• 'Motown' performers visit D-Town's North High School

    by John Moore | Feb 17, 2017

    Video above: Cast members from the national touring production of Motown the Musical visited students from Denver's North High School to sing a song and answer their questions about life in the theatre.

    Michelle Alves, who plays 15 roles, and 11-year-old CJ Young, who plays a young Michael Jackson, offered advice and encouragement before returning to the Buell Theatre for 'Motown,' the story of founder Berry Gordy's journey from featherweight boxer to heavyweight music mogul. His American dream launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Smokey Robinson. The conversation was led by DCPA Education’s Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski.

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

    Photo gallery: Motown at Denver's North High School:

    'Motown' in Denver 2017
    Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above.

    Motown the Musical: Ticket information
    Motown The MusicalThrough Sunday, Feb. 19
    The Buell Theatre
    ASL, Open Caption and Audio Described performance: 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    800-641-1222 | TTY: 303-893-9582
    Groups (10+): 303-446-4829

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Motown the Musical:
    How Berry Gordy turned a slogan into The Supremes

    Michelle Alves and CJ Young, center, with students from Denver North High School. Photo by John Moore. Michelle Alves and CJ Young of 'Motown the Musical,' center, with students from Denver North High School. Photo by John Moore for the DCA NewsCenter.
  • Video: Beth Malone will return to 'Molly Brown' in St. Louis

    by John Moore | Jan 23, 2017

    Beth Malone talks about playing Molly Brown at The Muny in St. Louis this summer. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Colorado may be Molly Brown’s home, but her next residence will be in her birth state of Missouri. And once again, Tony Award nominee Beth Malone will be playing history’s most unsinkable socialite.

    Two years ago, the DCPA Theatre Company launched a completely re-imagined The Unsinkable Molly Brown, directed by Tony Award-winner Kathleen Marshall and featuring both a new book by Dick Scanlan and a recalibrated Meredith Willson score that includes new songs from the Willson catalog. Marshall called the result "Americana at its best: Big, strong, open-hearted and optimistic.”

    The production was well-received at the DCPA but Molly_Brown_Beth Malone_JK_800its creators were intent on incorporating lessons learned from Denver toward the eventual goal of a larger life on the national stage. The next step in that journey was announced recently when The Unsinkable Molly Brown was included on the 2017 season for The Muny this coming July 21-27. Located in St. Louis, The Muny is America’s largest outdoor musical theatre.

    Marshall again will direct, along with Scanlan and Music Director Michael Rafter. The Muny introduced Malone at an event tonight to announce her return to the role. Full casting will be announced at a later date.

    Malone said she realized a lifelong dream when she was cast in the DCPA Theatre Company’s 2014 production. “For me, that was the culmination of my entire career. It was a giant gift from God and the universe plopped right in my lap. It was amazing.” Shortly after, she was nominated for a 2015 Tony Award for her work in Fun Home.

    Of the St. Louis production, she added, "This is a very exciting next move for this piece, and I am very excited to get in the room again and work on it and put it up again." 

    The Unsinkable Molly Brown tells the story of perhaps the most colorful woman in Colorado history. The original 1960 Broadway musical was beloved by some but was also problematic. The musical tells the story of a Hannibal girl who went to Colorado and married a miner who became fabulously wealthy. But unlike others in her position, Brown opened a soup kitchen and fought for immigrants. Ultimately she boarded the Titanic but survived, rescuing others in the process.

    “It’s a classic American musical: beautiful and heartfelt,” said Mike Isaacson, the Muny’s artistic producer and executive producer. “And what Dick has done with it is extraordinary.”

    (Story continues below)

    Full photo gallery: Beth Malone in Denver:

    Beth Malone in Denver

    The photos above follow Beth Malone's time performing as Molly Brown in Denver, visiting Brown's adopted hometown of Leadville, Colorado, and returning both for Denver Broncos national anthems and to sing the praises of 'Fun Home.' Photos by John Moore and Jennifer M. Koskinen. To see more photos, click the forward arrow in the image above.


    Scanlan, a three-time Tony Award nominee also wrote the book for “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and other musicals.

    “Dick has kept the songs you love…and hopefully he’s gotten rid of the ones you don’t,” DCPA Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson said.

    Meet the cast video series: Beth Malone

    In Molly Brown’s 1932 obituary, The Denver Post’s Jack Carberry wrote: “She was a pot rustler who, shamed by her ignorance, mastered music, literature and the arts to storm the portals and pass the barriers of society.”

    But while Scanlan promises audiences will see a much deeper Molly Brown than they did in the 1960 original, The Unsinkable Molly Brown remains very much a musical. And a musical comedy at that.  
    LEAD MOLLY
    This Molly Brown is still unsinkable, Malone said, "but it’s based more on the historical facts, and the real-life love affair between Molly Brown and JJ Brown."

    “This is not a documentary,” Marshall added. “This is a historical fiction. This is the journey of Molly Brown as a woman, and her marriage.”

    That means this is also a romance.

    “Oh it is very much a romance,” Scanlan said.

    Malone credits her time with Molly Brown in Denver for setting her on the path of her Tony Award nomination for Fun Home.

    "I have to say that doing Molly Brown and have it be a success on the level that it was really helped me walk back into the Fun Home rehearsal knowing that I could lead a cast," said Malone. "Molly Brown and that whole experience at the Denver Center bolstered my confidence in my bones."


    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.

    Beth Malone sings two songs from The Unsinkable Molly Brown:


    In the video above, Beth Malone appeared at the 2015 Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards, where she sang two songs from the show. Watch for at the very beginning, and again at the 2:45 mark. Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.



    Selected previous Beth Malone coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter:

    Selected previous Molly Brown coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter:

     

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Harvy Blanks: 'Wilsonian Warrior' makes Broadway debut in 'Jitney'

    by John Moore | Jan 20, 2017
    Photo gallery: A look back at Harvy Blanks at the Denver Center:
    Harvy Blanks at the Denver Center

    Harvy Blanks, a veteran of 37 productions with the DCPA Theatre Company, including eight of the 10 August Wilson plays, made his Broadway debut on Thursday (Jan. 19) in Wilson's 'Jitney.' Here is a look back at some of his productions with the Denver Center.To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above.


    First the popular actor made theatre history in Denver. Now he is helping to make history on Broadway.

    By John Moore
    For The DCPA NewsCenter

    In 2009, Harvy Blanks made history as part of the DCPA Theatre Company’s Radio Golf, which made Israel Hicks the first director in the world to have completed the entire August Wilson Century Cycle for the same theatre company.

    Blanks made history again Thursday night, when he not only made his Broadway debut, he did it in Jitney, the 10th and final story in Wilson’s legendary series to be told on Broadway. 

    Blanks is a veteran of 37 DCPA Theatre Company productions over 25 years, including eight of the 10 Wilson plays that chronicle the African-American experience in Pittsburgh’s Hill District throughout each decade of the 20th Century. Jitney takes place in the 1970s and tells the story of gentrification as the city tries to shut down a gypsy cab station whose drivers are struggling to survive. The New York Times is already calling the production glorious, “acted by an impeccably tuned ensemble.”

     “The coupling of my doing any August Wilson play, and being on Broadway for the first time, is just too much,” Blanks said this week. “I sit backstage sometimes and I say to myself, 'Man, I'm on Broadway. And I am rubbing elbows with some of the greatest actors in the world.' ’’

    Some of Blanks’ fellow actors would say they are the ones doing the elbow-rubbing. Kim Staunton, who is back at the Denver Center to appear in the upcoming world premiere of the play Two Degrees, appeared in six August Wilson plays alongside Blanks at the Denver Center, which beat Broadway to the August Wilson finish line by seven years. Staunton says Blanks is part of a tribe she calls “The Wilsonian Warriors.”

    “Harvy is one of America's theater treasures, and a kind, gentle, amazing man,” said Staunton. “He so deserves to be on Broadway, and that his debut is the last August Wilson play in the canon to be produced there, couldn't be more perfect and wonderful.”

    Harvy Blanks JITNEY. Photo by Kareem Black.Blanks admits it was hard for him to accept a role in another Wilson play after Israel Hicks died in 2010. “I've seen a whole lot of August Wilson, but not a lot of good August Wilson,” he said, “and if it's not good, it's going to be bad.”

    Blanks wants to do August Wilson anytime he can do it with a good director, he said, and Jitney director Ruben Santiago-Hudson is Wilson royalty.

    (Photo above and right: Cast of Broadway's 'Jitney.' Photo by Kareem Black.)

    “Ruben is a direct descendent of Israel Hicks and Lloyd Richards and that whole circle of August Wilson’s friends,” Blanks said. Many of his Broadway castmates were part of Wilson’s original productions. Santiago first cast Blanks in a staging of Jitney at Two River Theatre in New Jersey back in 2012. And he not only brought most of that cast with him to Broadway - he insisted on it. Including Blanks, who despite all of his regional experience, was an unknown Broadway entity. As is the case with most every high-stakes Broadway production, there was pressure to bring in bigger names from TV or film for Jitney. But Santiago didn’t flinch.

    Harvy Blanks Quote“He is loyal to a fault,” Blanks said, “and I’ll tell you what, man, this production almost did not get done because of that fact. But Ruben was willing to stand up and say, 'Hey, it has to be this way because these are August Wilson's kind of actors, and I can't do it with anything less than these people. Just to have a big name up there is not going to work for me.’ So he fights for his people, and he fights for the right to put the best play on stage that he can. Ruben reminds me of Israel so much. He's an actor's director, and he is a friend.”

    In the Denver Center’s 2002 production of Jitney, Blanks played Turnbo, a gossiping, gun-pulling livery driver. On Broadway, Blanks is playing Shealy, a smooth, well-dressed numbers man. Blanks describes Shealy as “the spice of life” in the play, a comic role he equates to the mechanical characters in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

    “When Shealy comes on, he brings all of the energy and all the hopes and desires and passions that exist on the streets of the Hill District,” Blanks said. “He comes in and he tells stories and he elicits conversation with everyone and by the time he makes his exit, I hope you are wondering, ‘What kind of adventure is he going to bring with him next?’ He's a whirlwind, and he's a storyteller, very much like August himself.”

    In order of each decade in the Wilson cycle, Blanks has played:

    • Eli in Gem of the Ocean (DCPA Theatre Company)
    • Loomis in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (DCPA Theatre Company)
    • Slow Drag in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Two River Theater)
    • Harvy Blank DCPA Radio GolfBoy Willie in The Piano Lesson (DCPA Theatre Company)
    • Canewell in Seven Guitars (DCPA Theatre Company)
    • Gabe in Fences (DCPA Theatre Company)
    • West in Two Trains Running (Two River Theater)
    • Turnbo and Shealy in Jitney (DCPA Theatre Company/Broadway)
    • Stool Pigeon in King Hedley II (DCPA Theatre Company)
    • Sterling Johnson in Radio Golf (DCPA Theatre Company, pictured above)

    And so he was inevitably asked if he has a favorite. And like most actors, Blanks’ favorite character is the character he’s working on now.

    Harvy Blanks JITNEY. Photo by Joan Marcus“Shealy is always in this very fashionable 1970s attire,” he said. “These are the clothes my dad's generation used to wear. I looked in the mirror in the dressing room the other day, and I just saw my dad in that suit, man. You can't know how meaningful that was to me. It took me right back to those days with my dad and my mom getting dressed to go out, and he’s putting on this suit that looks exactly like the one I wear in this play. It warms me. So I'm in love with this guy right now.  And I have to thank August Wilson for that, because the turns of phrases that my dad and my uncles used to use all the time are now pouring out of my mouth.”

    (Pictured right: Harvy Blanks in Broadway's 2017 production of 'Jitney.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    Wilsonian Warriors have that in common, Staunton said.

     “We recognize these people from our own families,” she said. “Having done so many shows with Harvy, I've had the pleasure of hearing his stories of the wonderful community who helped raise him. Like always, I know he has pulled from that extraordinary pool to create Shealy.”

    Blanks last appeared at the Denver Center in a seminal 2011 production of Ruined, a Mother Courage-like story set in a brothel in war-torn Africa. Blanks’ DCPA resume includes roles in many African-American stories, such as Purlie and A Raisin in the Sun. But it’s remarkably varied slate, including August Strindberg’s Miss Julie, Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, Joseph Kesselring’s Arsenic and Old Lace and nine seasonal productions of A Christmas Carol.

    “I miss it, man,” he said. That’s where I cut my teeth.”

    He knew the Denver Center would be his artistic home, he said, when then-Artistic Director Donovan Marley told him, “We don't have 'color' around here,’ ” Blanks said. “He told me, 'You are going to be a full part of the company, and that means you will be expected to do what Jamie Horton does, or Kathy Brady does, or John Hutton does.’ The biggies. These people were so gifted, and so just by sitting there and watching them work, I became far more disciplined as an actor than I was before I got there. So my time in Denver was huge to me.”

    the-mountaintop_lake-dillon-theatreBlanks returns to Colorado whenever possible. He performed in Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s The Mountaintop opposite Staunton in 2014 (pictured right), and last year he was back in Denver performing in the world premiere of the musical Uncle Jed’s Barbershop at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre.

    Here’s more of our conversation with Blanks, including his take on the new movie version of Fences:

    John Moore: What does it mean to you to be making your Broadway debut at this stage of your career?

    Harvy Blanks: I have certainly wanted to do Broadway, but it wasn't on my bucket list.

    John Moore: How is that possible?

    Harvy Blanks: Because after you have done theatre for a while, you lose that romantic view. And when you let something go, it frees you from your angst. But a lot of times, it comes back to you in strange and magical forms. Once you let something go free, you find yourself meeting up with it again down the road - and that's the way this happened.  

    John Moore: What was your first encounter with August Wilson’s work?

    Harvy Blanks: The first August Wilson experience I ever had was a production of Fences in Chicago with James Earl Jones, and I walked out of there in a daze. It was a nice summer night, and I must have walked forever. I was just completely in my head about what I had just witnessed.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: I was thinking about you and Kim Staunton when I saw the movie version of Fences a few weeks ago. What did you think of the film?

