Curious Theatre Company

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.

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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.

Town Hall Arts Center

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."

Black Actors Guild/Atlas Theater

"Doin' the most" is the motto of the Black Actors Guild — and its members live that out, mounting plays and multi-disciplinary performances weekly, and hosting and organizing regular improv and standup nights year-round. Born out of a high-school production, the company comprises teenagers and young adults, all working together to write, produce, direct and act in politically engaging and universally funny and original work. The Black Actors Guild is more than just a theater troupe; it's a company that aims to represent the many ages, cultures, communities and experiences that make Denver what it is — a melting pot for artists from all walks of life.

Sie FilmCenter

In an age of on-demand domination and overwhelming options, it's a pleasure to wander into this cozy film mecca and find a manageable mix of fresh new programming to choose from. And the Sie FilmCenter is tended entirely by locals, so the neighborhood vibe shows in every thought-provoking documentary, mini-film festival, head-scratching foreign film or repertory classic. The awesome staff also watches every movie shown at the theater, and they're happy to chat you up for that very important post-film discussion.

Readers' choice: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Watching a film and taking in a meal is the bread and butter of the Alamo Drafthouse, and its menu is still the best for food and drink in the dark. Hot popcorn, compact burgers, leafy salads, crispy pizza, at least 32 beers on tap and more are just an order card away, and you'll barely notice the ninja-like waitstaff whisk by with your food during the best parts of the film. The Alamo has upped the ante recently, adding in more "craft dinners" — special dishes and craft-beer flights paired with the perfect retro film.

Readers' choice: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Sie FilmCenter

You don't often think about the comfort of your favorite movie house until the action on the screen shifts your focus to the pain in your back or just how close that popcorn-gobblin' stranger is to you at a sold-out show. And getting up to visit the restroom in the middle of the flick? You might as well just step on everyone's feet before the film to save them some grief. Thank heaven for the design gods of the Sie, who provided seats that cradle and support you, removable arm rests (for snugglin' with your honey) and plenty of leg room.

Readers' choice: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Sie FilmCenter

For the past half-decade, Tammy Brislin has overseen nearly every aspect of this growing women's film festival, which each year brings bigger movies, more star power and plenty of discussion to the table as a great way to honor National Women's Month. Female empowerment is on the rise in the film world, and with a fest like Voices, our eyes will be privy to every new vision as it rolls in.

Best Of Denver®

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