Best Set Design 2010 | Indiana, Indiana | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

For weeks before Indiana, Indiana opened, Buntport Theater Company was on Facebook, asking for Mason jars. From the moment you entered the theater, you could see why: The entire back wall of the set was composed of glass jars. These were filled with objects representing aspects of the protagonist's past: corks, dried leaves, yarn, used teabags, buttons, seed pods, sticks, bones. Buntport creates its theater pieces as an ensemble, and the physical and technical aspects — lighting, sound, furniture, walls and doors — are part of each play's meaning and are fully integrated into the performances. So the shimmering back wall melded seamlessly with other elements of the production, both human and inanimate, and while from the audience it wasn't possible to figure out just what the jars held, the mysterious shapes and colors within them added mystery and depth.

Steven Burge was a charmer in Fully Committed, a one-man show about Sam, a hapless employee manning the phones in the grubby basement of one of New York's snobbiest restaurants, the kind of place where Diane Sawyer competes with supermodel — and vegan — Naomi Campbell for a table. In addition to playing Sam in this Aurora Fox production, Burge provided the phone voices of dozens of characters, from kvetchy customers to panicked kitchen staff to Sam's kindly father. His timing was terrific, his memory prodigious, and he was very, very funny. But Burge was also vulnerable and sweet, which made it nice when Sam got his own little happy ending.Best Actress in a One-Woman Show

For three days in February, playwrights, critics, actors, theater lovers and theater professionals thronged the Denver Center Theatre Company complex, watching staged readings, attending performances, listening to panel discussions and holding animated debates of their own over breakfast pastries or lunchtime salads and sandwiches. The Denver Center's New Play Summit, which got its start in 2006, becomes more sophisticated and attracts more national attention every year. Several plays that began their life as readings at past summits have been staged by the company; artistic director Kent Thompson has selected three of this year's plays for his coming season.

Patrick Mueller of Control Group Productions (and its home, the Packing House Center for the Arts) thinks Denver hasn't been living dangerously enough — at least in its arts offerings. He aims to fill the gap by booking more challenging, fringe-style performance programming, from Butoh to multimedia to theater to Control Group's own Dance Night for Beginners series, which blends humorous instruction with dance performance. Mueller says he's looking for a bigger space and better opportunities for collaboration with other groups; in the meantime, look for the Stop. Crawl. Walk. Run. multi-arts festival, coming in May.

After his remixing of a HEALTH track a couple of years ago, the ascent of Travis Egedy, who performs under the Pictureplane moniker, to national and even international renown would have been hard to predict. Dark Rift, his 2009 album, made it onto playlists far from Egedy's immediate group of friends. But despite the attention he's received for his own impressive work, Egedy is always ready to go to bat for the Denver underground scene, asserting in interviews both foreign and domestic that it's one of the richest in the world. And he's proof of it.

Chris Bagley and Kim Shively befriended Wesley Willis when he briefly made Denver his home in the early part of the last decade. Fortunately, they had the foresight to shoot footage of the legendary artist and songwriter as he charmed everyone he met. Culled from five years of meticulously edited footage, including interviews with Willis's family and friends in Chicago and elsewhere, Wesley Willis's Joy Rides tells the story of an extraordinary creative mind that would not be hampered by any ailment. Replete with animations of Willis's artwork, this documentary brilliantly portrays an unlikely rock-and-roll hero in loving detail.

Punchline's DIY 3D View-Master wasn't exactly a boon to the listening experience — but it was really freaking cool. Contained in a standard-sized case, the album could be folded into a viewfinder through which you could view photos of the band popping out at you. And given how little reason there is to buy an actual, physical CD these days, anything that draws people off the Internet is worthy of applause. It didn't hurt that the CD itself was the band's most polished effort to date — plenty to justify the fanfare of the package.

What a Christmas present! A week before we all gathered together to commemorate our contributions to mass consumption and consumerism, the Mile High City was treated to a Holy Night of an entirely different order — an all-local bill at the Fillmore Auditorium. Who would've thought we'd live to see the day? Proving that Denver is truly a special place, this massive show was headlined by 3OH!3, the inescapable and completely affable hooligans from the People's Republic, who picked a lineup that spotlighted fellow locals Meese, the Photo Atlas and The Pirate Signal. For casual fans whose limited exposure to the scene hadn't extended past 3OH!3, Flobots and the Fray, this concert gave a real sampling of some of the other outstanding music being made on the Front Range.

With well-received appearances at Monolith and CMJ for its sixth and seventh shows, respectively, it's safe to say that former Cat-A-Tac frontman Jim McTurnan has gone from good with that group to better with his new band, The Kids That Killed the Man. This time around, McTurnan is writing catchier songs that hit harder. Maybe it's the freedom of having the lead role to himself, or maybe he's just wiser and happier; we're not going to ask too many questions. Now with a second guitarist locked in, the band is working on what promises to be an awesome album of rock-and-roll fuzz.

When partners Duncan Goodman, Joshua Sonnenberg, Jeff Howell and Scott Morrill bought Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom and the adjoining Quixote's (now known as Cervantes' Other Side) from the Bianchi brothers last October, they immediately started making improvements in both places. And we're talking about a lot more than a new coat of paint and new decor. The partners went all out, putting a new stage, sound system and lights in the Ballroom, while making the Other Side much more functional by taking down the wall that separated the front and back of the club.

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