Best Theater Promotion 2003 | Two-for-One Thursdays | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Chip Walton and his Curious crew have already made a name for themselves as a troupe, consistently staging quality fare for Denverites seeking something beyond the offerings of the big boys at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. And now they're making it even more enjoyable, with two-for-one Thursdays. Throughout the season, bring a friend to a Curious production and tickets are half price. How can you possibly say no to that?

The DCTC knows its audience, and in a kind attempt to thank and keep its blue-haired patrons, the organization offers discounted tickets to selected matinee productions throughout the season. This year's series included a diverse theatrical palette, from Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth to that old roasted chestnut, A Christmas Carol. It's just the thing for the mature, discerning theater-goer on a budget.

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There's no getting away from it. It's not just that the Denver Center has the resources to ensure a certain level of consistency; it's that the company also has the integrity to put on a solid roster of plays, including those of Shakespeare, Pinter and such modern wonder boys as Martin McDonagh while remaining willing to take necessary risks -- original scripts, for example, and a highly successful production of Thornton Wilder's puzzling and intriguing allegory, The Skin of Our Teeth.

We're going to go out on a limb here. Any company that has the guts and vision to evoke the bleak, war-torn Europe of Family Stories: Belgrade, the sinister fairy world of Caryl Churchill's The Skriker and the bad acid flashback that Manson Family Values represents is doing the kind of serious exploration that helps advance an art form. Theater needs this kind of daring if it's not to become smug and safe, a sea of jiggling musicals or a few hours' distraction for the wealthy.

In staging Bernice/Butterfly, the Denver Center did exactly what a major regional theater should do: It mounted an original play that, in part, celebrates the history of the West, cast it with respected local actors and asked the author to direct. The acting was superb, the technical values impeccable and the script funny, sad and wise. The audience could sense the inter-connectedness of the artists involved, and the result was a richly textured and satisfying evening.
This one-man show written and performed by the multi-talented Thaddeus Phillips was funny, soulful, brilliant and sweet as it followed a young tapper's education, progress through life and enforced exile in Cuba. Phillips himself is a prodigious tapper, a terrific actor and an iconoclastic thinker. For Lost Soles, he used objects -- a photograph of Fidel Castro, a small box that became a tiny bed with a handkerchief coverlet, a toy car, water glasses, video screens and washing lines -- in completely original and unintended ways, as if size were as mutable a concept as it was in Alice in Wonderland.
This play celebrates the kind of vanishing small-town eatery that once functioned as the heart of its community. Nagle Jackson's script was smart, literate, absorbing and feelingful. But part of its success laid with the actors, Kathleen M. Brady and Jamie Horton, for whom Jackson specifically wrote the play as tribute to the trio's long association. Brady and Horton created multi-dimensional, vulnerable characters who animated this funny and touching show and left a lingering sense of sweetness.
The LIDA Project developed this play through improvisational exercises, and the result was a hallucinatory and grimly humorous exploration of a feverish time in North American history and politics. You could see the months of rehearsal in the way the actors worked together on stage, strong in their individual segments, comically synchronized when they were singing and dancing, sometimes seeming like the tentacles of one breathing creature. Every performer, from Guy Williams as a mind-blowing Manson to Jadelynn Stahl as vicious Sexy Sadie, gave a deeply committed performance.

Best Tragic Gay Love Story Playing at a Punk-Rock Club

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

After a run at the Wave nightclub, the East German misfit who married an American G. I. belted out the borscht about the inequities of the rock-star life at the Climax Lounge, one of Denver's newest independent music venues. Do those angry young men and women dancing in the aisles know how far equal opportunity entertainment has come? You betcha!

Usually when Americans mess with anything British, we ruin it. But this musical version of

the award-winning 1997 film stayed true to what really is a generous-hearted fairy tale with perceptive and thoughtful things to say about the human condition. And among an excellent and well-seasoned cast, Christian Anderson was truly a standout, providing genuine feeling in the often sterile big-musical genre. He came off as a convincing working-class stiff -- graceful in a boyish, macho way, and appropriately awkward when he was actually trying to dance. He's a fine actor, a good singer and a complete charmer. Too bad the coy, backlit ending prevented us from really assessing the quality of his behind.

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