• Video: 2015 Henry Award Acceptance Speeches

    by John Moore | Jul 28, 2015

    Here are short excerpts from acceptance speeches by recipients of the Colorado Theatre Guild's 2015 Henry Awards. The ceremony was held July 20 at the Arvada Center.

    It was a huge night for the DCPA's Billie McBride, who won three Henry Awards and presented another. She was honored for directing Vintage Theatre's 'Night Mother, which also won Outstanding Production of a Play. And she was named Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play for her work in the DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere play, Benediction. "Kent Thompson is a gentle and loving director," she says, "and it's just a beautiful play."

    In accepting the DCPA Theatre Company's Outstanding Season by a Company Award, DCPA President and CEO Scott Shiller told those attending the ceremony: "The work that you are creating day in and day out is the envy of the nation. The fact that the NEA has just said that 52 percent of everybody who lives in the state of Colorado comes to attend live theatrical events, compared to 36 or 38 percent everywhere else in the country, is remarkable. And it doesn't happen by accident. It happens because of the incredible storytellers who are here in this room. The DCPA is so honored to be a part of this theatrical community."

    You'll also see Beth Malone accept the Outstanding Actress in a Musical Award for her work in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, and Colin Hanlon accept The 12's award as Outstanding New Play or Musical. 

    To see performance highlights from the Henry Awards, click here.

    The director of the awards ceremony was Jim Hunt.

    Video by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.

    DCPA President and CEO Scott Shiller accepts the Theatre Company's Henry Award for Outstanding Season. Photo by John Moore.  DCPA President and CEO Scott Shiller accepts the Theatre Company's Henry Award for Outstanding Season by a Company. Photo by John Moore. 

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2015 Henry Awards:
    Colorado Theatre Guild honors DCPA with 11 Henry Awards
    The Henry Awards: The complete list of nominations
    Video: 2015 Henry Award performance highlights
    Videos: Our memorial tributes to departed artists in 2014-15
    Duck and cover: Gloria Shanstrom takes your Henry Awards questions
    Beth Malone, Colin Hanlon will perform at Henry Awards
    Guest essay by Margie Lamb: Something about the Henry Award doesn't add up
  • Photos from Underground Music Showcase: The UMS

    by John Moore | Jul 27, 2015

    Our photos from The Denver Post's 2015 The Underground Music Showcase, otherwise known as "The UMS." Now in its 15th year, The UMS is Denver’s premier indie music festival, featuring 400 performances over four days at more than 20 venues along South Broadway. All photos by Denver Center for the Performing Arts Senior Arts Journalist John Moore, who founded The UMS in 2001.

    Slim Cessna's Auto Club on the UMS mainstage. Photo by John Moore. Slim Cessna's Auto Club on the UMS mainstage. Photo by John Moore.
  • Photos: Colorado Theatre Guild's 2015 Henry Awards

    by John Moore | Jul 24, 2015

    Here are our photos from the Colorado Theatre Guild's 2015 Henry Awards ceremony held July 20 at the Arvada Center. Photos by Brian Landis Folkins and John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. To download any photo for free, click on "View original Flickr" image and choose from a variety of download sizes.


    Here are our photos of people and faces at the Henry Awards. Photos by Brian Landis Folkins and John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. To download any photo for free, click on "View original Flickr" image and choose from a variety of download sizes.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2015 Henry Awards:
    Colorado Theatre Guild honors DCPA with 11 Henry Awards
    The Henry Awards: The complete list of nominations
    Video: Performances from the 2015 Henry Awards ceremony
    Videos: Our memorial tributes to departed artists in 2014-15
    Duck and cover: Gloria Shanstrom takes your Henry Awards questions
    Beth Malone, Colin Hanlon will perform at Henry Awards
    Guest essay by Margie Lamb: Something about the Henry Award doesn't add up

    They're actors! Haley Johnson and castmate Emma Messenger pretend to fight over the Henry Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama. Photo by John Moore.
    They're actors! Haley Johnson and castmate Emma Messenger pretend to fight over the Henry Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama. They were both nominated for ' 'Night, Mother.' Messenger won. The staging was named Outstanding Play of 2014-15. Photo by John Moore. 
  • Video: 2015 Henry Awards performance highlights

    by John Moore | Jul 23, 2015

    Here are our performance highlights from Monday's Henry Awards, including Outstanding Actress winner Beth Malone, who came home from her night off in Broadway's Fun Home the Musical to sing from the DCPA's The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which later was named Outstanding Musical. She sang from the songs "I Ain't Down Yet" and "Wait for Me."

    Beth Malone performs from 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' at the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards at the Arvada Center. Photos by Brian Landis Folkins for the DCPA's NewsCenter.  Also featured are Colin Hanlon of The DCPA's The 12, The Henrys' Outstanding New Play or Musical. He sang the song "Three Times (I Denied)."

    The Town Hall Arts Center​ showcased both its Outstanding Musical nominee Anything Goes ("Blow, Gabriel Blow, featuring Norrell Moore and trumpeter Michael Skillern) as well as Outstanding Actor in a Musical Nominee Tim Howard, who performed "I Believe in You" from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

    (Photo: Beth Malone performs from 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' at the Henry Awards at the Arvada Center. Photos by Brian Landis Folkins for the DCPA's NewsCenter.) 

    Also featured were high-school students Curtis Salinger and Ana Koshevoy of Durango High School, who performed a medley from their production of Les Misérables, which in May won the Bobby G Awards' highest honor as Outstanding Musical by a Colorado high school in 2014-15.

    The director of the awards ceremony was Jim Hunt. The musical director was Donna Kolpan Debreceni. Her orchestra included Bob Rebholz, Scott Alan Smith, Larry Ziehl and Michael Skillern.

    Video by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2015 Henry Awards:
    Colorado Theatre Guild honors DCPA with 11 Henry Awards
    The Henry Awards: The complete list of nominations
    Videos: Our memorial tributes to departed artists in 2014-15
    Duck and cover: Gloria Shanstrom takes your Henry Awards questions
    Beth Malone, Colin Hanlon will perform at Henry Awards
    Guest essay by Margie Lamb: Something about the Henry Award doesn't add up

    Colin Hanlon performs from 'The 12' at the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards at the Arvada Center. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.
    Colin Hanlon performs from 'The 12' at the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards at the Arvada Center. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. 

  • Announcing 'The Book of Mormon' daily ticket lottery

    by NewsCenter Staff | Jul 23, 2015

    A limited number of tickets to every performance of 'The Book of Mormon' will be available for every performance in Denver. Photo by Joan Marcus (c)
    A limited number of tickets to every performance of 'The Book of Mormon' will be available for every performance in Denver. Photo by Joan Marcus (c 2015)

    By Heidi Bosk
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Book of Mormon,
     winner of nine Tony Awards including Best Musical, has announced a lottery ticket policy for the National Tour, which plays The Ellie Caulkins Opera House from Aug. 11 through Sept. 13. In Denver, the production will conduct a pre-show lottery at The Ellie, making a limited number of tickets available for every performance at $25 apiece.

    The wildly popular lottery for the Broadway production has attracted as many as 800 entries at some performances. The producers of The Book of Mormon are pleased to offer low-priced lottery seats for every city on the National Tour.  

    The Book of Mormon broke house records during the last Denver engagement in 2013 and currently holds the all-time record at The Buell Theatre for the highest weekly gross (for an eight-show performance week) for the week ending Nov. 17, 2013, during which the show grossed $1,993,690.00. The Book of Mormon also broke house records week after week during the three-week national tour launch engagement in fall 2012 and currently holds the all-time record at The Ellie for the highest weekly gross (for an eight-show performance week) for the week ending Sept. 2, 2012, during which the show grossed $1,443,977. In addition, The Book of Mormon currently holds the all-time single-ticket on-sale record for The Denver Center for the Performing Arts with more than 38,000 tickets sold on June 10, 2013. The record was previously held by the 2012 on-sale for the national tour launch.

    Lottery details

    Entries will be accepted at The Ellie box office beginning two and a half hours prior to each performance; each person will print their name and the number of tickets (one or two) they wish to purchase on a card that is provided. Two hours before curtain, names will be drawn at random for a limited number of tickets priced at $25 each, cash only. Only one entry is allowed per person. Cards are checked for duplication prior to drawing. Winners must be present at the time of the drawing and show valid ID to purchase tickets. Limit one entry per person and two tickets per winner. Tickets are subject to availability.

    The Book of Mormon
     features book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Parker and Stone are the four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of the landmark animated series, “South Park.” Tony Award-winner Lopez is co-creator of the long-running hit musical comedy, Avenue Q.  The musical is choreographed by Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw (Monty Python’s Spamalot, The Drowsy Chaperone) and is directed by Nicholaw and Parker.

    The Book of Mormon: Ticket information
    Aug. 11-Sept. 13
    7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
    At The Ellie, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    Tickets start at $35
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    TTY: 303-893-9582
    Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
    Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at Denvercenter.org.

    Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for the Denver engagement of The Book of Mormon.

