• Meet the cast video series: Linda Mugleston

    by John Moore | Sep 17, 2014


    In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 62: Meet Linda Mugleston, a returning DCPA favorite (Quilters, A Christmas Carol). Mugleston, who is playing Mrs. Cavendish and the maid Mary Nevin while also understudying Molly Brown, talks about Denver, Russet potatoes and her Potter-esque name. "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" plays through Oct. 26 in the Stage Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore. Run time: 2 minutes, 10 seconds.

    And, hey: Check out our new media outlet at MyDenverCenter.Org

    Molly_Brown_Linda_Mugleston_800

    Linda Mugleston in 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown.' Photo by John Moore.



    Previous "Meet the Cast" episodes:

    From The Unsinkable Molly Brown:
    Patty Goble
    Paolo Montalban
    Linda Mugleston (today)
    Donna English (coming next)
    Burke Moses (coming up)
    Beth Malone (coming up)

    Previous Theatre Company "Meet the Cast" playlists by shows:
    Death of a Salesman
    Just Like Us
    Jackie & Me
    The Most Deserving
    A Christmas Carol
    black odyssey
    The Legend of Georgia McBride
    Hamlet
    Shadowlands
    Animal Crackers

    The Unsinkable Molly Brown: Ticket information
    Performances run through Oct. 26.
    Stage Theatre
    303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

    Our Previous Molly Brown coverage on Denver CenterStage:
  • Shop at Whole Foods on Oct. 8 and support the DCPA

    by John Moore | Sep 17, 2014
    DCPA_Whole_Foods_600
    On Oct. 8, Whole Foods is donating 5 percent of all proceeds from five of its Denver locations back to the Denver Center for The Performing Arts. The DCPA Board of Trustees will match up to $25,000 of the proceeds.

    You will be supporting the DCPA's educational mission by simply shopping at Whole Foods on Oct. 8.

    The designated Whole Foods locations are:

    Cherry Creek: 2375 E. 1st Ave., Denver, CO 80206
    Capitol Hill: 900 E. 11th Ave., Denver, CO 80218
    Washington Park: 1111 S Washington St, Denver, CO 80210
    Tamarac Square: 7400 E Hampden Ave, Denver, CO 80231
    Colorado Boulevard: 870 S. Colorado Blvd., Glendale, CO 80246

    Whole Foods is an American supermarket food chain that first opened in 1980 and specializes in natural and organic foods.

    The DCPA is a community-supported not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. But ticket sales only cover a portion of what it costs to produce our plays, bring Broadway tours to Denver, educate 50,000 Colorado students every year and inspire the Rocky Mountain region with theatre experiences of all kinds.
  • Writer Dick Scanlan on his eight-year courtship with the real Molly Brown

    by Doug Langworthy | Sep 17, 2014

    Molly_Brown_Beth Malone_JK_800Dick Scanlan says the new "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," starring Beth Malone, is true to the essence of who Molly Brown was. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.


    Lyricist and librettist Dick Scanlan kept turning down a request to revise The Unsinkable Molly Brown, the first time from Richard Morris, the original book writer, who collaborated with Scanlan on Thoroughly Modern Millie. When the third call came from Freddy Gershon, CEO of Musical Theatre International, he turned him down as well. Scanlan lamented to his writing partner, “I feel like Molly Brown is always hanging over my head.” She reached over his head and took a photo off the wall of Richard Morris in front of the marquee for Molly Brown. “You hung it over your own head.”

    Doug Langworthy: When you seriously considered taking on this rewrite of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, where did you start?

    Dick Scanlan: I began to research Molly Brown’s life. Very early on in that process I discovered two things. I discovered the legend of Molly Brown in Gene Fowler’s [1933] Timberline, which is a book about Denver lore that contains a four-page chapter on “The Unsinkable Mrs. Brown” that’s all apocrypha, pure myth. The other thing that I discovered was the historical Molly Brown through a [1999] biography written by Kristen Iversen [Molly Brown: Unravelling the Myth]. When I tracked Iversen down, she told me something that really touched me. All those years that J.J. Brown and Molly were separated and counter-suing each other, they were writing each other tender and intimate love letters. So this complicated relationship between these two strong people began to interest me.

    Doug Langworthy: Were there aspects of Margaret’s life that you definitely wanted to include? Myths that you wanted to dispel?

    Dick Scanlan: I surely wanted to dispel the myth that she was in any way stupid. It is true she was from Hannibal, Mo., and her father really was a ditch-digger for the coal company, and she really did leave school when she was 12 to work in a cigar factory. And she moved out to Leadville when she was 18 thinking there would be opportunity for her, which there turned out to be. But her parents were very big on educating yourself, and also very big on raising their kids to believe they could make something of their lives. I wanted her to be smart from the beginning of the play. I also wanted to add context to the idea that she was shunned by The Sacred 36, which isn’t untrue; she was shunned, but she wasn’t sitting alone in her house waiting for their acceptance. She was out there using her money to fund all sorts of progressive causes, which by the way was part of why she was shunned.  

    Doug Langworthy: How historically accurate would you say your adaptation is?

    Dick Scanlan: I think that you try to evoke historical accuracy, as opposed to rendering it in a slavish way. In earlier drafts there were chunks of scenes that were about the gold standard, and other things, which we pruned back. But some of it, like the way J.J. solved the problem of how to get to the gold [by using bales of hay to staunch the flow of sand], you do have to spend a little bit of time explaining what the problem is and what his solution was and why it was so risky.

    Molly_Brown_Dick_Scanlan_quote1

    Doug Langworthy: Where have the new songs for the musical come from?

    Dick Scanlan: It was a strange process, because once Rosemary Willson [widow of Meredith Willson, the original composer] agreed to work with us, it took awhile for her to open up Meredith’s trunk. Initially she just said, “No, there are no songs.” I knew that couldn’t be true, but I just charged ahead and wrote a draft of the script…. Over time, singer Michael Feinstein [who has been dubbed the “Ambassador of the Great American Musical”] took Rosemary to dinner and said “Rosemary, why aren’t you letting Dick Scanlan into the trunk? How is it serving Meredith’s legacy to not let songs of his be heard that no one knows?” And so he asked her where it was, and she said in the basement, and so he stood up and said, “Come on.” And they went downstairs and she opened a filing cabinet, and there in perfect alphabetical order was every song he had ever written. Shortly after that I was able to go down to the basement and digitally photograph any song I thought could ever be used. And I came out with a catalog of about 60 songs.

    Doug Langworthy: How would you prepare people who have seen the original musical for this new version?

    Dick Scanlan: I think it’s a very new version from a narrative perspective. It’s a very, very different story, but I think that what people remember and take away from the original musical is the essence of the character Molly Brown. She is this indomitable, fundamentally American character who has an enormous impulse to affect the world, which is a good thing, and also has an enormous need for attention, which isn’t always a good thing. We’ve not changed the essence.

    Molly_Brown_Dick_Scanlan_800Director Kathleen Marshall and Writer/Lyricist Dick Scanlan on the first day of "Molly Brown" rehearsals in Denver. Photo by John Moore.



    Doug Langworthy: How much has this adaptation changed since you presented it at the Colorado New Play Summit five years ago?

    Dick Scanlan: The first act has undergone the natural progression of a play in development — it’s a tighter, better, sharper, funnier version of what we had at the Summit. The second act, however, has been radically re-conceived. When we did it at the Summit, I felt that Act One and Act Two were two different plays. I felt in Act One we made a promise, and then in Act Two we kind of broke that promise and turned it into something else.

    Doug Langworthy: What does it mean to you to premiere this show in Denver?

    Dick Scanlan: I’d never worked at [or seen a show at] the Denver Center, but it was beyond a desire -- it was a certainty -- that this is where the show should start. And then our experience at the Summit was so positive. Kathleen Marshall, our director, Michael Rafter, our music director, and I were astonished at how well-run the theatre was. We rehearsed a week in New York, and then came to Colorado, and that worked beautifully. Then the audiences showed up in droves, and they were lively and engaged. So we felt, boy, is this a no-brainer that we do this here.

    Molly_Brown_Dick_Scanlan_Quote2


    The songs: How the new Molly Brown score breaks down:

    • 19 songs in the show
    • 4 songs are "new" (Meredith Willson music, sometimes culled from more than one Willson song; Dick Scanlan lyrics)
    • 3 songs are interpolated (Willson songs with additional lyrics by Scanlan)
    • 4 songs come  from the original Unsinkable Molly Brown (stage show and movie, with additional lyrics by Scanlan
    • 6 songs from the original Unsinkable Molly Brown with all Willson lyrics
    • 2 songs are interpolated Willson songs with all Willson lyrics

    The Unsinkable Molly Brown: Ticket information
    Performances begin Sept. 12
    Stage Theatre
    Runs through Oct. 26.
    303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

    Our Previous Molly Brown coverage on Denver CenterStage:




  • The 'Pippin' Profiles: Original cast member Candy Brown's place in The Manson Trio

    by John Moore | Sep 16, 2014

    Pippin_Candy_Brown_Manson_800Candy Brown, left, Ben Vereen and Pamela Sousa made up 'Pippin's' first Manson Trio. Photo courtesy Candy Brown.


    Candy circleDenver actor Candy Brown has five Broadway credits, but her indelible place in theatre lore is linked, alas, to one of the most reviled cult leaders in history.

    Brown was part of the first Manson Trio, a signature Bob Fosse moment in the original Broadway production of Pippin. Brown can be seen in famous photographs stepping alongside Pamela Sousa with top hats and canes wearing white faces and exaggerated smiles just behind their Leading Player, Ben Vereen.

