• 2016-17 Broadway season: 'Frozen,' 'Fun Home,' Finding Neverland and more

    by John Moore | Feb 11, 2016

    Fun Home 4177 Beth Malone, Sydney Lucas, Michael Cerveris -- Photo Credit Jenny Anderson
    The Broadway cast of 'Fun Home' features Beth Malone, Sydney Lucas and Michael Cerveris. Photo by Jenny Anderson. 

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts today announced a landmark 2016-17 season lineup that includes both of the most recent Tony Award-winners as well as the pre-Broadway debut of the highly anticipated stage adaptation of Disney's record-breaking hit Frozen, the highest-grossing animated film in history.

    2016-17 Broadway announcement partyThe season will include both Best Musical Fun Home and Best Play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. This is believed to be only the second time in history the DCPA has landed the most recent winners in both categories during the same season.*

    Frozen, featuring the Oscar-winning hit song "Let It Go," continues a strong pipeline from Disney to Denver, which hosted the launch of national touring productions of The Lion King and Peter and the Starcatcher as well as the pre-Broadway engagement of The Little Mermaid.

    A 2018 Broadway production of Frozen was announced earlier this week, but Denver audiences will see it first in the summer of 2017.

    "We are incredibly excited to have an opportunity to partner with Disney again on Frozen. That is a huge announcement for us, and for Denver," said DCPA Executive Director John Ekeberg. And as a whole, I really think this is a season that is both very artistic and very emotional. One of the ways I often describe Broadway shows is that they are either 'lean back' or 'lean-in.' And for the most part, this is a season of 'lean-in' shows. This is theatre you really engage with."

    The 2016-17 Broadway season will kick off in August with a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the opening of The Buell Theatre with a spectacular new production of The Phantom of the Opera. The season also includes Roundabout Theatre Company's Cabaret, Finding Neverland, An American in Paris and, in the Garner Galleria Theatre, An Act of God.

    Subscriptions are now available starting as low as eight payments of $27.50 at denvercenter.org. A single-ticket on-sale will be announced at a later date.


    Additional individual offerings that are not part of the season subscription package will include Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Motown the Musical, Kinky Boots and The Illusionist.

    It is uncommon for the DCPA's Broadway Division to schedule non-musical plays, but notable exceptions in the recent past have included August: Osage County (2008) and War Horse (2013). Ekeberg said The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, about an extraordinary special-need 15-year-old who falls under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s dog, is almost musical in its technological presentation, which finds a way to let the audience see into the boy's brain.

    "The play itself is amazing, but the story is told in an inventive, designed language that to me screams the future of theatre," Ekeberg said. "I think the type of engagement in this production is the kind that will inspire people to come to plays."

    DCPA CEO Scott Shiller said the Broadway announcement, along with the forthcoming March 8 season announcement from the homegrown DCPA Theatre Company, "show how the DCPA continues to change and evolve and grow the face of the American theatre."
    (*Note: The DCPA offered War Horse (Best Play) and The Book of Mormon (Best Musical) during the 2012-13 season, but not in the same subscription package.)

    (Photo above right taken at today's announcement party at the Studio Loft theatre in The Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Photo by Olivia Jansen for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Broadway season 2016-17


    (Descriptions provided by DCPA)

    THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA 1 - Katie Travis and Chris Mann - photo by Matthew Murphy Katie Travis as Christine Daaé and Chris Mann as The Phantom in Broadway's 'The Phantom of the Opera.' Photo by Matthew Murphy. 

    phantom-operaBuell Theatre, Aug. 25-Sept. 11, 2016
    Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera comes to Denver as part of a brand new North American tour. Hailed by critics as “bigger and better than ever before,” this production boasts many exciting special effects including the show’s legendary chandelier, new scenic and lighting designs, new staging and choreography. The beloved story and thrilling score will be performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this Phantom one of the largest productions now on tour. The Buell Theatre opened in 1991 with The Phantom of the Opera.

    CabaretTour2The 2015 Broadway Cast of Roundabout Theatre Company’s 'Cabaret.' Photo by Joan Marcus.

    Roundabout Theatre Company’s CABARET
    cabaretBuell Theatre, Sept 27-Oct. 9, 2016
    Direct from Broadway, the acclaimed masterpiece returns to Denver. As part of its 50th anniversary season, the critically acclaimed and award-winning Roundabout Theatre Company is proud to present Sam Mendes (Skyfall, American Beauty) and Rob Marshall’s (Into the Woods and Chicago, the films) Tony Award-winning production of CABARET.  Come hear some of the most memorable songs in theatre history, including “Cabaret,” “Willkommen” and “Maybe This Time.” Leave your troubles outside – life is beautiful at CABARET, John Kander, Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff’s Tony-winning musical about following your heart while the world loses its way.

    an-act-of-godGarner Galleria Theatre, opening fall 2016
    After conquering Broadway, the King of the Universe is coming to Denver for the first time ever! God takes human form in An Act of God, the sinfully funny and critically acclaimed new play direct from Broadway. He’s finally arrived to set the record straight…and He’s not holding back! Don’t miss this hilarious 90-minute comedy written by 13-time Emmy Award winner David Javerbaum (“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”). The New York Times calls it it’s “deliriously funny,” and the Toronto Star said, “Thou Must See it!” Denver casting to be announced at a later date.

    12 Finding Neverland. Laura Michelle Kelly (center) of the Original Broadway Cast (c)Carol Rosegg

    Laura Michelle Kelly of the original Broadway cast of 'Finding Neverland.' Photo by Carol Rosegg.

    finding-neverlandBuell Theatre, Dec. 20, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017
    This breathtaking smash “captures the kid-at-heart” (Time magazine). Vogue cheers, “It’s a must-see you’ll remember for years to come!” Directed by visionary Tony winner Diane Paulus, Finding Neverland tells the incredible story behind one of the world’s most beloved characters: Peter Pan. With a little bit of pixie dust and a lot of faith, Playwright J.M. Barrie takes a monumental leap, leaving his old world behind for Neverland, where nothing is impossible and the wonder of childhood lasts forever. The magic of Barrie’s classic tale springs spectacularly to life in this heartwarming theatrical event. Finding Neverland is “far and away the best musical of the year” (NPR).

    2015 Tony Award-winning Best Musical
    The Ellie, Jan. 10-22, 2017

    fun-homeEvery once in a while a Broadway musical comes along that surprises, moves and excites audiences in ways only a truly landmark musical can. The “groundbreaking” “uplifting” and “exquisite” new musical Fun Home was the event of the Broadway season, receiving raves from critics and audiences alike, winning five 2015 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and making history along the way. Based on Alison Bechdel’s best-selling graphic memoir, Fun Home introduces us to Alison at three different ages, as she explores and unravels the many mysteries of her childhood. A refreshingly honest musical about seeing your parents through grown-up eyes, "Fun Home is extraordinary, a rare beauty that pumps fresh air into Broadway” (The New York Times).

    An American In Paris-0894

    The original Broadway cast of 'An American in Paris.' Photo by Matthew Murphy.

    american-in-parisBuell Theatre, March 8-19, 2017
    An American in Paris
    is the new Tony Award-winning musical about an American soldier, a mysterious French girl and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war. Acclaimed director/ choreographer and 2015 Tony Award winner Christopher Wheeldon brings the magic and romance of Paris into perfect harmony with unforgettable songs from George and Ira Gershwin in the show that earned more awards than any other musical in the 2014/2015 season! The New York Times raves, “An American in Paris is a triumph! Pure joy!” and the Wall Street Journal declares, “Once you’ve seen it, you’ll find it hard to settle for less ever again.” Don’t miss this stunning Broadway hit when it arrives in Denver on its first national tour.

    01.CuriousIncident1127rThe original Broadway company of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.' Photo by Joan Marcus.


    2015 Tony Award-winning Best Play
    The Ellie, May 30-June 18, 2017

    curious-incidentThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, winner of five 2015 Tony Awards including Best Play, is coming to Denver. Hailed as “One of the most fully immersive works ever to wallop Broadway” by The New York Times, this “dazzling” (Associated Press) adaptation by Simon Stephens, adapted from Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel and directed by Tony winner Marianne Elliott. Fifteen-year-old Christopher has an extraordinary brain; he is exceptionally intelligent but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. When he falls under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s dog, he sets out to identify the true culprit, which leads to an earth-shattering discovery and a journey that will change his life forever.

    frozenBuell Theatre, Opening summer 2017
    From Disney, the producers of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast, comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Denver will be the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. Frozen  features music and lyrics by creators of the film score Kristen Anderson-Lopez (In Transit, Up Here) and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon, Up Here) and a book by Jennifer Lee (Wreck-It Ralph), the film’s screenwriter and director (with Chris Buck). Frozen won 2014 Oscars for Best Song (“Let It Go”) and Best Animated Feature. Golden Globe Award and Obie winner and two-time Tony Award nominee Alex Timbers (Peter and the Starcatcher, Here Lies Love, Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle) is Frozen's director and Tony-winner Peter Darling (Billy Elliot, Matilda) is choreographer. The design team includes scenic and costume design by seven-time Tony Award winner Bob Crowley (Mary Poppins, The Coast of Utopia, An American in Paris), lighting design by five-time Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (Aladdin, An American in Paris, The Glass Menagerie) and sound design by four-time Tony nominee Peter Hylenski (The Scottsboro Boys, Motown, After Midnight).  Two-time Tony Award winner Stephen Oremus (Avenue Q, Wicked, The Book of Mormon) is music supervisor and creates vocal and incidental arrangements. Frozen is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, under the direction of Thomas Schumacher.

    Broadway 2016-17 season subscribers may purchase these added attractions before they go on sale to the public:

    hedwigBuell Theatre, Dec. 6-11, 2016
    Brilliantly innovative, heartbreaking, and wickedly funny, Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the landmark American musical by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask that is “groundbreaking and undoubtedly ahead of its time” (Entertainment Weekly). This genre-bending, fourth-wall-smashing musical sensation, with a pulsing score and electrifying performances, tells the story of one of the most unique characters to ever hit the stage. Directed by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening) and winner of four 2014 Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival, Hedwig and the Angry Inch played to record-breaking sellout crowds on Broadway and promises to take Denver by storm with what Time magazine proclaims is “the most exciting rock score written for the theatre since, oh, ever!”

    Motown_Reed L Shannon as Michael Jackson (center) with the Jackson 5. MOTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour. (c) Joan Marcus,

    motownBuell Theatre, Feb 15-19, 2017
    It began as one man's story…became everyone's music…and is now Broadway's musical. Motown the Musical  the true American dream story of Motown founder Berry Gordy’s journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and many more. Motown shattered barriers, shaped our lives and made us all move to the same beat. Featuring classic songs such as “My Girl” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” experience the story behind the music.


    kinky_bootsBuell Theatre, March 21-26, 2017
    Kinky Boots
    is Broadway’s huge-hearted, high-heeled hit. With songs by Grammy and Tony winning pop icon Cyndi Lauper, this joyous musical celebration is about the friendships we discover, and the belief that you can change the world when you change your mind. Inspired by true events, Kinky Boots takes you from a gentlemen’s shoe factory in Northampton to the glamorous catwalks of Milan. Charlie Price is struggling to live up to his father’s expectations and continue the family business of Price & Son. With the factory’s future hanging in the balance, help arrives in the unlikely but spectacular form of Lola, a fabulous performer in need of some sturdy new stilettos. With direction and choreography by two-time Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell (Legally Blonde, Hairspray) and a book by Broadway legend and four-time Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein (La Cage Aux Folles), Kinky Boots is the winner of six Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Choreography.  Take a step in the right direction and discover that sometimes the best way to fit in is to stand out. “There is no show hotter than Kinky Boots!” – CBS News

    illusionistsThe Ellie, May 19-21, 2017
    Direct from Broadway, the world’s best-selling magic show is coming to Denver for the first time. This mind blowing spectacular showcases the jaw dropping talents of seven of the most incredible Illusionists on earth.  The Illusionistslive from Broadway has shattered box office records across the globe and dazzles audiences of all ages with a powerful mix of the most outrageous and astonishing acts ever to be seen on stage.  This non-stop show is packed with thrilling and sophisticated magic of unprecedented proportions.

