• Meet the cast video series: Lesley Shires

    by John Moore | Oct 29, 2014


    In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 71: Meet Lesley Shires of Fayetteville, N.C., an Army brat who plays the lovable aspiring actress Nina in the Theatre Company at the DCPA's new production of Christopher Durang's celebrated comedy, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

    Shires talks about growing up in a military family ("all of the men in my life are military -- Special Forces, Green Berets, Special Ops -- but they are the nicest, sweetest men," she says -- and the nonprofit organization she created after her young niece was diagnosed with cancer. Hats for Zoe (www.HatsForZoe.Com) provides comfy, creative  caps kids who have lost their hair.

    Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play. It's about adult siblings whose lives are disrupted by a visit from their Hollywood star sister ... and a boy named Spike. It plays through Nov. 16 in the Ricketson Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Run time: 3 minutes.

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

      Meet_The_Cast_Vanya_Lesley_Shires_800

    Lesley Shires plays a sweet, wannabe actress who is happy to be invited to her Pennsylvania neighbor's costume party -- even if it means dressing as one of the seven dwarfs in " Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike."
    Photo by Jennifer L. Koskinen
    .


    Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    : Ticket information
    Performances run through Nov. 16
    Ricketson Theatre
    303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

    Previous 2014-15 "Meet the Cast" episodes:

    Charlie Franklin,Lord of the Flies
    Patty Goble,The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Matthew Gumley, Lord of the Flies
    Paolo Montalban, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Linda Mugleston, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Donna English, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Eddie Lopez, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Burke Moses, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Ben and Noah Radcliffe, Lord of the Flies
    Gregory Isaac Stone, Lord of the Flies

    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
    Hamlet
    Shadowlands
    Animal Crackers
      Our previous coverage of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike:
      Vanya: Opening night photo gallery
      Video: Watch a montage of scenes from the production
      Cold coffee, hot popcorn make for a good stew
      Durang strikes an unexpected peace with an indifferent Broadway
      Vanya ... is the most popular play in America
      Vanya: First rehearsal photos
      Video: Eddie Lopez works out with Fox's morning 'Everyday' team
      Check out our Study Guide
    • Video: Andy Kelso's National Anthem Day in Denver

      by John Moore | Oct 28, 2014


      Aurora native Andy Kelso, a graduate of Eaglecrest High School and the University of Northern Colorado, hit it big on Broadway in "Mamma Mia," and is now starring as Charlie in the 2013 Tony-winning Best Musical, "Kinky Boots." That feel-good musical written by Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper is now a national touring production that will play in Denver from Oct. 29-Nov. 9.

      To celebrate its upcoming Denver opening, "Kinky Boots" sent Kelso home to sing the national anthem before the Denver Broncos' nationally televised victory over the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 24.

      We followed Kelso on his whirlwind day in Denver and talked with him and his family about growing up as a Broncos fan, what it meant to him to sing in front of 80,000 fans (including sports idols John Elway and Joe Sakic) and he offers a disarmingly accurate prediction on the outcome of the game.

      The video culminates with Kelso's stellar rendition of the anthem, after which he is congratulated by none other than Broncos coach John Fox. See it all on this fun video by John Moore and David Lenk.

      Check this out: Here is a link to our full gallery of downloadable photos from Andy Kelso's visit to Denver.

      For information on "Kinky Boots," call 303-894-4100 or go to www.DenverCenter.Org. And hey, check out our new media outlet covering Colorado theatre at www.MyDenverCenter.Org.


      Kinky Boots: Ticket information
      Oct 29-Nov 9
      Buell Theatre
      Accessible Performances: Nov 9, 2 p.m.
      Tickets: 303-893-4100 | www.denvercenter.org
      Groups (10+): 303-446-4829

      Kinky_Boots_Andy_Kelso_800_Anthem_Broncos
      Andy Kelso. Photo by John Moore. Here is a link to our full gallery of downloadable photos from Kelso's visit to Denver.


      Our Previous Kinky Boots coverage on Denver CenterStage:

    • Podcast: Listen to our interview with Cyndi Lauper
    • Video: Exclusive interview with Andy Kelso and Annaleigh Ashford of Kinky Boots
    • Cher and Cyndi Lauper put the "sex" in "sexagenarian”
    • Cyndi Lauper on 'Kinky Boots' ... and how to save Broadway
    • Denver Center's full 2014-15 season announcement
    • Kinky Boots Study Guide
    • Creede Rep to celebrate 50th birthday with a nod to past, future

      by John Moore | Oct 27, 2014

      Creede_50_800_1

      The Creede Repertory Theatre had a party at Denver's Cap City Tavern on Sunday to announce its 50th anniversary season. From left: Christy Montour-Larson, John DiAntonio, Ryan Prince, Artistic Director Jessica Jackson, Adrian Egolf, Caitlin Wise, Jonathan Alsup, Diana Dresser and the Arvada Center's Melanie Mayner. Pictured below right: Montour-Larson, who will direct "August: Osage County," with Jackson. Photos by John Moore.



      Creede Repertory Theatre, the sixth-oldest theatre company in Colorado, will celebrate its 50th season next summer with a nod to its past, present and future. And with an assist from many faces familiar to Denver Center for the Performing Arts audiences.

      Creede is a picturesque town nestled in the San Juan Mountains 250 miles southwest of Denver. It was credited with saving the dying town after the demise of the mining industry in 1966 when a dozen students from the University of Kansas heeded a plea sent out by the local Jaycees asking someone -- anyone -- to come to Creede and infuse the town with culture and economy.

      Today, the Creede Repertory Theatre is the largest employer in Mineral County, generating more than $4 million a year. The company operates two theatres on Main Street, drawing nearly 22,000 theatregoers this past summer. The company's young-audience outreach production, ¡Viva Agua!, played to more than 23,000 students.

      Creede_50_400The 2015 season opens June 12 with two American classics: Guys and Dolls and Our Town, Artistic Director Jessica Jackson announced today. Guys and Dolls was staged in the company's inaugural 1966 season. Then will come two world premieres: Ghost Light, a 50th anniversary commission by Nagle Jackson; and I Love St. Lucy, a farce written by National Theatre Conservatory alum John DiAntonio. Nagle Jackson has directed many DCPA Theatre Company productions and written several more, including Bernice/Butterfly, A Hotel on Marvin Gardens and adaptations of Scapin, Cyrano de Bergerac and The Miser.

      Jackson's Ghost Light will celebrate the founding of the Creede Repertory Theatre by comically reimagining that fateful summer in 1966 when those University of Kansas students came to town. (Two years later, a young Mandy Patinkin would join them.)

      The season culminates with Tracy Letts' searing family drama August: Osage County, which many consider to be the best American play of the new century. That will be directed by Christy Montour-Larson, who helmed last season's Shadowlands for the DCPA. August: Osage County will star NTC alumna Anne F. Butler in the tour-de-force role of Vi, the pill-popping, cancer-stricken matriarch, and Creede Rep veteran Christy Brandt as her steely sister Mattie Fae. 2015 will mark Brandt's 41st season with Creede Rep.

      Creede will also bring back its annual children's offering, Pants on Fire (a made-up musical for young audiences), and its late-night improv comedy, Boomtown. The week of Aug. 4-9, 2015, has been designated as "Alumni Week," with a host of special events in the planning stages.

      The DCPA always has maintained a strong presence within Creede Rep. Jamie Horton, Mike Hartman, Randy Moore, Jeff Roark, Caitlin Wise, Anthony Powell, Steven Cole Hughes, John Arp and Jeff Carey are among other past and present DCPA artists who have summered on Creede stages. And Diana Dresser, Michael Bouchard, Jake Walker and Adrian Egolf are among those who have returned the favor by migrating from Creede to the DCPA. Wise, DiAntonio, Hughes, Butler, Carey and former longtime Creede Rep artistic Director Maurice Lamee all graduated from the DCPA's National Theatre Conservatory masters program.

