• 2016 True West Award: Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski

    by John Moore | Dec 06, 2016
    True West Awards Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski Lost Creatures

    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 3:
    Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski

                      Presented by Henry Award-winning actor Maggy Stacy


    His name is Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski. But you can call him by his initials: PEZ. It just seems to fit. Like the classic candy, he’s sweet, colorful, spreads joy – and is seemingly dispensed all over the world. Or at least throughout the Denver Center and surrounding theatre community.

    The DCPA’s Associate Director of Education is a master teacher, educator and administrator who also found time this fall to direct And Toto Too Theatre Company’s world premiere of the play Lost Creatures. Local playwright Melissa Lucero McCarl imagined what might have happened in 1978 when eminent British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan interviewed reclusive silent-film star Louise Brooks in her dingy apartment for a profile he was writing for The New Yorker. North Denver Tribune critic Craig Williamson said Elkins-Zeglarski “took the roots of the concept and watered it, fed it, nurtured it, and let it grow and fully blossom.”


    True West Awards Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski SonderElkins-Zeglarski’s day job is helping DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous run every aspect of a massive program that has provided access to nearly 106,000 students in the past year, of which 84,000 were youth.

    Last summer, he directed Sonder (pictured right), the winning entry in the DCPA’s third annual statewide teen playwriting competition. This week, he is overseeing one of the entries in the DCPA’s Adult One-Act Festival. This winter, he will lead the DCPA’s highest-level adult acting masters class, which will culminate in a public performance of Born Yesterday. Next summer, he will direct advanced high-school students in a production of Our Town.

    Elkins-Zeglarski was born in Sacramento and began working at the DCPA as a Teaching Artist in 2000. He is as gentle with a beginning actor, Watrous says, as he is with a seasoned pro like Colorado Theatre Guild Lifetime Achievement winner Billie McBride (DCPA Theatre Company's Benediction), who starred in Lost Creatures alongside 2015 True West Award winner Mark Collins and Annabel Reader.  

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Watrous said it is Elkins-Zeglarski’s authenticity that allows him to connect with artists of every experience level.

    “Truly, he leads with humor, grace and generosity,” Watrous said. “Our DCPA Education team is so joyful, and he is at the center of that joy. He provides an ear for every one of our teaching artists, and he is an example for how each of us can grow in our artistry. Everybody is better because PEZ is in the room.

    “Plus, he decorates our hallways for holidays. He brings that kind of joy to work with him every day. And, he owns more PEZ paraphernalia than anyone.”

    True West Awards Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski

    Elkins-Zeglarski's name was brought up for True West Award consideration by 2016 Henry Award-winning Denver actor Maggy Stacy. Elkins-Zeglarski directed Stacy in a short piece for And Toto Too Theatre Company’s fun annual play crawl along six blocks of Tennyson Street last summer. The event raised funds for one of the only theatre companies in the country that is fully dedicated to telling stories written by women. Elkins-Zeglarski also has furthered the cause of storytelling by women with his work on the Athena Project’s past three new-works festivals – in 2016, 41 performances by women playwrights over 38 days.

    “Patrick has been an artist, educator, director and mentor for many of us in Denver,” said Stacy. “His ethics are unwavering. His artistic approach is based on high values and quality standards. And his work supports and empowers his fellow artists and teaching artists.”

    Stacy nominated Elkins-Zeglarski for a True West Award, she said, “because Patrick rarely gets recognized for his commitment and efforts. But the impact of his contributions has had, and continues to have, a mighty rippling effect.”

    Our video report from the culminating performance of DCPA Education's statewide teen playwriting competition last summer. The winning entry was given a full performance directed by Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski.

    The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. 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. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    Day 1: Jada Suzanne Dixon
    Day 2: Robert Michael Sanders
    Day 3: After Orlando
    Day 4: Michael Morgan
    Day 5: Beth Beyer
    Day 6: Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski
    Day 7: donnie l. betts
    Day 8: Night of the Living Dead
    Day 9: The Killer Kids of Miscast
    Day 10: Jason Sherwood
    Day 11: Leslie O'Carroll and Steve Wilson
    Day 12: Jonathan Scott-McKean
    Day 13: Jake Mendes
    Day 14: Charles R. MacLeod
    Day 15: Patty Yaconis
    Day 16: Daniel Langhoff
    Day 17: Colorado Shakespeare Festival costumers
    Day 18: Miriam Suzanne
    Day 19: Yolanda Ortega
    Day 20: Diana Ben-Kiki
    Day 21: Jeff Neuman
    Day 22: Gabriella Cavallero
    Day 23: Matthew Campbell
    Day 24: Sharon Kay White
    Day 25: John Hauser
    Day 26: Lon Winston
    Day 27: Jason Ducat
    Day 28: Sam Gregory
    Day 29: Warren Sherrill
    Day 30: The Women Who Run Theatre in Boulder
    Theatre Person of the Year Billie McBride
  • In the Spotlife: Mark Collins of 'Lost Creatures'

    by John Moore | Nov 01, 2016
    Mark Collins. Lost Creatures
    Photo of Mark Collins by Sara Harris.

