Thrills for the week

Thursday
June 5
Girl talk: The quartet of professional Latinas in Luminarias is looking for role models more inspiring than what it calls the stereotypical "gang mothers, undocumented workers, hookers and suffering women kneeling before the Virgin." Along the way, the four find time to discuss politics, racial issues, relationships and other street-smart subject matter. Written by actor/ activist/playwright Evelina Fernandez (familiar to national audiences for her film role opposite Edward James Olmos in American Me), the savvy stage comedy makes its regional premiere tonight at 8:05 at El Centro Su Teatro, 4725 High St.; shows continue at the same time Thursday, Friday and Saturday, through June 28. Regular admission is $7 to $9; this Saturday's performance includes a pre-show dinner ($25 all-inclusive, $45 for couples). For information and reservations call El Centro, a cultural bastion of Denver's ethnic community celebrating its 25th anniversary, at 296-0219.

Friday
June 6
Take a stanza: A tough duet of Asian-American poetic voices comes together tonight at 7:30, when the Bug Performance and Media Art Center, 3654 Navajo St., presents Reading Bone to Bone: An Evening of Poetry With Ai and Genny Lim. Ai, a powerful, award-winning wordsmith who specializes in unremittingly direct characterizations, teaches at CU-Boulder and has recently authored a novel, Black Blood; San Franciscan poet Lim writes plays, collaborates with jazz musicians and appeared in recent years on the five-part PBS series The United States of Poetry. Together they'll give a wide-open look at the state of Asian-American life that extends far beyond simple cultural boundaries. Admission is $4; call 477-5977 for information.

In addition, Lim will present a writing workshop tomorrow from 10 to noon in the Tivoli Student Center's Zenith Room, 900 Auraria Pkwy. on the Auraria campus. Pre-registration is required for the workshop, which is offered under the auspices of CU-Denver's Asian American Student Services Office, MoonRabbit Review literary journal, and Making Waves: Asians in Action. For details call 556-2578.

American pie: A sprawling monster of a bittersweet epic, Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning two-part slice of Reagan-era life, Angels in America, is both poignant and sobering on a painfully private and human level. Hunger Artists Ensemble Theatre, one of the city's more consistent troupes, gives the AIDS-haunted theatrical opus a brave try, performing both parts, The Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, in repertory over the next few weeks at the Acoma Center, 1080 Acoma St. Part One opens tonight at 7:30; Part Two opens at the same time next Friday. Performances of both then continue Thursday through Sunday, including Saturday marathons separated by a dinner break, through July 27. Tickets are $14 for each half or $25 advance purchase for the whole deal; call 893-5438 for showtimes and reservations.

Another fine local company, the Industrial Arts Theatre Inc., puts together a strikingly visual and no less affecting work in its season finale: Migrant Voices, Martha King de Silva's portrait of five Dust Bowl women based on the bleak, unfeigned Depression pictorials of photographer Dorothea Lange. The play opens tonight at 7:30 at the New Denver Civic Theatre, 721 Santa Fe Drive; shows continue at 7:30 Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, through July 13. Admission ranges from $11 to $13; call 595-3821.

Ring in the new: In music as in everything else, there's always a time when the mantle must be passed along. And where the Canadian songwriting tradition--which already boasts a lengthy queue--is concerned, it just might be time for folk bard James Keelaghan to shine. An excellent guitarist and consummate storyteller whose music is rooted in a balladic style as well-plotted as a history textbook, Keelaghan appears tonight at 8 at the Swallow Hill Music Hall, 1905 S. Pearl St. Portland duo Adam & Kris open the show.

Then again, on the rarefied front of mandolin virtuosity, there's National Mandolin Champion Radim Zenkl, called "the Bela Fleck of the mandolin" by one Kansas City reviewer and a shoo-in for the cloak worn so long by mando king David Grisman. The nimble-fingered Zenkl, who plays something he calls "Happy Grass," performs tomorrow at Swallow Hill; Uncle Kit Simon of Arvada's Old Town Pickin' Parlor and songwriter Marlo Mortensen open at 8. Tickets for either concert are $12 ($10 Swallow Hill members); call 777-1003.

Saturday
June 7
Joust and fair: June always rides in with fanfare and hoopla--but it's the most laid-back hyperbole of the year. So what's the source of all that lazy noisemaking? For one, it's the return of the Renaissance Festival in Larkspur, replete with turkey legs, wild-boar sausages, jousting knights in elaborate costume, fire eaters, artisans and jesters. Opening this weekend, the festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, through July 27; gate admission is $12.95 for adults and $5 for children ages five to twelve (children under five free). Larkspur is located halfway between Denver and Colorado Springs on I-25 at exits 172 or 173; call 688-6010.

On the other hand, more than a few people religiously mark their calendars every year for the return of the Capitol Hill People's Fair, an open-air Denver tradition as fundamental to the season as lemonade, watermelon and a dip in the old swimmin' hole. The ever-growing and always-changing extravaganza this year includes a cornucopia of live entertainment on six stages, a National Trail Days Expo for outdoorsy types, a newly expanded children's area with all manner of activities for kids, arts and crafts vendors as far as the eye can see, and every kind of street food and drink imaginable to whet your appetite and your whistle. Taking place at Civic Center Park, Colfax Ave. at Broadway, the fest is open to the public from 10 to 7 today and 10 to 6 tomorrow; for details, call the fair hotline at 517-FAIR.

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