• John Ekeberg named Executive Director of DCPA's Broadway Division

    by John Moore | Oct 23, 2014

    John_Ekeberg_DCPA_800
    John Ekeberg has been with the DCPA family since 1992.


    John Ekeberg has been named Executive Director of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' Broadway Division, where he will oversee programming for all Broadway and Cabaret productions, Chairman and CEO Daniel Ritchie announced today.

    Ekeberg began his career at the DCPA in the box office in 1992. Five years later, he became the Business Manager for the Broadway division. From there, he became General Manager and then Director of Programming when the late Randy Weeks became DCPA President.

    Weeks was Ekeberg's mentor for 17 years, preparing Ekeberg to one day succeed him. Ekeberg previously served as the Board Chair of Paragon Theatre Company in Denver and currently serves as a Governor for The Broadway League, is a Tony Award voter and will represent the DCPA with the Independent Presenters Network. 

    “As the DCPA moves forward, John brings a wealth of knowledge as Executive Director," said Ritchie. "We are fortunate to have such a strong and prepared leader.”

    Ekeberg will partner with Broadway division veteran Jeff Hovorka, the DCPA's Director of Marketing and Sales. With a combined 50 years in the industry, the two will continue to bring top-tier programming to Denver, Ritchie said. 

    The Broadway division team also includes Senior Public Relations and Promotions Manager Heidi Bosk; Business Manager Alicia Giersch; Marketing Coordinator Emily Lozow, and Administrative Assistant Claudia Carson.

    Our coverage of the death of Randy Weeks:
    DCPA president Randy Weeks dies at London conference
    Video: Randy Weeks honored with dimmed lights, moments of silence
    'Pippin' dedicates entire national tour to Randy Weeks
    Video project: Share your unforgettable Randy Weeks stories with us
    Randy Weeks photo gallery
    DCPA to celebrate Randy Weeks' life on Nov. 3
    A look back at Randy Weeks' 'It Gets Better' video

  • 'Pippin' dedicates entire national touring production to Randy Weeks

    by John Moore | Oct 21, 2014
    Pippin_Randy_Weeks_800_2 Randy Weeks, center, with "Pippin" cast members Kristine Reese, John Rubinstein, Matthew James Thomas and Lucie Arnaz on the Opning Night of the new touring production Sept. 12 in Denver. Photo by Emily Lozow.


    Pippin_Randy_Weeks_300The entire national touring production of Pippin The Musical, which launched here in Denver last month, has been dedicated to Denver Center for the Performing Arts President Randy Weeks, who died suddenly on Oct. 9 in London.

    Tribute messages began coming in from the Pippin team almost as soon as word of Weeks' death became known.

    "I was devastated to hear the tragic news," said Pippin general manager Alecia Parker. "Having just spent time with you all it truly breaks my heart. I'm sure it will take a lot of healing and time. He was a true gentleman and will be missed."
     
    Added Anita Dloniak, Pippin's national press rep: "There are no words to even describe my feelings. I am stunned, shocked and every adjective in-between.  I am literally shaking. I am sending big hugs to the entire Denver team."

    Here's the message as it will appear in all Pippin programs as the tour moves from city to city:

    THE PIPPIN TOUR IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF RANDY WEEKS (1955–2014).

    This touring production of Pippin began its magical journey at the Buell Theatre in Denver, Colorado under the guidance of Randy Weeks. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude. He was such a fan of our show and part of it belongs to him. Sadly on Thursday, October 9, the theatre lost one of its fiercest advocates, one of our finest colleagues, and a dear friend. We are honored to be a part of his extraordinary legacy!

    The DCPA will celebrate Randy Weeks' life at 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3 in the Buell Theatre.  Pippin_Randy_Weeks_800

    Our coverage of the death of Randy Weeks:
    DCPA president Randy Weeks dies at London conference
    Video: Randy Weeks honored with dimmed lights, moments of silence
    Video project: Share your unforgettable Randy Weeks stories with us
    Randy Weeks photo gallery
    DCPA to celebrate Randy Weeks' life on Nov. 3
    A look back at Randy Weeks' 'It Gets Better' video


    Our Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

    Photos, video: Opening-night festivities in Denver
    Video: 5 questions for Composer Stephen Schwartz

    9News anchor Cheryl Preheim has a walk-on cameo on Sept. 16
    Video: Audience testimonials reacting to seeing the show
    Video series: The 'Pippin' Personalities: Five questions with creatives
    'Pippin' meets Denver: Media Day photos
    Broadway's Matthew James Thomas to play Pippin in Denver
    Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive

    Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

    My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
    Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
    Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

    From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
    2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

    'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:  

    Pippin_Randy_Weeks_800_ActionPhoto by Terry Shapiro.
  • Aurora's 'Blue Man' grad: This show is 'exuberance incarnate'

    by John Moore | Sep 27, 2014

    Blue_Man_Group_Jack_800"Blue Man Group" Company Manager Jack Stephens, above, credits his professional career to what he learned at Eaglecrest High School. Photo by Andrea Kehler.


    Blue Man Group
    has been described as indescribable since people began trying to ... describe it in 1987. So naturally, with the show returning to Denver for the third time in four years, we asked Company Manager Jack Stephens to, of course … describe it.

    “It is difficult to describe what the show is all about,” said Stephens, not surprisingly. "You really have to experience it.

    "But I can say the people who attend will have an experience unlike any they have ever had in the theatre. They will laugh a lot. They will return to their childhood. They will experience joy and exuberance incarnate. And they will examine a few little quirky things about people and society society along the way, because the show likes to point out some of the absurdities of day-to-day living in cities.”

    Hey, that's a pretty good description. 

    Blue_Man_Group_Quote

    Stephens grew up in Aurora. He was a member of Eaglecrest High School’s first graduating class in 1995, alongside big-shot Broadway actor Andy Kelso, currently starring in the Tony-winning Kinky Boots.

    Stephens is beginning his second year as Company Manager for Blue Man Group, a high-octane theatrical experience that immerses audiences in the worlds of comedy, percussion and technology -- without ever saying a single word.

    “A lot of people look at the Blue Men and say, 'So ... are they aliens? Are they performance artists? What's their deal?' " Stephens said. "But really they are not any of those things. They are meant to represent these three beings who are curious about life.”

    There is a story being told -- albeit nonverbally. It is a multimedia presentation. It has the atmosphere of a loud, live rock concert. There are no vocals. “It's just a percussive, awesome sound,” Stephens said. “They are going to see all sorts of funny things like people catching marshmallows in their mouths, and toilet paper flying out into the audience in huge volumes. But mostly it’s about those three curious creatures who take the audience on a journey exploring life.”

    As Company Manager, it is Stephens’ job to make sure Blue Man Group's national touring production runs efficiently. “Essentially the job involves dealing with everybody's life on the road,” he said. “I make sure everyone gets paid. It also involves travel, transportation and housing."


    If that sounds a lot like herding cats – lovable blue cats in blue, bald caps – Stephens says his present assignment is actually pretty easy. “The people on this tour are really cool,” he said. “There is no drama. Everybody is really about making sure the show is good, and that’s all they ever really think about. They just don't really have time to destroy hotel rooms. So they make my life really easy.”

    Stephens' family moved to Colorado from Cleveland when he was 10.  He stayed through college at CU-Denver and then moved to Las Vegas. He has since worked regularly on touring theatrical productions such as Rent and Beauty and the Beast. But he attributes his entire professional career to what he learned at Eaglecrest High School.

    "They had a triad of really good theatre teachers, and I am sure they still do,” said Stephens, citing Jennifer Condreay (a member of the Colorado Thespians Hall of Fame), Kerry Ross and Brianna Lindahl (now of Grandview High School.)

    “I learned lighting, sound and video," he said. "They were very good teachers of technical teacher, and you don't find that very often. They pretty much let the kids have the run of the place, and we were able to make the shows our own.”

    Stephens also remembers his classmate Kelso as “a really cool guy who stuck with it and made it big. I don't think he ever let it go to his head.” Kelso will be returning to Denver to sing the national anthem at the Denver Broncos' Thursday night football game on Oct. 23.

    Blue Man Group is already Stephens’ 12th national tour.

    “And when I went to college, I didn’t even study theatre, so I would say everything comes from what I learned in high school.”

    Stephens grew up watching professional theatre at the Buell Theatre. He was there when it opened in 1991 with The Phantom of The Opera tour. To be returning there with a show he’s working on for only the second time, he said, should be awesome.

    “It's a very tangible way to say that I have achieved what I set out to achieve,” he said.

    Blue_Man_Group_800

    Blue Man Group
    Oct 10-12
    7:30 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
    Buell Theatre
    Age recommendation: 4 and up
    303-893-4100
    www.DenverCenter.Org

  • The 'Pippin' Profiles: Matthew James Thomas on being shot out of a cannon

    by John Moore | Sep 20, 2014
    Pippin_Profiles_Matthew_James_Thomas_CirclePlaying prince Pippin for a year on Broadway in the contorting, spinning, death-defying world of the circus took its toll on young Matthew James Thomas. When it was over, he needed time to regain his physical and mental strength.

    Four months later, Thomas arrived on the Island of Malta 50 miles south of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea. His parents have a modest farmhouse there. Thomas, 26, was poised for a few days of relaxation, jet-skiing and writing music.

    Then, his phone rang. It was Barry Weissler, who had hired Thomas to star in what turned out to be the 2013 Tony-winning Best Musical Revival: Pippin The Musical. It was eight days before the national touring production was to launch in Denver, and Kyle Selig, the actor hired to play Pippin, had just been put on vocal rest.

    Thomas hails from Buckinghamshire in the southeast of England, so he’s not familiar with the American cartoon character Mighty Mouse. But like that iconic animated rodent whose theme song was, “Here he comes to save the day!" ... here came Thomas to save the day. All the way from Malta - 6,000 miles from the Mile High City.

    “That is very kind of you, but I don't see it that way at all,” Thomas said last week, after joining – and opening – the first national tour of Pippin to enthusiastic standing ovations in Denver.  “I think it's more that I probably relieved some stress for the production in some way. All I could think about was how lucky I was to play the show in a new environment.”

    Thomas moved to the United States four years ago to split the role of Peter Parker in one of the most infamous productions in Broadway history: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which was cursed by multiple accidents and scathing reviews but was hugely popular with audiences, running for more than three years in the largest theatre in Broadway history.

    He’s now developing a concept for a British TV series while working on his first CD of original music. He spent Tuesday at a Denver studio laying down piano and vocal tracks for a song he’s since shipped off to an engineer in New York.

    “I have gone through some tough moments in my personal life in the last couple of months, and I have been very inspired to write some new music,” said Thomas, who begins work on his next musical theatre project in November.

    We got a chance to sit down for an extended conversation with Thomas, who was starring in a West End production of Oliver by age 8, appeared in the hit film Billy Elliot at 11, and has been so much on the move throughout his life, he feels like he’s run off with the circus. Kind of like Pippin.

    “Somebody recently asked me, ‘Where do you live?’ and I said, ‘Hah, I have no idea. I am a gypsy,' " Thomas said.

    Here are excerpts from our illuminating, in-depth conversation:

    Pippin_Profiles_Matthew_James_Thomas_Quote_1


    John Moore: So, hey: You were in Billy Elliot.

    Matthew James Thomas: The movie? Yes, I was.

    John Moore: You've probably grown an inch or two since that movie came out in 2000 … but what did I miss?

    Matthew James Thomas: You missed me get punched in the face!

    John Moore: That was you?

    Matthew James Thomas: Yes, but I was quite smaller then. I was 11.

    John Moore: Well, it’ll be worth re-Netflixing just to see that again.

    Matthew James Thomas: I think you should. If you want to giggle at me, I mean.

    John Moore: How would you describe the last two weeks of your life?

    Matthew James Thomas: Well, being shot out of a cannon is one way to describe it. It really does kind of feel like that. It just feels nuts. But it's great. It's wonderful.

    John Moore: The differences between your Broadway opening and your tour opening could not be starker. You were with the Broadway production from the beginning. You were called in to join the national touring production just eight days before you opened. What’s that like?

    Matthew James Thomas: It was such a whirlwind for me mentally because when I set foot on the soil here, I wasn’t prepared for it. I had been in a completely different mindset. I had been working on other projects, and I had been really detached from Pippin for such a long time. And so it was really confusing. I am being completely honest here. I have lived in America for four years now, but it's still a new surrounding. And on top of that, I knew I'd be stepping into a company for somebody else they have been rehearsing with for a very long period of time. That was daunting because I have to walk into this family, and I'm the new guy who nobody knows really. I did know a couple of the cast members from Broadway company, which was … softening. But still, I knew I had a lot to live up to with the Broadway production being such a huge success, and me being the lead. So yes, it was quite daunting.

    Pippin_Profiles_Matthew_James_Thomas_800_1
    Matthew James Thomas in the national touring production of 'Pippin' that launched in Denver. Photo by Terry Shapiro.


    John Moore: It just seems strange to think of you as ‘the new kid’ when you’re the guy who originated the role.

    Matthew James Thomas: And yet, that's very much what it is. I do know the show back to front, upside down. We've done it every single way we possibly could. And yet here I am actually going into a new show with new people and new scenery and a whole new environment. There are a couple of moments on stage where I just feel my feet go a little wonky and I am like, 'Where am I? Oh, wow. OK, great. OK, no, yes. Now … Go!’ It’s scary … but that's also lovely for the character of Pippin.

    John Moore: No one expected to see you – or need you – on this tour. So do you feel a bit like the knight in shining armor?

    Matthew James Thomas: You know, I am very thankful for you to say that, but I think it's more that my being here probably relieved some stress for the production team in some way.

    John Moore: Take me through getting the call.

    Matthew James Thomas: I was in New York about two weeks before I left for Malta. My parents got a modest farmhouse out there a couple of years ago. It's a very old house that dates back to the 1400s, and I have since wanted to go but I've always been preoccupied with work. So I found a little window in my schedule and thought, 'Well, I'm starting work on another show in November, so why not take this opportunity to get away?' So I jump on a plane. I get with my parents. We do a bit of jet-skiing and a bit of pasta-eating. We do some catching up and some discussing of the future and the past  … and my phone rings. And it's (Pippin producer) Barry Weissler, whom I have not spoken to since I left the production in March. I thought, 'Why is Barry phoning me?' But in this industry, you get used to being surprised every single day by quite bizarre, profound things. So he says, 'What are you up to?' and I say, 'I'm in Malta.' And it was quiet. I guess he was hoping I was in New York.

