It's summer, so loosen up. Try things on. Kick back. You can do all those things and still take in some culture. At the Changing Scene, 1527 1/2 Champa St., Summerplay, the longstanding downtown theater's annual showcase of one-acts written by local playwrights, gets under way tonight at 7. Three works--The Dance of Life, The Customer's Always Right and Getting on Top, all fresh and untried--make up the bill during the festival's three-week run, which continues Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through August 2. Tickets are $10; call 893-5775.
The price tag is right for Theater in the Park, which opens for the summer with A Brief History of White Music, the long-running crowd-pleaser featuring an all-black cast interpreting lily-white pop-music oldies: It's free. Bring a picnic and a blanket and the whole family to Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax; History plays at 8 nightly, today through Saturday. Upcoming free entertainment includes The Great Metropolitan Radio Showcase and Amateur Hour at 5 Sunday. Weekend performances, which include theater, ballet, Celtic dancers and a John Philip Sousa finale, continue through August 9. Call 770-2106.
Another free ride can be had tonight at 7:30 at Opera on the Rocks, an annual concert teaming the Colorado Symphony Orchestra with the Central City Opera for an evening of operatic favorites at scenic Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Outside of the $5 parking fee, you don't pay a dime; for information, call 98-MUSIC or 292-6500.
If you like your dance with a trace of the exotic, head for Boulder, where the Helander Dance Theater performs in Kokoro, part of an ongoing Helander series providing impressions of Boulder sister cities. This time around, the troupe celebrates Yamagata, Japan, with music played on authentic Japanese instruments, an appearance by Arvada folk dance group Ayame Minyo Kai and a creative dash of cross-culturalism. See how it all shakes out tonight at 8 at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder; for tickets, $12 to $17.50, call 786-7030.
What started as a gamble is now a time-honored tradition: The sixth annual LoDo Music Festival falls back once again on its road-tested booking formula of anything goes when it hosts another weekend of dancing in the streets of lower downtown. From 5 to midnight tonight and 3 to midnight tomorrow, the fest will toss out a sprinkling of everything--including headliners Joan Osborne and Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, power poppers The Why Store, hip-hoppers Spearhead, ska-sters The Toasters, R&B keyboard legend Booker T. Jones, Zimbabwean Thomas Mapfumo and a smorgasbord of local bands and carnival street performers--in the area from 18th to 20th streets between Wynkoop and Blake. Best of all is the reasonable gate tariff--$12 daily or $18 for a two-day pass. Call 1-800-517-SEAT or 329-6353 to purchase tickets in advance, or drop by the box office at 19th and Wynkoop streets. For information call 475-1500.
Here's something a little bit different--Chicago blues guitarist Roy Hytower, also an actor and traditional blues keeper of the flame, presides over Rhythm & Blues With a Touch of Class, the culmination of his five-week collaboration with twenty talented Colorado teens. Hytower worked with the kids, teaching them blues history, standards and musicianship; now they'll perform together, at 7 p.m. today and tomorrow and 2 p.m. Sunday at Place Middle School, 7125 Cherry Creek Dr. North. Proceeds benefit the Join Our Youth Foundation; for ticket information call 691-8984.
Some folks think of animals as higher beings, with better manners and more righteous concerns than the average human. Though that may or may not be true, it's reason enough for the Denver Zoo to host a Festival of the Animals, which celebrates the birds and beasts through multicultural song, dance and storytelling. In addition, there will be exotic eats available, from Malaysian tidbits to Native American frybread, along with the usual zoo attractions. Performances are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (festival hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.); the zoo is at 2300 Steele St. in City Park. Call 376-4800.
Denver's Japanese community shares its traditions this weekend during the 26th annual Cherry Blossom Festival, one of the city's oldest cultural fests. You'll be treated to colorful dancing, an Akita dog show, martial arts demonstrations, tea ceremonies, koto concerts and much more. But the real pinnacle of this festival is the food--a homemade feast of chicken or beef teriyaki prepared in gargantuan woks, sushi, noodles, sweet bean desserts served with soft drinks, green tea, beer or sake. Attend the celebration from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and tomorrow at Sakura Square, from 19th to 20th streets between Larimer and Lawrence; an Obon street dance, a beautiful rite featuring gorgeous costumes and swinging lanterns, takes place tonight from 6 to 9. Admission is free; call 628-9633 or 654-0577.
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People with an unrequited hankering to experience the nonstop revelry of Brazil's annual Carnivale festivities can get some relief tonight without blowing the nest egg on a vacation package to Rio. The Colorado Dance Festival hosts a Brazilian Dance Party with visiting Brazilian dance ensemble Os Capoeiras tonight from 8 to 11 at the Space for Dance, 2696 30th St., Boulder, in preparation for the troupe's performances next week at the Boulder Theater. Party music will be provided by the local samba group Pau Brazil. Admission is $10 (CDF students free); call 442-7666.
A little of this and a little of that--it's guaranteed to keep the young 'uns rapt during today's Kids' Multi-Ethnic Medley at Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline, Boulder. Starting with Native American storyteller and flute player Bailey Phelps, the medley segues into a global dancefest with Janice Guy-Sayles and Jimmy Walker before ending on a loud note--Taiko with Toni, an unusual mix that combines Japanese drumming with Dixieland jazz. Admission to the 3 p.m. performance is $6; call 440-7666.
All of the up-and-coming jazz brass--and drummers, keyboardists, guitarists and bassists--from miles around will congregate in Boulder this week for CU-Boulder's Mile High Jazz Camp, an annual event that teams a handpicked national faculty with more than 1,400 jazz band students of all ages. The private camp hosts several faculty and student concerts for the public during its duration. Tonight the instructors let loose at 8 in Grusin Music Hall, Imig Music Building, 18th and Euclid on the CU-Boulder campus; concerts continue daily through July 25. Admission is free; call 492-8008 for information.
Six strings weren't enough for guitarist Charlie Hunter--he had to go and excel on the eight-string model, a rare bird of an instrument designed to provide its own rhythm section beneath the melody. Hunter does it justice--see for yourself when he performs with Pound for Pound tonight at 9:30 at Herman's Hideaway, 1578 S. Broadway. Tickets are $10; for details call 777-5840.