    In the show, the young prince Pippin has leapt fully into the world of war. During a clever vaudevillian battle scene intended to expose the charade of war, the Leading Player and his two dancers perform “The Manson Trio” during the song “Glory.” Pippin sours on the whole combat thing and flees to the countryside.

    “I always see Candy Brown when I think about the original production,” composer Stephen Schwartz said. “Candy was part of that iconic, weird dance. Hers is one of the faces that people associate with their memory of the original Pippin.”

    But people often ask: Why is that “iconic, weird dance” called “The Manson Trio”?

    “It’s because Charles Manson was in the news at that time,” Brown said this week from Denver, where she now works for Denver School of the Arts as a Guest Artist in the theatre department teaching professionalism and body awareness.

    “It was very chilling, because here we are doing this 'vaudeville-style' dance against limbs being thrown out on stage,” Brown added. “The Vietnam War was still going on, and I believe there was a voiceover during that song where they were reading off the number of people who had died in the war. I don't even know who first said that term, but it was something like, 'Oh, that's creepy. Sort of like Charlie Manson.' And from then on, it became known as The Manson Trio.

    “It was similar to what (Choreographer) Bob Fosse did in Cabaret when he had the young Aryan sing “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” while the war was going on. He liked to juxtapose the entertainment side and the dark side of life at the same time.”

    Candyquote3

    Brown performed in the Pippin company for two years and has remained remarkably close to her family there.

    “Candy Brown is one of my dearest friends,” said John Rubinstein, who played Pippin in the original Broadway company and is now playing the boy's father in the revival that launched last week in Denver.

    “She came to New York a few weeks ago to see me do a performance of Pippin on Broadway, and she and Ben (Vereen) and I all went out together and reminisced and cried and laughed.

    "I so miss her on stage. I watched her do that show for two full years, and she gave 150 percent every single performance. She never, ever gave any less. And given what she had to do in that show -- that is saying a lot. She is amazing, and I revere and adore her."

    Since moving to Denver, Brown has performed for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, most recently in the Colorado New Play Summit staged reading of Zenith. She was part of the Curious Theatre’s company’s world premiere piece on homelessness called The Denver Project. She choreographed Melissa Faith Hart’s world premiere staging of The Scarlet Letter in Parker, and is now directing the ambitious Lyn Ahrens musical Once on This Island (a calypso retelling of The Little Mermaid) through Oct. 5 at the Aurora Fox. Her cast is led by the rising vocalist known as SuCh. Or, as Brown calls her, “The Amazing SuCh.”

    “I’ve got the best voices in town,” Brown said. “These are some singing mama-jamas.”

    Here are more excerpts from our expansive conversation with Candy Brown:

    Pippin_Candy_Brown_Zenith_CNPS_800
    Candy Brown in the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit reading of 'Zenith,' about a mother who intentionally drives her children down the wrong side of a highway. Photo by John Moore.



    John Moore: Can you take us back to a time when a young Candy Brown stepped into the Pippin auditions in 1972?

    Candy Brown: It's funny. I had just worked with Bob Fosse on a TV concert film called Liza with a Z. I was on the road with Applause when I got the call from his assistant saying that Bob would like to have me audition for this new show he was going to do called Pippin. I had never done a show from the ground up. I had always been a replacement. And so I just thought, 'Oh, so that's how it works. The choreographer calls you up and tells you what you are doing next.' I didn't know for three months after Pippin was open that I was the only one from the TV special that he had called.

    John Moore: Touch you!

    Candy Brown: I seriously had no clue. I knew I was not a strong singer, so I just went in and did my thing. 

    John Moore: I have enjoyed talking to people who were there in 1972 about 'the real Bob Fosse.' So … who was ‘the real Bob Fosse’?

    Candy Brown: Wow. Now that's a two-day conversation. Bob was very quiet-spoken. He loved his profession. What a lot of people didn't know is that he loved actors. Jill Clayburgh (the original Catherine in Pippin) was not a singer/dancer. John Rubinstein (the original Pippin) was not known as a singer/dancer. Even Irene Ryan (Berthe) was not known as a singer/dancer. She had done some vaudeville in her youth, but she was an actor. Bob even studied Sandy Meisner's acting technique so he could better communicate with actors. He always knew that he wanted to direct, and from some of the films he did, you can see how passionate he was about working with actors. He was the first choreographer I ever worked with who didn't just say, "… a 5-6-7-8." He told you where you were, and why you were doing what you were doing. I remember distinctively that opening number. We came through the curtain to sing Magic to Do, and then we started talking to the audience. He wanted us very specifically to do that sideways walking. He wanted us to talk to them; ask them questions -- but always act like you have a secret. I remember I was very uncomfortable in those very skimpy costumes, and I was scared to have my dad come see the show. (Laughing.)



    Pippin_Candy_Brown_Fosse_2

    John Moore: People talk about his legendary temper, but you strike me as the kind of woman who would not have stuck around and taken it.

    Candy Brown: Everybody had a different relationship with him. I did see him be very cruel to some people. He always seemed to have one whipping boy in the cast. He did come on to a lot of women. When he first started coming on to me, I was so naive, I didn't even know that's what was happening. I thought he was just being very nice to me. He asked me if I lived alone. And then another time, we were at a party and he asked me to stay. And I was like, 'No, I've got to go home and feed my dogs.' It took me a minute to realize that was a come-on. But c’mon: I'm 19 years old and had just come from Minnesota. He's a 45-year-old balding white guy. It never occurred to me that there would be anything between us. I was young and I didn't expect it, so I just didn't see it coming.

    John Moore: What does it mean to you to be a part of that whole Pippin/Manson Trio history?
     
    Candy Brown: How lucky can one person be? Seriously. I had a lot of friends who did flop after flop after flop. They did 10 times as many Broadway shows as me, but none that had the success of just the few that I did. I was in the right place at the right time. I had nothing to do with it.

    John Moore: I think you had a little bit to do with it.

    Candy Brown: I will say I came in with the right attitude. I had a strong work ethic, and I had versatility. Bob loved people who had ballet training. But he also had a specific style. He gave you a lot of opportunity to see if you could come up with the exact style that he wanted done. That's where a lot of people just couldn't quite do it. Everybody thinks it's where you put your hands, and where you put your knees, and where you put your toes. That has a lot to do with it, but it's more where it's coming from on the inside.

    John Moore: Whenever I talk to you about Pippin, you’re always saying how you just had lunch with John Rubinstein, or just saw Stephen Schwartz or Ben Vereen in New York. I think Pippin must have been like a high-school theatre experience for you, because 40 years later, no one stays in touch like you all do.

    Candy Brown: But that's because most of us did that show for two years. So we became a family. For example, when we did Chicago, even though I am still close to a few of those actors, that was a tougher time for all of us, because Bob was coming out of his heart attack, and he wasn't the same person he had been before. I didn't really how many medications he was still on. So we all kind of banded together -- but that was a different kind of holding on to each other. Now, Pippin? We all just had such a great time. We were all so young, and we meant a lot to each other. We supported each other. We took care of each other. I am grateful that I am still in touch with these people. I also still talk to Roger O. Hirson, the writer of the book.  He is in his mid-80s now. I adore him and also speak with him often.

    John Moore: Now tell me about how you know Lucie Arnaz. Because that can't have anything to do with Pippin.

    Candy Brown: Lucie was best friends with my New York roommate. They had done Sea Saw together and a couple of other shows. So I became a friend by association.  


    Pippin_Candy_Brown_Rubinstein_800

    Candy Brown with fellow original Broadway Pippin cast member John Rubinstein at the launch of the new national touring production in Denver on Sept. 10, 2014. Photo by Emily Lozow.



    John Moore: So what did you think when you heard that the new Pippin revival was going to launch its tour in Denver?

    Candy Brown: Oh my God, I couldn't be more excited. I said, 'No wonder I moved here.'

    John Moore: It does start to sound like this is all happening to some sort of preordained plan.

    Candy Brown: Yeah, isn't that crazy? But my life has always been like that. I got a fortune cookie a few months back and it said, 'You have spirit guides.' And you know what? I always have.

    John Moore: I am a former high-school theatre teacher myself, so this is a big, open-ended question, but: At this point in your life, why is teaching at Denver School of the Arts what you want to be doing?

    Candy Brown: Because since I was 5 years old, I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. That's what I went to college for originally. But life just took a different turn. And now, here I am, with the opportunity to teach. When my sister started kindergarten, she was already reading at a third-grade level, and that’s because I was in the third grade. I would come home and teach her. That's why she got to skip a grade. That's why she got a scholarship to Harvard. I would tell her, 'I made you!' (laughing).

    John Moore: So what happened?

    Candy Brown: Well, I started dancing when I was 2. But I had to stop when I was about 11. My father was in the Air Force, and we moved around. We got to Okinawa Island when I was in the sixth grade, and there wasn't anybody there who was dancing at the level I was. I had had a magnificent dance teacher in Queens. I would say there wasn't a Broadway show from 1950 to 1980 that she didn't have a student in.

    John Moore: What was her name?

    Candy Brown: Bernice Johnson. She had been a Cotton Club girl. She taught us everything. We had tap, ballet, acrobatics, African, interpretive -- you name it. That's where I learned professionalism. Most of the kids from there went to performing-arts high school, but I had to leave the country. That was always a big heartbreak of mine. But it turned out OK. 

    Candyquote2


    John Moore: How did you get back into it?

