THRILLS

Wednesday March 23 Stepping lightly: It's a fine night for dance connoisseurs--with performances in the inner city by the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble and across town at the Arvada Center by the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Robinson presents her annual spring concert at 119 Park Ave. W., beginning tonight at 6:30 and continuing through Sunday; works include Talley Beatty's Ellingtonia and Eleo Pomare's Epitasis. Tickets range from $16 to $18; to reserve yours call 290-TIXS. The Pittsburgh Ballet, one of the premier regional companies in the country, carries on the outstanding spark of Balanchine--artistic director Patricia Wilde danced for him during her fifteen years as a principal with the New York City Ballet--by performing works he choreographed. For tickets to the 7:30 p.m. performance, $16, call the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth, at 431-3939.

Taking a ribbing: San Antonio-based barbecue-and-blues joint Billy Blues opens the doors of a well-planned roadhouse concept to the public tonight with a bang. The club fulfills its promise to bring high-quality national blues acts to the area by booking Omar and the Howlers to set the virgin stage. Omar Dykes, who grew up in Bo Diddley's hometown of McComb, Mississippi, learned to play by sitting in with the big boys at local dives, then moved on to Stevie Ray Vaughan country and settled in Austin, where his band gained fame. The Howlers begin to howl at 8 p.m., returning tomorrow night at the same time. Opening week continues with Cold Blue Steel on Friday and Jitterbug Webb on Saturday; expect names like Bugs Henderson and Johnny Copeland to pass through in the future. Billy Blues is at 695 Kipling St. in Lakewood; for further information call 274-2534.

Thursday March 24 The old song and dance: The Temple Events Center, a beautiful old synagogue at 16th and Pearl sporting elegant stained glass windows and copper domes, was saved from the wrecking ball and converted to public use in 1986. The grand building gives purpose to a well-named event taking place inside tonight--Politics Unusual is a benefit musical starring a slew of local personalities and officials, including Mayor and Mrs. Wellington Webb, Fire Chief Rich Gonzales and various Colorado legislators, all willing to make fools of themselves on stage to help keep the place going. General schmoozing begins at 5:30 p.m., with the show getting under way at 7. Purchase tickets at $20 each (price includes preshow munchies) by calling 860-9400.

Friday March 25 Raising the ant: Welcome to the Nineties. Denver finally can boast its own bona fide funky performance and media art center, thanks to an industrious arts community effort: The Bug, formerly an old Navajo St. theater whose facade vanished from view thirty years ago, reopens to the public this weekend, newly refurbished, with a fundraising free-for-all of properly bohemian entertainment. The event, designed to encourage membership in the volunteer-driven organization, will feature local funny guy Bill Amundsen, cutting-edge musicians Mark Fuller, Mark McCoin and Dan Kenney, storyteller Pam Faro, poet Carson Reed and a spectrum of other performers, with programs beginning tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. Admission is $10, or $5 with a one-year membership in the venue (fees range from $15 to $35 and up); for reservations buzz the Bug, 3654 Navajo, at 477-5977. Neil Finn soup: As the driving force behind Crowded House, songwriter Neil Finn has a knack for crafting a pop tune. Put a wall of guitars and ringing vocals behind that, and you'll have a hit on your hands. Such is the case with these perky Kiwis, who've come a long way from Auckland since they formed in the mid-Eighties. You'll have a chance to observe the band's winning way before a live audience when Crowded House appears this evening at 8 at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm. Former session gal Sheryl Crow opens. For tickets, $19, call 290-TIXS. The insanity clause: Director Allie Light takes her audience into the deep, dark worlds of schizophrenia, manic depression and other mental disorders in her film Dialogues With Madwomen--and the seven women she profiles display an unexpected creativity and depth along the way. Not merely a documentary, the film tells their stories through reenactments and explorations of their inner lives, much like a visual portrayal of the therapy process. Dialogues opens tonight at the Mayan Theatre, 110 Broadway, for a short three-day run; call 744-6796 for showtimes.

Saturday March 26 No holds Barr: Former Denverite, TV comedy star, multiple personality and tabloid queen Roseanne Arnold has exposed her own sordid and astonishing past in the autobiography My Lives--from her abused housewife-turned-standup days as Roseanne Barr to the present. She'll return to the scene of the crime today at 11 a.m., when she autographs her book at the Tattered Cover, 2955 E. 1st Ave. Numbers for a place in line will be given out beginning at 9:30 a.m.; for further information call 322-7727.

Sunday March 27 Simply stated: Well-rounded young jazz artist Terence Blanchard has a lengthy musical resume. The New Orleans-born trumpet player had the groove in his blood from an early age--as a teen, he studied with Ellis Marsalis and George Jenson, then went on to Rutgers, where his instructors included Kenny Barron and Paul Jeffries. He graduated from Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers--a school of another sort--then blossomed into a solo career that includes some highly regarded recordings (his latest is Billie Holiday Song Book) and film-score credits. Blanchard will appear with a quintet tonight for a classy 7 p.m. concert at the Mount Vernon Country Club, 17 miles west of Denver at exit 254 on I-70. Vocalist Jeanie Bryson will join Blanchard and the band. Admission to the concert only is $12, but a package including a buffet dinner is available for $23.95. For tickets and information call 526-0616.

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