    Harvy Blanks: We were invited by (director and star Denzel Washington) to attend a screening here in New York, and we got to party with him. I was just bowled over ... and I am going to tell you the truth. I was thinking to myself: 'There are no chase scenes, there are no blood spatters, there are no sex scenes. I just don't know if America is ready for this.' But, man. That movie took me on a journey. How Denzel shot it reminded me of A Streetcar Named Desire in a lot of ways. Directors often have a problem turning plays into movies, but this was put on the screen in such an artistic fashion. I think it’s going to change cinema. I got into an argument after the film with a person who said, 'Yeah but they talked so much.’ And I said, 'Yeah, that's what it’s about: People talking. It’s not about helicopter crashes and missiles. It’s a story, and if you listen, you might pick some things.’

    Harvy Blanks quoteJohn Moore: How about Viola Davis and her willingness to get messy? I mean, in that one key scene, she has bodily fluids coming out of three orifices of her face at the same time. There are actors I'm sure who would have said to the director, “Let's cut, because I know I'm not going to look good on camera.” But with Viola Davis, it seems to be the messier the better.

    Harvy Blanks: That was just amazing. And just to be frank: I didn't know how to take it at first. At one point I was just thinking, “Please, Viola, just wipe your nose.” But the more I thought about it, I said, “Yes! When people are in that state - everything flies.” I have been there. I think what she did is going to be a conversation piece for the ages among actors: “To wipe, or not to wipe? That is the question!”

    John Moore: I say don't wipe.

    Harvy Blanks: You say don't wipe.

    John Moore: So to wrap this up, I want to ask you the big question about where we are as a nation and a people right now. In his final interview with American Theatre magazine in 2006, August Wilson expressed hope that with the completion of his cycle, “blacks might now move forward into the next century united, ditching the yoke of disenfranchisement without surrendering their cultural identity.” And then I thought about something you told me in a previous interview. You said we should look at the cycle as a metaphor for what blacks in this country have been struggliHarvy Blanks JITNEY. Joan Marcusng to do since slavery - and that’s trying to find family. But both of those quotes are a decade old now. When you look at them in the context of what has happened in America since, I wonder where you think we're at in terms of that pursuit.

    Harvy Blanks: Well, I think we are still pursuing it, quite frankly. This is what I have basically come to: There are forces out there that don't want you to get what you want, because they want what they want, and they will use whatever powers they can to keep that from happening.

    (Photo above and right: Harvy Blanks and Keith Randolph Smith in Broadway's 'Jitney.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    John Moore: So, do you think we are heading in the right direction as a country?

    Harvy Blanks: Honestly, I never thought we were heading in the right direction. When Obama was elected, I said, “OK, this is a moment in time.” But this whole fantasy of a post-racial society? Are you kidding me? Who came up with that term? It's stupid to think that. Here’s what I think: The American Dream is always in flux. So you and me? We can differ. But I have a feeling, that you are going to basically be straight up with me, and that I can be straight up with you. And I think that in terms of human beings, that's the best that we can hope for: That we can have a dialogue. And that's what August Wilson has provided with his plays.

    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.


    Harvy Blanks' full chronology of plays at the Denver Center:


    Purlie

    Purlie

    1985-86

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

    Jim

    1989-90

    Fences

    Gabriel

    1989-90

    Three Men on a Horse

    Frankie

    1989-90

    White Paint

    Jake Rutledge

    1989-90

    Back to the Blanket

    Buffalo Soldier

    1990-91

    Joe Turner's Come and Gone

    Herald Loomis

    1990-91

    The Man Who Came to Dinner

    Banjo

    1990-91

    Miss Julie

    John

    1990-91

    They Shoot Horses Don't They?

    Rollo

    1990-91

    Arsenic and Old Lace

    Lieutenant Rooney

    1991-92

    Home

    Cephus Miles

    1991-92

    To Kill a Mockingbird

    Tom Robinson

    1991-92

    The Piano Lesson

    Boy Willie

    1992-93

    Someone Who'll Watch Over Me

    Adam

    1994-95

    The Taming of the Shrew

    Curtis

    1994-95

    Seven Guitars

    Canewell

    1996-97

    Dream on Monkey Mountain

    Tigre

    1998-99

    A Christmas Carol (original version)

    Fezziwig/Businessman

    Four years**

    The Winter's Tale

    Cleomenes/Ensemble

    1999-00

    Jitney

    Turnbo

    2001-02

    King Hedley II

    Stool Pigeon

    2002-03

    A Streetcar Named Desire

    Mitch

    2003-04

    Madwoman

    Cop

    2004-05

    A Selfish Sacrifice

    Samuel Armstrong

    2004-05

    Gem of the Ocean

    Eli

    2005-06

    A Christmas Carol* (new version)

    Subscription Gent/Old Joe

    Five seasons*

    Radio Golf

    Sterling Johnson

    2008-09

    A Raisin in the Sun

    Bobo

    2009-10

    Ruined

    Christian

    2010-11

    *Blanks performed in the "new" version of A Christmas Carol in 2006-07, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12

    *Blanks performed in the "original" version of A Christmas Carol in 1994-95, 1995-96, 1998-99 and 1999-00

  • January 2017: Crossword puzzle and solution

    by John Moore | Jan 10, 2017
    With each new issue of Applause Magazine, we offer readers a crossword puzzle related to our current shows. Here is the most recent puzzle, covering Fun Home, The Book of Will, The Christians and Two Degrees. This should be fun - two of the four are world premieres, and Denver audiences have never before seen any of them!  

    The solution is posted below. Print and play! CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTABLE PUZZLE WITH THE SOLUTION!


    Crossword 1

    Crossword 2

    Crossword 3
    Photo credit: Cast of 'Fun Home' by Joan Marcus.


    The solution:

    Crossword Answer January 2017
  • 'Fun Home' opening postponed by road closures

    by John Moore | Jan 10, 2017
    Fun Home. Joan Marcus

    Alessandra Baldacchino as 'Small Alison' and Robert Petkoff as Bruce in the touring production of 'Fun Home.' Photo by Joan Marcus.


    Tonight's scheduled opening of Fun Home has been canceled because of road closures on I-70 preventing the trucks transporting the set to Denver from arriving in time.

    The Denver Center Box Office will contact all ticket-holders who purchased for the Tuesday, Jan. 10 performance through denvercenter.org by Thursday to exchange into another performance or discuss other options.

    Alternatively, ticket holders may call 303-893-4100. Otherwise, they may contact their point of purchase for additional ticket options.

     

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter



    Fun Home
    : Ticket information

    • Jan. 11-22, 2017
    •  The Ellie Caulkins Opera House
    •  Based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic-novel memoir; book and lyrics by Lisa Kron; music by Jeanine Tesori; directed by Sam Gold
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    For more information on the production, please visit FunHomeBroadway.com.


    Video bonus: Broadway's Beth Malone sings the national anthem:


    Video: Colorado native Beth Malone returned home to talk about the Denver-bound Tony Award-winning musical Fun Home and sing the national anthem before the Denver Broncos' Oct. 30 win over the San Diego Chargers at Mile High Stadium. Malone is not appearing in the touring production, but she was here as an ambassador for 'Fun Home,' opening Jan. 11 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Fun Home:

    Beth Malone on Fun Home: ‘It’s about anyone born of a mother'
    Denver’s Sweeney Todd will return with Fun Home tour
    Another Malone takes spotlight at Denver Film Festival
    Fun Home
    highlights Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season
    Denver’s Beth Malone returning to Broadway in Fun Home

  • NewsCenter: Our 10 most popular articles of 2016

    by John Moore | Jan 08, 2017

    Hamilton in Denver. Broadway Nothing got readers more excited last year than the news that the hit Broadway musical 'Hamilton' will be coming to Denver as part of the 2017-18 Broadway season.


    The DCPA NewsCenter was launched in October 2014 as an unprecedented new media outlet covering theatre at the Denver Center and throughout the state and nation telling stories with words, videos, podcasts and photos. It is a service made possible by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts as a shared resource for the Colorado theatre community as a whole. Here are the 10 most-clicked stories on the NewsCenter in 2016 from among the nearly 430 posted. Thanks to our readers for making it a record-breaking year:

    NUMBER 1HamiltonBroadway’s Hamilton is heading to Denver: The national tour of the Broadway musical Hamilton will play the Buell Theatre as part of the Denver Center's 2017-18 Broadway subscription series. Information regarding engagement dates and how to purchase single tickets will be announced at a later time. READ IT

    NUMBER 2Brenda Billings 1Brenda Billings: 'A warrior of acceptance':  Brenda Billings died while doing what she loves most – conducting auditions for an upcoming production of Little Shop of Horrors. She was the co-Artistic Director of Miners Alley Playhouse and  President of the Denver Actors Fund, and she was only 57. “Her passion for storytelling and art is carried on through all of us who were lucky enough to call her friend,” said Tony Award-winning actor Annaleigh Ashford. READ IT

    NUMBER 3Fun Home. Joan Marcus2016-17 Broadway season: Frozen, Fun Home, Finding Neverland and more: The DCPA 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. It was later announced that the Denver dates for Frozen will be Aug. 17 through Oct. 1, 2017. READ IT 

    NUMBER 4Terry DoddTerry Dodd: a playwright, director who bled empathy: Terry Dodd will be remembered as one of the most prolific local directors in the Colorado theatre community, as well as an accomplished playwright and screenwriter who was known for exploring deeply personal family issues. Dodd died of a heart attack at age 64. READ IT 

    NUMBER 5osg-christiana-clark2In Ashland, converting rage into action: In many ways Ashland, home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, seems to be an insular, harmonious bubble immune to outside social realities. But on June 24, the bubble burst when an African-American company member had an ugly encounter with a white supremacist. Now the local and national theatre communities are asking difficult questions about race. READ IT

    NUMBER 6Finalists for the 2015-16 Bobby G Awards announced: The annual Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in high-school musical theatre in Colorado. The year-long program culminates in a Tony Awards-style ceremony at the Buell Theatre. Here’s who was nominated from among the 40 participating schools. READ IT

    NUMBER 7Tom SutherlandFormer hostage Thomas Sutherland is freed a second time: Former Colorado State University professor Thomas Sutherland was held hostage in Beirut for more than six years - or 2,353 agonizing days. The genial Scotsman made his first foray into acting at age 72, and later donated $500,000 to Bas Bleu Theatre Company’s new performance space. He drew it from the $35 million he was awarded in frozen Iranian assets. Sutherland died July 23 at age 85. READ IT http://dcpa.today/EX6aBY

    NUMBER 8David Bowie Elephant ManDavid Bowie's acting career began in Denver: David Bowie’s death had the world mourning the loss of one of rock’s most chameleonic performers. But he was also a versatile stage and screen actor whose legit theatre career began in Denver starring as the ultimate “Broken Man,” John Merrick, in a 1980 touring production of The Elephant Man. "Judging from his sensitive projection of this part, Bowie has the chance to achieve legit stardom,” one critic wrote. READ IT 

    NUMBER 9Buell TheatrePhantom return will mark Buell Theatre’s 25th anniversary: The Buell Theatre was built, in large part, to host the national touring production of The Phantom of the Opera in 1991. It was, Denver Post critic Jeff Bradley wrote at the time, “the most successful theatrical event in Denver history.” We take a look back at the Buell’s first 25 years. READ IT 

    NUMBER 10Theresa Rebeck quoteRebeck's The Nest flies in face of national gender trends: Theresa Rebeck, author of the DCPA Theatre Company’s world premiere play The Nest, says the need to level the gender playing field in the American theatre is urgent. “Women's voices have been marginalized in the theatre, and in film and television,” said Rebeck. But the Denver Center, she said, is bucking the trend. “Kent Thompson and everyone at the Denver Center have always been way ahead of the curve on this issue.” READ IT


    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.
  • 2016 True West Award: Theatre Person of the Year Billie McBride

    by John Moore | Dec 31, 2016
    True West Awards Billie McBride 800 2



    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    2016 Theatre Person of the Year: Billie McBride

    When Billie McBride won the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014, she was convinced she would never work again. “My first reaction was, ‘Oh my God, they think I am that old?'” she said with a caustic laugh. 

    Pshaw. McBride has barely taken a day off since. One rather wonders how she possibly found time in 2016 to have played seven leading roles and direct three productions from Fort Collins to Dillon to Colorado Springs. That’s 10 productions – for 10 different theatre companies – in 12 months.

    True West Awards Billie McBride Quote“She is, quite simply, the best around,” said Rebecca Remaly Weitz, who directed McBride in Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s Ripcord. And that, quite simply, is why she is the True West Awards’ 2016 Theatre Person of the Year: She’s the best around.

    McBride, who has Broadway credits on and off stage, has now reached a certain age where she gets asked to play, well, “a lot of old ladies,” as she bluntly puts it. A lot of them. But in 2016, that meant bringing a dizzying array of women to life ranging in age from 70 to 91.

    OK, so McBride’s characters often share a few consistent personality traits. They tend to be a bit prickly, terse, cantankerous, curmudgeonly, feisty, annoying, bracing, nasty, sour, volcanic, difficult, acerbic and irascible. (Those are all words critics used to describe McBride’s characters in 2016 – “cantankerous” twice, that I could find).

    But it is important to note that she is not being typecast. “Billie is a genuinely loving, giving, wonderful person,” said Christopher Alleman, who directed McBride in The Velocity of Autumn for the Lake Dillon Theatre Company. She’s just really good at acting cranky.

    Still, McBride’s 2016 portrayals represented a vast breadth of life experiences that informed every aspect of her fully fleshed characters. I mean, she did everything this year from jumping out of a plane to nearly blowing up her own son with a Molotov cocktail. Consider:

    • Driving Miss Daisy, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center: Daisy is a 72-year-old Jewish widow who embodies oblivious Old South racism in 1948 Atlanta.
    • 4000 Miles, Cherry Creek Theatre: Vera is a no-nonsense, 91-year-old New York grandmother, widow … and member of the Communist Party.
    • The Velocity of Autumn, Lake Dillon Theatre Company: Alexandra is an 80-year-old artist who has barricaded herself in her Brooklyn brownstone with enough explosives to take out a city block.
    • Outside Mullingar, Little Theatre of the Rockies: Aiofe is a tremulous, 70-year-old Irish widow trying to keep a leash on her admittedly “cracked” and obstinately single daughter.
    • The Last Romance, Senior Housing Options at The Barth Hotel: Carol is a prim, 79-year-old retired executive secretary who is slowly coaxed into a joyful awakening by a stranger in a park.
    • Ripcord, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company: Abby is an acidic, 80-year-old patrician whose boast that she is not afraid of anything is put to the comic test.
    • Lost Creatures, And Toto Too Theatre: Silent-film star Louise Brooks was a 72-year-old shut-in when British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan invaded her dingy little apartment, and somehow a love story ensued.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    In a recent essay about David Lindsay-Abaire’s Ripcord – perhaps the slightest story among McBride’s 2016 catalog, Ellen Mareneck found unexpected depth in this Odd Couple meets Grumpy Old Men tale of two opposite women forced to share a room in a senior living residence. “Under the docile exterior of age, there is a ruthless drive to retain relevance and power,” Mareneck wrote of the play. But no words could better describe McBride’s ongoing importance to the Colorado theatre ecology.