      Creede Rep expects to again tour one of its 2015 offerings to the Arvada Center, as it has each of the past five seasons, but a final agreement has not yet been reached.



      Creede_50_800_3
      Creede Rep veteran Christy Brandy, left, starred in "The Last Romance" with John S. Green this past summer. It  was then brought to the Arvada Center. Photo by John Gary Brown.


      Creede Rep's 50th Anniversary Season

      (Descriptions provided by Creede Repertory Theatre)

      Guys and Dolls

      By Jo Swerling, Abe Burrows and Frank Loesser; based on characters by Damon Runyon
      Directed by Jessica Jackson
      Set in mythical New York City, Guys And Dolls tells the story of Nathan Detroit, a gambler who tries to find the cash to set up the biggest craps game in town. Meanwhile, girlfriend Adelaide is a nightclub performer who laments their 14-year engagement. Nathan turns to fellow gambler Sky Masterson for the dough, but Sky is busy romancing straight-laced missionary Sarah Brown. A colorful introduction to the shady denizens of New York’s underworld.

      Our Town
      By Thornton Wilder
      Directed by Michael Perlman
      Described by Edward Albee as "the greatest American play ever written," this play is not-to-be-missed by anyone who loves this town as much as we do. Welcome to the small town of Grover's Corners. This ordinary town awakens us to the powerful truth that being alive is a precious, ephemeral gift. Follow two families as their children fall in love, marry, and discover that life’s challenges are the gateway to life’s deepest meaning: to cherish the glory of every-day life.

      August: Osage County
      By Tracy Letts
      Directed by Christy Montour-Larson
      Winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award. A vanished father. A pill-popping mother. Three sisters harboring shady little secrets. When the large Weston family unexpectedly reunites after the patriarch disappears, their Oklahoman family homestead explodes in a tornado of repressed truths and unsettling secrets. This black comedy exposes the dark side of the Midwestern American family.

      Ghost Light

      Written and directed by Nagle Jackson
      This sparkling reimagines Creede Rep's fateful inaugural summer in 1966. But Instead of a full compliment of 12 aspiring artists, only one silver-tongued professor and three students make it from Kansas to Creede. This tiny company must band together with locals to breathe life into a dilapidated theater in the most unlikely of places. And if that isn’t enough, they must deal with supernatural intrusions from three famous Creede ghosts who are intent on setting the story straight.

      I Love St. Lucy
      By John DiAntonio
      Creede favorite Caitlin Wise plays Lucille Ball, TV’s favorite redhead, in this high-energy farce. Jazz trumpet-player Rick is off his meds. Every note he plays sounds wrong, and his former fiancé is marrying a neurosurgeon. In a moment of desperation, he sends a prayer to St. Lucy – but wires get crossed and the universe sends him Lucy Ricardo instead. Suddenly, Lucy transforms his life into the 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy. Will Lucy save Rick’s life or destroy it? Will Rick ever play music again? And most important, will Lucy ever get to be in that Vegameeta-whatever commercial?

      Pants on Fire
      A totally made up musical for kids
      This hour-long improvised musical is created from the ideas given by kids in the audience.

      Boomtown
      Improv comedy
      Back for its ninth summer, Creede Rep's improv comedy-makers will again embrace its unique brand of twisted spontaneous comedy.

      Ticket Information
      Call 719-658-2540  or go to Creede Repertory Theatre's web site.

      Creede_50_Mildred_800From 2014: "The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild." Photo by John Gary Brown.
    • 'Appoggiatura' Director Risa Brainin named head of National Theatre Conference

      by John Moore | Oct 27, 2014

      Risa_Brainin_Appoggiatura_800_1
      Director Risa Brainin, second from right, works with her cast moments before a reading of  "Appoggiatura" at the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit in February. Photo by John Moore.


      Risa_Brainin_Appoggiatura_300Risa Brainin, who will direct Appoggiatura for the Theatre Company at the DCPA later this season, was named President of the Board of the National Theatre Conference on Sunday.
       
      The conference, founded in 1925, is an organization of distinguished members of the American theatre community. Its purposes include: 

      — To explore the means of best serving the interests of the American theatre, and to initiate, encourage, and support projects of value and significance with a view to strengthening and broadening the influence of theatre in this country.

      — To bring the membership together at least once a year for an exchange of aims and ideals, and for the discussion of common problems and interests.

      — To provide opportunities for the membership to hear the views of outstanding personalities in the theatre and to observe demonstrations of various techniques the general membership may profit from knowing.

      Brainin heads the theatre department at the Universty of California-Santa Barbara and holds a BFA from Carnegie-Mellon University. Through her development program called "Launch Pad" at UC-SB, Brainin has evolved and directed new nine plays with playwrights in residence, including Appoggiatura and three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist James Still.

      Still was first commissioned to write the play by the DCPA. He conceived of Appoggiatura and got it off the ground by working with Brainin through the "Launch Pad" program. The play was later workshopped at the DCPA's Perry-Mansfield New Works Festival in Steamboat Springs during the summer of 2013 and then read at the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit before being added to the current mainstage season.

      "Launch Pad" was featured in the March issue of American Theatre magazine for its innovation and contribution to new-play development. Other featured playwrights have included Sarah Ruhl (Melancholy Play), John Walch, Barbara Lebow, Sheri Wilner, Lila Rose Kaplan and Alison Tatlock.



      Video: Risa Brainin and James Still talk with John Moore about "Appoggiatura," and staging it in Denver.


      The world premiere of Appoggiatura will be performed Jan. 16 through Feb. 22 in the Ricketson Theatre. It's a sun-drenched romance about love, loss and a broken family re-living the past and healing their hearts in Venice. Followed by a violin-playing Vivaldi, a charming but bogus Italian tour guide accompanies a widow and a bereaved middle-aged man who both mourn for the same person while a granddaughter questions her future.

      For Appoggiatura ticket information, go to http://www.denvercenter.org

      Risa_Brainin_Appoggiatura_800_2
      Video: Playwright James Still and Director Risa Brainin arrive at the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit reading of  "Appoggiatura" in February. Photo by John Moore.


      Our previous coverage of Appoggiatura:
    • Photo essay: Backstage at all three current Theatre Company shows

      by John Moore | Oct 25, 2014

      Molly_Brown_Backstage_800Beth Malone, who plays Molly Brown in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," with castmate Keven Quillon. Photo by John Moore. (To see the entire photo essay, click here.)


      Molly_Brown_Lord_Of_The_Flies_800
      Skyler Gallun, who plays Henry in "Lord of the Flies," transforms into a savage hunter during intermission. Photo by John Moore. (To see the entire photo essay, click here.)


      Vanya_Backstage_800

      Stuart Sanks, a.k.a. Shirley Delta Blow in Off-Center @ The Jones' "Lord of the Butterflies" (playing through Nov. 7), visits "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" actor Kathleen McCall backstage. Photo by John Moore. (To see the entire photo essay, click here.)




      The Theatre Company at the DCPA has opened the 2014-15 season with three shows running simultaneously: The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Vanya and Masha and Spike and Lord of the Flies. That means all three shows are often preparing and performing at the same time.

      DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore visited backstage at each show for a half hour before showtime and came up with this illuminating photo essay.

      At Lord of the Flies, he stayed for intermission to witness how many of the stranded British schoolboys transform from choir boys into full-on savages.

      (To see John Moore's entire photo essay, click here.)     

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

      Ticket information:
      Molly Brown closes on Oct. 26
      Lord of the Flies closes on Nov. 2
      Vanya closes on Nov. 16.
      For info: 303-893-4100 or www.denvercenter.org


      Our Previous Molly Brown
      coverage on Denver CenterStage:

      Our Previous Lord of the Flies coverage on Denver CenterStage:

       

    • John Ekeberg named Executive Director of DCPA's Broadway Division

      by John Moore | Oct 23, 2014

      John_Ekeberg_DCPA_800
      John Ekeberg has been with the DCPA family since 1992.