    Candy Brown: When I was in High school (in Minnesota), I took a dance class as a P.E. requirement and went, 'Wow. I forgot how much I love this.’ And that was it. 

    John Moore: How did you originally come to Colorado?

    Candy Brown: The first time I came was with the touring company of Applause. That was right before I started Pippin in 1972. I came back in the '80s for South Pacific and House of Flowers, and I just always liked it here. It's always had a nice vibe. I never really stayed more than a few weeks at a time, though, and I knew I couldn't make a living here as an actor, so I never thought about moving here. And then L.A. got to be just too much for me. It got too old and too tired. I wanted to have an easier life and live at a slower pace. My son was just starting at UCLA, and I thought, 'Denver is still close enough that I can get back.' I couldn't afford to go back east, and I can't do all that rain in the Pacific northwest. So I thought, 'Well, let me try Denver. It doesn't mean I am going to stay here for the rest of my life, but let's see what happens.' So I just showed up. And I had no plan. I didn't know what I was going to do. I figured if push came to shove, I could work at King Soopers or Frontier Airlines or whatever. That was in January of 2008.

    John Moore: What was it like for you to see this new incarnation of Pippin in Denver?

    Candy Brown: I liked it in Denver much better than when I saw it in New York, frankly. But I think that was purely because of the shock factor. When I saw it in New York, it was too much to absorb for someone who was there originally. You know, it's hard to divorce yourself from something you were so close to. But when you can finally put that distance between you and it, then it's all good. And now that I have seen it again, I can go, 'Oh, OK. I get it. Yeah, that's great.' The thing is: This is a different century. What excesses we had in the '70s look so small compared to the excesses we have available to us now. So I love the whole circus aspect, and that everything is done to excess. The storyline is still very clear. This is an everyman's journey; the story of a boy who is trying to make a mark in this society. That’s Pippin.

    John Moore: What was it like when you talked to Ben Vereen about the new show?

    Candy Brown: He just said, 'This is a show for the 21st century.'


    Candy Brown / At a glance
    Born in Northern California to an Air Force father
    Attended Kindergarten through Grade 5 at P.S. 123 in Queens
    Attended grades 6-7-8 on Okinawa Island (Japan)
    Attended grades 9-12 in Duluth, Minn.
    One year of college in St. Paul before moving to New York City

    ​Broadway credits:
    Hello Dolly
    (she played a replacement Horse!)
    Pippin
    (Player)
    Chicago (June)
    Grind
    (Kitty)
    Two Shirley MacLaine special engagements (Dancer)

    Film highlights:
    Ali (Mrs. Clay)
    Zebrahead (Marlene)
    Lost in America (Co-Star)

    TV highlights:
    E.R., Six Feet Under, Ellen, Chicago Hope, Nash Bridges, NYPD Blue


    Once on this Island
    Directed by Candy Brown
    Through Oct. 5
    Aurora Fox, 9990 E. Colfax Ave.
    303-739-1970 or www.aurorafoxartscenter.org


    'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:  


      Pippin
      : Ticket information

      Sep 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
      Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
      Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
      Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
      Online • www.DenverCenter.Org

      Our previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

      Photos, video: Opening-night festivities in Denver
      Video: 5 questions for Composer Stephen Schwartz

      9News anchor Cheryl Preheim has a walk-on cameo on Sept. 16
      Video: Audience testimonials reacting to seeing the show
      Video series: The 'Pippin' Personalities: Five questions with creatives
      'Pippin' meets Denver: Media Day photos
      Broadway's Matthew James Thomas to play Pippin in Denver
      Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive

      Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

      My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
      Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
      Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

      From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
      2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

    • Meet the cast video series: Paolo Montalban

      by John Moore | Sep 15, 2014

      In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 61: Meet Paolo Montalban, a native of the Philippines who grew up in Jersey City to play Brandy's Prince in a nationally televised performance of Cinderella that was seen by 63 million people. He's now playing Arthur in the Theatre Company's  The Unsinkable Molly Brown through Oct. 26 in the Stage Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore. Run time: 2 minutes, 45 seconds.

      And, hey: Check out our new media outlet at MyDenverCenter.Org

      Meet_The_Cast_Paolo_Montalban_800

      Paolo Montalban in 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.


      Previous "Meet the Cast" episodes:

      From The Unsinkable Molly Brown:
      Patty Goble
      Paolo Montalban (today)

      Previous Theatre Company "Meet the Cast playlists:
      Death of a Salesman
      Just Like Us
      Jackie & Me
      The Most Deserving
      A Christmas Carol
      black odyssey
      The Legend of Georgia McBride
      Hamlet
      Shadowlands
      Animal Crackers

      The Unsinkable Molly Brown: Ticket information
      Performances begin Sept. 12
      Stage Theatre
      Runs through Oct. 26.
      303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

      Our Previous Molly Brown coverage on Denver CenterStage:
    • Video and photos: Opening Night 'Pippin' festivities in Denver

      by John Moore | Sep 13, 2014


      Denver hosted the launch of the national touring production of Pippin the Musical on Sept. 10, 2014, at the Buell Theatre. It marked the 11th national tour launch by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' Broadway division.

      The video above includes video and photo highlights from the celebration that followed the opening performance in the Seawell Grand Ballroom.

      Pippin, which won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival, features choreography in the style of Bob Fosse and breathtaking acrobatics. The "Pippin" tour runs in Denver through Sept. 20. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore, David Lenk and Emily Lozow.

      To go to our full gallery of free, downloadable photos from the evening, click here.

      This video features a montage of scenes from the national touring production that just launched in Denver.


      Pippin
      : Ticket information

      Sep 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
      Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
      Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
      Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
      Online • www.DenverCenter.Org


      'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:
       


      Our previous Pippin coverage on Denver CenterStage:

      Video: 5 questions for Composer Stephen Schwartz

      9News anchor Cheryl Preheim has a walk-on cameo on Sept. 16
      Video: Audience testimonials reacting to seeing the show
      Video series: The 'Pippin' Personalities: Five questions with creatives
      'Pippin' meets Denver: Media Day photos
      Broadway's Matthew James Thomas to play Pippin in Denver
      Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive

      Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

      My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
      Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
      Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

      From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
      2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

      Pippin_Opening_Night_800

      Photo by John Moore. To go to our full gallery of free, downloadable photos from the evening, click here.
    • On Tuesday, Cheryl Preheim will run away with the circus

      by John Moore | Sep 13, 2014
      Pippin_Cheryl_Preheim_800

      Journalist Cheryl Preheim, right, took a trapeze class with "Pippin" Circus Creator  Gypsy Snider, second from left, for a report on 9News. Now she'll have a walk-on role in Tuesday's performance. Also pictured: 9News' Corey Rose, left, and "Pippin" cast member Melodie Lamoureux. Photo by John Moore.



      9News journalist Cheryl Preheim did more than report on the dizzying acrobatics on display in the national touring production of Pippin that launched last week in Denver. She took a trapeze lesson from Circus Creator Gypsy Snider for a report that ran on 9News.

      Now, Preheim will make a brief walk-on role in Tuesday's performance (Sept. 16) of Pippin at the Buell Theatre. The mother of three will go on just after intermission.
       
      The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is inviting Preheim's fans to support her first-hand by joining her at Tuesday's performance at a reduced ticket price.

      Click here to be taken to the Sept. 16 ticketing page. Use the Promo Code CHERYL when ordering and receive 15 percent off "price level 2 and 3" seats. Offer good for the  Tuesday, Sept. 16 performance only.
    • Video: The 'Pippin' Personalities: 5 Questions with Stephen Schwartz

      by John Moore | Sep 12, 2014


      Last week, we launched "The Pippin Personalities," a fun video series where we posed several personality questions to the cast and creative team behind the national touring production of Pippin The Musical, which launched in Denver on Sept. 6, 2014.

      But then on Sunday, composer Stephen Schwartz flew to Denver for one day to check in and work with the cast in advance of the official opening tomorrow night (Sept. 10). We had to take the opportunity to pose the same questions to him.

      Our favorite piece of advice from the composer of Pippin, Wicked, Godspell and more: "Follow you bliss ... but not to the point where it kills you." 

      Here is a link to our in-depth, written interview with Stephen Schwartz

       
      The ‘Pippin’ Personalities video series:
      Video 1: What makes YOU extraordinary?
      Video 2: If you could run off with the circus …
      Video 3: What was the first big show you saw?
      Video 4: What has ‘Pippin’ taught you about yourself?
      Video 5: First impressions of Denver
      Video 6: Stephen Schwartz takes the quiz

      Our guests include Director Diane Paulus, Sasha Allen (Leading Player), Matthew James Thomas (Pippin), John Rubinstein (Charles), Lucie Arnaz (Berthe), Circus Creator Gypsy Snider and Choreographer Chet Walker. 

      Videos by John Moore and David Lenk for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

      Pippin
      : Ticket information
      Sept 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
      Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
      Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
      Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
      Online • www.DenverCenter.Org

      'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:
       


      Our previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

      Video series: The 'Pippin' Personalities: Five questions with creatives
      'Pippin' meets Denver: Media Day photos

      Broadway's Matthew James Thomas to play Pippin in Denver
      Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive

      Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

      My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
      Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
      Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

      From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
      2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

    • Molly Brown opens: The rags-to-riches story of Denver’s heroine

      by John Moore | Sep 12, 2014
      Molly_Brown_Beth Malone_JK_800

      Beth Malone as Molly Brown in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."  Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.



