• Lineup announced: Guerrasio, Mather to host 'Miscast 2016'

    by John Moore | Aug 26, 2016
    Eden Lane performs from 'Kinky Boots' at 'Miscast 2015.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Eden Lane performs from 'Kinky Boots' at 'Miscast 2015.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The lineup for "Miscast 2016," a popular annual community-wide benefit for the Denver Actors Fund to be held Sept. 26 at the Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton, has just been announced - and it's enough to make any director envious.

    Miscast 2016 "Miscast 2016" is an opportunity for members of the local theatre community to sing songs and act out scenes they would never … ever! … get cast to perform on any legitimate stage. Tickets are $20 (plus fees if ordered online) and are available at 303-794-2787 or online at townhallartscenter.org.

    This year, funnyman Eric Mather (The Drunken Bachelor Talk Show) will join third-year co-host Damon Guerrasio (Curious Theatre's Water by the Spoonful) in leading the silliness. 

    Among the more than 30 scheduled performers are Shannan Steele, Leslie O’Carroll, Heather Lacy, Steven J. Burge, Tim Howard, John Ashton, and members of Phamaly Theatre Company, which provides performance opportunities for actors with disabilities. (Pictured above clockwise: Damon Guerrassio, Shannan Steele, Eric Mather, Barret Harper, Tim Howard and Heather Lacy.)

    This year's event will include many fun twists, such as a series of games a la Jimmy Fallon and other late-night TV hosts. Many area merchants and theatres have contributed prizes. To read about last year's event, or to see photos, click here.

    Miscast is the major annual fundraiser for The Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and practical services to members of the local theatre community who find themselves in situational medical need. In just three years, this grassroots nonprofit has raised $120,000 to help local artists.

    Each Miscast applicant submitted a proposed song and a 'Miscast concept' for judges to consider. All applications were considered by a special selection committee based on variety, cleverness and uniqueness, among other factors.

    Miscast 2015Now in its third year as a Denver Actors Fund benefit event, Director Robert Michael Sanders again received far more submissions than he had performance slots.

    "This year's turnout was completely overwhelming," said Sanders. As thanks, everyone who applied will be invited to attend Miscast 2016 as a guest of the Denver Actors Fund and Town Hall Arts Center. (Pictured right: Leslie O'Carroll and Megan Van De Hey performing from 'The Book of Mormon' last year.)

    "We made the choices we think best suit this year's show," said Sanders, who called the resulting list "the best cross-section of talent from many different theaters, types and styles of performances."

    While the list of scheduled performers has been announced, their actual Miscast musical numbers will remain a secret until the night of the show on Sept. 26. Last year featured an aging (and male) Annie, a pair of female The Book of Mormon Elders, a hot-potato national anthem, and a high-heeled local TV personality who brought the house down with her Kinky Boots. For starters.

    "It may be all wrong ... but it feels so right," said Sanders.

    Miscast 2015Photos from 'Miscast 2015.' To see more, click on the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    MISCAST 2016:

    Hosts:
    Damon Guerrasio
    Eric Mather

    Performers (in alphabetical order):
    John Ashton
    Donovan Arterburn III
    Brock Benson
    Steven J. Burge
    Chelley Canales
    Colby Dunn
    Sydney Fairbairn
    Evan Gibley
    John Greene
    Barret Harper
    Clint Heyn
    Anna High
    Kaden Hinkle
    Tim Howard
    Rebecca Joseph
    Hannah Katz
    Darrow Klein
    Heather Lacy
    Wade Livingston
    Suzanne Nepi
    Carter Novinger
    Preston Novinger
    Leslie O'Carroll
    Phamaly Theatre Company (exact lineup to come)
    Arlene Rapal
    Shahara Ray
    Shannan Steele
    Regina Steffen
    Hannah Meg Weintrau

    Crew
    Director: Robert Michael Sanders
    Stage Manager: Jonathan Allsup
    Assistant Stage Manager: Meagan Burnell
    Event Coordinator: Ronni Gallup
    Assistant to the Director: Jessica Swanson
    Technical Director: Mike Haas
    Lighting: Alexis Bond
    Sound: Meagan Holdeman

    Band
    Keyboards and Musical Direction: Donna Debreceni
    Drums: Larry Ziehl

    Special Thanks
    Leslie Rutherford, Denise Kato and Cheryl McNab, Town Hall Arts Center

    MISCAST 2015:
    7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 26
    Littleton Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St.
    A benefit for the Denver Actors Fund
    Tickets are $20 (plus fees if ordered online) and are available now BUY ONLINE or call 303-794-2787

    To read more about last year's Miscast, and see photos and video, click here.
    Watch the video highlights below.

  • This is a Frankenstein 'that will make the Bible look subtle'

    by John Moore | Aug 25, 2016
    Our Frankenstein photo gallery:

    'Frankenstein' in Denver

    Photos from the Aug. 23 first rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company’s 'Frankenstein,' opening Sept. 30 in the Stage Theatre. Above in shadow is Director Sam Buntrock. To see more photos, click here. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    We all learn at a very young age what that word means. Frankenstein: To bring a dead thing back to life. And so you know that anyone coming to see a play called Frankenstein already knows the essential story.

    Frankenstein Sullivan Jones, Mark Junek That’s why Director Sam Buntrock promises his upcoming production of Frankenstein will hit the ground running.

    “This is not an upper West Side play about relationships,” Buntrock said. “It’s do-or-die. It's life and death. It's big and bold.”

    This is a tale, Buntrock says, “that makes the Bible look subtle.”

    Buntrock, who was nominated for a Tony Award for his direction of Sunday In The Park With George, and his creative team introduced their visions at Tuesday’s opening rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company’s production opening Sept. 30 in the Stage Theatre. When Buntrock and Scenic Designer Jason Sherwood began their work on the play, he said, they hit on their catchphrase instantly:

    “We agreed that it needs to be really (messed) up,” Buntrock said.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The DCPA is the first theatre company in North America to stage Nick Dear’s adaptation of  Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which was a global sensation at London’s National Theatre in 2011. The story of the creature who is given a troubled heart from a creator with a troubled heart came with an electrifying twist that will be twisted further in Denver: The lead actors (Sullivan Jones and Mark Junek, pictured above right) will alternate performances playing the roles of Frankenstein and The Creature.

    Frankenstein Sam Buntrock

    At the first rehearsal, Director Sam Buntrock flipped a coin to determine whether alternating actors Mark Junek or Sullivan Jones would read that day as The Creature or The Creator. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Here are five things we learned about the DCPA’s staging at the first gathering of cast and crew:

    1 PerspectivesThe script was written like a screenplay. Nick Dear wrote this stage adaptation specifically for noted filmmaker Danny Boyle (Trainspotting). So, no surprise – he wrote it in much the same way he would have a film. “There are stage directions throughout the script that say, ‘Cut,’ or ‘Cut to ...” said Buntrock. “It very much is a screenplay for the stage. That meant we needed to allow for a speed and a clarity that removed any sense of the paraphernalia or clutter that we have come to associate with Frankenstein.” Sherwood says the scenery also honors a cinematic approach "in the way that we are shifting perspective and pulling the naturalism out of the scenes.” For example, rather than merely dragging a boat onto the stage from a wing, he said, “We are trying to show you something that flips the way you experience it, and changes the way you see it.”

    2 PerspectivesIt’s The Creature’s story now. A notable departure from Shelley’s source novel is how this adaptation focuses on The Creature - grotesque as he is, and yet childlike in his innocence. “I will continuously argue that this script is told completely from The Creature’s perspective,” Buntrock said. “The story begins with his birth. And he is born, essentially, as a grown-up baby.”

    3 PerspectivesThe play is still about relationships. Specifically, dysfunctional relationships. “I love that this is a play with two people – a slave and a master, a creature and a creator – who go through a series of arguments and misfortunes that afflict all of us as a human race,” Buntrock said. "The central question is particularly relevant to me now: Even if you could recreate life, should you? Here we have someone who creates – or recreates – life, and he just doesn't consider the consequences. So what if a person who manages to create life had no understanding of life himself, or of what it means to be alive?”

    4 PerspectivesFor Kent Thompson, it’s personal. The DCPA’s Producing Artistic Director is a diabetic, so he watches keenly for new developments in genetic modification. “I am always reading for when we are going to figure out how to get stem cells to recreate insulin in my body,” Thompson said. “Over and over again, you find all these charlatans, particularly in Australia and New Zealand, promising they can sell you stem cells that will cure your diabetes. And they are con men. But what about somebody who actually can create life, but has absolutely no forethought of the consequences because he just can’t understand it on an emotional or a psychological or a cultural or a societal level?”

    5 PerspectivesYou'll see fire, and you'll see rain. In every telling of the Frankenstein story, fire is a central plot point. That’s no spoiler. Here, there will be a cottage, “and we will set the door of that cottage on fire, literally,” Sherwood said. There is also a scene in a graveyard (again, no surprise), and it will not only rain onstage. “It's just going to downpour,” Sherwood said.

    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.

    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center.

     

    Frankenstein: Ticket information
    Frankenstein• Sept. 30-Oct. 30
    • Stage Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Oct. 23
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 


    Previous NewsCenter coverage:

    Casting set for Frankenstein and The Glass Menagerie
    Introducing DCPA Theatre Company's 2016-17 season artwork
    Kent Thompson on The Bard, The Creature and the soul of his audience
    2016-17 season announcement

    Frankenstein first rehearsal.

    'Frankenstein' first rehearsal, above. Below: Charlie Korman, left, and Sullivan Jones (as The Creature.) Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

  • Colorado College, Fine Arts Center enter historic partnership

    by John Moore | Aug 25, 2016
    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's 'Peter and the Starcatcher.' Photo by Jeff Kearney.

    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's 'Peter and the Starcatcher.' Photo by Jeff Kearney.


    Colorado College will dedicate more than $20 million of its endowment for the ongoing support and long-term sustainability of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center under a historic partnership announced today by Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler.

    The goal of the alliance goes beyond merging the two Colorado Springs institutions. “It seeks to create something new, groundbreaking and forward-looking,” Tiefenthaler said. "The partnership will support the missions of both organizations while expanding learning opportunities, arts programming and cultural resources for the greater Colorado Springs community."

    The agreement calls for a four-year transition period before full implementation. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center will retain its current name until July 1, 2017, when it will become known as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. By July 1, 2020, the Fine Arts Center entity will be fully transferred to the college.

    Officials say the partnership will result in expanded community arts programming and enriched student experiences.

    “The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is a cultural gem, and I’m excited about the immense possibilities this alliance presents for all involved,” Tiefenthaler said.

    Added Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center President and CEO David Dahlin: “I’m thrilled to help create a strong and vibrant future for the Fine Arts Center that will enable it to thrive and build upon its legacy for another 100 years. This is truly a win-win-win agreement benefiting the FAC, CC and the entire community.”

    Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said the partnership “is something we should all look to as an example of innovative, collaborative future-building.”

    The Fine Arts Center's year-round theatre operation is expected to continue uninterrupted. Scott RC Levy, who served on the merger's performing-arts subcommittee, will continue on as Producing Artistic Director, according to Media Relations Manager Amanda Weston. By next July, it is anticipated that most FAC staff will become employees of Colorado College. The FAC's next theatre production is Shear Madness, opening Sept. 22.

     

    FAQ: What you need to know about the partnership

    Kathy Loo and Jim Raughton, local philanthropists and long-term patrons of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, have pledged an undisclosed amount to build the endowment to support the Fine Arts Center into the future. “We have a deep love for the Fine Arts Center, its past, its present and its future,” Loo said. “We are excited about the sustainability that this alliance has created for our community’s signature arts institution and we are committed to see it succeed.”

    Alliances between institutions of higher education and nonprofit cultural institutions are an increasingly common model, most notably the nearby University of Colorado at Colorado Springs’ affiliation with TheatreWorks, and the the University of Colorado at Boulder’s partnership with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. What makes this alliance more substantial is that in addition to supporting in in-house theatre company, the Fine Arts Center includes a museum and arts school.

    Alliances between colleges with museums and professional theaters allows for additional cultural programming and educational resources, new avenues of fundraising and greater community impact and outreach, Tiefenthaler said. Additionally, cultural institutions can cut costs as part of the affiliation with the college or university through shared services.

    “Arts institutions around the country are finding that alliances with institutions of higher education create great programming synergies and long-term sustainability," said Thayer Tutt, President of both El Pomar Foundation and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Foundation. "This alliance will allow the Fine Arts Center to build upon its nearly 100-year legacy as the center of our arts community and to develop new initiatives that serve the academic mission of the college, all for the betterment of our region.”

    The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Foundation will continue as a separate supporting foundation managing the existing FAC $13 million endowment for the mission of the Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.


