Bill Christ stars as the title swordsman in Cyrano de Bergerac.
Bill Christ stars as the title swordsman in Cyrano de Bergerac.

Buell Be Happy

Forget about the buzz over Whatchamacallit Stadium. Ignore the pull toward The Can where the Avs will see if they can once again win the Stanley Cup. And gaze not at the melancholy of Coors Field, where the Rockies are having a rocky time of it.

Now it's the time to herald the tenth anniversary of Denver's touring-Broadway-show venue, the Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre. As a birthday present for the Buell, which opened in 1991, the tenth Colorado Performing Arts Festival will uncork a hullabaloo featuring more than one hundred attractions. Organizers expect some 50,000 culture seekers to come to the Denver Performing Arts Complex -- the Auditorium Theatre, Boettcher Concert Hall and the Buell -- on September 29 and 30.

And why not? Did we mention it was free? (Okay, there are a few ticketed events, such as Beauty and the Beast, that aren't included in the city-sponsored gala.)


The 2001 Colorado Performing Arts Festival

Denver Performing Arts Complex, Speer Boulevard and Arapahoe Street

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, September 29,
11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, September 30,

Just as the Buell has grown in stature, the Performing Arts Festival has expanded and become the kickoff to the fall theater season. In addition, it gives folks on a budget the chance to sample some things they might not otherwise attend. "A goal of this festival is to enable as many Colorado performers as possible to showcase their talents while creating a unique, first-rate performance experience for the community," Mayor Wellington Webb said recently.

He probably also meant to say it was F-R-E-E!

Say you wanted to see the long-running comedy I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, but your timing's been a little off. This weekend, by showing up at the Galleria Theatre box office two hours prior to curtain time, the theatrically hungry can get one free ticket apiece. Gotta love that. Likewise, any starving artiste among us may view the Denver Center Theatre Company's Cyrano de Bergerac gratis by picking up a free ducat two hours before the show's Saturday curtain at the Bonfils Complex.

As attractive a lure as the single-show mission is to culture consumers, the general sense of vibrancy that will keep the Complex humming will also be a treat. Things will be busier than Dr. Suess's Circus McGurkus in spots such as the Denver Auditorium Theatre. Its front lobby will house a children's costume canopy where kids can try on various disguises and have photographs taken. Nearby in the Winegarden (or lower lobby) will be student films and presentations of works by Mark Twain and Laura Ingalls Wilder. And in the main lobby, the music of artists ranging from the Colorado Chamber Players to Japanese Koto by Waves of Peace will echo.

The Auditorium Theatre itself becomes the pivot point of dance, with turns by the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance troupe and ballet and modern dance from various companies.

Not everything's indoors, either. The Open Air Galleria will have drums, country, Latino, folk and brass ensembles. And don't be amazed if a magician shows up. Sculpture Park will see a parade of talent, from Eastern music to funky tap, Irish to mariachi. Harps here, acoustic guitars there. The Outdoor Mainstage will be home to rhythm and blues, gospel, salsa and jazz.

Toss in some puppets, barbershoppers and theatrical-makeup workshops, and you can pretty much guarantee a boost in your freebie fun I.Q.


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