• Mountain View scales Bobby G Awards' peak

    by John Moore | May 26, 2016

    Overall Production 2016 Bobby G Awards Mountain View Anything Goes


    The Buell Theatre was a Land of Love throughout Thursday’s fourth annual Bobby G Awards, which celebrate achievement in Colorado high-school theatre. Not only was Mountain View High School of Loveland winner of the prestigious Outstanding Musical Award, but brotherly love was on full display when 2015 Outstanding Actor Evatt Salinger handed the 2016 award to his younger brother, Curtis Salinger.

    Mountain View led all schools by earning four of the evening’s 18 awards for its tap-dancing extravaganza, Anything Goes. In all, 11 schools won at least one award, making 2015-16 a second straight year of evenly distributed awards. Fairview High School in Boulder was next with three, with other awards heading out to Durango, Niwot and beyond.

    The Bobby G Awards are a culmination of a year-long program administered by the Denver Center that emphasizes camaraderie and shared experiences - but there is also much at stake. The students named Outstanding Actor and Actress go on to represent Colorado at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City. Colorado’s winners are joined by other regional honorees for "The Jimmys," as they are known in New York City. That’s 10 days of intensive training with some of Broadway's leading actors, choreographers and directors, all leading up to a fully staged, one-night performance at Broadway's Minskoff Theatre.

    Now only in their fourth year, the Bobby G Awards have established a literal bloodline to Durango, located nearly 400 miles southwest of Denver. Evatt Salinger was named Outstanding Actor last year for his work in Les Misérables. Curtis Salinger was just a freshman when he played Marius to his brother’s Valjean in that production, which was named Outstanding Musical of 2014-15.

    Curtis Salinger literally followed in his brother’s footsteps Thursday when he was honored for his work as Emmett Forrest in Legally Blonde at Durango High School. He will now be joined in New York by new Ponderosa High School graduate Charlotte Movizzo, who was named Outstanding Actress for her starring role in Sweet Charity.

    Nominees for the Bobby G Awards are determined by scoring from a team of professional adjudicators. Unlike other awards categories, the Outstanding Actor and Actress winners are determined by two equally scored criteria: First, the students are judged for their actual performances in their respective school musicals. The five students with the highest scores then go before a professional panel for a private, scored audition.

    This year, a record 40 schools participated in the statewide Bobby G Awards program, up from 30 the year before. Mountain View, a school with an enrollment of 1,200, is located 45 miles due north of Denver on I-25. It was considered a favorite going into Thursday’s ceremony on the basis of its 10 nominations. It also won for Outstanding Costume Design, Choreography and Chorus.

    The ceremony was filled with emotional moments, none more so than when DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg announced Curtis Salinger’s name. As last year’s winners, Evatt Salinger and former classmate Emma Buchanan were tasked with presenting trophies to each of Thursday’s honorees. The Buell crowd erupted when it became evident that the Salingers are brothers.

    “I watched my brother win last year, and it was everything that I could ever dream of,” said Curtis.

    Watch our fun time-lapse video covering Wednesday's day-log Bobby G Awards​ rehearsal, including performances by Fairview, Arvada West, Denver School of the Arts, Mountain View and Cherry Creek. Video shot by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.


    Of note to the local theater community was Brandon Warren’s win as Outstanding Supporting Actor for his performance as Nicely-Nicely Johnson in Fairview High School’s Guys & Dolls. Brandon is the son of acclaimed local actor and theatre educator Tracy Warren, who recently starred in Mary Poppins for BDT Stage in Boulder, and is currently performing in Into the Woods with Debby Boone at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in Johnstown.

    Westminster High School's Andre' Rodriguez, who was named Outstanding Director in 2015, was part of the team that won the Bobby G Award for Outstanding Scenic Design, for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Rodriguez has now been nominated in all four years of the Bobby G Awards.

    Students and educators were honored in the areas of performance, design, direction, choreography, technical production and overall production excellence. All participating schools received one personal master class session with a DCPA Education theatre teacher. Winners of the Outstanding Supporting Actor, Actress and Rising Star (Outstanding Underclassman) awards also earn a full year of free classes at the Denver Center. “The DCPA is proud to be a part of your journey,” said Education Director Allison Watrous.

    While the Bobby G Awards culminate each year with Thursday's awards ceremony, which is modeled after the Tony Awards, the year-long focus of the program is to both celebrate and educate. The participating schools receive detailed feedback on their musical productions from the adjudicators. The 10 nominated Outstanding Actors and Actresses are invited to the Denver Center two weeks before the awards to prepare a medley together in community and friendship, which they then perform at the ceremony on the Buell Theatre stage.

    Each of the five nominated Outstanding Productions performed a musical number during the ceremony, each drawing thunderous appreciation from an enthusiastic Buell Theatre crowd estimated at 1,700.

    The Bobby G Awards were founded in 2013 by the late DCPA President Randy Weeks. They are named after late producer Robert Garner, who established Denver as a top destination for touring Broadway shows.

    Veteran Broadway actor Candy Brown, who was in the original Broadway casts of Pippin and A Chorus Line, presented four awards. She is now a teaching artist at Denver School of the Arts, which earned seven nominations for its production of Spring Awakening, which is one of two finalists for Outstanding Musical at the national thespian convention next month in Lincoln, Neb.

    If Brown’s era was the Golden Age of Broadway, she told the current high-school performers in the crowd that they will represent the Platinum Age – one in which “race, creed or color will not matter if you do your job,” she said.

    The Master of ceremonies was again Greg Moody, longtime known as Colorado's Critic-At-Large for CBS-4.

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


    THE 2015-16 BOBBY G AWARDS


    Bobby G Awards Anything Goes Mountain West
    Mountain View High School's Outstanding Musical "Anything Goes" at Wednesday's Bobby G Awards rehearsal. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical
    Anything Goes, Mountain View High School

    Other nominees:
    • Les Misérables, Arvada West High School
    • How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Cherry Creek High School
    • Spring Awakening, Denver School of the Arts
    • Guys and Dolls, Fairview High School


    Direction

    Outstanding Achievement in Direction
    Lanny Boyer and Janice Vlachos, Fairview High School, Guys & Dolls   

    Other nominees
    :
    • Lindsey Welsh, Arvada West High School, Les Misérables
    • Jimmy Miller, Cherry Creek High School, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
    • Shawn Hann, Denver School of the Arts, Spring Awakening
    • Brian Cook, Annie Dwyer and Tom Mullin, Wheat Ridge High School, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat


    Lead Actress


    Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

    Charlotte Movizzo, Ponderosa High School, Sweet Charity, Charity Hope Valentine

    Other nominees:
    • Sienna Sewell, Fairview High School, Guys & Dolls, Sarah Brown
    • Abbie Cheney, Glenwood Springs High School, Anything Goes, Reno Sweeney
    • Savannah Wood, Mountain View High School, Anything Goes, Reno Sweeney
    • Keala Fraioli, Steamboat Springs High School, Legally Blonde, Elle Woods


    Lead Actor Bobby G Awards
    Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role:

    Curtis Salinger, Durango High School, Legally Blonde, Emmett Forrest

    Other nominees:
    • Danny Miller, Arvada West High School, Les Misérables, Jean Valjean
    • Garrett Charles, Arvada West High School, Les Misérables, Javert
    • Michael Kosko, Denver School of the Arts, Spring Awakening, Moritz
    • Jacob Pearce, Fairview High School , Guys & Dolls, Nathan Detroit


    Rising Star Bobby G Awards
    Rising Star (honoring underclassmen):

    Abby Lehrer, Valor Christian High School, Mary Poppins, Bird Woman

    Other nominees:
    • Matti Guillette, Durango High School, Legally Blonde, Margot
    • Jenna Szczech, Durango High School, Legally Blonde, Pilar
    • Audrey Smith, Fort Collins High School, Company, Sarah
    • John Kibozi, Wheat Ridge High School, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Levi


    Supporting Actress Bobby G Awards
    Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

    Senora Robinson, Durango High School, Legally Blonde, Serena

    Other nominees:
    • Lauren Rocha, Brighton High School, Tarzan, Kala
    • Tilly Leeder, Durango High School, Legally Blonde, Vivienne Kensington
    • Hannah Jones, Legend High School, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Gabrielle
    • Elleon Dobias, Valor Christian High School, Mary Poppins, Miss Andrew


    Supporting Actor Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role   Other nominees
    Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

    Brandon Warren, Fairview High School, Guys & Dolls, Nicely-Nicely Johnson

    Other nominees:
    • Marcos Ospina, Boulder High School, Beauty and the Beast, Lumiere
    • Jimmy Bruenger, Denver School of the Arts, Spring Awakening, Hanschen
    • Jacob Sadow, Fairview High School, Guys & Dolls, Harry the Horse
    • Michael Mathey, Legend High School, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Jean-Michel


    Musical Direction
    Outstanding Achievement in Musical Direction

    Michael Bizzaro and Travis Keller, Fairview High School, Guys & Dolls   

    Other nominees:
    • Chris Maunu and Craig Melhorn, Arvada West High School, Les Misérables
    • Kaitlin Miles, Fort Collins High School, Company
    • Phil Forman, Bryan Kettlewell and Peter Toews, Mountain View High School, Anything Goes
    • Brian Cook, Charles Craig and Vicki Duckworth, Wheat Ridge High School, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat


    OrchestraOutstanding Performance by an Orchestra

    Arvada West High School, Les Misérables       

    Other nominees:
    • Boulder High School, Beauty and the Beast
    • Denver School of the Arts, Spring Awakening
    • Fairview High School, Guys and Dolls
    • Mountain View High School, Anything Goes


    Chorus
    Outstanding Performance by a Chorus
    Mountain View High School, Anything Goes

    Other nominees
    :
    • Arvada West High School, Les Misérables
    • Brighton High School, Tarzan
    • Cherry Creek High School, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
    • Fairview High School, Guys and Dolls


    Choreography
    Outstanding Achievement in Choreography

    Bailey Friar and Tammy Johnson, Mountain View High School, Anything Goes

    Other nominees:
    • Angie Dryer, Arvada West High School, Les Misérables
    • Leigh Miller and Lindsey Solano, Brighton High School, Tarzan
    • Ronni Gallup, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Cherry Creek High School
    • Karen Cassel and Emma Sappey, Wheat Ridge High School, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat


    Scenic Design
    Outstanding Achievement in Scenic Design

    Corey Baca, Brandon PT Davis and Andre Rodriguez, Westminster High School, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee           

