• Video, photos: Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament raises $45,000

    by John Moore | Jul 02, 2015


    The DCPA's 12th annual fundraising golf tournament, held June 29 at the Lakewood Country Club, was renamed this year in honor of the late DCPA President Randy Weeks.

    The 2015 Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament raised $45,000 for the Bobby G Awards, an annual celebration of achievement in Colorado high-school theatre founded by Weeks in 2013.

    Over 12 years, the annual tournament, previously called the Swing Time Tournament, has raised $1 million for DCPA programming.

    Students from Westminster High School sing from 'Rent' before the Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament. Photo by John Moore. The year-long Bobby G Awards program includes personal workshops at all 30 participating schools hosted by DCPA Education Teaching Artists. A field of several dozen professional adjudicators then fan out across the state and attend those schools'  musicals, then provide constructive feedback.

    Their scores serve as the basis for a Tony Awards-style celebration at the end of each schoolyear held at the Buell Theatre. The two students named Outstanding Actor and Actress advance to the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City.

    In the video above, DCPA Broadway executive Director John Ekeberg welcomes the field of 68 participating golfers and explains the value of the Bobby G Awards.

    Just before the shotgun start, students from Westminster High School's Rent (pictured above) serenaded the golfers with that show's signature song, "Seasons of Love." Rent was one of five nominated outstanding musicals at the most recent Bobby G Awards ceremony held May 28 at the Buell Theatre. They are introduced by Andre' Rodriguez, who won the Bobby G Award for Outstanding Direction.

    "Regardless of whether or not they pursue theatre as a career," Rodriguez said, "they are getting skills that are truly preparing them for the 21st century."

    Finally, new DCPA President and CEO Scott Shiller thanked the golfers for supporting both Weeks' dream, and the DCPA's mission.

    "Randy really wanted to celebrate the craft of theatre for high-school students, and to celebrate the arts and culture in schools in the same way that sports are celebrated," Shiller said.

    Weeks was a lifelong fan of golf and theatre. Twelve years ago, he and former Development Director Dorothy Denny started the DCA's annual golf tournament at Lakewood Country Club, where Weeks was a member.

    The golfers were afforded several fun opportunities to win show-related prizes. One hole dedicated to the Theatre Company's upcoming production of As You Like It had golfers aim their tee shots at a life-sized fairway cutout of William Shakespeare. A closest-to-the-pin par-3 hole was designated the Sweeney Todd "Closest Shave" hole.

    At another tee stop, golfers posed for photographs as their favorite Wizard of Oz characters. And in honor of DCPA Broadway's upcoming launch of the If/Then national tour, golfers on one hole had to designate one player to pull a random fortune card from a dealer. It either contained good news (such as, "Subtract one shot from your score") or bad news (such as, "Proceed to the nearest bunker.")

    Most golfers played in a best-ball team competition, while the elite players in the field played a straight, stroke-play format.
     
    Photos and video by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.

    For more information on the Bobby G Awards, click here.

    A panorama showing golfers participating in the pre-golf putting contest.  Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament. Photo by John Moore.
    A panorama showing golfers participating in the pre-golf putting contest at the Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament. Photo by John Moore.

    Our photo gallery from the 2015 Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament:


    All photos by John Moore. Click on "Go to original image" and download any image for free.

    2015 Tournament Sponsors:
    Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management
    Comcast Spotlight
    Fineline Graphics
    Sprint Press
    CBS4
    Wilks Broadcasting
    MKK Consulting Engineers, Inc.
    Centerre Construction
    Shawn and Elisa Fowler
    Max and Kea Bull

    Golfers pose as their favorite 'Wizard of Oz' characters. The beloved musical returns to Denver next year. Photo by Chelley Canales.
    Golfers pose as their favorite "Wizard of Oz" characters. The beloved musical returns to Denver next year. Photo by Chelley Canales.

    Our 2014-15 Bobby G Awards coverage to date:
    Bobby G Awards a triumph for Durango High School
    Break a Leg video: Cheering on Bobby G Awards winners in New York
    Bobby G Awards winners' daily video blogs
    Video: Outstanding Musical nominees perform
    Video: Outstanding Actor Nominee Performances
    Video: Bobby G Award winners sing National Anthem at Rockies game
    Video: The Acceptance Speeches
    Video: A look at Durango's Outstanding Musical, Les Misérables
    Photos: The 2015 Bobby G Awards. (Download for free)
    Video: The 2015 Bobby G Awards in 60 seconds
    Andre' Rodriguez's stirring Bobby G Awards speech
    Video: See how we introduced all 30 participating schools
    Video: Page to Stage highlights with Bobby G Awards winners
    Meet your Bobby G Awards nominees, in their own words Video: Coloradans on Broadway to high-schoolers: 'Be relentlessly yourself'
    2014-15 Bobby G Awards: Complete list of nominations 
    2015 Bobby G Awards announces list of participating schools
    Annaleigh Ashford raises $735 for new Bobby G Awards memorial fund
    Denver Center establishes Randy Weeks Memorial Fund for The Bobby G Awards

    2015 Tournament field:

    John

    Reid

    Zach

    Wolfel

    Nick

    Gardner

    Michael

    Hupf

    Wanda

    Colburn

    Dick

    Havey

    Bob

    Loeb

    Kent

    Nossaman

    Paul

    Stastny

    Kyle

    Quincey

    Drew

    Shore

    Andrew

    Caldwell

    Aaron

    Inman

    Debbee

    CdeBaca

    Brad

    Axberg


    Terry

    Koch

    Dave

    Hirtz

    Steve

    Hirtz

    Art

    Cudworth

    Mark

    Etchason

    Kurt

    Kennedy

    Katie

    Monahan

    Carolyn

    Petersen

    Jon

    Bitrolff

    Murphy

    Huston

    Rob

    Mengelson

    Matthew

    Walton

    Calrissa

    Gliksman

    Stevie

    Johnson

    Scott

    Shreeve

    Ken

    Von Wold

    Kevin

    Baldwin

    Betty

    Lewis

    John

    Roble

    Eric

    Rosales

    John

    Ekeberg

    Mike

    Mills

    Julie

    Mills

    Brian

    Sells

    Sean

    Sjodin

    John

    St. Martin

    Craig

    Watts

    Matthew

    Campbell

    Shawn

    Fowler

    Gus

    Gardner

    Travis

    Mulvihill

    Margo

    Black

    Rich

    Ehrman

    Tamera

    Ehrman

    Craig

    Reinwald

    Kent

    Zwingelberg

    Andrew

    Brodie

    Bruce

    Montgomery

    Bryan

    Smith

    Carlos

    Vannoni

    Brook

    Nichols

    Joe

    Ghiglia

    John

    Marshall

    Jim

    Steinberg

    Andrew

    Bell

    Rich

    Kline

    Josh

    Lembrich

    Mary Ann

    Neidert

    Ken

    Blasi

    Brenda

    Egger

    Cindi

    Routh

    Nicole

    Williams

  • Avenue Theater changes direction under Gavin Mayer

    by John Moore | Jul 01, 2015
    Gavin Mayer.


    The venerable yet ever-changing Avenue Theater is embarking on a new direction toward consistent, drama-based programming with the hiring of Gavin Mayer as its new Executive Director and Artistic Director.

    The change is, in essence, a move from the comedy fringe back toward the center, Mayer says.

    The Greeley native, who is best known as a director at the Arvada Center, has just announced The Avenue's 27th year of programming - and the first "official season" in the theatre's history. 

    The slate includes Bright Ideas, a contemporary satire of parents who are willing to do anything to get their child into the best pre-school; the classic horse-eye-gouging Peter Shaffer psychodrama Equus; the return of The Avenue's holiday tradition Santa's Big Red Sack; a one-woman comedy tracing a woman's life through her bras called Cups; the historical comedy Legacy of Light by Karen Zacarías (who also wrote last year's Denver Center's world-premiere immigration story Just Like Us); and a British coming-of-age drama called Beautiful Thing.

    Mayer calls his inaugural slate "LGBT and feminist-friendly," but one with a well-rounded and wide range of appeal for traditional theatregoing audiences whose expectations go beyond comedy.

    The slate of directors will include Mayer, the very in-demand Christy Montour-Larson (DCPA's Shadowlands and the Creede Rep's upcoming August: Osage County), Colorado Theatre Guild President Pat Payne (Bright Ideas) and Kitty Skillman-Hilsabeck (Cups), who is best-known as the Arvada Center's resident choreographer.

    The only announced casting so far is tour-de-force local actor Megan Van De Hey, who will star in Joni Sheram's one-woman comedy, Cups.

    The late Joni Sheram performed her one-woman play 'Cups' throughout Colorado. Megan Van De Hey will perform it for The Avenue.  (Photo at right: The late Joni Sheram performed her one-woman play 'Cups' throughout Colorado. Megan Van De Hey will perform it for The Avenue.) 

    The Avenue Theater has been in a state of transition and uncertainty for several years. Mayer believes he has been hired to ground, center and expand the operation, which audiences have lately known primarily as a place for sketch and improv comedy.

    The theatre's proud comedy tradition was once based largely on open-ended runs where productions could play for as long as there was audience demand. That history includes recurring stagings of the silly mystery Murder Most Fowl over 17 years - still the longest non-continuously running production in Colorado theatre history. But peppered in between have been significant if sporadic dramatic presentations, including landmark stagings of Mary Zimmerman's watery Metamorphoses, which ran for nine months, and an award-winning dark comedy called Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, which imagined the troubled Peanuts characters as troubled teens. High-profile stagings of the rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch took place in successive years. And several Avenue productions have run for two years or more, including Sylvia and Dearly Departed. The Avenue also birthed Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women, which transferred to the DCPA's Galleria Theatre for two years and has been playing around the world ever since. 

    Last year, The Avenue hosted Grounded, a searing drama about an American drone pilot who becomes pregnant, but that was staged by the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, which rented the space.

    Because The Avenue is itself a tenant and not a land owner in one of Denver's hottest (and therefore most expensive) neighborhoods, Mayer feels it is all the more important to offer wide-ranging and dependable dramatic fare that for the first time can draw on season subscribers.

    "We are creating programming that serves the core of who we think The Avenue audience is and always has been," Mayer said, "but this is also about building a new audience from the ground up." 

    Robert Wells founded the Avenue Theater in 1985 at its original location 2 miles east at 17th Avenue and Vine streets. Wells ran the theater for its first seven years. He turned over operational control to comedy partner and former Denver theatre critic John Ashton in 1990. Ashton was forced out by his landlord to make room for an expansion of the brewery next door, and so in 2003 he moved The Avenue to its present location at 17th Avenue and Logan Street. In 2005, Ashton and business partner Robert Roehl sold the theater back to Wells and his business partner, Dave Johnson. There have been a series of administrative changes since 2011 that Mayer believes will end with him.

    Ashton, now the President of The Avenue Theater's board of directors, is eager to see how the change to a season format plays out. "I just did a show and squeezed it for all it was worth," he joked.

    Mayer graduated from Greeley Central High School and the University of Wyoming before receiving his teaching credentials at the University of Northern Colorado, where he currently works as an adjunct theatre professor. He received his masters degree from Roosevelt University and his MFA from Florida State. During his 10 years teaching and directing theatre at Pomona High School, he was brought on to direct teen theatre at the Arvada Center. That turned into an opportunity to direct mainstage shows including Legally Blonde, Miracle on 34th Street, Curtains, A Christmas Carol, The Great Gatsby, Harvey and She Loves Me. Next season, he will also direct the Arvada Center’s White Christmas and The Mountaintop.

    A major component of Mayer's agenda will be to incorporate his passion and experience for teaching. Throughout July, The Avenue will be presenting its inaugural Emerging Voices Series. As opposed to wildly successful teen playwriting programs at the nearby DCPA and Curious Theatre, Mayer is focusing on providing opportunities for student  directors. 

    "I know from being a teacher that one of the biggest challenges my students face is finding opportunities to direct," he said. "That's where I came up with this initiative."

    Four Colorado students have been charged with taking on the real-life job of the theater director from start to finish — including submitting play proposals, hiring cast and crew, and running rehearsals on a tight budget. Here are the pays and their directors:

    • July 6-8: The Pillowman, directed by Trevor Hazell
    • July 10-11: Polaroid Stories, directed by Jackie Honold
    • July 16-18: The Clean House, directed by John Carter
    • July 28-30: Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, directed by Katherine Foote
      Read more about the teen directing program in this 5280 Magazine article.

     
    THE AVENUE THEATER: 2015-16 SEASON

    (Descriptions provided by Avenue Theater)

    Bright Ideas
    By Eric Coble
    Aug. 27-Oct. 3
    Directed by Pat Payne
    How far would you go for your child? For Genevra and Joshua Bradley, the question is no longer hypothetical. Their 3-year-old son, Mac, is next on the waiting list to get into the Bright Ideas Early Childhood Development Academy — and everyone knows once you're in there, your life will unfold with glorious ease. Josh and Gen have had to scramble all their lives to get this far … and now they are one fatal dinner party away from the ultimate success as parents: The Right Pre-School. You may never look at pre-school the same way again…

    Equus
    By Peter Shaffer
    Oct. 29-Nov. 21
    Directed by Gavin Mayer
    Dr. Martin Dysart, a psychiatrist, is confronted with Alan Strang, a boy who has blinded six horses in a violent fit of passion. This very passion is as foreign to Dysart as the act itself. To the boy's parents it is a hideous mystery; Alan has always adored horses. To Dysart it is a psychological puzzle that leads both doctor and patient to a complex and disturbingly dramatic confrontation.

    Santa's Big Red Sack

    Nov. 27-Dec. 20
    For the seventh straight year, The Sack will be back. Santa’s Big Red Sack skewers all  things dear in the sketch comedy billed as "The holiday show you shouldn't take your kids to." This show has become an annual tradition for those seeking non-traditional holiday entertainment. It's clever, witty, raunchy and relentless, and not for the easily offended. While the subjects may sound familiar - Santa's reindeer, Christmas carols, bedtime stories, the Whos in Whoville, gift exchanges and good will - the scenes are delivered with a smile and a hint of political spice. Last year, the cast featured Jeff Kosloski, Dave Shirley, Jane Shirley and Derek Hartman.