    By simply doing what she does best year after year in a profession that doesn’t often value women, and in a society that typically renders older people obsolete, McBride stands in towering, empowering opposition to the norm.

    Perhaps the greatest achievement of McBride’s year was her unexpectedly gritty performance in Eric Coble’s The Velocity of Autumn. There was nothing even slightly adorable about McBride’s portrayal of a declining woman locked in a bitter showdown with her family over where she will spend her remaining years. As soon as her estranged son arrives, the emotional bombs start detonating. The play has been praised for “touching a nerve that is exposed in many no-win debates across America over what’s best for a relative no longer at her sharpest.” McBride unflinchingly embraced her role as essentially a domestic terrorist with a profound absence of sentiment.

    "We knew as soon as we chose the play that we had to have Billie play the role,” said Alleman. “There wasn't any more thought put into it. Billie is incredibly talented, and she brought fierceness to the role.”

    True West Awards Billie McBride

    Top row, from left: Lost Creatures, Outside Mullingar.
    Second row: Driving Miss Daisy, 4000 Miles, The Velocity of Autumn.
    Third row: The Last Romance, Ripcord.


    Somehow McBride also managed to direct Lost in Yonkers for the Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins, Hello Dolly! for middle- and high-school actors at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, and the workshop production of a new play called The Closet by Siegmund Fuchs for the Historic Elitch Theatre.

    As a director, McBride is known for asking you to leave your toolbox at the door when you arrive at the theatre. Not the crewmembers building the set – the actors. Just like carpenters, all actors have go-to tactics they go back to again and again. McBride has a reputation for breaking actors of those safe habits like so many wild horses.

    “She is tough and yet incredibly kind,” said Jalyn Courtenay Webb, who hired McBride to direct Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers in Fort Collins. McBride, who has a long history directing for the Denver Children’s Theatre, has a special way with younger actors, said Webb, whose 11-year-old nephew won the role of young Arty. “She was really great at talking to him at his level,” she said. “She didn’t treat him like a kid or like an adult. She treated him like the actor he needed to be in that show.”

    BILLIE McBRIDE/At a glance:

    • Grew up in Le Roy, Ill.
    • College: Illinois Wesleyan University
    • Broadway credits: A Kurt Weill Cabaret, Production Supervisor, 1979; Torch Song Trilogy, Assistant Stage Manager, 1982; played June in Safe Sex with Harvey Fierstein, 1987
    • Made DCPA Theatre Company debut in 2015 playing straight-talking Willa in world premiere of Benediction
    • Selected local credits not mentioned above: The Arvada Center (The Women, Cabaret), TheatreWorks (The Lying Kind), The Barth Hotel (On Golden Pond), Miners Alley Playhouse (Grace and Glorie)
    • Currently a company member with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company

    Video: Our 2015 'Meet the Cast' profile of Billie McBride:



    TRUE WEST AWARDS THEATRE PERSON OF THE YEAR/A look back
    2016: Actor and director Billie McBride
    2015: Donald R. Seawell: Denver Center for the Performing Arts founder
    2014: Steve Wilson: Phamaly Theatre Company and Mizel Center for Arts and Culture
    2013: Shelly Bordas: Actor, teacher, director and cancer warrior
    2012: Stephen Weitz: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company co-founder
    2011: Maurice LaMee: Creede Repertory Theatre artistic director
    2010: Anthony Garcia: Su Teatro artistic director
    2009: Kathleen M. Brady: Denver Center Theatre Company actor
    2008: Wendy Ishii: Bas Bleu Theatre co-founder
    2007: Ed Baierlein: Germinal Stage-Denver founder
    2006: Bonnie Metzgar: Curious Theatre associate artistic director
    2005: Chip Walton, Curious Theatre founder
    2004: Michael R. Duran: Actor, set designer, director and playwright
    2003: Nagle Jackson, Denver Center Theatre Company director and playwright
    2002: Chris Tabb: Actor and director

    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS
    The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. 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. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    THE 2016 TRUE WEST AWARDS
    Day 1: Jada Suzanne Dixon
    Day 2: Robert Michael Sanders
    Day 3: After Orlando
    Day 4: Michael Morgan
    Day 5: Beth Beyer
    Day 6: Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski
    Day 7: donnie l. betts
    Day 8: Night of the Living Dead
    Day 9: The Killer Kids of Miscast
    Day 10: Jason Sherwood
    Day 11: Leslie O'Carroll and Steve Wilson
    Day 12: Jonathan Scott-McKean
    Day 13: Jake Mendes
    Day 14: Charles R. MacLeod
    Day 15: Patty Yaconis
    Day 16: Daniel Langhoff
    Day 17: Colorado Shakespeare Festival costumers
    Day 18: Miriam Suzanne
    Day 19: Yolanda Ortega
    Day 20: Diana Ben-Kiki
    Day 21: Jeff Neuman
    Day 22: Gabriella Cavallero
    Day 23: Matthew Campbell
    Day 24: Sharon Kay White
    Day 25: John Hauser
    Day 26: Lon Winston
    Day 27: Jason Ducat
    Day 28: Sam Gregory
    Day 29: Warren Sherrill
    Day 30: The Women Who Run Theatre in Boulder
    Theatre Person of the Year Billie McBride
  • Video, photos: 'Finding Neverland' in Denver: An anthem and an opening

    by John Moore | Dec 22, 2016


    Cameron J. Bond from the national touring production of Finding Neverland sang the national anthem for 76,000 fans before the Denver Broncos' game against the New England Patriots on Dec. 18. Our video follows Bond's day from sound check through his big moment on the field. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    Finding Neverland tells the story behind one of the world's most beloved characters: Peter Pan, and how playwright J. M. Barrie overcome great odds and personal risk to first bring his heartwarming story to the London stage.

    Finding Neverland in Denver: Photo gallery


    Finding Neverland in Denver
    The photos above take you from the opening-night celebration through Cameron J. Bond's day singing the national anthem. To see more, click the 'forward' arrow on the image above. All photos may be downloaded and distributed with proper credit: Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Video Bonus: Beth Malone sings the anthem, talks Fun Home


    Finding Neverland: Ticket information
    Finding NeverlandFinding Neverland tells the story of how one of the world's most beloved fictional characters, Peter Pan, was first brought to the London stage.
    • Dec 20 through Jan. 1
    • Buell Theatre
    • Cast talkback: After the Dec. 21 performance
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Dec. 30
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Finding Neverland Cameron J. Bond Broncos Anthem. Photo by John Moore
    Cameron J. Bond. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Selected Previous NewsCenter coverage of Finding Neverland:

    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 1: Director Diane Paulus
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 2: Choreographer Mia Michaels
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 3: Composers Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 4: Book writer James Graham
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 5: Actor Christine Dwyer (Sylvia)
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 6: Actor Kevin Kern (J. M. Barrie)
    Finding Neverland creatve team, Part 7: Actor Tom Hewitt (Frohman/Captain Hook)
    Video, photos: Finding Neverland in Denver - an anthem an and opening
    Diane Paulus on the rise of 'adventure theatre'
    Finding Neverland flies onto Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season
  • Once more, with feeling: Tom Hewitt gives 'em the Hook

    by John Moore | Dec 21, 2016
    Finding Neverland Tom Hewitt. Photo by Carol Rosegg


    EDITOR'S NOTE: The first national touring production of Finding Neverland runs through Jan. 1 in Denver's Buell Theatre. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore was given exclusive access to the principal cast and creative team, and we are posting his extensive interviews in a seven-part series here on the DCPA NewsCenter. Part 7: Tom Hewitt, who plays producer Charles Frohman and Captain James Hook.

    Imagine a world, says the actor playing Hook, where the Wright Brothers were taking flight at the same time as Peter Pan.

    By John Moore
    For the DCPA NewsCenter
     

    Tony Award-nominated actor Tom Hewitt plays Captain Hook in Finding Neverland with a hook. Well, a twist. OK, a hook - and a twist.

    Hewitt actually plays two characters in the national touring production visiting Denver through Jan. 1. His primary role is that of the struggling theatrical producer Charles Frohman, who is desperate for his playwright friend J. M. Barrie to come up with a hit story that will rescue his theatre. And when a widow and her four adventurous sons plant the seeds in Barrie’s brain for what will become Peter Pan, what else should grow forth but perhaps the greatest villain of all-time?

    Captain Hook is not so much a character In Finding Neverland, but rather Barrie’s inner voice unleashed.

    “The Captain Hook you see in Finding Neverland is really a facet of J. M. Barrie's personality,” Hewitt said. “Hook manifests himself in Barrie’s mind to encourage him to his explore the darker sides of his personality.”

    To that point, was a modestly successful playwright of conventional and often recycled stories that were choking the creative life out of him. Until Hook springs forth and essentially “pirates him up.” At a seminal moment in the story, Hewitt says, “Hook gives Barrie the courage and conviction to walk his own path.”

    It is, in the opinion of Director Diane Paulus, the most meaningful moment in the entire play. Hook says to Barrie: "You can go back to being what everyone expects you to be ... or you can find the courage to write your own story." To Paulus, that line could mean “write your own story,” literally. Or it could mean, “write the story of your life. “And when Paulus first read that line in James Graham’s Finding Neverland script, Paulus knew she had to take on the project. It spoke to Barrie. It spoke to Paulus. It speaks to Hewitt.

    “Every artist faces the same question that J. M. Barrie faced: Do you take the money, or do you do the art?" said Hewitt. "Do you do what people expect you to do, or do you venture into unexplored territory?”

    Writing Peter Pan for the London stage of a century ago was a risk for Barrie. Children were not meant to be seen or heard on a London stage at that time. No one had dared to tell a story that spoke to children - and spoke to the inner child in everyone. That made Barrie’s play an ever bigger risk for Frohman to bankroll.

    “Think about what was happening at the time,” said Hewitt. The modern era of flight began with the Wright Brothers in 1903. And the modern era of stage flight began with the debut of Peter Pan the next year.

     “That means play opened at about the same time that man was literally flying for the first time,” Hewitt said. “And so the idea of people flying on the stage represented a big, new technical advance in theatre stagecraft. The press was covering the play very intensely as it was progressing. Insurance had to be taken out on the performers. There was a lot at stake.”  

    Hewitt has made a career of playing bad guys and monsters, including on Broadway Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar; Billy Flynn in Chicago; Frank N Furter in The Rocky Horror Show and has also played Scar in The Lion King. But he brings a unique perspective to playing Barrie’s inner Hook, given that he also played the Captain Hook in both the 1998 and 2011 national touring productions of Peter Pan starring America's perennial Lost Boy, Cathy Rigby.

     “That was really magical,” Hewitt said. I freakin' loved it. She is a little boy in that role. Just astonishing. And she's a good person. And so just feels right and fun to get to do Captain Hook again, and to explore different aspects of him now.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The major difference is that the Hook we meet in Finding Neverland is not off on some magical island. He’s in Barrie’s mind’s eye. The fun here is watching the inspiration for Hook spring forth like Tinkerbell and make itself evident to Barrie.

    “At one point I hold up Charles Frohman’s cane, and the shadow of it creates a hook that you can see on the back wall,” Hewitt said. “Every night you can hear the audience go, ‘Oooooh! He's getting the idea for Captain Hook!’ It’s great fun.”

    The thing both his Hooks have in common, Frohman said, is that part of us can’t help but like him.

    “Hook is just a terrified child,” he said. “He's haunted by this crocodile that has a clock inside of it; that swallowed his hand and is now following him around. How awful is that? I think everyone can identify with that.”

    Finding Neverland Tom Hewitt Carol RoseggTom Hewitt as producer James Frohman, left, and Captain James Hook in 'Finding Neverland,' running through Jan. 1 in Denver. Photo by Carol Rosegg.) 

    Here is more of Tom Hewitt’s conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore:

    John Moore: Do you remember how Peter Pan first came into your life?

    Tom Hewitt: Very vividly. It was the black-and-white version of Mary Martin's Peter Pan on television, with Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook. I have a very clear memory of watching that show and loving it. I remember going into the kitchen - making sure I was by myself - and wishing so hard that I could fly. I wanted to fly so bad. I was really swept up in the magic of it, and I have loved that story ever since. Then I had the great pleasure and honor of playing Captain Hook with Cathy Rigby.

    John Moore: And how was that experience?

    Tom Hewitt: It was really magical. I remember watching Peter Pan on Broadway in 1998, and having the opportunity to visit the set afterward. I remember walking around that pirate ship going, 'Oh my God, I would love to be in this show.' And then I got the opportunity to tour with Cathy.

    John Moore: Why do you think Peter Pan remains such a timeless source of new stories for the stage and screen?

    Tom Hewitt: I think it’s the possibility of eternal youth, and both the joy and heartbreak that would bring. Peter Pan and The Wizard of Oz are cultural phenomena that really speak to a modern mythology. The characters and the stories are so ingrained in so many people's psyches that their fans just really want variations and prequels and the back stories of the characters.

    John Moore: One thing we know about your director, Diane Paulus, is that when she assembles a creative team, she seeks out people from unconventional artistic backgrounds. How did that play out in Finding Neverland for you?

    Tom Hewitt: I get the feeling that our choreographer Mia Michaels really likes working with people who aren't particularly trained in dance. And I love that. Doing musicals is relatively new for me, but Mia celebrates and exploits people's natural movement qualities. I really enjoyed the time I spent with her.

    John Moore: What’s the most fun part about playing Charles Frohman?

    Tom Hewitt: A lot of the story has to do with the specifics of presenting Peter Pan to that first live audience in 1904. So we’re doing a play about a play, and we are actors playing actors. I love that we get to play some unapologetically theatrical characters.

