• Interview: 'Wicked' stars on the show's 'Popular' appeal

    by John Moore | May 28, 2015
    Carrie St. Louis and Alyssa Fox in 'Wicked.' Photo by Joan Marcus

    Carrie St. Louis and Alyssa Fox play unlikely friends on stage in 'Wicked,' and have developed a close bond off-stage as well. Photo by Joan Marcus.


    When the national touring production of Wicked returns next week, Denver will become the first city in the nation to have hosted the international stage phenomenon for a fifth time. The prequel to The Wizard of Oz has been playing continuously on Broadway for 11 years, and there have been multiple touring companies since 2005.

    And if you ask Alyssa Fox, who plays Elphaba in the production opening in Denver on June 3, this might be just the beginning. Because there are no signs of Wicked ever slowing down.

    “Not at this point,” said Fox. “I can see Wicked running for another 20 years, honestly.”

    The story about what it really means to be popular is, itself, very, very popular. A recent survey of Denver Center audiences found some who have come to see the show as many as 17 times during Denver stops alone. Several mothers and daughters reported having seen the show together at every previous Denver engagement, and that seeing the show regularly has become a defining bond in their relationships.

    That, Fox said, is likely because of the strong female presence in the show.

    “It's not often you see two female characters on the stage having a positive relationship, and this is definitely one of them,” Fox said. “I think a lot of mothers and daughters can relate to the friendship Glinda and Elphaba have because all mothers and daughters fight, and they all have differences. But there is always this underlying sense of love that you have for each other, and I think our show expresses that beautifully.”

    The reasons for Wicked’s enduring appeal have been well documented. It starts with its roots in one of the most beloved films of all time.

    “There's just something about Wicked,” said St. Louis. “It's just such a great story. The music is so great. People really fall in love with the characters. It's got just such a great message. There’s the spectacle, too: The costumes and the set.”

    But the biggest reason for its longevity might be that it’s not just a story for mothers and daughters.

    “It speaks to all ranges of people,” Fox said.

    Added St. Louis: “We see men; we see entire families; we see grandparents; we see young teenage boys.”

    And with Father’s Day coming up while Wicked is in Denver (June 21), the co-stars were asked what dads who bring their daughters to the show tell them.

    “I think a lot of fathers really want a positive message to send to their daughters about being a strong woman growing up in the world,” Fox said. “That's a wonderful lesson that a father can give to his daughter. Everyone can relate to something in the show.” 

    Wicked Quote Carrie St. LouisWicked tells the untold story of what happened long before Dorothy dropped into the land of Oz. It follows the rocky road to friendship between two iconic young women: One who is smart, fiery, misunderstood – and born with emerald-green skin. And the other who is beautiful, ambitious and, yes, popular. Wicked challenges your assumptions about who these women are – and how they came to be known as the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good.

    “Because of The Wizard of Oz, you think Glinda is the good witch and Elphaba is the bad witch, and that's just the way it is,” St. Louis said. “But through the course of the show, you find out that being pretty or popular does not necessarily make you a good person or a bad person. It questions those stereotypes and questions a lot of the issues that girls deal with growing up. So I think it does send a very powerful message.”  

    More from our interview

    When speaking to Fox and St. Louis at the same time, one must be prepared: “There will be a lot of giggling,” warned St. Louis.

    And there was a lot of giggling. Here are more excerpts from our conversation about Wicked:

    John Moore: It seems to me that anyone who, like me, strives to better understand women, can benefit from seeing Wicked.

    Alyssa Fox (laughing): Yes, it is definitely a glimpse into the complicated lives of women.

    Carrie St. Louis: Next we will be doing Side Show! (That’s a Broadway musical about conjoined twins.)

    John Moore: It's obvious from the laughter that you guys already have established a special bond. Does the show naturally lend itself to that kind of a friendship off the stage?

    Alyssa Fox: We took to each other pretty quickly.

    Carrie St. Louis: We are so much like our characters. We are pretty much Glinda and Elphaba in real life, which is very funny when we are just doing normal things like going to the grocery store. When you spend that much time with someone on stage, and especially on the road, you form a special relationship. So I am very lucky to have her with me on the stage.

    John Moore: How long have you been performing these roles together now?

    Alyssa Fox: We have been doing it full-time together since the end of January.

    John Moore: Do you still get excited to do the show every night?

    Carrie St. Louis: I still get goosebumps whenever Elphaba flies through the air, and I have the best seats in the house to watch her do it.

    Alyssa Fox: Awwww...

    John Moore: I know you both have played your roles opposite other actors. Is it hard when you hit the sweet spot with one actor to start over with someone else who might have their own ideas about the characters?


    Alyssa Fox: I think you get a different story when there is someone else there, because that person puts their own personality into it. And that does change it a little bit.

    Carrie St. Louis: But that's also what keeps it interesting.

    Alyssa Fox quote Alyssa Fox: Yes. When you see an understudy, it is going to be really amazing in a different way.

    Carrie: I couldn't even name how many Glindas there have been. But the thing I learned is that you just have to play yourself, in a way, and bring elements of yourself to the character.

    Alyssa Fox: Exactly.

    Carrie St. Louis: But it definitely has been great that we're contracted together, because we really get to explore things on more than just a surface level. It becomes a little bit deeper over time. There are a lot of moments we have found and invested in that I really only share with Alyssa on stage. So, yes, it becomes more special the more you do it with the other person.

    Alyssa Fox: And I think we grow more and more all the time traveling through each of these cities. We grow together as performers and as friends.

    John Moore: What are your thoughts on coming to Denver?

    Carrie St. Louis: This is actually my first time coming to Denver. But I am very excited because I have a lot of friends visiting. All my friends wanted to come when we are in Denver.

    Alyssa Fox: I have a lot of friends visiting as well. I think Denver must be a popular city for friends to meet up in. 

    John Moore: What do you attribute the staying power of the show to?

    Carrie St. Louis: I think a lot of it, honestly, is that Wicked is never frozen, which I don't think a lot of people know. The creative team is constantly making changes and adding things. We just recently added flying, for example, to a scene that didn't have flying before. We changed the choreography in "One Short Day" a little bit. So they are always tweaking and working on it. The creatives come out on the road with us every month or two to work with us and fine-tune the show.

    Alyssa Fox: They make sure everything is in tip-top shape. The lighting is right; the costumes are right.

    Carrie St. Louis: Everyone is 100 percent committed to keeping Wicked as great as it can be, and as great as it should be. That has contributed a lot to the success of the show. You are never going to get a B-show. The creatives are always going to make sure of that.

    Alyssa: Right.

    John Moore: There really are no signs of this ever slowing down, are there?

    Carrie St. Louis: Not at all. I always joke that next time I come back, I am going to play Madame Morrible.

    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.

    About Alyssa Fox:
    Alyssa is a Dallas native who sang her first solo in church at age 4. She began her Wicked journey in San Francisco as the Elphaba understudy and continued on tour as the Elphaba standby. Favorite shows include: Who's Your Baghdaddy?, Rocky Horror, Little Women and numerous concert performances. Twitter: @alyssafox. Instagram:  @allyfox
     
    About Carrie St. Louis:
    Carrie was in the original Las Vegas company of Rock of Ages as Sherrie, and later appeared on Broadway in the same role. Regional: Justin Love (Amanda Bell - world premiere), The Fix (Deborah) Carrie is a graduate of USC's Thornton School of Music. Instagram and Twitter: @carriestlouis

    Announcing the daily Wicked lottery:
    A day-of-performance lottery will be held for a limited number of orchestra seats throughout the Denver run of Wicked. Two and one-half hours prior to each performance, people who present themselves at the Buell Theatre box office will have their names placed in a lottery drum; 30 minutes later, names will be drawn for a limited number of orchestra seats at $25 each, cash only.  This lottery is available only in-person at the box office, with a limit of two tickets per person.  Lottery participants must have a valid photo ID when submitting their entry form and, if chosen, when purchasing tickets.

