To truly appreciate Red Priest, you really must transport yourself to Baroque times -- when Handel and Bach were society's rock stars, creating bold and riveting music that wowed the courtly crowds. The iconoclastic British early-music company, once declared "the Cirque du Soleil of baroque performance ensembles" on MusicWeb.com, performs tonight at CU-Boulder. The group is clearly a collective whirlwind of talent, but one that might be disturbing to classical-music purists. Led by noted recorder virtuoso Piers Adams and named after famous flame-headed clergyman Antonio Vivaldi, the group doesn't just play music: Theatrical, funny and wickedly good at what they do, the members of Red Priest play from memory, shouting asides and interacting with the audience.
Tonight's performance is a perfect example. Based on the ensemble's Nightmare in Venice: A Baroque Fantasy CD -- which includes such works as Tartini's "Devil's Trill," Purcell's "Fairy Queen" and Priest's own namesake's "Nightmare Concerto" -- it's a Halloween must for the maverick arm of the intellectual crowd, with a costume contest, to boot. Trust us, Vivaldi won't be rolling in his grave. He'll be gettin' down.
The concert, presented as part of the CU Artist Series, begins at 7:30 p.m. in the school's Macky Auditorium; to satisfy your inner fuddy-duddy, CU musicology prof Thomas Riis will set the scene with a free pre-concert talk at 6:45 p.m. For tickets, $10 to $45, call 303-492-8008 or log on to www.cuconcerts.org. -- Susan Froyd
Literary Terror Unleashed
Stories on Stage spooks up
Stories on Stage has a Halloween treat for those who fear that their days of being read to ended with elementary school: The first Tales of Terror and the Supernatural. The group will present readings by four local actors in their Halloween finery at 2 p.m. today at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street. The literary brew will include the classic suspense of "The Most Dangerous Game," by Richard Connell; "Casting the Runes," by M.R. James, the terrifying inspiration for the 1957 film Curse of the Demon; Robert Davies's "The Ghost Who Vanished by Degrees"; and Stephen King's "The Man Who Loved Flowers."
Attendees are encouraged to wear costumes; during intermission, there will be a lottery to win a free application of Halloween hair and makeup. It's "a great way to get into the mood for Halloween," says Stories' Alice Sperling. "The luxury of being read to is usually something we only have as children. To be enveloped in a story along with other people is a very special experience. There's a sense of intimacy to it." Tickets, $12, can be purchased by calling 303-494-0523 or at www.storiesonstage.com. -- Caroline Bankoff
Suffer the Hilarity
"Ladies and gentlemen, I've suffered for my music," Neil Innes often explains at his shows. "Now it's your turn."
Audiences have long endured the esoteric wit of the talented singer-songwriter, perhaps most memorably through the Beatles mockumentary The Rutles, which he co-created with Eric Idle from Monty Python. Innes served as a writer and performer for one season of that troupe's legendary run and was cast in small roles in both Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Life of Brian.
His unapologetically bizarre humor will be showcased tonight in An Evening of Short Stories and Tall Songs at the Union Colony Civic Center, 701 Tenth Avenue, Greeley, at 8 p.m. Tickets, $28, are available at 1-970-356-5000 or www.ucstars.com. -- Adam Cayton-Holland
We Have Liftoff
Laurie Anderson's celestial new performance piece is stellar
For the past year, Laurie Anderson has served as NASA's first-ever artist-in-residence. Despite the fact that the performance artist was not allowed to actually travel into space -- her first request -- she learned a great deal at NASA, trekking to various sites around the country and speaking with the scientists and designers who explore the heavens. Much of Anderson's experience is reflected in her new show, The End of the Moon, a solo performance work that combines stories, song and spoken word, which she'll present tonight at 8 p.m. at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street in Boulder.
Combining tales of travel, personal beliefs, history and dreams, End is the followup to the critically acclaimed Happiness, a journalistic report of Anderson's time spent working at a McDonald's and living on an Amish farm. The new, far more abstract show is an attempt by the artist to describe her feelings of trepidation for the future while sharing her experiences at NASA.
Tickets, $31 to $41, are available at 303-786-7030 or www. bouldertheater.com. -- Adam Cayton-Holland