    The bulk of the content for this report was provided by Leslie Weddell, Director of News & Media Relations for Colorado College. More information is available at coloradocollege.edu/csfac and csfineartscenter.org/ccalliance

    Learn more about it:

    A series of three listening sessions, open to the community, are planned:

    • Sept. 8, 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., Fine Arts Center Music Room
    • Sept. 14, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Colorado College’s Packard Performance Hall
    • Sept. 26, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Music Room
  • From Mayor to Mother: Insight into new DCPA boss Janice Sinden

    by John Moore | Aug 23, 2016
    DCPA CEO Janice Sinden

    Photos from Janice Sinden's introduction as the DCPA's new President and CEO. Here she is flanked by DCPA Chairman Daniel L. Ritchie, left, and Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock at Tuesday's press conference. To see more images, click the 'forward' arrow on the image above.' Photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.


    Janice Sinden announced her candidacy for the presidency way back in the fifth grade, her mother revealed on Tuesday. Sinden officially attained that goal when she was named the new President and CEO of the Denver Center.

    “But she was talking about THE presidency,” Arleen Brown clarified. You know … of the United States?

    First things first.

    Janice Sinden quoteSinden, 44, was introduced as the DCPA’s new leader at a morning press conference attended by Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, DCPA Chairman Daniel L. Ritchie, Denver Police Chief Ronald White, Denver Sheriff Patrick Firman and dozens of city and DCPA staffers.

    Sinden has served as Hancock’s Chief of Staff since 2011. And the mayor teased Ritchie and his DCPA colleagues for luring Sinden away.

    "I once counted you all as good friends," Hancock joked. "Once. But you have selected the very best person for this job.”

    Read more: Sinden a historic choice for DCPA's new CEO

    Hancock barely knew Sinden when he became mayor five years ago, but he now counts Sinden as both a friend and a partner he could go into the foxhole with. “Who would have thought this young lady from rural Colorado - a Republican - would join this moderate Democrat from the state's capital and form a team that would not only bind us through the challenges and opportunities of this great city, but also would form a friendship where we would laugh till we busted a gut together?”

    Hancock offered the staff of the DCPA a personal sense of what they are getting in Sinden, calling her a hard worker and loyal team player.

    “She is going to be the most nurturing, maternal leader you have ever had,” Hancock said, with a warning: “She never sleeps – So don't expect that you will either. She is everywhere, so try to keep up. She has an insatiable appetite for the details. So come prepared.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    For her part, Sinden told the gathered crowd: "We are going to take arts and culture to the next level. We are going to get it into every kiddo's head that they can be whatever they want to be. Innovation and creativity are what drive our children to be successful, amazing adults."


    Janice Sinden enjoys her big moment on Tuesday, when her appointment as new DCPA CEO was announced. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Here are more comments from Tuesday’s announcement:

    Denver Police Chief Robert C. White cited Sinden’s "phenomenal management skills" and listening ear. “I absolutely love Janice Sinden. She has been a godsend to the city, and she has been a great supporter of the police department. And my wife, Valerie, loves the theatre, so I expect I will be spending a lot more time here at the DCPA.”

    DCPA Chairman Daniel L. Ritchie: “Frankly, we were blown away by the number of immensely qualified leaders who wanted this job. But after careful consideration, we couldn't find anybody better suited than Janice Sinden.”

    Ginger White-Brunetti, Deputy Director of Denver’s department of Arts and Venues, is heavily involved with The Next Stage, the city’s plan for transforming the Denver Performing Arts Complex into an entertainment destination complete with new performance venues, residential towers, hotels, restaurants and retail. “We are really excited to have a like-minded leader who sees the value in the Next Stage Project and can create a dialogue with both the community and the DCPA’s patrons and board to ensure this project reaches its full potential.”

    Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock: “This city, and this man, are better because I have worked with one of the greatest in Janice Sinden.”

    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.



    Janice Sinden listens to comments from Mayor Michael B. Hancock. Photo by John Moore.
    Janice Sinden listens to comments from her former boss, Mayor Michael B. Hancock. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


  • Janice Sinden: Historic choice for DCPA's new CEO

    by John Moore | Aug 23, 2016
    Janice Sinden Quote


    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts searched the globe for its third Chief Executive Officer, and it found her less than a mile away.
     
    Janice Sinden, a fourth-generation Coloradan from Fort Collins, has been named President and only the third CEO in the nearly 40-year history of the largest non-profit theatre organization in the country. And first woman. DCPA Chairman Daniel L. Ritchie made the historic announcement this morning.
     
    “This hiring means there are no walls, and I’m sure Janice will demonstrate that in everything she does," said Ritchie. "She's just an extraordinary human being, and I have no doubt she will succeed as a person and a leader.”

    Sinden, 44, has served as Chief of Staff to Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock for the past five years, where she oversaw 26 city departments with more than 11,000 employees and a budget of more than $1.5 billion. Before that, she ran Colorado Concern, an alliance of more than 100 of Colorado top business executives.
     
    “We wanted someone well-connected in the community, and she is about as well-connected as anyone could possibly be,” said DCPA chairman Daniel Ritchie.
     
    It says something of Sinden’s character that when Hancock chose the most vital connector of his administration, the Democrat mayor turned to a Republican who had previously served under Sen. Wayne Allard. Five years later, perhaps the greatest measure of Sinden’s success is evidenced by how hard it is for Hancock to let her walk away. Sinden has helped spearhead numerous mayoral initiatives that have strengthened city finances, reformed city operations, improved the lives of underserved communities and supported Denver’s children, Hancock said.
     
    “So much of what we’ve been able to accomplish is because she was in the lead making sure we could get across the finish line,” said Hancock. "Her professionalism is unparalleled. The people of Denver are better off and on a better course because she answered the call to serve.”
     
    Michael Hancock quoteAnd  when Sinden was offered the opportunity to become the first female to lead the DCPA, Hancock gave his reluctant blessing.
     
    “Mayor Hancock has often told me: ‘Janice, when the time is right, don’t run away from something. Run toward it,’ ” Sinden said. “I’m ready to grab the baton and join this incredible team as we run toward a common goal.”
     
    Since 1979, the DCPA has presented Broadway tours and produced homegrown theatre, cabaret, musicals and innovative, multimedia plays. As the primary tenant of downtown’s Arts Complex, the DCPA entertained nearly 1.2 million last year through 40 productions, 888 performances and 205 events. The Education program serves 92,000 students each year. It has been estimated the DCPA has registered a $600 million economic impact over the past five years. It has an annual budget of more than $50 million and employs 1,000 full- and part-time staff.
     
    Sinden, who assumes her duties at the DCPA on Sept. 12, said her top goal will be to help the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District win reauthorization from voters on Nov. 8. That penny-per-$10 sales tax generates more than $50 million annually for more than 300 arts organizations in the metro area.
     
    “That’s No. 1. We need to get that done,” said Sinden. “I have traveled to 20 countries with the mayor over the past five years, and the first thing everyone asks about is the SCFD. It's a model that no one else has anywhere in the world.”
     
    She also cited as a top priority The Next Stage – the city’s grand vision for transforming the Denver Performing Arts Complex into an entertainment destination complete with a new amphitheater and music hall, residential towers, hotels, restaurants and retail. As Denver’s former Chief of Staff, Sinden should bring key insight to the project as discussions turn next to governance and funding.

    Institutionally, Sinden said, her initial focus will be on inclusion, diversity, fundraising and expanding audiences.
     
    Daniel Ritchie quoteThe Hancock administration’s support for arts and culture has been well-documented. Hancock created Imagine 2020, the city’s first strategic plan for arts and culture in 20 years. His wife, singer and actress Mary Louise Lee, has also created a city program called Bringing Back the Arts.
     
    “Arts and culture are the fabric of our city. They are woven through everything we do,” said Sinden, who imagines a 2020 when Denver arts will be “better, deeper, richer – and with lot more diversity in our participation.”
     
    Sinden replaces Scott Shiller, who resigned in May. Ritchie said he has no doubt Sinden was the right person for the job.
     
    “We wanted someone who had demonstrated leadership with a large complex organization; someone who has a passion for theatre and the arts; and someone who shares our values of integrity, diversity, innovation and putting the customer first in everything we do,” Ritchie said. “Janice fits every bill.”
     
    Sinden said she was not deterred that Shiller resigned after only a year on the job.

    "Jim Crowe, the founder of Level 3 Communications, told me recently that 40 percent of all CEOs don't work out, and it's not because they're not qualified," Sinden said. "It's because it just didn't work, for a variety of reasons. I don't think it's a reflection on Scott or on the organization. Chemistry is everything."

    Sinden is a quintessential Coloradan who hikes, skis and recently took in the  Michael Franti concert at Red Rocks. She lives in Evergreen and often can be found hiking Bergen Peak. She recently scaled Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, an experience she said was “one of the most important things I have ever done for myself.”

    She was born in Steamboat Springs, where her father, Roger Sinden, ran the town’s first Grade-A dairy farm. When the family moved to Wellington, her father then went to work for a Northern Colorado water conservancy district. Her mother’s family owns many dryland farms in northeastern Colorado that are “spread out from Brighton to Yuma and everywhere in between,” she said.
     
    Sinden grew up playing the piano and attending the theatre with her mother, Arleen Brown, as often as possible. She remembers seeing a production of Annie Get Your Gun at Fort Collins’ Lincoln Center that turned her into a theatre-lover for life.
     
    “We didn’t have a lot of money,” she said, "but my mother was always exposing us to theatre, and that was a wonderful part of growing up. My mother made sure I could play the piano and swim - and I am grateful for both.”
     
    She loves live theatre, she said, because "it presents us with an opportunity to tackle a whole lot of issues and experiences we are facing as a community in a way you can't get from television or film."

    Sinden graduated from Rocky Mountain High School and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley before completing the Executives in State and Local Government program at the Harvard Kennedy School.
     
    She attends theatre and other arts performances as often as time allows. Most recently, she frequented the DCPA Theatre Company’s DeVotchKa-infused production of Sweeney Todd, and her response offers some insight into what kind of programming might most appeal to her at the DCPA.
     
    “I loved Sweeney Todd because was risky,” she said. “And that’s exciting, because theatre should be risky. If we weren't willing to take risks, we'd just show Cats over and over again. This organization is clearly progressive.”
     
    While the DCPA fielded inquiries for the CEO position from around the globe, Ritchie said Sinden’s intimate knowledge of Colorado and its most powerful business leaders will uniquely situate her to succeed.

    “Denver is not like New York or Boston or L.A.,” Ritchie said. “Janice doesn’t need to learn the culture here – she is already part of it.”


    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.
     

    Janice Sinden's community work:
    Janice Sinden served on and/or led the boards of some of the area’s leading non-profit organizations:

    • American Transplant Association
    • Colorado Civil Justice League
    • Colorado Council on the Arts
    • Colorado’s Future
    • Colorado Preservation Inc.
    • Colorado Reform Roundtable
    • Colorado Workers Compensation Coalition
    • Denver Good Government Committee
    • Denver Preschool Program
    • Downtown Parks & Public Spaces Master Planning Committee
    • Executives Partnering to Invest in Children
    • Mental Health Colorado
    • ONE Colorado
    • Visit Denver

    Janice Sinden’s city initiatives
    Mayor Michael B. Hancock credits new DCPA CEO Janice Sinden for the following city initiatives since 2011:

    • Recruiting a new Police Chief and Sheriff to implement major reforms in those two public safety agencies;
    • Creating the new Rose Andom Center, Colorado’s first family justice center to serve domestic violence victims by bringing multiple agencies and services together in one location;
    • Securing voter approval for Measure 2A in 2012, which eliminated the city’s recession-induced budget deficit and restored essential city services;
    • Re-authorizing and expanding the nationally recognized Denver Preschool Program allowing the program to reach more preschool students and reduce costs for families;
    • Creating the Office of Behavioral Health Strategies and Office of Housing and Opportunities for People Everywhere, both of which will bring a new force and focus addressing vulnerable and underserved populations;
    • Establishing the Mayor’s Good Government Committee, which has led to many reforms that today make city government more modern, effective, efficient and fiscally responsible;
    • Negotiating seven successful collective bargaining agreements with the city’s fire, police and sheriff associations; and
    • Supporting other Mayoral initiatives, including international economic development and cultural missions to promote Denver nationally and internationally, the memorial events for the 10th and 15th anniversaries of 9/11, and Denver's bid to host the 2016 Republican National Convention.
  • DCPA Theatre Company announces 2016-17 directors

    by John Moore | Aug 18, 2016
    Christy Montour-Larson
    Christy Montour-Larson, left, shown at the 2016 Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards, will return to the DCPA to direct the world premiere of 'Two Degrees.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Jenn ThompsonThe DCPA Theatre Company's 2016-17 season will include a mix of five returning and three first-time company directors. Of note, half of the director slate is female. Part of the mission of the DCPA's Women's Voices Fund is to create both playwriting and directing opportunities for women, who are vastly under-represented on the national stage, according to several studies. (Pictured right: Jenn Thompson.)