    Wicked
    June 3-July 5
    Buell Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100, 800-641-1222 or  BUY ONLINE
    Accessibility performance: 2 p.m., June 27

    Our recent NewsCenter coverage of Wicked:
    Wicked a show for the green girl in all of us
    Wicked has bonded mothers and daughters for a decade in Denver


    Photos by Joan Marcus.
  • 'Wicked' a show for the green girl in all of us

    by NewsCenter Staff | May 19, 2015


    By Teri Downard

    Special to The DCPA NewsCenter

    One hundred and fifteen years ago this year, author L. Frank Baum wrote a charming book called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that became a children’s classic. The book was turned into a stage musical a year later (one such production is slated for the Buell next February) and begat another great classic: the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. Judy Garland played a girl who, after a close encounter of the tornado kind, found herself in a strange and mysterious land. Dorothy was her name and all she really wanted was to get back home to Kansas.

    Carrie St. Louis and Alyssa Fox. Photo by Joan Marcus. The film’s iconic characters and images have become so deeply ingrained in our collective consciousness that psychologists use the movie as an archetype of the hero’s journey. Like Dorothy, all we want, it would seem, is to find our way back home.

    The next Oz-ian incarnation came along in 1972 when a sleek version of the story called The Wiz, featuring an all-black cast, opened on Broadway. It ran for 1,672 performances and was later made into a movie starring Michael Jackson in his only theatrical role.

    (Photo: Carrie St. Louis and Alyssa Fox star in the Denver-bound 'Wicked.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    Then, in 1995, strident political satirist and author Gregory Maguire wrote a Gargantuan and immensely popular fantasy novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. In an ironic twist — everything in Oz seems to have an ironic twist — the book examines, among other things, the nature of good and the nature of evil. Maguire found them alarmingly and inextricably entwined. 

    Then the adventures in Oz morphed once again, this time into a stage production adapted from Maguire’s book. Its latest life form is that of the Tony Award-winning musical by composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Godspell) and librettist Winnie Holzman (“My So Called Life,” “thirtysomething”). 

    Wicked tells a tale that is about as far removed from Baum’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz as the Emerald City is from Wichita. The show’s dark, witty, sophisticated charm made it the hottest ticket on Broadway.

    Glinda, the good witch is still there, but what, the musical inquires, is goodness after all? The main action revolves around Elphaba, the so-called wicked witch, (named by Maguire as a derivation of L. Frank Baum’s initials). Elphaba proves the popular adage that, indeed, it’s not easy being green. Born a lovely shade of jade, she is misunderstood, shunned and persecuted. While this naturally takes its toll, the question remains: is she evil? The answer is as ambiguous as her name. Elphaba and Glinda’s unlikely friendship illustrates the fact that it’s not simple trying to figure out which witch is which. 

    “The idea behind Wicked is that things are not as they seem,” notes book-writer Winnie Holzman. “What you think you know, you don’t really know. It is the premise of the novel that you know certain things, but you don’t know the deeper story.”

    The same notion drew composer Stephen Schwartz to the project: “I’m often attracted to an idea that takes a familiar story and spins it, looking at it from another direction, like Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. I like it when I see things like that, and I like to write them. For me, if you take a familiar story — whether it be the Book of Genesis or The Wizard of Oz — and you come at it from another point of view, the tension between the audience’s preconception and the approach you’re taking to the story adds an extra level of response, plus it helps to clarify the points you’re trying to make.

    “The idea of taking what is one of the iconic villains of American culture, the Wicked Witch of the West — so much ‘the villain’ that we don’t even know her name — and looking at it from her point of view, that seemed to me a brilliant concept. It was clear [that] a show about her could explore some of my favorite themes: the difference between surface appearances and what’s really going on underneath, how life is more complex and has more ambiguity than we tend to be comfortable with and, certainly, than our public discourse admits to.”

    Schwartz also found the whole idea inherently musical.

    “Oz is a fantastical, larger-than-life setting full of characters who almost demand to sing,” he said, “and the witch herself is so full of big emotions — rage, ambition and longing — the idea was screaming to be a musical.”

    In addition, tucked into this timeless tale is enough eye-popping technical wizardry in Eugene Lee’s award-winning sets to keep everyone this side of Oz happy. Yet beyond the show’s infectious score and mind-boggling sets is a thoughtful universal theme.

    Actor David Garrison, who played the Wizard in Denver’s first tour wisely suggested: “There’s a Green Girl in all of us…. Everyone has felt like the outcast at one time or another. It’s part of the show’s broad appeal. It’s not a children’s show, but kids enjoy the fantasy of it, adolescents get the love story and adults see the political allegory.

    “This show is like a rock concert every night. It’s very heartening to see that. It’s what theatre does best.” 

    Teri Downard is a Denver-based writer and contributor to Applause magazine.

    Wicked
    June 3-July 5
    Buell Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100, 800-641-1222 or  BUY ONLINE
    Accessibility performance: 2 p.m., June 27

    Our recent NewsCenter coverage of Wicked:
    Wicked has bonded mothers and daughters for a decade in Denver
  • New York's Broadway League dedicates 2015 conference to Randy Weeks

    by John Moore | May 12, 2015
    Randy Quote2

    Randy Weeks.


    The Broadway League’s 26th annual spring road conference opened on Tuesday in New York with a special dedication to late DCPA President Randy Weeks, who died last Oct. 9 at age 59. The conference has gathered nearly 1,000 producers, presenters and staff from Broadway touring markets around the country.

    Here was the opening statement from Al Nocciolino, President of NAC Entertainment:

    "Today I have the privilege of dedicating this conference to Randy Weeks. Randy was president of the Denver Center, and he was responsible for its Broadway series for many, many years. He was an active, engaged member of the Broadway League. He served on the Board of Governors, our executive committee, and also as one of our conference co-chairs. He was a very, very important part of our industry. But more important, Randy turned Denver into one of the most important theatre cities in America. Numerous tours chose Denver to open because of what Randy and his staff were able to do. It is one of the great, great theatre towns in America. We will always remember Randy, but if he could get a message to me right now, he would say, ‘Al: Tell them they are looking good, congratulations … and get on with it.’ So we are going to get on with it. But please remember our friend, Randy Weeks, and we dedicate this conference to him.”

     




      

    Our previous coverage of the death of Randy Weeks:
    Video: Highlights, interviews from Randy Weeks celebration
    Celebration draws 1,500 to recall a singular friend in story and song
    DCPA president Randy Weeks dies at London conference
    Video: Randy Weeks honored with dimmed lights, moments of silence
    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 tour to Randy Weeks
  • Photos: Family Night at 'Annie' in Denver

    by John Moore | May 06, 2015

    All our photos are free and easily downloadable from our Flickr site by clicking here.



    A young audience member gets her hair glittered during family activities before 'Annie.' Photo by John Moore. Wednesday was Family Night at the national touring production of Annie, playing through May 10 in Denver. Youngsters got to meet the cast and participate in theatrical activities in the Buell Theatre lobby before the performance, which was followed by a talkback. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Annie
    Through May 10
    Buell Theatre
    ASL interpreted, Audio described & Open Captioned performance: May 10, 2pm
    Tickets: Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    800-641-1222 | Groups (10+): 303-446-4829

    A young audience member, left, meets the actor who plays Annie after the show. Photo by John Moore.
    A young audience member, left, meets the actor who plays Annie after the show. Photo by John Moore.


    'Annie' cast members sign autographs before Wednesday's performance. Photo by John Moore.
    'Annie' cast members sign autographs before Wednesday's performance. Photo by John Moore.

  • Webcast: Watch Tuesday's Tony Award nominations live here

    by John Moore | Apr 27, 2015


    You can watch the 2015 Tony Awards nominations announcement right here beginning at about 6:30 am. MDT tomorrow (Tuesday, April 28). Mary-Louise Parker and Bruce Willis will co-host this special live webcast. Parker is a former Tony winner (Proof) and three-time nominee. Willis is set to make his Broadway debut this fall in the upcoming play Misery, a new stage adaptation of the Stephen King novel.

    Find out first which shows are nominated for Best Musical. Learn which of several actors with Denver-area connections who are under consideration for awards will have their dreams come true.