    Photos from the announcement party:

    2016-17 Broadway Season Announcement

    A note to ticket-buyers:

    Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, online or in person, is the only authorized online ticket provider for these productions in Denver.

    2016-17 DCPA Theatre Company season announcement
    Save the date for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts 2016/17 Theatre Company announcement on March 8.

    2016-17 Broadway Season Sponsors
    The 2016/17 Broadway season sponsors are United Airlines and Murray BMW.  Media sponsorship is provided by The Denver Post and CBS4. The DCPA supported in part by the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). For nearly 30 years, the SCFD has enabled the DCPA to offer world-class theatre and educational programs, and has contributed to the vibrant, flourishing entertainment scene in Colorado.

  • 'Gentleman's Guide': Where every murder is a comic gift

    by NewsCenter Staff | Feb 11, 2016

    In this exclusive video interview, John Rapson and Kevin Massey tell DCPA NewsCenter viewers about 'A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder.'

    By Sylvie Drake
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Today’s Quiz: What’s A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder?

    (a) A directive on how to avoid commitment
    (b) An unserious evening of silly theatre
    (c) A multiple 2014 Tony Award-winner, including Best Musical
    (d) A veiled tribute to Gilbert and Sullivan
    (e) A lesson in “offing” inconvenient heirs
    (f) An inspired rip-off of Agatha Christie meets the Marx Brothers, with a whiff of Noel Coward. Set to music.

    Take your pick. You’ll be right every time.

    But talk to the creative team that put this show together, and you’ll find the outcome wasn’t always so inclusive. It took 10 years to get this farcical thriller in shape and the man who helped most joined the venture at halftime.

    A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder“Robert Freedman, who wrote the book for Gentleman’s Guide, saw my production of The Women at The Old Globe in San Diego,” volunteered Darko Tresnjak, Artistic Director of Hartford Stage and the directorial mastermind who scored his own Tony® Award for coming up with some of Gentleman’s Guide’s choicest silliness.

    “Something about The Women convinced Robert that I was the guy for the job. Then I met Steve Lutvak, who wrote the music and was co-lyricist, and we hit it off. It was four years leading to the production we mounted in Hartford — and a fifth year to get the show to Broadway.”

    Of course, there was more.

    Freedman and Lutvak, newbies to Broadway, avoided watching Kind Hearts and Coronets, the 1949 hit movie in which Alec Guinness played all eight heirs to an English
    fortune, each of whom meets an untimely death at the hands of the ninth, just for being, you know … in the way.

    Gentleman's Guide quoteThe film was based on the same 1907 Roy Horniman novel, Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal, and while the premise held plenty of promise, Freedman and Lutvak lacked rights to the movie and mined the novel instead.

    Tresnjak, who’d seen the movie in high school, also declined to watch it again, relying instead on his own sly sense of humor and instinct for the right casting.

    “I champion great comic actors,” he said. “They’re underestimated. Grad schools don’t teach the craft. I was lucky. I directed Paxton Whitehead. I directed Dana Ivy. It’s like a science experiment to watch Paxton get the laugh and next night figure out how to subdivide the laugh and get three laughs out of the audience without pushing…

    “The older I get, the more it seems like comedy is the perfect response to the absurdity of the world. I wish there were Joe Ortons for our time. Satire is the perfect tool to
    deal with stupid politics.

    “One of the really appealing things about Gentleman’s Guide is its structure, the fact that you have to have a spectacular actor in the revolving-door roles, playing all eight of the aristocratic d’Ysquiths. Every murder’s a gift, because you know that actor’s got to come back in another role. I thought it was really naughty because, like, wow. Monty d’Ysquith kills his whole family and the show ends in a three-way (love affair). I was like, cool! Sign me on. It’s a hand-in-the-cookie-jar kind of show.”

    Tresnjak, who’s staged a good deal of opera, fell in love with Lutvak’s offbeat score. “It’s not ‘American Idol.’ It’s hard to sing,” he said. “The two women’s roles are precise. There’s no back phrasing. You need crystalline soprano voices. That was a big part of it for me.

    “The moment when I knew it was going to work was the ending. It hadn’t been written when I came on board and there was a logistical problem. What happens when you kill the star? When the last victim bites the dust? Umm. You find … a ninth relative! Robert and Steven were, What…?

    “I don’t want to give it away, but there’s a janitor who works in the jail. They let me add that. At that point I knew the show was going to be playful. The best thing was we took huge liberties. Some ideas came from the book, but the more we made up our own, the better it got.

    “The best moment came when we had to redo one of the murders. [We tried] a car going over the cliff, then a plunge off a Ferris wheel. Didn’t work. I was listening. It was like … the famous skating waltz. I said, ‘start skating…’ ”

    That time it worked. 

    “Over lunch that day, Robert and Steven were passing napkins to each other, rewriting lyrics. Kept the tune, changed the words. Then they showed me:

    As I’m cutting, I am contemplating
    And the truth is it’s a tad exhilarating, 

    With the rhythm of a violinist 

    I’ll be sawing where I think the ice is thinnest.

    “Now that is talent,” said Tresnjak, “and it’s buried. But it’s the most sophisticated lyric in the entire show. Steve and Robert write lyrics together. Not one fake rhyme. No cheating. They’re completely rigorous.

    A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder“You have to believe in a musical,” he summarized, “because nothing takes as much (effort). I didn’t work on the show all of the time. I directed 20 productions during those five years. But this was really fun.”

    John Rapson plays the eight victims to Kevin Massey’s Monty. Both men were in the Broadway company.

    “After directing 25 Shakespeare plays, I also can say Shakespeare’s plays are not good. Great, but not good. Who cares? It’s theatrical logic. In Merchant of Venice months seem to be passing in Venice, but in Belmont, it’s the next day. So what?

    “It’s theatrical logic.”

    So, you’re about to discover, is Gentleman’s Guide.

    Sylvie Drake served as Director of Media Relations and Publications for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, 1994 – 2014. She is a former theatre critic and columnist for the Los Angeles Times and a regular contributor to culturalweekly.com. 

    Photos above: Lesley McKinnell as Miss Barley and Kevin Massey as Monty Navarro in “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder,' top of page. Above right: Kristen Beth Williams as Sibella Hallward, Massey and Adrienne Eller as Phoebe D'Ysquith. Photos by Joan Marcus. To see more production photos, click here.

    A Gentleman' Guide to Love & Murder: Ticket information

  • Feb. 16-28 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28

  • Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for 'A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder.'

    Our previous NewsCenter coverage of A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder:
    Video: A Gentleman's Guide to A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
    Video: Kevin Massey sings the national anthem at Broncos game
    Official show page

    'A Gentleman's Guide' in Denver Our photos of 'A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder' in Denver, to date. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click the forward button on the image above. 
  • Video: Andy Kelso of 'Kinky Boots' backs the Broncos

    by John Moore | Feb 05, 2016

    Andy KelsoAndy Kelso, who stars as Charlie Price in Kinky Boots on Broadway, is a Colorado native, graduate of Eaglecrest High School in Aurora and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, and a die-hard Denver Broncos fan.

    Here's what he has to say about the upcoming Super Bowl matchup with the Carolina Panthers.

    In the photo at right, Kelso is joined by Kinky Boots co-star Wayne Brady supporting the Broncos ina team cap. hat. Hey, whatever Lola wants!

    Photo courtesy Andy Kelso.

    Re-live Andy Kelso's National Anthem Day in Denver:

    Andy Kelso came home to sing the national anthem at the Denver Broncos' nationally televised victory over the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 24, 2014. Watch above.

    Super Bet: DCPA backing the right horse in Super Bowl

    This just in: A message from Fun Home on Broadway!

    The cast and crew of Fun Home, the Tony-winning Best Musical of 2015, have a message from Broadway. Fun Home's Tony-nominated Beth Malone is a Castle Rock native and recently starred as Molly Brown in the DCPA Theatre Company's "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." Thank you, Fun Home!

    Andy Kelso. Photo by John Moore
  • Video: Todd Cerveris: Break a Leg from Broadway

    by John Moore | Feb 05, 2016

    Michael Cerveris and Beth Malone of Fun Home on Broadway wish Michael's brother, Todd Cerveris, well in this selfie video on Opening Night of the Denver Center's 'All The Way,' tonight (Feb. 5).

    Malone is a Castle Rock native who in 2014 starred in the DCPA Theatre Company's reimagined The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

    Todd Cerveris plays Gov. George Wallace in All the Way, which plays through Feb. 28 in the Stage Theatre.  Call 303-893-4100.

    Meet the Cast: Todd Cerveris

    All the Way
    : Ticket information

  • All the WayJan. 29-Feb. 28 at the Stage Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of All the Way
    5 things we learned about 'All the Way': Johnson gave a dam!
    Video: Cast reads from Civil Rights Act
    When Robert Schenkkan meets LBJ, sparks fly
    Five ways you don't have to connect the dots 'All the Way' to today
    Art and Artist: Stage Manager Rachel Ducat

    Full casting announced
    Official show page
    DCPA Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16

    Michael Cerveris and Beth Malone
  • Video: Ryan Jesse is getting down and Dirty (Dancing) in Colorado return

    by John Moore | Jan 29, 2016

    Ryan Jesse, a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, is back in Colorado through Jan. 31 playing Neil Kellerman in Dirty Dancing  –  The Classic Story On Stage. Based on the hit 1987 film, the musical features the hit songs “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey Baby,” “Do You Love Me?” and Jesse's personal favorite from the show, “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.”

    Jesse made his Broadway debut in 2010 playing Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys.

    Interview by DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story On Stage
    Click the forward arrow to see more production photos by Matthew Murphy.

    Dirty Dancing  —  The Classic Story on Stage

    Through Jan. 31
    Buell Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Groups: 303-446-4829
    ASL interpreted, Audio described and open-captioned performance: 2 p.m. Jan. 30

    Ryan Jesse. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.  Ryan Jesse outside the Buell Theatre. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 
  • Dirty Dancing: The Time of Your Life

    by NewsCenter Staff | Jan 15, 2016
    Dirty DancingChristopher Tierney and Gillian Abbott star in the national touring production of "Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage." Photo by Matthew Murphy.

    In August 1987, every teenage girl in America had a crush on the same actor — Patrick Swayze. His portrayal of Johnny Castle in the hit film Dirty Dancing catapulted him to superstardom. Johnny was from the wrong side of the tracks, but he had a heart of gold (and, let’s face it, he could move).

    Enter Frances “Baby” Houseman, on vacation with her overprotective parents and annoying older sister at Kellerman’s, a lavish vacation resort.

    “That was the summer of 1963. When everybody called me ‘Baby’ and it didn’t occur to me to mind. That was before President Kennedy got shot, before the Beatles came, when I couldn’t wait to join the Peace Corps and I thought I’d never find a guy as great as my dad. That was the summer we went to Kellerman’s,” says Baby at the opening of the movie-turned-stage musical.

    Introduce one idealistic, sheltered teenager to an older, experienced dance instructor and you’ve got the sizzle of fireworks that tests loyalty, questions worthiness and sparks passion in audiences across the nation.   

