Stage and Comedy

Vintage’s current run of “Sleuth,” one of the most successful non-musicals ever to appear on Broadway, is a show that just can’t seem to find a way to turn the heat up and create a real sense of urgency or tension. Despite solid performances and the clever use of some red herrings even before the show starts, the show never seems to find a way to create a sense of urgency that is needed to make this show successful.

At a primordial level, everyone is connected to percussion. It is the driving beat of our heart that exists in each of us and powers our entire being. It is the first sound we learn how to make as a child. It is the nervous tapping of one’s foot while waiting at the doctor’s office. It is the drumming on the steering wheel while bored and stuck in traffic. 

The music is perfect, the performances sublime, but it is the heart of this script that makes this show a must see. It might seem odd that a punked out, glammed up rock opera could make you cry. But for all of her rock star detachment and over the top diva behavior, at her core Hedwig is just a broken hearted lover who just wants to find her place in the world. Just like the rest of us.

There are times when listening to a recording of Holiday instills guilt, taking such joy at her performance when the tragic ending we know is waiting for the artist once the song is over. And it is in that conflict for an audience that “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” lives in, and why the show has been so successful since it premiered more than 30 years ago. 

“Red” is a pressure cooker of a show. For 90 minutes the audience is never allowed a moment of rest, even during the most quiet scenes of the script. This isn’t a nice night out at the theater, but it’s a rewarding one. This is a tour de force of emotion as Rothko and his painting assistant Ken delve into the meaning of art, life, death and fragility. 

The biographical one-woman show retells the life of Denver native Hattie McDaniel, whose role as Mammy in “Gone with the Wind” led to her becoming the first African-American to win an Academy Award. “Hi-Hat Hattie” lets McDaniel, played by Anna High, tell the audience her life’s story while mixing in some classic blues and jazz tunes from the turn of the 20th century.