• Twice is nice for a Denver return of 'once'

    by NewsCenter Staff | May 17, 2016

    In 2007, the seductive, off-beat Irish film once opened to glowing reviews and quickly developed a fervent following. This lyrical musical tells the story of two down-on-their-luck musicians: an angst-ridden Dublin street singer/songwriter who works as a vacuum cleaner repairman, and a Czech immigrant who sells flowers to support herself and her family.

    A Once quoteGirl (as she is known) initiates a friendship with Guy (as he is known), and in the course of a week they make music together, fall in love and part, but not before changing each other’s lives.

    Once is both graceful and gritty. It has a naturalism and intimacy that are generally best achieved in film, which explains why the Irish playwright Enda Walsh was less than enthusiastic when he was asked if he would write the book for a Broadway-style musical based on the movie.

    “I guffawed when my agent called and asked me to speak to the producers,” says Walsh. “I said, ‘What a stupid idea.’ It’s a two-hander with very little plot. It’s delicate. I called the producers and told them it wasn’t for me. There’s no tradition of musical theatre in Ireland. Then they told me John Tiffany was attached to it as director.”

    Walsh and Tiffany are longtime friends, and although Tiffany also had doubts at first as to the viability of the material as a musical, he convinced Walsh not to reject the idea outright.

    Says Walsh, “John said, ‘Let’s just take two days, and we can read the screenplay and listen to the songs and talk about it.’ I said, ‘Okay, we’ll do two days — and that’s all we’ll do.’ ”

    Well, not quite.

    “Those two days convinced us that we wanted to do this show,” says Tiffany.

    The musical became such a critical and commercial success that it spawned a London production, a Broadway show and a U.S. national tour — a journey that saw this modest undertaking win no fewer than eight 2012 Tony® Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book (Walsh), and Best Direction of a Musical (Tiffany).

     “I never think about adapting films for the stage. That’s not the way I work,” insists Tiffany. “When I was approached about once, I hadn’t even seen the film. But one of my best friends said, ‘You will love the music.’ So I downloaded the soundtrack — and I absolutely loved it. I’d never heard music like that. [It’s] the reason I wanted to do the show. Not just the music itself, but the fact that it’s a story about creating music, the healing power of music.”  

    Once 600In reading through John Carney’s screenplay, Walsh discovered there was much he could relate to. “I’m a big fan of the movie Brief Encounter, and I saw similarities,” he says. “There’s a bittersweet pang that really hurts. Very quickly I thought I was a good match for the material. I tend to write characters that are inarticulate and lonesome, and something comes into their life that changes them. From listening to the songs, I thought it might be good for me to do something about Ireland, which was so hurt in the recession. A little love letter to Dublin. 

    (Pictured right: Sam Cieri and Mackenzie Lesser-Roy from the 'once' tour company. Photo by Joan Marcus.) 

    “That was my way in. You start by bringing two people together and getting them to talk to one another. The tone shows itself quickly, so you step out of the way and allow it to write itself.

    “I knew all along that there were markers. I just had to unlock a stage language that was right. As soon as the Girl started talking, I thought, ‘That’s the swagger of it.’ She became the style of it and the force of the piece — and the central storyteller.”  

    The 12 adult members of the cast play at least one instrument and are onstage virtually throughout the show. “I didn’t want anyone on stage we didn’t get to know intimately,” says Tiffany. By individualizing each character, adds Walsh, “we built a community, and that became the heart of the piece.”

    As the show unfolds, the focus, of course, is on the relationship between Guy and Girl, but the audience also catches glimpses of the lives of the other characters.

    “We needed to be sure that there are all these other love stories in the air. Each person is riffing off a love that’s been lost, that got away. That was the key: for the audience to feel part of the experience, and look at the people on the stage and go, ‘They’re us.’ ”

    In the end, the material proved to be as powerful on stage as it is on film.

    “What’s very moving about the piece is how sometimes we meet people who we don’t necessarily stay with forever, but they give us the resources to move on to the next part of our life,” says Tiffany. “There’s something very truthful in that. People have said to me, ‘When I was sitting in the theatre watching once, I felt like I was watching it with everyone I’ve ever loved, whether or not they’re still in my life.’ ”  

    Portions of this text were provided by the show’s production company


    Once national tour photo gallery:


     Photos from the 'once' tour company by Joan Marcus. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the 'forward' arrow. 

    ONCE: Ticket information 
    May 24-29
    At The Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 (Groups: 303-446-4829 or BUY ONLINE
    ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: 2 p.m. May 28

  • 'Legally Blonde' director on 'The Hair That Ate Hollywood'

    by John Moore | May 11, 2016

     A legally blonde quote 2

    Legally Blonde is not the kind of script you would expect an edgy and award-winning student director to want for his first major studio film. Robert Luketic certainly did not. 

    “I actually had to be talked into it,” said Luketic, who sat on the contract offer from MGM Studios for more than a year before pulling the pink trigger on the feel-good film of 2001. “I was  little gun-shy. You're thinking, 'OK, someone has given me my shot, right? But is this the one I want to be known for? Is this how I want to start my career?’ ”

    A legally blonde credtsBut Luketic is not your typical dark and rebellious art-house film director. He’s an uncommonly self-aware Aussie whose big break was a whimsical 10-minute musical he shot in Cinemascope about an Italian girl called Titsiana Booberini. “She has a hairy upper lip and she works in a supermarket where she battles the prettier girls for the affections of the handsome assistant manager,” he said.

    “I made it to rebel against all the darker stuff that was being made at the time. Because as film students, we tend to like black and white, and heroin addiction and incest. And so I said, ‘I am going to make a Technicolor musical set in a supermarket.’ People thought I was crazy, but I think the risk paid off.”

    Well, it led directly to Legally Blonde, a film that cost $18 million to make, and grossed $142 million worldwide. So you could say the risk paid off.

    Legally Blonde has been called a “bait and switch” movie that fooled even MGM when it turned out to be an uncommonly progressive and, dare it be said – empowering piece of fluffy pink feminism. “Initially, they thought it was going to be much more wet T-shirts and boobs than it actually turned out to be,” said Luketic.

    Turns out the script, written by the 10 Things I Hate About You team of Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith and Karen McCullah - was ahead of its time. So was Reese Witherspoon, who would win an Oscar four years later for Walk the Line. Over the years, Legally Blonde has grown in esteem from simple summer escapism in the halcyon days leading up to the 9/11 attacks, to a film the internet’s “Rogue Feminist” recently called “incredibly woman-positive and an important staple in feminist pop culture.”

    Read more about the Denver Actors Fund

    Luketic, Smith and McCullah will be in Littleton on Monday, May 23, for a special benefit screening of Legally Blonde. It’s the latest offering in the Alamo Drafthouse’s “Denver Actors Fund Presents …” a monthly film series that features films that either inspired - or were inspired by - stage musicals that are currently being performed by a Colorado theatre company. Cast members from the Town Hall Arts Center’s upcoming staging of Legally Blonde, the Musical will entertain the audience at 6:30, with the film screening, and a Q&A with the creative team, to follow.

    Protagonist Elle Woods, of course, is the severely underestimated sorority girl who manages to get into Harvard Law School to impress a former boyfriend - only to realize she’s far too good for him.

    Reserve tickets to Legally Blonde screening and Q&A

    Luketic was just 25 when he got the offer to direct Legally Blonde. But he quickly discovered the team of Smith and McCullah would be his perfect entrée into the worlds of Hollywood moviemaking – and college sororities.

    “He’s from Australia, so he didn’t know much about the Greek system,” Smith said. “I remember going with him to all these sorority houses at UCLA so he could get a sense of that world. His joie de vivre is something really special, and you can feel it in the film.”   

    Luketic put it more simply: “We just get each other. We love to hang out. We get drunk together. It just works for us.”

    Luketic knows who he is. More important, he knows what is expected of him. "Listen, I am not making fine art," he said. "I make a commercial product that sells tickets. I understand that."

    Here are six essential things we learned from Luketic and Smith about the making of Legally Blonde. Burning issues such as, "What is the origin of the bend-and-snap?" and, "Whatever happened to that dog?" Read on ...

    A legally blonde

    1 PerspectivesThe hair has a name. “Oh my God, it became known as ‘The Hair That Ate Hollywood,’ ” Luketic said. “It became all about the hair. I have this obsession with flyaways. It would annoy Reese a little bit because I would always have hairdressers in her face. But really the most time and research and testing on the set went into getting the color right, because ‘blonde’ is subject to interpretation, I found.”

    2 PerspectivesDespite her impeccable credentials, Reese Witherspoon was not MGM Studios’ first choice for Elle. Charlize Theron, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alicia Silverstone, Katherine Heigl, Christina Applegate, Milla Jovovich and Jennifer Love Hewitt were all considered for the role. “But there was only one name that I was obsessed with, and it was Reese,” Luketic said. While Legally Blonde was his first feature, Witherspoon already had 15 major credits to her name, including American Psycho, Cruel Intentions and Pleasantville. “I had just seen Election, and I was all into this woman,” Luketic said. “She was perfect for the voice. Admittedly, she wasn't the first name that the studio wanted, but I wanted someone with gravitas and brains. There had to be more behind the face, and Reese just fit the bill.”

    3 PerspectivesThe now iconic “bend and snap” was the result of inspired desperation. “We had been instructed to add a (plot twist) into the second act by producer Marc Platt, and we were kind of wits end,” said Smith.  We’d come up with all these crazy ideas: “The nail salon gets robbed!” “Paulette gets deported and Elle has to use her knowledge of immigration law to get her out of it!” Nothing was clicking. Finally, we were in a bar one night in Beverly Hills and I said to Karen something like, ‘What if Paulette has a crush on a UPS guy who always comes in, and Elle teaches her one of her patented moves to get the guy? Like, "You should try the bend and snap." ' I demonstrated the move for Karen in the middle of the bar. She laughed - so we put it in,” Smith said. “Sometimes you can wrack your brain to find a solution. Then you have to take a break and be silly, and the right idea can come to you.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    4 PerspectivesLuketic owes his big break to two film festivals in Colorado, and today he even lives here. Sort of.  “I keep a residence at the Ritz-Carlton in Vail,” he says. Luketic started making movies in Australia at age 16. He entered his short film Titsiana Booberini for the Telluride Film Festival and it went on to win "Best Film" at the Aspen Shortsfest, landing Luketic his MGM contract. “When I entered my film into Telluride as a short, I had very little expectations,” he said. "It was through a program called Filmmakers of Tomorrow, and I heard there were going to be all kinds of fancy students and films. I was surprised that I got in, and I was even more surprised at the reaction I got after the screening. It was a life-changing moment. You get an agent and a manager and a deal with a major studio. This all happened within 40 minutes of my film screening.”