    There’s just something about the story that doesn’t quite go away. In fact, ABC announced in December that it will film a three-hour adaptation of the movie for network broadcast starring Abigail Breslin. Perhaps it’s the “diamond in the rough” story of Johnny or the “coming-of-age” plot of Baby. Or it may be that soundtrack. Winner of a Golden Globe, Academy Award and Grammy, the soundtrack has sold more than 44 million copies and, in addition to number one hits from the 1960’s, includes such songs as “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” “Hungry Eyes” and “She’s Like the Wind.”

    Now the national touring production of Dirty Dancing  - The Classic Story on Stage comes to the Buell Theatre from Jan. 26-31.

    In fact, the music served as the backbone of the original script development. Scriptwriter Eleanor Bergstein selected the songs she wanted to use and then wrote the story against them. She wanted the music to function as the soundtrack of the story and of the characters’ hearts.

    It may be nearly 30 years later, but we’re all sure to await that singular moment at the end of the musical when Baby flies atop Johnny’s arms, asserting her love, her loyalty and her independence.

    Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story On Stage
    Click the forward arrow to see more production photos by Matthew Murphy.

    Dirty Dancing  —  The Classic Story on Stage

    Jan 26-31
    Buell Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Groups: 303-446-4829
    ASL interpreted, Audio described and open-captioned performance: 2 p.m. Jan. 30

  • Paige Price: From Broadway to Aspen to Curious' 'Sex with Strangers'

    by Olivia Jansen | Jan 14, 2016
    Paige Price and Michael Kingsbaker star in Curious Theatre's regional premiere of 'Sex with Srangers.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.
    Paige Price and Michael Kingsbaker star in Curious Theatre's regional premiere of 'Sex with Srangers.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.

    On stage or off, Paige Price has been working in the theatre industry for more than 30 years. She starred as Stephanie Mangano in the original 1999 Broadway production of Saturday Night Fever and had roles in the original Broadway casts of Beauty and the Beast and Smokey Joe’s Café.

    Paige Price quoteAfter taking seven years off from performing to take on her ongoing role as Theatre Aspen’s Executive Artistic Director, Price is returning to the stage in Sex with Strangers, which marks both her Denver and Curious Theatre Company stage debuts. She plays a fortysomething novelist named Olivia, one of only two characters in the play. In any two-hander, Price said, chemistry is key. Without it, it can be deadly. Luckily, Price said, she and co-star Michael Kingsbaker (a graduate of Aurora Gateway High School) have plenty.

    Sex with Strangers is a provocative comedy that broke Laura Eason, a Cherry Creek High School graduate, onto the national playwriting scene. The play, opening its regional premiere on Saturday (Jan. 16), is described as a modern look at relationships - those we have with people, and those we have with our phones.

    Olivia is a talented but underappreciated mid-career writer who is unexpectedly trapped in a secluded cabin with Ethan, a wildly successful and very attractive young blogger, as a fierce winter storm rages outside. Each has something the other needs. But as attraction turns to sex, both must confront the dark side of ambition.

    Curious’ production is directed by Christy Montour-Larson (DCPA Theatre Company’s Shadowlands). Other frequent DCPA collaborators include Lighting Designer Shannon McKinney and Stage Manager Phoebe Sacks.

    Olivia in Curious Theatre Company's Sex with Strangers

    • Hometown: New York
    • High school: Middlesex (N.Y.)
    • College: NYU Tisch School of Arts
    • What was the role that changed your life? When I played Belle on Broadway in Beauty and the Beast, only because that fulfilled a childhood dream of being a princess on Broadway. But every role changes your life in some way - some not for the better. My first starring role that I originated was in Saturday Night Fever. While that was a really good part, the experience itself was not entirely positive, so I took a step back from acting at that point and reassessed whether I wanted to do that any longer. Those are the two ends of the spectrum.
    • Why are you an actor? I took about seven years off to work at Theatre Aspen and be on the other side of the table. Balancing this show and (my work at) Theatre Aspen just means there are not enough hours in the day. I’ve taken a step back so I can really concentrate on this job. The reason I was drawn back to this role was because Curious Theatre called me, and there were so many reasons to just say no. But all of those reasons meant that I needed another challenge. That’s why I’m doing it again, because acting allows you to take chances, to not be safe and to use the experiences you have had in life to tell a story. I haven’t done that in so long. I needed to jump off another cliff.
    • What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t an actor? I always wanted to be a sports broadcaster. I’m really kind of a sports nut, so I think that‘s the other thing I would’ve done - sports journalism. My favorite sport to watch is baseball, but hockey is a close second.
    • A Mark RylanceIdeal scene partner: Well, I would feel completely out of my league, but I would love to be on stage with Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies). He’s the most fascinating actor I’ve ever watched. But I don’t even think I could play the spear-carrier in a scene with him because he’s so amazing.
    • Why does Sex with Strangers matter? Because the writing is really smart. It’s really satisfying to do a play that has really substantial themes and words in it. The whole play is actually about not only relationships but also words and how people express themselves. It deals with social media as well, but for me it underscores how important it is to be able to be in a room with somebody and not just on a screen.  
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of it? The ending of the play is kind of ambivalent, and I think there is so much room for the audience to decide what they want to happen at the end. So I think the conversation after the show between audience members about what they wanted to happen will be really, really fascinating.

    Sex with Strangers: Ticket information
    Presented by Curious Theatre Company
    Jan. 16-Feb. 20
    1080 Acoma St.
    303-623-0524 or CuriousTheatre.Org

  • David Bowie's acting career began with record-breaking week in Denver

    by John Moore | Jan 11, 2016

    David Bowie's death has the world mourning the loss of one of rock's most chameleonic performers. But he was also a versatile stage and screen actor whose big-time theatre career began in Denver starring as John Merrick in a 1980 touring production of The Elephant Man at the Auditorium Theatre.

    According to his biography on BowieGoldenYears.Com, Bowie watched a performance of The Elephant Man in San Francisco with with Phillip Anglim in the role he was soon to take over. Bowie had seen the play a couple of times and studied the script for a few months before his rehearsals began in early July.

    The role of the ultimate "Broken Man" was notoriously difficult as Merrick's physical disabilities had to be expressed by the actor. Rehearsals are said to have gone well, with Bowie's drawing on his training in mime to convey Merrick's physicality.

    Bowie came to Denver two weeks early to rehearse in what is now The Jones Theatre. He debuted in the Auditorium Theatre on July 29, 1980, and performed there through Aug. 3. It was his first attempt at acting on stage in a conventional role. The play was a sellout before it even opened. It grossed $186,466 for the week, making it the biggest box-office attraction for a single week in DCPA history to that point.

    Bowie's opening night in Denver was praised by local and national critics. "Judging from his sensitive projection of this part, Bowie has the chance to achieve legit stardom," Variety said on Aug. 6, 1980. (In theatre parlance, "legit" is interchangeable with "stage.") Here is more from that review:

    "The acting debut on the American stage of rock singer David Bowie was greeted by a standing ovation in Denver when the singer, noted for his flamboyant musical style, took on the role of physically misshapen John Merrick, the human monster with a liking for culture. Drawing on an early mime background and the resourceful staging of his rock shows, Bowie displays the ability to project a complex character.

    "Playing a man too ugly to draw a freak audience, and too human to survive within a distorted body, Bowie shows a mastery of movement and of vocal projection. Bowie takes the stage with authority to create a stirring performance. Vocally, he is both quick and sensitive. In scene after scene he builds poignantly, crying for the chance to become civilized, though he knows he will always be a freak; pleading for a home; though he knows his presence disturbs; and questioning the rules of society; though his well being depends on their acceptance. Judging from his sensitive projection of this part, Bowie has the chance to achieve legit stardom … "

    The Denver run was followed by three weeks in Chicago before transferring to a successful three-month run at The Booth Theatre on Broadway.

    The real Elephant Man, John Merrick, was born in South London in 1862 and died in 1890 at age 27. He suffered appalling physical disabilities and deformities, due mainly to the medical condition neurofibromatosis. What made him unique was his wit and ability to charm, despite his terrible appearance. The play tells the story of how he was rescued by a compassionate doctor and became quite famous and well-liked in high society.

    From DavidBowie.Com:  

    "David’s hugely innovative interpretation of the role used no make-up or prosthetics. Instead, drawing on his training as a mime artist, he contorted his body into unlikely shapes to give the effect of profound disability. At a dress rehearsal in the Booth Theatre, even the stage hands burst into spontaneous applause at his remarkable performance."

    At the time, Bowie told the Daily Mirror: “It is undoubtedly the biggest single challenge of my career. Going onto Broadway is the fulfillment of a great dream.”

    The New York Post called Bowie's performance "shockingly good”; The New York Daily News "piercing and haunted” and The New York Times “preternaturally wise.”

    David Bowie. The Elephant Man. Photos of David Bowie in 'The Elephant Man' from DavidBowie.Com
  • Video: A Gentleman's Guide to 'A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder'

    by John Moore | Jan 09, 2016

    Kevin Massey and John Rapson of the national touring production of A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder were in Denver recently to talk about the Tony Award-winning Best Musical, which visits the Buell Theatre from Feb. 16-28.

    Our hero (Massey) may be murdering his way through his entire extended family but, his portrayer says, "The audience is rooting for him because all of these characters are just so horribly wonderfully awful."

    Video: Kevin Massey sings the national anthem at Broncos game

    Massey is married to Kara Lindsay, currently starring as Glinda in Wicked on Broadway. The couple both appeared in Denver in the national touring production of Little House on the Prairie in 2008; Lindsay also appeared in the DCPA Theatre Company's revival of Quilters the next year. Massey was first in Denver for the DeafWest production of Big River in 2004.

    Rapson visited Denver twice in national touring productions of Les Misérables.

    Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Read more at www.mydenvercenter.org.

    A Gentleman' Guide to Love & Murder: Ticket information

  • Feb. 16-28 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28

  • Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for 'A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder.'

    Kevin Massey, and John Rapson of 'A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder.'
    Kevin Massey, left, and John Rapson of 'A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder.'

  • Go backstage for a tour of 'The Lion King' costumes in Denver

    by John Moore | Nov 20, 2015

    How do the actors in Disney's The Lion King negotiate the 220 costumes that are used in every performance? With a lot of help!

    The Lion King Assistant Wardrobe Supervisor Gretchen Heidenreich. Photo by John Moore. We went backstage at the Buell Theatre during the the national touring production's latest Denver stop to learn more. Our guests are Assistant Wardrobe Supervisor Gretchen Heidenreich and ensemble dancer/singer Amyia Burrell, who has 10 costumes and 14 costume changes in every performance.

    When you add in understudies, the tour travels with as many as 450 costumes. Disney's "The Lion King" is visiting Denver through Nov. 29 (Photo at right: 'The Lion King' Assistant Wardrobe Supervisor Gretchen Heidenreich backstage at the Buell Theatre. Photo by John Moore.)

    Video: Meet The Lion King Puppet Master in Denver

    Video: Go backstage with The Lion King in Denver

    Remaining seats for the Denver run of The Lion King are very limited (information below), but Disney's next brings Broadway to Denver when Newsies visits The Buell Theatre from March 23 through April 9, 2016.

    Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. To download any photo, click "View original Flickr image."

    Disney’s The Lion King: Ticket information

  • Through Nov. 29 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. Nov. 28

  • Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for Disney's 'The Lion King.'

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Lion King:
    Gareth Saxe's Lion King homecoming
    For South Africans, Pride Lands are the land of opportunity 
    Circle of Life: The Lion King tour returns to Denver birthplace
    Technical director David Bencken on hanging 12 tons of equipment
    Original The Lion King orchestra member plays 15 different flutes
    Official show page

  • Video: The 'If/Then' interview series from Denver

    by John Moore | Nov 19, 2015

    David Stone, If/Then. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenterPart 7 of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' interview series with the cast and creative team from the Broadway musical "If/Then," which launched its first national tour in Denver in October 2015 and starred Broadway headliners Idina Menzel, LaChanze, Anthony Rapp and James Snyder.