    John Moore: Because this is not a staging of the Peter Pan story, what kind of theatrical experience is the audience in for?

    Tom Hewitt: I can tell you, there are some of the most beautiful special effects I have ever seen. They are moving and fun and surprising and magical – and they are so beautifully simple at the same time.

    John Moore: You were nominated for a Tony Award for your portrayal of Frank N Furter in the 2000 Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show. What did you think of the recent Fox remake?

    Tom Hewitt: I was actually doing a show that night, so I didn’t get to see it, unfortunately.

    John Moore: OK then, last question: What’s one thing you want to get off your chest?
    Tom Hewitt: When you are standing on the subway platform, and the doors open - stand to the side and let people get off the train before you get on. That's all I ask out of life. It really does make everybody's day go so much smoother.

    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.


    Finding Neverland: Ticket information
    • Dec 20 through Jan. 1
    • Buell Theatre
    • Cast talkback: After the Dec. 21 performance
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Dec. 30
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Selected Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    Finding Neverland
    creative team, Part 1: Director Diane Paulus
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 2: Choreographer Mia Michaels
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 3: Composers Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 4: Book writer James Graham
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 5: Actor Christine Dwyer (Sylvia)
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 6: Actor Kevin Kern (J. M. Barrie)
    Diane Paulus on the rise of 'adventure theatre'
    Finding Neverland flies onto Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season


    Photos: Opening night of Finding Neverland in Denver:

    Finding Neverland in DenverImages from 'Finding Neverland' in Denver. to see more, click the arrow on the image above. All photos are downloadable for use with proper credit. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Kevin Kern on 'Finding Neverland': Time is the villain

    by John Moore | Dec 19, 2016
    Kevin Kern. Finding Neverland


    EDITOR'S NOTE: The first national touring production of Finding Neverland opens in Denver on Dec. 20. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore was given exclusive access to the principal cast and creative team, and we are posting his extensive interviews in a seven-part series here on the DCPA NewsCenter. Part 6: Kevin Kern, who plays the playwright J.M. Barrie. Next: Tom Hewitt.

    The radical playwright implored all who encountered Peter Pan to hang on to the fun of childhood throughout their lives.

    By John Moore
    For the DCPA NewsCenter
     

    Not many people “got” J. M. Barrie during his time. But Broadway actor Kevin Kern gets Barrie.

    Kern plays Barrie in the national touring production of Finding Neverland, the story of how the inventor of Peter Pan found his calling – and his voice – with the inspiration he finds in a widow and her four young sons.

    “I have four kids back at home,” said Kern. “And the thing I know about having kids is that you just want to stop them from growing up, because it happens so fast. And then you start to think about your own life and how it has gone by so fast.”  

    Peter Pen remains a popular cultural icon, and a continuing source for new stories, because it doesn’t just speak to children. It speaks to the man, the father and the inner child in millions of dads like Kern.

    Kevin Kern in 'Finding Neverland.' Photo by Carol Rosegg. “I’m 42, and the older I get, time just seems to speed up,” he said. “Time is actually a villain in our show. The crocodile has swallowed a clock, and he's always chasing us – and that means time is always chasing us. Everybody can relate to that fear because time is chasing all of us. But the main idea behind Peter Pan is that you can stop time.

    J. M. Barrie introduced the world to the boy who would never grow up. But wasn’t saying that we Wendys should never grow up ourselves. “He was saying that you should hang on to the fun of childhood throughout your life – especially when you have children yourself,” said Kern.

    “I think most of the people who live to be 100 years old tend to be happy-go-lucky people who fully embrace their inner child. And our show fully embraces that idea.”

    (Pictured above right: Family man Kevin Kern with his onstage family in 'Finding Neverland.' Photo by Carol Rosegg.)

    Kern is a quintessential family man who has appeared on Broadway in Finding Neverland, The Bridges of Madison County, First Date, Wicked, The Wedding Singer, and Les Misérables, where he was the final Marius when the original Broadway production that closed in 2003. He says his 15-year-old son and three daughters (13, 11 and 4) aren’t surprised by anything they see him do on stage.

    “My girls came to see me in The Bridges of Madison County, and somebody said to my wife, ‘Is this appropriate for them to see?’ Because I was sort of making out with a girl the whole time,” Kern said with a laugh. “But I thought, ‘Well, they have already seen me naked onstage in Hair, so I think I've already destroyed their childhood.' ”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    That said, shows don’t come more family appropriate than Finding Neverland, which is based on the 2004 Oscar-winning film of the same name. Oddly enough, the same can’t be said of the original play. Barrie was considered a radical when he introduced Peter Pan to London theatregoers a century ago. No one put children on the stage back then. No one told stories about children. And certainly no one but Barrie had the audacity to tell a story where the only adult with an active supervisory interest in the children was the family dog.

    “It's so hard for us to understand how dangerous this play was for J. M. Barrie’s career, because almost everything now is geared toward children,” Kern said. In our story, the producer Charles Frohman says, 'Children can't buy a ticket! Adults buy tickets!’ and it always gets a laugh. Because producers have come to understand that parents will more easily spend money on their kids than on anything else.

    “It's also a very a British thing. Britain was very class-structured, and very gender-structured, and very age-structured - and still is to this day,” Kern said. “Children really were meant to be seen and not heard. Parents didn't even really hang out with their kids back then. They would send them away to boarding schools.”

    Kevin Kern. Tom Hewitt. Finding Neverland. Photo by Carol Rosegg.  Kern has been with Finding Neverland since it opened on Broadway in 2015. As understudy to Matthew Morrison, he occasionally went on as Barrie in New York. When he was offered the role on the road, Kern and wife Megan Lawrence decided the opportunity to own the role for the start of the road tour was one he could not pass up. Director Diane Paulus calls Kern “a genius in the role who sings it like no one else. He is such a generous soul and an incredible father” – praise that made Kern tear up a bit upon hearing it.

    As a witness to the entire creation process, Kern promises that the touring production is appreciably improved from the Broadway show that closed in August. That's because he says the creative team that includes choreographer Mia Michaels, writer James Graham and composers Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy have never stopped working on it.

    “The first 20 minutes of the show have been completely re-written for the road,” Kern said. “It has different songs and new dialogue that really explains what is happening in a much more concise, understandable way.”

    (Pictured above right: Kevin Kern as J. M. Barrie and Tom Hewitt as Captain Hook in 'Finding Neverland,' opening Dec. 20 in Denver. Photo by Carol Rosegg.) 

    Video preview: Finding Neverland national touring production



    Here is more of John Moore’s conversation with Kevin Kern:

    John Moore: Why was this the right show for you to take on the road when it would mean so much time away from your family?

    Kevin Kern: It's just a great role, and it just fits me so well. It fits my voice so well. And I just have so much fun doing it. I'm not going to be out here forever. The thing you have to understand is that I have done a lot of original Broadway shows, but I have really been a 'career swing,' which means I mostly cover actors playing all these different roles. I love being a swing. It can be very artistically rewarding because you've got to be so creative and quick on your feet. But I have never gotten to create a role. We have changed so much of this show from Broadway that it was almost like creating a new role from scratch. And that has been fantastic.

    John Moore: Have you noticed any difference in the way the show is being received in the heartland compared to Broadway?

    Kevin Kern: When they started talking about taking us out on tour, I said, 'Guys. The Midwest will eat our show up.' I’m from Cincinnati, so I know these people. I am one of these people. One thing that's great about New Yorkers is that they really embrace their edginess. But the thing about the people in the Midwest is that they embrace their politeness.

    Video: Kevin Kern in the final performance of Les Misérables in 2003



    John Moore: So what was it like to be the last Marius in the original Broadway production of Les Misérables?

    Kevin Kern: I was 23 when I first got into the show, and when we closed I was 29. It gives me goosebumps just to think about that final performance. Anybody who had ever done the show was in that audience. Nothing will ever compare to it. It was a dream-come-true to finally be Marius, and it was such a cool thing to be the last one.

    John Moore: What’s one thing you want to get off your chest?

    Kevin Kern: In the typically liberal world of show business, I am probably a little more conservative than most. Having grown up in Ohio, which is a purple state, I realized when I moved to New York how great it was that I come from a place where people can actually talk to each other as neighbors who happen to have different opinions. I want to encourage people to embrace the fact that just because somebody has a different opinion, don't vilify them or deify yourself. They might have a real reason they feel the way they do.

    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.

    Finding Neverland: Ticket information
    • Dec 20 through Jan. 1
    • Buell Theatre
    • Cast talkback: After the Dec. 21 performance
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Dec. 30
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Selected Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    Finding Neverland
    creative team, Part 1: Director Diane Paulus
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 2: Choreographer Mia Michaels
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 3: Composers Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 4: Book writer James Graham
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 5: Actor Christine Dwyer (Sylvia)
    Diane Paulus on the rise of 'adventure theatre'
    Finding Neverland flies onto Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season

  • Video, photos: DCPA, Macy's help 'Make-A-Wish' come true

    by John Moore | Dec 15, 2016


    Video above: The Denver Center for the Performing Arts teamed with Macy's on National Believe Day to help bring a young woman named Carter an unforgettable experience at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center. Carter was treated to performances by DCPA actors singing some of her favorite songs, as well as dance lessons from two Denver Broncos cheerleaders and members of the Monte Vista High School pom squad.

     Macy's Make A Wish. Steven J. Burge. Photo by John Moore DCPA performers Steven J. Burge (An Act of God) and Napoleon M. Douglas (A Christmas Carol) performed a song from Mary Poppins, while Christine Rowan and Jackie Vanderbeck (A Christmas Carol) sang from The Sound of Music.

    DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous presented Carter with prizes including autographed show posters, free DCPA Education classes and the coup de gras ... an all-expenses trip to New York to see a Broadway musical.

    The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wish of every child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition. On average, a wish is granted every 35 minutes.

    Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Photo gallery: Carter's National Believe Day:

    DCPA, Macy's help 'Make-A-Wish' come true
    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Beth Malone on 'Fun Home': ‘It’s about anyone born of a mother'

    by John Moore | Dec 14, 2016
    Video: Beth Malone sings the national anthem:


    Video: Colorado native Beth Malone returned home to talk about the Denver-bound Tony Award-winning musical Fun Home and sing the national anthem before the Denver Broncos' Oct. 30 win over the San Diego Chargers at Mile High Stadium. Malone is not appearing in the touring production, but she was here as an ambassador for the Fun Home, opening Jan. 10 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     

    Tony Award-nominee Beth Malone had been told for two years how her groundbreaking, underdog Broadway musical Fun Home was changing perspectives and saving lives. The thousands of letters that poured in told her. The misfits and outcasts who lined up at the stage door told her. The everyday mothers and fathers told her.

    “People came out of the woodwork to tell us how impactful this material has been on their lives,” Malone said. Somehow this unlikely true story of an androgynous graphic novelist named Alison struggling to understand her father’s suicide was striking a universal cord both among audience members who were similar to the unprecedented protagonist she was playing – and those who were not at all like her.

    A young fan once told Malone, ‘I don’t know how to own my identity because I am being raised in a hostile environment. I was at the end of my rope, and I didn’t know how to go on. But then Fun Home happened.”

    Beth Malone Fun Home QuoteIt was unexpected, exhilarating and uplifting for Malone to be making that kind of a positive impact on people’s lives eight times a week in New York’s Times Square. So when the Broadway run of Fun Home ended triumphantly in September, validated by critics, strong ticket sales, a Pulitzer Prize nomination and the Tony Award for Best Musical of 2015, Malone’s defenses were down.

    Fun Home had ridden a perfectly timed wave of changing perceptions in America about gender identity, marriage and sexuality to make history as the first musical to feature a lesbian leading character.

    “Fun Home absolutely rode the crest of this huge, cultural wave," Malone said. “People made pilgrimages to see it from all over the world. One night we played to ambassadors from 15 different countries where homosexuality is a crime punishable by law. It felt like hearts and minds were changing that night. Not just in the United States, but internationally. We had a performance on the night that marriage equality passed, and during the curtain speech afterward, we all ran around with a rainbow flag outside to a standing ovation. I feel like the world was ready for Fun Home when it happened.” 

    But when Malone packed her car in September to drive across the country to her native Colorado, a mother was not ready for Malone when she walked into McDonalds bathroom in Pennsylvania – ironically, the very state where Fun Home is set. Malone walked in looking a lot like Alison – T-shirt, jeans, and close-cropped hair. A lot like Beth.

    “But when this woman saw me, she took her daughter’s hand, moved her behind her and said, ‘Don’t stare, don’t stare.’ At me! I’m the most innocuous person you will ever meet. I’m not going to hurt your daughter. I’m just a dyke. I thought, ‘Haven’t you ever seen a gender non-conforming person before? No? Well, maybe your daughter’s having a ‘Ring of Keys’ moment right now.”


    “Ring of Keys” is a song from Fun Home sung by an 11-year-old version of Alison. It’s probably the most well-known tune in the show because young actor Sydney Lucas performed in on national television at the 2015 Tony Awards, when Fun Home was named Best Musical.

    “Ring of Keys” is this song of discovery told from the perspective of a child who sees a butch woman walk into a diner with a handcart full of boxes,” Malone said. “She sees an identity in this woman that she recognizes as her own on a cellular level. In Alison Bechdel’s book, she says: ‘It was like seeing someone from my home planet. Someone I've never met before - but I just recognized.’ And she says, ‘Something about that makes me recognize something in me.’ ”

    New York Times: 'For better or worse ... we're home'

    But that moment echoed in Malone’s mind when she later learned that Fun Home would indeed be touring to cities across the country, starting in Cleveland and including a stop in her native Denver from Jan. 10-22.

    “I have to be very honest – I was conflicted,” Malone said. “I feel very vulnerable still with this material because I thought, ‘If people across the country are not going to embrace it or accept it, that is going to hurt me.’

    Fun Home. Joan Marcus “But that's the opposite of what has happened. The first two cities were sold-out runs. Local papers have said beautiful and amazing things about how important it is for the story to reach this vital audience. And then I remembered: Every time I've had any fear with Fun Home … whenever we have gone to a new level or to an unknown place, love and acceptance have truly outweighed any kind of hate that steps forward to be heard.”

    The Fun Home title comes from the shortened family nickname for the funeral home where Alison’s father worked. Malone describes the story as “the beautiful journey of a woman looking back at her childhood and trying to piece together what was actually happening when she was younger, trying to connect with her father.

