Thrills for the week

Once upon a time...: Local children's theater company Imagination Makers specializes in dramatizing real-life stories that provide young audiences with windows into personal heritage and a maze of contemporary issues. The group presents a musical, Colorado Children, that's based on oral or written histories of multicultural Colorado old-timers culled from interviews and memoirs, today at 2 at the Boulder Public Library Auditorium; the play, which is free and open to the public, is suggested for children ages five to twelve. Call 441-3196 or 666-6218.

Equal time: There's more than one way, in these multicultural times, to celebrate the season: Some choose to acknowledge African roots, while adhering to all-American family and community values, by observing the African-American holiday Kwanzaa. A regional cultural group, the Chuck Davis Community Dance Project, hosts a series of Kwanzaa-related events, beginning this evening at 6:30 with a special hands-on workshop on festival do's and don'ts at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theater, 119 Park Ave. West. A potluck pre-Kwanzaa Karamu (Swahili for "celebration") follows from 8 to 10 at the same location; guests are encouraged to wear African garb and bring African musical instruments. Both events are free, but space limitations require pre-registration for the workshop; call 442-7666 for information. Switching gears, a hoedown for Hanukkah celebrants takes place tonight at the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., where Reb Ya'acov Gabriel and the Eclectics perform at 7:30. The group mixes up musical styles from folk to reggae; for tickets, $5 to $7 (or $21 for families), call 399-2660, ext. 365. Finally, Michael Martin Murphey's Cowboy Christmas Ball celebrates Christmas, Western-style, tonight at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl. Murphey invites you to sit around the campfire with him--at least figuratively--for music and tall tales, beginning at 7:30. Admission is $21.50; call 830-TIXS.

December 8
Sugar Plum ferry: It's a given: Christmastime goes hand-in-hand with The Nutcracker, the classic ballet in which the Sugar Plum Fairy and Nutcracker Prince charm little dreamer Clara with dancing toys and sugary treats, year after year. The Colorado Ballet lets you make a day of it this year by offering a series of special Ballet and Holiday Lights Celebrations that combine a 2 p.m. Nutcracker matinee featuring a fresh production and unexpected new characters, a holiday buffet and an evening motorcoach tour of the area's most spectacular Christmas light displays. The package--offered today and December 14, 15, 21 and 24--includes optional pick-up and drop-off bus service to specific areas (today's special services the Boulder/Longmont region); tickets are $60 for adults and $55 for children. Proceeds benefit the Denver Performing Arts Complex and Colorado Ballet; call 581-9720 or 776-2270 for information and reservations.

December 9
You make me feel so young: Younger folks get to mosh with a vengeance whenever they like, but older adults need to have a little fun, too--preferably sans the tattoos, black eyes and bruises. This year's Mayor's Gala Holiday Ball, held from 7:30 to 10:30 tonight at the Adam's Mark Hotel, 1550 Court Place, gives area seniors just such a chance to kick up their heels--peacefully; the Hot Tomatoes Dance Orchestra provides the music. Tickets are $5 and available in advance at the following recreation centers: Ash Grove, 692-5610; Barnum, 937-4655; Berkeley, 458-4871; Highland, 458-4868; Montbello, 373-8710; Montclair, 364-8607; and Platt Park, 698-4965. For general information call 458-4868.

December 10
Hope and glory: Everybody loves a winner. For the all-in-black crowd, that could mean slo-mo rockers Mazzy Star, a cultish duo out touting its third moody CD, Among My Swan. When sullen siren Hope Sandoval and former Rain Parade stoner David Roback pack them in tonight at 8 at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder, you might do well to pack a flashlight--how else are you going to pick your way through the murky crowd? Tickets are $15.75; call 830-TIXS to reserve yours.

December 11
Main attractions: One of the region's prettiest civic Christmas displays has for several years lit up the main drag in downtown Littleton with a web of furiously twinkling lights. The town's delightfully old-fashioned Main Street invites folks to promenade, shop and soak up the lights from 6 to 9 p.m. each Wednesday before Christmas during Christmas Under the Lights, a street-wide open house featuring live entertainment and carols to accompany you on your leisurely stroll. Nearby at Hudson Gardens, 6303 S. Santa Fe Dr., holiday lights will also glimmer, taking the place of the attraction's hibernating flora. Main Street hosts a variety of children's choirs, the Sunshine Generation and the Littleton United Methodist Chancel Choir tonight; call 794-2787 for details.

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