• 'If/Then': How the set was installed for Denver launch

    by John Moore | Oct 06, 2015
    Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    We previously showed you our time-lapse video showing how crews over four days installed the set for the launch of the national touring production of If/Then at The Buell If/Then load-in. Photo by John Moore. Theatre in Denver.

    Here, Production Technical Supervisor Jake Bell talks about the particular challenges of readying the set not only for Denver, but for theatres of various sizes throughout the country. One thing that is new to this particular production is a wall of video that is used in the show. "We did not use the video element in New York," Bell said.

    If Then, by the creators of Next to Normal, follows two distinct storylines in the life of Elizabeth, a modern woman who woman faces the intersection of choice and chance. It plays in Denver from Oct. 13-15.

      If/Then load-in. Photo by John Moore.

    Photo by John Moore.

    Ticket information
    Oct. 13-25
    At the Buell Theatre
    Call 303-893-4100, buy in person at the Denver Center Ticket Office located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby, or BUY ONLINE
    ASL interpreted, Audio described & Open captioned performance: 2 p.m. Oct 25,
    Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    (Please be advised that the DCPA's web site at denvercenter.org is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for 'If/Then' performances in Denver)

    Our previous NewsCenter coverage of If/Then and Idina Menzel:

    Look for additional coverage of If/Then, including our expanded interviews with Idina Menzel, LaChanze, David Stone, Brian Yorkey, Tom Kitt and other members of the cast and crew, at denvercenter.org/news-center

    More photos of If/Then in Denver:

    All photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.

  • 'The Book of Mormon' breaks another Denver record

    by NewsCenter Staff | Sep 14, 2015
    'The Book of Mormon' Company. Photo by Joan Marcus.
    The Book of Mormon national touring production completed its third visit to Denver on Sunday. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    The national touring production of The Book of Mormon has broken its own house record in Denver for the week ending Sept. 13 at the Ellie. The production, which completed its third visit to Denver in three years on Sunday, grossed $1,585,945 for a standard eight-performance week. The Book of Mormon first broke the record the week of Aug. 16, 2015.

    The various national The Book of Mormon tours have broken 86 house records in 44 venues across the country.  At Broadway’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre, The Book of Mormon has broken the house record 50 times.

    The Book of Mormon
    broke house records during the last Denver engagement in 2013 and currently holds the all-time record at The Buell Theatre for the highest weekly gross (for an eight-show performance week) for the week ending Nov. 24, 2013, during which the show grossed $1,993,690.

    In addition, The Book of Mormon currently holds the all-time single ticket on-sale record for the DCPA with more than 38,000 tickets sold on June 10, 2013. The record was previously held by the 2012 on-sale for the national tour launch in Denver. 

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of The Book of Mormon:
    Gabe Gibbs' anthem day with the Denver Broncos
    Q&A with The Book of Mormon creators
    Announcing the daily Book of Mormon ticket lottery
    The Book of Mormon breaks all-time Buell box-office record

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is a not-for-profit organization.


  • 'Matilda': Meet the man behind the worst woman in the world

    by John Moore | Sep 08, 2015

    Matilda The Musical

    Miss Trunchbull is such a legendarily loathsome teacher, the late author Roald Dahl himself described the beastly woman as "a gigantic holy terror; a fierce, tyrannical monster who frightened the life out of pupils and teachers alike.”

    So what does it say about Bryce Ryness that when an actor pal saw the new Broadway stage adaptation of Matilda the Musical on Broadway, he immediately thought Miss Trunchbull was a role Ryness was born to play one day?

    Bryce Ryness“Hey, that’s a really good question!” Ryness said with a laugh. It’s a funny question because Ryness is an affable father of three who would not seem to conjure immediate comparisons to the most horrible head mistress in literary history.

    Miss Trunchbull is the antagonist in Dahl’s modern children’s classic Matilda, the story of an extraordinary little girl who decides her story is going to be an astonishing one despite rotten parents, a terrifying school and a vicious head mistress. It was adapted into a popular stage musical by the Royal Shakespeare Company that last week celebrated its 1,000th performance on Broadway. A new national touring production featuring Ryness as the aforementioned Miss Trunchbull visits Denver from Sept. 9-20 at the Buell Theatre.

    “It is so much fun to be in a position where I have the freedom and even the mandate from the creative staff to be funny and terrifying,” Ryness said.

    It was Kristoffer Cusick, Ryness’ castmate in the 2013 Broadway musical First Date, who encouraged Ryness to audition for the role.

    Bryce Ryness stars in the national tour of 'Matilda The Musical' as Miss Trunchbull.I think what Kristoffer probably saw was this character who has to be really intense and able to execute a joke,” Ryness said. “I am a pretty intense guy, and I am also able to run head-first into a joke. I am fearless in that regard. I tend to gravitate toward characters who say ridiculous things, but they have no idea that they are being funny.”

    Like when Matilda calls Miss Trunchbull a big, fat bully, and Miss Trunchbull responds: "You ought to be in prison. The deepest, dankest, darkest prison.”

    “I mean, come on!” Ryness said with laugh. “A 5-year-old should be in prison? That's ridiculous. But what makes it comical and what makes it scintillating and interesting for an audience is that the character is not joking.”

    On any given performance of Matilda the Musical, the collective audience reaction to Miss Trunchbull might be laugh-out-loud funny. At other times, viewers might recoil with uncomfortable stoicism. Either reaction is fine with Ryness, as well as his director, Matthew Warchus.

    “Mark told me, ‘Listen, if you go through this entire show and you are terrifying, that's totally OK. On the flip side, if you go through this show and you are very funny and only sort of terrifying, that's OK, too.' The primary challenge with this character is that she must not come across as a panto (or stock) character. They like to hire actors to do this role, not clowns. It just so happens that the role is perceived of as hilarious. But I am not setting out to make people laugh. So it's not slapstick or Borscht Belt or a Seth Rogen kind of comedy.”

    In order to play Miss Trunchbull meaningfully, Ryness needs to play her as a real, three-dimensional human being. Something awful must have turned innocent young Agatha into the feared Miss Trunchbull. And it's a doozy.

    “Part of the Matilda the Musical lore is that the story Matilda tells in the show is not just some fiction," Ryness said. "It's actually Miss Trunchbull’s childhood she’s talking about. And it goes that little Agatha grows up in the shadows of this sister who was a beautiful and brilliant acrobat in a circus family. But wherever Agatha goes, she is laughed at because she looks ridiculous. She's this massive creature who is mercilessly harangued by kids everywhere she goes.

    “But she finds, finally, the one place that she fits in, and the one thing in her life that she is actually good at - which is throwing the hammer. And so she takes all of that energy that she used to use to defend and protect herself, and she dives into discipline and training - and she wins. She is the hammer-throwing champion of 1969. And what do ex-Olympic athletes do? She becomes the phys-ed teacher at this school called Crunchem Hall. And over time, she becomes the Head Mistress. And her task is to right all of the wrongs that were levied against her when she was a little kid.”

    'Being scared is part of the human experience'

    Matilda The Musical may be a quintessentially British musical. But no matter how British the name sounds, Bryce Ryness is actually an All-American Boy from Danville, Calif. He grew up with aspirations of playing catcher on a major-league team until a broken finger made baseball’s loss theatre’s gain. At 34, Ryness already has four Broadway credits: Legally Blonde, Hair, Leap of Faith and First Date.