    (The DCPA NewsCenter regularly profiles actors performing in theatre productions throughout the state of Colorado.)


    The former Boulder theatre critic is playing renowned theatre critic Kenneth Tynan in Melissa Lucero McCarl's 'Lost Creatures' for And Toto too Theatre Company

    • Lulu Mark Collins Lost CreaturesHometown: Reidsville, N.C.
    • Home now: Denver
    • High School: Boulder High School
    • College: I have a BFA in Acting from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and an MFA in Acting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
    • What have you done for us lately? I played Michael in God of Carnage at Miners Alley Playhouse
    • What is Lost Creatures all about? In 1978, former British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan visited reclusive former silent-film star Louise Brooks in her dingy one-room apartment in Rochester, N.Y. Tynan, a fan of Brooks', was there to interview the 71-year-old for a profile he wrote that eventually ran in the New Yorker. Playwright Melissa Lucero McCarl imagines what happened when these two kindred spirits – two lost creatures – met and drank and talked and ...?
    • Tell us about your character: Kenneth Tynan was a foremost drama critic, and a notorious and purposefully provocative sexual deviant; he suffered from emphysema and had a life-long stammer. As an actor, though, the big stretch for me has been that Ken speaks in complete and often flourishing paragraphs. I, on the other hand, have trouble speaking in complete sentences. So that’s been a challenge.
    • Lost CreaturesWhat do you love most about this experience? First, to get to work with this dynamite team – the supportive and miracle-making duo of (producers) Susan Lyles and Darren Smith; our onion-peeler-of-a-director Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski, our smokin’ hot writer Melissa McCarl, clever stage manager Lauren Myer, and the lovely tandem of Billie McBride and Annabel Reader - is a real treat. Billie will break hearts as Louise, I guarantee it. But one of the things I’m most looking forward to is how the audience responds to the character of Lulu, played by Annabel. She, as Louise Brooks’ iconic film character from the 1929 pre-talkie Pandora’s Box (you’ll recognize the hairstyle she made famous), is a silent character. She is (mostly) unseen by others on stage, yet Lulu is ever present and ever mischievous, and Annabel has created this fully realized character without words wonderfully.
    • From 2012: Moore & Collins: Two ex-theater critics having coffee

    • What's one thing most people don't know about you? I think many people in the local theater scene know I was a theater critic for the Boulder Camera for several years. Many don’t realize that was a freelance position, and my full-time work for much of that period was as a sports editor/writer for the (University of Colorado) Buffalo Sports News. Truth be told, I’m much more fluent on the history of the Colorado Buffaloes football than I am on, say, Bertolt Brecht.
    • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? Um, so, as an audience member, my pet peeve is those increasingly present, but frustratingly intrusive post-curtain marketing speeches. Please don’t tell me to like you on Facebook when I’m absorbing and processing and feeling what’s just happened on your stage. Oh, but that’s a downer note to end on. So, I want to get this off my chest, too: Theater is filled with lost creatures, and I’m so grateful to be among that tribe here in Colorado!


    Lost Creatures: Ticket information

    • By Melissa Lucero McCarl
    • Directed by Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski
    • Nov. 3-19
    • Presented by And Toto too Theatre Company at 1245 Champa St. (In the brand new performance space called The Commons.)
    • Performances: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays 
    • Tickets $15-25
    • Info: 720-583-3975 or go to andtototoo.org 

    Cast List:
    • Mark Collins as Kenneth Tynan
    • Billie McBride as Louise Brooks
    • Annabel Reader as Lulu

    About the Next Stage NOW Project
    Lost Creatures is supported in part by Next Stage NOW, a public initiative with a mission to enliven and diversify the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Denver Arts & Venues in partnership with the Boettcher Foundation and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts has made $200,000 available to support public performances, programming and place making initiatives at the Arts Complex in 2016.

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre'sThe Crucible
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 2015 True West Award: Susan Lyles

    by John Moore | Dec 06, 2015
    True West Awards Susan Lyles
    James O’Hagan Murphy and Kate Poling in 'Smoke,' by Kim Davies. Photo credit:  Meghan Ralph, Soular Radiant Photography.


