• Video: Coloradans on Broadway to high-schoolers: 'Be relentlessly yourself'

    by John Moore | May 26, 2015

    We asked Coloradans working on Broadway (or on the way to Broadway) to send their encouragement and advice to the Colorado high-school students attending the third annual Bobby G Awards coming up on Thursday (May 28) at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Some samples:

    Bobby G Awards logo"Be yourself," says Castle Rock native Beth Malone of Fun Home: "Be relentlessly yourself."

    Adds Rebecca Eichenberger of An American in Paris: "Live your life. Don't make theatre everything. Because then you will be an interesting person - and you will be more interesting onstage." 

    Also featured in this video are actors Annaleigh Ashford (You Can't Take It With You), Aisha Jackson (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), Andy Kelso (Kinky Boots), Denny Paschall (Chicago), Gareth Saxe (The Lion King) and Aléna Watters (the pre-Broadway Ever After); and Page 73 commissioned playwright Max Posner. They represent Douglas County High School, Denver East High School, Wheat Ridge High School, the University of Northern Colorado, Eaglecreat High School, Pomona High School and Mesa Ridge High School.

    Ashford and Malone are nominated for Tony Awards this coming June 7.

    Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Run time: 5 minutes.

    Colorado's Beth Malone is nominated for a Tony Award for 'Fun Home.'. Photo by John Moore.

    Colorado's Beth Malone is nominated for a Tony Award for 'Fun Home.' Photo by John Moore.

    2015 Bobby G Awards
    Thursday, May 28
    7 p.m.
    Buell Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100, 800-641-1222 or  BUY ONLINE
    Complete list of nominees

    Our 2015 New York report (to date):
    Lin-Manuel Miranda on the power of theatre to eliminate distance

    Broadway: The British aren't coming: They're already here!
    Colorado's Annaleigh Ashford and Beth Malone both nominated for Tony Awards Broadway League dedicates New York conference to DCPA’s Randy Weeks
    Idina Menzel will launch 'If/Then' national tour in Denver

  • DCPA's Juliet nearing her goal to complete debut album

    by John Moore | May 22, 2015

    Lenne Klingaman, who played Juliet in the DCPA Theatre Company's Romeo and Juliet, and more recently Sylvie and Young Helen in Appoggiatura, is nearing her fundraising goal to complete her debut album, "The Heart is the Hunter."

    Lenne Klingaman in 'Appoggiatura,' left, and 'Romeo and Juliet.' Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen. The album is described as indie folk or rock/pop Americana.

    "We have recorded the music, the vocals and everything in between," Klingaman said. "Now it's time to mix, so we are headed to Nashville (to do that)."

    The  next phase of production will cost about $7,000. If you would like to help, here is a link to Klingaman's Kickstarter page.

    Photos: Lenne Klingaman in 'Appoggiatura,' left, and 'Romeo and Juliet.' Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

    Here's more background on the project in Klingaman's words:

    "In 2014, my father wrote me a song when I was going through a tough transition in my life. And he nailed it. It's about the agony and ecstasy of love, and how the heart is the compass and the comfort for that pain and growth. And even when you might not want to listen, she will guide you through the storm. Sometimes she will take you unwillingly, but you will reach the shore. The song is titled "The Heart is the Hunter." It brought the whole album together. The spirit of the song is my compass for the project. Every decision comes back to it. And it only seemed right to name the album after it.

     "We worked with an incredible drummer, John O’Reilly Jr., who has worked with fun., The Format, Jimmy Eat World, Jason Mraz, Schuyler Fisk, Rachael Yamagata and Mandy Moore.  A fantastic mandolin player, Peter Ostroushko, graced us for a song. You may know him from A Prairie Home Companion, and his work with Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, & Greg Brown. And I am blessed with the keys and producing talents of Mark Christine, as well as with the guitar, bass, songwriting, engineering and producing skills of my longtime music making partner, Steve Klingaman.

    Our Lenne Klingaman "Meet the cast" video:

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda on the power of theatre to eliminate distance

    by John Moore | May 20, 2015
    Lin-Manuel Miranda Quote 4

    NEW YORK - Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer and star of the big-buzz, Broadway-bound hip-hop musical bio Hamilton, had a message for attendees of the Broadway League conference last week:

    When life tells you it's time to go... it's time to go.

    Keynote speaker Lin-Manuel Miranda at the Broadway League's 2015 Spring Road Conference. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.The Caribbean-born Alexander Hamilton had his epiphany working for a rum- and slave-trading company in New Jersey. Luis Miranda, father of the Tony-winning rapper, lyricist, and actor of In The Heights fame, had his moment watching West Side Story at a cinema in a small Puerto Rican town in 1961.

    Read more: Why Lin-Manuel Miranda's father is obsessed with 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown'

    Hamilton, of course, went on to become chief aide to George Washington and took up residence on the $10 bill. Luis Miranda left Puerto Rico for New York and rose to prominence as a New York political consultant who has served in three New York City mayoral administrations. And he's a self-professed musical theatre geek.

    In a powerful keynote speech before the nation's leading theatre presenters, producers and theatre owners on May 12 at the Hudson Theatre, Miranda spoke of the two epiphanies that everyone who finds a life in the theatre has: Transcendence and action.

    Photo above: Keynote speaker Lin-Manuel Miranda at the Broadway League's 2015 Spring Road Conference. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

    Photo below: Lin-Manuel Miranda stars as Alexander Hamilton, which opens for Broadway previews on July 13. Photo by Joan Marcus.


    Here is an excerpt from Lin-Manuel Miranda's keynote address:

    There are two moments that happen to everyone who has a life in this business: The moment where the theatre first transported us. And as Moss Hart says to George Abbott in Act One, we have the moment where we say, 'I mean to have a life in this business.'

    I want to talk about those two moments for me. I want to talk about transcendence and action.

    Lin-Manuel Miranda stars as Alexander Hamilton, which opens for Broadway previews on July 13. Photo by Joan Marcus. My father was born in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico, and his moment of transcendence happened in a family way. His uncle, Ernesto Concepcion, was the founder of the Actors Guild of Puerto Rico. His first memories were of his uncle playing John Merrick in The Elephant Man. One minute he is kissing his uncle hello backstage. The next he is seeing his uncle as John Merrick in a room full of crying people. And John Merrick isn't Puerto Rican. He is transformed. The man in front of him is both his uncle and not his uncle. And nothing is ever really the same for him again.

    My father was born in 1954; West Side Story came out in 1957. West Side Story did not send an Equity tour to Puerto Rico. My father had to see it at the movies. And back in 1961, there was just one movie theatre in Vega Alta, which was a town of 30,000 then, and it played just one movie every day at 8 o'clock.

    There is that moment where Maria is standing over Tony, and Schrank and Krupke are going to pick up the body. She screams, "Don't you touch him!" ... and the audience laughs. But my father is in tears. He is 7 years old, and he is balling.

    And why is my father the only one crying while everyone else is making fun of gang members dancing, and making fun of Natalie Wood's accent that sounds suspiciously like Marni Nixon when she sings?

    Lin-Manuel Miranda and his father, Luis. My father didn't see any of that, and it's because he had that early exposure to John Merrick. He had that thing that movies don't really have that can only happen in live theatre. When we're all in the same room together, and we all decide to believe the same moment. We see a man who is not disfigured. But he says he is disfigured, and so we believe him. And so when everyone else who is watching the movie laughs at this outburst of emotion, my father is a wreck. And it's because he grew up watching his uncle's shows in a live theatre. 

    This was my father's moment of action. He looked around at everyone laughing at the grieving Puerto Rican widow Maria and he said, 'I've got the get the (bleep) out of this town.' And he left the Caribbean. He met my mom, he moved to New York and he never went back. And I grew up here with my sister.

    Photo: Lin-Manuel Miranda and his father, Luis. Photo courtesy Luis Miranda.

    My first moment of transcendence and action was seeing The Phantom of the Opera. It was my first Broadway musical. I was 12 years old, and I’ll never forget: There’s Raul banging on the door, and Christine could go over and open the door for him. But instead, she goes into the basement with The Phantom, who is playing really cool music. And I realized - on the cusp of puberty - that I am never going to be the good-looking guy at the door. I am going to be the guy in the basement playing the cool music. I identified so deeply with that guy.

    My moment of action came a few years later when, for my 17th birthday, my girlfriend took me to see Rent on Broadway in its first year. 

    Again, I grew up loving musicals. My dad was a lifelong collector of cast albums. But I didn't think I had a way in. I had parts in the school musicals, but I knew was never really going to get to play the Modern Major General in The Pirates of Penzance - they are going to go for the standard white guy for that part. And then I saw Rent, which took place in my city, downtown. The notion that a musical could take place today was groundbreaking to me. And that these characters were struggling with the urgencies of life and death today, and with the conflict of, "Do I pursue what I love and make a life in this business - or do I make money?" I have friends who make money, and they are really happy. But I am choosing a much harder path.

    I started writing musicals after seeing Rent. There was a moment of transcendence, and there was a moment of action.

    Lin-Manuel Miranda Quote 1

    But this goes beyond transcendence and action: It’s empathy. When you create that moment between the audience and the people onstage, you’re asking the audience to live outside of themselves. You’re asking the audience to identify with people they might not normally ordinarily identify with.

    I went on vacation in 2008, and I grabbed a book at random from a bookstore – back when bookstores still existed. It was Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton. I grabbed it because I love reading biographies, and all I knew about Hamilton was that he died in a duel. So I thought, "This will have a good ending at least." 

    So I started to read the book, and I didn’t know that Alexander Hamilton was born in the Caribbean. He was born in Nevis (in the British West Indies) and later moved to St. Croix. By the end of the second chapter, this young man has seen every manner of hardship: His father leaves. His mother dies in bed with him when he is 12 years old. He moves in with a cousin who commits suicide. He works at a trading company - they're trading rum, spices and slaves.

    And Hamilton looks around and he says, “I gotta get the (bleep) out of this town."

    He writes a poem about a hurricane that had destroyed the island of St. Croix, and that poem was used in relief efforts. People took up a collection to send him off the island to get his education. And I thought, “I know this guy.” Ron Chernow's writing had eliminated the distance between me and the dead white guy on the $10 bill.

    And as I read the book, I kept finding moments of immediacy. Parallels between his life and my father's; and the life of any immigrant who comes to this country and creates themselves from whole cloth, and kills themselves to contribute so that their kids can have a better life. It was all of the stories of In the Heights, but even less diluted and even more concentrated into the first immigrant story.

    It's also the story of the founding of our nation. Alexander Hamilton saw one Unites States instead of 13 colonies because he didn’t have a colony to claim. He didn’t have anywhere to claim except for this place that he had adopted. And that’s what Hamilton is about.

    We create our own reality so much these days. You curate your Twitter feed. You unfriend your friend who has the racist or unpopular opinion off your Facebook page. We see the reality that we choose to see, and we have more power to do that than ever before. Theatre is one of the last things that eliminates that. Dick Cheney and Hillary Clinton will go see the same show with 299 other people, and they are going to have the same experience. And they are going to have to reckon with that experience.

    My goal, and the goal of our creative team, was to eliminate any distance between the Founding Fathers and the fights we are still having and the struggles that are still happening as Americans. And when you go and sit in The House of Hamilton, it’s an incredibly powerful thing. It has been amazing to see that journey happen. 

    I will close with one more story, and it brings us back to West Side Story, because it all comes back around.

