Stage cache: The fall theater season at the Plex reaches full gallop with a divergent duo: At the Ricketson Theatre, the Denver Center Theatre Company debuts Molly Sweeney, written by Irish playwright Brian Friel. Set in the fictional town of Ballybeg--also the site of Friel's past hit, Dancing at Lughnasa--Sweeney, the story of a blind woman whose sight is restored in middle age, is inspired by a similar character study by neurologist/author Oliver Sacks. The New York Drama Critics' Circle Award winner opens tonight at 8, with shows continuing through December 14; tickets range from $25 to $32. Lovers of roots music will appreciate an expanded version of the DCTC's past production It Ain't Nothin' but the Blues, an earthy, theatrical blues revue at the Auditorium Theatre through November 9. Catch tonight's show at 8; admission is $15 to $42. For tickets to either production, call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS; the Plex is at 14th and Curtis streets.
Solas man: The heart of traditional Irish band Solas is instrumental virtuoso Seamus Egan--a rising Celtic superstar who claimed the All-Ireland Championship on flute, banjo, tin whistle and mandolin by age fifteen and more recently provided the lilting soundtrack to sleeper film hit The Brothers McMullen. It seems the gifted Egan excels on just about any instrument or project he picks up, but in Solas, he's also more than ably backed by a talented troupe that includes accordionist John Williams, fiddler Winifred Horan, guitarist John Doyle and angelic vocalist Karan Casey. The nifty combo sizzles tonight at 8 at Cameron Church, 1600 S. Pearl St.; for tickets, $13 ($15 day of show), call 830-TIXS.
Tricks and treats: New art in all shapes and sizes will be on the prowl in various forms this month at a plethora of shows--some dealing with the trappings of seasonal rites and others providing showcases for known and unknown artists throughout the area. Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos celebrations at the Museum of Outdoor Arts, 7600 E. Orchard Rd., and Museo de las Americas, 861 Santa Fe Dr., each present a south-of-the-border folk-art take on the annual Mexican tribute to spirits of the dead. At the former, a colorful installation by popular locals Carlos Fresquez and Tony Ortega will be unveiled to the strains of Mexican guitar music and temptations of fiesta foods tonight from 5 to 8, while the latter will offer a more scholarly--though no less vivid--look at folk arts related to the ghoulish revelry, through November 16. For more information call MOA at 741-3609 or the museo at 571-4401. Also in a seasonal mode, an invitational show, Mask, opens tonight at the RedShift Gallery, 1408 Wazee St., with a reception from 7 to 10. Featured are camouflages--conceptual to representational--in all media, as interpreted individually by guest and gallery artists. See Mask through November 10; call 534-3004.
Hockey sock: So the only Avs tix you've managed to scrounge this season are up in Big Mac's rafters, next to a pigeon's nest? Well, bundle up: The DU Pioneers provide plenty of riveting hockey action right up close as part of the University of Denver's annual Homecoming Weekend festivities. The gliding Pioneers face off against the University of Wisconsin Badgers at the DU Ice Arena, 2250 E. Jewell, beginning at 7:05 tonight; the puck flies again at the same time tomorrow. Ticket prices range from $6 to $15; call 871-2336.
Mould culture: Rolling on down a road that's led him from the sonic onslaught of HYsker DY's fundamental rock to Sugar's thoroughly modern angst, Bob Mould has now put the sonic power trio behind him--though he hasn't forgone the power chord itself--for a pensive, self-analytical solo bout. Mould, an enduring figure in the alternative-music arena, will share his new phase with fans tonight at 9 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder. Past solo tours for Mould have proven especially transcendent; this religious experience will cost you only $13.65. For tickets call 447-0095 or 1-800-444-SEAT.
Now you see it: Denver's architectural legacy has no friend as loyal as historian Tom Noel, who is as knowledgeable on the subject as he is vociferous. The former Denver Landmark commissioner, also an enthusiastic tour guide and a professor at the University of Colorado at Denver, has now committed his passion to paper in a brand-new tome, Denver Landmarks and Historic Districts: A Pictorial Guide. Noel will discuss and autograph copies of the book, available for $29.95 from the University Press of Colorado, this afternoon at 2 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave.; call 322-7727 for more information.
Chance of a ghost: Go on, make a specter of yourself. It's Halloween--or almost Halloween, at any rate. Close enough, anyway, for Boofest! LoDo's Halloween Party, taking place today from 4 to 10 under a tent at 17th and Wazee streets. Dress to the nines (or a sheet will do), purchase a Boofest! button ($6 in advance at Tattered Cover Book Store locations; $8 at the door; children under twelve free) and step inside--tent attractions include mask-making and pumpkin-carving demonstrations, a Cars in Costume display, Halloween entertainment and a costume revue and contest. A silent mask auction and dancing to the Colorado Cajun Dance Band follow, beginning at 7. For details call 399-9005. Scare up some alternative downtown fun at Elitch Gardens Amusement Park, I-25 and Speer Blvd., where the Scream Street haunted roller coaster screeches under and around the park's formidable Twister II. The ride is open from 7 to 11 weekends and 7 to 10 weeknights, through November 2; admission is $12 ($10 students with ID). Call 595-4FUN.