    He has a unique perspective on Matilda, given that he has three children under age 6. He knows that Roald Dahl became one of the world's most revered storytellers for children because of his affinity for unsentimental and dark humor (James and the Giant Peach, The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.)

    Ryness is aware some parents might naturally feel some trepidation about taking their kids to see Matilda The Musical if it might possibly frighten them. Ryness actually believes that is all the more reason to take them.

    “Being scared is part of the human experience,” he said. “That has never changed. I believe as a parent that we shouldn't run away from fear, and I don’t think we should shelter our kids from fear. Whatever scares our kids should be talked about.”

    Ryness’ kids are age 5 1/2, 4 and 18 months. The oldest celebrated her 5th birthday watching Matilda the Musical on Broadway. Later, when the tour opened earlier this year in Los Angeles, she brought her brother to see their father’s debut as Miss Trunchbull together.

    “They had been briefed, and they had listened to the cast recording, so they knew what they were getting into,” Ryness said. “My daughter totally took it in stride. She loved every second of it. What was interesting was that there were a few moments when my son was a little bit scared, but what was actually frightening to him were the lights and the sound. It wasn't the story. It wasn't seeing his father playing this tyrannical monster who is going around terrorizing these kids.

    “But I think that’s what Roald Dahl, as well as the creative people who crafted this piece, do so well: There is just enough humor that for every moment that could be terrifying, it never gets out of control. There’s a safety.

    Matilda the Musical is an excellently told story. It's theatre of the highest quality in terms of its composition, in terms of its formatting, and in terms of its execution. So if people are scared, or if kids are frightened for a moment, just know that will turn into satisfaction and joy. What is that line from Lord of the Rings where Sam is trying to encourage Frodo to keep going? He says, 'You actually want it to be hard, because it makes the end more satisfying.' For good storytelling, and a good, satisfying piece of theatre, you want the bad guys to be bad, so that when the good guys win, it is so much more satisfying.”

    “I am of the school that says the villain defines the hero,” he said. “And if you are laughing at the villain, the hero does not need to have as much substance. If I do a good job, then you are really satisfied when Matilda wins."

    Ryness suggested that parents use this pop culture icon as a litmus test: If you have shown the movie Star Wars Episode 4, A New Hope to your kids, he said, you can take them to Matilda the Musical.

    “I don't think anything that goes on on-stage is any more terrifying than anything that you would see in that movie," he said. "The character of Darth Vader … the fact that Obi-Wan Kenobi is killed right in front of you? There is nothing we do on-stage that is any more terrifying than what you see in that film.”

    And nothing has been more terrifying to Ryness than stepping into a woman's boots.

    "I definitely have a new empathy for anyone who is overweight  ... and for women with enormous breasts," he said. "I mean, anything that leads us toward more compassion is a good thing, isn't it?" 

    Matilda The Musical: Ticket information in Denver
    Performing Sept. 9-20
    At The Buell Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100, 800-641-1222 or  BUY ONLINE
    Kids Night on Broadway: 6:30 p.m., Sept. 10
    Accessibility performance: 2 p.m., Sept. 20

    Bonus: How do you say it?

    Bryce Ryness has a tip for how to correctly pronounce the author who wrote Matilda, Roald Dahl. Says Ryness: "You know how you can pronounce it and sound really cool? Think of it as R-O-L-L-E-D. As in, 'I rolled it down the hill.' "

    Bryce Ryness stars in the national tour of 'Matilda The Musical' as Miss Trunchbull, the evil, sadistic headmistress of the school Matilda's ridiculously boorish parents force her to attend. (Photo courtesy Matilda The Musical.)
    Bryce Ryness stars in the national tour of "Matilda The Musical" as Miss Trunchbull, the evil, sadistic headmistress of the school Matilda's ridiculously boorish parents force her to attend. (Photo courtesy Matilda The Musical.) 

  • Q&A with 'The Book of Mormon' creators

    by John Moore | Jul 15, 2015

    'The Book of Mormon' Company. Photo by Joan Marcus.
    'The Book of Mormon' Company. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    The Book of Mormon
    returns to Denver Aug. 11 through Sept. 13. Here is a Q&A with creators Trey Parker, Bobby Lopez and Matt Stone answering frequently asked questions: 

    Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Book of Mormon?

    Trey Parker: Matt and I went to see Avenue Q when it opened in 2003, and we were like, "Wow, this is actually really good." When it was over I was thinking, "This is exactly the kind of thing I’ve always dreamed about doing."

    Matt Stone: During intermission, we saw that we were thanked in the Playbill. "Well," we thought, "that's weird."

    Bobby Lopez: That's because I saw the South Park movie when it open in 1999, and I just thought, "Oh my God, this is exactly what I want to be doing." A week after that, the idea came to me for Avenue Q.

    Trey Parker: It happened purely by coincidence that Bobby showed up that night. He introduced himself and we went across the street for a drink.

    Matt Stone: Bobby is younger than Trey and me, so he looked at us like elder statesman and asked what he should do next. We asked, “What did he want to do?” And he said, "I want to write something about Joseph Smith and the Mormons."

    Bobby Lopez: When I said Joseph Smith, they were like, "We’ve wanted to do that, too!" They had it in their heads to do some kind of Joseph Smith musical, but never did. I said, "If you guys want to do that, that’s fine, because I’d really love to see what you do, more than what I would do."

    Trey Parker: It just became ridiculously obvious that we should team up and do something about Mormons. So we said, "No, let’s do it together."

    Q: What came first, the story or the score? Can you tell us about some of the songs?

    Trey Parker: "Hello" was literally the first thing we wrote. As soon as we figured out the show was going to be about missionaries, we realized that it would be a great introduction to just ring a massive amount of doorbells and somehow work them into a musical number. This symphony of doorbells and white boys with good haircuts and white shirts and black ties ‐ saying "hello" and offering you a free book ‐‐ seemed very much an opening number to us. It is totally Disney in sensibility, and totally Mormon in attack.

    Bobby Lopez: There’s this idea that Mormons are these very naïve, hopeful, smiling, trusting people from the Midwest. In "Hello" and "Two by Two," we used the energy and optimism, and the relentlessly hopeful and sunny feeling. It’s a great way to start because we go to the opposite in a few scenes.

    Q: Did you have any musical theater influences in writing the show?

    Trey Parker: There’s a lot of Rodgers and Hammerstein references in the show, because that’s what it feels like to me. When you’re doing this sort of happy‐go‐lucky, optimistic Mormon, it just plays right into it. For the second act pageant, "Joseph Smith American Moses," we always thought it would be so awesome to do our own version of "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" from The King and I. We did this improv where we put on African drum loops and started singing African melodies. We had such a great time doing it, it was ridiculous. But then we realized we should make it a bigger number. We went back and actually watched the "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" sequence. It was really long but it told such a huge story, and our number didn't. So we were like, "Let's follow The King and I, and really make it clear that the story has a much deeper and profound meaning to the Africans."

    Bobby Lopez: When we were writing "Making Things Up Again," the first number in the second act, we had just seen Sunday in the Park with George. I think Trey was sort of influenced by it, which is weird because I consider myself the Sondheim freak out of everyone. Trey just sat down and started plunking out this Georges Seurat‐like rhythm, which became the whole motif for "You’re making things up again, Arnold."