    John Moore: Your plane ticket to Denver just got a lot more expensive.

    Matthew James Thomas: Right? He was probably like, ('Bleep!'). (Laughing.) And so he went on to say he was wondering if I would be available to come to Denver and step into the role of Pippin for a while. And I said, ‘Sure, I'll come.’ I thought it sounded like a great opportunity to give Pippin one last go, because the role is so great.

    Pippin_Profiles_Matthew_James_Thomas_Quote_2

    John Moore: After your final preview performance in Denver, I saw you come out for the talkback wearing shorts, and you had a few fresh, gnarly scabs on your legs. It made me wonder about the physical toll this show has taken on your body.

    Matthew James Thomas: It's hard to explain, really ... but I actually like it. Back when I was taking my stage-fighting exam in the U.K., my friend Rob and I were so passionate about getting it right and getting it real that we ended up just beating the crap out of each other. I came away from that with a bloody nose. But I'm all for realism and authenticity. This might sound crazy or stupid but after doing Pippin again and again and again, the proof is in the pudding. And the proof is the audience. If you do something properly, then the audience responds properly. I always want to pull off the fall or the trip or whatever as realistically as possible, without hurting myself too much. The fact is, I really enjoy it if John (Rubinstein, who plays Pippin’s father Charlemagne) trips me and I really fall. I think it’s just funnier. So I end up getting cuts and bruises and snags and whatever else. Thank God I have those breaks in between shows to recover. So that’s the way I see it. If I'm here, I might as well give it everything I've got.

    John Moore: When the time came for you to leave the Broadway production in March, did your body need some recovery time?

    Matthew James Thomas: Oh my goodness, yes. And my mind, too. You know, eight shows a week for any show is an impossible task. It really is something that shouldn't be humanly achievable. It's hard vocally, physically, mentally. But on a show like this, you're working out more than a pro athlete. Take soccer, for example. They train every day for a good two hours, and then they have one big match a week. It’s very physical, but … I wake up. I go to the gym for an hour and a half. I go for a run for 20 minutes. I warm my vocals up for one hour. And then we do the show eight times a week. You know, it’s almost more work … and you only get one day off a week.

    John Moore: That's nice of you to call it "soccer" for my benefit.

    Matthew James Thomas: Yeah, of course. I'm getting more used to it now.

    John Moore: And now, a very hard-hitting question:

    Matthew James Thomas: Mmmm … OK.  

    John Moore: I saw you play Pippin on Broadway, and I would swear that you had black hair.

    Matthew James Thomas: Oh yes, "The Hair Question." At first I mentioned it to my press team and they were like, 'Well, people aren't going to recognize you.' And I was like, 'Well, I think that's kind of a great thing.' Actually, when I changed my hair color, I was still in the Broadway production of Pippin, and I didn't tell the cast. So when I jumped through the hoop, everybody looked at me like, 'Who the (bleep) is that?'

    John Moore: I have a feeling that if anyone other than the star of the show had changed his hair color without telling anyone, there might have been a problem.

    Matthew James Thomas: Well, I ran it by the director and the producers. But I asked them not to tell anyone in the cast, because I thought it would be interesting for that one night just to have a very different Pippin show up on the stage. I'm actually just starting to get my real hair color back, which is an ashen blond. But it's hard to get that color back when I've had so much black and blue put through it. I went black for Spider-Man previous to Pippin, and I just didn't have time between the two shows to change it back. But eventually I had to, because my hair started to fall out.

    John Moore: So you’re saying the reason Pippin had black hair on Broadway is because Peter Parker had black hair in Spider-Man?

    Matthew James Thomas: Yeah.

    John Moore: OK, so I had no intention of talking about your hair this much, but now I am remembering your entrance in the first scene in Pippin. You're saying no one in the cast found out you changed your hair color until you jumped through the hoop in the opening song?

    Matthew James Thomas: It's how all of them found out, yes. Specifically, Patina Miller (The Leading Player) looked at me with very wide eyes because she was in the middle of her line, and she was like,  ‘... Who are you?’ It was great. But I'm a little bit of a trickster. I take any opportunity I get to play a prank on the cast.

    John Moore: So when you left the show, you said your body and your mind needed to recover. But did you also then go through any withdrawal? When the show goes on but without you … that had to be a little weird.

    Matthew James Thomas: Yeah, for sure. You always do. Leaving a company is like leaving a long-term relationship. It’s something maybe you need to do for yourself, but you probably could stay there and be very happy and content for the rest of your life. But you have to keep moving. I left some great friends behind, but in the same sentence, you never really leave them. It is hard to say goodbye to all of that hard work. You leave it for somebody else to take over, and they will take over your track, but the core of your work is being left behind. It is very traumatic. But as actors, we live within a business within a business within a business. Change is continuing, and it is very important for us to grow.

    John Moore: So all you have to do is look at John Rubinstein to see that the original actor who played Pippin is now white-haired and playing your father. I mean, the show is old. Even with the new circus aspect, why should a 40-year-old show like Pippin matter to your friends in 2014?

    Matthew James Thomas: That's an interesting way to put it, actually. What people have to understand is the original Pippin is incredibly different from this version of the show. Of course the people who saw the original version of the show will deeply appreciate this version of the show as well because the fundamental structure that was so impressive and daring and innovative and sharp is still intact. (Director Diane Paulus) has done nothing but clarify everything that needed clarifying with the old production. That said, a lot of my friends aren't involved in musical theatre at all. A lot of my friends will never see me in shows because they are being a ferrier in Buckinghamshire or working as a DJ in London. But when a friend of mine has come and seen they show, they really are entering into it with a fresh mind. I, in my own life, have desperately tried to get rid of my opinion about things – and my generation of friends have become less and less opinionated with me as we have grown up. I spoke to a lovely young chap the other day who had seen the show in Denver. He described himself as a young American who generally thinks of things in terms of, 'I know this,’ or, ‘I like that,’ or, ‘My favorite color is blue.' But he came and saw the show and was like, 'Oh my God, my whole opinion of everything has just shifted because of the profundity of what I just saw. I was wrong. Now I have to re-think everything.’ That’s why I think this show is so clever, because he came out knowing something greater about his deeper self.

    Pippin_Profiles_Matthew_James_Thomas_John_Rubinstein_800-
    John Rubinstein, left, played the first Pippin on Broadway in 1972. He now plays father to Matthew James Thomas' Pippin. Photo by Terry Shapiro.



    John Moore: So what was it like when you first had that moment on stage with John Rubinstein, when Pippin says, 'Time has passed you by, father,' and Charlemagne's line back is, 'And YOUR time has come, my son?' 

    Matthew James Thomas: There’s a very real thing happening on the stage between us that goes beyond the acting and the music and the dancing. That is two actors on stage who have probably experienced a very similar transformative and probably very painful journey with the same production. Because I know any show of this depth and greatness is painful to create. My journey with it from Boston, as fantastic and as brilliant and as wonderful as it ended up being for everybody, was incredibly painful and hard. And I know from all of the wonderful stories John has that it was hard for him, too. There is an unspoken bond there between John and me because we are the only two people who really have created the role from a fresh palate.


    Pippin_Profiles_Matthew_James_Thomas_Quote_3


    John Moore: Can I ask you about Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark?

    Matthew James Thomas: Yeah, sure.

    John Moore: I was writing for The Denver Post at the time, and I got to see it when it was in previews for its re-opening. Meaning after it had been ostensibly fixed. My take was that this was a musical that was like its anti-hero: Caught between two worlds. But it had an energy that was unmatched by any other show on Broadway. The crowd ate it up. The crowd's response was more genuine than anything else I’ve ever seen on Broadway. And if the idea of live theatre is to make a connection with an audience, well, this show did that.

    Matthew James Thomas: I don't know how to say how lucky I feel I am that I got to work with that creative team on Spider-Man. Oftentimes, in interviews, people just want the dirt, and yeah, there's plenty of it. However, Spider-Man was actually tragic. The show itself -- even the original show -- I thought was just so special, because you didn't just have a bunch of brilliant creatives waltzing around pretending they knew everything. Everybody on that creative team wanted to do something impossible. I alternated in the lead role, which meant that I did the show four days a week, and I would watch the rest of the time. So I used to go up to the fly booth and watch down and see the show from there. I would watch how all of these things had to happen for that little 5-year-old's excitement, or that 80-year-old's bewilderment. All those things were invented by a crew of people ... It was God's work, really. I was thinking, 'How the hell did somebody make all of these things work together? Things happen on shows that are trying to test extraordinary boundaries. Spider-Man was certainly trying to do that. That was very, very, hard for all of us. People got injured. But let me tell you: People get injured on every show. And Pippin is far more dangerous than Spider-Man will have ever been.

    John Moore: Pippin does seem far more dangerous. I mean, in Spider-Man, you were tied to cables. There are no cables, no nets, no safety hooks in Pippin.

    Matthew James Thomas: Yeah, and you know what? I like wire. I like an 8,000-pound tension wire between me and the 30 feet to the floor. As much as I would happily jump out of a plane -- and intend to, at some point in my life -- I like having a parachute. I trusted those people on that team more than I have ever trusted anyone, and boy, did they care about our safety. The more people who are involved, the more the politics just go askew and everybody scrambles like a dog to try and fix it, and they are never going to, and it’s just a tragic situation when it starts to happen that way because once the ball goes in that direction, you know it’s lost. People said things they shouldn't have said. So the show fell apart.

    John Moore: So can you see yourself playing Charlemagne in 40 years?

    Matthew James Thomas: Oh, sure. Of course. I hope so, anyway. I always, always want to be that guy with the white beard and the wisdom behind his eyes.

    John Moore: Well, you’re 26. You've got a ways to go there.

    Matthew James Thomas: That's true. I can't even really grow a beard yet. So we'll see.

    John Moore: Do we know how long you will be with this national touring production?

    Matthew James Thomas: It's been confirmed that I will be going through to San Francisco next. Then it’s on to Los Angeles, but that hasn’t been decided.
     

    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.

    'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:  


    Pippin
    : Ticket information

    Sep 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
    Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
    Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
    Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
    Online • www.DenverCenter.Org

    Our previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

    Photos, video: Opening-night festivities in Denver
    Video: 5 questions for Composer Stephen Schwartz

    9News anchor Cheryl Preheim has a walk-on cameo on Sept. 16
    Video: Audience testimonials reacting to seeing the show
    Video series: The 'Pippin' Personalities: Five questions with creatives
    'Pippin' meets Denver: Media Day photos
    Broadway's Matthew James Thomas to play Pippin in Denver
    Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive

    Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

    My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
    Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
    Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

    From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
    2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

  • The 'Pippin' Profiles: Callan Bergmann on juggling knives ... and driving a stick

    by John Moore | Sep 18, 2014
    “I dance, I sing, I tumble, and I smile a lot. Currently touring the country with 'Pippin the Musical.' Living the dream!”

    Pippin_Callan_Bergmann_400
    That’s how Callan Bergmann describes himself on his Instagram profile ... and truer words were never spoken. 

    Bergmann is playing Lewis, the boy who would be king -- if only his nasty mother, Fastrada, had her way. But half-brother prince Pippin stands in both their ways, so the dim-witted soldier is pretty much relegated to daddy’s battles and mama’s knee.

    And Bergmann couldn’t be having more fun. When Director Diane Paulus and Circus Creator Gypsy Snider decided to tell the story of Pippin in the context of a traveling circus, they pretty much turned Lewis into a part that Bergmann was born to play.

    “I was in a gymnastics class when I was 4 years old, and my teacher told me then, 'You should be stretching every day; every chance that you get,’ ” Bergmann said from Denver, where the new revival of the 2013 Tony-winning best musical launched its national tour last week. 

    “She told me to stretch whenever I was watching TV at night. Instead of sitting on the couch, she told me to sit on the floor and stretch and do my straddles and my splits. So that's what I did.”

    Bergmann, whose credits include Cinderella on Broadway and Smash on TV, grew up in the Buffalo (N.Y.) area and attended Point Park University in Pittsburgh. He spoke with Denver CenterStage two days after Pippin had its opening night in Denver.

    Pippin_Callan_Bergmann_Quote_1


    John Moore: So I imagine you must be pretty beat right now.

    Callan Bergmann: Yes. It was a long tech process, as they always are. But now that that’s all over, it's nice to be able to breathe a little bit. But what am I saying? We start understudy rehearsals today. So no rest ... yet.

    John Moore: When you get through that - then what are you going to do with all of your free time?

    Callan Bergmann: I have toured before, and what I like to do in each city is get out and do something that’s related to the city I'm in. On our last day off, I went out to Red Rocks Amphitheatre and went hiking. That was awesome. I am hoping to make it to a few of the museums here in Denver. I like to take tours of state capitols.

    John Moore: What did you think of Red Rocks?

    Callan Bergmann: Oh, it was breathtaking. Beautiful. It was fun to get out there and just take in all that fresh air.

    John Moore: So you came to Pippin directly from performing on Broadway in Cinderella. But many of your Pippin castmates had direct experience with the Broadway production. So what was it like for you to step into this incredible new world completely fresh?

    Callan Bergmann: All the Broadway people really helped us jump into that world faster. We only had four or five weeks to learn the show, and so having those people there, like John Rubinstein and Sabrina Harper, was great. They just took everyone under their wings and helped us to really dive into the material faster.

    John Moore: What appealed to you most about going after this opportunity in Pippin?

    Callan Bergmann: I saw Pippin on Broadway when it was in previews, and I loved it. I thought it was so amazing. What really appealed to me was the circus aspect of the show. I grew up as a gymnast, so I like to flip around and do all that fun stuff. I have always had this dream of running away and joining the circus. So when I was cast in Pippin, I was so excited. I said, 'I want to learn every circus skill in the show.’ That’s my goal. The creative team has been so wonderful because they have kind of catered the part around me, and have even changed it a little bit so that I get to show off some of what I do. I get to dance. I get to tumble. I get to sing. I get to act. It’s the best of every world.

    John Moore: So what all have you learned so far? Are you juggling knives?

    Callan Bergmann: No, but I do tumble through knives being juggled.

