Wednesday September 27 On their toes: Twenty-five years old and still growing, one of Denver's most respected cultural institutions celebrates in high style. Cleo Parker Robinson Dance is throwing a week of silver-anniversary events that touch on every aspect of dance: Tonight at 6:30 at the Warwick Hotel, 1776 Grant St., Trinidadian scholar K.G. Bell lectures on the history of dance, enhancing the free program with his own dance-inspired poetry. Then, a series of master classes offers a more hands-on approach to dance, beginning tomorrow and continuing through Saturday at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Studio, 119 Park Ave. West; tuition is $10 per class. An alumni showcase featuring companies directed by former Robinson members Winifred Harris and Leni Wylliams lights up the stage at the Park Ave. complex Thursday at 6:30; admission is $12 and seating is limited. And the week wraps up with a major performance, Celebrations and Collaborations, with Robinson, her ensemble, the alumni and special guests, including author/director Gordon Parks and modern-dance grande dame Katherine Dunham, at 8 at the Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex; tickets are $25. For general information and reservations call 295-1259; or call 830-TIXS to purchase tickets for the Buell performance.
Thursday September 28 Wherefore art thou, Romeo?: This time, Romeo art in California, circa 1840: In the Denver Center Theatre Company's new staging of Romeo and Juliet, the feud between the Capulets and Montagues is defined by the all-American clash between entrenched Spanish dons and Yankee merchants in the still untamed state. Directed by Israel Hicks, who takes a break from his yearly August Wilson interpretations (Hicks will do one of those later in the DCTC season), the new take on Shakespeare's classic, complete with flamenco dancers, begins tonight at 8 at the Stage Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, and continues with daily performances through November 11. Admission ranges from $18 to $30; for showtimes and reservations call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS.
Friday September 29 Rockin' pneumonia: Gather round, young 'uns. This grizzled rock-and-roll old-timer still remembers when Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen burned Tulagi's to the ground more than twenty years ago with a fiery set of truck-stop boogie that was part Western swing, part rockabilly and a good part pure, growling, rootsy rock. But behind Cody's roadhouse keyboards, Bruce Barlow's steady bass lines and Billy C.'s ducktailed vocals, there was a solid Telecaster twang delivered by a lanky, calm hick of a fellow named Bill Kirchen. Kirchen went on to provide licks behind a flock of tasteful purists--Emmylou Harris and Nick Lowe among them--and even dared to play opposite the late Danny Gatton. Now Kirchen leads his own band out of Washington, D.C., Bill Kirchen & Too Much Fun, who have put out a fine album on Black Top called Tombstone Every Mile. In what could well prove to be the sweatiest raveup of the season, they'll join local bands the Zukes of Zydeco and the Dalhart Imperials tonight at 8 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax. Pegged pants and leather jackets will be right in style; for tickets, $4, call 322-2308.
Art attack: Denver's northside alternative galleries are in a state of alignment tonight, with a smart set of new shows opening at the same time. Spark Gallery, 1535 Platte St. (455-4435), showcases new works by a trio of women artists--Barbara Baer's soaring Plexiglas wall sculptures airbrushed with clouds and water, Susanna Cavalletti Podboy's tangled multimedia tree images and M.A. Guthrie's black-and-white abstract drawings, while the steadfast Pirate Gallery, 3659 Navajo St. (458-6058), features pieces by a steadfast Pirate duo, Louis Recchia and Zoa Ace. And across the street at Zip 37, 3644 Navajo St. (477-4525), Bill Amundson's droll drawings will be spotlighted in Landscapes, Neighborhoods, Still Lives and Restaurants (some of our favorite things). Opening receptions will be held from 7 to 10 at all the galleries, and all exhibits can be seen through October 15.