    Next up: Producer David Stone, whose credits include "Wicked" and "Next to Normal," talks about what he feels is his obligation to develop challenging and risky new musicals for the American theatre. Stone said it was encouragement from late DCPA President Randy Weeks that planted the seeds for an If/Then national tour, which he had not been planning. He said his success has made developing new work for the American theatre his obligation. 

    "I think Wicked has given me a gift," he said, "and I have to repay that gift (by working) with living, breathing writers on new work.”

    Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    If/Then played in Denver from Oct. 13-25.

    (Photo above right: David Stone hosted a conversation in Denver with 'Razzle Dazzle' author Michael Riedel. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter)

    Read our complete interview with David Stone

    The video series to date:
    Part 1: The cast talks about The Tour Reunion
    Part 2: Is The Butterfly Effect a real thing?
    Part 3: Favorite line or lyric
    Part 4: On writing original music for Idina Menzel
    Part 5: Mark, Maureen and Michael (Greif): The Rent reunion
    Part 6: Cast: Final thoughts from Denver
    Part 7: Final thoughts from Producer David Stone
    Bonus: Our Opening Night video from Denver

    Bonus: Our Opening Night Photo Gallery:

    To download any photo for free, in a variety of available sizes, click "View original Flickr image." All photos by Emily Lozow and John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.

    Our previous NewsCenter coverage of If/Then and Idina Menzel:

  • Gareth Saxe's 'Lion King' homecoming

    by John Moore | Nov 13, 2015

    Gareth Saxe, who has long played Scar in Disney's The Lion King on Broadway, has temporarily joined the national touring production so that he can play the deliciously evil role in his hometown of Denver, where this touring production began in 2001.

    Saxe, a graduate of Denver East High School and Colorado College, has performed with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and the DCPA Theatre Company. He grew up watching plays at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex, and said doing so while idolizing actors such as Kathleen M. Brady, John Hutton and Jacqueline Antaramian was “close to 95 percent” of the reason he became a professional actor.

    Saxe fulfilled a lifelong goal in 2001 when he was cast to play Valvert in the DCPA Theatre Company’s Cyrano de Bergerac. His co-stars included Bill Christ, Ryan Shively, Randy Moore, Tony Church, Christopher Leo, Gabriella Cavalerro, Louis Schaefer, January LaVoy, Tracy Shaffer, Erik Tieze, Jason Henning and Chad Henry. (Photo: Gareth Saxe as Scar in Disney's 'The Lion King.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    Saxe remembers performing in Boulder in 1998 with Colorado Shakes as a seminal summer. “To be able to work on that language in that space in Boulder in the summer is magic,” said Saxe, who was cast to understudy Richard II while also playing Costard in Love’s Labour’s Lost.

    “The guy who was playing Richard was also playing Don Armado in Love’s Labour’s Lost, which we opened the night before we opened Richard II,” he said. "I was onstage with this actor as he was doing a little jig, and I heard his knee go … snap!

    “I realized at that moment I was not going to sleep for the next 48 hours because that meant that I would be going on as Richard the next night. It was the single most terrifying moment of my young adult life - and also the most thrilling. That’s like one of those nightmares you wake up from in chills. But then it happens and you don’t die and you think, ‘Well, maybe I can do this.’ ”

    Saxe went on to perform in The Homecoming, Heartbreak House and The Lion King on Broadway. He credits in part two of his Colorado College professors for his success. “Tom Lindblade and Jim Malcolm were instrumental in the kind of program that CC has,” said Saxe of teachers who also helped launch the acclaimed Buntport Theater ensemble and Thaddeus Phillips, who has debuted several of his inventive, experimental works at theatres in Denver and Colorado Springs under his company name, Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental.

    "It was an extraordinary experience, and I can’t thank them enough,” Saxe said of his time in Colorado Springs. 

    The Lion King is playing in Denver through Nov. 29. Call 303-893-4100.

    Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    More of Gareth Saxe's performance credits:

    Broadway: The Homecoming, Heartbreak House. Off-Broadway: Richard III, The Winter’s Tale (Public); Echoes of the War (Mint Theater). Regional: A Moon to Dance By (George Street Playhouse); Hamlet, Dangerous Liaisons (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ); Sexual Perversity in Chicago (American Conservatory Theater); iWitness (Mark Taper Forum). Film and TV: Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, “Law & Order,” “SVU.” MFA: NYU.

    Disney’s The Lion King: Ticket information

  • Nov 4-29 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. Nov. 28

  • Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for Disney's 'The Lion King.'

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Lion King:
    For South Africans, Pride Lands are the land of opportunity 
    Circle of Life: The Lion King tour returns to Denver birthplace
    Technical director David Bencken on hanging 12 tons of equipment
    Original The Lion King orchestra member plays 15 different flutes
    Official show page

    Gareth Saxe poses in the lobby of the Buell Theatre last week in Denver. Photo by John Moore. Gareth Saxe poses in the lobby of the Buell Theatre last week in Denver. Photo by John Moore.

    Gareth Cyrano 600
    Gareth Saxe as the Spanish officer Valvert in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Cyrano de Bergerac.'

    Gareth Saxe's program bio from 2001 when he made his DCPA Theatre Company debut in 'Cyrano de Bergerac,' directed by Nagle Jackson and starring Bill Christ.
  • Circle of Life: 'The Lion King' tour returns to Denver birthplace

    by John Moore | Oct 28, 2015
    LION KING 60010Nia Holloway as Nala in Disney’s 'The Lion King.' ©Disney. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    It’s the Circle of Life: The Denver-born national touring production of Disney’s The Lion King is coming home - as a teenager.

    More than 220,000 attended the tour’s inaugural 10-week run at The Buell Theatre 13 years ago, and independent studies estimated the visit provided a $58 million jolt to the area economy.

    The Lion King Julie Taymor quoteLong before The Lion King’s 18 semi-trailers roared into downtown Denver in the weeks leading up to that historic opening night on April 26, 2002, “you could feel it everywhere you went,” said flutist Kay Ragsdale, one of four members of The Lion King tour who have been with it every step of the way.

    More than 25,000 tickets moved the day they went on sale to the public in November 2001, and every available seat was gone less than four days later. By the time the show finally opened, the city was at a fever pitch.

    “We had some jackets at the time that only had this little tiny lion’s head insignia, but everyone in the town knew what it was,” Ragsdale said. “It felt like everyone was participating in this event with us. Our opening night was an opening night for the entire city of Denver, and it could not have been more exciting.”

    Dance Captain Izell Blunt will never forget the day the cast was invited to sit in the otherwise empty Buell Theatre and watch as the technical crew previewed the show’s iconic sunrise for them.

    “This was the first time we had seen it,” said Blunt. “The sun is coming up. Pride Rock is coming out. The music is playing. Literally, we got chills just watching this phenomenon that we were about to be a part of."

    With a worldwide gross of more than $7 billion, The Lion King last year became the most successful franchise in entertainment history. That’s just the stage musical — figures do not include either proceeds from the animated film or merchandising.

    And to think, says creator Julie Taymor, The Lion King is a $7 billion fluke, considering that she was charged with turning a beloved animated children’s film into a revolutionary, magical piece of proudly experimental theatre that blends South African chants with ballet, performance art, human puppetry, masks, forced perspectives and shadow imagery.

    “I profoundly believe that people want something richer and deeper, and will aspire to it,” Taymor said. “It’s a wonderful thing that so many people have seen The Lion King because it has informed many who have never seen theatre as to what theatre can possibly be.”

    The Lion King has now played before more than 80 million audience members in 22 productions around the world. The New York production turns 18 in November and Saturday (Oct. 31), the Lion will surpass Cats as the third-longest running musical in Broadway history on October 31. The Lion King is routinely still the No. 1 show on Broadway in any given week. And it is showing no signs of slowing down.

    The Tree of Life from 'The Lion King' National Tour.  ©Disney.  Photo Credit:  Joan Marcus.

    “It’s difficult not to become emotional at the realization of the show’s impact,” said Thomas Schumacher, president of Disney Theatrical Productions. “The goal back in the formative years was simply to tell the story purely and theatrically so that audiences could feel it in their heart.”

    Lion King quoteInstead, it changed theatre in every conceivable way, from creative standards to technical demands to audience expectations moving forward. And perhaps its greatest impact on the creative community has been the ongoing explosion of employment opportunities it has provided for hundreds of actors of color.

    “I think really The Lion King ushered in a completely new era of theatre,” said Ragsdale.

    Schumacher and Technical Director David Benken (who graduated from Colorado State University) credit famed theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh with setting a new standard for traveling shows that was fully embraced by Taymor.

    “The idea was that if you are going to do a tour, you are going to give people on the road the same show that you gave them on Broadway,” said Benken. “That was fairly radical for its time. Back then, before Disney Theatrical Productions, there were some seriously reduced versions of shows going out on the road.”

    Benken began adapting the Broadway show for the road two full years before it opened in Denver. And his great challenge was not solving how to fit what was then a record $15 million Broadway juggernaut into The Buell Theatre. “Denver has a pretty good theatre from a technical standpoint,” he said. His job was to solve how to fit the show into much smaller theatres all across America.

    “The biggest change that had to be made was to Pride Rock,” he said. “In New York, Pride Rock rises up out of the deck. That wasn’t practical for the road because basements don’t exist in theatres that are deep enough to accommodate it.” So after several months and several attempts, they hit on the solution: Pride Rock, an 18-foot set piece, slithers onto the stage and slowly rises as Simba and his father climb to its top. “So it still gives you the iconic moment,” Benken said, “and it actually enhanced Julie’s vision that everything should come back to this idea of the Circle of Life. I think the solution we came up with in Denver worked out quite well, and it is used all over the world now.”

    Only after Benken got the show up and running in Denver did he get a real sense of what he and his team had accomplished here.

    “Once we got the show open,” he said, “you could definitely feel that this was something special for Denver, and something special for us.”

    Portions of this article came from interviews and research John Moore has conducted over the years since "The Lion King" national tour debuted in Denver in 2002.

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    Disney’s The Lion King

  • Nov 4-29 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. Nov. 28

  • Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for Disney's 'The Lion King.'

  • Kelli O’Hara, Brian D’arcy James to headline Saturday Night Alive 2016

    by NewsCenter Staff | Oct 15, 2015
    Broadway superstars Kelli O’Hara and Brian D’arcy James.
    Broadway superstars Kelli O’Hara, left, and Brian D’arcy James.

    By Hope Grandon
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Broadway superstars Kelli O’Hara and Brian D’arcy James will headline Saturday Night Alive, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' signature annual education fundraiser, on March 5, 2016. Tickets are now on sale at denvercenter.org/sna.

    O'Hara and James will entertain Saturday Night Alive patrons with an evening of their favorite Broadway songs and pop tunes.

    O’Hara won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance as Anna in the ongoing Broadway revival of The King and I. James is a three-time Tony nominee and is currently starring in Something Rotten on Broadway. He also appeared on NBC's theatre-themed drama, "Smash."

    For 36 years, Saturday Night Alive has been one of the city's top social events of the year. Each spring, the party brings together a sellout crowd of more than 800 for an unforgettable celebration of the theatre. Tickets include computerized luxury silent-auction and bidding via smartphone; as well as dinner, desserts and dancing in the Seawell Grand Ballroom.

    Net proceeds from the event, totaling more $17.4 million over the past 36 years, support DCPA Education programs. Last year's record-breaking event, featuring Jarrod Spector and Jessie Mueller of Beautiful, the Carole King Story, raised $914,000.

