Best Direction of a Drama 2011 | Warren Sherrill | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Set in a timeless Japan, The Sound of a Voice tells the story of a warrior who arrives at the home of a woman he believes to be a witch; he intends to kill her, and the two interact in several taut, charged and ambiguous scenes. Director Warren Sherrill did full justice to the play's poetry and intensity in Paragon Theatre Company's production. He enlisted two dancers from the Kim Robards Company to add depth and perspective, and in Sheila Ivy Traister found an actress able to communicate both the central character's witchiness and her humanity. When she poured tea into a cup, the sound of the trickling liquid mesmerized the entire audience — such was the level of precision and concentration Sherill's entire production achieved.

Phamaly is truly an amazing family of performers, all with varying physical disabilities — and director Steve Wilson knows how to work around, and with, every one of them. Wilson doesn't just accommodate these handicaps; he makes them a positive force in the action. When he and the company took on Beauty and the Beast, a tired, sentimental old musical, they made it new and vibrant. Jenna Bainbridge and Leonard Barrett were magnificent in the leads, and there were many pleasures in the smaller roles: Every one of the enchanted objects in the Beast's castle had its own charm and personality, for instance. The big numbers were done with a professionalism that any major Broadway production would have trouble matching — and with far more heart.

Winner of Best Scene Enthusiast in 2008, John Baxter has long been a force to be reckoned with in the local music scene, the rare type of promoter whose commitment to the arts outweighs the unsavory connotations of the term "promoter." And in ZetaKaye House, where he's teamed up with wife Kim Baxter, he's really outdoing himself. A merger of Oscar Zeta Acosta (Hunter S. Thompson's attorney) and Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat and Fugazi frontman and founder of Dischord Records), the name pays tribute to legends of the do-it-yourself movement and does them justice. From movies (the Baxters have been working with the Mayan on an Orson Welles film fest) to music (besides promoting, managing and booking several local bands, they provide recording, lesson and practice space), from Denver to Brooklyn (client Tim Pourbaix stuck with them when he moved there), ZetaKaye House is doing it, and helping you do it, too.

True to the do-it-yourself ethos, Titwrench exists solely through the time, energy and funding of its volunteers. Westword MasterMind winner Sarah Slater created the women-centered experimental noisefest in 2009 and keeps the spirit and interest of the community going throughout the year with Surfacing, a monthly, like-minded showcase of music and art. As a festival, Titwrench does more than just present such bands as Hell-Kite, Joy Von Spain and Caldera Lakes to the masses; the three-day gathering also provides a platform for performers, zine-makers and artists of all kinds to share and sell their work, and to educate others on how to do-it-themselves, too.

With the tacit support of No Fun Fest founder Carlos Giffoni, John Gross of Page 27 and Todd Novosad of Novasak have created a festival of local and national acts connected to the noise, experimental-electronic and avant-garde music underground. Over the course of two nights last year, people got to witness acts as diverse as Giffoni's No Fun Acid, Crank Sturgeon, Married in Berdichev, Architect's Office and Arrington De Dionyso's Malaikat Dan Singa. Rather than string together one harsh noise act after another, the festival features a wide array of sounds and styles that happen to fall under the umbrella of "noise." And this year's fest, set for April 22 through 24 at Old Curtis Street, promises to make just as big a noise in the scene.

Rhinoceropolis has it all — even if some of that is do-it-yourself. The venue is part show space, part home, and all living homage to every underground hangout in American teenage music history. There's no sign on the building, never any set cover charge for any show, and no question that whether Nu Sensae, Monotonix or SSION is coming through, there's a party to be had. The space is always all-ages, and open to virtually any kind of music. The best best way to book a show at Rhinoceropolis? Go to shows there. The venue is the not-for-profit heart of a creative community that exists on the bands, DJs, artists and people who get involved.

Maintaining various residencies at all of the top-notch hip-hop clubs in the city, the Moolah Boyz — Ktone, KDJ Above and DJ Top Shelf — are everywhere, introducing hit songs getting heavy burn in other regions to a Denver crowd while keeping local hip-hop music in heavy rotation. Pooling their collective talents, the three rock clubs, pack venues, make pretty girls dance (even your mother could do the Moolah Shuffle) and break records. The Moolah Boyz have not only created a brand and perfected a concept, but they've refined a mentality.

Okay, so none of the dudes actually ending up winning this year, but still, it's a pretty big deal that five of the dozen contenders at the finals of the DMC World DJ Championships last year in New York City were from Colorado. Even more impressive, while three of those — DJs Notch, Skip Ripkin and B*Money — qualified locally, the other two, Cysko Rokwell and Jeff C, earned their slots by traveling out of state and battling on somebody else's stamping grounds. Says a lot for the caliber of talent here. Win or lose, it was a good look for Colorado.

At one point, Julie Zorrilla, the twenty-year-old Denver School of the Arts alumna featured on this round of American Idol, was our odds-on favorite to win the whole competition and become the franchise's next breakout act. We can dream, can't we? Although Zorrilla was eliminated, we're sure we haven't heard the last of her, or her stunning original material. And no matter where she goes from here, she's earned her place as the most dapper reality-show contestant our fine state has ever produced. Her fashion sense was repeatedly remarked upon by new Idol judges J. Lo and the pervy, tongue-wagging Steven Tyler. You go, girl!

The music that VibeSquaD (aka Aaron Holstein) produces falls into the glitch-hop/mid-tempo/psychedelic-bass category, and he's got the talent and the know-how to push glitch-hop further than we knew it could go. His latest full-length album, The Fire, offers up complex layers that are flawlessly arranged, with split seconds of silence spliced into tracks at the perfect moment. From opener "Freshmaker" to closer "Empower the Wallflower," the classically trained Holstein employs squiggly squeaks, breaky beats, distorted hip-hop samples, wobbling bass lines, clean taps, eerie synthesized keys and more. It's all reminiscent of Squarepusher, only more approachable and less mechanical. The Fire is bound to set glitch-hop fans aflame.

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