Saturday September 30 He can pick 'em: Few fingerpickers upset a guitarist of Leo Kott-ke's stature, but Pat Donohue is one of them: When asked his opinion of the former National Fingerpicking Guitar Champion, Kottke can only say, "He thinks harmonically, improvises beautifully and writes. Disgusting." Donohue, an eclectic player--bluesy, jazzy and folksy--who has been heard nationally on a Prairie Home Companion, will appear as a guest of the Swallow Hill Music Association tonight at 8 at the Vogue Theater, 1465 S. Pearl St., along with local blues guitarist Mary Flower. Admission is $13 ($11 members); call 1-800-444-SEAT or 777-1003.
All the world's a stage: Where in Denver can you sample scenes performed by sixteen local theater groups and works choreographed by local dance troupes, listen to Brazilian jazz, music created on instruments made of stone, Indonesian gamelan, a cappella Renaissance music and African drummers, tour theatrical scene and costume shops, or watch burgeoning murals and sidewalk art in mid-creation? At the Colorado Performing Arts Festival--taking place from 10 to 4 today and 11 to 4 tomorrow inside and out at the Plex, 14th and Curtis streets--you can not only partake in all of the above and more, you can also do it for free. In addition, the sprawling arts event will feature a participatory mystery for children, plus exhibits, magic workshops, multimedia installations and food booths. It's the best three-ring circus in town. For information and a festival schedule, call 640-2758.
Sunday October 1 Words for words: It does no good to merely look aghast at the titles that have been banned throughout history: Recently, Jane Smiley's Pulitzer Prize winner A Thousand Acres was declared to have "no literary value" at a high school in Washington, placing it in the classy company of other banned tomes by the likes of Mark Twain, Toni Morrison, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Hans Christian Andersen. The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, along with the hosting Tattered Cover Book Store, will stage a Banned Books Read-Aloud today in support of readers' rights, from 10 to 2 at the Cherry Creek T.C., 2955 E. 1st Ave. For more information about the nonstop event, during which local performers and ACLU members will read from banned or challenged works for five to ten minutes each, call 322-7727.
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Caught in the frame: Cable viewers will be treated to an ambitious collaboration in which notable Hollywood directors created films inspired by classic works of art. Picture Windows premieres tonight on Showtime with a trilogy of half-hour episodes featuring such performers as Alan Arkin, George Segal, Brooke Adams and Sally Kirkland: "Soir Bleu," a haunting enactment of Edward Hopper's image of a sad clown, directed by Norman Jewison; "Song of Songs," Peter Bogdanovich's love story based on Botticelli's "La Primavera"; and "Language of the Heart," director Jonathan Kaplan's ballet scenario inspired by "The Rehearsal," by Degas. A second trilogy, pairing Frederic Remington with Joe Dante, an anonymous sixteenth-century painter with John Boorman, and David Hockney with Robert Loggia, will be aired October 29.
Monday October 2 Help and happiness: Area people with AIDS have Hearts & Voices Colorado to help lighten their load, at least a little bit--the nurturing volunteer organization provides live entertainment weekly for those hospitalized by the illness. Musical-theater artists Jeff Jenkins and Alex Ryer will headline a series of cabaret-style benefit performances for the group beginning today at the Theatre on Broadway, 13 S. Broadway. Shows are at 7:30 tonight, tomorrow and October 16 and 23; to reserve tickets, $20, call 860-9360.
Tuesday October 3 A shot in the dark: Did you ever wonder why a single-malt Scotch is the best scotch? Renowned beer-and-whiskey expert Michael Jackson, who has personally tested more than 300 single malts over the years, will answer the question, and he'll do so demonstratively, from 7:30 to 10 tonight, in the Banquet Room at the Wynkoop Brewing Company, 1634 18th St. He'll fill you in on all the straight-up poop--why single malts are special and how the stuff originated in the first place--over shots of the Wynkoop's varied single-malt Scotch selections. Tickets are $45 and include a light buffet, a free issue of Malt Advocate magazine, and enough Scotch to cross your eyes. Mildly. Call 964-8997.