Take a Seat

FRI, 1/21

Colorado aesthetes, mark your PDAs: Here comes another extracurricular activity for the creative class.

Tonight, the Colorado Theatre Guild introduces Theatre Night Out, a nomadic tour of area venues and productions held on the third Friday of every month. Taking a cue from the wildly successful First Friday series, when scores of art galleries around town open their doors to a wine-sipping public, Theatre Night Out is a kind of progressive tour of the city for dramatically minded -- and budget-conscious -- culture connoisseurs. Those along for the ride receive two-for-one admission to participating theaters, admission to pre-show receptions and after-show talk-backs, and discounts at area restaurants.

The point, quite simply, is to get butts in seats -- and to provide an accessible way for the uninitiated to delve into Denver's diverse theater scene.

"We purposely selected companies of varying sizes to show people the variety of theater that there is in this city," says the Theatre Guild's Sara Rutstein. "So the selections range from the very large, at the Denver Center Theatre Company, to the very small, and everything in between. Non-profit, for-profit -- everything is represented."

The series is scheduled to run through July, although organizers say response from local theater companies has been so fervent that they hope to extend it indefinitely. And the selected works are as varied as the theaters themselves: Productions range from the dramatic and classically based -- A Selfish Sacrifice, based on Ibsen's stark A Doll's House, is this evening's selection -- to the campy and interactive. On Friday, February 18, the Avenue Theater resurrects its classic Murder Most Fowl, a whodunit in which the audience helps determine the outcome of an old-fashioned murder mystery, while a Rattlebrain Theatre romp is planned for March 18. Paris on the Platte, playwright Joan Holden's historical profile of former Denver mayor Robert W. Speer, takes the boards at Curious Theatre on April 15, while Kill the Moment continues a world-premiere run at the tiny Conundrum Theater on May 20.

"We want to show people that the experience of live theater on stage is so much different from anything else, because anything can happen," Rutstein says. "It's not like something that has already been created and will be seen many different times. There's a spirit of spontaneity that's unlike anything else."

For details, call 303-800-3030 or visit www.coloradotheatreguild.org. -- Laura Bond

Rally Round the Capitol
THURS, 1/20

While George W. Bush is raising his right hand to be sworn in for a second term, the steps of the Colorado State Capitol will be buzzing with a Counter Coronation.

Organized by 3 November Movement co-founders Dan Weiss and Dallas Malerbi, the alternative inauguration brings together all of the usual suspects -- MoveOn Colorado, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado and El Centro Humanitario -- as well as a few unusual ones. "A lot of the participating groups are pretty left of center," Malerbi says, "but there are plenty of groups that are not traditionally left who will be there, too."

Today's event isn't expected to be just another pessimistic powwow, though -- especially with the Democrats in power just inside the Capitol doors. Groups such as Food Not Bombs and the Raging Grannies will be there to make sure the gathering is peppered with fun, food and performance. "We want to give permission to be unsatisfied," Malerbi says, "but we're also hoping to give people hope."

Four more years of dissent begins at 1 p.m. on the west steps of the State Capitol Building, 200 East Colfax Avenue. And when the rally's over, head back up the Hill to the Breakdown Book Collective's Anti-Inauguration Open House, 1409 Ogden Street, for further discussion of social justice and civil liberties. Call 1-800-811-7647 or go to www.3nov.org for more information. -- Kity Ironton

Way to Grow!
SAT, 1/22

Interesting thing about the past Christmas spending spree: According to a recent survey, sales of electronic gizmos were down, as were general department-store sales -- but home-and-garden sales were booming.

I can attest to that trend, because every time I buy a plant for the house -- like that once-healthy-looking Yule cactus -- or begin a simple repair, the effort begets more trips to wherever the original stuff came from.

A new socket begets new wiring begets a custom tool. And a simple tree ends up requiring a small missile-defense installation by the time it's finished.

Maybe that's why things are bursting for backers of the 46th annual Colorado Garden & Home Show, which sinks its roots today at the spiffy new Colorado Convention Center and stays through January 30. Organizers, who boast that this year's expo is the biggest ever, expect more than 70,000 souls to sift soil, eyeball hybrids and generally soak up ideas faster than a parched Denver lawn absorbs water. Visitors will be greeted by a walk-through garden comprising some 6,000 blossoms -- a prelude to the seventeen professionally landscaped gardens showcased inside.

The convention center is at 700 14th Street; admission is $10 to $12, free for kids twelve and under (discount tickets available at King Soopers). For information -- or inspiration -- call 303-932-8100 or go to www.gardeningcolorado.com. -- Ernie Tucker

Funny Stuff
An urbane laugh life comes to [email protected]
WED, 1/26

Look, we know Project Runway is on Wednesday nights. But here's the thing: Except for when the models break down and cry, that show is not funny. At least standup comedy and frenzied antics -- live -- have the potential for yuks. So peel your gaze away from all those gorgeous girls and come feast your eyes on a bunch of struggling comics, because they're fun to watch, too, in a completely different way.

Starting tonight, [email protected]'s, at 1553 Platte Street, will feature an open-mike/local-talent night called "LOL Underground" every second and fourth Wednesday of the month. Unlike the more polished Thursday-night comedy shows at Jack's, LOL will be a no-holds-barred, anything-goes format. Each show will conclude with a "thirty-second showdown," in which participants have half a minute to wow the crowd -- who will then vote on a favorite mini-performance. The lucky winner receives a $20 jackpot.

There's no cover for the 21-and-over show, but there is a two-drink minimum. Free parking is available in the lot north of the building. For information, call 303-433-1000; to sign up to perform, call 303-940-1781. -- Adam Cayton-Holland

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Laura Bond
Contact: Laura Bond
Adam Cayton-Holland
Kity Ironton
Ernie Tucker
Contact: Ernie Tucker

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