Thrills for the week

May 8
War and priests: Church-related issues run thick and deep in Racing Demon, David Hare's insightful theater verite based on the playwright's in-depth interviews of priests in impoverished London neighborhoods. While Hare pays homage to the grassroots efforts of Anglican clergymen on the streets of South London, he's not so kind to the machine that governs them: In the wake of the play's 1990 debut, Hare's dramatic criticisms drew an antagonistic response from Church of England officials, who felt he'd perhaps carved too close to the bone. Now the Denver Center Theatre Company brings Racing Demon to life for local audiences at the Space Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, where the play opens for previews tonight at 8. Performances continue daily except Monday through June 14; audience "Talk Backs" will follow selected shows throughout the run. Admission ranges from $25 to $32 ($20-$23 for previews, through May 14); call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS for reservations.

Listen and learn: In commemoration of National Holocaust Awareness Week, city officials will host Remember for Tomorrow, an evening of events that begins with a 6:30 p.m. dinner with Nobel Laureate Elie Weisel at the Hyatt Regency Downtown Denver, 1750 Welton St. A free concert, featuring the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Children's Chorale and Yeladim Children's Chorale, as well as another appearance by Weisel, follows at 8 at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl. Dinner tickets, $150 to $250, benefit education programs of the CSO, the Holocaust Awareness Institute and the Denver Art, Culture and Film Foundation; call 512-8283 for reservations. The concert is free, but tickets are required and will be available at the Paramount box office beginning today at 10 a.m.

May 9
All the mall's a stage: You're never too young to appreciate and understand Shakespeare. After all, what kid wouldn't get a kick out of slapstick comedy, swordplay, mixed-up masquerades and melancholy princes speaking to real, actual skulls? The Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival, an annual spring event celebrating its thirteenth year, shows the rest of us just how much Denver schoolkids really do appreciate and understand the Bard's work. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, 3,000 elementary-to-high-school-age students from 42 schools will congregate on seven stages located on and around the 16th Street Mall to present Shakespearean scenes and sonnets along with music, dance, juggling and other Renaissance-period arts. The whole thing kicks off, rain or shine, at 10 with a costume parade from the Plex, at 14th and Curtis, to Skyline Park, 16th and Arapahoe. The Romp, a culminating "Shakespeare Jam" also at Skyline, provides a fitting finale from 3 to 4.

Dig it: Another time-honored tradition pokes its head out of the ground today. The two-day Denver Botanic Gardens Plant and Book Sale returns for the weekend, offering gardening bargain hunters a cornucopia of merchandise. Containers, seeds, Mother's-Day-appropriate gift items and nearly 20,000 used books will be on sale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and tomorrow. New and unique items this year include an expanded selection of popular heirloom tomatoes, rock-garden specialties, aquatic plants and a new "Plant Select" release of five cultivars particularly suited to local growing conditions. To ease the expected parking crush around the DBG grounds at 1005 York St., a free double-decker shuttle will run from the Glendale Target store at 4301 E. Virginia Ave. For information call 370-8187. Sale admission is free.

Candid cameras: Photography's greatest gift is its ability to capture moments--both the glowing, human sort and the atmospheric, visual kind--and make immediate statements, all without uttering a word. One of pictorial art's best observers of the mortal coil, Parisian-born photog Willy Ronis, is the subject of an exhibit opening tonight at the Camera Obscura Gallery, 1309 Bannock St., where high-quality shows develop with astonishing regularity. Attend a reception tonight from 5:30 to 8:30, or drop in to view the show through June 8; for details, call 623-4059.

An interesting grab bag of thematic works by five local photographers makes up the exhibit Photo '97, also opening this evening from 7 to 10 at the Mackey Gallery, 2900 W. 25th Ave. The diverse showcase--which includes Andrew Beckham's orderly mixed-media constructions, Patricia Barry Levy's works juxtaposing human and industrial forms, Chris James's black-and-white night-shot images of Denver, Gene Jacob's straightforward studies of local squatter kids, and Kit Hedman's shifting, layered images--continues through June 14. Call 455-1157.

