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You want the kids to learn to love theater; you want to stimulate their pliant young minds with something more interesting than the usual children's-theater fare. Most of all, you'd like them out of your hair for a couple of hours while you enjoy a grown-up play. The Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company is offering on-site theater classes led by artists for grade-school-aged children during certain of this season's performances. Everyone has a good time, and the entire family gets to talk theater afterward.

All the world really is a stage when you take your theater to the trail. At a Theatre-Hikes performance, participants are greeted by a trail leader and guided along a moderate hike to the first scene of a play. Viewers kick back and enjoy the act, then pack their seats and trek to the next scene. Last year, the company saw its widest age range yet — 1 to 92 — at thirteen sold-out shows. This summer's show, a fairy-tale mash-up, premieres in June, and the fall offering, 10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse, runs through September and October.

Known for its unusual adaptations and quirky original comedies, the Buntport crew brings innovative, affordable entertainment to the metro area. And for theater-loving families, there's Duck Duck Dupe. On the second Saturday of each month, a five-person Buntport ensemble performs three themed stories. Two are true, the other is false, and for a fun, game-like spin on traditional theater, audience members are asked to figure out which story is the phony.

If you buy tickets for a Catamounts production early, you'll be amazed at the low prices for the company's brain-teasing, hip and funny shows; some seats go for as low as $12. And you never find yourself seated miles and miles from the action, either, because the troupe performs in small venues where every seat affords a good view. Even better: If you book for certain nights, you'll be fed after the show — not just crackers, cheese and cheap wine, but serious, delicious snacks like tiny croissants or macaroons accompanied by craft beer or specialty cocktails.

The Garner Galleria is the place to sit back with a drink in hand, ease off your shoes under your seat and catch some laughs. Tickets are reasonably affordable, ranging from $29 to $35. Second City pops up now and then, along with Forbidden Broadway, a barbed and clever take on big, bloated Broadway musicals. And we always look forward to the next visit from Tupperware Queen Dixie Longate.

Someone at Vintage Theatre is doing wonders with the women's bathroom. It's always beautifully and seasonally decorated — not to mention never out of soap and necessaries. Beyond that, you'll find small vases of flowers, along with hand cream and other toiletries placed in artful white-paper origami boots by each sink.

The venerable Avenue Theater has undergone some changes recently, but it's still the place to go for funny, and it's still as warm, grungy, unpretentious and welcoming as ever, with the booze flowing freely among happily lubricated audience members.

Two recent shows at the Edge Theater were the profanity-laced The Motherfucker With the Hat and Cock, a triangle involving two gay guys and a woman. These titles might not raise an eyebrow in some places, but tough, gritty, on-the-edge plays are rare in the suburbs, and that's where Edge is pushing the limits. And it's working. People who might be more accustomed to ancient musicals or Neil Simon revivals are filling seats here night after night.

Courtesy Buntport Theater Facebook page

There's nothing like Buntport's work anywhere else in Colorado. The members write their own scripts, many of them purely brilliant, and they've evolved a style and approach all their own — sort of experimental, sort of Eastern European, bare-bones but sophisticated, smart and insanely silly.

Several local companies make a point of producing new works, either frequently or on an occasional basis. But Curious Theatre Company is at the forefront here. Having staked out a claim to contemporary work from the beginning, Curious has produced many regional premieres, and the company surprises us year after year with work by playwrights we've never heard of, or plays that we've read but figured would never show up in Denver.

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