Thursday October 6 Two tons of fun: Kids never fail to be astounded, and most grown-ups who go still want to run away and join up when it's over. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus is a perennial, awe-inspiring favorite, brimming with acrobats, daring bareback riders, performing animals and honking clowns. This year's version of the recurring spectacle spotlights baby elephants Romeo and Juliette, both cute as buttons and smart as whips. See the petite pachyderms and their pals beginning this evening with a 7 p.m. family-night show (all tickets discounted $4) at the Denver Coliseum, 4600 Humboldt St. Performances continue through October 16. Admission ranges from $9.50 to $14.50; call 296-SHOW for times and ticket reservations.
Boarding pass: There's an erudite way to enter Denver's brave new transit world--before the masses begin to pile on RTD's light-rail cars for free rides at tomorrow's grand opening. Patrons of the Art at the Stations Progressive Dinner, a benefit to raise funds for the creation of commissioned artworks for the LRT car stops, will be ferried to several destinations on pristine vehicles tonight from 5 to 10:30. They'll be whisked to the Buckhorn Exchange and Tosh's Hacienda, then on to the Denver Marriott City Center, where they'll sit down to dinner and a musical show presented by the Eulipions Theater Group. They'll then be returned to their cars, parked at the I-25 and Broadway station. The whole evening costs $100, which includes all of the above, as well as the ticketholder's name engraved on a station plaque. Call 299-2401.
Friday October 7 Massive art attack: Enjoyment of art doesn't have to be snooty--the area's alternative galleries and co-ops have long proven that it can be fun as well. Possibly the best example, though, would be the annual Alternative Arts Alliance Open Show, a sprawling, anything-goes, nonjuried exhibition featuring works by literally hundreds of artists. This year's display can be viewed through October 16 at 12 Broadway--a huge, 24,000-square-foot space--from noon to 5 daily. The good times are extended on weekend evenings, with live entertainment, performance art and poetry readings from 7 until midnight. In addition, there will be a free children's festival between 10 and 5 tomorrow. Exhibit admission is free; special events cost $5. For a schedule call 433-9359.
Bluebird of happiness: There's always a thankful sigh when another music venue opens its doors in Denver; now it's time to welcome the Bluebird Theater, a newly refurbished room at 3317 E. Colfax Ave. boasting microbrews on tap, an espresso bar and an impressive roster of live music and second-run films promised for the future. Richie Havens, an original Woodstocker who showed up at number two this summer, will help get this fledgling venture off the ground when he appears tonight at 9; tickets are $15 to $17. Timbuk 3 hits the Bluebird stage tomorrow night, and the film Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? screens Sunday through Wednesday. For information and tickets call 333-7749.
Saturday October 8 Meeting of the minds: Collaborations are the grist for guitarist Bill Frisell, an unassuming musical adventurer whose career has lit on so many shores it would be impossible to keep count. Defying categorization, Frisell permeates his music with a secret ingredient--the sweetest, most sardonic helping of idiosyncratic humor and heart. It makes you admire the man, not just the textural technician. He's staked out tunes by Madonna, Dylan and Aaron Copland, gone straight ahead (in a delightfully wacked-out way) on Monk and Bill Evans works with Paul Motian, accompanied somber avant-folkie Robin Holcomb, taken part in John Zorn's improvisational free-for-alls, soloed with a tape loop machine and scored a passel of Buster Keaton laughers. Considering the changes evident in that synopsis, it's no surprise that tonight's 7:30 gig at the Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax Ave., promises a set of all-new music--with an all-new cast. Frisell, a former Denverite, is now collaborating with local trumpeter Ron Miles--a pairing making its performing debut. And the icing on the cake will be an unprecedented duet with Frisell's onetime teacher, Denver guitarist Dale Bruning. Tickets are $17.50; call 830-2525.
Seeing stars: Look up. That's where everything will be happening on Colorado Astronomy Day, celebrated today from 10 to 3 at the Gates Planetarium, in the Denver Museum of Natural History, 2001 Colorado Blvd., and continuing tonight from 6 to 10 at the University of Denver's Chamberlin Observatory, 2930 E. Warren Ave. Daytime observers will get to spy on the sun, using special filters; nighthawks can peek at the planets through the hundred-year-old observatory telescope and get lessons on using binoculars to search the skies for constellations. Cameras are welcome, day or night. It's all free; for additional information call Gates Planetarium at 370-6317 or Chamberlin Observatory at 871-5172.