    5 PerspectivesA legally blonde heather hachLegally Blonde was made into a Broadway musical in 2007, and the script was written by Loveland native and University of Colorado grad Heather Hach (pictured right), who was nominated for a Tony Award. Smith, who met Hach briefly years ago, says she very much enjoyed the stage musical. “MGM flew us out to the opening night on Broadway, and it was so amazing to walk into the theater and see that they’d outfitted the whole place in pink — pink carpet, pink curtains. It was nuts,” said Smith. “It’s one thing to walk onto a movie set and see your screenplay coming to life with a film crew and actors. But it was a whole different thing to see your scenes and your dialogue turn into a full-blown rollercoaster of a musical with a stage full of Broadway singers and dancers.” Luketic has never met Hach, “but she did a great job," he said. Luketic loves the musical. He has seen it live in London, Australia and New York.

    Read John Moore's 2007 profile of Heather Hach

    6 PerspectivesOK, so most film critics did not love Legally Blonde. But AO Scott of the New York Times did concede that the film “made me and some of my dyspeptic colleagues laugh giddily and helplessly.” Something neither Smith nor Luketic were aware of (until now!). “Wow. I’d never read that,” Smith said. “AO Scott is a titan of film criticism, so that’s a huge compliment.” Luketic is a little more blunt. “I got burnt when the first reviews for Legally Blonde came out," he said. “I mean, I was excoriated. Most of my life I have gotten bad reviews, actually, and I am OK with that because I don't read them. I just know there’s a lot of bad stuff out there because a lot of people come up to me and say, ‘Oh, I am so sorry.’ You know, in that way like maybe someone has just died. But it makes me want to be better, I guess.”

    7 PerspectivesJust a few weeks ago, Bruiser died. Actually, the little Chihuahua was named Moonie, and he was 18. “Reese would joke that I thought Moonie was a better actor than she was,” Luketic said. “So for a wrap gift, she gave me this lovely little Tiffany’s silver frame with a picture of me and Moonie. In fact, I am sitting here at my desk looking at it right now as you brought that up.” It’s a sad passing, but is 18 a good, long run for a dog. “Are you kidding? That's a blockbuster of a life for a dog,” Luketic said.

    Bonus coverage: More from our interview with Luketic and Smith: 

    John Moore: So why did this underdog-of-a-movie work?

    Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith: Lots of reasons - the main one being Reese. She was so perfect in the role. MGM's marketing and PR for the movie was also incredible. They did so much creative stuff.  They created a National Blonde Day - in the pre-hashtag era.  They got Regis Philbin to dye his hair blonde.  They had a float at the Gay Pride Parade that Jennifer Coolidge rode on surrounded by a bunch of shirtless guys throwing out T-shirts. It was a perfect tumbleweed of good fortune that rarely happens in Hollywood: We gave our brilliant producer a script that attracted a great young director and an incredible actress who got the movie green-lit by a studio that left us alone to make the movie and then knew when and how to release it. 

    Robert Luketic: I think Elle was a young onscreen heroine women could feel positive about. For the first time, the woman in a movie wasn't just an accessory to a man. This was a film about being yourself in a world where we are meant to be cookie-cutter skinny things. The best version of ourselves is when we can be ourselves.

    John Moore: What are you working on now?

    Robert Luketic: I have an interesting project I am doing with Jaden Smith that's kind of edgy and different. More in the world of 21. And then I will be reuniting with the two girls, Kiwi and Karen, to make a killer, all female-driven action film called The Bells. It's sort of an inspired spin-off of The Expendables franchise - except this is all women. It's very exciting. And very empowering - so it takes me back to some familiar territory. I really think females drive the decision to go and watch a movie on a weekend. This is a segment of audience that my business has ignored for so many years, but I think now is a golden time when we are seeing films made for women. The only thing that is lacking is that not enough women are making films for women. But I think that will change.

    John Moore: It’s 15 years past Legally Blonde. What kind of groundbreaking story do you think young women need to hear now? 

    Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith: Let’s take a poll! I’d love to hear from young women what kinds of stories they’re burning to hear.  We’ll be at the Alamo Drafthouse on May 23 if they want to chat about it in person!

    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. He is also the founder of the Denver Actors Fund.

    Denver Actors Fund Presents ... Legally Blonde
    A benefit screening for the Denver Actors Fund
    Monday, May 23
    At the Alamo Drafthouse, 7301 S. Santa Fe Drive, Littleton, 303-730-2470

    • 6pm Doors
    • 6:30p.m. Live entertainment from Town Hall Arts Center
    • 7pm film
    • 9pm Q&A with Director Robert Luketic and screenwriters Kirsten ‘Kiwi’ Smith and Karen McCullah


    Note: The Town Hall Arts Center will present Legally Blonde, the Musical onstage from May 20-June 19 at 2450 Main St., Littleton. The director is Nick Sugar. Call  303-794-2787, or go to townhallartscenter.org

  • Colorado's ties to the 2016 Tony Award nominations

    by John Moore | May 03, 2016

    With a Pulitzer Prize already under its bulging belt, the question this morning when the Tony Awards nominations were announced was just how historic of a morning this would be for the historical musical Hamilton.

    The answer: As historic as it gets. Lin-Manuel Miranda's groundbreaking musical earned 16 nominations, making it the most-honored production in Broadway history. Miranda's hip-hop-flavored biography about the first U.S. treasury secretary broke record of 15 nominations held by The Producers and Billy Elliot. Hamilton was nominated in virtually every category it could compete in.

    The other unfortunately timed productions nominated for Best New Musical are Bright Star, School of Rock, Shuffle Along and Waitress.

    The Humans. Photo by Joan Marcus(Pictured right: Stephen Karam's extraordinary family drama 'The Humans' earned six nominations. Photo by Joan Marcus.) 

    The Best New Play nominees are Eclipsed, The Father, The Humans and King Charles III.

    For the first time in many years, there appear to be no direct nominees with a considerable Colorado connection. George Washington High School graduate Sierra Boggess is headlining Andrew Lloyd Webber's Best Musical nominee School of Rock. That ensemble also features Tally Sessions, who starred in the Arvada Center's Chess.

    Sierra Boggess tweet
    Denver native Sierra Boggess tweeted out congratulations to her 'School of Rock' team for its Best New Musical nomination.

    Paul Tazewell, who designed costumed for the DCPA Theatre Company's The Unsinkable Molly Brown in 2014, earned his sixth Tony Award nomination, for Hamilton. Aisha Jackson, a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado, is an ensemble member in the nominated Waitress.

    Longtime DCPA Theatre Company actor Lauren Klein, wife of actor Mike Hartman, is an\ key player in the the celebrated Best Play nominee The Humans, but there had been some speculation she might be among the individual nominees for her acclaimed performance.

    Likewise, Colorado Springs native Jeremy Shamos is a member of the ensemble of Noises Off, a nominee for Best Revival of a Play, but he was not singled out. Several of his castmates were, including David Furr, who starred in the DCPA Theatre Company's production of All My Sons in 2005. He was nominated as Best Featured Actor.

    Colorado native Aaron Quintana, who performed often for the Performance Now Theatre Company, is the Associate Company Manager for the Best Musical nominee Shuffle Along ...

    Jessie Mueller, who co-headlined the DCPA's 2015 Saturday Night Alive fundraiser for its Education programs, was nominated for Waitress.

    The Tony Awards ceremony will be hosted by James Corden on June 12 and broadcast on CBS-TV.

    Nominations for the 2016 American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards®
    Presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing

    Best Play


    Author: Danai Gurira
    Producers: Stephen C. Byrd, Alia Jones-Harvey, Paula Marie Black, Carole Shorenstein Hays, Alani Lala Anthony, Michael Magers, Kenny Ozoude, Willette Klausner, Davelle, Dominion Pictures, Emanon Productions, FG Productions, The Forstalls, MA Theatricals, The Public Theater, Oskar Eustis, Patrick Willingham

    The Father

    Author: Florian Zeller
    Producers: Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow, Barry Grove

    The Humans

    Author: Stephen Karam
    Producers: Scott Rudin, Barry Diller, Fox Theatricals, James L. Nederlander, Terry Allen Kramer, Roy Furman, Daryl Roth, Jon B. Platt, Eli Bush, Broadway Across America, Jack Lane, Barbara Whitman, Jay Alix & Una Jackman, Scott M. Delman, Sonia Friedman, Amanda Lipitz, Peter May, Stephanie P. McClelland, Lauren Stein, The Shubert Organization, Joey Parnes, Sue Wagner, John Johnson, Roundabout Theatre Company, Todd Haimes, Harold Wolpert, Julia C. Levy, Sydney Beers

    King Charles III

    Author: Mike Bartlett
    Producers: Stuart Thompson, Sonia Friedman Productions, Almeida Theatre, Robert G. Bartner, Norman Tulchin, Lee Dean & Charles Diamond, Scott M. Delman, Ruth Hendel, Stephanie P. McClelland, Jon B. Platt, Scott Rudin, Richard Winkler, Zeilinger Productions, The Shubert Organization

    Best Musical

    Bright Star

    Hamilton. Lin-Manuel MirandaHamilton 

    School of Rock—The Musical

    Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed


    Best Revival of a Play

    Arthur Miller's The Crucible

    Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge


    Long Day's Journey Into Night

    Noises Off

    Best Revival of a Musical

    The Color Purple

    Fiddler on the Roof

    She Loves Me

    Spring Awakening

    Best Book of a Musical

    Bright Star, Steve Martin

    Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda

    School of Rock—The Musical, Julian Fellowes

    Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, George C. Wolfe

    Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

    Bright Star: Music: Steve Martin and Edie Brickell

    Lyrics: Edie Brickell

    Hamilton: Music & Lyrics: Lin-Manuel Miranda

    School of Rock—The Musical: Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics: Glenn Slater