      John Ekeberg has been named Executive Director of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' Broadway Division, where he will oversee programming for all Broadway and Cabaret productions, Chairman and CEO Daniel Ritchie announced today.

      Ekeberg began his career at the DCPA in the box office in 1992. Five years later, he became the Business Manager for the Broadway division. From there, he became General Manager and then Director of Programming when the late Randy Weeks became DCPA President.

      Weeks was Ekeberg's mentor for 17 years, preparing Ekeberg to one day succeed him. Ekeberg previously served as the Board Chair of Paragon Theatre Company in Denver and currently serves as a Governor for The Broadway League, is a Tony Award voter and will represent the DCPA with the Independent Presenters Network. 

      “As the DCPA moves forward, John brings a wealth of knowledge as Executive Director," said Ritchie. "We are fortunate to have such a strong and prepared leader.”

      Ekeberg will partner with Broadway division veteran Jeff Hovorka, the DCPA's Director of Marketing and Sales. With a combined 50 years in the industry, the two will continue to bring top-tier programming to Denver, Ritchie said. 

      The Broadway division team also includes Senior Public Relations and Promotions Manager Heidi Bosk; Business Manager Alicia Giersch; Marketing Coordinator Emily Lozow, and Administrative Assistant Claudia Carson.

      Our coverage of the death of Randy Weeks:
      DCPA president Randy Weeks dies at London conference
      Video: Randy Weeks honored with dimmed lights, moments of silence
      'Pippin' dedicates entire national tour to Randy Weeks
      Video project: Share your unforgettable Randy Weeks stories with us
      Randy Weeks photo gallery
      DCPA to celebrate Randy Weeks' life on Nov. 3
      A look back at Randy Weeks' 'It Gets Better' video

       

    • Podcast: Running Lines with Cyndi Lauper

      by John Moore | Oct 23, 2014


      Listen to our podcast interview with Cyndi Lauper by pushing play.



      Episode 170:
      John Moore chats with none other than Cyndi Lauper her own self. Lauper wrote the music for the 2013 Tony Award-winning best musical, Kinky Boots, which plays in Denver from Oct. 29 through Nov. 9 at the Buell Theatre.

      Lauper talks about bullying, drag queens and Cyndi's late friend, Gregory, who inspired her now anthemic song, "True Colors."

      Lauper is especially pleased that Kinky Boots, a fun story of inclusion and acceptance, has launched its first national tour, and will now be seen by audiences beyond Broadway.

      "People who are different in Middle America have no place (to go), really," Lauper says in the podcast. "They don’t have anybody to speak up for them. (But) sometimes you can change your mind about a person by understanding their story."

      Lauper challenges audiences to "pick one person and change your mind about them -- and that will help change the world." 

      Lauper also had kind things to say about two Colorado actors with Kinky Boots connections: Eaglecrest High graduate Andy Kelso, who was cast in the ensemble of the hit the Broadway production and is now playing the leading role of Charlie; and Annaleigh Ashford, who originated the role of Lauren and was nominated for a Tony Award. She graduated from Wheat Ridge High School.

      "Andy has a quality about him that’s really kind of sexy, and very rock and roll," Lauper said. And he has a good ear. Kelso is really, really great in this role."

      Kelso also has been flown back to Denver from New York to sing the national anthem before the Denver Broncos' Thursday night football game against the San Diego Chargers tonight (Oct. 23).

      Ashford is now starring on Broadway in You Can't Take it With You. She was part of Kinky Boots from development through its first year on Broadway.

      "When we saw Annaleigh, she was pretty fantastic," said Lauper, who changed the direction of Lauren's big song, "A History of Wrong Guys," after meeting Ashford and  seeing what she could do.

      "I continued writing (the song) really geared toward her, because when I saw her I thought, 'Oh my God,' she could do great,' " Lauper said. "And the rest is history."

      Kinky Boots: Ticket information
      Oct 29-Nov 9
      Buell Theatre
      Accessible Performances: Nov 9, 2 p.m.
      Tickets: 303-893-4100 | www.denvercenter.org
      Groups (10+): 303-446-4829

      Our Previous Kinky Boots coverage on Denver CenterStage:
    •  Video: Exclusive interview with Andy Kelso and Annaleigh Ashford of Kinky Boots
    • Cyndi Lauper on 'Kinky Boots' ... and how to save Broadway
    • Denver Center's full 2014-15 season announcement
    • Kinky Boots Study Guide
    • Cher and Cyndi Lauper put the "sex" in "sexagenarian”


    • Recent "Running Lines" episodes:
      169: Kathy Maes, Charlie Franklin and Matt Gumley of Lord of the Flies
      168: Jeremy Palmer, Ed Mills and J Murray d'Armand of L.A. Diner
      167: Laura Norman and Josh Hartwell on Grounded and Dylan Went Electric
      166: Alison Horsley on Animal Crackers and the art of Dramaturgy
      165: Christy Montour-Larson on directing Shadowlands

       Kinky_Boots_Tour_800_1

      From left: Steven Booth and Kyle Taylor Parker of the national touring production of "Kinky Boots." Photo by Matthew Murphy.
    • Art and Artist: Meghan Anderson Doyle on stitching Chekhov with Snow White

      by John Moore | Oct 22, 2014

      Vanya_Sonia_Masha_Spike_Costumes_McCall_Meghan_Anderson_Doyle_800_1

      Actor Kathleen McCall as a Hollywood star named Masha who wants to go to a costume party dressed as an age-inappropriate Snow White. Design by Meghan Anderson Doyle. Photograph by Jennifer M. Koskinen.




      Vanya_Sonia_Masha_Spike_Zombie_Costumes_Meghan_Anderson_Doyle_400At first glance, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike would not appear to be a costume designer’s dream. More like a snooze. The play opens with contemporary adult siblings in modern dress wearing basic, muted earth tones. 

      But from the moment their sister Masha walks in, “There is just this explosion of Hollywood color,” says Costume Designer Meghan Anderson Doyle (pictured at right).

      In Christopher Durang’s Tony-winning comedy rooted in the anachronistic world of Anton Chekhov, Masha is a successful actor, and her adult siblings are living off her largess.

      “We laughed most about figuring out the Masha celebrity look,” said Doyle, a graduate of Denver North High School and the universities of Denver (B.A.) and Florida (M.F.A). “We came up with everything from Kim Kardashian's mother to The Housewives of New York.”

      But then, out of nowhere, Durang tosses Doyle and costume designers around the world a bright, technicolor bouquet: The family has been invited to a costume party. And Masha -- a woman in her 50s -- has decided she will be going as Snow White. And she has ruled that her siblings will be accompanying her … as dwarfs. Enter Grumpy and Dopey.

      Vanya_Sonia_Masha_Spike_Costumes_Meghan_Anderson_Doyle_Quote


      For Doyle, “It’s like getting to design two plays in one.” And the bigger the separation – from a mundane breakfast conversation to a costume party later on -- “the more dynamic the payoff,” she said.

      Durang is known as an absurdist comic writer, but Doyle and Director Jenn Thompson chose to keep the Snow White party costumes true to the Disney movie. That means they are very much drenched in cartoon colors – “vibrant yellow, blue and red,” said Doyle. “She's got the traditional blue bodice with the yellow skirt, and the big red bow in her hair.

      “Of course … the proportions are so completely different from the original characters, so that’s part of the fun, too.”

      Doyle has always loved playing dress-up, so designing a show like this one fulfills a childhood dream.

      “You know, I am still a princessy kind of girlie girl, but I don't know that I was ever exactly a Snow White person,” she said. “I think I was more The Little Mermaid. But whatever the occasion – I do love to dress up.”

      Vanya_Sonia_Masha_Spike_Costumes_McCall_Meghan_Anderson_Doyle_800_2

      Kathleen McCall as a Hollywood star named Masha. Design by Meghan Anderson Doyle. Photograph by Jennifer M. Koskinen.


      No surprise then, that Halloween Doyle’s favorite time of the year. Last weekend, she again conspired with fellow DCPA Costume Designer Kevin Copenhaver to scare the bejeezus out of downtown passersby during Denver’s annual Zombie Crawl.

