• There's plenty of Colorado in 'Jersey Boys'

    by John Moore | Oct 20, 2016

    Jersey Boys Matthew Dailey. Photo Jeremy Daniel

    Arapahoe High School graduate Matthew Dailey, far right, is playing Tommy DeVito in the national touring production of 'Jersey Boys' coming to The Buell Theatre on Nov. 9, alongside, from left, Keith Hines, Aaron De Jesus and Cory Jeacoma. Pomona High School graduate Andrew Russell plays Hank Majewski. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

    There always has been plenty of Jersey in Colorado. The towering 14,110-foot Pikes Peak, for example, is named after a New Jerseyan named Zebulon Pike. Had to be a Jersey Boy who got to the summit first, said local public relations maven and Garden State transplant Wendy Aiello. “Who else is going to be that pushy?”

    Other well-known Denverites from Jersey include Nuggets strongman Kenneth Faried, top chef Frank Bonnano, CBS4 General Manager Walt DeHaven and anchor Kathy Walsh. But when the show for all seasons that is about the Four Seasons returns to Denver for a fourth time, there will be plenty of Colorado in Jersey Boys, too.

    Jersey Boys tells the story of the band that combined doo-wop with astounding harmonies to make enduring No. 1 hits like “Oh What a Night,” “Sherry” and “Walk Like a Man.” The current national touring cast visiting Denver includes Arapahoe High School graduate Matthew Dailey, who plays Tommy DeVito, and Pomona High School graduate Andrew Russell, who plays short-lived band member Hank Majewski while also covering for musical mastermind Bob Gaudio. Both actors saw their very first professional theatrical performances at The Buell Theatre when they were kids. For Dailey: Beauty and the Beast in 1997. For Russell: Rent, starring Anthony Rapp, in 2001.

    Jersey Boys Andrew Russell Quote“The Buell is where I would go and see all of these people living out the dream that I hoped to achieve one day,” said Dailey. For Russell, “The Buell was my Broadway,” he said. “That was my ticket to becoming what I wanted to be in my life.”

    They both call performing at The Buell for the first time now a dream come true.

    “It's really going to be meaningful to hopefully bring that same feeling to a new generation of kids in the audience who will be wanting to be up on that Buell Theatre stage someday, too,” said Dailey.

    The Four Seasons were the most popular band in the world before the Beatles, charting 50 hit singles and selling an estimated 100 million records worldwide. While there have been 36 members of the band, which still performs into its sixth decade, the core during the 1962-67 heyday were lead singer Frankie Valli, Gaudio on keyboards, DeVito on lead guitar and Nick Massi on electric bass. The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

    All of which was news to Russell when he was a student at Pomona High School – more than 40 years after “Sherry” was the No. 1 song in America. It was 2005 when the Jersey Boys Broadway soundtrack was released and found its way to Arvada.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “My friends and I would be singing along down the halls of Pomona High School,” Russell said. “I had never heard these songs before. I didn’t know who the Four Seasons were. So me being able to pick up these songs at my age and really attach to them is very much attributable to Bob Gaudio's genius in writing these iconic songs. They are just so memorable that kids generations later can snap along just as much as their parents did.”

    Jersey Boys Matthew Dailey QuoteJersey Boys is preparing to end its 11-year New York run in January after having played 4,642 shows, attracting 13 million people and winning the Tony Award for Best Musical. It will end as the 12th-longest-running show in Broadway history.

    Not bad for a band that rose up from the gutter all the way to the street corner.

    “Our scrappiness comes from living in the street,” Gaudio said. “We came from the kind of areas most people strive to get out of, so that you can make something of yourself.”

    DeVito, played by Dailey, was the initial driving force behind the group until gambling debts put him on the outs with the mob. He was known for stealing milk off people's porches as a kid. But he did it according to his own set of ethics, Dailey said.

    “First, he never stole from his own neighborhood, because those were his people. And he would never steal from a house that only had one jug of milk. If a house had two, he took one. If it had three, he took two. But he always left them with something.”

    How Matthew Dailey's family responded to loss

    Colorado’s Jersey Boys are where they are today, they believe, because of strong family and educational support growing up in Denver. Dailey’s mother is award-winning local Music Director Mary Dailey. Matthew has dedicated his Jersey Boys performance to his late father, Phil Gottlieb, who died in 2009. Dailey’s training began at age 8 at an afterschool theatre school run by Paul Dwyer and Alann Estes Worley, whose wee students also included future TV star Melissa Benoist (“Supergirl”), Tony-winning actor Annaleigh Ashford (Kinky Boots) and Broadway actor Jesse JP Johnson (Wicked).

    Russell’s theatrical mentor is Gavin Mayer, his director at both Pomona High School (Footloose) and, later, at the Arvada Center (Legally Blonde). “I was this very shy, awkward kid in high school, and I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life,” Russell said of his freshman-year alter ego. “Gavin was the person who inspired me to join theatre. He cast me in my first production of anything, and later he cast me in my first professional production, at the Arvada Center.”

    Those who come to see these local actors fulfill their childhood dreams in Jersey Boys will be treated, Dailey says, to a night like no other.

    “There is great music, a great story, great musicians, good-looking girls, good-looking guys and flashy costumes. It's got something for everybody.”

    Including plenty of Denver Boys who don’t normally go to the theatre.

    “The theatre stereotype is that women have to drag their husbands and boyfriends to the theatre,” Dailey said. “For this show, it’s the other way around. This is the show that boyfriends and husbands drag their girlfriends and wives to. It’s like a Hollywood blockbuster – only it’s live.”

    Look for our expanded, individual interviews with Matthew Dailey and Andrew Russell leading up to the arrival of 'Jersey Boys' in Denver on Nov. 9.

    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. This article includes some quotes from a previous article he wrote for The Denver Post.

    Jersey Boys: Ticket information

    • Nov. 9-13
    • Buell Theatre
    • Talkback with the cast following Thursday, Nov. 10 performance
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Additional NewsCenter coverage of Jersey Boys:
    Video, photos: Jersey Boy sings national anthem at Broncos game

    Jersey Boys Andrew Russell Matthew Dailey. Photo by P. Switzer
    Two current Jersey Boys in previous Arvada Center productions: Top, Matthew Dailey, far right, with Matt LaFontaine, Ben Dicke, Lauren Shealy and Shannan Steele in 2011's 'The 1940s Radio Hour'; and, above Andrew Russell with Rob Costigan in 2014's 'She Loves Me.' Photos by P. Switzer.

    Video: More about Matthew Dailey

  • Video: 'Jersey Boy' sings national anthem at Broncos game

    by John Moore | Oct 17, 2016

    Frankie J. Galasso of Jersey Boys was in Denver on Sept. 18 to sing the national anthem before the Denver Broncos' 34-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at Mile High Stadium. Jersey Boys returns from Nov. 9-13 at the Buell Theatre. The cast includes Colorado natives Matthew Dailey and Andrew Russell.

    Video shot and edited by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Anthem footage provided by the Denver Broncos.

    Colorado native Beth Malone, nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in Broadway's Fun Home, will sing the anthem before the Oct. 30 game against the San Diego Chargers.

    Photos from Frankie J. Galasso's Day in Denver:

    'Jersey Boy' sings Broncos national anthem

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos are downloadable for free. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Jersey Boys: Ticket information
    Jersey Boys
    is the Tony, Grammy and Olivier Award-winning Best Musical about Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Four Seasons: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. This is the true story of how four blue-collar kids became one of the greatest successes in pop music history.

    • Nov. 9-13
    • Buell Theatre
    • Talkback with the cast following Thursday, Nov. 10 performance
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Recent previous national anthems covered by the DCPA NewsCenter:
    Colorado Rockies: Chris Mann, The Phantom of the Opera
    Denver Broncos: Kathryn McCreary, The Phantom of the Opera
    Denver Outlaws: Curtis Salinger and Charlotte Movizzo, 2016 Bobby G Award winners
    Denver Broncos: Kevin Massey, A Gentleman's Guide ...
    Denver Broncos: LaChanze, If/Then
    Denver Broncos: Gabe GibbsThe Book of Mormon
    Colorado Rockies: Evatt Salinger and Emma Buchanan, 2015 Bobby G Award winners 
    Denver Nuggets: Rodney Earl Jackson Jr., Motown the Musical
    Denver Broncos: Shaun Taylor-Corbett, Jersey Boys
    Denver Broncos: Andy Kelso, Kinky Boots
    Denver Broncos: Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

     Jersey Boys. Frankie J. Galasso. Denver Broncos. Photo by John Moore.
  • Euan Morton to don Hedwig's wig on national tour

    by John Moore | Oct 13, 2016

    Euan Morton, left, and Hannah Corneau.

    The long-awaited first national touring production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch will come to Denver starting Dec. 6 with Tony and Olivier Award-nominee Euan Morton in the title role of the internationally ignored song stylist, it was announced this morning.

    Morton is perhaps best known for originating the role of Boy George in the musical Taboo in London and New York. Hannah Corneau will play Yitzhak in Broadway’s 2014 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Revival.

    Denver will be the second stop on the new tour after it officially opens Nov. 29 in San Diego.

    “I have been blessed in my career, but no blessing has been as exciting as the chance I've been given to take over the role of Hedwig,” said Morton. “Joining the cast is the kind of challenge an actor dreams of.”

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

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the landmark rock-concert musical by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask that debuted off-Broadway in 1998 and was made into a cult-hit indie movie in 2001. It’s about a fictional rock band fronted by an East German singer named Hedwig - formerly Hansel - who undergoes a botched sex-change operation to marry an American soldier who helped her to escape East Germany to Kansas, where he abandoned her.

    The now iconic role was originated by Mitchell off-Broadway and again on film. But when Hedwig finally arrived on Broadway (or, as the clever story now goes, when Hedwig essentially trespassed her way onto Broadway), the role of Hedwig was bequeathed onto the man Mitchell calls “America’s Sweetheart” - Neil Patrick Harris.

    Hedwig quoteBut as successful as Hedwig was on Broadway, with more than 500 performances, the role was not conceived to be performed by a major celebrity. That national touring audiences will not be as familiar with Morton, Mitchell said, will work to the show’s advantage.

    “I have to say that I am really, really excited about (Euan),” Mitchell said in an exclusive interview with the DCPA NewsCenter. “His audition was spectacular. It was the best that I have ever seen for Hedwig.