      “Colorado, My Home!” Molly Brown sings out in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ highly anticipated new staging of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

      It’s true of the title character. It’s true of the actor singing it. And, thanks to many forces coming together at just the right time, it’s also true of the musical itself.

      The Unsinkable Molly Brown is coming back to life right here in the Titanic survivor’s adopted home state. And it even stars Colorado native Beth Malone in the title role.

      That the public’s first look at the new Molly Brown is happening here in Denver, three-time Tony Award-winning Director Kathleen Marshall said, is perfect.

      “To do this story about one of the most famous residents in Denver history in what became her hometown?” she said. “There’s no better word for it.”

      Molly Brown tells the story of perhaps the most colorful woman in Colorado history. The original 1960 Broadway musical was beloved by some but was also problematic, and it has since drifted amiably toward the musical horizon.

      Enter writer Dick Scanlan, a three-time Tony nominee and a devotee of both composer Meredith Willson (The Music Man) and book writer Richard Morris (Thoroughly Modern Millie).

      Molly_Brown_Kathleen Marshall_Quote

      “One of the challenges of the original is that Molly was very inconsistent,” Scanlan said. “In one scene she is very bright, and in the next she will be … the opposite of that. It is still the story of a girl who grows into a woman, but now it’s the same person growing, and I think that can make the love relationship that much deeper."

      Scanlan's first incarnation of the new The Unsinkable Molly Brown happened as a staged reading at the DCPA Theatre Company's 2009 Colorado New Play Summit. He first got the idea to revisit the musical in 2006 and eventually earned permission from Willson’s widow to revisit both her husband’s score and Morris’ book, which has been completely rewritten.

      “Dick has kept the songs you love…and hopefully he’s gotten rid of the ones you don’t,” Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson said.

      In perhaps the most intriguing twist of all, Rosemary Willson also allowed Scanlan to add four previously unpublished Willson songs, making for a theatrical presentation that is at once old…and new again.

      Scanlan was gifted with a life story of near-mythic proportions. Molly Brown was a factory girl who transformed herself from a teenage illiterate into American royalty. She was a human-rights activist and philanthropist who famously survived the sinking of the Titanic. She and husband J.J. Brown moved to Denver after striking it rich when they discovered gold in one of Leadville’s silver mines. How rich? Try $20 million rich. Though snubbed by high society, Molly Brown raised money for children’s causes, fought for workers’ rights at her husband’s own mines, and twice ran for Congress before women even had the right to vote.

      In Molly Brown’s 1932 obituary, The Denver Post’s Jack Carberry wrote: “She was a pot rustler who, shamed by her ignorance, mastered music, literature and the arts to storm the portals and pass the barriers of society.”

      But while Scanlan promises audiences will see a much deeper Molly Brown than they did in the 1960 original, The Unsinkable Molly Brown remains very much a musical. And a musical comedy at that.  

      “This is not a documentary,” Marshall added. “This is a historical fiction. This is the journey of Molly Brown as a woman, and her marriage.”

      That means this is also a romance.

      “Oh it is very much a romance,” Scanlan said.

      Though Molly and J.J. signed a separation agreement after two children and 23 years of marriage, they continued to care for each other until J.J.’s death.

      “These are two people who can’t live with each other and can’t live without each other,” Marshall said. “They are both single-minded and pig-headed. That’s what thrills them about each other, but it also causes enormous problems between them.”

      Historians say the Browns never divorced only because the Catholic Church would never have allowed it, but Marshall thinks anyone who has been in a long-term relationship can identify with the bond that continued throughout the Brown’s lives.

      “I think that’s recognizable to audiences, and I think that’s human,” Marshall said.
       
      If we know anything about theatre audiences, we know this: They love strong women, they love stories they already know, and, more than anything: Audiences love love.  

      In all three of those areas, Marshall said, this new Molly Brown should be smooth sailing.

      “I love the fact that we have a strong female character at the center of it driving the narrative,” she said. “The score is Americana at its best. It’s big and strong and openhearted and optimistic. Those are the same qualities this show has, and Molly Brown has.”

      Marshall hopes she has created something “that entertains and delights and amuses audiences…and perhaps moves them as well.”



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


      The Unsinkable Molly Brown

      Sep 12 – Oct 26 Stage Theatre
      Accessible Performance | Oct 18, 1:30pm
      Tickets: 303.893.4100 | denvercenter.org
      800.641.1222 | TTY: 303.893.9582 Groups (10+): 303.446.4829

      Molly_Brown_Kathleen Marshall_800

      Kathleen Marshall works out details with the orchestra in the pit below her at rehearsal for The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Photo by John Moore.


      The Unsinkable Molly Brown: Ticket information
      Performances begin Sept. 12
      Stage Theatre
      Runs through Oct. 26.
      303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

      Our Previous Molly Brown coverage on Denver CenterStage:

    • Matthew Lopez named DCPA Playwriting Fellow for 2014-15

      by John Moore | Sep 12, 2014

      In this video interview with John Moore from the DCPA's 2014 Colorado New Play Summit, Matthew Lopez says what makes the new-play development program unique here is "the start-to-finish approach of the process."



      Matthew300Matthew Lopez has made a significant impact on the national theatre landscape in the past year, and probably nowhere more decidedly than right here in Denver. In January, he had simultaneous plays running: The world premiere of the human comedy The Legend of Georgia McBride at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and an uncommon Civil War drama called The Whipping Man at Curious Theatre.

      The Colorado Theatre Guild bestowed nine Henry Awards on The Whipping Man, including Outstanding Production. That story followed a returning Jewish Confederate soldier in desperate need of help from his family's former slaves in the immediate aftermath of Civil War fighting. The Legend of Georgia McBride, about an Elvis impersonator who conquers his fears and preconceptions when he enters the vulnerable world of drag performance, won two Henry Awards, including Outstanding New Play.

      Today, the DCPA announced the appointment of Lopez as its first-ever Playwriting Fellow for the 2014/15 Theatre Company season.

      “I’m delighted to be returning to the DCPA this season to continue what has already been a happy and fruitful collaboration,” Lopez said. “The Theatre Company’s commitment to playwrights and new plays isn’t just boilerplate. Writers know the difference between companies who claim to support new work and those that actually do. The Theatre Company is most decidedly on the right side of that divide and I am excited by the opportunity to deepen my relationship with this wonderful theatre.”

      During his six-month fellowship, Lopez will serve as part of the Theatre Company’s artistic team. Lopez will bring the playwright’s voice into the production process for upcoming  world premieres of Benediction and Appoggiatura, assist with play selection for the 2015-16 season and serve as the Playwright Host for the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit.

      “We are thrilled to welcome Matthew back to Denver,” said Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson. “He is a remarkable talent and was the perfect choice to serve as our inaugural playwriting fellow. We look forward to adding Matthew’s  unique voice to our artistic discussions throughout the season and know he will help us take the Colorado New Play Summit to new heights.”

      Read Matthew Lopez's interview with Denver CenterStage about The Legend of Georgia McBride: Playwright's trip down the straight and fabulous

      More about Matthew Lopez

      Matthew Lopez is the author of The Whipping Man, one of the most widely produced new American plays of the last several years. The play premiered at Luna Stage in Montclair, NJ and debuted in New York at Manhattan Theatre Club. That production was directed by Doug Hughes and starred Andre Braugher. The sold-out production extended four times, ultimately running 101 performances off-Broadway and garnering Obie and Lucille Lortel Awards. Matthew was awarded the John Gassner New Play Award from the New York Outer Critics Circle for the play. Since then, it has received over 40 productions worldwide. His play Somewhere has been produced at the Old Globe, TheatreWorks in Palo Alto and most recently at Hartford Stage Company, where his play Reverberation will receive its world premiere in 2015. His newest play, The Legend of Georgia McBride, premiered earlier this year at the Denver Theatre Center for the Performing Arts. His play The Sentinels premiered in London at Headlong Theatre Company in 2011. Matthew currently holds new play commissions from Roundabout Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, Hartford Stage, and South Coast Rep. Matthew was a staff writer on HBO’s “The Newsroom” and is currently adapting Javier Marias’ trilogy “Your Face Tomorrow” for the screen.

      Matthew_Lopez_800_Georgia_McBride

      Matthew Lopez working on his script "The Legend of Georgia McBride" in the lobby of the Ricketson Theatre during the production process in January. Photo by John Moore. 

    • Meet the Cast video series: Patty Goble

      by John Moore | Sep 12, 2014

      In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 60: Meet Patty Goble, a Wyoming native and graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. Goble, who is playing the snooty Mrs. Sneed-Hill and the maid Miss Lydia in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, performed at both Boulder's Dinner Theatre and the Country Dinner Playhouse - including a notable production of Baby co-starring Molly Brown herself, Beth Malone. She now has seven Broadway credits. The Unsinkable Molly Brown plays from Sept. 12-Oct. 26 in the Stage Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore. Run time: 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

      Check back here for more profiles of Molly Brown cast members.

      And, hey: Check out our new media outlet at DenverCenter.Org


      Previous "Meet the Cast" episodes:

      Kristen Adele

      John Arp

      Richard Azurdia

      Leonard E. Barrett Jr.