    Waitress: Music & Lyrics: Sara Bareilles

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

    Gabriel Byrne, Long Day's Journey Into Night
    Jeff Daniels, Blackbird
    Frank Langella, The Father
    Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III
    Mark Strong, Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

    Jessica Lange, Long Day's Journey Into Night
    Laurie Metcalf, Misery
    Lupita Nyong'o, Eclipsed
    Sophie Okonedo, Arthur Miller's The Crucible
    Michelle Williams, Blackbird

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

    Alex Brightman, School of Rock—The Musical
    Danny Burstein, Fiddler on the Roof
    Zachary Levi, She Loves Me
    Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
    Leslie Odom, Jr., Hamilton

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

    Laura Benanti, She Loves Me
    Carmen Cusack, Bright Star
    Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
    Jessie Mueller, Waitress
    Phillipa Soo, Hamilton

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

    Reed Birney, The Humans
    Bill Camp, Arthur Miller's The Crucible
    David Furr, Noises Off
    Richard Goulding, King Charles III
    Michael Shannon, Long Day's Journey Into Night

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

    Pascale Armand, Eclipsed
    Megan Hilty, Noises Off
    Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans
    Andrea Martin, Noises Off
    Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

    Daveed Diggs, Hamilton
    Brandon Victor Dixon, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
    Christopher Fitzgerald, Waitress
    Jonathan Groff, Hamilton
    Christopher Jackson, Hamilton

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

    Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple
    Renée Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton
    Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me
    Jennifer Simard, Disaster!
    Adrienne Warren, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

    Best Scenic Design of a Play

    Beowulf Boritt, Thérèse Raquin
    Christopher Oram, Hughie
    Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge
    David Zinn, The Humans

    Best Scenic Design of a Musical

    Es Devlin & Finn Ross, American Psycho
    David Korins, Hamilton
    Santo Loquasto, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
    David Rockwell, She Loves Me

    Best Costume Design of a Play

    Jane Greenwood, Long Day's Journey Into Night
    Michael Krass, Noises Off
    Clint Ramos, Eclipsed
    Tom Scutt, King Charles III

    Best Costume Design of a Musical

    Gregg Barnes, Tuck Everlasting
    Jeff Mahshie, She Loves Me
    Ann Roth, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
    Paul Tazewell, Hamilton

    Best Lighting Design of a Play

    Natasha Katz, Long Day's Journey Into Night
    Justin Townsend, The Humans
    Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller's The Crucible
    Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge

    Best Lighting Design of a Musical

    Howell Binkley, Hamilton
    Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
    Ben Stanton, Spring Awakening
    Justin Townsend, American Psycho


    Best Direction of a Play

    Rupert Goold, King Charles III
    Jonathan Kent, Long Day's Journey Into Night
    Joe Mantello, The Humans
    Liesl Tommy, Eclipsed
    Ivo Van Hove, Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge

    Best Direction of a Musical

    Michael Arden, Spring Awakening
    John Doyle, The Color Purple
    Scott Ellis, She Loves Me
    Thomas Kail, Hamilton
    George C. Wolfe, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed


    Best Choreography

    Andy Blankenbuehler, Hamilton
    Savion Glover, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
    Hofesh Shechter, Fiddler on the Roof
    Randy Skinner, Dames at Sea
    Sergio Trujillo, On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan

    Best Orchestrations

    August Eriksmoen, Bright Star
    Larry Hochman, She Loves Me
    Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton
    Daryl Waters, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

    Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-competitive Categories 

    Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
    Sheldon Harnick, Marshall W. Mason

    Special Tony Award
    National Endowment for the Arts, Miles Wilkin

    Regional Theatre Tony Award
    Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn, NJ

    Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award
    Brian Stokes Mitchell

    Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre

    Seth Gelblum

    Joan Lader

    Sally Ann Parsons


    Tony Nominations by Production

    Hamilton - 16
    Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed - 10
    She Loves Me - 8
    Long Day's Journey Into Night - 7
    Eclipsed - 6
    The Humans - 6
    Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge - 5
    Bright Star - 5
    King Charles III - 5
    Noises Off - 5
    Arthur Miller's The Crucible - 4
    The Color Purple - 4
    School of RockThe Musical - 4
    Waitress - 4
    Blackbird - 3
    Fiddler on the Roof - 3
    Spring Awakening - 3
    American Psycho - 2
    The Father - 2
    Dames at Sea - 1
    Disaster! - 1
    Hughie - 1
    - 1
    On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan
    - 1
    Thérèse Raquin
    - 1
    Tuck Everlasting
    - 1
  • 'The Lion King' mourns original touring flutist Kay Ragsdale

    by John Moore | Apr 08, 2016
    Kay Ragsdale

    If you've ever seen The Lion King in Denver, you have heard Kay Ragsdale play not one but 15 signature flutes in the groundbreaking musical. The original member of the Denver-born national touring production passed away this week.

    Ragsdale was profiled in a DCPA NewsCenter feature article when The Lion King made its fourth visit to Denver last August. In it, she said:

    “Our opening night (in 2002) was an opening night for the entire city of Denver. It felt like everyone in the city was participating in this event with us.”

    Thursday's Broadway performance of The Lion King was dedicated Ragsdale. "She was the heart and soul of our production since joining the North American tour in 2002, and will be missed dearly," the show said in a statement.

    Read our interview with Kay Ragsdale

    Jim Ferris, known by Denver Center audiences for his work in the Groucho Marx role in the Theatre Company's 2014 production of Animal Crackers, posted these reflections:

    "I had the humbling privilege touring for three years with Kay Ragsdale on the first national tour of The Lion King. To call her the ultimate professional is an understatement. Jim FerrisTo say that she is passionate about her art seems somehow cheap. To say that she loved people ... well ... just look at the smile that never left her face. While on the road, I would always get the opportunity to sit with the orchestra whenever I wanted. And when I did, it was either in "the kit" with the drummer or right next to Kay. To watch her play and manipulate the 15 flutes she used during the show with the utmost of care, was not only a magic act but a truly religious experience. I will always remember, after watching her play a passage on the flute during the show, I noticed she placed her hand on the side of the flute (as if not to let any air escape) then she gently blew into the flute, not making any sound, then put the flute down. Later, I asked her why she did that. She said, "I am thanking God and the ancestors who made this beautiful instrument for allowing me the breath to make this music. At that moment, I give them back my breath". We lost this beautiful soul this week, and now our breath is taken away. Thank you, beautiful Lady for your magic, your music, your spirit and most important, your friendship. Please take out a few minutes to read this article and watch the video below.

    Read our interview with Kay Ragsdale

    Kay Ragsdale
  • How DeVotchKa and a man named Coffin made murderous music mischief

    by John Moore | Apr 05, 2016
    Gregg Coffin Sweeney Todd. John Moore

    Gregg Coffin promises the unprecedented alchemy of esteemed Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim mixed with Grammy-nominated gypsy-punk band DeVotchKa ensures Sweeney Todd will be a theatrical experience unlike anything DCPA Theatre Company audiences have seen before.

    Sondheim, author of Into the Woods, Company and Sunday in the Park with George, also wrote the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy. Many feel his murderous masterpiece is Sweeney Todd, which first shocked Broadway audiences under the direction of Hal Prince in 1979. Since then, Sondheim has been uncommonly encouraging of young artists wanting to experiment with the score. When the Denver Center last year sought permission for a new collaboration with DeVotchKa, Sondheim said, "Bloody well."

    Denver's own DeVotchKa, named after a line in A Clockwork Orange, was deemed the local band most deserving of mainstream attention by The Denver Post all the way back in 2002. Since then, DeVotchka has reached international acclaim, landing in Billboard's Top 10 and opening for Muse before more than 80,000 in France.

    But how does anyone, much less an alternative rock band, even approach rearranging a complex Broadway score? Coffin, who has 30 years of experience as a theatrical Musical Director, had the joyful task of sheparding the band through the year-long process, which has resulted in a 943-page musical opus that three DeVotchKa members (Jeanie Schroder, Shawn King and Tom Hagerman) will perform live each night, along with Conductor Erik Daniells and six backing musicians.

    Coffin has essentially served as steward over DeVotchKa’s creative odyssey to revisit a score he calls the King Lear of the musical theatre. One that has been infused for this staging with an electric guitar, a drum set, toy piano and many other instruments original orchestrator Jonathan Tunick never imagined. For the record, there are 39 different instruments used in the Theatre Company's  new interpretation. It's too soon to say how it will all come out, but you would be hard-pressed to find a better match for a musical that leaves so much blood on the floor than a Music Director named Coffin and a band that penned beloved songs called Dearly Departed, Life is Short and How it Ends. Coffin, who has overseen many Theatre Company musicals including Animal Crackers, A Christmas Carol, White Christmas, talked with the DCPA NewsCenter about how it all went down:

    John Moore: What was your first exposure to Sweeney Todd?

    Gregg Coffin: I grew up in Maine, so my initial greeting came from hearing the cast album. Real musical theatre people get the cast album and then they run those grooves right into the wax.

    DeVotchka Sweeney Todd. John Moore

    John Moore: What did you think when you first heard that the Denver Center was not only doing Sweeney Todd, but with DeVotchKa?
    Gregg Coffin: I was incredibly excited because I know the wide musical berth Mr. Sondheim allows companies like ours in doing his productions. There was a production in Washington D.C. that used grunge guitars. Sondheim sent them a telegram that said: “Make it murderous.” He has a very open heart about these collaborations.

    John Moore: Has Mr. Sondheim asked to approve this new score?

    Gregg Coffin: We to have to present [the licenser] Music Theatre International with what we propose to do in the form of a printed score. But didn't know ourselves what this would really sound like until our first full orchestra rehearsal March 28.

    John Moore: What did you know of DeVotchKa then?

    Gregg Coffin: I knew they had done the music for the movie Little Miss Sunshine. That’s it. Then I met them, and we just dove in. 

    John Moore: DeVotchKa is known for collaborating with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, but they have never undertaken anything like this before. What is the one thing the DeVotchKa players most needed to know in transitioning to this musical world?

    Gregg Coffin: That the theatricality they connect with authentically in their own work is also present in what Tunick and Sondheim did originally in Sweeney Todd. It’s theatrical, and they are theatrical. Trust that authenticity.

    John Moore: What is the first thing you taught them about writing for the musical theatre?