     About The Book of Mormon

    The Book of Mormon features book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Parker and Stone are the four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of the landmark animated series, South Park. Tony Award-winner Lopez is co-creator of the long-running hit musical comedy, Avenue Q.  The musical is choreographed by Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw (Monty Python’s Spamalot, The Drowsy Chaperone) and is directed by Nicholaw and Parker. 

    The Book of Mormon is the winner of nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone), Best Book (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone), Best Direction (Casey Nicholaw, Trey Parker), Best Featured Actress (Nikki M. James), Best Scenic Design (Scott Pask), Best Lighting Design (Brian MacDevitt), Best Sound Design (Brian Ronan) and Best Orchestrations (Larry Hochman, Stephen Oremus); the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical; five Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical, the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album; four Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Best Musical, and the Drama League Award for Best Musical.

    The Book of Mormon features set design by Scott Pask, costume design by Ann Roth, lighting design by Brian MacDevitt and sound design by Brian Ronan. Orchestrations are by Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus.  Music direction and vocal arrangements are by Stephen Oremus.  

    The Original Broadway cast recording for The Book of Mormon, winner of the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, is available on Ghostlight Records.

    For more information, visit www.BookofMormonTheMusical.com

    Follow The Book of Mormon  on Twitter and on Facebook


  • Photos: Backstage for Phamaly's remarkable opening-night ritual, 'Zap!'

    by John Moore | Jul 22, 2015

    Photos from before and after Phamaly Theatre Company's July 16 opening of "Cabaret" at the DCPA's Space Theatre. To download any photo above, click on "View original Flickr image." Photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. 

    In the minutes before the opening performance of Phamaly Theatre Company's Cabaret, actor and founding company member Mark Dissette gathers the cast of 30 actors, each with widely varying disabilities, along with crew and volunteers, for one of the most electrifying pre-show rituals in the local theatre community.

    They form a circle. Those who can stand, stand. Those who cannot roll up in their wheelchairs. Those who can clasp hands, claps hands. Those with missing or disfigured hands make contact with their neighbors as best they can. They all close their eyes in reverence as Dissette calls out from memory the agonizingly long list of company members who have passed away during the 26 years that this unique company has been creating performance opportunities for actors with disabilities.

    Dabiel Traylor, who plays one of the 'Cabaret' Emcees, just before the opening performance. Photo by John Moore. Dissette then begins the ritual they call "Zap." As if there weren't enough energy in the air already, the group begins to buzz. Literally. "This is our dream - get a little louder," Dissette orders. And they do. "Bzzz." "This is our vision - get a little louder." And they do. "BZZZ." After more exhortation, the vibration builds to a deafening climax.

    "1-2-3 ..." Dissette shouts, and all voices scream in unison, "ZAP!"

    Now there is nothing but sudden, solemn silence. The next spoken word is not to be uttered until the actors hit the stage. For a company whose actors are blind and deaf, with disabilities ranging from stroke to spina bifida to multiple sclerosis to AIDS, it is both the beginning and the culmination of an extraordinary journey.

    (Photo: Daniel Traylor, who plays one of the 'Cabaret' Emcees, just before the opening performance. Photo by John Moore.)

    Cabaret, directed by newly named Artistic Director Bryce Alexander, is inherently different from any Cabaret you may have seen before. (Although there are multiple versions of the Cabaret script out there, Phamaly is performing the version starring Alan Cumming on Broadway in 1998, which is the most sexually explicit.) 

    Consistent with the Phamaly philosophy, the actors’ handicaps are not hidden but rather adapted into the roles they play. So Sally Bowles (Lyndsay Palmer) happens to be hard of hearing. Fraulein Schneider (Lucy Roucis) has advanced Parkinson’s disease.

    Perhaps Alexander’s most daring creative departure is casting two actors to play the iconic Emcee at once. Longtime company member Daniel Traylor, who has Sensoral Neural Hearing Loss (among other issues), shares the role with newcomer Garrett Zuercher, who appeared as Huck Finn in Deaf West’s Broadway production of Big River.

    Rather than trade performances, the two share the same stage as “M” and “C,” respectively, a couple who run the show at a Kit Kat Klub - which in this world primarily services a disabled clientele in pre-World War II Germany. Traylor speaks the Emcee’s lines because he can, while Zuercher communicates with the audience, and his fellow actors, in multiple non-verbal ways.

    The creative intent of all this is to make plain to the audience that Holocaust victims also included artists, homosexuals, the disabled and many others.

    Before the opening performance, Phamaly hosted its annual fundraising gala, at which the company's 2015-16 season was announced. The lineup includes the presentation of Nagle Jackson's Taking Leave at the Jones Theatre. Because the DCPA's Space Theatre will be undergoing a renovation next summer, Phamaly's presentation of Evita will move to the University of Denver's Newman Center.

    Phamaly now operates year-round, so this is the first season announcement that will allow audiences the opportunity to purchase a season ticket. (Call 303-365-0005, ext. 3). The lineup:

    Baby with the Bathwater
    By Christopher Durang
    Directed by Warren Sherrill
    Oct. 9-25 at the Avenue Theater

    Fuddy Meers
    By David Lyndsay-Abaire
    Directed by the DCPA's Emily Tarquin
    Jan. 28-Feb. 14, 2016, at the Aurora Fox
    Feb. 26-28, 2016, at the Arvada Center

    Taking Leave
    By Nagle Jackson
    Directed by Bryce Alexander
    April 1-17, 2016
    At the Jones Theatre at the DCPA

    By Time Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber
    Directed by Bryce Alexander
    July 14-Aug. 7, 2016
    At the University of Denver's Byron Theatre in the Newman Center

    Phamaly Theatre Company's pre-show 'Zap' ritual before the opening performance of 'Cabaret.' Photo by John Moore.

    Phamaly Theatre Company's pre-show 'Zap' ritual before the opening performance of 'Cabaret.' Photo by John Moore. 

    Cabaret: Ticket information
    Performances through Aug. 9
    Space Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex
    Contains mature themes and is not recommended for children.
    Tickets $32-42
    Groups of 10 or more $26 per person
    Call 303-893-4100 or go to Phamaly's web site

    Cast List:
    Directed by Bryce Alexander
    Musical Direction by Mary Dailey
    Choreography by Debbie Stark and Ronni Gallup
    Master of Ceremonies (Emcee): Garrett Zuercher and Daniel Traylor
    Clifford Bradshaw: Jeremy Palmer
    Fraulein Schneider: Lucy Roucis
    Herr Shultz: Mark Dissette
    Fraulein Kost: Ashley Kelashian
    Sally Bowles: Lyndsay Palmer
    Ernst Ludwig: Trenton Schindele

    Female Ensemble:
    Khea Craig
    Harper Liles
    Megan McGuire
    Amber Marsh
    Lauren Cora Marsh
    Laurice Quinn
    Micayla Smith
    Kristi Siedow-Thompson
    Vicki Thiem
    Rachel VanScoy
    Shannon Wilson
    Linda Wirth

    Male Ensemble:
    Kevin Ahl
    Brian Be
    Stewart Caswell
    Donny Gabenski
    Adam Johnson
    Phillip Lomeo
    James Sherman
    Andrew Tubbs

    Youth Ensemble:
    Everett Ediger
    Harper Ediger
    Leslie Wilburn

  • Colorado Theatre Guild honors DCPA with 11 Henry Awards

    by John Moore | Jul 20, 2015
    'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' won seven Henry Awards in Monday night. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

    'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' won seven Henry Awards on Monday night. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

    The DCPA Theatre Company was rewarded for its commitment to developing new work for the American theatre by judges of the Colorado Theatre Guild's 10th annual Henry Awards on Monday night. The Theatre Company received 11 awards from among its 21 nominations, including Outstanding Season for the fifth time in the past eight years.

    "We count ourselves lucky to work in such a powerful and vibrant community of artists, where new and exciting work happens all across the state," new DCPA President and CEO Scott Shiller said in accepting the award. "Thank you for this honor, for your warm welcome into this community, and for everything you do on a daily basis to support theatre in the Rocky Mountain Region."

    All of the DCPA's awards were for new works: The 12, Benediction and its newly refreshed take on Broadway'S quintessential Colorado  musical, The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

    Molly Brown
    won seven Henry Awards, making it the most honored production of the Colorado theatre season. The production featured a new book and a significantly revised score. Its awards on Monday included Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Actress Beth Malone and Director Kathleen Marshall. 

    Malone, a Colorado native who recently was nominated for a Tony Award for her work in Fun Home the Musical, brought new layers to the woman most people outside Colorado only know as a brassy survivor of the USS Titanic disaster. "Malone plays Molly with tremendous energy, intelligence and verve," Westword theatre critic Juliet Wittman wrote last fall. 

    Kathleen MarshallMarshall (pictured right) is a  three-time Tony Award nominee and, now, a three-time Henry Award winner. She also was singled out for her Molly Brown choreography.

    "Creating this show was a complete joy from beginning to end, and receiving an award on top of it is really an embarrassment of riches," Marshall said through DCPA Associate Artistic Director Bruce Sevy. "It was a challenge and responsibility to bring the story of Margaret and JJ Brown, two legendary and iconic Colorado residents, to life. Our cast and creative team had a blast here in Denver."