    Cups
    By Joni Sheram
    Jan. 21-Feb. 27, 2016
    Directed by Kitty Skillman-Hilsabeck
    Starring Megan Van De Hey
    Joni Sheram’s one-woman play traces the milestones of a woman's life through her bras, which she found to be a perfect metaphor for her larger tales of womanhood. The play, though not autobiographical, was an homage to her mother and grandmother. Sheram used bras to traverse the fictional life of a woman named Nora, from a 1950s training bra to the one she burned in the 1960s to her nursing bra, mastectomy bra and even the one she wore when she fell in love for the first time at middle-age. Sheram died of breast cancer in 2010.

    Legacy of Light

    March 10-April 16, 2016
    By Karen Zacarias
    Directed by Christy Montour-Larson
    Two women scientists, living hundreds of years apart, explore the meaning of love, motherhood, family, art and science in this contemporary comedy. The play juxtaposes the story of Émilie du Châtelet, a mathematician, scientist, and lover of the great 18th-century philosopher Voltaire, who became unexpectedly pregnant at 42, and that of a 21st-century physicist desperately trying to conceive a child.

    Beautiful Thing
    By Jonathan Harvey
    April 28-June 4, 2016
    Directed by Gavin Mayer
    Jamie and Ste (short for Steve) are teen-age neighbours in a working-class housing project in London. Jamie is bookish and shy while Ste is more athletic. Neither has an ideal home life: Jamie's mother is bitter over her romantic life, but she's willing to settle for a bloke named Tony and cover up her disappointment with scathing humour. Ste's father and brother abuse him. After a fight, Ste asks Sandra if he can stay at her house. As their friendship grows, Jamie begins to realize he has stronger feelings for Ste. One night, after Ste suffers a particularly bad beating, the boys decide to experiment together and begin a tentative relationship. When Jamie's mother hears the rumor that her son is gay, she confronts him, and he admits the truth.

    TICKET INFORMATION


    The Avenue Theater is located at 417 E. 17th Ave.
    Call 303-321-5925 or go to The Avenue's online ticketing page



  • Video: Bobby G Awards' best-musical nominees perform

    by John Moore | Jul 01, 2015


    Here is the last of our five videos from this year's recent Bobby G Awards​ honoring achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. This one shows excerpts from all five best-musical nominees performing at the Buell Theatre on May 28:

    • Rent, Westminster High School
    • The Addams Family, Cherokee Trail High School
    • Aida, Mountain View High School
    • Les Misérables, Durango High School
    • Anything Goes, Fairview High School
    Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Fiarview High School performs from 'Anything Goes' at the Bobby G Awards on Mya 28. Photo by John Moore.
    Fairview High School performs from "Anything Goes" at the Bobby G Awards on May 28. Photo by John Moore.


    Our 2014-15 Bobby G Awards coverage to date:

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


    For more information on the Bobby G Awards, which honor excellence in Colorado high-school theatre, click here.
  • DCPA Theatre announces directors for 2015-16 season

    by John Moore | Jun 29, 2015
    Anthony Powell, who directed 'Lord of the Flies' last season, returns to helm 'All the Way' in 2016. Photo by John Moore.
    Anthony Powell, who directed "Lord of the Flies" last season, returns to helm "All the Way" in 2016. Photo by John Moore.


    The DCPA Theatre Company has announced its announces directors for the upcoming 2015-16 season:

    Lookingglass Alice

    In association with The Actors Gymnasium
    David CatlinSept. 11-Oct 11
    Adapted and Directed by David Catlin
    From the works of Lewis Carroll
    David Catlin is a founding ensemble member of the Lookingglass Theatre Company, the recipient of the 2011 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. He is a senior professor in the theatre department at Northwestern University. The goal at Lookingglass is to redefine the limits of theatrical experience and to make theatre exhilarating, inspirational, and accessible to all.

    As You Like It

    Sept. 25-Nov. 1
    Kent ThompsonDirected by Kent Thompson
    By William Shakespeare
    The Denver Center Producing Artistic Director takes on his seventh Shakespeare title since arriving in 2006. Previous titles include Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream and King Lear. This is the DCPA's first full staging of this comedy of romance that ends in four couples getting married.

    Tribes
    Oct. 9-Nov. 15
    Stephen Weitz (Instructor)Directed by Stephen Weitz
    By Nina Raine
    Weitz, founder of the award-winning Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, has both acted with the DCPA Theatre Company (King Lear, Richard III, Othello) and directed (Jackie & Me). Weitz earned an MA in Theatre from CU-Boulder and an MFA at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Tribes poses a unique challenge in that it focuses on a fiercely intelligent and proudly politically incorrect family who argue a lot but don’t communicate with their grown deaf son.
     
    A Christmas Carol
    Bruce SevyNov. 27-Dec 27
    Directed by Bruce K. Sevy
    Written by Charles Dickens
    Adapted by Richard Hellesen
    Music by David de Berry
    With his ninth staging of the DCPA's popular holiday favorite, Associate Artistic Director Bruce K. Sevy will match Laird Williamson with 40 DCPA credits as the busiest director in company history.




    The Nest

    Adrienne Campbell-HoltJan. 22-Feb. 21, 2016
    Directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt
    Written by Theresa Rebeck
    Adrienne Campbell-Holt is the Founding Artistic Director of Colt Coeur, a Brooklyn-based theatre company that has mounted five world-premieres in the past five years. This year, she will direct Laura Jacqmin’s Dental Society Midwinter Meeting for the Williamstown Theatre Festival, First Life at Colt Coeur and the world premiere of Theresa Rebeck’s The Nest for the DCPA. It's about a group of middle-class regulars at a small, struggling bar.

    All The Way
    Jan. 29-Feb 28, 2016
    Directed By Anthony Powell
    Anthony Powell. Written by Robert Schenkkan
     All the Way, the 2014 Tony Award-winner for best new play, marks the return of Anthony Powell, who last directed Lord of the Flies. His 32 previous DCPA credits include The Pillowman and Death of a Salesman. He is also Artistic Director of the venerable local company dedicated to storytelling, Stories on Stage. All the Way is Robert Schenkkan's (The 12) acclaimed look the LBJ presidency.



    FADE

    Jerry RuizFeb. 5-March 13, 2016
    Directed by Jerry Ruiz
    By Tanya Saracho
    Born in Brownsville, Texas, Ruiz is based in New York City with a portfolio largely focused on directing new plays. He directed the reading of FADE that was performed at the Colorado New Play Summit in February. His credits include Karen Zacarias' Mariela in the Desert for Repertorio Español. FADE is about a  one-book Mexican-American novelist named Lucia who is hired to write for a popular weekly TV serial.

    Sweeney Todd
    April 8-May 15, 2016
    Directed By Kent Thompson
    Written by Stephen Sondheim
    Based on an adaptation by Christopher Bond
    Thompson, whose 20 DCPA credits to date include two stagings of the Irvin Berlin musical White Christmas, turns his attention to this all-new look at Stephen Sondheim's  legendary demon barber of Fleet Street. Thompson will work with DeVotchKa, the Grammy-nominated, Denver hometown band that has been given the OK from Sondheim himself to infuse his classic score with DeVotchKa’s lush brand of gypsy punk.

    READ MORE ABOUT THE DCPA THEATRE COMPANY'S NEW SEASON HERE

    READ OUR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH NICK URATA OF DEVOTCHKA


    Tickets and subscriptions
    New and renewing subscribers have the first opportunity to reserve tickets. Tickets are presently available to subscribers, online here,  or by calling 303-893-6030 or 303-893-4100. Subscribers are guaranteed the best seats at the best prices, along with additional benefits. Single tickets will go on sale to the general public in late summer.
  • Break a Leg video: Cheering on Bobby G Awards winners tonight

    by John Moore | Jun 29, 2015



    Evatt Salinger and Emma Buchanan of Durango High School, who last month were named Outstanding Actor and Actress at the 2015 Bobby G Awards at the Buell Dinger and Brady O'Neill of the Colorado Rockies. åTheatre, have represented Colorado this past weekend at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, which culminate tonight (June 29) with the announcement of national winners - and a performance by all participants on a Broadway stage in New York City.

    The DCPA NewsCenter collected video well-wishes from friends and family in Durango, as well as previous Bobby G Awards representatives, staff from the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and even Colorado Rockies mascot Dinger.

    Watch as Salinger and Buchanan (we call them E&E for short) receive encouragement from grandparents, teachers and even DCPA CEO Scott Shiller. 

    Please check back at the DCPA NewsCenter tonight for competition results, which are colloquially known as The Jimmy Awards..

    Peter Salinger wishes his sin well at tonight's Jimmy Awards in New York City. To watch, play the video at the top of this page.

    Peter Salinger wishes his son well at tonight's Jimmy Awards in New York City. To watch, play the video at the top of this page.



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


    For more information on the Bobby G Awards, which honor excellence in Colorado high-school theatre, click here.
  • Denver Center joins celebration of landmark Supreme Court ruling

    by John Moore | Jun 26, 2015

    Love wins
    Design by Carolyn Michaels for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.


    The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling today that same-sex couples no longer can be denied the freedom to marry is being celebrated by the local, regional and national theatre communities.

    Scott Shiller, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' new President and CEO, said today's momentous decision "reaffirms the DCPA's longstanding commitment to theatre that reflects our diverse community.

    Scott Shiller"We endeavor to produce work that is thought-provoking, relevant and inspiring; theatre that changes minds and reflects the lives of our patrons on many levels," Shiller said. "Over the years, the Denver Center has furthered dialogue about homosexual rights through ground-breaking new works including The Laramie Project, The Whale, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Appoggiatura and Benediction."

    The last four on that list were world premieres developed by DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Kent Thompson just within the past three years. But the commitment goes back decades.

    “From addressing censorship stemming from gay parenting in Dusty and the Big Bad World to the politics of gay marriage in our presentation of 8 The Play, the Denver Center is proud of its contributions to furthering important conversations and inspiring thoughtful dialogue that is meaningful to our audiences,” Shiller said.
    ​ 
    Throughout history, he  added, theatre has been a key driver of social change.

    "Whether it was unionizing in the 1910s and '20s, the fight for women's voting rights, the civil-rights movement, and now marriage equality ... theatre and theatre artists have been changing minds by telling important stories that bring social change." 

    That sentiment was echoed by Actors' Equity Association president Kate Shindle.

    "Finally," she said in a statement. "With all the rhetoric and fearmongering surrounding the issue, it's important to remember what this is really about: loving, consenting adults who want to commit their lives to each other. And that is always a good thing. Actors Equity is proud to be part of this tremendous, historic moment.”

    Speaking to Playbill Magazine, Tony Award-nominated actor and Colorado native Beth Malone celebrated that her longtime marriage to wife Rochelle Schoppert will now be recognized in her home state.

    "It's all just been about trying to be seen,” Malone told Playbill’s Adam Hetrick. “Just see us. See us as we are right in front of you - as these couples who are going to live their lives side by side. That is who we are. That’s what this is. Now everyone will see that we are married just like you are married."

    Malone starred in the DCPA Theatre Company’s The Unsinkable Molly Brown and went on to earn a Tony nomination for Fun Home on Broadway, playing the first lesbian protagonist in Broadway musical history. (See the Playbill video)

    Broadway is known as “The Great White Way,” but today the theatre community has turned into the Great Rainbow Way. All over the country, theatres such as the Goodman Theatre in Chicago turned their marquees rainbow colors.

    DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg said the Denver Center has long driven the conversation about issues that are vital to the gay community, including the Theatre Company's presentation of The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde back in 1999 and predecessor Randy Weeks' decision to bring the national touring production of Angels in America to Denver all the way back in 1995. 

    "That was a big deal at the time," Ekeberg said, "I was proud to work for an organization that wasn't going to pre-judge the show on behalf of our audience."

    Since then, he added, "The Denver Center has never shied away from bringing shows that represent different walks of life," citing Falsettos, La Cage Aux Folles and Priscilla Queen of the Desert among many others. 

    In today's majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote: "It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

    In Washington, President Obama declared, "This ruling is a victory for America." And locally, the reaction was similarly euphoric. There is a sense, it has often been said today, that America has once again lived up to its promise.

    “How does it feel? To live in a country that finally recognizes the legal equality of your friends and family that are gay and lesbian?” local actor GerRee Hinshaw posted on Facebook. “If it feels for you like it feels for me, I am weeping at the sudden understanding that this awful chasm of rights has closed. 

    "All minds and hearts may not yet be open to them, but it doesn’t matter anymore,” added Hinshaw, a married mother and host of the Bug Theatre’s monthly Freak Train. “If someone tries to get between them and their rights to live a full, happy life, that someone is now a criminal. I feel so free from the haters right now. I really had no idea the impact this ruling would have on me, personally. But my family, my friends ... they are protected. Finally."

    The DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere staging of 'Appoggiatura' addressed the death of a late patriarch who divorced his wife to live with a man. Pictured are Darrie Lawrence, Rob Nagle and Lenne Klingaman. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen
    The DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere staging of 'Appoggiatura' addressed the death of a late patriarch who divorced his wife to live with a man. Pictured are Darrie Lawrence, Rob Nagle and Lenne Klingaman. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen

    OTHER REACTION:

    George Takei, Star Trek: Oh Happy Day! The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 that marriage equality is the law of the United States. Yes, ALL of these United States. I have waited decades for this day, and my heart is full of joy and my eyes wet with tears. Let the celebrations begin, and may the happy couples live long and prosper together.

    Broadway actor Rory O'Malley (The Book of Mormon) via Playbill: Today is a historic day and the Broadway community played an extremely vital part in making happen. I feel so honored that Broadway Impact gave me a front row seat to all of their passion, enthusiasm, and hope. We are a powerful group of artists and I can't wait to see what kind of positive change we bring to the world next. 