    Gregg Coffin: The first thing we did was watch a recording from 1980 of the first national touring production under Hal Prince’s direction. It starred Angela Lansbury and George Hearn. We watched it in a conference room. I had the staff print off the piano vocal of the entire show and put it into binders for them. I think a lot of it was just them taking in what Sondheim and Tunick had done. I would tell them stuff like, “That person right there is going to be waiting for a ‘B’ to play, so someone in your nine-person pit is going to have to play it.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: Did you get any blank stares?

    Gregg Coffin: No. They are all alarmingly good musicians, and all of them had been in high school theatre. So they speak the language. And they are having so much fun.

    John Moore: But people do need to understand that this is not DeVotchKa "rewriting" the score. The notes are the same. It’s more a question of choosing which instruments are playing them, correct?

    Gregg Coffin. Sweeney Todd. John Moore. Gregg Coffin: Correct. This is Sweeney Todd, after all, and it’s going to sound very much like what Sweeney Todd sounds like. It’s not as if they just say, “We’re going to do that part with 20 banjos!” Instead, something that was written for a string section might be played here on an accordion. Or an oboe part might be played on a toy piano. Like the song “Johanna”: When you hear the Tunick score, it’s French horns and cellos, and it’s beautiful. Here, we’ve got it on a nylon string guitar, and it’s going to be beautiful, too. In the original orchestration, there has never been a guitar. There has never been a drum set. We will have a drum set, and that will be a real person sitting at a kit playing it: [DeVotchKa drummer] Shawn King.

    John Moore: What do you think the experience will be like for DeVotchKa fans?

    Gregg Coffin: I think people who come from the DeVotchKa camp will recognize and experience this band that they know and love as they interpret this classical piece of musical theatre. And DeVotchKa fans are already used to that part of it, because they play every year with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, and I think they are going to be used to that kind of idea.

    John Moore: But this is DeVotchKa, so people are going to expect something of a rock element.

    Gregg Coffin: There will be moments when it rocks out, absolutely. And there will be moments that promote a completely different feel.

    John Moore: What should traditional musical theatre audiences expect?

    Gregg Coffin: I think this production of Sweeney Todd will be as eye-opening and rib-cage-opening for them as it was for them to see the 2005 Broadway revival where all of the actors played their own instruments. When it’s just Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney singing, you hear things with a nine-piece pit that you can’t hear when it’s a big, 23-person orchestra and a whole chorus singing behind you. Here I think you will be allowed to see both a simplicity and an authenticity in the work.

    John Moore: You hand the music over to your conductor, Erik Daniells, on opening night. What is that performance going to be like for you?

    Gregg Coffin: It’s going to be hard for me to have my eyes on the score because I am going to be watching the DeVotchKa players the whole time. It’s a great gift that I get to see a group of really talented musicians dare to open themselves up to another art form and flex their muscles.

    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.

    No Small Parts: Gregg Coffin talks with DCPA CEO Scott Shiller:

    Sweeney Todd
    : Ticket information
  • 270x270-sweeney-toddMusic and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; Book by High Wheeler (adapted by Christopher Bond); musical adaptation by DeVotchKa
  • April 8-May 15 (opens April 15)
  • StageTheatre
  • Grammy-nominated Denver band DeVotchKa takes on the legendary demon barber of Fleet Street, serving up a reinvention of Sondheim’s musical thriller. Hell-bent on revenge, Sweeney Todd takes up with his enterprising neighbor in a devilish plot to slice their way through London’s upper crust. Justice will be served — along with audacious humor and bloody good thrills.
  • Accessible performance 1:30 p.m. May 1
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of Sweeney Todd:
    Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16
    DeVotchKa frontman promises a Sweeney Todd that's 'loud and proud'
    DCPA announces DeVotchka-infused Sweeney Todd casting
    ​Where the band meets the blade: Rehearsals open
    Co-stars on bringing DeVotchKa’s fresh blood to Sondheim
    Video sneak peek with DeVotchKa
    Meet the cast: Danny Rothman
  • Time-lapse video: Watch the 'Newsies' set go up in Denver

    by John Moore | Mar 24, 2016

    John EkebergDCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg talks all things Disney's Newsies in the video above while Video Producer David Lenk shows you in time-lapse form the show's set rise into place Denver's Buell Theatre over two 8-hour days. 

    "You will see this amazing, three-story, 24-foot tower designed by Tobin Ost, which is made of steel and aluminum, that is actually 7 1/2 tons in weight," Ekeberg says. Interview by DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore.

    The video below shows you the time-lapse by itself. Watch 16 hours of hard work come together in just more than a minute.

    Another look: Just the time-lapse:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Disney's Newsies: Ticket information

  • Through April 9 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  •  Kids' Night on Broadway, Talkback with the Company: 7:30 p.m. March 24
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. April 3

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of Disney's Newsies:
    Extra! Read all bout Denver's real Newsies past
    Michael Gorman: The Oldsie of Newsies returns to Denver
    Stephen Hernandez: Dancer's paper trail runs from Wyoming to Newsies
    Photos: Newsies' Fansies hawk some papes around Denver
    Try our Newsies crossword puzzle

    Newsies set load-InThe early stages of the set load-in at the Buell Theatre in Denver on Tuesday. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. The photo below shows a little of how the set looks when it is completed. Photo by Deen van Meer.

    Newsies set load-In
  • Extra, Extra! A look back at Denver's own 'Newsies' past

    by John Moore | Mar 16, 2016
    Denver Newsboys Newsies
    A group of children, probably delivery boys and girls, pose outside of The Denver Post on 16th Street sometime between 1890 and 1910. A sign reads: “The Denver Post, Every Day in the Year.” Photo by Harry H. Buckwalter reprinted with permission of the Denver Public Library.

    If not for the spunky street urchins who peddled papers on Denver’s street corners in the early 20th century, Mile High Stadium might not be named after the Sports Authority retail giant today.

    Nathan Gart, patriarch of the Gart Brothers sporting-goods empire that has since morphed into Sports Authority, was an entrepreneurial Denver Post newsboy who owned the corner of 16th and Lawrence streets. He learned at age 12 how profitable it could be to buy watches and rings from his regular customers, mark them up and re-sell them. He opened his first store in 1928 selling fishing rods with $500 he saved from hawking one screaming headline at a time.

    Denver Newsboys NewsiesGart is just one notable character in the colorful history of Denver’s newsboys, whose plight was positively Dickensian. In 1901, The Denver Times claimed that most newsboys, almost all of whom were orphans, cripples or runaways, made 10 to 15 cents a day selling papers they sold for a nickel. The newsies looked on one particular boy who made 40 cents a day as “a bloated aristocrat,” the paper reported.

    America’s most famous champion of newsboys was Horatio Alger, whose stories presented newsboys as exploited young heroes who succeeded through a mixture of pluck and luck. That is until Disney released Newsies, the 1992 musical film that introduced Christian Bale. The story, inspired by the real-life New York newsboys strike of 1899, was made into a Broadway musical in 2012 with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and a book by Harvey Fierstein.

    But if legend is to be believed, Denver’s newsboys were
    a much tougher lot than those striking, high-stepping New Yorkers.

    Benny Bee, a crackerjack Denver Post newsboy in his time, was arrested while visiting New York and charged with “disturbing the peace and tranquility of Manhattan,” according to Bill Hosokawa’s history of The Denver Post, Thunder in the Rockies. His crime? “Demonstrating to New York newsboys how papers were sold in Denver.”
    (Photo above right: A portrait of Tom Payne, a Denver Post newspaper delivery boy, taken sometime between 1900 and 1920. Photo reprinted with permission of the Denver Public Library.)

    Benny Bee reportedly introduced the profitable practice of “bootjacking” to his Big Apple counterparts. That’s when newsboys would mix in outdated editions of the daily paper with those that were hot off the presses and sell them to unsuspecting customers as the latest news.

    Check out more Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    This was at a time when apocalyptic shouts of “Extra! Extra!” were ubiquitous on Denver street corners. Extras were special mid-day updates to the daily newspaper that would trumpet breaking and often trumped-up news scoops. According to Hosokawa’s book, Denver’s five competing daily newspapers would issue an “extra” at the least provocation, sometimes several times a day. Burning oil fields, the bubonic plague or stolen babies were all handy tools to help newsboys sell more papers. But as soon as any new edition was printed, hundreds of now dated editions were relegated to the trash heap. Until bootjacking.  

    Newsies Harry Tammen Quote

    The decade after World War I was a time when newspapers were Americans’ only source of reasonably real information. TV was unknown and radio was still a novelty. This was the golden era of yellow journalism, and Denver’s dailies were quick to embellish any story or stoke any flame to sell more papers. In the 1890s, The Denver Post’s downtown office became known as “The Bucket of Blood.”

    It may have been a period of contemptible journalism, but it also was the best show in town. The Post, co-founded by Frederick Bonfils and Harry Tammen, once hired comedian Charley Murray to jump off its 12-story building. A crowd of 25,000 gathered to watch what turned out to be a dummy thrown off the roof. Tammen’s mantra: “The public not only likes to be fooled — it insists upon it.”

    And newsboys were part of the show — literally. They regularly got together and staged corner minstrel shows for spare change.

    Denver’s newsboy tradition dates back to 1870, when young carriers would deliver copies of the Rocky Mountain News on horseback to houses that were considered far out on the prairie in those days — we’re talking what is now 7th Avenue and Broadway.

    “More than once, herds of antelope sped out of my way as I rode out,” Theodore De Harport once said of his earliest newsboy days.   

    On Oct. 14, 1925, Denver Mayor Benjamin Stapleton signed an ordinance making it illegal for newsboys to sell papers on the street. Newsboys over age 12 — “and newsgirls over 21” — would be permitted to sell papers, but only with a free license. And the practice of calling out headlines was made a criminal offense.
    In a 1959 retrospective, the Rocky Mountain News interviewed Edward J. Keating, presiding judge of Denver’s District Courts, about his days as a newspaperboy 35 years earlier. He claimed “the majority of judges in Denver and Colorado courts today earned their first dollars toward their educations by delivering newspapers.” Keating used his earnings to pay his tuition at Denver's Cathedral High School, which he parlayed into a college scholarship.
    “The newspaperboy of today has raised his work to such a high level of respect,” he said, “it has become a mark of pride for every prominent businessman and civic leader who can link his early career with the profession.”