    (UPDATE: Both Wheat Ridge High grad Annaleigh Ashford (You Can't Take it With You)  and Castle Rock native Beth Malone (Fun Home)  were just nominated for  Tony Awards. More to come).

    The list of nominees promises to feature some huge stars. Most are predicting Bradley Cooper (The Elephant Man), Jake Gyllenhaal (Constellations) and Hugh Jackman (The River) will be nominated for outstanding actor in a drama.

    How do your predictions stack up against the experts? Gold Derby is predicting that Fun Home, starring Colorado native Beth Malone, will not only be nominated for Best Musical, but will win. Malone starred this season in the title role of the DCPA Theatre Company's The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

    After the nominations are announced, check back here throughout the morning as we update this page with inside info, trivia and more.

    The Tony Awards will be presented on June 7 on CBS. On the Twentieth Century headliner Kristin Chenoweth and recent Cabaret star Alan Cumming will host the 69th annual ceremony live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

    TRIVIA
    CBS has broadcast the Tony every year since 1978.

    Tony Award nominations

  • Video: Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo on coming home to Denver

    by John Moore | Apr 24, 2015

    Video by John Moore and David Lenk.


    Ace Young and Diana Degarmo, who star in the national touring production of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.' Photo by John Moore. Married stars Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo talk about ending their 15-month national touring production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in Denver, not far from Young's hometown of Boulder. "This is a dream come true,” Young says. "The first musical I ever saw was here. For me, it feels like I am going into a state championship baseball game. Fortunately, I have done that seven times. I have never done this. So I feel like a kid in the candy store." Joseph plays only through Sunday (April 26). Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org.

    Photo: Ace Young, Diana DeGarmo and their little Denver Broncos fan-dog, Rosie. Photo by John Moore.

    More coverage of Joseph on the DCPA NewsCenter:

    Interview: 'Joseph' brings Boulder native Ace Young home
    Go to the show page


    Video: Ace Young proposes to Diana DeGarmo live on "American Idol'':

    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat:
    Ticket information

    April 22-26
    Buell Theatre
    Call 303-893-4100 or buy online
    Note: ASL interpreted, Audio described and Open Captioned performance: 2 p.m. April 25

    Ace Young as Joseph and his wife, Diana Degarmo, as the narrator in the national touring production of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.' Photo by Daniel A. Swalec

    Ace Young as Joseph and his wife, Diana Degarmo, as the narrator in the national touring production of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.' Photo by Daniel A. Swalec

  • Video: Denver First Lady hosts students, 'Motown' cast members

    by John Moore | Apr 24, 2015

    Video by John Moore and David Lenk.




    Denver First Lady Mary Louise Lee with 'Motown' actors Reed L. Shannon and Leon Outlaw Jr. at Cableland. Photo by Emily Lozow. Motown at CablelandDenver First Lady Mary Louise Lee hosted students from Denver's Hamilton and Florida Pitt Waller middle schools for an afternoon of pizza, performances and inspiring conversations from Motown the Musical national touring production cast members.  And when the students were asked to return the favor, they sang a few songs for the pros as well.

    The participating Motown cast members included   Clifton Oliver, Leon Outlaw Jr., Reed L. Shannon, Patrice Covington, Ashley Tamar Davis and Martina Sykes.

    "I want everyone to know that this could be you too," said Lee, also the founder of  a nonprofit called the Bringing Back The Arts Foundation. "You can be anything you set your mind to. You can be an astronaut.  You can can be an architect. You an be the mayor of Denver. It doesn't matter what color you are, or where you come from."



    Pictured above: Denver First Lady Mary Louise Lee with Motown actors Reed L. Shannon and Leon Outlaw Jr. at Cableland. Photo by Emily Lozow.

    Our photo gallery from the day at Cableland:


    Photos by John Moore and Emily Lozow for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • 'Motown' moments: Smooth moves earn retired Colonel trip to Boston

    by John Moore | Apr 13, 2015



    Shel and Karen Oli with 'Motown' star Allison Semmes. Photo by John Moore. Retired Air Force Colonel Shel Omi of Wheat Ridge won CBS-4's Motown superfan contest by submitting video of his father-daughter wedding dance to the Motown "My Girl," with his daughter, Paige.

    Omi won a trip to see 'Motown the Musical' in Boston, where he met cast members and took a private a backstage tour. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore and Video Producer David Lenk talked with Col. Omi at Opening Night of the national touring production's current stop in Denver, which runs through April 19.

    Footage from Boston courtesy CBS-4 Critic-at-Large Greg Moody. Pictured above: Shel and Karen Omi with Motown the Musical star Allison Semmes. Photo by John Moore.

    Watch the video of the full father-daughter dance by clicking here

    Motown the Musical: Ticket information
    Through April 19
    The Buell Theatre
    ASL, Open Caption and Audio Described performance: April 18, 2 p.m.
    Tickets: 303-893.4100 | buy online
    800-641-1222 | TTY: 303-893-9582
    Groups (10+): 303-446-4829
    Click here to go to the show's official web site

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Motown, The Musical:
    9News' TaRhonda Thomas is a Supreme for a Day
    Video: A 'Motown' national anthem at Denver Nuggets game
    Mayor declares 'Motown the Musical Day' in Denver
    Video: Our Little Michael Jacksons in Denver
    Video: Allison Semmes on channeling Diana Ross
    Video: Scott Shiller's first day as DCPA CEO is Motown's opening night
    How Berry Gordy turned a slogan into The Supremes
    Photos: Motown in Denver
    Official show page
    Video: Montage of scenes

    Shel Omi with his family at the opening of 'Motown the Musical' in Denver. Photo by John Moore. Shel Omi with his family at the opening of 'Motown the Musical' in Denver. Photo by John Moore.
  • 'Joseph ... ' brings Boulder native Ace Young home

    by John Moore | Apr 10, 2015
    Ace Young as Joseph and his wife, Diana Degarmo, as the narrator in the national touring production of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.' Photo by Daniel A. Swalec
    Ace Young as Joseph and his wife, Diana Degarmo, as the narrator in the national touring production of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.' Photo by Daniel A. Swalec


    Boulder native Ace Young was born to be on “American Idol.” Being the youngest of five boys, he says, “made me very competitive very early in life.”

    That life began in 1980 at Boulder Community Hospital. The Youngs bounced around Boulder from rented house to rented house because, Young says with a laugh, “no one ever wanted us in their house for more than a year.”

    Why not? Five boys, he said.

    “It was like a tornado.”

    Young Ace was a bit of a rough-houser, he claims, but he also was an Eagle Scout who sang choir, played sports and took International Baccalaureate classes at Fairview High School. To pretty much anyone but Ace…he was a good kid.

    “To my parents’ knowledge, I was a good kid,” he says with another chuckle. “But that didn’t mean everything I did was always parentally approved. Let’s just say my brothers got me out of a lot of trouble.”

    Ace YoungYoung started (parentally approved) voice lessons at age 9. His first paid performance was singing in front of the food court at Boulder’s Crossroads Mall when he was just 11. It was a family affair: His brothers carried speakers and his dad ran lights for a 30-minute show that included original songs and covers by the likes of Michael Jackson. There was even some 11-year old rapping in his set because, Young said, “Hey, Kris Kross was huge back then."

    Young has been huge ever since appearing on “American Idol” back in 2006. He is now starring in the title role of the national touring production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and he is fulfilling a lifelong dream by closing that 15-month tour at his hometown Buell Theatre.

    “You have to understand: The first theatre show I ever saw was Phantom of the Opera at The Buell Theatre in 1992,” he said. Family outings meant a day at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre. “That was like going to church,” he added. “We got dressed up, we got a meal, and we watched an amazing show. I loved it.”

    Young is starring in Joseph... with his wife, Diana DeGarmo, playing the Narrator. She was the runnerup on Season 3 of “American Idol,” but Young is happy that’s not where they met. “That’s because she was only 16 when she was on ‘Idol,’” he said, “and that would have been weird.”

    No, Young met DeGarmo as a 22-year-old woman when they both were featured in the Broadway revival of Hair (he as Berger and she as Sheila). “That was a very challenging show, and we both jumped fully into it,” he said. “Not only did we become best friends, but we fell in love.”