    She also credited her cast and creative team, including writer Dick Scanlan, "a man whose vision, passion and dedication brought this entire reimagining of Meredith Willson’s classic American musical into being. He has an indomitable spirit, a generous nature and an infectious energy – just like Molly Brown."

    The Theatre Company's staging of the world premiere rock musical The 12, written by Robert Schenkkan and Neil Berg, was named Outstanding New Play or Musical. The 12 wonders what might have happened when Jesus' disciples went into hiding after his crucifixion.

    "In our 36-year history, we have presented 412 productions, of which 138 were world premieres, 159 were readings of new works in development and 27 were commissions," said Sevy. "When a world premiere wins an award, it makes us beyond proud."

    He read a message from Schenkkan, also the Puliter Prize-winning playwright of next season's All the Way, which read: "From the moment we arrived in Denver, we were knocked out by the professionalism, the passion and the strong sense of community. Plus, you have a pretty good ballteam."

    Billie McBrideBillie McBride (pictured right), who last year was presented with the Colorado Theatre Guild's Lifetime Achievement Award, came back with a monster year that was rewarded with three more Henrys on Monday. McBride, whose Broadway acting and stage-managing credits include Safe Sex and Torch Song Trilogy, made her DCPA Theatre Company debut in February playing straight-talking Willa in the world-premiere staging of Benediction.

    She also won a Henry Award Monday for directing the most honored play of the year: 'Night, Mother, for Vintage Theatre. McBride offered an unsympathetic and uncompromising take on Marsha Norman's tale of a middle-aged woman who calmly announces to her mother that she will commit suicide by night's end. Both of her actors were nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Play, and as the mother, Emma Messenger won.

    It was the second straight win for Messenger in that prestigious category, after having won in 2014 for her portrayal of a cripplingly cruel Irish mum in The Edge Theatre’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane.

    Among the first-time Henry Award winners were Benjamin Cowhick and Annie Dwyer. Cowhick (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play)  was utterly raw as as a hyperactive meth addict in A&A Productions' Good Television at the Aurora Fox. Dwyer performed for more than 20 years as a comic actor for the Heritage Square Music Hall, which was not a Colorado Theatre Guild member and thus, its actors were never eligible for Henry Awards. Since that famed venue closed last year, a wider audience is witnessing Dwyer's comic gifts. Dwyer's hilarious portrayal of Frau Bleucher earned her first Henry Award nomination and win, as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical.

    In all, 10 local companies earned at least one Henry Award on Monday, with the Arvada Center, BDT Stage and Vintage Theatre winning three each.

    The awards ceremony was again held at the Arvada Center and hosted by GerRee Hinshaw and Steven Burge, and directed by previous Colorado Theatre Guild Lifetime Achievement Award winner Jim Hunt. That award this year went to educator Jo Bunton Keel.

    The Henry Awards are named for legendary producer Henry Lowenstein, who brought more than 400 productions to the old Bonfils Theatre on East Colfax Avenue. This was the first year of the Henry Awards without Henry, and a video tribute was played to open the service featuring Cleo Parker Robinson, Bob Wells and John Ashton. Robinson told the story of how her father was hired as the theatre janitor over the objections of Bonfils patrons, and he went on to perform in dozens of shows, including a starring role in A Raisin in the Sun.

    It was a year of great loss in the theatre community, and a separate tribute video was played marking the passings of Shelly Bordas, Lloyd Norton, Kent Haruf, Bill Fancouer, Ray Viggiano, Michael (McKim) Daevid and DCPA President Randy Weeks. Those videos will be posted in the DCPA's NewsCenter in the coming days.

    The Henry Awards are a notoriously unpredictable affair from year to year. Last July, the DCPA Theatre Company earned a record 28 nominations and won three awards. This year's winners included Mike Hartman, who starred in all three chapters of the Theatre Company's adaptations of the Haruf's Plainsong Trilogy. He was named Outstanding Actor in a Play for his portrayal of a man dying with unfixable regrets in Benediction.

    “Thank you so much for this honor. I am incredibly blessed to have worked with Kent Haruf, (playwright) Eric Schmiedl, and Kent Thompson the cast and crew of all three of these wonderful rich Colorado stories," he said through the DCPA's Brianna Firestone.

    Two students from Durango High School represented The Bobby G Awards' 2014-15 Outstanding Musical by performing a medley from Les Misérables.

    More NewsCenter coverage of the 2015 Henry Awards:
    Colorado Theatre Guild honors DCPA with 11 Henry Awards
    The Henry Awards: The complete list of nominations
    Photos: Our downloadable pictures from the Henry Awards ceremony
    Video: Performances from the 2015 Henry Awards ceremony
    Videos: Our memorial tributes to departed artists in 2014-15
    Duck and cover: Gloria Shanstrom takes your Henry Awards questions
    Beth Malone, Colin Hanlon will perform at Henry Awards
    Guest essay by Margie Lamb: Something about the Henry Award doesn't add up

    Still to come: Video showing acceptance speech highlights


    Denver Center Theatre Company

    The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    DCPA Theatre Company
    Kathleen Marshall, Director; Michael Rafter, Musical Director

    'Night, Mother
    Vintage Theatre Productions
    Billie McBride, Director

    'The 12.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

    The 12
    DCPA Theatre Company
    Robert Schenkkan and Neil Berg

    Kathleen Marshall
    The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    DCPA Theatre Company

    Michael Rafter
    The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    DCPA Theatre Company


    Billie McBride
    'Night, Mother

    Vintage Theatre Productions

    Wayne Kennedy

    Wayne Kennedy
    Fiddler on the Roof
    BDT Stage

    Beth Malone

    Beth Malone
    The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    DCPA Theatre Company

    Mike Hartman

    Mike Hartman
    DCPA Theatre Company


    Emma Messenger

    Emma Messenger
    'Night, Mother
    Vintage Theatre Productions

    Annie Dwyer

    Annie Dwyer
    Young Frankenstein
    Town Hall Arts Center

    Michael Wordly

    Michael Wordly
    Midtown Arts Center, Fort Collins

    Benjamin CowhickOUTSTANDING

    Benjamin Cowhick
    Good TV
    A & A Productions

    Billie McBride

    Billie McBride
    DCPA Theatre Company

    Buntport ensemble.

    Middle Aged People Sitting in Boxes
    Buntport Theater Company

    Kathleen Marshall
    The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    DCPA Theatre Company

    Paul Tazewell
    The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    DCPA Theatre Company

    Linda Morken
    Mary Poppins
    BDT Stage

    Brian Mallgrave
    She Loves Me
    Arvada Center

    Christopher Waller
    The Edge Theater

    David Thomas
    Arvada Center

    Ren Manley
    The Edge Theater

    Don Holder
    The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    DCPA Theatre Company

    Brett Maughan
    Mary Poppins
    BDT Stage


    Jo Bunton Keel

    Jo Bunton Keel

    Creede Repertory Theatre

    Creede Repertory Theatre

    Lisa Cook

    Lisa Cook

  • Theatre Company to create new immersive theatre piece with Third Rail Projects

    by NewsCenter Staff | Jul 20, 2015

    From the Third Rail Project's award-winning work, 'Then She Fell.'
    From the Third Rail Projects' award-winning work, "Then She Fell. Possible locations are currently being scouted for the piece, which will debut in May 2016 as an add-on to the Theatre Company’s 2015-16 season.

    By Hope Grandon
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Theatre Company at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts has today announced an unprecedented partnership with the New York-based Third Rail Projects. Together, the Theatre Company and Third Rail Projects will create a new immersive theatre piece at an off-site location in Denver.

    Hailed as one of the foremost companies creating site-specific, immersive, and experiential dance-theater in the United States, Third Rail Projects is dedicated to re-envisioning ways in which audiences engage with contemporary performance. Artistic Directors Zach Morris, Tom Pearson, and Jennine Willett have created performances worldwide for over 15 years. Their award-winning work, Then She Fell, was named one of the “Top Ten Shows of 2012” by Ben Brantley of The New York Times, and acclaimed as one of the best theater experiences of 2013 by Vogue.

    “We are honored to be the first regional theatre to commission Third Rail Projects,” said Kent Thompson, Producing Artistic Director of the Theatre Company. “They are known for their innovative approach to theater and their ability to create masterful site-specific performances in unexpected places. Thanks to the generous grant from the Wallace Foundation, Denver audiences will have the chance to fully immerse themselves in Third Rail Projects’ unique brand of nontraditional performance experience.”

    The Theatre Company and Third Rail Projects are currently scouting possible locations for the piece, which will debut in May 2016 as an add-on to the Theatre Company’s 2015-16 season. More details will be announced at a later date.

    “As a company deeply invested in site-specificity, our creations are informed and shaped by the spaces and communities in which we work,” said Zach Morris, Co-Artistic Director of Third Rail Projects. “Narrative, images, and metaphors are pulled from research on a site’s history. Likewise, a project’s visual, physical, theatrical, and choreographic material is inspired by, borne from, and created specifically for the site itself. I was born and raised in Denver and could not be more excited to begin the process of exploring my hometown to find the perfect site for this new collaboration.”

    The piece will be supported by the previously announced grant the DCPA Theatre Company received from the Wallace Foundation’s Building Audiences for Sustainability effort.