    Trey Parker: There’s just nothing more perfect in the universe to me than a good musical. And a bad musical makes you want to kill yourself. A good musical is to me so much more moving and powerful than a great movie or a great book, or anything.

    Q: The Book of Mormon is provocative, in the same way that South Park is provocative. Are there boundaries?

    Matt Stone: There's a catharsis in being able to really laugh at some of the goofier ideas of religion without necessarily laughing at the people practicing them. We never like to make a "point," per se. We want to give you room to feel what the show is saying to you. We don’t want to tell anybody what the point is, or what the politics are. It’s up to you to figure out what it meant.

    Q: Are there boundaries in what you can do or say on stage?

    Trey Parker: There is a line that you can cross all you want as long as you have a reason for doing it. If it has a point and it has a story and it has genuine, real character and emotion, then you can pretty much do whatever you want as long as you’re being truthful.

    Q: How would you describe the show to someone who is a traditional musical theater fan?

    Bobby Lopez: The musical is a machine that's designed to bring you down and raise you up, and to give you a positive, uplifting experience. I want the musical to show people the nadir of human experience. For this musical, it's about faith. It's about religious feeling. And I think we show a character that loses his faith, and we give his faith back to him in a better way at the end. And I hope that the experience of the audience mirrors that, whether it's a religious experience or just feeling entertained.

    The Book of Mormon: Ticket information in Denver:
    Performing Aug. 11 through Sept. 13
    At The Ellie
    Tickets: 303-893-4100, 800-641-1222 or  BUY ONLINE
    Accessibility performance: 2 p.m., Aug. 30

  • Witches' Night Off: 'Wicked' cast raises $12,000 at Denver benefit

    by John Moore | Jun 25, 2015

    Cast members from the national touring production of Wicked took their night off on June 15 to perform in a unique cabaret show called Witches' Night Off, and they raised more than $12,000 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Doctors Without Borders and, locally, Project Angel Heart and Rainbow Alley.

    Kristine Zbornik, who plays Madame Morrible, performs at the Hard Rock Cafe Denver. Photo by Emily Lozow. The actors performed at the downtown Hard Rock Café Denver. Our video above and photos below show some of the highlights. Wicked continues to perform at the Buell Theatre through July 5. Video and photos by Emily Lozow and David Lenk.

    Over the years, Wicked has raised more than any other Broadway show for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The Wicked touring company alone has raised more than $2.8 million. To read more about Witches' Night Off, click here

    (Pictured above and right: Kristine Zbornik, who plays Madame Morrible, performs at the Hard Rock Cafe Denver. Photo by Emily Lozow.

    Our Witches' Night Off photo gallery:
    Witches' Night Out at the Hard Rock Cafe Denver. Photos by Emily Lozow.

    Wicked: Ticket information in Denver:
    Through 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:
    Video: Our busy day busking with John Davidson of Wicked
    Video: Exclusive interview with Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz
    Wicked witches stirring up an evening of cabaret on June 15
    Daily Wicked lottery makes $25 tickets available to lucky winners
    Video, photos: Wicked arrives in Denver: Load-In Day
    Interview with the two stars on the show's 'Popular' appeal
    Wicked a show for the green girl in all of us
    Wicked has bonded mothers and daughters for a decade in Denver

    'Wicked' cast members perform at the Hard Rock Cafe Denver. Photo by Emily Lozow.

    The crowd lines up outside the Hard Rock Cafe Denver before Witches Night Out. Photo by Emily Lozow.
    'Wicked' cast members perform at the Hard Rock Cafe Denver, top. The crowd lines up outside the Hard Rock Cafe Denver before Witches' Night Out, above. Photos by Emily Lozow.

  • Video: 2015 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor Performances

    by John Moore | Jun 23, 2015

    The fourth in our series of five videos covering the 2015 Bobby G Awards on May 28 at the Buell Theatre is a brief montage showing highlights from the live medley performed by all Outstanding Actor and Actress nominees.

    Opening the number are 2014 winners Abby Noble and Conner Kingsley. The nominees are:

    • Emma Buchanan, Eponine in Durango High School's Les Misérables
    • Raegan DeBord, Amneris in Mountain View High School's Aida
    • Ty Eatherton, Puck in Chaparral High School's Puck's Potion
    • Sam Hulsizer, Nathan Detroit in Rock Canyon High School's Guys and Dolls
    • Charlie Kolbrener, Moonface Martin in Fairview High School's Anything Goes
    • Taylor Lang, Aida in Mountain View High School's Aida
    • Dylan Ruder, Beast in Valor Christian High School's Beauty and the Beast
    • Alei Russo, Reno Sweeney in Fairview High School's Anything Goes
    • Evatt Salinger, Jean Valjean in Durango High School's Les Misérables
    • Lea Schoengarth, Mimi Marquez in Westminster High School's Rent

    Medley produced by Claudia Carson and Ryan Durfee for the the DCPA.

    The video culminates with the announcement of the winners.

    Video by David Lenk and John Moore.

    2015 Bobby G Awards: Outstanding Actor and Actress nominees. Photo by John Moore

    2015 Bobby G Awards: Outstanding Actor and Actress nominees. Photo by John Moore

    Our 2014-15 Bobby G Awards coverage to date:

    Bobby G Awards a triumph for Durango High School
    Video: Bobby G Award winners sing National Anthem at Rockies game
    Video: The Acceptance Speeches
    Video: A look at Durango's Outstanding Musical, Les Misérables
    Photos: The 2015 Bobby G Awards. (Download for free)
    Video: The 2015 Bobby G Awards in 60 seconds
    Andre' Rodriguez's stirring Bobby G Awards speech
    Video: See how we introduced all 30 participating schools
    Video: Page to Stage highlights with Bobby G Awards winners
    Meet your Bobby G Awards nominees, in their own words Video: Coloradans on Broadway to high-schoolers: 'Be relentlessly yourself'
    2014-15 Bobby G Awards: Complete list of nominations 
    2015 Bobby G Awards announces list of participating schools
    Annaleigh Ashford raises $735 for new Bobby G Awards memorial fund
    Denver Center establishes Randy Weeks Memorial Fund for The Bobby G Awards
  • Breaking: Idina Menzel will launch 'If/Then' national tour in Denver

    by John Moore | May 07, 2015

    Tony Award-winner and Broadway superstar Idina Menzel will launch the national touring production of If/Then in Denver, it was announced today. In all, Menzel will reprise her critically acclaimed, Tony-nominated performance in seven select cities.

    Menzel is best known for her Broadway 
    performances in Wicked and Rent; voicing Elsa in the global hit animated film Frozen; and her recurring role on the FOX TV series Glee.
    If/Then is an original Broadway musical that reunites composer Tom Kitt, book writer/lyricist Brian Yorkey, and director Michael Greif, the creative team behind the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical Next to Normal.

    The national touring production launches at 
     the Buell Theatre from Oct. 13-25. Menzel  will then appear in the following cities only: 
    • Seattle, Paramount Theatre, Nov. 3-8
    • San Francisco, SHN Orpheum Theatre, Nov. 10-Dec. 6
    • Los Angeles, Hollywood Pantages Theatre, Dec. 8-Jan. 3
    • San Diego Civic Theatre, Jan. 5-10
    • Tempe, Ariz., ASU Gammage, Jan. 12-17
    • Costa Mesa, Calif., Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Jan. 19-24

    Tickets for all of these  engagements are only available at present to season subscribers. If/Then is a part of the DCPA's 2015-16 Broadway Season. Subscriptions are available by calling 303-893-4100 or visiting denvercenter.org. A single ticket on-sale will be announced at a later date.