      Cynthia Bastidas

      Mary Bacon

      Anthony Bianco

      Kathleen M. Brady

      Gabriella Cavallero

      Aaron M. Davidson

      Stephanie Cozart

      Aubrey Deeker

      Diana Dresser

      Adrian Egolf

      Liza Fernandez

      Adriana Gaviria

      Michael Fitzpatrick

      Kate Gleason

      Fidel Gomez

      Sam Gregory

      Douglas Harmsen

      Mike Hartman

      Judith Hawking

      John Patrick Hayden

      Rebecca Hirota

      Steven Cole Hughes

      John Hutton

      John Jurcheck

      Michael Keyloun

      Lauren Klein

      Jacob H. Knoll

      Charlie Korman

      Kyra Lindsay

      Cajardo Lindsey

      Ruth Livier

      Eric Lockley

      Alma Martinez

      Timothy McCracken

      M Scott McLean

      Leigh Miller

      James O'Hagan-Murphy

      Yunuen Pardo

      Jeanne Paulsen

      Jonathan Earl Peck

      Amelia Pedlow

      Philip Pleasants

      Casey Predrovic

      Jamie Ann Romero

      Christine Rowan

      Michael Santo

      Brian Shea

      Jonathan Randell Silver

      Felix Solis

      Kim Staunton

      Tony Todd

      Justin Walvoord

      William Oliver Watkins

      Allison Watrous

      Ryan Wuestewald

    • Testimonials: Audiences react to 'Pippin' launch in Denver

      by John Moore | Sep 11, 2014


      The national touring production of 'Pippin' launched in Denver this week. Here is a video roundup of what some of the opening-night audiences thought of the first performance of the Stephen Schwartz-Bob Fosse classic outside of New York since Director Diane Paulus, Choreographer Chet Walker and Circus Creator Gypsy Snider re-imagined the story of the Prince's search for meaning as taking place under the Big Top. Some of the adjectives invoked: Breathtaking, phenomenal, colorful, spectacular and fantastical. Video by David Lenk for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.


      Pippin: Ticket information

      Sep 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
      Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
      Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
      Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
      Online • www.DenverCenter.Org

      Pippin_Testimonials_800


      'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:
       


      Our previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

      Video series: The 'Pippin' Personalities: Five questions with creatives
      'Pippin' meets Denver: Media Day photos

      Broadway's Matthew James Thomas to play Pippin in Denver
      Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive

      Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

      My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
      Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
      Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

      From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
      2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

    • Video: Off-Center's off-center parody of 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown'

      by John Moore | Sep 11, 2014


      Friday is a busy day at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, with the Theatre Company’s first preview performance of the new The Unsinkable Molly Brown in the Stage Theatre, and Off-Center @ The Jones hosting is fourth Season Release Party in, yes … The Jones.

      The shenanigans will include live trailers of all upcoming Season 4 Off-Center shows. Admission is as free as the beer. (Which to clarify, means free. Really.)

      Want a hint about what the evening has in store? This is your chance to find out what happens when you mix karaoke, pirates … and your deepest secrets.

      In honor of the big night, we present to you this silly/fun/inspired/stupid video of the Cult Following cast doing their own 2-minute improvised adaptation of The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Our honored guests are Jessica Austgen, Sarah Kirwin, Nanna Sachiko Thompson and Chris Woolf.

      Unluckily, none of these accomplished improv comics have ever seen The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Luckily … they have seen Les Mis. (Probably one time too many.) 

      What’s Cult Following, you might ask? It’s Off-Center’s signature night of unscripted, unrehearsed theatre featuring the fast-talking and quick-thinking talents of some of Denver’s best improvisers. Each show is based around a theme and promises to be unforgettable and un-replicable. Join us for the next Cult Following on Oct. 10.

      Off-Center @ The Jones’ Season Release Party
      Friday, Sept. 12
      Bar opens at 7:30 p.m.
      Show starts at 8

      For more info about Off-Center @ The Jones, click here   
      To read our recent feature story on Cult Following cast member Jessica Austgen, click here
      To see the cast of Cult Following featured in the ongoing, citywide public art project called the Denver Sonnets Project, click here

      Improv_Parodies_Molly_Brown_3

      From left: Nanna Sachiko Thompson, Chris Woolf, Sarah Kirwin and Jessica Austgen. Photo by John Moore.
    • The 'Pippin' Profiles: Kristine Reese on keeping up with the Jones

      by John Moore | Sep 10, 2014

      Pippin_Kristine_Reese_5

      For many audience members, Catherine (played by Kristine Reese), walks away with the show, even though she doesn’t even show up in the story until the second act. Photo by Terry Shapiro. Photo below by Peter Hurley Photography.



      Pippin_Kristine_Reese_4Kristine Reese went to see the Broadway revival of Pippin and, like pretty much everyone else in the audience …  she fell in love with Rachel Bay Jones.

      Jones was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as Catherine, the quirky widowed mother   who awaits young prince Pippin at the end of his quest to find meaning in his life like a curvaceous, open-armed human grail. 

      She was, by composer Stephen Schwartz’s assessment, nothing short of “amazing,” “heartbreaking” and “transformative.”

      Boy. And you thought Sasha Allen had a tough task trying to follow in the magic footsteps of Ben Vereen in the role of the Leading Player.

      Reese has been cast to play Catherine in the national touring production of Pippin now launching in Denver. She is doing her best to keep up with the Jones … by not trying to keep up with the Jones.

      “Obviously, what Rachel has done with the role is really amazing, and I think she has made it really special,” said Reese. “But whenever you take on a role (that you didn’t originate), you have to be true to who you are. I want to honor what Rachel did, but I also want to be me.”

      Reese must be doing something right. Schwartz’s first impression of Reese: “I have to tell you that we have found a really wonderful young woman to play Catherine on the tour who brings a lot of the same qualities that Rachel brought to the role," Schwartz  said. "I am really enthusiastic about our new Catherine.”

      How great is it to hear that?

      “That makes me want to actually cry with happiness,” Reese said. “That means so much to me. All I've ever wanted is for Stephen and (Director) Diane Paulus and everyone involved with the show to be enthusiastic about what I bring to the role. To have him say that is really amazing, so, thank you. You made my day.”

      Reese hails from the Midwest and graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. She’s played Nessarose on the national touring production of Wicked and Sophie in Mamma Mia.

      Pippin_Kristine_Reese_1


      Here are excerpts from our conversation with Reese, who plays a character many audiences think walks away with the show, even though she doesn’t even show up in the story until the second act:

      John Moore: So I have seen Pippin many times and in many shapes and sizes …  and I have to say, I think Catherine is almost always my favorite character.

      Kristine Reese: Yeah, a lot of people say that, actually. A lot of people.

      John Moore: How do you see this woman’s place in the story?

      Kristine Reese: She is genuine and she is pure and she is natural. And yes, she’s got a quirk to her -- especially in this production -- and I think I do as a person, too. When you play Catherine, I think you have to find that quirk inside you, because that's part of why Pippin falls in love with her. And I think that is actually the essence of who Catherine is. Even though she says in her song, ‘I'm just a plain, ordinary girl …’ she’s actually not. I think that's the point of all that silliness for the actor (who gets to plays her). She’s so special and so different, and she's not coloring in the lines like almost every other character in the play.

      John Moore: I know we can't tell people specifically about the new ending in this version of Pippin, but your character is certainly a key part in it. I think if you’ve ever seen the original Pippin, it's possible to misconstrue what the writers are actually trying to say about Pippin's ultimate choice -- in my opinion. I talked to Diane and (Circus Creator) Gypsy Snider about this, and part of their point, as mothers themselves, is to say that society needs to look again at how we perceive a young man who, after a life of pure adventure, sees marriage and fatherhood as an extraordinary life choice. … Which actually doesn't even give anything away about the new ending, I am happy to say! What's your take?

      Kristine Reese: I think that's a great way of saying it. I got married a couple of years ago, and I wasn't all that young when I did. But people would say to me, 'Why are you settling down?' No. I don't see it that way. When you live in New York and you work as a performer, some people see marriage as being tied down or restricting you -- and I  think it's the opposite. When I saw Pippin the first time, I think that's why the Catherine character resonated with me. It’s because of the connection she has with Pippin, and because of the choice he makes. I can relate so much of that to my real life, and how much my relationship means to me. I don't have children yet, but when I do, I would imagine the same thing for myself. That's the life I want.

      John Moore: What I like about the new ending is that it really takes the focus off of our looking at Pippin's choice as the ultimate point of the show and shifts it ... shall we say ... onto something different for us to chew on.

      Kristine Reese: Absolutely.

      John Moore: But I think it makes sense to acknowledge how family has changed as in institution in this country over past 40 years. When you look at all of our social problems, there is something kind of odd about a man who chooses family being seen as a bold choice.

      Kristine Reese: It is very interesting. You wouldn't think that would be a controversial thing still. But it is.


      kristineQ2Pippin_Kristine_Reese_2


      John Moore: OK, so here is your really hard-hitting, important question: What do you do for the whole first act while waiting for Catherine to enter the story?

      Kristine Reese: Actually, I am a Player in the circus troupe, and not actually Catherine. So in the first act, I am playing a silent clown. And in the second act, my job is to play Catherine in the story of Pippin that we are putting on for the audience. You may not really notice me in the first act, or know, 'Oh, she’s going to be Catherine' -- but I think that's the point.

      John Moore: We think of Pippin as this quintessential coming-of-age story about a boy becoming a man. But I see so much female empowerment going on with this production. What it's like for you to be in the room with all of these strong women?