    “The pressure on Broadway was harder because you had more seats, the ticket price was higher. You had to have some kind of name, or you were going to close. On the tour, we are selling 'the show.' So there is a certain release in being able to cast the best, as opposed to someone who is really good that is famous.”

    Added Trask: “Euan’s Hedwig is going to be so exquisitely beautiful and achingly heartbreaking. He is otherworldly.” Mitchell said he is going to be taking special care with Morton “to give him the benefit of what I know and help him out along the way - because I have sneaking suspicion that he could be spectacular.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Morton was born in Scotland and received both Olivier and Tony Award nominations for his performance as Boy George in Taboo. More recently, he appeared as Prince John in the play Heart of Robin Hood in Canada opposite Denver School of the Arts alum Gabriel Ebert as Robin Hood.

    “I'm ready for the ride of my life; I hope America is ready for her ride too,” Morton said.

    Corneau just played the title role in Evita at the Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre outside of Chicago and Fantine in the Paramount Theatre production of Les Miserables. “Hannah is a force of nature, and I'm really excited to unleash her on the country,” said Hedwig director Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening).

    The members of Hedwig’s band “The Angry Inch” – aka “Tits of Clay” – are music director Justin Craig (guitar and keyboards), Matt Duncan (bass), Tim Mislock (guitar), and Peter Yanowitz (drums), all of whom originated their roles on Broadway. Rounding out the company are Mason Alexander Park (Standby for Hedwig), Shannon Conley (Standby for Yitzhak), Dylan Fusillo (Standby for Schlatko) and Matt Katz-Bohen (Standby for Skszp, Jacek and Krzyzhtoff).

    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.

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

    by John Moore | Oct 12, 2016
    Finding Neverland. Laura Michelle Kelly. Photo by Carol RoseggLaura Michelle Kelly of the original Broadway cast of' Finding 'Neverland,' which comes to Denver on Dec. 20. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

    Acclaimed director calls Finding Neverland

    'a complete love letter to theatre'

    EDITOR'S NOTE: The first national touring production of Finding Neverland opened Oct. 7 in Buffalo, and will come to Denver starting Dec. 20. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore was given exclusive access to the entire Finding Neverland creative team this summer, and he will post his extensive interviews in a five-part series here on the DCPA NewsCenter. Part 1: Director Diane Paulus. Next: Choreographer Mia Michaels.

    By John Moore
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Acclaimed Broadway Director Diane Paulus was drawn to Finding Neverland because as an artist, she says, “It is a complete love letter to theatre.” Because as a mother, this was a show she could create through the eyes of her two young daughters. Because as a storyteller, this was the first story to fully explore how author J. M. Barrie first imagined Peter Pan and brought his iconic character to life.

    But mostly, she was drawn to a line from the show that Captain Hook says to Barrie himself:

    Diane Paulus Quote Finding Neverland"You can go back to being what everyone expects you to be. ... Or you can find the courage to write your own story."

    That resonated deeply with Paulus, the director, mother and artist who previously brought the launch of the national touring production of Pippin to Denver in 2014.

    “That could mean literally, ‘write your own story.’ Or it could mean, ‘write the story of your life,’ ” said Paulus.

    The story of Peter Pan, she says, is a call to anyone of any age to ask themselves: “When do we wake up and live the life that we know we need to live - not the life we think we should be living?” That, she said, is the story of Finding Neverland.

    The innovative Broadway musical is based on the 2004 Oscar-winning film of the same name. The story follows Barrie as he summons the courage to become the writer – and the man – he yearns to be. Barrie finds the inspiration he’s been missing when he meets a widow and her four young sons who inspire him to conjure the magical world of Neverland. And it was surprisingly risky for him to put the resultant play on stage before high-minded, high-society London theatergoers.

    “I love stories that take us backstage, that take us through all the trials and tribulations and the fear that go into making art,” Paulus said. “All sorts of people who have seen Finding Neverland have then said to themselves, ‘Oh my goodness - what am I doing with my life? I've got to wake up, do what I love and take a risk. That's where the riches of life will lie.”

    The lasting influence of Peter Pan on popular culture is vast and continuing. There has been the 1953 animated Disney film, of course; the 1954 Broadway musical; and countless movies and songs. It has been suggested that Peter Pan influenced J. R. R. Tolkien's creation of his Elves of Middle Earth. And in 1983, psychologists even gave a name to young men with underdeveloped maturity: The Peter Pan Syndrome.

    “This story has been part of our psyche and in our zeitgeist and on our peanut-butter jars for so long that it’s hard for us to imagine a time when there wasn't Peter Pan,” said Paulus. “It feels like an archetypal myth, and yet it didn't exist until J. M. Barrie took this artistic plunge in 1904. And in doing so, he really comes into his own as an artist. And at the same time, he discovers himself as a father. And so in that way, Finding Neverland is also a story that redefines family.”

    Here is more of our conversation with acclaimed Director Diane Paulus. It took place the morning after the 2016 Tony Awards:

    John Moore: Last night was a certainly celebration of diversity in the theatre.

    Diane Paulus: You know, I'm so excited to be part of this theatre community, and particularly this last season on Broadway - the artists that it embraced and of course the many landmarks that were reached.

    John Moore: Congratulations on Waitress. What did it mean for you to direct the first Broadway musical with an all-female creative team?

    Diane Paulus: I've said it time and time again: Every artist is in their position at Waitress because they were best person for the job. There was no agenda to only consider women. It's just a reflection that women are at the top of their fields in composing, in writing and in choreography. This is the 21st Century, and we all have benefited from the generations of women behind us who actually were told that they couldn't be the directors or the writers. We all have benefited from their mentorship and their example. I hope more than anything we can provide that same example to the next generation of artists wherever they are across America. We need to say, “Look, this is a place for anyone, if you work hard and you work with integrity. If you tell important stories, this is not a closed door.” I mean, we still have a long way to go for women. But, yes, this was a great landmark - and let’s hope it continues.

    Diane Paulus on Broadway's response to the Orlando massacre

    John Moore: How does this sudden proliferation of women storytellers tangibly manifest itself in what we see in the theatre?

    Diane Paulus: One out of three women in the United States experiences some form of intimate-partner domestic-violence abuse. This is a syndrome in our culture. It's a crisis in our time and in our world. So the fact that the stories being told this year are stories like Eclipsed, Black Bird, Waitress, The Color Purple, Spring Awakening -  these are all stories about women who have encountered some form of abuse or violence. We need to be telling these stories - not because that's all we care about as women, but because it's actually happening in our world.

    Finding Neverland, Denver Center_Finding Neverland, Sawyer Nunes and Aidan Gemme.  Photo by Carol Rosegg
    Sawyer Nunes and Aidan Gemme from te original Broadway cast of 'Finding Neverland,' which comes to the Buell Theatre in Denver on Dec. 2. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

    John Moore: Switching gears, can you give us an idea of what kind of theatrical experience we're in for with Finding Neverland?

    Diane Paulus: I was so drawn to Finding Neverland because it operates on so many important levels for me. One, it's about the creation of a seminal work of theatre: J. M. Barrie’s play of Peter Pan. He had a producer named Charles Frohman who committed, come hell or high water, to make it happen. So Finding Neverland is the story of how Peter became Pan. And of course, inextricably threaded through that is the discovery of love and family.

    John Moore: Speaking of family: When we last talked, you said you wanted to take on this particular project specifically for your two daughters. How has this experience impacted their lives?

    Diane Paulus: I did think this would be one that I could really create with my two daughters in mind. They are 9 and 11 now, and they were always present with me throughout this process. You know: The spirit of what it means to be a kid, and how kids see the world, and their honesty, and their imaginations, and their ability to see things. I've seen it in my own living room. A blanket literally becomes a magic carpet, and you can go anywhere you want just by being pulled through the hallways of your house. That is so much of a part of my life as a mother, and it is so much a part of Finding Neverland. I think they've grown through this, especially my younger daughter. The story also deals with how you survive hardship. It's about resilience. It's about overcoming some of the hardest challenges in life. It’s sort of like when children experience the heartache of Bambi. They understand that, and they move through that, and then they find comfort in that. We've experienced so much of that as a family. We have had people of all ages come to see Finding Neverland, whether they're kids or grandparents, who have experienced loss. If a kid has experienced the loss of a grandparent, there is something deeply comforting about this story and the power of metaphor and how we use metaphor in stories to help us in life. Theatre is metaphor. This idea of the ticking clock chasing you constantly was obviously so central to J. M. Barrie. And the idea that there is this place called Neverland where you never grow up. Peter Pan has really become this archetypical myth, and these myths are there to help us. I have really come to appreciate the power of Finding Neverland as a piece of theatre. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: Between Finding Neverland and Peter and the Starcatcher and so many others, why do you think Peter Pan myth is remains such a good source for new stories?

    J. M. Barrie QuoteDiane Paulus: Because I think Peter Pan is such a classic archetype. The definition of a classic is, for me, that you can take it and twist it and interpret it and re-interpret it - and no matter what you do to it, it survives all the tests of time. You can have any number of productions of Hamlet, and it stays Hamlet. Hamlet will survive. There's something about this story, and our fascination with it, and people wanting to get inside of it or look at it from a different angle. That’s what we do with classics. We want to feel them and explore them and get inside them in different ways. And I think this one is so powerful because it applies across generations. This is not just a kids show. Adults have grown up living with Peter Pan and love Peter Pan and remember their childhoods through Peter Pan.

    John Moore: Can you tell us how the stage version is not a mere replica of the source film?

    Diane Paulus: It's a beautiful film, and Kate Winslet and Johnny Depp give a sublime performances. But film has a certain pace that is completely appropriate for that medium, and that doesn’t always necessarily work on a stage. I knew it was the imagination of J. M. Barrie that we had to explode on that stage. That is really what led me to understand how Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy's pop score could function in the story. Because J. M. Barrie’s imagination is timeless, I learned that we could be in 1904 London and have the juxtaposition of this very British pop score representing the timelessness of J.M. Barrie’s imagination. The musical takes small moments in the movie and makes them into whole numbers - like the dinner party where the kids, through J.M. Barrie’s instigation, misbehave. That becomes this disastrous dinner-party number called “We Own the Night.” To me, the movie felt like it should become a musical because I could see these portals into musical theatre where we could dig deeper than the film ever could because we have music to take you there.