    Idina Menzel Quote If/Then is especially meaningful for me because I had the opportunity to develop it for several years with the creative team, whom I have come to consider family,” said Menzel.  “I’m so thrilled to launch the show’s national tour and to send it off across the country and around the world. I am very much looking forward to sharing this original musical with Broadway fans who weren’t able to travel to New York and see it there.”  

    The Hollywood Reporter called Menzel "a blazing supernova" in If/Then. The Associated Press said Menzel "tears the rafters off the theatre." The Toronto Star called If/Then "the bravest new musical in a long time." 

    The Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones called If/Then "a thoroughly fascinating, intellectually and musically rich new musical."

    It is not an adaptation of anything, but a very compelling and involving idea," Jones wrote. "Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s beautiful score hits an especially sweet spot, keeping the audience in its pocket. It is a zesty, savvy and ambitious original.”

    Additional casting for the national tour of If/Then will be announced at a later date.

    “I am thrilled that Idina will be playing these select cities in the time-honored touring tradition established by Broadway’s leading stars like Angela Lansbury, Yul Brynner, and Ethel Merman,” said producer David Stone.  “I look forward to having audiences discover and embrace IF/THEN and to give Broadway fans across the country the unique opportunity to see a genuine superstar at the height of her powers, in a role that was literally tailored for her.”

    If/Then is a contemporary new musical that follows two distinct storylines in the life of Elizabeth, a city planner who moves back to New York to restart her life in this city of infinite possibilities. When her carefully designed plans collide with the whims of fate, Elizabeth’s life splits into two parallel paths. If/Then follows both stories simultaneously as this modern woman faces the intersection of choice and chance.

    If/Then features choreography by Larry Keigwin, set design by Tony Award-Nominee Mark Wendland, costume design by Emily Rebholz, lighting design by Tony Award-Winner Kenneth Posner and sound design by Tony Award-Winner Brian Ronan.

    The original Broadway Cast Recording of If/Thenis produced by Sony Masterworks and is available on iTunes.

    If/Then played its final Broadway performance on March 22, having played 29 previews and 401 performances.

    For more information about If/Then, please visit IfThenTheMusical.com.

    Menzel's Colorado fans also will get a chance to see her this summer when she performs live at the Red Rocks amphitheater on Aug. 11

    DCPA Broadway 2015-16 subscription information:
    The DCPA's 2015-16 Broadway subscription packages start at eight payments of $26.13. Restrictions apply. To purchase a subscription, please call Denver Center Ticket Services: 303-893-4100 or toll-free at 800-641-1222. Or visit the ticket office located in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex at Speer Boulevard and Arapaho Street. Subscription packages also may be purchased online at denvercenter.org/bwaysubs. For groups of 10 or more, please call 303-446-4829.

    Please be advised that the DCPA's web site at denvercenter.org is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for these productions in Denver.

    Related NewsCenter coverage:
    DCPA's If/Then show page
    A Gentleman's Guide to the 2015-16 Broadway season in Denver
    John Moore's 2011 interview with Idina Menzel in The Denver Post 
    John Moore's review of the Red Rocks concert with Idina Menzel and Marvin Hamlisch


    Idina Menzel and Anthony Rapp in 'If/Then.' Photo by Joan Marcus.Idina Menzel and Anthony Rapp in the original Broadway cast of 'If/Then.' Photo by Joan Marcus. Menzell will perform the show in Denver in October. Further casting will be announced at a later date. 

  • 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.

    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.

  • 'Wicked' bonds mothers and daughters over a decade in Denver

    by John Moore | May 04, 2015

    Erin Ostrin and her daughter, Abby, are shown in 2005 and 2015. They have seen 'Wicked' together every time it has played Denver. Erin Begeman and her daughter, Abby, are shown in 2005 and 2015. They have seen 'Wicked' together every time it has played Denver.

    When Erin Begeman and Carolyn Toth Bartels took their young daughters to see the hit Broadway musical Wicked during its first visit to Denver back in 2005, little did they know the national touring production would become like a theatrical growth chart of their mother-daughter relationships over the next decade.

    Begeman and Bartels are among a handful of moms who will be taking their daughters to Wicked for a fifth time when the musical returns to Denver from June 3 through July 5. Denver will become the first city in the country to host the beloved Stephen Schwartz prequel to The Wizard of Oz five times.

    And these moms, and their daughters, have seen them all.

    Abby Begeman was a second-grader in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 2005. Now she is a 17-year-old senior at Cheyenne East High School. She is on the debate team and is the clarinet section leader for her school’s marching band. Hannah Bartels was a self-described insecure fifth-grader in 2005. She’s now a 20-year-old psychology major at Metropolitan State University of Denver. And she is still determined to one day play Elphaba on stage.

    Both young women found personal strength – and maternal bonding – watching the story of how the ostracized young girl of color (green) became the Wicked Witch of the West the world so universally loathes in The Wizard of Oz. The cackling dog-snatcher with the flying monkeys makes for an easy common enemy. But Wicked asks us to consider that she may be an enemy of our own making. Young Elphaba is labeled evil so often, she finally succumbs and simply becomes exactly what people expect her to be. Wicked audiences see the injustices done to her, and come to root for her.

    Both moms say they knew Wicked would become a lifelong mother-daughter ritual after seeing it for the first time in 2005.

    “I think it’s because the themes of Wicked grow along with you,” said Carolyn Bartels, of Wheat Ridge. “I know that Wicked is one of the reasons Hannah is studying psychology at Metro State. She has always been fascinated by this idea that wickedness is not something that you are born with - that it can be thrust upon you.”

    Both moms say Wicked has enhanced their relationships with their daughters over the past decade.

    “Each time we go, we make a night of it,” Erin Begeman said. “It’s time just for her and I to spend together. And this year will be extra special since I know Abby is heading to college after we see Wicked."

    Carolyn Bartels says she and daughter Hannah have always been very close. “But Wicked is one of the brightest spots in our relationship,” she said. ”It is the perfect mother-daughter outing.”

    But she admits, over the passage of coming time, Carolyn expects one essential part of the ritual to change.

    “If it ever comes to Denver, we will go, absolutely. But at some point, Hannah is going to start paying for the tickets,” she said with a laugh.

    We asked our two moms and daughters, who have not met, to talk about their common experiences watching Wicked in Denver in 2005, ’07, ’09 and ’12.

    Carolyn Toth Bartels and her daughter, Hannah, received a framed photo from Victoria Matlock after writing the 'Wicked' actor in 2007.

    Carolyn Toth Bartels and her daughter, Hannah, received a framed photo from Victoria Matlock after writing the 'Wicked' actor in 2007.


    The first time Wicked played Denver in September 2005, it sold 69,000 tickets, grossing $3.5 million in a three-week run that could have easily sold out for a run twice as long. In a precedent-setting move, tickets for a 2007 run were then immediately put on sale - 20 months in advance - and most of the 90,000 available seats went fast.

