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Erin Rollman paints a perfect picture as the lead in The Rembrandt Room.
Erin Rollman paints a perfect picture as the lead in The Rembrandt Room.
Courtesy of Buntport Theater

The 21 Best Events in Denver, February 12 Through February 19

Love is in the air in Denver, as couples new and old get ready to celebrate Valentine's Day. There are plenty of events to facilitate the festivities, including the Boulder Bach Festival, a doughnut festival and more. Not in the mood? Mortified will lift your spirits with a Doomed Valentine's edition. Of course, those are just a few of the things going down in Denver this week. Keep reading for more!

Tuesday, February 12

French wine can be a mystery, especially if you're not an expert in French geography. For most Americans, learning the ins and outs of Gallic juice of the grape is a losing proposition. But on Tuesday, February 12, you can learn about the country's famed wines — specifically, wines from female winemakers and vineyard owners — from real experts on France: les belles femmes de l'Alliance Française de Denver, 571 Galapago Street. Taste your way through a selection of wines paired with France's second-favorite export: cheese. The fun runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and will cost you $75; reserve your spot on the Alliance Française website, and get ready for a tasty evening.

Your wedding dance moves pale in comparison to the sage grouse's courtship dance. And how they mate is just one interesting facet of this majestic bird that's found only in eleven Western states, including Colorado. Famed nature photographer Noppadol Paothong celebrates all things sage grouse in his new book, Sage Grouse: Icon of the West, which he'll discuss during a lecture at 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 12, at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard. Organizers say the book "celebrates the beauty of the sage grouse and aims to bring a spotlight to the ever-growing list of threats to its existence." Buy a copy and get it signed at the event; find tickets, $15, and more information at dmns.org.

Wednesday, February 13

Turn your inquisitive eye toward the painterly iconography of the Manifest Destiny era of American history at Writing the West: Inaccurate or Artistic License?, a new and thought-provoking addition to the Anschutz Collection at the American Museum of Western Art, 1727 Tremont Place. The program is a collaboration with the Lighthouse Writers Workshop; authors and wannabes will respond to "fun and interesting themed writing prompts" related to the artwork, then read their musings aloud next to the paintings that inspired them. Writing the West begins at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 13; check the Programs tab at anschutzcollection.org for tickets, $5, and to learn more.

Offering to make a fancy Valentine's Day dinner for your honey at home in the hopes of 1) saving some coin and 2) getting some action, is a time-honored tradition — but what's a scheming sweetie to do when the big day rolls around and you realize you have no idea what to whip up? An unlikely source, ViewHouse Centennial, 7101 South Clinton Street, is here to save the day with its Aphrodisiacs and Cognacs Cooking Demo on Wednesday, February 13. From 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., chef Jose Guerrero will create a spread of bites traditionally thought to stimulate the...ahem...senses: oysters with chile-saffron mignonette; fried artichokes; figs and arugula in olive oil; and pomegranate, strawberries and chocolates. Sample the goods, sip cognac cocktails and take home recipes to try out on your crush. Reserve your spot for $35 on the eatery's website, and if you can't score with this menu, well, it's not them; it's you.

Thursday, February 14

Fans of Ian Kleinman's doughnut pop-up shops have been waiting a long, long time to get their hands on the confectioner's breakfast creations; the last time the pastries made an appearance was more than two years ago. But like a lovesick widow, our deep devotion and unquenchable love for the fantastical doughnuts has never wavered, making Valentine's the perfect day for their return. From Thursday, February 14, through Sunday, February 17, the Molecular Donut Shop returns to the Inventing Room Dessert Shop, 4433 West 29th Avenue, from 6 to 11 a.m. Ten flavors will be on the menu, ranging from $5 to $8; we're most excited for the Buttermilk Fried Chicken, a take on chicken and waffles that includes fried bird, coffee gravy and hot sauce caviar.

Is there anything more romantic than the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Building? Not on Thursday, February, 14, when the Denver Clerk & Recorder's Office will host Come Fly Away With Me, its twelfth annual Valentine's Day event for lovebirds eager to tie the knot. While couples will still have to shell out $30 for marriage licenses, judges and clergy members will perform free marriage ceremonies. Snacks and beverages will be available, and drawings will be held for gifts from local businesses, elected officials and other city agencies. (Sorry, no get-out-of-jail-free cards.) The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 201 West Colfax, Department 101; find out more at denvergov.org.

Forget the surprises that puberty brings: Thwarted romance is what drives the majority of adolescent melodramatics. And at 8 p.m. Thursday, February 14, Mortified: Doomed Valentine's will return to the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue, to pay tribute to the folly of young love from the comfortable perspective of adulthood. The subject of a Netflix documentary with live outposts in over twenty cities (including Paris and Amsterdam), Mortified welcomes speakers to share artifacts of their teenage angst, such as diary entries, bad poetry and love letters, with schadenfreude-hungry yet supportive audiences. Laugh, cry and cringe your way through this evening of inclusive holiday counter-programming; admission is $16 in advance or $20 the day of the show. Visit theorientaltheater.com for tickets and more information.

