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Brief reviews of current shows

The Music Man. Artistic director Michael J. Duran has pulled out all the stops -- no pun intended -- for this production. In a program note, he explains that he was performing in The Music Man on Broadway in September 2001, and all the theaters closed for two nights after 9/11. When the musical reopened that Thursday, it was to an audience of fifty -- but those people needed what the show had to offer, Duran says. The Music Man follows Harold Hill, a huckster who comes into a small Iowa town and sells the townspeople on the idea of a boys' marching band, complete with music, instruments and uniforms. Before he can pull his usual disappearing act, Hill has fallen in love with Marian, the librarian, and -- despite his inability to read a note of music -- won over the town. In the lead, Brian Norber brings huge jolts of energy to the show, and he's abetted by a large, lively cast, a gaggle of charming children and a cheery seven-piece orchestra. The music is sharp, funny and sometimes meltingly lyrical, and you can feel the performers' electric enjoyment in what they're doing. Presented by Boulder's Dinner Theatre through August 19, 5501 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, 303-449-6000, Reviewed May 11.

Other People's Money. Andrew Jorgenson -- whom everyone calls Jorgy -- has been running his New England Wire and Cable Company with integrity for decades, supported by his loving longtime companion, Bea. Enter the vulgar, doughnut-craving Lawrence Garfinkle, a financial shark who's planning a hostile takeover. Jorgy enlists the services of Bea's daughter, Kate, a lawyer for Morgan Stanley, and the fight is on. Kate and Garfinkle joust sexily; Kate returns to Jorgy and suggests strategies to safeguard the company; Jorgy refuses to contemplate any unethical action; Kate and Garfinkle's jousting becomes sexier still. Jerry Sterner's play is occasionally talky, and the action comes to a screeching halt at the climax, as Jorgy and Garfinkle give long, long speeches on their differing economic philosophies. Jorgy evokes the homespun, humanistic values dear to traditional conservatives; Garfinkle, embodying the spirit of the Reagan years (the play is set in the 1980s), delivers an ode to financial Darwinism. Sterner never entirely tips his hand as to where he stands on the issue, but he has made Kate (Lisa Rosenhagen) and Garfinkle (Wade P. Wood) the liveliest and most interesting of the characters, while Bea and Jorgy seem subdued and a little moth-eaten. This is an interesting, though shallow, treatise on capitalism, and within the narrow framework that Sterner sets up, the play is entertaining. Presented by Denver Victorian Playhouse through June 24, 4201 Hooker Street, 303-433-4343, Reviewed June 8.

Party of 1. This is a good play to go to with a date, or to attend in hopes of finding one. The show is a sequence of cabaret songs dedicated to the joys and pains of singlehood, slightly reminiscent of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, though without the monologues; fizzier and more light-hearted than Sex and the City, but less weighted with ego and pretension. Four appealing people spin through songs with topics ranging from the insecurities raised by meet-and-mingle functions to the intense ambivalence you feel when someone with whom you're having a great relationship actually takes the next step and moves into your apartment. Party of 1 ran forever in the Bay Area, where writer-composer Morris Bobrow is famed for his clever lyrics and bright, listenable tunes. Good-natured and enjoyable, with just an edge of grown-up irony, the show deserves its popularity. Presented by the Playwright Theatre in an open-ended run, 2119 East 17th Avenue, 303-499-0383, Reviewed November 17.

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