    Neither Erin nor Abby Begeman had seen a Broadway musical before Wicked in 2005. Not so for Carolyn Bartels, a former concierge at the Hotel Teatro. She grew up in a musical theatre environment, and she took Hannah to the Buell Theatre for the first time to see Beauty and the Beast – when she was just 2.

    Wicked QuoteErin Begeman had a friend in Wyoming who had seen Wicked in Chicago. She told Erin she loved it so much, she she would drive the seven hours to Denver just to see it again. Erin was convinced.

    “I grew up loving The Wizard of Oz – with the exception of those freaky flying monkeys,” she said.

    And what did they think of the show?

    “From beginning to end, Abby and I were mesmerized by the storyline, music, actors and costumes. We just loved it all,” Erin Begeman said. “While walking out after the show, Abby and I agreed we needed the soundtrack so we could learn every song to sing along the next time we saw it.”

    Carolyn Bartels, now the development director for the Aurora Cultural Arts District, was blown away. “I knew right then Wicked was going to become our mother-daughter ritual,” she said. “It was one of the most phenomenal theatrical concepts I had ever seen. And seeing it that first time led to my daughter reading the (Gregory Maguire) source books in middle school.”

    A young Hannah Bartels found her first viewing of Wicked production to be amazing. “I was in middle school, and despite the insecurities that come with that difficult time, Elphaba was my inspiration to be myself,” Hannah said. “There was great comfort with that, and I carried it with me from the theater into my life every time we saw it.”

    After that first Wicked, Erin and Abby Begeman immediately agreed they would see it again, whenever that was. “And in the meantime, we started enjoying other shows that came to Denver like The Little Mermaid and My Fair Lady,” said Erin, a political consultant. “I recognized that these were special times, and that they were precious. Memories were being made that we could both relive and always reminisce about.”


    The second time around, Denver audiences saw University of Northern Colorado graduate Victoria Matlock play Elphaba. A few days after the performance, Carolyn Bartels wrote Matlock a letter telling her of Hannah’s passion for the musical. Matlock sent back a framed photo of Elphaba on her broomstick with the message: “Hannah. Keep dancing through life! Love, Victoria.” 

    “When mom surprised me that framed photo, I was in shock,” Hannah said. “It is still on our wall.” 


    Hannah Bartels said the passing of years has brought different revelations with each new Wicked viewing, both for her mother and herself. “It’s always relatable to what one or both of us are maybe going through or dealing with,” she said. “And we always laugh - a lot.”

    As she has grown older and is now off living on her own at college, she finds it a meaningful tradition to keep up with her mother. 

    “And the story continues to give me faith in humanity and the belief that no one is truly born wicked,” she said.

    Abby Begeman now thinks of Wicked as something “that’s just for my mother and me,” she said. “It’s our girls’ night out. That little extra time together is a special thing I look forward to.  We get dressed up and go out for dinner at a fun restaurant in Denver.”

    Over the years, Erin says Wicked has helped her to communicate with Abby during hard times.

    “When I hear Abby play a song like 'Defying Gravity' or 'For Good,' I know it’s her way of telling me, ‘I’ve got something on my mind. Please ask me about it,’ " Erin said. “Parents can always find a way – even if it seems small or trivial – to connect with their kids. Wicked - and a love for theater – were two of ours.”

    June 3 through July 5
    Buell Theatre
    Accessibility performance: 2 p.m., June 27
    Tickets: Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    800-641-1222 | Groups (10+): 303-446-4829


  • '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
  • 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.

  • Meet Little Orphan Sandy: From death row to national applause

    by John Moore | Mar 22, 2015
    Photos from the national touring production of 'Annie', coming to the Buell Theatre from April 29 through May 10. Photos by Joan Marcus. Pictured below right are Issie Swickle, who plays Annie, and a dog named Sunny who plays Sandy.

    By Sheryl Flatow

    The adorable, sad-eyed terrier mix playing Sandy in the national tour of Annie is Sunny, a 4-year-old rescue dog who was named by her trainer, Tony Award honoree William Berloni, after the lyric “The sun’ll come out tomorrow.” Like her character in the beloved musical, the canine went from a hard-knock life to sunny tomorrows. But when Berloni found her, she had just one tomorrow remaining: she was only a day away from euthanasia.

    Issie Swickle as Annie and Sunny as Sandy. Photo by Joan Marcus.Berloni came across Sunny when he was looking for a dog to play Sandy in the 2012 Broadway production. He already had two candidates and was asked to find a third. He saw an online photo of Bruno — the dog had been misidentified as male — at a Houston shelter on a Friday and called to ask if he could come to see her on Monday. He was told she was scheduled to be put down on Saturday.

    “The thing about my job is I connect with someone, whether it’s online or in person, and if I don’t take them, they sometimes die,” Berloni says. “A trainer who used to work with me was living in Houston and I said, ‘Go over and see the dog, and if she’s sweet pull her and we’ll get her to New York and find her a home.’ It was less about the dog being a candidate for the show than it was about saving her life. It wasn’t until I temperament tested her — saw that she was friendly, and learned her aggression triggers and how she deals with stress — that I told the show we had one more candidate.”

    She got the role, making her the tour’s lone holdover from Broadway. In fact, Sunny aside, the touring version is based not on the recent revival, but the original 1977 production. The show visits Denver's Buell Theatre from April 29 through May 10.

    Martin Charnin, the show’s lyricist and original director, is again directing the musical, which has a book by Thomas Meehan and music by Charles Strouse. The choreographer is Liza Gennaro, who has incorporated selections of her father Peter Gennaro’s original dances. The new design is by Beowulf Boritt (set), Suzy Benzinger (costumes) and Ken Billington (lighting).

    Berloni, who has trained animals for 19 Broadway productions, as well as television and film, owes his career to Annie. He was an aspiring 19-year-old actor when he was asked to find and train a dog to play Sandy at the Goodspeed Opera House, where the show was first produced.

    “I had no idea what I was doing,” he says. So he trained the dog purely by instinct, which became the basis of the methodology he continues to use. “It’s really more of a life philosophy than a training philosophy. It’s taking the time to understand someone else’s feelings and language, as opposed to assuming they should understand yours. You take a dog who’s happy, friendly, likes people, and deals with stress, teach them some behaviors where there’s a cookie involved at the end, and they’ll do what you want eight times a week.”

    Berloni works only with rescue animals and estimates that he’s saved some 400 dogs over the years. When the animals aren’t performing, they live with Berloni, his wife and daughter on their Connecticut farm. “We currently own 25 dogs,” he says. “They’re either actors in training, working actors, or retired actors. We also have a couple of horses and pigs, a llama, a donkey, a pony, two cats and a macaw. The dogs reside in special wings of our home; it’s a communal living situation. They pay the mortgage, so I figure they should have luxury accommodations.”

    Reprinted from Playbill® Magazine, October 2014. PLAYBILL® is a registered trademark of Playbill Incorporated, N.Y.C. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

    From left: Isabel Wallach as Duffy, Lilly Mae Stewart as Molly, LillyBea Ireland as Tessie, Issie Swickle as Annie, Angelina Carballo as July, Sydney Shuck as Kate and Adia Dant as Pepper. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    From left: Isabel Wallach as Duffy, Lilly Mae Stewart as Molly, LillyBea Ireland as Tessie, Issie Swickle as Annie, Angelina Carballo as July, Sydney Shuck as Kate and Adia Dant as Pepper. Photo by Joan Marcus.


