Thursday 30

FLEET FEET. Highlanders alight for In the Season, presented by the UA school of music and dance.

The event will feature dancers from Telford College in Edinburgh, Scotland. Among Scottish works they'll perform are Lost, a touching story about British children who were forcibly separated from their families and relocated to Australia; The Grey Room, a jazz piece choreographed by Alex Craig, director of the Scottish ensemble; and an upbeat tap piece called Purple Suspenders and a Yellow Tie.

Show times are 8 p.m. today and tomorrow, and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday in the Ina Gittings Dance Theater, on the north side of the main mall east of Campbell Avenue. Tickets are $9, $7 for seniors and students, and are available at the door and the fine arts box office, or by calling 621-1162.

BENEFIT BELTERS. Generosity hits a high note when the Sons of Orpheus perform a benefit concert for the Community Food Bank.

This annual holiday concert by the male chorus will include collaborations with the UA Balalaika Orchestra, and performances by students from the Arizona Schools for the Deaf and the Blind and members of the Tucson Boys Chorus.

Show time is 7 p.m. in the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd. Admission is one or more non-perishable food items. For details, call 621-1649.

Friday 1

TRAGEDY NOTED. Tucsonans pay tribute to those lost to AIDS, and the continuing fight against this brutal disease.

World AIDS day will be observed from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the International Arts Center, 512 N. Fifth Ave. This year's ceremony will include the unfolding of the Tucson Remembrance Quilt, and speakers living with AIDS. There will be performances of gospel and mariachi music, and dance by Eno Washington. Call 628-7223 for information.

And the UA Center for Creative Photography will commemorate the AIDS struggle with Day Without Art. The observance will feature the work of Gerald S. Ackerman, the late photographer known for his stunning color Fresson and platinum prints of nudes and flower studies. His pieces will be displayed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the center, on the southeast corner of the pedestrian underpass at Speedway and Park Avenue. For details, call 621-7968.

GOOD TIMING. Amahl is a crippled shepherd kid who shares a smallish, Middle-Eastern shack with his mum. Both are teetering on the edge of starvation.

But the boy is nothing if not a trouper, and he keeps their spirits propped up by describing what a kick begging food from town to town really is. Enter one massive star illuminating three mounted royals, and you have the story of Christmas in Gian Carlo Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors, the first opera to hit TV when it appeared in 1951, and now presented at the Pima Community College Center for the Arts.

The annual Christmastime production is directed by Betty Allen. It features stellar mezzo-soprano Wanda Brister as the mother, and members of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra under the direction of László Veres.

Show times are 7 p.m. today and 2 p.m. tomorrow in the PCC Proscenium Theatre, 2202 W. Anklam Road. Tickets are $8, $5 for seniors and students, $1 for preschool children; they're available at Pima's fine arts box office, at the door, or by calling 206-6986.

Saturday 2

SOULFUL SONGBIRD. Carrie Newcomer brings her topical melodies to Tucson.

A singer-songwriter with seven albums under her belt, Newcomer writes about everything from the environment and healing to the general human condition. For this performance, she'll be accompanied by pianist Wynton Reynold. They'll play acoustic pieces from her albums Bare to the Bone and The Age of Possibility.

Opening the show will be local duo Kathy and Shanti, who accent personal and environmental messages with fiddle, guitar and mandolin.

Show time is 8 p.m. in the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4831 E. 22nd St. Advance tickets are $12, $10 for In Concert! members, and are available at Hear's Music, Antigone books, Zip's University, the Folk Shop, CD City, and by calling 327-4809. Admission is $14 at the door. See "Calling The Newcomer" on page 40.

HAPPY FACE. The human condition is skewered full-force in Gilbert, Happiness Instead of Fatigue, showing in The Shane House.

These recent paintings and installation works by Natalie Willemsen arise from personal experience, set against a societal backdrop rife with both absurdity and brilliance.

The reception runs from 7 to 9 p.m. in The Shane House, 218 N. Fourth Ave. Call 623-2557 for details.

Sunday 3

BRASSY BLOW-OUT. Jazz professionals converge on the Gaslight Theatre for a show by Big Band Express.

Created in 1994, the 16-piece band will perform highlights from the swing era. Big Band Express has appeared at dances and concerts throughout Southern Arizona, and has been featured at such functions as the Silver and Turquoise Ball, the Oro Valley Jazz Festival and the Tubac Arts Festival.

Today's show runs from noon to 2 p.m. in The Gaslight Theatre, 7010 E. Broadway Blvd. Tickets are $10; $8 for seniors, students and military; $6 for children 12 and under. They're available by calling 886-9428.

OPEN ARMS. Southern Arizona innkeepers throw wide their doors for the 12th annual Holiday Open House Tour, with proceeds benefiting Casa de los Niños.

A slew of charming B&Bs will be decked out in holiday cheer, ready with a different Southwestern treat at each stop. The tour menu includes special tamales, tortes and sopas. In total, seven inns will be included.

The tour runs from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets are $10, available with maps at the Metropolitan Tucson Visitors Bureau or by calling 742-3969.

DESERT WARBLERS. The Arizona Repertory Singers ring in the season with their annual Christmas concert.