    About Third Rail Projects

    Third Rail Projects, led by Artistic Directors Zach MorrisTom Pearson, and Jennine Willett is dedicated to reframing dance and performance and bringing art to the public through an array of media and within a variety of contexts including site-specific performances, dance theater, installation art, video and multi-media projects, and immersive performance environments.  Collectively, Third Rail Projects artists have been granted commissions, support, and residencies from presenters, organizations, and foundations including: Arts Brookfield, Danspace Project, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation, Abrons Arts Center, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Dance New Amsterdam, Dance Theater Workshop, Topaz Arts, La Mama ETC, 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center, The American Music Center, The Lucky Star Foundation, and Materials for the Arts, among many others. Third Rail Projects artists have also received numerous awards including three New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Awards – for Then She Fell (2013) and Vanishing Point (2008) – a 2001 New York International Fringe Festival Award for Choreography from the Present Company, and others. For more information, please visit www.thirdrailprojects.com

    From the Third Rail Project's award-winning work, 'Then She Fell.'

    From the Third Rail Projects' award-winning work, "Then She Fell."

    Sept. 11-Oct 11: Lookingglass Theatre Company’s Lookingglass Alice, Stage Theatre
    Sept. 25-Nov 1: As You Like It, Space Theatre
    Oct. 9-Nov. 15: Tribes, Ricketson Theatre
    Nov. 27-Dec 27: A Christmas Carol, Stage Theatre
    Jan. 22-Feb. 21, 2016: The Nest, Space Theatre
    Jan. 29-Feb 28, 2016: All The Way, Stage Theatre
    Feb. 5-March 13, 206: FADE, Ricketson Theatre
    April 8-May 15, 2016: Sweeney Todd, Stage Theatre
    May 2015: Immersive piece with Third Rail Projects, location TBA

    DCPA Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16
    DeVotchKa frontman promises a 'Sweeney Todd' that's 'loud and proud'
    Theatre Company introduces bold new artwork for 2015-16 season

  • Caveman Cody on speedskating, smelting and a baby named Chewbaca

    by John Moore | Jul 13, 2015
    Cody Lyman in 'Defending the Caveman.' Photo by Michael Brosilow
    Cody Lyman in 'Defending the Caveman.' Photo by Michael Brosilow

    Durango native Cody Lyman is happy to be back in his native state performing Defending the Caveman, which will soon enter its fourth month at the Garner-Galleria Theatre. It's writer/comedian Rob Becker's theatrical conversation between a modern-day Caveman (read: your average husband) and his audience about the ways men and women relate.

    The show dates back to prehistoric times - 1991, to be exact. It first opened in San Francisco and went on to become the longest continuously running one-man show in Broadway history, and the longest-running one-man show in Las Vegas. It has been performed in 45 countries and translated into 19 different languages. (Bet you’d never guess the first one after English was Icelandic. Really.)

    Cody Lyman quote"I jumped on board in 2004," said Lyman, a graduate of Colorado State University and the child of two Olympic speedskaters. (He's not even making that up. More on that below.)

    "I’m closing in on 12 years of performing this show all across the country. I’d be hard-pressed to count the number of performances I’ve done. But I’m guessing it would have a few zeros in it. I can say that I’ve filed taxes in 36 different states." 

    It's still lots of fun for Lyman, even though he says it shouldn’t be. "That’s a long time to be doing the same show," he said. But audiences love it wherever it goes.

    "I was drawn to theatre because I think it’s important," he said. I truly believe that art can have an vital impact on humanity. This show does that. It’s simple and funny and profound. It's a show about how we love each other. And that message, of course, is delivered in a hilarious way. It’s a privilege to be a part of that."

    Defending the Caveman tickets are currently on-sale through Aug. 23. Here are more excerpts from Caveman Cody's conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore:

    John Moore: Let's start with a current events news-and-views quiz.

    News: A 22-year-old man celebrating the Fourth of July was killed instantly when he tried to launch fireworks from atop his head.

    Views: _______________
    The Caveman: I was a knucklehead when I was 22. That could have been me. That could have been a lot of the knuckleheads I ran around with. Although it happened in Maine. I’ve never performed in Maine ... so there’s that.

    John Moore: Is it true that Cavemen enjoy Twizzlers, discount furniture and most things Dutch? And if so ... so, please elaborate.

    The Caveman: Man, I put that in my bio a hundred years ago for some reason, and I really should get around to editing it! I do like Twizzlers, IKEA and the Dutch. I was raised by speedskaters. My dad (Greg Lyman) was in the Sapporo Olympics in 1972, and my mom (Pat Sheehan) held a world-record in short-track. The Dutch always produce amazing speedskaters. I fell in love with Amsterdam on a visit abroad with my brother and sister. When we were living in Chicago, I would often accompany my (now) wife on trips to IKEA. It was a day-long event with multiple trains. She would go to shop and get ideas. I’d go for the meatballs and to spend time with her.

    John Moore: And how is married life?

    Cody Lyman and his now wife photographed on opening night of the 2013 'Defending the Caveman' run in Denver. Photo by John Moore.The Caveman: I like being married. My wife and I have been together for 18 years, although we have only been married for almost two. Things changed when we tied the knot. Not good or bad just ... different. There are some things in the show that jump out at me more now. Like listening. I’m not that great at listening. I have to stop what I’m doing, re-focus my energy, and plug in. My wife will usually give me the time I need to do that before doling out the important information. We’re expecting our first child in November, which is consuming all of our attention right now. No, we don’t know if will be a boy or a girl. No, we’re not going to find out in advance. Either way, I’m lobbying for the name “Chewbaca."

    (Photo: Cody Lyman and his now wife photographed on opening night of the 2013 'Defending the Caveman' run in Denver. Photo by John Moore.)

    John Moore: Say, you went to the same high school as our new Bobby G Awards winners honoring the best in Colorado high-school theatre. So what is up with Durango High School?
    The Caveman: It’s simple, really. Durango exists, largely, because it was a hub for smelting (the process of extracting metals from rock using heat and various chemicals) in the 1880s. The early smelters eventually fell into dis-use, but smelting was revitalized by the federal government during World War II to process vanadium to make steel. The other product that was being dug from our hills and processed was uranium. Smelter Mountain (where most of this occurred) sits on the south side of downtown, and while the smelters had used up their usefulness by the 1950s, the project wasn’t properly cleaned and capped until the 1990s. So, in short: We’ve been drinking radioactive water and producing SUPERACTORS.

    What relationship advice do you have for troubled celebrity couple Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick?
    The Caveman: I’m rather proud that I had to Google this. However, after Googling this ... I have a headache. I don’t think I’d offer any relationship advice to these two. Who am I to blow against the wind?  I’ll let Kanye handle this one.

    John Moore: So wait a minute: Why does The Caveman even need defending? After all … he’s a Caveman!

    The Caveman: It’s his image that needs defending. In “everyday” context, The Caveman is depicted as a gut-driven, forehead-enhanced lunk: “Me want, me take.” There’s the popular image of The Caveman clunking the woman of his choice over the head with his club and dragging her back to his cave. While it’s true that our ancient ancestors were (by necessity) more instinctual than we are today, archaeologists' findings over the past few decades seem to point to a primitive man who was able to look beyond his next meal and contemplate the universe. What prompted this creature to record his culture’s myths and stories onto cave walls?  

    The Caveman recorded the things that he did not understand, but was in awe of: The Hunt. Sacred animals. The passage of time. And, perhaps most important: The goddess. The Caveman, simply put, was not master of The Cavewoman, but rather, The Caveman worshipped women.

    “Well!" you might say!, all that’s well and good. But what of it?”

    Generally speaking, if a woman does something that a man doesn’t understand ... men are OK with that. We tend to think that women are mysterious. On the other hand, when a man does something that a woman doesn’t understand, they tend to just think that we’re wrong.  We’re not wrong (necessarily) - we’re just different. And, we’ve evolved with these differences since prehistoric times!

    John Moore: Clearly this is still fun for you.

    The Caveman: I’ve had plenty of opportunity through the years to work on other projects, so I rarely feel creatively stifled. But whenever I return to The Cave, it’s like putting on a favorite sweatshirt. It’s comfy - and smelly - in all the right places.

    John Moore: And why Defending the Caveman still fun for the audience?

    Things change and we evolve, but men and women are still fundamentally different.  Couples come to this show seeking laughs at one another’s expense, and end up leaving arm-in-arm. It’s fun for the audience because it’s so relatable. I’ve been all around the nation with this show for more than a decade, and everyone relates. It’s not my story up there on stage. It’s our story. 

    Defending the Caveman
    When: Tickets currently on-sale through Aug. 23
    Where: At the Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets,
    Written by: Rob Becker
    Performed by: Cody Lyman
    Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

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

    More, more Lyman: Here's our 2013 interview with Cody Lyman
  • Beth Malone, Colin Hanlon will perform at Henry Awards

    by John Moore | Jul 13, 2015

    Tony Award nominee and Colorado native Beth Malone is scheduled to perform at the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Awards ceremony on Monday, July 20, at the Arvada Center, the DCPA NewsCenter has confirmed. And Colin Hanlon, who starred as the conflicted disciple Peter in the Theatre Company's world premiere staging of The 12, is also booked to perform.