    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.

    Special thanks to Brian Trembath of the Denver Public Library.

    Disney's Newsies Photos from the national touring production of Disney's 'Newsies.' Photos by Deen van Meer.

    Disney's Newsies: Ticket information

  • March 23-April 9 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  •  Kids' Night on Broadway, Talkback with the Company: 7:30 p.m. March 24
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. April 3

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of Disney's Newsies:
    Michael Gorman: The Oldsie of Newsies returns to Denver
    Stephen Hernandez: Dancer's paper trail runs from Wyoming to Newsies
    Try our Newsies crossword puzzle

  • Video: Kelli O'Hara and Brian d'Arcy James at Saturday Night Alive

    by John Moore | Mar 15, 2016

    Brian d'Arcy James and Kelli O'Hara co-headlined the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' annual 'Saturday Night Alive' concert on March 5, helping to raise about $877,000 for the DCPA's arts education programs. 

    Why does arts education matter?

    “Because I think it leads to smarter people, more communicative people and more powerful people,” said Broadway superstar Kelli O’Hara. “School is a place where you learn that arts are … allowed. Where you learn the language of acceptance and freedom.”

    O’Hara and Brian d’Arcy James co-headlined the Denver Center’s annual Saturday Night Alive concert for arts education on March 5, helping to raise about $877,000 for the DCPA's arts education programs.

    "The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is really on track here because arts education so wildly important,” said O’Hara. She is the most recent winner of a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, for The King & I. James is a three-time Tony Award nominee, including last year for his current role in Something Rotten!

    The benefit in Denver was the first time the old friends ever performed together in concert. The pair met performing in Broadway’s The Sweet Smell of Success in 2002.

    “That show was a big deal for both of us at that time in our careers,” said James. They marked their shared past by singing a song that was cut from the Sweet Smell of Success score, “That’s How I Say Goodbye.” James called it a bittersweet moment given composer Marvin Hamlisch’s death in in 2012. “He was such a guiding light for that show and a force everyone knows musically,” James said. “So being able to represent him in this way with Kelli is a really special thing."

    O’Hara is the national spokesperson for a program called “Theatre in Our Schools,” and March is “Theatre in Our Schools Month.” If arts disappear in our schools, she said, “then we’re doing our math and doing our science and playing our sports and we’re never talking and we’re never communicating. And as we know in this world, communication and the lack thereof is causing a lot of problems, or the type of ways we communicate.

    “I’m looking forward to how we can affect how much theatre is in our schools, and in what ways that affects children. It’s about how children can find their voice and communicate and ask the questions that these different types of art are bringing about in their minds. It’s a way to really open up a child. It’s very important to me, so I’m excited to be a part of it."

    Here are more excerpts from our talk with O’Hara and James:

    John Moore" How did arts education help you growing up?

    Kelli O’Hara: I grew up on a farm in Western Oklahoma, and arts education wasn’t a huge deal (there). We had a lot of sports. But my state is now actually really reaching out. I just recently helped them raise some money for arts education. It’s becoming important everywhere because it’s important for kids. It’s a conversation starter. It’s a way kids can feel and learn and speak and communicate better. My arts education is what brought me here. In college, there was a voice teacher named Florence Birdwell at Oklahoma City University and I knew of her since I was 5 years old. And that experience with her in my college, learning the craft and her technique and her life lessons really, kind of sent me to New York, which was a big move for me.

    John Moore: Didn’t she also teach Kristin Chenoweth?

    Kelli O’Hara: She did, and a lot of other amazing singers. I wouldn’t be here without the mentoring through education that I had with Florence.

    Brian d’Arcy James: I grew up in Saginaw, Mich., which is in the middle of the state. I was surrounded by arts through my school and through my community. I contend that arts education is the chance for some young person to find their voice and express themselves and learn about who they are, which I think strengthens their outlook on life and their confidence in themselves to step forward into their future. That is a really remarkable thing that arts education provides. I was able to satisfy my curiosity about the theatre through my arts education in my community and my school.

    Kelli O’Hara: I think if you learn from an early age what you’re feeling and how to put words to it and even sometimes if you’re doing it through different channels, which art creates, there’s a release and there’s a growth that can happen from that release, which you might not be getting at home.

    John Moore: Why was it important for both you to be here in Denver tonight?

    Brian d’Arcy James: It makes me proud to think that I’ve been asked, along with Kelli, to be any kind of magnet that would allow people to feel like they want to support this particular event. But also, more importantly, to support the larger idea of arts in the community. We’re here because of what we learned and what we were able to achieve as young people in the arts. If we have any chance to support that or to inspire people to continue to think that is a good idea, it makes me very proud.

    Kelli O’Hara: By following our dreams, we have witnessed what art can do, not only for ourselves, but also for children. I know the changes that happened in me, just from having some support once I found it. That’s something I really want to drive and push and support. We both have kids of our own now. We want the best for them, and we want them to have this added freedom to communicate. And the arts are the way to do that. We’re artists, so we already think that - but I’ve watched it happen with many people who aren’t artists, too.

    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Random Trivia:
    Kelli O'Hara's husband, acgtor and songwriter Greg Naughton, is the nephew of actor David Naughton (An American Werewolf in London).

    Brian d'Arcy James sang a medley honoring songwriters who hail from his hometown of Sagninaw, Mich., including Stevie Wonder and Isham Jones.

    Check out more of our Colorado theatre coverage

    2016 Saturday Night Alive Set List
    'S Wonderful (duet) 
    "He Loves Me" (O'Hara)
    "Wonderful Guy" (O'Hara)
    "Always" (O'Hara)
    "Just in Time" (O'Hara)
    Opera Country" (O'Hara)
    "I Could Have Danced All Night" (O'Hara)
    "That's How I Say Goodbye" (duet)
    "The Sun Went Out Today" (James)
    "She Cries" (James)
    Saginaw, Michigan medley (James)
    "Seven Days" (James)
    "Beautiful City" (James)
    "Everybody Loves You Now" (James)
    "Who I'd Be in Your Eyes" (James)
    "When October Goes" (James)
    "If I Loved You" (duet)

    Previous coverage of 2016 Saturday Night Alive:
    Brian d’Arcy James: 'The confetti is still falling'
    Five intriguing auction items

    Concert photo gallery:

    Brian d’Arcy James and Kelli O'Hara
    Photos from the 2016 'Saturday Night Alive' benefit concert. To see more, click the forward arrow on the photo above. Look for our more photos from the Saturday Night Alive gala later this week. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Hernandez's paper trail runs from Wyoming to Colorado Ballet to 'Newsies'

    by John Moore | Mar 15, 2016
    Disney's Newsies
    Photos from the national touring production of Disney's 'Newsies.' Photos by Deen van Meer.

    Dance might have seemed like an unlikely career path for Stephen Hernandez growing up on a farm in Lander, a town of about 7,500 in central Wyoming. It was his move to Denver at the tender age of 17 that set him on a path that led from the Colorado Ballet to the national touring production of Disney’s Newsies.

    “I started with gymnastics when I was 8,” said Hernandez, who soon expanded his repertoire to include everything from tap dancing to jazz to ballet. His experience in all of those disciplines has come in handy in Newsies, which is known for its acrobatic and physically demanding dancing. 

    “Absolutely,” said Hernandez. “There is a lot of athletic dancing and tumbling in this show. So yeah, it’s a perfect fit.”

    Newsies Stephen_Hernandez Hernandez had an idyllic childhood growing up on a rural farm with horses. But after taking summer classes with the Colorado Ballet, he decided to graduate from high school early to accept a one-year apprenticeship that changed his life.

    “My parents set me up in an apartment in Aurora, and they were in touch with me every day,” Hernadez said. “I was lucky because I had all kinds of people who were looking out for me through the Colorado Ballet and family friends.”

    While with the Colorado Ballet, Hernandez danced at The Ellie Caulkins Opera House right next to where he will perform in Newsies for his Colorado homecoming. The first show he ever saw at The Buell was in 2008. It was the national touring production of A Chorus Line. It was helmed by Associate Choreographer Michael Gorman, a fellow Coloradan who is now his Newsies castmate. 

    “He is so great,” Hernandez said of Gorman. “He has had this phenomenal career, so it is really cool to be able to work with people like Michael in our cast. It’s great to pick their brains.”

    Working with professional dancers at the Colorado Ballet every day “sparked my work ethic as far as trying to elevate my career,” said Hernandez. When his apprenticeship ended, he joined 7 Dancers, a wing of the Cherry Creek Dance Performing Company. From there he joined the David Taylor Dance Theatre (now known as David Taylor's Zikr Academy) before moving to Los Angeles.

    “And now I have such a huge appreciation for ballet, I feel like it's the core of everything I am doing,” he said.

    Hernandez has been with the Newsies tour since its inception in 2014. He is a “swing,” which means he must be at the ready at all times to fill in for any of 14 other members of the Newsies cast. He says he typically appears in about four performances (out of eight) each week.  He’s eager to show friends and family – most of whom now live in Grand Junction – the Newsies phenomenon first-hand. His birthday happens to be the tour’s opening night at The Buell Theatre on March 23.

    Newsies is just a very relatable show,” he said. “Everyone loves an underdog, and that's what this show is all about. It's about these kids who are treated poorly and unfairly, and so they band together to strike against two of the richest men in New York City.

    “We have so many fans — we call them 'fansies' — who are completely fanatical about the show. They write us letters and thank us and tell us how we have changed their lives. It's funny because when you are up there singing and dancing, you can forget how influential this show really can be on people. It's pretty special. I am glad that I am a part of it.”  

    Stephen Hernandez Newsies Seize the Day
    That's Stephen Hernandez 'Seizing the Day' front-row center in Disney's 'Newsies.' Photo by Deen van Meer.

