More than two dozen flat-screen TVs line the walls of Cleatz Sports Bar & Grille, casting a glow across an arsenal of pool tables, poker games, and decadent fare created by the kitchen’s veteran chef. As the wait staff shuffle around deep-fried mushrooms, catfish poboys, and buffalo wings drenched in a spectrum of sauces—from sweet molasses to XXX hot—a DJ spins live tunes before the munching and swaying crowd. On Friday nights, live jazz music replaces the electronic beats, and musicians welcome locals on stage to jam with the band or turn their middle-school diary into a new song. As for every other night of the week, the bar hosts a range of events, such as pool leagues, poker tournaments, and karaoke.
A lot has changed in the century since the Paramount Theatre was founded, but the theater's crowd-pleasing entertainment wouldn't have been out of place in Aurora's turn-of-the-century theater scene. When the Venice-inspired art-deco venue was first built, it joined an already-bustling local tradition of vaudeville, silent films, concerts, and circus acts. Photographs dating back to 1931 guided a 1976 restoration, in which artisans completely retraced and repainted eight original murals, re-gilded the fluted columns, and patched up the sheets of every ghost. Concerts, comedy, and community events fill the theater when it's not occupied by the dazzling production values of a professional musical-theater company, which launched what the Chicago Tribune called a "thrilling debut season" in 2011.
Two to four pianists engage in a well-matched duel each evening at Chez Cirque, sampling from more than 100 audience requests spanning all major musical genres. A Paris-inspired stage outfitted with red curtains, opulent lighting, and a state-of-the-art sound system tickles all five senses, and a $5 happy hour martini tantalizes your sixth, apple-centric sense with an apple-buttercup concoction made with vodka, DeKuyper Buttershots, Kahlua, and DeKuyper Apple Pucker. Hours become happy Wednesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., entertained by drink specials that also include $3 Bud Light drafts and a free snack buffet on Fridays and Saturdays. A sushi bar adds raw talent to the menu Thursday through Saturday, beginning at 7 p.m. (prices vary). Light appetizers are available on the floor level, and groups can dine on specialty options on the mezzanine. See a partial menu online and call for full details. Chez Cirque's team of talent is sure to dazzle all 88 keys with nimble fingers and an ear-pleasing list of tunes.
From basement beginnings to their own bona fide theatre space, the Bovine Metropolis Theater has nourished the improv community of Denver for over a decade. Co-owner and artistic director Eric Farone, who cut his comedic chops at famed Chicago institutions such as Second City and iO, and his cohort Denise Maes, have trained over 700 actors in the art of improvisation. Now with seven different shows and up to eight performances per week, the Bovine Metropolis Theater ensures that Denver never has a drought of quick-witted, off-the-cuff talent.
Herman's Hideaway has lured music lovers with an action-packed slate of performers for more than 25 years. Before the show, guests can chat up a bartender over a draft beer or vodka tonic. Instead of hosting an all-polka lineup, Herman's Hideaway dabbles in many musical genres, welcoming rock bands, jazz combos, and reggae collectives from nearby neighborhoods and far-flung nation-states. On August 22, MC Frontalot will use song to explain how nerdcore hip-hop emerged from a bizarre accident involving an apple, a candy factory, and an optometrist's office. Local math-metal quartet Seris will launch a tour from Herman's stage on August 27, and 13-piece funk band Funkiphino will spawn a dance party with soulful rhythms and come-hither nostril flares on September 9.