    “We are all just trying to know each other,” she said. “But it can be really hard to know even the people in your own family. We’ve all experienced those moments of missed opportunity to really know someone.”

    (Photo above and right: Alessandra Baldacchino as 'Small Alison' and Robert Petkoff as Bruce in the touring production of 'Fun Home.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    But Malone says Fun Home is not only the story of Alison. “It’s about her father, Bruce Bechdel. It’s about her mother, Helen Bechdel. It is about the other kids. It’s about anyone who was born of a mother. It’s about anyone who was raised in a house with a family. You will learn something about yourself. You'll learn something you can't even put your finger on that you need to know. And when you walk out, you'll be like, ‘Oh. Wow.’ Now I'll have to give my entire identity some thought.”


    Beth Malone in Denver: Our photo gallery

    Fun Home in Denver Photos of Beth Malone singing the national anthen on Oct. 30 at Mile High Stadium. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Malone is a graduate of Douglas County High School in Castle Rock and attended the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. She performed in theatres across Colorado, including a noteworthy five-year run as the narrator in the Arvada Center’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She realized a lifelong dream in 2014 when she starred in the DCPA Theatre Company’s wholly reimagined staging of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

    “For me, that was the culmination of my entire career. It was a giant gift from God and the universe plopped right in my lap. It was amazing.”

    Beth Malone Kate Shindle Fun HomeMalone is not appearing in the national touring production of Fun Home that comes to the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in January. She recently returned to Denver as an ambassador of the show and to sing the national anthem at a Denver Broncos game at Mile High Stadium.

    “You have no way of knowing the depth of my allegiance to the state of Colorado,” Malone. “I love every square mile of it. More than anything, I want the people I care so much about to see this beautiful piece of theatre that I've been working on for the past five years. To see why it's so important to me. Hopefully it will resonate in their own lives. I know it will.”

    Here’s more of our conversation with Beth Malone:

    John Moore: You are an openly gay woman who has been married for 20 years. How do you think it might have changed your life if an 11-year old Beth had seen Fun Home?

    Beth Malone: If I had been exposed to this material at age 11, I think that I would have felt an inner strength and pride grow inside of me that, instead, I had to manifest way later in my life. I feel like there was a hidden part of me as I grew up that I definitely didn’t give honor to. It was a coating of shame around this part of me that was a true part of me that was something to explore, unearth and celebrate.

    (Pictured above right: Beth Malone as Alison on Broadway, top; Kate Shindle as Alison in the national touring production coming to Denver Jan. 10-22. Photo by Joan Marcus,)

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: What do you think Fun Home might mean to an 11-year-old who sees it next month in Denver?

    Beth Malone: I hope Fun Home reaches an 11-year old who needs to hear it. I also hope it reaches the 11-year old sitting right next to her – because it can help compassion grow at a young age for the people you are growing up with. You know, if you ask a child to describe what Fun Home is about, it’s so simple for them to explain: “Love who you want to love, and live openly.”

    John Moore: So what has been the best part of your time in the Fun Home?

    Beth Malone: It has been such an amazing experience to witness people receiving the show one night at a time and to witness the incredible transformative power of art to change hearts and minds. Maybe even just incrementally. But a little bit of a softening has happened.

    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.

    Bonus coverage: About the national touring cast:

    John Moore: A couple of questions about the touring cast. Robert Petkoff, who played Sweeney Todd in the DCPA Theatre Company's production earlier this year, is playing Bruce. Have you ever performed with him?

    Beth Malone: No, but I understand he was amazing in Sweeney Todd.

    John Moore: Here’s what I know about Kate Shindle, who is playing the role of Alison that you played on Broadway: President of the Actor's Equity Union. Graduate of Northwestern. Talk about exploding preconceptions. 

    Beth Malone: I have to say that when I told the producers it was time for me to step away and let the tour be its own thing, I pointed out that I did have it written into my contract that I could only be replaced by a Miss America. That was in the small print. So they were like, 'Well, who can we get?' And Kate Shindle was No. 1 on the list -  because she’s just a rock star.

    Fun Home
    : Ticket information

    • Jan. 10-22, 2017
    •  The Ellie Caulkins Opera House
    •  Based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic-novel memoir; book and lyrics by Lisa Kron; music by Jeanine Tesori; directed by Sam Gold
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    For more information on the production, please visit FunHomeBroadway.com.


    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Fun Home:
    Denver’s Sweeney Todd will return with Fun Home tour
    Another Malone takes spotlight at Denver Film Festival
    Fun Home
    highlights Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season
    Denver’s Beth Malone returning to Broadway in Fun Home

  • Christine Dwyer on 'Finding Neverland': 'It's like coming home again'

    by John Moore | Dec 13, 2016
    Finding Neverland. Christine Dwyer. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
    "Sylvia says, ‘I am going to live my life to the fullest. I don't care if people feel that it's wrong. And that was unheard of at that time." Pictured: Christine Dwyer in the national touring production of 'Finding Neverland.' Photo by Carol Rosegg.


    EDITOR'S NOTE: The first national touring production of Finding Neverland opens in Denver on Dec. 20. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore was given exclusive access to the principal cast and creative team, and we are posting his extensive interviews in a seven-part series here on the DCPA NewsCenter. Part 5: Christine Dwyer, who plays the widow James Graham. Next: Tom Hewitt.

    Fans of Harry Potter and Wicked owe a debt to J. M. Barrie for his risk in putting Peter Pan on stage a century ago, she says.

    By John Moore
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Broadway actor Christine Dwyer thinks we have J. M. Barrie to thank for the boy wizard Harry Potter, the good-girl witch Elphaba and hundreds of fantastical young characters in between. It all starts a century ago with the man who was willing to break with the tradition of the stodgy London theatre and put children center stage.

    “No one was writing about children back then,” said Dwyer, who plays the widow Sylvia Llewelyn Davies in Finding Neverland, the story of how Barrie found his calling – and his voice – with inspiration from Sylvia and her four young sons.

    Finding Neverland Christine Dwyer Quote“No one was writing things dealing with your imagination and fantasy,” Dwyer said. “They were writing about very specific and realistic things in their lives. People wanted to go to the theatre to see themselves on stage and not kids flying around or a crazy guy named Captain Hook with no hand.

    “We are used to having Harry Potter and Wicked. We are in that world now. But it's really because of Peter Pan and J. M. Barrie. What he wrote back then allowed for all the stories that have come since."

    It was more than risky for Barrie to put his play on a London stage before high-minded, high-society theatergoers of the time. "It was dangerous and potentially career-ending for him to write this story, because at that time, stories were written for adults, period," Dwyer said. "Children were meant to be seen and not heard. They were pushed to the side."

    And yet, Peter Pan has become a cultural phenomenon that lives on more than a century later. “This is true of any true artist,” Dwyer said. "You have to break boundaries and tell a story that hasn't been told before.”

    Dwyer has been able to play some extraordinary women in her stage career, including Elphaba in Wicked, Maureen in Rent and even Tommy in The Who’s Tommy. “But I've never play someone who actually existed,” she said, “someone who actually went outside the box and societal norms.”   

    Christine Dwyer and Kevin Kern. Finding Neverland. Photo by Carol Rosegg.The real Davies’ life got turned upside down when her husband passed away. Her decision to raise her children as a single mother rather than re-marry for convention and stability flew like Peter Pan in the face of the day's custom.

    “She says, ‘I am going to live my life for myself and my kids. And I don't care if people feel that it's wrong. I'm living my life to the fullest.' And that was unheard of at that time.

    “I love to play her because she's different from the other woman I have been able to play. She's lighter and airier … and she’s a soprano. I don't get to do those often. She's a groundbreaking woman and I love her. She's childlike and fun, but she's also grounded. She's truly happy to be living in every moment.”  

    (Pictured above and right: Christine Dwyer and Kevin Kern from the national touring production of 'Finding Neverland.' Photo by Carol Rosegg.)

    Dozens of plays, musicals and movies have their roots in Peter Pan. Finding Neverland is different, Dwyer says, because it is the creation story of how the iconic character came to be.

    "A lot of other stories like Peter and the Starcatcher and Hook are more about the story that J. M. Barrie wrote, and the characters he created," she said. "Our story is about the people he met who inspired him to write that story. So this is the story before the story." 

    Dwyer describes the theatrical experience of attending Finding Neverland to be “like coming home again.”

    “When you leave the theatre, all you want to do is be home with your family and loved ones,” she said. Life can get kind of stressful, and sometimes you forget how much you love home - whatever 'home' is to you. It might not be with your family - it might be with this amazing group of friends that you found in Denver, Colorado. But however you define it, Finding Neverland makes you want to go home again and be around the people you love.”

    Here’s more of John Moore’s conversation with Christine Dwyer:

    Finding Neverland. Photo by Carol Rosegg

    Cast of the national touring production of 'Finding Neverland.' Photo by Carol Rosegg.



    John Moore:  When you were first introduced to the story of Peter Pan?

    Christine Dwyer: I was really introduced to it through the movie Hook with Robin Williams. I was probably 10 or 11. I love that movie so much. The way that story is set-up is similar in a way to Finding Neverland. It's less about following the kids and more about J. M. Barrie trying to find his imagination and his inner-child again.

    John Moore: Why does Peter Pan remain such a timeless source for new material?

    Christine Dwyer: I think it's timeless because Peter Pan is timeless. He never grows up. And you can always connect that idea to different people you know. When I am around some people in my life, I feel like a kid again. And that's important because as adults we can still have fun and follow our dreams. But we fall into routine and take on responsibilities as we grow older. We forget how important it is to have a childlike enthusiasm throughout our whole lives. Peter Pan reminds us of that.

    John Moore:  What was it like working with Director Diane Paulus and such an unconventional creative team?

    Christine Dwyer: The cool thing about our show that it’s set in 1903, but the music is very contemporary British pop. It's a nice contrast between the old and the new. Mia Michaels’ choreography is so interesting. If anyone has watched So You Think You Can Dance, you know her choreography. It is so specific, and so different from anything I have ever seen in a Broadway musical - which makes it perfect for a show like ours. You will see characters in these full three-piece suits and beautiful dresses with corsets, and yet they are doing this cool modern choreography. Diane and Mia are able to create these gorgeous pictures, which is so perfect for the fantasy element of our show.  

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: Right turn: What’s one thing you want to get off your chest?

    Christine Dwyer: Just because people are different than you doesn't mean they're wrong in their opinion. I think if we all spent a little more time trying to communicate with each other and listening to each other, we would all be better off. You can only learn and you can only grow by being around people who are different from you.  

    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.


    Finding Neverland: Ticket information
    • Dec 20 through Jan. 1
    • Buell Theatre
    • Cast talkback: After the Dec. 21 performance
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Dec. 30
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Selected Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    Finding Neverland
    creative team, Part 1: Director Diane Paulus
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 2: Choreographer Mia Michaels
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 3: Composers Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 4: Book writer James Graham
    Diane Paulus on the rise of 'adventure theatre'
    Finding Neverland flies onto Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season

    Bonus coverage: Christine Dwyer on Murder Ballad
    Christine Dwyer appeared in one of the first productions of the new rock musical Murder Ballad, which recently made its Colorado premiere at the Edge Theatre in Lakewood. She played Sara, a young mother whose Upper West Side life is perfect until she crosses paths with a dangerous man from her past. Dwyer was asked about her experience with the show.

    Christine Dwyer: To be in a production with just four people that is really stripped down and in your face was just edgy and cool. It was a very immersive experience. It's 75 very physical minutes on the stage. We were jumping around on pool tables right next to the audience while they were drinking their beers. So you really had to rely on each other. That made the cast really close, too, and I'm still on a chat chain with all of those guys almost two years later. I loved that show - and I want to do it again.

  • 2016 True West Award: The Killer Kids of 'Miscast'

    by John Moore | Dec 09, 2016

    NEW 800 Miscast full-size True West



    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 9:
    The Killer Kids of Miscast 2016

                       Presented by Denver actor Clint Heyn

     
    It was just … so wrong. Even for Miscast, where every performance is supposed to be, by definition, just … so wrong.

    Imagine precious children not just singing the signature song from the Broadway musical Chicago – the one where the sexy gangster girls brag about how they ended up in jail for killing men who, as the song goes, “had it coming.”

    No, imagine precious, foul-mouthed children playing beloved storybook characters singing about how they ended up in jail for killing archrivals who also had it coming. Sorry, Mrs. Hannigan, but you made Little Orphan Annie scrub your floor once too often. Mrs. Trunchbull? You ought not to have called Matilda a maggot. And Javert? Perhaps you should have paid attention when sweet Gavroche gave full and fair warning that little people have got some bite.

    Then there’s Peter Pan, Dorothy and Little Red Riding Hood. Oh, Red. Let’s just have her tell her story in her own words:

    “So I’m standing in the kitchen carving some lunch meat for Granny’s dinner, and in walks the wolf in a jealous rage. ‘You’ve been (bleeping) Jack!’ He was crazy, and he kept on saying, ‘You’ve been (bleeping) Jack!’ … And then he ran into my knife. He ran into my knife 10 times.”

    The occasion for all this naughty merriment was Miscast, an annual fundraising musical revue for the Denver Actors Fund at the Town Hall Arts Center featuring performers in roles they would never … ever be cast to perform in real life. Another song that night, for example, featured veteran actor John Ashton singing "Memories," from Cats.

    Miscast. True West AwardsBut the mini-murderer’s row of Sydney Fairbairn, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hannah Katz, Darrow Klein and Hannah Meg Weinraub totally stole the show with their version of "Cell Block Tango."

    The Killer Kids of Miscast, as they have come to be known, not only conceived and wrote the song themselves – with help and full approval of their parents – they rehearsed it for six weeks solid. They enlisted not only eminent local musical director Donna Debreceni for her help, but also Broadway veteran Candy Brown for her assistance with choreography. Brown, you should know, performed “Cell Block Tango” in the original Broadway cast. Really. She played June, whose jealous, raging, milkman husband ran into her knife ...10 times.    

    These kids were not messing around.

    “When they first came to me with their idea, I said, ‘That is just so wrong and over the top - and brilliant,” said Miscast director Robert Michael Sanders. The result went viral. A 7-minute video of song has been viewed nearly 100,000 times on Facebook alone (see it below).