Celebrate the splendor of two hearts in harmony at the Boulder Bach Festival: From London With Love. A medley of romances from the British classical-music canon, the program includes compositions by Henry Purcell, George Frideric Handel, Antonio Vivaldi and, fittingly enough, Robert Valentine. Music director and violinist Zachary Carrettin joins an ensemble that blends the expertise of cello soloist Guy Fishman, soprano Szilvia Schranz, mezzo-soprano Claire McCahan and harpsichordist/maestro Nicholas Carthy for a pair of concerts sure to delight lovers and loners alike. Indulge in the spirit of the day on Thursday, February 14, at Broomfield Auditorium, 3 Community Park Road in Broomfield, or bring back the amorous vibe on Saturday, February 16, at the Longmont Museum, 400 Quail Road in Longmont. Both performances are at 7:30 p.m.; buy tickets, $32.50, and learn more at boulderbachfestival.org.

MCA Denver explores Georgia O'Keefe's influences on modern painting.
MCA Denver explores Georgia O'Keefe's influences on modern painting.
Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis

Friday, February 15

Now that Tara Donovan’s tour de force has closed, MCA Denver is starting fresh with a trio of exhibitions, led by Aftereffect: Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Painting, an interesting historical take on O’Keeffe’s influence on modern painting. Curated by Elissa Auther in consultation with Emily Joyce, the show takes off from a core of eight iconic O’Keeffe paintings into a constellation of work by twelve contemporary artists, demonstrating how O'Keeffe's singular journey into abstraction has been carried on by others over the past century. Aftereffect opens Friday, February 15, and runs through May 26 at the MCA, 1485 Delgany Street, along with solos by Colorado painter Andrew Jensdotter and tattoo artist Amanda Wachob; learn more at mcadenver.org.

Buntport Theater has rarely hit an off note in its original collaborations over the years, but even the Buntport crew recognizes when one piece rises above the rest. Such is the case with The Rembrandt Room, a one-woman knockout starring Erin Rollman that debuted to rave reviews in 2016. Back for a second delicious run, the play is outwardly about the Rembrandt painting “Danaë” — but Rollman’s monologue as a quirky museum guide strays into the realms of history, philosophy and art appreciation. Rembrandt opens with a reception on Friday, February 15, and runs through March 2 at Buntport, 717 Lipan Street, with two additional performances on March 8 and 9 at the Longmont Museum, 400 Quail Road in Longmont; learn more and buy tickets at buntport.com.

Quick-witted and nattily attired comedian Tom Papa may not be a household name, but neither comedy nerds nor anyone who does a quick Google search can deny his influence on standup or the impressive longevity of his stage and screen career. Host of the Food Network's Baked, Papa also has three standup specials to his name (most recently 2016's Human Mule), as well as appearances in films such as Top Five, Behind the Candelabra and The Informant! and shows like Inside Amy Schumer, The Marriage Ref and The Knick. Papa hits the stage at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder, at 7 and 9 p.m. Friday, February 15, with performances guaranteed to bring the funny to the Flatirons; go to thedairy.org for tickets, $32, and details.

The Catamounts will host the regional premiere of United Flight 232.
The Catamounts will host the regional premiere of United Flight 232.
Courtesy of the Catamounts

Boulder’s Catamounts troupe continues to blend independent theater with food and community during the regional premiere of United Flight 232. Adapted by Vanessa Stalling from the book Flight 232: A Story of Disaster and Survival, by Laurence Gonzales, the play is about a doomed 1989 flight from Denver to Chicago that crashed, killing 111 but sparing 185 thanks in part to exceptional management by crew members. The drama of the situation unfolds through nine actors who each play multiple characters, using bare-bones props to tell an intimate story about people brought together by circumstances beyond their control. United Flight 232 opens with a preview at 7:30 p.m. Friday, February 15, and runs through March 9 at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder; community meals are included at the February 16, March 3 and March 9 shows. Find showtimes and tickets, $18 to $42, at thecatamounts.org/tickets.
Like many joints around town, Citizen Rail, 1899 16th Street, is offering a prix fixe menu for Valentine's Day — but we're more interested in the restaurant's Lonely Hearts Club, its late-night, ’90s-themed happy-hour happening on Friday, February 15. From 10 p.m. to midnight, singles (lonely or not) can partake in strawberry and Champagne Jell-O shots, mezcal and Campari punch, and bites from the restaurant's regular happy-hour menu, including sourdough garlic bread with burrata, and a dry-aged hot dog. There will also be giveaways of CDs with ballads from the era; hopefully, it will be a better effort than what Chris in Biology burned for you freshman year.