    Other nominees:
    • Jane Archuleta, Nick Dibbern, Phil Lollar and Sammy Perez, Brighton High School, Tarzan
    • Jack Hagen, Yuuki Hashimoto and Caleb Nghe, Cherry Creek High School, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
    • Shailyn Clay, Tyler King, Rebecca Reynolds and Lucas Sanchez, Mountain View High School, Anything Goes
    • Mallory Hart, Riley Hoffman and Rhys Holton, Wheat Ridge High School, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat


    Lighting Design
    Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design
    Whitney Larson and Kayli Porterfield, Arvada West High School, Les Misérables


    Other nominees:

    • Yasmin Farsad, Cherry Creek High School, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
    • Lenora Grant and Caleb Werkmeister, Fairview High School, Guys & Dolls
    • Jude Franco and Tanner Friar, Mountain View High School, Anything Goes
    • Mallory Hart and Katherine Yates, Wheat Ridge High School, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat



    Costume Design
    Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design
    Jen Bleem, Cindy Sipes and Lauryn Starke, Mountain View High School, Anything Goes

    Other nominees:

    • Harrison Haggas, Chaney McCulloch, Shelly Cox-Robie and Chris Sweeney, Boulder High School, Beauty and the Beast
    • Jimmy Miller and Katya Zabelski, Cherry Creek High School, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
    • MaryV Benoit and Lara Kirksey, Denver School of the Arts, Spring Awakening
    • Molly Merewether, Teri Nydegger, Amy Sares and Denise Wood, Wheat Ridge High School, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat



    Hair and Makeup
    Outstanding Achievement in Hair and Make-up Design
    Austin Sabala, Boulder High School, Beauty and the Beast

    Other nominees:

    • Kendall Mesch, Arvada West High School, Les Misérables
    • Marrisa Hadden, Cherry Creek High School, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
    • Skylar Arterburn and Owen Nuss, Denver School of the Arts, Spring Awakening Averi Davis and Emma Smith, Mountain View High School, Anything Goes




    Photo gallery: Day 1 of the 2016 Bobby G Awards

    2016 Bobby G Awards
    Photos from Thursday's awards ceremony will be posted on Friday.

    SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT WINNERS:

    • Achievement in Costuming: Annie Trumble, D’Evelyn High School, Young Frankenstein
    • Achievement in Student Direction: Shu Lee and Aurora Vadas-Arendt, Niwot High School, The Sound of Music
    • Achievement in Orchestra: Tristana Whetten, Vista PEAK Preparatory, Beauty and the Beast
    Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of the Bobby G Awards:
    Photo from Day One of the 2016 Bobby G Awards
    Meet your 2015 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor Finalists
    Meet your 2016 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress Finalists
    2015-16 Bobby G Award nominations: The complete listBobby G Awards a triumph for Durango High School Video: Outstanding Actor Nominee Performances 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)
    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'
  • Meet your 2016 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor Finalists

    by John Moore | May 25, 2016

    The Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. The fourth annual awards and performance take place Thursday, May 26, at the Buell Theatre. Today we introduce you to the five students who are finalists for Outstanding Lead Actor. The winner will advance to represent Colorado at the national Jimmy Awards in New York City.

    Arvada West Garrett Charles 

    GARRETT CHARLES

    Javert, Les Misérables
    Arvada West High School
    Class of 2017

    • College plans: BYU
    • Your Director: Lindsey Welsh
    • First role: This is it. It was such an honor to be cast in such a large role as a rookie.
    • Garrett CharlesWhy do you perform? Because I love to see the emotions I can evoke from an audience.  It's the greatest feeling to know someone appreciated your work enough to let affect them emotionally.  It's the greatest compliment to hear, "Garrett, you made me cry with that song."  It means I've made someone's life a little better by sharing my hard work and talent. That is what I live for.
    • Ideal scene partner: Honestly, it was so much fun to do “The Confrontation" with my classmate, Danny Miller. But I would love to sing it with Alfie Boe.  I am such a fan of that man's voice and his work in the 25th Anniversary recording of Les Misérables was phenomenal. It would be such an experience to perform with him.
    • Favorite moment from your show: If I was forced to pick from the among the millions I'd probably say performing “The Epilogue on closing night. I remember entering from underneath the bridge I had thrown myself off of just scenes before, my head whirling with emotions. During that song, I reflected on the entire process and realized how much change I had gone through personally as a result of joining the family that is the Arvada West Theatre Company.  I remember glancing to either side of me and seeing tears streaming down all of my friends' faces.  The emotion and power of that performance topped anything I'd ever experienced.
    • Fun moment when something went wrong: My police-officer uniform had a flap on the front, which was sewn on one side and had Velcro on the other.  After the prologue, I had to do a quick costume change to go back out and play a street urchin, and with the urgency of my costume change on my mind, I ran to the dressing room and promptly tore the flap clean off of the front of my police uniform.  I now had an official-looking trapezoid of cloth in my hand and a very plain-looking blue tailcoat on my body.  I knew I had to be onstage quickly, so I completed my costume change and pounded on the girls’ dressing room door like there was a fire.  They told me I was safe, so I opened the door, mumbled, "ItoremyflapoffcansomeonegosewitbackonIgottabeonstagethanks!" and closed the door.  Thankfully they were able to decode my panicked slur - and the audience never found out about it.
    • What did it mean for you to be cast in this role? Javert has been my dream role ever since I found out about Les Mis my freshman year. To be cast in such an important role almost blindly was such an honor, and I was determined not to let anyone in the production down.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? I was extremely surprised when Ms. Welsh read my name. I did not expect to be nominated alongside someone with so much talent as our Jean Valjean, who was also nominated.  I definitely owe thanks to my directors for having the faith to cast me despite never really having seen me act before.
    • What would you say to a younger student who might be nervous or unsure about participating in the performing arts? The performing arts are the quickest way to get a gigantic circle of friends.  Also, if you don't want the pressure of being onstage or in the pit, there's always a need for crewmembers to run the show behind the scenes, and you will still have the same bonding experiences with your friends that all those onstage do.  I absolutely love it, and I think you will, too.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities? Arts education and extra-curricular activities save lives.  I've learned that being a part of something larger than yourself helps you mature, and gives you productive outlets for you pain and sorrow.  That's definitely what theatre and choir are for me.
    • Last word: Thank you so much for the nomination. I'm so honored to be considered for this prestigious award.


     Denver School of the Arts Michael Kosko Bobby G Awards

    MICHAEL KOSKO

    Moritz Stiefel, Spring Awakening
    Denver School of the Arts
    Class of 2016

    • College plans: London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
    • Your Director: Shawn Hann
    • First role: I was the Mayor of MunchkinLand in The Wizard of Oz in the 6th Grade at Campus Middle School.
    • Actor Quote 2 Michael Kosko Bobby G AwardsWhy do you perform? I had an obsession with The Wizard of Oz my entire childhood. My older brother loved Pokémon and G.I. Joes, and I just loved Oz. I would parade around saying I’d be the Scarecrow when I grew up. So of course, when the middle school announced the spring musical of The Wizard of Oz, my mother made me audition. The rest is history. Theatre has become my form of expression. It’s the human connection through this work. We all have rich pain and emotion - and in this art form, we’re able to understand others.
    • Ideal scene partner: The first of many to come to mind is Jessica Lange. I have so much respect for the woman. She’s one of the bravest and most powerful artists I can think of, so to do a scene with her would be unreal. More specifically, to play her son, Edmund, in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, would be the dream.
    • Favorite moment from your show: Absolutely, it was saying the line, “I’m ready now: I’ll be an angel.” During that line, I’m on my knees collecting the lilies that llse dropped, and by the end come to the realization that I really am ready. And then I’d take a big breath of the flowers, carefully set them down and then pull out the gun. It was raw and terrifying and beautiful.
    • Fun moment when something went wrong: We had this wonderful moment during an evening performance where my good friend Jimmy Bruenger, who was playing Hanschen, forgot the gun to hand me at the end of the song And Then There Were None. It’s essential to that moment for the gun to appear, and the second the lights shifted into the final chords: he bolted off stage-right and vanished. As each of the other boys made their exits, Jimmy, from the corner of my eye, came charging through the stage door and then stopped dead right at the last foot of wall protecting him from view of the audience. Then, as confident as ever, he strolled on and threw the gun in my hand. It was thrilling.
    • What did it mean for you to be cast in this role? This became my dream role in the fall of my freshman year. I wanted nothing more than to play Moritz, and the last thing I could have ever imagined was playing him for my senior musical. It was the biggest deal for me, and it felt so right. I never doubted what he was to me, and where he lived in me. My little Moritz is a huge part of me.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? It is unreal to me, and such an incredible, incredible honor. In the 10th grade, I was in Cherry Creek High School’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and performing at the Bobby G Awards that year as a finalist for Outstanding Musical was the biggest nomination I thought I’d ever come across. I could have never anticipated being nominated myself two years later.
    • What would you say to a younger student who might be nervous or unsure about participating in the performing arts? I’d say this is the single most important thing in the world. It teaches you what it means to be human. There’s something seriously missing from the boy or girl who is not in the arts. It allows you to feel. There are so many moments in this life when we have to step into the fear, and the moment you’re slightly uncomfortable is the moment you’re living. You must be brave. If you’re even the tiniest bit interested in something: Pull the thread. Investigate it. You owe it to yourself to be open to everything.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? It taught me how important it is to push the bill. Our wonderful principal doesn’t believe in the censorship of art, and we were so fortunate to have his blessing to perform full version of Spring Awakening. Arts education frees you completely. It gives you the ability to process heavy depression or intense delight and really feel those things, but be OK. This show was my biggest challenge yet, but it helped me to understand my emotions and how to deal with them. It taught me that through the darkness, there is always light.