    So I had the good fortune to work with Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim on the last revival of West Side Story. The glorious thing about that was I got to work with the surviving creators of the show on Spanish lyrics for the Sharks. Again: Eliminating distance. And my father, who cried so hard when Maria pushed the police away, saying, "Don’t you touch him!” was the Anita to my Maria while we were writing Spanish lyrics for “A Boy Like That.” He was my thesaurus, because he came to New York at the age of 18 - the same age as the characters who were the Sharks. We got to write that together, and it was a real full-circle moment for him. The success of that tour has been a joy because, again, it creates more identification with even more people who maybe didn’t necessarily see themselves in the show.

    Lin-Manuel Miranda Quote 2

    I conclude with this: The first Equity tour to go to Puerto Rico was In the Heights. We went back to my dad’s hometown. Now, Puerto Rico is very economically depressed. We sold one performance at a time to make sure that we could sustain playing a full week there. But it all worked out.

    I will never forget the review that most moved me was in the main newspaper of Puerto Rico ... and I can’t not cry every time I think of it. It said: “The show is a letter from the people who left. And it is telling us that they struggled, but they did all right."

    That full-circle moment for my father and me is one of the greatest moments I have had in the theatre. That Puerto Ricans on the island saw this show about their cousins and their brothers and sisters and their sons and daughters and were able to see themselves in it means the world to me. 

    That’s what you do every time you mount a show. And every time you bring a student group to your show, there might be some kids who laugh at an outburst of emotion. But I promise you there is a kid balling his eyes out. He is not only being transported ... but he’s saying to himself, “I need to make a life in this business.”

    Read more: Why Lin-Manuel Miranda's father is obsessed with 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown'

    Lin-Manuel Miranda Quote 3

    Our New York report (to date)

    Broadway: The British aren't coming: They're already here!
    Colorado's Annaleigh Ashford and Beth Malone both nominated for Tony Awards Broadway League dedicates New York conference to DCPA’s Randy Weeks
    Idina Menzel will launch 'If/Then' national tour in Denver

    More in the coming days:
    Our New York report continues with videos featuring Colorado actors on Broadway.

  • 'Wicked' a show for the green girl in all of us

    by NewsCenter Staff | May 19, 2015

    By Teri Downard

    Special to The DCPA NewsCenter

    One hundred and fifteen years ago this year, author L. Frank Baum wrote a charming book called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that became a children’s classic. The book was turned into a stage musical a year later (one such production is slated for the Buell next February) and begat another great classic: the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. Judy Garland played a girl who, after a close encounter of the tornado kind, found herself in a strange and mysterious land. Dorothy was her name and all she really wanted was to get back home to Kansas.

    Carrie St. Louis and Alyssa Fox. Photo by Joan Marcus. The film’s iconic characters and images have become so deeply ingrained in our collective consciousness that psychologists use the movie as an archetype of the hero’s journey. Like Dorothy, all we want, it would seem, is to find our way back home.

    The next Oz-ian incarnation came along in 1972 when a sleek version of the story called The Wiz, featuring an all-black cast, opened on Broadway. It ran for 1,672 performances and was later made into a movie starring Michael Jackson in his only theatrical role.

    (Photo: Carrie St. Louis and Alyssa Fox star in the Denver-bound 'Wicked.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    Then, in 1995, strident political satirist and author Gregory Maguire wrote a Gargantuan and immensely popular fantasy novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. In an ironic twist — everything in Oz seems to have an ironic twist — the book examines, among other things, the nature of good and the nature of evil. Maguire found them alarmingly and inextricably entwined. 

    Then the adventures in Oz morphed once again, this time into a stage production adapted from Maguire’s book. Its latest life form is that of the Tony Award-winning musical by composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Godspell) and librettist Winnie Holzman (“My So Called Life,” “thirtysomething”). 

    Wicked tells a tale that is about as far removed from Baum’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz as the Emerald City is from Wichita. The show’s dark, witty, sophisticated charm made it the hottest ticket on Broadway.

    Glinda, the good witch is still there, but what, the musical inquires, is goodness after all? The main action revolves around Elphaba, the so-called wicked witch, (named by Maguire as a derivation of L. Frank Baum’s initials). Elphaba proves the popular adage that, indeed, it’s not easy being green. Born a lovely shade of jade, she is misunderstood, shunned and persecuted. While this naturally takes its toll, the question remains: is she evil? The answer is as ambiguous as her name. Elphaba and Glinda’s unlikely friendship illustrates the fact that it’s not simple trying to figure out which witch is which. 

    “The idea behind Wicked is that things are not as they seem,” notes book-writer Winnie Holzman. “What you think you know, you don’t really know. It is the premise of the novel that you know certain things, but you don’t know the deeper story.”

    The same notion drew composer Stephen Schwartz to the project: “I’m often attracted to an idea that takes a familiar story and spins it, looking at it from another direction, like Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. I like it when I see things like that, and I like to write them. For me, if you take a familiar story — whether it be the Book of Genesis or The Wizard of Oz — and you come at it from another point of view, the tension between the audience’s preconception and the approach you’re taking to the story adds an extra level of response, plus it helps to clarify the points you’re trying to make.

    “The idea of taking what is one of the iconic villains of American culture, the Wicked Witch of the West — so much ‘the villain’ that we don’t even know her name — and looking at it from her point of view, that seemed to me a brilliant concept. It was clear [that] a show about her could explore some of my favorite themes: the difference between surface appearances and what’s really going on underneath, how life is more complex and has more ambiguity than we tend to be comfortable with and, certainly, than our public discourse admits to.”

    Schwartz also found the whole idea inherently musical.

    “Oz is a fantastical, larger-than-life setting full of characters who almost demand to sing,” he said, “and the witch herself is so full of big emotions — rage, ambition and longing — the idea was screaming to be a musical.”

    In addition, tucked into this timeless tale is enough eye-popping technical wizardry in Eugene Lee’s award-winning sets to keep everyone this side of Oz happy. Yet beyond the show’s infectious score and mind-boggling sets is a thoughtful universal theme.

    Actor David Garrison, who played the Wizard in Denver’s first tour wisely suggested: “There’s a Green Girl in all of us…. Everyone has felt like the outcast at one time or another. It’s part of the show’s broad appeal. It’s not a children’s show, but kids enjoy the fantasy of it, adolescents get the love story and adults see the political allegory.

    “This show is like a rock concert every night. It’s very heartening to see that. It’s what theatre does best.” 

    Teri Downard is a Denver-based writer and contributor to Applause magazine.

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

    Our recent NewsCenter coverage of Wicked:
    Wicked has bonded mothers and daughters for a decade in Denver
  • The British Aren't Coming. (They're Already Here!)

    by John Moore | May 19, 2015

    he Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
    "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" concerns a mystery surrounding the death of a neighbour's dog that is investigated by young Christopher Boone, who has Asperger's-like issues, and his relationships with his parents and school mentor.

    NEW YORK - Dating back to George M. Cohan, America’s unique and singular contribution to the pop-culture landscape has been the Broadway musical. But in this era of all things globalization, there seem to be more stars yet fewer stripes on the Great White Way than ever before.

    A quick survey of current Broadway offerings shows that 23 plays and musicals are set on foreign soil, while just 12 stories take place in America.

    Forget about the British Invasion. Broadway is undergoing a British occupation. The question is, is this a particularly new phenomenon? Or has it always been that way?

    America may have invented the musical as we know it, but the European influence on the American musical theatre is longstanding and irrefutable. (Look no further than The Phantom of the Opera: 11,319 performances and still going strong).

    When it comes to plays, the parade of British winners often makes the Tony Awards telecast sound as though it’s being simulcast from London, not New York. This year will be no exception as seven of the 10 nominated leading actors and actresses are Brits. (Make no mistake: These are very grateful Brits who always manage to sound far more eloquent than the Americans in their acceptance speeches).

    You can’t wander through Times Square right now without bumping into big-buzz British balderdash: A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder, Finding Neverland, Kinky Boots, Matilda The Musical, Skylight, Something Rotten!, The Audience, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Wolf Hall … Parts 1 and 2!

    A Broadway quoteWhile the British presence seems pronounced, DCPA Broadway Executive Director (and Tony Awards voter) John Ekeberg isn’t so sure this is a new trend. After all, musical theatre exists to transport audiences to a new world. And most American musical theatre audiences want to get as far away from their own backyards as they can get.

    "A great play will show you a slice of life, and often that slice reflects a very real human experience that helps them better understand the world they live in," Ekeberg said. "Traditionally, we think of that as the job of American play. But more often, people look to musicals to help them escape from their own lives for a few hours and take them someplace that's new to them."

    The groundbreaking musical Fun Home is the rare musical that manages to accomplish the goals of a great play and musical at once, Ekeberg said. Fun Home poignantly recalls cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s home life in Pennsylvania, where she discovered she was a lesbian at about the same time she learned her father had been living a closeted gay life since before his parents were even married.

     “For me, that is a world I am not at all familiar with, Ekeberg said. “So in its way, it accomplished for me what people most want from a musical.”

    And yet for other audiences, Fun Home also accomplishes the primary purpose of a play as well. For audiences who grew up in families like the Bechdels' and faced the same issues, Fun Home can be a place of understanding, healing and catharsis - like any great play. 

    Ekeberg cites the Denver-bound If/Then as a similar example. It features a Sliding Doors-like plot that shows the two different futures our protagonist (played by Idina Menzel) might live out based on the consequences of one choice.

    "In that way, If/Then takes the audience to two completely different worlds in the same musical,” Ekeberg said.

    The 2015 Tony Awards should be a travelphile’s dream as it celebrates stories that take audiences all over the world. The four works nominated for best play are written by a Brooklyn bartender (Robert Askins, Hand to God); a Dame (literally) in Dame Hilary Mary Mantel (Wolf Hall); a young historian from Manchester (Simon Stephens, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time); and a Pakistani American (Ayad Ahktar, Disgraced).

    Of the four nominated best new musicals, only Fun Home is set in the U.S. The others are An American in Paris, Something Rotten! (South London in 1595) and  The Visit (a small European town).

    Broadway in America
    Airline Highway: The Hummingbird Motel in New Orleans
    An Act of God: Set in Heaven (but written by an American)
    Beautiful, The Carole King Musical: New York and California
    Chicago: CHICAGO!
    Fish in the Dark: Written by Larry David; starring Jason Alexander (Seinfeld)
    Fun Home: Cartoonist Alison Bechdel's hometown of Lock Haven, Pa.
    Jersey Boys: JERSEY!!
    Hand to God: Somewhere in Texas
    It Shoulda Been You: An American wedding
    It's Only a Play: An American townhouse
    On the Town: World War II New York City
    On the Twentieth Century: Chicago and New York in the early 1930s

    Broadway around the world
    A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder: A musical that’s bathing in British (blood)
    Aladdin: Middle-Eastern city of Agrabah
    An American in Paris: An American in Paris
    The Audience: Queen Elizabeth II
    The Book of Mormon: Uganda!
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: Set in Wiltshire and London
    Doctor Zhivago: Set in Russia (closed)
    Finding Neverland: British, set in Neverland
    Gigi: Set in Paris (mostly) at the turn of the century
    Hedwig and the Angry Inch: Out Protagonist was born in East Berlin
    The King and I: The Royal Palace in Bangkok, 1860s
    Kinky Boots: Shoe factory in Northern England
    Les Misérables: French Revolution
    The Lion King: The lion kingdom of Africa
    Mamma Mia!: Big Swedish pop songs on a tiny Greek island
    Matilda The Musical: A wormy little village in England
    The Phantom of the Opera: Paris Opéra House. 1881-1911
    Skylight: A flat in Northwest London
    Something Rotten!: South London, 1595
    The Visit: Small European town based on novel’s fictional German town of Güllen
    Wicked: You know … Oz. (And not the HBO prison!)
    Wolf Hall Part One: The court of Henry VIII, 1527
    Wolf Hall Part Two: More, ore, more!  

