Thrills for the week

December 7
In the house: On a weekend running rampant with festive holiday house tours, one of the most charming is A Christmas Tour of Historic Homes in Golden, where a cozy lineup of old-time painted ladies, antique-festooned homes dating from the 1860s to modern times, historic museums and an art market are all part of the route. Tour tickets, available at the Foothills Art Center, Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum and Astor House Museum, are $10 in advance ($12 day of tour); call 278-3557 or 278-7151 for information. In addition, Hampton's Restaurant, at 1518 Washington, will host a $9.95 Christmas brunch; to make reservations, which are required, call 279-8151.

December 8
Life is a cabaret: Throughout the year, loyal volunteers and friends donate their time and hard work to the Boulder County AIDS Project, so it's only fitting that they should take time out for a little fun. The annual BCAP Holiday Cabaret and Auction, now in its tenth year, gives those helpers--and the rest of the community--a welcome break with a frivolous evening of cabaret acts and skits, as well as a more serious auction of classy items ranging from Broncos season tix to a week in Palm Springs. The Precision Toolbelt Drill Team, the Colorado Mountain Choir, Devotion and CU-Boulder prof Bud Coleman provide entertainment highlights (all this for only $15 and a can of food). The BCAP celebration begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder. Call 786-7030 for information and reservations.

December 9
Beat generation: Take a deep breath. There you go. Now let it all out. That's it. Get primal at Stella's Drum Circle, a group hand-drumming event, and send your seasonal blues south. Beginners are welcome at the free-for-all rhythm party, which takes place from 8 to 10 tonight at Stella's Coffee Haus, 1476 S. Pearl St. Maybe things do go better with bongos; for information call 750-6732.

December 10
Stars in your eyes: The various stages at the Denver Performing Arts Complex are abuzz all month long, filled with dancing sugarplum fairies, Patsy Cline chestnuts, dogged midlife crises and Marley's chain-rattling ghost. Such a cultural constellation wouldn't be complete, though, without a few stars, so the Plex, located at 14th and Curtis streets, has got some of those, too.

In the Space Theatre, the Denver Center Theatre Company imports former Hill Street Blues principal Daniel J. Travanti from Washington, D.C., in an Arena Stage production of Eugene O'Neill's A Touch of the Poet. Travanti heads the cast as Irish patriarch Cornelius Melody in the drama, part of an unfinished historical trilogy playing here through January 10; admission ranges from $27 to $33. And at the Buell Theatre, a grown-up Hayley Mills and Broadway Renaissance man Vee Talmadge pair up in the The King and I, a touring production opening for previews tonight at 6:30. A lavish Thai-inspired set sporting murals, masks, mirrored tiles, gold leaf and a pair of thirty-foot-tall jeweled elephants adds to the show's overall eye-catching radiance; tickets range from $10 to $45 for previews and $25 to $65 during the regular run. For showtimes or to reserve tickets for either show, call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS.

Pint-sized celebrity searchers, meanwhile, will be heading over to McNichols Arena, where 'toon characters Buzz Lightyear and pull-string cowboy Woody do figure eights and more in Toy Story, the latest Walt Disney's World on Ice spectacular. Based on the 1995 animated feature and retaining the hit film's Randy Newman soundtrack and star-quality voiceovers by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, Toy Story opens today and continues through December 14; for showtimes and tickets, $10.50 to $18.50, call 830-

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