    Arvada West Danny Miller Bobby G Awards

    DANNY MILLER

    Jean Valjean, Les Misérables
    Arvada West High School
    Class of 2016

    • College plans: Majoring in classical voice at the University of Northern Colorado
    • Your Director: Lindsey Welsh
    • First role: It was back in 2014, when I was cast to play The Phantom in Arvada West's production of Phantom of the Opera
    • Actor Quote 3 Danny Miller Bobby G AwardsWhy do you perform? For the joy of meeting new friends I can call my family. And to share music with the world.
    • Ideal scene partner: Ramine Karimloo is my idol. I love his work, and it would be a dream to work with him. He's my inspiration.
    • Fun moment when something went wrong, and how you bounced back: I forget words and flip lyrics around, and once I forgot the words to "Alive," a song in Jekyll and Hyde - and I did not bounce back at all. I literally sang the rest of the song in something like growls and grunts.
    • Favorite moment from your show: The slight moments of silence after singing the last glimmering note of your song.
    • What did it mean for you to be cast in this role? This was a euphoric dream. It was unreal. I couldn't have been more excited to be playing the same role as my idols.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? Being nominated again is truly a humbling and scary opportunity. I'm so excited!
    • What would you say to a younger student who might be nervous or unsure about participating in the performing arts? Fake it till you make it, be confident in your ability to succeed.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities? It's enlightening, and I think everyone should have a chance to do live theatre. It really expands your mind to its limits.

     


     Fairview Jacob Pearce Bobby G Awards

    JACOB PEARCE

    Nathan Detroit, Guys & Dolls
    Fairview High School
    Class of 2016

    • College plans: Studying International Affairs and Theatre at George Washington University 
    • Your Directors: Janice Vlachos and Lanny Boyer
    • First role: I played Bully the bullfrog in Bully the Bullfrog, The Musical. I was 6, and in the 1st grade.
    • Actor Quote 4 Jacob Pearce Bobby G AwardsWhy do you perform? To help people to escape from daily lives, and provide that same kind of escape for myself. 
    • Ideal scene partner: I would love to do a scene with Emma Watson, because she seems like such a fun person to work with. Plus just meeting her would be awesome. 
    • Favorite moment from your show: Every day, I got to ad-lib a little bit while Adelaide (Carrie Douglass) had a quick-change. Getting to improvise every performance was such a blast. 
    • What did it mean for you to be cast in this role? It meant I could fully immerse myself in my character’s life and for a few hours each day get to live life from his perspective. 
    • How does it feel to be nominated? Appreciated and honored. 
    • What would you say to a younger student who might be nervous or unsure about participating in the performing arts? You will be challenged so much in so many ways, but all of these challenges will shape your life in such a positive way. Do not pass up the opportunity to live the life of another and to carry people away from the turmoil of their everyday lives. 



    Durango Curtis Sallinger Bobby G Awards


    CURTIS SALLINGER

    Emmett Forrest, Legally Blonde, The Musical
    Durango High School
    Class of 2018

    • College plans: I’m a sophomore
    • Your Director: Ben Mattson
    • First role: I was a flyboy in the musical Neville at the Durango Arts Center when I was 5 years old.
    • Actor Quote 5 Curtis Sallinger Bobby G AwardsWhy do you perform? Because I love how much you can discover about yourself and your life by portraying someone else. I love sharing the wonderful art of performance, and I love the home, the family, and the trust a theatre creates.
    • Ideal scene partner: I would love to do a scene with Brian D’arcy James because he is a phenomenal actor and so versatile and seems like such a fun genuine guy.
    • Favorite moment from your show: I very much enjoyed Elle’s proposal at the end. (Spoiler!)
    • Fun moment when something went wrong: I ran on-stage after a very hectic off-stage incident getting my mic checked and - fully committed and 100 percent serious - I called to Elle, but Elle didn’t come out of my mouth. Instead, I said, “SAM!!!!” I said, “Man I’m stressed out, Elle, what are you doing here?” and continued on. It was real smooth.
    • What did it mean for you to be cast in this role? It’s such an amazing experience to work with a cast and put on a show. I just don’t know how to describe it. It’s an amazing feeling.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? Unreal. I came to the Bobby G Awards last year and watched my brother (Evatt Salinger) win for Outstanding Actor. I watched the guys, dreaming I could be one of them someday. That dream is coming true, and it's exhilarating.
    • What would you say to a younger student who might be nervous or unsure about participating in the performing arts? It is so much fun. You get so much support. You develop a place in your school where you can go for help with anything. The only negative aspect is it's really time-consuming. But putting in long hours doing something you love, in my opinion, is worth it.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities? The diverse group of friends you make from all grade levels is something that makes life in school so much easier. The performing arts at our school is so important to so many people and it develops a family that you’d never expect from a school environment. Arts education is essential, and should never be taken for granted.
    • Last word: Guys, it’s hard to do theatre. I get that. But it's also extremely fun. Don’t let negativity and scorn discourage you from pursuing something you’re passionate about. It’s also extremely important that you’re not afraid to cry or show emotions. Never lose touch of your feelings, or yourself.

    Brothers Bobby G Awards Sallingers
    ​Curtis Sallinger celebrated his brother Evatt's victory as Outstanding Actor at last year's Bobby G Awards with a body lift. This year, Curtis is nominated as a sophomore. Photo by Emily Lozow for the DCPA NewsCenter.



    Previous 2016 Outstanding Musical Nominee profiles:
    Cherry Creek High School
    Fairview High School
    Mountain View High School

    Denver School of the Arts
    Arvada West High School



    Bobby G Awards
    : Ticket information

  • Thursday, May 26
  • Buell Theatre 
  • 7 p.m.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


  • Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of the Bobby G Awards:
    Meet your 2016 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress Finalists
    2015-16 Bobby G Award nominations: The complete listBobby G Awards a triumph for Durango High School Video: Outstanding Actor Nominee Performances 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)
    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'
  • Meet your 2016 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress Finalists

    by John Moore | May 24, 2016

    The Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. The fourth annual awards and performance take place Thursday, May 26, at the Buell Theatre. Today we introduce you to the five students who are finalists for Outstanding Lead Actress.  The winner will advance to represent Colorado at the national Jimmy Awards in New York City.  

    Glenwood Springs

    ABBIE CHENEY

    Reno Sweeney, Anything Goes
    Glenwood Springs High School
    Class of 2017 

    • College plans: Pursuing a performing-arts degree
    • Your Director: Kate McRaith 
    • First role: Oh, man. The first role I played was a cabbage in my elementary school play. I stuffed some green burlap with newspaper and sang “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” by Aretha Franklin and did the can-can. I was pretty proud about that one! 
    • Bobby G Awards 2016 quoteWhy do you perform? I feel at home and powerful on stage. I am my best self, love the people I have met and love the audience-performer relationship. There is so much love put into a show and a character - that is what I find so amazing. 
    • Ideal scene partner: I would love to perform with Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is playing Alexander Hamilton in Hamilton on Broadway. I think any part of that would be amazing. It is such an original piece of work that has changed the way I see rap music and American history. 
    • Fun moment when something went wrong: When I was in 7th grade, I played Ms. Hannigan in Annie. Ms. Hannigan is a little raunchy, so I was wearing these tall heels. Of course, I fell. It was very embarrassing. But the character is supposed to be a little tipsy through the entire show, so I played it off in that way.
    • What did it mean for you to be cast in this role?  So much. When I started to educate myself on the show and its characters, I connected with Reno immediately. She not only is sexy, beautiful and has amazing songs, she has a dynamic about her that makes her such a deep character.  
    • Favorite moment from your show: Anything involving the full cast. I always feel so loved and appreciated by them, and a rehearsal can change any of my bad days. It was times like the after-show dinners at Village Inn, and the full-cast rehearsals that I remember most. I love my theater family. 
    • How does it feel to be nominated? So humbling. I am thankful for all the adults and students who help and encourage me. I am stunned at the support of my community and friends. I feel so loved.  
    • What would you say to a younger student who might be nervous or unsure about participating in the performing arts? The performing arts have truly changed my life. I have learned so much about myself and what I am capable of doing. As far as nerves, I always say that when you are on stage, it is your job to have a great time and do your best. I always have to tell myself that I am in control of where I spend my energy, so if you put all that energy toward knocking the audience out of their seats, then you are golden.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities? I always found that it was so important to have extracurricular opportunities. But after this, I value it even more. It is essential that not only programs are present, but students have opportunities to shine within them. 
    • Last word: Thank you to Mom, Dad, Papa, and all the friends back home who have supported me whole heartedly. You know who you are, and I hope you know I am so thankful for you. 
     



    Steamboat Springs

    KEALA FRAIOLI

    Elle Woods, Legally Blonde, The Musical
    Steamboat Springs High School
    Class of 2017

    • Postgraduate plans: Performing at Disney World
    • Your Director: Jamie Oberhansly
    • First role: I was cast in first grade as Ngana in South Pacific!
    • Bobby G Awards 2016 quoteWhy do you perform? It’s what I love, and I always feel at home when I am onstage.
    • Ideal scene partner: I would love to act with Lily James because I love Cinderella, and the remake she was in was amazing.
    • Favorite moment from your show: This show was definitely packed full of some great memories but for sure closing night was the best with everyone just leaving everything out on the stage and the energy was so high. My vocal chords were so shot, so I would be backstage pantomiming everything. It got to the point where people just stopped asking me questions so they didn't have a butchered, full body-sign language response!
    • Fun moment when something went wrong: I broke a snap on my dress that I change into on stage during dress rehearsal. And then, come opening night, we forgot to fix it. I just crossed the fabric over itself hoping nobody would see the pink dress underneath before I changed.
    • What did it mean for you to be cast in this role? It was such a humbling experience. I couldn't have asked for a better cast and crew to help me with my first leading role.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? This is the most amazing feeling in the world. I couldn't be more on cloud nine!
    • What would you say to a younger student who might be nervous or unsure about participating in the performing arts? Go for it, and if it doesn't work out, then  find something new. And if it does work out, get ready for the most incredible experience ever!
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities? We are so fortunate to have such an amazing director. Even though we may not get funding from the school, we always find a way to keep the arts alive in our community.
    • Last word: A big thanks to anyone who has helped put on the Bobby G Awards. This truly is a great opportunity for everyone who is fortunate enough to participate in it.