    Kevin Kern. Finding NeverlandJohn Moore: What can you tell us about the actor playing your J.M. Barrie, Kevin Kern? (pictured at right) 

    Diane Paulus: Kevin played the role on Broadway so much this past year. He's just a genius in the role. He sings it like no one else, and he knows this role inside and out. And he's such a generous soul. He is an incredible father of a huge family, and God bless him. I think it’s all going to work out, and we are so lucky he's going to be leading the tour. 

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

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

    Diane Paulus on the rise of 'adventure theatre'
    Diane Paulus on the Tony Awards' response to Orlando massacre
    Finding Neverland flies onto Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season
    The Pippin Profiles: Diane Paulus on directing without a net

  • Study: Denver metro arts generate $1.8 billion in economic activity

    by John Moore | Oct 05, 2016


    Denver metro arts, cultural and scientific organizations generated  $1.8 billion in annual economic activity in 2015, according to a study released this morning that is conducted every two years by the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts.

    Of that total, the study showed a total economic impact of $512.8 million – which specifically represents new money injected into the economy in 2015.

    The survey showed that metro arts and science groups draw 13.9 million in attendance, reach nearly 4 million children through their educational outreach programs, and are responsible for 10,731 full-time jobs. In return, citizens and foundations gave $176.4 million to local arts organizations in 2015.

    Download the complete Economic Activity Study

    While the $1.8 billion total amounts to a 2.2 percent decline since the most recent study in 2013, CBCA Executive Director Deborah Jordy said the results again show the cultural community’s conitinued "significant and sustained on our local, state and regional economy by creating jobs and providing extensive outreach to metro area schools."

    Jordy attributed the overall decline since 2013 to less capital investment than in previous years. But she pointed out that jobs in arts, cultural and scientific organizations have reached pre-great recession levels. And cultural tourism, measured by dollars spent at cultural organizations by people from outside the metro area, contributed $367 million – the highest total recorded to date.

    (Pictured above right: DCPA Education students participate in the culmination of its annual statewide teen playwriting competition. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    The $1.8 billion overall figure includes $894 million in audience spending, $860 million in operating expenditures and $55 million in capital expenditures.

    “Coloradans understand that tourism is a key driver for our economy. And cultural tourism’s contributions to that effort are important factors in our state’s overall success,” said Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. “Couple those contributions with the total economic activity and jobs created and you begin to understand what key, long-term contributors our cultural organizations are to the overall economic health of our state.”

    Other key findings from the report, which has been issued every two years since 1992: 

    • Corporate sponsorships in the arts were up more than 10 percent since 2013.
    • Outreach to children through educational institutions ensured an average of more than seven arts experiences annually for each metro area student.
    • Following jobs, total payroll for cultural organizations was up more than 9 percent.
    • Free attendance increased by 3 percent since 2013, indicating increased emphasis on access by cultural organizations.
    • Total volunteer hours are up 15 percent over 2013 at 2 million.

     According to the National Endowment for the Arts, Colorado ranks third in the nation in terms of per capita attendance at live dance, music and theatre performances.

    Jordy said the continued success of the arts in Colorado is attributable in large part to the taxpayer-supported Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), which since 1989 has distributed funds from a sales and use tax to cultural facilities throughout the seven-county metropolitan area. In 2013, the tax generated $53.2 million for more than 300 arts and science organizations in metro Denver. A public vote for reauthorization of SCFD will be on the Nov. 8 ballot.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts depends on the SCFD for about 10 percent of its operating budget. The nation’s largest non-profit theatre organization is coming off its most successful season ever, having welcomed 1.2 million guests in 2015-16.That includes engaging with 85,000 through its Education programs.

    “The DCPA is encouraged by the tremendous engagement shown throughout our community in support of art and culture as illustrated in the CBCA’s 2016 study,” said CEO Janice Sinden.

    “The DCPA contributes significantly to the economic impact of our arts community. Over the past five years, ticket sales at Broadway, Cabaret, Theatre Company and Off-Center shows alone have generated a $600 million economic impact.

    “This love of the performing arts, combined with our community’s level of engagement, enable organizations such as the DCPA to attract top talent and Broadway’s biggest hits, including Hamilton and the pre-Broadway debut of Disney’s Frozen.”

    About the Economic Activity Study

    The biennial Economic Activity Study of Metro Denver Culture compiles data from all nonprofit organizations who received funds through the SCFD within a seven-county region: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson. This study examines self-reported data from 264 cultural organizations in the 2015 calendar year with a 100 percent response rate.

  • October: Crossword puzzle solution

    by John Moore | Oct 03, 2016
    With each new issue of Applause Magazine, we offer readers a crossword related to our current shows. Here is the most recent puzzle, covering The Glass Menagerie, Frankenstein and the Roundabout Theatre Company's Cabaret.

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

    Applause Crossword Cabaret October 2016 Frankenstein Menagerie

  • 'Frankenstein': The making of a two-headed monster

    by John Moore | Sep 30, 2016
    Director Sam Buntrock, on the benefit to audiences of seeing his 'Frankenstein' twice. His two leading actors will rotate nightly in the roles of Dr. Frankenstein and the Creature. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    Frankenstein is a play in a hurry, says Director Sam Buntrock. So the first thing Denver Center audiences will notice is that playwright Nick Dear has sliced off the first 100 pages of Mary Shelley’s classic source novel. The Theatre Company’s new staging opens instead with a birth – the animation of Victor Frankenstein’s hideous collection of moribund corpse parts. 

    "Nick Dear is not interested in how we got there,” said Buntrock, whose live visual feast has its first preview performance tonight (Sept. 30) in the Stage Theatre. “There is very little backstory. It relies on you already knowing the story, which is smart. Frankenstein is so culturally understood that it’s a word we use every day. It’s in our lexicon. The play knows that.

    "The fundamental moment is really when the Creature is born – and everything else is just claptrap.”

    The second thing audiences will notice is that Buntrock’s two leading actors alternate nightly playing the roles of Victor Frankenstein and his creation. In Denver, that will be Sullivan Jones and Mark Junek, who says this play is also not at all interested in the science of how the Creature comes to life. Instead it simply assumes that the Creature, despite being assembled from a variety of cadavers, is indeed a singular human being – and therefore capable of basic human traits including learning, memory, love and suffering.

    “I think there is sort of a supernatural quality about this version of the Creature,” said Junek. “It is an almost fully formed human being but it has no impressions of humanity. So I think of it more as an alien - someone who has never directly experienced society or humanity before, but yet has a full capacity to learn."

    Except, as the well-known story goes, this society will not have it. Or him. Or any other Other. And we witness the lethal, legal and moral fallout.

    A tag-team wrestling event

    The challenge for both the director and his entire ensemble of actors is that they have essentially created two different plays - in just more than a month of rehearsal.

    A Frankenstein actors“My approach was to first find out who Mark and Sullivan are as actors and then work out their needs,” said Buntrock. “Even though they are playing the two leading characters, there are huge sections where they aren’t interacting with each other onstage. So I have isolated them a lot of the time - and it’s been interesting to watch them because they both come to the exact same conclusions some of the time, and at other times they come up with their own versions.”

    Sullivan compares those first few days of rehearsal to WWF tag-team wrestling. “One guy goes in and he puts the other guy in a headlock. Then he tags out, and the other guy does it. That's kind of what we have been doing.”

    Junek said he and Jones were freely stealing from one another other in the first few days of rehearsals. But once Buntrock isolated the actors, Jones added, “that freed us up to kind of craft our own performances.”

    By encouraging his actors to go their own ways, Junek said, “I think Sam is admitting the obvious, which is that we are very different people, and we bring different things to the roles.”

    But the more the actors explore the parallel lives of Frankenstein and his Creature, Sullivan says, the more they are discovering that there is more to this role-reversal idea than the actors simply trading places. The refined man of science and his hideous creation, they have discovered, essentially trade places themselves by the end of the story.

    Frankenstein and race: It IS a matter of black and white

    “The more we do this, the more clear it becomes that they are of the same cloth,” Sullivan said. “They are the same person. They are mirrors of each other. Or shadows.”

    Buntrock promises a special satisfaction, he said, for those audiences who come back and see the play twice. (On Saturdays, audiences can see the play twice on the same day.)

    “This is a play which really merits going back to anyway just because there are so many ideas in it, and it all happens so quickly,” Buntrock said. “It’s almost like one of those great films that you want to go back and see again because you get so much more out of it the second time. I think these are two phenomenal actors, and it’s a real treat to see what they both bring to it individually.”

    'Frankenstein' stars Sullivan Jones, left, and Mark Junek.

    'Frankenstein' stars Sullivan Jones, left, and Mark Junek. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter 

    For Buntrock, a Tony Award nomination at 32

    Buntrock’s life fundamentally changed at age 32 when he became one of the youngest directors ever to be nominated for a Tony Award, for the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George. Buntrock’s innovative infusion of animation and projected color not only helped the audience to visualize the brilliance of Georges Seurat’s perplexing, 1884 abstract masterpiece A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte – it has been credited with forever changing the role and expectations of multimedia in live theatre. The next year, for example, Les Misérables was reimagined without a barricade but with 180-degree scenographic projections of revolutionary Paris streets in its place.

     “We used projection to allow us to really tell the journey of the painting, starting as a charcoal line across the page all the way through to the last dab of paint,” said Buntrock. Ben Brantley of the New York Times said Buntrock “used 21st-century technology to convey the vision of a 19th-century Pointillist to truly enchanting effect.” But despite the “rhapsody of images” that Buntrock kept unfolding before the audience, “the great gift of this production,” Brantley wrote, “was its quiet insistence that looking is the art by which all people shape their lives.”

    The Tony Award nomination opened doors for Buntrock, who has been living and working in the United States exclusively since 2011. “It’s the reason I have a career here,” said Buntrock, who added with a laugh, “It also means my name now has the words ‘Tony nominee’ in front of it in anything I read.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    In 2013, Buntrock accepted an invitation to direct the DCPA Theatre Company’s world premiere of Ed/Downloaded. How could he not? Playwright Michael Mitnick wrote the play specifically for Buntrock. The story is set in the near future, when you will be able to download your 10 favorite memories when you die - essentially leaving behind a carefully curated if not necessarily accurate representation of your life. When Ed dies and his girlfriend discovers he was cheating her, she sets about to change his digital scrapbook.