    They are now performing together in a Joseph... that Young guarantees is different from any you have seen before.

    “We like to say this is not your mamma’s Joseph... ,” he said. “Andy Blankenbuehler, our director, is a Tony Award winner for a reason. We call him our modern-day Joseph. He has really pushed this production to a brand new level.”

    In this staging, every brother has a unique personality. There are no throwaway songs. Every moment matters. And that titular technicolor dreamcoat?

    “It has its own dressing room,” said Young – and he’s not kidding. “It is worth more than all of us.”

    The coat was hand-sewn and hand-dyed with all 29 of its lyrical colors. It was designed after Marc Chagall’s famous stained-glass windows. “It literally jumps off the stage,” said Young.

    Recent technological advances have allowed the creative team to push the visual limits of the show in other ways. Instead of just hearing about the troubling dreams Joseph interprets, for example, “You actually see the dreams happening onstage,” Young said.

    Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber approved a change to the ending of the show that allows Young and DeGarmo to sing a wholly reimagined reprise of the opening song as a duet played to an acoustic guitar. “We sing it with a Simon and Garfunkel harmony vibe,” said Young, “and it tears the roof off every night.”

    The couple is grateful for the growing trend of casting popular singers from competitive TV shows such as ‘'American Idol’' and “The Voice” into Broadway and touring productions. And Young’s wife started it all.

    “Diana was the first-ever 'American Idol' finalist to do a Broadway show,” he said of DeGarmo’s year with Hairspray in 2006. “If it weren’t for her paving the way, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to make my Broadway debut in Grease in 2008.”

    He has advised anyone who follows in his TV footsteps to never take work that follows in TV, film or theatre for granted. “I let them know that the next thing you do after this has to matter, because so many of them don’t take it seriously and they think it is going to last forever,” he said. “But if you don’t do a good job, you are never going to be asked back.”

    Young can’t imagine a better place to close this chapter of his professional career than Denver. “To be able to finish in my hometown where I grew up for the first 20 years of my life is just going to be amazing,” he said. But he’s even happier for his parents.

    “My mom has about 170 friends coming to one performance — and I have known every single one of those 170 people my entire life,” he said. “I bet half of them changed my diapers.”

    Those diaper-changers will see a show, Young promises, “that shoots you out of a cannon from the very beginning.”

    And yet, what he loves most is the very end.

    “Every night, I see kids in the crowd that have the bug,” Young said. “They are feeling what I felt when I saw Phantom at The Buell Theatre as a kid. They are being inspired to be part of the arts. And when you are the one onstage giving that out, it feels like you are passing it forward.”

    Video: Ace Young proposes to Diana DeGarmo live on "American Idol'':

    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat:
    Ticket information

    April 22-26
    Buell Theatre
    Call 303-893-4100 or buy online
    Groups (10+): 303.446.4829
    Note: ASL interpreted, Audio described and Open Captioned performance: 2 p.m. April 25
  • 9News' TaRhonda Thomas is a Supreme for a Day

    by John Moore | Apr 10, 2015


    TaRhonda Thomas of 9News got to be a Supreme for a Day. She got to wear the hot pink, she got dance and vocal lessons, and yes, she got to stop in the name of love during the Friday morning newscast, with some help from the national touring production of "Motown the Musical" cast and crew. We followed the making of the fun 9News segment. Helping out were Musical Director/Conductor Darryl Archibald, Dance Captain Rod Harrelson,  Wardrobe Supervisor Heather Yerrick and, as The Supremes, Jennie Harney and Krisha Marcano.

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

    Click here to watch TaRhonda Thomas' report for 9News

    And here are our photos from TaRhonda's Day as a Supreme:




    Motown the Musical: Ticket information
    Through April 19
    The Buell Theatre
    ASL, Open Caption and Audio Described performance: April 18, 2 p.m.
    Tickets: 303-893.4100 | buy online
    800-641-1222 | TTY: 303-893-9582
    Groups (10+): 303-446-4829
    Click here to go to the show's official web site

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Motown, The Musical:
    Video: A 'Motown' national anthem at Denver Nuggets game
    Mayor declares 'Motown the Musical Day' in Denver
    Video: Our Little Michael Jacksons in Denver
    Video: Allison Semmes on channeling Diana Ross
    Video: Scott Shiller's first day as DCPA CEO is Motown's opening night
    How Berry Gordy turned a slogan into The Supremes
    Photos: Motown in Denver
    Official show page
    Video: Montage of scenes




    TaRhonda Thomas of 9News plays Diana Ross with Jennie Harney and Krisha Marcano of 'Motown the Musical' as her Supremes. Photo by John Moore.
    TaRhonda Thomas of 9News plays Diana Ross with Jennie Harney and Krisha Marcano of 'Motown the Musical' as her Supremes. Photo by John Moore.
  • Video: A 'Motown' national anthem at Denver Nuggets game

    by John Moore | Apr 09, 2015

    Rodney Earl Jackson Jr., who plays Jermaine Jackson and a Temptation in the national touring production of Motown the Musical that plays in Denver through April 19, sings the national anthem before the Denver Nuggets' impressive victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at the Pepsi Center on April 8, 2015.

    Video by Emily Lozow, Alicia Giersch, Heidi Bosk and John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.

    Rodney Earl Jackson Jr. Photo by Heidi Bosk.
    Rodney Earl Jackson Jr. at the Pepsi Center before singing the national anthem at the Denver Nuggets' game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Photo by Heidi Bosk.


    Motown the Musical: Ticket information
    Through April 19
    The Buell Theatre
    ASL, Open Caption and Audio Described performance: April 18, 2 p.m.
    Tickets: 303-893.4100 | buy online
    800-641-1222 | TTY: 303-893-9582
    Groups (10+): 303-446-4829
    Click here to go to the show's official web site

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Motown, The Musical:
    Mayor declares 'Motown the Musical Day' in Denver
    Video: Our Little Michael Jacksons in Denver
    Video: Allison Semmes on channeling Diana Ross
    Video: Scott Shiller's first day as DCPA CEO is Motown's opening night
    How Berry Gordy turned a slogan into The Supremes
    Photos: Motown in Denver
    Official show page
    Video: Montage of scenes

    Photos of Motown the Musical's stay in Denver:


    Here are  photos from the national touring production of 'Motown The Musical' in Denver. Photos by John Moore and Emily Lozow.



  • Video: Mayor declares 'Motown the Musical' Day in Denver

    by John Moore | Apr 06, 2015


    Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and his wife, Mary Louise Lee. Photo by John Moore. On Friday, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock declared April 3 to be Motown The Musical Day in Denver. He was accompanied by his wife, performer Mary Louise Lee.

    Hancock and Lee celebrated their 20th anniversary by flying to New York and seeing Motown The Musical on Broadway. The Hancocks already have attended the show three times in Denver. Hear what they have to say about the importance of Motown music not only for them, but for all music lovers.

    Lee made her professional debut at age 18 performing in the Motown inspired musical Beehive at what is now the Garner Galleria Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

    The national touring production of Motown The Musical will be visiting Denver through April 19.

    Read the entire proclamation at the bottom of this page.

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

    Mayor Michael B. Hancock and wife Mary Louise Lee declare April 3 to be 'Motown the Musical' Day in Denver. Phot by John Moore.
    Mayor Michael B. Hancock and wife Mary Louise Lee declare April 3 to be 'Motown the Musical' Day in Denver. Photo by John Moore.



    Motown the Musical: Ticket information
    Through April 19
    The Buell Theatre
    ASL, Open Caption and Audio Described performance: April 18, 2 p.m.
    Tickets: 303-893.4100 | buy online
    800-641-1222 | TTY: 303-893-9582
    Groups (10+): 303-446-4829
    Click here to go to the show's official web site

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Motown, The Musical:
    Video: Our Little Michael Jacksons in Denver
    Video: Allison Semmes on channeling Diana Ross
    Video: Scott Shiller's first day as DCPA CEO is Motown's opening night
    How Berry Gordy turned a slogan into The Supremes
    Photos: Motown in Denver
    Official show page
    Video: Montage of scenes

    Photos of Motown the Musical's stay in Denver:


    Here are  photos from the national touring production of 'Motown The Musical' in Denver. Photos by John Moore and Emily Lozow.