Sing We Joy! features Southern Arizona's premier a cappella ensemble tackling seasonal gems from "How Far Is It to Bethlehem" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" to "Cradle Song" and "The First Nowell," all under the direction of Jeffry Jahn.

Show time is 2:30 p.m. in St. Odilia's Church, 7570 N. Paseo del Norte. Tickets are $8, $5 for Tohono Chul Park members, and are available at Tohono Chul Park. There will also be performances on December 21 and 22 at Mission San Xavier del Bac. For information, call 792-8141.

Monday 4

RED PLANET REDUX. Get the latest on our galactic neighbor with The New Vision of Mars.

Presented by the UA Steward Observatory, the lecture will feature Peter Smith, a preeminent astronomer with the Lunar and Planetary Lab. The discussion will be followed by stellar glimpses through the observatory's 21-inch scope.

The free event is at 7:30 p.m. in the Steward Observatory's Room N210, north of the main mall and east of Cherry Avenue. For information, call 621-5049.

GILDED GUITAR. It all started when Sticks and Strings owner Tony Bernard commissioned local artist Rick Williamson to customize a special guitar as a tribute to blues and jazz musicians.

The result is a unique George Benson GB-100 beauty on display today.

With the exception of mother-of-pearl inlays, the guitar has been entirely finished in shades of blue with silver and pearl highlights. Even the strings and metal parts are blue. Tony is all worked up--for obvious reasons. "In my experience, I have never seen anything like it," he says.

See it yourself from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Sticks and Strings, 8796 E. Broadway Blvd. Call 906-5757 for details.

BEHIND THE STACKS. Learn about gems inside the UA library with Surprising Treasures and Oddities.

Ever wonder just what is contained in that area of the main library called Special Collections?

If the answer is no, then beat it--you're dismissed.

But if you are curious, Friends of the UA Library invite you to find out. Join Carla Stoffle, UA library dean, and Special Collections staffers as they describe the delights contained in their inventory.

This literary gathering includes a reception and delicious dining at the Elle Wine Country Restaurant.

The event is at 6 p.m. in Elle, 3048 E. Broadway Blvd. Tickets cost $45, and are available by calling 621-6431.

Tuesday 5

RUGRAT RECITAL. We quiver at the notion of luring faithful readers into the very maw of crass consumerism. But the Tucson Mall is offering a free tike treat that's worth checking out.

Today, the Club Kidz series presents enchanting harmonies with the genetically tuned Ronstadt Cousins. These talented kin will belt out a charming repertoire of songs marking the season and our region's Mexican heritage. The roster of delightful ditties includes "El Gato" and "Sandwiches."

The free event is at 10:30 a.m. in the Tucson Mall food court. For information, call 293-7330.

HOLIDAY RENDERINGS. Snatch up wonderful art and celebrate the season of giving at Dinnerware's Holiday Assortment.

We're talking about the venerable Dinnerware Contemporary Art Gallery. And the sale inventory includes wide-ranging contributions from highly talented members. This includes works from drawings, paintings, sculpture and prints to mixed media. And a portion of the proceeds will go to The Artroom, an expressive arts program for homeless children.

The Holiday Assortment runs through December 23, with an opening reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, December 9 in the Dinnerware Contemporary Art Gallery, 135 E. Congress St. For information, call 792-4503.

Wednesday 6

PLANET-WISE. Take a journey to worlds far, far away--or as close as the planetarium in the UA Flandrau Science Center.

As we head into the holidays, the planetarium boasts a stellar lineup of shows. And if you've never been to Flandrau, it's high time to give yourself a treat.

Learn about that big ball o' fire we call the sun--and other blazing orbs--with Clouds of Fire: The Origin of Stars. The presentation provides historical insights, from the theorizing of Aristotle, Galileo, and Herschel to recent discoveries made with the Hubble Space Telescope. Appropriate for all ages, it shows at 3:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Planet Patrol follows alien planetary investigator Sam Snork and his assistant Elmo as they search for the source of some unusual transmissions from the solar system. Geared to third through fifth graders, it shows at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Explore the latest galactic secrets uncovered by our top-shelf hometown astronomers with Under Arizona Skies. The current installment describes planets and stars visible tonight, along with when and where you should look to see them. Appropriate for all ages, it shows at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 3:30 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday, and 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Our Place in Space follows the adventures of a group of endangered animals as they explore the cause of day and night, the importance of the sun, and constellations and other objects making up our universe. Geared to children in kindergarten through third grade, it shows at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Finally, Star Stealers: Planet Patrol II brings back planetary investigator Sam Snork, on the trail again in this exciting sequel to the original Planet Patrol. Follow Sam and his assistant Elmo as they try to discover who is stealing stars in our galaxy. With the aid of stellar astronomer Ursula Major, Sam and Elmo look at different types of stars including giants, blue giants, white dwarfs, pulsars, our sun and even black holes. Appropriate for children in fifth grade and up, it shows at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The UA Flandrau Science Center is on the northeast corner of Cherry Street and University Boulevard. Admission is $5; $4.50 for seniors, military, students and UA employees; and $4 for children 3 to 13. For information, call 621-7827.

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