Say woof! There's a little bit of ham in every pig, pooch or pussycat--which is as good a reason as any for taking advantage of the Holiday Paw Prints photographic sessions being offered at the Denver Dumb Friends League animal shelter, 2080 S. Quebec St. Plus, the resulting snapshots are a handy way to personalize your holiday cards this year: Slip one in an envelope; it's the next best thing to a big, sloppy lick on the face. So brush those fangs--pets and owners (with or without a league-provided Santa "Claws") can pose between 11 and 5 today; photo packages start at $30 and include a $15 sitting fee. Sessions are scheduled at the same location on November 2 and 3; fee and package proceeds benefit the league. For more information call 696-4941, ext. 364.
The best things in life are free: Soul-soothing classical music by Beethoven, Debussy and Arensky will be performed by the Ariel Trio tonight in Foote Hall of the Houston Fine Arts Center, Montview Blvd. and Quebec St. And the price? Nada. It's free. The piano, violin and cello trio, composed of Metro State College of Denver music-faculty members Susan Cable and Tamara Mullikin and Colorado Symphony Orchestra musician David Mullikin, performs at 7:30 p.m.; a talk by classical radio station KVOD's Betsy Swarm, also an MSCD instructor, precedes the concert at 7. Give your eardrums a hot tub and massage--what have you got to lose? Call 556-3180 for details.
Chemistry set: All noises are not alike. When Stereolab launches its aural experiments, droning soundscapes meet Farfisa-driven popular kitsch with artful results. And when the avant-rockers, led by Tim Gane and Laetitia Sadier, raise their beakers to mix musical elements and found lyrics tonight at 9 at the Fox Theatre, the final concoction might change the world as we know it, cause an explosion or merely smell funny. That's a chance you'll have to take. For tickets, $10.50, call 447-0095 or 830-TIXS; the Fox is located at 1135 13th St., Boulder.
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Jam session: How often does a walking, talking cult figure walk right into your life? Novelist William Kotzwinkle, author of such comic folderol as The Fan Man and Doctor Rat, as well as the Spielberg kiddy sci-fi film vehicle, E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, will do just that tonight at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave. in Cherry Creek. The reason for Kotzwinkle's moonwalk through Denver? He'll read from and sign copies of his new fairy tale for adults, The Bear Went Over the Mountain, in which ursine protagonist Hal Jam decides to leave the woods, cross over to the other side and check out the more unsavory vagaries of human civilization. Kotzwinkle appears at 7:30 p.m.; call 322-7727 for additional information.
Wynn, place and show: Former member and founder--and unpracticed songwriter--of L.A.'s foremost '80s psychedelic revivalists, the Dream Syndicate, Steve Wynn embarked some time ago on a laconic, retro-infused solo career that's long on craft, if a bit short on visibility. Regardless, Wynn is his own private phenomenon and certainly worth an evening's listen at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California St., where he'll perform tonight at 9:30. Reserve tickets, $6, by calling 1-800-444-SEAT or 294-9281.
Seeing double: When we think of dancing, we usually think of two people. Perhaps they're whirling around one another, perhaps they're shaking their respective booties in the other's general direction: From ballet to the watusi, the heart of dance has always been the duet, a tenet applied wisely--and gracefully--by the David Taylor Dance Theatre. The hometown troupe's fourth annual Three's a Crowd program, featuring a lissome series of twosomes performing dance forms ranging from classical to contemporary, will attest to it tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 at the Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St. in Littleton; tickets are $12. Call 797-6944 or 794-2787 to purchase yours.
Screen and screen again: Dark shadows, vampires and surrealist nightmares will abound tonight at 7:30 during the Bug Film Series: Classic Halloween Horror, an evening of silent masterworks with macabre inclinations at the Bug Performance and Media Art Center, 3654 Navajo St. Included are German Expressionist exemplars Nosferatu, the Vampire and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, along with Un Chien Andalou, an odd collaboration by filmmaker Luis Bunuel and surrealist painter Salvador Dali. That combo may make you jump out of your skin, but the price won't--admission is just $5 ($3 students, seniors and Bug members); call 477-5977. More spooky goings-on take place on the north side of town at a Halloween Flashlight House Tour sponsored by the Lumber Baron Inn, 2555 W. 37th Ave. The self-guided tour includes five northwest Denver homes, including the inn, all of which are said to be haunted; the admission fee ($7.50 in advance, $10 on tour night) includes a souvenir flashlight. For information or reservations call 477-8205.