    The proclamation:
    April 3 is 'Motown the Musical' Day in Denver.
  • Video: 'Motown' moments: Allison Semmes on Opening Night in Denver

    by John Moore | Apr 02, 2015


    Allison Semmes in Denver. Photo by John Moore. Allison Semmes, who is playing Diana Ross in the national touring production of Motown the Musical that just opened in Denver, talks with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore just after the opening performance at the Buell Theatre. Motown the Musical plays through April 19.

    Motown the Musical: Ticket information
    Through April 19
    The Buell Theatre
    ASL, Open Caption and Audio Described performance: April 18, 2 p.m.
    Tickets: 303-893.4100 | buy online
    800-641-1222 | TTY: 303-893-9582
    Groups (10+): 303-446-4829
    Click here to go to the show's official web site


    Previous coverage of Motown, The Musical:
    Video: Scott Shiller's first day as DCPA CEO is Motown's opening night
    How Berry Gordy turned a slogan into The Supremes
    Photos: Motown in Denver
    Official show page
    Video: Montage of scenes


    Here are  photos from the national touring production of Motown The Musical's opening night in Denver on Tuesday, March 31. Photos by John Moore and Emily Lozow.

  • New DCPA CEO's first day is opening night of 'Motown'

    by John Moore | Apr 01, 2015



    Scott Shiller, newly appointed as just the second CEO in Denver Center for the Performing Arts history, had his first day on the job March 31. After a whirlwind day of greetings and meetings, he attended the opening performance  of the national touring production of Motown, the Musical, playing at the Buell Theatre through April 19.

    Shiller talks about his whirlwind day, which included meeting Denver First Lady and accomplished performer Mary Louise Lee, who made her professional stage debut at the Garner Galleria Theatre (then called StageWest) at the DCPA when she was just 18, and Motown star Allison Semmes (Diana Ross). Shiller also will attend the DCPA Theatre Company's One Night in Miami as well as Friday's world premiere of the new rock musical The 12, which imagines what happened to the disciples during the three days following their leader's death. Shiller begins his full-time duties as CEO on May 1.

    For information on any DCPA show, call 303-893-4100.


    Motown the Musical: Ticket information
    Through April 19
    The Buell Theatre
    ASL, Open Caption and Audio Described performance: April 18, 2 p.m.
    Tickets: 303-893.4100 | Click here to order tickets in Denver online
    800-641-1222 | TTY: 303-893-9582
    Groups (10+): 303-446-4829
    Click here to go to the show's official web site

    Previous coverage of the Scott Shiller hiring:
    Scott Shiller has theatre in his bones

    Previous coverage of Motown, The Musical:
    How Berry Gordy turned a slogan into The Supremes
    Official show page
    Video: Montage of scenes


    DCPA CEO Scott Shiller with 'Motown' star Allison Semmes and Denver First Lady (and performer) Mary Louise Lee. Photo by Emily Lozow.
    DCPA CEO Scott Shiller with 'Motown' star Allison Semmes and Denver First Lady (and performer) Mary Louise Lee. Photo by Emily Lozow.
  • Photos: Best of 2015 'Saturday Night Alive'

    by John Moore | Mar 23, 2015

    Saturday Night Alive. Photo by Emily Lozow. The 2015 "Saturday Night Alive" gala raised a record $914,000 for the DCPA's Education programs on March 7. Last year, the Education Division engaged more than 68,000 students of all ages. The gallery above includes some of the best photos taken during the night, including the benefit concert headlined by Jessie Mueller and Jarrod Spector at The Stage Theatre. Photos by Steve Peterson, John Moore and Emily Lozow. (Photo above by Emily Lozow.)

    To see EVEN MORE photos we took at the gala, click here. (Seriously: There are, like,  four times more photos at this link here.)  All photos are downloadable for free in a variety of file sizes.

    Our previous coverage of the 2015 Saturday Night Alive:


    Watch our video podcast with Jessie Mueller and Jarrod Spector (push play)
    Broadway stars to headline 2015 Saturday Night Alive

    The complete 'Saturday Night Stars' video series:
    Meet Roger Hutson
    Meet Susan Stiff
    Meet Claudia Miller
    Meet Fred Churbuck
    Meet Hassan Salem

    Denver Post Editor Greg Moore and wife Nina Henderson Moore at Saturday Night Alive. Photo by Steve Peterson
    Denver Post Editor Greg Moore and wife Nina Henderson Moore at Saturday Night Alive. Photo by Steve Peterson

  • America: Hal Holbrook would like to have a little talk

    by John Moore | Mar 15, 2015
    Photos of Hal Holbrook's appearance at the Sie Film Center in Denver on March 20. Photos by John Moore.


    Hal Holbrook Quote


    Hal HolbrookWhat we have here in America, the enduring actor Hal Holbrook believes, is a failure to communicate.

    It’s not that we’re not talking. It’s that we’re not talking to each other. Unless it’s to our own kind.

    “People are afraid to talk openly about politics today,” Holbrook said last week. “We have become so nervous about offending anyone’s opinion. Plus, we have so many ridiculous opinions circulating on the cyber-circuits that to deal with political opinion today is not only chancy; you are just going to turn people off and scare them.” 

    But Holbrook, as the world has well-known these past 90 years, is not afraid to talk. Either as himself, or as the alter ego he has lived with for seven decades now. Holbrook returns to Denver on March 21 to perform for the 11th time Mark Twain Tonight, the second-most presented show in DCPA history (Sorry, Hal: You can’t touch A Christmas Carol. Yet.)

    Holbrook is talking, all right. Just as Twain might if he had not had the bad form to die as a whippersnapper of just 75. He’s talking about the gun culture. About religious hypocrisy. About racism. About abuse of power by police. (He’s experienced it, too, he says.) He’s even talking about the legalization of marijuana in Colorado.

    “What is going on in the world today is dangerous,” he says. And not just in Syria and France and Africa. Right here at home. But what’s most dangerous, says America’s modern-day Will Rogers, is what will surely come to pass if we don’t start talking about it openly. Forget congress. (They’re beyond hope, he says.) Forget the “yacky, yacky yack” televangical opinion-makers on Fox or MSNBC. (They are all talking so fast, you can’t follow them anyway,” he says.)

    No, the onus is on the real and regular people of America to start talking to one another again, Holbrook says. At the dinner table, in churches and at taverns. More important, we have to learn all over again how to listen. 

    “We are living in a world where there is a terrible religious war underway, and it has been brewing for a long time,” Holbrook said. “And if we aren't able to talk about it without taking partisan sides, we're in deep trouble. Because we have something really golden in this country, which is the tradition of being able to have your own idea about something. And being able to express it. And if we go hiding that in the closet, and suppress it, you can just imagine what kind of world we are heading into.” 

    Hal Holbrook QuoteBut into this culture of animosity and hostility and division, we still have, through Holbrook, an immortalized Mark Twain going out into every corner of America talking about who we were and what we were thinking 100 years ago. And in doing so, he is in some strange way touching on who we are and what we are thinking now.

    When Holbrook walks out on stage sporting Twain’s trademark white suit, wild white hair and indelible witticisms, it’s like being sat down by your grandfather’s grandfather for a good talking to. 

    “I am so grateful that I still have this Mark Twain show; that I never gave it up; that I never got tired of it,” said Holbrook, who has performed Mark Twain Tonight nearly 2,500 times in all 50 states, 20 countries and behind the Iron Curtain. “It gives me a tremendous feeling of moving forward. It gives me energy. I love doing the show, and I love the challenge of trying to talk to people today about what is going on in our world.”

    Although the show is always 100 percent Twain, it is always changing. Holbrook promises Denver audiences will see at least an hour of new material since his last visit here in 2013. He has a new number from Huckleberry Finn that recounts the comic family feud between the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons, who have been fighting for so long, no one can remember why it began in the first place. “Strangely enough,” Holbrook says,” it has something powerful to say about the gun culture today and our love affair with guns.

