• Denver dates for 'Frozen' announced

    by John Moore | Dec 05, 2016

    Frozen

    The Pre-Broadway engagement of Frozen, a new musical based on Disney’s Academy Award-winning musical film, will play The Buell Theatre Aug. 17 through Oct. 1, 2017, it was announced this morning.

    FrozenThe Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Broadway subscribers may purchase additional tickets starting at 10 a.m. on Dec. 12. Broadway subscriptions are available now. Sales to groups of 10 or more will start in February.

    Single tickets will go on sale to the public in the spring of 2017. For more information and to sign up for alerts, go to Denvercenter.org/Frozen.

    Please be advised that the DCPA’s web site – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for Frozen in Denver. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party should be aware that DCPA is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and is unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance.

    This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours.

    FrozenWritten by a trio of Oscar-winners, Frozen features music and lyrics by the creators of the film score Kristen Anderson-Lopez (In Transit, Up Here) and EGOT-winner Robert Lopez (Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon, Up Here) and a book by Jennifer Lee (Wreck-It Ralph), the film’s screenwriter and director (with Chris Buck). Frozen won 2014 Oscars for Best Song (“Let It Go”) and Best Animated Feature.

    Frozen’s director is Michael Grandage, a Tony Award-winner (Red) and director of three Olivier Award-winning Outstanding Musicals (Merrily We Roll Along, Grand Hotel and Guys & Dolls), and Tony winner Christopher Gattelli (Newsies, South Pacific, The King and I) is choreographer. The design team for Frozen includes scenic and costume design by Tony and Olivier Award winner Christopher Oram (Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Evita), lighting design by six-time Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (Aladdin, An American in Paris, The Glass Menagerie) and sound design by four-time Tony nominee Peter Hylenski (The Scottsboro Boys, Motown, After Midnight).

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Two-time Tony Award winner Stephen Oremus (Avenue Q, Wicked, The Book of Mormon) is music supervisor and creates vocal and incidental arrangements.

    Frozen is slated to join Disney hits Aladdin and The Lion King on Broadway in spring 2018 at the St. James Theatre.

    Casting and Broadway dates will be announced at a future date.

    Frozen is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions.

    Frozen: Ticket information
    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut.

    Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    Aug. 17 through Oct. 1, 2017
    Buell Theatre

    • Broadway subscribers may purchase additional tickets starting at 10 a.m. on Dec. 12
    • Broadway subscriptions available here
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more will start in February
    • Single tickets will go on sale to the public in the spring of 2017

    MORE INFO


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Breaking: Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen
  • Hedwig's Stephen Trask: There are Thors all around us

    by John Moore | Nov 22, 2016

    Stephen Trask photo by Bruce Gilkas
    Stephen Trask photo by Bruce Gilkas.


    Hedwig is an iconic fictional character divided by gender, born out of one divided nation and now living in another. Birthed from two creators who imagined a world where from its earliest form, love itself was violently divided by an angry and capricious god of lightning.

    Her two makers, Stephen Trask and John Cameron Mitchell, have been divided throughout their own lives by their own forms of otherness. Yet for the past 18 years, their cult-favorite rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch has told the rocking, wrenching and ultimately healing story of a woman seeking wholeness.

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch was born in a raucous gay New York nightclub called Squeezebox. It grew into a seminal off-Broadway production that ran for nearly three years before being made into an underground phenom movie. Finally, in 2014, Hedwig arrived tattered and triumphant on Broadway, where it won three Tony Awards including best revival. Now, as it embarks on its first tour of the American heartland, Trask sees the opportunity for a divided America to stop shouting and start singing … fist-pumping and full-throated.

    “I'd like to see a world where people don't have to spend as much mental energy dividing us all into categories of us vs. them or as a series of 'others,' ” Trask said on the eve of Hedwig’s arrival in Denver on Dec. 6. “ I hope people can come to understand that the categories we have grouped ourselves in are really just states of mind. I hope we all will be able to love each other more and share the planet better.”

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock concert, during which our heroine intermittently reveals the intimate details of her shocking life. Hedwig was born a boy in communist East Germany and underwent a brutal sex-change operation to marry an American soldier who takes her to Kansas and abandons her there. Now she travels the country following a young boy named Tommy Gnosis whom she believes has stolen her music, her fame and half of her soul. The origin of her emptiness – indeed of our universal human emptiness, she believes – is explained in the song "Origin of Love," which tells of the petty god Thor, who used lightning bolts to split prehistoric man in half, damning all descendants to an unending search for our "other half.”

    And in the wake of this bitterly fought election season, Trask sees plenty of Thors in our world who are creating divisions in every direction.

    “In the opening song, Hedwig comes out and she says very defiantly that she's right in the middle of all of these divides,” Trask said. “And it's not just gender divides. It's a lot of divides. But she tells us, ‘Hey, there ain't much of a difference between a bridge and a wall. And without me right in the middle, babe, you would be nothin' at all.’

    “What she means is, you can look at that thing that is dividing you, that wall, and say that's actually a connecting point. The thing that is dividing us is actually also what makes us have stuff in common. What's binding us is our common humanity. And if we tear down those mental constructs as much as possible, the whole world just opens up in a way that makes life better - not just for other people, but for yourself.”

    The video above shows John Cameron Mitchell singing 'Origin of Love' in the 2001 film version of 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch.'

    In advance of Hedwig’s arrival in Denver starting Dec. 6, Stephen Trask opened up for a wide-ranging conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore covering how he and John Cameron Mitchell first conceived the Hedwig character, how he approached writing the seminal song “Origin of Love,” and much more – including his blunt response to the blunt question, “Do you feel like you have gotten your share of the credit over the years?” Along the way, Trask references Barbra Steisand, Dr. Seuss, The Clash and The Justice League of America, among others. Here are excerpts from that conversation:

    John Moore: The Hedwig story really starts at Squeezebox, where you were the bandleader. What was going on in your life and in the world that made that the right time and place for Hedwig to be born?

    Stephen Trask: I was a gay singer-songwriter trying to disguise my softer side in punk-rock music and glam-rock music. I had a band, and I think people were interested in what we were doing because the songs were melodic and the music was fun and the lyrics had meaning. But people were pretty put off by the idea of an outwardly gay singer-songwriter, particularly one for whom it wasn't really a political thing. For me it was political to not be political. Sometimes I might write a song about an issue, but we were not political in the way that The Clash were political. Politics was not the point of our band, so there really wasn't much room for us in the music scene. I got to be friends with Pat Briggs, who was one of the co-founders of Squeezebox. We both bonded over the fact that there really wasn't much space in the rock world for gay people, and there wasn't really a space for rock music in the gay world. He and Michael Schmidt decided to start this club and asked me if I would be the bandleader of it. It had reached the point where enough people now wanted to see a drag queen singing a real rock song instead of lip-syncing to a Barbra Streisand song. Or who wanted to hear a DJ who was playing rock music of all eras and punk rock and new-wave. And it turned out that there were a lot of people who wanted this. Squeezebox was a hit from the moment it opened its doors. Every week we put on a different show with a drag queen. I was leading a four-piece rock band, and it was basically the same lineup that's in the Hedwig band. That was also my band outside of the club.   

    So at the same time, John and I were working on a new show. There was no female character in it yet, but we started inventing her together - and I emphasize 'her' because if this character were to be a woman, and John were playing her, then that would mean I could get us a gig at Squeezebox. Hedwig was partly drawn on somebody John knew, and partly drawn on my experiences as a frustrated musician, which is part of her story, too. We thought she was going to be a minor part of this show but we kept getting gigs. And so we slowly developed this original show.

    John Moore: So the idea for John to play this failed rock star was really yours?

    Stephen Trask quote Stephen Trask: Oh, yeah. That was my idea. We had a rock-star character in our story that was loosely based on John who later became Tommy Gnosis. But frankly, and no offense to John, but he wasn't really that interesting of a character. Now, I am sure if we really wanted to make the story about John, we could have made it very interesting, but it wasn't really a subject we were getting very far with. I had taken a class in biography in college, and they taught us how to interview people. So I got my notebook out and I started interviewing John. I thought we would find some biographical material that we can use. And sure enough, he started telling me about this babysitter he had as a kid. And I just said, "John, why don't we take her and make her into a failed rock musician who used to have a relationship with our central rock-star character. But he went on to become famous, and she is left singing in dives, and she is bitter about it, and that's what she talks about. I'll write “Wicked Little Town,” her song of bitterness over never getting out of the town. You'll write a monologue and you'll play the character. We'll get her a wig and we'll put her in Squeezebox." And so that's kind of how it happened. We just sort of invented her right there in the room.

    John Moore: I've gotten to interview John a couple of times and one of the most meaningful stories I ever got to write was an interview with his parents, who were living in Colorado Springs when the first production of Hedwig was being staged down there. So I knew John's father was the high-ranking general based in Berlin who stood behind Reagan when he called on Gorbachev to tear down the wall. Now all of those biographical details seem to equate John's life more directly to the character of Tommy than Hedwig.

    Stephen Trask: Right.

    Mitchell and Trask: The two halves of Hedwig's whole

    John Moore: And so that would make you the internationally ignored sing stylist?

    Stephen Trask: That part's me. Absolutely. The person looking for her other half? That's John. And the internationally ignored song stylist? That’s me. We just kind of mashed it together. She's an odd character. Her biography is a bit of a fairy tale, but we were able to make it feel human because we were able to both tell our own story without being self-indulgent. I can talk about being a bitter rock star. I'm not actually bitter, but when you are a struggling musician, you want to make it. You don't want to be singing in dives. I can relate.      

    John Moore: So do you feel like you have gotten your share of the credit for creating this character over the years?

    Stephen Trask: No. Not one bit. No, not at all.