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator John Cameron Mitchell via Playbill:  I'm more emotional than I expected to be since it was predicted. I know the Right Wing will see it as some kind of Gay Pride agenda plot. John Roberts has the face of someone who knows that history will not honor his decision and I can't help but think the timing was his little Easter egg. Sad. But I am now looking up at my late dad's picture. He was against gay marriage for a long time, but seven years ago I told him that if he ever refused to come to my wedding I wouldn't know what I would do. He looked at the tears streaming down my face and he said to me, "I will be there."

     

    MORE ARTISTIC RESPONSES FROM THE THEATRE COMMUNITY:

     THEATRES RESPOND TO SUPREME COURT RULING

  • Duck and Cover: Gloria Shanstrom takes on all your Henry Awards questions

    by John Moore | Jun 25, 2015

    Gloria Shanstrom speaking at the 2014 Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards, which return to the Arvada Center on July 20. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins.

    Gloria Shanstrom speaking at the Colorado Theatre Guild's 2014 Henry Awards, which return to the Arvada Center on July 20. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins.


    One day each June, Gloria Shanstrom releases the Colorado Theatre Guild’s annual Henry Awards nominations honoring outstanding achievement in Colorado theatre.

    And the next day, she says … “I duck and cover.”

    Shanstrom says that with the experienced laugh of an administrator who annually suffers the slings and arrows of outraged misfortune – namely, from whoever feels egregiously slighted by the latest Henry Awards nominations.

    “This year, the nominations came out on a Thursday,” said Shanstrom, the Guild’s General Manager, “and on Friday, I spent a fair amount of time having conversations with people who had concerns. Then I had more conversations over the course of the weekend ... and I still have a couple more phone calls to return.”

    Shanstrom, who runs her own publicity company called Full Court Press, is one of the few people dedicated full-time to the betterment of the Colorado theater community. Administering the Henry Awards is a year-round and largely thankless task. Soothing myriad hurt feelings and calming frayed nerves may be her single biggest job, Westword's Juliet Wittman once wrote.

    Shanstrom has nurtured the Henrys through several controversial voting iterations since the awards were started 10 years ago in honor of producer Henry Lowenstein, who died last November. The ceremony that goes along with the awards serves as the Colorado Theatre Guild’s annual fundraiser. It replaced a lightly attended annual gala the Guild called “Celebrate Colorado Theatre.”

    Turns out, if you want people to turn out for your fundraiser, you have to hand out some awards.

    Shanstrom has shepherded the expansion of the Henrys statewide and has quadrupled the number of eligible productions from the earliest days. When the 2015 awards are handed out on July 20 at the Arvada Center, the winners will come from a record-high field of 187 productions, up from 174 last year.

    But the Henry Awards remain a burr in many, many a bonnet in the Colorado theatre community, with most complaints fixed squarely on a capricious voting system that tends to heap disproportionate bounty on certain companies one year, and often ignores them the next.

    As an officer for a statewide theatre-advocacy organization, Shanstrom has no say in the results – with one major exception. She alone determines which five companies are nominated for Outstanding Season – and which one wins. She bases her decision on each company’s overall performance in the nominations, which she does not control.

    But with the absence of many of the state’s perceived top theatre companies from the nominations this year – namely the Aurora Fox, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Creede Repertory Theatre and The Catamounts – the barking sounds louder than ever.

    Some of the year’s best-reviewed shows, including Town Hall’s Next to Normal and Creede Repertory Theatre’s The Last Romance, were shut out. So, too the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s Grounded and Stupid F##ing Bird, both of which received four-star ratings from The Denver Post.

    What’s going on here?

    Shanstrom took on that and every other tough question we could think of about the Henrys Awards. Here are excerpts from our conversation:

    Gloria Shanstrom. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins. John Moore: What do you think is the overall greater good of the Henry Awards?

    Gloria Shanstrom:  The Henry Awards, although by no means perfect, is a way to bring our community together once a year to celebrate each other and to have a night that is our own. And when it comes time to write grants, those awards and nominations mean something. For me personally, it's a night to just be there with 600 of my favorite people.

    Moore: And it's a show.

    Shanstrom: It’s a great show. Thanks to (Director) Jim Hunt and our hosts (Steven J. Burge and GerRee Hinshaw) and the companies that come and perform. It's gotten more fun as we have expanded to welcome, say, the winners of the Denver Center’s high-school Bobby G Awards as performers. Those kids are going to be dancing on the Broadway boards next.

    Moore: For those who don’t already know, let’s explain who is eligible for the Henry Awards.

    Shanstrom: Your company has to be a member in good standing with the Colorado Theatre Guild. You have to let us know that you are willing and wanting to accept our judges at your shows. And with those two simple conditions met, I send judges to your theatre.

    Moore: And how many judges have to see a show for it to qualify for awards consideration?

    Shanstrom: Six. And here is something that is very important for people to know: The judges have to see the same cast. So if you have two people sharing a role, those actors are out of the running, because all six judges haven't seen the same cast.

    Moore: So what happens if only five judges make it to a show?

    Shanstrom: Then the show does not qualify.

    Moore: And what happens if 12 judges happen to score the same production?

    Shanstrom: Once we have all the ballots back, they are placed face-down on a table, and then a secondary person will pull six of them out at random. Those six ballots are eliminated, and the remaining six ballots are the ones we use. We keep the eliminated ballots in case we need one for a tiebreaker. We try to spread the judges out, though, so that we can get as many shows qualified as possible. This year, I think the most judges I had at any one show was nine.

    Moore: So say you have nine judges at one show. Why not just count them all by adding up their scores and then dividing by six?

    Shanstrom: That suggestion has come up many times. We looked at that, and one of our judges who is a statistician made a very passionate mathematical case for why that method is not as fair as simply using six ballots. It is also simpler for us to just have six ballots for every show, and eliminate anything that is not six.

    Moore: How many judges are there?

    Shanstrom: At the moment, I have 46.

    Moore: And who are these people?

    Shanstrom: These people are theatre professionals such as current and former writers and reviewers; they are current and retired theatre educators; they are artistic directors; and they are people who have been active in the theatre community for a long time as audience members. And there is a process by which they are chosen. The application asks questions that will give us key information about their backgrounds, and their tendency to look at the shows they are seeing.

    Moore: How do you avoid conflicts of interest?

    Shanstrom: It's very simple: They are not allowed to judge shows for companies they have worked for.

    Moore: And these judges are spread out throughout the state.

    Shanstrom: Yes, they are all over the place: Colorado Springs, Glenwood Springs, Fort Collins, Aspen, Kremmling and more. The biggest concentration of judges, course, is in the metro area.

    Moore: Is there any concern that a judge who is based in a remote region of the state might tend to favor their own hometown companies? 

    Shanstrom: That should always be a concern. But while there are a few judges that stick pretty close to home, the vast majority - 29 of my 46 judges - travel statewide to see shows. I also cycle the judges in my show-scheduling. I keep lists, and if a judge saw the most recent show produced by a company, I typically don’t send them back to judge the current show. But as for potential homerism, I keep an eye out for that sort of thing – as I do for any judge in the metro area who also might lean favorably toward any one individual company. I’m looking for a pattern. I am looking for those ballots that are out of line compared to the way other judges have scored the same show.

    Moore: What do you do when that happens? 

    Shanstrom: I have a check-in with that judge. I want to make sure they understand the scoring process, and that they have reviewed the criteria we provided them. If they have misunderstood something, or are unclear as to the voting guidelines, or simply have strayed from the prescribed method of scoring, we will talk through the ballot in question and then decide if the judges want to revisit their scores or stand by them. I have had judges do both.

    Moore: That's a touchy area, though, isn't it? If a judge goes off the rails either by scoring a show too high or too low, that kind of interjection on your part can be seen as a bit of untoward direction, can't it?

    Shanstrom: I had one judge submit a whole batch of ballots with scores that were out of line compared to the other judges. I simply picked up the phone and said, "This is what I am seeing," And I was told back, “I stand by my scores.”

    Moore: So what did you do?

    Shanstrom: I stood by his scores.

    Moore: People have often suggested over the years that you should simply eliminate the high and low scores.

    Shanstrom: That isn’t being done because, on many occasions, we only have six judges for a show - so all ballots must stand. Better to have the discussion, clarify and look at the reasons rather than discard the ballot.

    Moore: So as a representative of the Colorado Theatre Guild, you work for the advocacy of Colorado theatre as a whole. 

    Shanstrom: I think that's fair.

    Moore: So you have no dog in the fight when it comes to who gets nominated.

    Shanstrom: I have none whatsoever.

    Moore: So what is it like for you when the nominations finally do come out?

    Shanstrom: Usually after the nominations come out, I take the day off. Because usually by then, I am exhausted. Then people start calling. I always end every call with, "I am happy to have these conversations with you anytime."

    Moore: Is the number of people you have had to answer to this year higher than in previous years?

    Shanstrom: It doesn't feel like it. One thing that feels different this year is that we had more productions by out-of-town companies last summer whose ballots really stood the test of time and led to many nominations: Theatre Aspen and Springs Ensemble Theatre, for example.

    Moore: Well, it certainly did not work out that way for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

    Shanstrom: It did not work out that way for Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and it breaks my heart every year to see some of these wonderful companies shut out.

    Moore: Let's approach this with rose-colored glasses first. On the one hand, you have 25 Colorado companies that received at least one nomination. You see Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins on the list, along with Springs Ensemble Theatre in Colorado Springs, Lake Dillon Theatre Company in Dillon, and more. There is a wide geographical representation of the entire the state of Colorado, which is exactly what the Colorado Theatre Guild was hoping for when it went statewide three years ago. 

    Shanstrom: One of the big thrills for me each year is seeing a name appear on the list of nominees that hasn't been there before - be it an actor, be it a theatre company, be it a designer - because I can only imagine how thrilling it is on the other end. But as happy as I am for the nominees, it breaks my heart that I can't give an award to everybody. We all know that there are always more than five or six people who are deserving of recognition.

    (Photo at right: Laura Norman won a True West Award for 'Grounded,' but the show was shut out of Henry Awards consideration.) 

    Laura Norman won a True West Award for 'Grounded,' but the show was shut out of Henry Awards consideration.  Moore: For all of the carping about the Henry Award nominees over the years - much of it admittedly done by me - there can be no claim, from my estimation, of any built-in, institutional bias. There can be bias from an individual judge, but there can't be bias from the standpoint of the Colorado Theatre Guild. And yet, when you look at the list of nominees, some inequities stand out: You see nothing for the Aurora Fox, nothing for the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, nothing for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, nothing for the Creede Repertory Theatre. These are generally presumed to be some of the finest theatre companies in the state - and they are all on the outside looking in this year. Again, you don't have any say in that, but surely you can see why that is going to rub some people the wrong way.

    Shanstrom: I do.

    Moore: So what do you tell those people?

    Shanstrom: Most of it seems to come from a misunderstanding of how the process works. Some people out there agree with us that we needed to put more Colorado in the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Awards by expanding outside the metro area. And there are those who think we should have kept it smaller, tighter … and less competitive. It's a double-edged sword. We either keep it small and have the same theatre companies being represented year after year, or we open it up and make it more embracing. One of my biggest complaints from our membership outside the metro area is that they don't feel like they are part of this. So there are times when I feel like the Lady Justice statue, where I am holding the scales in my hands, trying to balance those things that are good overall. But there is no perfect system, and we go into every year knowing we can't make everybody happy. But we can try to be as fair and balanced as we can.

    Moore: The way the nominees and winners have been determined has evolved over the first 10 years of the Henry Awards. As you say, this is not a perfect system, but why do you think this is the least imperfect system?

    Shanstrom: This is all done on a numerical system. The judges are given 50 points to work with in each category. We strongly suggest to them that when they walk into the theatre, they walk in with that midway, halfway point of 25 in mind and work up or down from that. The nice thing about that is there are no politics involved in this process. No one can take us to dinner and try to persuade us. No amount of advertising can change the voting system. No one can slip me money under the table to make things happen, because as I go through the process of verifying these scores, there is always someone in the room with me.
     
    Moore: What do you tell those companies that want to see their scores?

    Shanstrom: That I will happily do it. The names of the judges are simply removed from the ballots. That way, companies can see where they are falling on the 1-50 point scale. They can see where they need to improve or if they are showing consistency. If a company uses the same technical people and designers for every show, they can see if there is a pattern in the scoring. And if they hire a different designer for each show, they can see which of their designers are scoring best.

    Moore: What do you make of the fact that every year, one or two major companies in good standing with the Guild remove themselves from consideration? Over the years that has included the Denver Center Theatre Company, BDT Stage, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Germinal Stage-Denver and, this year, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, which staged two of the best productions of the season in Mary Poppins and 4000 Miles. When the nominations come out, people can’t know that those shows weren't considered; they will just assume they were considered and rejected. So what is your response to a member company that removes itself from Henry Awards consideration?

    Shanstrom: It is usually the choice of artistic management to pull out of the awards. What makes my heart ache is that the actors and the technicians may not be aware that their work is not being judged for the Henrys. And audiences don't know. They just think that they got shut out. And that may not be so. 

    Moore: But for all of those nearly 200 shows under consideration, there often seems to be an unusual amount of grouping. Last year, for example, Curious Theatre won eight Henry Awards for The Whipping Man – that show won an award for every category it was eligible to win. For a reporter like me, it makes for a great story when, say, Billie McBride wins the Colorado Theatre Guild's Lifetime Achievement Award - and then comes back to score three individual nominations the very next year. Every year we see both actors and technicians landing multiple nominations. But you would think with such a broad base of shows that there wouldn't be as much clustering anymore – and so many companies getting shut out. What do you make of that?

    Shanstrom: Nothing.

    Moore: Nothing?

    Shanstrom: I can't make anything of that. I find it to be an anomaly most years. I doubt seriously that this will happen again next year.

    Moore: Well it tends to happen every year - it's just different people.

    Shanstrom: It's just different people. But I can't make anything of it because it is what it is. I can't change it. I can't make it different. This is what the judges told me they saw, and this is how the tally ended up.

