Coming Attractions

Arvada Center curtain rises on Christmas cheer

Recommended activities for the coming week


One of the best things about the holiday season is gathering together with family and friends to watch one of the many classic Christmas movies. One of the more recent entries into the canon is the 2003 Will Ferrell film, “ELF.”

In 2010, “ELF” made the leap from the silver screen to the Broadway stage, bringing Buddy the Elf to a whole new audience.

“I saw that original production and I said, ‘I want to do that,’” remembered Josh Houghton, who is now taking on the titular role in the Arvada Center’s production of the show. “This is a dream show for me as an actor. It’s also one for the audience, because there’s something for everyone in it.”

The production of “ELF — The Musical” at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., runs from Nov. 20 through Dec. 23. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays, 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The run will include happy hours with the cast, insider talkbacks, a sensory-friendly performance and more.

Like the movie, the focus of the show is Buddy — a man who was raised in the North Pole with Santa Claus and his elves. But when Buddy learns that his real father (Mark Devine) lives is New York City and, even more shockingly, is a human, Buddy heads south to meet his new family. In addition to learning where he came from, Buddy also might discover love with Jovie (Leslie Hiatt).

“Audiences will still be able to see many of the iconic moments that they know from the movie,” Hiatt said. “Through many technological amazements and the gorgeous costumes, we’re able to bring this story to life. It’s a great family show and so easy to watch.”

Unlike the film, the show features songs by Tony Award nominees Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, with book by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin. So, even those who can quote the movie at the drop of a hat will find something new to entertain and delight them.

“This is a Christmas show, but the theme goes beyond that. It’s really about finding your family and embracing your differences,” Houghton said.

Hiatt agreed. “I’ve seen the movie, but the show is such a pleasant surprise at every turn.”

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

Here we go again with Neal Brennan

Neal Brennan is one of those people you might not recognize right away, but you probably know his work. He co-created the iconic “Chapelle Show,” co-wrote “Half Baked,” appears regularly on “The Daily Show” and has been called “One of the Funniest People on Twitter” by Time magazine and Rolling Stone.

As part of his Here We Go tour, Brennan will be performing at the Oriental Theater, 4335 W. 44th Ave. in Denver at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1.

Brennan’s 2017 Netflix special, “3 Mics” is one of the funniest and most unique stand-up approaches I’ve seen in a long time. If that special is any indication, audiences will be in for an evening of unending and thought-provoking laughs.

Tickets can be purchased at

Clarke’s Concert of the Week — Childish Gambino at the Pepsi Center

Who would’ve figured when Donald Glover first popped up on our radar as a writer on “30 Rock” and actor on “Community” that he would become one of the most important artists?

As musician Childish Gambino, he started as a relatively down-the-middle rapper, dropping literate and pop culture friendly verses with references to Dragon Ball Z. As he evolved, he started adding jazz and funk into his sound, culminating in last year’s Grammy-nominated “Awaken, My Love!” and show-stopping single, “This is America.” Plus, his FX show “Atlanta” is just relentlessly good.

All of this makes his rescheduled performance at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 4 at the Pepsi Center, 1000 Chopper Circle, with Vince Staples one of the last can’t-miss concerts of 2018.

Staples is one of the best and most innovative rappers working right now, and also happens to be funnier than most comedians. He released an EP called “FM!” this year that is among the year’s best rap releases.

For tickets to this stellar pairing, visit

The Ute Tribes’ voice from the past

The History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway in Denver, is opening its new exhibit, Written on the Land: Ute Voices, Ute History, on Dec. 8. The exhibit celebrates the history and contributions of the state’s longest-continuous residents.

The exhibit was built in collaboration with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, and 30 tribal representatives participated in the planning. Among its features, there will be more than 150 artifacts from History Colorado’s world-class collection, including Ute beadwork, clothing, basketry and contemporary craft

Written on the Land will be a long-term exhibit at the History Colorado Center, responding to ongoing requests from visitors and educators for more American Indian history and exhibits. Instead of simply focusing on the past, the exhibit will also examine what contemporary life looks like for Ute tribal members.

For more information, visit

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


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