     Saturday Night Alive 2015: Video highlights

    Video highlights from Saturday Night Alive 2015, headlined by Jessie Mueller and Jarrod Spector

    Kelli O'Hara (Anna in The King and I)

    At Lincoln Center Theatre: South Pacific (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations), The Light in the Piazza (Tony, OCC noms.). Broadway: The Bridges of Madison County (Tony, DD, Drama League, OCC noms.), Nice Work If You Can Get It (Tony, DD, DL, OCC, Fred Astaire Award noms.), The Pajama Game (Tony, DD, OCC noms.), Sweet Smell of Success, Follies, Dracula, Jekyll & Hyde. Metropolitan Opera: The Merry Widow. Off-Broadway/concerts: My Fair Lady, Carousel (Avery Fisher Hall/NY Philharmonic); Far From Heaven, My Life With Albertine (Playwrights Horizons); King Lear (Public); Bells Are Ringing (Encores!). Film: Sex and the City 2, Scorsese’s The Key to Reserva. TV: “Peter Pan Live!,” “Blue Bloods,” “Numb3rs,” “The Kennedy Center Honors,” PBS live appearances. Solo albums: Always, Wonder in the World (Ghostlight Records).

    Brian d'Arcy James (Nick Bottom in Something Rotten

    Broadway: Macbeth, Next to Normal, Time Stands Still, Shrek The Musical (Tony nomination, Drama Desk Award), Apple Tree, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Sweet Smell of Success (Tony nomination), Titanic, Carousel, Blood Brothers. Select Off-Broadway: Originating King George III in Public Theater's Hamilton, Giant, The Good Thief (Obie), Port Authority, The Wild Party. Stars in the upcoming feature film Spotlight opposite Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo and will appear in Sisters with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Select TV/Film: starred on NBC’s “Smash,” HBO’s “Game Change,” Friends with Kids, Admission, and Ghost Town.

    Saturday Night Alive
    2016: Ticket information 

    • Saturday, March 5, 2016
    • At the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex at Speer Boulevard and Arapahoe Street
    • Individual tickets start at $450; tables of 10 start at $6,000
    • Call 303-446-4815 or visit denvercenter.org/sna
    Saturday Night Alive entertainer history
    • Jessie Mueller & Jarod Spector (’15)
    • Matthew Morrison (’14)
    • The Four Tops and The Temptations (’13)
    • Three Dog Night (’12)
    • The Beach Boys (’11)
    • Smokey Robinson (’10)
    • World Classic Rockers (’09)
    • Frankie Valli (’08)
    • The Neville Brothers (’07)
    • Linda Eder (’06)
    • Manhattan Transfer (’05)
    • Michael Bublé (’04)
    • The Broadway Tenors (’03)
    • The Pointer Sisters (’02)
    • Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. (’01)
    • The Smothers Bros. (’00)
    • Gregory Hines (’99)
    • Johnny Mathis (’98)
    • The Four Tops (’97)
    • Harry Belafonte (’96)
    • Tony Bennett (’95)
    • Nell Carter (’94)
    • Mandy Patinkin (’93)
    • Bernadette Peters (’92)
    • Paul Anka (’91)
    • Ray Charles (’90)
    • The Temptations (’89)
    • Michael Feinstein (’88)
    • Carol Lawrence (’87)
    • David Brenner (’86)
    • Diahann Carroll (’85)
    • Helen Reddy (’84)
    • Marvin Hamlisch (’83)
    • Susan Anton (’82)
    • How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (’81)

    2016 Leadership

    • Event Chairs: Claudia and Jim Miller
    • Silent Auction Chair: Lyn Schaffer
    • Corporate Chairs: Lisa and Norm Frank
    • Presenting Sponsor: Murray BMW of Denver

  • 'If/Then' composers: Writing for Idina Menzel is like learning to drive a Porsche

    by John Moore | Oct 14, 2015
    Brian Yorkey quote. Photo by Joan Marcus. The direction of 'If/Then,' and the lives of composers Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt, below left, changed when they learned they would be writing their new musical for Idina Menzel. Photo above by Joan Marcus.

    When Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey won the Pulitzer Prize for writing the Broadway musical Next to Normal in 2010, they already were looking ahead to their next project. It was to be the story of a 25-year-old woman finding her way in New York.

    And that’s when producer David Stone dangled the most mellifluous bait in musical history before them: Why not make the character a little more seasoned, with some wear and tear?

    In other words: Why not write the character for Broadway superstar Idina Menzel?

    Hook, line and singer. If/Then was re-born, and the star of Rent, Wicked and the film Frozen would become both its face, and its biggest champion.

    Brian Yorkey, left, and Tom Kitt. This week, the first national touring production of If/Then launches in Denver with Menzel again taking center stage alongside principal castmates LaChanzeAnthony Rapp and James Snyder.

    “To be able to write for someone like Idina is a privilege,” said Yorkey, the musical’s lyricist. “It's also a challenge, because you have what will ultimately be considered one of the legendary instruments of the American musical theatre. So you better make it worth her while if you are writing songs for her.”

    In an era of larger-than-life Broadway spectacles, If/Then is an ambitious but deeply human story of a modern woman whose carefully designed plans for a new life collide with the whims of fate. The musical shows two parallel paths of how her life might unfold after she makes one seemingly ordinary choice.

    It’s The Butterfly Effect – the chaos theory that says the flapping of a butterfly’s wings on one side of the world can eventually build up to a hurricane on the other. Or, in this case, it's that one small decision really can change the entire course of your life, and of those around you.

    Yorkey believes in it.

    “I do. I read Robert M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance when I was 17, and James Gleik's Chaos when I was 25. Those books blew my mind,” he said with a laugh.  

    Many of us, he added, would like to believe that there is a path chosen for us, or fated for us. “But I do know very small variations in the paths we take can lead to very great differences in the outcome,” he said.  

    “We can't know all of the implications of the choices great and small that we make today. Because we don't know which choices are going to end up looming large. I think that's terrifying and also kind of wonderful.”

    Kitt also believes everyday decisions can have huge, unknowable effects on other parts of your life.

    “I know that I got into Columbia, and that I am writing musicals, and that I have the family that I have because of a number of circumstances I couldn't even begin to plan out or fathom,” Kitt said. “But they happened, and here I am. Is that fate, or just the natural order of life? I think we all contemplate where we are at a certain point and wonder how we got there - and If/Then really lives there.”

    Here are more excerpts from DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore’s conversation with writers Tom Kitt (music) and Brian Yorkey (book and lyrics):

    Tom Kitt quote. Photo by Joan Marcus.
    Photo by Joan Marcus.

    John Moore: I know you two got into this business to write new musicals for the American theatre. And when you were classmates at Columbia, I am sure you were told there is a certain formula that will most likely result in the production of marketable new musicals. I am wondering how you got the courage to not follow those rules?

    Tom Kitt: Certainly when you are a young writer and you are just looking to make your way in the world, you have to make your own opportunities and follow your own instincts and inspirations. For both Brian and me, Next to Normal felt like something really gargantuan to tackle. It felt like it was firmly in the world of shows like Hedwig and Rent and Tommy. Those shows were having an enormous influence on us when we started writing Next to Normal. 

    Brian Yorkey quote. Brian Yorkey: OK, let's let the truth be told: For a number of years, Tom and I were trying to write a musical version of Jerry Maguire. But we would get distracted by Feeling Electric - which was the working title of Next to Normal at the time. Part of us was primed to do something we thought would be commercial, but Next to Normal just kept pulling us back. You hear writers say things like this and it smells like (bleep), but Next to Normal really did kind of demand that we write it. But initially, I don't know if we were courageous ... or procrastinating. 

    John Moore: Can you promise me that somewhere in a trunk there is a song called “Show Me the Money”?

    Brian Yorkey: As a matter of fact, John, there is a song called "Show Me the Money." And when we see you in Denver, I will have Tom play a little bit of it to you. It totally exists.

    John Moore: That completes me.

    Tom Kitt: We were just trying to figure out how to pay the bills and find the writing time that we needed back then. Once the spark for Next to Normal happened, we just didn't look back, and we never questioned. We just felt like this was the thing we were supposed to be working on. 

    Brian Yorkey: And we were really lucky to have some very key allies along the way, like (producer) David Stone and Peter Askin. He directed the original production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

    John Moore: How do you wrap your head around the impact that Next to Normal has had, and the lives that it has saved?

    Brian Yorkey: Tom and I set out to write a show that was very personal to us, and for many years we didn't know that it would matter to anybody else. But it told a story that many people hadn't seen before in the musical theatre. Music has a way of digging in and seeping into your subconscious, which is perfect for a story like ours. We learned over time that the show doesn't just belong to us. It belongs to all of those people who respond to it and claim it in some way as their own. We always find it very humbling when people tell us the show has touched them, because we didn't set out to do that. And the opportunity to touch people in that way doesn't come along very often.

    Tom Kitt: Next to Normal was a labor of love, and it never gets tiresome to hear the effect that it has had on people. 


    John Moore: When I had my first opportunity to write about Next to Normal in The Denver Post, I said that if we’re lucky, Next to Normal and Spring Awakening were going to redefine normal when it comes to the new American musical. Do you think that's happened?

    Tom Kitt: The wonderful thing about musical theatre as an art form is that it keeps evolving and changing. And we keep getting hit, luckily, with these huge, impactful shows that change the game. They spark young writers who keep challenging the art form. I got to see Spring Awakening while I was working on Next to Normal, and that was hugely impactful for me. And then I got to go work on American Idiot with (director) Michael Mayer, and that show has had a huge effect on people. You can go back further and talk about Sondheim, and Kander and Ebb, and on and on. They are all linked. These shows happen, and they affect people, and what they all say is, 'Oh, this is possible.'

    Brian Yorkey: Look, I would love to believe that the success of Next to Normal gave courage to other writers and producers, just as I hope the success of Fun Home gives courage to other writers and producers. But nothing ever completely changes. Tom and I wrote Next to Normal, but we are also working on adaptations right now that we're very excited about. So I think adaptations and movies-turned-into-musicals will be part of our landscape forever. But I also hope shows like Fun Home and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson are part of our landscape, too. The fact that Next to Normal actually earned its money back and paid its investors off and then some, that is thrilling.

    Tom Kitt: We are seeing that again right now with Hamilton. Everyone is talking about how game-changing that is. I knew that as soon as I saw it.

    Brian Yorkey: (Hamilton writer and star) Lin-Manuel Miranda is someone we have always adored and respected. Hamilton is not only inspiring to us, it is also a little bit of a kick in the tush that says, "Hey, don't sit around and use old forms. See what you can do to take this thing we love and make it into something new. Lin is clearly doing that. Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years) is doing that. It seems like a great time for all of us to be inspiring and galvanizing and challenging each other to so something new and exciting.  

    Tom Kitt: Certainly the ambition behind If/Then was this: "What's possible in the musical theatre?" ‘How do we keep challenging ourselves to tell stories that seem like they could only happen on stage in a musical?"

    John Moore: So you essentially wrote If/Then for Idina Menzel. What was it like for you to write for someone of the magnitude?

    Brian Yorkey: As a songwriter, it's like being a race-car driver having the most brilliant Porsche to take out on the track. But you had better well know how to drive it. That's part of the great challenge of it.

    Tom Kitt: First and foremost, to be writing for Idina Menzel is a gift. I wanted to utilize Idina's enormous, gargantuan instrument, but I also wanted to vary it and really explore a number of different places for her to sing.

    John Moore: What was she like to work with?

    Brian Yorkey: It sounds like I am doing a con job on people whenever I talk about Idina, but for someone with such gifts and such stardom, she is generous and loving. She will try anything that we write for her, and she will do her damndest to make it work. We would cut songs that we felt just weren't good enough to have Idina and Anthony (Rapp) and LaChanze sing them - and Idina would argue with us to try to save them. She's got an amazing heart as well an amazing talent, and that combination is more rare than you would think. More than anybody, she is the one who has put this show on her back from Day 1 and carried it forward. It's been an absolute joy to work with her, and couldn't be more in awe.

