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Thursday 20

GET INVOLVED WITH THE HOLIDAYS. It's the charming winter tale that follows a merry crew of travelers who are off on a holiday jaunt.

On the way, audiences encounter snowy mishaps, bouts of caroling and plenty of crackling warm yuletide cheer.

A Pickwick Christmas in Dingley Dell, an interactive, never-seen-before production, is fantastic entertainment for the whole family.

The next showing starts at 7:30 tonight at Live Theatre Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway Blvd. Other performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information and reservations, call 327-4242.


Friday 21

A LIVE ONE. Drop in on Joseph, Mary and a friendly donkey tonight.

A living re-enactment of the Christmas story will be performed every 20 minutes, from 7 to 9 each evening through Sunday.

Watch the gentle donkey, protective Joseph and tender Mary as they are turned away from the inn. See the star, hear the angel and rejoice with the shepherds at the birth of Jesus.

Follow the regal wise men as they humbly seek the Son of God. Live animals, including a donkey and sheep, along with glorious music complete the scene.

The performances last just 10 minutes but provide a needed respite from the din of Christmas commerce.

Volunteers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints present the live nativity at 3500 W. Sumter Drive, about three miles north of Ina Road and a half-mile east of Thornydale.


Saturday 22

NUTCRACKER SWEET. Ballet Tucson's got a great surprise for dance lovers.

Jason Davidson, a dancer with San Francisco Ballet for the past eight years, trained with Ballet Tucson. He'll join his alma mater for performances of The Nutcracker this weekend.

Check out Ballet Tucson as 165 dancers take to the Centennial Hall stage for the first time.

Davidson will perform Sunday, but the show starts today, featuring Ballet Tucson's principal dancers.

Performances are scheduled for 2 and 7:30 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost $18 to $26. Tickets are available at the box office, 621-3341. For more information and group sales, call 903-1445.

SEASONAL SCIENCE. It is the coldest and darkest of seasons--a season that holds some of the warmest and brightest celebrations of the year.

Flandrau Planetarium's 'Tis the Season show traces the development of many of the world's endearing holiday customs, from the burning of the Yule log and sparkling Christmas tree lights, to the lighting of the Menorah and luminarias.

The production recounts the historical, religious and cultural rituals practiced during the time of winter solstice--not only by Christian and Jewish people, but also by the Celts, pagans, Nords, Romans, Egyptians and Hopi.

Visitors to Flandrau also will learn about some of the more light-hearted seasonal traditions, including gift-giving, kissing under the mistletoe, songs about lords-a-leaping and ladies dancing, the custom of decking the halls and Santa Claus in all of his culturally-specific personas.

Since Flandrau's role in the community is to provide informal science education, included in the visual astronomy lesson are possible explanations for the "star over Bethlehem," as well as an examination of northern winter constellations and illustrations of why seasons occur.

'Tis the Season is shown at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday at Flandrau Science Center, 1601 E. University Blvd. on the UA campus, at the corner of Cherry Avenue and University Boulevard. Tickets cost $5 adults; $4.50 seniors, students and military; and $4 children 3 to 13. Performances also are scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays through January 4 at $4 per seat. For more information, call 621-STAR.

FEAST IN THE PLAZA. Take a breather from hectic holiday shopping.

Unwind at the Saturday Faire. The market's held in Plaza Palomino's Old World-style courtyard and features locally grown produce, a variety of freshly baked goods, fresh fruit, salsa, herbs, teas, tamales and other unique foods.

The event is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday. For more information, call 622-0077.

FIND A PERFECT MATCH. This ought to flick your Bic.

Since ancient times, ceremonies surrounding fire and light were associated with the shortest day of the year.

One tradition was to light a huge bonfire to return to the sun some of the energy that was its gift to the world.

The bonfire tradition lives on today at the Tucson Children's Museum, where you can celebrate the day with a bonfire, create a wreath to symbolize the seasons' cycle and roast apples.

A winter solstice bonfire will be lighted at 11:30 a.m., followed by wreathmaking at 12:30 p.m. at the museum, 200 S. Sixth Ave. Admission costs $5.50 adults, $3.50 children and $4.50 seniors. For more information, call 792-9985, ext. 112.


Sunday 23

DELIGHTFULLY ECLECTIC. Morten Lauridsen's lush O magnum mysterium and O nata lux are among the offerings at a show by Arizona's premier a cappella ensemble.

The Arizona Repertory Singers, under the direction of Jeffry Jahn, will perform its annual Christmas concert, Gaudeamus: Let Us Rejoice!

This holiday feast for the choral-music lover spans diverse styles of music of the season, from the Renaissance through the 20th century.

The concert begins at 3 p.m. today at Catalina United Methodist Church, 2700 E. Speedway Blvd. A $12 donation is suggested.

WEIRD BUT WONDERFUL? Here's a production that sounds, well, interesting.

An average dysfunctional family is taken "under the wings" of an interesting group of angels. The family is "inspired" to reserve a mountain cabin for some quality bonding time together over the holidays.