    John Moore: I think that is even more impressive.

    Callan Bergmann: One day in rehearsal, Gypsy (Snider) grabbed me and said, 'We are going to add you into this part. You are going to be tumbling through the knives that are being juggled.' I just stopped and was like, 'Um, Gypsy? I know I said that I wanted to tumble in the show … but I didn't say I want to tumble through knives!'

    John Moore: And what was her response?

    Callan Bergmann: She said, 'Oh, it will be fine, it will be fine. We're going to practice.'

    John Moore: Well, I should hope so.

    Callan Bergmann: She's so great, and she is so safe. You go step by step. You start by running through the knives, and you learn what to look for. And then you start doing a cartwheel through the knives. And then you start doing your whole tumble pass-through. So that was fun. I also play on the Chinese poles a little bit. I jump onto one from what we call ‘the chute.’ Honestly, from the audience, it doesn't look very scary. But when you're up there, and there is a gap between you and this pole? It’s a little bit scary.

    John Moore: That gap is real.

    Callan Bergmann: That gap is real.

    Pippin_Callan_Bergmann_800
    That's Callan Bergmann as Lewis, far right. Photo by Terry Shapiro.


    John Moore: That must be fun just messing around backstage with all those circus professionals.

    Callan Bergmann: Oh, yeah. I've already started working with some of the acrobats on hand-balancing. Nothing major. It really just starts with practicing handstands. You have to start by getting so good at doing handstands on the hard ground. But they can literally hold a handstand for 10 minutes. There is a technique to it, and they have been helping me out with that. They are so nice.

    John Moore: I noticed that on your resume, you list your special skills as 'basic contortion, stunt doubling ... and driving a stick shift.' I wonder: Which of those three should we be most impressed with?

    Callan Bergmann: That's funny. Driving a stick shift is definitely a dying skill.

    John Moore: I'm surprised Gypsy didn't work that into the show.

    Callan Bergmann: Me, too.

    John Moore: So let's talk about contortion.

    Callan Bergmann: I think I'm just more flexible than the average person. But I'm not as crazy as some of the people in our show, though.

    John Moore: Before you saw the Broadway performance of Pippin, had you ever been involved with a previous production of Pippin?


    Callan Bergmann: No, I had not. But I saw Pippin at a local school when I was in high school.

    John Moore: What did you think of it then?

    Callan Bergmann: It was actually a very good production, and I loved the show. The part of Pippin has been on my radar ever since. Just getting the chance to play Lewis and understudy Pippin now is so exciting for me.  

    John Moore: But Pippin is now a 42-year-old musical. Why you think it feels  contemporary for your generation of friends who might be seeing it for the first time in 2014?

    Callan Bergmann: What I like about this show is that it's really simple when you think about it. Yes, there is all this stuff going on, like all those great acrobatics. But really this show follows Pippin on his journey to find himself. It comes down this: All of our lives are extraordinary, even doing everyday, normal things like falling in love and choosing to lead a small-town life. I think that's good for people to know. Be content with the life you choose. The journey that you are on is where you are meant to be.

    John Moore: So do you find that the show resonates with your friends who are seeing it for the first time?

    Callan Bergmann: It does, and I think that shows how timeless the piece is. Life now is really just the same as it was back in 1972, and just as it was hundreds of years ago. We’ve just added some modern technology.

    John Moore: That modern technology here is really just human skill and physical prowess.

    Callan Bergmann: But what I love is that the acrobats are not just up there doing circus acts. They are acting and performing just like the rest of us.

    Pippin_Callan_Bergmann_Quote_2


    John Moore: So after all this time learning the show; building trust with your castmates; refining your timing and precision, what was it like for you to be up on that Buell Theatre stage for your opening-night curtain call knowing that that you all had just pretty much nailed it?

    Callan Bergmann: Oh it was thrilling. The energy was so exciting. We have spent the past six weeks finessing things and getting it ready -- but it‘s not over. This really is a never-ending process, because we have to keep up with safety and with all of these skills. This show is not something that you can just settle into, ever.

    John Moore: So you are going to have audiences come who have a deep and abiding affection for Pippin going back to the beginning. But I suspect most people who come -- especially young people -- will be seeing it for the first time. How do describe to them what kind of theatre experience they are in for?

    Callan Bergmann: It’s a theatre experience like they have never had before. Maybe they have seen a Cirque du Soleil show, or maybe they have seen a Broadway show.  But this combines everything. And that's why I think it’s so memorable.

    John Moore: Well, you said you wanted to run off with the circus, and you pretty much have. Because you are going to blink and you will be folding up the tent in Denver and you will be off to another city.

    Callan Bergmann: It's true. I am living my dream.

    'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:  


    Pippin
    : Ticket information

    Sep 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
    Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
    Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
    Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
    Online • www.DenverCenter.Org

    Our previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

    Photos, video: Opening-night festivities in Denver
    Video: 5 questions for Composer Stephen Schwartz

    9News anchor Cheryl Preheim has a walk-on cameo on Sept. 16
    Video: Audience testimonials reacting to seeing the show
    Video series: The 'Pippin' Personalities: Five questions with creatives
    'Pippin' meets Denver: Media Day photos
    Broadway's Matthew James Thomas to play Pippin in Denver
    Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive

    Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

    My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
    Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
    Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

    From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
    2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

  • Video and photos: Opening Night 'Pippin' festivities in Denver

    by John Moore | Sep 13, 2014


    Denver hosted the launch of the national touring production of Pippin the Musical on Sept. 10, 2014, at the Buell Theatre. It marked the 11th national tour launch by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' Broadway division.

    The video above includes video and photo highlights from the celebration that followed the opening performance in the Seawell Grand Ballroom.

    Pippin, which won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival, features choreography in the style of Bob Fosse and breathtaking acrobatics. The "Pippin" tour runs in Denver through Sept. 20. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore, David Lenk and Emily Lozow.

    To go to our full gallery of free, downloadable photos from the evening, click here.

    This video features a montage of scenes from the national touring production that just launched in Denver.


    Pippin
    : Ticket information

    Sep 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
    Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
    Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
    Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
    Online • www.DenverCenter.Org


    'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:
     


    Our previous Pippin coverage on Denver CenterStage:

    Video: 5 questions for Composer Stephen Schwartz

    9News anchor Cheryl Preheim has a walk-on cameo on Sept. 16
    Video: Audience testimonials reacting to seeing the show
    Video series: The 'Pippin' Personalities: Five questions with creatives
    'Pippin' meets Denver: Media Day photos
    Broadway's Matthew James Thomas to play Pippin in Denver
    Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive

    Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

    My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
    Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
    Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

    From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
    2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

    Pippin_Opening_Night_800

    Photo by John Moore. To go to our full gallery of free, downloadable photos from the evening, click here.
  • Video: The 'Pippin' Personalities: 5 Questions with Stephen Schwartz

    by John Moore | Sep 12, 2014


    Last week, we launched "The Pippin Personalities," a fun video series where we posed several personality questions to the cast and creative team behind the national touring production of Pippin The Musical, which launched in Denver on Sept. 6, 2014.

    But then on Sunday, composer Stephen Schwartz flew to Denver for one day to check in and work with the cast in advance of the official opening tomorrow night (Sept. 10). We had to take the opportunity to pose the same questions to him.

    Our favorite piece of advice from the composer of Pippin, Wicked, Godspell and more: "Follow you bliss ... but not to the point where it kills you." 

    Here is a link to our in-depth, written interview with Stephen Schwartz

     
    The ‘Pippin’ Personalities video series:
    Video 1: What makes YOU extraordinary?
    Video 2: If you could run off with the circus …
    Video 3: What was the first big show you saw?
    Video 4: What has ‘Pippin’ taught you about yourself?
    Video 5: First impressions of Denver
    Video 6: Stephen Schwartz takes the quiz

    Our guests include Director Diane Paulus, Sasha Allen (Leading Player), Matthew James Thomas (Pippin), John Rubinstein (Charles), Lucie Arnaz (Berthe), Circus Creator Gypsy Snider and Choreographer Chet Walker. 

    Videos by John Moore and David Lenk for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

    Pippin
    : Ticket information
    Sept 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
    Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
    Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
    Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
    Online • www.DenverCenter.Org

    'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:
     


    Our previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

    Video series: The 'Pippin' Personalities: Five questions with creatives
    'Pippin' meets Denver: Media Day photos

    Broadway's Matthew James Thomas to play Pippin in Denver
    Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive

    Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

    My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
    Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
    Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

    From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
    2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

  • Testimonials: Audiences react to 'Pippin' launch in Denver

    by John Moore | Sep 11, 2014


    The national touring production of 'Pippin' launched in Denver this week. Here is a video roundup of what some of the opening-night audiences thought of the first performance of the Stephen Schwartz-Bob Fosse classic outside of New York since Director Diane Paulus, Choreographer Chet Walker and Circus Creator Gypsy Snider re-imagined the story of the Prince's search for meaning as taking place under the Big Top. Some of the adjectives invoked: Breathtaking, phenomenal, colorful, spectacular and fantastical. Video by David Lenk for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.


    Pippin: Ticket information

    Sep 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
    Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
    Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
    Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
    Online • www.DenverCenter.Org

    Pippin_Testimonials_800


    'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:
     


    Our previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

    Video series: The 'Pippin' Personalities: Five questions with creatives
    'Pippin' meets Denver: Media Day photos

    Broadway's Matthew James Thomas to play Pippin in Denver
    Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive

    Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

    My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
    Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
    Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

    From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
    2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

  • The 'Pippin' Profiles: Kristine Reese on keeping up with the Jones

    by John Moore | Sep 10, 2014

    Pippin_Kristine_Reese_5

    For many audience members, Catherine (played by Kristine Reese), walks away with the show, even though she doesn’t even show up in the story until the second act. Photo by Terry Shapiro. Photo below by Peter Hurley Photography.



    Pippin_Kristine_Reese_4Kristine Reese went to see the Broadway revival of Pippin and, like pretty much everyone else in the audience …  she fell in love with Rachel Bay Jones.

    Jones was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as Catherine, the quirky widowed mother   who awaits young prince Pippin at the end of his quest to find meaning in his life like a curvaceous, open-armed human grail. 

    She was, by composer Stephen Schwartz’s assessment, nothing short of “amazing,” “heartbreaking” and “transformative.”

    Boy. And you thought Sasha Allen had a tough task trying to follow in the magic footsteps of Ben Vereen in the role of the Leading Player.

    Reese has been cast to play Catherine in the national touring production of Pippin now launching in Denver. She is doing her best to keep up with the Jones … by not trying to keep up with the Jones.

    “Obviously, what Rachel has done with the role is really amazing, and I think she has made it really special,” said Reese. “But whenever you take on a role (that you didn’t originate), you have to be true to who you are. I want to honor what Rachel did, but I also want to be me.”

    Reese must be doing something right. Schwartz’s first impression of Reese: “I have to tell you that we have found a really wonderful young woman to play Catherine on the tour who brings a lot of the same qualities that Rachel brought to the role," Schwartz  said. "I am really enthusiastic about our new Catherine.”

    How great is it to hear that?

    “That makes me want to actually cry with happiness,” Reese said. “That means so much to me. All I've ever wanted is for Stephen and (Director) Diane Paulus and everyone involved with the show to be enthusiastic about what I bring to the role. To have him say that is really amazing, so, thank you. You made my day.”

    Reese hails from the Midwest and graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. She’s played Nessarose on the national touring production of Wicked and Sophie in Mamma Mia.

    Pippin_Kristine_Reese_1


    Here are excerpts from our conversation with Reese, who plays a character many audiences think walks away with the show, even though she doesn’t even show up in the story until the second act:

    John Moore: So I have seen Pippin many times and in many shapes and sizes …  and I have to say, I think Catherine is almost always my favorite character.

    Kristine Reese: Yeah, a lot of people say that, actually. A lot of people.

    John Moore: How do you see this woman’s place in the story?

    Kristine Reese: She is genuine and she is pure and she is natural. And yes, she’s got a quirk to her -- especially in this production -- and I think I do as a person, too. When you play Catherine, I think you have to find that quirk inside you, because that's part of why Pippin falls in love with her. And I think that is actually the essence of who Catherine is. Even though she says in her song, ‘I'm just a plain, ordinary girl …’ she’s actually not. I think that's the point of all that silliness for the actor (who gets to plays her). She’s so special and so different, and she's not coloring in the lines like almost every other character in the play.

    John Moore: I know we can't tell people specifically about the new ending in this version of Pippin, but your character is certainly a key part in it. I think if you’ve ever seen the original Pippin, it's possible to misconstrue what the writers are actually trying to say about Pippin's ultimate choice -- in my opinion. I talked to Diane and (Circus Creator) Gypsy Snider about this, and part of their point, as mothers themselves, is to say that society needs to look again at how we perceive a young man who, after a life of pure adventure, sees marriage and fatherhood as an extraordinary life choice. … Which actually doesn't even give anything away about the new ending, I am happy to say! What's your take?

    Kristine Reese: I think that's a great way of saying it. I got married a couple of years ago, and I wasn't all that young when I did. But people would say to me, 'Why are you settling down?' No. I don't see it that way. When you live in New York and you work as a performer, some people see marriage as being tied down or restricting you -- and I  think it's the opposite. When I saw Pippin the first time, I think that's why the Catherine character resonated with me. It’s because of the connection she has with Pippin, and because of the choice he makes. I can relate so much of that to my real life, and how much my relationship means to me. I don't have children yet, but when I do, I would imagine the same thing for myself. That's the life I want.

    John Moore: What I like about the new ending is that it really takes the focus off of our looking at Pippin's choice as the ultimate point of the show and shifts it ... shall we say ... onto something different for us to chew on.

    Kristine Reese: Absolutely.

    John Moore: But I think it makes sense to acknowledge how family has changed as in institution in this country over past 40 years. When you look at all of our social problems, there is something kind of odd about a man who chooses family being seen as a bold choice.

    Kristine Reese: It is very interesting. You wouldn't think that would be a controversial thing still. But it is.


    kristineQ2Pippin_Kristine_Reese_2


    John Moore: OK, so here is your really hard-hitting, important question: What do you do for the whole first act while waiting for Catherine to enter the story?

