Harlem in the 1930s was one of those cultural flashpoints that happen throughout history. Artists in all kinds of mediums found themselves in the same place, sharing inspiration and ideas and working together.
With so many talented people sharing a space, some are going to receive more attention than others, which is why many people may not be familiar with the pianist and songwriter J. C. Johnson. But “Trav’lin” the final production of the Arvada Center’s 2018-2019 aims to address this.
“Musically, the 1930’s through 50’s era is my era for music,” said Milton Craig Nealy, who plays George in the show. “Everything was so artistic. The dialogue and the music being written then was so beautiful.”
The regional premiere of “Trav’lin” runs at the theater, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., through April 28. Performances are at 1 p.m. Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Featuring the music of Johnson – who is most well-known for working with greats like Fats Waller and Bessie Smith, as well as Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald – the show focuses on three generations of couples as they attempt to find their way to each other in the world of early jazz and swing.
“There’s nothing like a great lyric, even though we’re living in a time that’s pretty jaded,” said Natalie Oliver Atherton, who plays Billie. “I think audiences will be truly entertained and be lifted by these love stories.”
Both Atherton and Nealy spoke glowingly of the work done by every department to bring this vibrant time in history to life and how much fun the cast has had bringing their characters to life.
“This is one of those old-fashioned musicals with the kind of happy endings you don’t very much anymore,” Nealy said. “These artists were achieving so much, and I love the music they were writing.”
“I spoke with my 27-year-old son and he recognized the roots of hip-hop in the music being made at this time,” Atherton added. “So, even younger kids will find connections in this music to what they’re listening to today.”
For more information and tickets, call 720-898-7200 or visit www.arvadacenter.org/travlin-the-1930s-harlem-musical.
Come to your senses at the DMNS
How many senses do you have? Most of us have at least five, but some claim to have another one or two tacked on for good measure. Now the Denver Museum of Nature & Science is allowing visitors to learn about how the familiar five work.
The “Our Senses: Creating Your Reality” exhibit is open at the museum, 2001 Colorado Blvd., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Aug. 4.
This family-friendly exhibit allows guests to play with color, patterns, sounds, scents, and textures to teach about the senses. Beyond the primary five, scientists are learning more and more about how our internal senses monitor the body and send messages to the brain about balance, hunger, thirst, body temperature, breathing and more.
For more information on the exhibit, visit dmns.org/senses.
A musical homage to a seminal duo
Littleton’s Town Hall Arts Center continues its 2018-2019 theatrical season with its staging of “The World Goes ‘Round.” The show will run at the theater, 2450 W. Main St., Littleton, through Sunday, April 28. Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays.
The show is a revue of the works of musician John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb. It features a slew of their hits from shows like “Cabaret” and “Chicago,” all of which are melded together into one show. It overflows with humor, romance and drama — in other words, truly something for everyone.
Nick Sugar is back directing and choreographing his last show of the 2018-2019 season, and since he was honored with a 2015 and 2016 Best of Westword Award for his direction of a musical, you can rest assured it’ll go off like gangbusters.
For tickets and more information, call 303-794-2787 or visit www.townhallartscenter.org.
Clarke’s Concert of the Week — Beast Coast at Red Rocks
I can’t believe we’re at Red Rocks concert season already, but there’s far worse ways to start kicking the season off with one of the best rap shows of the year.
Beast Coast is made up of underground rap groups Flatbush Zombies, Pro Era, and the Underachievers. The New York-based crew’s is just now getting off the ground, and they’re bringing some great names to their show at the amphitheater, 18300 W. Alameda Parkway in Morrison, at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 13.
The evening will feature Joey Bada$$, the full Flatbush Zombies and Underachievers groups, Kirk Knight and Nyck Caution. Some of these names may not be marquee names yet, but this is a brilliant collection of talent.
Head to www.redrocksonline.com to get your ticekts.
Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at Clarke.Reader@hotmail.com.
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