    Tony Awards telecast
    Sunday, June 7
    7-10 p.m. MDT

    Our New York report (to date):
    Colorado's Annaleigh Ashford and Beth Malone both nominated for Tony Awards Broadway League dedicates New York conference to DCPA’s Randy Weeks
    Idina Menzel will launch 'If/Then' national tour in Denver

    More in the coming days:
    Our New York report continues with articles on Lin-Manuel Miranda (author and star of Hamilton), and videos featuring Colorado actors on Broadway

  • 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot' brings Bard to life at Weld Central High

    by John Moore | May 18, 2015

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

    The teaching artists from the Denver Center’s Education Department had some tough questions for the Weld Central High School students. Tough, ethically ambiguous questions that revolved around teenagers, their parents and issues of privacy and personal responsibility.

    At first, the students might not have known the whole point was to help them better understand the issues at the heart of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

    “It is true that your parent or caregiver has the right to know your whereabouts at all times?” asked DCPA teaching artist Erin Willis. The students were told to register their opinions by getting up and walking to one side of the classroom or the other. About half gathered together on the yes side, the other on the no side.

    “Sometimes it’s better for the parents not to know,” one student said bluntly - and honestly. 

    The questions then got grayer, and the conversations got deeper. Minds were made up, changed and then changed back again as they debated questions such as:

    • “Love at first sight is a myth.”
    • “Going behind someone’s back can be necessary.”
    • “Holding a grudge is a sign of strength.”
    • “The only appropriate punishment for murder is death.”
    • “Parents should be held responsible for their child’s actions.”

    And then this: “Does your parent have the right to install a tracker on your cell phone?” Nearly every student banded together on the side that said “no.”

    A Shakespeare In The Parking Lot 300 1But what if your parent came to you asking for help with your troubled sibling? He’s been distant, angry and and even violent. You’ve discovered he’s been spending lots of time on disturbing web sites that show photos of mutilated pets. You’re afraid he might hurt himself, or others. And much of the time, you have no idea where he is.

    Now would you help your parent install a tracker on your brother’s phone? Some of the "no's" now said "yes."

    This was no ordinary school day in sleepy Weld County, located 40 miles northeast and a world away from Denver. It’s a rural town in Keenesberg where, sophomore Julissa Garcia said, a fun Friday night for the cool kids means “bonfires, beer and a field.” The nearest movie theatre is a half-hour away in Brighton. 

    And this was no quick, in-an-out visit from the big-city theatre teachers from Denver. This was a team of actors, teachers and staff spending two full days fully interacting with dozens of mighty Rebels from Weld Central High.

    Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. All our photos are downloadable for free in a variety of sizes from our Flickr account here. All rights reserved.

    The first, sweaty day was a real endurance test. The cast of six young professional  actors performed an abridged, hour-long performance of Romeo and Juliet for about three dozens students in the school parking lot. Then, after only a five-minute break, they did the whole play again for a new batch of Rebels. They performed it four times  in all that day on hot asphalt made hotter by an 80-degree May day.

    This was the launch of a new DCPA Education pilot program called “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot.” The production was spare, performed by just six actors entirely on and around a white pickup truck that actor John Hauser likened to “a theatrical jungle gym.” But the play – directed by DCPA Education Director Allison Watrous and performed by Hauser, Jessica Austgen, Jacques Morrow, Jenna Moll Reyes, Justin Walvoord and Erin Willis, made its impact. Junior Jessica McClure managed to sneak out for three of the four performances, which included live, original musical accompaniment by Denver School of the Arts grad Noah Wilson.

    A Shakespeare In The Parking Lot quote 1"The actors are stellar on the stage and stellar in the classroom - and that is a hard, beautiful combination to find," Watrous said. 

    Watrous picked Romeo and Juliet in part because the play is included in the State Board of Education’s Common Core State Standards. “So we can venture to guess that the majority of the students in Colorado have read it by the ninth grade,” Watrous said.

    Reading the play is one thing, “but we know that Shakespeare really comes alive when it is spoken,” Watrous added. “It is meant to be performed.” Or, as Weld Central High School English teacher Iris Mesbergen put it: “Yes, our ninth-graders read it. But without being able to see it live ... how can they see how the story breathes?”

    Senior Bella Schroeder really can’t see how Romeo and Juliet could have fallen THAT much in love in just three days. But of one thing she is sure. “I understand the play a lot better now that I have seen it,” she said. “It just made a lot more sense.” 

    And when you understand the play – any play – then you can dig deeper into it.

    The next day, the DCPA team was back leading probing (indoor!) classroom activities that began with the students exploring universal frustrations with their own parents. 

    “Once the play comes off the page and they really get to see it in front of them, it’s so much more relatable to their real lives,” said Hauser, who played Romeo.

    As the classroom conversations continued, it became evident that similarly ineffectual communication in the houses of Capulet and Montague directly led to the bloody deaths of all sorts of people in Shakespeare’s most romantic tragedy. 

    “By the end of the story, we are left with a whole pile of dead bodies because these two teenagers weren’t really parented correctly,” said actor and DCPA teaching artist Jessica Austgen. “The Montagues let Romeo run all over town doing whatever he wanted, and the Capulets kept Juliet under lock and key. These are the two extremes of the spectrum. How could that have been prevented?”

    Senior Bella Schroeder had a suggestion that tied both days together nicely. 

    “If we could have put a tracker on Romeo back in the day, then we could have saved a lot of people from dying,” she said.  

    It was a source of great pride among the Weld Central students that their school was chosen to be the first to host “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot.”

    “This is a poor little school no one knows about,” Schroeder said. “Today it feels just a little bigger. It’s like people care about us.”

    Teacher Iris Mesbergen said even though Denver’s many cultural attractions are less than an hour away, “many of the students just don’t have the economic means to go there.” That’s why, added actor Jenna Moll Reyes, “it’s so important that we come into these schools and show them that we want everyone to be exposed to art.”

    And Weld Central students weren’t the only ones who benefited from the DCPA’s visit. Kim Shaffer is a math teacher at the school, and she was never exposed to arts education as a child. “And we never studied Shakespeare in high school, so I’ve never really understood it,” she said. “But seeing these performers tell the story today, I feel like I understand what was happening for the first time.”

    Mesbergen’s classroom is a shrine to Shakespeare. She makes sure to take her students to Denver at least three times a year to soak up as much live theatre as they  can. When the second day of the DCPA's visit was over, she was so elated, she could have been easily mistaken for a fairy from A Midsummer Nights Dream.

    “I feel like I have been dancing all week, Mesbergen said, “but my feet have not touched the ground.”

    A Shakespeare In The Parking Lot 800 3

    About “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot”

    The “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” pilot program was funded by the Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, which has significant oil and gas interests in northeast Colorado, and thus a vested interest in the young citizenry of Weld County. DCPA Education Director Allison Watrous hopes more companies will join in with their support so that the program can travel to more schools next school year.  The eventual goal is to have a DCPA-branded “Theatre Truck” that takes programs like “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” and other theatrical endeavors to schools all around the state.

    More recent coverage of DCPA in the schools
    2015 Shakespeare Festival is a celebration of Will Power
    DPS Shakespeare Festival returns with DCPA as new partner
    Grant immerses Denver third-graders in the many worlds of Cinderella
    Video: Lynn Andrews comes home and sings like an (East) Angel
    Matthew Lopez to students: Be citizens. Be informed. Have opinions.
    Denver Center brings Korean teen's take on The Little Mermaid to life
    DaVita Creative Classroom Collaborative: ‘Now I know I am an artist’

    A Shakespeare In The Parking Lot 800 2

  • Photos, video: 'Women with Hattitude' event turns 10 with record-breaker

    by John Moore | May 18, 2015
    Video by David Lenk and John Moore.

    The DCPA's "Women with Hattitude" luncheon and fashion show celebrated its 10th anniversary on May 7 at the Seawell Ballroom.

    'Women With Hattitude' host Gloria Neal. Photo by John Moore. A record-breaking $60,000 was raised for the Women’s Voices Fund, which enables the DCPA Theater Company to commission, workshop and produce new plays by women. It is now a national model for female-centric theatre fundraising, as well as one of the largest of its kind at more than $1 million.

    The Women's Voices Fund, which is made up of 130 individual donors, is important because women have been under-represented as leading artists in the American theatre, said Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson, even though women comprise more than half of all theatre audiences.

    The host for the afternoon was CBS-4's Gloria Neal, pictured above right. Performers included Lynn Andrews (Miss Hanningan) and Issie Swickle (Annie) from the cast of the national touring production of Annie The Musical. Also attending were the girls who play the orphans in the show. Leading the annual fashion show was 2013-14 Bobby G Awards winner Abby Noble of the University of Northern Colorado, who sang "Popular" from Wicked.

    Our interviews include:
    • DCPA Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson
    • Playwrights Theresa Rebeck and Tanya Saracho
    • 2013-14 Bobby G Awards winner Abby Noble
    • Steering Committee member Cynthia Treadwell
    • Mother-daughter attendees Lorraine and Stephinity Salazar
    "I just love supporting other women finding their power," said Stephinity Salazar.

    Photos by John Moore and Emily Lozow. All our photos from Hattitude are available on our Flickr account for free, easy and direct downloading onto your computer at a variety of file sizes.

    MAIN PHOTO GALLERY: Action shots, performances and fashion show: 

    MORE PHOTOS: From the step-and-repeat:

    The 2015 Hattitude Steering Committee as made up of Murri Bishop, Janet Buckner, Trisha Hood, Cynthia Treadwell, Wendy Weil and Deborah Woodward. The Platinum Sponsors were Macy's, Hilja Herfurth, and the Denver Center Alliance.
  • New York's Broadway League dedicates 2015 conference to Randy Weeks

    by John Moore | May 12, 2015
    Randy Quote2

    Randy Weeks.

    The Broadway League’s 26th annual spring road conference opened on Tuesday in New York with a special dedication to late DCPA President Randy Weeks, who died last Oct. 9 at age 59. The conference has gathered nearly 1,000 producers, presenters and staff from Broadway touring markets around the country.

    Here was the opening statement from Al Nocciolino, President of NAC Entertainment:

    "Today I have the privilege of dedicating this conference to Randy Weeks. Randy was president of the Denver Center, and he was responsible for its Broadway series for many, many years. He was an active, engaged member of the Broadway League. He served on the Board of Governors, our executive committee, and also as one of our conference co-chairs. He was a very, very important part of our industry. But more important, Randy turned Denver into one of the most important theatre cities in America. Numerous tours chose Denver to open because of what Randy and his staff were able to do. It is one of the great, great theatre towns in America. We will always remember Randy, but if he could get a message to me right now, he would say, ‘Al: Tell them they are looking good, congratulations … and get on with it.’ So we are going to get on with it. But please remember our friend, Randy Weeks, and we dedicate this conference to him.”



    Our previous coverage of the death of Randy Weeks:
    Video: Highlights, interviews from Randy Weeks celebration
    Celebration draws 1,500 to recall a singular friend in story and song
    DCPA president Randy Weeks dies at London conference
    Video: Randy Weeks honored with dimmed lights, moments of silence
    Randy Weeks photo gallery
    DCPA to celebrate Randy Weeks' life on Nov. 3
    A look back at Randy Weeks' 'It Gets Better' video
    'Pippin' dedicates entire tour to Randy Weeks
  • Breaking: Idina Menzel will launch 'If/Then' national tour in Denver

    by John Moore | May 07, 2015

    Tony Award-winner and Broadway superstar Idina Menzel will launch the national touring production of If/Then in Denver, it was announced today. In all, Menzel will reprise her critically acclaimed, Tony-nominated performance in seven select cities.