    Moore: Another area of great misunderstanding and ongoing confusion is the separation of your companies into large-budget and small budget tiers when considering the four technical categories: Scenic, Lighting, Sound and Costume Design. What is that budgetary dividing line now?

    Shanstrom: The cutoff between small and large companies is a $1.2 million annual budget. So in Tier I you have the Denver Center, Arvada Center, Curious Theatre and (Colorado Springs) TheatreWorks; and (everyone else) falls into the Tier II group. That gets a bit contentious because there is a heck of a lot of difference between a company with a $50,000 budget and a company with a $100,000 budget and a company with a $1.15 million budget. But this is where we came to with this. If there is an upside: It does give more designers the opportunity to be acknowledged with a nomination.

    Moore: Certainly, because you now have eight nominations for each category as opposed to five. But last year you had one lighting designer (Shannon McKinney) score a record five nominations - three for her work in large-budget shows, and two for her work in small-budget shows. It was all outstanding work, but that's not really spreading the booty around.

    Shanstrom: I think last year was another one of those anomalies.

    Arvada Center scenic designer Brian Mallgrave ilanded three of the four nominations for Outstanding Scenic Design: 'She Loves Me,' 'Harvey' and, pictured above, 'The Archbishop’s Ceiling.' Photo by P Switzer.  Arvada Center scenic designer Brian Mallgrave landed three of the four nominations for Outstanding Scenic Design (large budget): 'She Loves Me,' 'Harvey' and, pictured above, 'The Archbishop’s Ceiling.' Photo by P Switzer. 


    Moore: I think because there are so few companies that are designated as Tier I, the end result is far more multiple nominations for those few designers working in Tier I shows.

    Shanstrom: And this year that was not so true. 

    Moore: But this year you have Brian Mallgrave with three of the four nominations for Outstanding Scenic Design in Tier I shows. Again, all outstanding work, but …

    Shanstrom: But Brian was the only one. In the other three categories, there is a pretty good mix of nominees. As long as we are using this system, I don't see any way to fix that. Maybe after this year, that is something we should revisit. People have suggested taking the Equity (union) theatres and putting them into a separate category - but how do you do that with guest contracts? Or it’s been suggested that we take the Denver Center out and make it its own special category. For now, I have to stand by our system. It just gives more people the opportunity to be recognized, and that's what we want to do - especially in the design categories.

    Moore: What about the acting categories then?

    Shanstrom: We have looked at that and come to the conclusion that acting is acting.

    Moore: I completely agree with that.

    Shanstrom: Technical work is based not only on skill, but also on what you can do with tiny budgets or huge budgets. 

    Moore: Money matters.

    Shanstrom: Money does matter.

    Moore: And money shouldn't matter when it comes to good acting.

    Shanstrom: Exactly.

    Moore: I will say that those people acting in the Tier I shows presumably have had more training and experience - and that does cost money. 

    Shanstrom: That has been brought up.

    Moore: Still, I believe that anyone who walks on a stage, no matter how bare, has the power to transport the audience. 

    Shanstrom: Me, too.

    Moore: So the Henry Awards ceremony itself, coming up on July 20 - what's new this year in terms of the live ceremony? 

    Shanstrom: It hasn't all been determined yet, but the organizers have decided that any performances will have to be live. So there will be no B-roll or video used as a substitute for a live performance. We also have decided that we don't want more than a couple of the live pieces to be solos or duets. We'd like to do our standard five production numbers, and we would like very much for three or four of them to be big production numbers.

    Moore: So I know the Henry Awards are very personal to you, and administering them takes up a huge part of your professional life. Is there anything you think is a fixable problem that you haven't already considered?

    Shanstrom: I don't know that we have looked at everything. There is nothing so crazy that we won't hear you out. No, we don't have the best system, but we have the best system that we have. And we are always looking for ways to improve it.

    Moore: Is it going to be particularly meaningful for you going into your first Henry Awards since the death Henry Lowenstein?

    Shanstrom: Oh, yes. Not seeing him at the back of the theatre  … It's going to be really hard not having him there.

    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, where he is the editor of a new media outlet that covers the Colorado theatre community.

    2014-15 Henry Awards
    6 p.m. Monday, July 20
    Arvada Center. 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
    Tickets: $23 for CTG members, $30 non-members or $50 VIP. Tickets go on sale July 6 through the Arvada Center website or by calling the box office at 720-898-7200. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door for $35.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2015 Henry Awards:
    DCPA, Arvada Center lead balanced Henry Awards field: The complete list of nominations

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

    by John Moore | Jun 25, 2015


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

  • Bobby G Award winners' daily video blog

    by John Moore | Jun 24, 2015
    The latest from Evatt Salinger:




    The latest from Emma Buchanan:



    Evatt Salinger and Emma Buchanan of Durango High School, who last month were named Outstanding Actor and Actress at the 2015 Bobby G Awards at the Denver Center,  will represent Colorado next week at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, which culminate June 29 with a performance on a Broadway stage in New York City.

    Salinger and Buchanan (we call them E&E for short) are video-blogging their road to the national awards for BroadwayWorld.Com, and we are compiling their v-journals for you to enjoy here.

    You'll always find their most recent videos embedded at the top of this page. Here are links to their complete video journals:

    Emma Buchanan:
    June 12
    June 22
    June 23
    June 24
    June 26
    June 27
    June 29
    June 30

    Evatt Salinger:
    June 12
    June 22
    June 23
    June 24
    June 26
    June 27
    June 29
    June 30

    For more information on the Bobby G Awards, which honor excellence in Colorado high-school theatre, click here.

    Emma Buchanan and Evatt Salinger at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by John Moore.

    Emma Buchanan and Evatt Salinger at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by John Moore.



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

    About Emma Buchanan
    Durango High School
    Senior
    Eponine in Les Miserables
    ​Teacher: Kristin Winchester
    College plans: Pursuing a BFA in Musical Theater at Wright State University

    Favorite Les Miserables memory:
    Our opening night. There was such an exciting buzz from the audience, and the cast was honestly living in every moment. Simply put: It was magical.

    How has musical theatre helped prepare you for other aspects of your life?
    It has taught me to collaborate with a variety of people to be able to bring everyone/everything together. 

    What do you say to anyone who says theatre isn’t cool?
    I have never met people more passionate about expressing, creating and learning about humanity, and what it's like to work as a team. People who work in the theater work 24/7 to give other people an escape for a few hours. But what I would probably end up saying is: Your face isn't cool!


    Evatt Salinger
    Durango High School
    Senior
    Jean Valjean in Les Miserables
    Teachers: Kristin Winchester and Walker White
    College plans: Pepperdine University to pursue a BFA in Theatre and Music with a minor in Applied Mathematics

    Favorite
    Les Miserables memory:
    When we brought Les Miserables to perform at the Bellco for the Colorado State Thespian Conference, the sound guy carrying our equipment rolled his car during the seven-hour drive from Durango to Denver, rendering many of our mics useless. The few mics that still worked didn’t arrive until late that day, less than an hour before curtain. So we rented hanging and hand mics to supplement our short supply. Many of the actors spent much of the show slyly passing of hand mics to each other while blowing the roof of the Bellco. At the very end of the show, I was put onto my third mic pack and sent onstage with a hand mic hidden in my pocket. As I began the epilogue version of “Bring Him Home”, the orchestra quieted. “God on high …” Nothing. My mic wasn’t working. I felt the audience momentarily panic. Without skipping a beat, I pulled out the hand mic from my pocket. There was a sudden laughter of relief from the audience. I sang the rest of the epilogue with the hand mic, trying to keep a straight face, while feeling the corners of my mouth tug upward in response to the laughter. Performing Les Miserables at the Bellco was incredible for many reasons, but all the extraordinary experiences are overshadowed by one thing: Les Miserables was the last opportunity I would have to share the stage with my brother. As a freshman, Curtis stunned us all with his rich voice and impassioned acting, and standing off stage listening sing “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” is something I’ll never forget. I am so proud of him.

    How has musical theatre helped prepare you for other aspects of your life?
    Oddly enough, musical theatre has inspired me to forgot about thinking about myself and be more mindful of others. It’s impossible to act honestly onstage while caught up in yourself - that’s not how we go about communicating in the real world.  Each moment should be abandonment, uncertain of what or how you partner onstage will say next. It’s always a new adventure, and parallels the way I choose to live my life.

    What do you say to anyone who says theatre isn’t cool?
    You know, more than 10 percent of the students who attend my school were involved in Les Mis. The strength and passion in our productions have attracted many kids to try theatre, and now we’re very respected in the school. People get very psyched about our shows. I’m thankful for the support from our school, and the fact that I’ve almost never been ridiculed for the art I love to create. I hope that for all theatre kids.

  • Video: Our busy day busking with John Davidson of 'Wicked'

    by John Moore | Jun 24, 2015


    You know John Davidson as a prominent TV game-show host. But he also has an extensive theatrical resume and is currently playing the Wonderful Wizard of Oz in the national touring production of Wicked playing in Denver through July 5.

    John DavidsonWe recently spent a day with Davidson, who is perhaps best known for hosting The New Hollywood Squares. In the video above, watch as Davidson took an afternoon to do some busking on Denver's 16th Street Mall. In the video, he also talks to fellow street performers about their craft. (Video by David Lenk for the DCPA's NewsCenter.)

    We also followed along as Davidson was interviewed by Rick Crandall of KEZW, and as he spent an hour co-hosting the Everyday show on FOX-31 with Kathie J.


    Photos by Emily Lozow.


    Listen to John Davidson's radio interview on KEZW:



    John Davidson is interviewed by Rick Crandall of Denver radio station KEZW. Push play to listen to the 15-minute interview.


    Watch John Davidson co-host Everyday on FOX-31
    :

    John Davidson of Wicked on FOX's 'Everyday' show with Kathie J.

    John Davidson co-hosted the Everyday show on KDVR FOX-31 with Kathie J. In this segment, the two talk about Denver's bike trails and the beauty of the Rocky Mountain National Forest, specifically Grand Lake. To watch, click here.


    More about John Davidson:

    Broadway: State Fair (Abel), Oklahoma! (Curly - Theater Guild Award). Off-Broadway: High Infidelity and The Fantasticks. National Tour: Wicked (The Wizard). Regional Theater: The Music Man (H. Hill), Camelot (King Arthur), Carousel (Billy), Man Of La Mancha (Cervantes). Television: Hosted "That’s Incredible," "The New Hollywood Squares," "One Hundred Thousand Dollar Pyramid," Sally Field’s husband in "The Girl With Something Extra.Film: The Walt Disney musicals The Happiest Millionaire and Family Band.

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

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

    John Davidson busking on Denver's 16th Street Mall. Photo by Emily Lozow.

    John Davidson busking on Denver's 16th Street Mall. Photo by Emily Lozow.


    John Davidson busking on Denver's 16th Street Mall. Photo by Emily Lozow.
    John Davidson busking on Denver's 16th Street Mall, a guitar in one hand and a 'Wicked' bag in the other. Photo by Emily Lozow.

  • 'The Kilroys' and gender disparity: Righting a wrong ... right now

    by John Moore | Jun 23, 2015
    Tanya Saracho. Tanya Saracho.


    They call it a movement. And they call that movement "a parity raid."

    "The Kilroys" is a new annual survey that identifies new plays by women writers deemed most worthy of full production. The goal is to get more women's voices represented in the American Theatre. That's an issue close to the heart of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, where the Women's Voices Fund has raised more than $1 million to commission and produce new plays by women, as well as to employ female directors, here in Denver.

    How real is the problem? There have only been two Broadway plays written by women in the past two seasons combined. Only about 24 percent of all plays produced across the country this past season were written by a woman, living or dead.

    Nationally, producers have responded to the complaint by saying they do not get enough submissions from female writers.

    Enter "The List," which began as a conversation among 13 female playwrights over cocktails. The impact was immediate. According to The New York Times, of the 46 plays on the inaugural list, 28 have since been produced. The selected plays seemingly were read more frequently by theatre producers, and the playwrights were more sought after, as a result of The List.

    Now, the second annual list has just been released, and it includes Tanya Saracho's FADE, a DCPA Theatre Company commission that will have its world premiere in the Ricketson Theatre next Feb. 5. It will be one centerpiece of the DCPA's 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.

    Alejandra Escalante and Eddie Martinez in 'Fade.' Photo by John Moore. Gender disparity was a hot topic at the 2015 Summit in February, when Theresa Rebeck told the DCPA NewsCenter: "Women have been shut out of the storytelling of the American culture on such a profound level for so long – in theatre, in film, and in TV – why wouldn’t we be angry?"

    Rebeck's The Nest will have its world premiere next year in Denver alongside Saracho's FADE, the story of a one-time Mexican-American novelist who is hired to write for a popular weekly TV serial and finds herself out of her depth. It's based on Saracho's own experiences writing for TV.

    "Listen: I got into television because I was a diversity hire,' Saracho said bluntly. "I don't care why I got in there. I just needed an in, because we need to be in there."


    This interview with Tanya Saracho was filmed at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit. Saracho's "FADE" was a featured reading, and later was chosen for full production on the DCPA Theatre Company's 2015-16 season. Video by John Moore.


    Saracho is one of The Kilroys' 13 founders. She says "The List" happened pretty organically.

    "A few of us gathered socially, and the conversation turned to gender disparity in the theatre," Saracho told the DCPA NewsCenter. "Someone said, 'We should do something,' but no one knew what 'something' was at first. Then, 13 of us started meeting regularly. Plans and sub-plans were formed. Before we knew what we really were, we were in action."

    One of the first big initiatives was the creation of The List. Organizers surveyed 321 influential new-play leaders — including artistic directors, literary managers, professors, producers, directors and dramaturgs — who had read or seen at least 40 new plays in the past year. The team of 321 nominators identified more than 750 plays by more than 200 female or trans-gendered playwrights written in the past year. From those nominees, the official list of 53 was chosen.

