John Secada, the Cuban-born singer's smash 1992 English-language solo debut, and Otro Dia Mas Sin Verte, his 1993 Spanish-language song collection that took the Best Latin Pop Album Grammy Award, introduced Jon Secada to an international audience. But he began his career writing songs such as "Wishes" for his composition class at the University of Miami. (He got an A.) Then he spent six years as a featured vocalist in Gloria and Emilio Estefan's Miami Sound Machine; he also cowrote Gloria's hits "Coming out of the Dark" and "I See Your Smile." Now the singer, who once worked at his parents' Hialeah diner, is off and running on tour in support of Secada, his sixth solo album, which harks back to his debut with self-described "straightforward pop songs." Secada comes home to South Florida tonight at 8 p.m. at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach.Tickets cost $35 to $52.50. Call 800-572-8471.
It's not quite up there with eggnog, mistletoe, and A Christmas Carol, but the show Star of Bethlehem is becoming something of a tradition for many area residents -- at least according to Buehler Planetarium director David Menke. "Some of the same people come back each year," notes the astronomer, who researched, produced, and wrote the show, which he has presented at Broward Community College each of the last nine years. "Not only am I a scientist, but I also have a deep, abiding faith in Christianity. It gives me personal pleasure and pride to marry science and religion." The program examines whether the star the three wise men supposedly saw has an astronomical basis or whether it can be viewed as a miracle. Menke entertains several possibilities during his hourlong presentation before coming to his own conclusion. Was the bright Nativity star a supernova, a planet, a shooting star? Find out Menke's answer tonight at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $6; reservations required. Broward Community College, 3501 SW Davie Rd., Davie. Call 954-475-6681.
Let Window to Paris (1995, PG-13) put your imagination in gear. The comic fantasy film from Russian director Yuri Mamin -- in Russian and French with English subtitles -- revolves around a group of Russian friends who discover that a hidden window in their apartment is a magical portal that deposits them directly onto the rooftops of Paris. Themes of cultural prejudice are examined in the exchanges between the travelers and their French hosts, but Mamin keeps it light and breezy with comedic asides. Shown at 7:30 p.m. tonight and Friday as part of the "Fine Art Flicks" series at the Museum of Art, One E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Admission is $2 to $6. Call 954-525-5500, ext. 239 or 241.
Downtown galleries open their doors, and live jazz takes over the streets during the December installment of ArtWalk Downtown Hollywood. This time, however, walk festivities include numerous holiday happenings. Swing-jazz group Jumpin' Jive performs from 7 to 11 p.m. in Young Circle, and jazz saxophonist Ed Calle plays in the vicinity of 20th and Harrison streets. Meanwhile, holiday entertainment is provided a cappella on the west side of the circle from 6 to 9 p.m. by choral group Helios Ensemble. Santa's Enchanted Castle is set up in Young Circle Park for the kids, where they can also enjoy a bounce house, roving elves, and photo opportunities with Santa. A holiday lights trolley tour, which costs $3, is given from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Everything else is free. In downtown Hollywood at Hollywood Boulevard and Federal Highway. Call 954-921-3404.
Continuing its ten-year tradition, The Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida presents its holiday concert, "Home for the Holidays: Heritage and Hearth." The first section of the program, "Heritage," includes an African-American Kwanzaa song, two Spanish Christmas songs, two Hanukkah songs, a French Christmas carol, and two English carols. The second segment moves into more traditional, secular territory with tunes such as "Home for the Holidays" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas." A sing-along with the audience on "Jingle Bells," "Let It Snow," and "Deck the Halls" precedes the chorus' finale, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." Get in the holiday spirit tonight at 8 p.m. at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW 5th Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $10 to $20. Call 954-462-0222.
For the Royal Palm Dinner Theatre Anniversary Celebration, founder Jan McArt will perform several songs from her supper club act, although the actress and concert singer probably won't decide which ones until just before showtime. Before opening her theater twenty years ago, McArt says she was busy "appearing on television and on Broadway, and living happily in New York." Her brother, Don McArt, acts as master of ceremonies for tonight's show, which includes a performance by the cast of The Unforgettables -- a Perry Como, Dinah Shore, and Dean Martin musical tribute. The fourteen-piece Michael Rose Orchestra also performs during this evening of dancing, cocktails, and a surf-and-turf dinner, all of which costs $100. Showtime is 9 p.m. (cocktails at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m.). The theater is located at 303 SE Mizner Blvd. in Boca Raton. Call 800-841-6765.
It grew out of the stereotypical joke about what Jewish folks do on Christmas Eve: "We stay home, watch reruns of It's a Wonderful Life, and eat takeout Chinese food," says Corey Kronengold. He's the national spokesman for the Matzo Ball, an event put on for the past eleven years in various U.S. cities by the Boston-based Society for Young Jewish Professionals. It was created by society founder Andrew Rudnick as an alternative to TV trays on Christmas Eve. This year the cocktail party, hors d'oeuvres, and dancing for Jewish singles age 21 to 45 takes place in six cities, including Boca Raton and Miami Beach. The Boca version happens at Club Boca (7000 W. Palmetto Park Rd.) and features entertainment by DJ Remix. In Miami Beach, nightclub Amnesia (136 Collins Ave.) hosts. Tickets cost $15 in advance, $20 at the door. For reservations for either location, call 888-633-5326.