorrow at PetsMart, 4740 E. Grant Road and 3931 W. Price Club Drive. For information, call 322-5080.


Sunday 5

PLANET PATAGONIA. Verdant little Patagonia is going global. As in the Holiday Celebration and Artists Reception, hosted by the Global Arts Gallery, and featuring mixed-media drawings and paintings from Laurel Hansen's Temple Shape Series.

Hansen's work presents images that have emerged from a stream of diverse cultures, myth, dreams and time itself. The result, says gallery owner Adrienne Halpert, is "the marriage of everyday objects, daily rituals and divine icons."

And it all comes together in a lovely burg south of Tucson that Halpert calls a "Southern Exposure kinda place, surrounded by mountains, blessed with tall trees, a myriad of birds and assorted beasts, and 1,000 iconoclastic (two-legged) residents."

The reception runs from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, December 5, in the Global Arts Gallery, 315 McKeown Ave. in Patagonia. Take I-10 east to the Sonoita exit. Drive south to the Sonoita junction, turning right on Highway 82. The gallery is east of Patagonia's main drag. Drive time is approximately one hour. Call (520) 394-0077 for details.

INN 'ER SANCTUM. Tucson's innkeepers throw wide their doors for the 11th annual Holiday Open House Tour.

Part of the nationwide Bed and Breakfast Open House Day, the event allows Old Pueblans a chance to peek inside their local inns. This year's tour will feature nine hostelries throughout town, with all proceeds benefiting Casa de Los Niños.

The tour runs from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets are $10, and available at Casa de Los Niños, or the first inn visited. Brochures are available at the Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, or by calling 670-9022.


Monday 6

MANY CHORDS. A multitude of vocal chords are tuning up for Grace Chapel's annual Community Messiah Sing-in.

This year Allan Schultz will conduct a 24-piece orchestral backdrop for the gathering, with soloists including soprano Elena Todd; tenor Jim Hulse; contralto Korby Myrick; and bass John Weiss. They'll highlight a chorus featuring more than 1,200 folks warbling the choruses of Handel's Messiah. The assembly is comprised of young and old alike, ranging from professionals and shower singers to members of choirs both small and large, along with "once a year" singers who come together without rehearsal to create beautiful music together. A Christmas carol warm-up will be led by Dr. Julian Ackerly, director of the Tucson Boys Chorus.

Everyone is invited to participate, and can bring their own musical scores, purchase them for $10, or rent them for $5, plus a $5 deposit.

The free gathering is 7 p.m. in the Grace Chapel, 6180 E. Pima St. Call 745-6054 for details.


Tuesday 7

RAW EXISTENCE. The elements of bipedal existence are dissected with flair in part human, now on display in the Raw Gallery.

Featuring the paintings of Pasqualina Azzarello and prosthetic sculpture by Deb Fisher, the show explores just what pieces contribute to making us complete humans. Azzarello plumbs those depths with work that's primitive in style, yet extremely complex in meaning. Her whimsical figures stare warmly back at the viewer, inviting introspection and connection. At the same time, those eyes spring from tormented surfaces, pinning viewers into an unforgiving and relentless challenge.

Fisher's sculptures throw down the same artistic gauntlet, asking viewers to relax their self-control as they consciously put on one of her prosthesis. The pieces subsequently tease us into questioning those abilities, actions, desires and rituals that humans figuratively speak about by making them literal interpretations.

part human runs through January 15, with a special reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, December 11, in the Raw Gallery, 43 S. Sixth Ave. Regular gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 1 to 7 p.m. Thursday, and during Downtown Saturday Night. For information, call 882-6927.


Wednesday 8

CAT CHAT. Get the inside scoop on our Arizona Icecats at the Coach's Show.

The cool parley gives Tucsonans a chance to meet those talented puck-busters making up their hometown hockey team, from co-captains Marc Harris, Paul Dorn and Tyler Bush, to standouts Mike Graves, Kyle Neary and Kyle McNeilance. They'll be joined by longtime Cats coach Leo Golembiewski, who'll dish up plenty of strategic analysis. There will also be chances to win a passel of Icecat giveaways. The show will be simulcast on AM 1330, and on the Internet through StarNet.

Coach's Show runs from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Varsity Club, 3823 E. Speedway Blvd. For details, call 319-9848.

WIZENED MIRTH. Catch some well-seasoned humor with a holiday performance by the Merrimakers.

This senior citizen variety show features a bevy of musical props, including a piano, guitar, fiddle, harmonica, singers, line dancing, ballroom dancing, jokes -- and plenty of "FUN, FUN, FUN!"

The free performance is 10 a.m. in the Armory Park Senior Citizen Center, 220 S. Fifth Ave. Call 882-5416 for information.

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