• Photos, video: Off-Center's Season Announcement Party

    by John Moore | Sep 30, 2014

    Off-Center @ The Jones announced its return in a big, loud and very funny way on Sept. 12 with a Season Release Party, at which fans were treated to live previews of each of the upcoming shows. The season begins Oct. 10 with the return of Cult Following.

    The Off-Center team attempted to pull off the World's Biggest Selfie. Unfortunately, this is how the picture turned out:


    Click here to go to our complete gallery of photos from the party. All photos (except the selfie above !) by John Moore

    The 2014-15 Off-Center @ The Jones season:


    Here is the upcoming season, as announced by co-curators Charlie Miller and Emily Tarquin, and performed by a cast of dozens. (Descriptions provided by Off-Center)

    CULT FOLLOWING: Karaoke Musical
    Friday, Oct. 10
    7:30 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show
    Grab the mic and take the stage in Karaoke Musical, the newest installment of Cult Following, Off Center’s signature night of unrehearsed, unscripted theatre. Real karaoke performances by willing audience members will punctuate the cast’s performance, ensuring unexpected plot twists and zany fun. Featuring the Cult Following cast: Jessica Austgen, Sarah Kirwin, Nanna Thompson, and Chris Woolf.
    Off-Center_Season_Release_ButterfliesLORD OF THE BUTTERFLIES: Shirley Delta Blow’s retelling of Lord of the Flies
    Oct. 24, 30, 31, and Nov. 7
    7:30 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show
    On a trip gone terribly wrong, drag stars Shirley Delta Blow, Zoe O, Olive de Bottom and Dan D Lite find themselves stranded on an island far, far away. All they have to survive with is their wits, fabulous wardrobes, and fellow passengers, Jackie (Sarah Kirwin), Simone (Jessica Robblee), and Rachel (Mara Wiles). In this outrageous re-telling of Lord of the Flies, the struggle for island dominance comes complete with delightful dancing!! Magnificent musical performances!! Irreverent improvisation!! And lots and lots of glitter.
    Off-Center_Season_Release_MattTHE SANTALAND DIARIES: A holiday show for the rest of us
    By David Sedaris
    Adapted by Joe Mantello
    Nov. 28 through Dec. 24
    Crumpet the Elf returns in this acclaimed holiday production that is being staged this year in partnership between the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and Off-Center @ The Jones. Looking for a little more snark in your stocking this year? Again starring Matt Zamrano “The SantaLand Diaries is the sure cure for the common Christmas show.
    CULT FOLLOWING: Secrets and Confessions
    Feb. 13 and 19, 2015
    7:30 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show
    Shhhhhhhhh! Share your deep, dark, embarrassing, and awkward secrets in the anonymous Off Center confession booth, and your tales will inspire the Cult Following cast’s newest performance. Low budget special effects, amateur stunts, and free beer collide in Off Center’s signature night of unrehearsed, unscripted theatre featuring Jessica Austgen, Sarah Kirwin, Nanna Thompson, and Chris Woolf.
    Off-Center_Season_Release_OscarThe GAYEST OSCAR PARTY EVER: A Benefit to Benefit Off-Center
    Sunday, Feb. 22
    Ring in the most important day of the year with Off-Center and Hamburger Mary’s. Tickets include a rainbow carpet entrance, two drinks, appetizers, pre-show gown judging and live performances by the cast of Cult Following and some of Denver’s favorite Queens. Of course, the awards presentation will be streaming live, and we will rudely shush anyone who speaks over the host or speeches. Last year’s party sold out so grab your tickets now.
    Off-Center_Season_Release_KickKICK-OFF CABARET: Discover Denver’s hottest new big ideas, live on stage
    Friday, March 13
    7:30 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show
    Meet the next wave of kick-ass entrepreneurs, inventors, artists, coders, and more at Kickstarter Cabaret, a one-night-only event where Ted Talk meets Shark Tank. Eight  different local Kickstarter project creators – from cooks to programmers to musicians – will strut their stuff and go head-to-head for your vote.
    Off-Center_Season_Release_PerceptionPERCEPTION: Professor Phelyx
    April 10, 17, 18, 24, and 25
    7:30 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show
    Join Colorado’s No. 1 mentalist magician, Professor Phelyx, for an astonishing night of impossible predictions, mind-reading, metal-bending and seemingly inexplicable revelations. With a unique variety act at each performance, amazing feats of intuition, and original live music by Tom Hagerman (of the internationally acclaimed Boulder band DeVotchKa), you won’t believe your eyes, ears, or even your own thoughts after The Professor demonstrates his mastery of Perception.
    Off-Center_Season_Release_PiratesCULT FOLLOWING: Pirate Ship
    Friday, May 8
    7:30 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show
    Prepare thyself for piracy, pillaging, and unscripted theatARRRRRRRR. The swashbuckling cast will navigate the high seas of The Jones with a real pool on stage and the help of a hearty band of rapscallions (that’s you!) Nary a carouser could resist this merry adventure, captained by Jessica Austgen, Sarah Kirwin, Nanna Thompson, and Chris Woolf.

    Ticket information
    All performances @ The Jones, Speer Boulevard and Arapahoe Street
    (The Gayest Oscar Party is at Hamburger Mary's, 700 E. 17th St. )

    Most tickets range from $15-$18
    The Gayest Oscar Party Ever tickets start at $45
    The SantaLand Diaries tickets $25
    Cult Following ticket includes free beer (21 and older) and popcorn

    To order tickets online, click here.
    Or call 303-893-4100
    Or buy in person in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex Lobby.
    Or buy at the door @ The Jones

    Improv Parodies: Cult Following Meets 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown'

  • Meet the cast video series: Matthew Gumley

    by John Moore | Sep 29, 2014

    In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 65: Meet Matthew Gumley, a 17-year-old Florida native who already has two big-time Broadway credits to his name: Elf and The Addams Family. Matthew plays Piggy in the DCPA Theatre Company's Lord of the Flies. Here, Matt talks about playing opposite Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, his first impressions of Denver, and offers some perhaps surprising opinions about Johnny Carson and Jimmy Fallon. Lord of the Flies plays through Nov. 2 in the Space Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Run time: 2 minutes.

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

    Matthew Gumley in 'Lord of the Flies.' Photo by John Moore.

    Previous 2014-15 "Meet the Cast" episodes:

    Patty Goble

    Paolo Montalban
    Linda Mugleston
    Donna English
    Burke Moses
    Beth Malone

    Meet the cast episodes from the 2013-14 season:
    Death of a Salesman
    Just Like Us
    Jackie & Me
    The Most Deserving
    A Christmas Carol
    black odyssey
    The Legend of Georgia McBride
    Animal Crackers

    Lord of the Flies: Ticket information
    Performances run through Nov. 2
    Space Theatre
    303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

    Our Previous Lord of the Flies coverage on Denver CenterStage:
  • 'Vanya' the most popular play in America

    by John Moore | Sep 27, 2014

    Actor Socorro Santiago on the first day of rehearsal for the DCPA's "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," opening Oct. 10. Photo by John Moore.

    Christopher Durang’s Tony-winning comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will not only be the most produced play in the country by large, professional theatre companies over the next year, according to an annual survey just released by American Theatre Magazine. It will be staged nearly three times more than anything else.

    The magazine compiled its list based on self-reporting of all productions scheduled to open between Oct. 1 of this year and Sept. 30, 2015. In all, the 404 surveyed companies are slated to produce 1,876 titles (and of those, 403 are new plays).

    Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will be staged by 27 theater companies in the coming season, including the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. This black comedy and winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play opens Oct. 10 and runs through Nov. 16 in the Ricketson Theatre. 

    The survey does not include Shakespeare titles or holiday offerings. But for the record: A Christmas Carol will get 46 productions, and The SantaLand Diaries eight. The DCPA's A Christmas Carol runs Nov. 28 through Dec. 28 in The Stage Theatre, and Off-Center @ The Jones is co-producing The SantaLand Diaries (again starring Matt Zambrano) with the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company from Nov. 28-Dec. 24.

    The most-produced Shakespeare plays will be A Midsummer Night’s Dream (10) and Romeo and Juliet (8).

    Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    also made the list last year. It finished in  eighth place, with 11 productions.

    “I feel very lucky, like I’ve won the lottery,” Durang told The New York Times. Thanks to the Broadway run and the advances that have come from licensing the play, he added, “the last year was the most money I have ever made.”

    Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is the story of two adult siblings who live together in their parents' country house in Bucks County. Pa. Their lives are thrown into upheaval when they receive a visit from their Hollywood star sister and her boy-toy.

    The play is a chaotic Chekhovian mash-up, with the story and characters all having some basis in works by the Russian master. But it stands fully on its own as a very funny look at adult sibling relationships.

    DCPA Director Jenn Thompson says the play is outrageously funny because, ironically, "all great comedy comes out of some sort of great pain. Durang just goes to dizzying heights with it."

    To see our report from the first day of Vanya rehearsals, click here.

    Coming in seventh on the list with seven professional stagings was The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez. That uncommon Civil War story was staged locally by the Curious Theatre Company, and the production went on to win eight Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards. Last week, Lopez began a six-month residency as the DCPA's first-ever Playwriting Fellow.

    This marks the third straight year Lopez has made the Top 10 list.


    • Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang: 27
    • Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Shanley: 10
    • Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon: 8
    • Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz: 8
    • Around the World in 80 Days adapted from the novel by Jules Verne: 7
    • Peter and the Starcatcher, adapted by Rick Elice from Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson: 7
    • The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez: 7
    • Tribes by Nina Raine: 7
    • 4000 Miles by Amy Herzog: 6
    • Into the Woods, book by James Lapine, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim: 6
    • Venus in Fur by David Ives: 6


  • Aurora's 'Blue Man' grad: This show is 'exuberance incarnate'

    by John Moore | Sep 27, 2014

    Blue_Man_Group_Jack_800"Blue Man Group" Company Manager Jack Stephens, above, credits his professional career to what he learned at Eaglecrest High School. Photo by Andrea Kehler.

    Blue Man Group
    has been described as indescribable since people began trying to ... describe it in 1987. So naturally, with the show returning to Denver for the third time in four years, we asked Company Manager Jack Stephens to, of course … describe it.

    “It is difficult to describe what the show is all about,” said Stephens, not surprisingly. "You really have to experience it.

    "But I can say the people who attend will have an experience unlike any they have ever had in the theatre. They will laugh a lot. They will return to their childhood. They will experience joy and exuberance incarnate. And they will examine a few little quirky things about people and society society along the way, because the show likes to point out some of the absurdities of day-to-day living in cities.”

    Hey, that's a pretty good description. 


    Stephens grew up in Aurora. He was a member of Eaglecrest High School’s first graduating class in 1995, alongside big-shot Broadway actor Andy Kelso, currently starring in the Tony-winning Kinky Boots.

    Stephens is beginning his second year as Company Manager for Blue Man Group, a high-octane theatrical experience that immerses audiences in the worlds of comedy, percussion and technology -- without ever saying a single word.