    Disney's Newsies: Ticket information

  • March 23-April 9 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  •  Kids' Night on Broadway, Talkback with the Company: 7:30 p.m. March 24
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. April 3

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of Disney's Newsies:
    Michael Gorman: The Oldsie of Newsies returns to Denver
    Try our Newsies crossword puzzle

    Check out more of our Colorado theatre coverage

  • Guest column: DSA students join 25th anniversary 'Secret Garden' concert

    by NewsCenter Staff | Mar 04, 2016

    The Secret Garden. Lincoln Center. Denver Scool of the Arts
    Fifty Denver School of the Arts students were among the 200-member choir who sang in one of the two recent 25th anniversary concerts for 'The Secret Garden.' Photos courtesy Shawn Hann.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Two 25th anniversary concert performances of The Secret Garden were held Feb. 21-22 at the Lincoln Center starring Denver native Sierra Boggess and her Love Never Dies co-star, Ramin Karimloo. The performances each featured separate choirs with more than 200 singers from the across the United States, including 50 students from Denver School of the Arts. We asked two of those students to share their experiences with DCPA NewsCenter readers.

    By Aleksandra Kay and Alice Zelenko
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    We recently had the honor of traveling to New York City with our choir group of 50 from Denver School of the Arts to perform in one of the 25th Anniversary performances of The Secret Garden at the Lincoln Center alongside an all-star cast that included some of the show's original Broadway cast members from 1991.

    It was the learning - and résumé-building - experience of a lifetime. We built more skills and friendships over that short weekend than you can imagine. It also was challenging, and it had its drawbacks.

    When we landed in New York City, simultaneously excited and drained from travel and adrenaline, we were met by a huge bus. Once in the center of Times Square, we checked into the Crowne Plaze - the hotel where we would not only sleep, but also where all of our rehearsals would take place. We had time to eat before our first rehearsal, so everyone split up to find grub in the city that never sleeps. Our group chose some greasy (but rather good) pizza. We encountered an angry man who was cursing about his order to anyone who could hear - an authentic New York experience, to say the least.

    (Pictured above right: Guest columnists Aleksandra Kay, left, and Alice Zelenko.)

    When we got back, we were ready for our first rehearsal. It was only a choir rehearsal, but it came with expectations. For example, you are expected to know your parts before you arrive. This is a fundamental truth of any professional acting experience. No actor (we would hope) comes into the first day of a Broadway show without some knowledge of the lines, music and story. For the choir, the same is true. We learned the music in the weeks before we arrived.

    The 50 Denver School of the Arts students only made up about a quarter of the 200-person choir. We had a few rehearsals all together. We were even given choreography and objectives and other direction.

    Over the course of the trip, we did have multiple blocks of free time. We wanted to get out of Times Square, so the DSA group took a bus tour of the city. We were shown all over from the Lower East Side all the way to the Upper West Side. We saw Battery Park, the 9-11 Memorial, Soho and Central Park. We were blown away by all the different cultures New York City has to offer.

    ​We had the amazing opportunity to see the Broadway revival of The Color Purple with a cast that includes Cynthia Erivo, Jennifer Hudson and Danielle Brooks. The intimate theatre brought the audience up close for what proved to be a truly magical experience. Not a single person in that audience escaped without tears.

    Our next rehearsal was with the renowned principal cast of The Secret Garden, including Cheyenne Jackson, Ramin Karimloo and Sydney Lucas. Our encounter included a Q&A with the cast. The actors shared their own experiences. They talked about what made them fall in love with theatre and what drives them to continue in such a demanding profession. Every one of them encouraged us, as rising artists, to follow our ambitious dreams. They told us that if you have the right work ethic, and if you stay humble and considerate, you could possibly "make it." But their definition of "making it" doesn't really match the superficial meaning of success we have ingrained into our minds. To them, "making it" simply means the ability to create art, collaborate, and truly affect an audience.

    During a break, we got to talk with individual cast members. Talking with Cheyenne Jackson and Ben Platt, both incredibly successful actors who are living out our dreams, was an experience we will never forget.

    As we came back together for the last part of rehearsal, we got to see the cast in action. This was a real Broadway rehearsal. The professionalism on display in that room is something you never see in rehearsals for a high-school production. The speed at which tasks were accomplished was incredible. There was a complete absence of distractions.

    Here are a few of the quotes we wrote down from that incredible group of artists:

    • "Have fun. Be stupid. Enjoy."
    • "Let 'no' be a motivator."
    • "Your best acting training is your life."
    • "Stay inspired."
    • "Everyone is afraid."
    • "Don't waste time trying not to be yourself."
    • "The only stupid question is the one not asked."

    Our free time was ours to create our own experience in the city most of us would like to call home one day. On Sunday morning, my group of five friends chose to go down to the SoHo neighorhood, which is the area south of Houston Street. We navigated the intricate subway system and found ourselves enjoying a quieter-than-usual New York morning.  Coffee, New York and our best friends all in one place - what more can two 16-year-olds ask for?

    The quiet, vintage neighborhoods of New York were a nice change of pace from the chaos of Times Square. Chai lattes, authentic macarons, lunch at Dean & Deluca and the comforting company of our favorite people made for a perfect morning.

    As we made our way back for our next rehearsal, we found out just how confusing the subway can be. But we made it back to the Crowne Plaza in one piece. Later we finished off the day with a trip to the Imperial Theatre to see Les Misérables, a final expanding of horizons, and more fuel for our own performance.

    As we lay in our beds thinking about the next day, we couldn't help but ponder our futures. Maybe one day we could be at Schmackary's Bakery too - but instead of just getting cookies, we'd be getting food for our castmates as we reported in for our own Broadway shows.

    The next day was "show day." We had a quick morning of exploration, before we all met to ride the subway to Lincoln Center together. Dressed up in our black choir outfits, holding binders filled with our music and holding our water bottles close, we entered the stage for our technical rehearsal. It was quicker than expected and more efficient than anything we had ever experienced before. Still, the experience made some of us cry, in a good way.

    Listening to the music sung by our wonderful musical director was amazing. Listening to the music sung by the cast was beautiful. But listening to the music with the full 70-piece orchestra was breathtaking beyond words. When I looked down my row after the run-through of the finale, I saw four people crying. The vastness of this hall, and the idea that we would be performing this beautiful music with such a talented cast in front of 3,000 people, was overwhelming. Even seeing glimpses of the hauntingly beautiful scenic and light design, including giant chandeliers lit from the inside, moved us all.

    We had a quick dinner break at the Magnolia Bakery, where we stuffed food into our mouths and recharged our sleep-deprived, yet highly charged selves for the performance. The backstage hallway was filled with Broadway stars warming up inches away from us - although we mostly upheld the advice we were given about maintaining our professionalism around the stars.

    Guest Column Quote. Denver School of the ArtsThe final pep talk was professional, and the walk up to the stage was completely silent and orderly. It was clear the Broadway shows we all hope to be part of one day are places of preparedness and efficiency. The whole show was run like clockwork. Before we knew it, the performance began and everything we had worked so hard to put together was happening right before our eyes. It didn't matter that our backs ached from sitting up straight, or that we probably only had a total of 10 hours of sleep over the past four days - and an equal amount of rehearsal. It didn't even matter that we hadn't run through all of the music and technical elements with the entire cast.

    That night, we sang our hearts out before thousands of people, living through the art of loss and power and music that The Secret Garden captures. The show went by so quickly it felt like less than an hour had gone by. But we will all remember the final moment of the performance. Hidden under our chairs were yellow roses, and as the last note hit, a sea of 200 yellow roses appeared before the audience. An audible gasp could be heard throughout the hall just before thundering applause as the audience stood. The sound was wonderfully deafening, and together the lights and people and sensory effects created an image we will never forget.

    After the show, we were invited to a cast party where we ate Planet Hollywood buffet food and had a few more conversations with the cast. We had the chance to talk to Director Stafford Arima, who told us to never give up on our dreams and to always believe we can pursue our passion.

    The final day of our trip was filled to the very brim of opportunity. We saw a taping of The View. The hosts talked about issues that are so important to us. During a break, we had the honor of asking Whoopi Goldberg a few questions. Our personal favorite moment of the entire trip was when Whoopi told our choir of 50: “Y’all will be fine!” after she heard us sing one of the pieces from the show. Singing for two personal heroes of ours - Whoopi Goldberg, who had starred in the film version of The Color Purple, and Raven Symone, from our favorite childhood TV show, That’s So Raven - was an absolutely incredible experience.

    As our trip came to a close, we were all exhausted and in need of sleep. The plane ride home was filled with lethargic teenagers who wanted nothing more than a good night’s rest. Homework and slumber were our haven for the next four hours as the airplane drifted quietly in the darkening sky. As we landed, the end of our weekend in New York sunk in. Content with the time we had just spent both on the stage, and exploring New York with our best friends, we climbed into our respective cars with our families, and made the trek to our homes, counting down the days until we will return one day to the Big Apple.

    Editor's Note: The DCPA NewsCenter offers a regular guest column from a variety of local and national voices covering a wide range of theatre topics. To submit a proposed guest column, email your name and topic to jmoore@dcpa.org.

    About our Guest Columnists
    Alice Zelenko is a sophomore at Denver School of the Arts. Acting credits include Moon Over Buffalo (Ethel), Arcadia (Lady Croom/Hannah/Chloe US), Macbeth (Ensemble), The Man of Mode (Orange Woman), Willy Wonka (Veruca Salt), Alice in Wonderland (Red Queen), Once Upon A Mattress (Jester), Shrek (Ogress Fiona), Into the Woods (Witch), Romeo & Juliet (Mercutio) and Eurydice (Loud Stone).

    Aleksandra Kay is a sophomore at Denver School of the Arts. Acting credits include Judevine, The Man of Mode, Shrek the Musical, Hairspray, Footloose, Oklahoma, Willy Wonka and Alice in Wonderland.

    A Guest 600 2

    The view from the stage at the Lincoln Center's David Geffen Hall.

    Selected previous Guest Columns:
    Student Nik Velimirovic on A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
    Douglas Langworthy: On translating Shakespeare for Oregon Shakes
    Scott Shiller: Making Cents of Arts Funding
    David Nehls: Live theatre returns to Elitch Gardens after 24 years
    Gillian McNally: Colorado's oldest theatre celebrates Artistic Director Tom McNally
    Margie Lamb on the Henry Awards: Something doesn't add up
    Bryan VanDriel on Lloyd Norton: A name that will live on in Greeley
    Jessica Jackson on Creede Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season
    Susan Lyles on 10 years of staging plays for women in Denver

  • Brian d’Arcy James: 'The confetti is still falling'

    by John Moore | Mar 04, 2016
    Brian Darcy JamesBrian d'Arcy James will perform with Kelli O'Hara at the annual Saturday Night Alive concert on March 5 to raise money for the DCPA's arts education programs. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    Broadway favorite Brian d'Arcy James, now a conqueror of TV and film as well, has had a whirlwind week like no other in his professional career. On Sunday, James was among the ensemble accepting the Academy Award for the Best PIcture of 2015, Spotlight. The next day, he was offered the leading role on a new CBS-TV pilot based on Tracy Letts' 2008 stage comedy, Superior Donuts. The next day, James was back on Broadway starring as Nick Bottom in the ongoing hit musical comedy Something Rotten!

