Girl talk: The quartet of professional Latinas in Luminarias is looking for role models more inspiring than what it calls the stereotypical "gang mothers, undocumented workers, hookers and suffering women kneeling before the Virgin." Along the way, the four find time to discuss politics, racial issues, relationships and other street-smart subject matter. Written by actor/ activist/playwright Evelina Fernandez (familiar to national audiences for her film role opposite Edward James Olmos in American Me), the savvy stage comedy makes its regional premiere tonight at 8:05 at El Centro Su Teatro, 4725 High St.; shows continue at the same time Thursday, Friday and Saturday, through June 28. Regular admission is $7 to $9; this Saturday's performance includes a pre-show dinner ($25 all-inclusive, $45 for couples). For information and reservations call El Centro, a cultural bastion of Denver's ethnic community celebrating its 25th anniversary, at 296-0219.
Take a stanza: A tough duet of Asian-American poetic voices comes together tonight at 7:30, when the Bug Performance and Media Art Center, 3654 Navajo St., presents Reading Bone to Bone: An Evening of Poetry With Ai and Genny Lim. Ai, a powerful, award-winning wordsmith who specializes in unremittingly direct characterizations, teaches at CU-Boulder and has recently authored a novel, Black Blood; San Franciscan poet Lim writes plays, collaborates with jazz musicians and appeared in recent years on the five-part PBS series The United States of Poetry. Together they'll give a wide-open look at the state of Asian-American life that extends far beyond simple cultural boundaries. Admission is $4; call 477-5977 for information.
In addition, Lim will present a writing workshop tomorrow from 10 to noon in the Tivoli Student Center's Zenith Room, 900 Auraria Pkwy. on the Auraria campus. Pre-registration is required for the workshop, which is offered under the auspices of CU-Denver's Asian American Student Services Office, MoonRabbit Review literary journal, and Making Waves: Asians in Action. For details call 556-2578.
American pie: A sprawling monster of a bittersweet epic, Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning two-part slice of Reagan-era life, Angels in America, is both poignant and sobering on a painfully private and human level. Hunger Artists Ensemble Theatre, one of the city's more consistent troupes, gives the AIDS-haunted theatrical opus a brave try, performing both parts, The Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, in repertory over the next few weeks at the Acoma Center, 1080 Acoma St. Part One opens tonight at 7:30; Part Two opens at the same time next Friday. Performances of both then continue Thursday through Sunday, including Saturday marathons separated by a dinner break, through July 27. Tickets are $14 for each half or $25 advance purchase for the whole deal; call 893-5438 for showtimes and reservations.
Another fine local company, the Industrial Arts Theatre Inc., puts together a strikingly visual and no less affecting work in its season finale: Migrant Voices, Martha King de Silva's portrait of five Dust Bowl women based on the bleak, unfeigned Depression pictorials of photographer Dorothea Lange. The play opens tonight at 7:30 at the New Denver Civic Theatre, 721 Santa Fe Drive; shows continue at 7:30 Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, through July 13. Admission ranges from $11 to $13; call 595-3821.
Ring in the new: In music as in everything else, there's always a time when the mantle must be passed along. And where the Canadian songwriting tradition--which already boasts a lengthy queue--is concerned, it just might be time for folk bard James Keelaghan to shine. An excellent guitarist and consummate storyteller whose music is rooted in a balladic style as well-plotted as a history textbook, Keelaghan appears tonight at 8 at the Swallow Hill Music Hall, 1905 S. Pearl St. Portland duo Adam & Kris open the show.
Then again, on the rarefied front of mandolin virtuosity, there's National Mandolin Champion Radim Zenkl, called "the Bela Fleck of the mandolin" by one Kansas City reviewer and a shoo-in for the cloak worn so long by mando king David Grisman. The nimble-fingered Zenkl, who plays something he calls "Happy Grass," performs tomorrow at Swallow Hill; Uncle Kit Simon of Arvada's Old Town Pickin' Parlor and songwriter Marlo Mortensen open at 8. Tickets for either concert are $12 ($10 Swallow Hill members); call 777-1003.
Joust and fair: June always rides in with fanfare and hoopla--but it's the most laid-back hyperbole of the year. So what's the source of all that lazy noisemaking? For one, it's the return of the Renaissance Festival in Larkspur, replete with turkey legs, wild-boar sausages, jousting knights in elaborate costume, fire eaters, artisans and jesters. Opening this weekend, the festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, through July 27; gate admission is $12.95 for adults and $5 for children ages five to twelve (children under five free). Larkspur is located halfway between Denver and Colorado Springs on I-25 at exits 172 or 173; call 688-6010.