    Menzel is best known for her Broadway 
    performances in Wicked and Rent; voicing Elsa in the global hit animated film Frozen; and her recurring role on the FOX TV series Glee.
    If/Then is an original Broadway musical that reunites composer Tom Kitt, book writer/lyricist Brian Yorkey, and director Michael Greif, the creative team behind the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical Next to Normal.

    The national touring production launches at 
     the Buell Theatre from Oct. 13-25. Menzel  will then appear in the following cities only: 
    • Seattle, Paramount Theatre, Nov. 3-8
    • San Francisco, SHN Orpheum Theatre, Nov. 10-Dec. 6
    • Los Angeles, Hollywood Pantages Theatre, Dec. 8-Jan. 3
    • San Diego Civic Theatre, Jan. 5-10
    • Tempe, Ariz., ASU Gammage, Jan. 12-17
    • Costa Mesa, Calif., Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Jan. 19-24

    Tickets for all of these  engagements are only available at present to season subscribers. If/Then is a part of the DCPA's 2015-16 Broadway Season. Subscriptions are available by calling 303-893-4100 or visiting denvercenter.org. A single ticket on-sale will be announced at a later date.

    Idina Menzel Quote If/Then is especially meaningful for me because I had the opportunity to develop it for several years with the creative team, whom I have come to consider family,” said Menzel.  “I’m so thrilled to launch the show’s national tour and to send it off across the country and around the world. I am very much looking forward to sharing this original musical with Broadway fans who weren’t able to travel to New York and see it there.”  

    The Hollywood Reporter called Menzel "a blazing supernova" in If/Then. The Associated Press said Menzel "tears the rafters off the theatre." The Toronto Star called If/Then "the bravest new musical in a long time." 

    The Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones called If/Then "a thoroughly fascinating, intellectually and musically rich new musical."

    It is not an adaptation of anything, but a very compelling and involving idea," Jones wrote. "Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s beautiful score hits an especially sweet spot, keeping the audience in its pocket. It is a zesty, savvy and ambitious original.”

    Additional casting for the national tour of If/Then will be announced at a later date.

    “I am thrilled that Idina will be playing these select cities in the time-honored touring tradition established by Broadway’s leading stars like Angela Lansbury, Yul Brynner, and Ethel Merman,” said producer David Stone.  ““I look forward to having audiences discover and embrace IF/THEN and to give Broadway fans across the country the unique opportunity to see a genuine superstar at the height of her powers, in a role that was literally tailored for her.”

    If/Then is a contemporary new musical that follows two distinct storylines in the life of Elizabeth, a city planner who moves back to New York to restart her life in this city of infinite possibilities. When her carefully designed plans collide with the whims of fate, Elizabeth’s life splits into two parallel paths. If/Then follows both stories simultaneously as this modern woman faces the intersection of choice and chance.

    If/Then features choreography by Larry Keigwin, set design by Tony Award-Nominee Mark Wendland, costume design by Emily Rebholz, lighting design by Tony Award-Winner Kenneth Posner and sound design by Tony Award-Winner Brian Ronan.

    The original Broadway Cast Recording of If/Thenis produced by Sony Masterworks and is available on iTunes.

    If/Then played its final Broadway performance on March 22, having played 29 previews and 401 performances.

    For more information about If/Then, please visit IfThenTheMusical.com.

    Menzel's Colorado fans also will get a chance to see her this summer when she performs live at the Red Rocks amphitheater on Aug. 11

    DCPA Broadway 2015-16 subscription information:
    The DCPA's 2015-16 Broadway subscription packages start at eight payments of $26.13. Restrictions apply. To purchase a subscription, please call Denver Center Ticket Services: 303-893-4100 or toll-free at 800-641-1222. Or visit the ticket office located in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex at Speer Boulevard and Arapaho Street. Subscription packages also may be purchased online at denvercenter.org/bwaysubs. For groups of 10 or more, please call 303-446-4829.

    Please be advised that the DCPA's web site at denvercenter.org is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for these productions in Denver.

    Related NewsCenter coverage:
    DCPA's If/Then show page
    A Gentleman's Guide to the 2015-16 Broadway season in Denver
    John Moore's 2011 interview with Idina Menzel in The Denver Post 
    John Moore's review of the Red Rocks concert with Idina Menzel and Marvin Hamlisch


    Idina Menzel and Anthony Rapp in 'If/Then.' Photo by Joan Marcus.Idina Menzel and Anthony Rapp in the original Broadway cast of 'If/Then.' Photo by Joan Marcus. Menzell will perform the show in Denver in October. Further casting will be announced at a later date. 

  • Photos: Family Night at 'Annie' in Denver

    by John Moore | May 06, 2015

    All our photos are free and easily downloadable from our Flickr site by clicking here.

    A young audience member gets her hair glittered during family activities before 'Annie.' Photo by John Moore. Wednesday was Family Night at the national touring production of Annie, playing through May 10 in Denver. Youngsters got to meet the cast and participate in theatrical activities in the Buell Theatre lobby before the performance, which was followed by a talkback. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Through May 10
    Buell Theatre
    ASL interpreted, Audio described & Open Captioned performance: May 10, 2pm
    Tickets: Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    800-641-1222 | Groups (10+): 303-446-4829

    A young audience member, left, meets the actor who plays Annie after the show. Photo by John Moore.
    A young audience member, left, meets the actor who plays Annie after the show. Photo by John Moore.

    'Annie' cast members sign autographs before Wednesday's performance. Photo by John Moore.
    'Annie' cast members sign autographs before Wednesday's performance. Photo by John Moore.

  • Video: Lynn Andrews comes home and sings like an (East) Angel

    by John Moore | May 05, 2015

    2004 Denver East High School graduate Lynn Andrews has returned home to play Miss Hannigan in the national touring production of Annie through May 10 at the Buell Theatre.

    Lynn AndrewsOn Friday, Andrews paid a visit to her alma mater, stopping by former choir teacher William Taylor and retiring theatre teacher Melody Duggan's classes. Andrews answered questions and sang for the students - and the choir returned the favor. "In 23 years of doing shows, this was the one," Duggan said of Andrews.

    Andrews believes she would not be playing Miss Hannigan today without the encouragement and discipline she got from Taylor and Duggan at Denver East High School. "Everything I am doing now, they pretty much taught me," she says.

    Adds Taylor of the impact Andrews' visit might have on his current students: " I hope it opens up the sky to them."

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


    Check out our full photo gallery of 'Annie's' stay in Denver, including Lynn Andrews' visit to Denver East High School. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Through May 10
    Buell Theatre
    ASL interpreted, Audio described & Open Captioned performance: May 10, 2pm
    Tickets: Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    800-641-1222 | Groups (10+): 303-446-4829

    Lynn Andrews with William Taylor choir class at Denver East High School. Photo by John Moore.

    Lynn Andrews with William Taylor's choir class at Denver East High School. Photo by John Moore.
  • 2014-15 Bobby G Awards nominations spotlight Colorado high-school musical theatre

    by John Moore | May 04, 2015
    Coming soon: A full photo gallery including all 2014-15 Bobby G Awards nominees.

    Finalists for the third annual Bobby G Awards were released this afternoon. The awards program, which culminates in a Tony Awards-style ceremony on May 28 at the Buell Theatre, celebrates outstanding achievement in high-school musical theatre in Colorado. This year the program was expanded from the Denver metro area to include high schools statewide.

    With today's announcement, tickets are now officially on sale for the 2014-15 Bobby G Awards ceremony, which will gather students from 30 high schools all across Colorado to perform on the Buell Theatre stage and mutually support one another’s work. Click here to purchase tickets.

    Taylor Lang in Mountain View High School's 'Aida.' Photo by Rachel Horstmeyer. Mountain View High School in Loveland leads all schools with 12 nominations, including outstanding musical, for its staging of Disney's Aida. Next are Durango High School’s Les Misérables with 10; Cherry Creek High School's Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella with nine; and Boulder Fairview High School’s Anything Goes and Westminster High School’s Rent, with eight each.

    (Pictured at right: Taylor Lang in Mountain View High School's 'Aida.' Photo by Rachel Horstmeyer.)

    In all, 17 of the 30 participating public and private high schools received at least one nomination. André Rodriguez of Westminster High School (Rent) was nominated for Outstanding Direction for the third straight year. Rodriguez is the only theatre artist to have been nominated all three years of the awards’ existence.

    The Bobby G Awards, overseen and hosted by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, are Colorado's regional representative within the larger National High School Musical Theatre Awards, otherwise known as "The Jimmy Awards.” The winners of Colorado's outstanding actor and actress awards not only will invited to attend the Jimmy Awards on June 29 at the Minskoff Theatre in New York, but to participate in a week-long series of intensive classes and workshops with Broadway actors, directors and designers.

    Adjudicators, made up of professional working theatre artists in the Denver area, attended the participating schools’ musical theatre productions. Using the standards set by The Bobby G Awards training and criteria, as well as their own professional experience, these adjudicators completed extensive evaluation forms, offering schools detailed feedback on various elements of their musical productions. Participating schools receive each adjudicator's comments, praise and constructive criticism as a way of recognizing accomplishments and motivating future growth.

    All five schools nominated for Outstanding Overall Production will be invited to perform at the May 28 Bobby G Awards ceremony. The finalists are Cherokee Trail High School’s The Addams Family, Durango’s Les Misérables, Fairview’s Anything Goes, Mountain View’s Aida and Westminster’s Rent.


    Our Bobby G Awards YouTube channel, with highlights from last year's ceremony.

    The evening will include special guests and performances. Award categories include all areas of performance, design, direction, choreography, technical production and overall excellence. Three “special achievement” winners have been announced in advance: Abigail Kieffer of Sound Cherokee Trail for sound design; Shailyn Clay of Mountain View for stage management, and Gabriella Bailey of Westminster for leadership.

    The Bobby G Awards are named after late theatre producer Robert Garner, who made Denver not only a preferred stop for any Broadway tour, but one of the most desired locations in the nation for musicals to open their tours. His successor was Randy Weeks, who died last year. The Randy Weeks Memorial Scholarship for The Bobby G Awards supports the advancement of musical theatre for Colorado high-school students. Contributors to the tax-deductible fund are invited to The Bobby G Awards ceremony.

    From 1979 through 2014, Robert Garner and Randy Weeks have entertained Denver audiences with more than 475 Broadway hits, nine national touring premieres such as The Lion King, The Book of Mormon, the pre-Broadway engagement of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and Pippin. The tradition continues next season with the Denver launch of If/Then

    Here are just some of our photos from the 2013-14 Bobby G Awards ceremony at the Buell Theatre. To see more, click here.