    Three medium in 48 hours. "I feel like I've got all my bases covered," James said with a laugh. And his week will not end with a nap.

    Kelli O'Hara On Saturday, James will be here in Denver headlining the annual Saturday Night Alive concert alongside Broadway royalty Kelli O'Hara (right). The old friends will be performing together in concert for the first time, helping to raise nearly $1 million for the Denver Center's arts education programs.

    How does he sum it all up? How can he possibly? "The confetti is still falling," James told the DCPA NewsCenter on Thursday. The moment Morgan Freeman announced that Spotlight had won the Oscar, he said, felt like "being shot out of a cannon."

    James grew up in Saginaw, Mich., the son of a mother who sold children’s books, and graduated from Northwestern University in Chicago. He has received Tony Award nominations for his performances in Something Rotten!, Shrek and Sweet Smell of Success, and originated the role of the harried husband in Broadway's breakthrough musical Next to Normal. He also was in the original workshop cast of Broadway's biggest hit, Hamilton. TV credits include Smash (created by The Nest playwright Theresa Rebeck), The Big C and The Good Wife.

    Spotlight is the story of how four dogged investigative reporters from The Boston Globe exposed the Boston archdiocese priest sex-abuse scandal in 2001. James played journalist Matt Carroll alongside Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams.

    Superior Donuts follows the relationship between the owner of a donut shop, his new young black employee and their patrons in a gentrifying neighborhood of Chicago. The comedy is based on the 2008 play by Tracy Letts.

    Something Rotten is an original musical set in 1590s. Brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom are desperate to write a hit play but, stuck in the shadow of Shakespeare, they instead set out to write the world’s very first musical.

    We asked James what to expect from his concert appearance with O'Hara, his castmate in Broadway's Sweet Smell of Success. She is a six-time Tony Award nominee and the winner in 2015 for The King & I. (Watch her acceptance speech here.) One morsel: The pair will sing a never-before-heard song by Marvin Hamlisch that was cut from the Sweet Smell of Success score.  

    Here are more excerpts from our conversation with Brian d'Arcy James:

    John Moore: How do you even describe your life right now?

    Brian d'Arcy James: Well, there was a 48-hour window where I was on the stage at the Dolby Theatre winning an Oscar for best movie, and then the next day I was auditioning for a new television show. By the end of that 48 hours, I found out that I got it. And the next day, I was back in New York performing in my Broadway show.

    John Moore: Let’s start with Spotlight. What was it like for you to go on stage with everyone to accept the Oscar?

    Brian d'Arcy James: It was stunning. I was sitting next to (sexual abuse victim) Phil Saviano, who is portrayed in the film by Neal Huff. We just bolted up there. It was bizarre walking up that aisle, knowing that you're walking past all these luminaries and icons and you're receiving acknowledgement for being in this film that has gone the distance. It's an amazing feeling.

    John Moore: What do you think the film says about the need for the continuation of real, funded, enterprise journalism at a time when the industry seems to be dying from a lack of reader curiosity?

    Brian d'Arcy James: Well the answer is in your question. And all of those things you say are true. It rings an alarm bell. Hopefully, it will let people know in a loud and clear way that without funded and supported long-lead investigative journalism, stories like these won’t be told. I've heard Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, who wrote the movie, speak much more eloquently on the subject about how curtailing reporters on a local level invariably leads to fewer people covering local government. But in those cracks - that's where the grass grows. If no one's minding the store, that's when institutional power tends to get away with abuse. So it takes an informed citizenry and a supportive citizenry to allow for this kind of work to happen. That comes from digital subscriptions and buying papers and reading a paper. Long answer short: Buy a newspaper. 

    Mike Hartman in 'Superior Donuts.' Photo by Terry Shapiro. John Moore: There was a production of Superior Donuts here at the Denver Center in 2011, so we know the story well. (Pictured at right: Mike Hartman in the DCPA Theatre Company production.) Playwright Tracy Letts (August: Osage County) is as good as it gets. And yet, I can’t think of another play being turned into a TV sit-com since maybe The Odd Couple. What's the plan?

    Brian d'Arcy James: That's an interesting point; I don't think I've ever thought about that, either. The plan is to basically use Tracy Letts’ play as a starting-off point to delve deeper, and let these characters explore their community, and all the issues that Tracy wants to address, on a weekly basis. I'm very grateful that it happens to be Tracy Letts. I'm a very big fan of his. He's an extraordinary writer and a great actor. I think my background in the theatre makes me feel like I'm crossing the chasm between television and theatre in a very natural way. How it plays itself out remains to be seen, but the idea is a smart one, and an interesting one, and it is rife for exploring all kinds of themes concerning what's going on in America today. 

    John Moore: So with all of these changes, how long will you be able to stay with Something Rotten! on Broadway?

    Brian d'Arcy James: I am working that out right now. My hope is to stay for an extended period of time. The confetti is still falling right now, so I'm trying to figure that all out. But needless to say, if it's one day more than I thought, that would be a luxurious thing. I want to stay with the show as long as I can because it's funny, it's joyful and it's so well done. It's got great music. It's just everything you want in a Broadway show. The audience leaves happy, and the company leaves happy. That's a pretty good way to end the day.

    Brian d'Arcy James in 'Something Rotten.' Photo by Joan Marcus. John Moore: You have done a lot of musicals based on existing source material, and you’ve done many that have been completely original. Is there an additional joy in bringing a show like Something Rotten! to life that isn't piggybacking on a previous audience base?

    Brian d'Arcy James: Yes, I do feel a certain pride in that. (Doing a show based on existing material) is a formula that works, and for good reason. And just because something works doesn't necessarily mean it should be dismissed, obviously. But to take on something like Something Rotten, which is a completely original idea, is courageous. It speaks to the potency of the idea, and the execution of it, and the way it was written and drawn up and produced and directed. So I feel very happy and proud to be a part of that. We have to encourage each other to embrace the things we don't know. By doing that, we make room for new things that become the new norm. Again, I'm not dismissing the things that are familiar because there's room for that. But I think we should be mindful that we can't put all our eggs in that basket. We have to be diligent in breaking new ground when we can.

    (Photo above right: Brian d'Arcy James in 'Something Rotten.' Photo by Joan Marcus.) 

    John Moore: Last year I heard you speak about seeing your first Broadway show. What did Dreamgirls mean to you at the time?

    Brian d'Arcy James: I would have been 14 years old, I think. It was a remarkable experience because I was already very interested in theatre. But there was something about seeing this mythical world – Broadway – and what that meant, in the place where it lives. I was  struck that the theatre was a lot smaller than I would have imagined. But it had an impact in terms of the energy, and the impression that something in a Broadway theatre can make on a young person. It was pretty astounding. At least it was for me.

    John Moore: Let's talk about arts education, which is the primary reason you are coming to Denver on Saturday night. How do you think growing up with a mother who was a bookseller set you on the path to becoming a storyteller yourself?

    Brian d'Arcy James quoteBrian d'Arcy James: My mother has a Library Science degree, and so books and reading were always a part of her natural reflexes. She was an educator as well, so it was always a natural thing to be surrounded by books. My grandmother was an avid reader, too. She had books all over the place when we would visit. Reading was just something we saw as a necessary part of life. So I guess my mother's love for reading, and her interest in the significance that she saw in reading, were passed on to me in that I see that to be fruitful ground in terms of storytelling. Not so much as an author but rather as an interpreter of words. 

    John Moore: What are the consequences of the continuing diminishment of arts education in schools today?

    Brian d'Arcy James: Well, my sister is an art educator. She is a theatre administrator for New Trier High School in Wilmette, Ill. Her whole job is teaching kids about the theatre. Thankfully - and luckily - they have a healthy budget to do that. That's not the norm. These days schools move money around to take care of issues that may appear to be more pressing, and oftentimes it is arts and music that get cut. It's my belief that those are just as important, if not more, in any budget, in order to pass along the chance to awaken a young person's mind to see what a creative life can be. Not only as a possibility of a profession but, more important, as a chance for someone to find their own voice. And a chance for a person to have an opportunity to express themselves when perhaps they were afraid to, or weren't allowed to. Those are just a few ways arts education can give young people a new sense of themselves, and help them find new dimensions of their own personalities. That's invaluable. And that pays itself forward in terms of how we as a society grow and become more healthy. 

    John Moore: People are obviously very excited that you will be performing here with Kelli O'Hara at Saturday Night Alive, which will raise as much as $1 million for arts education programs here at the Denver Center.  How far back do you go with her?

    Brian d'Arcy James: We met doing Sweet Smell of Success on Broadway. We had an extraordinary experience doing that because it was a really big deal for both of us at that time in our lives.

    John Moore: Congratulations on your Tony Award nomination for that.

    Brian d'Arcy James: Thank you. That was thrilling. We haven't had many chances to work together since, but we're good friends. And we thought it would be fitting to honor that time when we worked together by singing something from that show. It’s a beautiful song by Marvin Hamlisch that was cut from the score of Sweet Smell of Success. That's a part of our personal history that we thought would be fun to share with the Denver audience, because that's something that's very rare that we get to do.

    John Moore: Is this show something you're doing for multiple cities or is Denver getting a one-and-only performance?

    Brian d'Arcy James: Well, let's see how it goes. I think the latter is mostly true. These types of shows are often very unique. In this case, Denver had what I think is a great idea, which was to invite both of us to come and do this. It would be lovely to think this is the beginning of many more times doing this show. But I would say it's a work in progress. And that Kelli and I are excited about the chance to sing for this incredible organization that is raising a great deal of money for a great cause. That's exciting. And then, just to be able to share that experience with each other, with our history, and maybe bring a little bit of New York City to Denver - that sounds like a lot of fun to me. 

