Now Playing

Garage Sale Loud: This Is It. Almost every summer, the folks at Heritage Square stage what is essentially a musical review with a thin sustaining plot line and the word "loud" in the title. The conceit is that T.J. Mullin and Annie Dwyer are siblings, and they're reliving their youth: teenage band rehearsals, high-school reunions. This time, their mom is moving into a retirement home, and they're trying to sell off all the stuff left in the garage. They're joined by Rory Pierce, who says he bought the house over the Internet; Alex Crawford, who has apparently just wandered by; and the family's onetime lawn boy, Charlie Schmidt, wearing the same tiny shorts he must have worn at fifteen. It only takes a stray phrase or turn in the action for everyone to burst into song: "Blowin' in the Wind," "Blue Moon," "Help," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "I Get Around" — a promiscuous mishmash of hits from various decades, apparently picked because the performers happen to like them. The most mind-blowing number is Beyoncé's "Single Ladies," with Pierce, Mullin and Schmidt as a leotard-clad chorus. Heritage Square has been hit hard by the economic downturn, and it's imperative that it attract new fans. So the troupe is mulling ways to convince Denverites that Golden really isn't so far away and wondering how to attract younger viewers without losing the essence of what they do —which, night after night, is to create community and share laughter. Presented by Heritage Square Music Hall through September 5, 18301 West Colfax Avenue, Golden, 303-279-7800, Reviewed June 17.

Peter Pan. The folks at Boulder's Dinner Theatre approach Peter Pan with such imagination, intelligence, respect and — above all — giddy exuberance that you can't help enjoying yourself. Little boys are sure to love Captain Hook and the ferocious crocodile with the clock ticking away inside him. And how could any little girl resist the idea of flying off into the night in search of adventure with a white-nightgowned Wendy, and being so loved and needed by the Lost Boys? Not to mention Nana, the fluffy white dog who serves as the children's caretaker. The only drawback is the depiction of Native Americans, who are shown as pure 1950s Disney figures, wearing long black wigs and fringed costumes, drumming, stomping, chanting and singing a ghastly song called "Ugh-a-Wug." Still, there are loads of good things about the production, and J.M. Barrie's words still cast a spell. Presented by Boulder's Dinner Theatre through September 4, 5501 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, 303-449-6000, Reviewed June 3.

Tomfoolery. Sometimes the simplest things give us the most pleasure. Tomfoolery isn't a big, complicated show — just four charming performers with a few props and costume changes, accompanied by a pianist and singing the brilliantly savage songs of Tom Lehrer. The result is an evening filled with humor and those electrifying little sparks of recognition you get when the satiric rapier hits home. Although there are a few duds, it's amazing how much humor and relevance many of these songs, written in the 1950s and '60s by a Harvard-educated mathematician, still retain. Many of the numbers are funny just because they up-end convention. Cast member Henrik Boes sings a pretty love song called "I Hold Your Hand," and it turns out the hand has been severed from its owner by the balladeer. A lilting Irish ballad details the exploits of a young woman who murdered every member of her family. The Beatles famously asked, "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four?" but before the question was posed, Lehrer had the answer: "Your teeth will start to go, dear/Your waist will start to spread/In twenty years or so, dear/I'll wish that you were dead." This is that rare event: a lighthearted good time that doesn't require that you leave your brain at home. Presented by the Vic through August 28, 4201 Hooker Street, 303-433-4343, Reviewed August 19.

The Underpants. Watching the king on parade, Louise Maske reached up to get a better view and accidentally dropped her drawers. As The Underpants opens, her husband, Theo, a stuffy conventional German bureaucrat, is deeply worried. He fears the incident will lose him both his job and his reputation. But what he should be fearing to lose is Louise, with whom he hasn't had sex in a year. As it turns out, her wardrobe malfunction is a boon for both parsimonious Theo and sex-starved Louise: Two men who glimpsed her forbidden flesh soon turn up wanting to rent a room. The Underpants was penned by Carl Sternheim in 1910 Germany, the first of a cycle of plays satirizing the bourgeoisie. But the script has been updated and depoliticized by writer-comic Steve Martin, and the prevalent mood of this airy, zany, delightfully salacious little comedy is provided by his nimble wit. Miners Alley has done a lot of things right with the production, and Haley Johnson is close to perfect as Louise. She might look like a solid, middle-class hausfrau, but there's a wicked little nymphet inside trying to get out. Johnson is well matched by John Greene's strongly self-satisfied Theo. But there's a bit too much hamming among the rest of the cast, and as the evening wears on, things get ever louder, larger, more unfocused and more manic. Presented by Miners Alley Playhouse through August 29, 1224 Washington Avenue, Golden, 303-935-3044, Reviewed August 19.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Juliet Wittman is an investigative reporter and critic with a passion for theater, literature, social justice and food. She has reviewed theater for Westword for over a decade; for many years, she also reviewed memoirs for the Washington Post. She has won several journalism awards and published essays and short stories in literary magazines. Her novel, Stocker's Kitchen, can be obtained at select local bookstores and on Amazon.
Contact: Juliet Wittman