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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Best Wild West Show
<i>Charles Deas and 1840s America</i>

The artist at the center of Charles Deas and 1840s America had quite a story. Charles Deas was from a once-prominent family in Philadelphia; after studying art in New York, he headed out west to record the previously undocumented people and places in the area. And then, after producing a body of incredibly accomplished work on the Indians and the wilderness where they lived, he was declared insane and committed to the Bloomingdale Asylum at the ripe old age of 29. He was still institutionalized at Bloomingdale when he died nineteen years later. (Deas's depictions of Indian braves as either beefcake studs or dreamy twinks give us more than a hint at what his "mental" problem was.) This major scholarly undertaking was put together by the world's foremost Deas scholar, Carol Clark, and it was a worthy salute to someone who helped invent the genre of Western art, an approach that is still going strong a century and a half later.

100 W. 14th Ave. Parkway, Denver, 80204
MAP
720-865-5000
Best 15th Street Tavern Flashback
Rockaway Tavern
Hunter Stevens

After a long run, the 15th Street Tavern closed in 2007, leaving a big hole in the downtown punk scene. And almost immediately, the Tavern's Myke Martinez started looking for a place where he could resurrect that beloved venue. It took a few years of hunting, but Martinez and Kris Sieger, another former 15th Street owner, finally found what they were looking for in the spot previously occupied by the Triangle. The two teamed with 3 Kings Tavern owner Jim Norris to overhaul the space, adding a stage and putting a tiki bar in back. While the Rockaway isn't an entirely authentic resurrection of 15th Street, it borrows elements from both that venue and 3 Kings to add something entirely new, and much needed, to the scene.

2036 Broadway, Denver, 80205
MAP
720-235-3590
Best Actor in a Drama

Gary is determined to make his fortune by catching a home-run ball. In Ian Merrill Peakes's committed, intelligent performance in the premiere of The Catch at the Denver Center Theatre Company, we saw all the character's complexity, his brilliance in calculating the odds, his grandiosity and delusion — and also his very human attempts to connect with his estranged wife and emotionally pinched father.

Best Actor in a Musical
Nick Sugar

Nick Sugar was born to play the raucous, all-stops-out part of Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. In this Avenue Theater production, he got to strut, cross-dress, belt out numbers both sexy and forlorn, boast, whine, mock and beg — and all while he held the audience spellbound. And then he went further, reaching deep into his own soul to find a redemptive dignity amid the squalor.

417 E. 17th Ave., Denver, 80203
MAP
303-321-5925
Best Actress in a Comedy

In Reckless, Rachel is a crazy, farcical character, given to euphoria attacks and blindly ecstatic babble (only briefly interrupted by her husband's revelation that he's taken out a contract on her life). In the role, Julia Motyka sometimes bounded around the stage with an energy so manic you wanted to help those contract killers strangle her yourself. But at other times she was thoughtful and smart, and by the play's end, she'd deepened into someone you genuinely wanted to know. Motyka's smart performance in the Denver Center Theatre Company's production was anything but reckless.

Best Actress in a Drama

In Mouse in a Jar, Ma is the ultimate female victim: a Polish immigrant married to a faceless man who regularly abuses her and stands symbolically for the brute power of dictatorship and oppression everywhere. Ma cooks. She awaits the nightly return of her oppressor. She does little to protect her two daughters, and when one of them attempts to protect her, the attempt itself is brutal. Yet Ma also possesses a twisted, burned-in-the-flame toughness and humor. Trina Magness gave a memorable, haunted performance as Ma in LIDA's production of Mouse in a Jar.

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Best Wild West Show: Charles Deas and 1840s America

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