    John Moore: Can you help describe her voice to a layman?

    Tom Kitt: Her range is so huge that she can really go anywhere. She sings as high as the highest people can go. And then she has a hugely wonderful richness to her low notes as well. There is just nothing that she can't do. Really, "Always Starting Over" and "You Learn to Live Without" is a great example of that because the former sits much more in her low tones, and the latter challenges her skyward. So that's a great way of saying you can write anywhere for this person and she can do it. That's why she is who she is.

    John Moore: How important is it that Idina Menzel is here in Denver to launch the national tour of If/Then?

    Tom Kitt: It's hugely important. The show was written for Idina Menzel. It is thrilling to see what has happened for her career since Frozen. But even with all that, she has remained a fierce champion of If/Then. And the fact that she is now doing this tour when she has a million things pulling her in all different directions - it just means a great deal. And it goes without saying how helpful it is to have Idina Menzel to raise interest in the show.

    John Moore: And how did feel about getting all four principal actors back for the tour?

    Brian Yorkey: It’s insane, right? It's kind of brilliant. But that also comes right down to Idina. I mean if she’s in, I’m sure it would be kind of hard for anyone else to say no.

    John Moore: So it’s really just peer pressure, pure and simple.

    Brian Yorkey: Exactly right.

    Brian Yorkey quote. Photo by Joan Marcus. Pictured: Idina Menzel and James Snyder. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    John Moore: This is history in the making. No Broadway musical of the modern era has ever managed to re-gather its entire principal cast for a national tour before.

    Brian Yorkey: To me, having Idina and LaChanze and Anthony and James - as well as our Musical Director, Carmel Dean - heading out for the first leg of the tour is absolutely essential because they are paving the way for the people who will follow. They are helping to build this thing for tour the way we built it for Broadway. And they are also showing the world once again that they believe in this kind of quirky, not-entirely-traditional new show of ours. To me, that means everything.

    John Moore: So what do you say to fans in the cities that come after the first leg?

    Brian Yorkey: Nobody is Idina Menzel. She is not replaceable. But they said the same thing about Alice Ripley, and Next to Normal is still playing all around the world, and it has flourished in the regional theatre. My great hope is that If/Then will go beyond this national tour. I hope many great actors will want to play Elizabeth and bring their own artistry to the role. I can tell you that people will see a gargantuan performance at the center of this show wherever the show is playing.


    John Moore: If touring audiences only know you two from Next to Normal, how will the If/Then score both satisfy and surprise them?

    Brian Yorkey: I think it depends on the person. What I think If/Then has in common with Next to Normal is that Tom writes really emotional music. The music wears its heart on its sleeve. It doesn't necessarily prioritize complexity and sophistication in the way a lot of modern music does. Tom is really interested in getting to the heart of the matter musically, and I try to do the same lyrically. I try to be conversational, be human, to have lyrics that speak the way people speak and get to the heart of things. If/Then is certainly not as tensely emotional at every moment as Next to Normal, because it's telling a broader story.

    Tom Kitt: If/Then is definitely not trying to be Next to Normal in any way. The nature of the orchestrations, and the size of the orchestras, are very different.

    Brian Yorkey: Next to Normal is often referred to as a rock musical. It’s not just rock music, but the basic instrumentation is the same as a rock band. If/Then has a 13-piece orchestra. So I think there are more orchestral colors, both musically and lyrically.

    Tom Kitt: The thing that never goes away for Brian and me is that there is always a strong rhythmic quality in our songs. I think the people who come to see If/Then will definitely recognize us in the score.

    Brian Yorkey: I think the people who know and love Next to Normal will certainly find things to know and love in If/Then. And I hope they will also find colors that maybe they didn't hear in Next to Normal.   

    John Moore: How would you say the theme of the show is best reflected in your writing?

    Brian Yorkey: I don't want to be a (jerk) and quote my own lyrics, but at the end of the show, Elizabeth says, "You learn how to love the not knowing." I think a big part of life is learning how to be present in this moment and trust that we make decisions as our best self, and that the life that follows will be one worth living.

    John Moore: Denver has developed a reputation as a launching pad for national tours including The Lion King and The Book of Mormon and Pippin. Does it mean anything to you that the If/Then tour is launching here in Denver?

    Tom Kitt: Absolutely. Certainly to be in the company of all the shows you mentioned is meaningful. But when I have had other shows visiting Denver - Next to Normal, for example - the support and the reception have been wonderful. This is a city that has welcomed me as a writer into its collective heart. So the news that this is where we would begin the tour was really gratifying to me. 

    Brian Yorkey: For those of us on the creative team, you want to start at a place that is going to feel like a home away from home. You don’t want to be in a city that takes great pride in knocking things over. There are a few of those, if you know what I mean. You very much want to start in a city that is both sophisticated and theatre savvy, with people who are going to help you know what tweaks you need to make before you head out into the world. You want someplace that is going to feel welcoming. Denver fits that to a T, and I imagine that has a great deal to do with why it has become such a launching pad. And it is such a beautiful city. There couldn't be a better place for us to kick the tour off, as far as I am concerned.

    John Moore: Do you have any Colorado connections?

    Brian Yorkey: I have tons of cousins in the metro area, so I was really thrilled to hear we would be starting in Denver. I'm always very proud to show my relatives that what I do for a living is actually a real thing. One my cousins is studying musical theatre at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, so I am excited to have him and his classmates see the show. I visited him earlier this summer and I got to see him in a production of Godspell that was just fantastic. It knocked my socks off.

    Tom Kitt: My father used to work for NERA: National Economic Research Associates. They used to have annual conferences in Aspen, so I spent a lot of time there as a kid.

    John Moore: OK, so I am going to end with a really hard-hitting personal question.

    Brian Yorkey: Bring it.

    John Moore: Where do you keep your Pulitzer Prizes?

    Tom Kitt: I am moving, so my Pulitzer is going to be in a box soon.

    Brian Yorkey: I have a great story about the Tony Award (for Best Original Score).

    John Moore: Bring it.

    Brian Yorkey: So I met Warren Leight, who wrote Side Man, the night before the Tony Awards, and he said we were going to win. And I said, "Oh, I don't know about that." But he said, "No, you are going to win the Tony Award, and when you do, whatever you do, don't (bleeping) put it in your office." I asked why, and he said, "Because it will sit there staring at you every day saying, 'You will never write anything this good ever again.' " So I took him at his word, and I kept it in a bag on the floor of my office for about six months."

    John Moore: But you also won the Pulitzer Prize.

    Brian Yorkey: The funny thing about the Pulitzer is that you go to the ceremony and you meet all these reporters who risked their careers and their lives to report on this company that is poisoning this river. And then people ask you, 'Well, what did you write?' and I am like, 'Um … I wrote a play?'

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    Ticket information
    Oct. 13-25
    At the Buell Theatre
    Call 303-893-4100, buy in person at the Denver Center Ticket Office located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby, or BUY ONLINE
    ASL interpreted, Audio described & Open captioned performance: 2 p.m. Oct 25,
    Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    (Please be advised that the DCPA's web site at denvercenter.org is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for 'If/Then' performances in Denver)

    Our previous NewsCenter coverage of If/Then and Idina Menzel:

    Look for additional coverage of If/Then throughout the next two weeks at denvercenter.org/news-center

  • 'If/Then' producer on Denver's rise among elite touring cities

    by John Moore | Oct 13, 2015

    David Stone on Idina Menzel of 'If/Then': "If Idina didn't launch it ... then it wouldn't be touring. It’s as simple as that.' Photo by Joan Marcus.

    Broadway producer David Stone has a special relationship with the city of Denver that began with Denver Center President Randy Weeks and has continued unabated even after Weeks’ sudden death in 2014.

    Denver is not among the nation’s largest Broadway touring markets - not by a long shot. It’s only the 21st most-populated metro area in the country. But to borrow from sports lingo, when you put Stone and Denver together on the same field, you have to throw the numbers out the window.

    That’s because Weeks turned Denver into one of the top-tier touring markets in North America even without the population base to back it up, Stone said.

    In the touring business, the “major-league” markets are considered to be Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Toronto, said Stone, whose properties have included Wicked, The Vagina Monologues, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Next to Normal and, now, If/Then, which features superstar Idina Menzel along with the original principal cast members Anthony Rapp, LaChanze and James Snyder. (Pictured above: LaChanze, left, and Anthony Rapp of 'If/Then.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    But when it was time for Wicked to leave New York, the No. 21 city moved up to No. 8 in the pecking order.

    “Denver was the first city to get Wicked outside of those top markets,” Stone said. The same was true of Spelling Bee.”


    “I go back to Randy,” said Stone, who credits Weeks for there even being a national touring production of Next to Normal in 2010. That’s the unflinching and gut-wrenching story of a mother whose struggles with bipolar disease devastate her entire family. It was written by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt, the same team that created If/Then.

    Next to Normal was immediately recognized as important theatre. It was not immediately recognized as commercially viable theatre.

    “It never even occurred to me to do a tour of Next to Normal until Randy called me very early on and said, ‘Have you thought about a tour?’ ” said Stone, whose response was, “ … Really?"

    Weeks assured Stone he would present the show in Denver, and that other independent producers would want it, too. “He told me, ‘You should really consider this.’ "

    Next to Normal won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2010. It has been touring internationally ever since.

    “It’s all because of Randy that Next to Normal toured,” Stone said. “And the tour was hugely helpful, not only for the run in New York (which continued for another 18 months), but it also helped for all of the licensing that’s been done all around North America since. I credit all of that to Randy.”

    And that is partly why Stone chose to launch If/Then in Denver. It's a contemporary new musical that explores how vastly changed one woman’s life might have turned out if fate and her own choices had been different.

    “The idea of paying it back this way and starting the If/Then tour in Denver, even though Randy is not there with us, it feels very right,” Stone said.

    Here are more excerpts from Stone’s conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore:

    John Moore: You just finished Wicked’s record-breaking fifth tour stop here in Denver. Can you give us an assessment of Denver's national reputation?

    David Stone: First of all, the subscriptions are amazing. The subscribers love being there, and so we like playing for them. The facilities have always been maintained beautifully. The metro population itself is exploding, so before long Denver will be matching some of those bigger markets in that regard, anyway.

    John Moore: But you have a lot of choices when you launch a tour. With so much at stake, why do you think Denver has gotten so many recent launches, including The Lion King, The Book of Mormon and Pippin?

    David Stone: The reason tours love launching in Denver is that the team at the Denver Center is so savvy. The Denver Center is able to give us the materials we need to launch; it is able to give us the right video packages and the right photography packages. What we do in Denver (creates the assets) we will need for the rest of the country. The people at the Denver Center know what they are doing, and they know how to help us launch the best possible tour. I don't think there are any other markets that know how to launch a tour the way Denver does.

    John Moore: How important was Idina Menzel’s decision to tour with If/Then for these first seven cities for there to have even been a national touring production?

    David Stone: If Idina didn't launch it ... then it wouldn't be touring. It’s as simple as that. Obviously all of the markets after the first seven would like to have her. But they understand, and they will get good people, too.

    John Moore: How did you meet Idina?

    David Stone: A really funny thing is that when we were kids, she lived in the same town in the suburbs that I lived in for three years. She's five years younger than me, so we weren't at the same elementary school, but we did live in the same town. When she was doing Rent, I shared office space with (producers Jeffrey Seller and Kevin McCollum), so I met her a little bit then. Then we cast her in Wicked, but it was going to be a development period of two years. I needed to keep her busy and working during that time, so I asked her to do a couple of months of The Vagina Monologues. She did that, and then we got very close on Wicked. And then, while we were doing Wicked in London, we started talking about what the next thing is.

