Thrills for the week

February 16
Stratford-on-Downing: You'll get both the long and short of Shakespearean works today at the Esquire Theatre, 590 Downing St., where Kenneth Branagh's splendid-but-lengthy Hamlet for the common man is running. So where does short come into the picture? Attend this morning's 10 o'clock show and, during the intermission, actors from Denver's Theatre on Broadway will fill the fifteen-minute break with a scene from the troupe's present production, The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged). You can go buy popcorn...or you can participate in Ophelia's nineteenth nervous breakdown; take your pick. TOB performers will continue their appearances Fridays and Saturdays during 7:30 p.m. screenings and Sundays at the 10 a.m. shows. Call 733-5757.

February 17
Easy does it: Author Walter Mosley is known for his evocative Easy Rawlins mysteries, one of which--Devil in a Blue Dress--made it to the big screen with big-bucks heartthrob Denzel Washington wearing the Rawlins fedora. But the reasons for Mosley's popularity lie as much in his simple, literary style and keen characterizations as they do in the tinsel-town flash of his detective doggerel plots. Shifting gears, Mosley now offers readers Gone Fishin', a sort of non-mystery prequel to the Rawlins series, a coming-of-age chronicle in which he explores the protagonist's roots and the development of Easy's relationship with his psychotic sidekick, Mouse. Heavy stuff, perhaps--but it's written with the same panache Mosley's fans have come to love. He'll read from the book tonight at 5 at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th St.; call 436-1070 for information.

Dynamic duo: It's simple enough to lump Dave Matthews and his inventive combo with the rest of the jam bands--but like Phish and some of the other better ones of their ilk, the Matthews ensemble distinguishes itself by really being able to play. What a fine idea. If you're one of those hardcore disciples who just can't get enough, Matthews offers a slightly different spin on his material tonight and tomorrow, during two acoustic evenings of jamming only with bang-up guitarist and musical crony Tim Reynolds, known for his guest appearances on Matthews Band recordings as well as for his own eclectic work with TR3. Matthews and Reynolds appear at 7:30 each night at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl.; for tickets, $25, call 830-TIXS.

February 18
Greene on the other side: Well, you can die--or you can just get older. Author, columnist and all-around regular, wiser guy Bob Greene explores the vagaries of the latter in his new book, The 50-Year Dash: The Feelings, Foibles and Fears of Being Half-a-Century Old. He'll wax on what it really means to grow long in the tooth tonight at the Cherry Creek Tattered Cover, 2955 E. 1st Ave. Greene reads from and signs the book at 7:30; for details call 322-7727.

February 19
Uninhibited sax: You could say Joshua Redman was born with the sound of music in his ears. Not one to turn his back on that kind of aural wealth, the charmed son of avant-garde jazz reedman Dewey Redman has taken his inherited musical sense to unheralded heights, establishing a huge following of fans hungry for a continuing supply of his own fine sax work. In the recording studio and especially on tour, young Redman always seems to surround himself with a hotshot back-up crew sure to draw plenty of whistles and whoops from audiences. Tonight's performance at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder, is no exception: Redman's entourage includes guitarist Peter Bernstein, drummer Brian Blade, bassist Christopher Thomas and pianist Pete Martin. Dig it--tickets to the 8 p.m. concert are $19; call 786-7030.

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