    Ponderosa

    CHARLOTTE MOVIZZO

    Charity Hope Valentine, Sweet Charity
    Ponderosa High School
    Class of 2016

    • College plans: University of Northern Colorado
    • Your Director: Kelly Cole 
    • First role: I was The Aristocats for a Christian Youth Theatre summer-camp production in 5th grade. I played the role of Abigail the Goose.
    • Bobby G Awards 2016 quoteWhy do you perform? Because it is my passion. I enjoy the process of becoming another character, and escaping my own life for a little while. 
    • Ideal scene partner: It would probably be Eddie Redmayne. I think he is an amazing performer, and he puts so much passion into all of his work. I would learn a lot from him. 
    • Favorite moment from your show: When I was in the elevator with Oscar. It was a hilarious scene, and it took everything I had not to break character.
    • Fun moment when something went wrong: I had several quick-changes throughout this show. One of the most difficult was one where I had to get out of a dress and character shoes, and into a blouse, skirt and go-go boots - in about 30 seconds. One night, for some reason, my dress zipper got stuck, and I couldn't get out of it. We struggled with the zipper for all of 30 seconds until we had to literally rip the dress to get it off. When I went to put the skirt on, that zipper wouldn't work, either. At that point, my scene partner had been improvising for a good minute. I decided I needed to enter, so I walked on holding my blouse closed with one hand, and holding my skirt up with the other! 
    • What did it mean for you to be cast in this role? It was very exciting to get to play a role that not only fit my vocal range, but had the stage time of an ingénue, and the personality of a character. Charity is quirky and sweet - and was a blast to play. 
    • How does it feel to be nominated? I am so honored to have the opportunity to represent my school at this event. 
    • What would you say to a younger student who might be nervous or unsure about participating in the performing arts? The performing-arts community is an extremely accepting and supportive group of people. There are so many different roles, both backstage and onstage that you are sure to find something you enjoy. 
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities? Much of the education that occurs in high school happens in extracurricular activities. Within the arts, there are opportunities for leadership, cooperation and problem-solving that provide great learning experiences.

     


    Fairview

    SIENNA SEWELL

    Sarah Brown, Guys & Dolls

    Fairview High School
    Class of 2016

    • College plans: Studying Neuroscience at Washington University in St. Louis
    • Your Directors: Janice Vlachos and Lanny Boyer
    • First role: Baby Judy Garland at age 4 at Riverside Theatre Works in Boston
    • Bobby G Awards 2016 quoteWhy do you perform? It allows me to create other characters and step into their shoes for a moment.
    • Ideal scene partner: Johnny Depp. He always stretches the boundaries of his abilities and the characters he plays.  I swear, he can play anything. He is just an amazing actor.
    • Favorite moment from your show: The Havana Scene. The fight has such high energy because there are so many moments happening all over the stage. I get a bit tipsy in the scene and start climbing the tables and fighting off other people.  
    • When life throws you lemons: We moved when I was entering 5th grade. I had a theatre home and was just feeling really good about myself and my friends when my parents told me we were moving to Colorado.  y mom assured me she would find another theatre group for me to be involved in. She kept to her word, but it was still difficult to make the move.  We moved to Boulder, where there were lots of opportunities to be involved in the arts, and Fairview was probably strongest in its music and theatre programs. Academically, too, which was important to me.  I found my way again, and it has been the better than I could have ever dreamed.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? I'm in shock, and thrilled, and incredibly humbled by the recognition. I'm equally excited that our show was nominated for Outstanding Musical. We had such a united energy as a cast, and I'm glad it was recognized.
    • What would you say to a younger student who might be nervous or unsure about participating in the performing arts? Just try it. The arts will change your life. And remember, no one starts out knowing how to be spectacular on stage.  It is a learning process, and you are supposed to be unsure at first. For then, there is only room for improvement.
    • Last word: I am eternally grateful to my teachers at Fairview for their guidance and support.  They have pushed me to be my very best, and have held my hand the whole way. I am also blessed with a family who love the performing arts as much as I do, and have always been my greatest fans.  I’m off to college next year to pursue my love of science, but I know I will be somehow be involved in the performing arts as well. I understand that for me to be a whole person, I need to nourish both sides of my brain and soul.  It will be an incredible journey - even though I'm a bit nervous.

     


    Mountain View

    SAVANNAH WOOD

    Reno Sweeney, Anything Goes
    Mountain View High School
    Class of 2016

    • College plans: Attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York
    • Your Director: Katie Marshall
    • First role: I was five years old and in kindergarten. It was just a small play written by my teacher, but I loved it nonetheless. The next was in my sophomore year of high school, when I was 15 and I was cast in the ensemble of Shrek the Musical.
    • Bobby G Awards 2016 quoteWhy do you perform? Because it is what I love to do, and it allows me to be myself. I am allowed to be unique, and I am accepted for being different. When I become another character, I become a better version of myself, and it inspires me every time I am on stage or reading a script. Performing is my home.
    • Ideal scene partner: I would love to be in a scene with Sutton Foster because she inspires me, and her work is so diverse. She engulfs herself in so many different roles that I think acting with her would not only be an amazing time but also a great experience.
    • Favorite moment from your show: I had actually been nervous about Opening Night from the very first rehearsal. But when the time came, the nerves were gone. Instead, I remember being backstage waiting for places to be called, and I could hardly contain my excitement. I was standing behind the curtain waiting for the music to begin and the energy I felt was exponential. Then the lights came up, the curtains opened and I heard the roaring thunder of a sold-out auditorium. Even now I can’t explain the feeling it gave me. I couldn’t stop thinking about how excited I was for people to see the hard work we all had put into this. I wasn’t just excited for myself, but for my castmates as well. They had all worked so hard and it was finally everyone’s time to shine. The energy and the applause, the smiles and the laughter really fed the show that night. It was such an unexplainably impacting show. I never wanted it to end.
    • Fun moment when something went wrong: Once during “Friendship,” Moonface and I got carried away in the improv dialogue in the song and we missed a vocal cue from the pit. But we just hopped right back on time with each other and finished out the song like it had never happened. The crowd didn’t notice, but we did.
    • What did it mean for you to be cast in this role? I was speechless. I had dreamed of playing Reno, but I never believed it would come true. I was so humbled to play her, and I worked so hard to carry out the role.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? I was sitting around with my fellow castmates that day, waiting for the results to be posted. When I heard the news I lost all control of my sanity. I screamed; I jumped; I ran to hug my directors. That turned into joyous laughter and eventually tears began to form in my eyes because I was just so excited to be presented this incredible opportunity.
    • What would you say to a younger student who might be nervous or unsure about participating in the performing arts? I was honestly terrified to join the performing arts, but I decided to just go for it, and I have never once regretted it. My biggest advice is that it’s OK to be yourself and, in fact, participating in the performing arts is actually a great way to get over any fears you might have. The performing arts are a great place to find yourself, be goofy, be silly, love loud and live passionately. I promise you will never regret it as long as you try. Our biggest regrets are not the things we did do, but the things we didn’t do.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities? This experience has taught me how important the performing arts are to the students in schools and carrying out the arts in our communities. Through our musical, we were able to meet many new members of the community through small performances we would do in senior centers and middle schools. Our show gave us something to strive for. For many of us, it turned out to be our saving grace. It is the one thing I look forward to doing every day.
    • Last word: I just want to say how grateful I am that I get to experience the Bobby G Awards and that I am part of this incredible community.

     



    Previous 2016 Outstanding Musical Nominee profiles:
    Cherry Creek High School
    Fairview High School
    Mountain View High School

    Denver School of the Arts
    Arvada West High School



    Bobby G Awards
    : Ticket information

  • Thursday, May 26
  • Buell Theatre 
  • 7 p.m.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


  • Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of the Bobby G Awards:
    2016 Bobby G Award nominations: The complete listBobby G Awards a triumph for Durango High School Video: Outstanding Actor Nominee Performances 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)
    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 
  • Countdown to the Bobby G Awards: Arvada West High School

    by John Moore | May 23, 2016
    Arvada West High School. Bobby G AwardsArvada West is the fifth of five schools nominated for Outstanding Musical we have been featuring here in the DCPA NewsCenter leading up to the May 26 Bobby G Awards at the Buell Theatre. 'Les Misérables' is nominated for 10 awards.

    ARVADA WEST HIGH SCHOOL

    Les Misérables
    11595 Allendale Drive, Arvada CO 80004 MAP IT
    WEB SITE 

    Arvada West High School. Bobby G AwardsThe Arvada West Theatre Company almost had a much more interesting name. "We wanted to go by The Negative Wing Space Theatre Company given our very limited wing space in our theater," joked teacher Lindsey Welsh. "We nixed that idea, but ultimately we are very blessed with our space." Welsh, a graduate of Colorado State University, never took a course in theatre and didn't direct her first show until she got to Arvada West. "My first show was The Curious Savage because that was the last straight play I had acted in," she said. "We had a very small cast and crew, but it was a roaring success. After that, our theatre company has grown exponentially. More students join the company with each production." Welsh is now in her fourth year at the school. "I love to challenge my students," she said. "We have taken on shows such as Noises Off!, The Phantom of the Opera, The Laramie Project, Jekyll and Hyde, and finally Les Mis. It has been quite the adventure."

    Reserve your seat for the May 26 Bobby G Awards

    • Tell us a little about your school’s theatre tradition and history: "Before I came to Arvada West, the theatre department was small and not yet established. The program had gone through six directors in five years. When I walked in, I had no idea what to expect. My two performing-arts colleagues, Chris Maunu and Craig Melhorn, showed me the ropes. It was through them I discovered that the performing arts are incredibly high-achieving departments, and I wanted my theatre department to rise to its former glory. I grew up in Arvada and remembered going to Arvada West musicals as a child and loving them. I remember being captivated by those seemingly professionally executed shows. I wanted to instill that feeling in our theatre company again. I believe we are definitely on the road to that, but there are a few individual students who have really helped shape the program into what it is today. On the technical side, Stage Manager Mikayla Assmus has been a blessing for our department. She has completely transformed the work ethic and expectation of what stage crew means. And on the acting side over the past four years, Jordan Crout, Bradley Becker, Emily Holtz, Stephanie Bess, Danny Miller, Rowan Anderson, and Joe Lopez (just to name a few) have truly set the bar for students to come.
    • Arvada West High School. Bobby G AwardsYour program goals: Without a doubt, my goal is always to put on a Broadway-worthy production every time. I want their performances to be clean, crisp and genuine to the human experience. I want them to elicit some emotion from every individual in the audience. But at the end of the day, I also want them to have fun and to love what they do. (Pictured above: Garrett Charles, left, and repeat nominee Danny Miller, right, are both nominated for Outstanding Actor for their work in 'Les Misérables.')
    • What kind of general support do you get? Our school is incredibly supportive of the arts, as they are with all extra-curricular activities. However, the performing-arts department is consistently pushing the envelope, and I am so blessed to have a school and district that allows for that kind of artistic freedom and exploration. We are urged to challenge our students and go above and beyond every time. From our department to our administration, we have a shared vision.
    • What would you say to a younger student at your school who might be nervous or unsure about participating in the performing arts? It's like a family, so come on in. We might get cranky or overly boisterous but in the end, every one in  our department loves each other and would do anything for one another. I would also say that everyone, no matter what their talents are, can find success and a home in the performing arts. They just have to keep an open mind.
    • What does it mean to your school for your show to be nominated for Outstanding Musical by the Bobby G Awards? We are incredibly humbled and honored. This show has been a dream of ours for the past two years, and this nomination means our blood, sweat and tears have paid off.
    • What does this whole experience tell you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? We have loved participating in the Bobby G Awards because it does very much validate the how much arts education means for our school.
    • Last word: I can't wait to see where the next four years take the Arvada West Theatre Company.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Arvada West High School. Bobby G Awards Arvada West's orchestra is among the school's 10 nominees for Bobby G Awards on Thursday.