    The directors are:

    The Glass Menagerie
    will be directed by Ina Marlowe (Producing Artistic Director of Touchstone Theatre and Organic Theatre Company). DCPA directorial debut.
     
    Frankenstein will be directed by Sam Buntrock (2008 Broadway Revival of Sunday in the Park with George, DCPA’s Ed Downloaded).
     
    MelissaRianAndersonA Christmas Carol will be directed by Melissa Rain Anderson (Utah Shakespeare Festival, Geva Theatre Center). DCPA directorial debut. (Pictured left.)
     
    'One Night in Miami' Director Carl Cofield at the first rehearsal at the DCPA. Photo by John Moore. The world premiere of The Book of Will will be directed by Davis McCallum (Off-Broadway’s The Harvest, London Wall). He also directed the Off-Broadway poduction of the DCPA world premiere, The Whale. DCPA directorial debut.
     
    The Christians will be directed by Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson.

    The world premiere of Two Degrees will be directed by Christy Montour-Larson (DCPA's Shadowlands, The Giver).
     
    Disgraced will be directed by Carl Cofield (DCPA’s One Night in Miami, pictured above right).
     
    The Secret Garden
    will be directed by Jenn Thompson (DCPA’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike).




    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center.

    The Glass Menagerie: Ticket information
    • Sept. 9-Oct. 16
    • Ricketson Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Oct. 15
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Frankenstein: Ticket information
    • Sept. 30-Oct. 30
    • Stage Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Oct. 23
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage:

    Casting set for Frankenstein and The Glass Menagerie
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics
    Kent Thompson on The Bard, The Creature and the soul of his audience
    First rehearsal: This will be no wimpy Glass Menagerie

  • Sweeney Todd will return to Denver with 'Fun Home' tour

    by John Moore | Aug 16, 2016
    Robert Petkoff Sweeney Todd


    Robert Petkoff, who recently headlined the DCPA Theatre Company's critically acclaimed production of Sweeney Todd, will return to Denver in January with the first national touring production of the groundbreaking 2015 Tony-winning Best Musical, Fun Home.

    The tour will stop at Denver's Ellie Caulkins Opera House from Jan 10-22, 2017.

    Petkoff, also celebrated for his performances in Broadway’s Ragtime, All The Way and Anything Goes, will play the troubled patriarch, Bruce.

    Fun HomePetkoff, who was nominated for a Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Award for his performance in Sweeney Todd, also played Colonel Brandon in the DCPA's 2013 world premiere of Sense & Sensibility. Before that, he played the knife-wielding Achilles in the DCPA's Tantalus back in 2000. That was a massive, 10-play co-production between the DCPA Theatre Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company that is billed to this day as the largest undertaking in theatre history.

    "I was aware of the possibility of doing Fun Home when I was finishing the run of Sweeney Todd at the Denver Center and was quite pleased with the prospect of returning to Denver," Petkoff said from Paris in an exclusive interview with the DCPA NewsCenter. "I really love the city and have had such great theatrical experiences there at the DCPA. I can't wait to be back in Denver with Fun Home. It's such a wonderful and moving show."

    Susan Moniz (Broadway’s Grease) will play Helen in Fun Home, and Kate Shindle (Broadway’s Legally Blonde, Cabaret and Miss America 1998) will play Alison. Joining them will be Abby Corrigan As medium Alison, Alessandra Baldacchino (Broadway’s Fun Home) as Small Alison, Karen Eilbacher as Joan, Robert Hager as Roy (and others), Lennon Nate Hammond as John and Pierson Salavdor as Christian. At certain performances, Carly Gold will play Small Alison. Additional cast members will include Anthony Fortino, Amanda Naughton, Sofia Trimarchi and Michael Winther.

    More Robert Petkoff recalls his time on 'Tantalus'

    Fun Home won raves from critics and audiences alike, winning five 2015 Tony Awards and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. It made history when it became the first show written exclusively by women to win theater’s highest achievement, the Best Musical Tony Award. 

    Based on Alison Bechdel’s best-selling graphic memoir, Fun Home introduces audiences to Alison at three different ages as she explores and unravels the many mysteries of her childhood that connect with her in surprising new ways. Fun Home is a refreshingly honest, wholly original musical about seeing your parents through grown-up eyes.

    Robert Petkoff TantalusFun Home features music by Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics by Lisa Kron and direction by Sam Gold, who won Tony Awards for Best Score, Best Book and Best Direction. Kron and Tesori also made history by becoming the first female writing team to be awarded the Best Score Tony Award.
     

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Broadway production of Fun Home opened on Broadway on April 19, 2015, and is currently playing at Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre through September 10.

    Tickets for the Denver engagement start at $30 and are on sale now. Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for the Denver engagement of Fun Home.

    Pictured above: Robert Petkoff in the DCPA's 'Tantalus.'

    Fun Home
    : Ticket information

    • Jan. 10-22, 2017
    •  The Ellie Caulkins Opera House
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    For more information on the production, please visit FunHomeBroadway.com.


    Fun Home Broadway. Joan Marcus
    The original Broadway cast of 'Fun Home' included Sydney Lucas, Colorado native (and Tony-nominated) Beth Malone and Emily Skeggs. Photo Credit Joan Marcus.
  • DCPA announces casting for 'An Act of God'

    by John Moore | Aug 15, 2016

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts has announced that Broadway's Wesley Taylor, star and fan favorite in the NBC TV show Smash, will play God in the new comedy An Act of God making its Denver debut at the Garner Galleria Theatre starting Oct. 15.

    The King of the Universe is tackling His greatest challenge yet: the Mile High City. God takes the form of Wesley Taylor in An Act of God, a 90-minute comedy where the Almighty and His devoted Angels answer some of the deepest questions that have plagued mankind since Creation. He’s finally arrived to set the record straight … and He’s not holding back!

    Act of God 600Directed by Geoffrey Kent, An Act of God also includes Steven Cole Hughes as Michael and Erik Sandvold as Gabriel with Steven J. Burge (understudy God/Michael). The entire cast and director make their DCPA Broadway/Cabaret debut with An Act of God.

    An Act of God creative team features DCPA Broadway/Cabaret veterans, Lisa M. Orzolek (scenic design), Meghan Anderson Doyle (costume design) and Charles R. MacLeod (lighting design). Making his DCPA Broadway/Cabaret sound design debut is Anson Nicholson.

    An Act of God is based on the critically acclaimed book written by God and transcribed by David Javerbaum. Javerbaum is a 13-time Emmy Award® winner for his work as a head writer and executive producer for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

    The play premiered on Broadway on May 7, 2015 and ran in an acclaimed, limited run through Aug. 2, 2015, starring God in the body of Jim Parsons. It was the first Broadway production of the 2015-16 season to recoup its initial investment. The play is currently playing a return engagement on Broadway starring Sean Hayes. This production in Denver is one of the first regional productions of the hit comedy.

    Tickets start at $35 and are on sale now at denvercenter.org. Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – and denvercenter.org – is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for the Denver engagement of An Act of God.


    An Act of God
    : Ticket information

    • Oct. 15 through March 12, 2017
    • Garner-Galleria Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: TBA
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    BIOGRAPHIES

    WESLEY TAYLOR (God) most recently starred as 'the Emcee' in Signature Theatre's acclaimed production of Cabaret. On Broadway, he created the roles of "Lucas Beineke" in the original cast of The Addams Family and "Franz" in the original company of Rock of Ages, which garnered him a Theatre World Award (Outstanding Broadway Debut) and an Outer Critics Circle Nomination (Best Featured Actor). He has performed internationally and all over the United States, with extensive credits in Off-Broadway and Regional theatre. On Television, he's been seen on "The Good Wife" (CBS), "Looking" (HBO), "The Tomorrow People" (CW), "One Life to Live" (ABC), "The Tony Awards" (CBS) and 26 episodes as 'Bobby' on "Smash" (NBC). 

    As a writer, Taylor has created countless sketch comedy for the web (including the YouTube series, "Billy Green") and is the Co-creator/Writer/Star of "It Could Be Worse," which was sold to Participant Media and acquired by Hulu (and is now available on Vimeo on Demand). After his play "Cuckold" became runner-up in Manhattan Repertory Theatre's one act competition, The Actor's Fund produced a sold-out evening of six of his short plays last October, featuring Stockard Channing, Nathan Lane, and Debra Messing. In November of 2016, they will produce seven new shorts by Taylor. Anonymous Content is developing his series "Basics" for digital platforms. Twitter: @WesTayTay IG: @sirwestaytay

    GEOFFREY KENT (Director) is an actor, director and fight director based out of Denver Colorado. Recent directing work includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest and The Comedy of Errors for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, 39 Steps, Grapes of Wrath, The Lying Kind and You Can’t Take it With You for Theatreworks, Metamorphoses and She Kills Monsters for the Aurora Fox. Geoffrey has worked as the resident fight director for CSF and the DCPA for 15 years and stages action across the U.S., including the Utah Shakespeare Festival and the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. As an actor Geoffrey has appeared with the DCPA Theatre Company (Hamlet, Richard III, Othello, Eventide, Superior Donuts), CSF (Mercutio, Iago, Benedick, Achilles) and numerous professional Colorado theatres. He teaches for the University of Denver and is a former instructor for the National Theatre Conservatory. 

    GOD (Playwright) is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere. His previous novels, The Old Testament, The New Testament, and The Koran, have sold an impressive five billion copies, with the first two in particular coming to be collectively regarded as something of a bible of their field. An Act Of God will be his first work written directly for the stage, although his 1827 comic romp The Book of Mormon was recently adapted into a successful Broadway musical. God lives in heaven with his wife, Ruth, and their children, Zach, Jesus, and Kathy.

    DAVID JAVERBAUM (Playwright) is a 13-time Emmy-winning former head writer and executive producer of “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.” He is the co-author of that show’s bestsellers America: The Book and Earth: The Book, and the sole author of An Act of God: A Memoir and What to Expect When You’re Expected: A Fetus’s Guide to the First Three Trimesters. His recently retired Twitter account @TheTweetOfGod has more than 2.3 million followers. He is also a Tony-nominated lyricist whose collaborations with songwriter Adam Schlesinger include the Broadway musical Cry-Baby, the Grammy-winning songs for Stephen Colbert’s Christmas special The Greatest Gift of All and Neil Patrick Harris’ opening number for the 2011 Tony Awards, “Broadway Is Not Just for Gays Anymore.” He created the talk show “No, You Shut Up!” with Henson Studios for Fusion. He served as a writer-producer for “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” writing the opening to this year’s Tony’s. He is the co-creator with Chuck Lorre of “Disjointed,” an upcoming pot-themed television show for Netflix.

    STEVEN COLE HUGHES (Michael/understudy Gabriel) has spent eleven seasons as an actor with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company, appearing in Just Like Us, Pride and Prejudice, All My Sons, Blue/Orange, The Lonesome West, The Three Sisters, The Misanthrope, Scapin, Measure for Measure, Love’s Labor’s Lost, Hamlet and Tantalus. He has spent six seasons with Creede Repertory Theatre and three seasons with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Other theatres include Curious Theatre Company, Arvada Center, Theatreworks, Theatre Aspen, Gulfshore Playhouse, Baltimore Centerstage, Portland Center Stage and Ensemble Studio Theatre. He has appeared on television in “Law & Order” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”  He has an MFA in Acting from the Denver Center’s National Theatre Conservatory. 

    ERIK SANDVOLD (Gabriel) is an honors graduate of Northwestern University, Erik Sandvold has frequently performed major roles with the leading theatre companies in Colorado, including the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company, the Arvada Center, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and Curious Theatre Company, where he’s an Artistic Council Member.  Notable roles include:  the title roles in Nicholas Nickleby and the world-premiere musical Ichabod!; Lloyd Crowder in the world-premiere of Plainsong; and Mason Marzac in Take Me Out, for which he was named Top Actor by the Rocky Mountain News and awarded The Denver Post’s Ovation Award for Best Comic Performance.  He also won Ovation Awards for Best Solo Performance for playing all 36 characters in I Am My Own Wife and for the world premiere of Bubs: A One Man Musical, which he also performed at Fringe NYC in 2009. Erik has narrated more than 1000 books for the Library of Congress, including the Harry Potter series. 

    STEVEN J. BURGE (understudy God/Michael), a multi-award winning character actor, landed in Denver following national tours of …And Then They Came for Me and A Christmas Carol. Since making his Colorado debut in 2003 as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, Steven has appeared on stages throughout the Denver-Metro area including the Denver Center, Curious Theatre, the Arvada Center, Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret, and many others. He was the recipient of The Denver Post Ovation Award for Best Solo Performance in Fully Committed (Aurora Fox), a one-man show in which Steven portrayed more than 30, different characters. The piece also earned him a Henry Award nomination, Westword’s Best of Denver Award and an Out Front Colorado Marlow Award. Steven has also been recognized for his work in Contrived Ending (Buntport Theatre) and Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead (Avenue Theatre).