    “A lot of people look at the Blue Men and say, 'So ... are they aliens? Are they performance artists? What's their deal?' " Stephens said. "But really they are not any of those things. They are meant to represent these three beings who are curious about life.”

    There is a story being told -- albeit nonverbally. It is a multimedia presentation. It has the atmosphere of a loud, live rock concert. There are no vocals. “It's just a percussive, awesome sound,” Stephens said. “They are going to see all sorts of funny things like people catching marshmallows in their mouths, and toilet paper flying out into the audience in huge volumes. But mostly it’s about those three curious creatures who take the audience on a journey exploring life.”

    As Company Manager, it is Stephens’ job to make sure Blue Man Group's national touring production runs efficiently. “Essentially the job involves dealing with everybody's life on the road,” he said. “I make sure everyone gets paid. It also involves travel, transportation and housing."

    If that sounds a lot like herding cats – lovable blue cats in blue, bald caps – Stephens says his present assignment is actually pretty easy. “The people on this tour are really cool,” he said. “There is no drama. Everybody is really about making sure the show is good, and that’s all they ever really think about. They just don't really have time to destroy hotel rooms. So they make my life really easy.”

    Stephens' family moved to Colorado from Cleveland when he was 10.  He stayed through college at CU-Denver and then moved to Las Vegas. He has since worked regularly on touring theatrical productions such as Rent and Beauty and the Beast. But he attributes his entire professional career to what he learned at Eaglecrest High School.

    "They had a triad of really good theatre teachers, and I am sure they still do,” said Stephens, citing Jennifer Condreay (a member of the Colorado Thespians Hall of Fame), Kerry Ross and Brianna Lindahl (now of Grandview High School.)

    “I learned lighting, sound and video," he said. "They were very good teachers of technical teacher, and you don't find that very often. They pretty much let the kids have the run of the place, and we were able to make the shows our own.”

    Stephens also remembers his classmate Kelso as “a really cool guy who stuck with it and made it big. I don't think he ever let it go to his head.” Kelso will be returning to Denver to sing the national anthem at the Denver Broncos' Thursday night football game on Oct. 23.

    Blue Man Group is already Stephens’ 12th national tour.

    “And when I went to college, I didn’t even study theatre, so I would say everything comes from what I learned in high school.”

    Stephens grew up watching professional theatre at the Buell Theatre. He was there when it opened in 1991 with The Phantom of The Opera tour. To be returning there with a show he’s working on for only the second time, he said, should be awesome.

    “It's a very tangible way to say that I have achieved what I set out to achieve,” he said.


    Blue Man Group
    Oct 10-12
    7:30 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
    Buell Theatre
    Age recommendation: 4 and up

  • First look: 'Lord of the Flies' first preview tonight

    by John Moore | Sep 26, 2014

    Tonight marks the first preview performance of the Lord of the Flies, the Theatre Company's highly anticipated adaptation of William Golding's classic novel.

    Stranded on a deserted island, a small group of English schoolboys become intoxicated by sudden freedom, and their games quickly descend to a savage struggle for power. This compelling glimpse into dystopia explores the darkest reaches of human nature and fragility of free will. It is directed by Anthony Powell. We caught the actors after a recent dress rehearsal, snapped some photos and turned it into this poster. 
    Top row, from left: Jack DiFalco, Allen Dorsey, Ben Griffin, Skyler Gallun
    Second row: Gregory Isaac Stone, Kurt Hellerich, Charlie Franklin
    Bottom row: Charlie Korman, Noah Radcliffe, Ben Radcliffe, Matthew Gumley.

    Photos by John Moore.

    William Golding’s Lord of the Flies
    Adapted for the stage by Nigel Williams
    Sep 26 - Nov 2, 2014
    The Space Theatre
    Age Recommendation: Appropriate for children ages 13+
    Advisory: Violent and disturbing content for some audiences
  • The Making of 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' + the origin of every song

    by John Moore | Sep 25, 2014

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is hosting the launch of a completely re-imagined The Unsinkable Molly Brown, directed by Kathleen Marshall and featuring both a new book by Dick Scanlan and a recalibrated Meredith Willson score that includes many new Willson songs. Marshall calls the result "Americana at its best: Big, strong, open-hearted and optimistic.”

    The video above tells the story of the making of the musical in Denver. It includes interviews with Kathleen Marshall, Dick Scanlan, Beth Malone, Burke Moses, Paul Tazewell and Eric Rouse. Video by David Lenk. Interviews by John Moore. The musical plays through Oct. 26 at the Stage Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.DenverCenter.Org.

    The new 'Molly Brown score: Where do the songs come from?

    Audiences are leaving The Unsinkable Molly Brown humming a tune -- but they might not know where their tune comes from. Writer Dick Scanlan and Musical Director Michael Rafter were given permission to overhaul the musical's original score, eliminating some songs and adding others from the Willson canon.  For example, one centerpiece song, Don't Put Bananas on Bananas, originally was written to be included in Willson's masterpiece, The Music Man.

    In the end, six songs remain untouched from the original The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Scanlan has introduced 11 "new" songs to the score, though seven of the 11 aren't entirely new. Scanlan also was allowed to interpolate songs, meaning that he has added additional lyrics written by Willson or original lyrics written by himself. Some songs draw from several sources.

    One, you may be surprised to learn, resulted from a song Willson wrote as a commission for the U.S. government -- advocating the use of chemical warfare. (True story!) That song has been turned into a lovely ballad here called Wait for Me.

    Read our full interview with Dick Scanlan by clicking here.

    Here are the stories of the origins of all the songs in the musical, as provided by Scanlan. (The commentaries are his):

    May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You: "Meredith wrote this for The Big Show, Tallulah Bankhead's radio show in the early '50s, for which he was the bandleader.  It was a modest hit at the time."
    Colorado, My Home: "From the Broadway production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown  with some new lyrics by me." The new version of the song recognizes the many varied ethnic origins of the Colorado immigrant miner population. 
    I Ain't Down Yet: "From the Broadway production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with no new lyrics."
    The Wonderful Plan: "Meredith tried to use this in every one of his shows. He finally did in 1491. Substantial new lyrics by me."
    Just Becuz: "Standalone song written by Meredith with minimal new lyrics by me."
    I've A'ready Started In: "From the Broadway production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown,  with no new lyrics."
    Belly Up to the Bar, Boys: "From the Broadway production of  The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with no new lyrics."
    I'll Never Say No: "From the Broadway production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with no new lyrics."
    My Own Brass Bed: "From the Broadway production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with no new lyrics."
    He's My Friend: "From the movie version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with substantial new lyrics by me."
    Are You Sure: "From the Broadway production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with no new lyrics."
    Beautiful People of Denver: "From the Broadway production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with substantial new lyrics by me."
    The Sacred Thirty-Six: "New song created by me lyrically to music from two Willson songs, An Old-Fashioned Fourth of July (the bridge) and May-Birds (the chorus)."
    "I'd Like to Change Everything about You": "New song created by me lyrically to music from a Willson song, We're Spending Our Honeymoon in Escrow."
    "Cuppa Tea": "New song created by me lyrically to a song cut from the Broadway version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown titled Dignity."
    Don't Put Bananas on Bananas: "Song cut from The Music Man, with no new lyrics."
    Dolce Far Niente: "From the Broadway production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with no new lyrics."
    The Same Little Chapel: "Song written by Meredith during World War II, with some new lyrics by me."
    I May Never Fall in Love with You: "From the Broadway production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with no new lyrics."
    Wait for Me: "New song created by me lyrically to a song entitled Fire Up! The original song was written at the behest of the Defense Department in support of chemical warfare."

    Share the Luck: "The verse is new lyrics to the song You and Me. The song song itself was written by Meredith Willson for the Red Cross around the time of The Music Man.   He only wrote one chorus.  I created two additional choruses lyrically so we could build this into a rousing finale.  An astonishingly well-written tune that makes me smile every time I hear it."


    Beth Malone and Burke Moses in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

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

    Our Previous Molly Brown coverage on Denver CenterStage:

    'Molly Brown' Meet the cast videos:
    Beth Malone
    Burke Moses
    Patty Goble
    Paolo Montalban
    Linda Mugleston
    Donna English

  • Theatre News: Heritage Square stars' 'Miracle': Colorado Shakes posts record

    by John Moore | Sep 24, 2014

    This photo was taken at closing night of the Heritage Square Music Hall in Golden on Dec. 31, 2013. Annie Dwyer, left,, and T.J. Mullin. Photo by John Moore.

    The Candlelight Theatre Company in Johnstown has announced that its upcoming holiday show, Miracle on 34th Street, will feature T.J. Mullin and Annie Dwyer, who starred together for nearly two decades at the now closed Heritage Square Music Hall in Golden. This will be the first time the local mainstays have performed since the Music Hall closed on Dec. 31.

    Mullin, a renowned tenor and Dwyer, a renounded stage minx, will play Kris Kringle and Doris Walker. "They are Colorado theater royalty, and we've got them," the Candlelight said in making the announcement.

    Miracle features a score by Meredith Willson, whose The Unsinkable Molly Brown is currently being relaunched at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts through Oct. 26. Miracle, based on the Christmas movie of the same name, plays Nov. 13-Dec. 31 at the Candlelight, located about 45 miles straight north of Denver on I-25. Call 970-744-3747 or go to www.coloradocandlelight.com

    Other local theatre news:

    The Colorado Shakespeare Festival is reporting an all-time record for gross box-office receipts for its just closed 57th season. The Festival generated $831,155 in total ticket sales, surpassing the previous record by more than $30,000.

    “We as a team are immensely proud of the work we did this season and the course we are on for the future as we approach our 60th season in 2017,” Producing Artistic Director Timothy Orr said in a statement.

    The announcement did not include actual attendance figures. Attendance at outdoor Shakespeare festivals has declined about 60 percent over the past 20 years, according to The Institute of Outdoor Drama Reports. The Colorado Shakespeare Festival bottomed out in 2012, at 21,703. That represented a 31 percent decline over just four years. Orr served the 2013 season as interim artistic director and stemmed the fall, posting a 10.3 percent attendance increase, to 23,861.

    While Orr said that while he expects to finish the season "solidly in the black," official figures for 2014 won't be available until the end of December. 

    “The college is very happy about the outcome of last season. We're already looking forward to next season, and beyond to the 60th anniversary,” said Steven Leigh, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

    Orr was named permanent Artistic Director in April. The decision was the subject of controversy in Boulder because it went against the recommendation of the school's  selection committee. But today's news brought Orr a ringing endorsement from Leigh.

    “Tim Orr's leadership has been a key part of our success, including contributing significantly to our academic mission," Leigh said.

    The festival will announce its 2015 lineup on Nov. 2.

    Started in 1958, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival has made it a priority to complete the entire Shakespeare canon for a second time by the time it celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2017.  To accomplish that, expect more "special event stagings,"  such as last summer's Henry IV, Part 2. That rarely performed history was staged for two special  “original practices” performances -- with natural lighting, minimal costuming and rehearsals, live music and cue scripts.

