Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
Anyone who's tried to play jazz knows that learning scales and modes is just part of the battle. To really understand the language of jazz, you have to perform with other people. At El Chapultepec Too, an outpost of the classic LoDo club, the Wednesday-night jazz-jam sessions serve as a proving ground for younger musicians who want to hone their chops in a live setting — whether horn players, bassists, pianists or drummers. Bassist Brian Wilson and veteran pianist Jeff Jenkins are usually holding down the fort, and when Greg Gisbert, one of Denver's finest trumpeters, isn't playing in New York, he'll sit in with the younger cats. It's hard not to get inspired when sharing the stage with guys like this.
What's much more fun than watching American Idol every week? Trying to become the British Bulldog's Rock Idol. Competitors had to choose songs from such categories as "'90s" and "female vocalists." With the Bulldog's buy-one-get-one-free drafts and well drinks, there were plenty of people in the audience for the would-be Rock Idols to entertain, and in this competition, singing was second place to entertaining. Will Rock Idol return for a second season? Let's hope the folks at the British Bulldog are up for another round.
Gene Gillette held the stage with complete authority in The Lieutenant of Inishmore, a crazed, cathartic bloodbath of a play dominated by scenes of torture, murder and dismemberment. As the psychotic Padraic, unhinged by the death of his cat, he was dopey, sentimental and terrifying, and you believed he was capable of every violent act attributed to him — and a good deal more.
Everyone's bigger than life in Tennessee Williams's melodrama about familial battles in the hot, lurid South, and everyone talks nonstop, but Brick is required to say very little for a long, long time. Chris Reid made the character complex and multi-dimensional, so that his extended silences pulsed with feeling and thought — and when he exploded, everything around him went white, like the landscape during a lightning flash. His Brick was cruel and cowardly, passionate, tormented and subtle, with a quietly twisted sense of humor. A deeply felt and resonant performance.
In Soul Survivor, Vincent C. Robinson clearly had a great time portraying the Devil as he attempted to win the soul of a quiet, rational man already quite happy with his life. He swaggered, teased and seduced the audience, uttered tee-hees of laughter that were both sinister and self-mocking, mugged, grimaced and, at one point, broke into an outrageous triumphal dance — and the audience enjoyed every moment just as much as he did.
Seymour is a nerdy soul who's faced with a Faustian bargain when he finds and tends a man-eating plant that offers him money, prestige and the love of Seymour's beautiful co-worker, Audrey — but only if Seymour keeps feeding it flesh. It's a ridiculous premise that fuels a goofy show, but Brandon Dill, an expressive actor with a strong voice, actually made you feel for the guy.