    Kristine Reese: Actually, I am a Player in the circus troupe, and not actually Catherine. So in the first act, I am playing a silent clown. And in the second act, my job is to play Catherine in the story of Pippin that we are putting on for the audience. You may not really notice me in the first act, or know, 'Oh, she’s going to be Catherine' -- but I think that's the point.

    John Moore: We think of Pippin as this quintessential coming-of-age story about a boy becoming a man. But I see so much female empowerment going on with this production. What it's like for you to be in the room with all of these strong women?

    Kristine Reese: I am so glad that you asked me that, because that is really important to me. Like you said, Diane is a mom, and Gypsy is a mom, and Nadia DiGiallonardo, who is our music supervisor, is a mom, as are many others. I am not a mother myself, but I think that is a really special thing to have around you. I remember when Diane won the Tony Award (for best direction), and how much that meant to me as a female watching. Here was this woman up there who has this great career, but she also has children and a family. That means so much to me. And it means so much to her. I have really wanted to work with her. Not to take away from (Choreographer Chet Walker) or anyone else on the team, but I think there is something about being able to speak with a woman director about motherhood and love and family, and what those things mean. Not to say that if I had a male director the show would not be good, but I think the connection that women share is special, and I am so honored to be working with these respectful, strong women who have children and have love in their lives. They understand what my relationship means to me, and how I can use that as an actor.

    Pippin_Kristine_Reese_8


    John Moore: Many who see Pippin in Denver will be seeing it for the first time. And for those who have seen it before, it will in many ways be new for them as well. Help me to articulate what kind of a theatrical experience they are in for.

    Kristine Reese: The story is told through the circus lens, and you haven't really seen a lot of Broadway shows that have that aspect to it. I think what makes it so magical is the excitement that the circus element brings to it, contrasted with these really intimate, grounded, emotional scenes. For all the spectacular, dangerous things these performers do in these beautiful, sparkling costumes, you also have these almost naked acting moments. This show has everything. And that's why I fell in love with it when I first saw it. It was so special when they sang Simple Joys and they started jumping through hoops. But then to see this beautiful connection between these two actors playing Pippin and Catherine, I thought, 'That's really what this play is about.' I think people can take both of those things away from it. 


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


    'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:
     


    Pippin
    : Ticket information

    Sep 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
    Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
    Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
    Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
    Online • www.DenverCenter.Org

    Our previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

    Video series: The 'Pippin' Personalities: Five questions with creatives
    'Pippin' meets Denver: Media Day photos

    Broadway's Matthew James Thomas to play Pippin in Denver
    Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive

    Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

    My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
    Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
    Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

    From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
    2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

  • The 'Pippin' Profiles: Sabrina Harper on the joy of being conniving, clever and sexy

    by John Moore | Sep 08, 2014

    Pippin_Sabrina_Harper_1But Sabrina Harper seems like such a nice person.

    Yet there she is playing nasty Fastrada in the national touring production of Pippin the Musical. She’s the Queen, the conniving and manipulative wife to King Charlemagne. In other words: Pretty much the only person under the Big Top who wants to see poor Prince Pippin perish.

    “She is quite the clever one,” Harper says with a laugh. “She is the one where it all begins.” 

    From the musical's opening song, Magic to Do, “Fastrada is catapulting Pippin on his journey,” said Harper. “It’s a wonderful role because I get to be manipulative, conniving clever and sexy. I can’t see her as the evil stepmother. She just has a little bit of a … darker side.

    “But I am a very nice person,” I swear.

    To be fair, Harper doesn’t actually play Fastrada. She plays one member of a troupe of circus performers who tell the audience the story of Pippin -- meaning she's an actor who plays an actor who plays Fastrada. 

    Harper, born in Laguna Beach, Calif., is a triple threat: Classical ballet dancer, soprano and actor. And thanks to Pippin, you can add knife-juggler. “I have enjoyed picking up some new circus skills here and there,” she said. “I'm always looking to fill up my bag of goodies."

    Pippin_Sabrina_Harper_5

    Harper, granddaughter of noted California architect Tom Harper, trained with the Stuttgart Ballet in Germany. She performed with the Vienna Volksoper before being cast as Meg in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera at the Neue Flora Theater in Hamburg, followed by other musicals in Berlin, Austria and Switzerland. She played Peggy Sawyer in the first German production of the new 42nd Street in Stuttgart, and Ulla in the first German production of Mel Brooks’ The Producers. She also took on foxy Roxie Hart in the Swiss Broadway production of Chicago (like Pippin, originally choreographed by Bob Fosse). And she played Cassie in the Austrian version of A Chorus Line. Harper made her Broadway debut last year covering six roles in the Tony Award-winning revival of Pippin, and was cast as the first Fastrada in the national touring production that launched in Denver on Friday (Sept. 6) and plays through Sept. 20.

    Here are excerpts from our exclusive conversation with Sabrina Harper:
    (Note: Pippin production photos by Terry Shapiro) 

    Pippin_Sabrina_Harper_2John Moore: So where are you at in the process?

    Sabrina Harper: We're on a good track and heading in the right direction. It’s really exciting. We're training daily and I just feel really, fully involved right now. Full speed ahead.

    John Moore: I know you are a professional dancer, but I imagine this show has you in the best shape of your life.

    Sabrina Harper: That is true. It is very physically demanding for the whole team, especially when you consider the dancing and the aerial work and the acrobatics all together. We are all physically fit, but you still have to constantly continue to work. Like with any sport, you have to continue to push yourself to try new things, because when you are just doing the same thing over and over, it becomes a repetition, and your muscles just get used to it. So we continue to try new things and to advance ourselves.

    John Moore: So how do you go from dancing in a musical like A Chorus Line to something like this that's more high-flying? 

    Sabrina Harper: I would compare the role I play in Pippin to the Cassie dance in A Chorus Line. I have my one spectacular dance, and it has some magical illusion tricks to it. That’s full-force, beautiful choreography by Chet Walker in the style of (the late ) Bob Fosse. I also understudy the Leading Player and also the role of Berthe, so I am right there training on the trapeze, either alone or with a partner. It’s really quite exciting. In my spare time, I have taken to learning how to do some aerials, too -- but that's just for my own fancy.

    John Moore: I was talking with Lucie Arnaz (Berthe) about how you are all literally flying without a net. And I’ve heard people say, ‘Well, maybe there’s not a net, but surely something is in place to protect these people from falling. They aren’t really doing death-defying acts on the stage every night.’ But they really are, aren't they?

    Sabrina Harper: They really are performing death-defying acts on that stage every night. Pippin is the extraordinary character who is searching for spectacular moments in his life. And we are a company of extraordinary performers. I can promise you: We do not have a net. We do not have any security hooks on us.

    John Moore: Then how do you keep it safe?

    Sabrina Harper: If you are aware of your surroundings, you will be safe. We have an amazing team working with us, and everyone is trained to just be very, very aware. You can see them all around, especially when Lucie is doing her trapeze act. They all are there, and they are just like cats watching her. If at any moment something were to happen, they are trained to jump up and be there and protect her. These are highly skilled circus performers. Some of them have worked for Cirque du Soleil, and some come fresh out of the circus school in Montreal. When we first started rehearsals, we would do improv exercises designed for us to become aware of one another and our surroundings. We have been growing as a family and becoming a troupe. We've also been taught juggling with knives, and we have fire, and there are a lot of other dangerous elements. So you have to be focused. And if you are, then nothing bad will happen. Knock on wood: Nothing has happened.

    John Moore: Still, I have to wonder: How does the union ever let this happen?

    Sabrina Harper: Oh, I hear you. When I was working in Europe, I did a show where all I had to do was come down on a trapeze from the top of the proscenium. But even just from there, I had to have a harness. They would never believe what we get away with on Pippin. But we are so well-trained. Gypsy Snider, our circus choreographer, has been a wonderful partner on our team. She has been helping to get us ready. If we're ever not ready, then the tricks will not be done. Period.

    Pippin_Sabrina_Harper_3

    John Moore: So you’ve done some hard-core Fosse in your time. What’s the difference between doing actual hard-core Fosse -- and dancing ‘in the style of Fosse’?  


    Sabrina Harper: I have to say Bob Fosse was an amazing dancer. But if the general public knows ‘the Fosse style,’ they think of jazz hands; or the turned-in, pigeon-toed feet; or certain inverted hip movements. But he had so many other movements and choreographic elements. Long lines. Beautiful legs. Just very sexy; very sensual. You can watch YouTube videos of him dancing, and he will just turn and jump, and he just blows you away with his ability as a dancer. Now we have Chet Walker. And because Chet worked with Fosse, I want to say it’s really not that different. I love that there are numbers in the show and we are doing exactly the same choreography Bob Fosse did in the original in 1972. But I also love that Chet was able to incorporate his own choreography and add essential elements, too. He has created beautiful lines and beautiful movements that are fun and enjoyable to execute. The movements tell their own stories. They show strength, or they show passion. It’s storytelling with your body.

    John Moore: Chances are, most of the people who see Pippin in Denver have not had the opportunity to see this new incarnation in New York. If they have seen it, most likely they will have seen school or community theatre productions. They really have no idea what they are in for, do they?

    Pippin_Sabrina_Harper_4Sabrina Harper: They are in for a whole new theatre experience. This production is really extraordinary in all categories. We are the first to really to morph circus with dance, music and theatre, and pack it all into one amazing story. And it's just so honest and heartwarming. I hope that we will be able to touch all of you in Denver the way we have been able to touch the audiences who have come to see us in New York. It’s a just a wonderful, colorful theatre experience for all ages. I think you are going to enjoy it, and I think you are going to leave the theatre humming a song, and I think you are going to go home and think about your life. Pippin asks you to think about your journey: What is important to you in life? Finding that one moment … or finding true and lasting love? I think we are all faced with finding our own corner of the sky every day that we go through life. And that is what we are going to bring to Denver.

    John Moore: So … this is happening.


    Sabrina Harper: It is, and I am super excited. I have never been to Denver before, and I'm really looking forward to this experience. I have some friends in the Denver community from high school, so I'm looking forward to seeing them all.

    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.

    'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:
     


    Pippin
    : Ticket information

    Sep 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
    Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
    Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
    Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
    Online • www.DenverCenter.Org

    Our previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

    Video series: The 'Pippin' Personalities: Five questions with creatives
    'Pippin' meets Denver: Media Day photos

    Broadway's Matthew James Thomas to play Pippin in Denver
    Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive

    Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

    My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
    Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
    Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

    From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
    2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

  • Costume Designer Paul Tazewell on Molly Brown's fashion sense

    by John Moore | Sep 08, 2014

    Molly_Brown_Paul Tazewell_800

    Acclaimed Costume Designer Paul Tazewell shows off one of his 14 distinct looks for Molly Brown in the Denver Center's premiere staging of the new The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Photo by John Moore.


    By John Moore

    Award-winning costume designer Paul Tazewell sees a little bit of Molly Brown in Kim Kardashian.

    Wait, what?

    Well, when you think about it  … Brown was a blue-collar Missouri factory worker by age 13 who rose to international celebrity after a sensational ocean disaster. Kardashian achieved notoriety only after a sensational sex tape. Both nouveau personalities then struggled to fit in within the day’s fashion standards.

    But no matter how hard they tried, they never got it quite right.

    “It was lovely what Kim had on at the (2013) Emmys,” Tazewell said. “She was trying, but it was a little too tight and a little bright. She turned up the volume a little bit, and she didn’t get it quite right for what was appropriate for the event.”

    Welcome to Molly Brown’s world.
    Molly_Brown_Paul_Tazewell_Collage2

    At first, Brown made her own dresses, Tazewell said. And some of her choices were questionable at a time when taste left no room for individuality.

    “There were many more rules that were applied within society then,” Tazewell said. "Since Molly Brown’s time, we have become a very casual fashion community. Our modern fashion style has a lot of casual elements, like jeans and sneakers. You would never think of wearing flip-flops to a wedding back then. So I think how we see fashion is much different thing than the rigors of what it took then to put yourself together. That required staff and all kinds of underwear,”

    In designing the Denver Center’s new look at The Unsinkable Molly Brown, the five-time Tony Award-nominee’s goal was to communicate Brown’s relationship to any given community -- from Leadville to Paris -- through her sometimes ostentatious fashion choices.

    “The other women’s clothes will always set the appropriate year and tone,” Tazewell said. “And when Molly comes into it, you’ll be able to see what she didn’t get right. The strength of her color choices will pull her out of the more staid fashion sense of the Denver community. So we are using a lot of strong jewel tones like red and emerald green. We use a coral color and an aqua teal tone for her as well.” 

    The fun will be showing Molly’s evolution through her clothing choices. "Over time, she does need to mature in her fashion sense," Tazewell said. "So within her idea of what tasteful is, she becomes more tasteful.”  

    Tazewell has more than 14 years of experience designing for theatre, dance and opera, both in the United States and internationally. He said his biggest challenge in designing Molly Brown was making the costumes feel accurate to the story, while staying true to the Broadway musical genre.

    “The color and scale is part of it, but it’s also about making choices that feel emotionally true to the characters and the story they are telling," Tazewell said. "That's how I approach all my pieces. As a costume designer, at the end of the day, it needs to be true for the character."

    Unfortunately for some of the women in the Molly Brown cast, the story’s period will require many hourglass corsets, petticoats, layers, boots “and all kinds of underwear,” Tazewell said. “But we are going to use elastic insets in the corset so that the actors don't pass out.”


    Molly_Brown_Paul Tazewell_Collage


    Sidebar: Debbie Reynolds' Molly Brown dress is
    Denver-bound

    Molly_Brown_Debbie_Reynolds_Dress As part of the festivities in Denver, the DCPA has arranged for one of Debbie Reynolds' famous dresses from the 1964 film adaptation of The Unsinkable Molly Brown to be brought to Denver. It will showcased in the lobby of The Stage Theatre throughout the run of the show. The featured dress is shown at right.






    Paul Tazewell/At a glance

    Education:
    Graduate of North Carolina School of the Arts and NYU ‘s Tisch School of the Arts. 

    Selected credits:
    Broadway: Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk (Tony Nomination), On the Town, Def Poetry Jam, Elaine Strich at Liberty, Fascinating Rhythm.
    Off-Broadway: Flesh and Blood, Harlem Song, Dina Was, City Center Encores! Li’l Abner, Once Around the City, Before It Hits Home, Playboy of the West Indies (Lincoln Center Theatre). Joseph Papp Public Theatre: Boston Marriage, One Flea Spare, Henry V, Venus, Blade to the Heat.

