Angels in America's Harper is a pill-popping young Mormon wife who spends half her time yearning for her faithless husband and the other half in a fantasy. She could easily seem fey or just plain irritating. But Laura Norman moderated Harper's dopey ethereality with a wry humor and a sense of groundedness. Her interpretation was potent, but also wonderfully unassuming.

Christopher Leo gave two confident star turns in Inventing van Gogh -- as an unscrupulous art authenticator named Bouchard, and as the painter Paul Gauguin. Bouchard was self-mockingly mannered, effete in the most amusing way, while Gauguin was arrogant and thick-skinned. Both characters possessed a juicy vitality that served as a perfect foil for the other actors' lower-key interpretations. Leo was obviously having a lot of fun on stage, and his enjoyment was infectious.

Harold Pinter's Old Times is a bleak, enigmatic play, but Denise Perry-Olson's sensual energy and radiant smile animated it. Her Kate -- sophisticated, sexy and well-traveled -- flirted equally with onetime best friend Anna, and with Anna's husband, Deeley. It sometimes seemed she was about to stride off with Bas Blue's entire production.

Many regular customers of Boulder's Dinner Theatre stayed away from Cabaret. The show's seedy settings, writhing dance numbers and uncomfortable focus on fascism clearly set it apart from most BDT fare. But in a just world, it would have attracted dozens of people who normally never set foot in a conventional dinner theater. Director Michael J. Duran's production was a visceral treat, with fantastic music, deft staging and vivid, all-stops-out performances. Brian Mallgrave, with a fresh take on the familiar Emcee character, and Alicia Dunfee as Sally Bowles were especially good.

Bat Boy: The Musical is based on a character in the Weekly World News, a bat-human creature found in a cave. In this musical, he's discovered by some teenagers, one of whom he bites. Nicholas Sugar -- an actor we should be seeing a lot more of -- plays the role full-tilt. He's weird, comic, scary, athletic and pathetic. He squeaks and gibbers, scuttles about the stage and hangs upside down from furniture. Sugar is particularly funny in the show's My Fair Lady takeoff, as he's taught to speak with a BBC accent and to drink his tea with his pinky primly raised.

Dulcet-voiced and warm, Shelley Cox-Robie is always a joy to watch. As Joseph's narrator, she was the constant presence that stitched together all of the jokes and wild goings-on in the Boulder's Dinner Theatre reading of this early Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. Cox-Robie's empathetic work with the children in the large ensemble cast was particularly charming.

Most people remember Guys and Dolls' Adelaide as the chanteuse (or chantoosie) who sings "Take Back Your Mink" and "A Bushel and a Peck." PHAMALy's Lucy Roucis delivered these songs with sass and sang the famous "Adelaide's Lament" so feelingly that you didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Either way, you were riveted.

Hi-Hat Hattie was a sentimental, one-dimensional piece of theater, but Sheryl Renee made it work. She's a fine actress, but it was her vocal abilities that transfixed us as she sang a mix of blues, funk and show music. At times, Renee's voice emanated from the depths of her being; at others, it soared operatically high. Her phrasing was sophisticated, and she could be funny, silkily seductive or downright tragic at will.

Randy Moore's Scrooge was pinch-mouthed and mean, but he was also an aging child, with a child's unconcern for decency and politeness, as well as a vulnerability. Although Moore has played the role for several years, this was his most joyous and deeply felt performance. When the reformed Scrooge humbly asked the charitable couple he had turned away in the first scene, "Will you come and see me?," all the loneliness of his empty, money-grubbing days yawned beneath the words. When he took a deep breath and said, "To be alive...," the next words could just as well have described his performance: "It's glorious."

Anna is one-half of a prickly lesbian couple that forms the heart of Boston Marriage, David Mamet's first play to feature female protagonists. She likes falling dramatically onto the chaise lounge, having the vapors, exploring flights of self-pitying fantasy, and tossing off acerbic witticisms. In a tour-de-force performance, Annette Helde did all this with feeling, wit and precision.

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