    A_Sunday_on_La_Grande_JatteThe fun for Buntrock was combining live theatre with filmic elements. “So for example, in one scene, our theatrical reality is that the actors on the stage are in the woods,” Buntrock said. “But when we see the memory that goes with it, it’s Ed having been filmed in the real woods. It was extraordinary fun to play with those realities off each other.”

    (Pictured above right: Georges Seurat’s 'A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.')

    Buntrock loved “working with such incredible artists across the board at the Denver Center,” he said. “So when it came to being asked to come back for Frankenstein, of course I said yes.”

    His expertise in animation and visual stimulation very much informs his approach to Frankenstein, which will include fire, rain, snow … “all of the elements,” he said.

    Frankenstein“We are using a lot of technology. It’s not really that literal of a production. It’s much more evocative and suggestive than architectural. (Scenic Designer) Jason Sherwood, (Lighting Designer) Brian Tovar and (Projections Specialist) Charlie Miller have been working so hard with technology and with lights to find a way to make that organic and real and of the theatre, rather than seem superimposed.”

    Buntrock has carried his greatest takeaway from Sunday in the Park with George with him to Frankenstein: It’s best, he said, when you take something that's big … and distill it down.

    “I am interested in diluting rather than complicating,” Buntrock said. “We had all this amazing technology to play with 10 years ago on Sunday in the Park with George, but a lot of our work was spent trying to find the smallest thing. Our challenge was how to use projection and strong, bold, almost filmic imagery onstage in a way that still allowed the audience’s imagination to engage.

    “The most powerful thing that I have in my tool set as an director is an audience’s imagination.”

    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.


    Photo gallery: More on the making of Frankenstein in Denver

    'Frankenstein' in Denver
    Photos from the making of 'Frankenstein' in Denver. To see more, click the forward arrow in the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Frankenstein: Ticket information
    Frankenstein• Sept. 30-Oct. 30
    • Stage Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Oct. 23
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Previous NewsCenter coverage:

    Frankenstein and race: It IS a matter of black and white
    Breathing life into the Frankenstein set: 'It's alive!'
    A Frankenstein 'that will make The Bible look subtle'
    How Danny Boyle infused new life into Frankenstein
    Casting set for Frankenstein and The Glass Menagerie
    Introducing DCPA Theatre Company's 2016-17 season artwork
    Kent Thompson on The Bard, The Creature and the soul of his audience
    2016-17 season announcement

    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center.

  • Disney confirms director, August launch for 'Frozen' in Denver

    by John Moore | Sep 27, 2016

    Tony Award-winner Michael Grandage will direct 'Frozen,' which will launches in Denver on its way to Broadway. He is also slated to direct an upcoming film version of 'Guys & Dolls'. Photo by Marc Brenner.

    Tony and Olivier Award-winning director Michael Grandage and Tony and Olivier Award-winning scenic and costume designer Christopher Oram are confirmed for the creative team of Frozen, a new musical based on Disney’s Academy Award-winning musical film, slated to open at Broadway’s St. James Theatre in spring 2018.  
    Frozen will play its out-of-town tryout at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in August 2017 before joining the Disney hits Aladdin and The Lion King on Broadway.

    frozenFrozen, featuring the Oscar-winning hit song "Let It Go," is  the highest-grossing animated film in history, and is a part of the DCPA's 2016-17 Broadway season. It 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. For information on the Denver engagement, visit DenverCenter.org.
    Michael Grandage is the recipient of Tony, Olivier, Drama Desk, Evening Standard, British Critics’ Circle and South Bank Awards. His Olivier Award-winning musicals include Merrily We Roll Along, Grand Hotel and Guys & Dolls. Grandage is confirmed to direct 20th Century Fox’s film remake of Guys & Dolls (John Goldwyn and Working Title producers).  Grandage received a Tony Award for Best Direction for Red and two Tony nominations for Best Direction for Frost/Nixon with Michael Sheen & Frank Langella and The Cripple of Inishmaan with Daniel Radcliffe. Grandage served as Artistic Director of London’s Donmar Warehouse for 10 acclaimed seasons prior to establishing the Michael Grandage Company (MGC) in 2012. As Artistic Director of MGC, he directed Photograph 51 with Nicole Kidman, Henry V with Jude Law, The Cripple of Inishmaan with Daniel Radcliffe, Peter and Alice with Judi Dench & Ben Whishaw, and the feature film Genius. Visit his web site at MichaelGrandageCompany.com
    Christopher Oram is the recipient of Tony, Olivier, Evening Standard, British Critics’ Circle, Garland, Ovation and Falstaff Awards for his work both here in the U.S. and in the U.K.  Recent work on Broadway includes the scenic and costume designs for Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Evita, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (scenic design) and the Donmar Warehouse productions of Red, Hamlet with Jude Law and Frost/Nixon.  Also, Photograph 51 (West End) with Nicole Kidman, Macbeth with Kenneth Branagh (Park Avenue Armory), King Lear with Derek Jacobi (BAM), and the Glyndebourne production of Billy Budd (BAM).
    Frozen is written by a trio of Oscar® winners. As previously announced, the show features music and lyrics by the creators of the film score Kristen Anderson-Lopez (In Transit, Up Here) and EGOT-winner Robert Lopez (Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon, Up Here) and a book by Jennifer Lee (Wreck-It Ralph), the film’s screenwriter and director (with Chris Buck). Frozen  won 2014 Oscars for Best Song (“Let It Go”) and Best Animated Feature.
    Frozen is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions.
    Casting and Broadway dates will be announced at a future date.

    Video bonus: On Michael Grandage's recent film, Genius

  • 'Cabaret' is a mirror of its times – at all times

    by John Moore | Sep 14, 2016
    Roundabout Theatre Company's Cabaret

    Photos from the Roundabout Theatre Company's 'Cabaret,' playing in Denver from Sept. 27-Oct. 9. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by Joan Marcus.

    American musicals hold a mirror up to our culture, hoping to reflect the issues of their day and the concerns of Americans. As a product of the tumultuous 1960s, the original Cabaret seduced and entertained while commenting on social issues and showing a frightening vision of our darkest potential.

    The generation reared in the conservative 1950s became the counterculture youth of the ’60s, and American society was divided by volatile conflicts. The African-American civil rights movement that began in the ’50s was growing to involve large-scale nonviolent protests and civil disobedience. The National Organization for Women (NOW) was formed in 1966 in order to help gain full participation for American women in mainstream society and gain the same freedoms and privileges as American men of that time. President Lyndon B. Johnson promoted reforms to extend human rights, education, economic opportunities, and health care. Not all Americans supported these reforms, and some reacted with alarming violence. A rise of Ku Klux Klan activity in the south instigated beatings, shootings, and lynchings of activists.

    Broadway was not immune to the cultural shocks of the era. The Broadway and Times Square district saw a rise in prostitution, adult shops, and derelicts, which created a dangerous environment for theatergoing. Production costs were rising, and Broadway producers had to raise ticket prices: a top price of $12 in 1966 was the equivalent of $86 today. Prior to the rise of rock-and-roll in the mid-’50s, showtunes were considered popular music — what played on Broadway played on the radio. By the ’60s, an entire generation was listening to rock and pop instead of
    show music.

    (Pictured right: Andrea Goss as Sally Bowles in the Roundabout Theatre Company's national touring production of 'Cabaret.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    Broadway needed to reinvent itself and find a new relevance, and visionary directors like Bob Fosse, Gower Champion, and the emerging Harold Prince became more prominent and, sometimes, more identified with shows than the songwriters. With the rise of the director came the “concept musical,” described by critic Martin Gottfried as a show whose music, lyrics, choreography, and scenes are woven together to create “a tapestry-like theme” or central metaphor, more important than plot. Gottfried identified West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959) and Fiddler on the Roof (1964) as the first important concept musicals.

    By the early 1960s, Harold Prince had a proven reputation as a producer and was emerging as a formidable director. At this time Prince was taking on the challenge of turning the play I Am a Camera into a musical, but it was not until Prince received the first draft of the libretto from Joe Masteroff that he realized this was an opportunity to tell the story parallel to contemporary problems. Prince saw an opportunity to show ties between racism in the U.S. and the rise of Nazism in the early 1930s through the renamed Cabaret. Prince brought on writing team John Kander (composer) and Fred Ebb (lyricist), whose first show, Flora the Red Menace, had premiered the year before. The team set out to create a show about civil rights and tell audiences that what happened in Germany could happen here. (What he might not have foreseen was that parallel remaining relevant 50 years later.)

    At his first rehearsal, Prince showed the cast a photograph of a group of angry young white men taunting a crowd off-camera. The cast assumed that it was a picture of Nazi youth harassing Jews; in fact, the picture was taken that year in Chicago, and the men were taunting black tenants of an integrated housing project. For a short time, Prince thought about ending the show with a film of the march on Selma, Alabama, though he abandoned that idea.

    The original idea for the show was to begin with a prologue of cabaret-style songs to set the tone of Weimar Germany and then move into a straight play, but the team found that the songs worked better when distributed throughout the evening. As the show took shape as a more traditional musical, with some songs within book scenes, the cabaret world emerged as a central metaphor. The Brechtian device of songs that comment on the action rather than tell a story gave a central function to the Emcee character. Designer Boris Aronson conceived the production’s penultimate metaphor: a giant mirror center stage reflected the audience and reinforced the message that “it could happen here.”

    After previewing in Boston, the play opened in November 1966 to great acclaim. Cabaret won eight Tony Awards, including Best New Musical, Best Direction, Best Score and Best Featured Actor for Joel Grey as the Emcee. The production ran nearly three years, for a total of 1165 performances, followed by international productions, a national tour, an Academy Award-winning film, and Roundabout Theatre Company’s breakthrough revival in 1998. In its own day, and almost 50 years later, Cabaret validates the power of musical theatre to reflect a complicated world and the willingness of audiences to see ourselves in its mirror.

    (Note: The article was reprinted with permission from Roundabout Theatre Company’s Upstage Guide.)

    Cabaret: Ticket information
    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.

    • Sept. 27-Oct. 9
    • Buell Theatre
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    Reinvented Cabaret returns as a seismic warning
  • Learn more about Thursday's canceled 'Phantom' performance

    by John Moore | Sep 09, 2016

    Chris Mann as The Phantom in 'The Phantom of the Opera.' Photo by Matthew Murphy.

    We regret that due to technical difficulties involving the automation of the main set structure, the Thursday, September 8, performance of The Phantom of the Opera at the Buell Theatre was canceled. The performance is not able to be rescheduled because of the national tour's travel schedule.