    John Moore: So speaking of Hedwig as of two halves of a whole, I guess the fair way to say it is that Hedwig really is half of both of you.

    Stephen Trask: Yeah, very much so. Yeah.




    John Moore: Well speaking of that very thing, I want to take advantage of the opportunity to ask you about the origin of "Origin of Love." When I was a reporter at the Denver Post, I wrote a column called "The 10 Most Gut-Scraping Songs of the Aughts," and I put "Origin of Love" on the list. I cheated a little bit by citing the Rufus Wainwright cover, because that put me in the right decade, but I specifically called out the song for your line, “I was looking at you. You had a way so familiar, but I could not recognize. ’Cause you had blood on your face; I had blood in my eyes.” I just want to know what gave you the confidence that you could distill everything that is going on in that story into a pop song and communicate all of its depth and complexity in three minutes.

    Stephen Trask: I first heard of the story because John bought me that book, "Plato's Symposium." He said to me, 'Can you write a song about this?' I was very into ambitious narrative songwriting. I was also obsessed with Lou Reed at the time. He had that huge mythic song called "Last Great American Whale," but he had tons of other songs that were just as hugely ambitious. And there was the Townes Van Zandt song "Pancho & Lefty." Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard did a spectacular cover of that one. I had been trying in different ways to write songs that tried to cover a lot of subject matter. So when John gave me this story, I knew this was something I could really sink my teeth into. The big thing I knew I was always leading up to was telling the story as a myth and then turning it personal at the end. Doing the whole thing in a way where you set up this really fascinating story and then make it gut-wrenching. It started out with me figuring out that I could get in by describing it in a kind of Dr. Seuss language. I had this book called "Happy Birthday to You" when I was growing up, and there is this really strange world described in this book. The drawings were these really spectacularly strange creatures. So I thought, “Well, let's describe this world before humans were cut down into their current size when there were just these big, huge two-faced, eight-limbed beings, and how can I tell this story like Dr. Seuss?” Once I figured that out, it came out almost all at once. It was just:

    When the earth was still flat,
    And clouds made of fire.
    Mountains stretched up to the sky.
    Sometimes higher.

    It’s very sing-songy. You can even imagine where the pages of the book turn, and what the pictures would look like.
     
    Folks roamed the earth.
    Like big rolling kegs.
    They had two sets of arms.
    They had two sets of legs.

    I imagined it from the start as an animated children's book. I asked myself, 'So who else would the gods have thought were threatening that they would have cut down, like dinosaurs into lizards, and cut the legs off of whales? I just imagined these vengeful gods taking these giant rival creatures and cutting them down to size. I also imagined kind of like The Justice League of America where the gods of all the religions all had one clubhouse together. A place where Thor is like a member of the Justice League. Where creatures from different myths all occupy the same space. It just unfolded like that, just trying to be extremely visual so that I could imagine this picture book that people could listen to and follow along the whole way.

    John Moore: The idea that we all have predestined soulmates is somewhat refuted by my favorite song in the score, "Wicked Little Town." So I am wondering: Do you believe that we have predestined soulmates or are you more the "Wicked Little Town" kind of a guy?

    The film version of the 'Wicked Little Town' reprise.


    Stephen Trask: I am a more the "Wicked Little Town Reprise" kind of guy, actually. John is the one who was very into the 'other half' idea. He's the one who gave me the Plato. When the show was oriented around a character based on John's life, we did explore this idea of, 'Who is my other half?' But that kind of went away. And so when I wrote what Tommy says to Hedwig, it was also me writing to John, saying, 'I don't actually believe in this concept of the other half. I think it's more the love you create with the people around you and the relationships you create with the people around you, rather than searching for the person you are destined for.   

    John Moore: So what did it mean to you when the show finally got a chance to be seen on Broadway after so many years?

    Stephen Trask: It was life-changing. It definitely put the work out there in a bigger way. It's one thing to have people go, 'Oh, I love that show!' every so often. It's another thing to actually have a lot of people who have seen it. I assume some people don't like it, but for some people, it's clearly life-changing. I tend to gravitate toward the people for whom it is life-changing. When you are doing something like that, you are talking to people. You are trying to put out these ideas, and they aren't, 'Oh, I wish I were a rock star.' Instead it's a discussion about how we construct our world into a series of dualities, and how the lines can be blurred or erased depending on your perspective. The discussion about love and whether love is something that is destined, or whether it is something that you find and recognize and nurture in the way that Tommy also sings about Hedwig. The reprise in "Wicked Little Town" is inspired by the idea of found objects becoming art. It's not just love as something you find as opposed to are destined for, but I believe the world is the thing that we make of it, and it's not really our destiny so much as what we do with who and what we are presented. So you want to get into a discussion like that, and you certainly don't want to be shouting off into the dark. So Broadway brought all of that to a wider audience. When people actually respond to it, and it begins a conversation, and it either has a profound effect on people's lives, or it begins a discussion or an argument, it feels good to have been a part of that.

    I also want to say that we ran the Broadway show as a year-and-a-half-long fundraiser for the Harvey Milk School. We ended up giving them more than $600,000. We are their biggest donor ever. Bigger than car companies. And so, if you feel like you are trying to create some good in the world, then that certainly did it. 

    John Moore: Tell me about solving the specific problem of telling the story on Broadway when the whole idea of the story is based on Hedwig playing in dive bars and bowling alleys? I saw the show on Broadway, and you guys clearly had a lot of fun acknowledging that this really isn't a Broadway show. It's more a Broadway takeover.

    Stephen Trask: Yes, on Broadway, the idea was that Hedwig and company are squatting on the set of the disastrous fictional production of Hurt Locker the Musical, which closed after one performance the night before. And that particular conceit is one that you can only do in a Broadway house when the joke is that big. I mean there we have an entire joke set. You are literally going to a Broadway house and there is the set to an entirely different show. We also made Playbills for Hurt Locker the Musical and scattered them around the theatre as if they had been discarded by patrons who hated it as they left at intermission. There is no end to how much you can tell this joke. It all started when John was visiting my house in Kentucky where I live with my partner, and the two of us were trying to come up with a funny Broadway show title that had closed after one night. We were naming one after the other and my husband actually came up with Hurt Locker the Musical. We just cracked up so much that we knew it was the right one. So then I wrote a song for it, and it's not even necessarily a bad song. The concept is that it's the kind of song that a good writer would write if they agreed to be hired onto a project called Hurt Locker the Musical, and approached it sincerely. The problem isn't the song, per se. The whole idea is wrong, and that's why it was so fun. Everything about that was a blast.
    John Moore: So how do you do that on the road?

    Stephen Trask: We definitely loved the Hurt Locker concept, and the jokes work great, and we didn't want to lose it. So we thought, 'Well, the road is where Broadway shows are being developed.' So on the road, Hurt Locker is not a Broadway show. It's a pre-Broadway run like you would have in cities like Denver,  where the producers are hoping for it to go to Broadway. But it failed. So we found a different context to tell the same jokes.           

    John Moore: So even though Hurt Locker the Musical died on Broadway ... it lives on the road, in cities all across America.  

    Stephen Trask: It lives. It lives.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: And what can you tell us about the new musical you are working on, This Ain’t No Disco!?

    Stephen Trask: I’ll tell you, it’s not really like anything that anyone has said about it so far, except that it vaguely relates to Studio 54. It's about young people who come to New York in the late 1970s and early 80s to find themselves and each other in the nightclub culture of the time. It takes place partly at Studio 54, partly at the Mudd Club, and also in artist spaces and on the streets of the city. What's interesting is the way that people in these cultures find themselves forming found families that are not biological or nuclear. I am writing it with Peter Yanowitz, who is the drummer in the Hedwig band. We developed the story with Rick Elice (Jersey Boys) but it's a sung-through musical, so there is no actual dialogue. The music is a mix of choral and gospel and punk and rock and disco and new-wave and soul and R&B. Rick came up with this great concept of Studio 54 as a church and (Studio 54 founder) Steve Rubell a street preacher.

    John Moore: In closing, now that you are this Broadway big-shot, do you think it might be time for you to embrace your birth name of Stephen Schwartz, and go ahead and let people confuse you with the Stephen Schwartz who wrote Godspell and Wicked

    Stephen Trask: I remember the first check I mistakenly got for writing "Defying Gravity." I said, “What the hell is this?” I didn't know the songs to Wicked, so I had no idea why I was getting it. And it was actually a really small check, unfortunately.

    John Moore: Did you have to give it back?

    Stephen Trask: I called him up and we compared things that he has gotten of mine, and things I have gotten of his, and it was within, like, $10. So we agreed if something big comes in, we'll tell the other person. But it's not worth it to call him up and say, "Hey, I got $3.87 for this.” And he's fine without it.

    John Moore: Final thoughts on Hedwig?

    Stephen Trask: It's going to knock your socks off, I can assure you.

    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.

    More to come from John Cameron Mitchell
    Look for John Moore’s expanded individual interview with John Cameron Mitchell coming soon to the DCPA NewsCenter

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

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    Mitchell and Trask: The two halves of Hedwig's whole
    Casting: Euan Morton to don Hedwig's wig on national tour
    Hedwig named to Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season
    Hedwig creator’s parents are tearing down a wall
  • Mitchell and Trask: The two halves of Hedwig's whole

    by John Moore | Nov 15, 2016

    Hedwig John Cameron Mitchell Stephen Trask



    Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    is a 90-minute rock narrative that tells the story of an East Berlin boy who dreams of finding his other half. But while the biographical details of this extraordinary tale are shockingly unique — the desperate boy submits to a brutal (and botched) sex-change operation to marry a soldier who takes her to Kansas and abandons her there — this underdog and largely underground phenomenon has made a profound impact on a generation of audiences seeking their own kinds of individual wholeness. For Hedwig, it was the dream of connecting with her believed soulmate, a pimply boy named Tommy Gnosis who instead grows up to steal her music — and her fame.