    This week's Running Lines audio podcast:

    John Moore talks with playwrights Jeremy Palmer and Ed Mills as well as director J Murray d'Armand of Wit Theatre Company about the Denver premier of "L.A. Diner." It is set at a little diner in 1962 Hollywood near where Marilyn Monroe is making her final film, "Something’s Got to Give." A swath of characters mix and mingle while learning you have to be the answer to your own prayer." Just push play.

    And finally ...

    Miscast 2014, a benefit for the Denver Actors Fund, will be held at 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 29, at the Aurora Fox, 9900 E. Colfax Ave. That's a returning tradition where local actors perform in roles they would never be cast to perform in real life. To order tickets, click here, or call 303-739-1970. To bid on fun auction items, click here.

  • Meet the Cast video series: Beth Malone

    by John Moore | Sep 24, 2014

    In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 64: Meet Beth Malone, a Castle Rock native and Douglas County High School alumna who is returning to the DCPA for the first time since performing here in Bon Voyage in 1993. Malone, who is playing the title role in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, will return to Broadway next year in Fun Home. Here, she talks about her love of Snowmass and Holly Hunter, how it felt to sing the national anthem at a recent Denver Broncos game, what we need to know about Molly Brown and more. Molly Brown plays through Oct. 26 in the Stage Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Run time: 3 minutes, 30 seconds.

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

    Check out our full photo shoot featuring Beth Malone in Leadville:


    Photos of Beth Malone by John Moore. All rights reserved. To see the entire photo gallery, click here.

    Previous "Meet the Cast" episodes:

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

    From previous shows:
    Death of a Salesman
    Just Like Us
    Jackie & Me
    The Most Deserving
    A Christmas Carol
    black odyssey
    The Legend of Georgia McBride
    Animal Crackers

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

    Our Previous Molly Brown coverage on Denver CenterStage:
  • Running Lines Audio Podcast: Jeremy Palmer, Ed Mills and J Murray d'Armand of Wit Theatre's 'L.A. Diner'

    by John Moore | Sep 23, 2014

    Episode 168: In this week's "Running Lines" podcast, John Moore talks with playwrights Jeremy Palmer and Ed Mills as well as director J Murray d'Armand of Wit Theatre Company about the Denver premier of L.A. Diner. It is set at a little diner in 1962 Hollywood near where Marilyn Monroe is making her final film, Something’s Got to Give. A swath of characters mix and mingle while learning you have to be the answer to your own prayer."

    Palmer is known for his work as an actor, director and writer with the handicapped Phamaly Theatre Company. At age 15, he starred as Young Jim in the DCPA Theatre Company's production of Treasure Island.

    ​L.A. Diner:
    Presented by The Wit Theatre Company
    Performances 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 4
    Crossroads Theatre, 2590 Washington St.
    Tickets: $17.50
    Click here to go to the ticketing page
    Call 720-298-5293
    Email Thewittheatrecompany@gmail.com

    Vox PHAMALIA: Pity Pity Bang Bang:
    Phamaly Theatre Company's 'differently-abled sketch comedy' show
    Performances Oct. 16-16
    The Avenue Theatre, 417 E. 17th Ave. 
    7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, plus Oct. 20 and 23; also 2 p.m. Sundays
    Tickets: $20 in advance or $24 at the door
    Click here to go to the ticketing page

    Recent "Running Lines" episodes:
    167: Laura Norman and Josh Hartwell on Grounded and Dylan Went Electric
    166: Alison Horsley on the art of Dramaturgy
    165: Christy Montour-Larson on directing Shadowlands



  • Denver School of the Arts honors DCPA's Daniel L. Ritchie

    by John Moore | Sep 23, 2014
    Denver School of the Arts Friends Foundation Board Member Susan Daggett presents DCPA Chairman and CEO Daniel L. Ritchie with its Friends Foundation Award. Photo by John Moore.

    The Denver School of the Arts' Friends Foundation presented its annual Community Arts Leadership Award on Saturday to Daniel L. Ritchie, retiring CEO of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts -- and continuing Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

    The award honors those in the community who have supported arts and education.

    Ritchie was chancellor at the University of Denver in 2000 and personally facilitated the sale of the college's former Lamont School of Music property to the Denver Public Schools so that it could serve as the new home for Denver School of the Arts. The school, located at 7111 E. Montview Boulevard, re-opened there in 2003.

    DSA is committed to fostering a lifelong love of the arts in a culturally diverse, academically challenging environment. It first opened in 1991 with only four dedicated arts teachers. At its present location, DSA now has ample classroom space, a 550-seat theatre, 320-seat recital hall, 120-seat dance theatre, black box theatre, a film and video sound stage and music rehearsal rooms. It is a comprehensive secondary arts magnet school that serves 1,000 students in grades 6-12 majoring in 11 arts programs.

    "Very personally, Dan was responsible for our being able to procure this incredible facility," said Friends Foundation board member Susan Daggett. "It is an incredibly wonderful place for us to be."

    Daggett presented Ritchie with a handmade award created by DSA art students. It was a vase themed after the all-school fall musical, Hairspray.

    "I am truly honored by this award, and so thrilled to see that this school has become world-class," Ritchie said at the school's annual gala. Ritchie said the arts teach students all the best things that sports teach athletes -- like teamwork and collaboration -- but also offers other valuable life lessons, such as how to be creative person.

    "And you don't have the concussions," he said to laughs.

    Ritchie told the students in the audience that he performed in his own high-school play, Arsenic and Old Lace, 65 years ago next month. If their ambitions are to perform professionally, then Ritchie encouraged them to pursue them.

    "We have a great example right now at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in the star of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Ritchie said of his Theatre Company's world premiere staging running through Oct 26. "Beth Malone is a Colorado girl who graduated from Douglas County High School and the University of Northern Colorado, and she is going to be a superstar, you will see. That just goes to show it can be done. And it will be done even more as a result of what you are doing here at Denver School of the Arts."

    But "whether you go into an arts profession or not," Ritchie added, "the arts education you are getting here is so much more valuable than anybody used to ever think."

    Ritchie joined the DCPA in 2007. Since then, he has expanded the Theatre Company's new-play development program, launched four national Broadway touring premieres, conducted two successful matching gift fundraising campaigns, and made it possible for the Education Division to serve more than 400,000 students.

    Ritchie is now 82, and told the audience his favorite activity remains hiking.

    A tribute video that played as part of the awards transportation noted: "In a career lasting more than half a century, Dan Ritchie has climbed innumerable mountains for the Denver arts community. ... May he keep climbing for years to come."

    More photos by John Moore:

    (From a tribute video produced by Denver School of the Arts.)




    (DCPA President Randy Weeks was in attendance.)

  • DSA students make remarkable, record donation to Denver Actors Fund

    by John Moore | Sep 23, 2014
    IMG_3561From left: Amelia Corrada (Penny), Madison Kitchen (Tracy), Jeremy Willis (Seaweed), Claire Willcutt, John Moore and Jimmy Bruenger (Link Larkin).

    Twelve days before Denver School of the Arts was to open its fall all-school musical "Hairspray," cast members Jimmy Bruenger and his little sister, Damiana, learned their father, James, had died of a sudden heart attack. Jimmy, a junior who plays Link Larkin, and Damiana, who plays Youth Council member Madge, decided the best way to honor their father was to go on with the show.

    Denver_Actors_Fund_Jimmy_Bruenger_DSA_400"He was one of the kindest and loving men, and I am so blessed to have had him as my dad," said Jimmy. "He was honestly beyond supportive, and always told me to follow my heart."

    Not only did the Bruengers go on when the show opened on Sept. 12, Jimmy spearheaded the cast's philanthropic effort. Director Shawn Hann encourages her casts to designate a nonprofit organization for every production. The students chose Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. In the first weekend of "Hairspray" alone, they had collected more than $2,000 for the nation's leading entertainment-based fundraising organization to fight HIV and AIDS.

    The next week, Denver actor Tom Borrillo was hired to teach two master classes at DSA as a guest artist. While there, he explained to the students that the reason he had limited mobility was because of recent emergency shoulder surgery. And he told them about the Denver Actors Fund, which had awarded him $1,000 to help off-set his nearly $15,000 in out-of-pocket medical expenses. At that point, the cast decided to use all remaining performances of "Hairspray" to help raise money for the Denver Actors Fund.

    Following Saturday's closing performance, Jimmy and his 90 castmates surprised Denver Actors Fund founder John Moore with a check for $2,411.28. The donation is the largest in the short history of the Denver Actors Fund. The gift also brings to more than $20,000 the total raised by the organization to date.

    The Denver Actors Fund, founded by Moore and actor Christopher K. Boeckx in June 2013, offers financial and practical neighborly assistance including meals, transportation and child care to members of the local theatre community who find themselves in need resulting from sudden or ongoing medical situations. To date, the fund has helped actors, directors, artistic directors, stage managers and even props specialists facing a wide variety of crises. Moore is the former theatre critic at The Denver Post and is now the DCPA's Senior Arts Journalist.

    "It is humbling when the youngest, healthiest members of our theatre community -- students who are clearly in the prime of their lives -- take the time and care to raise money for fellow members of the theatre community who are in far different stages of their lives," said Moore. "Fellow artists facing illness, loss or end of life." The Bruenger siblings, prove, however, that tragedy and unexpected need know no age boundaries. Jimmy Bruenger said he and his sister got the strength to keep going with "Hairspray" in part because of a massive show of support from friends and family, known and unknown. But Jimmy was particularly blown away to receive encouragement from none other than "Hairspray" composer Marc Shaiman:

    To Jimmy Bruenger: Hello, Jimmy. I've heard from my pal Gregg Sherman that the Denver School Of Arts is putting on a fantastic production of "HAIRSPRAY." I also heard you just lost your Dad. Jimmy, I'm sorry you've suffered this loss, and at such a young age. I was in my late 40s when my father died in 2007. I found, as I'm sure you are finding, that everything I did I would say to myself "This is the first time I am _______ without my father still alive." Whether it was walking down the street back in NY, or seeing a show, I kept keeping this list in my head. I was lucky that, when I got back to NY, I was able to go to The Neil Simon Theatre and feel the warmth of the HAIRSPRAY family (as the show was still running). Before the show, at the pre-show circle, I told them it would be the first time I was seeing the show since my Dad had died. That night I watched from the pit. During the curtain call, when Tracy says "Let's dance!" the actress said "for Bill Shaiman." Man, I lost it...sat there sobbing from both grief and for the feeling of love I was so lucky to be bathing in there with my HAIRSPRAY family. Jimmy, I hope you are having a similar situation there, being helped along by your newest family as you come to terms with the change in your own. I know I am, right now, re-experiencing it all just from writing you about it. Just let it all out and take it all in, both the pain and the joy. It's all there, as his spirit always will be too, right there within you. I hope you don't mind me writing you this letter out of the blue. And thank you for using your talent, heart and soul to lift the audience with our little show. All My Best, Marc
    "Marc is so kind," Bruenger said after receiving the note. "He honestly helped remind me why I love what I do."