    “The lightning in the bottle was these kids were playing characters we all know and love and think of as wholesome, and they brought out the dark side by actually doing what we have always wanted them to do,” Sanders said. “It was wrong to have kids singing that song in the first place. It was wrong that they had all committed murder. It was wrong that they used profanity. But they played it as true professionals in the theatre, and it was magical.”

    Watch the performance for yourself:

     

    The gang of six are among the busiest younger actors in the theatre community. Many of them are currently appearing in the Town Hall Arts Center’s A Christmas Story. Hinkle performed with the national touring company of that same show last winter at the Buell Theatre. Next, he will star in Vintage Theatre’s Billy Elliot.

    What makes them all so exceptional, says actor Clint Heyn, who nominated the Killer Kids for their True West Award, is not only their talent, but their ongoing commitment to service. Katz, Klein and Hinkle each have given to the Denver Actors Fund through individual donations or by organizing collections through their shows or schools.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    True West Awards Kaden Hinkle MiscastThe Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and neighborly assistance to artists in situational medical need, estimates that young people under 18 have contributed more than $16,000 to the organization since it was started in 2013, including ongoing efforts by schools such as Denver School of the Arts and Cherry Creek High School, and theatre companies like CenterStage in Louisville.

    "The performance at Miscast was amazing, but the overall spirit of philanthropy from all the youth of our community to the Denver Actors Fund is what should be celebrated,” Heyn said.

    So it got a tad bloody  … and blue. Let's call it a murder … but not a crime.

    Miscast True West Awards Killer Kids

    After performing in Miscast 2016 (shown with their mothers), teen performers Darrow Klein and Hannah Katz their own, combined donation of $800 to The Denver Actors Fund. Klein raised $700 as part of her bat mitzvah service project. Katz was making her third donation to the DAF so far.

     

    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS
    The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. 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. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    THE 2016 TRUE WEST AWARDS:
    Day 1: Jada Suzanne Dixon
    Day 2: Robert Michael Sanders
    Day 3: After Orlando
    Day 4: Michael Morgan
    Day 5: Beth Beyer
    Day 6: Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski
    Day 7: donnie l. betts
    Day 8: Night of the Living Dead
    Day 9: The Killer Kids of Miscast
    Day 10: Jason Sherwood
    Day 11: Leslie O'Carroll and Steve Wilson
    Day 12: Jonathan Scott-McKean
    Day 13: Jake Mendes
    Day 14: Charles R. MacLeod
    Day 15: Patty Yaconis
    Day 16: Daniel Langhoff
    Day 17: Colorado Shakespeare Festival costumers
    Day 18: Miriam Suzanne
    Day 19: Yolanda Ortega
    Day 20: Diana Ben-Kiki
    Day 21: Jeff Neuman
    Day 22: Gabriella Cavallero
    Day 23: Matthew Campbell
    Day 24: Sharon Kay White
    Day 25: John Hauser
    Day 26: Lon Winston
    Day 27: Jason Ducat
    Day 28: Sam Gregory
    Day 29: Warren Sherrill
    Day 30: The Women Who Run Theatre in Boulder
    Theatre Person of the Year Billie McBride
  • Hedwig's Euan Morton performs acoustic 'Wicked Little Town'

    by John Moore | Dec 07, 2016

    In the video above, Hedwig and the the Angry Inch star Euan Morton performs an acoustic version of  'Wicked Little Town'  with Hannah Corneau and Music Director Justin Craig. The occasion was a Q&A with local media on Wednesday in the Wolf Room at the Buell Theatre. To see photos from the event, scroll down.  Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Video bonus:


    In this fun time-lapse video, watch as actor Euan Morton transforms into Hedwig backstage at the Buell Theatre before the Dec. 7 perfromance. In real time, this one-minute video represents 80 minutes. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Video bonus 2:

    Euan Morton and Hannah Corneau offered their thoughts on gender labels, the meaning of love and their groundbreaking show in this Q&A with local media in the  Buell Theatre. "I believe that Hedwig goes out on stage every night and says, 'I may be different ... but we're all exactly the same,'" Morton said. You should see the show, he said, so you can hold onto a stranger for five minutes. "When you need help," he said, "what difference does it matter who's giving you the kiss of life?"  Video by DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore and Video Producer David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Photo gallery:

    'Hedwig' in Denver
    To see more photos, just click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch in Denver: Ticket information

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the genre-bending, fourth-wall-smashing musical sensation, with a pulsing score and electrifying performances, that tells the story of one of the most unique characters to ever hit the stage.
    • Dec 6-11
    • Buell Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Dec. 10
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    John Cameron Mitchell on the ageless appeal of Hedwig
    Hedwig'
    s Stephen Trask: There are Thors all around us
    Mitchell and Trask: The two halves of Hedwig's whole
    Casting: Euan Morton to don Hedwig's wig on national tour
    Hedwig named to Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season
    Hedwig creator’s parents are tearing down a wall

    A Hewdwig 800 a
  • Denver dates for 'Frozen' announced

    by John Moore | Dec 05, 2016

    Frozen

    The Pre-Broadway engagement of Frozen, a new musical based on Disney’s Academy Award-winning musical film, will play The Buell Theatre Aug. 17 through Oct. 1, 2017, it was announced this morning.

    FrozenThe Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Broadway subscribers may purchase additional tickets starting at 10 a.m. on Dec. 12. Broadway subscriptions are available now. Sales to groups of 10 or more will start in February.

    Single tickets will go on sale to the public in the spring of 2017. For more information and to sign up for alerts, go to Denvercenter.org/Frozen.

    Please be advised that the DCPA’s web site – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for Frozen in Denver. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party should be aware that DCPA is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and is unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance.

    This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours.

    FrozenWritten by a trio of Oscar-winners, Frozen features music and lyrics by the creators of the film score Kristen Anderson-Lopez (In Transit, Up Here) and EGOT-winner 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.

    Frozen’s director is Michael Grandage, a Tony Award-winner (Red) and director of three Olivier Award-winning Outstanding Musicals (Merrily We Roll Along, Grand Hotel and Guys & Dolls), and Tony winner Christopher Gattelli (Newsies, South Pacific, The King and I) is choreographer. The design team for Frozen includes scenic and costume design by Tony and Olivier Award winner Christopher Oram (Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Evita), lighting design by six-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).

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    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 slated to join Disney hits Aladdin and The Lion King on Broadway in spring 2018 at the St. James Theatre.

    Casting and Broadway dates will be announced at a future date.

    Frozen is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions.

    Frozen: Ticket information
    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer 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. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut.

    Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    Aug. 17 through Oct. 1, 2017
    Buell Theatre

    • Broadway subscribers may purchase additional tickets starting at 10 a.m. on Dec. 12
    • Broadway subscriptions available here
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more will start in February
    • Single tickets will go on sale to the public in the spring of 2017

    MORE INFO


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Breaking: Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen
  • Hedwig's Stephen Trask: There are Thors all around us

    by John Moore | Nov 22, 2016

    Stephen Trask photo by Bruce Gilkas
    Stephen Trask photo by Bruce Gilkas.


    Hedwig is an iconic fictional character divided by gender, born out of one divided nation and now living in another. Birthed from two creators who imagined a world where from its earliest form, love itself was violently divided by an angry and capricious god of lightning.

    Her two makers, Stephen Trask and John Cameron Mitchell, have been divided throughout their own lives by their own forms of otherness. Yet for the past 18 years, their cult-favorite rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch has told the rocking, wrenching and ultimately healing story of a woman seeking wholeness.

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch was born in a raucous gay New York nightclub called Squeezebox. It grew into a seminal off-Broadway production that ran for nearly three years before being made into an underground phenom movie. Finally, in 2014, Hedwig arrived tattered and triumphant on Broadway, where it won three Tony Awards including best revival. Now, as it embarks on its first tour of the American heartland, Trask sees the opportunity for a divided America to stop shouting and start singing … fist-pumping and full-throated.

    “I'd like to see a world where people don't have to spend as much mental energy dividing us all into categories of us vs. them or as a series of 'others,' ” Trask said on the eve of Hedwig’s arrival in Denver on Dec. 6. “ I hope people can come to understand that the categories we have grouped ourselves in are really just states of mind. I hope we all will be able to love each other more and share the planet better.”

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock concert, during which our heroine intermittently reveals the intimate details of her shocking life. Hedwig was born a boy in communist East Germany and underwent a brutal sex-change operation to marry an American soldier who takes her to Kansas and abandons her there. Now she travels the country following a young boy named Tommy Gnosis whom she believes has stolen her music, her fame and half of her soul. The origin of her emptiness – indeed of our universal human emptiness, she believes – is explained in the song "Origin of Love," which tells of the petty god Thor, who used lightning bolts to split prehistoric man in half, damning all descendants to an unending search for our "other half.”

    And in the wake of this bitterly fought election season, Trask sees plenty of Thors in our world who are creating divisions in every direction.

    “In the opening song, Hedwig comes out and she says very defiantly that she's right in the middle of all of these divides,” Trask said. “And it's not just gender divides. It's a lot of divides. But she tells us, ‘Hey, there ain't much of a difference between a bridge and a wall. And without me right in the middle, babe, you would be nothin' at all.’

    “What she means is, you can look at that thing that is dividing you, that wall, and say that's actually a connecting point. The thing that is dividing us is actually also what makes us have stuff in common. What's binding us is our common humanity. And if we tear down those mental constructs as much as possible, the whole world just opens up in a way that makes life better - not just for other people, but for yourself.”

    The video above shows John Cameron Mitchell singing 'Origin of Love' in the 2001 film version of 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch.'

    In advance of Hedwig’s arrival in Denver starting Dec. 6, Stephen Trask opened up for a wide-ranging conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore covering how he and John Cameron Mitchell first conceived the Hedwig character, how he approached writing the seminal song “Origin of Love,” and much more – including his blunt response to the blunt question, “Do you feel like you have gotten your share of the credit over the years?” Along the way, Trask references Barbra Steisand, Dr. Seuss, The Clash and The Justice League of America, among others. Here are excerpts from that conversation:

    John Moore: The Hedwig story really starts at Squeezebox, where you were the bandleader. What was going on in your life and in the world that made that the right time and place for Hedwig to be born?

    Stephen Trask: I was a gay singer-songwriter trying to disguise my softer side in punk-rock music and glam-rock music. I had a band, and I think people were interested in what we were doing because the songs were melodic and the music was fun and the lyrics had meaning. But people were pretty put off by the idea of an outwardly gay singer-songwriter, particularly one for whom it wasn't really a political thing. For me it was political to not be political. Sometimes I might write a song about an issue, but we were not political in the way that The Clash were political. Politics was not the point of our band, so there really wasn't much room for us in the music scene. I got to be friends with Pat Briggs, who was one of the co-founders of Squeezebox. We both bonded over the fact that there really wasn't much space in the rock world for gay people, and there wasn't really a space for rock music in the gay world. He and Michael Schmidt decided to start this club and asked me if I would be the bandleader of it. It had reached the point where enough people now wanted to see a drag queen singing a real rock song instead of lip-syncing to a Barbra Streisand song. Or who wanted to hear a DJ who was playing rock music of all eras and punk rock and new-wave. And it turned out that there were a lot of people who wanted this. Squeezebox was a hit from the moment it opened its doors. Every week we put on a different show with a drag queen. I was leading a four-piece rock band, and it was basically the same lineup that's in the Hedwig band. That was also my band outside of the club.   

    So at the same time, John and I were working on a new show. There was no female character in it yet, but we started inventing her together - and I emphasize 'her' because if this character were to be a woman, and John were playing her, then that would mean I could get us a gig at Squeezebox. Hedwig was partly drawn on somebody John knew, and partly drawn on my experiences as a frustrated musician, which is part of her story, too. We thought she was going to be a minor part of this show but we kept getting gigs. And so we slowly developed this original show.

    John Moore: So the idea for John to play this failed rock star was really yours?

    Stephen Trask quote Stephen Trask: Oh, yeah. That was my idea. We had a rock-star character in our story that was loosely based on John who later became Tommy Gnosis. But frankly, and no offense to John, but he wasn't really that interesting of a character. Now, I am sure if we really wanted to make the story about John, we could have made it very interesting, but it wasn't really a subject we were getting very far with. I had taken a class in biography in college, and they taught us how to interview people. So I got my notebook out and I started interviewing John. I thought we would find some biographical material that we can use. And sure enough, he started telling me about this babysitter he had as a kid. And I just said, "John, why don't we take her and make her into a failed rock musician who used to have a relationship with our central rock-star character. But he went on to become famous, and she is left singing in dives, and she is bitter about it, and that's what she talks about. I'll write “Wicked Little Town,” her song of bitterness over never getting out of the town. You'll write a monologue and you'll play the character. We'll get her a wig and we'll put her in Squeezebox." And so that's kind of how it happened. We just sort of invented her right there in the room.

    John Moore: I've gotten to interview John a couple of times and one of the most meaningful stories I ever got to write was an interview with his parents, who were living in Colorado Springs when the first production of Hedwig was being staged down there. So I knew John's father was the high-ranking general based in Berlin who stood behind Reagan when he called on Gorbachev to tear down the wall. Now all of those biographical details seem to equate John's life more directly to the character of Tommy than Hedwig.

    Stephen Trask: Right.

    Mitchell and Trask: The two halves of Hedwig's whole

    John Moore: And so that would make you the internationally ignored sing stylist?

    Stephen Trask: That part's me. Absolutely. The person looking for her other half? That's John. And the internationally ignored song stylist? That’s me. We just kind of mashed it together. She's an odd character. Her biography is a bit of a fairy tale, but we were able to make it feel human because we were able to both tell our own story without being self-indulgent. I can talk about being a bitter rock star. I'm not actually bitter, but when you are a struggling musician, you want to make it. You don't want to be singing in dives. I can relate.      

    John Moore: So do you feel like you have gotten your share of the credit for creating this character over the years?

    Stephen Trask: No. Not one bit. No, not at all.

    John Moore: So speaking of Hedwig as of two halves of a whole, I guess the fair way to say it is that Hedwig really is half of both of you.

    Stephen Trask: Yeah, very much so. Yeah.