    “The most common positive effect I hear from people is that our story creates a space in their lives for them to find themselves,” said writer John Cameron Mitchell. “Everybody is fighting a battle. Everyone is a misfit and a loser. Or has felt that way. Hedwig’s road is particularly hard, but she laughs at it. And that’s what makes her story a communal thing.”

    John Moore's 2005 interview with John Cameron Mitchell's parents

    Speaking of two sides of a whole, the fictional Hedwig is very much the two halves of her own two creators — Mitchell and composer Stephen Trask.

    “The person looking for their other half is John,” said Trask. “And the internationally ignored song stylist is me. We just mashed her together into one.”

    Hedwig Stephen Trask QuoteHedwig — both the character and the theatrical rock concert — were born after New York was gripped by AIDS, but not yet by terror. Trask was the bandleader at a new gay nightclub called Squeezebox, which fully embraced punk, new-wave and glam-rock at a time when, he said, “There really wasn’t much space in the rock world for gay people, and there really wasn’t a space for rock music in the gay world. But it turned out there were a lot of people who wanted it.”

    Squeezebox was a hit from the moment it opened its doors. Gone were the days of drag queens lip-syncing to Streisand. In their place was a full-throated Hedwig and her band.

    Mitchell and Trask first began working on a show about a rock-star character loosely based on Mitchell — the now unseen Tommy Gnosis. “Frankly, and no offense to John,” Trask said, “but he really wasn’t that interesting.” So they focused instead on inventing a female character Mitchell could play. Hedwig was inspired by a babysitter Mitchell remembered having.

    Trask said to Mitchell: “Why don’t we take her and make her into a failed singer who used to have a relationship with our rock-star character? Now he’s famous, and she’s singing in dives, is bitter about it and is telling us about it.”

    Hedwig went from the club to the theatrical stage in 1998 with an off-Broadway run that led to a cult-favorite 2001 independent film. But another dozen years would pass before the theatrical gods aligned and Hedwig finally bowed on Broadway — sort of.

    In the film, Hedwig performs in a bowling alley, among other places. Around the country, the musical is typically presented in seedy nightclubs. A classy Broadway theatre was no place for Hedwig’s act, so this would require an anachronistic wink. When Hedwig opened on Broadway, the gag was that the host Belasco Theatre had just housed a disastrous run of The Hurt Locker, the Musical, which closed after one performance. Hedwig and Company are now essentially squatting in the abandoned theatre as Tommy performs on a legit stage across the alley.

    Hedwig John Cameron Mitchell Quote“The whole idea of a Broadway musical based on The Hurt Locker is just so wrong, and that’s why it’s so much fun,” Trask said. “There is no end to how much you can tell that joke.”

    But the joke doesn’t work on the road, so the team has adopted a slight alteration for its first national tour: When Hedwig plays road houses such as Denver’s Buell Theatre, it’s a disastrous pre-Broadway run of The Hurt Locker that just tanked.

    It took Hedwig so long to make it to Broadway, Mitchell believes, because Broadway wasn’t ready for Hedwig. “We didn’t change. The world changed,” said Mitchell. “The idea of rock ’n’ roll on the stage, the idea of drag, the idea of this unusual story — they all became less frightening. It was just time. And we wanted to make sure we had the right person to play Hedwig.”

    And at age 51, the right person was no longer Mitchell, who instead happily handed the wig over to the man he calls “America’s sweetheart,” Neil Patrick Harris. He was followed  by a steady stream of bankable stars including Michael C. Hall, Darren Criss, Taye Diggs, Andrew Rannells and, for three months, John Cameron Mitchell.

    Yes, after rave reviews and nearly a year on Broadway, Mitchell decided to step back into Hedwig’s heels and bring his personal journey full circle.

    “It was just like the old days, but somehow better because there was less at stake,” said Mitchell, who said he took on the challenge as a way to shake him from the complacency he felt stuck in following the deaths of his longtime partner, Hedwig band member Jack Steeb, and father, Army Major General John H. Mitchell. The general was in charge of all U.S. military forces in West Germany in 1987 and stood behind Ronald Reagan when the president famously implored, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Mitchell’s father, who retired to Colorado Springs and died in 2013, profoundly influenced his son’s writing of Hedwig.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    From Broadway, Mitchell learned he was not too old to play Hedwig — nor will he ever be.

     “This is a story that can be told at any time, and a role you can do at any age,” Mitchell said. “The character can age. I am sure I will do it one more time when I am in my 70s, sitting in a chair. I’m just sure the keys will be very low.”

    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.

    More to come from John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask
    Look for John Moore’s expanded individual interviews with John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask coming soon to the DCPA NewsCenter

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

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    Casting: Euan Morton to don Hedwig's wig on national tour
    Hedwig named to Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season
    Hedwig creator’s parents are tearing down a wall
  • 'Jersey Boy' Andrew Russell workin' his way back to Denver

    by John Moore | Nov 06, 2016
    Andrew Russell and the Company of Jersey Boys. Photo Jeremy Daniel

    The national touring company of 'Jersey Boys.' Photo Jeremy Daniel.


    Andrew Russell can relate to the Four Seasons’ unlikely rise from a street corner in New Jersey to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He’s lived a storybook tale of his own, rising from Pomona High School to his new place at the Jersey Boys’ table. Along the way he’s married his high-school sweetheart, performed in five musicals at the Arvada Center and now he returns home to perform in the national touring production of Jersey Boys from  Nov. 9-13 on the most fabled stage of his youth, the Denver Center’s Buell Theatre.

    “It's definitely going to be a very eye-opening experience. This is something I have always dreamed of,” said Russell, who saw his first live theatre performance at the Buell Theatre when the national touring production of Rent, starring Anthony Rapp, visited Denver in 2001.

    “I spent a lot of time around the Buell as a kid, and throughout my entire life, seeing whatever big shows were touring at the Denver Center,” Russell said. “Theatre in Denver was what I always imagined Broadway would be like. I also remember seeing Les Miserables at the Arvada Center and the touring production of Avenue Q at the Buell. That was my ticket to becoming whatever it is that I wanted to be in my life. Being able to see these quality productions really sparked something in me and made me think that possibly I could be doing this.

    “And now being part of one of those quality productions, and coming back to Denver - it's a full-circle story.”

    Jersey Boys Andrew Russell QuoteRussell wasn’t particularly driven to join the theatre program at Pomona High. You might say gang-leader Gavin Mayer made him an offer he couldn’t refuse – Jersey Boys-style.

    "He pulled me into the program,” Russell said of his teacher and director. “I was this very shy, awkward kid, and I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I was nervous and not ready for high school. I just didn’t have confidence, and I feel like Gavin saw something in me.”

    Russell’s family had moved often when he was a kid, finally settling in Westminster when he was in the fifth grade. Pomona was his first time at the same school for more than two years.

    On his first day of orientation, Mayer invited Russell to sit in and observe what the theatre program there was all about. “Sure enough, a few months later, he cast me in Footloose, The Musical. That was all him,” Russell said. And seven years later, as fate would have it, Mayer would cast Russell again - in the Arvada Center’s Legally Blonde, The Musical.

    “And so Gavin cast me in my first production of anything in high school, and then in my junior year of college, he cast me in my first professional theatre production of anything, and that was Legally Blonde.”

    Before Russell graduated from Pomona, Mayer also cast him in Hello Dolly! opposite Brenna Larsen, another fortuitous gift in Russell’s life. The two played Minnie Fae and Barnaby. They became high-school sweethearts, they matriculated together to the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, and they were married in August 2015.

    Andrew Russell. She Loves Me. Arvada Center. In 2014, Russell performed in the Arvada Center’s throwback holiday musical She Loves Me. At the cast party, he met a party-crasher named Matthew Dailey. He was another Arvada Center alum who had just learned he would be playing Tommy DeVito in the national touring production of Jersey Boys. “We talked a little about the show, and I just thought that was so cool,” Russell said. “Who knew that a couple years later, I'd actually be joining him in the tour? It's a crazy thing.”

    It’s a little more crazy that Russell made it into the cast than Dailey, given Russell’s own account of his audition. He was up for the role of goofball Hank Majewski, who was briefly a member of The Four Lovers – the precursor to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. “It was kind of a flop,” Russell said of The Four Lovers. “Hank was kind of a dorky guy who didn’t really lead the group to any kind of success at all. So they dropped him and picked up Bob Gaudio, who obviously made everything right.”

    (Photo above and right: Andrew Russell with Rob Costigan in 2014's 'She Loves Me.' Photos by P. Switzer.)

    Because Russell is now based in Burbank, California, he submitted his audition tape through YouTube. When the casting team then asked him to come in for a real audition, Russell left a key accessory at home. “Hank needs to play guitar, and when they called me back, I didn't even think to bring a guitar,” Russell said with a laugh. “I walked into the room and the first question they asked was, 'Where's your guitar?' And so I had to say, "Um ... back in Burbank?”

    But it worked for him.

    Andrew Russell Quote“I think that set up this kind of goofball attitude from the beginning," he said. "I feel like they saw that in me.”

    The Four Seasons – sans Majewski – went on to chart 50 hit singles and sell an estimated 100 million records worldwide. The core of the group during its 1962-67 heyday were lead singer Frankie Valli, Gaudio on keyboards, DeVito on lead guitar and Nick Massi on electric bass. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

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

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

    When Russell was cast, part of his intensive training was a third-row ticket to watch the original New York production, which is preparing to end its 11-year run in January as the 12th-longest-running show in Broadway history.

