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Thrills for the week

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.

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.

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.

December 22
Two tons of fun: Music abounds at Christmastime--bells ring, choirs work overtime, brass bands tootle carols around every corner. But we can't think of any holiday event that's more unlikely--or totally likable--than the Tuba Christmas Concert, a 22-year-old heavy music tradition most recently hosted by Larimer Square. A 200-plus tuba ensemble, made up of players of all ages and abilities, will perform unbelievably sprightly variations on the usual Christmas tunes today at 1, smack in the middle of the square. Interested players can register and rehearse this morning at the Auraria campus; call 556-8123 before December 20 for details. Or call 607-1276 for general information.

Beyond the Pyle: Git along, little dogies--the campfire's lit for Chuck Pyle's Acoustic and Western Christmas, a down-homey kind of holiday concert that the whole durn family can enjoy. Pyle, a local songwriter, guitarist and rustic humorist, has enlisted the help of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's John McEuen and singing, yodeling and rope-twirling Western duo Liz Masterson and Sean Blackburn, who'll join him for a hootenanny tonight to raise a few bucks for Boulder Valley Habitat for Humanity. Pyle and friends perform at 7:30 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder; for tickets, $12 in advance ($15 day of show), call 258-7459.

Easy does it: Your stress-o-meter keeps urging you to stop and smell the roses--but when was the last time you saw a rose garden in bloom? The Tattered Cover LoDo, a business well-versed in the holiday jitters, will host five-minute Holiday Stress Relief treatments provided by experts from Spa Universaire today beginning at 11 a.m. The T.C. is located at 1628 16th St.; call 436-1070.

Who else is doing its best to serve you in your time of need? The United States Postal Service, that's who. After the spa folks loosen you up, you can hop across the street to the Terminal Annex Station, which is selflessly open from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily, including Christmas Day. Even if LoDo is off your beaten track, four additional post offices--Cherry Creek, at 245 Columbine St.; Lakewood, at 10799 W. Alameda Ave.; Northglenn, at 11877 N. Washington St.; and Wellshire, at 2080 S. Holly St.--will leave their doors open today from 9 to 5, welcoming the last-minute rush of guilty procrastinators. And for those of you who absolutely cannot seem to get that package wrapped until it's basically too late, there's still somewhere to go: the General Mail Facility Station, at 7500 E. 53rd Pl., which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For further information call the Postal Service's holiday hotline, 1-800-880-8783.

December 23
Last chance: Everyone runs out of gift ideas, usually on this day--the eve of the Eve. Here's one last place to look: Tucked away at the Museum of Outdoor Arts, 7600 E. Orchard Rd., Englewood, is the annual Holiday Artist and Faculty Show and Sale, a splashy compendium of locally created affordables ranging from paintings to wearable art. Also on display indoors at the outdoor museum, open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., is Kristine Smock's multimedia show, Jungle Bells. Those willing to brave the elements can not only explore the al fresco portion of the museum's spread-out exhibits, but they're also welcome to stay after dark to marvel at the JDNeafus-designed holiday lighting twinkling nightly in nearby Samson Park, through Jan. 1. For additional information call 741-3609.

December 24
Dashing through the snow: You all know how it's done--in a one-horse open sleigh, right? The Colorado Mountain Ranch, located in the hills west of Boulder, supplies the vehicle--but you're the ones who'll have to supply the required laughing all the way. The cozy lodge offers a Holiday Sleighride Dinner, which includes the chilling dash and a five-course repast, today at 12:30, with repeats taking place on December 28 and 31. Or, if you'd be happy with a simple hot-cocoa warmup, you can bundle up and slip-slide away daily, through January 1. Whether you choose to go first-class or coach, reservations are a must; call the ranch at 442-4557 for details. And don't forget your mittens.

December 25
And to all a good night: In order to ensure that nobody goes hungry on Christmas Day, the ever-generous Salvation Army will be joined by a legion of volunteer chefs and servers to dish up its annual Christmas feast of turkey and trimmings at Currigan Hall, 1324 Champa St. Less-fortunate children can sit on Santa's knee, and no young 'un will leave without a donated gift in tow. The dinner is served this afternoon from noon to 1; to volunteer time or financial support, call 861-4833.

How to end the day? Leave the crumpled Christmas wrap and leftover turkey carcass at home, then come gather round the Denver City and County Building and let bell-ringer Dana Miller ring your chimes--the Denver City Hall Chimes, that is. Miller, a local musician, performs holiday music on the chimes from 7:30 to 8:30 in the warm glow of the city's most imperious and popular light display. It's free, it's fun, and maybe there'll even be a dusting of snow. You can always hope.


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