    April 29 through May 10
    Buell Theatre
    ASL interpreted, Audio described & Open Captioned performance: May 10, 2pm
    Tickets: 303.893.4100 | denvercenter.org
    800.641.1222 | Groups (10+): 303.446.4829

  • 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.

    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
  • 'Motown The Musical': How Berry Gordy turned a slogan into The Supremes

    by John Moore | Feb 05, 2015

    Berry Gordy Jr. changed the landscape of American music when he founded Motown Records in 1959. And Motown Records changed the landscape of the world.

    On Jan. 12, 1959, the 28-year-old obtained a loan of $800 from his family to start Motown. He set up his Detroit headquarters in a modest house emblazoned with an immodest sign: “Hitsville U.S.A.” The slogan was premature, but prophetic. The company had its first hit record in 1960, and between 1961 and 1971 landed 163 singles in Billboard magazine’s Top 20, including 28 songs that reached No. 1.

    Clifton Oliver as Berry Gordy in 'Motown the Musical.' Photo by Joan MarcusGordy, now 85, discovered, developed, and launched the careers of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Diana Ross and The Supremes, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells, The Jackson 5, Michael Jackson, and Marvin Gaye – to name just a few – and Motown became the most successful business owned and operated by an African-American in the United States. 

    “The love we felt for each other when we were playing is the most undisputed truth about our music,” Gordy said. “I sometimes referred to our sound as a combination of rats, roaches, soul, guts and love.” 

    Gordy’s journey from featherweight boxer to heavyweight music mogul is told in Motown the Musical, which will be performed in Denver from March 31 through April 19 at the Buell Theatre.

    Although Motown was home mostly to black artists, Gordy envisioned the music as “the sound of young America” – and by that he meant Americans of all colors and ethnicities. He started Motown just before the civil rights movement was in full flower, when neighborhoods throughout the country remained segregated, and music by black artists was mostly relegated to black radio stations and the chitin’ circuit.

    But Gordy and his team of writers, producers, in-house musicians and vocalists created fresh sound, an amalgam of gospel, blues and mainstream pop. Gordy endeavored to reach across the racial divide with music that could touch all people, and barriers began to tumble. Motown’s artists became a staple on mainstream white radio stations and at top venues around the world. Blacks and whites were seen dancing together at concerts. 

    The following is part of Gordy’s story, in his own words:

    On Motown’s unlikely rise to the top: How did you do it?

    Hitsville had an atmosphere that allowed people to experiment creatively and gave them the courage not to be afraid to make mistakes. In fact, I sometimes encouraged mistakes. Everything starts as an idea, and as far as I was concerned, there were no stupid ones. “Stupid” ideas are what created the light bulb, airplanes and the like. … It was an atmosphere that made you feel no matter how high your goals, they were reachable, no matter who you were. I had always figured that less than 1 percent of all the people in the world reach their full potential. I realized that by helping others reach theirs, maybe I could reach mine.

    Obstacles faced by black artists prior to Motown:
    The biggest obstacle faced by talented black artists was having a place to go – a record company where they would be accepted, where the records would be distributed, get played, and where they would get paid. Another obstacle was an artist having access to great material and great production in order to get a hit record.

    How Motown changed the culture at white radio stations:
    Most black artists, I feel, were ignored because of segregation and the music industry’s blatant pigeonholing of artists as “Rhythm and Blues,” “Rock’ n Roll” or “Pop.” When I started out, I wanted music for all people: the cops and robbers, the rich and poor, the black and white, the Jews and the Gentiles. When I went to the white radio stations to get my records played, they would laugh at me. They thought I was trying to bring black music to white people, to “cross over,” and I said, “Wait a minute; it’s not really black music. It’s music by black stars.” I refused to be categorized. They called my music all kinds of stuff: Rhythm and Blues, Soul. And I said, “Look, my music is Pop. Pop means popular. If you sell a million records, you’re popular.” And that’s what we did.

    What made your music popular?
    I believed it’s what’s in the grooves that counts. Our music con­veyed basic feelings, cutting through cultural and language barriers. Every project I do – records, movies, TV or Broadway play – that’s what I have in mind. It’s all the same. I felt that people were all the same, that people have so much in common, and that our similarities were so much more powerful than our differences. So we just put out our music. We worked hard to deliver to people things like joy, love, and desire, the emotions that people felt but couldn’t always express.

    Motown the Musical

    On reaching white audiences:
    We released some of our early albums without showing the artists’ faces on them. The Marvelettes’ album Please Mr. Postman had a picture of a mailbox on it; Bye Bye Baby by Mary Wells, a love letter. We put a cartoon of an ape on the cover of the Miracles’ Doin’ Mickey’s Monkey; and an Isley Brothers album had two white lovers at the beach on its cover. This practice became less necessary as our music’s popularity started overcoming the prejudices.

    The committee approach to choosing records:
    In many ways, Hitsville was like growing up in the Gordy family— fierce closeness and fierce competition and constant collaboration.  I believed competition breeds champions.  I knew that competition could be a very effective tool in getting results, so I set up Quality Control, a system I had heard about at Lincoln-Mercury. The Friday morning product evaluation meetings were the lifeblood of our operation. That was when we picked the records we would release. Careers depended on the choices made those Friday mornings. Some of the employees who came to the meetings weren’t creative people, but I felt their reactions to the songs would be like those of the average record buyer. A noncreative person’s vote counted just as much as a creative person’s. I took the democratic approach because although I was in charge at Motown, I made logic the boss: no egos or politics allowed. Not even mine. And I did it because of truth. “The truth is a hit,” was what we used to say in our Quality Control meetings at Motown.

    Touring the South
    Things were very bad when we went to the South. I remembered in 1955 how terrified I was when I'd heard about Emmett Till, a 14-year-old kid from Chicago who was visiting relatives in Mississippi. Dragged from his grandfather's home, he was beaten unmercifully, lynched and his body was thrown in the Tallahatchie River. I couldn't believe it when I heard that his crime was “thinking” under a white woman's dress. Thinking! The two white men who had killed him were freed. Our first Motortown Revue started off in Washington, D.C., but as the bus approached Birmingham and other cities in the South, we were greeted with signs of  “Whites Only,” “No Coloreds Allowed.” Then our tour bus was shot at. We were aware of how tough the racial conditions could be – but my artists being shot at? All of a sudden the real world had shown its ugly face. Despite the hostility and racism we faced, we knew we were bringing joy to people. The audiences were segregated. The venues had a rope down the middle of the audience separating blacks from whites, but soon the rope was gone and black kids and white kids were dancing together to the same music. It created a bond that echoed throughout the world.

    Many of the quotes above are taken with permission from Berry Gordy’s 1994 autobiography, “To Be Loved.”

    Motown the Musical: Ticket information
    Mar 31-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

  • '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.


    “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.


    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.
  • A 'Gentleman's Guide' to the DCPA's 2015-16 Broadway season

    by John Moore | Feb 02, 2015
    The video montage above shows DCPA Broadway's 2015-16 season offerings.

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts' 2015-16 Broadway season will feature the 2014 Tony Award-winning best musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder, and the previously announced national tour launch of If/Then, it was announced this morning. The season also will include Matilda The Musical; Disney’s Newsies; Beautiful – The Carole King Musical; Murder For Two; and A Christmas Story, The Musical.