      Kristine Reese: I am so glad that you asked me that, because that is really important to me. Like you said, Diane is a mom, and Gypsy is a mom, and Nadia DiGiallonardo, who is our music supervisor, is a mom, as are many others. I am not a mother myself, but I think that is a really special thing to have around you. I remember when Diane won the Tony Award (for best direction), and how much that meant to me as a female watching. Here was this woman up there who has this great career, but she also has children and a family. That means so much to me. And it means so much to her. I have really wanted to work with her. Not to take away from (Choreographer Chet Walker) or anyone else on the team, but I think there is something about being able to speak with a woman director about motherhood and love and family, and what those things mean. Not to say that if I had a male director the show would not be good, but I think the connection that women share is special, and I am so honored to be working with these respectful, strong women who have children and have love in their lives. They understand what my relationship means to me, and how I can use that as an actor.

      Pippin_Kristine_Reese_8


      John Moore: Many who see Pippin in Denver will be seeing it for the first time. And for those who have seen it before, it will in many ways be new for them as well. Help me to articulate what kind of a theatrical experience they are in for.

      Kristine Reese: The story is told through the circus lens, and you haven't really seen a lot of Broadway shows that have that aspect to it. I think what makes it so magical is the excitement that the circus element brings to it, contrasted with these really intimate, grounded, emotional scenes. For all the spectacular, dangerous things these performers do in these beautiful, sparkling costumes, you also have these almost naked acting moments. This show has everything. And that's why I fell in love with it when I first saw it. It was so special when they sang Simple Joys and they started jumping through hoops. But then to see this beautiful connection between these two actors playing Pippin and Catherine, I thought, 'That's really what this play is about.' I think people can take both of those things away from 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.


      'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:
       


      Pippin
      : Ticket information

      Sep 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
      Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
      Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
      Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
      Online • www.DenverCenter.Org

      Our previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

      Video series: The 'Pippin' Personalities: Five questions with creatives
      'Pippin' meets Denver: Media Day photos

      Broadway's Matthew James Thomas to play Pippin in Denver
      Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive

      Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

      My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
      Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
      Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

      From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
      2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

    • First rehearsal photos: 'Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike'

      by John Moore | Sep 10, 2014
      Vanya_Rehearsal_4

      The cast of the Theatre Company's upcoming production of Christopher Durang's "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" gathered Tuesday for their first rehearsal. The play opens Oct. 10. Photos by John Moore.
      Click here to go to a link of our gallery of first-day rehearsals.


      Vanya_Rehearsal_4You know you have a great job, Director Jenn Thompson says, "when your daily task is to either read a Chekhov play, or a Durang play ...  which is what I've been doing for the past two months."

      Thompson (pictured at right) is helming the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company's upcoming production of Christopher Durang's Tony Award-winning comedy, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

      The play marks the first time the DCPA has staged a Durang play in its 36-year history. He's known mostly for absurdly funny (and hilariously titled) comedies such as Beyond Therapy, The Actor's Nightmare, Sister Mary Explains It All For You and Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them.

      Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a chaotic Chekhovian mash-up, but it stands on its own as a very funny look at adult sibling relationships.

      The story takes place in the Bucks County countryside of Pennsylvania. Siblings Vanya and Sonia, who were named by their eccentric parents after Chekhov characters, are wiling their adult lives away without much purpose. (Sound familiar?). They live at their childhood home off the largess of their Hollywood star sister, Masha.

      When Masha and her boy-toy, Spike, arrive unannounced, the residents of the normally quiet household are thrown into comic  upheaval as they confront issues of sibling rivalry, regret, lust, love, and of course ... purpose.

      "This has been a special project, even in just researching it," Thompson told the cast, crew and guests who attended Tuesday's first rehearsal.

      "I have had a wonderful time with this design team. We wanted to find a really cool way to incorporate this whole Chekhovian themes of the  play, so we looked at a lot of Russian countryhouses, the Russian countryside, and a lot of classic sets from Chekhov plays to draw an influence from."

      While the play is laced with Chekovian undertones, you don't need know the Russian master to approciate Durang's sublime sense of humor on its own, Thompson added. 

      "It's a jumping off point," she said. "It's just a way to have fun with that whole theme of the play.

      Click here to go to a link of our gallery of first-day rehearsals.

      Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike: Ticket information

      Oct. 10-Nov. 16
      Ricketson Theatre
      303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

      Cast list

      Vanya Sam Gregory
      Sonia: Amelia White
      Masha: Kathleen McCall
      Spike: Eddie Lopez
      Nina: Lesley Shires
      Cassandra: Socorro Santiago

      Insider Perspectives: 6 p.m., Oct 10, The Jones
      Talkback: 3:30 p.m., Oct 19, Ricketson Theatre
      Page to Stage Discussion: Noon, Nov. 4, Colfax Tattered Cover
      Higher Education Advisory Council Talkback: 3:30 p.m. Nov 9,
      Theatre & Theology: 8:30 p.m., Nov 11
      Book Club Discussion: 5:30 p.m., Nov. 12, Colfax Tattered Cover
      Theatre Thursday: 5:30 p.m., Nov 13, Ricketson Theatre
      Events information: Click here

      Vanya_First_Rehearsal_1
      DCPA newcomer Eddie Lopez plays boy-toy Spike. Photo by John Moore. Click here to see more photos from the first day of rehearsal.

    • Octavio Solis scores prestigious award for Denver-born 'Se Llama Cristina'

      by John Moore | Sep 09, 2014

      CNPS_Octavio_Solis_PEN_Award_4
      Octavio Solis, above, at the DCPA's 2011 Colorado New Play Summit where 'Se Llama Cristina' had its first life.


      Octavio Solis, whose powerful drama Lydia was presented by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company in 2008 and later nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, has won the prestigious 2014 Drama Award from PEN Center USA, which honors the best writing in the western United States.

      Solis’ winning play, Se Llama Cristina, was introduced as a staged reading at the DCPA’s 2011 Colorado New Play Summit. At the time, it was titled Cecilia Marie.

      Lydia is the story of an unusual maid charged with caring for a Mexican-American teenage girl severely injured in a car accident. Se Llama Cristina is not exactly a sequel, but it concerns one of the same characters: Misha, a grown man who was a little boy in Lydia.

      The reading of Cecilia Marie was directed by Ethan McSweeny, who described the play as living in a lyric, mysterious, dark world.

      “One of the things that is so incredible about Octavio is that he’s such a warm, generous, fun person,” McSweeny told me in a 2011 Summit interview, “and yet in his plays, things are very troubled, and the people are at the edge of their sanity.”

      The play opens with a young couple who don’t remember who or where they are, but there is a baby carriage in the room. Inside the carriage is not a baby, but rather a chicken drumstick. “From there, they have to go back and put together their lives and figure out how they have arrived at this place,” McSweeny said.

      The play was picked up by the National New Play Network, guaranteeing it three separate stagings by three different members companies across the country. Se Llama Cristina was staged at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco, the Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas, and The Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena, Calif.

      Here’s an excerpt from what the L.A. Weekly said about the Pasadena staging:

      Solis started writing the play 20 years ago during his wife's pregnancy to purge himself of "night terrors" at the prospect of becoming a father. Two decades later, he rescued the unfinished script from a kill file, smoothing the rough edges with the benefit of wisdom and distance. Yet Se Llama Cristina, directed by Robert Castro, remains a raw, ragged journey that takes the audience through the disorienting logic of a fever dream, gradually intensifying before it breaks. A man and woman claw themselves awake from a bender in a fleabag apartment. Bereft of their identities, surrounded by drug paraphernalia and empty bottles - and a vacant bassinet in the corner - they start to recognize that they share histories, tragedies and, possibly, a child. As memories come into focus, we snap back and forth between past and present, to her abuse at the hands of an ex to his upbringing with an absent mother. Each fresh revelation produces another shift in the theatrical footing. Se Llama Cristina belongs to a school of theater that discomfits as much as it gentles. At once gritty and highly lyrical, Boston Court's handling keeps the audience almost permanently off-balance. Redemption doesn't come cheap for the characters or audience of Se Llama Cristina, but its victories are hard-won.

      Solis will be honored with the award, and a $1,000 cash prize, at the PEN Center’s 24th annual Literary Awards on Nov. 11 in Los Angeles.

      CNPS_Octavio_Solis_PEN_Award_3

      Paula Christensen and Justin Huen in Octavio Solis' 'Se Llama Cristina' at Boston Court in Pasadena, Calif. Photo by Ed Krieger. 



      Other 2014 PEN Center winners:

      Norman Lear (Lifetime Achievement Award)
      Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras (First Amendment Award)
      Jose Antonio Vargas (Freedom to Write Award)
      Gretel Ehrlich (Creative Nonfiction Award for Facing The Wave)
      Lindsay Hill (Fiction Award for Sea Of Hooks)
      Craig Malisow (Journalism Award for Deadly Charades)
      Victoria Chang (Poetry Award for The Boss)
      Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis (Research Nonfiction Award for Dallas 1963)
      Ben Coccio (Screenplay Award for The Place Beyond the Pines )
      ​Judd Apatow and Lena Dunham (Teleplay Award for Girls “Together”)
      Wayne A. Rebhorn (Translation Award for The Decameron)
      Margarita Engle (Young Adult/Children Award for The Lighting Dreamer, Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist)

      The winners were judged by distinguished writers, editors, critics and journalists.


      Our video from the 2011 Colorado New Play Summit

    • Costume Designer Paul Tazewell on Molly Brown's fashion sense

      by John Moore | Sep 08, 2014

      Molly_Brown_Paul Tazewell_800

      Acclaimed Costume Designer Paul Tazewell shows off one of his 14 distinct looks for Molly Brown in the Denver Center's premiere staging of the new The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Photo by John Moore.


      By John Moore

      Award-winning costume designer Paul Tazewell sees a little bit of Molly Brown in Kim Kardashian.

      Wait, what?

