Coming Attractions

‘Once’ is more than might be expected

Recommended activities for the coming week


The common perception of musicals is that they’re lavish song-and-dance productions that prize boldness and glitz over substance. That has never been completely true, but those ideas completely come apart when it comes to “Once.”

Based on John Carney’s 2007 film, starring Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (who also wrote the music), the show is a startlingly intimate story about music as human connection and love (both unfulfilled and not). And its coming to life at Golden’s Miners Alley Playhouse.

“Audiences will enjoy the musicianship and enjoy the story and its humanness,” said Carmen Shedd, who plays Girl in the production. “The piece is really easy to open your heart to. It’s very raw and very simple.”

Directed by Len Matheo, “Once” runs at Miners Alley, 1224 Washington Ave., from Sept. 6 through Oct. 13. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays.

The only show to have music that won an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, an Olivier Award and a Tony Award, the show takes place on the streets of Dublin, where street musician Guy (John Hauser) meets Girl, a Czech immigrant who share a musical language. Their collaboration turns into a deeper connection and a not-so-typical love story. Songs like “Gold” and “Falling Slowly” achingly capture the beauty and melancholy of two people who find joy in each other.

“I think we all have stories about lost loves and relationships that have soured,” Hauser said. “The way that these characters interact is so real that it almost feels like you’re just sitting in on a very personal conversation between two people rather than a production.”

One of the many things that makes the show special is that it calls for more than acting and singing — practically everyone on stage also plays an instrument as part of the story. Which means most have to be a quadruple threat — actor, dancer, singer and musician.

A show this intimate is the perfect fit for Miners Alley’s space, and as director Matheo said, it’s been a thrill to get to share it with audiences up close. And once the music starts and everyone takes to the stage, the story and space just comes alive.

“Audiences will have a magical experience of live music and theater — like going to intimate concert but in theatrical way,” he said. “It really is magical. There’s nothing like it.”

For tickets and information, call 303-935-3044 or visit

Clarke’s Concert of the Week — The National at Mission Ballroom

The National are one of the great modern purveyors of music that captures the happy-sad feeling of being alive and in love (though admittedly they tend to lean toward the sad side of things). They’ve maintained a firm place in the alternative rock since the turn of the century and continue playing with the formula on their albums.

In support of their latest, “I Am Easy to Find,” the group will be taking the stage at the new Mission Ballroom, 4242 Wynkoop St. in Denver, at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 6 and Saturday, Sept. 7.

Indie pop-group Alvvays will be opening, so attendees are in for the perfect blend of light and dark. Get details and information at

A tribute to The Who and Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix and The Who are two of the most important and influential rock performers of all time. Both changed the way people think about the guitar, the blues and what songwriting can achieve. But you don’t see as many Who tribute acts as you do groups like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin or Prince.

You’ll get to see tribute to both at Moe’s Original BBQ and Bowl, 3295 S. Broadway in Englewood, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7.

Denver’s own ZCry of Luv will be performing Jimi Hendrix songs and The Substitutes will be honoring The Who. Both groups have any number of classics to pull from, but it’s a safe bet tracks like “Purple Haze,” “All Along the Watchtower,” “Baba O’Riley” and “My Generation” will be on the list.

Head to for more information.

The roots of country

Country music went from being the little-heard folk genre of rural people to one of the dominant musical movements of the 20th century. That feat was accomplished by a variety of factors, including everything from music collectors and record companies to new ways of listening to music.

As part of the Active Minds lecture series, a discussion on the commercialization of folk music and the roots of country music. The discussion will also include listening to music from pioneers like the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Leadbelly and many more.

The event will be held at the Tattered Cover Colfax Avenue, 2526 E. Colfax Ave. in Denver, at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 10. For information, visit and

Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at

Once, Miners Alley, Clarke Reader, The National, Active Minds, Coming Attractions, Golden, Denver, Tattered Cover, music, live music, concerts, country, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Moe's Original BBQ, Englewood, Mission Ballroom, theater


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