Garage Sale Loud: This Is It. Almost every summer, the folks at Heritage Square stage what is essentially a musical review with a thin sustaining plot line and the word "loud" in the title. The conceit is that T.J. Mullin and Annie Dwyer are siblings, and they're reliving their youth. This time, their mom is moving into a retirement home, and they're trying to sell off all the stuff left in the garage. They're joined by Rory Pierce, who says he bought the house over the Internet; Alex Crawford, who has apparently just wandered by; and the family's onetime lawn boy, Charlie Schmidt, wearing the same tiny shorts he must have worn at fifteen. It only takes a stray phrase or turn in the action for everyone to burst into song: "Blowin' in the Wind," "Blue Moon," "Help," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "I Get Around" — a promiscuous mishmash of hits from various decades. The most mind-blowing number is Beyoncé's "Single Ladies," with Pierce, Mullin and Schmidt as a leotard-clad chorus. Presented by Heritage Square Music Hall through September 5, 18301 West Colfax Avenue, Golden, 303-279-7800, www.hsmusichall.com. Reviewed June 17.
Peter Pan. The folks at Boulder's Dinner Theatre approach Peter Pan with such imagination, intelligence, respect and giddy exuberance that you can't help enjoying yourself. Little boys will love Captain Hook and the ferocious crocodile with the clock ticking away inside him. And how could any little girl resist the idea of flying off into the night in search of adventure with a white-nightgowned Wendy, and being so loved and needed by the Lost Boys? Not to mention Nana, the fluffy white dog who serves as the children's caretaker. The only drawback is the depiction of Native Americans, who are shown as pure 1950s Disney figures, wearing long black wigs and fringed costumes, drumming, stomping, chanting and singing a ghastly song called "Ugh-a-Wug." Still, there are loads of good things about the production, and J.M. Barrie's words still cast a spell. Presented by Boulder's Dinner Theatre through September 4, 5501 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, 303-449-6000, www.bouldersdunnertheatre.com. Reviewed June 3.
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Reefer Madness. Reefer Madness is a takeoff on a 1930s exploitation movie about the dangers of marijuana. These days, with legalization surely just around the corner, it feels like pretty old stuff and makes for a gigglefest of an evening. Still, the easy, sleazy, propagandistic way the script bundles drugs, jazz, socialism, Communism, Darwinism and homosexuality into one huge and unspeakable evil that all good Americans should fear and fight certainly has contemporary echoes. As a Lecturer pontificates on the "leafy green assassin," a group of zombies straight out of Michael Jackson's Thriller surges onto the stage, shuffling and gesticulating. But Jimmy and his sweetheart, Mary, are protected by their youthful innocence. They read Shakespeare to each other and marvel at the way their love mirrors the plot of Romeo and Juliet — though not having reached the end, they don't quite know what might be in store for them. In another area of town, there's the den of vice where evil pusher Jack keeps his woman, Mae, in line with carefully doled-out joints and the occasional blow. Here, Sally neglects her baby and sells her body for drugs, and the increasingly crazed Ralph cackles away while feeding his munchies. Jimmy falls for the demon weed. Mary weeps. Jimmy turns to crime. And Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney's musical just keeps rollicking along, going way beyond satire and parody and into the realm of pure lunacy, tossing in murder, cannibalism, the baby sold for weed, a sodomizing Satan and a simpering Jesus, who, accompanied by a scantily-clad chorus, remonstrates with Jimmy in one of the evening's funniest songs, "Listen to Jesus, Jimmy," and later comes into the audience to hand out morsels and whisper sweetly, "Body of me." The show's a bit too drawn out, not all the numbers are equally sharp, and the first act is better than the second — though the second, too, has hysterical moments. But director-choreographer Colin Roybal has assembled a lively, talented cast, whose joyful buoyancy keeps everything afloat. These guys are having such a great time that they simply carry you with them. Presented by Equinox Theatre Company through September 18. Bug Theater, 3654 Navajo Street, 720-984-0781, www.equinoxtheatredenver.com. Reviewed September 2.