William Shakespeare once wisely observed that the course of true love never did run smooth, but legendary playwright Neil Simon knew that didn’t mean the bumpy road couldn’t be filled with laughs. Case in point, his 1968 trilogy of love stories — “Plaza Suite.”
The show provides a glimpse at three different couples, each with their own stories, who all stay at the same suite at New York’s Plaza Hotel at different times. Some of the couples are funny, others bittersweet, but all human in the way only Simon can create.
“All three have their own style, but they’re all quintessentially Simon,” said actor Kate Gleason. “You can laugh and be moved in his shows, because Simon is a master of dramedy.”
Gleason is joined by Gareth Saxe in playing all three couples in “Plaza Suite” at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. in Arvada, from Oct. 4 through Nov. 10. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 1 p.m. on Wednesday and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Each of the three acts is essentially its own mini-play. The first features Sam and Karen Nash, a married couple returning to their honeymoon suite to try and bring a little romance back to the relationship. The second act is about movie producer Jesse and his high school love, Muriel. In the final act, married couple Roy and Norma are at the Plaza to celebrate their daughter’s wedding.
“Simon creates these very different characters, but doesn’t lose the humans in the process,” Saxe said. “The show is a great offering because it showcases all of Simon’s gifts and what he is able to do as a dramatist.”
Having to play three distinct characters in the same show can certainly be a challenge, but both Gleason and Saxe say they have thoroughly enjoyed getting to find the life in the characters. And while Simon is rightly recognized for his comedic chops, there are certainly moments of real humanity to be found.
“There’s romance in all three, but there is some real bite (to the writing), and broken people, especially in the first act,” Gleason said. “People will experience humor and love and bittersweet relationships.”
It’s not often a play gets to show off all the skills at a writer’s disposal, but “Plaza Suite” truly has something for fans of comedy or something a little more insightful.
“Everything about the characters is really keenly observed from how people really are,” Saxe explained. “Amidst the laughs there are these great moments of truth that Simon finds.”
For tickets and information, call 720-898-7200 or visit www.arvadacenter.org/on-stage/plaza-suite.
Clarke’s Concert of the Week — Vampire Weekend at Red Rocks
In the modern music world, six years is a really long time between albums. So when Vampire Weekend finally released their long-awaited return, “Father of the Bride” this year, there was certainly some anxiety about whether or not they could match the highs of 2013’s “Modern Vampires of the City.”
Listening to “Father of the Bride,” the answer is obviously yes, but the group did that by largely ignoring their previous soundscapes and embracing an earthier sound — one driven by acoustic-driven rock like the Grateful Dead. And yet, the group has never sound more themselves — playful and insightful at the same time.
The new tunes from “Father” are going to sound incredible in the openness of Red Rocks, 18300 W. Alameda Parkway in Morrison, where they’ll be performing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8 and Wednesday, Oct. 9. New indie rock upstart Soccer Mommy will be opening.
After a too-long absence, this is a show you won’t want to miss. Visit www.redrocksonline.com for tickets.
Grab autumn by its tail
Autumn evenings are (in my humble opinion) the best evenings of the year, and the Denver Zoo is tapping into that fact with its Taps and Tails events.
Held from 6-10 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10, 17 and 24 at the zoo, 2300 Steele St. in Denver, the 21-and-older events showcase not only the autumn colors, but some delicious local breweries. The events feature a pop-up beer hall inside the zoo, surrounded by about 3,500 wild animals and firepits, sustainably-farmed culinary creations, and an exciting entertainment lineup.
The Oct. 24 event will also be animal onesie night, so you can add an extra level of fun to affairs.
Get tickets and information with www.denverzoo.org/events/taps-and-tails.
There’s a 40 West Riot goin’ on
Every year’s 40 West Arts District’s Riot is different. For Riot VIII, the organization is celebrating Colfax Curiosities with a pop-up party and cocktail fundraiser.
The event will be held 6-9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12 at Prestige Imports, 9201 W. Colfax Ave. in Lakewood, and will feature cocktails, light bites, pop-up performances including busker acts, dance, music and other ‘curiosities’, a silent auction, live raffle with great prizes and more, according to the organization.
This event is 40 West’s only fundraiser and allows the organization to mark a year of resounding arts collaboration and momentum for the district. Tickets can be purchased at www.40westarts.org/riot.
Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at Clarke.Reader@hotmail.com.
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