    Ticket-holders for the affected performance who purchased through denvercenter.org may call the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Box Office at 303-893-4100 for a refund or additional ticket options. Otherwise, they may contact their point of purchase for a refund or additional ticket options.

    Photo gallery: The Phantom of the Opera in Denver

    The Phantom of the Opera in Denver

    A look in photos at 'The Phantom of the Opera' in Denver. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Phantom of the Opera
    Phantom Opening Night in Denver: Chris Mann video, photo gallery and fun facts
    return marks Buell Theatre’s 25th anniversary
    Download our Phantom of the Opera Crossword Puzzle
    Video montage: The show at a glance 
    A Phantom Anthem: The 'Wild Woman' singe before Denver Broncos game

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Graffiti: Modern art or 'urban terrorism'?

    by John Moore | Sep 07, 2016

    Steppenwolf Theatre's 2015 production of 'This is Modern Art' in Chicago. A reading of the play will take place in Denver on Sept. 15. Photo by Michael Courier.

    Graffiti artists have been called vandals, criminals and even urban terrorists.

    Idris Goodwin calls them “artists who push upon the boundaries of legality.”

    But, they are artists, Goodwin said. “First and foremost.”

    Goodwin is a playwright, break-beat poet, essayist and Colorado College theatre professor whose play Victory Jones and the Incredible One Woman Band was featured at the Denver Center's 2014 Colorado New Play Summit. He is also co-author of the controversial play This is Modern Art, with Kevin Coval, which will be presented as a reading on Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. It's part of a larger program presented by Off-Center and the museum that will include spoken-word, Q&A, a DJ and a rooftop party. Robin Munro, founder of the Colorado Crush street-art festival, will talk about the local graffiti scene in Denver.

    Idris Goodwin Quote. This is Modern ArtThis is Modern Art recounts the true story of one of the biggest graffiti bombs in Chicago history. In less than 20 minutes, and in a snowstorm, a stealthy crew spray-painted a 50-foot “graffiti piece along the exterior wall of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010. The tagging began with the words “modern art” and ended with the phrase “made you look.” The work was sandblasted off the next day, but because the artists had chosen such a high-profile target, “the consequences get serious,” Coval said, and the artists had to go underground.

    “They were putting out a challenge,” Goodwin said. “What is modern art? Who gets to decide who a real artist is? And where does art belong?”

    Coval, editor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, adopted what he calls “a journalistic verse” approach to creating the play - a form inspired by Gwendolyn Brooks, the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. “Kevin was able to get the story behind it - who they are, why they did it - and then we decided to write a play based on that information,” Goodwin said.

    The play, now published by Haymarket Books, debuted last year as part of the nationally renowned Steppenwolf Theatre’s Young Adult series. But no one was quite prepared for the severe critical response. Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune faulted the play for romanticizing graffiti, an act he called “invasive, self-important and disrespectful of the property of others,” while Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times said the play “spray-paints all the wrong messages.”

    “Both reviews shared a common theme,” wrote national arts administrator Howard Sherman, “that the play celebrated the graffiti artists’ work without making sufficiently clear, to the critics’ minds, that the majority of graffiti art is also illegal vandalism.”

    Kevin Coval Quote. This is Modern ArtThe reviews sparked a second round of heated backlash and public debate.

    “The theatre community at large said the critics’ arguments were bogus and unfair,” Goodwin said. “Antiheroes and difficult, and complicated questions are what the theatre is for."

    As incendiary as the response was, Goodwin says This is Modern Art is intended to be a gateway into a larger conversation that must be had in America. Not only in the context of escalating racial tensions in America today, but in consideration of the country’s entire history. The problem certainly did not start with Ferguson, nor did it end with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the national anthem, Goodwin said.

    “I tweeted jokingly: ‘I don't know why you all are tripping. We've been refusing to stand up since Rosa Parks,’ ” Goodwin said. “This is not new. I don't think we have really confronted these issues because we still don't really know each other. We're acquainted but we haven't done the work that you have to do to become family. Which is learning to listen, to be patient, to forgive.”

    For those Americans not of color who are struggling with how to proactively respond, Coval’s advice is simple.

    “For white people, I think it's a matter of leaving the house,” Coval said. “You have to leave the comfort of where you are. Get outside of what you read. Get outside of what you assume and begin to listen to the stories of people of color. Because they will tell a different tale from the dominant tale that continues to weave in this country.”

    (Kevin Coval photo above by Nyce Life Photography.)

    Sample: Listen to Idris Goodwin's
    Say My Name

    More of our conversation with Idris Goodwin and Kevin Coval:

    John Moore: What do you say to those who say see graffiti artists as vandals?

    Idris Goodwin: There is a clear distinction in my mind between art and vandalism. They are definitely breaking the law - but I feel like that is the art they practice. And despite your feelings about the legality and the appropriateness of graffiti art, you cannot deny the boldness of it.

    John Moore: What are we so afraid of?

    Kevin Coval: Freedom. I think we are afraid of people being and getting free. Graffiti art calls into question who has the right to public property, and who has the right to make art. I think once disenfranchised young people of color begin to take the notion of creation into their own hands, I think that shakes the center. Graffiti artists challenge what norms are in culture, and I think that makes people uncomfortable.

    (Pictured right: The graffiti left on the exterior wall of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010, which inspired the new play 'This is Modern Art.')

    John Moore: What’s at the root of all of this?

    Idris Goodwin: I think this country has yet to fully own up to the hate crimes and war crimes that it, as a government, has committed against a multitude of communities of color. The shameful state of public education in this country has a lot to do with that. People have no idea of history, or of what has happened even on the soil upon which they stand. The only difference today is that because of social media and the way information travels, the dialogue is now out in the open and documented, and we're really seeing the problem. But it's always been there.

    Kevin Coval: James Baldwin talked about whiteness as a sickness; as a psychological disease that affects all people and is detrimental to the humanization of people of color. In Chicago and other cities, we continue to be radically segregated around race and socioeconomic status. White people don't really know people of color. We imagine the lives of people of color. We fear what it might mean if we live in proximity to people of color we don't actually know. But people of color know white people all too well.

    Idris Goodwin: One of the questions the play puts out there is the punishment for doing graffiti. Does it fit the crime? There are some cases where graffiti artists have been chased to their deaths. Now people might say, 'Well, he was a thug.' Really? Do they then deserve to die?

    John Moore: How has the Broadway musical Hamilton changed the game in terms of the need for the American theatre to open itself up to new forms of storytelling?

    Idris Goodwin: I think it is a tremendously missed opportunity for any theatre not to embrace, on a consistent basis, a multitude of stories that really reflect the multitude in this country. If we really want this art form to live, we cannot continue to champion and exalt - and then also demonize and tear down any attempt to broaden our idea of what a play is.

    This Is Modern Art: Denver ticket information

    • Partial reading and book launch for the play This is Modern Art (not a full production)
    • Presented by Off-Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
    • One night only: 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 15
    • At the MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany St., Denver. Rooftop party to follow at MCA Café & Bar with DJ Chonz
    • Tickets $10 for adults and $5 for students with code STUDENT0915. BUY ONLINE

    Other Colorado tour events: Ticket information

    • 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16: This is Modern Art staged reading with Kevin Coval and Idris Goodwin, with spoken-word performance by Coval and poet Juan Morales,
      at Songbird Cellars, 220 S Union Ave. in Pueblo
    • 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17: This is Modern Art staged reading with Kevin Coval and Idris Goodwin, at Colorado College (Cornerstone 131 Screening Room) INFO
    • 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17: Kevin Coval and Idris Goodwin reading from The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, at Mountain Fold Bookstore, 121 E Costilla St., Colorado Springs INFO

    Sample: Watch Kevin Coval's The Crossover:

  • Video: A 'Phantom' anthem at the Broncos game

    by John Moore | Sep 02, 2016

    Kathryn McCreary, who plays the Wild Woman and is understudy to Carlotta Guidicelli in the national touring production of The Phantom of the Opera, sings the National Anthem before the Denver Broncos' preseason game on Aug. 27 at Mile High Stadium. Video shot by Emily Lozow and the Denver Broncos, and edited by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    Recent previous national anthems covered by the DCPA NewsCenter
    Denver Outlaws: Curtis Salinger and Charlotte Movizzo, 2016 Bobby G Award winners
    Denver Broncos: Kevin Massey, A Gentleman's Guide ...
    Denver Broncos: LaChanze, If/Then
    Denver Broncos: Gabe GibbsThe Book of Mormon
    Colorado Rockies: Evatt Salinger and Emma Buchanan, 2015 Bobby G Award winners 
    Denver Nuggets: Rodney Earl Jackson Jr., Motown the Musical
    Denver Broncos: Shaun Taylor-Corbett, Jersey Boys
    Denver Broncos: Andy Kelso, Kinky Boots
    Denver Broncos: Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

    The Phantom of the Opera: Ticket information

    Based on the classic novel Le Fantôme de L’Opéra by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a masked figure who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all who inhabit it.  He falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine, and devotes himself to creating a new star by nurturing her extraordinary talents and by employing all of the devious methods at his command.
    • Through Sept. 11
    • Buell Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: 2 p.m. Sept. 11
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Phantom of the Opera
    Phantom Opening Night in Denver: Chris Mann video, photo gallery and fun facts
    return marks Buell Theatre’s 25th anniversary
    Download our Phantom of the Opera Crossword Puzzle
    Video montage: The show at a glance 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Phanrtom of the Opera Kathryn McCreary Kathryn McCreary took questions from the Best of Broadway Society before the Opening Night performance of 'The Phantom of the Opera' on Aug. 26. Photo by John Moore.

    More Denver photos:
    The Phantom of the Opera in Denver
  • Video: Chris Mann speaks, 'Phantom' photos and fun facts

    by John Moore | Aug 31, 2016

    Video: Exclusive Chris Mann Interview

    Chris Mann, star of the national touring production of The Phantom of the Opera, talks with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore about the appeal and longevity of the show; his time on TV's The Voice, and his castmate (and wife) Laura Mann's One Degree of Separation from Justin Timberlake and former Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. (Watch that here.)  Filmed on Aug. 26, 2016. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Photo gallery: The Phantom of the Opera in Denver

    The Phantom of the Opera in Denver

    Opening night also included an up-close look at some of Maria Björnson’s award-winning costumes; a peek at crews installing the famous chandelier in the Buell Theatre; and a visit by cast member Kathryn McCreary (The Wild Woman) with members of the DCPA’s Best of Broadway Society. Also making an appearance was Popsicle the SCFD Bear, who is “popping” up all over town in support of Referendum 4B, which if passed in November will extend the metro area’s Scientific and Cultural Facilities District for another 12 years. The penny-per-$10 sales tax generates about $53 million a year that is shared between 300 arts and science organizations. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    To see more of our photos, click the forward arrow on the image above.

