Actress Susan Lyles toiled in the theatrical field long enough to note that female roles and female playwrights are under-represented. The upshot? She formed the And Toto Too Theatre Company, dedicated to producing works by women only, an act she hopes will "level the playing field for women in the arts." The troupe debuts tonight at 7:30 p.m. with a world-premiere run of Appliance, a three-character play by Canadian playwright Lindsay Price about a breast cancer patient wading through life's challenges. The work continues Thursdays through Saturdays, through November 19 at the Denver Victorian Theatre, 4201 Hooker Street. Admission is $20; call 720-280-7058 or go to www.andtototoo.org for information and reservations.
Friday, October 21
Dress yourself up in your best duds and a spectacular mask: That's all you'll need to fit right in and maintain a touch of mystery at tonight's glitzy Black-tie Masquerade Gala. Guests are required to wear evening gowns, tuxedos and/or vintage costumery for the gala event, which starts at 8:30 p.m. at the Walnut Foundry Event Center, 3002 Walnut Street. Also featuring a fashion show of clothing by local designer Crystal Sharp, the evening will benefit American Red Cross hurricane relief. General admission is $20 (or $35 for the VIP treatment, which includes a champagne reception and private fire-dancing show at 7:30 p.m.); call 303-946-1492.
Saturday, October 22
Prepare to be awake for a very, very long time. Spend an hour or two at today's Aurora Java Fest, an extravaganza of everything muddy, and it's unlikely you'll have a choice in the matter. But once you've caffeinated liberally on joe that's anything but average, you'll be ready for whatever else comes your way: living art, slam poetry, a giant crossword puzzle, bocce ball, mug vendors, a coffee-filter art project (to keep the kids busy while you swill) and even an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, hosted by the hospitable Abyssinian owners of Coffee Canaan at the adjacent MLK Jr. Library. Catch your buzz at Fletcher Plaza, 9898 East Colfax Avenue, between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.; for details, call 303-326-8FUN or visit www.auroragov.org/events.
The main attractions at the Colorado Horse Park's annual Halloween With Horses Fall Festival are the horses, of course, which attend the event adorned in costumes of three types: dinosaurs, crayon boxes or medieval jousting mounts. But the family-friendly day at the farm, today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., has plenty of peripheral entertainment as well, including craft shopping for the folks, a Stable of Terror attraction for braver kids, and a trick-or-treat barn, petting zoo and pony rides for timid tykes. And come in costume: In addition to the competitions for best-dressed horses, there's also a contest for humans. Festival admission today at the non-profit equine facility, 7522 South Pinery Drive in Parker, is $7 at the gate; call 303-841-5550 or go to www.coloradohorsepark.com.
More animals in costume, this time involving two-legged, upright species, are the focus of what is truly a unique fun run in this city. Now in its second year, the Denver Gorilla Run sets loose a swarm of perambulating and train-riding humans in gorilla suits in the Central Platte Valley and downtown in a benefit for the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund. It's all in good fun, and you get to keep the suit, which is provided. The run begins at 11 a.m. at Six Flags Elitch Gardens, 2000 Elitch Circle. Registration fees are $75 to $150 for first-time gorillas (or $45 to $75 for returning apes); teams, antics and creativity above and beyond the usual primate-like behavior are encouraged. Call 1-866-GORILLA or visit www.DenverGorillaRun.com.
Sunday, October 23
Hobnob with a pioneer of horror fiction this afternoon when Boulder storyteller/actress Susan Marie Frontczak transforms herself for Mary Shelley Speaks, a one-hour Chautauqua-style program featuring the author of Frankenstein, today at 4 p.m. at the Boulder Public Library Auditorium, 1000 Canyon Boulevard. Part of a series of events presented in conjunction with the library's current exhibit, Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature, the performance/lecture is free and open to the public; for more information about the show and series, log on to www.boulder.lib.co.us/ calendar/frankenstein/special.html.
Anyone who's spent considerable couch-potato time, slowly growing roots behind the TV remote, will find something to appreciate tonight when T.V. Critics!!!!, a new improv comedy trio, presents the Leave Your V Chip at Home Tour, an evening inspired by classic television shows of bygone years but spiced up with 21st-century HBO language and plots. Incest among the Beverly Hillbillies? Opie smokes pot? Mary Tyler Moore (gasp) smokes in bed with a man? The sky's the limit. Tune in at 8 p.m. at the Walnut Room, 3131 Walnut Street. Call 303-292-1700.
Monday, October 24
Get inside the documentary process with a Denver filmmaker at tonight's Evening With Amie Knox, a program sponsored by DU Art!, a volunteer support group for the School of Art and Art History at the University of Denver. Knox, who is working on a three-part series about the creation and construction of the Denver Art Museum's new Hamilton building, will be present for a screening and discussion of Spatial Dance, which focuses on the addition's design phase and the original vision of architect Daniel Libeskind. Clips from other Knox films, including visual artist profiles of Deborah Butterfield, Joellyn Duesberry and Clyfford Still, will also screen; see the program in Lindsay Auditorium, Sturm Hall, 2040 South Race Street on the DU campus, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets range from $5 to $25; call 303-871-2846 for reservations.