Best Light Entertainment 2015 | Garner Galleria Theatre | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

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.

Sparkling, creative shows should be paired with creative eats for those of us who like to nibble at intermission — not ancient Kit Kat bars and stale chips. The Colorado Shakespeare Festival has figured this out, and although it has an unfair advantage — it has access to the University of Colorado's catering service — it's nice to get a sandwich or a fine, chewy brownie along with all the intellectual nourishment.

We guarantee you've never experienced theater like this before. Every year, Senior Housing Options puts on a play in the lobby of the antique and elegant Barth Hotel, one of fourteen residences it maintains for elderly and disabled people in the state. In the past, the proceeds have been used to provide emergency kits, to upgrade technology or for capital projects. The plays are always directed and acted by some of Denver's top talent, and the venue adds an indescribable richness and resonance to the entire evening.

This isn't New York City, but the ticket prices for musicals are still high in Denver and can leave you stranded in the farthest reaches of a cavernous house. At the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center, however, you'll pay $20 to $40 for a quality show in a far more intimate setting where there isn't really a bad seat in the house. What you lose in spectacle and special effects, you'll gain in intimacy and immediacy — a great trade.

Su Teatro's Tony Garcia widened the scope of his work as a playwright with his 2011 collaboration with journalist Sonia Nazario on a play based on her well-received account of the Honduran migrants who ride atop trains in dangerous company in search of the promise of a better life in El Norte. Retooled in 2014, the play captures every detail of the trip, right down to the technologically rendered rocking and screeching of the train cars. Garcia thought the gripping real-life story was the right play to showcase when the troupe was invited to perform at Encuentro 2014, a national gathering of Latino theater groups in Los Angeles. "Su Teatro has really done a lot to tell local Colorado stories, and one reason we chose Enrique's Journey for the trip is that it is broader; it has a bigger message," Garcia told us last fall. "It will make people ask, 'What is this Mexican-American group from Denver doing, telling a story that would be great to come out of L.A.? That speaks to a lot of things; it [says that] Su Teatro has a national as well as a regional perspective."

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