Caitlin Wise was a student at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' now-closed National Theatre Conservatory, and audiences first saw her in smaller roles at the Denver Center Theatre Company. This season, she rose to prominence in a trio of performances, starting with her portrayal of Hermia in the DCTC's A Midsummer Night's Dream. A comic in the zany, irrepressible tradition of Lucille Ball, Wise has huge, startled eyes and upspringing red curls, and her gift for physical comedy became clear when, as a rookie cop in Creede Rep's Unnecessary Farce (performance at the Lone Tree Arts Center), she had to navigate a room while gagged and bound; she also had problems with handcuffs, self-defense, guns and pretty much everything else — except for doughnuts — that your average cop encounters. And as Cecily in the Arvada Center's The Importance of Being Earnest, she showed no deference at all to the classic status of the play or the elaborate English manners it so cleverly spoofs, but gave the role an entirely contemporary freshness, playfulness and bounce.

Space Gallery

It's not that easy to put together a coherent show with the works of two artists with distinct sensibilities, but Space Gallery definitely hit the mark with Dissection & Deregulation: Michael Burnett and Lewis McInnis. Michael Burnett, who owns Space, put his own pared-down compositions featuring repeated motifs alongside the smeary geometric abstractions that are the signature style of Lewis McInnis. Though the two artists take different approaches, both refer to patterning and expressionionism in their abstract paintings, and their individual efforts looked great as two connected halves of a single outing.

1STBANK Center

In an era when even critics complain that there's not a lot left to say about Radiohead, it seems that Thom Yorke has opted to dance things out instead. At the conspiracy-crooning band's two-hour, two-encore set in Broomfield, the ponytailed frontman came in two speeds: slow seizure and grand mal groove thing. As he propelled his small, spastic frame through a set lifted heavily from recent album The King of Limbs, Yorke's moves mirrored the running man — if that man had recently encountered a swarm of wasps. The only people moving faster than Yorke and his fans — legions of wallflowers now comfortable to break it down en masse — were the British quintet's lighting techs, who sped through carpel tunnels on their trip through two dozen songs of blinding lighting effects, lowered from the rigging in twelve constantly moving panels. Simultaneously captivating and cathartic, the night's blend of boogying, revamped hits, straight mega-jams and rotating rave lights can best be summed up in Yorke's own words: "Cool beans."

Readers' Choice: Radiohead at the 1STBANK Center

Read more: Review: Radiohead at 1STBANK Center, 3/13/12

Curious Theatre Company

Tony Kushner's Homebody/Kabul was a gutsy choice for Curious Theatre Company — not least because it began with a one-hour monologue in which a conventional Englishwoman clutching an outdated travel guide to her breast expressed her longing to see Afghanistan. She cited facts from the guidebook, embellished them with her own imaginings, and contrasted these ideas with her own safe and comfortable existence in London. She mused on the passage of time, played passionately with language. This Homebody was an essentially unhappy woman who was also somehow filled with curiosity and joy — and Dee Covington made her fully and achingly human. After the monologue, the Homebody disappeared for the rest of the four-hour play, but her spirit stayed with us.

Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
The Arvada Center

When the Arvada Center's new production of Hairspray opened last summer, everyone, but everyone, was checking out the costumes. That's because Denver hero and Project Runway superstar Mondo Guerra designed them, putting his way with fresh and professional looks to the test. But in fact, Mondo had worked behind the scenes at the center's theater long before he became nationally famous, and it was a natural step for him to take on this particular costuming job — which, he told us, was very different, especially in terms of functionality, from designing for the runway. We especially loved how he dressed up the guys in plaid jackets, sweater vests and vertically striped V-necks (we could almost imagine Mondo wearing them himself), but the rest of the retro looks were awesome, as well. We're certain John Waters would've agreed.

Beta

Not only has Beta become a prime destination for the local dance scene over the past four years, but the venue was also named the top club in North America and fifteenth in the world by DJMag.com. Beta earned the honors by hosting a succession of national acts such as the Crystal Method, Deadmau5 and John Digweed and having them perform on the mind-blowing, super-bumping Funktion-One sound system. Add in a killer lighting setup, HD projection, go-go dancers and a Krygenifex cooling system, and you've got one hell of a dance club.

Stepping into Glob on the first Friday of any month is like falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. Gender roles are checked at the door, and inhibitions disappear in the time it takes to strut onto the dance floor in the big warehouse space. Created by longtime Denver dance proponents Lauren Zwicky (DJ Narky Stares) and Israel Rose Oka, the wild monthly night started as a safe space for queer dancers, and now, almost a year into its tenure, has become a raucous escape from the mainstream for anyone who simply enjoys a good time.While donations are suggested, the post-bar, pre-diner party is open to anyone with moves.

Katie Ulrich was all verve and warmth as leading lady Janet Van De Graaff in Boulder's Dinner Theatre's production of The Drowsy Chaperone, a daffy, sweet-cynical tribute to '20s musicals. Van De Graaff was forced to choose between an acting career and love, and explained her choice in a sizzling number called "I Don't Wanna Show Off No More" — demonstrating her lack of interest in stardom by strutting, sashaying, blowing kisses, turning a somersault and throwing a few perfect cartwheels. Some of them one-handed. And all the while, she sang quite beautifully.

Can you name any other club night that's been going for as long as Lipgloss and has managed not just to survive, but thrive, despite the change in personnel? We thought not. Founded in June 2001 by boyhollow (aka Michael Trundle), Tyler Jacobson and Tim Cook, Lipgloss has become a Denver institution at this point, one that's kept things moving by not straying too far from its starting point. Now helmed by boyhollow and option4 (aka Brennen Bryarly), Lipgloss continues to offer up fresh sounds and frequently brings in other kick-ass local DJs like Narky Stares and DJ Tower to keep the party amped.

Avenue Theater

A variety show like Vox Phamalia: Quadrapalooza, presented at the Avenue Theater, required a whole different set of skills from a director. The show was intended as a place where everyone in the PHAMALY company could find a home, regardless of singing or acting talent or level of disability. To achieve this, director Edith Weiss selected stories from those sent in by cast members, edited them and did some writing of her own, along with Jeremy Palmer. She had to learn how to work with actors who had not only the usual emotional vulnerabilities, but unusual physical ones, too. Under her direction, the cast found ways to help and support each other, and the rage and sadness of the stories were often transmuted into humor, without any diminution of truth or impact. As a result, the performers forged a strong emotional connection with their audiences.

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