  • Reinvented 'Cabaret' returns as a seismic warning

    by John Moore | Aug 15, 2016

    Cabaret 800

    Randy Harrison as the Emcee and the 2016 national touring cast of Roundabout Theatre Company’s 'Cabaret.' Photo by Joan Marcus.


    By Sheryl Flatow
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    The audible gasp followed by the deafening silence that often greets the final shattering moment of the national tour of Cabaret is a testament to the force of the invigorating Roundabout Theatre Company’s new touring production.

    Written by John Kander (music), Fred Ebb (lyrics), and Joe Masteroff (book), Cabaret has long been recognized as one of the best and most important musicals of the 20th  century. But if the original production was groundbreaking, Roundabout’s version, directed by Sam Mendes and choreographed and co-directed by Rob Marshall, is seismic.   

    Regardless of how well you think you know Cabaret, nothing quite prepares you for this decadent, riveting, devastating production, which Todd Haimes, Roundabout’s artistic director, calls a “reinvention” of the classic musical.       

    First presented by Roundabout in 1998, the Mendes-Marshall staging won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, ran for 2,377 performances and made a star of its Emcee, Alan Cumming, much as the original Hal Prince production made a star of Joel Grey. And the show’s directors caught the attention of Hollywood. Mendes would go on to win  the 2000 Oscar for Best Director for his first film, the Academy Award-winning American Beauty, and Marshall was nominated as Best Director in 2003 for his first film, the Academy Award-winning Chicago.

    In 2014, a decade after Cabaret’s final à bientôt,” Roundabout brought the production back to Broadway and then sent it on the road as part of the company’s 50th anniversary celebration. “This production changed musical theater,” says Haimes.It gave us actors doubling as the orchestra and an environmental musical. I brought the show back because I thought a new generation should see the work that Sam and Rob did, which is truly seminal.”

    Willkommen to Berlin, 1929, and to the  Kit Kat Klub, a cabaret that serves as a reflection of the Weimar Republic as it plunges toward Nazism. The downward spiral is mirrored in the show’s two doomed love stories. The first is between Sally Bowles, a British singer with limited talent who performs at the club, and Clifford Bradshaw, a bisexual American writer. The other romance is between Fräulein Schneider, who runs a boardinghouse, and Herr Schultz, a German-Jewish shopkeeper.

    "I first knew Cabaret from the movie, and I was astonished to discover the stage  show is quite different,” says Mendes. “It was a much more complex piece of work than the movie, and it had many more songs. In fact, it has one of the greatest scores in the history of musical theater, with songs such as ‘Cabaret,’ ‘If You Could See Her Through My Eyes,’ and ‘Willkommen.’ However, a score with nothing to say is only half a musical. What Hal Prince did was to create a great piece about the rise of Nazism and the rise of any kind of repressive regime. Cabaret is a great piece of theater because it says something about racism, about the intersection of politics and private life – how it’s impossible for Sally Bowles to live the way she attempts to live in that political environment. It refutes the people who think like she does, who say about politics, ‘What does that have to do with us?’ The truth is, it has everything to do with us.”

    Mendes initially directed the show in 1993 at the 250-seat Donmar Warehouse in London, which he turned into a nightclub. He chose to have the ensemble double as musicians, unsure at the outset how that concept would work.

    “Making the ensemble the musicians helped the notion that it was the nightclub putting on the show,” he says. “Everything is done contained within the framework of the Kit Kat Klub. It’s not just that the actors sing and dance and act and play instruments.  They also move the furniture and watch the show. It’s suffused with a kind of home-made energy that comes directly from a multi-talented cast, which you can only get in the theater. It’s not spectacle in the traditional sense, but I think it proves how little spectacle you need to put on a great show.”   

    Like the characters in the show, the audience has so much fun for most of the first act that their eyes are closed to the tawdriness and unseemliness in front of them. That is due to the aforementioned great score – which includes three songs that were written for the film: “Mein Herr,” “Maybe This Time” and “Money” – the inspired staging, and the Emcee, who, Mendes says, “governs the entire show and dictates the rhythm of the evening.” The character has been completely revamped, vamp being the operative word. He invites members of the audience to come onstage and dance with him. He’s a pansexual seducer; insidiously charming, sexy, raunchy, impudent, flirty, mischievous and unsettling. He’s onstage for most of the show; when he’s not in a scene, he’s often lurking in the shadows.  

    And the shadows truly begin to descend at the end of the first act, with the disturbing “Tomorrow Belongs to Me.” The numbers in the second act acknowledge the bigotry, the demagoguery, and the ignorance that are permeating Germany. “If You Could See Her” is sung by the Emcee to a performer wearing a gorilla suit, and contains the chilling last line, “If you could see her through my eyes, she wouldn’t look Jewish at all.” There is also the haunting “I Don’t Care Much,” which was unused in the original production but added to a 1987 Broadway revival and sung by the Emcee. It’s the only number that gives the audience a glimpse of the person behind the façade, who is aware that the roof is caving in. And when that collapse occurs, it stuns the audience.

    Roundabout Theatre Company's Cabaret
    Photos from the new national touring production of 'Cabaret.' To see more, click on the image above. Photos by Joan Marcus.


    “Even this time around, when many people in the audience were already familiar with the production, it was like they were in shock after the final moment,” says Haimes. 

    Cabaret is based on Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories and the play it inspired, I Am a Camera by John Van Druten. Prince wrote in a memoir that what attracted him and his colleagues to the material was “the parallel between the spiritual bankruptcy of Germany in the 1920s and our country in the 1960s.”  On the first day of rehearsals, Prince showed the cast a photo of a group of angry, young, Aryan-looking men, “snarling at the camera like a pack of hounds.” He asked the actors where and when the photo was taken. Although the image appeared to be a snapshot in time from 1928 Germany, it was, in fact, a picture of students in Chicago protesting school integration that appeared in Life magazine in 1966.

    The theme of the show is as timely and urgent now as it was 50 years ago, and probably will be 50 years from now. “The world today is such a mess,” says Masteroff. “And when you understand what one man did to a sophisticated, intelligent country like Germany, then you wonder what could happen anywhere. It’s really kind of a warning.”

    Cabaret: Ticket information

    CabaretCome hear some of the most memorable songs in theatre history, including "Cabaret," "Willkommen" and "Maybe This Time." Leave your troubles outside — life is beautiful at Cabaret.
    • Sept. 27-Oct. 9
    • Buell Theatre
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

  • 'Phantom' return marks Buell’s 25th anniversary

    by John Moore | Aug 11, 2016



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

    Buell Theatre history

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Buell Theatre: A timeline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Phantom of the Opera: Ticket information

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

    Photo gallery: The Phantom of the Opera

    The Phantom of the Opera

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

    Phantom of the Opera

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

  • Video: Caveman Cody explains it all for you

    by John Moore | Aug 10, 2016


    Durango native Cody Lyman has been entertaining audiences in the one-man comedy Defending the Caveman for 13 years, and he has returned to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' Garner-Galleria Theatre for another run through Aug. 28. Without taking sides, Lyman discusses the ongoing battle for understanding between the sexes and the ways men and women relate to each other.

    "The only prerequisite you need to enjoy this show," he tells the DCPA NewsCenter in the video above, "is to have loved someone enough to have been completely frustrated by them at some point."

    Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter

    Defending the Caveman: Ticket information
    When: Through Aug. 28
    Where: At the Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets,
    Written by: Rob Becker
    Performed by: Cody Lyman
    Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    To learn more, go to the show's official web page

    Previous NewsCenter coverage:

    From 2015: Caveman Cody on smelting ... a baby named Chewbaca   
    And here's our 2013 interview with Cody Lyman

    Defending the Caveman Cody Lyman. Photo by Michael Brosilow
    Cody Lyman. Photo by Michael Brosilow.
  • Single tickets to 2016-17 DCPA shows go onsale Aug. 15

    by John Moore | Aug 09, 2016

    Laura Michelle Kelly. Finding Neverland. Photo by Carol Rosegg
    Laura Michelle Kelly from the Original Broadway cast of 'Finding Neverland,' which comes to Denver this December. Photo by Carol Rosegg.


    Tickets for the DCPA's 2016-17 Broadway, Theatre Company, Cabaret and Off-Center shows will become available to the general public at 10 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 15.

    The full listing of the more than 30 productions available for purchase on Aug. 15 are listed below. Tickets can be purchased on-site at the Denver Center Ticket Office (inside the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex 14th and Curtis streets), online at denvercenter.org, or by phone at 303-893-4100.

    Frankenstein. Artwork by Kyle Malone. In addition, enrollment will open at the same time for all Fall and Winter Education classes.

    How to subscribe to the Broadway or Theatre Company seasons

    Please note that the on-sale date for the pre-Broadway debut of Frozen will be announced at a later time. Hamilton is on the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ 2017-18 Broadway subscription series and thus, tickets for that engagement are not yet available. Information about how to purchase groups and single tickets will be announced at a later time.

    As part of the single-ticket on-sale event, the DCPA will be luring all seven Pokestops inside the Complex from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pokemon trainers will have the chance to catch ‘em all while in line to buy tickets for their favorite show.

    2016-17 Shows

    Defending the Caveman

    Garner Galleria

    Aug. 3-28, 2016

    The Phantom of the Opera

    Buell

    Aug. 25-Sept. 11, 2016

    The Glass Menagerie

    Ricketson

    Sept. 9-Oct. 16, 2016

    Roundabout Theatre Company’s Cabaret

    Buell

    Sept. 27-Oct. 9, 2016

    Frankenstein

    Stage

    Sept. 30-Oct. 30, 2016

    Cult Following: Debates

    Jones

    Oct. 7-8, 2015

    An Act of God

    Garner Galleria

    Oct. 15, 2016-March 12, 2017

    David Sedaris

    Seawell Ballroom

    Nov. 2-3, 2016

    A Christmas Carol

    Stage

    Nov. 25-Dec. 24, 2016

    The SantaLand Diaries

    Jones

    Nov. 25-Dec. 24, 2016

    Jersey Boys

    Buell

    Nov. 9-13, 2016

    The Hip Hop Nutcracker

    Buell

    Nov. 20, 2016

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch

    Buell

    Dec. 6-11, 2016

    Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer: The Musical

    Buell

    Dec. 16-18, 2016

    Finding Neverland

    Buell

    Dec. 20, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017

    Fun Home

    Ellie

    Jan. 10-22, 2017

    The Book of Will

    Ricketson

    Jan. 13-Feb 26, 2017

    The Christians

    Stage

    Jan. 27-Feb. 26, 2017

    Two Degrees

    Jones

    Feb. 3-March 12, 2017

    Motown The Musical

    Buell

    Feb. 15-19, 2017

    Circus 1903 – The Golden Age of Circus

    Buell

    Feb. 21-26, 2017

    Rain – A Tribute to The Beatles

    The Ellie

    March 2-3, 2017

    An American in Paris

    Buell

    March 8-19, 2017

    Travis Wall’s Shaping Sound: After the Curtain

    The Ellie

    March 18-19, 2017

    Kinky Boots

    Buell

    March 21-26, 2017

    Disgraced

    Ricketson

    March 31-May 7, 2017

    Hal Holbrook: Mark Twain Tonight!

    Buell

    April 1, 2017

    MAMMA MIA! Farewell Tour

    Buell

    April 11-16, 2017

    The Secret Garden

    Stage

    April 21-May 28, 2017

    Cult Following & SCRIPTprov TM

    Jones

    April 28 and May 12, 2017

    Cult Following: Rated G

    Jones

    April 29 and May 13, 2017

    The Illusionists – Live From Broadway

    The Ellie

    May 19-21, 2017

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    The Ellie

    May 30-June 18, 2017

    DragOn

    Garner Galleria

    June 1-25, 2017



    Tickets and Subscriptions

    Tickets are available now to subscribers online at denvercenter.org/subscribe. Subscribers enjoy free ticket exchanges, payment plans, priority offers to Broadway and student shows, discounted extra tickets, a dedicated VIP hotline, free events including talkbacks and receptions, and the best seats at the best prices.

    Patrons between the ages of 18-30 are invited to join the Radvantage membership program, which grants access to specially-priced tickets to participating Broadway, Theatre Company, Cabaret and Off-Center shows. Ticket prices start at $12. For more information, please visit denvercenter.org/Radvantage.

    Education

    DCPA Education Master Class. Photo by John Moore.
    Student actor Curtiss Johns culminated a recent DCPA Education Master Class with a performance of 'Macbeth.' Photo by John Moore.