    Award and honors include:
    Lucille Lortel Award for On the Town, two Helen Hayes Awards for Outstanding Costume Design (The African Company Presents Richard III and Peer Gynt), a Michael Merritt Award, and the AUDELCO Award for Harlem Song. The TDF Irene Sharaff Young Master Award and a Princess Grace Fellowship.

    The Unsinkable Molly Brown: Ticket information
    Performances begin Sept. 12
    Stage Theatre
    Runs through Oct. 26.
    303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org


    Previous Molly Brown coverage on  MyDenverCenter.Org

     

  • Video: The 'Pippin' Personalities: Five questions with cast and creatives in Denver

    by John Moore | Sep 06, 2014


    In this fun video series, we will pose several personality questions to the cast and creative team behind the national touring production of Pippin The Musical, launching in Denver this very night: Sept. 6, 2014.

    The ‘Pippin’ Personalities video series:
    Video 1: What makes YOU extraordinary?
    Video 2: If you could run off with the circus …
    Video 3: What was the first big show you saw?
    Video 4: What has ‘Pippin’ taught you about yourself?
    Video 5: First impressions of Denver

    Our guests include Director Diane Paulus, Sasha Allen (Leading Player), Matthew James Thomas (Pippin), John Rubinstein (Charles), Lucie Arnaz (Berthe), Circus Creator Gypsy Snider and Choreographer Chet Walker. 

    Videos by John Moore and David Lenk for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.


    Video 2: If you could run off with the circus …




    Video 3: What was the first big show you ever saw? 




    Video 4: What has ‘Pippin’ taught you about yourself?


    ​ 


    Video 5: The ‘Pippin’ Personalities: First impressions of Denver





    Pippin
    : Ticket information

    Sept 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
    Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
    Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
    Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
    Online • www.DenverCenter.Org

    'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:
     


    Our previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

    'Pippin' meets Denver: Media Day photos
    Broadway's Matthew James Thomas to play Pippin in Denver
    Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive

    Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

    My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
    Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
    Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

    From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
    2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

  • Interview: Cyndi Lauper on 'Kinky Boots' ... and how to save Broadway

    by John Moore | Sep 05, 2014

     Kinky_Boots_Cyndi_Lauper_650
    Cyndi Lauper made history in 2013 as the first woman to win the Tony Award for best score without a writing partner. Photo courtesy Cyndi Lauper.



    You don’t need big, technicolor hair, fishnets and fingerless gloves to know that, even at age 61, Cyndi Lauper just wants to have fun.

    Now the woman who puts the “sex” in “sexagenarian” wants audiences to have fun at the live theatre.

    Lauper wrote the music for the 2013 Tony Award-winning best musical, Kinky Boots, which plays Oct. 29 through Nov. 9 at the Buell Theatre. In this era of safe Broadway musicals largely based on popular existing titles, Lauper has a pretty good idea why this exhilarating, underdog story written by Harvey Fierstein broke through.

    “It’s because the show has a huge heart,” Lauper said in an exclusive interview with Denver CenterStage. Like small independent films The Full Monty and Priscilla Queen of the Desert before it, Broadway has welcomed Kinky Boots with big, accepting arms lined with spikes, sparkles and gummy bracelets.

    Why?

    “It’s a story about love and acceptance and friendship and overcoming obstacles,” Lauper said, “and everyone can relate to that.”

    Kinky Boots is the story of a young man named Charlie who inherits his father’s shoe factory in the north of England. But no one is buying the shoes he’s selling. Enter Lola, a fabulous entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos, who convinces Charlie to start making boots for transvestites. Together, of course, they save the factory.  

    Cyndi_Lauper_Kinky_Boots_Quote_1

    Lauper has sold more than 80 million records worldwide, charted 16 hit singles and conquered the disparate worlds of pop, blues and Broadway.

    As the queen of Queens herself might say … “Oh my gwwaaaaaaaad!”

    But live theatre historically struggles to attract young audiences – especially those whose idea of a night at the theatre in Denver means the Bluebird or Ogden theatres – homes to live music concerts. Lauper is proud that Kinky Boots, based on a little-known 2005 British film, has bucked that trend.

    “I tried really hard to write songs that could also live outside of the theater,” Lauper said. “Before radio, Broadway music was Top 40 popular music. People bought sheet music and played the music at home with their families. I really tried hard to honor that tradition with Kinky Boots by writing songs that people would want to listen to at home after leaving the theater, or without even seeing the show.”

    Lauper thinks it is essential for new musicals to capture the hearts of young adult theatregoers.

    “If young people don't discover Broadway, then Broadway will die with this generation, and that would be a tragedy,” Lauper said. “So it’s important that Broadway musicals and plays are written to live in the modern world.”

    Crossover artists like Lauper might be the key to making that happen. Not only is she working on a new musical for the stage, “I am thrilled to see two of my favorites, David Byrne and Carole King, with shows on Broadway,” she said. “I would love to see Cher, Price and Joni Mitchell with shows on Broadway, too."

    Cyndi_Lauper_Kinky_Boots_Quote_2

    Last year, Lauper celebrated the 30th anniversary of her breakout album, She’s So Unusual. While that album charted five top-10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 (Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Time After Time, She Bop and All Through the Night), it was her next record that produced perhaps her lasting legacy: True Colors.

    “When I recorded that song, a very good friend of mine was dying from AIDS,” Lauper said. “Gregory had a horrific childhood. He had been abused. And the main reason he was abused was because he was gay. He became homeless really young. When he was dying he asked me to record a song so that he would not be forgotten.”

    She wrote True Colors, which has become an anthem of hope for a swath of disaffected communities.   

    “Gregory was a beautiful person. A really kind and gentle soul who was told from a very early age that he was no good. That who he was as a person was not acceptable. And that just wasn't true. So I sang the song for Gregory and for everyone who has been rejected for being who they are or for anyone who feels unloved,” Lauper said.

    “I think that it still resonates today because unfortunately we still have bias and we still have bullying. Maybe we have even more bullying because people can be cruel behind a computer instead of having the (courage) to say something ugly to someone's face. We still have hatred and that is sad because I would have thought that by 2014 people would have evolved. Because we live in the digital age, the world has gotten smaller.  You’d think that would have made us more open and accepting. If we all could just accept each other for who we are, the world would be a beautiful place.

    “And you know what? That's also the message of Kinky Boots!”

    Kinky_Boots_Broadway_6

    The original Broadway cast of Kinky Boots. Photo by Matthew Murphy.


    Last year, Lauper became the first woman in Broadway history to win the Tony Award for best score without a writing partner. One of the more endearing moments in recent Tony Awards history was seeing Lauper as she sat stunned in her seat when her name was called. Finally she stood and hugged Wheat Ridge native Annaleigh Swanson, who was Tony-nominated herself for playing sassy Lauren in the original Broadway cast.

    “I remember telling her, “Cyndi, you have to go to the stage now,’ ” Ashford said. “She was just like, ‘Oh my gwwaaaaaaaad!’ And she was crying. It was amazing."

    Lauper remembers that moment as “simply incredible.” “The Broadway community is an amazing one, and to be welcomed the way they welcomed me to this very special family is something that still warms my spirit,” she said.

    When asked what Kinky Boots audiences are in for in Denver, she said simply:

    “An amazing show with a great heart that will lift you up.”

    Cyndi_Lauper_Kinky_Boots_Quote_3



    Here is m
    ore from our exclusive conversation with Cyndi Lauper:

    John Moore: What was it like working with Harvey Fierstein?

    Cyndi Lauper: Harvey is one of Broadway's great talents and the book is so very,  very good. It was an honor to collaborate with Harvey and tell the story of Lola and Charlie.

    John Moore: Can you say a few words about your two Colorado cast members in the original Broadway cast – Annaleigh Ashford and Andy Kelso?

    Cyndi Lauper: You must have really good water there in Colorado. Annaleigh is a real jewel. She really helped bring the role of Lauren to life. She is so talented and a really great singer. Andy started Kinky Boots in the role of Harry and now is playing Charlie, one of the leads. He has a lot of charisma and really nails the part.  

    John Moore: You recently visited Denver with Cher. What are your memories of her growing up, and what was it like being on the road with her?  

    Cyndi Lauper: The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour was one of my favorite TV shows of all time. I mean the outfits ... the hair! Cher is so talented. She is a great actor, she is a comedienne with amazing timing and a great singer. She inspired me, and I still admire her so much. I was really glad to be out on road with her. We have so much fun together. The last time we were out together was 10 years ago. So when Cher called me and invited me out again I of course said, 'Yes, when do we start?'

    John Moore: You join rock artists like Neil Young, Duncan Sheik, Sting and the Flaming Lips who have made the crossover to writing for the live theatre, not by capitalizing on their existing songbooks but by writing original musicals. How is writing for the stage different from writing songs for yourself?

    Cyndi Lauper: It’s very different. Your job as the composer of a musical is to move the story forward with the songs. You have to write for many voices and from all the characters’ perspectives. And I had a blast doing that. There were songs that I wrote that I really loved that didn’t make the show because maybe there was a change in the book or there was a different arc for a character or the story, and therefore the song had to change. For my own CDs, when I write a song that I love, it makes my records, hah. And of course when I write for myself, I’m writing from my perspective. It’s my story I am trying to tell through the songs on the album to my fans.

    John Moore: What is your favorite cover of a Cyndi Lauper song recorded by another artist?

    Cyndi Lauper: Miles Davis’ Time After Time, hands down.

    John Moore: Your life changed seemingly overnight in 1983. What do you think would have become of you if She’s So Unusual had never been released?

    Cyndi Lauper: It didn't really change overnight. I had been in bands and gigging since I was 20. My band Blue Angel got signed to Polydor when I was 27, and we had some moderate success. We also had done some pretty big tours both in the U.S. and in Europe. I loved those guys, and I loved that band. We were doing rockabilly. We might have been a bit before our time. The Stray Cats came out years later and really brought that genre out to the forefront again. I signed my solo deal with Portrait at 29, and the album came out when I was 30. Unlike when you are in a band, I was able to really fully become the artist I wanted to be. It was all my vision, what I wanted to say, how I wanted to say it, what I wanted to look like, and that was so empowering. And of course, to have five hit singles off that album was just unbelievable. I don't know what would have become of me if She’s So Unusual had never been released, but I would definitely sing, and I would definitely write songs. One of the jobs I had in the beginning of my career was singing at a Japanese piano bar in New York City. Maybe I would have gone back there and asked for my job back.  

    Cyndi_Lauper_Kinky_Boots_Quote_4

    John Moore: How does it feel to be thought of as a musical – and fashion – role model for the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj?

    Cyndi Lauper: They are all great artists. If they look to me as a role model, then I am flattered. I think as women, we all need to be able to see another woman doing what we dream of doing to know that it’s possible. There are so many women I looked to for inspiration – Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell and Cher – all of these women who came before me to help light the path, and if I paid that gift forward, that makes me feel really good.  

    John Moore: What do you think of the news that there will be a Goonies sequel? Do you want to have a song in it? 

    Cyndi Lauper: I heard about that. No. I was very happy to work with Steven Spielberg and write a song for the first film though.

    John Moore: Finally, I have to ask. After all of these years, what do you have to say to anyone who has ever made fun of your speaking voice? 

    Cyndi Lauper: Wait … I have a funny speaking voice? L.O.L.!

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He also founded the Denver Post Underground Music Showcase in 2001. Contact him at jmoore@dcpa.org. Twitter: @moorejohn

    Kinky Boots: Ticket information
    Oct. 29-Nov. 9
    Buell Theatre
    Accessible performance: 2 p.m. Nov. 9
    Tickets: 303-894-4100 or www.DenverCenter.Org


    Video: John Moore interviews Colorado's 'Kinky Boots' cast members

  • Photos, video: Your first look at 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' rehearsal

    by John Moore | Sep 04, 2014


    Here is your first look at rehearsals for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company's season-opening production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

    With a new book, and both new and reworked songs by Dick Scanlan, this exhilarating adaptation of Meredith Willson's 1960 musical directed by Kathleen Marshall tells the rags-to-riches story of Colorado's own heroine, Molly Brown, one that survived the Silver Boom, Gold Rush and sinking of the Titanic. Starring Beth Malone and Burke Moses.

    To see our complete gallery of downloadable rehearsal photos, click here.


    Molly_Brown_Beth_Malone_800_6

    Beth Malone as Molly Brown. Video by David Lenk and John Moore. Photos by Emily Lozow.


    Previous Molly Brown coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

  • 'Pippin' meets Denver: Media Day photos

    by John Moore | Sep 03, 2014
    Pippin_Media_Day_1

    Today was "Meet the Media" Day for the cast of the national touring production of Pippin The Musical that launches in Denver on Saturday. From top left: Sasha Allen, Matthew James Thomas, Chet Walker, Gypsy Snider, Diane Paulus, Lucie Arnaz and John Rubinstein. All photos by John Moore.

    The cast performed two numbers: Corner of the Sky, a sneak peek at the show's theme song that introduces the son of King Charlmagne as a young man seeing meaning his life, and Simple Joys, a song sung by Allen as the Leading Player that demonstrates some of the show's now signature circus and gymnastics moves.

    To see our full gallery of photos from the afternoon, click here.




    Pippin_Media_Day_3

    Sasha Allen. Photo by John Moore.



    Pippin_Media_Day_5

    Matthew James Thomas. Photo by John Moore.


    Pippin_Media_Day_6


    Pippin_Media_Day_7

    To see our full gallery of photos from the afternoon, click here.  Video and interviews still to come.


    'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:
     


    Pippin
    : Ticket information

    Sept 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
    Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
    Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
    Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
    Online • www.DenverCenter.Org

    Our previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

    Broadway's Matthew James Thomas to play Pippin in Denver
    Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive

    Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

    My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
    Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
    Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

    From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
    2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!




  • The 'Pippin' Profiles: Sasha Allen finds her voice in the raw art of live theatre

    by John Moore | Sep 02, 2014

    Pippin_Sasha_Allen_400It’s not like the prospect of performing in front of nearly 3,000 people in Denver to launch the national touring production of Pippin doesn’t make Sasha Allen a little nervous. But intimidated? Hardly.

