The heart of the matter: It's Thursday night, you're hungry, and you want to change the world. A good place to start is Project Angel Heart's annual Dining Out for Life benefit event, a joint project by restaurants around town to help raise funds for the organization that provides meals and support to people living with HIV/AIDS. The list of participating eateries, ranging from the trendy Jax Fish House to the workmanlike Chipotle Mexican Grills, includes more than thirty restaurants all willing to donate 25 percent of today's food and non-alcoholic beverage tickets to the cause. So what are you waiting for? Chances are your favorite local cafe will be among them. For more information, call 576-4952.
Green party: This is no time to cry in your green beer. When Irish fiddle whiz Sharon Shannon canceled her gig tonight at the Bluebird Theater, the concert's promoter said the show must go on. And so it will: Celtic Events and Entertainment will instead throw a St. Patrick's Day Party to remember, with the help of local Celtic rockers the Threshers, the fleet-footed McTeggart Irish Dancers and comedian/emcee Kevin Fitzgerald. Ain't that the luck o' the Irish? The high-stepping hoopla begins at 8 at the Bluebird, 3317 E. Colfax Ave. Admission is $7; call 322-2307 or 830-TIXS.
For your eyes, ole! Latin dance, theater and visual arts all get boosts tonight, thanks to a profusion of cultural events taking place around town.
The New Denver Civic Theatre, 721 Santa Fe Drive, and Ballet Folklorico de Colorado kick off their Latino Dance Festival tonight at 8, with all the flash and fanfare you could ask for provided by the host company, Spanish flamenco artist Marisol and others. Styles demonstrated will run the gamut from folk dance to salsa; shows continue this week and next, on Thursday through Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons. For tickets, $15, call 595-3821.
For serious entertainment with a political bent, the Bug Performance and Media Art Center presents four short actos, or plays, by Chicano activist and artist Luis Valdez, as interpreted by students from a Chicano Theater in Performance class at CU-Boulder. The actos themselves, originally performed in the 1960s by striking California immigrant farmworkers to incite their compadres to take action, are little in-the-moment masterpieces based on the squalid realities of migrant life. See the plays tonight at 8 at the Bug, 3654 Navajo St.; tickets are $4 ($2 members). Call 477-5977.
And at the on-again, off-again Artes del Pueblo gallery, eleven Latina women artists pay homage to La Mujer Indigena (The Indigenous Woman) in a show put together in conjunction with International Women's Month. The exhibit can be viewed from 7 to 10 Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, through March 22, at the gallery, located in the old Elyria Library building, 1901 47th Ave. (at High St.). For details, call 293-8251.
Night at the improv: Fort Collins-based jazz pianist Marc Sabatella is one of those delightful musical frontiersmen--though drenched in a modern-jazz keyboard tradition that includes everyone from Thelonious Monk to Cecil Taylor, he's also an improvisational avant-gardist enamored of free-thinking composers such as Anthony Braxton and Ornette Coleman. Leader of the trio that won last year's Cognac Hennessy Best of Colorado Jazz Search, Sabatella has now moved on to a quartet format, the Spanish Inquisition, which works predominantly with his own original compositions. He performs with the group, which features Dwight Kilian on bass, Thomas Van Schoick on drums and Peter Sommer on saxes, tonight at 8:30 at Wells Music, 685 S. Broadway, in a concert sponsored by the Creative Music Works. Admission is $8 at the door; call 477-3081 or 777-1900 for additional information.
The long green: There's no more obvious or more festive sign that spring's on the way than the Runnin' of the Green, Denver's first truly must-attend foot race of the season. First of all, it's one of those runs with a category for absolutely everyone--wheelchair competitors, race and fitness walkers, elite runners and the rest of you regular Joes and Josies. Second, the lucky 7K LoDo course is not your usual run through the park. And third, when it's over, you get to hang around for politically correct corned beef sandwiches and a Killian's or two--in whichever order you prefer. Wave starts begin at 9:30 a.m. (sharp!) in front of McCormick's Fish House and Bar, 17th and Wazee streets; entry fees are $17 in advance ($22 on race day). Pick up registration forms (and maybe a pair of green running shorts) at Runner's Roost, Runners Choice, Mongoose, Fleet Feet and Sporting Woman stores.
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.
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.
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.
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.