    The DCPA offers a wide variety of classes for the budding theatre artist at every age and any skill level. For more information and a complete class schedule, visit denvercenter.org/education.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    Phantom of the Opera tickets go on-sale
    Broadway’s Hamilton is heading to Denver in 2017-18
    2016-17 Broadway season: Frozen, Fun Home, Finding Neverland and more
    2016-17 Theatre Company season: Two world premieres, return to classics 

    Video: 2016-17 Broadway Season Announcement:




    Video: 2016-17 Theatre Company Season Announcement:
  • First Folio: World's second-most important book heading to Boulder

    by John Moore | Aug 05, 2016

    First Folio Shakespeare Boulder

    Theatregoers who are intrigued by the upcoming world premiere of the DCPA Theatre Company’s The Book of Will should be interested in a new public exhibition on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library coming to Boulder.

    First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare will be displayed from Aug. 9-31 at the University of Colorado Art Museum in Boulder. CU has been honoring the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death throughout the year with more than 40 events and exhibitions.

    Arguably the most influential book in history after the Bible, the First Folio includes 36 Shakespeare plays, 18 of which had never before been printed. Without the First Folio, all of those plays – including Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, As You Like It and more – might have been lost forever. Compiled by two of his friends and fellow theater colleagues, the First Folio was published in 1623 – seven years after Shakespeare’s death.

    And wouldn’t you know, that story happens to be the focus of Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will, opening in January at the DCPA’s Ricketson Theatre. Gunderson recounts the trials and tribulations in getting Shakespeare’s plays published against all odds.

    Register for a First Folio viewing time in Boulder

    Actors John Heminges and Henry Condell, the two remaining founding members of Shakespeare’s original theatre company, realized after the Bard’s death that many of the texts were on the verge of being lost forever. In the play these two men, along with their wives and Heminges’ daughter Alice, decide to gather all of his plays and have them printed in a single volume. Sounds easy enough, but in those days contemporary plays were not yet considered literature. And, as a result, Shakespeare had not carefully preserved his manuscripts, many of which had already been lost or misplaced.

    “It’s a play about friendship, about brotherhood and sisterhood, and love and loss,” Gunderson says, “so it felt like a great story for theatre and of theatre.”

    Book of Will Lauren GundersonOn Aug. 9, the First Folio will be opened in Boulder to the most-quoted line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “To be or not to be.” The exhibit will explore Shakespeare’s impact, then and now, accompanied by digital content and interactive activities for all ages that will explore topics such as comic books, Elizabethan food, and the music, art and science of Shakespeare’s time.

    (Pictured: 'The Book of Will' was featured at the DCPA's 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. It was then chosen for a full production on the mainstage season next January. Photo by John More for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    “This touring exhibit is an opportunity to bring the campus’s expertise together with community talents and the creative energies of students to explore the world of Shakespeare,” said Deborah Hollis, an associate professor from University Libraries at CU-Boulder. “The citizens of Colorado will be in for a treat with musical, artistic and literary performances and public lectures.” 

    The exhibit will be of great interest to the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, which is this week wrapping up its 69th season.

    “The majority of the work produced by the Colorado Shakespeare Festival is from the First Folio, and we are thrilled at the prospect of having it on campus,” said Producing Artistic Director Timothy Orr.  “To be able to see the original source of our work, and learn more about it from our partnering campus colleagues, will be really exciting.”

    Thanks to the First Folio, generations have experienced Shakespeare’s lasting influence on language, culture, theater, music, education and more. There are 233 known copies in the world today, with 82 copies held by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

    A First Folio sold for $6.2 million in 2001 at Christie’s and another for $5.2 million in 2006 in London. It originally sold for 1 British pound (20 shillings) — about $200 today.

    “At the Folger Shakespeare Library, we’re looking forward to taking the books out of our vaults in 2016 and on the road,” said library Director Michael Witmore. “We’re excited to see the many different ways that communities across the country will be celebrating Shakespeare — in performances, poetry slams, lectures and more.”

    CU-Boulder collaborators who worked to bring the First Folio to campus include the Center for British and Irish Studies, the College of Music, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, CU Art Museum, University Libraries and the departments of English, History and Theatre and Dance.

    Register for a First Folio viewing time in Boulder

    The First Folio book tour has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and by support from Google.org and Vinton and Sigrid Cerf.

    Other highlights of “Shakespeare at CU”:

    • Mysterium Tremendum: Collecting Curiosity (Aug. 9-Dec. 17, CU Art Museum) is an installation by Matt Barton in collaboration with Scott Johnson inspired by the arrival of Shakespeare’s First Folio at CU-Boulder. The installation celebrates the important roles curiosity and wonder play in the pursuit of knowledge from the Renaissance to today and includes a “cabinet of curiosities” featuring materials from University Libraries’ Special Collections & Archives, CU-Boulder departments and research centers.
    • Speak the Speech: Colorado’s All-Stars Perform Shakespeare’s All-Star Speeches (Aug. 25, 5 p.m., CU Art Museum).
    • Shakespeare and the Stars (Aug. 26, 7 p.m., Fiske Planetarium) combines passages from Shakespeare’s texts referring to the heavens, “the great globe itself,” with scientific explanations of the celestial phenomena against the backdrop of the spectacular Fiske Planetarium.
    • “Staging Shakespeare in a War Zone: Values and Consequences” (Aug. 29, 5-7 p.m., University Theatre) is a lecture by Qais Akbar Omar, author of A Night in the Emperor’s Garden.

    Our video interview with 'The Book of Will' playwright Lauren Gunderson.


    5_book_of_will_030716The Book of Will

    By Lauren Gunderson (DCPA Theatre Company Commission)
    Jan. 13-Feb. 26, 2017
    Ricketson Theatre
    Without William Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have literary masterpieces like Romeo and Juliet. But without Henry Condell and John Heminges, we would have lost half of Shakespeare’s plays forever. After the death of their friend and mentor, the two actors are determined to compile the first folio and preserve the words that shaped their lives. They’ll just have to borrow, beg and band together to get it done. Shakespeare-lover Lauren Gunderson weaves a comic and heartfelt story of the characters behind the collected stories we know so well.



    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Book of Will
    Shakespeare in a season without Shakespeare
    Read our interview with playwright Lauren Gunderson



    Tickets to The Book of Will

    New and renewing subscribers have the first opportunity to reserve tickets. Tickets are available to subscribers online at denvercenter.org by calling 303-893-6030 or 303-893-4100. Subscribers enjoy free ticket exchanges, payment plans, priority offers to Broadway and student shows, discounted extra tickets, a dedicated VIP hotline, free events including talkbacks and receptions, and the best seats at the best prices, guaranteed. A single ticket on-sale date will be announced at a later time.

  • Video: DCPA's high-school playwriting winner is staged

    by John Moore | Aug 03, 2016


    The DCPA's third annual year-long Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition culminated June 17 with two public performances of Kendra Knapp’s Sonder. The playwright is a recent graduate of Valor Christian High School.

    Sonder. Photo by John Moore. Last fall, DCPA Education staff members conducted 145 classroom workshops for 3,100 Colorado students. That resulted in 212 one-act play submissions from young writers all over the state. A team of professional adjudicators determined 10 semifinalists. Of those, three were selected to have their plays workshopped by the DCPA Education staff and read by professional actors at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit in February.

    Video: Finalist readings at the New Play Summit

    From there, Sonder was selected for a fully staged  production. The video above takes you there. Interviewees include Knapp, Sonder Director Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski, DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous, and actors Avery Dell and Desmond Jackson (pictured above).

    Sonder follows a community of young people who are seeking real connection, but from the safety and distance of the internet.

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

    Our complete 2015-16 Student Playwriting photo gallery:

    2016 Student Playwriting Competition
    Photos from rehearsal through performances of the three finalist readings at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. To see more, click the 'forward' arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of the Student Playwriting Competition:
    Video, pic, story: Stirring the passions of student writers ... and future engineers
    2016 finalists named for Regional High School Playwriting Competition
    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    Denver Center launches statewide high-school playwriting initiative
    Direct link to our Flickr photo gallery

    Our complete countdown of 2016 semifinalists:
    No. 1: Jafei Pollitt, Denver School of the Arts
    No. 2: Jessica Wood, Denver Christian High School
    No. 3: Kristine Guo, Peak to Peak Charter School
    No. 4: Gabrielle Moore, D'Evelyn High School
    No. 5: Ashley Wright and Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School
    No. 6: Kalina Gallardo, Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy
    No. 7: Kiera Eriksen-McAuliffe, Denver School of the Arts
    No. 8: Stephanie Kiel and Mady McGraw, Chatfield Senior High School
    No. 9: Kendra R. Knapp, Valor Christian High School
    No. 10: Jacob Kendrick, Peak to Peak Charter School

    Sonder playwright Kendra Knapp. Photo by John Moore.

    "Sonder" playwright Kendra Knapp. Photo by John Moore.
  • The guns come out in Moore's 'Waiting for Obama'

    by John Moore | Jul 29, 2016

    Waiting for Obama. Photo by John Moore
    From 'Waiting for Obama.' Photo by John Moore

    DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore, former longtime theatre critic at The Denver Post, has written a play called Waiting for Obama that is an official selection for the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival. After two weeks of “open rehearsal run-throughs” at Buntport Theatre in Denver through Aug. 7 (and one-night only at the Bas Bleu Theatre in Fort Collins on Aug. 1), Waiting for Obama will be presented five times at the Fringe Festival between Aug. 12-15 at New York’s 14th Street Y Theatre.

    The following is a Q&A with the playwright conducted by New York theatre journalist David Kennerley:

    David Kennerley: The Fringe has a tradition of tackling prickly, topical subjects well ahead of mainstream theater. In the past, plays have addressed terrorism, marriage equality, transgender issues, and this year it’s blacks and whites and cops and guns. What is it about the Fringe that makes this possible?

    John Moore: I often wrote about this very subject while I was the theatre critic at The Denver Post. In the mainstream theatre, it typically takes even a sure-fire new play at least two years to get read, liked, scheduled, developed and finally staged. As a result, live theatre can often seem, well ... two years behind the times. The Fringe encourages a different kind of creative process where artists can explore what is happening in the moment, go with it, and have it seen much more quickly. With the Fringe, there are only six months between submission and staging. And in that short time, repulsively, the issue of gun violence in America has grown only more numbingly timely and topical. I keep hoping I’m done keeping my script up-to-date, but the daily headlines keep sending me back to the keyboard. 

    Waitig for Obama David Kennerley: Can you briefly summarize Waiting for Obama?

    John Moore: Waiting for Obama is the story of one Colorado family that is convinced the President is coming for their guns. And in the world of this play, they just might be right. But while the story is propelled by one of the most divisive issues of our time, it focuses on a recognizable family that, like so many others, is deeply divided by polarizing political beliefs.

    David Kennerley: What inspired you to write the piece?

    John Moore: Brian Freeland, the leading maker of avant-garde theatre in Denver for the past 20 years, initially challenged me to write a piece exploring the gun culture in America. I come from a large Catholic family of eight kids, and I wanted to better understand one of my five brothers' deeply held beliefs. He is a Christian conservative and steadfast proponent of the Second Amendment - a viewpoint not often taken seriously in the theatre. He's also my longest, closest friend. We just don't agree on much of anything anymore. As a journalist by trade, I was not interested in writing a one-sided screed. I wanted a fair fight. So I made him my protagonist. He’s the one who is “Waiting for Obama.” The title came to me pretty easily. It is inspired both by Waiting for Godot, naturally, as well as the NRA’s battlecry since the day he first took office that “Obama is coming for your guns.” I hear that over and over. And so I just thought, “Well then … what if he did?”

    David Kennerley: What are the central themes of the piece?

    Waiting for Obama quoteJohn Moore: The easy answer to that question is: “What are the themes of Thornton Wilder?” We have a simple framing device that acknowledges that everyone who enters the 14th Street Y Theatre to see this show, or perform in it, is part of a community of humans who recognize that gun violence is a seriously troubling issue in this country, and we have to start somewhere. And so for 90 minutes, we are all of us just people getting together in a room trying to come to a better understanding about it all.  Because that’s just not happening anywhere else right now. Not on the radio. Not in bars. Not in our living rooms. 

    We have never been more evenly ideologically divided over such an extended period of time as we have over these past 30 years. Just look at the closeness of every presidential election since 1988. Neither party has earned a mandate, and so no losing party has fallen far enough to even consider capitulation or compromise. And we are seeing the consequences of obstinance play out in millions of fractured families every day. We aren’t talking to each other about the important issues that divide us anymore. We’re either shouting at each other - or, worse, not talking to each other at all. Not about abortion. Not about the death penalty. Not about guns. We are turning away from our blood families and cocooning ourselves instead around our “chosen families” – those who adhere to our same moral, social and political beliefs. That's consequential. And that makes for some seriously tense holiday dinners.
     

    David Kennerley: The tragic loss of lives at the hands of gunmen has been covered extensively in the media. What does your piece add to the conversation?