    Arvada West's 2016 Bobby G Award nominations

    • Overall Production of a Musical (Les Misérables)
    • Outstanding Direction: Lindsey Welsh
    • Outstanding Musical Direction: Chris Maunu and Craig Melhorn
    • Actor in a Leading Role: Danny Miller, Jean Valjean
    • Actor in a Leading Role: Garrett Charles, Javert
    • Choreography: Angie Dryer
    • Hair and Makeup Design: Kendall Mesch
    • Lighting: Whitney Larson and Kayli Porterfield
    • Chorus
    • Orchestra

    Previous 2016 Outstanding Musical Nominee profiles:
    Cherry Creek High School
    Fairview High School
    Mountain View High School

    Denver School of the Arts
    Arvada West High School



    Bobby G Awards
    : Ticket information

  • Thursday, May 26
  • Buell Theatre 
  • 7 p.m.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of the Bobby G Awards:
    2016 Bobby G Award nominations: The complete list
    Bobby G Awards a triumph for Durango High School
    Video: Outstanding Actor Nominee Performances
    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)
    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 

  • Countdown to the Bobby G Awards: Denver School of the Arts

    by John Moore | May 21, 2016
    Denver School of the Arts. Spring Awakening. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. Denver School of the Arts is the fourth of five schools nominated for Outstanding Musical we will be featuring here in the DCPA NewsCenter in the days leading up to the May 26 Bobby G Awards at the Buell Theatre. Denver School of the Arts. Spring Awakening is nominated for seven awards. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

    DENVER SCHOOL OF THE ARTS

    Spring Awakening
    7111 Montview Blvd, Denver, CO 80220 MAP IT
    WEB SITE 

    Denver School of the Arts is a comprehensive secondary arts magnet school for grages 6 through 12. It is part of the Denver Public Schools District. In addition to a rigorous academic program, students engage in intensive studies in Creative Writing, Dance, Music, Stagecraft and Design, Theatre, Video Cinema Arts and Visual Arts. DSA is committed to fostering a lifelong love of the arts in a culturally diverse, academically challenging environment. The theatre program itself is made up of about 160 theatre students who auditioned to gain admittance. Its leader is Shawn Hann, who has been at the school for 15 years.

    Reserve your seat for the May 26 Bobby G Awards

    • Tell us a little about your school’s theatre tradition and history: DSA, as it is known for short, started as part of Cole Middle School. Arts classes were held in the Byers building fro the late 1990s until the school was opened in its present location 13 years ago. Our most notable graduate and Colorado thespian is probably Gabriel Ebert (pictured at right), who won the Tony Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work as Mr. Wormwood in Matilda. Most recently he appeared in the movie Ricky and the Flash with Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline. Gabe still comes back as an occasional guest artist, and he  meets up with DSA students in New York every year to talk about acting. Another notable grad is Justine Lupe (Schomp), who was on Harry's Law, Shameless (with William H. Macy), Younger (with Sutton Foster), and in the film Frances Ha. DSA Gabriel Ebertgrad Jesse JP Johnson is currently in SpongeBob the Musical on Broadway. Jesse has done seven national tours, as well as three years in the ensemble of Wicked on Broadway. New York playwright Max Posner (Judy) is also a DSA theater major, as well as his sister Jessica Odede Posner, who founded  Shining Hope for Communities in Kenya, Africa. Also five members of the class of 2010 created the Black Actors Guild in Denver, who take Shakespeare into elementary schools and create original work. 
    • Your program goals: Our school is slightly different than a traditional high school in that we are a DPS magnet school. Students audition for one of 11 arts majors and get the opportunity to be a part of that art every single day for 90 minutes. Many of our students travel between 25 minutes to an hour to get to our campus and are very dedicated to studying theatre. Our goal in our performances is to give as many kids mainstage opportunities as possible in any given year, to challenge them with difficult material, and to work together with dancers, musicians, vocalists, and stagecraft majors. Spring Awakening, however, is cast with only acting majors as it is a theatre major performance not an all-school musical.
    • What kind of general support do you get? We are a "do it yourself" organization.  The tickets for each show pay for each show. Most of the time we barely break even on any show that we put on our mainstage. Support live theatre! 👍.
    • What would you say to a younger student at your school who might be nervous or unsure about participating in the performing arts? Our department motto is this: Step into the fear and be brave. We talk a lot with our students about how taking risks and putting yourself out there, being vulnerable, is the only way that you will get rewards back from this art form. I would say have fun and go for it.
    • What does it mean to your school for your show to be nominated for Outstanding Musical by the Bobby G Awards? We are beyond thrilled to be nominated for Outstanding Musical. The students have worked so hard on this production and believe so strongly in the message this musical carries. When we performed the show at our own school, many audience members were so moved and touched by the story that they opened up to cast members and school counselors about problems they had been dealing with at our school. The whole point of Spring Awakening is to encourage that kind of communication.
    • What does this whole experience tell you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? Theatre changes students' lives. It gives them skills that will transfer into any occupation after high school. From self-esteem to coping skills to organizational skills to working as a team and/or leading a group, stidents walk away with a massive skill set.  

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Denver School of the Arts. Spring Awakening. Jimmy Bruenger. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. Denver School of the Arts' is nominated as Oustanding Supporting Actor for 'Spring Awakening.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.


    Denver School of the Arts' 2016 Bobby G Award nominations

    • Overall Production of a Musical (Spring Awakening)
    • Outstanding Direction: Shawn Hann
    • Actor in a Leading Role: Michael Kosko, Moritz
    • Actor in a Supporting Role: Jimmy Bruenger, Hanschen
    • Hair and Makeup Design: Skylar Arterburn and Owen Nuss
    • Costume Design: Mary V Benoit and Lara Kirksey
    • Orchestra

    Previous 2016 Outstanding Musical Nominee profiles:
    Cherry Creek High School
    Fairview High School
    Mountain View High School

    Denver School of the Arts
    Arvada West High School

    Bobby G Awards
    : Ticket information

  • Thursday, May 26
  • Buell Theatre 
  • 7 p.m.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of the Bobby G Awards:
    2016 Bobby G Award nominations: The complete list
    Bobby G Awards a triumph for Durango High School
    Video: Outstanding Actor Nominee Performances
    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)
    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 

  • Countdown to the Bobby G Awards: Mountain View High School

    by John Moore | May 20, 2016
    Mountain View Bobby G Awards
    Mountain High School is the third of five schools nominated for Outstanding Musical we will be featuring here in the DCPA NewsCenter in the days leading up to the May 26 Bobby G Awards at the Buell Theatre.


    MOUNTAIN VIEW HIGH SCHOOL

    Anything Goes
    3500 Mountain Lion Drive, Loveland, 80537 MAP IT
    WEB SITE 

    Mountain View Phil Forman The Mountain View High School Drama program is cleverly called C.I.A. - Caught In the Act Productions. It has been run for the past 10 years by Phil Forman (pictured right), also the Music Director for the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's current production of Into the Woods, starring Debby Boone. (She calls him "most wonderful.") "We started with only 30 total kids auditioning and now have close to 100," Forman said. "We average around 75 to 100 kids involved in our spring musical each year. This includes cast, tech, and pit orchestra."

    Reserve your seat for the May 26 Bobby G Awards

    • Tell us a little about your school’s theatre tradition and history: Mountain View High School opened in 2000 and began producing several shows a year. In 2008, our production of Seussical was awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Musical in Colorado in USAWeekend. In certain years we produce a straight play in the fall, a spring musical and an additional show in the late spring that has included student-directed and student-written works, small-scale musicals and variety shows.  For the past four years, we have hosted Day of the Arts. Students from area middle schools come over and view the production in the morning, eat lunch with our company and then take master classes in various art forms in the afternoon. Our students and creative team help run the workshops, which have included: LearniMountain View Bobby G Awardsng a vocal piece from our current show and performing it alongside actual cast members; makeup; dance and visual arts (drawing, photography, jewelry). Band kids learn what it is like to play in the orchestra pit by learning a number from the show and playing it along with one of our leads actors. Our mission is to expose students to world of the arts and allow them to explore their specific passions. We also have been lucky to host several guest artists to allow kids the opportunity to experience professionals in musical theatre. 
    • Your program goals: We have a saying: "Broadway at Mountain View." While we stop at nothing to create a Broadway experiences for kids, our essential mission is to create well-rounded critical thinkers, problem solvers, and passionate, dedicated, hard-working individuals. We also place an emphasis on teamwork and how each individual has to commit to excellence for the betterment of the entire company.
    • What kind of general support do you get? We are self-funded through ticket sales, donations and some district money on occasion. There is quite a bit of collaboration with adults and the community to help make sure our students are successful. Our administration is incredibly supportive and is always willing to help support endeavors such as the Bobby G Awards program.
    • What would you say to a younger student at your school who might be nervous or unsure about participating in the performing arts? You never know if you'll like it if you don't try. Our philosophy is to cast each grade level in every production. For 90 percent of the shows, we do not cast based on seniority. However, we cast who is best for each role. Don't be shy and get to know your cast, crew, pit and creative team. We are here for everyone to succeed and to help you grow in our program and in your artistic endeavors. There is a difference between positive and negative nerves. Positive nerves that are created from feeling well-prepared as opposed to negative nerves, which are created from a lack of preparation.
    • What does it mean to your school for your show to be nominated for Outstanding Musical by the Bobby G Awards? We are humbled by the recognition of the hard work by our students and staff in these productions. It is an incredible opportunity for our students to perform on The Buell Theatre stage. That experience alone is well worth the months of hard work that goes into producing each production at Mountain View.
    • What does this whole experience tell you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? Mountain View is home to the Loveland Integrated School of the Arts with an emphasis on arts-integrated core classes. Students have multiple opportunities for arts education in both performing and visual arts throughout their time in high school. The students' recognition through the Bobby G Awards has helped to raise the awareness of the great opportunities available for our students. We are grateful for such an incredible awards program that recognizes the art form of musical theatre at the high-school level. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Mountain View Bobby G Awards Anything GoesMountain View High School's Bailey Friar and Tammy Johnson are nominated for Outstanding Choreography.