    “I have another new piece that I think was pretty chancy to add in, and that has to do with Mark Twain's thoughts on the Christian Bible. It’s about how people use the Bible without even understanding what Jesus is saying in it. And I am telling you, it is right on the nose. As a religious nation, we have a tremendous lack of understanding of what Jesus Christ is telling us. We turn it into something else and make a mess of it. That's what happens when you marry politics to religion. That’s what we’ve done, and it is creating a big problem in this country. Politics and religion do not go well together.”

    These are dicey, controversial topics of conversation. But no matter your politics, the dialogue somehow flows more easily when America’s most beloved, cigar-chomping humorist is leading it. Holbrook has voted for both Democrat and Republican presidents – and he’s been alive for every one of them since Calvin Coolidge. Growing up, his family was conservative. “But I was born with a question mark on my head, so I can't be a Republican,” he says. Like Twain, he hails from the party of common sense.

    And right now, his common sense is telling him that America will live in shame for decades for the way it has treated President Barack Obama. And he doesn’t exonerate the left in that assessment.

    “My thoughts begin with this powerful realization that Barack Obama was elected in 2008 with the largest number of popular votes ever given to any U.S. president (69.5 million). It was as close to a landslide as you can get,” he said. “The very next day, the opposing party announced very clearly and very prominently that their one goal in the next four years would be to get rid of the man we had just elected by the largest number of votes ever given to any president in U.S. history. That, to me, was unforgivable. Obama has been under a bombardment like no president I have ever seen. No one has ever been shot at and attacked the way he has.”

    What’s more important than Obama being picked on is the underlying reason Holbrook believes he is being picked on -- and how that unmasks the greatest problem facing America today.

    Hal Holbrook Quote“Obama has accomplished an amazing amount in the past six years – and nobody is talking about it. Not even the Democrats are standing up for him. And why is that? If this guy is achieving all this good stuff against such tremendous odds, why aren't the people in his own party standing up for him? There is one element that comes into this whole picture, which all of us try to put out of our minds, and that is racism. And the fact that President Obama is black.

    “There is such a powerful tide of racism in this country today, and I don't think we can blind ourselves to that fact.”

    It’s that kind of blood-pumping talk that keeps Holbrook getting up in the morning. That keeps him thinking about how to change and improve Mark Twain Tonight when he lies in bed at night. When he swims in the pool. 

    “I'm working hard, but when you are 90 years old, there all kinds of thoughts in your head that you'd really like to chase away,” he said. “You can’t sit there and linger on how old you are and worry about dying. You just have to pick up and go.”

    In the meantime, he is keeping the conversation going. He and Mark Twain.

    “I was writing my son the other day, who is very intelligent and very hard to argue with. He has very strong opinions. I was trying to tell him, 'David, I think what I have been trying to do with Mark Twain all my life is to make people say to themselves, 'Wait a minute. Let's not be too sure about that …’ " 

    The night before Holbrook’s March 21 performance at the Buell Theatre, he will be presenting a documentary titled Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey at the Sie Film Center (7 p.m. Friday, March 20, 2510 E. Colfax Ave.) It shows performance excerpts from Mark Twain Live and includes interviews with Sean Penn, Martin Sheen, Emile Hirsch, Cherry Jones and others.

    “It's really good, I have to say,” he said.



    Here are a few excerpts of Holbrook talking about other important subjects:

    ON RACE IN AMERICA
    “We are watching the whole racial thing happen again, over and over. We have done a great deal to try to solve it since the beginning 300 years ago ... but it ain't solved yet.

    ON HIS RECENT RUN-IN WITH POLICE
    I think there is as much racism in Missouri as in any state in the union. I know what it's like when you give some guy a uniform and a gun. I was totally humiliated by a young police officer in Springfield, Mo., just so he can be big stud making an old man go though a whole routine. He followed me because I took a wrong turn on a totally dark road around 11 at night. There was nobody on the road. No traffic. Nothing. He was accusing me of DUI. I hadn't been drinking for 20 years, and he made me do all kinds of stuff. It was really insulting. Now, if you happen to live in a state where there is a lot of racism when you were growing up, I think it would be childish to dream that a fellow who’s got a uniform on has not carried some of that racism into his adulthood.  We know that now from the actual facts that have come out of the city government in Ferguson. It's all proved now.

    Hal Holbrook QuoteON OBAMACARE
    He introduced a health-insurance program that was long overdue. Every civilized country in the world has had one for their people except the wealthiest country in the world. And then congress got a hold of this bill - and the lobbyists - and I  won't say they mutilated it, but they certainly made it a lot more complex than it originally was going to be. All that being said, yes, it's been a terrible mess. I have friends who hate it. But the upside of it is this: Eleven million people now have health insurance because of it. So you cannot dismiss the accomplishment. I think it’s quite extraordinary.

    ON CONGRESS
    These are basically very dumb people. They would sell their mother for a dollar, and they do it every day down there.

    ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY
    I have voted Republican several times in my life. But they have taken this party and they have twisted it in ways that do not help us at all. Did you see the picture of the guy from Arkansas (Tom Cotton) who wrote the letter to the Ayatollah in Iran? Have you seen his picture? He looks like a 28-year-old kid. This guy is a thinker? This is somebody we are supposed to admire?

    ON THE LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA IN COLORADO
    People are not going to like hearing me say this, but it doesn't make sense to me to think that somebody who is smoking marijuana is not going to have his judgment affected somewhat - maybe a lot - while driving. I don't want to be killed, and I don't want my grandson who is just turning 18 in April and is going to be driving all the way across this country to live in California - to be killed. I want to tell you, the people in California are driving more and more crazy every day. They are doing things I have never seen done before. I'm not kidding. Now I don't know whether they are on some drugs or what, but they have no respect for the rules of the road anymore. I smoked pot a couple of times in my life, OK? I didn't like it. I was doing a show once when my second marriage was breaking up, and I was having an affair with this sexy girl who was on the show. She was much younger and she was into all kinds of things like EST. So another friend wanted us to come over and smoke marijuana, and I said, "I don't want to smoke marijuana.” They said, “Oh, Hal, you've gotta loosen up. We want you to take a few puffs of marijuana.” So I said, ‘Oh hell, all right, all right, all right, c'mon...” And I smoked a couple puffs. Now (my girlfriend) says to me, "I want us to tell the truth about what we feel about each other. Tell the truth about what you think of me, Hal!" And I said, "OK: I think you're a nut!" And she got mad and left the room.  So, that's what I think about marijuana: It'll free you up, all right. But it's not safe!”

    ON 102-YEAR-OLD DCPA FOUNDER DONALD R. SEAWELL
    He's my inspiration. I'm 12 years behind him. He’s such a remarkable gentleman in the true sense of the word. He is powerful in his positive feeling about his ability to keep going. That is the best medicine you possibly can have when you start to get into your 90s. I keep trying to catch up to him … but he makes it very hard.

    ON THE 2010 DEATH OF HIS WIFE, DIXIE CARTER
    I think of her every minute of the day. I can constantly hear her talking to me. And it's rearranging my idea of where heaven is. I think it's right around here. Her presence is constantly here in this house. And so, it’s very, very hard for me to make peace. Not only with losing someone you love. But it's very hard for me to make peace with how you justify taking someone away who was not only so full of life, but also all that talent and kindness and good feeling for people. But at the same time, I have to remember that Dixie was a very sincere Christian. She did not preach it. She just lived it. She respected everybody. That, to me, is the kind of Christian I like.     