    Malone is nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical for originating the titular role in the DCPA Theatre Company’s newly refreshed The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Malone then went on to earn a Tony Award nomination as Best Actress in a Musical for her work in Broadway’s newly crowned 2015 Best Musical, Fun Home.

    The Henry Awards honor achievement in Colorado theatre, and The Unsinkable Molly Brown leads all plays and musicals with 12 nominations for 2014-15. The DCPA Theatre Company earned two of the five nominations for best musical: Molly Brown and The 12. Each of the five nominated musicals are invited to perform during the Henry Awards.

    “We are thrilled to welcome Beth Malone and Colin Hanlon back to Denver,” said Scott Shiller, new President and CEO of the DCPA. “I am excited to experience my first Henry Awards, and for the DCPA to share this evening with such an incredible group of artists and theatre companies. I continue to be impressed with the dedication and passion for the theatre arts in Colorado. And we are honored to be part of this powerful and vibrant community that is contributing to the national landscape of theatre and driving the importance of the arts.”
    The Arvada Center homecoming promises to be an emotional one for Malone, who played the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on the Arvada Center stage during the holiday season for three years running, from 1999 to 2001. In the Talkin’ Broadway review of Joseph, critic T. Burnett likened Malone’s performance as the Narrator to the character of Ché in Evita. Bob Bows of ColoradoDrama.Com called Malone “a zesty and dynamic chanteuse.”

    "I am thrilled to be returning home to Colorado to perform at the Henrys," Malone said today. "I have so many wonderful memories at the Arvada Center, and I am really looking forward to being on that stage again."

    Beth Malone and Colin Hanlon. Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen. Hanlon will perform a number from The 12, which examines issues of faith, courage and responsibility when a group of disciples lose their teacher. It is nominated for three Henry Awards, including Outstanding Musical and Outstanding New Play or Musical.

    "The second I left Denver, I thought, 'Please, teacher: When am I coming back?!' I never expected it would happen this quickly," Hanlon wrote in an email. Hanlon has an accomplished theatrical resume, but is perhaps best known for his guest-starring roles on TV’s Modern Family.

    "I'm honored and humbled to have been asked to represent The 12 at The Henry Awards," Hanlon said. "It will be bittersweet because I wish my entire cast and creative team could be here to celebrate our nominations. This town is filled with amazingly creative theater that's going on everywhere."

    (Photos: Beth Malone, left, and Colin Hanlon. Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen.)

    The only days off in Malone’s busy Broadway Fun Home schedule are Mondays. So she plans to fly home on Sunday, perform at the Henrys the next day, and then return to New York that night. For her, it will be very much worth it to spend a day back home celebrating her Molly Brown experience.

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

    Malone, a graduate of Douglas County High School and the University of Northern Colorado, grew up in Castle Rock and began working at the Country Dinner Playhouse at age 16. Two years later, she was starring there in Baby. She made her DCPA debut that same year at age 18 as the understudy to Mary Louise Lee — now the First Lady of Denver — in Beehive, produced by Rick Seeber in what is now the Garner Galleria Theatre.

    Malone made her debut with the Denver Center Theatre Company in 1993 in the world premiere of Jeffrey Hatcher’s Bon Voyage, a musical adaptation of Noel Coward’s Sail Away directed by Bruce K. Sevy. She then spent several years performing in and around Snowmass at the Crystal Palace and Theatre Aspen before performing regularly at many Front Range theaters.

    Last year, Malone originated the role of cartoonist Alison Bechdel in Fun Home, which was then a Pulitzer-nominated, off-Broadway musical about a woman who was coming to terms with her sexuality at the same time her closeted father committed suicide.

    Malone returned to the DCPA last fall to play Molly Brown, winning the lead role even though no one from the creative team knew then that she, like Molly Brown, was a Colorado native. The staging was directed by three-time Tony winner Kathleen Marshall and written by three-time Tony nominee Dick Scanlan. That staging took place just before Fun Home transferred to Broadway and Malone earned the Tony Award nomination that will surely change the course of her professional life.

    Beth Malone, back, played the Narrator in three successive stagings of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' at the Arvada Center. She'll return to that stage on Monday, July 20, for the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards.
    Beth Malone with Charles Langely in the Arvada Center's 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.'Beth Malone, back, above, played the Narrator in three successive stagings of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' at the Arvada Center. She'll return to that stage on Monday, July 20, for the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards. At right, Malone with 'Joseph' star Charles Langely. File photos by P. Switzer.

    2014-15 Henry Awards
    6 p.m. Monday, July 20
    Arvada Center. 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
    Tickets: $23 for CTG members, $30 non-members or $50 VIP. Tickets go on sale July 6 through the Arvada Center website or by calling 720-898-7200. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door for $35.


    The DCPA Theatre Company's 2015 Henry Award nominees:
    Outstanding Season for a Theatre Company

    Outstanding Production of a Musical
    The 12, Richard Seyd, Director; Michael Mancini, Musical Direction
    The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Kathleen Marshall, Director; Michael Rafter, Musical Direction

    Outstanding Direction of a Musical
    Kathleen Marshall, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

    Outstanding Musical Direction
    Michael Rafter, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

    Outstanding Choreography
    Kathleen Marshall, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

    Outstanding Actor in a Play
    Mike Hartman, Benediction

    Outstanding Actress in a Play  
    Joyce Cohen, Benediction

    Outstanding Actor in a Musical
    Burke Moses, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

    Outstanding Actress in a Musical
    Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play            
    Billie McBride, Benediction

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical
    Constantine Germanacos, The Unsinkable Molly Brown 

    Outstanding New Play or Musical
    The 12, book and lyrics by Robert Schenkkan; music and lyrics by Neil Berg; Richard Seyd, Director; Michael Mancini, Musical Direction

    Outstanding Costume Design
    Paul Tazewell, The Unsinkable Molly Brown 

    Outstanding Lighting Design
    Lap Chi Chu, The 12
    Donald Holder, The Unsinkable Molly Brown 

    Outstanding Scenic Design

    Derek McLane, The Unsinkable Molly Brown      

    Outstanding Sound Design
    Craig Breitenbach, The Unsinkable Molly Brown 

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2015 Henry Awards:
    The Henry Awards: The complete list of nominations
    Duck and cover: Gloria Shanstrom takes your Henry Awards questions
    Guest essay by Margie Lamb: Something about the Henry Award doesn't add up

    More NewsCenter coverage of Beth Malone and Colin Hanlon:

  • Podcast: Geoffrey Kent and Benjamin Bonenfant of DCPA, Colorado Shakes

    by John Moore | Jul 13, 2015

    Episode 174 of our Running Lines Audio Podcast:

    Actors Geoffrey Kent and Benjamin Bonenfant are well-known to DCPA and Colorado Shakespeare Festival audiences. But the summer of 2015 marks their rites of passage into playing significant (if very disparate) Shakespearean leaders. 

    Kent is playing the villain Iago, Shakespeare's largest role, in Othello, while Bonenfant is playing the rapscallion prince-turned-warrior in Henry V. While the roles span the moral gamut, both characters use honor as a weapon of persuasion. Iago uses talk of honor as a cloak to disguise his ill-intent to exact his revenge on Othello. And in Henry V, the dapper king uses honor as a justification for what has come to be seen in modern times as a perhaps most unjust war.

    The pair talk with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist and Running Lines host John Moore about their particular acting challenges and character justifications, including this one-of-a-kind quote from Kent talking about Iago's motives: "Iago is not interested in getting things 'evensies.' He wants to be 'winsies, no-take-backsies.' "

    In the conversation, Moore points out that while the word "honor" is mentioned 42 times in Othello, the word "heaven" is actually invoked far more often, clocking in at 72. Kent then mentions the preponderance of the word "honesty" in the script as well. "Honor, honesty, heaven: They are all 'H' words," Kent says. "Shakespeare likes alliteration."

    Kent's ties to the DCPA go back to 1999. He is not only the Theatre Company's resident Fight Director, he has performed in Richard III, Hamlet and others. He will be seen next season in Kent Thompson's As You Like It. In Boulder, he is currently tied with Sam Sandoe as the longest continuous member of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival at 13 consecutive seasons.

    Bonenfant's DCPA credits include Benediction, Hamlet, A Christmas Carol and When We Are Married. He will be back next season in A Christmas Carol.

    The pair are just two of the recognizable names from the DCPA performing or working at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival this summer. "Sam Gregory is tearing it up both as a pretty damn racist Brabantio in our Othello, and as our narrator for Henry V," says Kent. Bonenfant adds: "You'll also get to see (DCPA Head of Acting) Larry Hecht (as Fluellen in Henry V). This is going to be his last performance in Colorado before he moves to the West Coast and we have to say goodbye to him."

    Other recent Theatre Company actors performing in Boulder this summer include Peter Simon Hilton, Rodney Lizcano, Benaiah Anderson, Mare Trevathan and Martha Harmon Pardee. Going back in time, the long list of  actors that both companies have in common also includes Annette Helde, Jane Page, Annette Bening, John Hutton, Kim Staunton, and Leslie O’Carroll. 