    ​Today’s recipient:
    And Toto Too Theatre Company founder Susan Lyles

    Today’s presenter: DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore

    According to a recent sampling, just 22 percent of all plays produced on American stages between 2011-14 were written by women. Even though women historically average about 57 percent of the theatregoing audience.

    As the issue of gender disparity in American playwriting finally emerged as a major topic of national conversation in recent months, Denver’s only theatre company dedicated to exclusively presenting women’s voices was quietly celebrating its 10th anniversary.

    Susan Lyles QuoteAnd Toto Too Theatre Company came to life in 2005. Susan Lyles had given birth to her second son just five weeks before she went into rehearsals for her company's first production. As a longtime actor, costume designer and especially as both mother and role model to young boys, she said, enough was enough.

    “It was just time to take the leap,” said Lyles, who had moved to Colorado from Kansas with her husband, Darren Smith, in 1998. “I felt it was important for me to continue to be creative around my children. And as a woman, I realized how underrepresented we were, and how little control we had over our art form.

    “And also as a woman, I wanted to hear my own voice up there on the stage,” she added. And she wanted her boys to hear that voice as well.

    It has not been an easy or obvious go for Lyles. In the first 10 years, her not-for-profit company has fully staged 12 plays by women playwrights (all but one world premieres). The most recent was Kim Davies’ Smoke, a positively Mamet-like exploration of sexual power between a man and woman who hook up at a kink party in New York City.


    And Toto Too is perhaps best known for its annual play crawl that takes place amid the funky Tennyson Street Art District in northwest Denver. Each summer, Lyles commissions 12 women to write two-minute plays all presented environmentally by some of the area’s top actors in galleries and shops stretching between 38th and 44th avenues. The Play Crawl, the company’s major annual fundraiser, has introduced more than 50 short new works since it began in 2011. And Toto Too also has launched a reading series that introduced seven new full-length works by women in 2015 alone.  

    Like most any other small theatre company in the metro area, finding a permanent home has proven to be an elusive goal. And Toto Too has had four homes, having most recently settled into the black box at the Vintage Theatre in Aurora.

    The lack of a permanent home and the economics of producing live theatre have made it impossible and impractical for Lyles to plan full seasons like bigger companies. Instead she produces a fully staged show whenever she can afford to do it. It costs an average of about $7,000 to produce a new play, depending on varying factors including venue, whether a union (Equity) actor is involved, and the cost of building the set.

    And Toto Too. Photo by John Moore.

    Artistic director Susan Lyles, right, had a cheap but reliable labor force at her disposal in 2013, meaning her two young sons, before this performance of the Dorothy Parker drama 'Pardon My Dust' at the former LIDA Project space. Photo by John Moore.

    Another complication: "All of our funding comes from individual donors and ticket sales – not from grants,” she said. “So without people truly wanting to see plays by women, we would have folded a long time ago.”  

    Lyles’ goals heading into 2016 include finding a permanent home, developing local women playwrights, and encouraging the expansion of other underrepresented voices, including transgendered and Native American writers.

    She is impressed that at about the same time she started And Toto Too, new DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Kent Thompson created the Women’s Voices Fund, which has raised more than $1 million to create opportunities for female playwrights and directors. Next month, the DCPA will stage world premieres by Tanya Saracho and Theresa Rebeck.

    “I think it is great that they are actually putting their money where their mouth is,” Lyles said.

    This all comes at a time when the drumbeat for gender parity has been rising from across the nation, both at industry conferences and on the internet. Lyles is encouraged, but skeptical. “I am hopeful that something comes of it,” she said. “But I seriously wonder how long the conversation is going to last because it is a subject that comes and goes.

    "The fact of the matter is I shouldn’t have to form a company just to have women’s voices represented on the stage. It should just be a given.”​


    The True West Awards began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. This year, DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from around the state over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore's daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    Day 1: Rachel D. Graham
    Day 2: BALLS! A Holiday Spectacular
    Day 3: Creede Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season
    Day 4: Laurence Curry
    Day 5: Bernie Cardell
    Day 6: Susan Lyles
    Day 7: John Jurcheck​
    Day 8: Christopher L. Sheley
    Day 9: DCPA Education's 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot'
    Day 10: Man and Monster: Todd Debreceni and TJ Hogle
    Day 11: Shauna Johnson
    Day 12: Geoffrey Kent and Benjamin Bonenfant
    Day 13: Sesugh Solomon Tor-Agbidye
    Day 14: Keith Ewer
    Day 15: Allison Watrous
    Day 16: Jonathan Farwell
    Day 17: Bob, Wendy and Missy Moore
    Day 18: Emma Messenger
    Day 19: Shannon McKinney
    Day 20: Mary Louise Lee and Yasmine Hunter
    Day 21: Charlie Miller and Emily Tarquin
    Day 22: Scott Beyette
    Day 23: Augustus Truhn
    Day 24: Jimmy Bruenger
    Day 25: The Masters of Props: Rob Costigan, Peki Pineda and Becky Toma
    Day 26: Jalyn Courtenay Webb
    Day 27: Andre Rodriguez
    Day 28: Rebecca Remaly
    Day 29: Mark Collins
    Day 30: Phamaly Theatre Company's Cabaret
    Bonus: Donald R. Seawell