    John Moore: None of these ongoing gun sprees appears to be changing minds on the gun issue. Not a one. Instead, it is making both sides dig in. And if Sandy Hook didn’t change people’s minds on little issues like background checks, then why even bother to talk about the big stuff, like limiting semi-automatic gun sales? You have your beliefs, and I have mine. You have your facts, and I have mine. I believe if we can’t talk about these polarizing issues in our own living rooms for fear of a fight breaking out, then we have to be able to talk about them in a theatre. That’s why theatre exists. There’s this very meta moment in the play when the sweet grandma says: “It’s easier to make an audience think about a political issue when you let them develop a human connection with the characters.” I am a lifelong journalist, and I love stats. But one thing is for sure: No one gives a damn about statistics in a theatre.

    David Kennerley: What message do you hope others will take away after seeing the piece?

    John Moore: My hopes are very modest – otherwise I would be a hypocrite. None of us expects to change a single mind about gun ownership through the course of our little play. Instead, I’ll settle for starting a dialogue. If audiences go for a pint afterward and just talk about the play for 10 minutes – even if only to say they hated it, and that it was a waste of time, I’ll be totally OK with that.

    David Kennerley is a New York-based journalist specializing in theater for more than a decade. His work has been seen in outlets such as Metro New York, BravoTV.com, AfterElton.com, Genre Magazine and Gay City News.

    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.

    Waiting for Obama Cast

    From left: Brett Aune, Amelia Corrada, Laurence Curry, Chris Kendall, Jessical Robblee, Leslie O'Carroll and Luke Sorge.

    Waiting for Obama: "Open Rehearsal" runthroughs

    Presented by Wild Blindness Productions in partnership with the Bas Bleu Theatre

    • July 29-30 (Friday through Saturday), 7:30 p.m. start, Buntport Theatre, 717 Lipan St., Denver
    • July 31 (Sunday), 2 p.m. start, Buntport Theatre, 717 Lipan St., Denver
    • Aug. 1 (Monday), 7:30 p.m. start, Bas Bleu Theatre, 401 Pine St., Fort Collins
    • Aug. 4-6 (Thursday through Saturday), 7:30 p.m. start, Buntport Theatre, 717 Lipan St., Denver
    • Aug. 7 (Sunday), 2 p.m. start, Buntport Theatre, 717 Lipan St., Denver

    Free. No reservation necessary ... but seating is limited.

    What are "Open Rehearsals"?

    Waiting for Obama is being developed in Denver for its opening at the New York Fringe on Aug. 12. In the meantime, the work is ongoing. But Denver audiences are welcome to drop in for free, scheduled runthroughs of the play. You should not expect polished, completed performances. Depending on which night you attend, actors may call for lines. Lights, sound and other technical elements may not yet be added. If necessary, the director may call for a stop to fix a problematic moment. Think of this as being let in on a window to the creative process.

    Waiting for Obama: New York Fringe Festival performances 

    • Friday, Aug. 12, 5 p.m.
    • Saturday, Aug. 13, 2 p.m.
    • Saturday, Aug. 13, 9:15 p.m.
    • Sunday, Aug. 14, 8:30 p.m.
    • Monday, Aug. 15, 6:45 p.m.

    All New York performances at the 14th Street Y Theatre.  TICKETS

  • August: Colorado theatre openings

    by John Moore | Jul 28, 2016

    Photo above: The Phantom of the Opera Original Touring Company performs "Masquerade." Photo by Alastair Muir. The new musical opens in Denver Aug. 25.


    NOTE: At the start of each month, the DCPA NewsCenter offers an updated list of all upcoming Colorado theatre openings. Companies are encouraged to submit future listings and production photos at least two weeks in advance to the DCPA NewsCenter at jmoore@dcpa.org.



    Just because August is the lightest month of the year for Colorado theatre openings doesn't mean it is the quietest. In fact, even with only 19 new openings, audiences will have a boggling 75 theatregoing choices all over the state this August.

    While all of the many summer repertory company companies wind up their seasons, plenty of new shows will bow in August, and the emerging theme is ghoulish fun: Phantoms, Murder ballads, Toxic Avengers and more... and it's not even October yet.

    The DCPA will be busy with three offerings: The highly anticipated new national touring production of The Phantom of the Opera; the return of the popular one-man comedy Defending the Caveman to the Garner Galleria Theatre, and the final (really!) days of the long extended immersive experiment Sweet & Lucky at a RiNo warehouse through Aug. 7.

    The Barth Hotel returns with its annual summer theatre offering in its lobby, this time the gentle comedy The Last Romance starring big-shots Billie McBride, Jim Hunt and Anne Oberbroeckling. All proceeds benefit Senior Housing Options, a local non-profit organization that provides quality affordable housing and services for 500 adults in Colorado.

    Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' annual summer Shakespeare offering is Antony and Cleopatra, performed under a tent on the picturesque Rock Ledge Ranch at the base of the Garden of the Gods.

    And at the end of the month, weird and unconventional and fun stuff will be popping up all over Boulder at the 9th Annual Boulder International Fringe Festival. For example, The Band of Toughs (still the best-named theatre company in Colorado) promise "intrigue and exile, s’mores, tasty beer and live music" when it offers its take on Shakespeare's As You Like It.

    Here are all your options in one handy list:  

    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:

    (Submit your listings to jmoore@dcpa.org)

    July 28-Aug. 20: Senior Housing Options’ The Last Romance
    At The Barth Hotel, 1514 17th St., seniorhousingoptions.org

    July 28-Aug. 20: TheatreWorks' Antony and Cleopatra
    At the Rock Ledge Ranch Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org DIRECTIONS

    The Addams Family, Little Theatre of the Rockies. July 28-31: Little Theatre of the Rockies' The Addams Family (pictured right)
    At the Langworthy Theatre on the University of Northern Colorado campus, Greeley. 970-351-4849 or ticket information

    July 28-Aug. 7: CenterStage's First Date
    Louisville Center for the Arts, 801 Grant St., 303-665-0955 or cctlouisville.org

    July 29-Oct. 2: Jesters Dinner Theatre's Oklahoma
    224 Main St., Longmont, 303-682-9980 or jesterstheatre.com

    July 29-Sept. 4: Vintage Theatre ‘s Frankie and Johnnie in the Claire de Lune
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    July 29-Aug. 24: Breckenridge Backstage's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    121 S. Ridge St., Breckenridge, 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    Aug 26-Sept. 4: Breckenridge Backstage's Hairspray
    At the Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave., Breckenridge, 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    Aug. 3-28: DCPA Cabaret's Defending the Caveman
    At The Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Aug. 4-20: 5th Wall Productions' The Greater Good
    At the Three Leaches Theater (Spark Theater) 985 Sante Fe Drive, ticket information

    Aug. 6-14: Visionbox's Danny and the Deep Blue Sea

    At Skylite Station, 910 Santa Fe Drive, ticket information

    Aug. 12-Sept. 3: Equinox Theatre Company's The Toxic Avenger: The Musical
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinoxtheatredenver.com

    Aug. 12-Sept. 4: Germinal Stage-Denvers The Road to Mecca
    At the 73rd Avenue Playhouse, 7287 Lowell Blvd., 303-455-7108 or germinalstage.com

    Aug. 12-27: The Millibo Art Theatre’s Circus of the Night
    1626 S. Tejon St. Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, themat.org

    Aug. 19-Sept. 17: Creede Repertory Theatre's Private Lives
    124 Main St., Creede, 81130, 719-658-2540 or go to creederep.org

    Aug. 19-28: Longmont Theatre Company's I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change 513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or longmont’s home page

    Aug. 25-Sep 11: DCPA Broadway's The Phantom of the Opera
    At the Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Aug. 26-Sept. 25: The Edge Theatre Company's Murder Ballad
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com

    Aug. 26-Sept. 18: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's First Date
    At the Outlets at Silverthorne, 246-X Rainbow Drive, Silverthorne, 970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org

     Aug. 27-Sept. 24: Spotlight Theatre's Suddenly Last Summer
    At the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    The Addams Family, Little Theatre of the Rockies.

    The Boulder International Fringe Festival is back for its ninth year. Pictured above: Gemma Wilcox in her one-woman show, 'The Wallaby Way.' Photo by Alive Studios. INFO

    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:

    Through July 31: DCPA Broadway's Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, Buell Theatre  
    At the Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Through July 31: Evergreen Players’ The Addams Family
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.org

    Through July 31: StageDoor Theatre''s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
    25797 Conifer Road, Conifer, 303-838-0809 or  StageDoorTheatre.org  

    Through July 31: Edge Theatre's I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com

    Through July 31: Longmont Theatre Company's All’s Well That Ends Well
    At various locations, 303-772-5200 or longmont’s home page

    Through July 31: Millibo Art Theatre's Ice Cream Theatre
    1626 S. Tejon St. Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, themat.org

    Through July 31: Inspire Creative's Grease
    At the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Avenue, Parker, 303-805-6800 or parkerarts.org

    Through Aug. 6: Colorado Shakespeare Festival's Equivocation
    On the University of Colorado's mainstage theatre, CU-Boulder campus, 303-492-0554 or colorado shakes’ home page

    Through Aug. 6: Colorado Shakespeare Festival's Troilus and Cressida
    At the Mary Rippon Amphitheatre on the  CU-Boulder campus, 303-492-0554 or colorado shakes’ home page

    Through Aug. 7: Off-Center's Sweet & Lucky
    4120 Brighton Boulevard, 303-893-4100 or sweetandluckydenver.com READ OUR STORY

    Through Aug. 7: Wild Blindness and Bas Bleu Theatre's Waiting for Obama (open rehearsals)
    At Buntport Theater, 721 Lipan St., 720-231-7547 (July 28-31, Aug. 4-7) INFO
    At Bas Bleu Theatre, 401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 720-231-7547 (Aug. 1) INFO

    Through Aug. 7: Colorado Shakespeare Festival's The Comedy of Errors
    At the Mary Rippon Amphitheatre on the CU-Boulder campus, 303-492-0554 or colorado shakes’ home page

    Through Aug. 7: Central City Opera's Tosca
    124 Eureka St., Central City, centralcityopera.org or 303-292-6700

    Through July 29: StageDoor Theatre's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
    27357 Conifer Road, Conifer, 303-886-2819, 800-838-3006 or stagedoor’s home page

    Through July 31: Millibo Art Theatre's Ice Cream Theatre
    1626 S. Tejon St. Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, themat.org

    Through Aug. 6: Central City Opera's The Ballad of Baby Doe
    124 Eureka St., Central City, centralcityopera.org or 303-292-6700

    Through Aug. 7: Colorado Shakespeare Festival's Cymbeline (indoors)
    On the University of Colorado's mainstage theatre, CU-Boulder campus, 303-492-0554 or colorado shakes’ home page

    Through Aug. 7: Phamaly Theatre Company's Evita
    At the University of Denver's Newman Center,  2344 E. Iliff Ave., 303-871-7720 or
    phamaly's home page

    Through Aug. 7: Springs Ensemble Theatre's Titus Andronicus
    1903 E. Cache La Poudre St., Colorado Springs, 719-357-3080 or springsensembletheatre.org

    Through Aug. 13: Spotlight Theatre's Night Watch
    At the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    Through Aug. 13: Creede Repertory Theatre's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
    124 Main St., Creede, 81130, 719-658-2540 or go to creederep.org

    Through Aug. 13: Spotlight Theatre's No Sex Please, We're British!
    At the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com
    (Performed in repertory with Night Watch)

    The Big Bang. Spotlight Theatre. Photo Credit: Christine Fisk and DenverMind MediaThrough Aug. 14: Vintage Theatre and Spotlight Theatre's The Big Bang
    At Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com
    (Pictured right: Joe von Bokern and Ben Hilzer. Photo by Christine Fisk and DenverMind Media.)

    Through Aug. 14: Creede Repertory Theatre's The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence 
    124 Main St., Creede, 81130, 719-658-2540 or go to creederep.org

    Through Aug. 14: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Cabaret
    At the Outlets at Silverthorne, 246-X Rainbow Drive, Silverthorne, 970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org

    Through Aug. 15: Theatre Aspen's Dear Edwina
    In the Hurst Theatre, 470 Rio Grande Place, 844-706-7387 or theatreaspen.org

    Through Aug. 18: Creede Repertory Theatre's Kind of Red
    124 Main St., Creede, 81130, 719-658-2540 or go to creederep.org

    Through Aug. 19: Theatre Aspen's Buyer and Cellar
    In the Hurst Theatre, 470 Rio Grande Place, 844-706-7387 or theatreaspen.org

    Through Aug. 20: Theatre Aspen's Mamma Mia!
    In the Hurst Theatre  470 Rio Grande Place, 844-706-7387 or theatreaspen.org

    Miners Alley Playhouse's 'Little Shop of Horrors.' Photo by Cody SchuylerThrough Aug. 21: Miners Alley Playhouse's Little Shop of Horrors
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or map’s home page
    (Pictured right: Carer Edward Smith. Photo by Cody Schuyler.)