    In response to the surprise donation from DSA, Moore has invited the cast of "Hairspray" to perform a number of its choice at "Miscast 2014," a benefit for the Denver Actors Fund that will be presented at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 29, at the Aurora Fox Theatre.

    Denver School of the Arts is a comprehensive secondary arts magnet school covering grades 6-12 the the Denver Public Schools district. In addition to a rigorous academic program, students engage in intensive studies in Creative Writing, Dance, Music, Stagecraft and Design, Theatre, Video Cinema Arts, and Visual Arts. DSA is committed to fostering a lifelong love of the arts in a culturally diverse, academically challenging environment.

    To learn more about the Denver Actors Fund, click here

    To read testimonials from artists who have benefited from the Denver Actors Fund, click here

    To donate to the Denver Actors Fund, click here

    To apply for aid from the Denver Actors Fund, fill out this brief online form

     IMG_3539Jimmy Bruenger announces the "Hairspray" cast's surprise donation to The Denver Actors Fund.  

    IMG_3487b "Hairspray" Director Shawn Hann, left, with Denver Center for the Performing Arts Teaching Artists Allison Watrous and Jessica Austgen.  

    IMG_3557Denver Actors Fund founder John Moore with Jimmy Bruenger and Damiana Bruenger.

  • Meet the Cast video series: Burke Moses

    by John Moore | Sep 22, 2014

    In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 64: Meet Burke Moses, who is returning to the DCPA for the first time since starring in the Theatre Company's productions of Carousel and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof when he was 20 years old. Moses, who is playing J.J. Brown in the Denver launch of a newly reimagined The Unsinkable Molly Brown, talks about getting his musical start in Denver, why co-star Beth Malone is his ideal scene partner, and about his place in musical theatre history as the actor who originated the role of Gaston in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Molly Brown plays through Oct. 26 in the Stage Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore and David Lenk.e. Run time: 3 minutes, 30 seconds.

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

    Previous "Meet the Cast" episodes:

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

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

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

    Our Previous Molly Brown coverage on Denver CenterStage:
    Burke Moses describes "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" co-star Beth Malone as his ideal scene partner. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.
  • The 'Pippin' Profiles: Matthew James Thomas on being shot out of a cannon

    by John Moore | Sep 20, 2014
    Pippin_Profiles_Matthew_James_Thomas_CirclePlaying prince Pippin for a year on Broadway in the contorting, spinning, death-defying world of the circus took its toll on young Matthew James Thomas. When it was over, he needed time to regain his physical and mental strength.

    Four months later, Thomas arrived on the Island of Malta 50 miles south of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea. His parents have a modest farmhouse there. Thomas, 26, was poised for a few days of relaxation, jet-skiing and writing music.

    Then, his phone rang. It was Barry Weissler, who had hired Thomas to star in what turned out to be the 2013 Tony-winning Best Musical Revival: Pippin The Musical. It was eight days before the national touring production was to launch in Denver, and Kyle Selig, the actor hired to play Pippin, had just been put on vocal rest.

    Thomas hails from Buckinghamshire in the southeast of England, so he’s not familiar with the American cartoon character Mighty Mouse. But like that iconic animated rodent whose theme song was, “Here he comes to save the day!" ... here came Thomas to save the day. All the way from Malta - 6,000 miles from the Mile High City.

    “That is very kind of you, but I don't see it that way at all,” Thomas said last week, after joining – and opening – the first national tour of Pippin to enthusiastic standing ovations in Denver.  “I think it's more that I probably relieved some stress for the production in some way. All I could think about was how lucky I was to play the show in a new environment.”

    Thomas moved to the United States four years ago to split the role of Peter Parker in one of the most infamous productions in Broadway history: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which was cursed by multiple accidents and scathing reviews but was hugely popular with audiences, running for more than three years in the largest theatre in Broadway history.

    He’s now developing a concept for a British TV series while working on his first CD of original music. He spent Tuesday at a Denver studio laying down piano and vocal tracks for a song he’s since shipped off to an engineer in New York.

    “I have gone through some tough moments in my personal life in the last couple of months, and I have been very inspired to write some new music,” said Thomas, who begins work on his next musical theatre project in November.

    We got a chance to sit down for an extended conversation with Thomas, who was starring in a West End production of Oliver by age 8, appeared in the hit film Billy Elliot at 11, and has been so much on the move throughout his life, he feels like he’s run off with the circus. Kind of like Pippin.

    “Somebody recently asked me, ‘Where do you live?’ and I said, ‘Hah, I have no idea. I am a gypsy,' " Thomas said.

    Here are excerpts from our illuminating, in-depth conversation:


    John Moore: So, hey: You were in Billy Elliot.

    Matthew James Thomas: The movie? Yes, I was.

    John Moore: You've probably grown an inch or two since that movie came out in 2000 … but what did I miss?

    Matthew James Thomas: You missed me get punched in the face!

    John Moore: That was you?

    Matthew James Thomas: Yes, but I was quite smaller then. I was 11.

    John Moore: Well, it’ll be worth re-Netflixing just to see that again.

    Matthew James Thomas: I think you should. If you want to giggle at me, I mean.

    John Moore: How would you describe the last two weeks of your life?

    Matthew James Thomas: Well, being shot out of a cannon is one way to describe it. It really does kind of feel like that. It just feels nuts. But it's great. It's wonderful.

    John Moore: The differences between your Broadway opening and your tour opening could not be starker. You were with the Broadway production from the beginning. You were called in to join the national touring production just eight days before you opened. What’s that like?

    Matthew James Thomas: It was such a whirlwind for me mentally because when I set foot on the soil here, I wasn’t prepared for it. I had been in a completely different mindset. I had been working on other projects, and I had been really detached from Pippin for such a long time. And so it was really confusing. I am being completely honest here. I have lived in America for four years now, but it's still a new surrounding. And on top of that, I knew I'd be stepping into a company for somebody else they have been rehearsing with for a very long period of time. That was daunting because I have to walk into this family, and I'm the new guy who nobody knows really. I did know a couple of the cast members from Broadway company, which was … softening. But still, I knew I had a lot to live up to with the Broadway production being such a huge success, and me being the lead. So yes, it was quite daunting.

    Matthew James Thomas in the national touring production of 'Pippin' that launched in Denver. Photo by Terry Shapiro.

    John Moore: It just seems strange to think of you as ‘the new kid’ when you’re the guy who originated the role.

    Matthew James Thomas: And yet, that's very much what it is. I do know the show back to front, upside down. We've done it every single way we possibly could. And yet here I am actually going into a new show with new people and new scenery and a whole new environment. There are a couple of moments on stage where I just feel my feet go a little wonky and I am like, 'Where am I? Oh, wow. OK, great. OK, no, yes. Now … Go!’ It’s scary … but that's also lovely for the character of Pippin.

    John Moore: No one expected to see you – or need you – on this tour. So do you feel a bit like the knight in shining armor?

    Matthew James Thomas: You know, I am very thankful for you to say that, but I think it's more that my being here probably relieved some stress for the production team in some way.

    John Moore: Take me through getting the call.

    Matthew James Thomas: I was in New York about two weeks before I left for Malta. My parents got a modest farmhouse out there a couple of years ago. It's a very old house that dates back to the 1400s, and I have since wanted to go but I've always been preoccupied with work. So I found a little window in my schedule and thought, 'Well, I'm starting work on another show in November, so why not take this opportunity to get away?' So I jump on a plane. I get with my parents. We do a bit of jet-skiing and a bit of pasta-eating. We do some catching up and some discussing of the future and the past  … and my phone rings. And it's (Pippin producer) Barry Weissler, whom I have not spoken to since I left the production in March. I thought, 'Why is Barry phoning me?' But in this industry, you get used to being surprised every single day by quite bizarre, profound things. So he says, 'What are you up to?' and I say, 'I'm in Malta.' And it was quiet. I guess he was hoping I was in New York.

    John Moore: Your plane ticket to Denver just got a lot more expensive.

    Matthew James Thomas: Right? He was probably like, ('Bleep!'). (Laughing.) And so he went on to say he was wondering if I would be available to come to Denver and step into the role of Pippin for a while. And I said, ‘Sure, I'll come.’ I thought it sounded like a great opportunity to give Pippin one last go, because the role is so great.


    John Moore: After your final preview performance in Denver, I saw you come out for the talkback wearing shorts, and you had a few fresh, gnarly scabs on your legs. It made me wonder about the physical toll this show has taken on your body.

    Matthew James Thomas: It's hard to explain, really ... but I actually like it. Back when I was taking my stage-fighting exam in the U.K., my friend Rob and I were so passionate about getting it right and getting it real that we ended up just beating the crap out of each other. I came away from that with a bloody nose. But I'm all for realism and authenticity. This might sound crazy or stupid but after doing Pippin again and again and again, the proof is in the pudding. And the proof is the audience. If you do something properly, then the audience responds properly. I always want to pull off the fall or the trip or whatever as realistically as possible, without hurting myself too much. The fact is, I really enjoy it if John (Rubinstein, who plays Pippin’s father Charlemagne) trips me and I really fall. I think it’s just funnier. So I end up getting cuts and bruises and snags and whatever else. Thank God I have those breaks in between shows to recover. So that’s the way I see it. If I'm here, I might as well give it everything I've got.

    John Moore: When the time came for you to leave the Broadway production in March, did your body need some recovery time?

    Matthew James Thomas: Oh my goodness, yes. And my mind, too. You know, eight shows a week for any show is an impossible task. It really is something that shouldn't be humanly achievable. It's hard vocally, physically, mentally. But on a show like this, you're working out more than a pro athlete. Take soccer, for example. They train every day for a good two hours, and then they have one big match a week. It’s very physical, but … I wake up. I go to the gym for an hour and a half. I go for a run for 20 minutes. I warm my vocals up for one hour. And then we do the show eight times a week. You know, it’s almost more work … and you only get one day off a week.

    John Moore: That's nice of you to call it "soccer" for my benefit.

    Matthew James Thomas: Yeah, of course. I'm getting more used to it now.

    John Moore: And now, a very hard-hitting question:

    Matthew James Thomas: Mmmm … OK.  

    John Moore: I saw you play Pippin on Broadway, and I would swear that you had black hair.

    Matthew James Thomas: Oh yes, "The Hair Question." At first I mentioned it to my press team and they were like, 'Well, people aren't going to recognize you.' And I was like, 'Well, I think that's kind of a great thing.' Actually, when I changed my hair color, I was still in the Broadway production of Pippin, and I didn't tell the cast. So when I jumped through the hoop, everybody looked at me like, 'Who the (bleep) is that?'

    John Moore: I have a feeling that if anyone other than the star of the show had changed his hair color without telling anyone, there might have been a problem.