    John Moore: And you were already developing a separate relationship at that time with composers Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt.

    David Stone: Yes, and when Next to Normal opened at Arena Stage (in Washington D.C.), my opening-night gift from Tom and Brian was a treatment for a new musical that turned out to be If/Then. Talk about a great opening-night gift.

    John Moore: How long did it take you to call Idina?

    David Stone: The timing was right. Everyone was trying to find the next thing. I pulled in (director) Michael Greif at this point, because he of course had discovered Idina in Rent. Now the original treatment of If/Then involved a 25-year-old woman coming to New York for the first time, and looking at all the different paths her life could take. Interestingly enough, the character was originally going to be from Denver. But anyway, after working on it for a little while, I said to Brian and Tom, 'Well, wouldn't it be more interesting if she were older and had some baggage from her previous life choices? What if she were a woman who was a little older and coming back to New York with some wear and tear?’ And they said, 'Well actually, that would raise the stakes much more. Then she would have to be somebody, say, approaching 40.’ That’s when I said, ‘Well in that case, why don’t we just stop trying to find something else for Idina? Why doesn't she just do this?' I asked Idina and she loved the idea. And that is how the two ideas became one.

    John Moore: I’m not a classically trained singer by any definition. So can you help me explain to people what it means when they say Idina Menzel has a five-octave voice?

    David Stone: All I know is there is something about the quality of her voice and the way she uses her emotion in her voice that touches me to the core. I could give you 20 other attributes, but if you are talking about her vocally, that’s it: Her voice is emotional. That's what I respond to, and I can listen to it again and again because when I listen to Idina, I hear colors. That, and she has great technique.

    John Moore: You will be making theatre history when If/Then opens in Denver as the first Broadway musical of the modern era to send out a national tour with its principal cast intact.

    David Stone: I've never heard of it happening. But then again, I have never been part of any show where the entire company – backstage and onstage – really loved being together as much as these people do. That starts at the top with Idina. But they all just wanted to be together again. They love each other, and they love the show, and they want it to be seen by as many people as possible. They would do the whole tour if they could, but LaChanze has two teenage girls at home, and James has both a 2-year-old and 1-week-old.

    John Moore: So this really is the rare chance where people on the road will get to see a show pretty much the way it was presented on Broadway.

    David Stone: There is a little bit of a change in the way the show is being staged because we had a mirror effect in New York that we can't do the road. So we are doing some things with video projections that are really very cool. Other than that, yes, I think this is a unique opportunity for audiences to basically see what everyone was talking about in New York.

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    Ticket information
    Oct. 13-25
    At the Buell Theatre
    Call 303-893-4100, buy in person at the Denver Center Ticket Office located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby, or BUY ONLINE
    ASL interpreted, Audio described & Open captioned performance: 2 p.m. Oct 25,
    Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    (Please be advised that the DCPA's web site at denvercenter.org is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for 'If/Then' performances in Denver)

    Our previous NewsCenter coverage of If/Then and Idina Menzel:

    Look for additional coverage of If/Then, including our expanded interviews with Idina Menzel, Brian Yorkey, Tom Kitt and other members of the cast and crew, at denvercenter.org/news-center

    The cast of 'If/Then.' Photo by Joan Marcus.
  • Michael Riedel: Broadway's most outspoken voice brings 'Razzle Dazzle' to Denver

    by John Moore | Oct 11, 2015

    In the history of Broadway, there have been few characters onstage as colorful and controversial as Michael Riedel, the self-made journalist whose skewering of Broadway gypsies, scamps and thieves in the New York dailies has made him one of the most feared and revered theatre personalities of the past quarter-century.

    Riedel’s oversight has spanned gossip to hard-hitting investigative journalism. Acting as the proudly opinionated moral conscience of Broadway, he has never minced words when it has come to rooting out those he has perceived to be crooks. The theatre elite have both demanded and dreaded his attention.

    Take, for example, what Riedel has to say about controversial producer Mitchell Maxwell. For a time, Maxwell ran Denver’s New Civic Theatre (now the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center), where he prepared Brooklyn The Musical for its Broadway run in 2004:

    “I have a nose for things that smell badly, and from the moment I met him, Mitchell set my nose twitching. I just never trusted him. He was a walking oil slick.”

    Or how about controversial Canadian producer Garth Drabinsky, who in 2009 was convicted and sentenced to prison for fraud and forgery:

    “I had a great time torturing Garth Drabinsky,” said Riedel. “And in the end, I was proven right. Because Garth went to jail, and I'm enjoying a glass of Chablis with my oysters right now.”

    While most New York theatre writers focus on what is happening onstage, Riedel has relentlessly chronicled all of the off-stage shenanigans for the New York Daily News and New York Post. But he is also a tireless champion for shows he has liked, such as The Lion King, Mamma Mia and Spring Awakening.

    And for those he hasn’t?

    “When shows are disasters," he said, "I am the first one to get out my spade and start digging their graves.”

    Riedel’s stranger-than-fiction real-life story starts with the then-new Columbia graduate’s plans for becoming a lawyer getting derailed when he was offered a job writing for TheatreWeek Magazine - when he was at a kegger.

    Riedel will bring his colorful stories to the Denver Center on Thursday (Oct. 15) for what promises to be a fiery discussion and Q&A about his newly released debut book, Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway. He will talk about both the plays and power plays that make up his book, which serves as both a history and exposé of how theatre not only saved itself, but, in large part he believes, saved the city of New York.


    “Everybody talks about how it was (Mayor Rudy) Giuliani and Disney that saved Times Square,” Riedel said. “But I am going back further. In the late 1960s and early ‘70s, nobody thought Times Square could be turned around. Nobody cared. The various mayors’ attitude toward Broadway was, ‘Where is Broadway going to go? New Jersey? You're stuck here in this morass. Live with it.' But guys like Gerry Schoenfeld, who was president of the Shubert Organization, were already working to clean up Times Square.

    "And that cleanup could not have happened without great shows. If there had been no A Chorus Line … if there had been no 42nd Street … there would have been nothing there for people to go and see. If there had been no Annie, why would you ever take a family to Times Square in 1977?"

    Riedel was hired by TheatreWeek Magazine in 1989, and he became the theater columnist for the New York Post in 1998. He worked at the New York Daily News for five years before returning to the Post. He is also co-host of Theater Talk for PBS.

    The host of Thursday’s free discussion in the DCPA’s Conservatory Theatre in the Newman Center for Theatre Education will be David Stone. He’s the producer of both Wicked and If/Then, which launches its first national tour in Denver on Tuesday. Stone is proof that not every Broadway producer quakes in fear of Riedel. “He grew up in the business at the same time I did,” Riedel said, “and we have been friends since we both started out.”

    Riedel will take questions from the audience and sign copies of his book, which will be available for purchase on Thursday.

    Here are more excerpts from Michael Riedel’s conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore:

    John Moore: So what did you really think of Brooklyn?


    Michael Riedel: Brooklyn is a great borough. It’s really come up in the world. There are great restaurants there.

    John Moore: Man, you really do not like Mitchell Maxwell, do you?

    Michael Riedel: I hope you ran him out of town. He's been thoroughly discredited on Broadway.

    John Moore: You seem to have the goods on everyone. How did all of this happen?

    Michael Riedel: To be honest with you, I just did it to have fun. I started out as a kid when I was 21. It was a lark. I got the job right out of college at a beer-keg party the weekend I was graduating. I was going to be a lawyer. I never thought I would have anything to do with the theatre, and certainly not journalism. If you read my column closely, you can still see I know nothing about the theatre or journalism. I just fell into it, and it turned out to be kind of fun.

    John Moore: But you have brought some of Broadway’s most powerful to their knees.

    Michael Riedel: But there was no grand plan. I was having such a good time interviewing colorful characters like Gerry Schoenfeld; Jimmy Nederlander; Fran and Barry Weissler; Cy Coleman and Charlie Strouse - and I think somehow the fun that I was having came across in my writing. This was at a time in the late ’80s and early ’90s when people really weren't paying attention to Broadway. This was before we had Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King and Wicked and all the big shows that everyone around the world now loves on Broadway. There was that dip after the success of those Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber shows where Broadway seemed kind of sleepy and tired. When I look back now, I was just a public voice who said to people who read the Daily News and New York Post, “You know what? These characters who run Broadway are interesting.” David Stone has always said to me, “People may hate you, but you made this business sound interesting at a time when very few people were paying attention."

    John Moore: So you did a public service.

    Michael Riedel: Well, I wouldn't go that far. I feel, like all good columnists, I did what I did in service to my own burning ambition. But it worked.

    John Moore: Tell us about the period of time you cover in Razzle Dazzle.

    Michael Riedel: The premise of the book is that New York City, Times Square and Broadway were all down and out in the late 1960s and early ’70s. The city was going bankrupt. Times Square was seedy and dangerous - not a place where any tourist wanted to be. Broadway was in trouble. The Shubert Organization was on the verge of insolvency. Theatres were being torn down. They had more value as parking lots. What I try to show in the book is that a handful of people stuck by Broadway in its hour of need: The Shuberts and Bernie Jacobs and Gerry Schoenfeld and the Nederlanders were buying theatres for a dime back in those days. But it was also artists like Michael Bennett and Joe Papp creating A Chorus Line ... David Merrick coming back with 42nd Street ... Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber coming to New York with Cats. Those guys saved Broadway and, in so doing, lifted not only the theatre world, but also Times Square, and ultimately New York City itself. Because New York has one thing that no other city in the world has, and that's Broadway. And when everything else was deserting New York in the 1970s, when New York was within hours of declaring bankruptcy, Broadway was still there for New York City. You still had Michael Bennett doing A Chorus Line. You still had Bob Fosse doing Chicago. You had Tom Meehan and Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin doing this little show called Annie that made Jimmy Nederlander and his empire.

    John Moore: How important was that to the overall revival of the city?

    Michael Riedel: I try get across in the book that the arts are crucial to the success of a city. We always hear about sports: “If we can get a baseball or a football or a basketball franchise, or build a new stadium, that's the most important thing.” But people do not appreciate or understand the fundamental significance and importance of the arts to the health of a great city.

    John Moore: All this championing is going to do nothing for your reputation.

    Michael Riedel: Hey, I've always been a champion of Broadway. But I've also realized that to be a champion, you have to make it entertaining. And, yes, gossip is entertaining. But Broadway is a place where they have tremendous successes - and I'm the first person to celebrate those successes. I was one of the very first people to champion The Lion King when it played its first preview in Minneapolis and no one in New York knew anything about it. I was an early supporter of Mamma Mia, and I loved Spring Awakening at its very first performance. But that doesn't mean that you cheerlead for everything.

    John Moore: The story of Broadway has been told in many ways, but no one has really written it from this perspective, have they?

    Michael Riedel: I don't think so, because I am going back to guys like Gerry Schoenfeld as president of the Shubert Organization. Gerry was a one-man band promoting the resurgence of Times Square. But he was just trying to clean it up piecemeal. He formed the Midtown Citizens Committee. Gerry was running around and trying to shut down sex shops one by one by dragging the police in off the streets.

    John Moore: Tell us one or two all-time favorite scoops.