    "It was simple but monumental, and I think it's made the right kinds of waves in the field," Saracho said. "It's affecting change that is tangible in many ways. It's serving to hang a lantern in a new kind of way to this ages-old problem of inequality on the American stage."

    Asked about the nominating team's decision to include her own play on The List, Saracho said: "This is such a tough industry, that gives you comfort to know you have advocates championing your work behind the curtain, you know?"

    For more about the selection process, click here.

    Anyone interested in nominating a new play for consideration on next year's list is encouraged to email thekilroys13@gmail.com.

    To read The List, click here.

    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, where he is the editor of a new media outlet that covers the Colorado theatre community.

    More about Tanya Saracho
    Tanya Saracho was born in Sinaloa, México and is a playwright who writes for television. Currently she writes for HBO's  "Looking." Other shows have included Girls and Devious Maids. Plays produced at: 2nd Stage, Steppenwolf Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Goodman Theater,  Teatro Vista, Teatro Luna, Fountain Theater, Clubbed Thumb, NEXT Theater and 16th Street Theater. Plays include: Hushabye; The Tenth Muse; Song for the Disappeared; EnfrascadaEl Nogalar (inspired by The Cherry Orchard); an musical adaptation of The House on Mango StreetOur Lady of the Underpass ; Kita y Fernanda, and Quita Mitos. Currently in development with/commissioned by:  HBO, Goodman Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre, Two Rivers Theatre, DCPA Theatre Company, and South Coast Rep.

    About Denver's And Toto Too Theatre Company
    Guest columnist Susan Lyles on Denver's only theatre company dedicated to telling women's stories.


  • Video: 2015 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor Performances

    by John Moore | Jun 23, 2015



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

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

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

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

    The video culminates with the announcement of the winners.

    Video by David Lenk and John Moore.

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

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


    Our 2014-15 Bobby G Awards coverage to date:

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

    by John Moore | Jun 23, 2015
    Max Posner
    Max Posner. Photo by Evan Smith, used by permission.


    Playwright Max Posner, a graduate of Denver School of the Arts and Brown University, has landed his first New York City stage production, it was announced today by Page 73 Productions

    Posner's Judy will be performed at the New Ohio Theatre, located at 154 Christopher St. in the West Village, from Sept. 1-26. 

    Posner, 26, was the 2012 Playwriting Fellow for Page 73 Productions, and is currently a commissioned playwright for Playwrights Horizons in Manhattan.

    "Page 73 asked me to join their writer's group a few weeks before I moved to New York," Posner said. "I was 22, I didn't have roots, I was used to that big Denver sky, and I couldn't believe how humid it got here. They gave me their fellowship that winter, and I have never been more shocked. It's because of them that I started really calling myself a playwright.

    Cast of 'Judy' by Max Posner with Birgit Huppuch, Deirdre O'Connell and Danny Wolohan at New Ohio Theatre"Since then, they've been an incredible artistic home, following my writing down various strange tunnels, and then bringing it back to the light. The idea of having my first New York production under their watch feels homey and right."

    As a teenager, Posner studied under Moss Kaplan as a playwriting major at Denver School of the Arts, and was also a longtime student of the Curious New Voices young playwrights program under Dee Covington at Denver's Curious Theatre. Posner was named one of The Denver Post's "Can't Miss Kids" in 2006.

    "My money has been on Max for a long time," said Covington. "Curious New Voices is now 12 years old, and so our writers are just now getting old enough to infiltrate the world and start making a significant mark on the American Theatre.

    "We have a series of goals for our writers, and getting a New York production is one of them. So I think this is the first many amazing things to happen to Max and many of our other writers."

    Judy is set in the winter of 2040, and, according to the official play description: "The world has changed - but maybe not by much. Timothy's wife, Judy, has just left him, and he isn't taking it well. His sisters, Tara and Kris, are trying to help him cope while working on their own love lives. The three seem to spend a lot of time in their basements, and the kids are starting to ask questions.

    "Judy is a subterranean comedy about family life when technology fails and communication breaks down."

    Lead casting has been announced, with Birgit Huppuch, Deirdre O'Connell and Danny Wolohan. The director is veteran Ken Rus Schmoll, a two-time Obie-Award winner and Columbia theatre professor who also directed the New York premiere of Grounded, George Brandt's widely praised story of a pregnant American drone pilot - which also debuted in Denver last year in a staging by the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company at The Avenue Theatre.

    "Ken is a truly rare director, and one I admired from afar over and over again until we met," Posner said. "When I was in college, I saw Didi O'Connell in Circle Mirror Transformation in New York. I had never seen acting so detailed. Now they're teaming up on my play - a play I really thought might never find its proper shape or a good home. So I'm pretty happy and just crossing my fingers that I don't (bleep) this up."

    Posner's plays include The Thing About Air Travel, The Famished, The War on Safety, You Me + The Spiders, and SNORE and other sorts of breathing. His plays have been staged and developed at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Colt Coeur, The Hangar Theatre, Curious Theatre Company, The Blank Theatre, Young Playwrights Inc, and Production Workshop. He graduated from Brown University in 2011. He is the recipient of the Weston Award in Playwriting and the 2011 Heideman Award from Actors Theatre of Louisville. 

    The scenic design for Judy will be by Arnulfo Maldonaldo (Generations), lighting design by Eric Southern (Pocatello), sound design by Leah Gelpe (The Invisible Hand) and costume design by Jessica Pabst (The Heidi Chronicles). 

    Tickets for Judy go on sale on in August.


    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, where he is the editor of a new media outlet that covers the Colorado theatre community.


    Watch our video interview with Max Posner from May 2015 in New York City. Video by John Moore.
  • DCPA, Arvada Center lead balanced Henry Awards field

    by John Moore | Jun 18, 2015

    Joyce Cohen and Mike Hartman are both nominated for Henry Awards for their performances in the DCPA's 'Benediction.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.
    Joyce Cohen and Mike Hartman are both nominated for Henry Awards for their performances in the DCPA's "Benediction." Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.


    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company unveiled two new musicals last season that are both nominated for Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards, it was announced today.

    The newly refreshed The Unsinkable Molly Brown leads all plays and musicals from 2014-15 with 12 nominations. The 12, a look at what might have happened when the disciples went into hiding following the crucifixion of Christ, earned three. Both are nominated for Best musical of 2014-15.

    The DCPA’s three true world premieres - The 12, Benediction and Appoggiatura  - are all nominated for best original production.

    For the second straight year, the DCPA Theatre Company leads all companies with 21 Henry Award nominations, including best season. The Arvada Center follows with 19 in what turns out to be one of the most evenly distributed fields in the 10 years of the Colorado Theatre Guild’s annual awards program. Buntport Theatre received 12 nominations, Town Hall Arts Center received 10 and eight went to Theatre Aspen.  BDT Stage of Boulder and Midtown Arts Center of Fort Collins got seven each.

    In all, 25 Colorado companies received at least one nomination, spread out from Colorado Springs to Dillon to Aspen to Breckenridge. The winners will be announced at the Colorado Theatre Guild fundraising gala on July 20 at the Arvada Center. Click here for information

    Following Molly Brown, the most nominated musical is the Arvada Center’s Memphis, with 10. The most nominated plays are Buntport Theatre’s original Middle Aged People Sitting in Boxes, with 7, followed by Curious Theatre Company’s Charles Ives Take Me Home and Vintage Theatre’s ‘Night, Mother, with five each.

    Three-time Henry Award nominee Billie McBride in Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' 'The Lying Kind.'

    Three-time Henry Award nominee Billie McBride in Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' "The Lying Kind."


    Billie McBride, who won the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award last summer, is back with three nominations this year: Twice for best supporting actor in a play (DCPA’s Benediction and Colorado Springs TheatreWorks’ The Lying Kind), and for directing Vintage Theatre’s ‘Night Mother

    The other three-time individual nominee this year is Arvada Center scenic designer Brian Mallgrave (She Loves Me, Harvey and The Archbishop’s Ceiling.)

    This year’s two-time Henry nominees include Donna Debreceni, Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck, Haley Johnson, Wayne Kennedy, Kathleen Marshall, Jordan Nichols, Erin Rollman, Nick Sugar and David Thomas.

    Johnson’s two awards come for her performances in Vintage Theatre’s ‘Night Mother and A Streetcar Named Desire. Kennedy pulled off an unusual feat for BDT Stage’s Fiddler on the Roof: He’s up for Outstanding Actor in a Musical (Tevye) and best sound design.

    And if there were a most adorable nomination category, it would have to be the husband-and-wife team of Bob Moore (lead actor in a play) and Wendy Moore (direction) both being nominated for Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s Freud’s Last Session.

    And in another interesting twist: The field includes two actors with Colorado ties currently performing on Broadway: Castle Rock native Beth Malone (Fun Home) is nominated as best actress in a musical for Molly Brown, and University of Northern Colorado graduate Aisha Jackson (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) has been singled out for her performance in Memphis.

    Melissa Swift-Sawyer, who originated the titular role in the DCPA’s long-running cabaret hit Always Patsy Cline, is nominated as best supporting actress in a musical for her portrayal of a racist mother who reforms in Memphis. She also reprised that iconic Patsy Cline role this year for the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, and her co-star in Johnstown, longtime BDT Stage favorite Alicia Dunfee, has been nominated as best supporting actress in a musical – an odd categorization of her performance, given that Dunfee has all the speaking lines in the play.

    Longmont Theatre Company earned its first-ever Henry Award nomination: Michael O'Shea for supporting actor in a play (Driving Miss Daisy). Ignite Theatre scored its second nomination: Anna High for lead actress in a musical (Dreamgirls). Springs Ensemble Theatre pulled two nominations for The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?

    The oft-honored Steve Wilson, who has retired as longtime artistic director of the handicapped Phamaly Theatre Company, is again nominated for best direction for Phamaly’s revisiting of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

    Annie Dwyer, who is performing around the metro area for the first time after spending more than 20 years at the now closed Heritage Square Music Hall in Golden, was cited for her performance as Frau Bleucher in Town Hall Arts Center’s Young Frankenstein.

    The four design categories are again split into two tiers divided by each company’s annual overall operating budget. Companies with annual budgets above $1.2 million are considered for “big budget” awards in lighting, costuming, scenic design and sound (The DCPA, Arvada Center, Curious Theatre, Theatre Aspen and TheatreWorks among them), and the rest are considered for the “smaller budget” category.

    The field again is populated with many first-time companies and individuals, among them A & A Productions’ nod for Benjamin Cowhick (supporting actor in a play for Good Television); and the brand new Ripple Effect Theatre Company’s recognition of Tucker D. Johnston’s supporting actor performance as the abused slave Lucky (Waiting For Godot).

    To be eligible for Henry Awards consideration, a presenting company must be a dues-paying member of the Colorado Theatre Guild – a statewide theatre advocacy organization. Shows are adjudicated throughout the year by a team of about 30 statewide professional and citizen judges who score each show in all categories using a 50-point scale. A show must have been seen by six adjudicators in order to be eligible.

    In the event more than six adjudicators scored a show, Guild officials chose six completed ballots at random. This was the first year under this scoring system that ballots from the region’s diminishing pool of theatre reviewers were not guaranteed to be among a production’s six official scorecards.

    Any awards program comes with its share of disappointments, and this year the most obvious omissions include the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, Creede Repertory Theatre, Aurora Fox and Colorado Shakespeare Festival, none of which received a nomination. BETC's True West Award-winning Grounded, which starred 2013 Henry winner Laura Norman, was perhaps the best-reviewed play of the year.

    After sweeping the Henry Awards last year with eight awards for The Whipping Man, Curious Theatre Company received no 2014-15 nominations outside of Charles Ives Take Me Home, a slate that included All the Rage, Lucky Me, Venus in Fur, In the Red and Brown Water and Detroit.

    The Edge Theatre had what many consider to be its breakout season but other than its four nods for Jerusalem, it received only one, for Cock. Its only acting recognition was Augustus Truhn for lead actor in a play (Jerusalem).

    The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center produced what many believe were two of the best productions of the season – Mary Poppins and 4000 Miles, but Artistic Director Scott Levy pulled his company out of consideration for the awards.

    2014-15 Henry Awards
    6 p.m. Monday, July 20
    Arvada Center. 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
    Tickets: $23 for CTG members, $30 non-members or $50 VIP. Tickets go on sale July 6 through the Arvada Center website or by calling the box office at 720-898-7200. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door for $35.



    Jim Higan and Aisha Jackson are among 10 nominees for the Arvada Center's 'Memphis.' Photo by P. Switzer.
    Jim Hogan and Aisha Jackson are among 10 nominees for the Arvada Center's "Memphis." Photo by P. Switzer.