    Through Aug. 25: Thingamajig Theatre Company's Cabaret
    At the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, 2313 Eagle Drive, 970-731-7469 or pagosacenter.org

    Through Aug. 25: Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre’s Rock of Ages
    800 Grand Ave, Grand Lake, 970-627-3421 or rockymountainrep.com

    Through Aug. 26: Thingamajig Theatre Company's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
    Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, 2313 Eagle Drive, 970-731-7469 or pagosacenter.org

    Through Aug. 26: Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre’s The Little Mermaid
    800 Grand Ave, Grand Lake, 970-627-3421 or rockymountainrep.com

    Through Aug 26: Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre’s Death by Design
    Famous Performing Arts Center, 131 W Main St., Trinidad, 719-846-4765 or scrtheatre.com

    Through Aug. 27: Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre’s Titanic the Musical
    800 Grand Ave, Grand Lake, 970-627-3421 or rockymountainrep.com

    Through Aug. 27: Thin Air Theatre Company's Pippin
    139 E. Bennett Ave., Cripple Creek, 719-689-3247 or thinairtheatre.com

    Through Aug. 27: Thin Air Theatre Company's Darling of the Donkey Derby
    139 E. Bennett Ave., Cripple Creek, 719-689-3247 or thinairtheatre.com

    Through Aug. 28: Thingamajig Theatre Company's The Little Mermaid
    Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, 2313 Eagle Drive, 970-731-7469 or pagosacenter.org

    Through Aug. 28: Midtown Arts Center's Mary Poppins
    3750 S. Mason St., Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Through Aug. 28: Thingamajig Theatre Company's Always ... Patsy Cline
    At the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, 2313 Eagle Drive, 970-731-7469 or pagosacenter.org

    Through Sept. 2: Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre’s Almost Maine
    Famous Performing Arts Center, 131 W Main St., Trinidad, 719-846-4765 or scrtheatre.com

    Through Sept 3: Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre’s Little Women
    Famous Performing Arts Center, 131 W Main St., Trinidad, 719-846-4765 or scrtheatre.com

    Through Sept. 3: BDT Stage's Footloose
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Through Sept. 4: Creede Repertory Theatre's The History Room
    124 Main St., Creede, 81130, 719-658-2540 or go to creederep.org

    Through Sept 11: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's The Wizard Of Oz
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com 
    Curious New Voices Playwrights

    ONGOING, MONTHLY or ONE-TIME PROGRAMMING:

    ADAMS MYSTERY PLAYHOUSE
    Ongoing productions
    2406 Federal Blvd., Denver, 303-455-1848 or adamsmysteryplayhouse.co

    Band of Toughs' 'As You Like It." Boulder FringeBOULDER INTERNATIONAL FRINGE FESTIVAL
    Aug. 18-27: Various locations around Boulder. INFO
    (Pictured right: Band of Toughs' outdoor summer Shakespeare event at the Fringe is As You Like It. Photo by Jeff Goldberg.)

    BUNTPORT THEATRE

    July 29: Untitled at the Denver Art Museum
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    CENTRAL CITY OPERA
    July 28: The Impresario (Nomad Playhouse (Boulder)
    July 28: Musto’s Later the Same Evening (Pikes Peak Arts Center, Colorado Springs)
    July 30: Musto’s Later the Same Evening (at the Denver Art Museum)
    Aug. 3: The Impresario (Central City)
    Aug. 5: Musto’s Later the Same Evening (Central City)
    Information: centralcityopera.org or 303-292-6700

    COAL CREEK THEATRE OF LOUISVILLE
    Aug. 21: 9th Annual Front Range Playwrights' Showcase
    At Louisville Center for the Arts, 801 Grant St., 303-665-0955 or cctlouisville.org

    COLORADO SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
    July 31 only: Henry VI, Part 2
    An "Original Practices" presentation on the University of Colorado's mainstage theatre, CU-Boulder campus, 303-492-0554 or colorado shakes’ home page

    CURIOUS THEATRE
    July 29-30: Curious New Voices: Young Playwrights' readings
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curious’ home page

    DENVER ACTORS FUND PRESENTS ... FILM SERIES

    Aug. 22: Screening of The Wizard of Oz
    Pre-screening entertainment by cast of Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's The Wizard of Oz
    Hosted by Seth Caikowski
    Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 7301 S Santa Fe Drive, Littleton. TICKETS

    EVERGREEN PLAYERS
    Aug. 28-29: Epic Improv Comedy
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreen players’ home page

    ROUGH DRAUGHT PLAYWRIGHTS
    Aug. 23: Quarterly Theatrical Playground
    At the Walnut Room, 3131 Walnut St. INFO

    THE SOURCE THEATRE COMPANY

    Every third Monday: Monday! Monday! Monday! Cabaret
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org

    TOWN HALL ARTS CENTER
    Youth theatre schedule:
    Aug. 5, 7: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (performers are ages 13-18)
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

  • Ann Guilbert: Denver's next-door neighbor passes away

    by John Moore | Jul 26, 2016
    Remembering Ann Guilbert

    A photo retrospective of Ann Guilbert's stage work at the Denver Center. To see more, press the forward arrow on the image above.


    Ann Guilbert was best known in the 1960s as America’s next-door neighbor on The Dick Van Dyke Show. But over 11 years, she was Denver’s next-door neighbor, performing in 14 plays on multiple Denver Center stages.

    “Annie was absolutely typecast as the friendly neighbor,” said longtime DCPA Theatre Company stage manager Chris Ewing. “She would literally go around backstage asking people, ‘Do you need a cup of sugar?’ ”

    ann-guilbert-waiting-for-godot-160Guilbert, who played perky Millie Helper on the classic TV sit-com from 1961-66, died of cancer on June 14 in Los Angeles. She was 87.

    “She was a great lady,” said Jacqueline Antaramian, Guilbert's frequent acting partner in Denver. “Always with a kind heart, good humor, a gracious presence and a beautiful soul.“

    Guilbert (pronounced “Gilbert”) acknowledged and appreciated America’s recognition of her as Millie, Ewing said. “But she was so much more than that as a theatre person.” 

    Guilbert performed in several seminal DCPA productions between 1984-94. She played Dolly Levi in Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker play (a precursor to the musical Hello, Dolly!), Estragon opposite Kathleen M. Brady in a gender-bending Waiting for Godot, and Miss Helen in Athol Fugard’s The Road to Mecca. She also helped launch the Denver world premieres of two plays from Mark Harelik’s The Immigrant series, which the DCPA later developed into a musical.

    “She was the ultimate pro,” Ewing said. “She would come in with her lines memorized before the first rehearsal. As you might expect, she was also a natural comic, and she could break the tension in a room with a one-liner.”

    She was also, added former DCPA crew member Michelle Olguin, everyone’s favorite smoke buddy.

    Ann Guilbert Waiting for GodotKathleen M. Brady and Ann Guilbert in 'Waiting for Godot' at the DCPA in 1988.


    Guilbert’s final performance at the Denver Center was a personal and innovative retrospective of her life and career called Life Lines, directed and developed by Randal Myler. It was an evening of favorite poems that, when strung together, reflected a chronological tapestry of Guilbert’s life covering romances to childbirth to her life on the stage. It was an expansion of a Guilbert’s own teaching technique - she would often give her acting students poems and ask them to act them out.

    “I've been extremely lucky over the years to work with some fine, fine actresses, but none finer than Annie Guilbert,” Myler said. “On and off stage, Annie was truly remarkable. So full of life. We all loved her so much.”

    A year after Life Lines, Guilbert returned to Broadway in the comedy A Naked Girl on the Appian Way, starring Jill Clayburgh and Richard Thomas. It was her first Broadway appearance since making her debut in The Billy Barnes Revue 46 years earlier. TV Producer Carl Reiner saw Guilbert’s performance in that show and remembered her when he was casting The Dick Van Dyke Show.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Guilbert’s road to Denver, like so many others', went through Santa Maria, Calif., where she met and worked with future longtime DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Donovan Marley at the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts. While still a busy TV actor, Guilbert sought out stage work to feed her creative soul, and she later joined Marley’s artistic pilgrimage to Denver.

    “She was like a diamond falling in Donovan’s lap,” Ewing said.  

    Antaramian quote 3Antaramian first worked with Guilbert at the PCPA on Marley’s production of Blood Wedding. It was directed by Laird Williamson and designed by Andrew Yelusich – two others who would become key figures in DCPA Theatre Company history. “I will never forget that experience for a myriad of reasons,” said Antarmian, who played The Wife opposite Harelik in that play. “It blew everyone's mind who saw it. It was truly one for the American Theatre history books.” 

    Seven years later in Denver, Guilbert and Antaramian starred in the DCPA’s The Road to Mecca, the apartheid-era story of an elderly South African named Miss Helen fighting for the freedom to live on her own and express herself artistically.

    “I was maybe 27 at the time; still growing into who I was going to be as an actress and human being,” said Antaramian, whose character championed Miss Helen’s cause. “Playing that role was very challenging, and Annie was my exceptional partner and mentor.

    "She was a true example of what it was to have grace, intelligence, humor and heart as you navigate through a beautiful, difficult journey of storytelling," added Antaramian, who is currently playing Volumnia in Coriolanus at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.

    Guilbert also performed frequently at the Denver Center with her second husband, the vaudevillian comic Guy Raymond, who died in 1997. He won rave reviews for his performance opposite his wife in The Immigrant plays, which later toured the country.

    "When we get on stage, there's a chemistry involved that wouldn't be there between two people who weren't married," Raymond told The Los Angeles Times in 1996. "An arch of an eyebrow has meaning to us. It's very easy - and it's fun."

    Guilbert was born Oct. 16, 1928, in Minneapolis. She graduated from Stanford University’s Department of Speech and Drama, where she met the producer and actor George Eckstein. They married and had two daughters who survive her: Actor Hallie Todd and Nora Eckstein, a writer, actor and acting teacher. The couple divorced in 1966.

    In the 1990s, Guilbert was a regular on the CBS sitcom The Nanny playing Fran Drescher’s feisty grandmother, Yetta. She was in Nicole Holofcener’s 2010 movie Please Give, a Sundance Film Festival selection, and on the HBO series Getting On. Most recently, she appeared on the CBS comedy Life in Pieces.

    “The world is a bit dimmer without Annie in it,” said Antaramian. “But her light graces all of us who knew her and had the great fortune to work with her, laugh with her and be around her.”   

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

    News reports contributed to this report.

    Ann Guilbert at the Denver Center:
    Play, role, season
    Female Entertainer, The Old Woman, 1984-85
    The Immigrant, Ima Perry, 1984-85
    Woman Without a Name, Woman, 1985
    The Immigrant, Ima Perry, 1985-86
    Koozy's Piece, Grammie 1987-88
    A Lie of the Mind, Lorraine, 1987-88
    Holiday Memories, Ms. Prothro and Woman, 1987-88
    Waiting for Godot, Estragon, 1988-89
    Matchmaker, Dolly Levi, 1988-89
    The Road to Mecca, Miss Helen, 1989-90
    Three Men on a Horse, Mabel, 1989-90
    Arsenic & Old Lace, Abby Brewster, 1991-92
    To Kill a Mockingbird, Miss Maudie Atkinson, 1991-92
    Lifelines, as herself, 1993-94

    Click here to see Ann Guilbert's full TV and movie resume on IMDB.com
  • 'Beautiful' stars tell students: 'Don't give up'

    by John Moore | Jul 26, 2016

    Two stars of Beautiful - The Carole King Musical talked with a DCPA Education class on Thursday, July 21, 2016, about auditions, creating roles and more in the Jones Theatre. Ben Fankhauser and Becky Gulsvig play Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil in the national touring production that visits Denver through July 31. The session was moderated by DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg. Our video includes comments from the students. 

    For more information on DCPA Education classes, click here. Registration for fall classes begins Aug. 10.

    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Interviews conducted by Greg Moody of CBS-4 Denver.


    'Beautiful' cast members Ben Fankhauser and Becky Gulsvig (center) with DCPA Education students and staff. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 
     

    Beautiful in Denver: Our photo gallery:

    'Beautiful' in Denver

    Photos include opening night and a talkback with DCPA Edcation students. To see more, click the arrow on the image above.


