Tonight: Shel Silverstein gets "adult"

Though he's almost universally known for his children's books -- the lineup of which included one of the best children's books of all time -- Shel Silverstein was, in the truest sense of the term, a renaissance man. Aside from his poetry, he was a prolific songwriter (you know Johnny Cash's "Boy Named Sue?" That was Silverstein), a travel cartoonist for Playboy and the writer of about 100 one-act plays over the course of his career. In 2001, the Atlantic Theater Company in New York used those sketches as the foundation of what it called An Adult Evening with Shel Silverstein, which Devil's Thumb Productions in Boulder brings to the stage locally tonight.

"You know, at a certain point, everybody grows out of Shel Silverstein," says Alex Hughes, Devil's Thumb's artistic director. "You grow up and after a while you're reading him to your own kids, instead of just reading him. This really allows you to rediscover what you liked about him as a a kid, but the themes are really dealing with the kind of things you're dealing with as a grownup."

That's the first half of why it's an "adult evening." The second half is that "It's pretty risque."

Providing the meat of the performance are ten of Silverstein's short plays -- just for an idea of the subject matter here, one involves two prostitutes trying to solicit johns while speaking in rhyme, while another is the story of a father trying to explain to his daughter, who wanted a pony for her birthday, that, while he did get her the pony, he shot it because it bit him. Between those sketches will be performances of Silverstein's music and poetry.

See where the chalk-white arrows go tonight at 7 p.m. at the Performance Space at Wesley Chapel Center in Boulder; tickets are $12 to $25. The show runs in that location Friday and Saturday this weekend and next, with a special performance on Monday for Valentine's Day.