Best Chance for Change in the Theater Scene

Kent Thompson

The winds of change are blowing through the Denver Center Theatre Company. New artistic director Kent Thompson has announced that the upcoming season will include two more plays than usual and feature female, black and Latino voices. Thompson seems intent on restoring the company's role in nurturing original plays, and to that end is networking with important local directors. Finally, by working to attract new audiences to Denver Center productions, he plans to make the city a center for theater nationwide. We wish him every success.

El Centro Su Teatro's Tony Garcia combined with composer Daniel Valdez to turn the saga of the Chicano community into a moving presentation about Denver's Mexican-American population. But Westside Oratorio wasn't just about Denver; it chronicled decades of experience throughout the entire Southwest. As Garcia noted in his script, memory in the United States is short. That notion was ironically borne out by the location of this production: Westside Oratorio was staged on the Auraria campus, which is built on the site of what once was the heart of Denver's Latino community.

Drag queens? Please. When it comes to gender-bent entertainment, boys who dress as girls are as worn out as an old pair of pantyhose. Fortunately, Denver is home to the Alterboys, a troupe of six women who love grrrls and look like bois. The Alterboys have a flavor for every taste: cowboy, gangsta rapper, '50s greaser, punk-rocker, even an Eminem lookalike who transforms into Madonna. Their shows are as progressive and avant-garde as female drag acts on either coast. For a truly transforming experience, go where the boys are.

Joan Jett, Sonia Dada and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe were the major draws of last year's LoDo Music Festival. But tucked away from the main stage, quarantined in the dirt like some flea-infested sideshow, the funky members of Log held court for late-night stragglers not quite ready to call it a night. And in the midst of all the hip-swaying grooves and flying sparks from the band's industrial grinder, something wonderfully spontaneous happened: A conga line broke out. Fueled by roller-skating beauties and rowdy drunks in animal costumes, the line eventually ensnared even security personnel and people who'd been heading for the exits. Brief but oh-so passionate, it was the kind of joyous outburst that would have made Federico Fellini proud.

Although calling Chris Barber a renaissance man may not be fair to Leonardo da Vinci, there's no question that he's got plenty on his plate. He leads Spiv, an enjoyable power-pop band, oversees Pop Sweatshop, a label whose catalogue brims with interesting acts, and, in his free time, channels Elvis Presley. Inspired by a pilgrimage to Graceland last fall, Barber has the hair and the chops, if not the waistline, to bring the King back to life -- figuratively speaking, that is.

Sara T -- aka Sara Thurston -- is 100 percent freaky fly. The notorious "No Bullshit" DJ and glamour gal of groove -- host of the monthly booty-shaker Danceotron, co-owner of the south Broadway boutique Chielle, and timekeeper for bands Hot House and Clotheshorse -- is thumpin' her rump all over this town while collecting a loving congregation of peeps (and awards) along the way. You know Kevin Bacon's separation? In Denver, it's all about the multi-talented Thurston and her dynamic degrees of scenester-ation.

Bringing the hipster indie-rock set and the dance-music contingent together may seem like an impossible feat, but the DJ duo of Eric Kozak and Clay Meador, otherwise known as White Girl Lust, have done just that. WGL has almost single-handedly fused DJ culture with the rock scene, cleverly reworking songs by acts like the Pixies and Bloc Party so they flow together seamlessly, house style. White Girl Lust parties at the High Street Speakeasy have comprised a wildly eclectic mix of people and tunes. There's even some straight-up dance music.

A Sunday-night institution in Denver since the late '90s, DJ Nutmeg pumps house music in clubs like the Snake Pit, Lime, Rise and ROX with a verve that comes from years of experience and dedication. Turning each club he plays into an essential spot to hit up, Nutmeg has made himself one of the most in-demand DJs in the scene. He plays house the way it should be played: groovy and sexy. Having recently added Shift Fridays at Lotus to his resumé and now producing his own tunes, Nutmeg's piece of Denver nightlife just keeps growing.

DJ Foxx is one of the key DJs who've put Denver house music on the map. From holding down residencies at some of the city's top clubs to playing throughout the United States to producing tracks and releasing records under the alias "Rhythmcentric," Foxx lives and breathes the style. During his regular nights at Mynt and Lotus, he never sticks to just one sound: Foxx blurs the lines between house, tech-house, progressive house and straightforward techno by combining long, subtle mixes and layering effects. Foxx's energy is unmistakably his own.

DJ Dragon and his crew, the Triad Dragons, are key forces keeping the rave scene alive in Colorado. The Triad's Global Dance Festival at Red Rocks and the Caffeine Festival are the two biggest electronic-music events to go down each year. Dragon has also become the face of Denver trance and progressive house, playing events around the country, including this year's Ultra Dance Festival at the Winter Music Conference in Miami. Dragon could emerge as Denver's first bona fide superstar DJ.

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