The Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company deserves accolades for its light, airy and beautiful As You Like It alone, as well as for All the Way, a fascinating dissection of Lyndon B. Johnson's struggle to get the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through Congress (and a play that should be required viewing for everyone who intends to vote this fall). But those weren't the company's only fine achievements. There was also Theresa Rebeck's clever, provocative and entertaining The Nest, a play about a venerable bar inspired, in part, by Denver's legendary My Brother's Bar. Robert Schenkkan, who wrote All the Way, also had the daring idea of creating a musical called The 12 depicting the gathering of the disciples after the crucifixion, and the company gave it a stunning production. Another historical piece, One Night in Miami, imagined Malcolm X, Cassius Clay, singer-entrepreneur Sam Cooke, and famed NFL running back Jim Brown celebrating in a hotel room after Clay's victory over Sonny Liston; the two-person one-act Fade told the story of the difficulties faced by a Latina hired as a Hollywood television writer and her friendship with the janitor who cleans her office. And then Tribes, which had a partially deaf protagonist, explored profound questions about communication — verbal, silent, physical, written — and the function of sound in our lives, as well as the meaning of family and community. Artistic director Kent Thompson has been supporting new work, creating on-stage diversity and hiring women and minority playwrights since his 2005 arrival in Denver, and year by year his vision solidifies and bears more interesting fruit.
Readers' choice: The Buell Theatre