    Mountain View High School's 2016 Bobby G Award nominations

    • Overall Production of a Musical (Anything Goes)
    • Actress in a Leading Role: Savannah Wood, Reno Sweeney
    • Musical Direction: Phil Forman, Bryan Kettlewell and Peter Toews
    • Hair and Makeup Design: Averi Davis and Emma Smith
    • Costume Design: Jen Bleem, Cindy Sipes and Lauryn Starke
    • Scenic Design: Shailyn Clay, Tyler King, Rebecca Reynolds and Lucas Sanchez
    • Choreography: Bailey Friar and Tammy Johnson
    • Lighting Design: Jude Franco and Tanner Friar
    • Chorus
    • Orchestra

    Previous 2016 Outstanding Musical Nominee profiles:
    Cherry Creek High School
    Fairview High School
    Mountain View High School

    Denver School of the Arts
    Arvada West High School


    Bobby G Awards
    : Ticket information

  • Thursday, May 26
  • Buell Theatre 
  • 7 p.m.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of the Bobby G Awards:
    2016 Bobby G Award nominations: The complete list
    Bobby G Awards a triumph for Durango High School
    Video: Outstanding Actor Nominee Performances
    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)
    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 

  • Countdown to the Bobby G Awards: Cherry Creek High School

    by John Moore | May 18, 2016
    Cherry Creek High School Bobby G Awards 2016

    Cherry Creek High School is the first of five schools nominated for Outstanding Musical we will be featuring here in the DCPA NewsCenter in the days leading up to the May 26 Bobby G Awards at the Buell Theatre.


    CHERRY CREEK HIGH SCHOOL

    How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
    9300 E. Union Street, Greenwood Village, CO 80111 MAP IT
    WEB SITE 

    The Cherry Creek High School Drama Club is called the Union Street Players, Troupe 1730. We received our Charter from the International Thespian Society in 1957.The program is run by local actor and costumer Jimmy Miller, who is in his 18th overall year teaching and his third year teaching at Cherry Creek. He recently earned his masters degree in Theatre Education at the University of Northern Colorado Greeley. Miller is a graduate of CCherry Creek and a member of Troupe 1730 since 1981. "It is a wonderful experience to lead about 200 exceptional students in Creek’s theatre program," he says.

    Reserve your seat for the May 26 Bobby G Awards

    • Tell us a little about your school’s theatre tradition and history: Our program was started in 1973 by Bob Wells (currently resident director at the Town Hall Arts Center). When I took this job three years ago, I wanted to return the program to how it was when Michelle Busti taught here. I have worked with Creek’s thespian board and all my theatre students to build positivity and inclusivity in our program.
    • Cherry Creek Bobby G AwardsYour program goals: My goal is to run our theatre program like a professional theatre and to give my students as much of a professional experience as possible. My objective at the beginnings of shows is to help students create memorable, authentic character choices to bring our productions life and energy. I also strive to have as many original elements designed by students as possible. We have meetings for set and lighting design, costume design, and overall production. We have structured rehearsal times and organized tech weeks to help create the best shows possible.
    • What kind of general support do you get? The administration, faculty, and community at Creek have been incredibly supportive of our theatre program. While we do not have the same recognition as the football team, we have earned a reputation for putting on professional-quality shows and for raising the bar in production qualities and acting values.
    • What would you say to a younger student at your school who might be nervous or unsure about participating in the performing arts? Our thespian board has made it a goal to make strong connections with younger thespians and with students outside of our theatre community. Theatre teaches so many aspects about dealing with the challenges of life, and we work to be welcoming of all students who want to participate, be it on the stage or behind the curtain.
    • What does it mean to your school for your show to be nominated for Outstanding Musical by the Bobby G Awards? Considering the excellent productions also named, we are deeply honored to be nominated this year for our work on How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. The Bobby G Awards are the gold standard of excellence in Colorado high-school theatre, and we are humbled to receive this recognition.
    • What does this whole experience tell you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? We have worked incredibly hard this school year on all our productions, and I know our school and community highly value arts education and extracurricular activities here at Creek. A perennial goal of our program is to maintain a professional atmosphere that encourages further support and respect from our school and community.
    • Last words: We are honored to be a part of the Bobby G Awards this year, and we cannot wait to see all of the amazing work put on by our fellow thespians.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Cherry Creek Bobby G Awards CostumesCherry Creek High School is nominated for Outstanding Costumes.

    Cherry Creek High School's 2016 Bobby G Award nominations

    • Overall Production of a Musical
    • Direction: Jimmy Miller
    • Hair and Make-up Design: Marrisa Hadden
    • Costume Design: Jimmy Miller and Katya Zabelski
    • Lighting Design: Yasmin Farsad
    • Scenic Design: Jack Hagen, Yuuki Hashimoto and Caleb Nghe
    • Choreography: Ronni Gallup
    • Chorus

    2016 Outstanding Musical Nominee profiles:
    Cherry Creek High School
    Fairview High School
    Mountain View High School
    Denver School of the Arts
    Arvada West High School


    Bobby G Awards
    : Ticket information

  • Thursday, May 26
  • Buell Theatre 
  • 7 p.m.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of the Bobby G Awards:
    2016 Bobby G Award nominations: The complete list
    Bobby G Awards a triumph for Durango High School
    Video: Outstanding Actor Nominee Performances
    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)
    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 

    Cherry Creek Bobby G AwardsJimmy Miller, right, won a 2014 Bobby G Award. The production was 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Macbeth. Happy Friday the 13th. Macbeth Macbeth Macbeth.

    by John Moore | May 12, 2016




    Is there a ghost in the Buell Theatre? DCPA Video Producer David Lenk set up his camera to make a time-lapse video that would Superstition Ghost Lightcapture the load-in of the 'If/Then' national touring production's set in Denver's Buell Theatre back in October 2015. His camera took a photo every 30 seconds for three days and nights. The evident light at the bottom of the screen is a so-called "ghost light" - a theatre tradition in which one standing light is left on throughout the night to ward off ghosts. It may or may not have worked in this case. Upon reviewing the footage, Lenk discovered an unmistakable - and unexplainable blip in the upper-left region of the screen. It was captured in the dead of night, when the building was otherwise empty. "It is either reflecting light from something, or it is generating its own light," said Lenk, "because there is no other light source. It's completely dark." Lenk believes the blip could not be an anomaly or camera glitch, or the mistake would have repeated itself. The video above was slowed down by 180 percent to make the aberration easier to see. 


    By John Moore
    DCPA Senior Arts Journalist

    Theatre superstitions are real. Whether there are real consequences for flaunting those unfounded fears is in the belief of the beholder.

    In honor of today being the only Friday the 13th of 2016, we decided to focus not on merely repeating all those well-worn superstitions. Instead, we asked theatre artists to tell us specific stories of what happened when those superstitions were violated. And there were many.

    Theatre SuperstitionsWhen Austin Terrell was playing Macbeth in high school, the actor made a pact with his castmates not to say the name of the play in the theatre.

    This is a superstition dating back to the 17th century that warns against saying "Macbeth" in a theatre. And while no one knows for sure how it began, there are countless legends of mishaps and even deaths during performances of the play. Maybe it’s all that “Double, double toil and trouble…” sorcery in the play. Regardless, if someone slips up and says the name of the play inside a theatre (outside of the actual performance), that person must exit the theater, spin three times, spit and then utter some vulgarity to neutralize the curse.

    “I was one of the chief enforcers of that rule – and for good reason, being the titular character,” Terrell said. “On the final night of rehearsal before our first performance, I called out the cursed name in a moment of anger, which was answered by gasps and giggles alike. Move ahead 20 minutes to our big fight scenes. One missed step of fight choreography meant a rusty, chipped sword blade across the knuckles of my left hand. Fourteen stitches and a tetanus shot later, I still refuse to say that name in house.”

    Taunting always seems to be a guaranteed way of getting a ghost’s dander up. When actor Erica Lee was in high school, some of her Our Town castmates decided to poke fun at their teacher’s deep respect for theatre superstitions. So they, of course, repeatedly yelled “Macbeth” inside the theatre. “It was minutes before the start of the closing performance of the show,” she said. “During the opening monologue, the trellis fell, seemingly unprovoked, causing a loud boom and an audience gasp. Later, one of the ladders followed suit, nearly injuring the actor playing Emily Webb during the adorable puppy-love scene.

    “After we closed the show, we thought the bad luck was over - until one cast member found a bee in her hair as we walked to the cast party. Then another. Then another. Suddenly, the whole cast and crew were shrieking as we were being chased by an angry swarm of bees inside the house.”

    The Our Towners later received a stern lecture from their director about the dangers of disrespecting theatrical superstitions ... as they passed around the calamine lotion.

    Theatre Superstitions

    Fanci Berndt said “the word” in a theatre her junior year in college, when she was playing a maid in Scapino. And she she stubbornly refused to submit to the cleansing tradition.

    “That afternoon, I got knocked in the head by a flying broom,” she said. “Later, as I was ducking under the stairs backstage, I hit my head and was temporarily knocked out.” Later in life, working as a substitute teacher, Berndt’s class decided to write a play about Shakespeare's ghost. “My daughter and son both contracted chicken pox,” she said.

    Of course, not everyone buys into theatre superstitions. DCPA Fight Director Geoff Kent, also the director of the Galleria Theatre’s upcoming An Act of God, calls them utter (bleep). “I was in a production of Twelfth Night where a light instrument shattered above the audience, dropping hot glass and injuring the audience. An actor later in the run became sick to the point of vomiting blood. Another actor suddenly left the production in the middle of the night to be replaced with no prep. And no one calls it "The Illyrian play" with hushed overtones.