    Matthew James Thomas: Well, I ran it by the director and the producers. But I asked them not to tell anyone in the cast, because I thought it would be interesting for that one night just to have a very different Pippin show up on the stage. I'm actually just starting to get my real hair color back, which is an ashen blond. But it's hard to get that color back when I've had so much black and blue put through it. I went black for Spider-Man previous to Pippin, and I just didn't have time between the two shows to change it back. But eventually I had to, because my hair started to fall out.

    John Moore: So you’re saying the reason Pippin had black hair on Broadway is because Peter Parker had black hair in Spider-Man?

    Matthew James Thomas: Yeah.

    John Moore: OK, so I had no intention of talking about your hair this much, but now I am remembering your entrance in the first scene in Pippin. You're saying no one in the cast found out you changed your hair color until you jumped through the hoop in the opening song?

    Matthew James Thomas: It's how all of them found out, yes. Specifically, Patina Miller (The Leading Player) looked at me with very wide eyes because she was in the middle of her line, and she was like,  ‘... Who are you?’ It was great. But I'm a little bit of a trickster. I take any opportunity I get to play a prank on the cast.

    John Moore: So when you left the show, you said your body and your mind needed to recover. But did you also then go through any withdrawal? When the show goes on but without you … that had to be a little weird.

    Matthew James Thomas: Yeah, for sure. You always do. Leaving a company is like leaving a long-term relationship. It’s something maybe you need to do for yourself, but you probably could stay there and be very happy and content for the rest of your life. But you have to keep moving. I left some great friends behind, but in the same sentence, you never really leave them. It is hard to say goodbye to all of that hard work. You leave it for somebody else to take over, and they will take over your track, but the core of your work is being left behind. It is very traumatic. But as actors, we live within a business within a business within a business. Change is continuing, and it is very important for us to grow.

    John Moore: So all you have to do is look at John Rubinstein to see that the original actor who played Pippin is now white-haired and playing your father. I mean, the show is old. Even with the new circus aspect, why should a 40-year-old show like Pippin matter to your friends in 2014?

    Matthew James Thomas: That's an interesting way to put it, actually. What people have to understand is the original Pippin is incredibly different from this version of the show. Of course the people who saw the original version of the show will deeply appreciate this version of the show as well because the fundamental structure that was so impressive and daring and innovative and sharp is still intact. (Director Diane Paulus) has done nothing but clarify everything that needed clarifying with the old production. That said, a lot of my friends aren't involved in musical theatre at all. A lot of my friends will never see me in shows because they are being a ferrier in Buckinghamshire or working as a DJ in London. But when a friend of mine has come and seen they show, they really are entering into it with a fresh mind. I, in my own life, have desperately tried to get rid of my opinion about things – and my generation of friends have become less and less opinionated with me as we have grown up. I spoke to a lovely young chap the other day who had seen the show in Denver. He described himself as a young American who generally thinks of things in terms of, 'I know this,’ or, ‘I like that,’ or, ‘My favorite color is blue.' But he came and saw the show and was like, 'Oh my God, my whole opinion of everything has just shifted because of the profundity of what I just saw. I was wrong. Now I have to re-think everything.’ That’s why I think this show is so clever, because he came out knowing something greater about his deeper self.

    John Rubinstein, left, played the first Pippin on Broadway in 1972. He now plays father to Matthew James Thomas' Pippin. Photo by Terry Shapiro.

    John Moore: So what was it like when you first had that moment on stage with John Rubinstein, when Pippin says, 'Time has passed you by, father,' and Charlemagne's line back is, 'And YOUR time has come, my son?' 

    Matthew James Thomas: There’s a very real thing happening on the stage between us that goes beyond the acting and the music and the dancing. That is two actors on stage who have probably experienced a very similar transformative and probably very painful journey with the same production. Because I know any show of this depth and greatness is painful to create. My journey with it from Boston, as fantastic and as brilliant and as wonderful as it ended up being for everybody, was incredibly painful and hard. And I know from all of the wonderful stories John has that it was hard for him, too. There is an unspoken bond there between John and me because we are the only two people who really have created the role from a fresh palate.


    John Moore: Can I ask you about Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark?

    Matthew James Thomas: Yeah, sure.

    John Moore: I was writing for The Denver Post at the time, and I got to see it when it was in previews for its re-opening. Meaning after it had been ostensibly fixed. My take was that this was a musical that was like its anti-hero: Caught between two worlds. But it had an energy that was unmatched by any other show on Broadway. The crowd ate it up. The crowd's response was more genuine than anything else I’ve ever seen on Broadway. And if the idea of live theatre is to make a connection with an audience, well, this show did that.

    Matthew James Thomas: I don't know how to say how lucky I feel I am that I got to work with that creative team on Spider-Man. Oftentimes, in interviews, people just want the dirt, and yeah, there's plenty of it. However, Spider-Man was actually tragic. The show itself -- even the original show -- I thought was just so special, because you didn't just have a bunch of brilliant creatives waltzing around pretending they knew everything. Everybody on that creative team wanted to do something impossible. I alternated in the lead role, which meant that I did the show four days a week, and I would watch the rest of the time. So I used to go up to the fly booth and watch down and see the show from there. I would watch how all of these things had to happen for that little 5-year-old's excitement, or that 80-year-old's bewilderment. All those things were invented by a crew of people ... It was God's work, really. I was thinking, 'How the hell did somebody make all of these things work together? Things happen on shows that are trying to test extraordinary boundaries. Spider-Man was certainly trying to do that. That was very, very, hard for all of us. People got injured. But let me tell you: People get injured on every show. And Pippin is far more dangerous than Spider-Man will have ever been.

    John Moore: Pippin does seem far more dangerous. I mean, in Spider-Man, you were tied to cables. There are no cables, no nets, no safety hooks in Pippin.

    Matthew James Thomas: Yeah, and you know what? I like wire. I like an 8,000-pound tension wire between me and the 30 feet to the floor. As much as I would happily jump out of a plane -- and intend to, at some point in my life -- I like having a parachute. I trusted those people on that team more than I have ever trusted anyone, and boy, did they care about our safety. The more people who are involved, the more the politics just go askew and everybody scrambles like a dog to try and fix it, and they are never going to, and it’s just a tragic situation when it starts to happen that way because once the ball goes in that direction, you know it’s lost. People said things they shouldn't have said. So the show fell apart.

    John Moore: So can you see yourself playing Charlemagne in 40 years?

    Matthew James Thomas: Oh, sure. Of course. I hope so, anyway. I always, always want to be that guy with the white beard and the wisdom behind his eyes.

    John Moore: Well, you’re 26. You've got a ways to go there.

    Matthew James Thomas: That's true. I can't even really grow a beard yet. So we'll see.

    John Moore: Do we know how long you will be with this national touring production?

    Matthew James Thomas: It's been confirmed that I will be going through to San Francisco next. Then it’s on to Los Angeles, but that hasn’t been decided.

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

    'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:  

    : Ticket information

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

    Our previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

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

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

    Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

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

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

  • Meet the cast video series: Donna English

    by John Moore | Sep 19, 2014

    In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 63: Meet Donna English, who is returning to the DCPA for the first time since performing in the Theatre Company's production of Company in 1989. English, who is playing Baby Doe Tabor and other roles in the launch of a newly reimagined The Unsinkable Molly Brown, says, "I don't know if the people of Denver realize it but it's unusual to have this amount of space and that many people dedicated to building the incredible sets that you have in these productions." Molly Brown plays through Oct. 26 in the Stage Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore and David Lenk.e. Run time: 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

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

    Previous "Meet the Cast" episodes:

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

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

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

    Our Previous Molly Brown coverage on Denver CenterStage:

    Molly_Brown_Donna_English_800Donna English and John Hickok as Baby Doe  and Horace Tabor in 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown.' Photo by John Moore.

  • Introducing DCPA's groundbreaking News Center media outlet

    by John Moore | Sep 19, 2014

    There's a new media outlet in town, and it is our very own. Check out our News Center on the new www.DenverCenter.Org. We call it Denver CenterStage. It has been in the works for a year -- and we think it is already one of the most active and vibrant sources for news and information about local theatre you will find anywhere on the web.

    This is a groundbreaking new professional journalism initiative headed by respected local arts journalist John Moore and Video Producer David Lenk, who are bringing you fresh theatre stories every day from the Denver Center and throughout the Colorado theatre community using words, photos, audio and video.

    Our News Center is a cornerstone of the new DenverCenter.Org. It's another major reason to visit our new web site -- ­ and stay awhile. With stories being added several times a day, we hope you visit often. For those of you who have followed our coverage while the News Center has been under construction for the past year, the previous MyDenverCenter.Org URL will now take you to our new home.

    The DCPA hired John Moore, the former longtime theatre critic at The Denver Post, to report news, tell feature stories and keep readers informed about all things happening not only here at the DCPA, but in the Colorado theatre community and around the nation. Working alongside award-winning Video Producer David Lenk, our team will make sure you know about all the varied happenings at one of the nation’s leading arts centers, and in the neighboring community.


    When you come to the new home page at www.DenverCenter.Org, you will see the NEWS CENTER tab at the top of the page. Click on it and you will get a pulldown featuring our two most recent stories. (See above.)



    We produce creative and fun videos that bring you the personalities and show you the process behind the magic we make on our stages. We also chronicle the vital work being done by Denver Center Education in area schools and throughout the community. Find out why our YouTube Channel has drawn more than 1 million visits.

    "Running Lines" is John Moore’s award-winning audio podcast that lets you listen in on conversations with emerging and leading figures in the local and national theatre communities.

    We try to capture everything that is happening under the arch and beyond with our cameras, and then show them to you on our Flickr account. We will always feature a compelling recent photo on the News Center's home page.


    At Denver CenterStage, you will find our content neatly organized according to your interests. Easily find coverage specific to our Theatre Company, Broadway or Education divisions. Or go straight to our coverage of Other Theatres or the Community. For now, with so much attention on our season-opening staging of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, we've created a temporary tab to make it as easy as possible for you to find all of our coverage of the show to date in one place. We also have a highly efficient search engine located at the top of any page on our new web site. Just enter the show, actor or term of interest, and your selection should pop right up. 

    News_Center_Meet_The Cast


    One of our most popular innovations is our "Meet the Cast" video series. In the past year, we have produced more than 60 brief video introductions that allow you get to know our actors in a much more personal way than ever before. These videos are posted individually on the News Center, but they are also available on our unique "Cast and Crew" pages that we produce for every show we stage. To find them, click "Shows and Tickets," choose your show and then click "Cast & Crew."  To play the video featured above, just click here and enjoy.

    News_Center_PopularMOST POPULAR STORIES
    We list what your hits tell us are our most popular, compelling or engaging stories and keep them available to you for easy access long after they might otherwise be replaced on the home page by newer stories. 

