An outstanding quartet of local actors drove beyond the shortcomings of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change to offer up an insightful, sometimes hilarious look at America's love-hate relationship with dating games. Whether they were dovetailing in four-part harmony, pairing off in warring/cooing duets or going it alone during a few gratifying solos, Mark Devine, Jordan Leigh Gurner, Elizabeth Rose and Gina Schuh-Turner exuded a winning combination of artistry, timing and humanity. Best of all, they ushered in a welcome change in area casting trends, proving that local talent can bring as much -- if not more -- to the Denver Center's stages than most any assemblage of ringers.

3Deep Presents, which started in 1992 as a mobile DJ unit on the University of Colorado at Boulder campus, consistently brings some of the best hip-hop music to town. In the past year, the crew promoted the DMC Technics Regional DJ championships at the Fox Theatre. And in conjunction with House of Blues Concerts -- where founders Francois Baptiste and Alvin LaCabe now work -- the company co-produced and laid down the street promotion for such rap luminaries as Method Man and Redman, Common, and the Cash Money Millionaires. 3Deep has also given props to local artists such as DJ Chonz, Don Blas and Kingdom, who have all opened up for a number of the Deep's shows. Area hip-hop heads know that 3Deep events are bound to be banging.

Herman's Hideaway
Eric Gruneisen
The sound can be murky, the toilets are often dubious, and the neighboring establishments range from simply divey to dangerous. But, hey -- no one ever said rock and roll was pretty. The 15th Street Tavern is still the best place to get rocked, both for the quality of its musical fare and for the, er, uniqueness of its environs. The Tavern's concert calendar is consistently jammed with the most buzzed-about indie rock, pop and punk bands going, and the atmosphere -- equal parts Barfly and CBGB in the '80s -- is its own sensory experience. Just don't be offended by the brusque doorman, and remember to bring along your earplugs -- and maybe a small bottle of Febreze.
Okay, so the pinball machine is poorly maintained. And the music is generally targeted at only the most grizzled eardrums in Denver. But the walls in the men's bathroom at Seven South offer enough philosophical lunacy (okay, idiocy) to amuse those with even the most television-addled attention span. Some key phrases: "The next millennium is ours!" "Philip K. Dick is dead..." "Sometimes I think about cats and bunnys [sic]. Is that wrong?"
In what might have been the group's final outing, Negativland -- the wildly experimental music-and-art collective from San Francisco -- brought its True/False 2000 Tour to a packed house at the Bluebird Theater last spring. At nearly three hours in length, the mind-altering spectacle featured more appropriated sound collage and multiple visual feeds than you could shake a restraining order at -- plus religious motivational speaker Marsha Turnblatt (founding member Richard Lyons in drag) and a hilarious puppet show appropriate for all ages. Culminating with an audience-participation rant-along (attendees recited Casey Kasem's famous profanity-laced tantrum in unison), the evening proved unforgettable, with America's "information highwaymen" in tip-top shape, sampling not only from the commercialized wasteland of 21st-century info-glut, but from their subversive little selves as well. And now a word from our sponsors....
Say what you will about the experimental, sometimes difficult work of longtime Colorado filmmaker Stan Brakhage, but his films have stood the test of time. For four decades, Brakhage has been regarded as one of the most forward-looking of all American filmmakers, for his individuality and refusal to compromise. The free Film Forum programs, held every Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. in Fine Arts N-141 on the CU-Boulder campus, shed plenty of light on his work and that of his contemporaries.

The Upstart Crow Theatre Company's version of The Rivals was a gorgeously costumed affair. In addition to providing the comedy with adequate staging, director Joan Kuder Bell took on the assignment of designing the play's eighteenth-century garb. With the help of four seamstresses, she crafted a splendid wardrobe that would have been the envy of any professional theater: Every costume was newly constructed rather than, as is often the case with a small group working on a tight budget, rented or pulled from stock -- a laudable accomplishment that also served as a pleasant reminder of community theater's unique appeal.

February 23, 2001, will live in Colorado history as the day Chex Mix was declared the official snack food of Sterling. The event, the result of an on-air survey of snack preferences conducted by KPMX DJ Jason Murphy, was marked by a parade complete with marching band and float and crowning of Mr. and Ms. Chex Mix. Officials from General Mills were so tickled that they attended the festivities and donated 700 bags of the town's favorite food, as well as a $1,000 scholarship to a Sterling High School senior. Cooperating Ministries of Logan County received the bags of snacks. No word yet on whether Chex Mix Day will become an annual event.

Since arriving from Dallas a few years ago, Randy Moore has played a wide array of memorable parts, including a slimy jewelry salesman (The Comedy of Errors), a slithering witch (Macbeth), a blustering patriarch (Life With Father), a bumbling bumpkin (The Winter's Tale) and, most recently, a paranoid penny-pincher (The Miser). A fluid performer who's equally versed in period and modern plays and whose talent for verbal byplay is made all the more enjoyable by his gift for physical shenanigans, Moore consistently renders portraits that are both artful and warmly human. And his duties as an extra in Tantalus demonstrated that this thirty-year-plus stage veteran is also capable of being a first-rate team player. Dallas's loss has truly been Denver's gain.

Richard Blackwell is best known for the acerbic eye he turns on the fashion faux pas of the rich and famous, a public service that culminates in Mr. Blackwell's ten-best-dressed and ten-worst-dressed lists released every January. (This year's worst of the worst: Britney Spears.) But CSU knows a different Blackwell -- the man who came out to teach design students for a week, the man who has donated a vast collection of sketchbooks, master patterns and original designs to CSU's 10,000-item Historic Costume and Textile Collection. The first Blackwell items were donated to the school by the Jenkins family, which owned a fashionable store in Cherry Creek; later, Blackwell himself started supporting the school. "It's the most frustrating thing in the world that people only know him by his lists," says collection curator Linda Carlson, who knows the designer well enough to call him Mr. B. "They don't recognize the fact that he was an extremely prominent designer, probably the most pre-eminent designer out of California from the '60s to the '80s." The collection is open to the public for research, and parts are sometimes included in gallery shows put on by the department. You're looking good in Fort Collins, Mr. B.

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