    Added attractions will include the Denver returns of Disney's The Lion King, once, Riverdance, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and the previously announced The Book of Mormon. Also heading to Denver: Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage; The Wizard of Oz; and The Sound of Music. The full lineup:

    Broadway 2015/16 Season at-a-glance (Subscription shows in bold)
    The Book of Mormon,
    Aug. 11-Sept 13, 2015, The Ellie
    Matilda The Musical
    , Sept. 9-20, 2015,  Buell Theatre      
    Oct. 13-25, 2015, Buell Theatre      
    Murder For Two
    , Oct. 27, 2015-Feb 21, 2016, Garner Galleria Theatre
    Disney's The Lion King
    , Nov. 4-29, 2015, Buell Theatre      
    A Christmas Story,
    The Musical
    , Dec. 16-27, 2015, Buell Theatre      
    Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage
    , Jan. 26-31, 2016, Buell Theatre      
    The Wizard of Oz
    , Feb. 7-13, 2016, Buell Theatre      
    A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder,
    Feb. 16-28, 2016, Buell Theatre      
    Riverdance - The 20th Anniversary World Tour,
    March 8-13, 2016, Buell Theatre
    Disney’s Newsies, March 23-April 9, 2016, Buell Theatre      
    , May 24-29, 2016, The Ellie
    NETworks Presents Disney's Beauty and the Beast, June 7-12, 2016, Buell Theatre
    The Sound of Music, June 21-26, 2016, Buell Theatre      
    Beautiful –The Carole King Musical,
    July 19-31, 2016, Buell Theatre   

    Season subscriptions start as low as eight payments of $26.13 and are available starting at 10 a.m. today (Monday, Feb. 2) by calling 303-893-4100, or visiting denvercenter.org.

    Season subscribers also may purchase tickets to the added attractions before they go on sale to the public. A single ticket on-sale for all additional shows in 2015-16 will be announced at a later date.

    The Broadway season at a glance:

    Matilda The Musical: Broadway cast. Photo by Joan Marcus.Winner of 50 international awards, including four Tony Awards, Matilda The Musical
    is the story of an extraordinary girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny. Based on the beloved novel by Roald Dahl, Matilda The Musical continues to thrill sold-out audiences of all ages on Broadway and in London’s West End.

    If/Then If/Then
    is a contemporary Broadway musical about living in New York today – and all the possibilities of tomorrow. With unforgettable songs and a deeply moving story by the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning creators of Next to Normal, this “fascinating, ambitious, and original new musical (New York Post)” simultaneously follows one woman’s two possible life paths, painting a deeply moving portrait of the lives we lead, as well as the lives we might have led. Read more: Denver Launches National Tour

    Murder For Two: Jeff Blumenkrantz and Brett Ryback. Photo by Joan MarcusMurder For Two, direct from its smash Off-Broadway run in New York, is a hilarious, 90-minute murder mystery musical comedy with a twist: one actor investigates the crime, the other plays all of the suspects and they both play the piano! The New York Times calls it “ingenious. A snazzy double-act!” and Entertainment Weekly describes it as “a charmingly frenetic, all-stops out musical comedy!” Murder For Two is the winner of the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Musical and a Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel Award nominee.

    A Christmas Story, The Musical: Christian Dell'Edera as Flick. Direct from Broadway: A Christmas Story, The Musical, nominated for three 2013 Tony Awards including Best Musical, comes to hilarious life onstage. Based on the classic 1983 movie, the story takes place in 1940s Indiana, where a bespectacled boy named Ralphie has a big imagination and one wish for Christmas. A kooky leg lamp, outrageous pink bunny pajamas, a cranky department store Santa and a triple dog-dare to lick a freezing flagpole are just a few of the obstacles that stand between Ralphie and his Christmas dream.

    Winner of four 2014 Tony Awards, including Best
    A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder: Lisa O'Hare, Bryce Pinkham and Catherine Walker. Photo by Joan Marcus.  Musical
    Coming direct from New York,  A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder tells the uproarious story of Monty Navarro, a distant heir to a family fortune who sets out to jump the line of succession, by any means necessary. All the while, he’s got to juggle his mistress (she’s after more than just love), his fiancée (she’s his cousin but who’s keeping track?), and the constant threat of landing behind bars. Of course, it will all be worth it if he can slay his way to his inheritance…and be done in time for tea. Getting away with murder can be so much fun… and there’s no better proof than the knock-’em-dead hit show.

    North American Tour of Newsies. ©Disney. Photo by Deen van Meer. They delivered the papers, until they made the headlines… Direct from Broadway comes Newsies, the smash-hit, crowd-pleasing new musical from Disney. Winner of the 2012 Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Choreography, Newsies has audiences and critics alike calling it “a musical worth singing about” (The New York Times). Filled with one heart-pounding number after another, it’s a high-energy explosion of song and dance you just don’t want to miss. Based on true events, Newsies tells the captivating story of a band of underdogs who become unlikely heroes when they stand up to the most powerful men in New York. It’s a rousing tale about fighting for what’s right…and staying true to who you are. Newsies was brought to the stage by an award-winning creative team. It features a score by Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast) and Jack Feldman (The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride) and a book by Harvey Fierstein (La Cage Aux Folles), with choreography by Christopher Gattelli (South Pacific) and direction by Jeff Calhoun (Big River).

    Broadway cast of Beautiful - The Carole King Musical: Jeb Brown, Jake Epstein, Jessie Mueller, Jarrod Spector and Anika Larsen. Photo by Joan Marcus.Beautiful – The Carole King Musical tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation. Featuring a stunning array of beloved songs written by Gerry Goffin/Carole King and Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil, including “I Feel The Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got A Friend” and the title song, Beautiful has a book by Tony Award-nominee and Academy Award-nominated writer Douglas McGrath, direction by Marc Bruni, choreography by Josh Prince and took home two 2014 Tony Awards.

    Page to Stage

    Broadway 2015/16 season subscribers may also purchase these added attractions before they go on sale to the public:

    Disney's The Lion King': Jelani Remy as Simba. Photo by Joan Marcus.More than 70 million people around the world have experienced the phenomenon of Disney's The Lion King, and now you can too, when Denver’s best-loved musical returns to the Buell Theatre.  Winner of six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, this landmark musical event brings together one of the most imaginative creative teams on Broadway.  Tony Award-winning director Julie Taymor brings to life a story filled with hope and adventure set against an amazing backdrop of stunning visuals. The Lion King also features some of Broadway’s most recognizable music, crafted by Tony Award-winning artists Elton John and Tim Rice.  There is simply nothing else like The Lion King.

    Dirty DancingDirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage is a record-breaking live theatre sensation, exploding with heart-pounding music, passionate romance and sensational dancing. London’s Sunday Express says “This crowd-pleasing stage adaptation hits the jackpot!” Featuring the hit songs, “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey Baby,” “Do you Love Me?” and the heart stopping “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.”

    The Wizard of Oz: Original London cast. Photo by Keith PattisonThis new production of The Wizard of Oz is an enchanting adaptation of the all-time classic, totally reconceived for the stage. Developed from the ever popular MGM screenplay, this production contains the beloved songs from the Oscar - winning movie score, all the favorite characters and iconic moments, plus a few surprises along the way, including new songs by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Click your heels together and join Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, Dorothy and her little dog Toto, as they journey through the magical land of Oz to meet the Wizard and obtain their hearts’ desires. Watch out for the Wicked Witch of the West and her winged monkeys as you rediscover the real story of Oz in this fantastic musical treat for the whole family.