    John Moore is the DCPA’s award-winning Senior Arts Journalist. He was The Denver Post theatre critic for 12 years, and in 2011, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine. He is also the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. He is also the instigator of one of the largest ongoing public arts projects in Denver: The Denver Sonnets Project is his three-year attempt to film all 154 of Shakesepare's sonnets as mini films. John is a native of Arvada who attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

    We want you to think of Denver CenterStage as an active, vibrant new media outlet that you will want to check every day (or more!) for news and other stimulating content that is sure to spark a conversation. Bookmark Denver CenterStage on your browser and join in.

    Please Bookmark Denver CenterStage ... and tell all your friends!

    And please email all feedback to jmoore@dcpa.org
  • Stage of Healing: Martin Moran revisits Denver, trespass and 'Rage'

    by John Moore | Sep 18, 2014

    Martin_Moran_Tricky_Part_1In February 2004, Denver native Martin Moran was about to open his intimate one-man play at an off-Broadway theatre in New York. It was aptly titled The Tricky Part. It told the story of how a pedophile preyed upon him in the Colorado mountains when Moran was only 12. The tricky part would be his struggle to come to terms with his own complicity in allowing one stolen sexual moment to grow into a three-year relationship with a sex offender.

    Moran's play made a profound impact on audiences who were coming to see preview performances. But Director Seth Barrish was having trouble convincing major New York theatre critics to take notice of what might otherwise have been just another one-man play lost in the most crowded theatre city in the world.

    Back then, I wrote about theatre for The Denver Post. Moran's story was of particular interest to me. Like Moran, I, too, had spent summer retreats at Camp St. Malo, where the alleged abuse first took place. Like Moran, I too had attended Regis Jesuit High School. Moran bravely allowed me to delve into the story and report about both the trespass and the play that finally was born after nearly three decades of struggle.

    My report was published as a front-page story in the March 4, 2004, Sunday Denver Post, taking up two full inside, broadsheet pages. Moran's producer hand-carried the print edition of that paper to New York Times chief theatre critic Ben Brantley and essentially made the point: "This is how big of a story this play is in Denver -- and it's 2,000 miles away." Brantley must have been impressed. He agreed to see the play and reviewed it a month later. He called The Tricky Part "a translucent memoir" with "disturbing immediacy." 

    Moran's life hasn't been the same since. The Denver Post story caught the attention of Curious Theatre  Company Producing Artistic Director Chip Walton, who brought Moran out to Denver to perform the play in the backyard of where he was violated years before. I have witnessed the lives of many abuse victims transformed for just sitting in Moran's audience. He has since performed the play around the world. A book followed. I was involuntarily assigned to review that book by my editor, and an uncomfortable but sincere question I raised in it understandably wounded Moran. But he admits in his subsequent sequel that it was the asking of it that actually fueled its writing:

    "Where's the anger?"

    That sequel is called All the Rage, and in January 2013, Moran drew another positive review from Ben Brantley of The New York Times, who called it "a soulful show that leads you into thought- and emotion-stirring territory that you don’t often visit at the theater."

    Westword critic Juliet Wittman, who saw the play last weekend at Curious, said the play succeeds "in evoking the capacity for forgiveness in all of us." 

    The official description of the show says:

    All the Rage is a globetrotting quest for the answer to the question, "Where's the Anger?" spanning from Manhattan to the Rockies to Johannesburg, South Africa. The people Moran meets along the way — his estranged stepmother, a guide who can’t read maps, and an African refugee seeking asylum in the U.S. — help him as he charts his own course through rage and compassion.

    For your perspective and benefit, I present to you now the story I wrote that first wove me in some small part into the evolution of The Tricky Part. This piece originally ran on March 4, 2004, in The Denver Post:

    Stage of Healing

    By John Moore
    The Denver Post

    Martin_Moran_Tricky_Part_2NEW YORK - Martin Moran was like a lot of altar boys in 1972. He had just received the sacrament of confirmation, welcoming the Holy Spirit into his life as an adult Christian, and everywhere he looked he saw God - in his Denver neighborhood, at his Christ the King grade school, even in the mirror.

    He relished placing calls on behalf of his grade-school student council. "Hello," he would proclaim to an unsuspecting recipient, "This is Christ the King calling!"

    "And right here in my breast I'd get this little burst of ... 'Maybe I am!' " he would later recall.

    That same year, seconds after his first sexual experience of any kind, 72 miles removed from the protection of his church or family, Martin was filled with nothing approaching the Holy Spirit. Instead guilt and pleasure battled for his soul as the boy lay naked in a sleeping bag, his back perched in the arms of a 27-year-old man, wondering,

    "God, oh God. Is that you?"

    Martin pleaded for God's presence, but deep down, he suspected he "had just entered into a compact with the devil." Martin looked down at his forbidden place, that place where his priest had repeatedly told him, "There's nothing down there to be toying with," and what he saw spilled before him was "the sacred seed of God." A million murdered Catholics.

    It would be years of confusion, two suicide attempts, therapy and now an upcoming off-Broadway play about his "journey toward grace" before he would embrace a fundamental truth about a man who still affects his life, 32 years later.

    "I was 12, Bob. I was a child. I did not have consent to give."

    Martin had met Bob two years earlier at Camp St. Malo, since 1916 a holy retreat for Catholics at the eastern base of Mount Meeker northwest of Allenspark. Bob was not a priest. He was not even a Catholic. But he was in his third summer as a lay counselor there. Martin remembered him as the engaging Vietnam vet who had told "amazing campfire stories about jungle ghosts and war." Bob was now starting his own boys ranch just 15 miles east of St. Malo, and he had offered Martin 10 bucks to spend the weekend fixing up the place with him.

    Martin's unsuspecting parents gave their permission, provided he covered his paper route and the Sunday Mass he was scheduled to serve, because "everybody," he said, "trusted 'Bob from St. Malo.' " Neither Martin nor his parents knew then that Bob had since been fired from the camp (but never prosecuted) for engaging in sexual activities with at least three boys there in 1970.

    On April 8, 1972, the morning after their initial sexual encounter, Bob dropped Martin back at his middle-class home in the Virginia Vale neighborhood of Denver, and left him with a message that would resonate for decades.

    "Marty, our friendship is different, you know? In another time and place, what we shared is good. You know why? Because there's love ... and it's between us."

    At the most confusing moment of the boy's young life, Martin was now certain of only one thing:

    "God, please ... This has to be just ours. Top secret."

    The words above in italics come from Moran's one-man play, "The Tricky Part," which opens March 28 in New York's McGinn/Cazale Theatre.

    Martin Moran is the author of the play and book called "The Tricky Part," which recounts his time being molested by a camp counselor at Camp St.
    It traces his Catholic upbringing, his struggle to come to terms with his own homosexuality and his own complicity in allowing one stolen sexual moment to grow into a three-year relationship with a man who would one day become a convicted sex offender.

    In truth, there is no part of this story that is not "the tricky part."

    "In my allegiance to my memory and in trying to be as deeply genuine as I possibly can be, my purpose with this play is to render the profound complexity of this experience," said Moran, now 44 and living in New York City.

    "What rests at the core of it, for me, is an examination of the paradox. By that I mean, yes, what happened to me when I was 12 was horrifically wrong. A man committed a crime. He crossed the line and entered into a sexual relationship with a 12-year-old boy in a culture where that is instantly and automatically damaging. We are talking Denver in 1972, a Republican household, Catholic upbringing -- colliding with sex. And that collision is so rife with trauma and complexity.

    "But that was, in fact, my sexual awakening, and there was beauty in it. There was horror in it, too. This was a man who was screwed up and deficient and sick.

    "But in that man was a human being, and he wasn't violent, and he paid attention to me. And that love, which some people will bristle at hearing, was a life preserver, as well as a destroyer."

    On April 4, 2002, Moran stood before a white mop of hair inside a Los Angeles veterans hospital and saw what looked more like a 59-year-old diabetic woman in a wheelchair than the vigorous young man who taught him to drive a tractor, build a geodesic dome and took him glacier sliding. He barely recognized this as the man he had sneaked away to be with so many times so many years before.

    Playgoers will soon be introduced to this man as "Bob Kominsky."

    But in Colorado, he already is known in Catholic and legal circles as a problem named Robert C. Kosanke.

    "My first love," Moran said.

    'I don't have anything'

    Moran did not track Kosanke down to vilify or assail him.

    "It was important to me that he know I turned out all right, and that I've found something like stability and success in my life," he said.

    Kosanke's concern was elsewhere.

    "If you're thinking of suing me," Moran recalls Kosanke saying to him, "I don't have anything."

    Moran's psychological and artistic journey, which began in dark confusion and brought him to this California hospital, does not come to an end next month in the catharsis of a New York stage.

    "Sexual abuse is not like an infection where you treat the infection with medicine and it goes away," Boulder sexual-abuse expert Kitty Sargent said. "It's a process that will always be a part of the person's life."

    Sargent is an education-resource coordinator for Blue Sky Bridge, which works to prevent the sexual abuse of children. She does not know Moran, but she has known many Kosankes. She said pedophiles disrupt the ordered physical, psychological and social development of a child without regard to the consequences that can last well into adulthood, including isolation, distrust, shame, anger, grief, betrayal, fear of intimacy and hypersexual activity.

    Moran's case is an unsettling cautionary tale not only for parents but also for anyone who thinks they understand the psychology and pathology of how sexual abuse affects kids. It might be difficult for anyone to understand how it affected Moran.

    Like when he was in the seventh grade and he was assigned to write an essay about his living hero. Martin wrote about Kosanke. And that was more than a year into their relationship.

    "Talk about a double life," he said. "When I was in eighth grade, I was president of the student council at Christ the King. I often thought I might title my memoirs, 'The Altar Boy and the Slut.' "

    A life of questions

    When Moran tells his story in the public intimacy of a 110-seat New York theater, he is aware it will raise many questions with audiences: How could he have remained involved with this man for so long without telling anyone? Where were his parents through all of this? And the question his own father later raised.

    "When I finally told my father what happened between Bob and me," Moran said, "his response was, 'So, he's the man who made you gay?' "

    Sexual abuse, Sargent said, is more about sexual power than sexual orientation. But Moran knows his own homosexuality is a very "tricky part" of his story. Part of what kept him coming back to Kosanke was isolation and shame, but another was pleasure. Sargent said abusers prey on that confusion and contradiction.

    "When the abuse is not inflicting pain, any 12-year-old's body will respond positively to sexual stimulation, regardless," she said. "And the guilt and confusion that results from feeling pleasure is a common issue that haunts some of these kids for the rest of their lives."

    Moran believes he was born gay, "and I was always meant to be gay," he said. "But when I was 12, I knew nothing about sex of any kind."

    As he lay with Kosanke that first time, he remembers thinking, "This must be what a man does with a woman, and so what does that make me?"

    Part of the trauma for him became "trying to sort through a genuine notion of my own sexuality within the realm of a religion that told me this was a mortal sin."

    "For me it was double indemnity, and it was really painful.

    "And yet deep within was also this sense of truth that 'this is where my body is leading me. This is what I want. It's telling me something about myself."'

