The Avenue Theater is a part of Denver history, a friendly, cozy, well-situated venue that's been around for over twenty years. But for several seasons there's been a sense of drift, and the offerings on stage have been wildly uneven — serious plays, comic sketches, shows that didn't seem to know whether they were serious or comic. John Ashton ran the place from 1990 to 2005 — overseeing a period when it changed location — then sold it, but remained involved in various capacities. And now, after a period of churn, Ashton has taken over as executive director. His first season began with a professionally produced rendition of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Tell Me on a Sunday, and the rest of the year looks just as promising, with David Mamet's hilarious — and very aptly timed — political sendup November; and Bakersfield Mist, a hit on Broadway that starred Kathleen Turner, about an unemployed bartender who thinks she's found a genuine Jackson Pollock painting and the arrogant, erudite art expert sent to authenticate it.