Best Shakespeare Performance 2009 | Jamie Ann Romero, As You Like It | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
If you remember, As You Like It's Celia is one of those forgettable roles, cousin and sidekick to the far more vivid and poetic Rosalind. But Jamie Ann Romero made Celia real, listening with deep sympathy to her cousin's problems, cavorting about the stage when things went well. This Celia was so funny and charming that she almost romped away with the entire production.
There were many art events scheduled during or in conjunction with the Democratic National Convention last summer, but some of the most relevant were mounted and paid for by local artists. Two of the best were Hijacked, a Susan Goldstein installation about the need for abortion rights, and Gayla Lemke's Enough, which took on the topic of the transfer of wealth from the middle class to the rich during the Bush years. Although it's unlikely that many of the delegates made their way to Edge, we wish they had.
In the spirit of such acts as Dashboard Confessional, City and Colour and Bon Iver, Danielle Anderson opted to go with the clumsy Danielle Ate the Sandwich rather than her given name. Fact is, with a bewitching voice that sends shivers down any listener's spine and a lyrical sensibility and sense of humor that recalls Kimya Dawson, the Fort Collins-based chanteuse could call herself Bob the Freaking Builder if she so chose and she'd still have folks eating out of the palm of her hand. Her primarily ukulele-driven odes are as awkward, clumsy and personal as they are charming, poignant and affecting — as the number of views of her homemade YouTube videos can attest.
Eric Gruneisen
Of course we know where the smoke-easies are, but we'll never tell. Not here. Not ever. Nobody likes a narc. We can reveal, however, that if you're a smoker and looking to get your country-music jam or line-dance on, you need look no further than the Tobacco Shop at the Grizzly Rose. A well-ventilated, closed-door room off the eastern alleyway, the Shop sells smokes and chew, boasts recliners and frequently emptied ashtrays, and is a helluva lot better than quickly ripping butts in the parking lot, where you're guaranteed to miss all the action. As long as you tip the employee for putting up with your filth and close the goddamn door behind you, there won't be any problems.
Molly Martin
The Fainting Goat took over a building on Broadway that's been a half-dozen restaurants and bars over the years, giving it a good cleaning, fixing the elevator and introducing a menu with an Irish accent. But the best innovation so far has been the bar added to the rooftop patio, which saves the servers (or customers) from having to run down three flights of stairs every time they need another round. And not only does this secluded sky-high spot offer a lovely view of the mountains, but it has wi-fi and ashtrays, since this patio is definitely far enough from the front entrance for smoking to be legal. Not only is this the best rooftop patio in Denver, but it could also be the best place to find your employees playing hooky.
Last fall was a terrific time to visit the Arvada Center, because one of the region's acknowledged masters was the subject of an enormous show there. The exhibition, which sported a four-volume title — David Yust: Looking Back/Looking Forward: 1970s — 2008: Explorations in Symmetry and Inclusion Series: Circles and Ellipses — sprawled over the capacious spaces of the Lower Galleries and was expertly installed by designer Collin Parson. It showcased thirty years' worth of Yust paintings and prints, all of them abstractions, and every one created to the highest aesthetic and technical standard. It was a great show and, hopefully, a model for future exhibits at the Arvada Center.
Colorado artist Lorey Hobbs has come into her own in the past few years. Her efforts in painting and works on paper, as seen last winter in New Works by Lorey Hobbs at the Carson/van Straaten Gallery, have a distinct look highlighted by remarkable color combinations ranging from moody and dark shades to toned-up, dazzling ones. Her subject matter is hard to discern in these pure abstractions, but there's more than a little hint that views of nature are partly behind them. No longer just an emerging artist, Hobbs is on the cusp of being an established one, and strong exhibits like this are sure to move her reputation in the right direction.
When the blaring disco and bitchy drama of gay bars gets you down, it's time to take the show on the road to Harry's. And you don't even have to get on a plane. This '60s, space-age lounge is located in the corner of the Magnolia Hotel and can easily be accessed by light rail, should you not score the lucky invitation to spend the night upstairs. Not all of the patrons are lonely, jet-setting businessman with male-model beauty who want to have a local gay man answer their French-accented questions about the mystery of Denver's appeal while they eat their jalapeño-basil shrimp and sip their pinot grigio. There are also plenty of conventioneers from Ohio and happy-hour holdovers from the 'hood. If you enjoy people more than posing, Harry's puts the "style" back into the gay lifestyle.
Being dubbed a "supergroup" can be a bit of a curse, but when your band includes members of local luminaries such as Bright Channel, Space Team Electra, Moccasin and Monofog, that term seems somewhat justified. But it would be meaningless if the resulting music was one iota less powerful, uplifting or sonically inventive than the music of Moonspeed. With eleven members, this band could easily have been an unholy mess ready to go off the rails. Instead, the group is a well-orchestrated affair, with all members contributing significantly to the beautifully textured, soothingly hypnotic yet exhilarating tapestries this outfit weaves at every performance.
In the Denver Center's sizzling production of Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet's play about a shabby, ruthless subculture, Ian Merrill Peakes played conscience-less super-salesman Roma, and he had every gesture, every seedy predictable inflection down exactly right. This was the salesman of your nightmares, callow and impermeable but wielding a perverse and frightening kind of power.

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