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Beautiful - The Carole King Musical

    Video, photos, story: A Beautiful Opening Night in Denver
    Mann and Weil: How Beautiful bloomed 'On Broadway'
    Video montage: The show at a glance


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

    Beautiful cast members Ben Fankhauser and Becky Gulsvig. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.  'Beautiful' cast member Ben Fankhauser. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 
  • 'Beautiful': Our Applause crossword puzzle

    by John Moore | Jul 26, 2016
    With each new issue of Applause Magazine, we offer readers a crossword related to our current shows. Here is the most recent puzzle, covering Beautiful - The Carole King Musical, playing the Buell Theatre through July 31. The solution is posted below. Print and play!  CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTABLE PDF

    a-puzzle-4


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



    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Beautiful - The Carole King Musical

    Video, photos, story: A Beautiful Opening Night in Denver
    Mann and Weil: How Beautiful bloomed 'On Broadway'
    Video: Beautiful actors tell students: "Don't give up"
    Video montage: The show at a glance 

    a-puzzle-4
  • Former hostage Thomas Sutherland is freed a second time

    by John Moore | Jul 26, 2016
    a-tom-sutherland-1 Jean and Tom Sutherland at the Bas Bleu Theatre's 'Burn the Mortgage' party. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Former Colorado State University professor, arts benefactor and occasional actor Thomas Sutherland was held hostage in Beirut for more than six years - or 2,353 agonizing days. The genial Scotsman said he contemplated suicide several times during his ordeal, but he was repeatedly brought back from the edge of despair by the lyrical poetry of Scotsman Robert Burns.

    If there is another world, he lives in bliss.
    If there is none, he made the best of this.


    In 2003, at the age of 72, the indefatigable Sutherland made his first foray into acting, starring in in Athol Fugard's play A Lesson From Aloes at the Bas Bleu Theatre in his adopted home of Fort Collins. The apartheid play explores how the relationships between an elderly white couple and their black friend are strained by South African repression. Sutherland said performing in the play was a way to repay Burns and other artists whose work helped him through the ordeal.

    Sutherland died Friday (July 22), in Fort Collins. He was 85.

    Seeing Sutherland in his final days, friend Wendy Ishii was reminded of Sutherland's time as a hostage, wanting nothing more than freedom.

    "He asked to have the window open and I thought, 'He just wants to fly out of here,'" said Ishii, co-founder of the Bas Bleu Theatre. "Now he has."

    Sutherland was Dean of Agriculture at the American University in Beirut when he was kidnapped near his home on June 9, 1985, by Iranian-backed Shiite Hezbollah terrorists wanting U.S. military forces out of the bloody Lebanese civil war. He was released on Nov. 18, 1991.

    In the introduction to the book At Your Own Risk, President George Bush said of Sutherland, "Tom is a true American hero. He was a hostage, yes, but he never felt sorry for himself, nor did he complain of his situation. He inspired us all with his grit and his unfailing faith in God and his country."

    a-tom-sutherland-400Thomas Sutherland was born May 3, 1931, in Falkirk, Scotland. He earned degree in Agriculture from Glasgow University, and a master's degree and PhD in animal breeding from Iowa State University. He then taught animal science at Colorado State University for 26 years.

    He moved to Beirut in 1983 for a three-year term at the American University in Beirut. He stayed despite the assassination of University President Malcolm H. Kerr and the kidnapping of Professor Frank Reiger in 1984. Sutherland later said his kidnappers mistook him for University President Calvin Plimpton.

    (Pictured above right: Former Denver Broncos player Earlie Thomas, Thomas Sutherland and Wendi Ishii in Bas Bleu Theatre's 'A Lesson from Aloes.')

    In June 2001, the Sutherland family won a $323 million verdict in a lawsuit against the frozen assets of the government of Iran, because of evidence that Iran had directed terrorists to kidnap Americans in Lebanon. Sutherland and his family received $35 million from frozen Iranian assets. Sutherland liked to joke that he was on "an extended vacation paid for by the Shah of Iran.”

    Sutherland used his settlement for a variety of public uses. He underwrote the initial $1.1 million purchase of the historic Giddings Building in Fort Collins, which provided a new home for the Bas Bleu Theatre Company. Sutherland pledged $500,000 of that himself.

    On Nov. 19, 2011, the Bas Bleu Theatre christened its playing space as the Tom Sutherland Stage. Ishii said the Sutherland name will be used "to help carry forward his legacy of love and fostering of this energetic and optimistic place, Fort Collins, with Tom's name gracing our voices."

    Bas Bleu board member Peter Springberg once asked Sutherland how his life had changed since his release from captivity, and the subsequent award of so much cash.

    "He thought a moment, then said, 'We still live in the same house. Once in a while I buy a better bottle of bourbon. But mostly, I get to give away more money to deserving nonprofits." 

    Sutherland is survived by his wife, Jean; with whom he co-authored memories of his hostage experience in the book At Your Own Risk. The book tells each of their stories in alternating chapters. Jean Sutherland,  who taught English at the American University while her husband was held captive, said their goal in writing in writing the book was to show that "the situation was an enormity between hostages, hostage-takers, governments and families of hostages.”

    There were times during his captivity when Sutherland thought of Jean and said, "Am I really married to that woman? God, how could I have been so lucky? It took me a long time to convince myself that I really was married to Jean.”

    They have three daughters Kit (Scott Kintz); Joan Sutherland Sears (Mike Sears); Ann Sutherland (Ray Keller). On Valentine's Day, 1988, as he lay shackled to a wall in a windowless cell, Sutherland read in a Beirut newspaper that grandchild had been born to his daughter, Ann. After his release, he met his son-in-law, Keller, for the first time. His first meal as a free man was mince and patties, a Scottish specialty of ground beef over mashed potatoes.

    Sutherland told the New York Times that fellow hostage Terry Waite was "a great, great guy - even though his snoring was unbearable." And he said Terry Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press at the time of his capture, taught him how to play bridge and chess. In return, Sutherland taught Anderson how to speak French, and a bit about agriculture.

    “I spent six years out of the seven years I was in captivity with Tommy,” Anderson told The Associated Press on Saturday. “We were kept in the same cells and sometimes on the same chain. Whenever they moved us, generally Tommy would show up with me. He was a kind and gentle man.” 

    Anderson said Sutherland “was a guy who remembered everyone he ever met. He never forgot anyone. I don’t know how he did it. He was such a people person that he remembered everybody. When we were in prison, we would sit and talk about things we had done and places he had gone. He always talked about the people he met there, and he remembered them. He was a very, very good man.”

    Colorado State University President Tony Frank, called Sutherand's homecoming in 1991 "One of the greatest moments in the history of Colorado State University. His spirit and optimism inspired the world, and the deep devotion of his family during the bleak years he was a hostage taught us a profound lesson of courage, faith, and hope."

    Jacques Rieux of Fort Collins, who edited At Your Own Risk, said Sutherland was not just another hostage. "He was one of us," Rieux said. "He suffered horribly as a hostage, but he had few choices to make during his ordeal. Jean was the one who had choices to make. The public image she presented showed dignity and courage. She refused to play the victim card. She showed no self-pity and expressed no bitterness. I was amazed at how she could maintain such composure. Ultimately, they won because they did not let the events in Beirut warp them. That would have been an irreparable loss.

    "Tom and Jean are wonderful people who appreciate the simple things in life: A beautiful sunset, a glass of wine, time with friends. They are a blessing to the town.”

    A public celebration of Sutherland's life will be held in mid-August.

    The following is an interview with Thomas Sutherland and Terry Anderson by Theatre Critic John Moore originally published in The Denver Post in 2008:


    Tom Sutherland: Humanity held hostage
    By John Moore

    As fellow Beirut hostages Tom Sutherland and Terry Anderson sat bound to a wall in near- total darkness year after endless year, they told stories to keep each other alive. Their captors could chain their bodies, but they could not chain their minds.

    Anderson, the Associated Press war correspondent, helped Sutherland picture how a differential transmission worked, without benefit of pencil or paper. Sutherland, the Colorado State University prof, in turn taught Anderson agricultural science and French.

    “We spent hours practicing irregular verbs — to the utter dismay and horror of those we were pent up with,” Anderson says with a grim laugh.

    For six years. A combined 4,808 days.

    “If it hadn’t been for Terry, I probably would have committed suicide,” said Sutherland, who was a dean at the American University in Beirut when he was kidnapped by Iranian- backed Shiite Hezbollah terrorists wanting U.S. military forces out of the bloody Lebanese civil war.

    “Every time I got discouraged and put my head down on the pillow and said, ‘I’m done with all this,’ Terry encouraged me, and that’s the reason I am alive today.”

    They read “The Odyssey” and “The Iliad” and “Darkness at Midnight.”

    “Can you imagine reading a book about a man stuck in a basement prison in Siberia, while you are sitting in a basement prison in the Bekaa Valley?” Anderson said.

    But of all the lifesaving literature these bound brothers scavenged like bread, one line echoes most resoundingly in Anderson’s mind, 17 years after their 1991 release. And it’s a line Vietnam-era “Pogo” cartoonist Walt Kelly put into the mouth of a possum:

    “We have met the enemy — and he is us.”

    Anderson, the longest-held of 54 civilian Beirut captives from 12 nations, is angered and bewildered that it’s now the United States that’s detaining and, he says, torturing suspects as a matter of approved policy.

    “It is wrong. It is evil, there is no question about it,” Anderson said. “To have a government that not only condones (torture), but excuses it and practices it, is shameful. I am very proud of my country, but I am ashamed of this government. We are not supposed to be the ones who are doing this sort of crap.”

    Anderson, speaking from his home in Ohio, joined Sutherland on a conference call to talk about their captivity, the bond that still tethers them in ways far mightier than any chain, and their common disgust with the Iraq war.

    They also talked about fellow hostage Brian Keenan, whose story was turned into the drama “Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me,” opening Saturday at Bas Bleu Theatre in Sutherland’s hometown of Fort Collins. It’s about the friendship that Keenan, an Irishman, developed with Englishman John McCarthy while in captivity. An American character is said to be somewhat based on Anderson.

    Anderson, a theater major at NYU and a Marine in Vietnam, first saw the play in New York in 1992. Last summer he watched the film adaptation, “Blind Flight,” at Keenan’s home in Ireland. Sutherland served as consultant on productions of the play by the Denver Center Theatre Company and University of Northern Colorado.

    The message of the play is now the mantra of these men: When one man unjustly imprisons any other, he holds not only the human hostage, but humanity itself.

    “It’s about what a trauma it is to be kidnapped, but how it’s possible to survive with humor and argumentation and by supporting each other,” Sutherland said.

    In the play, Keenan has an epiphany of understanding when his character says, “Just as I was chained in darkness for almost five years, my captors were chained to their guns in a profound darkness I could see into. Tell me now — who is the prisoner here?”

    Anderson, now 60, and Sutherland, 76, have a much less sympathetic opinion of their captors. Sutherland believes they were cowards, and that if not for the guns, “every last one of them would have skedaddled out of there.”

    Anderson remembers when one of his captors once said to him, “We’re prisoners, too.”

    “And I said, ‘Well, that’s just fine. Give me the gun, and you take the chain,’ ” he said. “Of course, they are prisoners of their violence and their own mental blindness. But the guy with the chains and the blindfold? He’s the prisoner. The guy with the gun? He’s not.”

    After his release, Sutherland returned to Fort Collins and served as professor emeritus at CSU for a period of life the genial Scotsman jovially refers to as his “extended vacation paid for by the Shah of Iran” — after being awarded $35 million in frozen Iranian assets. Anderson also won a multimillion-dollar judgment, which he used in part to build schools in Vietnam.

    He’s also co-chair, along with former CBS-TV news anchor Walter Cronkite, of the Committee to Protect Journalists. Since March 2003, 125 journalists and 49 media workers have been killed in Iraq — most of them Arabs, Iraqis and Syrians working for Western news agencies.

    “This is the most dangerous war that journalists have ever covered, by far,” Anderson said. “Eighty percent of the murders of journalists around the world are never investigated. No one is ever arrested. No one is ever convicted. Journalists are fair game in many places around the world, because … dictators and oppressors always go for the press first. Always.”

    Civilians are still being kidnapped, tortured and killed. Anderson and Sutherland empathize with anyone of any nationality thrust into the struggle to maintain one’s humanity in an inhumane situation.

    “You do it through force of will,” Anderson said. “You use everything you have ever learned and truly believe in — and you refuse to budge from that. As we used to say, ‘They cannot take your dignity, no matter what they do. You can only give it to them.’ ”

    But the U.S. now finds itself in a confusing imbroglio that looks far too much to Anderson like 1985 Lebanon.

    “We are involved in what is essentially a civil war in Iraq,” he said. “We don’t have any idea who our friends or who our enemies are. Does this sound familiar to anyone? We don’t apparently learn our lessons very well in American foreign policy.”

    He’s referring to Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ refusal to rule out waterboarding and other techniques deemed torture by the Geneva Convention.

    “Not only is it morally insupportable and inexcusable — it doesn’t work,” he said. “Where we got into this evil charade, I don’t know, but we are now a country that as a matter of policy not only tortures its prisoners, but we conspire to ship them out of any jurisdiction where the law might interfere.”

    Why the citizenry does not stand up against such practices may be tied to the fact that primetime TV shows like “24” offer increasingly absurd examples of prisoner torture for our amusement.

    “When torture becomes entertainment, we’re sick,” said Anderson.

    “I think the U.S. has become less than it was in many ways, and that’s a shame.”

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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.

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