    The Phantom of the Opera
    : Fun facts

    • Worldwide, more than 65,000 performances have been seen by 140 million people in 30 countries and 151 cities in 14 languages.
    • This production travels in 20 trucks with a cast and orchestra of 52, making this one of the largest touring productions of a Broadway musical.


    • The design incorporates not only original Maria Björnson designs from the original but also designs by Maria that were never used for The Phantom of the Opera  before.
    • There are a few pieces from the original production that are more than 25 years old used in this production.
    • More than 1,200 costume pieces used during the show.
    • Each ballet girl goes through a pair of ballet shoes every 2-3 weeks
    • Madame Giry has only one costume


    • More than 120 wigs travel with The Phantom of the Opera
    • About 50 wigs are used in the show every night
    • All wigs are made from human hair except for five
    • About 50 mustaches are kept in stock


    • The Phantom of the Opera uses more than 200 speakers 
    • Approximately 50 are used just for the surround sound package


    • More than 85 moving lights in the design that utilizes four different kinds of haze/smoke effects.


    • More than 6,000 beads are on the chandelier
    • Each strand has 632 beads
    • The chandelier weighs 1 ton
    • This new chandelier was designed by Howard Eaton (who designed the Olympic rings for the London ceremonies)


    • The main scenic wall weighs 10 tons and rotates around the stage
    • The 2 opera boxes scenic elements together take up a full truck to travel from city to city


    • 17 orchestra members plus a conductor perform Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score every performance

    The Phantom of the Opera: Ticket information

    Based on the classic novel Le Fantôme de L’Opéra by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a masked figure who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all who inhabit it.  He falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine, and devotes himself to creating a new star by nurturing her extraordinary talents and by employing all of the devious methods at his command.
    • Through Sept. 11
    • Buell Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: 2 p.m. Sept. 11
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Phantom of the Opera
    Phantom return marks Buell Theatre’s 25th anniversary
    Download our Phantom of the Opera Crossword Puzzle
    Video montage: The show at a glance 

    Kathryn McCreary and Popsicle the SCFD Bear on opening night of 'The Phantom of the Opera' in Denver. Photo by John Moore.
  • Sweeney Todd will return to Denver with 'Fun Home' tour

    by John Moore | Aug 16, 2016
    Robert Petkoff Sweeney Todd

    Robert Petkoff, who recently headlined the DCPA Theatre Company's critically acclaimed production of Sweeney Todd, will return to Denver in January with the first national touring production of the groundbreaking 2015 Tony-winning Best Musical, Fun Home.

    The tour will stop at Denver's Ellie Caulkins Opera House from Jan 10-22, 2017.

    Petkoff, also celebrated for his performances in Broadway’s Ragtime, All The Way and Anything Goes, will play the troubled patriarch, Bruce.

    Fun HomePetkoff, who was nominated for a Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Award for his performance in Sweeney Todd, also played Colonel Brandon in the DCPA's 2013 world premiere of Sense & Sensibility. Before that, he played the knife-wielding Achilles in the DCPA's Tantalus back in 2000. That was a massive, 10-play co-production between the DCPA Theatre Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company that is billed to this day as the largest undertaking in theatre history.

    "I was aware of the possibility of doing Fun Home when I was finishing the run of Sweeney Todd at the Denver Center and was quite pleased with the prospect of returning to Denver," Petkoff said from Paris in an exclusive interview with the DCPA NewsCenter. "I really love the city and have had such great theatrical experiences there at the DCPA. I can't wait to be back in Denver with Fun Home. It's such a wonderful and moving show."

    Susan Moniz (Broadway’s Grease) will play Helen in Fun Home, and Kate Shindle (Broadway’s Legally Blonde, Cabaret and Miss America 1998) will play Alison. Joining them will be Abby Corrigan As medium Alison, Alessandra Baldacchino (Broadway’s Fun Home) as Small Alison, Karen Eilbacher as Joan, Robert Hager as Roy (and others), Lennon Nate Hammond as John and Pierson Salavdor as Christian. At certain performances, Carly Gold will play Small Alison. Additional cast members will include Anthony Fortino, Amanda Naughton, Sofia Trimarchi and Michael Winther.

    More Robert Petkoff recalls his time on 'Tantalus'

    Fun Home won raves from critics and audiences alike, winning five 2015 Tony Awards and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. It made history when it became the first show written exclusively by women to win theater’s highest achievement, the Best Musical Tony Award. 

    Based on Alison Bechdel’s best-selling graphic memoir, Fun Home introduces audiences to Alison at three different ages as she explores and unravels the many mysteries of her childhood that connect with her in surprising new ways. Fun Home is a refreshingly honest, wholly original musical about seeing your parents through grown-up eyes.

    Robert Petkoff TantalusFun Home features music by Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics by Lisa Kron and direction by Sam Gold, who won Tony Awards for Best Score, Best Book and Best Direction. Kron and Tesori also made history by becoming the first female writing team to be awarded the Best Score Tony Award.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Broadway production of Fun Home opened on Broadway on April 19, 2015, and is currently playing at Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre through September 10.

    Tickets for the Denver engagement start at $30 and are on sale now. Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for the Denver engagement of Fun Home.

    Pictured above: Robert Petkoff in the DCPA's 'Tantalus.'

    Fun Home
    : Ticket information

    • Jan. 10-22, 2017
    •  The Ellie Caulkins Opera House
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    For more information on the production, please visit FunHomeBroadway.com.

    Fun Home Broadway. Joan Marcus
    The original Broadway cast of 'Fun Home' included Sydney Lucas, Colorado native (and Tony-nominated) Beth Malone and Emily Skeggs. Photo Credit Joan Marcus.
  • Reinvented 'Cabaret' returns as a seismic warning

    by John Moore | Aug 15, 2016

    Cabaret 800

    Randy Harrison as the Emcee and the 2016 national touring cast of Roundabout Theatre Company’s 'Cabaret.' Photo by Joan Marcus.

    By Sheryl Flatow
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    The audible gasp followed by the deafening silence that often greets the final shattering moment of the national tour of Cabaret is a testament to the force of the invigorating Roundabout Theatre Company’s new touring production.

    Written by John Kander (music), Fred Ebb (lyrics), and Joe Masteroff (book), Cabaret has long been recognized as one of the best and most important musicals of the 20th  century. But if the original production was groundbreaking, Roundabout’s version, directed by Sam Mendes and choreographed and co-directed by Rob Marshall, is seismic.   

    Regardless of how well you think you know Cabaret, nothing quite prepares you for this decadent, riveting, devastating production, which Todd Haimes, Roundabout’s artistic director, calls a “reinvention” of the classic musical.       

    First presented by Roundabout in 1998, the Mendes-Marshall staging won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, ran for 2,377 performances and made a star of its Emcee, Alan Cumming, much as the original Hal Prince production made a star of Joel Grey. And the show’s directors caught the attention of Hollywood. Mendes would go on to win  the 2000 Oscar for Best Director for his first film, the Academy Award-winning American Beauty, and Marshall was nominated as Best Director in 2003 for his first film, the Academy Award-winning Chicago.

    In 2014, a decade after Cabaret’s final à bientôt,” Roundabout brought the production back to Broadway and then sent it on the road as part of the company’s 50th anniversary celebration. “This production changed musical theater,” says Haimes.It gave us actors doubling as the orchestra and an environmental musical. I brought the show back because I thought a new generation should see the work that Sam and Rob did, which is truly seminal.”

    Willkommen to Berlin, 1929, and to the  Kit Kat Klub, a cabaret that serves as a reflection of the Weimar Republic as it plunges toward Nazism. The downward spiral is mirrored in the show’s two doomed love stories. The first is between Sally Bowles, a British singer with limited talent who performs at the club, and Clifford Bradshaw, a bisexual American writer. The other romance is between Fräulein Schneider, who runs a boardinghouse, and Herr Schultz, a German-Jewish shopkeeper.

    "I first knew Cabaret from the movie, and I was astonished to discover the stage  show is quite different,” says Mendes. “It was a much more complex piece of work than the movie, and it had many more songs. In fact, it has one of the greatest scores in the history of musical theater, with songs such as ‘Cabaret,’ ‘If You Could See Her Through My Eyes,’ and ‘Willkommen.’ However, a score with nothing to say is only half a musical. What Hal Prince did was to create a great piece about the rise of Nazism and the rise of any kind of repressive regime. Cabaret is a great piece of theater because it says something about racism, about the intersection of politics and private life – how it’s impossible for Sally Bowles to live the way she attempts to live in that political environment. It refutes the people who think like she does, who say about politics, ‘What does that have to do with us?’ The truth is, it has everything to do with us.”

    Mendes initially directed the show in 1993 at the 250-seat Donmar Warehouse in London, which he turned into a nightclub. He chose to have the ensemble double as musicians, unsure at the outset how that concept would work.

    “Making the ensemble the musicians helped the notion that it was the nightclub putting on the show,” he says. “Everything is done contained within the framework of the Kit Kat Klub. It’s not just that the actors sing and dance and act and play instruments.  They also move the furniture and watch the show. It’s suffused with a kind of home-made energy that comes directly from a multi-talented cast, which you can only get in the theater. It’s not spectacle in the traditional sense, but I think it proves how little spectacle you need to put on a great show.”   

    Like the characters in the show, the audience has so much fun for most of the first act that their eyes are closed to the tawdriness and unseemliness in front of them. That is due to the aforementioned great score – which includes three songs that were written for the film: “Mein Herr,” “Maybe This Time” and “Money” – the inspired staging, and the Emcee, who, Mendes says, “governs the entire show and dictates the rhythm of the evening.” The character has been completely revamped, vamp being the operative word. He invites members of the audience to come onstage and dance with him. He’s a pansexual seducer; insidiously charming, sexy, raunchy, impudent, flirty, mischievous and unsettling. He’s onstage for most of the show; when he’s not in a scene, he’s often lurking in the shadows.  

