Up With Puppets

Puppets are present in almost every culture, so it is fitting that the mice of Denver Puppet Theatre's new production, The Mouse Tales, come from China, Persia and Africa. Annie Zook, who does everything from script-writing to puppet-making to puppeteering at the theater, says the little rodents have been a theme in her previous work. "People kid me, because I have mice in every show," she says. "So I am getting them back by having a show with all mice."

Aimed at children three and older, Mouse Tales is composed of three stories ("little moralist tales for tots," says Zook), each of which is told by marionette mice from a different country. The performance lasts only 45 minutes, but Zook invites everyone to take half an hour before or after the show to eat lunch in the courtyard or to put on miniature plays of their own in the eight child-sized puppet theaters. The venue, at 3156 West 38th Avenue, also houses a gallery of puppets and a puppet store.

Performances, which run through September 28, are at 1 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, with additional shows at 10 a.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 11 a.m. on Saturdays. Tickets, $4, are available at the door. Call 303-458-6446 for more information. -- Jonelle Wilkinson Seitz

Talking Shop
Plato's Closet opens for teens

When school's around the corner, teens peel themselves off the couch en masse and sneak off to the malls, because no adolescent in his or her right mind would set foot in the hallowed halls of academe without donning the dopest duds available. Of course, that requires a pocketful of Benjamins, and for kids on the skids, that might call for shopping with (insert Jaws theme music here) Mom. But there is a cooler middle ground for penniless youth shoppers: The metro area's first Plato's Closet, a resale clothing franchise for teens, which offers cool cash for gently used, name-brand clothes in good condition. The apparel is then put out on racks at 50 to 70 percent off the original retail price. And, as store owner Theresa Preston points out, the store only offers retreads that are two years old or less for sale. It makes a difference to style-conscious teens. What's new for back-to-school? The tried and true, notes Preston: "We're making the denim push for fall." As an incentive, customers will receive a $5 bonus back for every five pairs of jeans they bring in before August 15. Go, blues!

Plato's Closet is at 8601 West Cross Drive, near Southwest Plaza Mall; call 303-973-4346. -- Susan Froyd

Courting Mystery Fun
MON, 8/11

You've already done the water park and the amusement park and the day camp and just about everything else you could think of to keep your kids from burning out their eyes in front of a computer screen this summer. Now what? It's the perfect time for the Digital Mystery Tour to roll into town: The traveling Court TV Mobile Investigation Unit forensics lab will set up for hands-on, mystery-solving fun today and tomorrow at Southwest Plaza Mall, 8501 West Bowles Avenue. MIU know-it-all Frank Lee Forensics (actor Jordan Hall's stage name) will perform experiments while kids seeking the fictional Kloos Family's missing laptop unravel clues at interactive kiosks. Activities for gumshoes in the making include fingerprinting, DNA testing and footprint casting. And then, to cap it off, young investigators can create personal forensic files with photos and digital fingerprints. The MIU will be open during mall hours, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily; log on to www.courttv.com for details. -- Susan Froyd

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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.
Contact: Susan Froyd
Jonelle Wilkinson Seitz