    But Kent was quick to add: "I respect those who hold those rules sacred, if only not to mess with their focus. I find most of the superstitions silly. But there is no need to poke those fears with a stick."

    Too late.

    Your stories:

    Technician Mike Haas: As a talisman to protect the set and keep the technology of a production working, I've hidden a Yoda action figure into the set of every production I've been tech director on. That's more than 100 shows here in Denver protected by Yoda everywhere from the Aurora Fox to Town Hall Arts Center to The Avenue.

    Actor Emma Messenger: On the way to the theater, I have to spot a dog on a leash. The more dogs, the better the show will be. The safer the show will be. It's protection against something going wrong. If I don't see any dogs, I make my husband drive around the neighborhood until we find one. It also works for shows I'm going to see, even if I'm not in them. It's terrible if it's a snowy or rainy day because no one is out walking their dog. In that case, I have to spot a billboard with a dog or some sign of a dog, such as a veterinary clinic. It started several years ago when I was in a production of Sylvia. It's such a well-written, heartfelt play. Making the connection was irresistible. It became a crutch. When I see that dog, it's such a relief.

    Actor Charles Redding: I had just finished building a full-sized deer-carcass prop. It was not for a show. It was the final project for my props-making class (at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs). I was also currently involved in a production of The Spanish Tragedy, where I would be playing The Hangman. I was chatting about the deer carcass with another actor just inside the doors of the Osborne Studio Theatre when the actor said of my prop, “That's fantastic. You could add that into so many different shows. You could use it in Macbeth!" Suddenly the director shouts from behind the set: "Hey! I'm working with NOOSES OVER HERE!" So then came the whole turning ritual, which I was not aware of. I was kind of blown away. For the record, no one died, the hanging effect was fantastic, and the deer recently performed in a Christmas sketch show as Rondo, everyone's favorite expanded-universe reindeer.

    Technician Mitch Chew: Before every rehearsal of Black Elk Speaks at the Denver Center, the cast did a smudge ceremony to ward off any unwanted evil spirits, and to keep actors and technicians safe. It was taken very seriously. I still have the talisman they gave to each of the technicians.

    Costumer Sharon McClaury: During my last year of college, Mary Jo Catlett was a guest artist playing Momma Rose in Gypsy for the Little Theater of the Rockies in Greeley. I was her dresser and personal assistant. Well, she had a pretty good fit when they wanted to use peacock feathers as set dressing in one scene. She insisted she would not share the stage with the "Evil Eye." Onstage, peacock feathers are apparently the "Evil Eye.” She could not believe none of us had ever heard of this "theater no-no." I had designed Bus Stop that same season - and used peacock feathers on one of those costumes. So you can bet I kept my mouth shut!


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

  • Time-lapse video: Watch the 'Newsies' set go up in Denver

    by John Moore | Mar 24, 2016



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

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

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

    Another look: Just the time-lapse:


    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Disney's Newsies: Ticket information

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

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

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

    Newsies set load-In
  • 'Gentleman's Guide': Where every murder is a comic gift

    by NewsCenter Staff | Feb 11, 2016

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


    By Sylvie Drake
    For the DCPA NewsCenter


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

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

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

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

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

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

    Of course, there was more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    That time it worked. 

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

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

    With the rhythm of a violinist 

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

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

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

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

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

    “It’s theatrical logic.”

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

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

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


    A Gentleman' Guide to Love & Murder: Ticket information

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

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


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


    'A Gentleman's Guide' in Denver Our photos of 'A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder' in Denver, to date. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click the forward button on the image above. 
  • Dirty Dancing: The Time of Your Life

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Dirty Dancing  —  The Classic Story on Stage

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

  • Katie Phipps makes her 'A Christmas Story The Musical' debut

    by John Moore | Dec 23, 2015
    Kaden Hinkle and Katie Phipps, two young but seasoned Denver stage professionals, were chosen from a local audition to perform as part of the ensemble while the national touring production of A Christmas Story, The Musical plays The Buell Theatre.

    In the video above, DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore and Video Producer David Lenk followed Katie in the hour before she made her big entrance, through her actual appearance on the Buell Theatre stage on Dec. 22. Includes comments from young castmate Caroline Howard.

    Watch Kaden Hinkle's opening night video

    Kaden's week with the show is over. Phipps, 11, performs from Dec. 22-27 (the matinee performance only on Dec 27; no appearance on Christmas Eve).



    Katie Phipps runs through a number in the dressing room just before appearing in 'A Christmas Story, The Musical' for the first time. Photo by John Moore. More photos below.


    A Christmas Story, The Musical: Ticket information

  • Performances through Dec. 27
  • Buell Theatre
  • 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.org.
  • More new photos from A Christmas Story, The Musical in Denver:

    'A Christmas Story' in Denver


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of A Christmas Story, The Musical:

    Video: Denver friends wish Katie and Kaden well
    Denver, meet your Ralphie Parker
    Two young local actors join tour in Denver
    Video highlights from the show

  • Kaden Hinkle makes his 'A Christmas Story The Musical' debut

    by John Moore | Dec 22, 2015


    Kaden Hinkle and Katie Phipps, two young but seasoned Denver stage professionals, were chosen from a local audition to perform as part of the ensemble while the national touring production of A Christmas Story, The Musical plays The Buell Theatre.

    In the video above, DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore and Video Producer David Lenk followed Kaden in the hour before he made his big entrance, through his actual appearance on the Buell Theatre stage. The segment includes comments from castmates Christian Dell’Edera (Flick) and Seth Judice (Grover Dill).

    Kaden's week with the show is now over. Now Phipps, 11, performs from Dec. 22-27 (the matinee performance only on Dec 27; no appearance on Christmas Eve).

    Kaden Hinkle runs through a number in the dressing room just before appearing in 'A Christmas Story, The Musical' for the first time. Photo by John Moore.
    Kaden Hinkle runs through a number in the dressing room just before appearing in 'A Christmas Story, The Musical' for the first time. Photo by John Moore. More photos below.


    A Christmas Story, The Musical: Ticket information

  • Performances through Dec. 27
  • Buell Theatre
  • 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.org.
  • More new photos from A Christmas Story, The Musical in Denver:
    'A Christmas Story' in Denver 

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of A Christmas Story, The Musical:
    Video: Denver friends wish Katie and Kaden well
    Denver, meet your Ralphie Parker
    Two young local actors join tour in Denver
    Video highlights from the show

  • Best Wishes Kaden and Katie in 'A Christmas Story, The Musical'

    by John Moore | Dec 18, 2015


    Kaden Hinkle and Katie Phipps, two young but seasoned Denver stage professionals, were chosen from a local audition to perform as part of the ensemble while the national touring production of A Christmas Story, The Musical plays The Buell Theatre in Denver. Hinkle, 12, will perform from Dec. 18-21. Phipps, 11, will perform from  Dec. 22-27 (the matinee performance only on Dec 27; no appearance on Christmas Eve).

    In the video above, friends from previous productions wish the pair well. Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Katie Phipps and Kaden Hinkle Phipps and Hinkle have previously performed together twice on metro stages. They both appeared in the Arvada Center's 2013 holiday production of A Christmas Carol, and just recently they played siblings Jane and Michael Banks in Mary Poppins for BDT Stage.  

    Guests on our video include cast members from the DCPA Theatre Comany's A Christmas Carol (through Dec. 27), and BDT Stage's current staging of The Addams Family (through Feb. 27). Also: Ben Dicke and his wife, Emily, offer a song of support. Dicke directed and starred in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at the Aurora Fox; Hinkle played Jackson's son.

    A Christmas Story, The Musical, which played on Broadway in 2012, follows young and bespectacled Ralphie Parker as he schemes his way toward the holiday gift of his dreams, an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle (“You’ll shoot your eye out kid!”).



    Video on the casting of Katie Phipps and Kaden Hinkle by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    A Christmas Story, The Musical: Ticket information

  • Performances through Dec. 27
  • Buell Theatre
  • 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.org.
  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of A Christmas Story, The Musical:
    Denver, meet your Ralphie Parker
    Two young local actors join tour in Denver
    Video highlights from the show

    BDT Stage The Addams Family
  • Go backstage for a tour of 'The Lion King' costumes in Denver

    by John Moore | Nov 20, 2015


    How do the actors in Disney's The Lion King negotiate the 220 costumes that are used in every performance? With a lot of help!

    The Lion King Assistant Wardrobe Supervisor Gretchen Heidenreich. Photo by John Moore. We went backstage at the Buell Theatre during the the national touring production's latest Denver stop to learn more. Our guests are Assistant Wardrobe Supervisor Gretchen Heidenreich and ensemble dancer/singer Amyia Burrell, who has 10 costumes and 14 costume changes in every performance.

    When you add in understudies, the tour travels with as many as 450 costumes. Disney's "The Lion King" is visiting Denver through Nov. 29 (Photo at right: 'The Lion King' Assistant Wardrobe Supervisor Gretchen Heidenreich backstage at the Buell Theatre. Photo by John Moore.)

    Video: Meet The Lion King Puppet Master in Denver

    Video: Go backstage with The Lion King in Denver

    Remaining seats for the Denver run of The Lion King are very limited (information below), but Disney's next brings Broadway to Denver when Newsies visits The Buell Theatre from March 23 through April 9, 2016.

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


    Photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. To download any photo, click "View original Flickr image."


    Disney’s The Lion King: Ticket information

  • Through Nov. 29 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. Nov. 28

  • Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for Disney's 'The Lion King.'

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Lion King:
    Gareth Saxe's Lion King homecoming
    For South Africans, Pride Lands are the land of opportunity 
    Circle of Life: The Lion King tour returns to Denver birthplace
    Technical director David Bencken on hanging 12 tons of equipment
    Original The Lion King orchestra member plays 15 different flutes
    Official show page

  • Video: Go backstage with 'The Lion King' in Denver

    by John Moore | Nov 19, 2015


    We went backstage to gain some insight into how the many mammoth set pieces come and go in the national touring production of Disney's The Lion King, which is performing in Denver through Nov. 29 at the Buell Theatre.

    The Lion King, Matthew Shiner. Our guest is Production Stage Manager Matthew Shiner, who explains the backstage choreography that is required to make signature effects like Pride Rock come to life. There are more than 10 tons of equipment that hang from backstage grids.

    Look for an additional video in the coming days showing our tour of the backstage costumes. (Photo at right: Production stage Manager Matthew Shiner. Photo by John Moore.)