    John Moore: Is the song list primarily show tunes or will there be some pop as well?

    Brian d'Arcy James: Yeah, there will be some pop. I've always been a pop-music fan. The great thing about the era I've grown up in is that popular music is well-represented on Broadway in a pretty interesting way in terms of Elton John and Billy Joel and Sting and now Sara Bareilles and just a variety of different musical singer/songwriters who are on the radio and are Grammy Award-winning musicians and singers. They're finding an interest and a home in representing themselves on Broadway.  For someone like me, that is fantastic, because I can justify the idea of singing a song by Sting and legitimately say that he was represented on Broadway (in The Last Ship). It's not going to be all pop tunes. We're definitely going to sing some classics, too. It will be a nice mix of Broadway and a bit of pop.

    John Moore: I wanted to ask you about Hamilton and Next to Normal and Smash and Theresa Rebeck and the apostrophe in your name and everything that is happening in Flint, Mich., and about 10 other things. But I am going to exercise a tiny bit of restraint and thank you for your time and end it here.

    Brian d'Arcy James: Well, why don’t you pick one of them. I’d be happy to talk about any of them.

    John Moore: Well, thanks. We just had Theresa Rebeck out here in Denver for the world premiere of her newest play, The Nest. What are your thoughts on working with her on Smash, and the voice that she brings to the American theatre?

    Brian d'Arcy James: Oh, that’s great. Smash was a great experience, and I had an amazing time. She chose me to be in her television show, and I'm forever grateful for that. She has a very unique voice, a very funny voice, and a very strong voice. She's obviously proven herself as someone who's prolific, and she just has a great sense of story and dialogue. I love her writing. The experience of doing Smash was a dream come true for me because I was doing a television show that shot in New York City, and it was about my profession. It was a complete no-brainer that I wanted to be a part of it. I'm very proud to be a part of that tapestry. I love what she did, and the bold vision she had to make that show happen.

    Saturday Night Alive: At a glance
    Annual fundraising gala for DCPA Education
    Saturday, March 5, at the DCPA's Stage Theatre
    Headlining concert: Broadway stars Kelli O'Hara and Brian d'Arcy James
    Five intriguing auction items, from Denver Broncos to African safari
    More information
  • Guest column: Students learn insider art of 'Love & Murder'

    by NewsCenter Staff | Feb 26, 2016

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

    A Gentleman's Guide Student  Master Class'A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder' choreographer Peggy Hickey (front row middle) led a Master Class in a DCPA Eduction studio for students who had attended the touring production. Photo by Jessica Austgen for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Editor's note: DCPA Education student Nik Velimirovic was part of a group of theatre students who recently attended the touring Broadway production of A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder, a specialized talkback with the cast, followed by a master class with show choreographer Peggy Hickey. We asked him to share his thoughts about the overall experience.

    By Nik Velimirovic
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Being involved with DCPA Education for years now, I always get especially excited when we get to do fun activities. Working on the upcoming Teen Company production of Songs and Scenes of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, I’ve acquainted myself with the show. Our cast was invited last week to see the national touring production of A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder at the Buell, attend a talkback with the cast, and then participate in a master class with the show's choreographer, Peggy Hickey. Naturally, I was beyond excited.

    A Gentleman's Guide quote. Musicals tend to ebb and flow stylistically and lyrically. Take Les Miserables, which jumps from the brooding "I Dreamed a Dream" to the sharp and staccato "Lovely Ladies." Even the recent hit Broadway comedy Something Rotten! takes an emotional dip with the reprise of "God, I Hate Shakespeare" fresh from the exciting song prior. A musical might slow down or stop abruptly for a dance break. A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder, the story of an outcast who charmingly kills off an entire bloodline on his way to a huge inheritance, doesn't do that. It's a show about timing that plays like a clock - never stopping and never slowing down.

    I remember a moment in Act 1, shortly after Monty (Kevin Massey) offs his playboy cousin, when he tosses his scarf behind a closing curtain without missing a beat. I turned to my friend and we both mouthed "Oh my God." And we didn't stop with the "ooos" and "ahhhs" until long after the curtain closed. Every aspect of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder feels like a well-oiled machine from ensemble entrances to physical gags to the choreography of “Why Are All the D’Ysquiths Dying?”

    A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder feels like the cast of The Iceman Cometh walked into an Agatha Christie mystery, through the set of Hitchcock's 39 Steps, grabbed some irony from Voltaire, and managed to top it all off with a healthy dose of self-aware humor.

    And John Rapson. Oh, John Rapson, who plays every member of the dying D'Ysquith Family. He is "a host unto himself." His performance is just fresh enough to distinguish itself from Jefferson Mays' Tony Award-nominated D'Ysquiths. His characters run from stage left to stage right before running back stage left to die, heading to a quick-change stage right, and re-emerging as someone else stage left.

    Rapson epitomizes comedy theatre, flying between entirely different personas in heartbeats. Each character is unique, and Rapson plays them all differently, showing off a level of creativity that only a real master actor could. I've been to big band concerts and I've been to packed theatre productions and big-ticket film festivals, but I've never heard an audience erupt with such applause as the audience did for Rapson. Honestly, this was probably the best of all the touring shows I've ever seen. My friend and I were blown away. Speechless, I believe, is the common hyperbole when you see something incredible. It’s not a hyperbole in this case, as my friend and I were both, literally, speechless after the show ended. Since I saw the show last week, I have consistently, if not dogmatically, stuffed praise for the show down the throats of all of my friends.

    I think there’s a defined line between good theatre and fun theatre. Most productions of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus are naturally good theatre - the source text lends itself to this. Most productions of Titus Andronicus are rarely fun theatre. The suicide drama  'Night Mother, as a piece, is very good, but by no means fun. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder manages to firmly plant one foot on either side of the line, and that’s one  reason I love it so very much. I probably also love it because of how awesome the cast is.

    Peggy Hickey of 'A Gentleman's Guide.' I thought the talkback was going to be an ordinary talkback: A few broad questions, a few broad answers, a second round of applause, a thank you and a goodbye. But the talkback with the cast of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder was genuine and substantive. Everyone in the cast seemed genuinely excited and passionate about talking to us young musical theatre people. There were no politically correct answers.  They offered sage advice and cracked jokes. Some of the advice they gave was so straightforward, it resonated especially well. One example came from Massey, who simply said, “Take care of your body, drink lots of water and hot liquids.” I don’t know why but this really spoke to me, and I have found myself in the week since the show, drinking more water than I probably have in the past month.

    As we were saying goodbye to the cast, ensemble member Lesley McKinnell asked us when our production of Songs and Scenes of A Gentleman’s Guide will be. When we told her it will be on March 12, two weeks after the tour leaves Denver, she seemed legitimately sad that she can't be here to see it. We were thankful to Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski of DCPA Education for making the talkback happen.

    We then had the extraordinary opportunity to attend a master class with choreographer Peggy Hickey (pictured above right), and that might have been the highlight of our entire A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder experience. It was truly inspirational, not to mention incredibly educational. I am not much of a dancer. Actually, I don’t dance at all. But after working with Peggy, all of a sudden, I want to. She was very straightforward with her direction, and she made plain the motivation and reasoning for every action on stage, right from the get-go.

    It was especially awesome to be taught part of the final dance audition combo for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder. Then we had a nice, long Q&A with Peggy, who said nothing but inspirational words to us. In the end, we were all reinvigorated in our passion for theatre and for those of us who are planning to pursue it as a career, we left excited and inspired.

    About our Guest Columnist
    Nik Velimirovic is a young actor born and raised in Denver who goes to Denver School of the Arts. Last week, he appeared in DCPA Education's High School Playwriting Competition held at the Colorado New Play Summit, playing Rowe in Sonder. He's also a filmmaker who will be debuting his latest short film man prepares and eats frozen lasagna at film festivals in the next year. He enjoys making movies about Macbeth and lasagna. The D'Ysquith Family is his dream role.

    Editor's Note: The DCPA NewsCenter offers a regular guest column from a variety of local and national voices covering a wide range of theatre topics. To submit a proposed guest column, email your name and topic to jmoore@dcpa.org.

    A Nik Gentleman's Guide 6002
    Photo by Jessica Austgen for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    A Gentleman' Guide to Love & Murder:
    Ticket information

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

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

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

    Selected previous Guest Columns:
    Douglas Langworthy: On translating Shakespeare for Oregon Shakes
    Scott Shiller: Making Cents of Arts Funding
    David Nehls: Live theatre returns to Elitch Gardens after 24 years
    Gillian McNally: Colorado's oldest theatre celebrates Artistic Director Tom McNally
    Margie Lamb on the Henry Awards: Something doesn't add up
    Bryan VanDriel on Lloyd Norton: A name that will live on in Greeley
    Jessica Jackson on Creede Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season
    Susan Lyles on 10 years of staging plays for women in Denver
  • 2016-17 Broadway season: 'Frozen,' 'Fun Home,' 'Finding Neverland' and more

    by John Moore | Feb 11, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

    Broadway season 2016-17


    (Descriptions provided by DCPA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    An American In Paris-0894

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

    Photos from the announcement party:

    2016-17 Broadway Season Announcement

    A note to ticket-buyers:

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

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

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

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

    by NewsCenter Staff | Feb 11, 2016

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

    By Sylvie Drake
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Of course, there was more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    That time it worked. 

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

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

    With the rhythm of a violinist 

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

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

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

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

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

    “It’s theatrical logic.”

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

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

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

    A Gentleman' Guide to Love & Murder: Ticket information

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

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

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

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

    by John Moore | Feb 05, 2016

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

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

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

    Photo courtesy Andy Kelso.

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

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

    Super Bet: DCPA backing the right horse in Super Bowl

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

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

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

    by John Moore | Feb 05, 2016

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

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

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

    Meet the Cast: Todd Cerveris

    All the Way
    : Ticket information

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

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

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

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

    by John Moore | Jan 29, 2016

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

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

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

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

    Dirty Dancing  —  The Classic Story on Stage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Dirty Dancing  —  The Classic Story on Stage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Olivia in Curious Theatre Company's Sex with Strangers

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

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

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

    by John Moore | Jan 11, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    From DavidBowie.Com:  

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

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

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

    David Bowie. The Elephant Man. Photos of David Bowie in 'The Elephant Man' from DavidBowie.Com
    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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