    Outstanding  Achievement in Hair and Make-up Design

    With show title, high school and names of nominees
    The Addams Family, Cherokee Trail, McKenzie Boyd, McKenzie Campbell and Esther Ekberg
    Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, Cherry Creek, Miranda Cochran
    Hello, Dolly!, Lakewood, Timothy Campbell and Erin Cole
    Aida, Mountain View, Dakota Parker, Karla Quinones, Raquel Reynolds and Hannah Tester
    Beauty and the Beast, Valor Christian High School, Elissa Haney, Rachel Jeffries, Haley Nicas and Trisha Rouleau

    Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design
    Show Title, High School, Nominees
    Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, Cherry Creek, Jim Miller and Weldon Steinke
    Les Misérables, Durango, Diane Hoffman, Madison Norcross and Isabel Whitehead
    Shrek The Musical, Front Range Christian School, Mariah Hart and Jenn Horrom
    Aida, Mountain View, Jen Bleem, Jerri Hartshorn, Brynn Ledermann, Jen Likes and Cindy Sipes
    Oklahoma!, Wheat Ridge, Teri Nydegger, Amy Sares, Denise Wood & Sarah Wood

    Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design
    Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, Cherry Creek, Yasmin Farsad
    Les Misérables, Durango, Blake Martin, Nico Schiavone and Walker White
    Anything Goes, Fairview, Lanny Boyer and Caleb Werkmeister
    Aida, Mountain View, Jenny Horstmeyer
    Rent, Westminster, John Kirk and Travis Roth

    Outstanding Achievement in Scenic Design

    Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, Cherry Creek, Jack Hagen, Yukki Hashimoto, Max Post and Joe Woodard
    Les Misérables, Durango, Elise Christiansen, Sam Coleman, Mia Irwin and Walker White
    Hello, Dolly!, Lakewood, Brandon Davis, Sarah DeLaet, Jace Smykil and Anna Tiberi
    Aida, Mountain View, Phil Foreman, Tyler King, Even Meyers and Rebecca Reynolds
    Rent, Westminster, Brandon PT Davis, Peter Lutz and Trenton Wright

    Outstanding Achievement in Choreography

    Rodgers + Hammerstein's, Cinderella, Cherry Creek, Ronni Gallup
    Anything Goes, Fairview, Karen Cassel
    Thoroughly Modern Millie, Grandview, Piper Arpen
    Aida, Mountain View, Tammy Johnson, Owen Whitman and Lauren Valdez
    Rent, Westminster, Rachel Ilk, Starr Palmer and Lea Schoengarth

    Outstanding Achievement in Musical Direction

    Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, Cherry Creek, Adam Cave and Sara Wynes
    Hairspray, Denver School of the Arts, Brian Stinar
    Les Misérables, Durango, Tom Kyser, Katherine Reed and Ivy Walker
    Aida, Mountain View, Logan DeBord, Phil Foreman, Alana Reed and Peter Toews
    Guys and Dolls, Rock Canyon, Marsha Anema and Julia Dale

    Outstanding Performance by a Chorus
    Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, Cherry Creek
    Les Misérables, Durango
    Anything Goes, Fairview
    Aida, Mountain View
    Rent, Westminster

    Outstanding Performance by an Orchestra

    Puck's Potion, Chaparral
    Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, Cherry Creek
    Hairspray, Denver School of the Arts
    Les Misérables, Durango
    Anything Goes, Fairview

    Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
    The Addams Family, Cherokee Trail, Josette Axne, Alice Beineke
    The Addams Family, Cherokee Trail, Tessa Robinson, Wednesday Addams
    Hairspray, Denver School of the Arts, Sarah Doerner, Velma Von Tussle
    Aida, Legacy, Carly Lyman, Nehebka
    Aida, Mountain View, Lauren Valdez, Nehebka

    Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
    Puck's Potion, Chaparral, Jack Griffen, Nick
    The Addams Family, Cherokee Trail, Caden Montgomery, Lucas Beineke
    Beauty and the Beast, Valor Christian, Mason Askamit, Gaston
    Rent, Westminster, Jairo Guerrero, Angel Dumont
    Oklahoma!, Wheat Ridge High School, Jose Sierra, Ali Hakem

    Rising Star
    Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, Cherry Creek, Luccio Dellepiane, Herald
    Bye, Bye Birdie, Discovery Canyon Campus, Lili Yocum, Mae Peterson
    Beauty and the Beast, Green Mountain, Emelia Kamadulski, Chip
    Beauty and the Beast, Valor Christian, Elleon Dobias, Madame de la Grande Bouche Beauty and the Beast, Valor Christian, Xander Doege, Chip

    Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
    Les Misérables, Durango, Emma Buchanan, Eponine
    Anything Goes, Fairview, Alei Russo, Reno Sweeney
    Aida, Mountain View, Taylor Lang, Aida
    Aida, Mountain View, Raegan DeBord, Amneris
    Rent, Westminster, Lea Schoengarth, Mimi Marquez

    Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
    Puck's Potion, Chaparral, Ty Eatherton, Puck
    Les Misérables, Durango, Evatt Salinger, Jean Valjean
    Anything Goes, Fairview, Charlie Kolbrener, Moonface Martin
    Guys and Dolls, Rock Canyon, Sam Hulsizer, Nathan Detroit
    Beauty and the Beast, Valor Christian, Dylan Ruder, Beast

    Outstanding Achievement in Direction
    Les Misérables, Durango, Landon Newton and Kristin Winchester
    Anything Goes, Fairview, Michael Bizzaro and Janice Vlachos
    Aida, Mountain View, Phil Foreman and Karla Quinones
    Guys and Dolls, Rock Canyon, Cindy Baker
    Rent, Westminster, Andre` Rodriguez

    Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical

    The Addams Family, Cherokee Trail
    Les Misérables, Durango
    Anything Goes, Fairview
    Aida, Mountain View
    Rent, Westminster

    Special Achievement Award Winners
    Achievement in Sound Design
    The Addams Family, Cherokee Trail, Abigail Kieffer

    Achievement in  Stage Management

    Aida, Mountain View, Shailyn Clay

    Achievement in Leadership

    Rent, Westminster, Gabriella Bailey

    Connections to the local theatre community
    The 2015 nominees point out just how many local theatre professionals also offer their time and expertise to local high schools. Among the names members of the local theatre community will recognize:

    Jim Miller: The Bobby G nominated oustanding director of Cherry Creek High School's Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella was nominated for Outstanding Costume Design by both the Denver Post Ovation and Colorado Theatre Guild Henry awards for Town Hall's Guys & Dolls.

    Ronni Gallup: The former Chief Operating Officer of Starkey Theatrix starred as Lola in Town Hall's Damn Yankees. She is nominated for outstanding choreography for a second straight year, this time for Cherry Creek High School's Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella.

    Piper Arpan: Currently appearing in the Arvada Center's A Man of No Importance. She's nominated for choreographing Thoroughly Modern Millie at Grandview High School.

    Lanny Boyer: The University of Northern Colorado grad appeared in the Boulder's Dinner Theatre production of The Music Man. He runs the program at Fairview and is co-nominated for lighting Anything Goes.

    Timothy Campbell: Nominated for hair and makeup for Lakewood High School's Hello, Dolly!, he appeared in Equinox Theatre's Bat Boy The Musical.
  • 'Wicked' bonds mothers and daughters over a decade in Denver

    by John Moore | May 04, 2015

    Erin Ostrin and her daughter, Abby, are shown in 2005 and 2015. They have seen 'Wicked' together every time it has played Denver. Erin Begeman and her daughter, Abby, are shown in 2005 and 2015. They have seen 'Wicked' together every time it has played Denver.

    When Erin Begeman and Carolyn Toth Bartels took their young daughters to see the hit Broadway musical Wicked during its first visit to Denver back in 2005, little did they know the national touring production would become like a theatrical growth chart of their mother-daughter relationships over the next decade.

    Begeman and Bartels are among a handful of moms who will be taking their daughters to Wicked for a fifth time when the musical returns to Denver from June 3 through July 5. Denver will become the first city in the country to host the beloved Stephen Schwartz prequel to The Wizard of Oz five times.

    And these moms, and their daughters, have seen them all.

    Abby Begeman was a second-grader in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 2005. Now she is a 17-year-old senior at Cheyenne East High School. She is on the debate team and is the clarinet section leader for her school’s marching band. Hannah Bartels was a self-described insecure fifth-grader in 2005. She’s now a 20-year-old psychology major at Metropolitan State University of Denver. And she is still determined to one day play Elphaba on stage.

    Both young women found personal strength – and maternal bonding – watching the story of how the ostracized young girl of color (green) became the Wicked Witch of the West the world so universally loathes in The Wizard of Oz. The cackling dog-snatcher with the flying monkeys makes for an easy common enemy. But Wicked asks us to consider that she may be an enemy of our own making. Young Elphaba is labeled evil so often, she finally succumbs and simply becomes exactly what people expect her to be. Wicked audiences see the injustices done to her, and come to root for her.

    Both moms say they knew Wicked would become a lifelong mother-daughter ritual after seeing it for the first time in 2005.

    “I think it’s because the themes of Wicked grow along with you,” said Carolyn Bartels, of Wheat Ridge. “I know that Wicked is one of the reasons Hannah is studying psychology at Metro State. She has always been fascinated by this idea that wickedness is not something that you are born with - that it can be thrust upon you.”

    Both moms say Wicked has enhanced their relationships with their daughters over the past decade.

    “Each time we go, we make a night of it,” Erin Begeman said. “It’s time just for her and I to spend together. And this year will be extra special since I know Abby is heading to college after we see Wicked."

    Carolyn Bartels says she and daughter Hannah have always been very close. “But Wicked is one of the brightest spots in our relationship,” she said. ”It is the perfect mother-daughter outing.”

    But she admits, over the passage of coming time, Carolyn expects one essential part of the ritual to change.

    “If it ever comes to Denver, we will go, absolutely. But at some point, Hannah is going to start paying for the tickets,” she said with a laugh.

    We asked our two moms and daughters, who have not met, to talk about their common experiences watching Wicked in Denver in 2005, ’07, ’09 and ’12.

    Carolyn Toth Bartels and her daughter, Hannah, received a framed photo from Victoria Matlock after writing the 'Wicked' actor in 2007.

    Carolyn Toth Bartels and her daughter, Hannah, received a framed photo from Victoria Matlock after writing the 'Wicked' actor in 2007.


    The first time Wicked played Denver in September 2005, it sold 69,000 tickets, grossing $3.5 million in a three-week run that could have easily sold out for a run twice as long. In a precedent-setting move, tickets for a 2007 run were then immediately put on sale - 20 months in advance - and most of the 90,000 available seats went fast.

    Neither Erin nor Abby Begeman had seen a Broadway musical before Wicked in 2005. Not so for Carolyn Bartels, a former concierge at the Hotel Teatro. She grew up in a musical theatre environment, and she took Hannah to the Buell Theatre for the first time to see Beauty and the Beast – when she was just 2.

    Wicked QuoteErin Begeman had a friend in Wyoming who had seen Wicked in Chicago. She told Erin she loved it so much, she she would drive the seven hours to Denver just to see it again. Erin was convinced.

    “I grew up loving The Wizard of Oz – with the exception of those freaky flying monkeys,” she said.

    And what did they think of the show?

    “From beginning to end, Abby and I were mesmerized by the storyline, music, actors and costumes. We just loved it all,” Erin Begeman said. “While walking out after the show, Abby and I agreed we needed the soundtrack so we could learn every song to sing along the next time we saw it.”

    Carolyn Bartels, now the development director for the Aurora Cultural Arts District, was blown away. “I knew right then Wicked was going to become our mother-daughter ritual,” she said. “It was one of the most phenomenal theatrical concepts I had ever seen. And seeing it that first time led to my daughter reading the (Gregory Maguire) source books in middle school.”

    A young Hannah Bartels found her first viewing of Wicked production to be amazing. “I was in middle school, and despite the insecurities that come with that difficult time, Elphaba was my inspiration to be myself,” Hannah said. “There was great comfort with that, and I carried it with me from the theater into my life every time we saw it.”

    After that first Wicked, Erin and Abby Begeman immediately agreed they would see it again, whenever that was. “And in the meantime, we started enjoying other shows that came to Denver like The Little Mermaid and My Fair Lady,” said Erin, a political consultant. “I recognized that these were special times, and that they were precious. Memories were being made that we could both relive and always reminisce about.”


    The second time around, Denver audiences saw University of Northern Colorado graduate Victoria Matlock play Elphaba. A few days after the performance, Carolyn Bartels wrote Matlock a letter telling her of Hannah’s passion for the musical. Matlock sent back a framed photo of Elphaba on her broomstick with the message: “Hannah. Keep dancing through life! Love, Victoria.” 

