Coming Attractions

The Arvada Center invites audiences aboard the Orient Express

Recommended activities for the coming week


There’s a particular challenge to telling a story that is very well-known by the audience. But when it’s one of the most well-known murder mysteries in popular fiction, well, that’s a whole other puzzle to solve. Such was the quandary facing Geoffrey Kent, director of the Arvada Center’s production of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express.”

“One of the tricks of a murder mystery is to play it for both people who know the story and those who don’t,” he explained. “You want those who don’t know the story to make guesses and be right and wrong as it unfolds, but you also have to layer it in such a way that if you do know it, you can read into what’s happening.”

The popular mystery kicks off the center’s, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 2020 Black Box Repertory Season on Friday, Jan. 31 and runs through Sunday, May 17. Performances are held at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday, 1 p.m. on Wednesdays, and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Adapted by Ken Ludwig, the show finds world-famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Kevin Rich) onboard the Orient Express train on his way from Istanbul to London. Along the way one of the passengers is murdered, and it is up to Poirot to deduce who committed the nefarious act.

Cast members include Jessica Austgen, Jake Mendes, Emily Van Fleet and Kate Gleason, all of whom will be performing in the season’s other two productions - “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Small Mouth Sounds.”

To add an extra level of uniqueness to the production, the theater will be set-up in the round. Not only will this provide a chance for some creative staging and scenic work by designers Brian Mallgrave and Shannon McKinney, but different seat locations will mean certain audience members catch clues others may not see.

And while trying to beat Poirot to the end of the mystery is a lot of fun, that’s not the only thing that makes the “Orient Express” a special story and show, Kent said. Rather it’s the empathy and understanding built between the audience and the characters on stage.

“There’s so much wit in the show, but there are also a lot of beautiful, humanly vulnerable moments. Which just proves theater can do anything,” he said. “Of all the things theater can do, one of the strongest is demonstrate empathy. Creating the ability to care about someone else’s struggles and letting that influence you moving forward - that’s the theater I’m interested in.”

For more information and tickets, call 720-898-7200 or visit

Fall in love with ‘Frankie and Johnny’ at Miners Alley

Too many of us handwave romanticism away as something incredibly cheesy or overly sentimental. But at its best, romance has the power to sweep us up and remind us that there’s something bigger and grander than we can all be a part of if we want.

That kind of love story is at the center of the first show of Miners Alley Playhouse’s 2020 season, “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.” Directed by Warren Sherril and featuring Jessica Robblee and Bill Hahn as a diner waitress and short order cook, the play explores the unexpectedness of love and its power to elevate.

The show runs at the theater, 1224 Washington Ave. in Golden, through March 1. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Get tickets by ringing 303-935-3044 or visiting

An artistic journey through ‘The Plasticene’ age

Items made of or with plastics are used by most of us daily, and yet for all the benefits of plastic, there are also environmental concerns that need to be accounted for. The latest exhibit by the Art Students League of Denver examines the nature the compound.

“The Plasticene” exhibition opens on Friday, Jan. 31 and runs through Sunday, March 15 at the league’s headquarters, 200 Grant St. in Denver. There will be special events associated with the exhibit, including an opening night reception on Jan. 31, a panel discussion on Friday, Feb. 7 and artist talk and workshop from Thursday, Feb. 27 through Sunday, Feb. 29.

For more information, visit

Clarke’s Concert of the Week - Michael Kiwanuka at the Gothic Theatre

One might be able to call English musician Michael Kiwanuka a retro soul singer, but that wouldn’t really do him justice. What Kiwanuka does beautifully is take the approach of legends like Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway - at times lush and opulent, others simple and direct — and turn his sharp pen toward modern life and love.

His third album, “KIWANUKA,” is his strongest yet, blending socially-conscious numbers with love-drenched tracks like “Piano Joint (This Kind of Love).” He’ll be performing at the Gothic Theatre, 3263 S. Broadway in Englewood, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1.

Get tickets at

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


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