Upcoming theater, arts season has plenty of highlights for metro area entertainment seekers

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The outdoor festivals are wrapping up and the weather is bound to turn cold soon.

The arrival of fall means a shift in how metro area residents take in their culture. Indoor performances take the place of music festivals, and theater played out of park greens pack up until May. Those changes don’t mean culture lovers have to suffer, however. This year’s fall offerings in terms of theater, dance and music are bountiful, and Aurora residents don’t have to travel very far to find top-notch entertainment. From the debut of a freshly arrived dance company to the first concerts by the Aurora Symphony Orchestra’s new music director, Aurora is bound to make its stamp on the arts scene this season.

What follows are our most highly anticipated cultural picks for the coming months. Vaudeville circus, Arthur Miller and orchestral music from South America are bound to make up for the move indoors in the coming months.

“Death of a Salesman” at the Denver Center Theatre Company

Few dramas boast the longevity and resonance of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.”

Miller wrote the drama in 1949, but its central vision of a soured American dream has kept up an impact for audiences decade after decade. The story of the doomed salesman Willie Loman and his flawed family offers lessons about the fallibility of hopes and promises. It’s a standard of the American dramatic canon, and everyone from Dustin Hoffman to Rod Steiger has tackled the lead role of Loman. As many times as “Death of a Salesman” has been revived, the upcoming performance by the Denver Center Theatre Company promises new insights. In this show, DCTC vet Mike Hartman will tackle the role of Willie Loman. Hartman’s years with the company have included dozens of memorable performances, including a hypnotic performance in 2005 as Joe in another Arthur Miller piece, “All My Sons.” Directed by Aurora resident and returning Denver Center champ Anthony Powell, this season debut promises to be one of the most memorable in the metro area.

“Death of a Salesman” runs from Sept. 20 to Oct. 20 at the Space Theatre, 1101 13th St., Denver. Tickets start at $38. Information: 303-893-9582 or denvercenter.org.

Aurora Symphony Orchestra debut season with conductor Norman Gamboa

The creative directors of the Aurora Symphony Orchestra didn’t rush choosing a new music director. Their search process spanned two years, and candidates from across the world came to Aurora to try their turn at the baton. This summer, the ASO brass announced that Costa Rica native Norman Gamboa won the orchestra’s top spot.

His debut season with the orchestra promises to be a groundbreaking one for an organization that began more than 30 years ago as a humble group of amateur classical players. The lineup includes classic selections from well-known composers like Beethoven and Haydn, but Gamboa has also vowed to bring a more international sound to the city’s premiere orchestral group. Works like “Danzón No. 2” by Arturo Márquez and “Concerto for Violin and Orchestra” by Benjamín Gutiérrez will also figure into the lineup.

Those selections will come along with the ASO’s traditional mix of holiday favorites in the winter, as well as more commercial selections during its pops show in February. The concerts are slated to run at Gateway High School and Highpoint Church starting in October.

Aurora Symphony Orchestra concerts are set to run Oct. 19, Dec. 15, Jan. 14, Feb. 15, Feb. 16, March 22 and May 10 at Gateway High School, 1300 S. Sable Blvd. in Aurora. Information, times and prices: aurorasymphony.org.

Kim Robards Dance Company’s inaugural season in Aurora

Kim Robards spent decades building artistic credentials and critical acclaim before moving her dance studio to the Aurora Cultural Arts District earlier this year.

Robards founded the company more than 20 years ago, and her résumé includes performances across Colorado, as well as venues as far afield as China. The company landed in Aurora this summer, setting up in a former furniture store down the street from the Aurora Fox theater on Dayton Street. Apart from the debut of the dance piece appropriately titled “Aurora,” the dance company has so far focused mainly on classes and outreach to its new neighbors in north Aurora.

This fall will see the company’s first formal season in its new home. It’s an exciting addition for a district that’s so far been known for theater and galleries. While Robards and her crew have yet to formalize a full calendar, there’s plenty on tap already for local dance fans. Beginning with an open house event themed around Mexican Independence Day on Sept. 14 and a performance at the Anschutz Medical Campus on Sept. 20, the Kim Robards Dance Company will start a season full of original programming in earnest this month. That program is set to eventually include an encore performance of “Aurora,” a dance piece set to the music of Latvian composer Georgs Pelecis that pays tribute to the victims of the tragic theater shootings of July, 2012. Fundraisers with the Ignite Theatre Company and a holiday showcase are also slated for the coming months.

Information: 303-825-4847 or kimrobardsdance.org

Handsome Little Devils at the Lone Tree Arts Center

The gags and motifs in “Squirm Burpee: A Vaudevillian Melodrama” are pulled from decades of stage shows, television melodramas and vintage cartoons.

The show produced by the Handsome Little Devils theater troupe is old-fashioned, and it’s designed that way on purpose. Starring Mike the Handsome, Dashing Dave and Lovely Little Lolo, the show features a mix of juggling, acrobatics, jazz renditions and comedy, all delivered in the classic vaudeville style. The villainous “Baron Vegan von Hamburger,” decked out in a World War I era aviator’s cap and a curled mustache straight from a silent film, draws on an arsenal of homemade contraptions to try to destroy the circus and its cast.

The show has come a long way since it debuted at the Aurora Fox and other local venues several years ago. The Handsome Little Devils have performed the showcase as far away as New York City, and it’s been a consistent favorite of audiences and critics around the country. The Handsome Little Devils’ mix of melodrama, outlandish comedy and impressive stage antics is a perfect fit for the spacious feel of the Lone Tree Arts Center, a venue that’s coming into its own since opening three years ago.

“Squirm Burpee: A Vaudevillian Melodrama” runs from Oct. 16 to 20 at the Lone Tree Arts Center, 10075 Commons St. in Lone Tree. Tickets start at $28. Information: 720-509-1000 or lonetreeartscenter.org.

 Phamaly Theatre Company presents “It’s a Wonderful Life”

There’s no other local theater company that’s more qualified to realize the themes that drive “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

The show, based on the film written by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra and Jo Swerling, is all about appreciating life’s gifts. When George Bailey, a humble banker from the idyllic town of Bedford Falls, faces a crisis of faith that drives him to thoughts of suicide, a guardian angel appears to help change his perspective. Through a whirlwind tour through his life, Bailey learns the true value of friends, family, love and life. The big problems suddenly seem small, and the important parts of life come into focus.

That’s a plot that seems tailor-made for the unique approach of Phamaly, a company that’s long put innovative spins on standard stories. The only company in the state composed entirely of performers with physical and mental disabilities, Phamaly is bound to offer a new perspective on this classic tale. It’s one of the most promising offerings in a holiday theater season marked by familiar fare.

The Phamaly Theatre Company’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life” runs from Dec. 7 to Dec. 22 at the Aurora Fox theater, 9900 E. Colfax Ave. in Aurora. Information: 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

Reach reporter Adam Goldstein at [email protected] or 720-449-9707