La Boheme Gentlemen's Cabaret
The slutty schoolgirl has got to be the most overworked, cliched sexual fantasy of all time — not to mention the most overused Halloween costume ever. Still, there's a reason the archetype endures, perhaps because it's just so much fun to don the lowest-cut crisp white shirt you can find, along with the shortest plaid skirt available, and start gathering looks from all the oglers. Last year's School Girls Gone Bad party was the third annual at La Bohème and featured DJ sets and free entry for women dressed in their naughty-schoolgirl best. That's reason enough to break out the uniform once again, but the parties also feature such staples of high-school fantasy as the sexy school nurse, cheerleaders and hot jocks, and the older-woman inspiration behind Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher."
How We May Know Him is a brain-tease of a play that acts on your cerebral cortex, not your guts. It's a story about four women: Val, a Christian zealot; Simone, a new-agey television host; Nicola, a soldier of fortune; and Nicola's partner, the sometimes waspish but usually lost and bemused Wren. The action is surreal and much of the meaning metaphoric — but that doesn't mean that Ellen K. Graham's script is murky or hard to follow. A series of short, sharp, freaky scenes make up the action, and in Paragon Theatre's production, there were all kinds of things to engage your intellect and attention.
Sure, Amy Adams was a sweet princess in Enchanted — but nothing says Colorado like John Elway. Fortunately, this state's biggest celebrity didn't have to say much in Resurrecting the Champ, the Josh Hartnett/Samuel Jackson vehicle that came out last summer. The script was loosely based on a story by former Denverite J.R. Moehringer, who lived in Los Angeles when he wrote the piece — but for the film, the action was ostensibly set in Denver, and a couple of scenes were actually filmed here. In one, Hartnett, who plays a reporter, is having lunch with his young son — who believes his dad's story that he knows Elway. And when the kid spots Number 7 himself, he runs over to say hello. Fortunately, Elway doesn't drop the ball — or the truth — during their quick encounter, and then shrugs it off. Critics did the same for the movie.
While New Mexico keeps raking in the movie business, Hollywood continues to snub Colorado. But at least the Pepsi Center could get ready for its close-up when the Democratic National Convention hits town come August in Blades of Glory, the Will Ferrell/Jon Heder figure-skating extravaganza. Although the stars managed to skate right past this city, a nice aerial shot of the Pepsi Center made the final cut. Here's looking at you, Denver.
Here's the setup: a man and woman are seated at a bus stop after a pleasant first date, and she suddenly reveals that she'd really like to have a baby before her biological clock runs out. As the woman, Alicia Dunfee began sweetly but became more and more aggressive as she attempted to coax, bully and physically force her unsuspecting date into giving up his sperm. She pleaded. She danced. She stomped. She placed her purse at her breast and attempted to nurse it. Finally, she toppled the hapless male onto the floor and straddled him. The scene brought down the house — but since Dunfee is now visibly pregnant, perhaps it was an early hormone flush that made her performance so boldly unforgettable.
Thom Paine: based on nothing is a very odd play, a sort of bubble held together by a skin of words, and at its center is a single performer who keeps inventing and reinventing himself, creating varying personae out of phrases, cliches, story fragments and bits of stage business. How do you play an empty, grinning, cursing thing like this? Erik Tieze figured it out with a performance as precise and controlled as it was strong and dynamic, holding the audience spellbound with an intelligent but manic energy, blasts of feeling alternating with understated irony.
Rachel Corrie, a young American who went to Gaza to witness the plight of those who live there, was killed by an Israeli tank while attempting to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home. My Name Is Rachel Corrie is pieced together from her e-mails and journal entries. At one point she writes a friend, begging him to join the cause. "Come here," she says, "come here" — playfully, seductively, urgently, perhaps a dozen times over. Julie Rada made that passage sing, providing one of the most touching moments on the Denver stage this season. She played Rachel Corrie with generous-hearted understatement, and with her dignity conveyed just what we'd lost with the death of this bright-souled, idealistic girl.
Willy Sutton from Regis University put together two impressive exhibits in the O'Sullivan Art Gallery that looked like a singular presentation. Sutton paired Denver's Kevin O'Connell and Boulder's Richard Van Pelt, both landscape photographers. O'Connell, who is best known for his luxuriously done platinum prints of the Colorado plains, turned on the color for these newer pierces and aimed his camera at a tree-filled park. The sensibility shift makes sense considering that the new photos mark the artist's journey through a bone-marrow transplant. Van Pelt's carbon prints depict little pieces of the wilderness in the spaces between developments, poetically juxtaposing nature and the built environment. The show successfully reconciled these distinctly different takes on nature.
The Colorado Photographic Arts Center no longer has its own gallery, but it still holds some 500 old photos. Last spring, Edge Gallery brought a choice group of them out of storage for the handsome Collections/Selections I. It was a rare guest slot at this artist co-op, which usually features only the work of members. The pieces were chosen by a CPAC committee and included an eclectic group of images by noteworthy photographers such as Edward Miller, Ken Hayman, Bernard Mendoza and Imogen Cunningham.
New York photographer Collier Schorr gets pretty out there in Jens F., a large solo that is still on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver. It was originally part of Star Power, a series of exhibits on view when the building opened last fall. Using photos, montages, collages and even sketches, Schorr zeroes in on a very attractive teenage boy and poses him as though he were a female nude; it pays homage to Andrew Wyeth's model and could-be lover, Helga, of whom he made secret paintings. Given the risks she took, Schorr was wise to take these photos in Europe, where attitudes about sex are more open.

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