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Wednesday January 31 To Sir, with love: Perhaps the scarcest ticket in town is a seat for Ronald Harwood's The Dresser, a Denver Center Theatre Company production at the Ricketson Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex. Starring veteran actor Tony Church, the play is set during World War II England and is loosely based on Harwood's real-life experiences serving for five years as backstage dresser for the British actor-manager Sir Donald Wolfit. Church portrays "Sir," a regal stage actor in decline. Tickets are $21 for tonight's 6:30 preview performance, or $26 to $30 during the regular run, which begins tomorrow and continues through March 23; call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS for reservations.

Thursday February 1 The art of the matter: Local art bearing sociopolitical messages forms the backbone of a series of events being held this month at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. IN Tolerance: Artists Speak Out, a new group exhibit opening with a meet-the-artists reception from 7 to 9 this evening, will serve as the inspiration for a pair of free forums: The first, a panel discussion on censorship issues sponsored by Colorado Lawyers for the Arts and moderated by Westword editor Patricia Calhoun, takes place February 7 at 7 p.m.; the second, a February 21 roundtable called "Making Points: Confronting Political Issues Through Art," features a panel of exhibit contributors. In addition, the center is hosting a trio of Monday night salons further exploring tolerance issues. Admission to each facilitated conversation--scheduled from 7 to 8:30 on February 5, 12 and 19--is $19. Topping it all off, the Arvada Center theater presents the play Inherit the Wind, a classic discourse on freedom of speech. Performances of the play can be seen nightly at 7:30 Tuesday through Saturday, or at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, today through February 18; admission is $16 to $24. To reserve tickets for paid events or for additional information, call 431-3939.

A case of the jitterbugs: Hey, you in the baggy jeans and backward cap! Yo! Isn't it time you learned how to look sharp? You'd do well to drop into the Aeroplane Club--worth the trip just for its way-cool deco facade--on any Thursday night. That's where Tore Up!, a weekly evening of popular American roots music--from hillbilly bop to Western swing--takes place, beginning with frenzied dance lessons at 8:30, followed by frenzied dancing to tunes hand-picked by Tore Up! mastermind Kurt Ohlen. Live bands will fill that time slot the first Thursday of each month: For starters, Ohlen and his band, the Dalhart Imperials, will rockabilly your soul tonight at 10. If you're not sure what togs to don your first time out, just relax and watch the retro-fitted scenery--you'll catch on. There's a $3 cover charge; call 455-8408 for details. The Aeroplane is located at 3312 W. Alameda Ave.

Friday February 2 The banjo played on: Bill Monroe may be the accepted patriarch of bluegrass music, but banjoist Ralph Stanley is surely a kindly uncle. Along with the Clinch Mountain Boys (and until his death in 1966, brother Carter), Stanley, a master of the keening harmonies and breakneck instrumental runs pioneered by Monroe, managed to make the older musician a wee bit nervous about his competition. Find out why tonight when Stanley and the boys--whose recent CD Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is studded with guest appearances by the likes of Emmylou Harris, George Jones and Dwight Yoakam--head up a hoedown at 7:30 at Bunker Auditorium in the Colorado School of Mines Green Center, 16th and Cheyenne, Golden. Tickets range from $5 to $18; to purchase yours in advance call 233-8055.

Spanish flight: If you think of clacking senoritas stamping out flamenco rhythms when you think of Spanish music, you're not that far off the mark. But there's more to it than the familiar Gypsy cadences--Spanish group La Musgana makes music akin to Celtic melodies, using an exotic spectrum of instruments including bagpipe, hurdy-gurdy, accordion and flute. The band's repertoire--traditional dance music that accompanies gentler steps like the waltz, seguidilla and fandango--will fill Cameron Church, 1600 S. Pearl St., tonight at 8, where the ensemble performs as guests of the Swallow Hill Music Association. Admission to the concert is $13 ($11 members); call 1-800-444-SEAT for tickets or 777-1003 for information.

Saturday February 3 Well-versed: Poetry just became a tad more accessible to illiterate couch potatoes--as well as to those who actually like the stuff. The United States of Poetry, a new five-part series on PBS, covers a kaleidoscopic range of performances that sometimes barely resemble one another yet all fall under the aegis of poetic expression. Each half-hour segment, featuring an odd-fellows' convention of Nobel Prize winners, rappers, range riders, academics, ethnic voices, songwriters, drag queens and others, consists of a creative collage of dramatized vignettes and readings--some funny, some sad and some quite strange. Mostly, though, they're not boring, so tune in--parts one through four will air tonight from 10 to midnight on KRMA-TV/Channel 6; the final segment airs at 10 p.m. February 10.

Just kidding: The kids feel grown up and the adults get to act like kids--that's the concept behind the All About Kids Expo, the creation of developmental psychologist Dr. Earladene Badger, who thinks children and parents all have a thing or two they can learn from one another. The expo features over 100 displays of everything from live farm animals to computer systems and educational software, all geared to the junior set. But there's nothing to keep you overgrown kids from sharing in the fun. Attend the expo from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today or tomorrow at Currigan Exposition Hall, 1324 Champa St.; admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children ages two to twelve.

Sunday February 4 Beyond our Ken: In the old days it was comic books and baseball cards. Your mom threw them all out one year while you were at summer camp, right? Oh, the tears. But the collection to hang on to nowadays is far more shapely: Save those Barbie dolls, girls--you're sitting on a gold mine. In fact, if you're lucky enough to own a ponytailed, first-issue model plastic babe in an unopened box, slathered-on strips of blue eye shadow intact, the buzz is you're worth $7,500 more than you thought. Find out all about it at the Barbie Madness Mega Show, today from 10 to 4 at the Radisson Hotel South, 7007 S. Clinton St. Admission to the event, which will feature new and vintage merchandise and appraisals, is $5 ($2 children under twelve); for information call Kitty's Collectables, 670-9312.

Monday February 5 Fair trade: Visual artists from around the region will gather tonight at 7 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., to promote and raise funds for a local reading program. The benefit screening, Colorado Filmmakers for Literacy, features five 16mm short films, ranging from a documentary about a group of sisters to a Frankenstein remake. All proceeds culled from the $5 admission price will go to The Open Book, a nonprofit program that pairs tutors with non-reading adults.

Tuesday February 6 Ballet service: Formed 26 years ago by black ballet pioneer Arthur Mitchell as a tiny ballet school in the heart of Harlem, the Dance Theatre of Harlem has grown to encompass not only a school for both children and adults, but a renowned neoclassical performance company that has graced stages from London to South Africa. The troupe will make its Colorado premiere this evening at 8, on campus in Macky Auditorium, as part of CU-Boulder's Black Awareness Month. Students with IDs will be admitted to the concert free; all others can purchase tickets for $15 in advance at the University Memorial Center or Tivoli Student Center box offices, or at the Macky box office on the day of the performance. For information call 492-3227.

Places of the heart: The reason you've been feeling so inexplicably goofy probably has to do with the fact that Valentine's Day is just over a week away. But before you ship off your flotilla of valentines to the mailbox, consider this: All properly stamped cards dropped off by tomorrow at Front Range Arby's restaurants will be rerouted through Loveland, Colorado, where volunteer brigades will hand-cancel the envelopes and remail your gooey love missives as directed. Or place the cards inside a larger envelope and mail them first-class to: Postmaster: Attn.: Valentines, USPS, Loveland, CO 80538-9998. Ain't that sweet?


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