    Michael Riedel: I was on to Garth Drabinsky very early on. I had an old friend named Arthur Cantor (producer of On Golden Pond) and I took him to the opening night of Showboat on Broadway that Hal Prince directed and Garth Drabinsky produced (in 1994). Garth was telling us all that it was the biggest hit in the world. But Arthur knew the numbers of every show at his fingertips. And so when Garth brought out the entire crew from backstage and they all took a bow, Arthur leaned over to me and he said, 'That show costs about $600,000 a week to run. There is no way it is going to make any money. This whole thing is a fraud.' And so I began to look closely at Garth's empire, and all the shows he was doing. Bit by bit, as I learned how the numbers work on Broadway, I realized that something was going on here that amounted to a Ponzi scheme. I confronted Garth after Ragtime opened on Broadway (in 1998), and I knew it was going to be overshadowed by The Lion King. I said, “Garth, I have to be honest with you: All the smart, savvy Broadway guys I know don't believe your numbers. They don't believe the grosses you are reporting. They don't believe the profits you are reporting.” And I will never forget this: He banged his desk so hard, my tape recorder was jingling all over the place. He said, “I am the most investigated man in the theatre. I have the (Securities and Exchange Commission) on my back. I have the Canadian Stock Exchange on my back. Everything I do is an open book.” Well, it turned out he had one book that was open … and he had another book that was tightly closed that showed the magnitude of his losses.

    John Moore: So you can't really mean it when you say you know nothing about theatre or journalism.

    Michael Riedel: No, but you have to understand: I never went to journalism school. I never really learned how to write. To me, it's just curiosity and all the great old journalists that I got to know when I was a kid at the Daily News in the early '90s. Not a single one of them was running around brandishing their Columbia journalism degree. My favorite reporters were the guys who reported about the mob. I just liked the way they worked. They had great sources. They had great curiosity about what was going on, and they were able to get people to tell them things that they shouldn't be telling them, and I guess that was my crash course in journalism. To me, journalism is fundamentally about reporting something that the people in power don't want people to know about.

    John Moore: Any other favorite bylines?

    Michael Riedel: I would have to say Spider-Man. I knew the players. I knew the early producers were not up to keeping spending under control. And I knew that Bono and The Edge had no experience on Broadway. I know how rock musicians work. They are never going to be around. I knew from my interviews with guys like Cy Coleman, Jule Styne and Charlie Strouse that when you are writing a musical, you have to be living it day and night to get it right. You can't have Bono and The Edge in New Zealand making gazillions of dollars on a concert and occasionally Skyping in to see how the show is going. So I just knew all the elements there were going to amount to a disaster, and I think history shows that I was proved right.

    John Moore: So you will be joining David Stone here in Denver on Thursday for your Q&A on Razzle Dazzle, which coincides with the launch of the If/Then national tour. What are your thoughts on If/Then?

    Michael Riedel: David made a lot of money from Wicked, and he has produced that show brilliantly. But the thing I admire about David more is that instead of running around now and just doing corporate-produced shows, or just backing musicals based on famous titles of movies, David believes in the original American musical. He did that brilliantly with Next to Normal, which won the Pulitzer Prize and was a success on Broadway, and he is doing that again with If/Then. And even if If/Then was not as successful on Broadway as, say, Wicked, I would much rather have someone like David Stone out there committed to developing original American musicals than have a bunch of corporate executives who only want to mine the back catalog of movie studios.

    John Moore: After chronicling the past 40 years on Broadway in Razzle Dazzle, what is your assessment of the state of the American theatre today?

    Michael Riedel: Just to give you a brief idea of where the book begins and ends: I begin with a huge scandal that rocked Broadway in the early 1960s. It's all about bribery and corruption, and the selling of tickets to hot shows illegally and pocketing the money from the scalpers market. I wanted to show that Broadway back then was a seedy, backwater, corrupt business. Well today, that seedy, backwater, corrupt business makes about $1.5 billion a year for itself, and then another billion in tourism dollars for New York City. This book shows how a business that was down and out has become one of the most lucrative parts of the entertainment industry. But I try to tell that story through the personalities of the people who did it.

    John Moore: And what is your assessment of those people?

    Michael Riedel: I would say theatre people are egomaniacal, they are narcissistic, they are ambitious, they are petty, they're vindictive and they are backstabbing … but they are passionate about what they do.

    John Moore: Hey, that’s what they say about journalists!

    Michael Riedel: I can tell you this, and you can quote me: I have never made as much money as David Stone.

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    A Conversation with Michael Riedel
    • 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct 15
    • Conservatory Theatre
    • Newman Center for Theatre Education, 13th and Arapahoe streets
    • Free discussion and Q&A about Riedel's debut book, Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway
    • Moderated by David Stone, producer of Wicked, Next to Normal and Wicked
    • Tickets are free, but RSVP requested: Click here

    Ticket information
    Oct. 13-25
    At the Buell Theatre
    Call 303-893-4100, buy in person at the Denver Center Ticket Office located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby, or BUY ONLINE
    ASL interpreted, Audio described & Open captioned performance: 2 p.m. Oct 25,
    Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    (Please be advised that the DCPA's web site at denvercenter.org is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for 'If/Then' performances in Denver)

    Our previous NewsCenter coverage of If/Then and Idina Menzel:

    Look for additional coverage of If/Then, including our expanded interviews with Idina Menzel, David Stone, Brian Yorkey, Tom Kitt and other members of the cast and crew, at denvercenter.org/news-center

  • Video and more: Meet LaChanze of 'If/Then'

    by John Moore | Oct 07, 2015

    Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Tony Award-winning actor LaChanze will help make theatre history next week when If/Then becomes what is believed to be the first Broadway musical of the modern era to send out a national touring production with its principal cast intact.

    We spoke to LaChanze about the derivation of her name, winning the Tony Award for The Color Purple, and coming to Denver to launch the If/Then tour alongside original cast members Idina Menzel, Anthony Rapp and James Snyder.

    And here are more excerpts from LaChanze's interview with DCPA Arts Journalist John Moore that are not included in the video above:

    John Moore: Tell us about the derivation of your name.

    LaChanze: Name: It’s a family name that has been passed down for four generations. I am not Creole. My family is not Creole. But my grandmother was raised there in Louisiana. There are four LaChanzes in my family. My daughter’s middle name is LaChanze. The meaning is “one who is charmed.”

    John Moore: What was it like performing the national anthem in front of 78,000 people before the Denver Broncos’ season-opening win over the Baltimore Raves?

    LaChanze: Typically when I sing the national anthem, it is a very reverent, serious, solemn moment. I think it deserves that kind of respect. But after people started jumping out of planes and landing on the field, and Thunder the Horse did his tour around the stadium, and the fire is shooting up – and all of this happened just before I sang – well, that was a tough act for the national anthem to follow. But it was so much fun.

    John Moore: What is it like for you to be making history by becoming the first Broadway company of the modern era to reunite the entire principal cast for the first national touring production?

    LaChanze: When they announced that they were doing the tour, we all starting checking in with each other. One would say, ‘Would you do it?’ And another would say, ‘I’ll do it of you do it.’ Our producer didn’t know we were having those conversations, but we were. Quite a few of them, actually. But if we were going to do it, we needed to be together. We originated these characters, and this story, together. And we have bonded. We wanted to continue the true telling of this story, with our imprint on it, for the national tour. And it’s great when you get to be onstage with people you already have been onstage with for a year. You already know what to expect. It’s comfortable.


    John Moore: You won the Tony Award for playing a terribly abused young girl in The Color Purple. How much fun is it to be playing a more grounded, modern character?

    LaChanze: I have played a lot of dramatic characters, and I am known for playing all these roles that resonate with pain and suffering and overcoming. I am rarely cast as an optimistic, outgoing, vibrant woman, which I am, and so here was an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up. I love the story. And I love that it’s not a journey where I have to cry every single night. People get to see a different dimension in me as an actor and a singer. It is a real personal joy for me to be able to walk out and light up the stage.

    John Moore: What do you love about the If/Then story?

    LaChanze: This story is all of our life story. We always question the choices we make, and sometimes we wonder if we had made a different choice, what the outcome would have been. I think about that all the time.

    John Moore: Tell us about your upcoming record and concert tour.

    LaChanze: I have a show that I will be taking on in the road in 2016 and ’17 called Feeling Good, and it is just that: Music that makes you feel good. Between songs, I cut in a few anecdotes about my life – both optimistic moments that I have had, and some other moments that haven’t been so optimistic. But I talk how I overcame them. So it is slightly autobiographical, but it really is meant to be an inspiring, uplifting evening. I’m hoping we can bring the show here to Denver.


    Ticket information
    Oct. 13-25
    At the Buell Theatre
    Call 303-893-4100, buy in person at the Denver Center Ticket Office located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby, or BUY ONLINE
    ASL interpreted, Audio described & Open captioned performance: 2 p.m. Oct 25,
    Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    (Please be advised that the DCPA's web site at denvercenter.org is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for 'If/Then' performances in Denver)

    Our previous NewsCenter coverage of If/Then and Idina Menzel:

    Look for additional coverage of If/Then, including our expanded interviews with Idina Menzel, David Stone, Brian Yorkey, Tom Kitt and other members of the cast and crew, at denvercenter.org/news-center

  • 'If/Then': How the set was installed for Denver launch

    by John Moore | Oct 06, 2015
    Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    We previously showed you our time-lapse video showing how crews over four days installed the set for the launch of the national touring production of If/Then at The Buell If/Then load-in. Photo by John Moore. Theatre in Denver.

    Here, Production Technical Supervisor Jake Bell talks about the particular challenges of readying the set not only for Denver, but for theatres of various sizes throughout the country. One thing that is new to this particular production is a wall of video that is used in the show. "We did not use the video element in New York," Bell said.

    If Then, by the creators of Next to Normal, follows two distinct storylines in the life of Elizabeth, a modern woman who woman faces the intersection of choice and chance. It plays in Denver from Oct. 13-15.

      If/Then load-in. Photo by John Moore.

    Photo by John Moore.

    Ticket information
    Oct. 13-25
    At the Buell Theatre
    Call 303-893-4100, buy in person at the Denver Center Ticket Office located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby, or BUY ONLINE
    ASL interpreted, Audio described & Open captioned performance: 2 p.m. Oct 25,
    Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    (Please be advised that the DCPA's web site at denvercenter.org is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for 'If/Then' performances in Denver)

    Our previous NewsCenter coverage of If/Then and Idina Menzel:

    Look for additional coverage of If/Then, including our expanded interviews with Idina Menzel, LaChanze, David Stone, Brian Yorkey, Tom Kitt and other members of the cast and crew, at denvercenter.org/news-center

    More photos of If/Then in Denver:

    All photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.

  • Denver auditions for national tour of 'A Christmas Story, The Musical'

    by John Moore | Sep 27, 2015
    'A Christmas Story, The Musical.' Colton Maurer as Ralphie and the company.
    'A Christmas Story, The Musical.' Colton Maurer as Ralphie and the company. 

    The national touring production of A Christmas Story, The Musical, premiering in Denver at The Buell Theatre Dec. 16-27, is searching for one local child dancer/singer to perform an ensemble cast role. Auditions will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4, at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' Education rehearsal studios (1101 13th St.).

    A Christmas Story, The Musical chronicles young and bespectacled Ralphie Parker as he schemes his way toward the holiday gift of his dreams, an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle (“You’ll shoot your eye out kid!”). An infamous leg lamp, outrageous pink bunny pajamas, a maniacal department store Santa, and a double-dog-dare to lick a freezing flagpole are just a few of the distractions that stand between Ralphie and his Christmas wish. Following its smash-hit Broadway run, has proudly taken its place as a perennial holiday classic for the whole family.

    DATE: Sunday, Oct. 4
    LOCATION: Denver Center for the Performing Arts Education
    1101 13th St.
    Denver, CO 80204     

    Audition Registration Form and Sheet Music

    • The show is looking for a child with a love of theater and a strong stage presence.
    • Children who audition need some dance training in order to learn the choreography.
    • Children must be between 8 and 13 years of age and between 4-feet-5 and 4’10” tall.
    • Registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis and audition space is limited.
    • Children who plan to audition must bring Registration Form and a photo to the audition (does not have to be a head shot)

    For complete requirements and restrictions please visit AChristmasStoryOnTour.com

    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

    DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.