    HAL HOLBROOK IN MARK TWAIN TONIGHT
    Saturday, March 21
    7 p.m.
    Buell Theatre
    Denver Performing Arts Complex
    303-893-4100
    Click here for tickets

    DOCUMENTARY FILM: HOLBROOK/TWAIN: AN AMERICAN ODYSSEY
    Friday, March 20
    7 p.m.
    Sie Film Center
    2510 E. Colfax Ave.
    Click here for tickets

     

  • Video podcast: Jessie Mueller and Jarrod Spector at Saturday Night Alive

    by John Moore | Mar 12, 2015

    In this video podcast, headliners Jessie Mueller and Jarrod Spector talk with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore just before their benefit concert netted more than $910,000 for DCPA Education programs on March 7, 2015, at The Stage Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The video includes performance excerpts from a set list that included "Since I Don't Have You," "Natural Woman," "You Can Go Your Own Way" and even Aerosmith's "Dream On."

    Mueller, who won the 2014 Tony Award for Outstanding Actress, and the Tony-nominated Spector were co-stars in the hit Broadway musical Beautiful, the Carole King Story all the way up until 24 hours before this concert, when Mueller played her final performance on Broadway.

    In this fun interview, the pair talk about Beautiful, the importance of arts education, and there's a fun reference to Spector's own start in show business - he appeared on Star Search at age 6 and made his Broadway debut at age 9 in Les Misérables.

    Last year, the DCPA's Education Division engaged more than 68,000 students of all ages. For more information, click here.

    The not-yet-cast national touring production of Beautiful, The Carole King Musical, will visit Denver from July 19-31, 2016 in the Buell Theatre. To read more about DCPA's 2015-16 Broadway season, click here.


    Jarrod Spector and Jessie Mueller. Photo by John Moore.

    Jarrod Spector and Jessie Mueller at Saturday Night Alive in Denver. Photo by John Moore.


    Check out our 'Saturday Night Stars' video series:
    Meet Roger Hutson
    Meet Susan Stiff
    Meet Claudia Miller
    Meet Fred Churbuck
    Meet Hassan Salem
  • Bee Gees tribute concert honors 'The Kennedys of the music business'

    by John Moore | Mar 02, 2015



    If Matt Baldoni ever gets to meet Barry Gibb, he says, “I do have a pretty long list of questions for the man.”

    At the top: 'How am I doing?”

    Why? “Because quite frankly,” Baldoni said, “If Barry didn't like what I was doing, I couldn't do this.”

    Matt Baldoni. Australian Bee Gees ShowBaldoni is playing Gibb in The Australian Bee Gees Show, a multimedia concert tribute to the band that sold more than 220 million records, first as a rock act and then as perhaps the most identifiable band of the disco era. A family member who charts such things says other artists have professionally covered Bee Gees songs 535 times. 

    On Thursday night (March 5), the company that first brought Denver RAIN – A Tribute to The Beatles, will give the Bee Gees the tribute treatment at the Buell Theatre.

    No. 2 on Baldoni’s list of questions for Barry Gibb probably wouldn't be a question at all.

    I guess what I would like to say to Barry Gibb is, 'Man, I am really sorry that your family ended up being the Kennedys of the music business, and that you have had to suffer this many innumerable tragedies,’ ” said Baldoni. 

    “Think about it: All three of his brothers are gone. But believe it or not, their mom is still alive. She's 94, I believe, and she has lost three sons, man. So I figure I better be on top of my game, because we are representing a family here.”

    Baldoni, originally from Grass Valley, Calif., is a classically trained guitarist and tenor singer who has both portrayed Frankie Valli on stage and sung backup for him. He His Broadway and touring credits include Mamma Mia, Monty Python's Spamalot and The Who's TOMMY, and he has performed in an ongoing production of The Australian Bee Gees Show, housed at the Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas. We got a chance to speak to him as he prepared for a performance in Fayetteville, Ark.

    Australian Bee Gees Show

    John Moore: Let's start with the show. Would you say this evening is more of a rock concert or a theatrical musical, or a little of both?

    Matt Baldoni: A little bit of both. The songs are really the star of the show. Everybody knows them. It's our responsibility to reproduce them with the most accuracy and authenticity as we can. But there is also a huge theatrical element. We carry an insane lighting rig, and there are video walls behind the performers. We have costume changes to reflect different Bee Gees periods. It's theatrical in that it's a two-act show and there are some story and video segments included. And of course, we are portraying characters.

    John Moore: But it’s less like Mamma Mai and more like, Rain, right?

    Matt Baldoni: Yeah. It's not simply a cover band. This is an entire production at Rain level.

    John Moore: Do you get any feedback from the Gibb family?

    Matt Baldoni QuoteMatt Baldoni: There is one older sister whose daughter organizes all of the different Bee Gees fan clubs all over the world. We speak to her regularly, and she monitors both our resident show in Las Vegas and our tour. We work with her to make sure that we are always respectful and authentic about what we are doing.

    John Moore: So would you say the key to making the show work is authenticity, then?

    Matt Baldoni: Yes, but I do think there is a point where attention to detail can become a little bit obsessive. Las Vegas has more of tribute acts than any other city in the world – and I have seen way more bad ones than good ones. I have seen some of the other guys, no matter who they are paying tribute to, get a little bit obsessive about their characters. But in all reality, this has to be fun. I am drawing from five decades of Barry Gibb - but there is a little bit of me in there, too.

    John Moore: How long has this show been going now?


    Matt Baldoni: It was started 18 years ago by a group of Australians. I am the only American in the front line of Bee Gees.

    John Moore: So what is it like being the only American?

    Matt Baldoni: I have had great training. All the guys I am singing with are Australian, and I have toured Australia a number of times. I would say I have seen a thousand times more of Australia than most Americans ever see. I have gotten to see all kinds of crazy things like Aboriginal people and backcountry farms all the things that really make Australia Australia. We've also visited the Gibb’s hometown in Redcliffe, Queensland, where there is a Bee Gees monument. We have seen their childhood home and we've sung in the hotel where they sang their first gig as children. That really helped me get a better understanding of the significance of these guys.

    John Moore: Help me understand this whole Australian connection. I know the Bee Gees are the pride of Australia, but I always thought they were British, and grew up about an hour from the Beatles.

    Matt Baldoni: They were born on the Isle of Man, off the mainland of England. Their father was a bandleader, and when the children were very young he got a gig in Australia. I guess Andy had just been born. So the entire Gibb family made the big voyage down to Australia. That's where their entire childhood was spent, and that’s where their career started.

    John Moore: I can guess which songs we are surely going to hear during the concert, but can you pick out a lesser-known song or two and tell us why it's in the show?

    Matt Baldoni: The show moves in chronological order. In Act I, we have both the '60s period and the '70s disco period. The '60s really showcased Robin Gibb, as opposed to Barry. Robin sang lead on a lot more of the material. A song a lot of people know would be "I Started a Joke," but we also have a couple others like "Spick and Speck," which was their first No. 1 record. Also a very dark ballad featuring Robin called "I Can't See Nobody."

    John Moore: If people only know the Bee Gees from their Saturday Night Fever disco period, how would you describe them as a band in that '60s period?

    Matt Baldoni: People like to lump them in with the Beatles but, unfortunately, every rock band that showed up after 1962 was lumped in with the Beatles. But in all reality, for us as musicians, the '60s period is the most adventurous material for us to play. It requires more musical skill and a higher sense of awareness. When I get to Saturday Night Fever and all the disco stuff, that is just absolute hell on my voice. I have to sing way, way high falsetto for about eight songs in a row

    John Moore: So what's your favorite song to perform in the show?


    Matt Baldoni: "How Deep Is Your Love?" Probably because I am a guitarist by origin, and I have some training in jazz, I really think the harmony and the chord changes are Beethoven or Gershwin-level brilliant.  I think that melody is going to go down in history. People are going to be singing that son a hundred years from now.

    John Moore: Some people may not know just how many songs the Bee Gees wrote for other artists. What's a title people might he surprised to learn the Bee Gees wrote for someone else?

    Matt Baldoni: We do have a segment in the show where we play some of those, actually. The '80s were a tough period for them, because when disco died, it died a really quick and horrible and painful death. And then they were like, "Oh my God, what the hell are we going to do?" But the guys never stopped working. The immediately went into the studio and started producing and writing for other people. I think one that most people don't know the Bee Gees wrote was "Islands in the Stream" for Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. Barry wrote songs for Michael Jackson. When I was in Frankie Valli's band, we use to sing "Grease is the Word." Barry wrote that for Frankie. He also wrote "Immortality" for Celine Dion, and "Guilty" for Barbra Streisand. 