  • Susan Lyles' focus on women playwrights: From crawl to a sprint

    by NewsCenter Staff | Jun 08, 2015
    Susan Quote 800

    Editor's Note:
    The DCPA NewsCenter offers a weekly guest column from a variety of local and national voices covering a wide range of theatre topics. To submit a proposed guest column, email your name and proposed topic to jmoore@dcpa.org.

    By Susan Lyles

    And Toto too Theatre Company Founder

    It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since And Toto too Theatre Company produced the world premiere play, Appliance, by Canadian playwright Lindsey Price. Ten years later, we are still the only theatre in Denver that focuses entirely on producing new plays by women playwrights, with stories told in our voices and reflecting our experiences.

    We have produced world and regional premieres, workshopped new plays and launched one of the most unique fundraising artistic events in the country, The Play Crawl. The Crawl, which returns Wednesday (June 10), brings together dozens of actors, directors and playwrights who volunteer their time to create an evening of environmentally performed 2-minute plays in the historic Tennyson Arts District.

    This amazing collaboration has been ongoing for the last five years. It not only highlights our local creative talent, but also this vital neighborhood of independently owned stores.  After soaking in the artistry and warm summer evenings, it's back to our silent auction and dancing at the Oriental Theatre.

    As we move into our second decade, we have some exciting new programming to look forward to in the form of a new reading series performed in cafés and clubs around Denver. This series will highlight the new work of some of the playwrights we have produced over the last few years. Our fall production will be the regional premiere of the provocative erotic power game, Smoke by Kim Davies.

    As we look back over the last 10 years, it has been a challenge. We lost two performance spaces to encroaching development in the Denver area. Through all of these transitions, we have stuck to our mission of supporting the new works of the woman playwright, in spite of advisers pushing for us to do more well-known plays to pull in an audience.  

    In staying faithful to our mission, we have built up a loyal fan base made up of both men and women with an age range that crosses generations and makes us even more determined to find a solid home base for And Toto too Theatre Company this year.

    Moving forward, it is exciting to see some really big players in the national community choosing to produce entire seasons of works by women. This bold move will cause a ripple effect and open the door to even more women playwrights across all levels of our community. Perhaps this door will open even wider to include more stories from our GLBT playwrights and playwrights of color, thus making our stages more truly reflective of the world in which we live.

    Play Crawl 2015
    Wednesday, June 10
    6-11 p.m.
    Tickets $35 ($8 after 9 p.m)
    Oriental Theatre, 4335 W. 44th St., Denver CO 80212
    Includes mixer, silent auction and DJ Savior Breath
    Featured playwrights: Linda Berry, Christie Brenner Winn, Lisa Wagner Erickson, Jennifer Faletto, Ellen K. Graham, Rebecca Gorman O'Neill, Leslie C. Lewis, Melissa Lucero McCarl, Nina Alice Miller, Carrie Printz, Carol Samson, and Sheila Traister.

    Tickets available online at www.andtototoo.org or by calling 720-583-3975.

    About Our Guest Columnist:
    Susan Lyles is an actor, designer, director and producer with shows in Chicago, Wichita and Denver to her credit. She has worked on stage, in film, TV, print and voiceover.  She has a BA in performing arts from Wichita State University and a certificate in Shakespeare from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She is also the mother of two boys, one of whom is an aspiring playwright/writer; the other an aspiring actor. She is wife to an amazing entrepreneur/artist, and mom to two monster-size furbabies. 

    Our Guest Columns to date:
    Bryan VanDriel on Lloyd Norton: A name that will live on in Greeley
    Jessica Jackson on Creede Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season
    Be Our Guest (Columnist)
    The DCPA NewsCenter offers a weekly guest column from a variety of local and national voices covering a wide range of theatre topics. To submit a proposed guest column, email your name and proposed topic to jmoore@dcpa.org.

    And Toto Too Productions through the years.

    Photos by Darren Smith, Brian Landis Folkins and Sarah Roshan. Actors include Billie McBride, Emma Messenger, Paul Page, Rita Broderick, Adrienne Martin Fullwood, Steven Burge, Mark Collins, Lauren Cora Marsh and more.
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.

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