Nagle Jackson is known as a classical kind of guy -- an intelligent translator and a witty and incisive playwright. So it wasn't a surprise when he staged a lucid production of Molire's The Misanthrope for the Denver Center Theater Company. But who expected him to follow with a wildly controversial contemporary drama about a guy shtupping a goat? Jackson pulled off The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia? for Curious Theatre Company with both energy and style.

Buntport Theater Company
Courtesy Buntport Theater Facebook page
Okay, so we weren't knocked out by The Tricky Part, and we found some fault with The Long Christmas Ride Home and Yellowman. But Inventing Van Gogh and The Goat Or, Who Is Sylvia? represented theater at its best. And even though some productions are more winning than others, there's a stamp of integrity on every single Curious production. Artistic director Chip Walton doesn't decide on repertoire by convening focus groups or holding his finger to the wind; he's interested in artistic and intellectual exploration. Curious brings in exciting plays that would never be seen here otherwise, and brings them to life with strong performances and production values. How lucky for the rest of us.

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.

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