    “Try sitting there calmly when they are you counting you down from 5, 4, 3… and that, 'Oh, by the way, 30 million people are watching,' ” said Allen. “That’s scary.”

    The Harlem-born Allen has sung backing vocals for Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, John Legend and Usher. She rose to fame in her own right last year as a finalist on the fourth season of NBC’s singing competition, The Voice. (Photo right by Matthew Murphy.)

    The pressure to perform on live TV, she said, “is out of control.” By comparison, taking to the stage as the Leading Player in Pippin feels positively intimate. Still, she gets something out of performing on a theatre stage that TV just can’t match.

    “There is a serious transfer of energy when you are performing in front of live people,” said Allen, who in Pippin is taking on the iconic (and now feminized) role of the Leading Player, head of a troupe of circus performers who relate the story of a young prince’s search for meaning in his life.

    “On TV, when your eyelash falls off, they yell, ‘Stop.’ Someone comes on and fixes your eyelash, and you do it again. There is something organic about being on stage and everybody with you is there to take care of each other. Because nobody is going to come running on and fix your lash if it falls off. We can't yell, ‘Cut!’ It just doesn't work like that.

    “We are all sweating. Your shoes are stabbing you in your feet. Live theatre is a raw art, and I think you have to completely love it to want to do it.” 

    Allen loves it – stabby shoes and all. She made her Broadway debut in 2010 when Director Diane Paulus cast her to join another signature revival American revival, Hair, as Dionne.

    What will make Allen a bit nervous is when you point out that she’s following in the footsteps of the great Ben Vereen.

    I saw his performance on tape, and I was I was like, 'Oh my God, he is just so electric,' " she said. It is intimidating. But I am thankful to be a female playing that role. It's just so different. It has to be.”

    Pippin_Sasha_Allen_4


    What follows are excerpts from our extensive conversation with Pippin’s leading Player:

    John Moore: How is rehearsal going today?

    Sasha Allen: I have been sweating like a crazy person all day long. I smell like the gym. But it is going really, really good. For a second there, I thought I was going to jump off the cliff, because it’s a lot of hard work. But then it finally starts to click, and your body finally does what it is supposed to do.

    John Moore: It seems like all of you just jumped off the cliff together on this one.

    Sasha Allen: When you take on a project like this, you just know it’s going to be good in the end. That’s why you continue to do the work, but … man, it's hard.

    John Moore: Well, congratulations for the opportunity.

    Sasha Allen: Thank you. I know this is a life-changing moment. I just know that if I continue on my path, then I will be labeled as something better than I was yesterday.

    John Moore: It sounds as if you are on a Pippin-esque journey of your own.

    Sasha Allen: I definitely am. I called my mom after I crashed and burned during one rehearsal. I was like, 'Well, that didn't go the way I wanted it to go. And she was like, 'Well, now you know where you stand. Now, work it out. Moving on ... ' 

    John Moore: Gotta love moms.

    Sasha Allen: Absolutely. I was like, 'Right. Exactly. Now -- get back to rehearsal.'
     
    John Moore: When was the first time you ever saw Pippin?

    Sasha Allen: I had seen Ben Vereen on tape. Just as a fan. I was like, 'Oh my God, he is so amazing. Let's rewind and watch that again.' But when I knew I was going to be auditioning (to join the Broadway cast), I went to see it (with Patina Miller playing the role of the Leading Player). It’s a strange feeling. You’re like, 'I can conquer this' … but it becomes intimidating at the same time. I was thinking, 'Damn. She never leaves the stage. She never takes a break.' I do know that when that show was over, I stood on my feet … and I meant it.  There was a real feeling of, 'Get your butt up and clap for this production, because they just rocked the house.’

    John Moore: So what is your take on the role of the Leading Player now?

    Sasha Allen: At first, I didn't like her so much. I really didn't. I was thinking, 'Well, then, so how do I get into a character that I don't like?' That's why (Director Diane Paulus) is so great. When she made us do character study, it was so necessary, because hating my character doesn't work for me playing her. I had to realize that everybody has a story. Everybody has something that has happened to them. I really do believe that everyone is born in innocence. I have children, so I know what innocence really looks like. So I thought, something must have happened to her. That’s why she is this strict, crazy, controlling, person. If you can understand where people come from, then you don't take it personally. As an actor, you can get joy out of a person's struggle. It's so real. You will find controlling people everywhere in the world, and I just wonder why. Me creating a pre-story for this character really helped me to understand where she's coming from.

    John Moore: I have talked to several people who have made the connection that (Composer) Stephen Schwartz is pretty much Pippin, and the Leading Player is really (original Director) Bob Fosse. Have you tried to tap into the Fosse context in any way?

    Sasha Allen: I don’t think of them as being the actual people. I know part of their inspiration for the Leading Player came from Charles Manson, and a lot of stuff in the script refers back to that. So I really watched Charles Manson. I think he's scary, but you know what? I didn't hate him. He made a lot of sense in a weird, crazy kind of way. I would never want to be in his presence because he would probably do a mind trip on me, but ... no, I never thought about Fosse being my character.

    Pippin_Sasha_Allen_5

    John Moore: Love her or not, your character is such a necessary part of Pippin's journey. It might be tough love, but it seems to me that you're also his teacher.

    Sasha Allen: There are different moments throughout the show where I feel like his teacher. Then I feel like his mother. Then his friend. And then, in the end … I feel like his enemy. When Pippin doesn't do what I want him to do, she has a full-on meltdown. She will do whatever it takes to get him to feel what she is feeling. 'Oh, so you don't feel with me now? I am going to make you feel it this way.' A lot of people can relate to Pippin because we've all felt naive and innocent -- and now, someone is trying to take control of your life. But my character is also very human. Her antics are on the more dramatic side, but we can all relate to wanting to be in control of our lives.

    John Moore: You mentioned your appreciation for Ben Vereen.

    Sasha Allen: Oh, I love him.

    John Moore: In talking with Stephen about turning the Leading Player into a part for a female actor, he said no male actor would ever be able to live up to Ben Vereen's performance … or at least people's picture in their minds of Ben Vereen's performance. And Stephen didn't want to put that responsibility on any man. So they thought making the Leading Player a woman would be an opportunity to present the story in an entirely different way. But still, you are following in Ben Vereen’s footsteps. How does it feel to step into that lineage?

    Sasha Allen: I will say it is intimidating. But, as a woman, I am able to do make different vocal and creative choices. Stephen and Diane have really allowed me to do my own thing, and allow my signature to be put on it. And I am not sure if I could have done that if I were a male. And even if I weren’t a differently styled singer, I think it would feel disrespectful to change this great thing that has been made. As a female, I do feel lucky to be able to say, ‘Well, yes, Ben did that. And we all love him for that. But now ... look at me. I have a sexy outfit on!’

    John Moore: Have you ever met Ben Vereen?

    Sasha Allen: I have. I was doing Hair, and he did Hair as well. Afterward, he invited some of the cast to his hotel room. We had a whole in-depth conversation about Hair, and his experience, and the times, and te racism. We got so deep. He was really so special. But I think you have to be to be that much of a genius. He is a phenomenal "thing." I mean, it doesn't even feel human.

    John Moore: So I want to ask you about working with all of these awesome women. When we look back on the original Pippin, it's Stephen Schwartz and it's Bob Fosse and it's Roger Hirson and it's Ben Vereen. It’s such a “guy's show” in many ways. And now you have Diane bringing it back to life on Broadway, and she has brought in Gypsy Snider for the circus elements. They are both mothers. You are a mother. Pippin is still a guy’s story, but there is a whole lot of girl power going on in this new production.

    Sasha Allen: Oh, I feel it. Definitely. And I can tell you, I don't know if a man yelling at me the way Diane yells at me would work. Do you know what I mean? There is just a different energy with women. When Diane is getting revved up, she is literally transferring her energy to me. She is not holding back at all. When she tells me to do something,  you just do it. And if she pisses me off, that just makes it even better. It is a literal transfer of women power. She is truly inspiring.

    John Moore: That applies to new ending, too, doesn't it? We're not telling people exactly how it has changed. But there is something that was troubling, I think, about the way the original Pippin ended. After his period of adventure, there was this unintentional sense that Pippin was somehow settling for a family life. As if that's a bad thing. But it's an interesting thing when you put strong women in charge of the storytelling. Because I think they have brought some clarity to in terms of what we should consider to be extraordinary.

    Sasha Allen: I do not think that a young man choosing to be a husband and a father should ever be considered settling.  We all have choices to make, and having a family is not a bad choice. It's just not. I have one. I think anybody can do whatever they want with their lives and make it exceptional. If you are going to be a father, then be an exceptional father. I think we all can be extraordinary, however we choose to be.

    Pippin_Sasha_Allen_6

    John Moore: So … do you mind if we talk about The Voice?

    Sasha Allen: Oh yeah, yeah ... come on!

    John Moore: OK, so I have been asked to ask: When you had to choose between Shakira and Usher to be your mentor, you picked Shakira. But you were once a backing vocalist for Usher. How did you come to that decision?

    Sasha Allen: It was excruciating. It looks pretty easy when you are watching the show on TV. But when you are up there, you are sweating bullets. I was shaking inside. They put this weird music on, and the lights changed. It really is intimidating. Usher is an amazing singer. He's an amazing performer. But he is a technical dancer. You know, here we are talking about the strong women in Pippin: I felt like what I needed most was a strong woman to tell me what I needed to do as a woman to get this done. And that went down to everything from, ‘How do I wear my hair?’ to, ‘How do I wear my make-up?’ to, ‘What shade of lipstick?’ to, ‘What outfit should I wear?’ I know that sounds really off-topic, but these things are crucial in how people look at you. I was just talking to one of our costume designers, and she said, 'What I love is looking at how people dress. There is always a whole story behind it.' Well, there is a whole story behind what I wore on The Voice.

    John Moore: Did you learn any dance moves from Shakira?

    Sasha Allen: You know, we really didn’t really work on dance moves. I mean, I will never be able to dance like her. She's born and bred to dance. It was really the small details that I got from her. Shakira would tell me, 'Smile here, and then seduce the camera there.' She gave me a valuable lesson on brightening up a room, or seducing a room. If I am going to crawl, then it better be a good crawl. If you are going to do it, then make it sexual, or else don't even do it. Those are women tricks.

    John Moore: So The Voice wasn't that long ago, and now you are only a couple of days away from opening the tour of Pippin. Can you put your life into any kind of perspective right now?

    Sasha Allen: It's a blessing. It really is. I didn’t realize how much I was going to learn from The Voice, to tell you the truth. Because you look at the show and you're like, ‘Well, yes, it's corny and it’s cheesy. But I learned so much. I learned a lot about myself. I learned how hard I am willing to work. And I really learned how to practice.

    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.

    Pippin_828_1_Allen

    Sasha Allen on her first night in Denver. Photo by John Moore.



    'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:
     


    Pippin
    : Ticket information

    Sept 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
    Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
    Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
    Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
    Online • www.DenverCenter.Org

    Our previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

    Broadway's Matthew James Thomas to play Pippin in Denver
    Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive

    Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

    My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
    Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
    Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

    From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
    2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

     

  • Broadway's Matthew James Thomas to play Pippin in Denver

    by John Moore | Aug 30, 2014
    Matthew James Thomas. Photo by Felix Kunze. Matthew James Thomas, who originated the title role in Broadway's 2013 Tony Award-winning revival of Pippin, will play Pippin again when the show launches its tour in Denver on Sept. 6, it was announced today. 

    Kyle Selig, who was previously announced to play Pippin, will be taking a medical leave of absence from the tour for vocal rest. Thomas will play the entire Denver engagement, which runs through Sept. 20.
     
    Thomas created this incarnation of prince Pippin at the American Repertory Theater, and later in the acclaimed Broadway production, which is still running in New York.

    Thomas was born in Wendover, Buckinghamshire, in the United Kingdom. He debuted on Broadway as Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark before "re-originating" the role of Pippin and playing it for a year. His debut EP of original music is called No Sound At All, and is available online by clicking here.
     
    This all-new production of Roger O. Hirson and Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin is directed by Tony Award-winner Diane Paulus, features choreography by Tony nominee Chet Walker in the style of Bob Fosse, and circus creation by Gypsy Snider of the Montreal-based circus company Les 7 doigts de la main (also known as 7 Fingers).

    The cast includes Lucie Arnaz as Berthe, Sasha Allen (a finalist on the fourth season of  NBC’s The Voice) as the Leading Player, Sabrina Harper as Fastrada and Kristine Reese as Catherine.

    Tony Award winner John Rubinstein, who created the role of Pippin in the original 1972 Broadway production, is now playing Pippin's father, King Charles, in the tour. That means this new touring production will feature the original Pippin playing opposite the revival's original Pippin -- 42 years apart -- as father and son.


    Pippin_Matthew_James_Thomas_Broadway

    Matthew James Thomas in the Broadway production of Pippin. Photo by Joan Marcus.


    Pippin: Ticket information
    Sept 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
    Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
    Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
    Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
    Online • www.DenverCenter.Org



    'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:
     


    Previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

    Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive
    Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

    My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
    Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
    Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

    From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
    2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

    Photo credit, top of page: Michael James Thomas, by Felix Kunze.
  • The 'Pippin' Profiles: John Rubinstein, the first prince, is now his father

    by John Moore | Aug 29, 2014

    Pippin_John_Rubinstein_1

    John Rubinstein originated the title role in 'Pippin' on Broadway in 1972. When the new national touring production launches in Denver 42 years later, he will be playing Pippin's father, King Charlemagne. Photo by John Moore.


    Stephen Schwartz talks about it like a giddy teenager.

    “Isn’t that the best? I mean, isn't that the best ... ever?” he asks rhetorically.

    The legendary composer is talking about one of those wonderfully quirky little creative coincidences that come around once in, oh, about every 40 years.

    John Rubinstein was the first actor ever to play Pippin in the iconic 1972 Bob Fosse-Stephen Schwartz musical of the same name. Remarkably, he is now performing in the new national touring production of Broadway’s 2013 Tony Award-winning revival that launches in Denver on Sept. 6.

    Rubinstein is no longer a kid acting out the young prince’s search for meaning in his existence. Now, he is a seasoned pro playing Pippin’s disapproving father, King Charlemagne.

    Isn’t that the best … ever?

