City Week

A Taste of Christmas Past

Old Time Radio Theatre special with Mayor Bob Walkup

7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 20

Beowulf Alley Theatre Company

11 S. Sixth Ave.


Travel back in time to the golden era of radio, when families would sit and listen to their favorite stories from the comfort of their own homes.

Beowulf Alley's Old Time Radio Theatre Company is making it possible to relive those times (or perhaps experience a taste of that era for the first time) by re-enacting various radio shows from the '30s, '40s and '50s in a live-studio-audience setting.

For a special family holiday treat, OTRT will be presenting The Great Gildersleeve Christmas Show and A Christmas Carol with special guest actor Mayor Bob Walkup.

"The mayor and I connected when there was a press conference here to learn about phase two of the city of Tucson's Façade Improvement Program," said Beth Dell, managing director of Beowulf Alley. "At the press conference, the mayor jumped up onstage, and I just got an idea that he would fit in perfectly with the old-time radio show."

According to Dell, the OTRT creates an environment where folks who don't necessarily have time to rehearse for a full stage presentation can get the opportunity to act. "They get the chance to perform by reading the scripts and presenting those characters and sound effects without a lengthy rehearsal process," she said.

Each story is about a half-hour long—with commercials and the live-studio-audience feel—so the performances really bring back the good ol' days.

"The whole purpose is to entertain those who know about what it was like, such as parents and grandparents. And they are even bringing their children to this wonderful experience," said Dell.

Doors open at 6:15 p.m. Admission is $8 at the door for adults, or $5 for children. Children younger than 6 are admitted for free. —K.M.

Kids Got Talent!

Big Band Bash with guest artist Rob Hecht

2 p.m., Sunday, Dec.19

Berger Performing Arts Center

1200 W. Speedway Blvd.


Over the decades, jazz music has spawned an array of subgenres—including one called jazzcore, a marriage of jazz and hardcore punk—but musicians of the Tucson Community Music School will bring a more traditional jazz element to the stage this Sunday.

TCMS will be presenting a concert to showcase its talented middle school and high school musicians, who will be playing alongside professionals, including violinist Rob Hecht.

"We have a unique thing in the country. These programs are beginning to pop up, but they are definitely not offered in a lot of cities," said Brice Winston, one of the co-owners and directors of the program. "There are (high school) musicians with us now who could very well go on to become professional musicians."

Composed of students from all over the city and led by a trio of professional jazz musicians, one of the schools' bands, the Ellington Big Band, was earlier this year honored as the No. 1 community high school big band in the nation at the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition.

Winston, a professional saxophonist and touring jazz musician, came to Tucson from one of jazz's most influential cities: New Orleans. After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Winston made Tucson his home, and has been teaching at the music school alongside bassist Scott Black and trombonist Doug Tidaback.

"It's absolutely rewarding. There is so much talent here in the Tucson area," said Winston. "Part of the tradition of jazz is passing it on to someone else."

The concert will be kicked off by the school's 50-piece symphonic winds band and will feature five big bands. Tickets are $20 for adults, or $15 for students and seniors; children 11 and younger get in for free. —E.A.

Look at All the Purdy Lights!

"Holiday of Lights" Planetarium and Laser Music Shows

Various times, daily, Thursday, Dec. 16, through Friday, Dec. 31 (except for Dec. 25)

UA Science: Flandrau

1601 E. University Blvd.


Holiday lights have come a long way since the tradition of open-flame wax candles nestled gently into the highly flammable boughs of evergreen trees.

UA's Flandrau science center is celebrating this evolution of holiday lights with a double feature inside its planetarium dome: "Holiday of Lights," an animated history covering the various traditions of seasonal lights, which is followed by a colorful laser show set to holiday hits, including Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" and Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You."

"It's a combination of storytelling and abstract images," said Sean Fitzpatrick, the digital media and marketing director for Flandrau. (Fitzpatrick is also an occasional Weekly contributor.) "The dome creates an immersive experience so you can get surrounded by the imagery. This type of show was really popular in the '80s and '90s, but we're trying to bring it to a younger group of people who (may) have not experienced a laser show."

Flandrau brought the laser experience back this past summer with its successful Pink Floyd laser show. The December shows promise to pack in the same level of visual artistry, music and science. The traditions and history of Hanukkah, Christmas and Mexican luminarias will be showcased—all with a side of science, including a projection of the winter night sky and an explanation of the winter solstice and changing seasons.

The shows run each day from Thursday, Dec. 16, through Friday, Dec. 31 (except for Christmas). Tickets to the "Holiday of Lights" show, which include access to all of the science exhibits, range from $2 for UA students to $7.50 for adults. Tickets to the laser music show range from $7.50 to $10. Special prices are available for matinees and on family nights. —E.A.

Holy Items

Maitreya Project Heart Shine Relic Tour

Ceremony at 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 17; relics on display from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 18; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 19

Temple of Music and Art

330 S. Scott Ave.

In order to promote peace and love throughout the world, the Manjushri Wisdom Center of Tucson and the Temple of Music and Art are hosting the Maitreya Project's Heart Shrine Relic Tour.

Relics sacred in Buddhist culture will be available for visitors to view firsthand. It is a rare opportunity for people of all spiritual and humanitarian persuasions to come together to experience the blessings of the relics.

"Typically, the relics are enshrined. This is the first time these kinds of things are traveling around the world. Usually, people pilgrimage to see them," said Dekyi Lee Oldershaw of the Maitreya Project.

The relics are crystal-like objects which have been offered by great Buddhist masters from around the world. They appear in the ashes of holy beings such as the historical Buddha, his disciples, purveyors of his teachings and modern-day lamas. The Buddhist culture believes that relics embody the master's spiritual qualities of compassion and wisdom.

Throughout the event, there will be blessing ceremonies for visitors.

Oldershaw said that people find a very deep peace, spontaneous healing and/or exude the quality of loving kindness upon being blessed by the relics.

"I think what is most important is that people experience their own potential. So many people from all traditions come, and they all have very special experiences," said Oldershaw. "It is about a complete universal compassion. That is what people feel."

The proceeds from donations are dedicated to the building of the Maitreya statue in northern India, which builders say will provide sustained social and economic well-being for millions of people in the poorest parts of the country.

Admission is free. —K.M.