The Denver Center Theater Company ends its season with a cultured leap of faith--well, sort of. Truth is, the two new and untested plays being presented as the mainstage portion of the DCTC's annual US West TheatreFest are the works of Richard Hellesen and Nagle Jackson, both relatively established names these days in the theater community--and they should look mighty nice on stage. Hellesen's satire Kingdom, a hit at last year's TheatreFest play readings that straddles the worlds of fantasy and reality at a Southern California theme park, begins its run tonight in the Space Theatre, while Jackson's Onassis Foundation Award winner, The Elevation of Thieves, in which ancient rituals meet modern technology and values in a small European town, opens for previews in the Stage Theatre; both shows start at 8 p.m. Performances continue daily except Sundays through June 5 in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex, 14th and Curtis streets; for tickets, ranging from $28 to $34 ($23 to $26 for previews), call 303-893-4100.
Get a thrill in your armchair and help preserve some of Colorado's mightiest peaks tonight when the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative presents Our Favorite Fourteeners, a slide presentation and book signing featuring Fourteener Guidebook authors Walt Borneman, Lou Dawson, Gerry Roach and Todd Caudle. After the quartet waxes eloquent about elevated places, there will be a gear auction. It all takes place from 7 to 9 at the American Mountaineering Center, 710 10th St., Golden; admission is $7. For information and reservations, call 303-278-7525, ext. 115.
These have been some sad times in the metro area, especially if you're a kid, but few events have the power to raise that pall with more aplomb than the Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival, an annual street event featuring performances by more than 3,000 students of all ages from fifty area schools. The costumed kids, from little forest sprites with flowers in their hair to gloomy Hamlets contemplating skulls, will dance, recite, emote and otherwise present Shakespearean and Renaissance-era arts, beginning with a fanciful parade at 10 a.m. from 14th and Curtis streets to Skyline Park, at 16th and Arapahoe streets. Performances continue nonstop from 10:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. throughout the park area; there will also be a Challenge Bowl trivia contest featuring students and celebrity contestants from 1:30 to 2:30 and a closing "romp" from 3:45 to 4. It's all free, of course, but that's hardly the point. Come and be amazed by what these kids can do.
Another time-honored town tradition--this one specifically for gardeners--gets under way this morning at 10 when the Denver Botanic Gardens Plant & Book Sale opens for business, featuring a true cornucopia of bedding plants, vegetables, roses and other growing things, along with thousands of new and used books. Returning to the inventory this year are the popular PlantSelect items, chosen each year by DBG and Colorado State University experts for their natural affinity for Colorado growing conditions. Sale hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and tomorrow. Enter the gardens, 1005 York St., at the north entrance, at 11th Ave. and Gaylord St., or south entrance, at 909 York St.; a shopper's shuttle will operate from the spacious Target parking lot at 4301 E. Virginia Ave. For more information call 303-370-8187.
Works by one of photography's brightest flashbulbs--camera pioneer Berenice Abbott--go on display tonight at the Camera Obscura Gallery, 1309 Bannock St., during a First Friday opening reception from 5 to 9. Abbott's images, a rare cache of signed prints from the artist's estate, range from 1920s-era portraits of Parisian intelligentsia to soaring paeans to the grandeur of New York City in the 1930s. The show continues through June 20; call 303-623-4059.
In the old days--and we do mean the old days--there were no home-run fountains or high-tech video screens or frozen cappuccinos at the old ballgame. No one had heard of the dastardly wave, and the locker-room amenities were few. Doesn't it sound great? When the Colorado Vintage Base Ball Association batters up for its season opener between the Denver Blue Stockings and the Littleton Rough & Readies today at 10 at the Fort Logan Base Ball Park, Lowell St. and Oxford Ave., it'll be just that--bases, balls, bats and maybe a dinger or two. The day continues with an exhibition by the Colorado Columbines ladies' team at noon and a capper between the Territorial All-Stars and the Broomfield Sweepers at 1:30. Admission is free, but concession proceeds and donations will be collected for the family of injured Columbine high-schooler Patrick Ireland, whose uncle plays on one of the teams. Call 303-627-2937.
If you ever take the time to sit back, scratch your head and wonder where the simple art of folk songwriting is headed, here's cause for relief: Former Blaster Dave Alvin continues his solo revival movement with a set of cogent, rough-hewn, personal and starkly American tales set to music tonight at 8 at the Swallow Hill Music Hall, 71 E. Yale Ave. Admission is $16 ($13 Swallow Hill members); call 303-777-1003.
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What Mom--outside of the one who suffers from hay fever--wouldn't love to chow down among the blossoms of Littleton's lush and pleasantly pastoral Hudson Gardens? Treat your allergy-free matriarch to today's Mother's Day Brunch hosted by the gardens. It's a boxed feast--with champagne, juice and coffee also provided--that you can partake of either under a festive garden canopy or at a picnicking spot of your own choosing. Hudson Gardens is located at 6115 S. Santa Fe Dr.; brunch costs, which must be prepaid, range from $8 to $14. To reserve in advance for seatings at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m., call 303-797-8565.
University of Denver student Davis Falvey took a hundred rolls of film, thirty donated cameras and a big heart to Bosnia last summer, where he taught the basics of photography to a group of Bosnian kids ranging in age from eight to eighteen. He returned with over 3,000 negatives, from which he culled the 35 prints displayed in Bosnia: Through the Eyes of Her Future, a telling exhibit of black-and-white images now hanging in the Driscoll Center North, 2055 E. Evans Ave., on the DU campus. Falvey hopes to tour the exhibit to other campuses nationwide; in the meantime, see it locally through June 10.
Boulder artist Claire Evans thinks there are few representational subjects more rich than the human countenance, and that's the subject of her conversation "Why a Portrait?" presented twice today in conjunction with the Salon Series Artalks presented monthly at the Dairy Center for the Arts. Hear Evans's arguments and configure your replies at noon or 7:30 p.m. in the center's V Room, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder; admission is free, but seating is limited. Call 303-440-7826.
When it comes to fiction writing, E. Annie Proulx is pretty much at the top of the heap--the Pulitzer Prize-winning author manages to get inside and outside of her characters skillfully while always retaining her own unique and gritty point of view, as evidenced in such masterpieces as The Shipping News and Accordion Crimes. It seems the Proulx touch works just as convincingly in short form: Her latest book, Close Range: Wyoming Stories, condenses her style into a handful of near-perfect stories with a Western theme. In an interesting twist, works by local artist William Matthews, who illustrated the book with his signature portraits of cowpokes, will be on display at the bookstore when Proulx stops by the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th St., tonight at 7:30 to read. Free tickets for a place in the autograph line will be available beginning at 6:30; call 303-436-1070.