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.

The Fourth Wall featured a housewife so distressed by contemporary politics that she arranged the furniture to create an invisible fourth wall in her living room. Rhonda Lee Brown played Julia, a brittle interior decorator from New York, brought in by the protagonist's husband to help unravel her motives. Affected by the stagy living-room setup, Julia began acting as if she were indeed on stage, trying on various characterizations and making up the plot as she went along. Maintaining the difference between acting and Acting is a difficult task for a performer, but Rhonda Lee Brown did it to bitchy, preening perfection.

Tongue of a Bird is a pretentious, forgettable play about a woman pilot searching the mountains for a lost child. But it had a bright spot in teenage actor Brittany Heileman. She appeared to the protagonist in visions, her face bloodied, in a performance that was sharp, quick, cheerful and without a trace of sentimentality. Heileman is that rarest of beings: a young actor you really want to watch.

In one of the funniest, sweetest scenes in Kafka on Ice, Erin Rollman skated on a floor of artificial ice, skidding, gliding and falling cutely about as a Chaplinesque Kafka (played by Gary Culig) sped to her rescue again and again. Rollman is one of Denver's most inspired comic actresses; in Kafka on Ice, she was able not only to reveal her gift for caricature, but also to venture more deeply into character -- which, paradoxically, made her performance even more hilarious.

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