    Many of the Theatre Company’s core technicians are summering in Boulder as well, including sound designer Jason Ducat, stage manager Matthew Campbell and assistant stage managers Paul Behrhorst and Kristen Littlepage.

    The running time of the podcast is 11 minutes.

    Podcast Outtake:

    As the conversation continued beyond the allotted podcast time, Kent spoke of the special ongoing relationship between the DCPA and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

    "Having been here a long time, it’s kind of profoundly dynamic," Kent said, "and I hope that it gives in both directons. Because while both companies do Shakespeare, and they both put their particular spins on it, we share artists and keep these Colorado artists here and employed."

    2015 Colorado Shakespeare Festival: Ticket information 
    • Now playing: Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, Wittenberg, Henry V and Henry VI, Part One
    • Dates: Through Aug. 9 in the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre and University of Colorado Mainstage Theatre
    • Tickets are available at coloradoshakes.org or by calling 303-492-8008
    • The box office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and is located in the University Club on the CU-Boulder campus.

    Geoffrey Kent plays Iago and Benjamin Bonenfant plays Heny V in high-profile Colorado Shakespeare Festival productions of Othello' and 'Henry V.' Photo by John Moore.

    Geoffrey Kent plays Iago and Benjamin Bonenfant plays Heny V in high-profile Colorado Shakespeare Festival productions of Othello' and 'Henry V.' Photo by John Moore. 

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2015 Colorado Shakespeare Festival:
    2015 Colorado Shakes: Tried and true; black and blue-blooded
    Sandoe siblings have the Bard in their Boulder blood
    Our tragic, universal flaw: We are all Othello

    Recent Running Lines podcasts:
    Listen to our interview with ... Tony Award winner Annaleigh Ashford
    Listen to our interview with: Emma Messenger and Haley Johnson of 'Night, Mother
    Listen to our interview with ... Margie Lamb of Next to Normal
    Listen to our interview with ... Jane Lynch of Glee
    Listen to our interview with ... Cyndi Lauper of Kinky Boots
    Listen to our interview on dialects with ... The cast of Lord of the Flies
    Listen to our interview with ... Jeremy Palmer, Ed Mills and J Murray d'Armand of Wit's L.A. Diner
    Listen to our interview with ... Laura Norman and Josh Hartwell of Grounded
    Listen to our interview with ... Dramaturg Allison Horsley of Animal Crackers
    Listen to our interview with ... Director Christy Montour-Larson of Shadowlands
  • Sandoes have the Bard in their Boulder blood

    by John Moore | Jul 12, 2015

    A selection of photos of the Sandoes, the First Family of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, whose lineage at the Mary Rippon Amphitheatre in Boulder goes back to 1944. To see caption information, click on any photo.

    Anne Sandoe may be the only actor in the world who has been cast to play age-appropriate Shakespearean roles from the time she was 6 and into her 60s.

    She is the daughter of James Sandoe, who directed the first-ever play on Boulder’s famed Mary Rippon Amphitheatre in 1944. James Sandoe became a legendary figure at both the Colorado and Oregon Shakespeare festivals - and he took his wife and four children along for the whole theatrical ride.

    Sam and Anne Sandoe, both familiar and familial members of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s 2015 acting company, now have 41 seasons between them. There are part of Boulder’s first family of theatre - a royal lineage that goes back 71 years.

    For Anne, it all began when her father, who was a regular director in Oregon from 1948-68, cast her to appear in Henry VI, Part Two. She was 6.

    “We used to get carted up to Ashland every summer starting in 1954,” she said. “And if they ever needed children in the shows, they would use us.”

    Anne SandoeThe first roles Anne really remembers playing were in Henry VI, Part Three, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, when she was 8. “I got murdered on stage as Rutland (York's son), and then I played Mustard-seed (the littlest fairy) in Midsummer,” she said. “It was very exciting.” Her castmates included older sister Jill, who was 12, and brother John, who played a 14-year-old Puck. Sam was still swaddling.

    James Sandoe was a University of Colorado professor, librarian, bibliographer and Shakespearean scholar who founded the CU International Film Series in 1941. He also had an interesting side passion: He was a renowned reviewer of mystery novels for the Chicago Sun-Times and New York Herald Tribune.

    The Sandoe patriarch was asked to direct a play at CU in the summer of 1944, but because the Navy had taken over the University Theatre for the war effort back in 1939, Sandoe decided to try staging Romeo and Juliet in the newly built Mary Rippon. That began an annual tradition that became formalized when his friend, English professor Jack Crouch, officially founded the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in 1958.

    James Sandoe (pictured below left) directed nine seasons for Colorado Shakes between 1961 and 1973. There were seasons when he would direct two shows in the same summer, while acting in others alongside his children.

    James Sandoe. “And while Jim Symons has directed the most Colorado Shakespeare Festival productions,” said Sam Sandoe, “no one has directed more productions of Shakespeare’s plays on the Mary Rippon stage than Dad. After 70 years, nobody has broken that record.”

    The Sandoes clearly have the Bard in their Boulder blood.

    “It's just the way we grew up,” Anne Sandoe said. “Instead of going to camp in the summer, we went to Shakespeare. There are lots of people who are more well-read about Shakespeare than I am. I have just been around it a lot more than most.”

    Those Sandoe veins share pumping space with the University of Colorado. Like their father, Sam and Anne are longtime employees of the school. Anne has headed the Leeds School of Business’ MBA program for the past 13 years. Sam has logged nearly 20 years in the Office of Strategic Media Relations.

    Sam SandoeThis summer, Anne is playing the Duchess of Venice, who dispatches Othello to war in Othello; and the Bishop of Winchester in Henry VI, Part One. Sam is playing Verges in Much Ado About Nothing; Gratiano in Othello; Bardolph in Henry V; and Edmund Mortimer (among others) in Henry VI, Part One

    Anne said everything she knows about theatre, she learned from her father. For example:

    “As an actor: Pick up your cues. Don't take a pause until you earn one,” she said. “As a director: The end of one scene is the beginning of the next scene. One of the things that would appall Dad about any play he might see today would be the amount of time put into scene shifts. That, and playing music that has nothing to do with the show.”

    Uncut on Broadway, Hamlet ran 4½ hours. Uncut in Boulder, James Sandoe’s Hamlet ran three hours flat.

    “It moved like a son of a bitch,” Anne said. 

    While Sam Sandoe has performed with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival fairly regularly since 1970, Anne became a mom and teacher and took a break from 1973 to 2007. Their father died in 1980 at age 68.

    With so much Boulder history intertwined with the Sandoe family tree, we sat down for a chat with Anne and Sam Sandoe. Here are more excerpts from our wide-ranging conversation:

    The Sandoe family appearing in 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1955. Says Anne Sandoe: 'I’m the littlest fairly, kneeling on the ground. My sister, Jill, is second from the left. I was 8, she was 12.'

    The Sandoe family appearing in "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1955. Says Anne Sandoe: "I’m the littlest fairly, kneeling on the ground. My sister, Jill, is second from the left. I was 8, she was 12." 

    John Moore: Anne, what was your first role for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival?

    Anne: The minute Dad came back here to direct in 1961, I started being in all the shows. They always needed young people. My first speaking role was playing the ghost of Prince Edward in Richard III in 1963. I was 16.

    John Moore: What was the first show you did together?

    Anne: That was Dad's production of All’s Well that Ends Well in 1970. I played Diana, and Sam was one of the soldiers.

    Anne and Sam Sandoe in Boulder. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Sam: We were also together in Richard III that year.

    John Moore: So have you two felt tied to Shakespeare your entire lives?

    Sam: Oh, definitely.

    (Photo at right: Anne and Sam Sandoe in Boulder. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    John Moore: The program says this is Sam’s 26th season, and Anne’s 15th.

    Sam: Correct.

    John Moore: Anne, you started all the way back in 1961. But you had a gap between 1973 and 2008.

    Anne: Yep. Only 35 years. I left Boulder in 1973 to become a teacher, and I was gone until 2002. When I moved back, Sam said to me, ‘You know, you really ought to get back into theatre again.' And so in 2008 I auditioned for CSF, and I got cast. And I have been in it almost every year since.

    John Moore: Well, clearly you can always go home again. Sam, what’s your story?

    Sam: I haven't performed every year, but I've been on a roll. Geoff Kent (Iago in Othello) and I are tied currently for most consecutive seasons, with 13. I think we’re both eyeing each other a little bit.

    John Moore: You never took a significant break?

    Sam: No. But some years they just wouldn't hire me.

    John Moore: So you two are on a good long parallel stretch here at the Festival for the first time.

    Anne: Yes, we are.

    John Moore: What's that like for siblings of a certain age being able to spend that kind of extended quality time together?

    Sam: It's lovely.

    Anne: We still haven't been on stage together all that much. We are not often in the same shows, or on the stage at the same time.

    John Moore: Have you ever been cast together in really awkward roles, like, say, as lovers?

    Sam: No. I was one of her sons in Richard III, though.  

    Anne: Yes, he was Edward, and I was the mum.

    John Moore: So what do you get out of it now at this stage of your lives?

    Sam: We like the people.

    Peter Macon and Anne Sandoe in 'Othello,' 2015. Photo by Jennifer M. KoskinenAnne: The people are fantastic.