    “When mom surprised me that framed photo, I was in shock,” Hannah said. “It is still on our wall.” 


    Hannah Bartels said the passing of years has brought different revelations with each new Wicked viewing, both for her mother and herself. “It’s always relatable to what one or both of us are maybe going through or dealing with,” she said. “And we always laugh - a lot.”

    As she has grown older and is now off living on her own at college, she finds it a meaningful tradition to keep up with her mother. 

    “And the story continues to give me faith in humanity and the belief that no one is truly born wicked,” she said.

    Abby Begeman now thinks of Wicked as something “that’s just for my mother and me,” she said. “It’s our girls’ night out. That little extra time together is a special thing I look forward to.  We get dressed up and go out for dinner at a fun restaurant in Denver.”

    Over the years, Erin says Wicked has helped her to communicate with Abby during hard times.

    “When I hear Abby play a song like 'Defying Gravity' or 'For Good,' I know it’s her way of telling me, ‘I’ve got something on my mind. Please ask me about it,’ " Erin said. “Parents can always find a way – even if it seems small or trivial – to connect with their kids. Wicked - and a love for theater – were two of ours.”

    June 3 through July 5
    Buell Theatre
    Accessibility performance: 2 p.m., June 27
    Tickets: Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    800-641-1222 | Groups (10+): 303-446-4829


  • 'Annie' brings a horrible Hannigan happily home

    by John Moore | Apr 29, 2015

    Denver native Lynn Andrews is having the time of her life playing Miss Hannigan (here singing “Little Girls”) in 'Annie.' Photo by Joan Marcus.
    Denver native Lynn Andrews is having the time of her life playing Miss Hannigan (here singing “Little Girls”) in "Annie." Photo by Joan Marcus.

    For Denver native Lynn Andrews, playing the nefarious and boozy child endangerer Miss Hannigan is pretty much her dream role. And why not?

    “She’s drunk all the time, and she yells at little kids,” said Andrews, who graduated from Denver East High School in 2004. “And they pretty much let me do whatever I please - as long as I don't hurt anybody.” 

    Andrews is playfully playing the iconic villain in the 30th anniversary national touring production of Annie, which opens in Denver tonight (Wednesday, April 29) and plays at the Buell Theatre through May 10.

    You know the story of the red-headed foster child whose sunny optimism singlehandedly lifts America out of the Great Depression. It’s based on the popular Harold Gray comic strip that began in 1924. It was made into a Broadway musical in 1977 that ran for six years. The songs Tomorrow and It's the Hard Knock Life are among the most popular numbers in musical-theatre history.

    Lynn Andrews quoteAnd at a time when pop culture is scrambling to modernize and contemporize, you will recognize the story that is coming to Denver.

    The latest touring production arrives just four months after the latest cinematic spin on the Annie franchise was released in movie theatres. That film traded in the 1930s red-headed moppet for a contemporary young black girl who is taken in by a politician (Jamie Foxx) intent on using her for political gain.

    But the Annie you have known is the Annie you are going to get in Denver, Andrews said. This production is helmed by original lyricist and director Martin Charnin.

    “This Annie is a time capsule,” Andrews said. “It’s set in the 1930s. You're going to see the little girl in the red dress and wig. You’re going to see the costumes you expect to see. You going to get the original choreography. There is a dog. You are basically getting the original staging."

    But at the same time, she added, the performances are different because the actors are different. 

    “I am not Dorothy Loudon or Carol Burnett - not by a long shot,” Andrews said of famous actors who have preceded her as Miss Hannigan on stage and in film. “We all have different voices and different physicalities. Our Rooster is different. Our Grace is different ... and nuts ... and so much fun.”

    And audiences young and old have never seen a scenic design like the visual world  created by Beowulf Boritt (who just designed On the Town for Broadway).

    "It is gorgeous,” she said. “It should be incredibly interesting to any kid who has never seen what the 1930s looks like.”

    Lynn Andrews dadAndrews grew up in the City Park West neighborhood the daughter of legendary civil-rights attorney lawyer Irving Piper Andrews, whom U.S. District Judge John Kane called “unquestionably the finest African-American lawyer this state ever saw.” He died when Lynn was just 12.

    (In the photo above right, Irving Andrews is just to the left of Martin Luther King.)

    "He had the first integrated law firm in Colorado,” she said. "He worked selflessly his entire life for social justice, and he made sure we knew what that was about. What fairness and unfairness was about. He impacted a lot of people's lives for the better, while sacrificing a lot of things in his own."

    Irving Andrews also had a lovely baritone voice, Lynn said. “Under different circumstances, we probably could have gone down that road together.”

    Instead, she took classes at Rocky Mountain Vocal Jazz Camp and the DCPA Academy during her high-school years. She even celebrated her senior prom at the DCPA.

    Andrews is also one-third of a self-described girl group called the Shirtwaist Sisters, which she describes as, "What would happen if Hank Williams, The Andrews Sisters and Beyonce had a sleepover." She will spend part of her short return trip home visiting East High School, where she had two seminal teachers – Choir leader William Taylor and retiring theatre legend Melody Duggan. She's the mother of founding Buntport Theater ensemble member Hannah Duggan.

    “How do you begin to talk about Melody Duggan?” she said. “She’s the kindest director you will ever have. The lessons we learned from her also apply to professional theatre, and they also apply to life. She went deeper with everything than you'd think would be necessary in a high-school play. She really cared.”

    She also gave students of minority ethnicities the chance to play roles they might not be considered for at other schools. Andrews' favorite role at East was playing the German innkeeper Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret. She was cast opposite a black student as Herr Schultz.

    He might not look like any other actor you have seen play Herr Schultz, “but he was perfect for the part because of his personality and because of his singing voice,” Andrews said. “I think high school is one of the last opportunities you have to play whatever role you can based on your abilities and not on your look, too. In the professional world, they look at you first - and then hear what you sound like later.”

    Andrews was named all-state in choir, and she credits Taylor for his exacting standards.

    “One of the greatest things about East is that you never felt good enough because there is always such a wealth of talent there,” she said. "And that's a god thing. There were amazing dancers, singers and musicians and so you were always constantly competing with someone who was a slightly better jazz improviser than you, or someone who has a slightly better classical voice than you. So you were constantly on your toes.”

    She’s more staggering – intentionally – than en pointe as the deliciously drunk Miss Hannigan. She loves the show and its sweetly naïve and yet ever-relevant message about keeping a positive attitude during times of personal and national strife – like now. Although with the lingering stagnation and polarization in Congress these past many years, it’s hard to imagine positivity ever emerging from the shallowed halls of Congress.

    “No, I don’t think a little orphan girl in a red dress is going to walk into Congress and stand on the podium and say, ‘Guys, come on. Let’s work together!’ ” she said. “But the larger point is this: You have a choice between accepting misery or being optimistic. You, as an individual, can choose to be optimistic. You can fix your own circumstances.”

    Annie may be a blindly optimistic musical, but when you look at the news today, it’s hard not to hope for someone to stand up and suggest maybe we should give cooperation a try. Even a 10-year-old orphan girl.

    “Has anyone tried that yet?” Andrews said with a laugh. “It’s hard because being cynical is not only cool to people today, cynicism is a way of life for a lot of people. But we don’t have to be fighting each other all the time.

    "You know what? Maybe we should send that kid in to talk to Congress. The point is optimism. Love is everywhere. Open your heart. That's all you have to do."

    That sounds cheesy, Andrews readily admits. But sometimes cheese is not so bad.

    “Are you kidding? I live for cheese,” she said. “In every sense of that word.”

    April 29 through May 10
    Buell Theatre
    ASL interpreted, Audio described & Open Captioned performance: May 10, 2pm
    Tickets: Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    800-641-1222 | Groups (10+): 303-446-4829

    Photos from the national touring production of 'Annie', coming to the Buell Theatre from April 29 through May 10. Photos by Joan Marcus.
  • Colorado's Annaleigh Ashford and Beth Malone both nominated for Tony Awards

    by John Moore | Apr 28, 2015

    Annaleigh Ashford and Beth Malone
    Tony Award nominees Annaleigh Ashford ("You Can't Take it With You") and Beth Malone (Fun Home").

    Both Wheat Ridge High grad Annaleigh Ashford (You Can't Take it With You)  and Castle Rock native Beth Malone (Fun Home) were nominated this morning for Tony Awards.

    Beth MaloneASHFORD_ AnnaleighMalone, who opened the DCPA Theatre Company season starring in a refreshed version of the classic Broadway musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown, was nominated for best leading actress in a musical for Fun Home, based on Alison Bechdel's coming-of-age graphic novel about her closeted and suicidal dad. Alison is portrayed by three actors at different times in her life. Malone plays the middle-aged Alison.

    Wrote The New York Times: "Ms. Malone expertly turns seeming self-effacement into penetrating presence."


    Malone was nominated alongside Kristin Chenoweth, Kelli O’Hara, Chita Rivera and Leanne Cope. She was so convinced she had no chance of being nominated, she slept through the televised morning announcement made by none other than Bruce Willis. "I just wanted to wake up and have it be done because I didn't want it to hurt," she said. "But oh my God, it's so nice to be wrong."

    Beth MaloneWhen wife Rochelle Schoppert's cell phone started pinging, she turned to Malone and said, "Congratulations, Tony nominee."

    "It was like a sensation of both relief and joy washed over me while I just lay there spooning my dog," said Malone. "And then we went to the dog park and picked up poop."

    Malone credited her experience with Molly Brown in Denver as a significant factor in her Fun Home success.

    "I have to say that doing Molly Brown and have it be a success on the level that it was really helped me walk back into the Fun Home rehearsal knowing that I could lead a cast," said Malone. "Molly Brown and that whole experience at the Denver Center bolstered my confidence in my bones."

    Photos from Beth Malone's time in Denver starring in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." Photo by John Moore.

    Ashford was here in Denver just two weeks ago performing two sold-out evenings of her acclaimed cabaret show, Annaleigh Ashford: Lost in the Stars.  She has been nominated as best featured actress in a play for You Can't Take it With You opposite James Earl Jones.  She was previously nominated for best featured actress in a musical for Kinky Boots.

    "I’m so honored to have been nominated among such an extraordinary group of women," Ashford told the DCPA NewsCenter. "But I’m even more grateful to have been a part of the amazing ensemble cast of You Can't Take it With You. It was one of the highlights of my life, and this is just extraordinarily amazing."

    You Can't Take it With You is the 1938 Pulitzer-winning play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart about a good-natured and decidedly eccentric family that lives life according to their whims rather than societal convention.

    The New York Times called Ashford "a sly comic genius" in its review. Ashford played Essie, who goes through life in toe shoes and on point. "Priceless moments as offered up by Ms. Ashford as Essie makes like Pavlova in every conceivable context," wrote Ben Brantley. "Just wait for the position she assumes by Mrs. Kirby’s chair in the big dinner scene."

    Both Malone and Ashford grew up on Colorado stages and have the former Country Dinner Playhouse in common. Ashford  made her stage debut at age 10 in Theatre Group's Ruthless! The Musical! Malone played the narrator in the Arvada Center's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and has other credits spanning BDT Stage to Theatre Aspen.

    Read our featured interview with Annaleigh Ashford

    Read our featured interview with Beth Malone

    Photos from Annaleigh Ashford's visit last month to Denver. Photo by John Moore.

    The musicals "An American in Paris" and "Fun Home" each received a leading 12 Tony Award nominations, showing two very different sides of this Broadway season.

    One side is sunny — the dance-heavy stage adaptation of the 1951 musical film choreographed by Gene Kelly — and the other dark.

    Michael Cerveris got one of the dozen nods for "Fun Home" — as best leading actor in a musical — and hopes that will attract more people to see his poignant show that might not initially be a lure for tourists.

