YULE SINGER: Higginbotham.

ASO’s ‘Yuletide Spectacular!’
David Itkin’s seasonal family showcase with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra has become a holiday favorite in Little Rock the past several years, and Itkin and crew are back again on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 16-17, for three performances of “Yuletide Spectacular!” at Robinson Center Music Hall.

The show, part of the ASO’s Pops Live! Series, will include an array of guest artists such as vocalists Lonnie Parsons, Mary Ann Robinson, Kristi Tingle Higginbotham, Kevin R. Free and 11-year-old Mary Katelin Ward; the return of jazz pianist David Glaze; Rockette-style dancing by members of the Shuffles & Ballet II group, the official school of Ballet Arkansas; Meshugga Klezmer Band; the Conway High School drumline, and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff vesper choir. Also back are the ASO Festival Singers, comprised of Suzanne Banister, Stephanie Smittle, Kathy Kilgo, Kim Abbott, Stephen Edds, Susan Belcher, Roxanne Bradow, Marque Black, Bernard Turgeon and Matt Newman.


Robinson is a native of Harrison, and Higginbotham and Parsons are from Birmingham, Ala., and all three regularly appear in ASO shows. Free, making his first appearance with the ASO, has performed off-Broadway. Ward starred in the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s “The Miracle Worker” earlier this year.

Expect to hear such holiday favorites as “Winter Wonderland,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “The Christmas Song” and “Joy to the World.”


Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday. Ticket prices range from $16 to $60, and the best availability at this late date is for Saturday’s matinee. Call 666-1761, extension 21, for tickets.

The ASO gears its music to kids and their families on Sunday, Dec. 18, with “Jingle Bell Little Rock.” The show begins at 3 p.m. at Robinson Center Music Hall.


The one-hour show is conducted by Israel Getzov, the ASO assistant conductor. A pre-concert “Deck the Halls” Children’s Fair begins at 2 p.m. in the Robinson Center lobby. The concert will feature seasonal songs and carols, singers, dancers and special lighting effects.

Admission is $8. Call 666-1761.

Hogs play Owls at Alltel Arena
The University of Arkansas Razorbacks basketball team makes its lone appearance in Central Arkansas on Saturday against the Rice University Owls.

Tipoff for the game at Alltel Arena is 7:35 p.m. All seats are $25. It’s the first time for the Hogs to play Rice since the teams were together in the Southwest Conference in 1991.


At press time, Arkansas had won five straight games and had a 6-2 record. Junior Ronnie Brewer is leading the team in scoring, averaging 20.6 points per game.

Khristmas Krunkfest
Hip-hop fans will want to check out some young stars in the genre at Khristmas Krunkfest 2005, scheduled for Friday, Dec. 16, at Barton Coliseum.

Young Jeezy, TI and Lil’ Wayne will headline the show, beginning at 8 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets range from $25 in the stands to $50 on the floor (first five rows are $75) and are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com or charge-by-phone 975-7575.

Impersonators, more at River Market
If you think you see Elvis and Patsy Cline hanging out at the River Market on Saturday, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. Barry and Donna Humphries are renowned for their impersonations of those music legends, and they will bring Elvis and Patsy to life, with a holiday spirit, at the River Market beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday.

That show is just part of a weekend of fun in the River Market. There will be an ice sculpture demonstration beginning at noon Saturday. Also, children can visit with Santa Claus from noon to 2 p.m. in the River Market’s Market Hall.

All the events are free. Call 375-2552.

‘Nutcracker on Ice’
Performers at the Arkansas Skatium on Bowman Road will bring “The Nutcracker” to ice on Saturday and Sunday. For the second year, the Skatium will present “Nutcracker on Ice” at the facility’s Ice Arena, featuring local figure skaters of all ages, in costume and skating to Tchaikovsky’s classic music.

Saturday’s show is at 6 p.m. and Sunday’s performance starts at 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for everyone over 5 years old. The Arkansas Skatium folks recommend visitors dressing warmly and bringing a blanket or cushion.


Call 227-4333 for more information, or visit www.arkansasskatium.com.

Stories of Christmas
Actor Frank Runyeon will narrate “3 ½ Stories of Christmas” at the next “Trinity Presents …” show, scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18, at Trinity United Methodist Church.

Runyeon appeared for more than 20 years on several daytime soap operas (including “As the World Turns” opposite Meg Ryan and winning two Daytime Emmys on “Santa Barbara”) and has had guest appearances on such evening shows as “L.A. Law” and “Melrose Place.” Runyeon gave up acting on the big screen to do dramatic reenactments of biblical works, including the gospel of Mark and the letter of James. He received his B.A. in religion from Princeton, and his master’s degree, with honors, from General Theological Seminary.

The show is free, but a ticket is required. Call 377-1161 or visit www.tumclr.org.