Roll, roll, roll your joint at the Coffee Joint.
Roll, roll, roll your joint at the Coffee Joint.
Aaron Thackeray

Saturday, February 16

Do you like smoking pot but roll joints that look like mangled femurs? You're not the only one, which is exactly why the Coffee Joint wants to help stoner lovebirds at a Valentine's edition of its Creative Rolling class on Saturday, February 16. For $20, you can learn simple, solid blunt- and joint-rolling techniques as well as tips for twisting up artistic doobs. The class (21+) runs from noon to 3 p.m. at the Coffee Joint, 1130 Yuma Court. State law prohibits smoking inside, but vapes and edibles are allowed. Find out more at thecoffeejointco.com.

The Denver edition of a national live-reading initiative, At the Inkwell returns this month with a seasoned posse of local wordsmiths, including Colorado Springs slam poet Ashley Cornelius, poets Jay Halsey and Robert Kloss, and Art From Ashes director and poet Catherine O’Neill Thorn. Join them and host Hillary Leftwich for an intimate set of free readings on Saturday, February 16, from 4 to 6 p.m. at BookBar, 4280 Tennyson Street; learn more at attheinkwell.com/readings.

Opera on Tap, Denver’s only monthly opera bar night, gets bookish in February with Opera on Tap: Literature Out Loud, an art-song program that sets poetry from an all-star round of local writers to music, while those glass-breaking opera arias take a short break. Tameca Coleman, Ian Dougherty, Ahja Fox, Piper Mullins and Suzi Q. Smith take the stage for live readings on Saturday, February 16, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Syntax Physic Opera, 554 South Broadway; admission is $8 in advance at eventbrite.com, $10 at the door. Learn more about Opera on Tap's Colorado programming at operaontap.org/colorado.

The annual New Play Summit at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts invites the public to look in on the play-making process while sampling new scripts from playwrights across the nation. But first the summit casts an approving eye on the independent theater scene with a Local Playwrights’ Slam. 5280 Artist CoOp, And Toto Too Theatre Company, Benchmark Theatre and Local Theater Company will gather on stage to introduce their new-play programming, and each will present a reading by a local playwright. The slam goes down on Saturday, February 16, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Jones Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex; reserve a free ticket at denvercenter.org/tickets-events/colorado-new-play-summit.

Denver’s "civic health club," Warm Cookies of the Revolution, continues with a series of community-building events on a theme of participatory government, beginning with Own This City: The Streets. A Dance Party. The evening will break down what it means to “own the streets,” with help from local creatives including Chicano funk-and-protest band Los Mocochetes, whose music will fuel the dance party; the videographers in Lockerpartners; and activist/poet/musician Molina Speaks. Get down with your city on Saturday, February 16, from 8 to 10 p.m. at the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue in Civic Center Park; admission is free, but a $5 donation is suggested. Get the full scoop on this and future Own This City programming at warmcookiesoftherevolution.org.

Sunday, February 17

Peter Maxwell Davies’s dramatic song cycle Eight Songs for a Mad King premiered in 1969, but its theme of an obsessed autocratic ruler who goes mad couldn’t be more relevant in 2019. Denver’s Playground Ensemble, a group that focuses on modern and experimental music, will give theatrical life to the king and his court and constituency, with author/dancer/performance artist Serena Chopra chipping in by reading from her interdisciplinary work-in-progress Queerly Is the Night. Be surprised and challenged by the Playground from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, February 17, in the Canyon Theater at the Boulder Public Library, 1001 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder. Admission is free; learn more at playgroundensemble.org.

Attention, stargazers! Turn your glance skyward at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, where you'll find Stay Up With the Stars, an opportunity for nocturnal astronomers of all ages and experience levels to feast their eyes upon the splendor of the night sky through a high-powered telescope. Kicking off at 6 p.m. on Sunday, February 17, the family-friendly evening also includes dinner, planetarium shows, a craft-building station and a hot-chocolate bar. Visibility is subject to change depending on weather conditions, so pay close attention to the week's forecast. Find tickets, $15 to $25, and more information on the DMNS events calendar.

Monday, February 18

Anyone who’s seen the 2018 Netflix movie The Kindergarten Teacher knows that actress Maggie Gyllenhaal excels at playing troubled characters. She’s at her best in the 2002 film Secretary, starring as a young woman struggling with mental illness who's got a penchant for masochism. When she’s hired as a secretary, she and her boss, played by James Spader, enter a BDSM workplace romance that raises questions about desire, power, sexual ethics and the line between pleasure and pain. Secretary screens at 9 p.m. Monday, February 18, at the Alamo Drafthouse Sloan's Lake, 4255 West Colfax Avenue; find tickets, $8, at drafthouse.com/denver/show/secretary.

Know of an event that belongs on this list? We need information at least three weeks in advance. Send it to editorial@westword.com.

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