Best Sympathetic Portrayal of a Pederast 2008 | Paul BorrilloHow I Learned to DriveCurious Theatre Company | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Uncle Peck is a monster who's sexually abused his niece for years. Yet in an understated performance, Paul Borrillo managed to make him ordinary and likable, even vulnerable. In one charming scene, Uncle Peck was teaching a small boy how to fish — "reel and jerk...reel and rest" — and Borrillo's portrayal was so strong that it took a few moments for the nauseating realization to dawn that this man was reeling in the boy along with the fish.
We recently heard a local tastemaker heap effusive praise on Michael Trundle: "He's the first one in this town who played Shitdisco." While that may not mean much to non-Shitdisco fans, Trundle and his longtime Denver 3 associate Tyler Jacobson have indeed been turning the masses on to the hottest music with their playlists and frequent listening parties at Lipgloss, the ridiculously successful, long-running weekly club night. The nationally renowned night isn't just a hit with club-goers; it's also become the destination of choice for such luminaries as Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke from the Smiths, as well as a number of touring acts who've been spotted stopping by La Rumba after their own Friday-night shows.
Abstract-expressionist giant Clyfford Still was an anti-social egomaniac. When he died, his estate retained more than 90 percent of his lifelong output. This created an opportunity for Denver to build a museum specifically to house it all. The Still Museum won't open until 2010, so its director, Dean Sobel, put together a stunning preview, Clyfford Still Unveiled, at the Denver Art Museum. A surprising aspect of this exhibit is the way the artist's early representational work indicates that the figure — not the landscape, as widely thought — is the basis for his later classic abstracts. The gorgeous show, which stays open through June, handily makes the case that Still was one of the best.
The play was an old chestnut, but thanks to impeccable casting and insightful direction, Paragon Theatre Company breathed new life into Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? You couldn't help admiring Martha Harmon Pardee's vitality and sheer, pull-out-the-stops courage as Martha; she came across as funny, smart, wrenchingly vulnerable and, in her own way, honest. Sam Gregory's George at first seemed the weaker of the two antagonists — but it didn't take long for the audience to figure out that George was a deadly opponent. These two had been fighting forever; it's what they did instead of sex. Add Ed Cord as Nick, blankly pleasant at first but slowly revealing his soulless ambition, and Barbra Andrews's secretly spiteful Honey, and you had a mind-bending combination of slow simmer and all-out combustion.
Although there were some disappointments at Curious Theatre early in the season, How I Learned to Drive — a reprise of the first-ever Curious production ten years ago — was a hit, and the company continued to roar forward with two of the most exciting productions on a Denver stage this year. 9 Parts of Desire, a play by Heather Raffo, revealed the depth and complexity of Iraqi culture through the voices of several women, and in a gutsy, beautiful performance, Karen Slack played them all. Equally riveting was The Lieutenant of Inishmore, a rollicking, blood-soaked farce by Martin McDonagh, brilliantly acted and directed, that had you simultaneously wincing down in your seat and laughing aloud.
You're allowed to bring tea, coffee, beer or wine into the new Black Box Theater at the Arvada Center, and such venues as Miners Alley, the Bug and Curious Theatre also allow sipping during performances. This is a trend we applaud — although inebriated audiences can be a nuisance, and no one should be crunching popcorn or rustling candy wrappers during performances. Now, if only local theaters would tackle the problem of dishwater coffee and uninspired intermission treats...
It's not hard to "Get High on Film," as the Independence Film Festival motto suggests, when the whole thing takes place up in the clouds at various venues in Buena Vista, Leadville and Salida. Last year's inaugural cinema bash kicked off with a ceremony featuring filmmaker John Landis on the 12,000-foot summit of Independence Pass, and the rest was purely off the wall, with guests including Grease director Randy Kleiser (feted with a '50s sock hop and screening at the Comanche Drive-In in Buena Vista) and the daughter of late comic actor Don Knotts. This year, fest promoters Lawrence Foldes and Victoria Meyerink will hit the heights again in the same slightly kitschy/sweet vein, with a tribute to Elvis movies, a critic's forum with Rex Reed, a new juried film competition and guest Franklin J. Schaffner, who directed Patton, Planet of the Apes and Papillon.
When the Fray prepared for a sold-out three-night run at Red Rocks in August, its members asked their favorite bands, including Bright Channel, to play for them. The gig ended up being Bright Channel's final public performance, and while much of the crowd didn't seem to understand why this darkly atmospheric band was playing before Isaac Slade and company, everyone seemed intrigued. Although Jeff Suthers made a few well-deserved, lighthearted digs at the whole experience, how many underground bands can say they played Red Rocks as their last hurrah?
There's no shortage of half-assed DJ nights or unlistenable open jams in the area, but by combining the two and being somewhat selective about who participates, JINXED! manages to create a truly exceptional experience. Hosted by Eric Halborg — frontman for the Swayback and multi-talented renaissance man — the Wednesday-night session has drawn members of Vaux, the Lawrence Arms, Hemi Cuda and, of course, the Swayback. Styles range from solitary sad bastard to full-blown avant-skronk rock — and if you're lucky, you might even catch an unplugged version of your favorite Swayback tune. Around 10:30 p.m., the jam gives way to Halborg's computer-aided deejaying. Though it's not designed to fill the dance floor, it never fails to tickle the ears and the brain, providing the ideal end to a unique weeknight happening.
Thanks to consistently engaging bookings at both of these clubs, we've found ourselves on countless weekends bouncing back and forth between the two joints. If Denver has a quintessential rock block, this section of Broadway is it. While the individual programming can be vastly different and the vibe is unique at each place, somehow the acts booked into these clubs complement each other — either that, or we just love local music so much we aren't put off by the notion of consuming gutter punk and indie pop in the same evening. And we're not alone: It's not uncommon to see a proprietor of one club sneaking off to the other for a few minutes.

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