    Sam: And we like the magic of putting a show together - starting from those words on the page and then watching it grow into the full production. And they grow so fast now. Sometimes we cram these shows together in two weeks.

    Anne: It's just murder. Especially for the people who are doing multiple shows. I am only doing two shows this summer, so it's no big deal for me. But some people are doing four or five.

    John Moore: So why do you keep at it? 

    Anne: For me, it is about being involved with something that is a part of my heritage. Teaching is part of my training, and part of what I love to do. When I taught acting, Shakespeare was my specialty. I now teach a class for CSF Education on acting Shakespeare for Adults.

    John Moore: So I followed in my father's footsteps at The Denver Post, and I was always asked whether my Dad got me the job. Did you guys ever get that?

    Anne: Oh golly, yes. All the time.

    John Moore: What do you say to those people?

    Sam: Well, we used to get it more when he was alive. But in the early years, there were certainly some snide comments … usually jokingly. I remember one newspaper article on the festival. Someone wrote an anonymous comment online saying, "Sam Sandoe has only ever been hired because of his Dad." And I know who it was.

    John Moore: Anonymous is my least favorite writer.

    Anne: It's so cowardly. My answer to that always used to be, “If Dad cast me, it’s because he knows I can do the role. And I have to be twice as good as anybody else who auditions, because I am his kid.”

    John Moore: Was he tough on you?

    Anne: Very tough. Very.

    Sam: And he never gave us leads. The year I volunteered for the first time, I was carrying a banner and playing a peasant. I was offered some lines and I turned them down because I didn't want the responsibility.

    Anne: Dad gave me a couple of really good ingénue roles. But he wouldn't have done it if he thought I would embarrass him.

    John Moore: There has always seemed to be a steady stream of actors here who are either on their way to becoming recognizable names, or already are.

    Anne: Oh, yeah.

    Sam: Jimmy Smits was pretty fresh out of grad school when he got cast to play Othello in 1984.

    John Moore: I interviewed him about that. I remember the program bio innocuously noted that "Jim" can be seen in the upcoming NBC pilot, Miami Vice.

    Sam: Yes. So at that time, so he wasn't "Jimmy Smits" just yet.

    John Moore: And he had just had hernia surgery.

    Sam: I’ll never forget this: Here he was hired to play Othello, and when he got here, he volunteered to play the Sea Captain in Twelfth Night because they needed another actor. He said, "Well, I'm only doing one show. Can I help?"

    John Moore: Yeah, Jimmy, but that one role is … Othello.

    Sam: Exactly. He was a very nice guy. I was playing Gratiano, the same role I am playing this summer. He is one of the few actors who broke my heart every night in that final scene. I have only had a few actors do that with me onstage. He was the first.

    John Moore: Were you around for Val Kilmer’s Hamlet?
    Sam: Yeah, I was in that.

    John Moore: If the legend is to be believed, girls were climbing over the walls to get into the Mary Rippon.

    Sam: That's all true. We had to have special security. He rented a place that was kept very secret.

    John: Had Top Gun just come out?

    Sam: Actually that was already out. What came out that summer was Willow.

    Anne: So he was a very hot property.

    Sam: He was at the top of his career, I would say.
    John Moore: Was he a good Hamlet?

    Sam: He was a very good Hamlet. It was very punk rock-n-rolly. He drove the administrators and the PR people and the costumers crazy, but he was good with the acting company. He was very distant, but he didn't play much of a diva card.

    Anne: I remember Bill Sadler was here in the 1973 Hamlet. He's quite a name now (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The Shawshank Redemption, Die Hard 2). But he was just out of the same grad school that Jimmy Smits (Cornell University) would graduate from 10 years later. Bill had never done a role as big as Hamlet before, and he was delightful. Such a nice guy.

    John Moore: What about a buddy of mine from Regis High School: John Carroll Lynch (American Horror Story, Fargo, Zodiac)?

    Sam: I did two seasons with John at CSF. Did you see his Frankenstein when it toured the country?

    John Moore: Yes. It played up here at Macky Auditorium.

    Sam: It did. Wonderful.

    Anne: I remember a young Michael Moriarty (Law & Order) from back in the 1960s. He was a little temperamental. Dad told the story that Michael was very upset when he wouldn't let him read for Othello.

    John Moore: I heard about this: He was said to have wept when he learned he would not be playing Othello here.

    Anne: Yeah, they still cast white guys to play Othello back then. But he was, what, 23? He was very upset. I also worked with Barry Corbin (Northern Exposure). He was very a very nice guy. Quiet. Very shy. He was just out of grad school, too. He only played small roles here. But I remember him well because I was 16 and … very impressionable.

    John Moore: Aha!

    My last show with Dad was Pericles in 1973. I played Marina, with Patricia Ryan as Thaisa. That was Dad’s last directing job at CSF. (pictured at right.) Anne: My last show with Dad was Pericles in 1973. I played Marina, with Patricia Ryan as Thaisa. That was Dad’s last directing job at CSF (pictured at right.)

    Sam: In 1979, public television did a really nice little documentary called Borrowed Faces, where they followed four actors from arrival through casting, and one of them was (Denver Center Theatre Company veteran) Annette Helde. She played Titania, Goneril and Mistress Quickly. She was just out of grad school at the University of Washington.

    John Moore: What about Annette Bening? I believe the year was 1980. She came back to Colorado five years later and joined the Denver Center Theatre Company.

    Anne: I wasn't here the year she was here.

    Sam: Nor was I.

    John Moore: Well, we won’t talk about her then. I'd like both of you pick out a favorite role from your time here at CSF.

    Anne: Well for me, it's very recent: Playing the Duchess of York in Richard III that Tina Packer directed in 2013. It was phenomenal for me. It was the right role at the right time, and it resonated with me very deeply. And because of the other women in it like Mare Trevathan and Bella Merlin. We had such a good time. And then last summer, getting to do I Hate Hamlet with that particular group of people. They were all-stars. I never get to do the contemporary pieces, so that was really fun for me.

    Sam: I would say in 2001 when we did Queen Margaret, which is a conflation of all three Henry VIs into one play. The playwright created a role of a chorus - very much like the one-man chorus in Henry V. It was a fabulous role, and it forged a real connection between the audience and the action on stage. And to my knowledge, I am the only person in the world who has ever gotten to do it.

    Anne: That's cool.

    Sam: The other show for me was Two Gentlemen of Verona. I had no lines. I played a clown with some others. We were little angels, and we actually had wings and wore diapers. So the balance of this wonderfully talky role and this absolutely silent role was a perfect combination for me.

    Anne: How fun.

    John Moore: I want to bring it back to your Dad. How does the Festival look today compared to when he left in 1974 in terms of size and scope?

    Sam: Well, there’s no grass, for one thing.

    Anne: Yes, there is no grass on the stage.

    John Moore: Are we talking about marijuana?

    A look at the grassy Mary Rippon satge in the 1960s. Anne: No! It really used to be a grass stage.

    Sam: There was no rake. It was an absolutely flat, grassy playing area with a grassy semicircle in front of it.

    Anne: Back then you tended to use the whole expanse instead of just the center. There was no set to speak of.

    Sam: No, the space was filled up with a lot of banners and things you could move around. You’d have thrones when you had to have them. But there were no background pieces. You know those two little stone alcoves on either side of the stage?

    John Moore: Yes.

    Sam: They would build platforms behind those alcoves, and that created additional acting spaces both above and below - in the alcove itself.

    Anne: In Romeo and Juliet, the balcony was above one of those alcoves.

    Sam: They began experimenting with building unit sets in the 1970s. I think they first created the raked disc that we perform on now in 1979. And the sets have just grown from there.

    Anne: It's obviously a more professional company now in terms of Equity (union) contracts. There were none back then. The first Equity contract was in 1983.

    Sam: The guy who played Richard III was the first.

    John Moore: What about performance spaces?

    Anne: We didn't used to use the indoor stage. Now they do both indoor and outdoor shows, which is a really nice thing - especially for audience members who don't like to sit outdoors anymore.

    Sam: And vice-versa. There are some people who absolutely scorn coming to the indoor shows.

    John Moore: How much time did a company have to rehearse under your Dad?

    Sam: At least four weeks.

    John Moore: As compared to … ?

    Sam: About 2 1/2 weeks now.

    Anne: But it was such a different season back then. You would be rehearsing more than one play at a time. And I don't think any of them opened until late June.

    Sam: Back then we had auditions to get into the company in February. Then the selected company members would arrive in early June, and then it was a pretty frantic two or three days because no one was pre-cast. Your entire summer was on the line in those first couple of days, and you were either delighted or reasonably pleased or devastated when the casting came out.

    John Moore: So when you came to those auditions in June, at least you knew you were in the company?

    Sam: Well, not always. Someone from the outside could show up and blow you away. In fact one of the most successful actors in CSF history was a guy named Barry Kraft. He just happened to hear about the auditions when he was up at Jones Drug on The Hill. He came in and auditioned and wound up playing Falstaff in Henry IV, Part Two, and the Bastard in King John. The next year, he played Hamlet.

    Anne: It is so much better now to know what you are playing in advance, especially because the rehearsal period is so short.