    “I just listened to the way people responded to these songs like ‘Oh What a Night,’ ‘Sherry’ and ‘Walk Like a Man,’ ” Russell said. “This isn't your typical Broadway experience. On top of the book and the score just being really, really good, the direction and the choreography are very specific; It's like a well-oiled machine, from the way the Four Seasons snap their fingers to the way the ensemble put their chairs down.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “The audience forgets they are watching a show. They find themselves singing along and enjoying their memories. Then you see the kids like me who just really enjoy the show, too. That's definitely why the show keeps on going like it has: Because everybody can enjoy it.

    Russell enjoys stepping into the spats of a band of brothers who like to play with each other and make fun of each other. "They get in each others' faces," Russell said. "But in the end, they have this bond, and that bond is their word. They are family.”

    And Russell’s family is his high-school Minnie Fae. Brenna Larsen Russell is also a performer, and she is currently touring the country in Nick Jr.’s cable television show Peppa Pig Live.

    “We always had this crazy bond together,” Russell said. “I couldn't be more proud of her. Here we are just a couple of years out of college in little old Greeley, Colorado, and we both are working professionally, sustaining our life together as a married couple in the industry. It’s been pretty fun.

    “Throughout our whole lives, people have told us, ‘Don't have relationships with other people in the industry.’ But I have seen a lot of relationships be very successful, especially when you find somebody you really have a connection with. I feel like we were brought together for a reason. We just have this soulmate connection. I can’t imagine my life with anybody else.”


    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.

    Jersey Boys: Photo gallery

    Jersey Boys

    Jersey Boys: Ticket information

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

    Additional NewsCenter coverage of Jersey Boys:
    Andrew Russell workin' his way back to Denver
    Matthew Dailey walks like a man back to Denver
    Dailey, Russell: There's plenty of Colorado in Jersey Boys
    Video, photos: Jersey Boy sings national anthem at Broncos game

  • Take That! How Barlow, Kennedy wove pop sensibility into 'Finding Neverland’

    by John Moore | Nov 04, 2016



    EDITOR'S NOTE: The first national touring production of Finding Neverland opens in Denver on Dec. 20. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore was given exclusive access to the principal cast and creative team, and we are posting his extensive interviews in an eight-part series here on the DCPA NewsCenter. Part 3: Composers Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy. Next: Book writer and playwright James Graham.

    'Pop-Tart' composers set out to create a big, heartfelt and emotional musical without irony or apology

    By John Moore
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    It might be surprising for Americans to learn just how popular Finding Neverland composers Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy are in the United Kingdom, says the Broadway musical’s book writer, James Graham.

    Kennedy has written No. 1 hits for Spice Girls, Celine Dion, Bryan Adams, Aretha Franklin and more. And Barlow was only voted the single greatest British songwriter of all time in a 2009 national survey. Yes, from a field that included a couple of Liverpool lads named John Lennon and Sir Paul McCartney.

    Barlow is both “furiously well-known and well-liked” in England, Graham said. He is the frontman of the enduring British pop group Take That - and while the group has only No. 1 song in the United States, Barlow and the boys have topped the charts 12 times in the U.K.

    “Oh, my God, I was so nervous just before I met Gary because he’s just this massive star here,” said Graham. “My sister had posters of him on her bedroom wall when I was growing up. He can fill stadiums and arenas when he tours. We're talking the stature of Elton John. He's a national treasure in the U.K., for sure. And equally Eliot Kennedy, who is part of that tradition of British pop music writing that is just so impressive. He knows his stuff inside out.”

    That success and notoriety in the rock world made Barlow and Kennedy unlikely candidates to pen the score for Finding Neverland, the stage adaptation of the Johnny Depp film about how J. M. Barrie brought Peter Pan to London life in 1904. But as part of a creative team filled with anachronistic artists from a variety of creative backgrounds, Kennedy and Eliot were the perfect choice for Director Diane Paulus and Producer Harvey Weinstein.

    (Pictured above and right: Sawyer Nunes and Aidan Gemme of the Original Broadway Cast of 'Finding Neverland.' Photo by Carol Rosegg.)

    Weinstein is one of the most famous film and theatre producers in the world. Except perhaps to Barlow, who bluffed his way through the initial call from Weinstein, then phoned Kennedy.

    Barlow whispered to Kennedy: “Eliot … who's Harvey Weinstein?"

    Kennedy’s response: "Whatever he wants, tell him yes, we'll do it. Because whatever he's doing … it'll be big."

    Kennedy knew Weinstein, all right. Kennedy had been nominated for a Grammy Award for co-writing a song for Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige in Weinstein’s film Bobby, about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. And what Weinstein wanted, Kennedy said, was a more youthful and unconventional approach to the Finding Neverland score, which was already under development by other songwriters.

    Finding Neverland Gary Barlow QuoteWeinstein had a modest request: Just one song. “Yes, it started that innocently,” Kennedy said with a laugh.

    “Now I'm going to be honest here,” Barlow added. “If Harvey would have called and said, ‘We need the whole score,’ I'd have told him I was too busy. Because I had been told how long the process of writing musicals can be, and I thought I was just too busy to dedicate four years of my life to writing a musical. Now I don't know whether this was Harvey's plan all along, but one song turned into two songs. And then, before you know it, we've replaced all the music for the whole musical.

    “And of course the one thing I've learned getting involved with musicals is that once you enter that world, you become a part of that world. Once you've fallen in love with the piece, and you've fallen in love with the director and the choreographer and everyone else, then all of a sudden you're like a responsible part of the musical body. So once we were in, we were in. There was no going back.”

    That first song they wrote turned out to be the title tune. And it came to life with almost no labor pains.

    “Both of us watched the movie. And the next morning I had an idea for the song,” Kennedy said. “I was just strumming along in a sort of folky way, wanting it to sound a little bit Celtic, what with J. M. Barrie being Scottish and all. And then on the way down to pick up Gary, I got a little idea for a chorus, and that turned out to be the duet “What You Mean to Me.” So by the time I got to Gary's, I already had a couple of ideas. I sat at the piano and sang the chorus of “What You Mean to Me” to him, and Gary just went, ‘El, move over.’ So Gary sat down, and within 15 minutes, we had that song pretty much nailed. 

    “Then I grabbed a guitar and sang him the chorus to “Neverland.” And, again, we just fired it off very quickly. Those were the first two demos straight out of the bag. Within 15 minutes of sending the songs to Harvey, he called back and said, ‘We're going to need some more of these.’ And we just got so inspired by it all. We watched the movie again a couple of times, and from that point onward, all we were doing really was imagining writing a soundtrack to a film with a lot of songs in it.”

    Fundamental to Barlow was that he and his partner not appreciably change their songwriting style to fit the Broadway genre. They are, after all, Kennedy said, “a couple pop tarts” -  and pop tarts they should want to stay.

    “At the very start of the process, I said, ‘Look, if you want a Broadway musical, there's thousands of people who do this every day. I don't do that,” Barlow says he told Weinstein. ‘But what I can give you is my version of how I think it should sound. And it won't sound like it's from Broadway. It'll sound like it's from a pop album because that's what I've done for 25 years. And if you want to employ me to do this, that's what you're going to get.’ ”

    And what they got, as Barlow describes it, “is an entire score of these 3-minute, carefully crafted British pop songs.” And that was music to Paulus’ ears.

    “In fact, there was only one song we wrote that we thought Diane would really love, because it sounded to us like really ‘musical theatre,’ ” Kennedy said. “But she hated it.  She just said, ‘Look, guys, don't think about this too much - just do what you do.’ ”

    So they produced a contemporary score that was ahead of its time to tell the story of an author whose mind, Barlow said, was a century ahead of its time.

    “Listen, J. M. Barrie was such a visionary that if we can imagine being in his head - he wouldn't be hearing this pompous 1904 music,” Barlow said. “He'd be hearing pop music. He'd be hearing what we're all listening to right now. And so that was our excuse to go, ‘All right, we can make this feel modern. We can make it feel like part of the fabric of the world we are creating, even though it’s set 100 years ago.’ So we used conventional instruments like a piano and a guitar, and over the top of that we wove it all in with these magical, mysterious melodies you hear in everyday pop music.”

    And that, Graham said, is the songwriters’ true strength.

    “I think they're some of the best melody writers in the world,” Graham said. “And you can hear it in every song of Finding Neverland. They have so much heart in their music. And I am certainly aware that there's been a creeping incursion of what I would call 'ironic' or 'insincere' musicals in the U.K. I really embraced and enjoyed Diane's and the boys’ commitment to unapologetically do this very heartfelt, big, emotional musical without irony or apology.”





    Here’s more of DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore’s wide-ranging conversation with Eliot Kennedy and Gary Barlow:

    John Moore: Your title song strikes me as evidence that a song can convey a magnitude of emotion just as powerfully if it is performed by a singer with a guitar, or by an ensemble with a full orchestra.

    Eliot Kennedy: I really like that you said that, because that song has all the elements we love about classic singer-songwriters. There's a folkiness to it. There's a James Taylor quality that I really love. The songwriters I really admire are those who are able to just sit down with a guitar and make a song work. We needed songs in Finding Neverland that could do that. And it’s funny you say that because whenever Gary and I perform that song, we do it very much as you describe: Just a piano and an acoustic guitar and two harmonies, and it really works. I think that gives it a bit of a timeless quality, I hope. Let's hope that never goes away.

     Gary Barlow: We've always had a theory that if a song can work well with just piano or guitar and voice, then it can work well with anything. I always think of "Yesterday," by The Beatles. It couldn't be more simple - and it's probably the most perfect pop song ever written. You know a song is flawed if you can't make it work with a piano and a voice. That's how we wrote all of our songs for Finding Neverland. The title song works in a community center or a village hall with just someone sitting at a piano and singing it. Now, the thrill of hearing an orchestra on top of all that is just fantastic. But fundamentally, underneath it all, the foundation has to be a well-written, crafted song.

    John Moore: What are your first recollections of encountering Peter Pan as a boy?