    And the shadows truly begin to descend at the end of the first act, with the disturbing “Tomorrow Belongs to Me.” The numbers in the second act acknowledge the bigotry, the demagoguery, and the ignorance that are permeating Germany. “If You Could See Her” is sung by the Emcee to a performer wearing a gorilla suit, and contains the chilling last line, “If you could see her through my eyes, she wouldn’t look Jewish at all.” There is also the haunting “I Don’t Care Much,” which was unused in the original production but added to a 1987 Broadway revival and sung by the Emcee. It’s the only number that gives the audience a glimpse of the person behind the façade, who is aware that the roof is caving in. And when that collapse occurs, it stuns the audience.

    Roundabout Theatre Company's Cabaret
    Photos from the new national touring production of 'Cabaret.' To see more, click on the image above. Photos by Joan Marcus.

    “Even this time around, when many people in the audience were already familiar with the production, it was like they were in shock after the final moment,” says Haimes. 

    Cabaret is based on Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories and the play it inspired, I Am a Camera by John Van Druten. Prince wrote in a memoir that what attracted him and his colleagues to the material was “the parallel between the spiritual bankruptcy of Germany in the 1920s and our country in the 1960s.”  On the first day of rehearsals, Prince showed the cast a photo of a group of angry, young, Aryan-looking men, “snarling at the camera like a pack of hounds.” He asked the actors where and when the photo was taken. Although the image appeared to be a snapshot in time from 1928 Germany, it was, in fact, a picture of students in Chicago protesting school integration that appeared in Life magazine in 1966.

    The theme of the show is as timely and urgent now as it was 50 years ago, and probably will be 50 years from now. “The world today is such a mess,” says Masteroff. “And when you understand what one man did to a sophisticated, intelligent country like Germany, then you wonder what could happen anywhere. It’s really kind of a warning.”

    Cabaret: Ticket information

    CabaretCome 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.
    • Sept. 27-Oct. 9
    • Buell Theatre
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

  • Video, photos: A 'Beautiful' Opening Night in Denver

    by John Moore | Jul 26, 2016

    Denver welcomed the national touring production of Beautiful — The Carole King Musical on June 19, and we spoke with stars Abby Mueller (Carole King), Becky Gulsvig (Cynthia Weil), along with DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg after the opening-night performance about what makes the Tony Award-winning musical so much more than a revue of pop hits from the 1960s and 1970s.

    Beautiful is the empowering, true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, but at a great personal cost to her family. Along the way, King wrote the soundtrack to a generation. Watch the video above, and read more from our conversation below:

    A BeautifulOpening QAuoteAbby Mueller: Beautiful is such a fun journey through the pop era of the 1950s and ‘60s. Carole and her first writing partner (and later husband) Gerry Goffin started writing songs when she was a teenager. And then they met Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and you get some of their songs as well. So this is a really is a deep, deep catalog of music that everyone knows - but perhaps they don’t know that Carole wrote this song, or Cynthia wrote that song. It’s a fun journey the audience goes on. We hear these gasps of recognition when they hear songs they know, but have never attributed to these writers.

    John Moore: Becky, tell us more about Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann.

    Becky Gulsvig: Becky and Cynthia are amazing. They wrote so many songs that everyone knows and loves. Songs like, You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling, which is still the most-played song on the radio - ever. They wrote On Broadway and Rockin’ in the Rain and We Gotta Get Out of This Place and Uptown and so many more. You don’t necessarily know Cynthia and Barry as well as you know Carole King, but you really know a lot of their music. And they provide a balance to the love story because as Carole and Gerry fall apart, they come together. You also get to hear some of the back stories that tell you what was going on in their lives as some these songs were created.

    John Moore: John, what do you think makes Beautiful a different kind of musical?

    John Ekeberg: Our Denver audiences don’t always have the opportunity to go to New York to see Broadway shows, but the production I saw tonight was Broadway quality. It was just top-notch across the board. And to hear the audience’s reaction, I think, was really powerful.

    Read the Denver Post review of Beautiful

    John Moore: Abby, people might presume all they are going to get are these hit songs, but there is a pretty compelling story being told here as well.

    Abby Mueller: It is such a challenging and rewarding journey. People come to this show knowing they love these songs, but maybe they didn’t totally anticipate the emotional journey that everyone goes on. There is a lot of humor; there is some drama, some pathos and ultimately triumph. I think it’s a really satisfying night at the theatre.

    John Moore: You both play real people. Talk about the additional responsibility of portraying characters who are still very much among the living.

    Beautiful Opening Becky Gulsvig Abby MuellerBecky Gulsvig: I think there is definitely a different level of obligation when the person you are playing might come to see your show and either love you or hate you. That is daunting. They have casting approval, so we know they wanted us in the show, which is always nice. But you want to be respectful of their story and be truthful to what they did in real life. It’s an honor, to be honest, because all of these people are musical icons, and they did such amazing work. It’s great get to stand on their shoulders and share their stories with even more people. So many people grew up with this music, but it’s still reaching more new people every day.

    Abby Mueller: It is an honor to play Carole - and there is a responsibility that comes with that. That helps me focus on the fact that this is not about me. My responsibility is to Carole and to bring the most truth to her story that I can. It’s been a gift. People come and they just love Carole and Cynthia and Barry and Gerry so much, and we can feel that coming from the audiences. We get to borrow that for a little while. I feel like I am stealing love. It’s really special.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: I was surprised by how much of an empowerment story Beautiful turns out to be for women of all ages.

    Abby Mueller: I really find Carole inspiring on so many levels. At a time when women were not doing what she was doing, she was writing songs and raising a family and having a career on her own terms, which is really admirable and enviable. That’s something I really look up to.

    John Moore: You both have connections to our favorite daughter of Denver, Annaleigh Ashford (pictured right).

    ASHFORD_ AnnaleighBoth: We love Annaleigh!

    Becky Gulsvig: Yes, I was in the original Broadway cast of Legally Blonde, The Musical, and I adore every inch of that magical unicorn. I love her.

    Abby Mueller: Yes, and I was a replacement swing in Kinky Boots, and she made me feel so welcome. She is a marvelous human being, and I love her. 

    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. 

    Beautiful – The Carole King Musical: Ticket information
    • Through July 31
    • Buell Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: 2 p.m. July 31
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Photo gallery: Beautiful in Denver

    'Beautiful' in Denver

    Our photos from opening night of 'Beautiful - The Carole king Musical' in Denver. To see more, click the arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Video at top of page by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

  • Mann and Weil: How 'Beautiful' bloomed 'On Broadway'

    by John Moore | Jul 26, 2016

    By Sylvie Drake
    For the DCPA NewwCenter

    Beautiful is subtitled The Carole King Musical and contains many unforgettable Carole King songs (“Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Up on the Roof,” “A Natural Woman”). But this show is a musical anthology that King had little to do with beyond agreeing — kicking and screaming — to let the producers base it on her life and songs. Crazy?

    The other players in this jaunty evening of musical comedy — a breezy mix of nostalgia, great songs, spirited dance and romance from the 1960s and 70s — are Cynthia Weil (words) and Barry Mann (music), good friends of King and King’s then-husband and collaborator, the late Gerry Goffin.

    The Manns’ own romance and marriage is prominently featured in it, often as comic relief. So are some of their compositions (“On Broadway,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”), along with snippets by others and including that 1929 anthem, “Happy Days Are Here Again,” used by Franklin Roosevelt as his 1932 presidential campaign song, but offered here with reinvented Weil-d new lyrics.

    So, what gives…?

    Enter sunny producer Paul Blake, strongly suspected to be the mastermind behind this Beautiful gambit.

    “Yes…! No,” he said, quickly reversing himself. “The phone rang one day and it was the president of EMI music who said, ‘Paul, we own these songs and I think there’s a show in there.’ Why call me? ‘Well, you got the [Irving] Berlin sisters to give you the rights to “White Christmas.” You’re the most persistent producer I know.’ ”

    Beautiful – The Carole King Musical: Production photo gallery

    Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
    Photos by Joan Marcus. To see more, press the forward arrow on the image above.

    It was a comment Blake had to live up to. But when he approached Carole King, she demurred. A musical? About her? Too personal! Too private! Too invasive! He pleaded, she hemmed; he begged, she hawed; persisting, he made a commitment: “You say no,” he told King, “I say yes. And if you don’t like it, I’ll kill it.”

    It was reassurance enough to get King to relent, but when invited to a first reading, she walked out. What?! When Blake caught up with her, she said she had to leave; the musical, which prominently features her break-up with Goffin, was too emotional for her to watch. But, she added, she could see “people loved it, it was very well written and performed” and, while she didn’t want to get any closer to the production, she would allow it to go on...

    beautful-barry-mann-cynthia-weil-3Time to exhale.

    It took another couple of years to pull it together. The bookwriter Blake wanted, Doug McGrath, also kept saying “no,” but Blake told him what he’d told King: “That’s the first no; we’ll eventually get to yes,” for which he smartly enlisted the help of McGrath’s wife. Bingo.

    “Once we really got going,” said the persistor-in-chief, “it worked!” By then, Weil and Mann were on board and the messy collaboration was underway. McGrath wrote the book, made decisions and song choices, with the others — except King — chiming in, disagreeing or not.  

    Interviewed at their Los Angeles home in June, Mann and Weil said the idea for this musical had started with Carole’s manager at the time.

    “She thought it should be a story about all four of us,” offered Mann, “Cynthia, me, Carole and Gerry.”

    “Because we were best friends and also fierce competitors, we were to have equal weight,” Weil clarified. “Then Paul came in and we interviewed writers with him. When we settled on Doug [McGrath], the first version was about the four of us. But after that first reading, which ended with us getting married and Carole going off to California, everybody felt cheated that they hadn’t heard a single song from Tapestry, which is Carole’s big album.”

    “We saw this was a problem,” Mann added. “Of the four of us, she was the famous one. It was her album. People wanted to hear that story.”

    Ben Fankhauser as Barry Mann and Becky Gulsvig as Cynthia Weil in Beautiful - the Carole King Musical. Photo by Joan Marcus

    King, meanwhile, continued to insist the show should be about the four of them, but by then everybody knew better. “We kept telling Doug that Carole and Gerry were Lucy and Desi and we were Fred and Ethel,” Mann deadpanned, “and it kind of worked out that way.”    