    "The real value of the Tonys — and I suppose any awards — is to draw attention to something that people otherwise might not seek out. So the fact that every aspect of the production has been acknowledged is the best kind of advertising," he told The Associated Press.

    The nominations also ranged from 11-year-old Sydney Lucas in "Fun Home" to the 82-year-old Chita Rivera, looking for her third Tony. Helen Mirren and Bradley Cooper each got nominations but Matthew Morrison from "Glee" did not get a nod in his return to Broadway.

    The best new play category will include the candidates "Wolf Hall, Parts One & Two," ''Hand to God," ''Disgraced" and "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." Larry David's "Fish in the Dark" was snubbed entirely.

    In addition to "An American in Paris" and "Fun Home," the best new musical category includes "Something Rotten!" and "The Visit." The Peter Pan-themed "Finding Neverland," marking Harvey Weinstein first-ever venture into Broadway as a lead producer, didn't get a single nomination.

    ​The category of best revival includes the Rodgers and Hammerstein gem The King and I, the Leonard Bernstein/Betty Comden/Adolph Green classic On The Town and the Cy Coleman/Comden/Green romp On the Twentieth Century.

    The British did well, with transfers "Wolf Hall Parts One & Two," ''The Audience", "The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time" and "Skylight" grabbing 24 nominations. Sting's "The Last Ship" earned the rocker a nomination for best original score.

    The best actress in a musical category includes Kristin Chenoweth for "On the Twentieth Century," Kelli O'Hara for "The King and I," Chita Rivera for "The Visit," Leanne Cope from "An American in Paris" and Beth Malone from "Fun Home."

    The best actor in a musical nominees are Brian d'Arcy James for "Something Rotten!", Michael Cerveris in "Fun Home," Ken Watanabe in "The King and I," Tony Yazbeck in "On the Town" and Robert Fairchild in "An American in Paris."

    The best actor in a play nominees include Bradley Cooper for "The Elephant Man," Ben Miles for "Wolf Hall, Parts One & Two," Alex Sharp in "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," Steven Boyer in "Hand to God," and Bill Nighy for "Skylight."

    The five best actresses in a play nominees are: Carey Mulligan in "Skylight," Helen Mirren in "The Audience," Ruth Wilson in "Constellations," Geneva Carr in "Hand to God" and Elisabeth Moss in "The Heidi Chronicles."

    Mirren earned her nod for playing Queen Elizabeth II in "The Audience" imagines the private weekly meetings between the monarch and eight of Britain's prime ministers over her six-decade reign. Mirren already has an Oscar for playing the same sovereign in the film "The Queen" and was a hit in the play in London.

    "I've studied the shape of her mouth. I know her face probably better than anyone else does. But it's only my portrait," she said. "I can only surmise and imagine.

    DCPA NewsCenter viewers were able to watch the 2015 Tony Awards nominations announcement live in a special webcast hosted by Mary-Louise Parker and Bruce Willis. Parker is a former Tony winner (Proof) and three-time nominee. Willis is set to make his Broadway debut this fall in the upcoming play Misery, a new stage adaptation of the Stephen King novel.

    Check back here throughout the morning as we update this page with inside info, trivia, quotes and more.

    The Tony Awards will be presented on June 7 on CBS. On the Twentieth Century headliner Kristin Chenoweth and recent Cabaret star Alan Cumming will host the 69th annual ceremony live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

    Wire reports contributed to this report.


    Best Play
    Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar
    Hand to God by Robert Askins
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Simon Stephens
    Wolf Hall Parts One & Two by Hilary Mantel and Mike Poulton

    Best Musical
    An American in Paris
    Fun Home
    Something Rotten!
    The Visit

    Best Revival of a Play
    The Elephant Man
    This Is Our Youth
    You Can’t Take It With You

    Best Revival of a Musical
    On the Town
    On the Twentieth Century
    The King and I

    Best Book of a Musical
    Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, Something Rotten!
    Lisa Kron, Fun Home
    Craig Lucas, An American in Paris
    Terrence McNally, The Visit

    Best Score
    John Kander and Fred Ebb, The Visit
    Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick, Something Rotten!
    Sting, The Last Ship
    Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron, Fun Home

    Best Leading Actor in a Play
    Steven Boyer, Hand to God
    Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man
    Ben Miles, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
    Bill Nighy, Skylight
    Alex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    Best Leading Actress in a Play
    Geneva Carr, Hand to God
    Helen Mirren, The Audience
    Elisabeth Moss, The Heidi Chronicles
    Carey Mulligan, Skylight
    Ruth Wilson, Constellations

    Best Leading Actor in a Musical
    Michael Cerveris, Fun Home
    Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris
    Brian d’Arcy James, Something Rotten!
    Ken Watanabe, The King and I
    Tony Yazbeck, On the Town

    Beth_Malone_Molly_Brown_Broncos_3Best Leading Actress in a Musical
    Kristin Chenoweth, On the Twentieth Century
    Leanne Cope, An American in Paris
    Beth Malone, Fun Home
    Kelli O’Hara, The King and I
    Chita Rivera, The Visit

    Best Featured Actor in a Play
    Matthew Beard, Skylight
    K. Todd Freeman, Airline Highway
    Richard McCabe, The Audience
    Alessandro Nivola, The Elephant Man
    Nathaniel Parker, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
    Micah Stock, It’s Only a Play

    Annaleigh Ashford and Molly Nash. Ashford once perfdormed a benefit concert to defray Nash's medical expenses. Photo by John Moore. Best Featured Actress in a Play
    Annaleigh Ashford, You Can’t Take It With You
    Patricia Clarkson, The Elephant Man
    Lydia Leonard, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
    Sarah Stiles, Hand to God
    Julie White, Airline Highway

    Best Featured Actor in a Musical
    Christian Borle, Something Rotten!
    Andy Karl, On the Twentieth Century
    Brad Oscar, Something Rotten!
    Brandon Uranowitz, An American in Paris
    Max von Essen, An American in Paris

    Best Featured Actress in a Musical
    Victoria Clark, Gigi
    Judy Kuhn, Fun Home
    Sydney Lucas, Fun Home
    Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I
    Emily Skeggs, Fun Home

    Best Scenic Design of a Play
    Bunny Christie & Finn Ross, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
    Bob Crowley, Skylight
    Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
    David Rockwell, You Can’t Take It With You

    Best Scenic Design of a Musical
    Bob Crowley and 59 Productions, An American in Paris
    David Rockwell, On the Twentieth Century
    Michael Yeargan, The King and I
    David Zinn, Fun Home

    Best Costume Design of a Play
    Bob Crowley, The Audience
    Jane Greenwood, You Can’t Take It With You
    Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
    David Zinn, Airline Highway

    Best Costume Design of a Musical
    Gregg Barnes, Something Rotten!
    Bob Crowley, An American in Paris
    William Ivey Long, On the Twentieth Century
    Catherine Zuber, The King and I

    Best Lighting Design of a Play
    Paule Constable, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
    Paule Constable and David Plater, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
    Natasha Katz, Skylight
    Japhy Weideman, Airline Highway

    Best Lighting Design of a Musical
    Donald Holder, The King and I
    Natasha Katz, An American in Paris
    Ben Stanton, Fun Home
    Japhy Weideman, The Visit

    Best Director of a Play
    Stephen Daldry, Skylight
    Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
    Scott Ellis, You Can’t Take It With You
    Jeremy Herrin, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
    Moritz von Stuelpnagel, Hand to God

    Best Director of a Musical
    Sam Gold, Fun Home
    Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
    John Rando, On the Town
    Bartlett Sher, The King and I
    Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris

    Best Choreography
    Joshua Bergasse, On the Town
    Christopher Gattelli, The King and I
    Scott Graham & Steven Hoggett, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
    Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
    Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris

    Best Orchestrations
    Christopher Austin, Don Sebesky and Bill Elliott, An American in Paris
    John Clancy, Fun Home
    Larry Hochman, Something Rotten!
    Rob Mathes, The Last Ship

    Tony Nominations by Production
    An American in Paris - 12
    Fun Home - 12
    Something Rotten! - 10
    The King and I - 9
    Wolf Hall Parts One & Two - 8
    Skylight - 7
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - 6
    Hand to God - 5
    On the Twentieth Century - 5
    The Visit - 5
    You Can’t Take It with You - 5
    Airline Highway - 4
    The Elephant Man - 4
    On the Town - 4
    The Audience - 3
    The Last Ship - 2
    Constellations - 1
    Disgraced - 1
    Gigi - 1
    The Heidi Chronicles - 1
    It’s Only a Play - 1
    This Is Our Youth - 1

    Gold Derby is predicting that Fun Home, starring Beth Malone, will not only be nominated for Best Musical, but will win.

    Donald Holder, who designed the lights for The Unsinkable Molly Brown in Denver, was nominated for an 11th time for The King and I.

    CBS has broadcast the Tony every year since 1978.

    Tony nominees Beth Malone, above, and Donald Holder, below, when they were here in Denver for The Unsinkable Molly Brown."

  • Webcast: Watch Tuesday's Tony Award nominations live here

    by John Moore | Apr 27, 2015

    You can watch the 2015 Tony Awards nominations announcement right here beginning at about 6:30 am. MDT tomorrow (Tuesday, April 28). Mary-Louise Parker and Bruce Willis will co-host this special live webcast. Parker is a former Tony winner (Proof) and three-time nominee. Willis is set to make his Broadway debut this fall in the upcoming play Misery, a new stage adaptation of the Stephen King novel.

    Find out first which shows are nominated for Best Musical. Learn which of several actors with Denver-area connections who are under consideration for awards will have their dreams come true.

    (UPDATE: Both Wheat Ridge High grad Annaleigh Ashford (You Can't Take it With You)  and Castle Rock native Beth Malone (Fun Home)  were just nominated for  Tony Awards. More to come).

    The list of nominees promises to feature some huge stars. Most are predicting Bradley Cooper (The Elephant Man), Jake Gyllenhaal (Constellations) and Hugh Jackman (The River) will be nominated for outstanding actor in a drama.

    How do your predictions stack up against the experts? Gold Derby is predicting that Fun Home, starring Colorado native Beth Malone, will not only be nominated for Best Musical, but will win. Malone starred this season in the title role of the DCPA Theatre Company's The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

    After the nominations are announced, check back here throughout the morning as we update this page with inside info, trivia and more.

    The Tony Awards will be presented on June 7 on CBS. On the Twentieth Century headliner Kristin Chenoweth and recent Cabaret star Alan Cumming will host the 69th annual ceremony live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

    CBS has broadcast the Tony every year since 1978.

    Tony Award nominations

  • 'The 12' cast and creatives say their goodbyes today

    by John Moore | Apr 26, 2015

    As the world premiere rock musical The 12 closes its remarkable run with today's matinee performance by the DCPA Theatre Company, we have compiled some of the thoughts cast and creatives have sent us or posted on social media. The 12 imagines what happened when the disciples went into hiding for the three days following Jesus' crucifixion.