    Eliot Kennedy: It’s almost like Peter Pan is in our DNA, and I wonder if that’s the reason it's been so successful. It's like we're born already knowing the story. All those insecurities about growing up and getting older and wanting to hold onto your youth. It's one of those incredibly human stories that we've all somehow experienced, no matter what whereabouts in life you're from. That's why I think this story really transcends.

     John Moore: I imagine that when you come from the rock world, you never want to grow up, either?

    Gary Barlow: It's a funny thing, isn't it? When you're younger, you want to be older. When you're older, you want to be younger. It's a strange thing. But it's funny. I'm 45 now. I've got a group of friends and we've all decided that we'd actually be quite happy stopping time at the point where we are at now. So if I was in Neverland, I'd stop it at age 45. That would be absolutely great. That's the perfect age.

    John Moore: But isn’t not wanting to grow up an essential ingredient in both rock and roll and the story of Peter Pan?

    Gary Barlow: I know, I know. Yeah, I think so, absolutely.

    Eliot Kennedy: And I think that’s because this is such a young story. Even if it’s 100 years old. It's about youth and young energy. And I think  pop music resonates with that, too. To use a Peter Pan-ism: That's the cleverness of Harvey Weinstein. He was the one that got that, I think, when he chose us.

    Gary Barlow: We have a very famous pop star here called Cliff Richard, and he’s called ‘The Peter Pan of Pop.’ I always think of him when I think of Peter Pan. He's one of those people who's never aged and never grown up.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: When you started to do your research and learn more about J. M. Barrie as a creator, did you relate to the conflict he felt as an artist who was trying to find his true voice?

    Finding Neverland Gary Barlow QuoteGary Barlow: It's every songwriter's story. Forget that. It's everyone's story. Anyone who's ever created. A creative lifetime is a very difficult one because you're always constantly, every day, trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat. That's the truth. Whether you're a photographer or an artist or whatever. A creative life is tricky. It's very blessed, of course, because we do amazing things and we see the fruits of our work come to light in incredible ways. But that doesn't happen every year. For every one success, we have all these other things that perplex us and curse us. It's a hard life. It really is. So as we all watch and learn about J. M. Barrie, we definitely can relate to him.

    John Moore: Can you give me a sense of how you work together as a songwriting team?

    Eliot Kennedy: Gary and I work very closely, but rather differently than other co-writers. We do the same things. We're both lyricists and musicians and producers, and we both play. I'm either the guitarist or the keyboard player, depending whether Gary is in the room. Or the lyricist,  depending on who's got the laptop on them. We tend to divide and conquer quite a lot. We'll sit together and come up with four or five ideas. I'll take two or three of them, and he'll take two. And then halfway through the day we'll swap ideas. By the end of the day, we've got five songs. A lot of that comes from the fact that we've known each other for 25 years. We know each other inside out. We trust each other implicitly, and we think the same way. Essentially, we approached Finding Neverland as if we were in a pop band, and I think that's been one of the reasons it worked so well. 

     John Moore: I'm pretty sure Rodgers and Hammerstein didn't work that way.

    Eliot Kennedy: I'm pretty positive they didn't.

    John Moore: How does your score evolve as the actual show progresses?

    Finding Neverland Eliot Kennedy QuoteEliot Kennedy: I think that for the first 10 minutes, the music serves to set the whole thing up as a typical musical-theatre performance. Because you start with J. M. Barrie, and he’s frustrated that he is doing the same old thing. And then all of a sudden these kids and this woman turn up into his life, and everything changes. When we get to the point in the story when J. M. Barrie is in with the kids and Sylvia, it becomes a real emotional journey. I think it changes everything. So when the show gets to the song “Believe” onwards, I think it's  just a magical moment where they are all in. And I think the songs become much more significant because we've really bought into Barrie and his journey. Literally everything changes. He dares to do things he never would do normally as a writer, or as a human being. He just puts himself out there. You know, when we look back on our lives, I'd like to think we don't regret not doing that. Do you know what I'm saying? It would be really sad to get to the end of your life and kind of go, ‘Do you know what? I never just went for it. I never put myself out there. I never expressed myself.’ Because that's what eventually led to the creation of Peter Pan.

    John Moore: Does that in any way match your journeys in writing your first Broadway score?

    Eliot Kennedy: One of the things I discovered in the writing of this thing is that just about anything that is really truly amazing was born out of an incredibly painful process. And a whole lot of heartache and a whole lot of upset. It's an unfortunate human trait, but anything that's been brilliant in this world usually has been born out of a great deal of pain and confusion and insecurity. That's what makes this so triumphant: It’s the human spirit. I think that's what this story represents more than anything. The odds were against J. M. Barrie. No one wanted his Peter Pan play. His producer didn't want it.  His wife wanted nothing to do with this nonsense. Yet somehow, out of these children this inspiration came, and we have this incredible thing in the world as a result that everyone relates to. That should give you inspiration to keep going. These stories need to be told over and over again to remind people not to give up. I got a great deal out of that realization. 



    John Moore: Gary, I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about Take That.

    Gary Barlow: We've got a new record this Christmas, and we're doing another big tour next year. It changes as people come and go, but those people have been a part of my life and my family for a quarter of a century now. Take That lives in me somewhere in a place that's very safe. I feel like I have my brothers with me when I go up on stage. Finding Neverland Take ThatBut it’s also been a great experience to be free of being in a band to do the music for Finding Neverland. For someone who writes for the radio to write for the theatre, it's almost like my keyboard has grown three times. I feel like I've had a kind of freedom I haven't had for a long time. And it's nice to use some of my training as well. There are some techniques I've used in this score which I've never been able to use in my pop music. So it's been really nice to push the boundaries of my musical journey, especially at this place in my life. I never dreamed I'd be hitting 45 and opening a brand-new musical door. I thought those days were well behind me. So it's been fabulous for all of that. I feel very blessed to have been involved in this whole thing.

    Finding Neverland. Take That. John Moore: What did it mean for you to be voted the greatest British songwriter of all time?

    Gary Barlow: I wrote that. Yeah - that's my quote. 

     John Moore: Is there one Take That song that’s your favorite?

    Gary Barlow: Well, the only hit we ever had in America was a song called "Back for Good" in 1995. That was the only record we ever had that was sort of like a semi-sort of big hit there. It's funny. I come to America a lot, and I often hear that song on the radio still.



    John Moore: What did your children think when they saw Finding Neverland for the first time?

    Gary Barlow: Ah, well, I took my 11-year-old daughter with me to the very first read-through and she loved that. It was really interesting because Harvey wants perfection. And so he actually sat there talking to my daughter for half an hour after the reading, getting her take on who she thought was good, who wasn't, and what she didn't understand in the story. So she's followed this whole thing right through and she still loves to go and see the show with me now. She knows every word.

    Finding Neverland Eliot Kennedy: I have two teenagers, a 14- and an 18-year-old. Obviously they knew it was about the creation of Peter Pan, but it was just the best thing to be able to sit with them in the audience and say, ‘Check this out. This is what we did. This is why dad has been away so much.’ It was a highly emotional moment. I was in tears at the end, because all of Gary's family was there with us, too. It was just magic. It was like, ‘Wow, we've really done something cool here - more than just making a great album or having a hit in the charts.’ It felt like this was going to be around for a long time, and that people are going to enjoy it for a long time.

    John Moore: Diane Paulus has always been an unconventional director, which was again born out in her choices for the Finding Neverland creative team. How was she the right person to shepherd you through your first Broadway musical endeavor?

    Finding Neverland Eliot Kennedy QuoteEliot Kennedy: She is a genius - and I have to say, I think that's an overused word. But she is. She's a genius - and not in the way that those dudes in an Apple shop are geniuses. She is a visionary. I learned a great deal from just sitting and watching her work things out, and then translating her ideas to people. That was inspiring. And I'll be honest with you. Near the end of the musical, when the children perform their play in the bedroom for Sylvia, who is dying, I remember thinking at the time, ‘I don't get this at all. I just don't know what Diane is thinking.’ And then we got to the workshop, and I saw it all play out in front of me. All of a sudden it was just like, ‘Oh my God, how on Earth did she see this working this way?’ There were so many moments like that for me. And it's not just because I was naive and new to musical theatre. It's because she is just really clever. She interpreted our music in ways I never would have dreamed of. I mean, we had Harvey Weinstein and Diane Paulus. Talk about being spoiled. We had just an incredible creative team. And on top of that, we had Mia Michaels as our choreographer. Just ridiculous. The riches were absolutely amazing.

    John Moore: So how do you think musicals like Finding Neverland and once are changing things for the next generation of theatregoers?

    Eliot Kennedy: I would imagine that in any sort of changing circumstance, there's a little bit of a pull away from what is traditional. Now there’s certainly a lot of traditional musical theatre out there. But I think Finding Neverland falls into a similar kind of place as once  - and then the extreme of that being Hamilton - where you've just got a different medium to help tell the story, and that medium being contemporary music. Now there have been a lot of musicals with contemporary writers and scores, but it does feel like there is a groundswell right now for more of a pop influence in musical theatre. Younger people are starting to relate to it. I think that can only be a good thing. Listen, if it brings kids to the theatre, then it's got to be a brilliant thing, because we need to keep it alive, you know.

    John Moore: So has this whole experience turned you into a musical-theatre fan?

    Eliot Kennedy: Oh, God, Gary and I totally got the bug of it all. We've seen loads of shows, and we've written two more musicals since Finding Neverland. Yeah, we're really into it. We're really excited about the next thing we're doing. We're doing Around the World in 80 Days and another musical that's starting in the West End soon which is called The Girls. It's a musical based on the 2003 film Calendar Girls. It's primarily Gary and the writer of the story, Tim Firth, although I wrote the main two songs with them for it. It was a fabulous thing to be a part of. So we've really got the bug. We love it now.