    2014-15 COLORADO THEATRE GUILD HENRY AWARDS NOMINATIONS

    Outstanding Season for a Theatre Company
    Arvada Center
    Buntport Theater
    DCPA Theatre Company
    Town Hall Arts Center
    Theatre Aspen

     Outstanding Production of a Play
    "Charles Ives Take Me Home," Curious Theatre Company, Christy Montour-Larson, Director
    "The Cripple of Inishmaan," Miners Alley Playhouse, Len Matheo, Director
    "The Goat, or Who is Sylvia," Springs Ensemble Theatre Company, Max Ferguson, Director
    "Middle Aged People Sitting in Boxes," Buntport Theater, Buntport Theater, Director
    "'Night, Mother," Vintage Theatre Productions, Billie McBride, Director

    Outstanding Production of a Musical
    "The 12," DCPA Theatre Company, Richard Seyd, Director; Michael Mancini, Musical Direction
    "Anything Goes," Town Hall Arts Center, Nick Sugar, Director; Donna Kolpan Debreceni, Musical Direction
    "She Loves Me," Arvada Center, Gavin Mayer, Director; David Nehls, Musical Direction
    "Spamalot," Midtown Arts Center, Jordan Nichols, Director; Casey Cropp & Nigel Huckle, Musical Direction\
    "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" DCPA Theatre Company, Kathleen Marshall, Director; Michael Rafter, Musical Direction

    Outstanding Direction of a Play
    Buntport Theater, "Middle Aged People Sitting in Boxes," Buntport Theater
    Geoffrey Kent, "The Lying Kind," TheatreWorks
    Robert Kramer, "Cock," The Edge Theater Company  
    Billie McBride, "'Night Mother," Vintage Theatre Productions
    Christy Montour-Larson, "Charles Ives Take Me Home," Curious Theatre Company
    Wendy Moore, "Freud's Last Session," Lake Dillon Theatre Company

    Outstanding Direction of a Musical
    Michael J. Duran, "Fiddler on the Roof," BDT Stage
    Rod A. Lansberry, "Memphis," Arvada Center
    Kathleen Marshall, "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," DCPA Theatre Company
    Jordan Nichols, "Spamalot," Midtown Arts Center
    Nick Sugar, "Anything Goes," Town Hall Arts Center
    Steve Wilson, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," Phamaly Theatre Company

    Outstanding Musical Direction
    Donna Kolpan Debreceni, "Anything Goes," Town Hall Arts Center
    Donna Kolpan Debreceni, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," Phamaly Theatre Company
    David Dyer, "Little Women," Theatre Aspen
    David Nehls, "Memphis," Arvada Center
    Michael Rafter, "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," DCPA Theatre Company

    Outstanding Choreography
    Stephen Bertles, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
    Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck, "She Loves Me," Arvada Center          
    Kathleen Marshall, "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," DCPA Theatre Company            Matthew D. Peters, "Mary Poppins," BDT Stage
    Nick Sugar & Kelly Kates, "Anything Goes," Town Hall Arts Center

    Outstanding Actor in a Play
    John DiAntonio, "The Liar," TheatreWorks
    Mike Hartman, "Benediction," DCPA Theatre Company             
    Steven Cole Hughes, "The Lying Kind," TheatreWorks
    Bob Moore, "Freud's Last Session," Lake Dillon Theatre Company          
    Cody Schuyler, "The Cripple of Inishmaan," Miners Alley Playhouse
    Augustus Truhn, "Jerusalem," The Edge Theater Company

    Outstanding Actress in a Play
    Kate Berry, "Charles Ives Take Me Home," Curious Theatre Company
    Amy Brooks, "The Goat, or Who is Sylvia," Springs Ensemble Theatre Company   
    Joyce Cohen, "Benediction," DCPA Theatre Company
    Haley Johnson, "'Night, Mother," Vintage Theatre Productions
    Haley Johnson, "A Streetcar Named Desire," Vintage Theatre Productions
    Emma Messenger, "'Night, Mother," Vintage Theatre Productions

    Outstanding Actor in a Musical
    Dane Agostinis, "The Full Monty," Theatre Aspen
    Jim Hogan, "Memphis," Arvada Center
    TJ Hogle, "Shrek the Musical," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
    Tim Howard, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," Town Hall Arts Center
    Wayne Kennedy, "Fiddler on the Roof," BDT Stage
    Burke Moses, "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," DCPA Theatre Company

    Outstanding Actress in a Musical
    Anna High, "Dreamgirls," Ignite Theatre
    Aisha Jackson, "Memphis," Arvada Center
    Alison Luff, "Little Women," Theatre Aspen
    Beth Malone, "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," DCPA Theatre Company
    Norrell Moore, "Anything Goes," Town Hall Arts Center             

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play
    Brian Colonna, "Middle Aged People Sitting in Boxes," Buntport Theater
    Benjamin Cowhick, "Good Television," A & A Productions
    Erik Edborg, "Naughty Bits," Buntport Theater
    Jim Hunt, "Charles Ives Take Me Home," Curious Theatre Company
    Tucker D. Johnston, "Waiting for Godot," Ripple Effect Theatre Company
    Michael O'Shea, "Driving Miss Daisy," Longmont Theatre Company                  

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play
    Hannah Duggan, "Naughty Bits," Buntport Theater                 
    Billie McBride, "Benediction," DCPA Theatre Company             
    Billie McBride, "The Lying Kind," TheatreWorks
    Erin Rollman, "Middle Aged People Sitting in Boxes," Buntport Theater
    Erin Rollman, "Naughty Bits," Buntport Theater                            

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical
    Constantine Germanacos, "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," DCPA Theatre Company      
    Damon Guerrasio, "Shrek the Musical," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
    Ken Krugman, "Little Women," Theatre Aspen
    Andy McCain, "Spamalot," Midtown Arts Center
    Michael Wordly, "Memphis," Midtown Arts Center

     Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical
    Alicia Dunfee, "Always, Patsy Cline," Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
    Annie Dwyer, "Young Frankenstein," Town Hall Arts Center
    Emily Jansen, "Spamalot," Midtown Arts Center
    Melissa Swift-Sawyer, "Memphis," Arvada Center
    Alie Walsh, "Little Women," Theatre Aspe

    Outstanding Ensemble Performance
    "Little Women," Theatre Aspen, Paige Price, Director; David Dyer, Musical Director
    "Memphis," Arvada Center, Rod A. Lansberry, Director; David Nehls, Musical Director
    "Middle Aged People Sitting in Boxes," Buntport Theater; Buntport Theater, Director
    "Spamalot," Midtown Arts Center, Jordan Nichols, Director; Casey Cropp & Nigel Huckle, Musical Direction                               
    "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," DCPA Theatre Company, Kathleen Marshall, Director; Michael Rafter, Musical Direction

     Outstanding New Play or Musical
    "The 12" Book and Lyrics by Robert Schenkkan; Music and Lyrics by Neil Berg; Richard Seyd, Director; Michael Mancini, Musical Direction; Produced by DCPA Theatre Company

    "Appoggiatura" by James Still; Directed by Risa Brainin; Produced by DCPA Theatre Company                                           

    "Benediction" by Eric Schmiedl. Directed by Kent Thompson; Produced by DCPA Theatre Company                                           

    "Middle Aged People Sitting in Boxes" by Buntport Theater; Directed and Produced by Buntport Theater

    "Naughty Bits" by Buntport Theater; Directed and Produced by Buntport Theater

    "Slab" by Adapted by Gleason Bauer and Emily K. Harrison from the novel by Selah Saterstrom; Directed by Gleason Bauer; Produced by square product theatre       

    Outstanding Costume Design: Larger budget
    Chris Campbell, "Memphis," Arvada Center
    Hugh Hanson, "The Liar," TheatreWorks
    Liz Jasperse, "She Loves Me," Arvada Center
    Paul Tazewell, "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," DCPA Theatre Company

    Outstanding Costume Design
    Lisa DeVeux, "The Lion in Winter," Firehouse Theater Company
    Cindy Franke, "42nd Street," Performance Now & Lakewood Cultural Center
    Nikki Harrison, "Anything Goes," Town Hall Arts Center
    Linda Morken, "Mary Poppins," BDT Stage    

    Outstanding Lighting Design: Larger budget
    Lap Chi Chu, "The 12," DCPA Theatre Company
    Donald Holder, "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," DCPA Theatre Company
    Vance McKenzie, "She Loves Me," Arvada Center
    Shannon McKinney, "Memphis," Arvada Center

    Outstanding Lighting Design: Smaller budget
    Seth Alison, "Young Frankenstein," Town Hall Arts Center
    Brett Maughan, "Mary Poppins," BDT Stage
    Stephen D. Mazzeno, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," Phamaly Theatre Company
    Kevin Taylor, "Jerusalem," The Edge Theater Company

    Outstanding Scenic Design: Larger budget
    Derek McLane, "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," DCPA Theatre Company
    Brian Mallgrave, "The Archbishop's Ceiling," Arvada Center     
    Brian Mallgrave, "Harvey," Arvada Center    
    Brian Mallgrave, "She Loves Me," Arvada Center         

    Outstanding Scenic Design: Smaller budget
    Amy Campion, "Mary Poppins," BDT Stage
    Douglas Clarke, "'Night, Mother," Vintage Theatre Productions
    Jared Grohs, "Freud's Last Session," Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    Christopher Waller, "Jerusalem," The Edge Theater Company

    Outstanding Sound Design: Larger budget
    Craig Breitenbach, "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," DCPA Theatre Company
    Jason Ducat, "Charles Ives Take Me Home," Curious Theatre Company
    David Thomas, "Memphis," Arvada Center                   
    David Thomas, "She Loves Me," Arvada Center

    Outstanding Sound Design: Smaller budget
    Buntport Theater, "Middle Aged People Sitting in Boxes," Buntport Theater
    Mercedes Gil & R. Todd Hoven, "Romeo and Juliet," OpenStage Theater & Company
    Wayne Kennedy, "Fiddler on the Roof," BDT Stage
    Ren Manley, "Jerusalem," The Edge Theater Company               

     Additional Special Awards for Life Time Achievement and Outstanding Stage Manager will be announced in July.        

  • Thompson: Theatre Company turned questions into exclamation points

    by John Moore | Jun 13, 2015

    Selected images from the 2014-15 DCPA Theatre Company season. Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen


    An expanded New Play Summit, robust attendance and a slate of challenging new work all helped Kent Thompson overcome big challenges entering his 10th season.

    Kent Thompson went into his 10th season as Artistic Director of the DCPA Theatre Company with some feelings of uncertainty. He came out of it feeling like things could not have gone much better – on stage or off.

    “The beginning of the season was a time of both strategy and sacrifice at the same time,” Thompson said.

    Kent Thompson2014-15 would be the first season in the company’s 36-year history without a company of resident actors audiences could expect to appear throughout the year. That choice was made in part because the company also made the strategic decision to offer eight shows in 2014-15, down from 10 the year before. The goal, Thompson said, was to focus more attention, time and resources on each individual offering. That would make for higher quality on both sides of the footlights - but it would also mean fewer jobs to go around for both actors and crew.

    There was also much at creative stake with a high-risk season that started and ended with two big musicals (The Unsinkable Molly Brown and The 12), both of which brought big-name creative teams into the Denver Center’s artistic womb to work alongside the company’s pool of in-house designers and crew. The slate would include four world-premiere productions - fully half of the season - and seven titles that had never before been staged anywhere in Colorado.

    “There was a lot there that could go wrong,” Thompson said. 

    And almost nothing did.

    Molly Brown and The 12 were both positively received. Molly Brown was the culmination of a nearly decade-long quest to reimagine and refresh the classic 1960 Broadway musical about one of Colorado’s most beloved citizens. Directed by three-time Tony winner Kathleen Marshall and shepherded in every other way by book writer and lyricist Dick Scanlan, the Denver Center introduced a more fully fleshed Molly Brown and a far more complex love story with husband Leadville Johnny Brown. Castle Rock native Beth Malone was widely praised for her performance as Molly Brown, then went to Broadway, where she was nominated as Best Actress in a Musical for her work in the most celebrated new musical of the year, Fun Home.

    The 12 brought composer Neil Berg and Pulitzer-Prize winning writer Robert Schenkkan (The Kentucky Cycle) to Denver to explore what might have happened in the three days after the disciples went into hiding following Jesus’ crucifixion. The result was a simultaneously thoughtful and rocking new musical that asked serious questions about faith and personal responsibility in the wake of their leader’s death. The staging earned a four-star rating from Lisa Kennedy of The Denver Post, who called it “visceral and vivid.”

     
    “What might have happened” was also the question playwright Kemp Powers took on when he wrote One Night in Miami, another clear triumph of the 2014-15 season. Performed against the backdrop of Ferguson and roiling racial tensions across America, One Night in Miami imagined what might have happened in a Miami hotel room between Cassius Clay, Sam Cooke, Malcolm X and Jim Brown immediately after Clay shocked Sonny Liston to win boxing’s heavyweight championship in 1964.

    The season also included a terrifying staging of Lord of the Flies in the slot Thompson reserves to appeal to middle-school students; the 22nd Denver Center staging of the holiday tradition A Christmas Carol; and a winning production of the most popular play in America this year: Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

    Benediction. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. The other two world premieres were Kent Haruf’s Benediction, which completed the first trilogy in DCPA Theatre Company history, and James Still’s Appoggiatura – the story of three people sharing their grief for the same man while traveling in Venice.

    (Photo at right from "Benediction," by Jennifer M. Koskinen.)

    Perhaps most significantly, Thompson successfully expanded his signature Colorado New Play Summit to two weeks.

    “To me, that’s been 10 years coming, but it was the perfect time to expand the Summit,” Thompson said. “There was a demand for it, and it seems to be drawing newer audiences to us both locally and nationally.”

    Kent Thompson QuoteThe Theatre Company hit its projected attendance goals for all eight shows, which is believed to be a first in company history. The overall season attendance of 125,544 represents an 11 percent drop from 2013-14, but considering the number of shows was reduced by 20 percent, 2014-15 actually marked a significant spike in per-show attendance. That was reflected in the size of nightly audiences in the Theatre Company’s three theatres. On average, each performance was filled to 75 percent of capacity – up from 65 the year before.

    “People tend to have a better time when there are more people in the room because theatre is by its very nature communal,” Thompson said. “Think about those moments when it is packed, and there is such a buzz in the house. That's a better experience not only for audiences, but also for the actors.”

    There was some concern that the 2014-15 season would not include a Shakespeare title. Thompson promised the Bard’s sabbatical would be short, and indeed, the Theatre Company’s first-ever staging of As You Like It will help launch the 2015-16 season when it opens Sept. 25.

    Here are excerpts from our annual end-of-the season talk with Kent Thompson:

    John Moore: The season began at a time of great change. How did you approach things?

    Kent Thompson: Producing eight shows instead of 10 or 11 was an opportunity for us to focus on how to improve everything we do, from how we produce each play to how we sell them to how we inform people about them. It was very risky, and some of it was heartbreaking. But if it worked, it would be very exciting. We would drive up the total number of people seeing the shows. We would have a healthier balance of ticket sales and contributions. But for me, the chance to focus more time and resources on eight shows instead of 11 was really the secret to success. It was hard because I had to make a lot of really difficult choices that affected both staff and resources. But we did it. And at the same time, we decided to expand the Colorado New Play Summit to two weeks. And we did two musicals in a single season - not in any way that I planned that. So it was mixed.

