Thrills for the week

A Broadway hit built for two: What do you suppose is Broadway's longest-running non-musical play? Guess again--it's Life With Father, an old-fashioned comedy that first opened on the Great White Way in 1939. Based on the autobiographical writings of Clarence Day Jr. and adapted for the stage by the winning team of Russell Crouse and Howard Lindsay, the breezy play takes modern audiences on a peachy stroll down memory lane for a look at more innocent and optimistic times. A pleasant primer on family values, Life With Father runs daily except Mondays, through April 13, at the Space Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex. And to add to the nostalgic ambience, ragtime pianist Hank Troy will provide accompaniment to a lobby ice-cream social each Sunday during the break between matinee and evening performances. Tickets range from $20 to $32 (for low-end admission, reserve for economy previews, running through March 20); call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS.

March 17
For Shames: We're not sure why sunny Florida is such a dark and funny place, but if you're to believe a whole bandwagon of wry mystery writers--from Charles Willeford to Carl Hiaasen--the place is literally crawling, or swimming, or both, with scummy, unprincipled, one-in-a-million characters. Now you can add to the list author Laurence Shames, whose specialty is lighthearted Key-Westian Mafia mayhem. Shames is in town to read from and sign copies of his newest Fla.-by-night novel, Virgin Heat, tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th St.; for details call 436-1070.

March 18
Something to Crow about: Equal parts kittenish, retro, little-girl sensitive and straight-out ballsy, rock songwriter/ vocalist Sheryl Crow has proven on her second, self-named CD that she is in no way a flash in the pan. Clearly a woman in charge of her own destiny, Crow jumps into her latest with confidence, tossing off a gritty collection of tunes that lead listeners on a global route traversing territories as diverse as war-torn Bosnia and the inside of a Pasadena cross-dresser's peculiar mind. So? So stop telling those Sheryl Crow jokes and go see her tonight at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl. Dishwalla opens the show at 7:30; for tickets, $23.50, call 830-TIXS.

Back to the future: Star Wars, Schmar Wars. Gee whiz, Luke Skywalker, why don't you crawl back to your fakey little asteroid and leave us cinema sophisticates alone? Special-effects aficionados know there's nothing more high-tech in film than the black-and-white visuals in Fritz Lang's futuristic Metropolis, a silent 1926 gem from Germany featuring a polished doll that looks like C-3PO's long-lost mommy. It's science fiction with an ah-ti-tood, all dolled up like a shiny art-deco teapot--and you can see it for the zillionth time (or maybe the first) tonight at 7 at the Acoma City Center, 1080 Acoma St., where a restored version screens as part of the Denver Art Museum's Cinema Series featuring German classics from the Weimar era. As an added bonus, the Arkestra Pirata ensemble will perform an original score live during the screening; for tickets, $4 to $6, call 623-0524.

March 19
Suspended animation: Peter Pucci paid his dancer's dues, spending nine twisted years tangling with the renowned and fabulously flexible Pilobolus Dance Theater. Now he choreographs for his own troupe, the Peter Pucci Plus Dancers, setting original works to an eclectic bag of music by the likes of Mozart, Gershwin and Jimi Hendrix. Pucci's ensemble trots out some of those pieces, as well as a premiere work set to music composed by local improvisationalist Mike Vargas, tonight at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. The dancers, who spend plenty of time up in the air, perform at 7:30 p.m.; to reserve tickets, $20, call 431-3939.

Hold that note: Two of the biggest voices in the business--and we're not kidding; they're mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne and soprano Benita Valente--will hit the stage at Boettcher Hall tonight at 8 for an operatic spring recital. Divine Divas, a benefit for the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, features the powerful pair of songbirds teaming up on a selection of favorite arias and art songs. Admission ranges from $25 to $60 (patron packages that include a cocktail reception and dinner along with the music are $150; call 512-8283 or 292-5566 for information). Boettcher Hall is at 14th and Curtis streets in the Plex; call 830-TIXS to reserve recital-only seats.

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