    How difficult was this to sort out?

    “You can imagine,” said Weil, “four people, all with different ideas of what the show should be…” Less difficult, Mann insisted, because McGrath is “a great guy and real talent who was very sensitive to us.”

    Ben Fankhauser (“Barry Mann”) and Becky Gulsvig (“Cynthia Weil”)_Photo by Joan Marcus.

    Weil and Mann have seven songs in Beautiful to King’s 14, and while they would have loved to have more, “we had to go home with it. Carole is a terrific talent and she’s family,” said Mann. “If she were a lousy person, it might have been hard, but Carole is so wonderful, we took the realistic view.”

    “Carole is not someone who seeks to be the center of attention,” Weil affirmed. “The show is what it was meant to be. That Carole walked out of that first reading saying ‘I don’t want to relive that,’ tells you everything.”

    “The musical zips along,” Mann concurred, “and we did get to approve the actors who play us.”

    Beautiful had a pre-Broadway try-out in 2013 at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre selling out its run. It opened on Broadway in January 2014.

    Fearful of her emotions, King did not attend. When Beautiful was declared a hit, recouping its investment in a dizzying eight months, and when her friends told her how much they loved it, King again relented.

    “She sat in the audience in full disguise,” said producer Blake, chuckling at the memory. “No one knew she was there! She couldn’t stop crying. ‘I wasn’t ready for Cynthia and Barry getting married,’ she told me.”

    They got her out of her disguise, up on stage and eventually joining in song with the show’s star and King impersonator, Tony Award-winner Jessie Mueller. It was the joyous capper to an exhilarating evening.

    Some kind of wonderful.

    Sylvie Drake was Director of Media Relations & 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 current contributor to culturalweekly.com

    Beautiful – The Carole King Musical: Ticket information
    • July 19-31
    • Buell Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: 2 p.m. July 31
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829
  • Meet Max of 'The Sound of Music'

    by John Moore | Jul 26, 2016
    This week, we are  introducing you to selected members of The Sound of Music national touring company visiting Denver from Tuesday through Sunday (June 21-26). We begin with the actor playing Max Detweiler:

    Meet Merwin Foard:

    • merwin-foard-400Your role: Max Detweiler
    • Where you grew up: Charlotte, N.C.
    • Where you call home: Mount Kisco, about 35 miles north of New York City
    • Training: BFA from
    • Most recently: 

    1 PerspectivesWhat’s your first remembrance of anything Sound of Music? I remember seeing The Sound of Music at the movie theater when it first came out.  I was so impressed by the children in the cast. I thought Charmian Carr, the actress who played Liesl, was DREAMY! Also, it was so cool that there was an intermission at a movie.

    2 PerspectivesWhy do you think this musical continues to resonate in the hearts of musical and movie fans worldwide? I think resonates today for very different reasons than it did back in the 1960s - our current political climate being chief among them. It will always ring true to the hope of a better tomorrow and the strong family dynamic that's represented in this classic story.

    (Pictured at right: Merwin Foard as Max in the national touring production of 'The Sound of Music' opening in Denver on June 21. Photo by Matthew Murphy.)

    3 PerspectivesFavorite bit of Sound of Music trivia? I love the fact that during the filming of the movie, Julie Andrews and Christopher Plumber were so punchy during the song "Something Good" that director Robert Wise had to film them in silhouette to disguise their giggles.

    4 PerspectivesWhat's one thing about you that can’t possibly be true of anyone else in your cast? I am the only father in our entire touring cast! I have two daughters:  Phoebe, who is 22, and Bailey, who's 17. 

    5 PerspectivesHow well do you know Colorado? I love Denver and the state of Colorado. I love that that you can see mountains from almost anywhere. The first time I played Denver was on a national tour of Show Boat starring Donald O'Connor of Singin' in the Rain fame. More recently, I was in Denver appearing in the pre-Broadway run of Disney's The Little Mermaid. I am thrilled to be back here in this fine production of The Sound of Music.


    The Sound of Music:
    Ticket information

    June 21-26
    Buell Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    ASL interpreted, Audio Described and Open Captioned performance: 2 p.m., June 25

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Sound of Music

    The Real Von Trapps and the sound of freedom
    The 'President of Theatre' on the enduring popularity of The Sound of Music
    Meet Liesl, Paige Silvester
    Visit the official show page

  • Meet Liesl from 'The Sound of Music'

    by John Moore | Jul 26, 2016

    Paige Silvester and Dan Tracy in the national touring production of 'The Sound of Music' opening in Denver on June 21. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

    This week, we will be introducing you to selected members of The Sound of Music national touring company visiting Denver from Tuesday through Sunday (June 21-26). We begin with the actor playing Liesl:

    Meet Paige Silvester:

    • liesl-300Your role: Liesl VonTrapp
    • Where you grew up: Sacramento, Calif.
    • Where you call home: New York City
    • Training: BFA from The University of Michigan
    • Most recently: Evita first national tour

    1 PerspectivesWhat’s your first remembrance of anything Sound of Music? My family had a VHS tape of the movie that we'd recorded while it was playing on TV, complete with '90s commercial breaks. I watched it so many times that the commercial jingles still pop into my head like they are part of the show. I used to watch with my little brother and make him play "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" with me. We'd jump around our house from couch to couch pretending it was the gazebo in the movie.

    2 PerspectivesWhy do you think this musical continues to resonate in the hearts of musical and movie fans worldwide? What I love about The Sound of Music is that each time I revisit the story, I see it in a new light. The themes are universally relatable, and cross-generational. You can enjoy it at any age. I loved it when I was watching as a little girl. I was enraptured when I played Liesl in high school. And I see it in a whole new light now that I'm in my 20s.  I know that pattern will continue throughout my life. The show's messages are positive and inspirational. You will leave uplifted and thinking - about what is really important to you, about family, about overcoming hardships.  It is a story that sticks with you because the questions it raises are universal.

    3 PerspectivesFavorite bit of Sound of Music trivia? Though the song "Edelweiss" has become one of the most well-known in the show, and is often mistaken as being the real national anthem of Austria, it was in fact written for The Sound of Music as a last-minute addition to the show during their out-of-town tryout in Boston. Oscar Hammerstein II was suffering from cancer and was not in Boston, so Richard Rodgers sent him the sheet music, and he filled in the lyrics remotely. It was the last song he ever wrote.

    4 PerspectivesWhat's one thing about you that can’t possibly be true of anyone else in your cast? I have a blog for aspiring performers. It's called "Theater Cats," and it's full of information about the business and reality of a career in theater. Things I wish I'd known at a younger age. If you're a young actor/singer/dancer who is passionate about performing, I would love if you visited at paigesilvester.com/blog.

    5 PerspectivesHow well do you know Colorado? This will be my first time in Colorado, but I can't wait to explore - I have always wanted to go.


    The Sound of Music:
    Ticket information

    June 21-26
    Buell Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    ASL interpreted, Audio Described and Open Captioned performance: 2 p.m., June 25

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Sound of Music

    The Real Von Trapps and the sound of freedom
    The 'President of Theatre' on the enduring popularity of The Sound of Music
    Visit the official show page

  • Broadway's 'Hamilton' is heading to Denver

    by NewsCenter Staff | Jul 06, 2016

    By Heidi Bosk
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    The national tour of the Broadway musical Hamilton will play the Buell Theatre as part of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ 2017-18 Broadway subscription series, it was announced today by producer Jeffrey Seller and the DCPA.
    On Sunday, Hamilton won 11 2016 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, after having set the all-time record with 16 nominations.

    Hamilton. Daveed Diggs. The best way to guarantee tickets to Hamilton is to purchase a 2016-17 Broadway subscription. Broadway subscribers who renew their 2016-17 Broadway subscription packages for the 2017-18 Broadway season will guarantee their tickets for the DCPA's premiere engagement of Hamilton.

    Hamilton will be on the 2017-18 Broadway subscription package. Information regarding engagement dates and how to purchase groups and single tickets will be announced at a later time.
    DCPA's 2016-17 Broadway subscription package features the pre-Broadway debut of Frozen, The Phantom of the Opera, Roundabout Theatre Company's Cabaret, An Act of God, Finding Neverland, Fun Home, An American in Paris and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Subscriptions for the 2016-17 Broadway season start as low as eight payments of $51.25 and are available at DenverCenter.org.  Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for the Broadway touring productions in Denver.

    (Pictured above right: Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette the Broadway musical 'Hamilton.')
    With book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and musical direction and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.

    Subscription information for 2016-17 Broadway season

    Hamilton is the story of America's Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington's right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary.  Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, Hamilton is the story of America then, as told by America now.  
    Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowa, Anthony Ramos and Lin-Manuel Miranda in 'Hamilton.'
    Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowan, Anthony Ramos and Lin-Manuel Miranda from the Tony Award-winning Broadway cast of 'Hamilton.'

    's creative team previously collaborated on the 2008 Tony Award-winning Best Musical In the Heights.
    Hamilton features scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Paul Tazewell (DCPA Theatre Company's The Unsinkable Molly Brown), lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, and casting by Telsey + Company, Bethany Knox, CSA.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Hamilton is produced by Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman and The Public Theater.
    The Hamilton Original Broadway Cast Recording is available everywhere nationwide. The Hamilton recording received a 2016 Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album.
    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA's News Center.
    For more information on Hamilton, visit:

    Hamilton’s 2016 Tony Awards:
    Best Musical: Hamilton
    Best Book of a Musical: Lin-Manuel Miranda
    Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater:
    Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Leslie Odom Jr.
    Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical: Daveed Diggs
    Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical: Renee Elise Goldsberry
    Best Costume Design of a Musical: Paul Tazewell
    Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Howell Binkley
    Best Direction of a Musical: Thomas Kail    
    Best Choreography: Andy Blankenbuehler
    Best Orchestrations: Alex Lacamoire

    Related DCPA NewsCenter coverage:
    Tony Awards offer powerful response to Orlando massacre
    The HamilTony Awards: What Denver’s voter has to say 
    Colorado's ties to the 2016 Tony Award nominations
    Lin-Manuel Miranda on the power of theatre to eliminate distance
    Why Lin-Manuel Miranda's father is obsessed with The Unsinkable Molly Brown

    Hamilton. Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Gold, Cephas Jones.
    Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Jasmine Cephas Jones.

    The Broadway company of Hamilton.
    The Broadway company of 'Hamilton.'

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

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