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


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

    Selected Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    Finding Neverland
    creative team, Part 1: Director Diane Paulus
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 2: Choreographer Mia Michaels
    Diane Paulus on the rise of 'adventure theatre'
    Finding Neverland flies onto Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season

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

    by John Moore | Oct 20, 2016

    Jersey Boys Matthew Dailey. Photo Jeremy Daniel

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

    How Matthew Dailey's family responded to loss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. This article includes some quotes from a previous article he wrote for The Denver Post.

    Jersey Boys: Ticket information

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

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

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


    Video: More about Matthew Dailey

  • How Peter became Pan: Exclusive interview with Diane Paulus

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

    Acclaimed director calls Finding Neverland

    'a complete love letter to theatre'

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

    By John Moore
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

    Diane Paulus on Broadway's response to the Orlando massacre

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

    by John Moore | Sep 27, 2016

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


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

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



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

  • Learn more about Thursday's canceled 'Phantom' performance

    by John Moore | Sep 09, 2016

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

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

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


    Photo gallery: The Phantom of the Opera in Denver

    The Phantom of the Opera in Denver

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Video: Chris Mann speaks, 'Phantom' photos and fun facts

    by John Moore | Aug 31, 2016

    Video: Exclusive Chris Mann Interview

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

    Photo gallery: The Phantom of the Opera in Denver

    The Phantom of the Opera in Denver

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

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

    The Phantom of the Opera
    : Fun facts

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

    Costumes

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

    Wigs

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

    Sound

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

    Electrics

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

    Chandelier

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

    Scenery

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

    Orchestra

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


    The Phantom of the Opera: Ticket information

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

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

    Kathryn McCreary and Popsicle the SCFD Bear on opening night of 'The Phantom of the Opera' in Denver. Photo by John Moore.
  • 'Phantom' return marks Buell’s 25th anniversary

    by John Moore | Aug 11, 2016



    The Buell Theatre was built, in large part, to host the national touring production of The Phantom of the Opera in 1991. And after that grand party, cynics and critics alike predicted it would surely stand empty. Instead, a quarter-century later, it ranks as the nation’s highest-grossing theatre under 3,000 seats.

    Plans already were underway to convert the dilapidated old basketball arena into “The Buell” in 1990 when the late, legendary Denver theatre producer Robert Garner got the call from British producers Alan Wasser and Sir Cameron Mackintosh.

    Buell Theatre “They said we could have the first national touring production of The Phantom of the Opera — if Denver had a theater that could hold it,” Garner said in a 2011 interview.

    That would mean massive upgrades to the Buell’s planned backstage area, in effect forcing the city to commit to building a major, state-of-the-art Broadway roadhouse. At a cost of $40 million.

    “And right up to the end, we were not sure it was going to be ready to open on time,” Garner said. “But contracts were signed, and we were on the hook no matter what.”

    The 10-week Phantom run christened the 2,830-seat Buell and drew 224,393, generating $11 million in ticket sales and making an estimated $44 million economic impact. It was later determined that 21 percent of the audience came to Colorado to see the show from 43 states. In a letter to the Rocky Mountain News, Denver resident Dick Moore claimed to have seen the show 25 times during the run. The top ticket price was $60.

    Phantom of the Opera. Storm Lineberger as Raoul. Photo by Matthew MurphyIt was, Denver Post critic Jeff Bradley wrote at the time, “the most successful theatrical event in Denver history.”

    Since then the Buell, named after Denver architect and philanthropist Temple Hoyne Buell, has served more than 13 million patrons. It launched notable touring productions of Sunset Boulevard, The Lion King and The Book of Mormon. It has hosted comedians like Jerry Seinfeld; speakers such as Madeleine Albright, Laura Bush and Queen Noor of Jordan; and hip musicians including Nick Cave and Ray LaMontagne. The Buell has hosted innumerable graduations, funerals — and even a recent original stage comedy written by Tyler Perry.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    But the Buell is primarily home to Broadway musicals such as Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, which returns this summer in an updated production with new scenery, lighting, staging and choreography. This engagement will be the show’s seventh visit to the Buell. (Pictured right: Storm Lineberger as Raoul in the new 'Phantom of the Opera' visiting Denver. Photo by Matthew Murphy.)

    Over  25 years, dozens of future Broadway stars from Annaleigh Ashford to Andy Kelso to Sierra Boggess (who has played Christine Daaé in both The Phantom of the Opera and Webber’s 2010 sequel, Love Never Dies) decided they wanted to be actors while absorbing musicals on the Buell stage.

    Photos: 25 years of The Buell Theatre ... and before:

    Buell Theatre history

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


    Few would know now that the Buell spent much of its previous life as the rowdy, rickety and raucous Denver Municipal Auditorium Arena, the city’s home for concerts, basketball, tennis, volleyball and professional wrestling. Garner used the arena to promote concerts by Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Joni Mitchell, David Cassidy and Neil Diamond. “But professional wrestling was king,” he said. “There were matches there every two weeks.”

    The Auditorium Theatre, with its deco-inspired rounded corner at 13th and Champa streets, was originally built to host the 1908 Democratic National Convention. The space was divided in 1953. The 6,841-seat basketball arena made up the southwestern half of the building, while the other half housed the more culturally sophisticated Auditorium Theatre — now the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

    Long before the Phantom brings down the chandelier in the Buell, spirits roamed the air above the Auditorium Arena. In 1975, the official mascot of the Indiana Pacers basketball team put a hex on the Denver Nuggets before their championship series. Team management countered by hiring a witch to remove the spell in a grand ceremony before the deciding game. (Nevertheless, sadly, the Nuggets lost.)

    On Dec. 26, 1968, Led Zeppelin played its first U.S. concert at the Auditorium Arena. That same year, Eric Clapton played there with his band Cream. The opening act? A hypnotist!

    But the Auditorium Arena was largely idle after the basketball team bolted for the fancy new McNichols Sports Arena in 1975. Fifteen years later, the fortuitous call came from Mackintosh that both accelerated and expanded the plan to turn the Buell into what remains one of the most successful Broadway touring facilities in the country.

    But by 2008, the Buell had grown pale in the shadow of the sparkling new Ellie Caulkins Opera House next door. So, in preparation for another Democratic National Convention, the Buell underwent a $1.2 million upgrade that included new cherry-stained wooden seats with stadium-style cupholders and deep-red plush upholstery.

    One rarely seen signature of the Buell is the backstage “Actors’ Alley,” which connects the theater to dressing rooms and other facilities in the complex. Since 1991, a door-sized painting of each touring show’s poster or playbill has lined backstage hallways, signed by performers including Julie Andrews, David Copperfield, Tommy Tune, Chita Rivera, Julie Taymor, Savion Glover and even former President Bill Clinton.

    John Moore is the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. He compiled some of this report for a story he originally wrote for The Denver Post in 2011.

    The Buell Theatre: A timeline

    1991: The city transforms the Auditorium Arena into a 2,830-seat, state-of-the-art Broadway roadhouse.

    1995: Opera Colorado’s season-opening Tosca draws sellout crowds and rave reviews.

    2001: Comedian Jerry Seinfeld plays two sold-out nights on his first tour since ending his popular TV show.

    2002: Disney Theatricals chooses Denver to launch the national tour of The Lion King. More than 1,800 fans stand in line for tickets, and in all, 220,000 attend the 10-week run that infuses an estimated $58 million into Denver’s economy.

    2004: The Radio City Christmas Spectacular tour draws 159,041 for 64 performances in 39 days.

    2004: North High School becomes the first (and only) high school to stage a production at the Buell, The Zoot Suit Riots, drawing 2,100.

    2007: Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, a collaboration by the DCPA’s Theatre Company and Broadway divisions, draws 107,567.

    2008: The Buell undergoes a $1.2 million upgrade in preparation for the Democratic National Convention.

    2015: If/Then launches its tour in Denver and reunites the four original principals — Idina Menzel, Anthony Rapp, LaChanze and James Snyder.

    The Phantom of the Opera: Ticket information

    Based on the classic novel Le Fantôme de L’Opéra by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a masked figure who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all who inhabit it.  He falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine, and devotes himself to creating a new star by nurturing her extraordinary talents and by employing all of the devious methods at his command.
    • Aug. 25-Sept. 11
    • Buell Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: 2 p.m. Sept. 11
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Photo gallery: The Phantom of the Opera

    The Phantom of the Opera

    'The Phantom of the Opera' photos by Matthew Murphy and Alastair Muir. To see more, click the forward arrow above.

    Phantom of the Opera

    The 'Phantom' company performs "Masquerade." Original tour cast photo by Alastair Muir.

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

    by John Moore | Jul 26, 2016



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read the Denver Post review of Beautiful

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

    ASHFORD_ AnnaleighBoth: We love Annaleigh!

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

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

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

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



    Photo gallery: Beautiful in Denver

    'Beautiful' in Denver

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

  • Broadway's 'Hamilton' is heading to Denver

    by NewsCenter Staff | Jul 06, 2016



    By Heidi Bosk
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

    Subscription information for 2016-17 Broadway season

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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




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


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

  • Video: Bobby G Awards' Outstanding Musical nominee performances

    by John Moore | Jun 15, 2016


    The 2016 Bobby G Awards, which celebrate outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school theatre, were held May 26 at the Buell Theatre. Each of the five nominated Outstanding Musicals performed songs or medleys before the crowd of 1,700. Here are excerpts from each of those performances. The featured productions were:  

    • Cherry Creek High School's How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
    • Denver School of the Arts' Spring Awakening
    • Mountain View High School's Anything Goes
    • Arvada West High School's Les Misérables
    • Fairview High School's Guys and Dolls
    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.