      “Oh, yes: Kevin and I definitely love anything to do with zombies,” she said. (See photo at top of this page.)

      Doyle began working at the DCPA as an intern while still a student at North High School, and was hired as a full-time designer after she earned her masters degree in 2006. Doyle has since designed six Theatre Company mainstage shows herself and assisted on dozens of others.

      “To have a job in the arts where you are using your degree? That’s pretty fantastic,” she said.

      Doyle has been the lead designer on Jackie & Me, Superior Donuts, Well, The Giver and the world premiere of Ed, Downloaded for the Theatre Company. Interesting trivia: Doyle worked closely with Ed, Downloaded playwright Michael Mitnick for its Denver debut – and Mitnick wrote the screenplay for the new film adaptation of The Giver. “So getting to work with him was pretty exciting,” she said.

      Doyle also designed the first four seasons of Off-Center’s Cult Following, and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change! and Five Course Love for the Garner Galleria cabaret theatre. When the National Theatre Conservatory was in operation, Doyle designed 16 productions. She has also worked about town at the Curious Theatre Company (Good People, The Brothers Size, A Number, Up, tempOdyssey) and The Aurora Fox (Metamorphoses).

      Her DCPA status is called “full-time seasonal,” meaning she works full-time as long as the Theatre Company is in process. That covers about nine months a year.

      So how big of a deal is it when you get to be the lead designer on a Theatre Company show?

      “Oh, it is huge,” Doyle said. “Especially, I think, being a Denver person and to get to design in the place where you have come to see so many shows growing up.”

      While designing period or Shakespearean pieces often draw the most attention to the designer, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike presented Doyle with several unique challenges. The play is a contemporary comedy but is laced with Chekhov underpinnings.

      So how do you approach a show when it’s a parody -- but it's not? That is rooted in the world of Chekhov -- but it's not? 

      “You know, we really started the whole design process saying, ‘Things are thinly veiled,’ “ Doyle said. There are Chekhovian references, but they are in plain sight. I think a lot of the Chekhov plays more directly into Lisa Orzolek’s set design than into the costumes. But it’s no accident that the script initially references Vanya (Sam Gregory) as being in a nightshirt – even though I don't know too many grown men who wear a nightshirt anymore. So I think the Chekhov is definitely in there.”

      Doyle also had the logistical challenge of designing for a director who lives in New York. Doyle starts the creative process months in advance, and typically an out-of-town director does not arrive in Denver until rehearsals begin about a month before opening. That made for many phone conversations and Dropbox file-sharing between Doyle and Thompson.

      “We did have an initial design conference in May here in Denver, which is great because you meet face-to-face, and you get a real sense of how someone wants to work,” Doyle said. “So we knew even then that Jenn is really easygoing and fun to work with.”

      It’s also fun, she added, “when the actors are such good sports about it. You can go, 'We are going to give you giant plastic ears and a really hot green robe that has arms that are way too long, and ... I hope you do something magical and fantastic with it.’ And they do.” 

      Vanya_Sonia_Masha_Spike_Costumes_Shires_Meghan_Anderson_Doyle_800
      Lesley Shires as Nina ... as a dwarf. Design by Meghan Anderson Doyle. Photograph by Jennifer M. Koskinen.


      Here is more  of our conversation with Meghan Anderson Doyle on her life as a costumer. And check out her full online portfolio here.

      John Moore: Do you think costumers get the credit they deserve for designing contemporary shows, when actors are dressed in everyday clothes?

      Meghan Anderson Doyle: No. I think people see contemporary shows and assume the same kind of planning hasn't gone into it. But just look at television: All those sit-coms and commercials. If it's contemporary, it's got a costume designer who created that look,  but nobody ever knows who that is. The tricky thing about contemporary costumed shows is you really do want to make a piece that's cohesive to the world. You don't want the costumes to stand out as awkward or strange or flashy ... until they should. It's definitely a different way to approach a show. I wouldn't say that it is better or worse, but it is definitely different.

      John Moore: So is it more fun when you get to design a period piece because it's more noticeable? 

      Meghan Anderson Doyle: I think it's a different challenge. You get to do all the fun things that you practiced in school, and you get to research the period, and you get to pick the fabrics. You get to make more of your own choices, I think, as opposed to a contemporary story where it’s more about going shopping and just making choices just on what's in stores.

      John Moore: Does it drive you crazy when costumers win awards for shows when it turns out the costumes were all just rented?

      Meghan Anderson Doyle: Oh … yeah. There are a lot of times where you are like, 'Not cool.' But, you know...

      John Moore: So here's my beef with Shakespeare. In many stories, things get really dirty, muddy and bloody. In The Tempest, there has been a storm and a shipwreck, and the actors walk out of the ocean and they all wearing these beautiful, clean, dry, pristine costumes. It’s pretty obvious that there is more concern for keeping these fancy clothes clean than being true to that moment of the play.

      Meghan Anderson Doyle: Yeah. I think sometimes that happens. I think it depends on the verisimilitude of the world you have created. Sometimes they are supposed to be pristine and perfect. I like more grungy, and a little more grit.

      John Moore: I am sorry to interrupt, but that’s such a good word. For the sake of those who don’t know, I am going to tell readers that means “the appearance of being true or real.”

      Meghan Anderson Doyle: Yes. You have to be true to the world you have created.

      John Moore: Most audiences (and critics!) are undereducated as to what all goes into the costume craft. And sometimes you work on a dress for months, and it’s only on stage for 15 seconds.

      Meghan Anderson Doyle: Yes. Sometimes you are kind of disappointed in that, but then you think, 'If we hadn't done that, it would have been a wasted opportunity.'

      John Moore: And sometimes a moment on stage only has to be a moment.

      Meghan Anderson Doyle: Right. If you ever look at our programs, you can see how many people are working backstage. It really takes so many of us to do what we do. 

      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.


      Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike: Ticket information
      Performances run through Nov. 16
      Ricketson Theatre
      303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org


      Our previous coverage of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
      Video: Watch a montage of scenes from the production
      Cold coffee, hot popcorn make for a good Vanya stew
      Durang strikes an unexpected peace with an indifferent Broadway
      Vanya ... is the most popular play in America
      Opening Night photos
      Vanya ... First rehearsal photos
      Meet the Cast video: Eddie Lopez
      Check out our Study Guide

      Previous DCPA 'Art and Artist' profiles:
      Scenic Designer Kyle Malone
      Stage Manager Kurt Van Raden
      Teaching Artist Jessica Austgen
      Head of Acting Lawrence Hecht
      Lighting Designer Charles MacLeod
      Director of I.T. Bruce Montgomery
      Stage Manager Lyle Raper

      Vanya_Sonia_Masha_Spike_Costumes_Meghan_Anderson_Doyle_800_3

      "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike": Costume designs by Meghan Anderson Doyle.

       
      MORE ON DENVER CENTER COSTUMING:

      Kevin Copenhaver, Christine Rowan, "Animal Crackers" and the art of costume quackery. A video project by John Moore.
    • Meet the Cast video series: Eddie Lopez

      by John Moore | Oct 21, 2014


      In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 70: Meet Eddie Lopez of Sacramento, who plays the lovably oblivious boy-toy Spike in the Theatre Company at the DCPA's new production of Christopher Durang's celebrated comedy, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

      Lopez talks about capoeira (the national sport of Brazil), his first impressions of Denver and his thoughts on Meryl Streep ... and kindness.

      Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play. It's about adult siblings whose lives are disrupted by a visit from their Hollywood star sister ... and a boy named Spike. It plays through Nov. 16 in the Ricketson Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Run time: 3 minutes.

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

       Vanya_Meet_The_Cast_Eddie_Lopez_800
      Let's just be honest: Eddie Lopez has the assets you need in an actor who plays a muscular boy toy named Spike.
      Photo by Jennifer L. Koskinen
      .


      Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
      : Ticket information
      Performances run through Nov. 16
      Ricketson Theatre
      303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org


      Previous 2014-15 "Meet the Cast" episodes:

      Charlie Franklin, Lord of the Flies
      Patty Goble
      , The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      Matthew Gumley, Lord of the Flies

      Paolo Montalban, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      Linda Mugleston, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      Donna English, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      Burke Moses, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      Ben and Noah Radcliffe, Lord of the Flies
      Gregory Isaac Stone, Lord of the Flies

      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
      Hamlet
      Shadowlands
      Animal Crackers

        Our previous coverage of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
        Opening Night photos
        Video: Watch a montage of scenes from the production

        Cold coffee, hot popcorn make for a good stew
        Durang strikes an unexpected peace with an indifferent Broadway
        Vanya ... is the most popular play in America
        Vanya ... First rehearsal photos
        Check out our Study Guide
      • 'Pippin' dedicates entire national touring production to Randy Weeks

        by John Moore | Oct 21, 2014
        Pippin_Randy_Weeks_800_2 Randy Weeks, center, with "Pippin" cast members Kristine Reese, John Rubinstein, Matthew James Thomas and Lucie Arnaz on the Opning Night of the new touring production Sept. 12 in Denver. Photo by Emily Lozow.


        Pippin_Randy_Weeks_300The entire national touring production of Pippin The Musical, which launched here in Denver last month, has been dedicated to Denver Center for the Performing Arts President Randy Weeks, who died suddenly on Oct. 9 in London.

        Tribute messages began coming in from the Pippin team almost as soon as word of Weeks' death became known.

        "I was devastated to hear the tragic news," said Pippin general manager Alecia Parker. "Having just spent time with you all it truly breaks my heart. I'm sure it will take a lot of healing and time. He was a true gentleman and will be missed."
         
        Added Anita Dloniak, Pippin's national press rep: "There are no words to even describe my feelings. I am stunned, shocked and every adjective in-between.  I am literally shaking. I am sending big hugs to the entire Denver team."

        Here's the message as it will appear in all Pippin programs as the tour moves from city to city:

        THE PIPPIN TOUR IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF RANDY WEEKS (1955–2014).

        This touring production of Pippin began its magical journey at the Buell Theatre in Denver, Colorado under the guidance of Randy Weeks. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude. He was such a fan of our show and part of it belongs to him. Sadly on Thursday, October 9, the theatre lost one of its fiercest advocates, one of our finest colleagues, and a dear friend. We are honored to be a part of his extraordinary legacy!

        The DCPA will celebrate Randy Weeks' life at 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3 in the Buell Theatre.  Pippin_Randy_Weeks_800

        Our coverage of the death of Randy Weeks:
        DCPA president Randy Weeks dies at London conference
        Video: Randy Weeks honored with dimmed lights, moments of silence
        Video project: Share your unforgettable Randy Weeks stories with us
        Randy Weeks photo gallery
        DCPA to celebrate Randy Weeks' life on Nov. 3
        A look back at Randy Weeks' 'It Gets Better' video


        Our 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!

        'The Pippin Profiles' interview series:  

        Pippin_Randy_Weeks_800_ActionPhoto by Terry Shapiro.
      • Video project: Share your unforgettable Randy Weeks stories with us

        by John Moore | Oct 20, 2014
        600x300-celebration-of-life-randy-weeks

        The DCPA is soliciting your personal, videotaped Randy Weeks anecdotes, which we will compile into a streaming tribute we will share on our various social media channels on Nov. 3 to coincide with the celebration of the DCPA President's life at the Buell Theatre.
         
        Weeks died in his sleep Oct. 9 while attending a conference in London.

        We are asking you to use your cell phones to videotape your one favorite specific story you feel best illuminates the kind of person Weeks was: The time he let you stay at his house. The time he mentored you. Gave you a leg up. Responded to adversity. Cracked that joke. Wore that … fill in the blank.
         
        So grab your cell phones and talk to us.

        Please keep your videos to one minute or less. You may have dozens of anecdotes, but please just choose the best one. The deadline to submit is end of day Monday, Oct. 27.
         
        TWO WAYS TO SHARE YOUR VIDEO WITH US:

        Upload your completed video onto your own Dropbox or other file-sharing account, and invite John Moore to share it at jmoore@dcpa.org

        Or ...

        Upload your video to John Moore’s Dropbox account at this link: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/q7jl9r2xr3lur1c/AAC4SIB8I-SMBkZK_9RQ8Egfa?dl=0

        Please record your video horizontally, not vertically.

        Please do not email your actual video file.
         
        If you have questions, or experience any uploading problems, please contact John Moore directly at 303-893-6003 or jmoore@dcpa.org.
         
        Thank you in advance.

        The celebration of Randy Weeks' life will take place at 4 p.m. at the Buell Theatre. No RSVP is required.

        Our coverage of the death of Randy Weeks:
        DCPA president Randy Weeks dies at London conference
        Video: Randy Weeks honored with dimmed lights, moments of silence
        Video project: Share your unforgettable Randy Weeks stories with us
        Randy Weeks photo gallery
        DCPA to celebrate Randy Weeks' life on Nov. 3
        A look back at Randy Weeks' 'It Gets Better' video



      • Colorado New Play Summit expands to two weekends; playwrights announced

        by NewsCenter Staff | Oct 20, 2014

        2015 lineup includes works by Theresa Rebeck, Tanya Saracho, Catherine Trieschmann and Jason Gray Platt.

        CNPS_2014_800_1
        The scene from the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore.


        To mark its 10th anniversary, the Theatre Company at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts is expanding its signature Colorado New Play Summit to two weekends, it was announced today.

        CNPS_2014_CatherineThe 2015 lineup of readings for February’s gathering will include new works by Theresa Rebeck, Tanya Saracho, Catherine Trieschmann (pictured at right with Iris Goodwin) and Jason Gray Platt. 

        The expanded Summit will include interactive programming for the first time, including workshops by Denver Center Playwriting Fellow Matthew Lopez (The Legend of Georgia McBride, The Whipping Man), a Playwriting Boot Camp with Paula Vogel (How I Learned To Drive), readings of the DCPA Education’s statewide High School Playwriting Competition finalists and the addition of a second, all-local Playwrights’ Slam.

        Three of the four featured playwrights were commissioned by the DCPA’s Women’s Voices Fund, an endowment that supports the development of new plays by women. Just last week, the Women’s Voices Fund endowment surpassed the $1 million mark for the first time.

        The 2015 Colorado New Play Summit will take place over the weekends of Feb. 14-15 and 21 and 22. For more information and to order tickets, click here.

        As both the national industry and the theatre public gather for the Summit, the Theatre Company will be fully staging two world premiere plays as part of its 2014-15 season: Appoggiatura, by three-time Pulitzer finalist James Still, and Benediction, the completion of celebrated aurthor Kant Haruf’s Colorado plains trilogy, adapted for the stage by Eric Schmiedl. Both plays were read at the 2014 Summit and then selected for full production

        “We’re celebrating 10 years of new plays with two weekends full of exciting, new programming, including two world premiere productions,” said Bruce Sevy, the Theatre Company’s Associate Artistic Director and Director of New Play Development. “Most important, this expansion gives us the opportunity to provide our participating playwrights with two full weeks to work on their plays with directors, actors and dramaturgs. This development time is extremely vital to the new-play process, and we are honored to be one of the few theatres in the nation that can provide this level of creative support for these artists.”

        Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson said it is no coincidence that three female playwrights were chosen at a time when the DCPA’s ongoing commitment to women’s voices is hitting an important milestone.

         “The continued support of the Women’s Voices Fund allows us to invest in the future of women in the American theatre,” said Thompson. “In our current season alone, the endowment allowed us to hire two of the finest female directors in the nation, Kathleen Marshall (Molly Brown) and Jenn Thompson (Vanya and Masha and Sonia and Spike), and to continue our tradition of commissioning leading female playwrights.”

