1. “Guys and Dolls,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Lone Tree Arts Center, 10075 Commons St., Lone Tree, 720-509-1000 or lonetreeartscenter.org
Journalist Damon Runyon tapped into a great American mythos when he penned the stories that would become the foundation of the musical “Guys and Dolls.” High-rolling gamblers, bohemian nightclub performers, uptight moralists — such colorful characters populate Runyon’s world, a universe built out of Runyon’s experiences as a writer working beats in Denver and beyond. His vivid portrait captured the foibles of 1930s culture, and it persisted for decades in the form of “Guys and Dolls.” The musical by Jo Swerling and Frank Loesser put Runyon’s stories into a format that millions have enjoyed. The production at the Lone Tree Arts Center by the Christian Youth Theater is the latest in a theatrical tradition that gets to the heart of America in the early 20th century. Tickets start at $16.
2. “once,” 7:30 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Buell Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, 950 13th St. Tickets start at $35. Information: 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org. Details: Playwright Enda Walsh didn’t stray far from the source material in adapting the 2006 film “once” for the stage. Like the movie, the musical features a simple love story between an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant. What’s more, Walsh incorporated the score by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová that made the movie so memorable. The result is a show that picked up 11 Tony Award nominations after its initial run on Broadway in 2012. Walsh’s respect for the straightforward story and award-winning tunes like “Falling Slowly” made “once” a commercial powerhouse on Broadway. Denver audiences will get a chance to see that magic firsthand during a brief run at the Buell.
3. “Porgy and Bess” suite, 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Boettcher Concert Hall, 1000 14th St., Denver. Tickets start at $20. Information: 303-623-7876 or coloradosymphony.org. Details: “Porgy and Bess” never earned commercial or critical success during George Gershwin’s lifetime. One of the final works by the legendary jazz composer, “Porgy and Bess” launched in 1935 to mixed reviews. The opera about the denizens of Catfish Row seeped in the traditions of blues, jazz and gospel music was one of Gershwin’s most advanced and complicated pieces. Nearly 80 years after its premiere, the opera is now considered a masterpiece in the contemporary music canon. Colorado Symphony Orchestra Music Director Andrew Litton will conduct his own arrangement of the opera this weekend, presenting standards like “Summertime” and “My Man’s Gone Now” in a classical context.
4. Spread the Word Fest,” 7 p.m., Friday, Quixote’s True Blue, 314 E. 13th Ave., Denver. Tickets: $8- to $10. Information: 303-861-7070 or spreadthewordfest.com. Details: The second annual Spread the Word Fest will feature 15 of the Denver-metro area’s best up-and-coming bands across two stages. Attendees will have a chance to experience a broad variety of musical styles, including locally grown “progressive acoustic rock” (A-Mac DZ), reggae (CollieRAD), hip-hop (Eddie Knolls) and ambient garage-rock (Wild High). Low ticket prices offer concertgoers a chance to support local bands and dance until the wee hours without devastating their bank accounts.
5. “Text,” Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Downtown Aurora Visual Arts gallery, 1405 Florence St. Admission is free. Information: 303-367-5886 or [email protected]. Details: The spring exhibition from the city’s youngest artist examines written communication through a variety of mediums. The elementary, middle and high school students enrolled in the Downtown Aurora Visual Arts gallery’s classes explored written language through clay, wood blocks and self-portraits for the “Text” show. They took to typewriters and computer animation programs; they drew their own “selfies” and created singular ideograms. Guest artists Rick Griffith, Joel Swanson and Xi Zhang also contributed to the show.