    But what he was hearing about homosexuality in sixth grade was another matter. That's just one reason he instinctively knew from that first sexual encounter that his life was a closed book.

    "I could no longer belong," he said. "And when your life is top secret like that, the only way you can find solace again, to a 12-year-old brain, is to return to what you crave, to the only person who knows your secret. That's destructive and complicated and bizarre, but you might find that's not unique in terms of sexuality between adults and children."

    Sargent said hidden, long-term relationships between pedophiles and children are more common than not.

    "And that not only points out just how strongly manipulative these older men can be when they prey on a child," she said, "it also points out how kids are not at all empowered in these situations. It's very difficult for them to break free. It's important to remember that a 12-year-old is not emotionally capable of entering into a consensual sexual relationship with a 30-year-old. It's just not possible.

    "That's why it's against the law."

    Three years of hiding

    Moran described his relationship with Kosanke as catch-as-catch-can: two weeks at summer camp, a weekend above Boulder here, a weekend at the ranch there.

    "But I always looked forward to it because every meeting had the promise of that connection, and that intimacy of being with the guy who knows my secret and shares it," he said. "I looked forward to that companionship."

    Moran's father, a former Denver journalist, was a typical dad in an era when the role of a father was primarily that of a financial rather than emotional provider.

    "He is such a good man, but he was distant," Moran said.

    Moran was the second oldest of four siblings, but his parents divorced when he was 15 - the same year his relationship with Kosanke came to an end.

    "My family was like a group of satellites floating around, each in our own orbit, and everyone was finding what they needed somewhere other than in the house," he said. "My parents are kind, good and responsible people who were going through a really tough time emotionally. And while the fact Bob came into my life via St. Malo does not excuse what he did, that did give him the aura of being someone my parents could trust.

    "It's deeply painful to them that this happened. If there is a lesson for parents today, it's that they have to be absolutely aware of what is going on at all times, and they need to be absolutely present."

    So when Moran grew consumed with guilt over the issue of homosexuality, the person he turned to was Kosanke.

    "I expressed to Bob my deep sadness at the fact that I may be turning out gay, and it was screwing with my head," Moran said.

    "Bob told me, 'Marty, homosexuals are really just troubled creatures who have no love in their lives. So you can't be homosexual, because you have love in your life. We have love. You and I. So what we share is not homosexuality."'

    Only in retrospect did Moran recognize the "odd and terribly twisted way" in which he was being led. He continued to assume that when he got to be 16 or 17, he would be OK because by then he would have a girlfriend. But as his relationship with Kosanke intensified, doubts about his sexuality continued to plague him. So Kosanke, whose 19-year-old girlfriend was a co-counselor at his ranch, took an extreme step to reassure him.

    "He began taking me to bed with both of them on occasion," Moran said. "It was strange and perfunctory, but I kept thinking, 'I am doing that thing that men are supposed to do with women, so now I know I am going to be OK.' And she was just lying there like a stone. The implicit message was, 'See? You're not gay. You are a guy."'

    But the boy knew next to nothing about female sexuality, and he woke up one day in horror. "Here was blood on the sheets, and I was terrified - until Bob explained to me it was her period," he said.

    His confusion led to a failed suicide attempt that involved an overdose with his mother's prescription medicine.

    In 1975, Moran's freshman year at Regis High School, he began to distance himself from Kosanke. Six months had passed since he had last seen him when word spread that Kosanke was going to jail.

    Moran didn't know specifics, but he was terrified he might be pulled into a public legal mess.

    Still not yet old enough for a driver's license, Moran jumped into his mother's car to confront Kosanke.

    "I was afraid I would never have another chance to tell him I was angry and ashamed, and I was sorry we ever met," he said.

    Moran would like to say it was only his fear of being exposed that compelled the break. But here, once again, is a tricky part: A big reason was jealousy.

    "As I got older - and we're still talking 15 - the sense of guilt and shame and chaos about being in any way involved with this man grew along with a more keen awareness that there were other boys," Moran said.

    "So we shook hands and Bob wished me luck."

    Years later, at the veterans hospital, Kosanke told Moran his rejection that day caused him to crawl into a shell for two months.

    Moran stopped attending Mass and transferred in 1976 from Regis to the public George Washington High School, where he would graduate in 1978. It was his way of trying to distance himself from the Catholic world that had not only formed him, but also had brought this man into his life.

    "Breaking away from Regis and going to a new school was all an effort to say, 'I am a different person. I am burying that whole chapter of my life,"' he said. "I wanted to get away from what felt oppressive. But I lived in terror that someone was going to come knocking on my door and say, 'We know what you did,' and I felt that would destroy me."

    Moran thought his breakup with Kosanke "would be the beginning of my getting better," he said. Instead it was the beginning of a long struggle with depression that brought a second suicide attempt, this time a wayward gunshot that landed in the banister of his basement steps.

    "That was wrapped up partly in the trauma of what happened with Bob, but it was also the complexity of owning up to being gay, and wanting very much not to be," he said. "I wanted to be an upstanding Catholic father, citizen and husband. I had dreamed about being a senator, and all I kept thinking was, 'I can't possibly be gay because then I will never amount to anything."'

    Moran was a junior when he heard Kosanke had been convicted of sexually assaulting another boy in Boulder County. The next year, Kosanke served four months in the Colorado State Reformatory in Buena Vista.

    The anger one might presume Moran harbors for Kosanke feels to him lost or buried somehow in complicity. It was as if the fact that he not only allowed this to happen but also at some level wanted it to continue squelched any right he had to feel wrath.

    "I felt the loss of the right to feel any anger by my own participation in the relationship because I did enjoy it, because I did go back," he said. "I don't think by definition a 12-year-old can be complicit, but that doesn't mean the 44-year-old man I am today can't still feel encoded in my bones a sense of being complicit. Did I somehow attract it?"

    Onstage redemption

    Moran's lifeline during his teen years was the discovery that he could sing, and he credits the opportunity to express himself artistically as the most important factor in his eventual happiness. He attended Stanford University with thoughts of becoming a lawyer, but a legal career lost out to his love for the stage, and he has been gainfully employed in the New York theater since 1984, including roles in "Floyd Collins" and on Broadway in "Titanic" and "Cabaret."

    "Finding the theater in high school was the beginning of a kind of redemption for me, though I didn't know it then," he said. "I always have felt the theater is a kind of church in which hopefully some kind of transubstantiation or epiphany takes place."

    In his late 20s, Moran started to express himself on paper, scribbling fragmented notes about his childhood, such as, "What happened when you were 12?"

    "I was in agony one way or the other, but the agony was slightly eased by trying to make sense of what happened to me with words," he said.

    That writing evolved slowly over 10 years. In 1999 he won a $7,000 New York Foundation of the Arts creative nonfiction grant to complete his story, and last year Beacon Press bought the rights to his memoirs, which will be released as a book next year.

    The work took the form of a play only after he read his notes to director Seth Barrish, who convinced Moran it should be performed onstage. Last summer, Moran was one of eight playwrights selected from a field of 1,000 for a place in the prestigious Sundance Summer Theatre Laboratory in Park City, Utah. Since then, "The Tricky Part" has been performed in Princeton, N.J.; New Haven, Conn.; and in Albany, N.Y., in preparation for its off-Broadway debut.

    Moran would love to bring his piece to a Denver theater one day, but it's unlikely any performance anywhere could be more powerful than the one he delivered last year in the Park Hill living room of his high school pal David Fine.

    "I flew to Denver and performed it for 16 childhood friends," Moran said. "It was deeply important for me to do that. It was like coming home. The folks who came were friends I made after I left Regis who didn't know anything about this part of my life.

    Their reactions were really deep and difficult, but it turned out to be pivotal in the development of the piece."

    Fine said the monologue left the group in stunned silence.

    "It was like being pasted to the back of your chair," said Fine, a Denver lawyer. "None of us ever knew the extent of what had happened to him while we were in high school, and I think there was horror and sadness in the room at the realization that he basically had to go through this alone."

    Moran broke the tension in typical fashion - with a joke.

    "But that's just Marty," Fine said. "Only Marty could tell this story in such an incredibly intimate and in-depth way that is not angry or hateful at all. And when this opens in New York City, Marty will be telling a story that is shared by many people. I mean, you read about these things, but you never really learn much about who these people are and how it affected their lives. I think this will have a profound and hopeful effect on anyone who has been affected by sexual abuse."

    When the play opens in New York, Moran's mother will be in attendance. His father, who lives in Las Vegas, "is not ready for this yet, but he is extremely proud of what I am doing as a writer," Moran said. "And I loved my mom's reaction. She said, 'Martin, you must honor your own memories and tell your story." '

    The Archdiocese of Denver could not comment on Kosanke's case because its personnel records for Camp St. Malo were destroyed in a 1979 fire. But Moran does not want his play to bring further condemnation to either Kosanke or the archdiocese, though he thinks the church bears some responsibility for what happened.

    "What started at St. Malo was frighteningly pervasive, and yes, there was institutional complicity and covering up," Moran said. "But I think a lot of that has to do with a basic and profound terror of the human body that exists in a Catholic upbringing. There is a complete inability to discuss these things.

    "When you are talking about a bunch of 12-year-olds running up to Camp St. Malo, you're talking about a place that is steeped in the gorgeous metaphors and mysteries of the Catholic Church, but an institution that is also profoundly naive about matters of the body. And then when you suddenly collide that with the naked reality of sex, and you don't have a coping mechanism in a cultural atmosphere that allows no outlet to discuss it, it's a recipe for disaster."

    But Moran remains a man who still has the teachings of the Catholic Church encoded in his bones.

    "Being raised Catholic was filled with grace and brilliant people who cared about education and yearned to understand a deeper reality. The Catholic Church formed me. And this play is the construct of a Catholic man. I don't enter into a church that often now, but the church is in me. It is a part of my being. And what do I ultimately turn to now, when I come up against the ultimate paradox? I turn to the notion of grace, something that is a part of the very fiber of my being as a Catholic man.

    "What happened to me happened in the context of a Catholic upbringing, and that was part of what made it violent, and was part of what ultimately helped me to sort it out."

    Kosanke, who was convicted a second time in 1983 for third-degree assault on a child, is now 60 and believed to be living in Southern California. But Moran cannot retroactively categorize him as evil.

    "It's so easy to turn the man into a monster and not see the child of God within," Moran said. "Opening my eyes about what was good about him was actually part of the process of forgiving the 12-year-old in me. Rather than saying, 'You bad kid,' it was saying, 'Oh, I understand. He taught you how to drive a tractor.' It's like looking at that child that is you and saying, 'Hey, I understand. You went toward a certain kind of light, and I feel compassion for you for having done that. You weren't an idiot. You weren't a bad kid."'

    Picture of innocence

    At a recent workshop performance of "The Tricky Part" in New York City, Moran drew his audience in with his warm humor and gentle nostalgia before entering the trickiest part of his life story. His only onstage prop is a framed photograph of a smiling, blond-banged boy standing in a canoe on the bank of a pond. The boy wears a swimsuit and a life preserver while raising a paddle in triumph.