    “We would not have done it if we didn’t feel that John was the best choice for the role,” Schwartz said. “But the idea of it was irresistible.”

    Gypsy Snyder, one of the key creators of this new version of Pippin, said watching Rubinstein audition for the role of Charlemagne was like ... maple syrup. “It was just so sweet and so right and so juicy to see,” she said.  “It was incredible. It was mind-blowing."

    The new Pippin is significantly changed from the 1972 original also starring Ben Vereen, Jill Clayburgh and Irene Ryan. The story is now a yarn being told by a troupe of circus performers who impart it while performing death-defying acts of aerial and acrobatic skill. Vereen’s dynamic, enigmatic Leading Player is now being played by a woman. And the  ending of the show has been changed to better illuminate universal truths about any young person’s quest to live an extraordinary life.

    “The feeling of the show is bigger and brighter and faster,” Rubinstein said.

    He compares revisiting Pippin at this stage of his life to revisiting a childhood home.

    “It's like you lived in a house," he said. "You were there when they built it; you were the first family to live in it, and you grew up in it. Then you go back to that house 40 years later, and there it is: Same house. Same place. Same birds singing in the trees outside. But it's all different now. They've redecorated the living room, and they have added a more modern feel to the old dining room where you all spent so many years eating together. Outside the window, they have added a swimming pool where there used to be a flower garden. You don't feel like you are in the same place. But you are. That's sort of what it is like. On the hot days, we used to have to turn on the hose and pour it over our heads. Now we can jump into this beautiful new swimming pool. But you sort of miss the old flower garden, too."  

    Rubinstein has enjoyed a steady career in TV and film, but the son of internationally acclaimed pianist Arthur Rubinstein is also an accomplished composer himself. He scored the music for the iconic 1970s Robert Redford films Jeremiah Johnson and The Candidate.

    “One of the great thrills of my life, still to this day, was watching the Oscars when The Candidate won for best screenplay,” Rubinstein said. “I was watching on the TV, and when Jeremy Larner walked up to the podium, they played my theme. I almost fainted.”

    Rubinstein won the 1980 Tony Award for his portrayal of James Leeds in Children of a Lesser God. Other Broadway appearances include Hurlyburly, M. Butterfly and Fools. His films include 21 Grams, Someone to Watch Over Me and The Boys from Brazil. His 150-plus TV credits include Family (as Jeff Maitland), Crazy Like a Fox, Star Trek: Enterprise, and the series finale of Friends. (He played the doctor who delivered Monica and Chandler's babies.)

    But Pippin, Rubinstein said, will always be one of the seminal moments of his career.

    “Doing your first Broadway show, at a time when I was having my first two kids? It was absolutely a gigantic moment in my life ... one that lasted 2 1/2 years."


    Pippin_John_Rubinstein_2


    Please enjoy the following excerpts of our expansive conversation with John Rubinstein just before the cast shifted its base to Denver, where the national touring production of "Pippin" opens in the Buell Theatre on Sept. 6. Rubinstein had been temporarily added to the Broadway cast as part of his preparation for the tour:

    John Moore: So you have been rehearsing all day with the touring cast, and then performing at night with the Broadway cast. How weird is that?

    John Rubinstein: Well, it's a little weird. I have been doing the show for nine weeks now, so I have a rhythm going with the Broadway cast. And we're all developing our rhythm together as a touring cast. It's not as hard as it seems. It's just long hours. It will be lovely to get out there to Denver and just focus on that.

    Pippin_John_Rubinstein_4John Moore: OK, but let's be honest: You have been doing this show for a lot more than nine weeks.

    John Rubinstein: Ha-ha, yes … but with a very substantial break in between.

    John Moore: Yes, like 40 years.

    John Rubinstein: Exactly.

    John Moore: Why was this something you wanted to do at this point in your life?

    John Rubinstein: Well, it doesn't take a lot of convincing for me. I have a lot of children. I had my first child a week after I learned that I got the part in the first Pippin. My second child was born during Pippin on a matinee day. And I've had three other kids since. I now have two kids in college. And my youngest is now 8. So pretty much anybody who wants me, gets me (laughs).

    John Moore: When you heard Pippin was coming back, take me through the audition process. Were you thinking, ‘What a perfect way to complete a circle of life?' Or did someone from Pippin call you and say, 'You have to come in for this'?

    John Rubinstein: It was a little bit of both. I live in Los Angeles, but I happened to be in New York to speak at my 50th high-school reunion. I delivered this big speech on that Friday. Rather late that day, my agent called and said, 'Hey, John, is there any way you can get yourself to New York?' And I said, 'Hey ... I'm here!' And then he said, ‘On Monday morning, they want you to audition to take over for Terrence Mann as King Charlemagne in Pippin.' And I thought that would be really fun. I hadn't been on Broadway since I did Ragtime in 1999. I had been looking for a reason to spend some time in New York again, so I said, sure. On Monday morning, I went in and auditioned, and there was good old Stephen (Schwartz) and (Book Writer) Roger Hirson and (Choreographer) Chet Walker and a bunch of old friends. I met Gypsy Snider for the first time and (Director) Diane Paulus and some of the other people involved. So I auditioned for them. Then they made me wait around for an hour or so while they got (Producer) Barry Weissler to come down. Then they made me do it all over again, and I flew happily back to California. The next week or so, they called and offered me the tour. And I thought, 'Gee, I haven't toured since 1968.' That was for On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever, a bus-and-truck tour with Howard Keel and John Raitt. Good people. But it was grueling. I remember we went went through Denver on that tour.

    John Moore: May I read you a quote from Stephen Schwartz about your audition?

    John Rubinstein: Sure.

    John Moore: He told me:

    ‘There was this one moment when John read the chapel scene. There is a line where Pippin says, 'Time has passed you by, father,' and Charlemagne's line back is, 'And YOUR time has come, my son?'  I mean, hearing that from John? I can't even talk about it. It was just so emotional to hear John Rubinstein say that line. I know it doesn't have the same resonance for people who are just seeing the show for the first time, but for Roger Hirson and me? That was a pretty emotional moment.'

    John Rubinstein: Oh, that's so moving. Those are very well-written scenes by Roger Hirson. Very actable. To me, the chapel scene is the best actor scene in the play. Now, keep in mind: I was not reading opposite the actor who is now playing Pippin. I was reading with a young lady from the audition team. But nonetheless, yes, to be looking at Pippin and saying that? I felt that resonance, too. When I said that line in the audition -- ‘And YOUR time has come, my son?' with that heavy sarcasm and that feeling of the inevitability of the passage of the baton, yeah, it was a thrill. When I do that scene in the show every night now, I get the chills just kneeling down and talking to Pippin about it.

    John Moore: You can't take a thing from the great Terrence Mann. But for audiences who hear you say that line, it's just got to be different, given that you were the first Pippin.

    John Rubinstein: Well, for audiences who are old enough to have either seen the original production or listened to the original cast album, maybe. I would say that only about 3 percent of the audience has any inkling about that. I'm just the old guy in the beard.

    John Moore: Well, we're going to singlehandedly make it ... 6 percent then.

    John Rubinstein: OK, then.


    Pippin_John_Rubinstein_3


    John Moore: We can't tell people specifically how the ending has changed in this new version of the show, but I think having the original Pippin performing as the new Charlemagne just makes the new ending that much more perfect.

    John Rubinstein: Yes, that's true. Those little magic similarities are beautiful. And they are there for the finding in this show …  if you find them.

    John Moore: How different has it been for you as a creative team putting together this new Pippin together without Bob Fosse in the room?

    John Rubinstein:  Well, there is a lot of Bob Fosse in the room. No doubt about it. The show was certainly created by Bob and Stephen and Roger, but when you originate a show, whether you are one of the dancers or playing the title role, as I was, you are all creating it together as a team. That may sound ostentatious, but it is not entirely false to say that we all made that show. Bob Fosse was clearly the driving force, and the vision, and the boss. There's no way, not even 42 years later, that I don't carry a lot of the inner workings, and the subtext, and the background with me still. They are just there. When I hear the music, I feel them. When I say the words, I am living still with Bob Fosse in the rehearsal studio.

    John Moore: In what ways does it feel different to you then?

    John Rubinstein: This is a completely new re-imagining of the entire staging. When we first did it, there was plenty of entertainment value in it, for sure -- but it was a darker show. What made it spectacular were the dancing and the dancers -- every one of them hand-picked by Boob Fosse. And certainly Ben Vereen's performance as the Leading Player. Not to minimize the work of anyone else, but what really made that staging was the difficult choreography and how amazingly it was executed and interpreted by that particular group of dancers.

    Do you still cross paths with Ben Vereen?

    John Moore: John Rubinstein: Oh, sure. We're brothers. He has visited me a bunch of times while I have been doing the show in New York. We've eaten together. We've cried and laughed together. We love each other.

    John Moore: I am curious how he feels about a woman now playing the Leading Player.

    John Rubinstein: We haven't talked about that particular detail. We have just said to each other: 'This is a different show. It's not our Pippin revamped and re-mounted. It's Pippin reconceived and re-presented. It's a different show. And there are some poignancies about that, for sure.

    John Moore: OK, so when you are sitting in rehearsal, how do resist the urge to tap the new Pippin on the shoulder and say, 'Let me tell you how it's done, kid.'

    John Rubinstein: No, never, never. I would never dream of doing it. It would be contrary to all etiquette. Aside from that, I don't need to. These guys are way better playing this part than I ever was.

    John Moore: I would think that from the young actor's vantage point, you would be an incredible resource in the room.

    John Rubinstein: He doesn't need to ask me anything. He really doesn't, and therefore … he doesn't. He's great. He's amazing. He's a wonderful actor. He's full of sensitivity. And he sings like an angel.

    John Moore: But wouldn't that be a little like, say, if you did Jesus Christ Superstar in 1970, and now, 40 years later, Ben Vereen is back playing ... Pontius Pilate? There's a new kid playing Judas and Ben Vereen is right there in the room. I don’t know. I might have to ask him about the hanging scene.

    John Rubinstein: You know what? I had that very experience. I'm talking to you by phone from the Union Square Theatre, where we are rehearsing for this tour. And it is in this very same theatre that, back in 1987, I played Guildenstern in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. That is a very difficult, challenging, wonderful masterpiece written by Tom Stoppard in 1966. And the third character in the play is, get this … the Leading Player. That's no coincidence. Certainly they (Stoppard and Schwartz) got that from Hamlet. The Leading Player brings the acting troupe. And I believe that when Stephen first wrote Pippin, the Leading Player was not supposed be a song and dance person -- man or woman. It was supposed to be an old fuddy-duddy, Shakespearean actor, just like he is in Hamlet. The head of a troupe of players. An older guy with a huge repertoire and a big, booming voice. I think it was the combination of Bob Fosse and Stephen and Roger working together that changed that concept, and the Leading Player became … Ben Vereen.

    John Moore: Awesome. But back to 1987.

    John Rubinstein: I am playing Guildenstern and Stephen Lang is playing Rosencrantz. In the room with us, playing the Leading Player,  was the great British actor John Wood, who had originated the role of Guildenstern on Broadway 20 years earlier -- and he won a Tony Award for it. Now he is 20 years older and playing the Leading Player in our show, and he is watching me struggle to put Guildenstern together, day after day in rehearsal. So I definitely lived that experience, and it was very daunting. I was like, 'How do I do this?' And there is John Wood, standing there watching me do it. But he never said a single word to me -- and I never asked him, because that's just not what's done.

    Pippin_John_Rubinstein_4


    John Moore: Stephen Schwartz and I talked about the 1972 production being a real reflection of its times. So I am curious what the original Pippin thinks about why it is still relevant for a teenage boy or girl to experience the message of this show now.

    John Rubinstein: It’s a very universal tale. It’s an everyman's story. It's got elements of Huck Finn and Candide. The framework is this callow youth who is born into privilege and he has all these choices. He’s slightly narcissistic and slightly arrogant. He’s easily displeased and even spoiled, you could argue. But then he goes on this journey of discovery and self-discovery. And what he discovers is humility and being peaceful and feeling satisfied with a life that is relatively commonplace and relatively mundane. That's a very moving story, because we all go through this as we are growing up. When we are children, we all want to be a policeman or a fireman; an astronaut or a movie star. We want to be a great athlete or a rich tycoon. We want to be glorious and amazing and accomplished, And then when we hit a certain age, if we are lucky, we realize that we are really happy to have a woman who loves us … and a child who doesn't hate us …  and a dog who is happy to see us when we come home. And maybe that's our greatest  accomplishment.

    John Moore: Bigger than all of those other things.

    John Rubinstein: In this country, we are taught from birth that money is the only thing that matters. When they say the United States is about democracy and freedom, they really mean it's about money. Your worth as a person is only really measured by the amount of money you make, or that you have. It doesn't matter if you are the Koch brothers, and you never did a lick of work in your life, and you inherited everything from your father. You are still considered a driving force in this country. Because you have money. You are listened to, and you are respected. Now if you are a great human being and you have done amazing things but you don't have a big bank account? Not so much. Pippin is a story that says your biggest accomplishment is how you find happiness in the little things. In the commonplace. In what we all have within our reach.

    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.

    Pippin: Ticket information
    Sept 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
    Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
    Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
    Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
    Online • www.DenverCenter.Org



    'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:
     


    Previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

    Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive
    Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

    My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
    Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
    Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

    From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
    2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

  • Photos: Hello, Denver: 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive

    by John Moore | Aug 28, 2014

    Pippin_828_1_Allen

    The cast and crew of Pippin The Musical arrived in Denver on Thursday night to prepare for the launch of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical's first national touring production opening Sept. 6 at the Buell Theatre. Among the actors who got their first look at the set were Sasha Allen (above), Lucie Arnaz and John Rubinstein.

    To see our complete gallery of photos, click here. Photos by John Moore.

    More photos:

    Pippin_828_Lucie Arnaz
    Lucie Arnaz.

    Pippin_828_Full_Cast_2

    A panorama of the first cast meeting in the 2,830-seat Buell Theatre.


    Pippin_828_Theo
    Our two Theos.


    Pippin_828_Full_Cast_1

    Wait, there's more:
    To see our complete gallery of photos, click here. Photos by John Moore.