    Bonus video: Mountain View High School 's
    Anything Goes:


    Anything Goes,
    by Mountain View High School of Loveland, was named Outstanding Musical at the 2016 Bobby G Awards. Here is the school's full performance at the Buell Theatre.   


    Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of the Bobby G Awards:
    Video, story: Kinship and camaraderie at 2016 Bobby G Awards
    Video: 2016 Bobby G Awards in 60 seconds
    Photos: 2016 Bobby G Awards (Download for free)
    Mountain View scales Bobby G Awards' 2016 peak
    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 list
    Video: Coloradans on Broadway to high-schoolers: 'Be relentlessly yourself'

    Bobby G Awards. Arvada West High School's Les Misérables Arvada West High School's 'Les Misérables.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. 
  • The Real Von Trapps and the sound of freedom

    by NewsCenter Staff | Jun 14, 2016




    By Teri Downard

    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    For 1,200 years Nonnberg, the First Abbey of Benedictine Nuns nestled on an Austrian hillside, offered a spiritual shelter from the dark forces of the world. It was here, just prior to World War II, that a high-spirited young novice named Maria sought a life of sacrifice and prayer.

    As is told in one of the most popular musicals in American history, Maria was hurtled from a life of solitude into the tumultuous life on the world stage. Most sitting in the audience know the story of this nun-turned-governess-turned-singer-turned-wife-and-mother.

    Sound of Music Ben Davis Kerstin Anderson Matthew Murphy But what happened to Maria after leaving her beloved Austria?

    The family headed for America with only the clothes on their backs and a few treasured belongings. They had no money and spoke no English as they began a new life in New York doing the only thing they knew: singing for their supper.

    Touring this country from ocean to ocean countless times in a big blue bus, the family learned a new language, new culture and learned to love their adopted country. When they arrived to perform a concert near Stowe, Vermont, they were stunned by the beauty of the place.

    Though plagued by money problems, they were catching on to the American notion of “time payments,” and decided to buy a dilapidated house on a mountain-top overlooking a valley, instead of buying new clothes for the large family.
     
    “We can build a house and barns, but we can never build a view like this,” Georg exclaimed. (Pictured above right: Ben Davis as Captain Georg von Trapp and Kerstin Anderson as Maria Rainer in 'The Sound of Music.')

    The von Trapp family’s story is one of faith, courage and love. When they ran out of money, they prayed and new opportunities for performing arose. When part of their rickety house fell down, they prayed and friends appeared to help them build a new one. When a nearby Army Corps of Engineers facility was closed, they prayed for guidance about a bit of wartime red tape that prevented land purchases by aliens. After threatening Maria with jail, Vermont state officials suddenly relented and the von Trapps turned it into a hugely successful summer music camp.

    When their fellow Austrians were desperate for food and clothing, they prayed to be shown a way to help. They created the Austrian Relief Fund, which grew to include relief drives for several European countries.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Money and tons of food and clothing were collected. They mailed bundles of goods from post offices along their route. When they stood before a judge and took an oath of allegiance to the United States of America, they prayed in gratitude that they were now citizens of the country whose freedom they so deeply cherished.

    The von Trapps touched millions of lives with their music and through their generosity. “…Only one thing is necessary to be happy and to make others happy,” Maria said, “and that one thing is not money, nor connections, nor health — it is love.”

    The Abbey of Nonnberg cast a long shadow. Its young novice lived a life of service. after all.

    This story was adapted from an article by Teri Downard, former Deputy Director of the DCPA’s Media Relations and Publications Department.

    Our The Sound of Music Photo Gallery:

    The Sound of Music
    Photos by Matthew Murphy. To see more, click the forward arrow in the image above.


    The Sound of Music:
    Ticket information


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

    The Sound of Music. Photo by Matthew MurphyKerstin Anderson as 'Maria Rainer' and the von Trapp children in 'The Sound of Music.' From left: Svea Johnson, Audrey Bennett, Quinn Erickson, Mackenzie Currie, Maria Knasel, Erich Schuett and Paige Silvester. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
  • Video, story: Kinship and camaraderie at the 2016 Bobby G Awards

    by John Moore | Jun 08, 2016

    Acceptance speeches and interview comments before and after the 2016 Bobby G Awards. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Before newly graduated Ponderosa High School senior Charlotte Movizzo discovered the theatre, she said, “I was the quietest person you will ever meet. I was very shy.”

    How shy?

    “I was afraid to order at Qdoba,” she said. “It was terrifying.”

    Jimmy Miller Bobby G Awards But when Movizzo found the theatre, she found a second home. “I felt I could break out of my shell,” she said.

    Movizzo left any remaining fragments of her broken shell on the Buell Theatre stage last month when she was named Outstanding Actress at the 2016 Bobby G Awards, which honor achievements in Colorado high-school theatre. As the newly named Outstanding Actress and Actor, Movizzo and 15-year-old Durango High School sophomore Curtis Salinger earned a trip next week to New York City, where they will be immersed for 10 days of theatre training with Broadway professionals before performing in the Minskoff Theatre at the national Jimmy Awards.

    That’s how fast your life can change because of the Bobby G Awards, which were begun by late DCPA President Randy Weeks four years ago and named in honor of his late mentor, Denver theatre producer Robert Garner.

    When she heard her name called, Movizzo said, there were no words. “I almost started crying,” she said.

    Winning was nice, but the best part of her Bobby G Awards experience, she said, was working together with her nine fellow nominees for a week on a specially created medley they performed at the ceremony. “Working with all of the nominees has been amazing because they are all so talented,” she said. They became so close and supportive, she said, they formed a private Facebook group.

    But the Bobby G Awards are not all about churning out the next generation of Broadway performers. 2014 Outstanding Actor Conner Kingsley matriculated to Tulane University, where he had the cred to star as Jack in the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods as just a freshman. But his heart soon led him toward a Management Environmental Studies degree and, hopefully, next into law school. Kingsley said performing in high-school school theatre and the Bobby G Awards experience prepped him well for that transition.

    “That has really helped me to talk openly in front of people, and taught me how to share my ideas and opinions easily,” he said.

    In the lobby before the Bobby G Awards, it was clear this unique annual gathering is all about celebrating both theatre and camaraderie.

    Bobby G Awards Luccio Dellepiane “For my kids, high-school theatre is their life for four years, and the school musical becomes the epicenter of their entire year,” said Cherry Creek High School Drama Teacher Jimmy Miller, whose How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying was nominated for eight Bobby G Awards. “But what my kids really enjoy about these awards is being around other high-school kids and sharing the energy, and sharing the love.”

    Another example of how much can change in a year was made plain when Cherry Creek student Luccio Dellepiane (pictured above) stepped onto the Buell Theatre stage as J. Pierpont Finch alongside his How to Succeed castmates to perform a medley from the show.

    Last year, Dellepiane was singled out as the Bobby G Awards’ Rising Star, an award that honors outstanding work by an underclassman for his work as The Herald in Creek’s Cinderella. This year, Dellepiane starred in the leading role of How to Succeed. Star risen.

    “That was really crazy,” said Dellepiane, who like many others, was surrounded by proud family and friends in the Buell lobby before the awards. “That was the greatest honor I have ever received.”

    Our 2016 Bobby G Awards photo gallery:

    2016 Bobby G Awards

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore and Emily Lozow for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    One of the fringe benefits of winning the Rising Star Award is a year of free classes offered by the DCPA’s Education Department, and Dellepiane took full advantage by signing up for four summer classes ranging from improv comedy to audition tips.

    “I know I grew as a performer because of it,” he said. “It gave me confidence to go further.”

    The Bobby G Awards’ Outstanding Musical Award went to Mountain View High School’s tap-dance extravaganza, Anything Goes. Mountain View is a medium-sized school of 1,200 located in Loveland, about 45 miles north of Denver. 

    “It’s humbling,” leading actor Owen Whitham said of the honor. “We come from a smaller town and we pour our heart and soul into our work. Being recognized for that is something we never even thought of.” 

    The cast’s performance of the title song drew thunderous response from the Buell crowd of about 1,700.

    “Shockingly, only five of us had ever tapped before,” said cast member Kira Minter, who said the students went through a two-week tap-dancing boot camp before rehearsals even started. Their efforts paid off at the Bobby G Awards.

    “I think this program is amazing,” Minter said. “It’s one of those experiences that changes your life. Performing on a real, professional stage is a great opportunity, especially for kids who are new to theatre. It’s a chance for them to say, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is what I love to do.’ ”

    Denver School of the Arts was nominated for seven Bobby G Awards for its daring production of Spring Awakening, one of the first in the nation by any high school troupe. DSA is one of only two schools in the nation that have been invited to perform at the upcoming International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Neb. Actor Keely Kritz said performing Spring Awakening at the upcoming conference “is the fulfillment of a big dream.”

    Spring Awakening is a modern retelling of young 1880s German teens growing up in the complete absence of real information about sexuality or the human body.

    Bobby G Awards Mountain View High School
    Mountain View High School's cast of 'Anything Goes.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    “It was freeing to be able to do this show,” said cast member Beau Wilcox. “It’s great to be able to say, ‘This is our school, and we are going to take on a tough subject, and we are going to do a good job with it.”

    Added castmate Jimmy Bruenger: “We like to do shows that are impactful and share a human experience - and what a perfect show to that,” he said. “This is a show about growing up, and we’ve all done that in the past seven years.”

    Still, for many, the enduring moment of the 2016 Bobby G Awards was watching as Curtis Salinger of Durango High School was named Outstanding Actor one year after his brother, Evatt, won the same honor. And it was Evatt who had the honor of handing the trophy to his younger brother, who turns just 16 next week. Curtis called it a Zoolander moment. But he was was most happy for his parents.

    “We have amazing parents, and they have raised us well,” Curtis said. “I know I speak for Evatt when I say we are eternally grateful to them and for the opportunities they have given us.” 