        To date, the Women’s Voices Fund has enabled the Theatre Company to produce 24 plays by women (including nine world premieres), commission 14 female playwrights and hire 19 female directors.

        Over the past decade, the Summit has introduced 40 new plays, more than half of which returned to the stage as full Theatre Company productions. Recent Summit World Premieres include Jason Grote's 1001, Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale, Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride, Catherine Trieschmann’s The Most Deserving, Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey, Karen Zacarias’s Just Like Us, Jeffrey Haddow and Neal Hampton’s Sense and Sensibility The Musical, and Dick Scanlan’s reimagined version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.


        CNPS_2014_800_Montage

        "The Legend of Georgia McBride" as it looked at the 2013 Colorado New Play Summit, above, and as it was fully presented on the mainstage last year. (Production photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen)


        2015 COLORADO NEW PLAYS SUMMIT SELECTIONS

        The There There by Jason Gray Platt
        One couple traverses a lifetime in a single sitting in Jason Gray Platt’s expansive, stirring new play, The There There. From their first touch in the present day through the next forty-five years, the dynamics of their relationship fluctuate as quickly as the latest twists of technology. Packing an entire life into six potent scenes, Platt’s masterful dialogue probes the heart and questions what it means to hang on to humanity as the 21st century advances.

        The Crown by Theresa Rebeck
        A Theatre Company Commission

        For the small-town regulars at The Crown, life is an endless series of jokes and over-the-top conversations that liven up the neighborhood watering hole… until a well-heeled woman walks in and tries to buy the beautiful antique bar. With quirky humor and quick wit, The Crown is a standout new comedy from Pulitzer Prize finalist Theresa Rebeck.

         A new comedy by Tanya Saracho (untitled)
        A Theatre Company commission

        Mexican-born Lucia is hired to write for a Latina character on an L.A.-based TV series. She soon discovers that Abel, the Chicano studio custodian, hais a windfall of plot ideas. As their friendship grows and she begins incorporating Abel’s insights into her scripts, Lucia’s professional stardom starts to rise, but her personal life only becomes more and more complicated. A smartly-drawn Hollywood insider comedy from Tanya Saracho, recently named Best New Playwright by Chicago Magazine. 

         

        Holy Laughter by Catherine Trieschmann
        A Theatre Company commission

        An Episcopal priest finds that the reality of leading a church is radically and hilariously different than what she learned in seminary. As she wrestles with church finances, eccentric parishioners, changing sexual mores and her own doubting human heart, Abigail struggles to make peace with the realities of contemporary church life. Hymns, liturgical dance and a wicked tongue lift Catherine Trieschmann's antic portrait of a small, struggling congregation to comic heights.



        CURRENTLY COMMISSIONED THEATRE COMPANY PLAYWRIGHTS

        This is a list of playwrights whose new works are in various stages of development through the DCPA Theatre Company's  development program:
        Eric Schmiedl
        Regina Taylor
        Paula Vogel
        Robert Schenkkan
        Theresa Rebeck (in Summit)
        Tanya Saracho (in Summit)
        Catherine Trieschmann (in Summit)
        Kimber Lee
        Mat Smart
        Jose Cruz Gonzalez
        Lauren Gunderson




        Talking "Appoggiatura" with Director Risa Brainin and James Still. the 2014 Summit reading premieres as a mainstage offering in January.

      • Video: Talking 'Appoggiatura' with James Still and Risa Brainin

        by John Moore | Oct 19, 2014



        Appoggiatura_Video_Interview_800The world premiere of the play Appoggiatura will be performed Jan. 16 through Feb. 22 in the Ricketson Theatre. It's a sun-drenched romance about love, loss, and a broken family re-living the past and healing their hearts in Venice. Followed by a violin-playing Vivaldi, a charming but bogus Italian tour guide accompanies a widow and a bereaved middle-aged man who both mourn for the same person while a granddaughter questions her future.

        Appoggiatura is a Denver Center commission by three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist James Still, who In this video talks with director Risa Brainin about the play, and staging it in Denver. When it debuted as a reading at the  2014 Colorado New Play Summit, the word that came up most in response to it was "sweet." 

        "And I think it takes enormous courage right now to approach a new play with that kind of deeply sweet quality," says Still, "because it is risky."

        The plays that have been selected to be read at the 2015 Summit will be announced Monday, Oct. 20.

        "I can't imagine any writer not wanting to have a play premiere at the DCPA," says Still. "That's just an incredible honor."

        For ticket information to Appoggiatura, go to http://www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore.


      • Photos: Opening night of 'Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike'

        by John Moore | Oct 18, 2014
        Vanya_Opening_Night_800_1

        If only they liked each other. From left: Amelia White, Lesley Shires, Socorro Santiago, Kathleen McCall, Director Jenn Thompson, Eddie Lopez and Sam Gregory. Photo by John Moore.


        To see our complete gallery of opening-night photos from "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," click here.

        Photos from opening night at the Theatre Company at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play.

        This Chekhovian mash-up erupts into chaos when Vanya and Sonia receive a surprise visit from their Hollywood star sister, Masha, and her boy-toy Spike.

        The Theatre Company production runs through Nov 16, 2014 in the Ricketson Theatre.

        Photos by John Moore. 303-893-4100 or www.denvercenter.org

        Vanya_Opening_Night_800_2
        Cast members from "Lord of the Flies" and "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" lend their support to the cast of "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" at the opening-night party. Photo by John Moore.

        To see our complete gallery of opening-night photos from "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," click here.


        Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

        Through Nov. 16
        Ricketson Theatre
        Accessible Performance: Nov. 15, 1:30 pm
        Tickets: 303.893.4100 | denvercenter.org
        Talkback: 3:30 p.m., Oct. 19, Ricketson Theatre
        Page to Stage Discussion: Noon, Nov. 4, Colfax Tattered Cover
        Higher Education Advisory Council Talkback: 3:30 p.m. Nov. 9
        Theatre & Theology: 8:30 p.m., Nov. 11
        Book Club Discussion: 5:30 p.m., Nov. 12, Colfax Tattered Cover
        Theatre Thursday: 5:30 p.m., Nov. 13, Ricketson Theatre
        Events information: Click here


        Our previous coverage of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
        Video: Watch a montage of scenes from the production
        Cold coffee, hot popcorn make for a good stew
        Durang strikes an unexpected peace with an indifferent Broadway
        Vanya ... is the most popular play in America
        Vanya ... First rehearsal photos
        Check out our Study Guide

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

      • Video montage: Scenes from 'Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike'

        by John Moore | Oct 17, 2014


        Absurdist master Christopher Durang blends melancholy with mayhem in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which The New York Times declares a “deliriously funny” black comedy.

        Winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play, this Chekhovian mash-up erupts into chaos when Vanya and Sonia receive a surprise visit from their Hollywood star sister, Masha, and her boy-toy Spike. Here are scenes from the DCPA Theatre Company production opening Oct. 17 and running through Nov 16, 2014 in the Ricketson Theatre. Featuring Kathleen McCall, Sam Gregory, Amelia White, Eddie Lopez, Lesley Shires and Socorro Santiago. Directed by Jenn Thompson. Video by David Lenk. 303-893-4100 or www.denvercenter.org

        Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
        Through Nov. 16
        Ricketson Theatre
        Accessible Performance: Nov. 15, 1:30 pm
        Tickets: 303.893.4100 | denvercenter.org
        Talkback: 3:30 p.m., Oct. 19, Ricketson Theatre
        Page to Stage Discussion: Noon, Nov. 4, Colfax Tattered Cover
        Higher Education Advisory Council Talkback: 3:30 p.m. Nov. 9
        Theatre & Theology: 8:30 p.m., Nov. 11
        Book Club Discussion: 5:30 p.m., Nov. 12, Colfax Tattered Cover
        Theatre Thursday: 5:30 p.m., Nov. 13, Ricketson Theatre
        Events information: Click here

        Vanya_Montage_800
        Kathleen McCall and Masha with her boy-toy, Spike (Eddie Lopez). Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.