Swing time: When the dancers of Frequent Flyers Productions choose to swing, they take their swinging seriously. In its latest production, Swing, Swing, Swing, taking place tonight and tomorrow at CU-Boulder's Macky Auditorium, the troupe combines its specialty--choreography incorporating the use of a low-flying trapeze--with the big-band music of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman and others. So should you go, you'll be transported halfway between Roseland and the Ringling Brothers. It's different--and the music, blasted out live by the local, thirteen-piece Crystal Swing Band, promises to be a treat. Admission to the 8 p.m. show ranges from $16 to $20; call 830-TIXS. For more information, call Frequent Flyers at 444-5569.

May 10
City of hope: The city belongs to all of us, and that may be why Box City, during which kids in grades K-5 team up to plan and construct a cardboard metropolis, is such a fitting preamble to the annual celebration of Historic Denver Week. This year's Box City event will be held today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Park Central Complex lobby, 16th and Arapahoe streets, adjacent to Skyline Park. It's free and open to all; Historic Denver, Inc., provides the paper and glue, but the kids have to provide the know-how. Bet they'll do just fine.

Rounding out the week is a series of walking tours--including a ghostly Mother's Day sojourn on Capitol Hill with local historian Phil Goodstein (2:30 to 4 p.m. May 11), a down-to-earth Ballpark Neighborhood jaunt (noon to 1 p.m. May 13), a tour of the City and County Building led by Mayor Wellington Webb and friends (noon to 1 p.m. May 14) and a walk through the Highland neighborhood with city councilman Dennis Gallagher (5:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 15). In addition, a slate of related slide shows, teas, lectures and workshops continues through May 17. Reservations are required for tours ($7-$10 each) and workshops (prices vary); for information call 296-9887.

May 11
Never a dill moment: At the heart of every circus are circus people--acrobats, tightrope walkers, jugglers, musicians and clowns. The New Pickle Family Circus, a small-scale Bay Area circus under the direction of choreographer Tandy Beal, is more vaudeville than three-ring extravaganza, with few props and no smelly animals. But its human performers are as authentic as it gets. The Pickles' newest traveling show, "Pick a Pack of Pickles," a gentle kind of circus that will keep you amazed and laughing all the way through, stops over today at 2 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl., for a single performance. Bring the family--for tickets, $7.50 and $11.50, call 830-TIXS.

May 12
Get your ya-yas out: Sometimes a novel comes along that's so steeped in nostalgia, time and place that it's impossible to put down, let alone keep to yourself. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, the latest from author Rebecca Wells (whose Little Altars Everywhere was a best-selling bookstore sleeper), is one of those books, telling a funny, feminine coming-of-age story so rich in Louisiana bayou culture that you'll smell the crawfish boiling as you read. You can catch that scent tonight at the Tattered Cover Book Store, where Wells reads a few passages at 7:30; for details call 322-7727.

May 13
Drawing conclusions: It's not easy being an artist, but it's possible. And who better to convey that message to young visual-arts virtuosos than people who are already out there doing it? The Denver Arts to Career Project pairs budding artists with professional mentors including artists, educators and businesspeople. From 4 to 7 p.m. at the Acoma Center, 1080 Acoma St., the project will host an opening event to get programs off the ground. Panel presentations, student-mentor mural painting and other hands-on activities will be featured. All interested individuals are invited to participate; call 640-2693 for information.

May 14
Punky chickens: If the Ramones were all Japanese girls, they'd have been Shonen Knife. But they're not--and the world is that much luckier, because it has both. The Japanese punk-pop trio, an underground favorite with alternative fans and artists alike here in the States, whips into the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder, tonight at 7, preceded by Vancouver's Pluto and L.A. popsters Cockeyed Ghost. Tickets are $10.50 in advance ($12.60 day of show); call 443-3399 or 830-TIXS.

Ivory tower: Jazz fans won't want to let this one get past them: Herbie Hancock, one of the preeminent jazz pianists of his generation, revives a Five Points tradition (the neighborhood was once a regular destination for touring jazz greats) tonight at the cozy Casino Cabaret, 2627 Welton St. Hancock gained recognition in the mid-'60s as a member of the highly creative, talent-heavy Miles Davis Quintet before going on to break his own ground with funky albums such as Headhunters and technology-driven works like Future Shock. But despite his fusionoid tendencies, Hancock's chops are well-rooted in more classic jazz traditions: In simple language, the boy can play. Hancock shows them how tonight at 7:30; for tickets, $37.50, call 830-


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