      Well, when you think about it  … Brown was a blue-collar Missouri factory worker by age 13 who rose to international celebrity after a sensational ocean disaster. Kardashian achieved notoriety only after a sensational sex tape. Both nouveau personalities then struggled to fit in within the day’s fashion standards.

      But no matter how hard they tried, they never got it quite right.

      “It was lovely what Kim had on at the (2013) Emmys,” Tazewell said. “She was trying, but it was a little too tight and a little bright. She turned up the volume a little bit, and she didn’t get it quite right for what was appropriate for the event.”

      Welcome to Molly Brown’s world.
      Molly_Brown_Paul_Tazewell_Collage2

      At first, Brown made her own dresses, Tazewell said. And some of her choices were questionable at a time when taste left no room for individuality.

      “There were many more rules that were applied within society then,” Tazewell said. "Since Molly Brown’s time, we have become a very casual fashion community. Our modern fashion style has a lot of casual elements, like jeans and sneakers. You would never think of wearing flip-flops to a wedding back then. So I think how we see fashion is much different thing than the rigors of what it took then to put yourself together. That required staff and all kinds of underwear,”

      In designing the Denver Center’s new look at The Unsinkable Molly Brown, the five-time Tony Award-nominee’s goal was to communicate Brown’s relationship to any given community -- from Leadville to Paris -- through her sometimes ostentatious fashion choices.

      “The other women’s clothes will always set the appropriate year and tone,” Tazewell said. “And when Molly comes into it, you’ll be able to see what she didn’t get right. The strength of her color choices will pull her out of the more staid fashion sense of the Denver community. So we are using a lot of strong jewel tones like red and emerald green. We use a coral color and an aqua teal tone for her as well.” 

      The fun will be showing Molly’s evolution through her clothing choices. "Over time, she does need to mature in her fashion sense," Tazewell said. "So within her idea of what tasteful is, she becomes more tasteful.”  

      Tazewell has more than 14 years of experience designing for theatre, dance and opera, both in the United States and internationally. He said his biggest challenge in designing Molly Brown was making the costumes feel accurate to the story, while staying true to the Broadway musical genre.

      “The color and scale is part of it, but it’s also about making choices that feel emotionally true to the characters and the story they are telling," Tazewell said. "That's how I approach all my pieces. As a costume designer, at the end of the day, it needs to be true for the character."

      Unfortunately for some of the women in the Molly Brown cast, the story’s period will require many hourglass corsets, petticoats, layers, boots “and all kinds of underwear,” Tazewell said. “But we are going to use elastic insets in the corset so that the actors don't pass out.”


      Molly_Brown_Paul Tazewell_Collage


      Sidebar: Debbie Reynolds' Molly Brown dress is
      Denver-bound

      Molly_Brown_Debbie_Reynolds_Dress As part of the festivities in Denver, the DCPA has arranged for one of Debbie Reynolds' famous dresses from the 1964 film adaptation of The Unsinkable Molly Brown to be brought to Denver. It will showcased in the lobby of The Stage Theatre throughout the run of the show. The featured dress is shown at right.






      Paul Tazewell/At a glance

      Education:
      Graduate of North Carolina School of the Arts and NYU ‘s Tisch School of the Arts. 

      Selected credits:
      Broadway: Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk (Tony Nomination), On the Town, Def Poetry Jam, Elaine Strich at Liberty, Fascinating Rhythm.
      Off-Broadway: Flesh and Blood, Harlem Song, Dina Was, City Center Encores! Li’l Abner, Once Around the City, Before It Hits Home, Playboy of the West Indies (Lincoln Center Theatre). Joseph Papp Public Theatre: Boston Marriage, One Flea Spare, Henry V, Venus, Blade to the Heat.

      Award and honors include:
      Lucille Lortel Award for On the Town, two Helen Hayes Awards for Outstanding Costume Design (The African Company Presents Richard III and Peer Gynt), a Michael Merritt Award, and the AUDELCO Award for Harlem Song. The TDF Irene Sharaff Young Master Award and a Princess Grace Fellowship.

      The Unsinkable Molly Brown: Ticket information
      Performances begin Sept. 12
      Stage Theatre
      Runs through Oct. 26.
      303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org


      Previous Molly Brown coverage on  MyDenverCenter.Org

       

    • Click: Peek in on 'Molly Brown' cast's Instagram photos

      by John Moore | Sep 07, 2014

      Molly_Brown_Instagram_1

      @kevenq: “#aintdownyet #shesqueen #DCPAMollyBrown”


      Follow along backstage and beyond with the cast of The Unsinkable Molly Brown through the photos they are posting from Denver on various social media channels. Here are a few of the photos cast members have been posting in their first month in Denver, including rehearsals and a field trip to Leadville, Colorado.

      To follow cast members' posts on Twitter all in one handy place, click here and subscribe to this list

      Some helpful handles and hashtags to use and follow on Instagram on Twitter:
      @DenverCenter
      #DCPAMollyBrown

      We'll post more of these photos here at Denver CenterStage once a week throughout the run.

      Enjoy the show ... from the cast's-eye view!



      Molly_Brown_Instagram_2

      @kevenq: “#frozen #unsinkable #whitewaterrafting #DCPAMollyBrown”


      Molly_Brown_Instagram_3

      @kristiekerwin: What an incredible day! #DCPAMollyBrown field trip to Leadville CO. Thank you, #Dick Scanlan


      Molly_Brown_Instagram_1

      @karljosefco: “Fantastic Day Off Field Trip to Leadville & The Matchless Mine with Dick Scanlan and the #DCPAMollyBrown Cast!”


      Molly_Brown_Instagram_15

      @constatineroman “JJ Brown & Vincenzo outside Leadville, CO. elev. 11,500 feet”


      Molly_Brown_Instagram_5

      @cameronadamsnyc “Rehearsal w/ @stephmartignetti & @finkestagram. #unsinkablemollybrown #dcpamollybrown”


      Molly_Brown_Instagram_6
      @kevenq “#dont #DCPAMollyBrown”


      Molly_Brown_Instagram_6

      @kevenq “#gobroncos!!! Our very own Beth Malone is singing the national anthem at the game today representing "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" #dcpamollybrown #unsinkable”

      Molly_Brown_Instagram_7

      @cameronadamsnyc “Awesome rehearsal shot from the amazing #RonnieShutterbug, AKA @kevenq. #unsinkablemollybrown #dcpamollybrown”


      Molly_Brown_Instagram_8
      @kristiekerwin: “1st day of #Tech! #DCPAMollyBrown @DenverCenter”


      Molly_Brown_Instagram_9

      @cameronadamsnyc “These guys are VERY serious about mining and stuff...#Tech #dcpamollybrown”


      Molly_Brown_Instagram_11

      @karljosefco: “It's Sitzprobe Day for #DCPAMollyBrown! Favorite rehearsal day! #Unsinkable #MollyBrown”


      Molly_Brown_Instagram_12

      @kevenq “Our director, music director, writer, associate director and orchestrator...#makingmusicals #dcpamollybrown”


      The Unsinkable Molly Brown: Ticket information
      Performances begin Sept. 12
      Stage Theatre
      Runs through Oct. 26.
      303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

      Previous Molly Brown coverage on Denver CenterStage:

    • Video: The 'Pippin' Personalities: Five questions with cast and creatives in Denver

      by John Moore | Sep 06, 2014


      In this fun video series, we will pose several personality questions to the cast and creative team behind the national touring production of Pippin The Musical, launching in Denver this very night: Sept. 6, 2014.

      The ‘Pippin’ Personalities video series:
      Video 1: What makes YOU extraordinary?
      Video 2: If you could run off with the circus …
      Video 3: What was the first big show you saw?
      Video 4: What has ‘Pippin’ taught you about yourself?
      Video 5: First impressions of Denver

      Our guests include Director Diane Paulus, Sasha Allen (Leading Player), Matthew James Thomas (Pippin), John Rubinstein (Charles), Lucie Arnaz (Berthe), Circus Creator Gypsy Snider and Choreographer Chet Walker. 

      Videos by John Moore and David Lenk for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.


      Video 2: If you could run off with the circus …




      Video 3: What was the first big show you ever saw? 




      Video 4: What has ‘Pippin’ taught you about yourself?


      ​ 


      Video 5: The ‘Pippin’ Personalities: First impressions of Denver





      Pippin
      : Ticket information

      Sept 6-20, 2014 • Buell Theatre
      Accessible Performances • Sep 20, 2pm
      Tickets: 303.893.4100 • Toll-free: 800.641.1222 • TTY: 303.893.9582
      Groups (10+) • 303.446.4829
      Online • www.DenverCenter.Org

      'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:
       


      Our previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

      'Pippin' meets Denver: Media Day photos
      Broadway's Matthew James Thomas to play Pippin in Denver
      Hello, Denver! 'Pippin' cast and crew arrive

      Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

      My three Pippins gather at Sardi's to honor John Rubinstein
      Photos: Exclusive look at first 'Pippin' rehearsal
      Lucie Arnaz joins Denver-bound ‘Pippin’ as Berthe

      From Pippin to Pappa: Denver tour launch will feature John Rubinstein
      2014-15 season: ‘Pippin,’ ‘Kinky Boots’ are Denver-bound!

    • Interview: Cyndi Lauper on 'Kinky Boots' ... and how to save Broadway

      by John Moore | Sep 05, 2014

       Kinky_Boots_Cyndi_Lauper_650
      Cyndi Lauper made history in 2013 as the first woman to win the Tony Award for best score without a writing partner. Photo courtesy Cyndi Lauper.



