This week on stages in metro Denver, moments in American history will be recounted and reimagined, while opera singers and Shakespearean actors throw their lots together for a fun night of poetry and song. Here’s how to play along. Black Elk Speaks Aurora Fox Arts Center
March 18 through April 10
7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
2 p.m. Sundays Tickets: $22 to $31
American history gets a sorely needed update in the stage version of Black Elk Speaks, adapted by Christopher Sergel from John Neihardt’s oral history book, a firsthand account relating the late nineteenth-century experiences of Lakota medicine man Black Elk, who saw his people’s way of life decimated by white settlers and the American government. Director donnie betts brings the account — including the travesty of Wounded Knee — alive on the Aurora Fox stage.
The Mountaintop Black Box Theater, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
March 22 through April 17 (Previews March 18 to 20)
7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays
2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
1 p.m. Wednesdays Tickets: $25 previews, $38 to $48 regular run
Katori Hall’s award-winning The Mountaintop focuses on another American icon — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — in a fictionalized account of his last night on earth, set in the Lorraine Motel on the eve of his assassination in April 1968. There he encounters a room-service maid whose challenging questions turn things into an evening of repartee and soul-searching on a human level. The show contains some mature language and is performed without an intermission. Opera on Tap, Shakespeare: The Bard at the Bar Syntax: Physic Opera
6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 19 Tickets: $8 to $10
Opera on Tap, Denver’s aria-in-a-bar showcase, has some fun with Shakespeare in March by teaming up with the Wit Theatre Company, famous for its similar Shakesbeer mash-up. Says Opera on Tap of the momentous meetup: “The folks at The Wit/Shakesbeer came to the same conclusion as we did: that the stories that you have been told are high art are actually the human story. Our story.” Raise a glass and be a barfly on the wall.
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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.