        Our previous coverage of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
        Cold coffee, hot popcorn make for a good stew
        Durang strikes an unexpected peace with an indifferent Broadway
        Vanya ... is the most popular play in America
        Vanya ... First rehearsal photos
        Check out our Study Guide

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

      • Molly Brown kin: New Denver musical is 'icing on the cake'

        by John Moore | Oct 17, 2014

        Molly_Brown_Benziger_Dog_800
        Helen Benziger, with her dog, Brojan, gave her blessing to the DCPA's new "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" at the opening-night party. Photo by John Moore.   


        Helen Benziger is not like most descendants of Margaret Tobin Brown. She actually liked the 1964 movie that made her great-grandmother famous. Even if it got almost everything about her life wrong.

        “I actually adored the movie,” Benziger said of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, the celluloid adaptation of what many theatre aficionados have, until now, considered the unfixable Broadway musical.

        And she really likes the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company's launch of a brand-new take on the original 1960 musical.

        “I was overwhelmed with what they did with the play,” said Benziger. “A lot of us have been trying to get the real story out about who Margaret really was, and this is the icing on the cake. This is going to make people understand more about her.”

        Benziger has inherited the mantle of representing those “please-don’t-call-her Molly” Brown family members who have cringed at how the most famous survivor of the Titanic disaster has been portrayed in pop culture since she died more than 80 years ago.

        Starting with that first name. For the record, Margaret never went by Molly. Not even as a nickname.

        “They changed it to Molly (for the musical) because it was easier to sing,” said Benziger, who has devoted much of her life since 1999 to setting the record straight on behalf of a family that, for the most part, wanted to hear nothing of it when Dick Scanlan set out in 2005 to revisit the Meredith Willson musical. Generations of family have complained about gross misrepresentations of Brown in the character Debbie Reynolds made famous.

        “My grandmother wouldn’t have anything to do with the movie,” Benziger said. “She would always say, ‘This is not the mother I knew. This is someone I don’t even know.’ ”

        Molly_Brown_Benziger_Quote_2

        The movie shows Molly as an uneducated mountain girl with only a surrogate father. Margaret had two loving parents, including a mother, Johanna Tobin, who insisted she receive an eighth-grade education, which was three years more than the average woman for the time.

        “Margaret was quite sophisticated, and she spoke many languages,” said Benziger. “She ran for Senate before women even had the right to vote.”

        Brown didn’t drop out of that 1914 race because of a scandal involving her philandering husband, J.J., Benziger said. “Oh make no mistake -- he was very much a philanderer,” she said. “But Margaret really dropped out because her sister married a German baron at a time when such a relationship was scandalous. But she couldn't say, 'Hey, sis drop the baron because I am running for office.’ ”

        The film depicts Molly coming down the Colorado River in a basket, and being raised by a drunken Irishman named Shamus. “It's so ridiculous,” Benziger said. But her family cringes most over the scene in the movie where J.J. Brown accidentally burns his own money after Molly hides it in the stove.

        “What makes that so funny is that they didn't even have paper money in Leadville at that time,” Benziger said.

        Given all that misinformation, it was a bit unexpected when Benziger accepted an invitation to attend the opening performance of Scanlan’s delightfully received retelling of the Molly Brown musical at the DCPA.

        “You have to understand, I first saw the movie at a rather young age,” Benziger said. “It was just a big movie to me, and I thought it was great. It was only later on and I kept watching it that I realized most of it wasn’t true. But what was true is that the original movie captured her heart, her spirit and her soul.”

        Molly_Brown_Benziger_Quote_1

        Benziger, who is visually impaired, couldn’t be living the spirit and soul of Margaret more. She lives in a log cabin with her husband and guide dog, Brojan, in Story, Wyo. That’s a quiet a town of 800 people nestled in the Bighorn Mountains about 400 miles north of Denver near Sheridan.

        Molly_Brown_Benziger_Beth_Malone_400What Benziger loved most about the movie, she said, “is that it kept Margaret alive until we could start telling the real story.”

        What Brown’s family most want from pop culture is what Scanlan most wanted when he approached a new The Unsinkable Molly Brown: To show a more human, complicated and significant Molly Brown. A woman who served as director of the American Committee for Devastated France during World War I and was awarded the French Legion of Honor for her work. Who wielded her influence in national politics, particularly in the area of workers' rights.

        Brown was motivated to action by the Ludlow Massacre of 1914, when 11,000 workers went on strike and resorted to living in tents after their families were turned out of company-owned housing. When the miners' union refused to surrender two petty criminals, the National Guard fired into the crowd, killing five men. That night, the Guard doused tents in oil and burned them to the ground, killing nearly a dozen children. Brown sent nurses, shoes and clothing to Ludlow. She then spearheaded the investigation into the miners' deaths.

        Not that all of this is depicted in the new The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

        Scanlan rewrote the book to show audiences a more significant heroine and a more complicated love story. Which is not to say that Scanlan and his team felt beholden to write a stage documentary set to Willson songs.

        “This is still very much a musical,” said Director Kathleen Marshall, who set out to stage an old-fashioned musical and not apologize for it. Only improve it.

        Benziger was particularly charmed by actor Beth Malone’s portrayal of her great-grandmother. She was perfect,” Benzinger said. “She embodied her spirit. And she's just a doll. She’s so sweet.”

        Benziger appreciated Malone’s pluck, her powerful voice and her dancing. But the primary reason she liked Malone may surprise you. 

        Molly_Brown_Benziger_Cup “I really like the fact that she's not fat,” said Benziger. “People always portray Margaret as being a large woman, and she wasn't. Kathy Bates, who played Margaret in the Titanic movie, was three times her size. If you look at the picture of Margaret presenting the ‘Loving Cup’ Arthur Rostrand, the captain of the Carpathia, her waist is tiny.”

        Now that the new stage musical of The Unsinkable Molly Brown has Benziger’s seal of approval, she predicts it will … not have much impact on the rest of her extended family.

         "I am really the only one on my side of the family who is doing this,” she said. “And I don’t have children, so there is no one to take over.” 

        If any of her relatives ever do see the show, she predicted, “I think they will love it. And I think they will get a lot out of it. I don’t think they will, but I hope they do.”

        And if Benziger has any say in it – and  she does not -- they will have another chance after the show closes in Denver on Oct. 26.

        “It’s going to New York,” she said. “My word on it. I mean, it has to go. It will go.”

        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.

        Molly_Brown_Benziger_Cast_800
        Helen Benziger, with her dog, Brojan, meet cast members from the DCPA's new "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" at the opening-night party. Photo by John Moore.   


        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


        Molly_Brown_Benziger_Beth_Malone_Burke_Moses_800

        Beth Malone and Burke Moses, above, bring levels of complexity to their roles as Molly and J.J. Brown in the DCPA's new "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." Below, Malone meets Molly Brown's granddaughter, Helen Benziger. Photos by John Moore.   


        Molly_Bronw_Benziger_Beth_Malone_800
      • Video: Off-Center's improv parody of 'Lord of the Flies'

        by John Moore | Oct 16, 2014


        All season long, the improvisational wizards from Off-Center @ The Jones' Cult Following are presenting their own 2-minute silly/fun/stupid parodies of the DCPA Theatre Company's mainstage offerings. 

        In that spirit, we proudly present this inspired adaptation of Lord of the Flies, as interpreted by Jessica Austgen, Sarah Kirwin, Nanna Sachiko Thompson and Chris Woolf. Your narrator is Emily Tarquin. 

        In theory, none of these accomplished improv comics have ever read Lord of the Flies ... or at least, recently. 

        The video above captured this one-time only piece of magic in 720 pixels of high-definition glory. But to add to the fun, Off-Center is about to open a big old aerosol can of island whup-*** with Lord of the Butterflies. That is drag queen Shirley Delta Blow’s retelling of Lord of the Flies, opening Oct. 24 and running through Nov. 7 at The Jones. In Shirley's tropical world, the struggle for island dominace pits drag queens versus lesbians.