    John Moore: Well speaking of that very thing, I want to take advantage of the opportunity to ask you about the origin of "Origin of Love." When I was a reporter at the Denver Post, I wrote a column called "The 10 Most Gut-Scraping Songs of the Aughts," and I put "Origin of Love" on the list. I cheated a little bit by citing the Rufus Wainwright cover, because that put me in the right decade, but I specifically called out the song for your line, “I was looking at you. You had a way so familiar, but I could not recognize. ’Cause you had blood on your face; I had blood in my eyes.” I just want to know what gave you the confidence that you could distill everything that is going on in that story into a pop song and communicate all of its depth and complexity in three minutes.

    Stephen Trask: I first heard of the story because John bought me that book, "Plato's Symposium." He said to me, 'Can you write a song about this?' I was very into ambitious narrative songwriting. I was also obsessed with Lou Reed at the time. He had that huge mythic song called "Last Great American Whale," but he had tons of other songs that were just as hugely ambitious. And there was the Townes Van Zandt song "Pancho & Lefty." Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard did a spectacular cover of that one. I had been trying in different ways to write songs that tried to cover a lot of subject matter. So when John gave me this story, I knew this was something I could really sink my teeth into. The big thing I knew I was always leading up to was telling the story as a myth and then turning it personal at the end. Doing the whole thing in a way where you set up this really fascinating story and then make it gut-wrenching. It started out with me figuring out that I could get in by describing it in a kind of Dr. Seuss language. I had this book called "Happy Birthday to You" when I was growing up, and there is this really strange world described in this book. The drawings were these really spectacularly strange creatures. So I thought, “Well, let's describe this world before humans were cut down into their current size when there were just these big, huge two-faced, eight-limbed beings, and how can I tell this story like Dr. Seuss?” Once I figured that out, it came out almost all at once. It was just:

    When the earth was still flat,
    And clouds made of fire.
    Mountains stretched up to the sky.
    Sometimes higher.

    It’s very sing-songy. You can even imagine where the pages of the book turn, and what the pictures would look like.
     
    Folks roamed the earth.
    Like big rolling kegs.
    They had two sets of arms.
    They had two sets of legs.

    I imagined it from the start as an animated children's book. I asked myself, 'So who else would the gods have thought were threatening that they would have cut down, like dinosaurs into lizards, and cut the legs off of whales? I just imagined these vengeful gods taking these giant rival creatures and cutting them down to size. I also imagined kind of like The Justice League of America where the gods of all the religions all had one clubhouse together. A place where Thor is like a member of the Justice League. Where creatures from different myths all occupy the same space. It just unfolded like that, just trying to be extremely visual so that I could imagine this picture book that people could listen to and follow along the whole way.

    John Moore: The idea that we all have predestined soulmates is somewhat refuted by my favorite song in the score, "Wicked Little Town." So I am wondering: Do you believe that we have predestined soulmates or are you more the "Wicked Little Town" kind of a guy?

    The film version of the 'Wicked Little Town' reprise.


    Stephen Trask: I am a more the "Wicked Little Town Reprise" kind of guy, actually. John is the one who was very into the 'other half' idea. He's the one who gave me the Plato. When the show was oriented around a character based on John's life, we did explore this idea of, 'Who is my other half?' But that kind of went away. And so when I wrote what Tommy says to Hedwig, it was also me writing to John, saying, 'I don't actually believe in this concept of the other half. I think it's more the love you create with the people around you and the relationships you create with the people around you, rather than searching for the person you are destined for.   

    John Moore: So what did it mean to you when the show finally got a chance to be seen on Broadway after so many years?

    Stephen Trask: It was life-changing. It definitely put the work out there in a bigger way. It's one thing to have people go, 'Oh, I love that show!' every so often. It's another thing to actually have a lot of people who have seen it. I assume some people don't like it, but for some people, it's clearly life-changing. I tend to gravitate toward the people for whom it is life-changing. When you are doing something like that, you are talking to people. You are trying to put out these ideas, and they aren't, 'Oh, I wish I were a rock star.' Instead it's a discussion about how we construct our world into a series of dualities, and how the lines can be blurred or erased depending on your perspective. The discussion about love and whether love is something that is destined, or whether it is something that you find and recognize and nurture in the way that Tommy also sings about Hedwig. The reprise in "Wicked Little Town" is inspired by the idea of found objects becoming art. It's not just love as something you find as opposed to are destined for, but I believe the world is the thing that we make of it, and it's not really our destiny so much as what we do with who and what we are presented. So you want to get into a discussion like that, and you certainly don't want to be shouting off into the dark. So Broadway brought all of that to a wider audience. When people actually respond to it, and it begins a conversation, and it either has a profound effect on people's lives, or it begins a discussion or an argument, it feels good to have been a part of that.

    I also want to say that we ran the Broadway show as a year-and-a-half-long fundraiser for the Harvey Milk School. We ended up giving them more than $600,000. We are their biggest donor ever. Bigger than car companies. And so, if you feel like you are trying to create some good in the world, then that certainly did it. 

    John Moore: Tell me about solving the specific problem of telling the story on Broadway when the whole idea of the story is based on Hedwig playing in dive bars and bowling alleys? I saw the show on Broadway, and you guys clearly had a lot of fun acknowledging that this really isn't a Broadway show. It's more a Broadway takeover.

    Stephen Trask: Yes, on Broadway, the idea was that Hedwig and company are squatting on the set of the disastrous fictional production of Hurt Locker the Musical, which closed after one performance the night before. And that particular conceit is one that you can only do in a Broadway house when the joke is that big. I mean there we have an entire joke set. You are literally going to a Broadway house and there is the set to an entirely different show. We also made Playbills for Hurt Locker the Musical and scattered them around the theatre as if they had been discarded by patrons who hated it as they left at intermission. There is no end to how much you can tell this joke. It all started when John was visiting my house in Kentucky where I live with my partner, and the two of us were trying to come up with a funny Broadway show title that had closed after one night. We were naming one after the other and my husband actually came up with Hurt Locker the Musical. We just cracked up so much that we knew it was the right one. So then I wrote a song for it, and it's not even necessarily a bad song. The concept is that it's the kind of song that a good writer would write if they agreed to be hired onto a project called Hurt Locker the Musical, and approached it sincerely. The problem isn't the song, per se. The whole idea is wrong, and that's why it was so fun. Everything about that was a blast.
    John Moore: So how do you do that on the road?

    Stephen Trask: We definitely loved the Hurt Locker concept, and the jokes work great, and we didn't want to lose it. So we thought, 'Well, the road is where Broadway shows are being developed.' So on the road, Hurt Locker is not a Broadway show. It's a pre-Broadway run like you would have in cities like Denver,  where the producers are hoping for it to go to Broadway. But it failed. So we found a different context to tell the same jokes.           

    John Moore: So even though Hurt Locker the Musical died on Broadway ... it lives on the road, in cities all across America.  

    Stephen Trask: It lives. It lives.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: And what can you tell us about the new musical you are working on, This Ain’t No Disco!?

    Stephen Trask: I’ll tell you, it’s not really like anything that anyone has said about it so far, except that it vaguely relates to Studio 54. It's about young people who come to New York in the late 1970s and early 80s to find themselves and each other in the nightclub culture of the time. It takes place partly at Studio 54, partly at the Mudd Club, and also in artist spaces and on the streets of the city. What's interesting is the way that people in these cultures find themselves forming found families that are not biological or nuclear. I am writing it with Peter Yanowitz, who is the drummer in the Hedwig band. We developed the story with Rick Elice (Jersey Boys) but it's a sung-through musical, so there is no actual dialogue. The music is a mix of choral and gospel and punk and rock and disco and new-wave and soul and R&B. Rick came up with this great concept of Studio 54 as a church and (Studio 54 founder) Steve Rubell a street preacher.

    John Moore: In closing, now that you are this Broadway big-shot, do you think it might be time for you to embrace your birth name of Stephen Schwartz, and go ahead and let people confuse you with the Stephen Schwartz who wrote Godspell and Wicked

    Stephen Trask: I remember the first check I mistakenly got for writing "Defying Gravity." I said, “What the hell is this?” I didn't know the songs to Wicked, so I had no idea why I was getting it. And it was actually a really small check, unfortunately.

    John Moore: Did you have to give it back?

    Stephen Trask: I called him up and we compared things that he has gotten of mine, and things I have gotten of his, and it was within, like, $10. So we agreed if something big comes in, we'll tell the other person. But it's not worth it to call him up and say, "Hey, I got $3.87 for this.” And he's fine without it.

    John Moore: Final thoughts on Hedwig?

    Stephen Trask: It's going to knock your socks off, I can assure you.

    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.

    More to come from John Cameron Mitchell
    Look for John Moore’s expanded individual interview with John Cameron Mitchell coming soon to the DCPA NewsCenter

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch in Denver: Ticket information
    Hedwig and the Angry Inch Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the genre-bending, fourth-wall-smashing musical sensation, with a pulsing score and electrifying performances, that tells the story of one of the most unique characters to ever hit the stage.
    • Dec 6-11
    • Buell Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Dec. 10
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    Mitchell and Trask: The two halves of Hedwig's whole
    Casting: Euan Morton to don Hedwig's wig on national tour
    Hedwig named to Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season
    Hedwig creator’s parents are tearing down a wall
  • 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' will belly up to the bar ... in St. Louis

    by John Moore | Nov 17, 2016

    Video above: The making of 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' in Denver. Photos below from the DCPA Theatre Company's 2014 production by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

    Colorado may be Molly Brown’s home, but her next residence will be in her birth state of Missouri.

    Two years ago, the DCPA Theatre Company launched a completely re-imagined The Unsinkable Molly Brown, directed by Tony Award-winner Kathleen Marshall and featuring both a new book by Dick Scanlan and a recalibrated Meredith Willson score that includes new songs from the Willson catalog. Marshall called the result "Americana at its best: Big, strong, open-hearted and optimistic.”

    The production was well-received at the DCPA but its creators were intent on incorporating lessons learned from Denver toward the eventual goal of a larger life on the national stage. The next step in that journey was announced today when The Unsinkable Molly Brown was included on the 2017 season for The Muny next July 21-27. Located in St. Louis, The Muny is America’s largest outdoor musical theatre.

    MollyBrown-billboardThe Unsinkable Molly Brown tells the story of perhaps the most colorful woman in Colorado history. The original 1960 Broadway musical was beloved by some but was also problematic. The musical tells the story of a Hannibal girl who went to Colorado and married a miner who became fabulously wealthy. But unlike others in her position, Brown opened a soup kitchen and fought for immigrants. Ultimately she boarded the Titanic but survived, rescuing others in the process.

    “It’s a classic American musical: beautiful and heartfelt,” said Mike Isaacson, the Muny’s artistic producer and executive producer. “And what Dick has done with it is extraordinary.”

    Scanlan, a three-time Tony Award nominee also wrote the book for “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and other musicals.

    “Dick has kept the songs you love…and hopefully he’s gotten rid of the ones you don’t,” DCPA Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson said.

    In Molly Brown’s 1932 obituary, The Denver Post’s Jack Carberry wrote: “She was a pot rustler who, shamed by her ignorance, mastered music, literature and the arts to storm the portals and pass the barriers of society.”

    But while Scanlan promises audiences will see a much deeper Molly Brown than they did in the 1960 original, The Unsinkable Molly Brown remains very much a musical. And a musical comedy at that.  

    LEAD MOLLY“This is not a documentary,” Marshall added. “This is a historical fiction. This is the journey of Molly Brown as a woman, and her marriage.”

    That means this is also a romance.

    “Oh it is very much a romance,” Scanlan said.

     

    Casting for St. Louis will be announced at a later date.

    Selected previous Molly Brown coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter:

     

  • Mitchell and Trask: The two halves of Hedwig's whole

    by John Moore | Nov 15, 2016

    Hedwig John Cameron Mitchell Stephen Trask



    Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    is a 90-minute rock narrative that tells the story of an East Berlin boy who dreams of finding his other half. But while the biographical details of this extraordinary tale are shockingly unique — the desperate boy submits to a brutal (and botched) sex-change operation to marry a soldier who takes her to Kansas and abandons her there — this underdog and largely underground phenomenon has made a profound impact on a generation of audiences seeking their own kinds of individual wholeness. For Hedwig, it was the dream of connecting with her believed soulmate, a pimply boy named Tommy Gnosis who instead grows up to steal her music — and her fame.

    “The most common positive effect I hear from people is that our story creates a space in their lives for them to find themselves,” said writer John Cameron Mitchell. “Everybody is fighting a battle. Everyone is a misfit and a loser. Or has felt that way. Hedwig’s road is particularly hard, but she laughs at it. And that’s what makes her story a communal thing.”

    John Moore's 2005 interview with John Cameron Mitchell's parents

    Speaking of two sides of a whole, the fictional Hedwig is very much the two halves of her own two creators — Mitchell and composer Stephen Trask.

    “The person looking for their other half is John,” said Trask. “And the internationally ignored song stylist is me. We just mashed her together into one.”

    Hedwig Stephen Trask QuoteHedwig — both the character and the theatrical rock concert — were born after New York was gripped by AIDS, but not yet by terror. Trask was the bandleader at a new gay nightclub called Squeezebox, which fully embraced punk, new-wave and glam-rock at a time when, he said, “There really wasn’t much space in the rock world for gay people, and there really wasn’t a space for rock music in the gay world. But it turned out there were a lot of people who wanted it.”

    Squeezebox was a hit from the moment it opened its doors. Gone were the days of drag queens lip-syncing to Streisand. In their place was a full-throated Hedwig and her band.

    Mitchell and Trask first began working on a show about a rock-star character loosely based on Mitchell — the now unseen Tommy Gnosis. “Frankly, and no offense to John,” Trask said, “but he really wasn’t that interesting.” So they focused instead on inventing a female character Mitchell could play. Hedwig was inspired by a babysitter Mitchell remembered having.

    Trask said to Mitchell: “Why don’t we take her and make her into a failed singer who used to have a relationship with our rock-star character? Now he’s famous, and she’s singing in dives, is bitter about it and is telling us about it.”

    Hedwig went from the club to the theatrical stage in 1998 with an off-Broadway run that led to a cult-favorite 2001 independent film. But another dozen years would pass before the theatrical gods aligned and Hedwig finally bowed on Broadway — sort of.

