One to wash: It's cute and kicky--it's Suds, a goofy, melodramatic musical romp through the innocent Sixties. A despondent 16-year-old girl decides to end her life in a laundromat dryer but is saved by three angels: a bubbly Gidget clone, a Capri-pants bad girl and--who else?--a glowing Johnny Angel in bow tie and tux. A top-drawer local cast sings and dances its way through the lightweight proceedings at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, through May 19, at the newly refurbished Vogue Theater, 1465 S. Pearl St. Admission ranges from $18 to $20; for reservations call 765-2771.
Knock on wood: In a field overrun by supple-throated female counterparts, emerging jazz vocalist Kevin Mahogany stands nearly alone in representing the male half of the up-and-coming quotient. But Mahogany's facile voice, dipped in rich, bluesy undertones reminiscent of predecessor Joe Williams, easily ensures him a place in the jazz pantheon-to-be, especially when put to use on tunes such as the Wes Montgomery signature "West Coast Blues" or in a jumping scat-fest of Billy Strayhorn's "Take the A-Train." Hear the voice of the future today and tomorrow at Vartan Jazz, 231 Milwaukee St., when Mahogany performs sets at 8 and 10 nightly; to reserve tickets, $15, call 399-1111.
Animal instincts: Anyone who ever spent an obsessive evening glued to the television set transfixed by the posturing doggies of the Westminster Kennel Club will be similarly drawn to the mixed-media sculptural works of local artist Dede LaRue. Also a graffiti artist whose anonymous hounds have graced Denver dumpsters, LaRue now turns her talents to lifelike three-dimensional mutts as well as tigers, bears, cats and other creatures--some of which leap through neon hoops or emerge from wall-mounted pet doors. About forty of LaRue's charming, unexpectedly topical animals (the more famous of which include a blindfolded "Nicole Simpson's Dog" and a suicidal "Sparky's Depressed") will be displayed at the Art of Craft, 1736 Wazee St., beginning with a reception tonight from 6 to 9. The show continues through April 8; call 292-5564 for details.
Navel academy: What better way to celebrate International Women's Day than with the performance group Vox Femina, whose latest production, Mud Naked With Something in Our Belly Buttons, is out to prove that women do have a sense of humor. The Vox evening starts at 8 at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California St., and features both video and live bits, including a look at the work of artist Martina Hoffman, a parody of Rocky Flats, a turkey baster belly dancing, a tour of something called the Belly Button Museum and a few other surprises. Admission is $8 at the door; call 294-9281.
Snap judgments: The idea that things are not what they seem is the conceptual basis of Partial Recall: Photographs of Native Americans, a fascinating show curated by critic Lucy R. Lippard and opening today at the Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy. Inspired by a bland postcard image of Assiniboine Indians posing in what seems like complete comfort, Lippard explores the viewer's perceptual gap between what is glossily depicted in photographs and the true character of each situation by juxtaposing works snapped by both native and non-native photographers, with related essays by American Indian authors. The exhibit can be seen through April 28; for additional information call 640-2793.
Hey, nanny, nanny: Seldom does a celebrity with this much gum-chewing panache show up in Denver for a book signing, but today at noon, Fran Drescher, the mugging star of the CBS comedy The Nanny, takes pen in hand at the Tattered Cover to autograph copies of her memoir Enter Whining. The hilarious Drescher holds forth at the T.C., 2955 E. 1st Ave., until 2; claim your number for a place in line at 11. Call 322-7727.
To wake, perchance to dream: Here's a St. Paddy's warmup in honor of someone who's stone-cold dead: The Molly Brown House Museum will host a Traditional Irish Wake for Brown's mother, Johanna Tobin, who was found that way, her corncob pipe still aglow, more than several years ago on the museum's very porch. To be presided over by local history buffs Tom Noel and Dennis Gallagher, the wake will include such merry diversions as a reading of the will, an arm-wrestling competition and a wailing contest (best to spritz your vocal cords on the way over, wailers). The festivities, along with Celtic tunes and a serving of Irish soda bread and nonalcoholic beer, take place from noon to 4 at the museum, 1340 Pennsylvania St.; admission is $7 ($5 for members of Historic Denver, Inc.). No reservations are needed to join in the fun; call 832-4092 for details.
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All together now: When it's time to strike up the band at the Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival, there won't be a musical instrument in sight. That's because a cappella music, descended from ancient liturgical chanting, is strictly voice-driven. These days vocal groups harmonize in just about any musical style, from rock to classical to the nostalgic popular ditties of barbershop quartets--and that's just a taste of what you'll hear when groups from around the region gather today at 2 at Boettcher Concert Hall, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, to compete for a berth at the main Harmony event later this year in San Francisco. Admission is $15; call 830-TIXS for tickets or 756-4176 for information.
The silver lining: The Spanish Jews expelled during the fifteenth-century Inquisition left Spain displaced and without possessions, yet many of them--or their descendants--went on to reach illustrious cultural and historical heights as they spread around the world. Sculptor Sandi Knell Tamny celebrates some of those philosophers, authors, statesmen and artists--including theologian Baruch Spinoza, painter Camille Pissarro, poet Emma Lazarus and Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo--with her installation The Chosen: 500 Years of Sephardic Enlightenment, a series of 27 shrinelike, internally lighted metal figures. The touring show, sponsored by New York's Sephardic House, opens today at the Mizel Museum of Judaica, 560 S. Monaco, and continues through June 11. A reception will be held this evening at 7 and includes a talk by Tamny and Dr. Seth Ward of the University of Denver at 7:30. For information call 333-4156.
Crossing borders: Author Victor Villasenor began his sweeping, folkloric trilogy about a Mexican-American family with the acclaimed Rain of Gold. Now Villasenor takes off on the second leg of his literary journey with Wild Steps of Heaven, a magical yet earthy continuation of the same historically couched saga introduced in the earlier book. He'll be in town today to read from and autograph copies of Wild Steps at two locations: Cultural Legacy Bookstore, 3633 W. 32nd Ave., at 4:30 p.m. (call 964-9049), and the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave., tonight at 7:30. Numbers for a place in line at the Tattered Cover reading will be available at 6:30; call 322-7727.
Natural election: Filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker, the same cinma vrit documentarian who in the Sixties shot Bob Dylan and the Monterey Pop Festival as they were, teamed with Chris Hegedus four years ago to make The War Room, an exhilarating exploration of the campaign machine that propelled Bill Clinton into the presidency in 1992. Pennebaker and Hegedus will appear in person at a 7:30 screening in conjunction with CU-Boulder's International Film Series--all in perfect alignment with a rapidly heating 1996 presidential campaign. The screening and personal appearance are free; for information call 492-8959.