    Pippin: Ticket information
    Sept 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
    Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
    Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
    Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
    Online • www.DenverCenter.Org


    'The Pippin Profiles':
     


    Previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

    Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York
    My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein

    Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
    Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

    From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
    2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

  • The 'Pippin' Profiles: Diane Paulus on directing without a net

    by John Moore | Aug 22, 2014

    Diane_Paulus_Pippin_400Director Diane Paulus’ mantra as an artist is to always expand the boundaries of theatre ... or why bother?

    “As a director,” she says, “one of my biggest interests is creating a visceral experience for audiences.”

    Audiences will be feeling visceral come Sept. 6, when the national touring production of Paulus’ Tony-winning musical revival Pippin launches in Denver. They will be witnessing death-defying flips, tight-rope walks, knife-juggling and more. And “those acrobatic tricks you see are real, “ she said, “and they are real every night."

    That means be no protective cables. No safety nets.

    "With every performance, those are real, extraordinary achievements happening on that stage. It's live. It's happening there. And the audience witnesses it in the moment. And that makes the production so immediate.”

    It is that kind of theatrical daring that earned Paulus spot on Time Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. … In the world.

    Paulus is the Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard University in Boston, where she debuted Pippin on its way to Broadway; and where she just opened a pre-Broadway run of a new Peter Pan musical based on the film Finding Neverland.

    Diane_Paulus_Pippin_Quote_1

    Paulus brought the London theatrical phenomenon Sleep No More to America in 2011 on its way to New York. That’s an immersive version of Macbeth that plays out on multiple floors of a warehouse in the meatpacking district of Manhattan. Paulus calls that kind of thing “adventure theatre.”

    The same can be said of Pippin. Paulus got the green light to mount the first major revival of Pippin in 40 years when she told composer Stephen Schwartz she wanted to set his story of a young man search’s for meaning in the dangerous world of the circus.

    “It wasn’t about layering something on that didn’t need to be there,” Paulus said. “It was about the theme of the story: How far are we willing to go to be extraordinary in our lives? That question is at the heart of Pippin’s journey. That question is also at the heart of every circus performer’s life. And it’s a literal one: How far will I go? Will I jump and land upside down on someone’s hand? Will I leap through a hoop on fire? How far can I push my human body to aspire to be extraordinary?”

    What follows are excerpts from our expansive interview with one of the leading figures in the American theatre.

    John Moore: We’re talking to you as you are just days away from opening the Broadway-bound Finding Neverland at your American Repertory Theatre in Boston.

     
    Diane Paulus: Yes, we are in the middle of previews right now.

    John Moore: Well, then, I can't imagine how you can be in any kind of a Pippin headspace, so thank you for making time.

    Diane Paulus: It's a little crazy, but I have my Pippin T-shirt on right now, so I am already in Pippin land a little bit. It's all good.

    John Moore: What was your introduction to Pippin?

    Diane Paulus: I saw Pippin as a little girl growing up in New York City. I was 8 years old, and seeing it on Broadway marked me. It made such a huge impression. I remembered those characters. I remembered that world that (Director and Choreographer) Bob Fosse put on stage. I remembered Ben Vereen and all those players. And of course, I grew up on the score. I wore out my album. I played Corner of the Sky on the piano. I also sang With You at my brother's wedding -- not really understanding that, in the show, that's a song about Pippin getting together with a lot of different women. I sing No Time at All with my college friends at our reunions. So I've been living that Pippin score my whole life. I have always wanted to touch this show again.

    John Moore: What appealed to you most about revisiting it?

    Diane Paulus: A lot of people remember the Fosse and they remember the music, but you don't have a lot of people saying to you, 'Oh, what an amazing story.’ But I have always felt there was a very powerful and important story there. To me, Pippin is almost a pageant play, like a trial of the soul in all these different stages of a man’s life that are theatricalized -- going to war, the temptation of the flesh, the ordinary life. Pippin is the son of King Charlemagne, but he could stand in as an everyman. I got very excited about trying to make the meaning of his story viscerally felt.

    John Moore: And what does it mean -- to you?

    Diane Paulus: For me, the theme of Pippin is this: How far do we go to be extraordinary in our lives? Right now, that is such a relevant question -- more than ever. Just how far do we push ourselves? What is glory? What is it to be extraordinary, and what are the choices that we make in our lives? Ultimately, what I love about Pippin is that it's not a moralistic story. It doesn't say, 'Well, here's the right answer.' It really puts the question out to the audience. When we first did Pippin up at A.R.T. (in Boston), we’re in a college town, and there were young college kids coming to see the show who were completely relating to Pippin. They were asking questions like, 'What am I doing with my life?' 'What is my purpose in life?' 'What am I going to be, and who am I, and why am I here on the planet?' And you know what? I am a mom in my 40s, and I am thinking about things like, 'What are the choices I've made, and how do I negotiate a career and a family, and what does it mean to be extraordinary in my life?' Over the course of this production, I have seen entire generations of people affected by it. I saw an elderly man in his 80s weeping at the end of the show, and I just thought, 'Cleary, this show pushes you to think about the choices you are making, or the choices you have made in your life.’

    Diane_Paulus_Pippin_Quote_2

    John Moore: So what was your biggest directorial challenge?

    Diane Paulus: My biggest directorial challenge was determining what the world of this play was going to be.

    John Moore: (Composer) Stephen Schwartz told me you weren't the first to come to him wanting to put Pippin in a circus. But he did say that your concept was the best. How did you came up with your idea, and what was the pitch?

    Diane Paulus: I really got interested in this idea of circus because, to me, the show has to have an identity for the troupe of players. And the circus has such a strong identity. It's a traveling family that pitches their tent from town to town. They transform the lives of the people who dare to enter that tent. And then they pick up and leave, and they go somewhere else. So you don't ever really know a lot about who those circus people are. You don't think about them doing ordinary things like going to the supermarket and cooking. They just sort of come alive for you for as long as they are in that tent. It's a fantasy world. That was the hook for me: What if this group is a circus troupe, and they have come to town, and they have pitched their tent, and the Leading Player is literally standing outside that tent seducing you, the audience, to come inside and ‘join us.’ And if you dare to enter that tent, who knows what you will experience? Who knows how you will be transformed? You might be so transformed that you might even decide that you want to run away with the circus. That's another metaphor for me: How many of us in our lives have wanted to run away with the circus? Either literally, or metaphorically? When in our lives have we decided to take that leap—and when have we decided, "No," because, for any number of reasons, I can't run away with the circus right now. I have to choose other things. That was the metaphor me.

    John Moore: Your goal is always to expand the boundaries of theatre, and that certainly seems to be what the circus achieves in Pippin.

    Diane Paulus: I have been a great admirer of Les 7 doigts de la main (The 7 Fingers of the Hand). So when I met (Circus Creator) Gypsy Snider, I asked if she would ever want to work on a musical. And then we started talking about Pippin, and the theme meant so much to her. That's when I knew this collaboration would work. Because it wasn't about layering something on that didn’t need to be there. It was about the theme of the story: How far are we willing to go to be extraordinary in our lives? That question is at the heart of every acrobat and circus performer. That’s the first thing Gypsy said to me: ‘That is the life of an acrobat.’

    Diane_Paulus_Pippin_Quote_4

    John Moore: And how does that translate into the theatre experience?

    Diane Paulus: I am always interested in embracing theatre for what I think it should be, which is the absolute, live experience that is witnessed by each audience member. It’s not something we can later replay on our telephones or computers. As an audience member, you are seeing it, and what you are seeing can only be experienced right then and there, and it will be different every night.

    John Moore: How did you decide how you would go about replicating the Fosse choreography – and how much?

    Diane Paulus: There is no one like Bob Fosse. I have always worshipped at the altar of Fosse for what he did as an artist, and for his unique vision. I knew if we were going to bring back Pippin, we had to bring back the Fosse. It's just too connected. Chet Walker was part of that original Broadway production of Pippin. He had worked with Fosse for years, and so having Chet on the team was so important to me. When I first met Chet, he said to me, 'Bob Fosse would never want to re-create something. He never wanted to repeat himself. He and Stephen Schwartz also told me that Fosse loved Fellini. And when you look at it, this fascination with Fellini and clowns is all over even the original choreography. It's almost inside the DNA of the original production. But we had an opportunity with our production to take it further.

    John Moore: When you approached Gypsy, she had never seen Pippin before. She said the first thing that became obvious to her was that the Leading Player was Bob Fosse, and Pippin was Stephen Schwartz. When I mentioned that to Stephen, he just kind of paused and said, ‘That's exactly right.’ What do you think of the comparison?

    Diane Paulus: I am such a huge fan of both of those artists. It was so interesting to work with Stephen because here it was, 40 years later, and he was no longer the young college kid who wrote the show. He's now a mature artist looking back on his life. And I think now he had an appreciation for what Fosse saw in it when they made this in the '70s. So I think Stephen really helped me understand what the brew was back in the '70s between he and Fosse. Looking at it now for this revival as a mature artist, I think Stephen was able to identify more with Fosse. It was so edifying and inspiring for me to really understand the original production and everything that made that birth happen. A lot of people think of Pippin from having done it at their camp, or at their community theatre, or at their college. And so, for a lot of people, they know it as The Kumbaya Pippin. And this is not The Kumbaya Pippin. This story is deep, and it is profound, and it has really intense meaning. I think that was there in the original collaboration between Stephen and Bob Fosse. I remember that heat from when I was a kid, and I wanted to re-create that heat and take it even further.

    John Moore: Obviously a big change with this production is that a woman is playing the Leading Player. Stephen felt no male actor could possibly follow in Ben Vereen’s footsteps.

    Diane Paulus: Well, you know, in the script, it just says, "Leading Player." It doesn't say anything about race or gender. There is no other information, aside what is in the text. So I sent Stephen a note saying, ‘Tell me about this Leading Player. What do I have to know?' Just give me some details.' And he said back, 'The Leading Player can be anyone. Male. Female African-American, white, whatever demographic or ethnicity you want.' The only thing he said is that the Leading Player has to feel different from Pippin. The Leading Player has to represent everything Pippin has not experienced in life. So, with that … I agree with Stephen. The specter of Ben Vereen is huge, and for me that meant we had to have someone who could sing as well as Ben, who could dance as well as Ben, and who could act as well as Ben. So that was really the gauntlet that was thrown down. We had to find someone who is a true triple-threat. I knew Ben could do everything, and I knew we had to find someone who could deliver in all those departments. And, in our case -- maybe also someone who is willing to get on a trapeze and be a little fearless with some of the circus stuff.

    John Moore: How hard was that to find all in one performer?

    Diane Paulus: We auditioned everyone. We auditioned men and women. Every possible ethnicity came through our door. We had no agenda about who we were going to cast. However, I have to confess that Patina Miller was secretly in my brain, because I had worked with her on Hair. And then she helped create this stamp on this role of a powerful woman and leader. She proved that a woman could tell this story in such an interesting way for a modern, 21st-century audience. So now, the female Leading Player is integral. We’re looking forward to what Sasha Allen does with the role now.

    Diane_Paulus_Pippin_Quote_3

    John Moore: Speaking of Hair, I have to ask you about your Jeannie, who was played by Colorado’s sweetheart, Annaleigh Ashford.

    Diane Paulus: Oh my gosh. She is such a joy, and, as everyone knows, so hysterically funny. There is not one word that can come out of that women's mouth that doesn't make you laugh. I loved working with her on Hair. She was so quirky and funny and such a pro. And she is so committed as an artist. I felt really lucky to have had that experience with her.

    John Moore: It looks like Finding Neverland is going to be the next big thing. Can you give us a sneak peek into what kind of a theatrical experience we're in for?

    Diane Paulus: What I love about the show is that it's the story of the power of the imagination through the life of J.M. Barrie. Speaking of expanding the boundaries, he took a leap of faith and created something that everyone felt was crazy back in 1904. I mean, this was a story with boys who could fly and fairies and mermaids and crocodiles. Everybody thought he was nuts. He created Peter Pan -- something we all now think of as a brand of peanut butter. And if people have seen it, they say, ‘Oh, yeah, I've seen it a thousand times, and it’s the most mainstream, accessible musical you could point to.’ But it wasn't in its creation. 

    John Moore: This must be fun for you, having daughters.

    Diane Paulus. Yes. Because at the heart of it, this is about is seeing the world through the eyes of a child. I am making Finding Neverland for my two daughters. What does it means to have spirit of a child in your life?  What kind of worlds can we see through their eyes? I love the show. The heart of it is very strong.

    John Moore: Before we go, I am curious what you think about the new ending for Pippin. Without giving anything away, why do you think this new ending is the right ending?

    Diane Paulus: Our ending now makes perfect sense. This show is about all the trials we have to go through in our lives, and everyone goes through them. And so when Pippin ends, you have this sense that it is all going to begin again. I tell you, when we were making this production, there were kids all over the place, because so many of us have children, and I let everybody watch rehearsal. It was like a circus of children. Every time we finished rehearsal, all of the kids would rush on to the stage and try to climb the poles and try to do all the acrobatic tricks. It was sort of primal. I looked at them one day and I thought, ‘That's the story!’ Even though we know we are going to fall, a kid will always want to climb a tree. A kid will always want to try to climb a pole. It’s a part of human nature, and that to me is what we get in this new ending.

    John Moore: And also looking at it from Pippin’s perspective. He has to make a decision. And I think Stephen was always a little uncomfortable that people might interpret the original ending of a man choosing to be a responsible husband and father as somehow settling. In this day and age, we really should be celebrating those men who choose fatherhood and family, should we not?

    Diane Paulus: Every individual has to face certain decisions at some point in their lives. And you make your choice for a reason. And I think each choice is extraordinary, if you really get in touch with yourself. To me, that's the story. Stop doing what people tell you to do. Identify what's in your heart. That might mean running away with the circus. That might mean choosing a family, and to love someone, which means you can't run away with the circus right now. It's all about the choice. It’s all about the risk of the choice. It's not about which choice you actually make. Can you hear your heart and follow your heart and the truth inside yourself? That is the journey of Pippin. That’s your journey. And that’s my journey, too.


    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.


    'The Pippin Profiles':  

    Pippin: Ticket information

    Sept 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
    Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
    Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
    Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
    Online • www.DenverCenter.Org


    Previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

    Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York
    My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein

    Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
    Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

    From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
    2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

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

DCPA is a not-for-profit 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.