    In the film, Hedwig performs in a bowling alley, among other places. Around the country, the musical is typically presented in seedy nightclubs. A classy Broadway theatre was no place for Hedwig’s act, so this would require an anachronistic wink. When Hedwig opened on Broadway, the gag was that the host Belasco Theatre had just housed a disastrous run of The Hurt Locker, the Musical, which closed after one performance. Hedwig and Company are now essentially squatting in the abandoned theatre as Tommy performs on a legit stage across the alley.

    Hedwig John Cameron Mitchell Quote“The whole idea of a Broadway musical based on The Hurt Locker is just so wrong, and that’s why it’s so much fun,” Trask said. “There is no end to how much you can tell that joke.”

    But the joke doesn’t work on the road, so the team has adopted a slight alteration for its first national tour: When Hedwig plays road houses such as Denver’s Buell Theatre, it’s a disastrous pre-Broadway run of The Hurt Locker that just tanked.

    It took Hedwig so long to make it to Broadway, Mitchell believes, because Broadway wasn’t ready for Hedwig. “We didn’t change. The world changed,” said Mitchell. “The idea of rock ’n’ roll on the stage, the idea of drag, the idea of this unusual story — they all became less frightening. It was just time. And we wanted to make sure we had the right person to play Hedwig.”

    And at age 51, the right person was no longer Mitchell, who instead happily handed the wig over to the man he calls “America’s sweetheart,” Neil Patrick Harris. He was followed  by a steady stream of bankable stars including Michael C. Hall, Darren Criss, Taye Diggs, Andrew Rannells and, for three months, John Cameron Mitchell.

    Yes, after rave reviews and nearly a year on Broadway, Mitchell decided to step back into Hedwig’s heels and bring his personal journey full circle.

    “It was just like the old days, but somehow better because there was less at stake,” said Mitchell, who said he took on the challenge as a way to shake him from the complacency he felt stuck in following the deaths of his longtime partner, Hedwig band member Jack Steeb, and father, Army Major General John H. Mitchell. The general was in charge of all U.S. military forces in West Germany in 1987 and stood behind Ronald Reagan when the president famously implored, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Mitchell’s father, who retired to Colorado Springs and died in 2013, profoundly influenced his son’s writing of Hedwig.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    From Broadway, Mitchell learned he was not too old to play Hedwig — nor will he ever be.

     “This is a story that can be told at any time, and a role you can do at any age,” Mitchell said. “The character can age. I am sure I will do it one more time when I am in my 70s, sitting in a chair. I’m just sure the keys will be very low.”

    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.

    More to come from John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask
    Look for John Moore’s expanded individual interviews with John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask coming soon to the DCPA NewsCenter

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch in Denver: Ticket information
    Hedwig and the Angry Inch Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the genre-bending, fourth-wall-smashing musical sensation, with a pulsing score and electrifying performances, that tells the story of one of the most unique characters to ever hit the stage.
    • Dec 6-11
    • Buell Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Dec. 10
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    Casting: Euan Morton to don Hedwig's wig on national tour
    Hedwig named to Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season
    Hedwig creator’s parents are tearing down a wall
  • James Graham on 'Peter Pan' as true theatre anarchy

    by John Moore | Nov 14, 2016
    Finding Neverland. Photo by Carol Rosegg
    "There was an idea about what art should be, and J. M. Barrie contradicted that by suggesting there was possibly a value to learning from children," says 'Finding Neverland' writer James Graham. Pictured: Laura Michelle Kelly and Aidan Gemme of the original Broadway cast. Photo by Carol Rosegg.


    EDITOR'S NOTE: The first national touring production of Finding Neverland opens in Denver on Dec. 20. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore was given exclusive access to the principal cast and creative team, and we are posting his extensive interviews in a seven-part series here on the DCPA NewsCenter. Part 4: Book writer and playwright James Graham. Next: Tom Hewitt, who plays Charles Frohman and Captain James Hook.

    J. M. Barrie not only put children on the stage - he made them the focus. And that gave them the power of the storytelling.

    By John Moore
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Finding Neverland is the story of how playwright J. M. Barrie found both the inspiration to write Peter Pan, and the courage to put his story on the turn-of-the-century London stage.

    James Graham, a 34-year-old British playwright who has been cutting the edges of the London theatre himself with a series of timely and political plays, understands why modern audiences might be a bit baffled to hear that it took actual courage for Barrie to stage what has become one of the most beloved myths of the past century.

    “Yes it's easy to forget now, because Peter Pan is so ingrained in our popular conscience,” said Graham. “But when J. M. Barrie wrote that play in 1904, it was incredibly radical and actually quite dangerous.”

    What Barrie was doing 100 years ago just wasn’t done in London. He not only put children on the stage - he made them the focus. And that gave them the power of the storytelling.

    James Graham Finding Neverland Quote“The idea that J. M. Barrie would, first and foremost, give children voice, rather than the grownups, was a complete reversal of the hierarchy and the status quo,” Graham said. “He was famous for flipping those power dynamics. He even made their nanny a dog. All of that was quite anarchic. It was quite shocking to the theatre establishment when he delivered that play.”

    This was, he further explained, a very rigid, post-Victorian society. “And if you look at Downton Abbey, which began about 10 years later, it’s all about social structures and hierarchy and knowing your place and never going above your circumstances,” said Graham. “There was a proper way of behaving, and that did not suit Peter Pan in any way.”

    Finding Neverland recounts many amazing backstage stories we probably can't believe now, Graham said. “They wouldn't even hand out the whole script of Peter Pan to the actors at first because they thought they would rebel. They had to have security on the doors in the rehearsal room because they thought that if it ever leaked out that this was a play about flying pixies and fairies and dogs and pirates, it would destroy the theatre’s reputation - and Barrie’s.

    “There was an idea about what society was and what art should be, and Barrie contradicted that by suggesting there was possibly a value to learning from children, from returning to that sense of innocence and make-believe from childhood.”

    Graham 's recent plays include the acclaimed Privacy at London’s Donmar Warehouse and This House at the National Theatre. This House, which was nominated for the Olivier Best Play Award and later was broadcast to cinemas worldwide, took a hard political look at the House of Commons. The more recent Privacy, which starred Daniel Radcliffe and became a hot ticket at the Public Theatre in New York, investigates the consequences of living your life online in the post-Snowden era. Variety’s David Benedict called Privacy “theatrically sophisticated, deeply researched, sharply structured material that’s as fascinating as it is unnerving.”

    Which might not make Graham Director Diane Paulus’ most obvious choice to write the book for the Broadway musical adaptation of Finding Neverland. But when you think of yourself not only as a kindred spirit but a direct literary descendant of Barrie’s – Graham was perhaps the perfect choice.

    “Everything about it appealed to my slightly anarchic side,” he said. And Graham evidently appealed to Paulus.

    “Diane has an incredible forensic knowledge of how you build a musical and how musicals work in terms of their structure and their effect on an audience,” Graham said. “I think she does apply some pretty out-of-the-box thinking when she puts a show together. That was certainly the case with this process.”

    Here is more of our in-depth conversation with ‘Finding Neverland’ book writer James Graham:

    John Moore: Congratulations on Privacy.

    James Graham: Thank you. It's such a crazy play.  We're really pleased that people have taken to it. It's cool. It's great.

    John Moore: How was it received in New York? 

    Daniel Radcliffe in 'Privacy.' Photo by Joan Marcus. James Graham: Really well. It was furiously sold out, which was good and bad, because obviously you always want to get all of the people in who want to see it. It's such a strange show. The form is quite experimental. We ask the audience to keep their cell phones on during the play, and to share every night on social media. It was a tough one, but it was fun to do something a bit crazy and a bit different. 

    (Pictured: Daniel Radcliffe in 'Privacy' off-Broadway with Michael Countryman, left, Raffi Barsoumian and Reg Rogers. Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    John Moore: I find it fascinating that Diane Paulus thought to pick you for Finding Neverland. I mean, you’ve just written this very timely new play about the impact of social media, and yet Diane looked you to adapt this century-old story. Why you?

    James Graham: That’s a very good question. I often ask that myself. I write political plays in the U.K. about obscure British historical events that would not normally interest anyone else. So I was as surprised as anyone. But as you say, my roots are very much in theatre, first and foremost. I love writing television dramas and screenplays, but I started on the stage and that's where I feel the most comfortable. I had a reasonable success at the National Theatre about four years ago with This House. (Finding Neverland producer) Harvey Weinstein saw that show and then we imagined we might make a movie together at some point. Then I was incredibly surprised with the call I got from him a couple of weeks later inquiring about the writing of a book for a Peter Pan musical. I didn't quite imagine that’s what that conversation was going to be. But I'm so thrilled he asked, because it's been extraordinary. I love being tested and challenged in different parts of my creativity and my brain. I loved the challenge of going from one production that features what I think is the biggest socially political issue of our time - how technology is eroding our privacy and our sense of self - to writing a pop musical with these guys that explores childhood, fantasy and imagination. Most of us have never had the joy of working with a composer or a lyricist or a choreographer. And we’re all from such different disciplines, like TV dance shows or the U.K. pop circuit. It's been awesome. It’s been cool.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: So you're a writer, and J. M. Barrie was a writer, But what specifically interested you most about the story you were being asked to write?

    James Graham: First and foremost, I would say I related to the plight of the main character, J. M. Barrie, as a writer who is feeling slightly trapped and blocked, and a writer who yearned to return to an age of living in his head and imagination at a time when life was more fun and playful and free. I think we all have a bit of Peter Pan in us, and I think I probably have more of a child than most of the people I know my age still. I spend my life making up characters and living in my own head. So I associated with that, because in real life, I'm not very exciting.

    John Moore: When you talk about J. M. Barrie’s anarchic spirit, it begins to seem as if Finding Neverland has more in common with your plays Privacy and This House and than meets the eye.

    James Graham: I hope so, because I think if you are going to ask people to leave their homes and come to the theatre and watch a show like Finding Neverland, I think it has to mean something and have some value in their lives. But equally, I won't pretend it was also anything other than what we hope is a sort of raucously entertaining, thrilling night at the theatre. It's such a comical and sparkly show. I think visually, Diane Paulus has created some of the most beautiful and thrilling effects on stage that I've ever been a party to.

    John Moore: What was it like working with your pop-star composers, Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy?

    James Graham: We tried to take the spirit of J. M. Barrie and do something that felt sort of intentionally incongruous. Having upbeat British pop music in an English, Edwardian setting was really exciting to me. There are some incredible numbers in the show from these guys. That has nothing to do with me, but I think the audience hopefully should be leaving the theatre singing at the end of the night.  

    John Moore: I know that in the theatre, the playwright is God. When you sit down to write Privacy and This House, that all comes straight from your laptop. So what are the challenges when there is not only a source film to be faithful to, but you also have these other creators saying to you, “Hey, we need to stop your story and sing a song right here”?

    James Graham: It's an entirely different writing process. I say this in the best possible sense: You kind of have to leave your ego at the door of the rehearsal room every day. As you say, there is tradition in the theatre world that the author is God, and your name is above the door, and there is kind of a reverence around you. That’s not the case when you write a musical. Because you're only one part of a team, or a machine, and all of it has to be functioning. I really, really loved that because I have never had to incorporate other people with my art, and here that might be dance or music or sound or visual effects or anything else that goes into the show. That's such a good discipline I think for a playwright to have to work at. It's very humbling to see other peoples’ skills, and then try and bend your own work around theirs - and see them bend theirs around yours.

    John Moore: What did you think of the 2004 source film with Johnny Depp?

    James Graham: I absolutely loved the film. I watched it when it came out. I found it really moving and beautiful and funny. So that was another reason to sink my teeth into it as well.

    James Graham Finding Neverland QuoteJohn Moore: What was it like watching the film again, knowing that your challenge now was to bring that story to the stage?

    James Graham: I wasn't really intimidated by it. I always feel quite free when I'm adapting anything, whether it be historical events or source material. I think I convinced myself that you can only really take the essence of a film or a book that you're adapting, and then you really have to find what it means to you personally and how you might find theatrical language for that. And I was super, super keen to find a theatrical language to this show, because it is a play about the theatre and the power of storytelling to inspire and change things. So I was keen to move it as much away from the film universe and toward the theatre universe as possible. 

    John Moore: Was Peter Pan part of your childhood?

    James Graham: Oh my gosh, yes. Hugely. I had it from age 4 or 5. I have a very vivid image of me in my house as a kid in the 1980s standing on the arm of my sofa and genuinely believing that if I closed my eyes and had a good thought, then I would be able to fly off the thing. Obviously, I crashed and burned. I remember that very vividly. Here in London we have a tradition which you don't really have there in America. It’s a Christmas show called pantomime, where we take on legends and stories and myths like Robin Hood or Cinderella and Peter Pan. It’s a very specific type of silly comedy show that we've been doing here for hundreds of years, and everyone goes to watch at Christmas. My favorite one to go and watch at my local theatre was always Peter Pan.

    John Moore: There have been so many variations of Peter Pan in books and film and on stage. What can I tell people so they don't mistake Finding Neverland for any other Peter Pan story?

    James Graham: This story tells the origins of one of the greatest works in our shared culture. We're getting used to that in the theatre now, when you think of the huge popularity and success of Wicked. Finding Neverland is almost like the Star Wars prequel. It's not the story of Peter Pan itself - it’s the story how Peter became Pan. And it's a really, really brilliant and funny and amazing and moving story of how this playwright, finding himself in a condition which I think every audience member will understand, of suddenly feeling like you've gotten slightly older, without meaning to. You’ve taken on all this responsibility, and life just isn't quite as much fun as it used to be. Meeting this extraordinary family, as Barrie did in real life, turned him into this brilliant, silly kid again. And then he took on London society and created this play that inspired them all. It's a real-life story and it so brilliantly exciting and funny and moving that I think hopefully people should love it. 

    John Moore: Sadly, we, we don't get to see it here in Denver it until December.

    James Graham: Oh, but that's the perfect time to come and see it - Christmas.

    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.


    Finding Neverland: Ticket information
    • Dec 20, 2016, through Jan. 1, 2017
    • Buell Theatre
    • Cast talkback: After the Dec. 21 performance
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Dec. 30
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Selected Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    Finding Neverland
    creative team, Part 1: Director Diane Paulus
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 2: Choreographer Mia Michaels
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 3: Composers Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy
    Diane Paulus on the rise of 'adventure theatre'
    Finding Neverland flies onto Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season

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ABOUT THE EDITOR
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.

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