    John Moore: As you said, fewer shows meant fewer hours for your people in the shops and on your stages. But the shows were well-received across the board, and your attendance was up.

    Kent Thompson: Yes. And that's the thinking of the entire team here at the Denver Center, whether it is production or marketing or development or elsewhere. Part of the idea was this: How do we deliver something that is unforgettable and intimately shared - and how do we up our game at the same time? It was based on a real commitment by everyone to create ways that we can serve more people and take our mission further.

    John Moore: Let’s review some of the major points of the season, starting with The Unsinkable Molly Brown. You opened with a musical, led by a national creative team, and in collaboration with an outside producer (NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt). That's a pretty good indication of how things are changing around here. That is a high-stakes undertaking. How do you think you came out?

    Kent Thompson: I think it was a great experience. There were some major changes that really worked - such as really activating the Molly Brown character, and not allowing her to disappear in the second act like she does in the original just because you don't want to talk about her activism. I thought the idea of a strong woman who has strong convictions and she acts on them - to her own success or pain - was really great. That was the biggest change. I thought there were some incredible moments. I think the toughest challenge for the creative team was this: How do you even do a musical on The Stage Theatre? It's a thrust stage (meaning the playing area reaches out into the auditorium so that the actors are by audience on three sides). That was the challenge for Sense & Sensibility, too. Most theatres in New York are proscenium stages (where the actors perform entirely behind the stage arch). Whether Molly Brown will go big, I don't know. But it was a huge event for us. And by us, I mean Denver and Colorado. I always wanted to do it because would I knew it have a first-class creative team and first-class producer enhancing the production. And it was about something that is really important in Colorado history. I thought there was some great talent in it, too.

    John Moore: You have always measured the success of your new plays by their continued life. So do you feel like this has one?

    Kent Thompson: I feel like it has a continued life, but I don't know what it is, or when it will happen. And that’s not from a lack of interest. That's from the fact that you've got a first-class creative team and a first-class producer who also happens to run NBC Entertainment. Their schedules book up way in advance. But, yes, I think it's on the way to something. 

    John Moore: Since you mentioned it: What about Sense & Sensibility?

    Kent Thompson: The issue there is a little more complex because they are considering going in many possible directions – like maybe trying the Asian market first, which is huge for English-spoken musical theatre. I mean, it's becoming ginormous over there. They are also considering going to England. One of the barriers for them is probably that Jane Austen is adapted a lot. I've seen workshops since our show here in Denver, and they have advanced how the story is structured. I think it has become more interesting. I think they've got some incredible music and storytelling. I think they have something really valuable. And I think it will have a future.



    John Moore: A personal favorite of mine was Lord of the Flies, and I understand that every available seat to every student matinee performance was filled – and with some wildly enthusiastic audiences.

    Kent Thompson: Yes, they were.

    John Moore: Was it received with the same fervor by adult audiences in the evening performances?

    Kent Thompson: It did pretty decently. I did foresee that men and boys would find it much more fascinating than women and girls, because it's about a male rite of passage. What I didn't foresee - which I should have - is that young adults and children do not walk into a show like this with the same dread that parents and older audiences do. One funny story I have is that a woman told me she was so happy we didn't include the cannibalism scene. ... There is no cannibalism scene in the book. But that lets you know the kind of state that people were walking into our show with. What was fascinating to me is that some people loved it. And some people absolutely hated it. And a lot of people were just kind of speechless after it. What I really noticed was that people were endlessly talking about it, even a few days after seeing it.

    John Moore: And when people say they hated it, it's likely that means they hated where the play took them.

    Kent Thompson: Exactly. They hated where the play took them because it took them to a dark place. And we have a lot of dark places around the world today that are tough to deal with, so I think it created a visceral reaction. That's where that experience takes you.

    John Moore: Well you certainly offered a counter in your first Christopher Durang play, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

    Kent Thompson: I think that is his most approachable play.

    John Moore: Tell me about choosing to stage the final chapter of the Kent Haruf trilogy in the smaller Space Theatre after offering the previous two in the Stage Theatre.

    Kent Thompson: That decision really strongly came down to this: Which two theatres do I think Appoggiatura and Benediction belong in most? I thought the nature of the storytelling in Benediction was not about the expansive community that the first two stories were about. So I thought it would benefit from the intimacy of the smaller theatre.

    John Moore: And of course you expanded the Colorado New Play Summit to two weeks.

    Kent Thompson: I think attendance at the Summit proved there is a lot of pent-up demand for new work, particularly locally and regionally, and expanding allowed us to accommodate more visitors both from here and from out of town. The other thing it did, to varying degrees of success, was embolden the playwrights much more to actually revise while they were here.

    John Moore: Did you see significant changes in the plays from the first week to the second?

    Kent Thompson: Depending on the play, yes. I saw improvement in some plays, and, in others, not so much. But it was interesting because it gave the playwrights the opportunity to have a couple of looks at it. I think our challenge is to figure out how the playwrights and our staff can best use those two weeks.

    John Moore: You had more industry people here than ever before. What kind of feedback did you get?

    Kent Thompson: They liked that we gave them many additional opportunities to engage - whether it was the workshops with Matthew Lopez or Paula Vogel, or the Local Playwrights Slam, or our high-school playwriting competition. What we got back from the field is that this feels like a genuine home for new plays, and that we are putting our money where our mouth is. They also feel like it's well-run. There's a kind of high they perceive both from the staff at the Denver Center and all the people who come to it. They feel like it's not stuck in the same place. And I think a lot of festivals where you do a few readings and a couple of world-premieres can get stuck in place. But I get a lot of expressions about how well we run the Colorado New Play Summit. Around the country, what playwrights are hearing is, “Well, we want a new play - but we need one that’s either going to be a Broadway musical, or we need one that is no more than four characters and has only one set." That's not what we are looking for here. It's more diverse. What we are doing here is really trying to create a better process to make a new play.

    John Moore: And that leads us to One Night in Miami. That play created a different kind of buzz than I've ever felt at the Denver Center before. In One Night in Miami, I saw changes within the actors themselves over the time they spent here in Denver. In some cases, I think it changed the direction their lives are going to take moving forward. And it changed how they look at themselves as black men in America today.

    Kent Thompson: For me, that was a magical moment in the theatre where everybody we cast, and everybody we had working on the show, both internally and externally, were singing in harmony from the beginning. Everything came together in a kind of perfect moment, and that says a lot about (Director) Carl Cofield's leadership. I think it is an incredibly well-written play. Even though it's short, it goes into depth with all six characters. I'm sad that Ferguson happened. But I think because of some of those incidents, the play became more resonant in terms of how you define yourself as an African-American man, or as just a man a friend, a leader - any of those things. There was something about it that was kind of magical, and it’s what you hope for when you pick it. And also, we had so many people who helped us, whether it was Tina Walls (sister of one of the Little Rock Nine), whether it was bringing the Denver African-American Philanthropists to us, or some of the other outreach. But this was a play that drew everyone in. It didn't matter your color.  So many people were talking about it. I would say that people are still talking about that play. There was this desire to make this play blossom – and you could feel that as soon as you walked into the theatre.

    John Moore: And you don't get many plays that are set 50 years ago that tell you more about what's going on with race relations in America today.

    Kent Thompson: It really came down to the fact that these were six people who were really trying to figure out what it meant to be African-American in the 1960s. Just like we've got so many people trying to figure out what it means to be African-American in the United States today.


    John Moore: And we finish with The 12, which really spoke to people of faith. When you are continually trying to tell the stories of underserved communities in Denver, does it occur to you that people of faith might be one of those communities?

    Kent Thompson: I was drawn to the story and the music and the writing first. But I knew it would attract a different audience in terms of the faith-based. I also knew there might be another part of the audience that I would offend. So I thought, "Let's just put it out there. Let's find out." Look, I'm the son of a Southern Baptist preacher, so I knew everything about this story that there is to know, both written in Christian history and theology, and in the Bible - and I thought the idea was incredible. I thought the combination with rock ‘n roll was really fascinating. I had no doubt that it would draw from a Christian community, but I was hoping that it would draw from a lot of different faiths. A lot of people who don’t have a faith but have gone through the loss of a seminal figure related to it. Because whether you are talking about Martin Luther King or John F. Kennedy, we all face those moments when we lose somebody we think of as our leader. Now what do we do? So for me, it was a really interesting experience to watch a group of people trapped in a room work their way back to the core of what they felt they learned.

    John Moore: Robert Schenkkan and I talked about how people of faith don’t always expect their faith to be taken seriously or respected in the theatre.

    Kent Thompson: That’s true. I think the plays in the American theatre tend to be more on the liberal spectrum. We’re artists. We tend to be the guys who are outside the church performing on the steps, and then get arrested.

    John Moore: But one of the questions I got from people of faith is that the Bible tells us Jesus did show up in that room. So why not give him a place in his own story?

    Kent Thompson: Actually, if you go by the Bible, he didn't show up in the room. If you go by Christian history, he did. But also, Mary Magdalene is not a prostitute in the Bible. Church leaders made her into a prostitute 200 to 300 years later. For me, the real issue is how do they struggle with their faith and re-center and go on in the face of most likely being killed? We know how their lives ended. That's all in Christian history. I see both sides. I had one patron come up to me and say, "I was upset that Christ was not in it. And that’s the only thing I didn’t like about it.” And the very next day, a patron came up to me and said, "I am so glad that Christ was not in it, because that made the story so much more dramatic.”

    John Moore: So how would you summarize the overall reaction from your audience? Judging by social media, it was clear some people were coming five and six times. That happens with Broadway touring shows like Wicked, but you don’t see that very often with Theatre Company shows.

    Kent Thompson: No, and it also rarely happens for something that’s new. But I think it was an extraordinary response. What do we take from that? That there's a thirst for genuine explorations of faith. But is it simply Christian faith? I mean, we've done two now recently, including Shadowlands. I have produced it and directed it before, and both places were very different climates. But they both drew huge audiences - and not because of Narnia. Because there is a grappling at the core of it. “Is my way the right way?”

    John Moore: When you look at The 12, Shadowlands, A Christmas Carol and even to an extent the new The Unsinkable Molly Brown, do you think you have stumbled onto an underserved audience in the faith-based?

    Kent Thompson: I think we have stumbled upon an audience that normally doesn't come to the theatre. You can say they are underserved in the sense that we haven't normally done plays like those. However, as an artistic director right now, I am thinking about looking at expressions of other faiths, because I don't want to just simply do Christian-based things.

    John Moore: What’s next for The 12?

    Kent Thompson: I don’t think Robert Schenkkan necessarily anticipates that it will ever go to New York. But he does think it will have a life all over America - and I agree.

    John Moore: So how do you summarize the season as a whole?

    Kent Thompson: If I had to say what the theme of the season was, I’d say it was a series of comic, romantic, tragic and dramatic stories of people figuring out a way to move forward in spite of being stuck … or grieving … or in trouble. It was really about how we deal with that and re-create our lives. I think you can see that radiating throughout the season. You can see that in Molly Brown and in what she wants to do with her life. You can see that in The 12. You can see that in One Night in Miami. You can see it in Benediction. And even in Lord of the Flies: Those kids are changed forever by that experience - and a lot of them not for the better. But at the end of the play, this is a story that says the Piggys of the world are important.


    A look ahead to 2015-16 season:
    Sept. 11-Oct 11: Lookingglass Theatre Company’s Lookingglass Alice, Stage Theatre
    Sept. 25-Nov 1: As You Like It, Space Theatre
    Oct. 9-Nov. 15: Tribes, Ricketson Theatre
    Nov. 27-Dec 27: A Christmas Carol, Stage Theatre
    Jan. 22-Feb. 21, 2016: The Nest, Space Theatre
    Jan. 29-Feb 28, 2016: All The Way, Stage Theatre
    Feb. 5-March 13, 206: FADE, Ricketson Theatre
    April 8-May 15, 2016: Sweeney Todd, with DeVotchKa orchestrations, Stage Theatre
    To read more about the season, click here
    Theatre Company introduces bold new artwork for 2015-16 season
    For subscription information, click here

    READ JOHN MOORE'S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH NICK URATA OF DEVOTCHKA

    Some of our favorite stories this season from the DCPA NewsCenter:
    Visiting Leadville with DCPA's new Molly Brown, Beth Malone
    Cold coffee, hot popcorn make for a good Vanya stew
    Kent Haruf: The complete final interview
    Video: A behind-the-scenes look at Lord of the Flies
    The #CarolCallout is spreading across the country
    'Benediction' opens as a celebration of ‘The Precious Ordinary’
    Appoggiatura's James Still is running to catch up to himself
    For two inaugural DCPA actors, you can come home again
    Fourth-graders have tough questions for One Night in Miami cast
    The 12: Three days that rocked the world
  • Video: Bobby G Award winners sing National Anthem at Rockies game

    by John Moore | Jun 12, 2015
    Video by John Moore, Emily Lozow and the Colorado Rockies.

    Evatt Salinger and Emma Buchanan of Durango High School, who last month were named Outstanding Actor and Actress at the 2015 Bobby G Awards at the Denver Center, sang the National Anthem before a crowd of 30,698 at the Colorado Rockies' game against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 10 at Coors Field. It was the first time either of the students had set foot in a major sports stadium. In three weeks, Salinger and Buchanan will represent Colorado at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, which culminate in a performance on a Broadway stage in New York City.

    Of the past 30 days, Salinger says, "It's blasting us off a little bit into a world of the unknown. Which is where we wanted to go, but we just didn't think it would happen this quickly."

    After singing the anthem, he added, "That made us feel like we are on helium."

    Over the next few weeks, Salinger and Buchanan will be video-blogging their road to the national awards for BroadwayWorld.Com

    For more information on the Bobby G Awards, which honor excellence in Colorado high-school theatre, click here.

    Our photo gallery from Coors Field:

    Photos by John Moore.


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

    Evatt Salinger and Emma Buchanan sing the National Anthem at the Colorado Rockies game. Photo by John Moore.