    Video: Meet The Lion King Puppet Master in Denver

    Go backstage for a tour of The Lion King costumes in Denver

    Remaining seats for the Denver run of The Lion King are very limited (information below), but Disney's next brings Broadway to Denver when Newsies visits The Buell Theatre from March 23 through April 9, 2016.

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


    Photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. To download any photo, click "View original Flickr image."


    Disney’s The Lion King: Ticket information

  • Through Nov. 29 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. Nov. 28

  • Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for Disney's 'The Lion King.'

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Lion King:
    Gareth Saxe's Lion King homecoming
    For South Africans, Pride Lands are the land of opportunity 
    Circle of Life: The Lion King tour returns to Denver birthplace
    Technical director David Bencken on hanging 12 tons of equipment
    Original The Lion King orchestra member plays 15 different flutes
    Official show page

  • Video: The 'If/Then' interview series from Denver

    by John Moore | Nov 19, 2015

    David Stone, If/Then. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenterPart 7 of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' interview series with the cast and creative team from the Broadway musical "If/Then," which launched its first national tour in Denver in October 2015 and starred Broadway headliners Idina Menzel, LaChanze, Anthony Rapp and James Snyder.

    Next up: Producer David Stone, whose credits include "Wicked" and "Next to Normal," talks about what he feels is his obligation to develop challenging and risky new musicals for the American theatre. Stone said it was encouragement from late DCPA President Randy Weeks that planted the seeds for an If/Then national tour, which he had not been planning. He said his success has made developing new work for the American theatre his obligation. 

    "I think Wicked has given me a gift," he said, "and I have to repay that gift (by working) with living, breathing writers on new work.”

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

    If/Then played in Denver from Oct. 13-25.

    (Photo above right: David Stone hosted a conversation in Denver with 'Razzle Dazzle' author Michael Riedel. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter)

    Read our complete interview with David Stone


    The video series to date:
    Part 1: The cast talks about The Tour Reunion
    Part 2: Is The Butterfly Effect a real thing?
    Part 3: Favorite line or lyric
    Part 4: On writing original music for Idina Menzel
    Part 5: Mark, Maureen and Michael (Greif): The Rent reunion
    Part 6: Cast: Final thoughts from Denver
    Part 7: Final thoughts from Producer David Stone
    Bonus: Our Opening Night video from Denver

    Bonus: Our Opening Night Photo Gallery:

    To download any photo for free, in a variety of available sizes, click "View original Flickr image." All photos by Emily Lozow and John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.



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

    SCFD
  • Meet 'The Lion King' Puppet Masters in Denver

    by John Moore | Nov 16, 2015


    We went backstage to learn how some of the 230 puppets come to life in the national touring production of Disney's The Lion King, which is performing in Denver through Nov. 29 at the Buell Theatre.

    Puppet Master Michael Reilly and Scar from 'The Lion King.' Photo by John Moore. Our guests include Puppet Master Michael Reilly and actor Drew Hirshfield, who explains what makes the persnickety red-billed hornbill Zazu tick. And flap, and talk, and blink those beady eyes.

    The puppets range in size from a mouse to an elephant. Each one is inspected before every show.

    Hirshfield talks about what creator Julie Taymor calls the "double event," which means allowing the audience to see openly both puppet and puppeteer. "You can look back and forth between the puppet and the performer operating the puppet and notice that they are both having the same experience," said Hirshfield, who has been playing Zazu for about a year. "There is a magic in that, because you see the mechanics. You can see that it's actually just a bird made of wood and paper and glue. But it comes alive through a connection with the actors."

    (Photo above right: Puppet Master Michael Reilly with the Scar mask from 'The Lion King.')

    Remaining seats for the Denver run of The Lion King are very limited (information below), but Disney's next brings Broadway to Denver when Newsies visits The Buell Theatre from March 23 through April 9, 2016.

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

    Video: Go backstage to see how the set pieces work

    Go backstage for a tour of The Lion King costumes in Denver


    Photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. To download any photo, click "View original Flickr image."


    Disney’s The Lion King: Ticket information

  • Through Nov. 29 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. Nov. 28

  • Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for Disney's 'The Lion King.'

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Lion King:
    Gareth Saxe's Lion King homecoming
    For South Africans, Pride Lands are the land of opportunity 
    Circle of Life: The Lion King tour returns to Denver birthplace
    Technical director David Bencken on hanging 12 tons of equipment
    Original The Lion King orchestra member plays 15 different flutes
    Official show page

    'The Lion King' Puppet Master Michael Reilly and actor Drew Hirschfield (Zazu). Photo by John Moore.
    'The Lion King' Puppet Master Michael Reilly and actor Drew Hirshfield (Zazu). Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • CSU grad David Benken is the pride of Pride Rock

    by John Moore | Nov 02, 2015


    Technical Director David Benken has been fitting 'The Lion King' into theatres all over North America for 20 years. Photo by Joan Marcus.



    David Benken takes understandable pride in Pride Rock.

    Benken, who graduated from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, will celebrate his 20th year as Technical Director for The Lion King in 2016. In a career spanning more than 50 Broadway and international productions, he counts among his greatest accomplishments solving how to take that iconic moment when Pride Rock rises up from the Broadway stage – and recreate it out on the road, where no two theatres are alike.

    The Lion King left home in 2002, launching its first national touring production in Denver. Benken faced a litany of technical challenges making the then-record $15 million Broadway spectacle road-ready. Not because Denver’s massive Buell Theatre – larger on and off stage than most Broadway theatres – presented any of its own spatial challenges. Because other theaters would be much smaller. When you go on the road, you actually have to plan your entire tour to accommodate your smallest theatre.

    Most theaters, for example, would not have room under the stage for Pride Rock to rise up from underneath, as it does on Broadway. Basements don't exist that are deep enough to accommodate it, Benken said.

    And compromise was not an option.

    “The idea was that if you are going to do a tour, you are going give people on the road the same show that you gave them on Broadway,” Benken said. “And that was fairly radical for its time. Back then, there were some seriously reduced versions of shows going out on the road.”

    Not The Lion King.

    Lion King Quote David Benken

    “We were not going to give people some pared-down version of The Lion King," Benken said. "We were going to give them the whole thing. And we did. I think the national tour that started in Denver set a very high bar for all shows after it.”

    Benken began adapting the Broadway version of The Lion King for the road more than two years before it opened in Denver. His revised technical plans were due 16 months before the show opened here in April 2002.

    After several months and several attempts, the design team hit on the solution: Pride Rock, itself an 18-foot set piece, would not ascend from below. Rather it would slither onto the stage and slowly rise as Simba and his father climb to its top.

    “From a technical standpoint, the effect is actually much more complicated on the road than it is in New York,” Benken said. “For Broadway, we just built a staircase on top of an elevator. Except for building the elevator, that was pretty easy.”

    And by creating new circular movements, this solution, Benken said, further enhances Director Julie Taymor’s original vision that everything should come back to central theme of a "Circle of Life."

    “I think the solution we came up with in Denver worked out quite well, and it is used all over the world now,” he said.

    The unseen part of this story is what happens when Pride Rock has to slither back off the stage.

    “This 18-foot set piece has to be able to collapse down to about 7 feet because in most theatres, there is just no room to store something that big in the wings,” Benken said. “That’s technically the most complicated and impressive part of the whole Pride Rock technical design -- and no one ever sees it." 

    That is just for starters. The Lion King is a show with 500 lighting cues, 100 sound speakers, dozens of puppets and set pieces, and 60 automated effects. It requires a lot of heavy equipment to make them run like they should. A lot. And because space is always  the primary obstacle, Benken simply hangs most of that equipment in the air.

    “We have literally 10 or 12 tons of equipment up there,” he said. "The funny thing is the theatre in Denver (The Buell) had plenty of space on the sides to accommodate it, but the problem is we knoew we would soon be moving on to much smaller spaces. So on both sides of the stage, we hung a 28-foot by 4-foot truss that contained all of the automation control panels, all the dimmers for the lighting, and the consoles for all the sound amplifiers."

    “All told, including scenery, The Lion King actually hangs more than 100 tons of equipment from the ceiling.

    "So whenever we go to a new theatre," Benken said, "one of the biggest questions always has to do with the grids: 'How much weight they can handle?' Because we definitely push it.

    But he promises he has never taken a ceiling down.

    “No, and I don’t intend to start now,” he said with a laugh.

    Lion King Quote David Benken

    From theater to computers and back

    Benken learned about theatrical lighting in high school back in Cincinnati, but he went to college in Fort Collins to learn computers instead. But given how computerized technical theatre has become, "one very much informed the other," he said, and after graduation, he was hired as the Technical Director at the Lexington Opera House in Kentucky. He was lured back to Colorado to work for Hewlett Packard and US West as a computer programmer.

    He found his true calling in the theater in 1996 when he was hired to work on The Lion King, which would open on Broadway the next year. Benken’s credits have since included the Denver-born The Little Mermaid, Mary Poppins, The History Boys, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Boy from Oz. Cirque du Soleil, and the upcoming Misery, opening Nov. 15 on Broadway with Laurie Metcalf and Bruce Willis in starring roles.

    The bulk of Benken’s work as a Technical Director is getting a show up and running, or, in the case of a tour, out the door. From there, he continues to supervise all personnel and technical matters from a distance, usually while working on other projects. That means he doesn’t visit the show every tour stop, even though it takes five full days to load the show into any new city it visits. With The Lion King's fourth Denver stop opening Nov. 4, there is no pressing need for him to be here. But he was certainly here in 2002 when The Lion King national tour launched, and he will never forget it.

    “It was so exciting for everybody. You could feel it with the stagehands. There is that opening night lift you get when the audience sees your show for the first time. It’s why theatre is so wonderful from my point of view. You have just spent six or seven weeks in the theatre working 8 a.m. to till midnight most days, and it all pays off when you hear the response from that first live audience.

    “And the response from Denver audiences was just phenomenal. People really loved it. Standing ovations, the applause, everything. It was pretty amazing.  After the show opened, everyone was looking for tickets.

    “You could definitely feel that this was something special for Denver. It was definitely special for us.”


    Disney’s The Lion King

  • Nov 4-29 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. Nov. 28

  • Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for Disney's 'The Lion King.'

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Lion King:
    Circle of Life: The Lion King tour returns to Denver birthplace
    Original The Lion King orchestra member plays 15

    Official show page
  • '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.

    If/Then:
    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.

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

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