Thrills for the week

Thursday
December 19
Fair to Midler: What's glitz without a sense of humor? Double-barreled songstress Bette Midler exudes plenty of both, putting on campish, in-your-face concerts that run a torchy gamut from big, mushy production numbers to out-and-out rock and roll. Take a rest from the holiday rat race; Midler struts her saucy stuff tonight at 7:30 at McNichols Arena. For tickets, ranging from $22.50 to $37.50, call 830-TIXS.

Further down the middle of the road, pianist Lori Line brings her Sharing the Season Holiday Concert to the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl. The musically eclectic Line, accompanied by her twelve-piece Pop Chamber Orchestra, will turn the whole thing into a family affair this year by encouraging audience members to attend with their bells on. That way, they can jingle along to their favorite Christmas tunes. Ring-a-ling, hear them sing. Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. show range from $16 to $28; call 830-TIXS.

Friday
December 20
Deco the halls: Thank goodness the David Taylor Dance Theatre saves its own inventive version of The Nutcracker for the very end of a hectic holiday season, giving you a good excuse to pack up the family for a balletic trip through sugar-plum country at the last possible minute. But don't wait too long: The tickets for this Nutcracker--featuring a trendy black-and-white art-deco party sequence, a crowd of gangsta mice and other unexpected innovations--are usually snapped up quickly. The Taylor troupe performs its little masterpiece daily at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., today through December 29. Admission is $12 to $24 for a variety of matinee and evening performances. For reservations and information call 431-3939 or 830-TIXS.

Get ready, 'cause here they come: "My Girl." "Papa Was a Rolling Stone." "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." It's easy to place the singers of those classic Motown tunes--they're the memorable Temptations, those sharp, tuxedoed street-corner thrushes whose synchronized choreography and perfect harmonies helped all of you aging baby boomers get through the '60s with a modicum of sanity. The Black American West Museum and Heritage Center and the Welton Street Merchants' Association hope to bring back those pleasant memories with a 7 p.m. Black Heritage Christmas Albums concert at the Eulipions Cultural Center, 1770 Sherman St. The show will feature--sorry--not the real Temps, but an impersonating lineup of locals who auditioned for the tempting roles. The event, a benefit for the hosting organizations, includes a V.I.P. reception, vendor booths and a silent auction. V.I.P. tickets to the dress-up gala, which include reserved seating, go for $50. General-admission tickets are also available for $15 to $35; call 830-TIXS. For more information call 292-2566 or 295-9119.

Hark the herald angels sing: There's something about Handel's Messiah that just makes people want to sing for joy. Well, try to sit still and keep your big mouths shut: The Colorado Symphony Orchestra will present a full-blown version of the classical classic tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 at Boettcher Concert Hall, 14th and Curtis in the Plex. Loudmouths, on the other hand, will have their day Sunday, when the CSO releases the musical reins to a willing audience for a traditional Messiah sing-along concert at 2:30 p.m. Regular performance admission ranges from $5 to $38; do-it-yourselfers pay only ten bucks ($5 for children and students) on Sunday afternoon. Call 830-TIXS.

Too much hoopla for you? The Boulder Philharmonic, already done with its own Messiah extravaganza, wraps up the holiday season with a scaled-down Fireside Concert featuring the orchestra's Centennial Brass Quintet. The chamber fivesome will perform works by Bach and Handel, along with a battery of traditional carols, tonight and tomorrow night at 8 in the Little Theater at Old Main, on the CU-Boulder campus. Tickets are $13 and $16; call 449-1343.

Then again, if you just can't hold a tune and prefer to let the professionals do their thing, the impeccable forty-voice Ars Nova Singers invite you to spend a harmonious Christmas with them. They'll feature a selection of choral works spanning history--from the Middle Ages to modern times--tonight at 8 at the First United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruce in Boulder, and at the same time tomorrow at Bethany Lutheran Church, 4500 E. Hampden Ave., Denver. Admission is $7 to $10; call 449-3165 to order tickets.

Saturday
December 21
Wake up and smell the pagans: Here's a proper new-age way to welcome the shortest day of the year--with an all-woman a cappella vocal ensemble. That group, known as Sound Circle, will make celestial and non-traditional holiday music under the stars, presenting a tuneful montage of original compositions, guest artist Steve Hahn playing the "Chapman Stick," unusual percussion works and Barber's "Adagio for Strings." It all takes place in CU-Boulder's Fiske Planetarium tonight at 6:30 and 9, with the whole universe spinning in the background. Tickets are $10; call 473-4325.

If you're looking for a pagan ritual that's a little more down-to-earth, there's always the Winter Solstice Revels, celebrating its eleventh year at the Temple Events Center, 1595 Pearl St., tonight from 6 to midnight. Event organizers promise a cheery evening of old-fashioned entertainment, storytelling, juggling and exuberant Morris dancing, along with plenty of music, songs and potluck goodies for everyone. Admission is $18 ($5 children six to twelve, children under six free), and you're asked to bring a snack or dessert to share. Call 722-5391.

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