Now in its second year, the Pan African Film Festival is coming into its own as a significant cultural resource. More than fifty movies from black filmmakers all over the world will be screened this year, ranging from shorts to features to documentaries to works in progress. The festival, which kicks off with a gala opening at the Mayan Theatre, takes place April 26-30 at the Tivoli and will also include various workshops and panels. Bring a date, some popcorn and an open mind.

It isn't often that local audiences get the chance to spend extended periods of time in the company of actors capable of commanding any stage in the English-speaking world. This past fall, though, Royal Shakespearean Greg Hicks treated Denver to a nine-hour-long display of consummate skill. Hicks led the Tantalus company with superb portrayals, captivating the audience's attention from his first entrance, tightening his grip during moments of dry humor, descending into agony and rising magisterial with the slightest inflection or shift in posture. Perched on stilts and balancing canes and done up in a headdress that seemed inspired by the Dr. Who television series, Hicks gave a rendering of the lecherous Priam that nearly stole the show. And as Agamemnon, Hicks revealed a man marooned between the twin towers of pride and necessity. It was a virtuoso, standard-setting performance that, one hopes, we'll soon see the likes of again.
Where's Lucius Nunn when you need him? Back in 1891, the Telluride resident electrified the world when he and some colleagues built the first industrial hydropower plant (the Ames Plant) to produce alternating current. Two years later, the country's energy industry was revolutionized when Nunn and Nicolas Tesla exhibited their affordable-energy project at the Chicago World's Fair. But not all of Nunn's works were on such a global scale: He got his start in Telluride by building a bathtub that he rented out to miners, an enterprise that eventually funded his law practice and the subsequent purchase of the San Miguel Bank -- which was later robbed by Butch Cassidy. Nunn's Telluride Power Co. Building is now the Nugget Theater, home to the Telluride's Tech Festival, which last August honored the town's most energetic citizens.

This crowd-pleasing revival of The Fantasticks was full of entertaining performances -- the most promising of which was Betsy Taylor's rendering of the vocally demanding role of Luisa. Only the most stoic individual could have maintained a stony countenance when Taylor attested to her undying affection for her romantic partner, or when the pair of young lovers reunited during an eloquent duet near the end of the play. With a little time, it's certain that the Evergreen High School senior will develop into as mature a vocalist as she already is a naturally gifted actress.
Ask not for whom the seltzer fizzes, kiddies: It fizzes for thee -- especially when the cheerful hosts of Radio 1190's Hangover Brunch take to the late-morning airwaves on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Milkman Dan, Steph and a rotating crew of bleary-eyed guests count down their favorite thirty musical tracks of the week while dispensing a little culinary dope: Crepe Suzzettes, Cibo Matto, Quiche Lorraine, DJ Food, and recipes for award-winning chicken and waffles. So forget the shakes, flip a few 'cakes and let the tunes shine in.

Best Performance by a Denverite at the Grammys

Dianne Reeves

Jazz chanteuse Dianne Reeves finally had a well-deserved moment in the spotlight -- and at the podium -- at this year's Grammy Awards. Reeves snagged the award for Best Jazz Vocal Album with In the Moment -- Live in Concert, her stunning album released for Blue Note in the summer of 2000. The former University of Colorado student has always had an astonishing ability -- her vocal range bounces elastically around three octaves -- and now she's gotten the recognition (and nifty statue) that's long been her due.

Best Way to Get in Touch With Your Inner Hemingway

Lighthouse Writers

Is the Great American Novel lurking inside your overworked brain? How about just a good American novel? A short story? Maybe you simply want a new way to express yourself. Whatever you're looking for, Lighthouse Writers can help. This ever-growing outfit, started by the husband-and-wife team of Michael Henry and Andrea Dupree, offers moderately priced eight-week classes, daylong workshops, online lessons and a variety of other writerly activities for those who want graduate-level instruction but don't have the time or money for a degree. Choose from fiction, poetry, non-fiction, humor, screenwriting and a host of other subjects. Then grab a black beret and a glass of Scotch and lose yourself in the writer's life -- without living up to the starving part.
Exhibition designers at the Denver Art Museum have been getting cutesy recently with kid-friendly gimmicks and other tricks that make it easy to ignore the art. But there was no ignoring the high quality of the paintings in last winter's Painters and the American West, which highlighted the collection of Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz. The paintings, which represent the broad sweep of American art history, have never been shown in Denver, and they're not likely to be shown again.
This loosely related trio of one-acts (Anton Chekhov's On the Harmfulness of Tobacco, Maria Irene Fornes's Dr. Kheal and Eugene Ionesco's The Lesson) explored knowledge's capacity to empower or paralyze. Propelled by Ed Baierlein's tour-de-force performance in each play, the evening was by turns hilarious, intriguing and frightening -- especially when Baierlein, who also directed and designed the production, turned the tables during a politically charged ending. Backed by a fine supporting cast, Baierlein's excursions into the swamps of academe re-established contextual fornicating as a favored -- and dangerous -- intellectual exercise.

To organize Vance Kirkland, Asian Paintings, a breathtaking show displayed late last summer, Hugh Grant, the director of the Vance Kirkland Foundation, which is the keeper of the late Denver artist's legacy, selected a combination of Kirkland's 1940s surrealist landscapes, and his abstract-expressionist paintings from the 1950s and '60s. Grant calls them Asian paintings not because they recall spots in Asia, but because Kirkland's travels in Asia led him to certain colors and concepts that he used for these pieces.

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