    The boy is Martin Moran, age 12. It is a haunting visual reminder for the audience of just how young and innocent he was when the abuse against him started.

    "In a sense, that photograph says everything, and in a sense, it has become my scene partner," he said. "It's important for the audience to see that these aren't the words of a 44-year-old; they are the thoughts and choices of that 12-year-old with the cherubic face.

    "I do not want to be seen as a victim. I have a fantastic life with my partner of 19 years, Henry. But clearly this thing still has a hold of me. I mean, here I am at 44 and I am still writing about it."

    But that fingerless grip Kosanke held for so long from a distance started to loosen moments after that 2002 encounter at the veterans hospital.

    "As I left, I kept hearing in my head this prayer, a plea repeating: 'OK, grace, please, let it go. Let him be. Let him rest.' I mean Bob, of course, but then I realize I'm really talking about the 12-year-old, the sweet kid caught in the photo ... still talking his way out."

    All The Rage/The Tricky Part: Ticket information
    Presented by Curious Theatre Company
    1080 Acoma St.
    Through Oct. 5
    For exact performance schedule, call 303-623-0524 or go to CuriousTheatre.Org

  • The 'Pippin' Profiles: Callan Bergmann on juggling knives ... and driving a stick

    by John Moore | Sep 18, 2014
    “I dance, I sing, I tumble, and I smile a lot. Currently touring the country with 'Pippin the Musical.' Living the dream!”

    That’s how Callan Bergmann describes himself on his Instagram profile ... and truer words were never spoken. 

    Bergmann is playing Lewis, the boy who would be king -- if only his nasty mother, Fastrada, had her way. But half-brother prince Pippin stands in both their ways, so the dim-witted soldier is pretty much relegated to daddy’s battles and mama’s knee.

    And Bergmann couldn’t be having more fun. When Director Diane Paulus and Circus Creator Gypsy Snider decided to tell the story of Pippin in the context of a traveling circus, they pretty much turned Lewis into a part that Bergmann was born to play.

    “I was in a gymnastics class when I was 4 years old, and my teacher told me then, 'You should be stretching every day; every chance that you get,’ ” Bergmann said from Denver, where the new revival of the 2013 Tony-winning best musical launched its national tour last week. 

    “She told me to stretch whenever I was watching TV at night. Instead of sitting on the couch, she told me to sit on the floor and stretch and do my straddles and my splits. So that's what I did.”

    Bergmann, whose credits include Cinderella on Broadway and Smash on TV, grew up in the Buffalo (N.Y.) area and attended Point Park University in Pittsburgh. He spoke with Denver CenterStage two days after Pippin had its opening night in Denver.


    John Moore: So I imagine you must be pretty beat right now.

    Callan Bergmann: Yes. It was a long tech process, as they always are. But now that that’s all over, it's nice to be able to breathe a little bit. But what am I saying? We start understudy rehearsals today. So no rest ... yet.

    John Moore: When you get through that - then what are you going to do with all of your free time?

    Callan Bergmann: I have toured before, and what I like to do in each city is get out and do something that’s related to the city I'm in. On our last day off, I went out to Red Rocks Amphitheatre and went hiking. That was awesome. I am hoping to make it to a few of the museums here in Denver. I like to take tours of state capitols.

    John Moore: What did you think of Red Rocks?

    Callan Bergmann: Oh, it was breathtaking. Beautiful. It was fun to get out there and just take in all that fresh air.

    John Moore: So you came to Pippin directly from performing on Broadway in Cinderella. But many of your Pippin castmates had direct experience with the Broadway production. So what was it like for you to step into this incredible new world completely fresh?

    Callan Bergmann: All the Broadway people really helped us jump into that world faster. We only had four or five weeks to learn the show, and so having those people there, like John Rubinstein and Sabrina Harper, was great. They just took everyone under their wings and helped us to really dive into the material faster.

    John Moore: What appealed to you most about going after this opportunity in Pippin?

    Callan Bergmann: I saw Pippin on Broadway when it was in previews, and I loved it. I thought it was so amazing. What really appealed to me was the circus aspect of the show. I grew up as a gymnast, so I like to flip around and do all that fun stuff. I have always had this dream of running away and joining the circus. So when I was cast in Pippin, I was so excited. I said, 'I want to learn every circus skill in the show.’ That’s my goal. The creative team has been so wonderful because they have kind of catered the part around me, and have even changed it a little bit so that I get to show off some of what I do. I get to dance. I get to tumble. I get to sing. I get to act. It’s the best of every world.

    John Moore: So what all have you learned so far? Are you juggling knives?

    Callan Bergmann: No, but I do tumble through knives being juggled.

    John Moore: I think that is even more impressive.

    Callan Bergmann: One day in rehearsal, Gypsy (Snider) grabbed me and said, 'We are going to add you into this part. You are going to be tumbling through the knives that are being juggled.' I just stopped and was like, 'Um, Gypsy? I know I said that I wanted to tumble in the show … but I didn't say I want to tumble through knives!'

    John Moore: And what was her response?

    Callan Bergmann: She said, 'Oh, it will be fine, it will be fine. We're going to practice.'

    John Moore: Well, I should hope so.

    Callan Bergmann: She's so great, and she is so safe. You go step by step. You start by running through the knives, and you learn what to look for. And then you start doing a cartwheel through the knives. And then you start doing your whole tumble pass-through. So that was fun. I also play on the Chinese poles a little bit. I jump onto one from what we call ‘the chute.’ Honestly, from the audience, it doesn't look very scary. But when you're up there, and there is a gap between you and this pole? It’s a little bit scary.

    John Moore: That gap is real.

    Callan Bergmann: That gap is real.

    That's Callan Bergmann as Lewis, far right. Photo by Terry Shapiro.

    John Moore: That must be fun just messing around backstage with all those circus professionals.

    Callan Bergmann: Oh, yeah. I've already started working with some of the acrobats on hand-balancing. Nothing major. It really just starts with practicing handstands. You have to start by getting so good at doing handstands on the hard ground. But they can literally hold a handstand for 10 minutes. There is a technique to it, and they have been helping me out with that. They are so nice.

    John Moore: I noticed that on your resume, you list your special skills as 'basic contortion, stunt doubling ... and driving a stick shift.' I wonder: Which of those three should we be most impressed with?

    Callan Bergmann: That's funny. Driving a stick shift is definitely a dying skill.

    John Moore: I'm surprised Gypsy didn't work that into the show.

    Callan Bergmann: Me, too.

    John Moore: So let's talk about contortion.

    Callan Bergmann: I think I'm just more flexible than the average person. But I'm not as crazy as some of the people in our show, though.

    John Moore: Before you saw the Broadway performance of Pippin, had you ever been involved with a previous production of Pippin?

    Callan Bergmann: No, I had not. But I saw Pippin at a local school when I was in high school.

    John Moore: What did you think of it then?

    Callan Bergmann: It was actually a very good production, and I loved the show. The part of Pippin has been on my radar ever since. Just getting the chance to play Lewis and understudy Pippin now is so exciting for me.  

    John Moore: But Pippin is now a 42-year-old musical. Why you think it feels  contemporary for your generation of friends who might be seeing it for the first time in 2014?

    Callan Bergmann: What I like about this show is that it's really simple when you think about it. Yes, there is all this stuff going on, like all those great acrobatics. But really this show follows Pippin on his journey to find himself. It comes down this: All of our lives are extraordinary, even doing everyday, normal things like falling in love and choosing to lead a small-town life. I think that's good for people to know. Be content with the life you choose. The journey that you are on is where you are meant to be.

    John Moore: So do you find that the show resonates with your friends who are seeing it for the first time?

    Callan Bergmann: It does, and I think that shows how timeless the piece is. Life now is really just the same as it was back in 1972, and just as it was hundreds of years ago. We’ve just added some modern technology.

    John Moore: That modern technology here is really just human skill and physical prowess.

    Callan Bergmann: But what I love is that the acrobats are not just up there doing circus acts. They are acting and performing just like the rest of us.


    John Moore: So after all this time learning the show; building trust with your castmates; refining your timing and precision, what was it like for you to be up on that Buell Theatre stage for your opening-night curtain call knowing that that you all had just pretty much nailed it?

    Callan Bergmann: Oh it was thrilling. The energy was so exciting. We have spent the past six weeks finessing things and getting it ready -- but it‘s not over. This really is a never-ending process, because we have to keep up with safety and with all of these skills. This show is not something that you can just settle into, ever.

    John Moore: So you are going to have audiences come who have a deep and abiding affection for Pippin going back to the beginning. But I suspect most people who come -- especially young people -- will be seeing it for the first time. How do describe to them what kind of theatre experience they are in for?

    Callan Bergmann: It’s a theatre experience like they have never had before. Maybe they have seen a Cirque du Soleil show, or maybe they have seen a Broadway show.  But this combines everything. And that's why I think it’s so memorable.

    John Moore: Well, you said you wanted to run off with the circus, and you pretty much have. Because you are going to blink and you will be folding up the tent in Denver and you will be off to another city.

    Callan Bergmann: It's true. I am living my dream.

    'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:  

    : Ticket information

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

    Our previous Pippin coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

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

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

    Photos: Pippin loading in Denver, rehearsing in New York

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

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

  • Photo retrospective: A look back at Burke Moses' year at DCPA

    by John Moore | Sep 18, 2014


    Molly_Brown_Burke_Moses_Circle_3When The Unsinkable Molly Brown opens tomorrow, longtime local audiences might recognize Burke Moses, the actor playing J.J. Brown, from one powerhouse season with the DCPA Theatre Company in 1988-89. 

    Moses was a struggling young actor when then Artistic Director Donovan Marley cast him to play Billy Bigelow in Carousel and Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

    “The Denver Center was the first regional theatre that took a chance on me as a musical performer,” said Moses, who many stage and screen credits since include originating the role of Gaston in Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast.

    You can read our entire interview with Burke Moses here, including his memories of performing here at the same time that John Cameroon Mitchell was playing Peter Pan on an adjacent Theatre Company stage.

    In the meatime, here is a look back in photos of Moses performing in Carousel and  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ... and a little sneak peek at him in The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Archive photos by T. Charles Erickson. Molly Brown photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

    More photos from Carousel:



    Photos from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:




    Sneak peek at The Unsinkable Molly Brown:

    Burke Moses and Beth Malone. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.
  • Meet the cast video series: Linda Mugleston

    by John Moore | Sep 17, 2014

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

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


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

    Previous "Meet the Cast" episodes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The designated Whole Foods locations are:

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

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

    The DCPA is a community-supported not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. But ticket sales only cover a portion of what it costs to produce our plays, bring Broadway tours to Denver, educate 50,000 Colorado students every year and inspire the Rocky Mountain region with theatre experiences of all kinds.
John Moore
John Moore
Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

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