Thrills for the week

April 29
Circus girl: "Write what you know"--that's what young writers searching for inspiration are often counseled to do, though they sometimes ignore the advice. In the case of author Michelle Chalfoun, though, what she knew was far from ordinary: Her first novel, a gritty and attention-getting work titled Roustabout, is based on her own real-life experiences as a tough carnival roustabout. Who hasn't ever wanted to run away with the circus? Here's your chance--Chalfoun reads from and signs Roustabout tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave.; for details call 322-7727.

April 30
Don't fence him in: Renaissance man Gwylym Cano--a local playwright, actor and filmmaker--describes himself as a "Buddhist Chicano from East L.A. with a Yale degree, living on the north side of Denver," which is probably why his hackles rise when it's suggested that his work suits a "multicultural" slot. His play, The Eclipse of Lawry, is the story of three cowboys who plot to steal the moon; written when Cano was still a Yalie, it's meant to command a universal appeal. Eclipse opens tonight at 7:30 at the Denver Civic Theatre, 721 Santa Fe Dr., where it continues on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, through May 22. Tickets to the mid-week run are $8; for reservations call 595-3821.

A man with pluck: Young jazz bassist Christian McBride picks up where the great Ron Carter leaves off--he's simply so good that he defies categorization, picking and bowing his leviathan instrument with sparkling intensity. McBride, who shines brightly whether he plays up front or behind the soloist, leads his own combo tonight at 8 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave.; for tickets, $15, call 322-2308.

May 1
Heaven's gates: Living in Colorado, one develops a certain respect for impish weather. But that doesn't mean we can't appreciate May Day and its implication of spring flowers. The Denver Botanic Gardens, 1005 York St., will play along by adopting its summer schedule as of today, offering extended hours Saturday through Tuesday, weekly through September 30. On those days, garden gates will remain open until 8 p.m., allowing the perfect opportunity for a glorious evening stroll. DBG admission is $2 to $4; call 331-4000.

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