    Evatt Salinger and Emma Buchanan sing the National Anthem at the Colorado Rockies game on June 10. Photo by John Moore.


  • DCPA will adapt Haruf's final novel for the stage

    by John Moore | Jun 11, 2015
    Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall read from 'Our Souls at Night' at the Tattered Cover. Photo by John Moore.

    Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall read from 'Our Souls at Night' at the Tattered Cover. Photo by John Moore.


    The DCPA Theatre Company will adapt the late Colorado author Kent Haruf's final book, Our Souls at Night, for the theatrical stage, it was announced tonight at an event related to the release of the book at the Colfax Tattered Cover Book Store.

    Cathy Haruf. Associate Artistic Director Bruce K. Sevy delivered the news at a public taping of Colorado Public Radio's Colorado Matters. Sevy told an overflow crowd that, for the fourth time, playwright Eric Schmiedl will be commissioned to adapt a Haruf novel for the DCPA, following Plainsong, Eventide and Benediction.

    A commission is not a guarantee that the play will receive a full production on the Theatre Company's season. But, Sevy said, that would be the eventual goal. "We always approach them as if they will be produced," he said.

    (Photographed: Above right: Cathy Haruf. Below left: Bruce K. Sevy makes the announcement at the Tattered Cover. Photos by John Moore.)

    Bruce K. Sevy makes the announcement at the Tattered Cover. Photo by John Moore. The time between a commission and a fully staged production is typically a minimum of three years. Any future staging would again be directed by DCPA Artistic Director Kent Thompson.

    The DCPA Theatre Company adapted and staged Haruf's Plainsong Trilogy as three live theatrical world premieres over the past decade, culminating with Benediction in February. Our Souls at Night, the story of a man and  woman grappling with their advanced age, is not a part of the Plainsong series, although it is set in the same fictional town of Holt, Colorado.

    At tonight's Tattered Cover event, DCPA actors Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall read from Our Souls at Night. Colorado Public Radio's Ryan Warner then led a discussion with Haruf's wife, Cathy, and editor, Gary Fisketjon.

    Fisketjon referenced a chapter in the book where the primary couple, Addie Moore and Louis Waters, are lying in bed and talking about their fellow Holt neighbor - Kent Haruf. And how his Benediction was about to be staged at the Denver Center. It is a meta moment in which Haruf for the first time essentially establishes himself as a longtime neighbor to his fictional characters living the town he made up.

    Sevy already was imagining how that exchange might play out if Our Souls at Night is eventually staged at the Denver Center.

    "I love it," Sevy said. "That moment is going to play like gangbusters. Can you imagine sitting in the theatre and watching these characters talk about seeing Benediction?"

    Cathy Haruf said she imagines her husband would be nothing short of delighted to know that his final novel might join his previous works as DCPA Theatre productions.

    "He didn't write any of them to be plays," she said, "but he was always really pleased with the other productions that they have done. He wanted so badly to make it long enough to see Benediction." 

    Haruf finished Our Souls at Night just days before he passed away in November 2014. Cathy Haruf told the Tattered Cover audience of about 100 that "Kent lost his fear of dying" in writing his final book after he had received a terminal diagnosis for lung disease. "What greater gift could anybody ask for?"

    Schmiedl is one of 38 playwrights who have been commissioned by Thompson to write new plays since 2006. A commission essentially gives the DCPA the right of first refusal when it comes to possibly staging the work.

    The DCPA NewsCenter interviewed Kent Haruf just five days before he died. You can read the transcript here.

    About Our Souls at Night
    (Description provided by publisher Alfred Knopf)
    To buy the book, click here

    A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

    In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with.

    Their brave adventures — their pleasures and their difficulties — are hugely involving and truly resonant, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer’s enduring contribution to American literature.

    Selected previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage of Kent Haruf:
    DCPA actors to read from Kent Haruf's final book
    Kent Haruf: The complete final interview
    Video, photos: DCPA celebrates life of Colorado novelist Kent Haruf
    Benediction opens as a celebration of the 'Precious Ordinary'
    DCPA to celebrate Kent Haruf on Feb. 7
    Bittersweet opening for 'Benediction' rehearsals
    Kent Haruf, author of 'Plainsong' Trilogy, dies at age 71

  • Video: Exclusive interview with 'Wicked' composer Stephen Schwartz

    by John Moore | Jun 11, 2015


    In this exclusive interview with Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz for the DCPA's NewsCenter, the theatre legend talks with Senior Arts Journalist John Moore about the ongoing need to empower girls and women.

    Stephen Schwartz"Turn on the TV or go online, and there is story after story of the difficulties women and girls face just trying to be on an equal level in our world," says Schwartz. "Worldwide, this is a major issue." 

    Schwartz says he relates most to the character of Elphaba in Wicked, and embraces the idea that we all have the green girl inside of us. He also tells how Wicked never happens - or at least not Schwartz's involvement in it - without a nudge from the folk singer Holly Near.

    Schwartz also addresses Denver's place in Wicked lore as the production's most visited city in the world. 

    Video by David Lenk and John Moore. 

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

    Our recent NewsCenter coverage of Wicked:
    Wicked witches stirring up an evening of cabaret on June 15
    Daily Wicked lottery makes $25 tickets available to lucky winners
    Video, photos: Wicked arrives in Denver: Load-In Day
    Interview with the two stars on the show's 'Popular' appeal
    Wicked a show for the green girl in all of us
    Wicked has bonded mothers and daughters for a decade in Denver
       
    Stephen Schwartz
  • 'Wicked' witches stirring up an evening of cabaret on June 15

    by John Moore | Jun 10, 2015

    Many members of the national touring production of 'Wicked' will be performing in a fundraiser concert in Denver on Monday, June 15. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    Many members of the national touring production of 'Wicked' will be performing in a fundraiser concert in Denver on Monday, June 15. Photo by Joan Marcus. 


    Lauren HaughtonIn the hard-working world of Wicked, next Monday has been officially declared “Witches' Night Off.” But it’s really not a night off at all. Because many in the the cast of the popular national touring production visiting Denver this month will be working that night – for a cause.

    Witches Night Off is the name of the one-night-only cabaret show that cast members will be performing at the downtown Hard Rock Café Denver to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Doctors Without Borders and, locally, Project Angel Heart and Rainbow Alley.

    This is a special treat for Wicked fans, not only because they get to see cast members step out of their roles and perform some of their favorite non-Ozian material, but they will be auctioning off what actor Lauren Haughton calls “once in a lifetime” items.

    (Pictured at right: Lauren Haughton.)

    “The first one is a ‘Greenifying,’ which includes a backstage tour of Wicked and ends watching Elphaba transform into the green makeup in her private dressing room,” said Haughton, one of a large group of self-starting Wicked cast members who have taken it upon themselves to plan and produce Monday’s benefit.

    Another featured auction item is a chance to win a walk-on role in an actual Wicked performance. The winning bidder will receive a rehearsal, a costume fitting and will featured in a few scenes in a Wicked performance sometime before the show closes in Denver on July 5.

    In addition, fans can bid on the chance to sit in the orchestra pit and experience the show from below the stage. This winning bidder will leave with a guitar donated by the Hard Rock Café Denver and signed by the entire cast.

    We asked Haughton, who is a swing in the show and understudies Nessarose, all about Monday’s show, and more about who and how it will help:

    John Moore: What makes Witches' Night Off more fun than your average fundraiser?

    Lauren Haughton: Witches' Night Off is a unique benefit concert because cast members pick material we don't normally get to perform. The actors are no longer the characters they play in Wicked; they are just being themselves and singing songs that speak to them. All types of music will be represented: Jazz, pop, musical theatre … so there's a little something for everyone.

    John Moore: Can you tell us a specific number we will be hearing ... or is the song list a secret?

    Kristine Zbornik as Madame Morrible. Photo by Joan Marcus.Lauren Haughton: One part of the evening I am most excited about is our Madame Morrible, Kristine Zbornik, is doing a set of cabaret songs. Kristine not only has a theatrical resume a mile long, but she is a very accomplished cabaret artist. She's hysterical and genuine and sure to leave the audience wanting more. 

    (Pictured at right: Kristine Zbornik as Madame Morrible. Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    John Moore: Tell us a little about the mission and history of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

    Lauren Haughton: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is an incredible charity helping men, women and children suffering from HIV and AIDS. It helps AIDS organizations across the U.S. including Project Rainbow Heart, which is doing great work right here in Denver. Broadway Cares also helps other causes, including the (New York-based) Actors Fund and the Phyllis Newman Woman's Health Initiative, which helps women suffering from breast, cervical and ovarian cancer. For this particular benefit, a portion of the proceeds will also go to Doctors Without Borders to help with the devastation in Nepal. 

    John Moore: In what tangible ways will an event like Monday’s concert help people in Denver? 

    Lauren Haughton: Money raised will help those who can't afford doctors visits, food, care, prescriptions and more, both locally and nationally. We are also happy to help Doctors Without Borders, because the Nepal earthquakes have really devastated communities overseas. Personally I hope the Denver community comes out to enjoy and support live music. In an age where everything is YouTube and iTunes, sometimes it's nice to go out and enjoy people performing live in front of you. We are so lucky to have three local musicians joining us on this concert: Matt Amundson (drums), Peter Huffaker (bass), and David Lyon (fiddle). To me, if one kid is inspired by live music or theatre, our job is a success!

    John Moore: Why is it important for the theatre community to so steadfastly join in this fight?

    Lauren Haughton: AIDS and HIV affected so many artists in the theatre community when the disease was at its worst in the 1980s. Our cast recently performed with Jennifer Holliday in a Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS benefit and she shared her story about being on Broadway in Dreamgirls back then. With tears in her eyes, she told us how nearly every week it seemed someone from the Broadway community lost their life to this terrible epidemic. Even in 2015, I think almost every cast member in Wicked knows of someone suffering. I personally have a friend who has been living with and battling the disease since the ‘80s, and it’s thanks to organizations like Broadway Cares that he has gotten the support he needs to stay alive. 

    John Moore: How has your cast done its part?

    Lauren Haughton: Over the years, Wicked has raised more than any other Broadway show for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Our touring company alone has raised more than $2.8 million. For those of us in the cast, Wicked is a phenomenon, a worldwide sensation - and a dream job. I think all of us feel the need to give back, since we have been given so much.

    Witches' Night Off
    An evening of song at the Hard Rock Cafe Denver
    Monday, June 15
    7:30 p.m.
    16th and Glenarm streets in the Denver Pavilions, (500 16th St.)
    Tickets $20-$40 (tax deductible).
    Click here for more information. www.witchesnightoff.org/

    More about the local charities:
    Project Angel Heart was founded in 1991 to address major challenges facing Coloradans living with a life-threatening illness. It delivers individually modified meals to thousands of Coloradans living with cancer, kidney/heart/lung disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other life-threatening illnesses. The delivery area now includes 640 square miles of metro Denver and 164 square miles in the Colorado Springs area. All meals are delivered free of charge by volunteers.


    Rainbow Alley is a safe, drop-in place place that assists young people in need of health care, housing, emotional support, and social opportunities in a hate-free environment. It has given thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth support and encouragement to overcome obstacles ranging from  bullying and harassment to peer and family pressures.

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

    Our recent NewsCenter coverage of Wicked:
    Daily Wicked lottery makes $25 tickets available to lucky winners
    Video, photos: Wicked arrives in Denver: Load-In Day
    Interview with the two stars on the show's 'Popular' appeal
    Wicked a show for the green girl in all of us
    Wicked has bonded mothers and daughters for a decade in Denver

  • DCPA actors to read from Kent Haruf's final book on Thursday

    by John Moore | Jun 10, 2015
    Mike Hartman, Cathy Haruf and Lauren Klein at the Kent Haruf celebration on Feb. 7. Photo by John Moore.
    Cathy Haruf, center, will appear Thursday at the Tattered Cover with Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio. Photo by John Moore.


    Denver Center Theatre Company actors Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall will read from the late Colorado author Kent Haruf's final book, Our Souls at Night, at a live radio event starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 11, at the Colfax Tattered Cover Book Store (2526 E. Colfax Ave.)

    270x270-kent-haruf-in-some-ways-it-felt-as-if-it-was-what-was-keeping-me-aliveIn addition, Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio's Colorado Matters will lead a discussion with the author’s wife, Cathy Haruf, and editor, Gary Fisketjon.

    Haruf was the author of the Plainsong Trilogy, which the DCPA adapted and staged as three live theatrical world premieres over a decade, He finished Our Souls at Night just days before he passed away in November 2014. Two months later, the DCPA staged the world premiere of Benediction.

    The DCPA NewsCenter interviewed Kent Haruf just five days before he died. You can read the transcript here.

    Haruf, a native of Pueblo and resident of Salida, published six works of fiction — including the best-selling Plainsong in 1999. While all of those books took place in the fictional eastern Colorado town of Holt, Haruf expressed an ongoing annoyance that  when people claimed Holt was based on Yuma.

    "They're not (Yuma stories)," Haruf told the DCPA's John Moore. "I chose the look of that country as a specific place that I knew very well, and that I could use as the background setting for the stories I wanted to tell. But if you think about it, these stories could happen essentially anywhere."

    Our Souls at Night is again set in Holt, but it is unlike any book he has written before. It is inspired by his relationship with his wife. Haruf set out to write one short chapter every day for two months after he was diagnosed as terminal.

    "In some ways, it felt as if that was what was keeping me alive," he said. "It was something significant for me to get up for every day."

    Haruf joins a a number of other local authors who write about Western issues featured in the “Colorado Matters at the Tattered” series.

    Seating for the event is limited and available on a first-come-first-served basis. Hear more about it here.

    Selected previous coverage of Kent Haruf:
    Kent Haruf: The complete final interview
    Video, photos: DCPA celebrates life of Colorado novelist Kent Haruf
    Benediction opens as a celebration of the 'Precious Ordinary'
    DCPA to celebrate Kent Haruf on Feb. 7
    Bittersweet opening for 'Benediction' rehearsals
    Kent Haruf, author of 'Plainsong' Trilogy, dies at age 71
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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.