    Colin Hanlon as Peter in 'The 12.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. Colin Hanlon (Pete): I've never been more proud and more sad to close a show. I'll be honest when I say, I had no idea what I was getting myself into by playing Pete in The 12. Shows like this don't come around often enough. At least, not for me. Thank you, (writers) Robert Schenkkan and Neil Berg for trusting me with your baby. You both are brilliant artists. Thank you (director) Richard Seyd for your patient direction and guidance.Thank you (choreographers) Connor Gallagher and Nancy Renee Burach for taking this show to a higher level. Thank you (music supervisor) Wendy Bobbitt Cavett for being incredible at what you do. Thank you Denver Center for the Performing Arts and (artistic director) Kent Thompson for creating a place of excellence and for doing new work. Thank you to our band! You keep us going every night. Thank you to everyone backstage who keeps our show flowing smoothly. Thank you Denver audiences. You have astounded me with your generosity and openness.  But most important ... Thank you to my incredible castmates. This is truly an ensemble piece. We are all up there the entire time (except those two beautiful ladies who steal the show from us every night). Getting to do The 12 with you has made me a better artist and more important, a better person. I love you all. Let's go out with a bang! (Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen)

    Christina Sajous (Mary Magdalene): I'm sad to be closing The 12 at the Denver Center, but I'm excited to take the courage and strength I found in Mary Magdalene and embrace it in my life. This journey, this cast, the creatives, and the crew have inspired me deeply to work stronger, to live happier, and to love harder. Thank you so much for this powerful experience, and here's hoping that we take The 12 above and beyond. I love you all!

    Anthony Fedorov (Andrew): There are not enough words for me to describe what this process has meant to me, how much I truly love this amazing cast, how much respect I have for our creative team, and how wonderful this whole experience has been here at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. This show is now a part of my soul along with all of you. I love you all dearly.

    Jordan Barbour (James):
    I am so proud of this company and this show. And so honored and humbled to be among such great talent, receiving such great acclaim. I hope this is just the beginning.

    John Iacovelli (Scenic designer
    ): It is rare to work on a show that has such a unified spirit. So much goes into any show, but rare for a show that is firing on all cylinders: music, book, lyrics, directing, cast, design and with the support of the creative leaders and staff of the Denver Center. The alchemy of the theatre hits fire only when all these things come together to strike fire. This  production will always remain a bright ember in my heart. I so loved working with this team, this cast, on this show. Few shows happen where you are now bonded with the others for all time, but we will always have Denver.

    Tony Vincent (Tom):
    Last chance today. Honestly, you don't want to miss this.

    Gregory Treco (Simon): Today we walk out of the upper room for the last time. Full of uncertainty yet full of hope for the future. I will miss every one of you. This experience has truly reminded me of who I am, and each of you have played a vital part in that. I love you my 12 family. Let's go out there and murder everyone today. (Even though Teacher would hate that.)

    The 12: Ticket information
    Final performance 1:30 p.m. today, April 26
    Stage Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Today is an ASL interpreted, audio described and open-captioned performance

    Our previous coverage of The 12:
    Video: Cast members talk about what they've made in The 12
    Watch the cast of the 12 rock Elitch Gardens' roller coasters

    Photos: Opening night of The 12
    Robert Schenkkan's Opening Night reflections
    Neil Berg and the rockin' roots of The 12
    Video montage: Your first look at The 12
    The 12: Three days that rocked the world
    Watch short video samples of 'The 12' songs from the first sing-through
    Video: Robert Schenkkan introduces The 12
    The 12 opens rehearsals with a mandate to 'dig deep'
    Full casting announced for The 12
    Final offering of Theatre Company season: Rock musical The 12

    Meet the cast videos: 
    Colin Hanlon as Peter
    Tony Vincent as Tom

    Christina Sajous as Mary Magdalene
    Gregory Treco as Simon

  • Video: Talking turkey with the cast of 'The 12'

    by John Moore | Apr 25, 2015

    Cast members from the DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere musical The 12 field several questions about what their new show is, and who it is for. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore's guests include Christina Sajous, Tony Vincent, Colin Hanlon and Gregory Treco. The 12 imagines what happened when the disciples went into hiding for the three days following Jesus' crucifixion. It plays through April 26, 2015, in The Stage Theatre. Run time: 3 minutes, 20 seconds.

    The 12:
    Ticket information

    Through April 26
    Stage Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Toll-free: 800-641-1222 | TTY: 303-893-9582
    Groups of 10 or more: 303-446-4829
    ASL interpreted, audio described and open-captioned performance: 1:30 p.m. April 26

    Our previous coverage of The 12:
    Watch the cast of the 12 rock Elitch Gardens' roller coasters

    Photos: Opening night of The 12
    Robert Schenkkan's Opening Night reflections
    Neil Berg and the rockin' roots of The 12
    Video montage: Your first look at The 12
    The 12: Three days that rocked the world
    Watch short video samples of 'The 12' songs from the first sing-through
    Video: Robert Schenkkan introduces The 12
    The 12 opens rehearsals with a mandate to 'dig deep'
    Full casting announced for The 12
    Final offering of Theatre Company season: Rock musical The 12

    Meet the cast videos: 
    Colin Hanlon as Peter
    Tony Vincent as Tom

    Christina Sajous as Mary Magdalene
    Gregory Treco as Simon

    The cast of 'The 12.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. The cast of 'The 12.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.
  • Video: Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo on coming home to Denver

    by John Moore | Apr 24, 2015

    Video by John Moore and David Lenk.

    Ace Young and Diana Degarmo, who star in the national touring production of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.' Photo by John Moore. Married stars Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo talk about ending their 15-month national touring production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in Denver, not far from Young's hometown of Boulder. "This is a dream come true,” Young says. "The first musical I ever saw was here. For me, it feels like I am going into a state championship baseball game. Fortunately, I have done that seven times. I have never done this. So I feel like a kid in the candy store." Joseph plays only through Sunday (April 26). Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org.

    Photo: Ace Young, Diana DeGarmo and their little Denver Broncos fan-dog, Rosie. Photo by John Moore.

    More coverage of Joseph on the DCPA NewsCenter:

    Interview: 'Joseph' brings Boulder native Ace Young home
    Go to the show page

    Video: Ace Young proposes to Diana DeGarmo live on "American Idol'':

    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat:
    Ticket information

    April 22-26
    Buell Theatre
    Call 303-893-4100 or buy online
    Note: ASL interpreted, Audio described and Open Captioned performance: 2 p.m. April 25

    Ace Young as Joseph and his wife, Diana Degarmo, as the narrator in the national touring production of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.' Photo by Daniel A. Swalec

    Ace Young as Joseph and his wife, Diana Degarmo, as the narrator in the national touring production of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.' Photo by Daniel A. Swalec

  • 2015 Shakespeare Festival is a celebration of Will Power

    by John Moore | Apr 24, 2015
    VIDEO: Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Photos from the 2015 Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. All photos are available for free downloading at a variety of file sizes. Just click here

    By John Moore
    DCPA Senior Arts Journalist

    Jessica Quiñónez locked hands in a circle with her 15 students from Newlon Elementary School and told them not to be nervous when their time came to perform at today’s 31st annual Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival.

    But … her line of little Shakespeareans did look a teensy-bit nervous, from her dapper young Petruchio with the swashbuckling musketeer hat down to her lovely little Bianca.

    “But there is no reason to be scared, because you have practiced for this for so long,” she reassured them.

    Oh, and one more thing, she told them: “Be loud!”

    They listened.

    Newlon Elementary teacher Jessica Quiñónez. Photo by John Moore. For Quiñónez’s students, six months of hard work culminated with only about 5 glorious minutes of performance time under a tent on the grounds of the Denver Performing Arts Complex. 

    And it was worth every millisecond of it, said Quiñónez (pictured at right).

    “They got so amped up to do this, and they learned so much,” said Quiñónez, whose third- through fifth-graders performed two short scenes and a dance from The Taming of the Shrew

    “They learned how to act and how to become their characters. But more important, they learned how to be on a team together, and they learned how to embrace each other’s different cultures,” she said. “Everybody is different but we all came together for one goal, and that was to perform at the festival and, of all things, on the Olde Globe stage.”

    The 31st DPS Shakespeare Festival drew more than 5,000 students from 70 schools in grades kindergarten through high school who performed more than 640 short scenes, dances, soliloquies and sonnets. They all had to audition to get in, and those deemed most promising by the judges were invited to perform today on the Olde Globe Stage. This was the first time students from Newlon, located in Denver’s Barnum West neighborhood, have been invited to perform alongside the best of the best.

    “That was a huge accomplishment for our school,” said Quiñónez.

    Newlon Elementary teacher Jessica Quiñónez with her students and Devin Seligsohn. Photo by John Moore.

    Newlon Elementary teacher Jessica Quiñónez (above and right) with her students and director, Devin Seligsohn. Photo by John Moore.

    School office manager Devin Seligsohn directed the project, starting in November. The costumes mostly came from the DPS’ district warehouse, but like many teachers, Quiñónez and Seligsohn threw in about $250 of their own money to cover other expenses.

    And like about half of the DPS enrollment, many of Quiñónez’s students are learning English as a second language. She said learning Shakespeare “absolutely” has helped her students improve their English. One of her little thespians speaks fluent Spanish, but practicing to play Biondello for the festival gave her the confidence not only to say her words in the Bard’s English – she threw in a little accent as well. Her character assists Lucentio in his scheme to win the love of Bianca.

    “She really embraced this whole experience, and it has helped her with her English,” said Quiñónez. “I think it’s the fun of it that makes learning more interesting. It really makes her want to learn the words.

    “It’s just amazing for them to be able to do all of this this at a DPS school.”

    While the DPS Shakespeare festival has long played out in and around the DCPA’s grounds, this was the DCPA’s first year as a full partner of the event. DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous said it’s a partnership that makes perfect sense. 

    “We are the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, in the center of downtown - and this is our school district,” she said. “The DPS is one of our greatest partnerships already, so if we can be a champion for them, that’s what we want to do. Especially for those schools that do not have arts programming due to budget cuts or time constraints, it’s great that we can support this program.”

    DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous was the Grand Marshall of this year's parade. Photo by John Moore.
    DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous was the Grand Marshall of this year's parade. Photo by John Moore. 

    Watrous served as the Grand Marshall for the short parade that preceded the astonishing array of performances that played out every few minutes on 14 stages spreading from Sculpture Park to - no kidding - the upper decks of the nearby city parking lot.

    She said the Newlon students’ experience is a perfect example of the festival’s goal to emphasize process over performance. 

    “As actors and theatre artists, we know that process is the most important part,” she said. “It’s the preparation that gives us the chance to figure out what these words mean, how to say them and how to best put them out into the world.

    “We know that theatre gives students portable skills. Will they end up in theatre? Maybe not, but the skills they learn here are skills they can use in their careers.” 

    In her introductory remarks to the crowd that gathered this morning at Skyline Park, Watrous called this festival a treasured community event that continues to enrich the lives of students.

    “Shakespeare and the theatre shows us the power of language and gives us the ability to see the world in metaphor, and to paint with images. These rich gifts lead up to empathy and critical thinking," she said.

    “The DCPA is dedicated to arts in education, and believes that every student deserves opportunities like this.” 


    Every year, exceptional students are chosen to portray Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth at the opening ceremonies. This year’s honorees were seniors from Denver School of the Arts: Noah Anderson, who has been active with DCPA Education programs for several years and last year was an understudy in the Theatre Company’s production of black odyssey; and fellow senior Stacey Tilton. And, as always, Denver City Auditor Dennis J. Gallagher serenaded the crowd with an always letter-perfect, memorized sonnet.

    Injured Denver police officer released from hospital

    Many at the front of the crowd for the morning parade saw a disturbing sight when the horse that was to lead the festival dignitaries in a carriage suddenly bucked and kicked a Denver police officer square in the face. The officer suffered a facial laceration and was bleeding profusely. A Denver police spokesman said the officer never lost consciousness and was treated and released after being transported to Denver Health.

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

    More NewsCenter coverage of the DPS Shakespeare Festival:

    DPS Shakespeare Festival returns with DCPA as new partner
    Photos: 2014 Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival

    A Shakespeare 800 3
    Queen Elizabeth, as played by Stacey Tilton, is second from left. Noah Anderson, as Shakespeare, is far right. Photo by John Moore.

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

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