On the other hand, more than a few people religiously mark their calendars every year for the return of the Capitol Hill People's Fair, an open-air Denver tradition as fundamental to the season as lemonade, watermelon and a dip in the old swimmin' hole. The ever-growing and always-changing extravaganza this year includes a cornucopia of live entertainment on six stages, a National Trail Days Expo for outdoorsy types, a newly expanded children's area with all manner of activities for kids, arts and crafts vendors as far as the eye can see, and every kind of street food and drink imaginable to whet your appetite and your whistle. Taking place at Civic Center Park, Colfax Ave. at Broadway, the fest is open to the public from 10 to 7 today and 10 to 6 tomorrow; for details, call the fair hotline at 517-FAIR.
At a loss for words: A time-honored and refurbished Five Points nightspot, the Casino Cabaret continues to deliver a barrage of top-flight entertainment, with upbeat jazz master Ramsey Lewis sitting down at the keyboards tonight at 9. Lewis--best known for instrumental hits such as "Wade in the Water" and "The In Crowd"--will also be on hand for a VIP reception at 7; tickets are $30 general admission, or $37.50 including the pre-concert event. The Casino Cabaret, which offers valet parking and easy proximity to light rail, is located at 2637 Welton St.; call 830-TIXS to purchase tickets in advance.
Pace-makers: Are you ready to run with the big shots? They're ready to run with you. Join Denver Broncos alumni Robert "Red" Miller, Claudie Minor and Haven Moses, along with Denver Nugget LaPhonso Ellis and a slew of media personalities, for Race With the Stars, a benefit event for the Rocky Mountain Stroke Association taking place this morning in Washington Park. A 5K run, 5K walk and half-mile Stride for Stroke fun walk get started between 8:30 and 10 a.m.; entry fees range from $12 to $20. For more information call 730-8800.
An evening in the park with Ron: There's more than one park in town. Imagine serene Ferril Lake, the swaying trees, the setting sun, picnic fare, waggish mutts, giggling children, exquisite jazz--and you. When City Park Jazz gets under way tonight at 7 for another summer of free evening concerts at the park bandstand, there's no better place to park yourself. Trumpeter Ron Miles, one of our area's best, leads his combo through challenging changes while life drifts hazily on around him. Expect other local favorites, from Laura Newman to Joe Keel and the Action Orchestra, to show up at future dates; the series continues through July 4.
A Tiger by the tail: Football, soccer, baseball, hockey--all things of the past. Thanks to the inspirational success of Tiger Woods, the kids all want to tee off instead. And now they can. Novice golf moms, pack up your mini-vans with clubs, cleats and twelve-to-seventeen-year-olds and drive them off to the Boulder County Optimist Junior Golf Challenge, commencing with a shotgun start this morning at 7 at Lake Valley Golf Course, 4400 Lake Valley Drive in Longmont. Entry fees are $20 in advance ($25 after June 7); winners in boys' and girls' categories will go on to June 30 district championships in Castle Rock. For details call 444-0036.
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The plot thickens: Summer page-turners, get in line. The Tattered Cover Book Store in Cherry Creek hosts An Evening of Mystery Writers tonight, featuring a couple of literary thrillers well-suited to an afternoon poolside bakeoff. First up at 5:30 p.m. is Nelson DeMille, whose new whodunit, Plum Island, finds NYPD homicide detective John Corey investigating mysterious happenings on Long Island.
Stephen Cannell, whom most of us know as the creator of such action-packed television hits as The Rockford Files and The A-Team, follows at 7:30 with his comic thriller King Con. The story pits master con man Beano X against Mafia boss Joe "Dancer" Rina, with help from federal prosecutor "Tricky Vicky" Hart--and no help from the con-founding Bates family. We pity the fool who doesn't make it to this book signing. The Tattered Cover is at 2955 E. First Ave.; for more information call 322-7727.
Garden bounty: A visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1005 York St., in summer can be so much more than a tramp among some of the best flowers in town. During Wednesday night Sunset Garden Strolls, from 6 to 8 p.m. weekly tonight through August 27, you can also enjoy live music, food by Pour la France!, a cappuccino or the contents of your own picnic basket in the waning sun. Stroll admission is $3 to $5 (children five and under free). Early risers who are at their best at the crack of dawn can get in on an even better deal: The DBG also sponsors free Tuesday morning Sunrise Fitness Walks weekly from 7 to 8:30 a.m., through Aug. 26. Call 370-8187.
Der Bangle: Former Bangle Susanna Hoffs has a gift for pop songcraft, plying a dark yet sweet voice and ringing rhythm guitar over faintly familiar territory and somehow making retro-Sixties arrangements her own. Now a solo flier, Hoffs lands for an evening at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave.; for tickets, $9 to $10, call 830-