      You don’t need big, technicolor hair, fishnets and fingerless gloves to know that, even at age 61, Cyndi Lauper just wants to have fun.

      Now the woman who puts the “sex” in “sexagenarian” wants audiences to have fun at the live theatre.

      Lauper wrote the music for the 2013 Tony Award-winning best musical, Kinky Boots, which plays Oct. 29 through Nov. 9 at the Buell Theatre. In this era of safe Broadway musicals largely based on popular existing titles, Lauper has a pretty good idea why this exhilarating, underdog story written by Harvey Fierstein broke through.

      “It’s because the show has a huge heart,” Lauper said in an exclusive interview with Denver CenterStage. Like small independent films The Full Monty and Priscilla Queen of the Desert before it, Broadway has welcomed Kinky Boots with big, accepting arms lined with spikes, sparkles and gummy bracelets.

      Why?

      “It’s a story about love and acceptance and friendship and overcoming obstacles,” Lauper said, “and everyone can relate to that.”

      Kinky Boots is the story of a young man named Charlie who inherits his father’s shoe factory in the north of England. But no one is buying the shoes he’s selling. Enter Lola, a fabulous entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos, who convinces Charlie to start making boots for transvestites. Together, of course, they save the factory.  

      Cyndi_Lauper_Kinky_Boots_Quote_1

      Lauper has sold more than 80 million records worldwide, charted 16 hit singles and conquered the disparate worlds of pop, blues and Broadway.

      As the queen of Queens herself might say … “Oh my gwwaaaaaaaad!”

      But live theatre historically struggles to attract young audiences – especially those whose idea of a night at the theatre in Denver means the Bluebird or Ogden theatres – homes to live music concerts. Lauper is proud that Kinky Boots, based on a little-known 2005 British film, has bucked that trend.

      “I tried really hard to write songs that could also live outside of the theater,” Lauper said. “Before radio, Broadway music was Top 40 popular music. People bought sheet music and played the music at home with their families. I really tried hard to honor that tradition with Kinky Boots by writing songs that people would want to listen to at home after leaving the theater, or without even seeing the show.”

      Lauper thinks it is essential for new musicals to capture the hearts of young adult theatregoers.

      “If young people don't discover Broadway, then Broadway will die with this generation, and that would be a tragedy,” Lauper said. “So it’s important that Broadway musicals and plays are written to live in the modern world.”

      Crossover artists like Lauper might be the key to making that happen. Not only is she working on a new musical for the stage, “I am thrilled to see two of my favorites, David Byrne and Carole King, with shows on Broadway,” she said. “I would love to see Cher, Price and Joni Mitchell with shows on Broadway, too."

      Cyndi_Lauper_Kinky_Boots_Quote_2

      Last year, Lauper celebrated the 30th anniversary of her breakout album, She’s So Unusual. While that album charted five top-10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 (Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Time After Time, She Bop and All Through the Night), it was her next record that produced perhaps her lasting legacy: True Colors.

      “When I recorded that song, a very good friend of mine was dying from AIDS,” Lauper said. “Gregory had a horrific childhood. He had been abused. And the main reason he was abused was because he was gay. He became homeless really young. When he was dying he asked me to record a song so that he would not be forgotten.”

      She wrote True Colors, which has become an anthem of hope for a swath of disaffected communities.   

      “Gregory was a beautiful person. A really kind and gentle soul who was told from a very early age that he was no good. That who he was as a person was not acceptable. And that just wasn't true. So I sang the song for Gregory and for everyone who has been rejected for being who they are or for anyone who feels unloved,” Lauper said.

      “I think that it still resonates today because unfortunately we still have bias and we still have bullying. Maybe we have even more bullying because people can be cruel behind a computer instead of having the (courage) to say something ugly to someone's face. We still have hatred and that is sad because I would have thought that by 2014 people would have evolved. Because we live in the digital age, the world has gotten smaller.  You’d think that would have made us more open and accepting. If we all could just accept each other for who we are, the world would be a beautiful place.

      “And you know what? That's also the message of Kinky Boots!”

      Kinky_Boots_Broadway_6

      The original Broadway cast of Kinky Boots. Photo by Matthew Murphy.


      Last year, Lauper became the first woman in Broadway history to win the Tony Award for best score without a writing partner. One of the more endearing moments in recent Tony Awards history was seeing Lauper as she sat stunned in her seat when her name was called. Finally she stood and hugged Wheat Ridge native Annaleigh Swanson, who was Tony-nominated herself for playing sassy Lauren in the original Broadway cast.

      “I remember telling her, “Cyndi, you have to go to the stage now,’ ” Ashford said. “She was just like, ‘Oh my gwwaaaaaaaad!’ And she was crying. It was amazing."

      Lauper remembers that moment as “simply incredible.” “The Broadway community is an amazing one, and to be welcomed the way they welcomed me to this very special family is something that still warms my spirit,” she said.

      When asked what Kinky Boots audiences are in for in Denver, she said simply:

      “An amazing show with a great heart that will lift you up.”

      Cyndi_Lauper_Kinky_Boots_Quote_3



      Here is m
      ore from our exclusive conversation with Cyndi Lauper:

      John Moore: What was it like working with Harvey Fierstein?

      Cyndi Lauper: Harvey is one of Broadway's great talents and the book is so very,  very good. It was an honor to collaborate with Harvey and tell the story of Lola and Charlie.

      John Moore: Can you say a few words about your two Colorado cast members in the original Broadway cast – Annaleigh Ashford and Andy Kelso?

      Cyndi Lauper: You must have really good water there in Colorado. Annaleigh is a real jewel. She really helped bring the role of Lauren to life. She is so talented and a really great singer. Andy started Kinky Boots in the role of Harry and now is playing Charlie, one of the leads. He has a lot of charisma and really nails the part.  

      John Moore: You recently visited Denver with Cher. What are your memories of her growing up, and what was it like being on the road with her?  

      Cyndi Lauper: The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour was one of my favorite TV shows of all time. I mean the outfits ... the hair! Cher is so talented. She is a great actor, she is a comedienne with amazing timing and a great singer. She inspired me, and I still admire her so much. I was really glad to be out on road with her. We have so much fun together. The last time we were out together was 10 years ago. So when Cher called me and invited me out again I of course said, 'Yes, when do we start?'

      John Moore: You join rock artists like Neil Young, Duncan Sheik, Sting and the Flaming Lips who have made the crossover to writing for the live theatre, not by capitalizing on their existing songbooks but by writing original musicals. How is writing for the stage different from writing songs for yourself?

      Cyndi Lauper: It’s very different. Your job as the composer of a musical is to move the story forward with the songs. You have to write for many voices and from all the characters’ perspectives. And I had a blast doing that. There were songs that I wrote that I really loved that didn’t make the show because maybe there was a change in the book or there was a different arc for a character or the story, and therefore the song had to change. For my own CDs, when I write a song that I love, it makes my records, hah. And of course when I write for myself, I’m writing from my perspective. It’s my story I am trying to tell through the songs on the album to my fans.

      John Moore: What is your favorite cover of a Cyndi Lauper song recorded by another artist?

      Cyndi Lauper: Miles Davis’ Time After Time, hands down.

      John Moore: Your life changed seemingly overnight in 1983. What do you think would have become of you if She’s So Unusual had never been released?

      Cyndi Lauper: It didn't really change overnight. I had been in bands and gigging since I was 20. My band Blue Angel got signed to Polydor when I was 27, and we had some moderate success. We also had done some pretty big tours both in the U.S. and in Europe. I loved those guys, and I loved that band. We were doing rockabilly. We might have been a bit before our time. The Stray Cats came out years later and really brought that genre out to the forefront again. I signed my solo deal with Portrait at 29, and the album came out when I was 30. Unlike when you are in a band, I was able to really fully become the artist I wanted to be. It was all my vision, what I wanted to say, how I wanted to say it, what I wanted to look like, and that was so empowering. And of course, to have five hit singles off that album was just unbelievable. I don't know what would have become of me if She’s So Unusual had never been released, but I would definitely sing, and I would definitely write songs. One of the jobs I had in the beginning of my career was singing at a Japanese piano bar in New York City. Maybe I would have gone back there and asked for my job back.  

      Cyndi_Lauper_Kinky_Boots_Quote_4

      John Moore: How does it feel to be thought of as a musical – and fashion – role model for the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj?

      Cyndi Lauper: They are all great artists. If they look to me as a role model, then I am flattered. I think as women, we all need to be able to see another woman doing what we dream of doing to know that it’s possible. There are so many women I looked to for inspiration – Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell and Cher – all of these women who came before me to help light the path, and if I paid that gift forward, that makes me feel really good.  

      John Moore: What do you think of the news that there will be a Goonies sequel? Do you want to have a song in it? 

      Cyndi Lauper: I heard about that. No. I was very happy to work with Steven Spielberg and write a song for the first film though.

      John Moore: Finally, I have to ask. After all of these years, what do you have to say to anyone who has ever made fun of your speaking voice? 

      Cyndi Lauper: Wait … I have a funny speaking voice? L.O.L.!

      John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He also founded the Denver Post Underground Music Showcase in 2001. Contact him at jmoore@dcpa.org. Twitter: @moorejohn

      Kinky Boots: Ticket information
      Oct. 29-Nov. 9
      Buell Theatre
      Accessible performance: 2 p.m. Nov. 9
      Tickets: 303-894-4100 or www.DenverCenter.Org


      Video: John Moore interviews Colorado's 'Kinky Boots' cast members

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

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