    One of the giddiest attendees this year was 2014 Outstanding Actress Abby Noble, who was happy to be taking her seat in the Buell Theatre audience before the show. “I just ate at McDonalds, because I don’t have to sing,” she said with a smile as wide as her face.

    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.

     

    MORE QUOTES FROM THE BOBBY G AWARDS:

    2014 Outstanding Actress Abby Noble: “Theatre definitely helps me in every aspect of my life. Especially when it comes to working with other people at the work place. I am a tour guide at my school, and theatre has really helped with the presentational aspect of the job, abs being able to stand under pressure with a smile on your face and be genuine.”

    Shelly Cox-Robie, director of Boulder High School’s Beauty and the Beast and a 250-year performer at BDT Stage in Boulder: “I am so happy for these kids. We have to fight for funding and fight for any recognition for these kids, who work countless hours for months to make these shows.”

    Ronni Gallup, nominated for the third time at Cherry Creek High School and choreographer of Phamaly Theatre Company’s upcoming Evita: “It is so important that we give these kids a taste of what the real business is. I’m hard on them. I push them and I challenge them, year after year. And I think they are the better for it" 

    2015 Outstanding Actress Emma Buchanan: "Being back at the Bobby G Awards makes me nostalgic being back here at the Buell Theatre. You can feel the excitement of the event and how important it is for so many kids in the state."


    Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of the Bobby G Awards:
    Video: 2016 Bobby G Awards in 60 seconds
    Photos: 2016 Bobby G Awards (Download for free)
    Mountain View scales Bobby G Awards' 2016 peak
    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 list
    Video: Coloradans on Broadway to high-schoolers: 'Be relentlessly yourself'
  • 'Phantom of the Opera' tickets go on-sale

    by NewsCenter Staff | Jun 06, 2016



    By Heidi Bosk

    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Tickets for Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera go on sale today, June 6, at 10 a.m. for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' engagement playing The Buell Theatre Aug. 25-Sept. 11.  With newly reinvented staging and stunning scenic design, this new version of Phantom is performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this one of the largest productions on tour in North America. Tickets start at $20.

    BUY ONLINE

    Please be advised that the DCPA is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for the Denver engagement of The Phantom of the Opera.

    “It’s wonderful to have a new production of Phantom touring America now that the show has celebrated 28 years on Broadway," said Lloyd Webber. "Director Laurence Connor has done an amazing job and this production has received huge critical acclaim in the U.K.”

    Connor co-directed the new production of Les Misérables currently running on Broadway and around the world, as well as the award-winning new London production of Miss Saigon coming to Broadway in 2017 and national tour in 2018, and the stage version of the movie School of Rock now playing at Broadway’s Winter Garden.

    Added Mackintosh: "With Phantom still the reigning champion as the longest-running production on Broadway after 28 phenomenal years, with no end in sight, I’m delighted that this spectacular new production of Phantom has been as well-received in the U.S. as the brilliant original and has already been seen by over 2 million people across North America since it opened in November 2013. With an exciting new design and staging, retaining Maria Björnson’s amazing costumes, the new Phantom is thrilling audiences and critics alike all over again – the music of the night is soaring to dazzling new heights.”

    Phantom of the Opera

    The Company performs "Masquerade." Original tour cast photo by Alastair Muir.


    Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera
    Aug. 25-Sept. 11, Buell Theatre

    • Presented by Cameron Mackintosh, The Really Useful Group, and NETworks Presentations
    • Directed by Laurence Connor
    • Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
    • Lyrics by Charles Hart
    • Additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe
    • Book by Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Lloyd Webber
    • Orchestrations by David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber
    • Choreography by Scott Ambler
    • Set design by Paul Brown
    • Original costume design by Maria Björnson
    • Lighting design by Paule Constable
    • Sound design by Mick Potter
    • Musical supervision by John Rigby
    • The production is overseen by Matthew Bourne and Cameron Mackintosh

    Based on the classic novel Le Fantôme de L’Opéra by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a masked figure who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all who inhabit it.  He falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine, and devotes himself to creating a new star by nurturing her extraordinary talents and by employing all of the devious methods at his command.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Mackintosh’s brilliant original production of Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera continues performances at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London and in its recording-breaking run at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway and many other cities around the world.

    Photo gallery:

    The Phantom of the Opera

    'The Phantom of the Opera' photos by Matthew Murphy and  Alastair Muir. To see more, click the forward arrow above.

    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter

  • How Disney turned a Beast into a Beaut

    by NewsCenter Staff | Jun 02, 2016
    NETworks presents Disney's Beauty and the Beast

    Photos by Matthew Murphy. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. 


    Even on your very best day, chances are you’ve never danced with your dinnerware. Oh, you may have talked things out over a good cup of tea from time to time, but rarely with the teapot itself. You even may have warbled in your wardrobe, but with it? Ah, but perhaps you’ve never visited an enchanted castle.

    Fear not. Here’s your chance, as NETworks presents Disney’s Beauty and the Beast rolls into town for a return run in Denver. As usual, it’s the love of a good woman that turns a beast into his best. Then again, this timeless tale of redemption brings out the best in everyone.

    Based on the traditional fairytale first published in France in the mid-18th century, Beauty and the Beast has been translated into hundreds of versions worldwide. When Walt Disney Pictures released the animated feature film in 1991, it was hailed as an instant classic with critics praising its “songs worthy of a Broadway musical.”

    With two Academy Awards (Best Song and Best Original Score), Disney set out to turn that praise into reality. The transformation of evil into good is hardly the only transformation in this show. To the tune of $13 million dollars, give or take a few, the Disney folk transformed their very successful film musical into an equally successful stage musical. Linda Woolverton adapted her screenplay for the stage complete with new scenes and seven new songs. The show opened at the Palace Theatre on April 18, 1994, ultimately playing 5,461 performances on Broadway in 13 years.

    With 580 costume pieces, 81 wigs and spectacular staging effects, people become household utensils such as teapots and wardrobes and candelabra and feather dusters and clocks right before your eyes.

    Since its Broadway debut 22 years ago, more than 35 million people in 21 countries have enjoyed the eyebrow-raising effects and sleight-of-hand that are worthy of David Copperfield. Keep your eyes open for some of the sensational elements — 67 LED lights on the magic mirror, the 450-pound “star drop” curtain, the 1,700-pound West Wing set piece and the 1 ton — ONE TON — plate rail featured in “Be Our Guest.” Plus, pint-sized audience members will want to look closely at the tavern set backdrop, where, much like at its famous parks, a “Mickey” is carefully hidden in plain sight.

     

    This article is compiled from the materials provided by the production company and an article written by Teri Downard, former Deputy Director of the DCPA’s Media Relations and Publications Department.

    NETworks presents Disney's Beauty and the Beast
    June 7-12
    Buell Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Beauty and the Beast 800
    Brooke Quintana as Belle and Sam Hartley as the Beast in NETworks presents"Disney's Beauty and the Beast." Photo by Matthew Murphy.
  • Video: 2016 Bobby G Awards in 60 seconds

    by John Moore | Jun 01, 2016


    In the first of our series of videos covering the 2016 Bobby G Awards, we present you with this 60-second recap, focusing on the Colorado actors who are advancing to the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, otherwise known as The Jimmys, later this month in New York City. The Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in high-school theatre. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of the Bobby G Awards:
    Photos: 2016 Bobby G Awards (Download for free)
    Mountain View scales Bobby G Awards' 2016 peak
    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 list
    Video: Coloradans on Broadway to high-schoolers: 'Be relentlessly yourself'


    Bobby G Awards

    Curtis Salinger and Charlotte Movizzo. Photo by Emily Lozow for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Photos: The 2016 Bobby G Awards

    by John Moore | May 29, 2016
    2016 Bobby G Awards
    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. To download any photo for free, in a variety of sizes, click on the photo. You will be taken to our Denver Center Flickr account, where you will click on the download arrow at the bottom right of the image. Photos by John Moore and Emily Lozow for the DCPA NewsCenter.



    Bobby G AwardsHere is a gallery of our best photos from the fourth annual Bobby G Awards held Thursday, May 26 at the Buell Theatre. The Bobby G Awards, named after late Denver theatre producer Robert Garner, honor outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school theatre.The gallery includes photos from the day-long rehearsal at the Buell on Wednesday, May 25.

    Read our complete report on the 2016 Bobby G Awards


    Bobby G Awards DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg with New York-bound Outstanding Actor and Acrtress Curtis Salinger and Charlotte Movizzo. Photo by Emily Lozow.DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg with New York-bound Outstanding Actress and Actor Charlotte Movizzo and Curtis Salinger. Photo by Emily Lozow.


    Here is a fun time-lapse video covering the day-long Bobby G Awards rehearsal the day before the ceremony, including performances by Fairview, Arvada West, Denver School of the Arts, Mountain View and Cherry Creek. Video shot by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk on May 25 in the Buell Theatre.

    The traditional post-Bobby G Awards celebration photo on the Buell Stage by John Moore for the DCPA.
    Everyone who was part of a winning production was invited onto the Buell Theatre stage for the traditional  post-Bobby G Awards celebration photo by John Moore for the DCPA.


    Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of the Bobby G Awards:
    Mountain View scales Bobby G Awards' 2016 peak
    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 list
    2014-15 Bobby G Awards a triumph for Durango High
    Bobby G Award winners sing National Anthem at Rockies game
    Video: The Acceptance Speeches
    Photos: The 2015 Bobby G Awards. (Download for free)
    Video: Coloradans on Broadway to high-schoolers: 'Be relentlessly yourself'

    Bobby G Awards Mountain View High School. Anything Goes. Mountain View High School celebrates the announcement that its 'Anything Goes' had won the 2016 Bobby G Award for Outstanding Musical. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA 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.