    Riverdance - The 20th Anniversary World Tour. Photo by Clark James Mishler.The international Irish dance phenomenon is back by popular demand in Riverdance - The 20th Anniversary World Tour. Drawing on Irish traditions, the combined talents of the performers propel Irish dancing and music into the present day, capturing the imagination of audiences across all ages and cultures in an innovative and exciting blend of dance, music and song.  Of all the performances to emerge from Ireland - in rock, music, theatre and film - nothing has carried the energy, the sensuality and the spectacle of Riverdance - The 20th Anniversary World Tour is composed by Bill Whelan, produced by Moya Doherty and directed by John McColgan, and comes directly to North America from a sold out run across Europe and Asia.

    Once: Stuart Ward and Dani de Waal. Photo by Joan Marcus. Winner of eight 2012 Tony Awards including Best Musical, once is a truly original Broadway experience. Featuring an impressive ensemble of actor/musicians who play their own instruments onstage, once tells the enchanting tale of a Dublin street musician who's about to give up on his dream when a beautiful young woman takes a sudden interest in his haunting love songs. As the chemistry between them grows, his music soars to powerful new heights... but their unlikely connection turns out to be deeper and more complex than your everyday romance. Emotionally captivating and theatrically breathtaking, once draws you in from the very first note and never lets go. It's an unforgettable story about going for your dreams and the power of music to connect us all.

    Disney's Beauty and the Beast: Photo by Matthew Murphy.Disney's Beauty and the Beast,
     the smash hit Broadway musical, returns to Denver.  Based on the Academy Award-winning animated feature film, this eye-popping spectacle has won the hearts of more than 35 million worldwide. This classic musical love story is filled with unforgettable characters, lavish sets and costumes, and dazzling production numbers including “Be Our Guest” and the beloved title song.  

    The Sound of MusicThe hills are alive! A brand new production of The Sound of Music, directed by three-time Tony Award winning Director Jack O’Brien, is coming to the Buell Theatre. The spirited, romantic and beloved musical story of Maria and the Von Trapp Family will once again thrill audiences with its Tony, Grammy and Academy Award winning Best Score, including “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “Edelweiss” and the title song. The Sound of Music enjoyed extraordinary success as the first live television production of a musical in more than 50 years when The Sound of Music Live! aired on NBC in December, 2013 (seen by more than 44 million people); 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the film version, which continues to be the most successful movie musical in history.

    Already currently on sale to the general public:

    The Book of MormonThe Book of Mormon is back by popular demand for a limited engagement Aug. 11-Sept. 13 at The Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The Book of Mormon broke house records during its last engagement in 2013 and currently holds the all-time record at The Buell Theatre for the highest weekly gross (for an eight-show performance week) at $1,993,690. The Book of Mormon also broke house records during the three-week national tour launch engagement in fall 2012, and currently holds the all-time record at The Ellie for the highest weekly gross at $1,443,977. In addition, The Book of Mormon currently holds the all-time single ticket on-sale record for the DCPA with more than 38,000 tickets sold on June 10, 2013. Tickets are now on sale to the general public.

    To purchase a subscription:
    Call 303-893-4100 or 800-641-1222
    Visit the ticket office located in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex at Speer Boulevad and Arapahoe streets. 
    Subscription packages also may be purchased online at denvercenter.org/bwaysubs.  Groups of 10 or more: Please call 303.446.4829
    Please be advised that the DCPA – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for these productions in Denver.

  • DCPA to launch national tour of 'If/Then' in October

    by NewsCenter Staff | Jan 29, 2015
    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts announced today that the national tour of If/Then, which was named best musical of 2014 by New York Magazine, will launch in Denver in October 2015.

    Performances begin Oct. 13 at the Buell Theatre and run through Oct. 25. If/Then will be part of the 2015-16 Broadway season. The remaining shows on the upcoming season will be announced at a later date.

    'If/Then'If/Then is a contemporary new Broadway musical written by Tom Kitt (music) and Brian Yorkey (book and lyrics), and directed by Michael Greif, the creative team behind the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical Next to Normal. 

    “The Denver Center is proud to bring this hugely entertaining and deeply moving new American musical to Denver," said John Ekeberg, Executive Director for DCPA Broadway. "If/Then caught the attention of (late predecessor) Randy Weeks and me very early on, given the stellar producing and creative team behind it.

    "The producer, David Stone, is committed to bringing new musicals to theatre audiences around the world, including such titles as Wicked, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Next to Normal and now, If/Then. The DCPA continues to be committed to supporting new work. So to be able to launch the tour of this thrilling musical here in Denver is a privilege for all of us here.  I’m so excited that our audiences will be the first to experience this show straight from Broadway.”

    If/Then follows two distinct storylines in the life of Elizabeth, a city planner who moves back to New York to re-start her life in that city of infinite possibilities. When her carefully designed plans collide with the whims of fate, Elizabeth’s life splits into two parallel paths. If/Then follows both stories simultaneously as this modern woman faces the intersection of choice and chance.

    The Washington Post called If/Then “a smart, deeply touching and big-hearted new musical. Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s score is invested with melodic urgency, bringing you to tears or breathlessness.”

    features choreography by Larry Keigwin, set design by Tony Award nominee Mark Wendland, costume design by Emily Rebholz, lighting design by Tony Award winner Kenneth Posner and sound design by Tony Award winner Brian Ronan.

    Casting for the national tour of If/Then will be announced at a later date. The original Broadway Cast recording is available on iTunes. For more information about If/Then, please visit IfThenTheMusical.com.

    Ticketing information:

    If/Then will be a featured production on the 2015-16 DCPA Broadway season, which is not yet announced or available at this time. Subscriptions for the 2014-15 Broadway season are currently on sale and start as low as four payments of $26.81. Restrictions apply. To purchase a subscription, please call Denver Center Ticket Services at 303-893-4100 or 800-641-1222, or visit the ticket office located in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex at Speer Boulevard and Arapahoe Steets. Purchase online at denvercenter.org/bwaysubs.

    Follow theDenver Center for the Performing Arts on Twitter @DenverCenter, or on Facebook.  

  • AEG Live presents Bill Cosby; Saturday shows not related to DCPA

    by John Moore | Jan 14, 2015
    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is not presenting the Bill Cosby performances this weekend. Photo by John Moore
    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is not presenting the Bill Cosby performances in Denver this weekend. Photo by John Moore

    Responding to inquiries about Saturday's upcoming Bill Cosby shows at the Buell Theatre, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts released a statement today, saying:

    Independent presenter AEG Live has rented the Buell Theatre from the City of Denver for the Bill Cosby engagement on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015.
    • Event questions for Bill Cosby should be directed to AEG Live: 720-931-8700; or email frontdesk@aeglive.com
    • Ticket inquiries for Bill Cosby should be directed to TicketMaster: 800-745-3000

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is not presenting Bill Cosby on Jan. 17, 2015. The DCPA is the theatrical tenant of the downtown Denver Performing Arts Complex. Its mission is to present Broadway musicals and locally produced plays.

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.