Once there, the family discovers that the fine print in their lease reclaims the use of the cabin one day a year. On Christmas Eve, the cabin is magically transformed into Santa's Workshop.

The Arizona Rose Theatre Company's Another Magical Christmas is strung together with an original score that includes the soon-to-be classics "Make Somebody's Day," "My Daddy's Chair" and "Night Before Christmas Rap."

Billed as the "ultimate hometown feelgood experience," Another Magical Christmas is suitable for all ages. Bring your camera, because you can get on stage after the performance and cuddle up to Santa and the elves for a photo op.

The final performances are at 2 and 7:30 p.m. today at the Arizona Schools for the Deaf and the Blind's Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd. Tickets cost $19 adults; $17 seniors, students and military; and $10 children 12 and under. Tickets are available by calling 888-0509 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday or by calling Ticketmaster at 321-1000. Tickets also are available online at www.ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit www.arizonarose.cc.

HEAD FOR BORDERS. Have a listen to a talented duo.

John Grant and Mary Ann Luini, playing a mix of American country rock that has a distinct Southern flavor, call themselves the Guilty Bystanders.

Grant plays guitar, Luini plays keyboard and both of them sing.

The Guilty Bystanders perform a free concert at 4 p.m. today at Borders Books in Park Place, 5870 E. Broadway Blvd. For more information, call 584-0111.


Monday 24

CHOICES AT CHURCH. A half-dozen services leave little excuse for not ducking into church during the holidays.

Celebrate the reason for the season at St. Philip's in the Hills, where organizers promise something special for everyone.

The first opportunity begins at 4 p.m. today with the children's service featuring traditional carols by the Choir Chimes, the Cherub Choir and the Primary Choir. Following the service, worshipers are invited to visit the live manger scene in the church plaza.

Las Campanillas, the training handbell choir directed by Allyn Baker, will perform at the 5:30 p.m. All Generations Family Service, as will the girls' and boys' choirs. This service, along with services at 9 and 11 p.m., will be preceded by a concert of holiday music.

Also, there is a 7 p.m. Candlelit Eucharist, which will shine the spotlight on the Canterbury Choir and the St. Philip's Ringers.

Finally, a Christmas Day service starts at 11 a.m. and features a small choir and traditional carols.

St. Philip's in the Hills is located at 4440 N. Campbell Ave., at the northeast corner of Campbell and River Road. For more information, call 299-6421.


Tuesday 25

LIGHTING YOUR WAY. Wrap up Christmas Day with an enchanting evening.

Winterhaven Holiday Lights, Winterhaven's annual Christmas light extravaganza, is a must-see every year.

Stroll through the neighborhood or take a carriage ride. The event benefits the Tucson Community Food Bank, so bring along some non-perishable canned food.

For more information, call 622-0525.

MILLET LOAF AND ROYAL KAFTA. My sister's not a big fan of turkey because she's got this thing about ligaments. Running into one is "disconcerting," she says.

Even if you're not hung up on those odd stringy things that help hold together an otherwise yummy hunk of poultry, maybe this is the year to pass on that impressive pile of plastic-wrapped frozen bird flesh at the supermarket.

You do have a choice.

I'm talking organic millet loaf, royal kafta (translation: vegetable croquettes in spinach sauce), yellow squash, yam and tempeh vege, festive Christmas rice, organic mashed potatoes, vegetable noodle soup, cranberry-orange rolls, fruit nut cake and a full salad bar.

Am I making you dream of a vegetarian Christmas?

Govinda's Natural Foods Buffet is a vegetarian restaurant featuring an assortment of homemade specialties that changes daily.

Enjoy Govinda's healthful fare while sitting by the outdoor fountain on the patio, on floor cushions in the meditation room or at tables and chairs in the dining room. Stroll the landscape surroundings and discover the peacocks that roam the Chaitanya Cultural Center grounds on which Govinda's is housed, or visit the koi pond and waterfalls.

A trip to Govinda's is a healthful and peaceful retreat from the busy streets of Tucson.

The restaurant at 711 E. Blacklidge, east off First Avenue between Fort Lowell and Glenn, will be serving up a feast from noon to 8:30 p.m. today. For more information, call 792-0630.


Wednesday 26

COLOR, TIMES THREE. Obsidian Gallery's holiday exhibition ends in a few days. Don't miss it.

Color has always been an integral element in the handmade works presented by Obsidian. This season's offering was inspired by an exhibition planned by four jewelers who incorporate color in their art in unusual ways.

Steven Ford and David Forlano of City Zen Cane are the foremost practitioners of jewelry fashioned from polymer clay and metal. Peggy Eng uses carved, anodized and dyed aluminum in her pieces and local artist Judy Clarke was inspired by this exhibition to add color to her metal works in various ways.

In addition, glass by Sam Stang, clay vessels by Randy O'Brien, mixed-media whimsical sculpture by Hilary Pfiefer and fiber wall pieces by Kathyanne White will set the colorful stage.

The show runs through December 29 at Obsidian, in St. Philip's Plaza, 4340 N. Campbell Ave., Suite 90. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 577-3598 or e-mail obsidiangal@earthlink.net.

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