    John Moore: The death of disco was remarkably quick.

    Matt Baldoni QuoteMatt Baldoni: Disco was over in about 5 minutes. What Barry says about it is pretty funny. He said, “Disco was great for every band but the band it was created around. He said, "For us, it was really awful. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, we were bigger than the Beatles, but we were a total joke, with the big teeth and the hairy chests and the medallions and the white bell-bottoms. All we did was write songs for a movie soundtrack." It really hit them hard. So it’s nice that it's no longer a joke and that people hold those guys with reverence again.

    John Moore: Tell me about an adorable audience interaction after your shows.

    Matt Baldoni: Man, we get those every night. I think my favorite happened about a year ago in Las Vegas. There was a huge, sellout crowd, and we were talking to fans after the show when I hear this woman with this thick Irish accent behind me asking, "Is he related to Barry? Because he's a dead (bleeping) ringer!" So I turn to her and she in her 60s, and she is just dressed to the nines. She told me she had come all the way to Vegas from Ireland, and that her No. 1 priority was to see this show. She started getting all misty-eyed, and I asked if she was OK. And she tells me, “In the summer of 1966, I was Barry Gibb's girlfriend," and she started crying.

    John Moore: That’s sweet!  


    Matt Baldoni: Look, dude: I don't know if she was telling the truth or not, but I would like to think she was. So I asked her, "What kind of a guy was Barry back then?" And she said, "Oh, he was so sweet. He was so gentle and kind. And he even bought me a ring." And I know from a friend of the family that that's what Barry used to do: He would buy every girl he was attracted to a ring.

    John Moore: See, I am the jerk who would have said to this lady, “You were Barry Gibb's girlfriend? You and 500 others."

    Matt Baldoni: But in all honesty, Barry got married in the early 1970s, and he has been married to the same woman ever since. More than 40 years.

    John Moore: OK, so I am going to ask one last, really hard-hitting question.

    Matt Baldoni: Bring it.

    John Moore: What do you think of Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake's Bee Gees routine?

    Matt Baldoni: Oh, dude, I think it's hilarious. Both of those guys are insanely talented. I don't take myself too seriously. More important, Barry finds it really funny, and of course he joined them on stage. Look, there is no such thing as bad publicity when entertainers of that level of fame bring more exposure to the Bee Gees' music  - and that all contributes to how good the timing is for The Australian Bee Gees Show. But I would be really curious to hear what both of them think of what we are doing.

    The Australian Bee Gees Show

    Thursday. March 5
    8 p.m.
    Buell Theatre
    Call 303-893-4100 or click here to go to the show page

  • Stomp: As loud as you can, Denver

    by NewsCenter Staff | Feb 17, 2015
    Stomp. Photo by Steve McNicholas.
    The cast of Stomp.  Photo by Steve McNicholas.

    Stomp
    is back in Denver in all its explosive, syncopated glory with those incredible percussionists who treasure the old adage about one man’s trash…

    The troupe still doesn’t look at everyday objects the way the rest of the world does. In their hands, brooms, garbage cans, Zippo lighters and the general detritus of the 21st Century takes on a life of its own. Stomp, created and directed by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, is an exploration of the outer limits of rhythmic invention. It’s a Pipe and Drum Corps for our age.
      
    And speaking of age, it has not withered Stomp. That concatenation of sound and skill, is back with its rhythms and drumbeats intact. The same goes for its nonstop movement of bodies, objects, sound — even abstract ideas. There’s no dialogue, speech or plot. But music? Absolutely. Uncommon music, created in nontraditional ways — with everyday objects ranging from matchbooks to every household item you can imagine. You’re bombarded by a caterwauling noise that under any other circumstances you would choose to shut out.

    But not here.

    Here all is syncopated and choreographed with the precision of an army bugle corps (minus the bugles) and by the fertile imagination of buskers or street performers from the streets of Brighton — the spot where Stomp’s creators hail from and where they dream up versions of this utterly inventive, unexpected, whacked-out show.

    There is no dialogue and there are no political statements to misconstrue, Just surprising sights and sounds of the moment, from the ringing of hollow pipes to clashing metal to  industrial strength dance routines involving a lot of supremely coordinated bodies.


    Stomp: Ticket information
    March 10-15
    Buell Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or click here to order online
    Groups (10+): 303-446-4829
  • 'Cinderella': In this telling, girl's got backbone

    by NewsCenter Staff | Feb 02, 2015
    Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Paige Faure and Andy Jones. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
    Paige Faure and Andy Jones from the Broadway company of 'Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.'  Photo by Carol Rosegg.


    Once upon a time, whether you read it in a book, sang along with the Disney cartoon or sat riveted to the television watching Julie Andrews, Lesley Ann Warren or Brandy, you fell in love with Cinderella. But it wasn’t until 2013 that this classic fairy tale actually graced a Broadway stage.

    Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s Cinderella was the only musical of the legendary duo that was written for television. Largely based on Charles Perrault’s 1697 version of the tale, Cinderella starring Julie Andrews debuted on March 31, 1957, to an audience of 100 million people — nearly 60 percent of the US population at the time.

    It’s no wonder that the show met with instant success. Rodgers and Hammerstein hold one of the most successful legacies in musical theatre history. Their 11 collaborations yielded two Pulitzer Prizes and 35 Tony, 15 Academy, two Grammy and two Emmy awards. Their contributions to what many have called the “golden age” of musical theater include Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music.

    But no amount of public adoration made it an easy transition from a 90-minute television version into a full-length Broadway musical.

    Cinderella

    “I was approached by producer Robyn Goodman to do a Broadway version of Cinderella,” said book writer Douglas Carter Beane, “and the first thing I said was, ‘There’s not enough score to do a full show.’ And then I went home for the holidays, with all my sisters and my nieces and my nephews and my kids. We were looking to do a little project together and I just went online and I typed in “Cinderella.” And from that was the Charles Perrault, the original French version. And I read it and I was knocked out. It’s only, like, a page and a half. But it already had so much stuff in it that Americans and English people had just taken out.

    “First was that the court was overwhelmed with ridicule and sarcasm, yet Cinderella was kind. Second was that she didn’t just see the Prince once; she saw him a number of times and actually saved him from the viciousness of the court. And the third was that one of the evil stepsisters turned out to be OK.

    “So I went back to Robyn and I said, ‘I found it. I found the way in.’ It is a perfect mesh of Rodgers and Hammerstein and their bigger shows, which always had big themes about kindness and responsibility."




    When Director Mark Brokaw read the book, "The first thing I thought was that Doug had done a fantastic job of taking the traditional story of Cinderella that everybody knows, but upending our expectations of who the characters were and how the story unraveled.

    “In this telling, Cinderella’s got backbone. It’s like those clown dummies that go down when they get punched, but come right back up. She’s able to absorb and then come back and keep going forward. And I think that’s at the heart of Doug’s tale — charity, generosity and kindness will triumph, ultimately. Those are the greatest qualities; better than beauty, better than wealth; that if you have those other three things, you have everything.”

    And the show, too, has everything. “The glass slipper is there and he has to find her, and the fairy godmother and the wicked stepmother are there,” said producer Robyn Goodman. “It just has a slight modern spin on it, so that girls feel that princesses can save the world; that they are proactive, they’re compassionate and that the basic theme of the show is kindness.”

    “It’s a wonderful introduction to classic Broadway for kids,” said Doug Beane. “We knew that we had a contract with a lot of audience members that it was their first show and if we didn’t do this right, they would never come back!”

    Lucky for us, the glass slipper — and the modernization of this classic fairy tale — is a perfect fit.

    Article compiled by Suzanne Yoe from Cinderella publicity materials.

    Cinderella

    Feb. 3-15 | Buell Theatre
    ASL, Audio Described and Open Captioning: 2 p.m. Feb 15
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 | denvercenter.org
    800-641-1222 | TTY: 303-893-9582
    Groups (10+): 303-446-4829

    'Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.'  Photo by Carol Rosegg.

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