        What’s Cult Following, you might ask? It’s Off-Center’s signature night of unscripted, unrehearsed theatre. The next themed show, scheduled for Feb. 13 and 19, is called Secrets & Confessions. Share your deep, dark, embarrassing baggage, and you will inspire ... well, art. Almost certainly.

        Now, check out how the "Cult Following" kids lampooned "The Unsinkable Molly Brown"

        Lord_Of_The_Flies_Snarf_800

        Do meat-eating "Lord of the Flies" cast members (from left) Gregory Isaac Stone, Skyler Gallun, Charlie Franklin and Allen Dorsey look amused by the "Cult Following" parody? We think not. Photo by John Moore.




        DCPA Theatre Company's
        Lord of the Flies
        Performances run through Nov. 2
        Space Theatre
        7:30 p.m. Fridays, 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. Saturdays;
        303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

        Off-Center @ The Jones’ Lord of the Butterflies
        At The Jones, Speer and Arapahoe streets​
        Oct. 24, 30, 31, and Nov. 7
        7:30 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show
        For more info about Off-Center @ The Jones, click here   

        Our Previous Lord of the Flies coverage on Denver CenterStage:
        "Meet the Cast" video episodes:
        Charlie Franklin
        Matthew Gumley

        Ben and Noah Radcliffe
        Gregory Isaac Stone





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      • Broadway stars Jessie Mueller and Jarrod Spector to headline 2015 Saturday Night Alive

        by John Moore | Oct 15, 2014
        Jessie Mueller and Jarrod Spector have a personal message to the people of Denver they recorded backstage at Broadway's Beautiful: "The Carole King Musical."


        Jessie Mueller and Jarrod Spector, stars of the Tony Award-nominated hit Broadway musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, will share the stage March 7, 2015, as co-headliners of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ 35th annual Saturday Night Alive.
         
        Saturday Night Alive is the Denver Center’s signature annual fundraiser. Last year’s gala, with Matthew Morrison headlining, netted a record $842,000 for the DCPA’s Arts in Education programs.
         
        Mueller won the 2014 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, and Spector was nominated for Best Actor. Their appearance in Denver will be a brand new concert, with the singers sharing solos, duets and stories from their careers.
         
        Mueller’s Broadway resume includes starring roles in Nice Work If You Can Get It opposite Matthew Broderick, and a Tony-nominated performance in On A Clear Day You Can See Forever opposite Harry Connick Jr.
         
        Spector, who plays the iconic songwriter Barry Mann in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, played Frankie Valli for more than 1,500 performances in the Tony-winning Best Musical Jersey Boys. His latest solo concert, titled A Little Help from My Friends, has sold out New York’s 54 Below nightclub 12 times this year. He was a contestant on the original Star Search as a child, and he made his Broadway debut at age 9 in the original Broadway production of Les Miserables.
         
        The duo's Denver date will include a variety of songs ranging from standards to showtunes to contemporary pop songs.
         
        “You know what? From us, I think you can expect the unexpected,” Mueller said. “We are excited to be coming to Denver. It’s a great city.”

        Added Spector: “We can’t wait to come, and we hope that you have fun.”
         
        Saturday Night Alive is the primary means of support for DCPA education programs that benefit more than 67,000 youth and adults from Colorado and surrounding states. Which is why a ticket starts at $400. (Of that, $275 is tax-deductible.) Tables of 10 start at $6,000.

        Net proceeds from the event have totaled more than $17.4 million over the past 35 years.

        The gala is a black-tie evening that features dinner, dancing, a silent auction with more than 100 luxury items, and, of course, the concert featuring Mueller and Spector for a crowd of 740 in the Stage Theatre.
         
        Kay Burke, president of the Denver Center Alliance – the volunteer organization that supports Saturday Night Alive and other DCPA fundraising activities – recently saw Beautiful: The Carole King Musical on Broadway. She said if Mueller and Spector aren’t household names in Denver yet, they will be after March 7.
         
        “Jessie Mueller’s voice is flawless,” she said. "And when she sang with Jarrod Spector together, they just took it to another level. I am so excited to see them again in Denver. They are just … Broadway.”
         
        Tickets are available at denvercenter.org/sna or by calling 303-446-4812.


        SNA_2015_Mueller_Spector_800

        Jarrod Spector, left, and Jessie Mueller.
      • DCPA to celebrate Randy Weeks' life on Nov. 3

        by John Moore | Oct 15, 2014


        On Oct. 10, one day after the death of Randy Weeks, a tribute throughout the Denver Performing Arts Complex included dimmed lights, pre-show announcements, a moment of silence and visual displays. Video by John Moore, David Lenk, Heidi Bosk, Hope Grandon, Emily Lozow, Chelley Canales and Emily Kent.


        The Denver Center for the Performing Arts will host a celebration of President Randy Weeks’ life starting at 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 3, in the Buell Theatre, it was announced today.

        “This gathering will be a true celebration of life – with an emphasis on 'celebration' –  that reflects Randy’s joyful and playful spirit,” said DCPA Director of Programming John Ekeberg.

        Weeks died last week in his sleep in a London hotel room. He was 59.

        The Nov. 3 program will include performances  and a variety of reflections from friends and family from various parts of Weeks’ life.

        Meantime, poignant tributes have continued to come in from around the world, both directly to the DCPA and through social media.

        Here is one post from Kriss Anderson, whose outrageous Dixie Longate character has performed at the DCPA’s Garner Galleria Theatre four times:

        "The theatrical world is a little worse off for losing such a pioneer and champion of the arts. Randy Weeks was the top dog at the DCPA and ended up bringing the Tupperware Party to Denver. It was through his guidance and enthusiasm of his entire team that I have had the opportunity to create my new show Never Wear a Tube Top.... Randy saw in this little gal from the trailer someone with something to say and he gave me the stage where I could say it.

        "What set Randy apart from many of the other presenters that I have met was not just his golf sweaters that he wore around his shoulders like he was a guest star on an old episode of The Love Boat but also his genuine excitement about how we were going to make each engagement even more fantastic than the last. He was not only a good friend, but he was also a visionary who constantly worked to develop new artists and cultivated impressively supportive audiences. He was instrumental in pushing me to be more creative and take more risks than even I was comfortable doing. I will always be indebted to him for seeing something in me that was worthy of being part of the Denver Center family.

        "He truly lived the way I talk about in my show. He was always looking for a way to make things better, to have a positive effect, to “Bump A Duck.” Even now, I know he will be up there looking down and making sure that everyone he knew goes out and keeps sharing something truly beautiful with the world.

        "Take a moment to do that today. Go out and do something that is exciting or daring or breath taking. If someone needs a little help in life or a little chance to shine and feel special, be like Randy and give them the opportunity. Go out there and Bump a Duck.” 

        At an employee meeting on Tuesday, Director of Marketing Jennifer Nealson told DCPA staff that Weeks’ unexpected death would not change the timing of the DCPA’s ongoing search for a new CEO to replace the retiring Daniel L. Ritchie, who is staying on as chairman of Trustees.

        “That is moving forward,” Nealson said.

        Memorial gifts can be made to The Randy Weeks Memorial Fund for the Bobby G Awards, which supports the advancement of musical theatre for Colorado high school students. Please make checks payable to Denver Center for the Performing Arts and mail to: DCPA Development Office, 1101 13th Street, Denver, CO 80204.

        For updated news, comments, condolences, a photo gallery and more, visit the Denver Center's NewsCenter

         Randy_John_Ekeberg_800

        Director of Programming John Ekeberg addresses employees at a DCPA company meeting on Tuesday to discuss the death of Randy Weeks. Photo by John Moore. 

        Our previous coverage of the death of Randy Weeks:

        DCPA president Randy Weeks dies at London conference
        Video: Randy Weeks honored with dimmed lights, moments of silence
        Photo gallery
        Revisiting Randy Weeks and the Colorado theatre community's "It Gets Better" video"

        Randy_Weeks_Tribute_1

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

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