    John Moore: So if your Dad were to magically reappear in 2015, what do you think he would think of Colorado Shakespeare Festival, as an audience member?

    Anne: I think he would like certain elements of it very much. Although he would scorn the use of microphones.

    John Moore: I am guessing he would grouse that actors aren't adequately trained to reach the back of the house with their natural voices anymore.  

    Anne: He was used to working in 1,000-seat theatres. That’s what you deal with.

    Sam: My high voice has been my theatrical bane, but in some years it has gotten me hired at CSF because it carries - and I know how to handle the Rippon. There are other actors who have impressive sounding voices, but they can't get them past the fourth row.

    Anne: And I think Dad would scorn the fact that they are not using the whole stage anymore.

    Sam: Despite the fact that they have so much more lighting power now. Dad had about four big searchlights across the top of the stage.

    John Moore: But given the economy over the past decade, I imagine he would be tickled that the festival is still around.

    Sam: He had a great belief in the power of Shakespeare.

    John Moore: What's your take on the state of Shakespeare festival as an entertainment industry? The Institute of Outdoor Drama says attendance at Shakespeare festivals across the country has fallen more than 60 percent in the past 20 years.

    Anne: I believe that.

    John Moore: But the Colorado Shakespeare Festival has re-tooled itself after some tough years and, from outward appearances, appears to be bouncing back.

    Sam: It is, but as the culture changes, and as our iPhone consciousness takes over more and more, I don't know. The festival used to be one of the things you always did in the summer in Boulder. But now there are so many other things to do here. It can get lost in the entertainment shuffle.

    Anne: I went to see the Utah Shakespeare Festival a couple of years ago, and I could see why they do so very well: There is really nothing else to do at night in Cedar City, Utah. But if you come to Boulder, there are a gazillion other things to do. And so you can't quite sell it through the hotels and motels the way you can in Cedar City. You can't rely as much on tourism, so you have to build a culture that draws from your own state. I think we are doing a much better job of drawing from Denver than we used to, and I think a lot of that has to do with hiring more Denver-based actors instead of bringing in so many people from out of state. Now, I think it’s good to bring in people from out of state because that means fresh faces. But I think having a good base of Denver actors is also very important to building a broader audience base.

    John Moore: As we start to wrap up, I want you to channel your father one more time. This is about the nobility of the pursuit: Why is it important that we keep Shakespeare alive moving forward into the next generation?

    Anne: I think the peril we are in is that our audiences are aging out - those people who love and appreciate the live theatre experience. I am not sure the younger generation is being brought up that way. They are so focused on their devices.

    Sam: It parallels the problem that symphony orchestras are having. Audiences for classical music are aging out. How do you capture the young?    

    Anne: I think it takes careful training. I think we have to get schools involved in any way we can. The live anti-bullying tours that CSF does are a great way to get kids interested in what live theatre can be. You have to begin to develop that new generation of theatregoers.

    John Moore: Is part of the solution perhaps opening up the season a bit? Shakespeare is certainly the greatest playwright in the English language. But he's 400 years old.

    Anne: I understand that. But it's called the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, so I think you have to do at least a couple Shakespeares every year.

    John Moore: But the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is offering 10 titles this season – and Shakespeare only wrote three.

    Anne: Do they have to all be Shakespeare? Absolutely not. I think it is important to do other shows, and we are branching out here. But not all contemporary plays will play very well in the Mary Rippon Theatre. That's a thousand outdoor seats. That theatre is particularly well-adapted to Shakespeare.

    Sam: When you look at the non-Shakespeare plays that have done very well in the Mary Rippon, you are looking at Treasure Island ...

    Anne: The Three Musketeers ...

    John Moore: To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Anne: Mockingbird was great outside. But not all plays are going to adapt very well for outdoors.

    John Moore: Like, say, Our Town.

    Anne: No. So I think you have to pick your shows very carefully.

    John Moore: So as long as the Shakespeare Festival keeps going, do you both intend to keep doing it?

    Anne: Well, when they quit casting me … I'll quit.

    John Moore: What, it's not entirely up to you?

    Anne: Well, no, unfortunately. As long as I can remember lines and there is something they want me to do, I will do it.


    • James Sandoe (1912-1980): Directed at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, ending with Pericles in 1973.

    • Julia Sandoe (1918-1992) Taught art in the Boulder Public Schools, retiring in 1978.

    • John Sandoe (1941-2014) joined the Navy and served as a medic with the Marines in Vietnam, where he was awarded a purple heart.

    • Jill Sandoe (1943-) gave up acting to teach taught arts, crafts and home economics in middle schools for almost 20 years. She lives in Vancouver, Canada.

    • Anne Sandoe (1947-) Earned her MFA from Florida State University. Began acting at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in 1961. She has taught for more than 30 years and for the past 13 has been the director of MBA program at the University of Colorado’s Business School. She returned to acting at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in 2008 and is currently performing in her 15th season.

    • Sam Sandoe (1954-) was in the first class of BFAs to graduate from the University of Colorado Boulder and received his MFA from UC-San Diego. He is now performing in his 26th season with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

    2015 Colorado Shakespeare Festival

    Now playing: Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, Wittenberg, Henry V and Henry VI, Part One

    Dates: Through Aug. 9 in the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre and University of Colorado Mainstage Theatre

    Tickets are available at coloradoshakes.org or by calling 303-492-8008.

    The box office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and is located in the University Club on the CU-Boulder campus.

    Previous coverage of the 2015 Colorado Shakespeare Festival:
    2015 Colorado Shakes: Tried and true; black and blue-blooded
    Our tragic, universal flaw: We are all Othello

    Anne Sandoe's contribution to The Denver Sonnets Project:

    For more on the Denver Sonnets Project, click here
  • Guest columnist Margie Lamb on the Henry Awards: Something doesn't add up

    by John Moore | Jul 10, 2015

    Editor's Note: The DCPA NewsCenter offers a weekly guest column from a variety of local and national voices covering a wide range of theatre topics. To submit a proposed guest column, email your name and topic to jmoore@dcpa.org.

    By Margie Lamb
    Denver Actor

    Margie Lamb quoteI have been a part of Colorado’s theater community for almost 25 years. I trained for 10 of those years under the direction of Bill McHale, a well-known and respected director at the Country Dinner Playhouse. Bill taught me the basics of theater both on stage and off: How I should not question the outcome of auditions or the dreaded reviews that followed every opening weekend. So, out of respect, I never did. 

    I sat by and watched as actors, directors, designers and musicians were nominated for the coveted Denver Drama Critics Circle Awards – or, conversely, went unrecognized for their work. I never questioned the outcome because at the time, I felt deep down inside that the Critics Circle Awards were in good hands: The good hands of experts who were highly respected in the theater community. Although I didn’t always agree with the outcome, in the end I trusted their opinions because of their experience.

    But those awards went away in 1999. And now the closest thing we have left resembling a traditional awards program are the Colorado Theater Guild’s Henry Awards. On July 20, the Guild will host its 10th annual awards honoring the best in Colorado theatre among its member companies. But the outcome of these awards is not in the hands of the dwindling number of remaining legitimate theatre critics. Now, 46 Henry Award judges with a wide range of theater experience consider the participating shows. The judges are made up of former and current writers and reviewers, retired educators, artistic directors and, making up the largest group by far: Citizen judges whose primary qualification is that they are avid theatregoers.

    Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's 'Stupid F##king Bird' got a four-star review from The Denver Post - but was shut out of the Henry Award nominations. Pictured: Luke Sorge and Jaimie Morgan. Photo by Michael Ensminger. Now I watch the Henry Awards each year as productions that received outstanding reviews by respected critics are not even being nominated by the Henrys in any category. This year, that list includes Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s Stupid F##ing Bird, Grounded and The Aliens. The Aurora Fox’s She Kills Monsters and Beets. Creede Repertory Theatre’s The Last Romance. All My Sons by Cherry Creek Theatre. Ham McBeth by Square Product Theatre. Curious’ In the Red and Brown Water. Vintage’s Harold and Maude, and Mack and Mabel. The Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. Colorado Springs TheatreWorks’ As You Like It. Equinox’s Bug. Mizel’s Kindertransport.

    All of these shows received 3½ or 4-star reviews from The Denver Post. None of them got a single Henry Award nomination.

    My question is this: Were the critics wrong … or the Henry Award judges?

    (Photo above: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's 'Stupid F##king Bird' got a four-star review from The Denver Post - but was shut out of the Henry Award nominations. Pictured: Luke Sorge and Jaimie Morgan. Photo by Michael Ensminger.)

    The cats of Town Hall Arts Center's 'Next to Normal' (clockwise from left): Jared Ming, Margie Lamb, Daniel Langhoff, Jacquie Jo Billings, Josh Bess and Ethan Knowles. Photo by Michael Ensminger. Last season, I was part of an ongoing passion of mine called Next to Normal, which I performed for a third different company: The Littleton Town Hall Arts Center. My work in this show has been recognized by the Ovation, Marlowe and Westword awards, so I consider myself abundantly blessed. But my heart breaks for the many other artists on and off stage whose work on those very special productions has never been acknowledged by the Henry Awards.

    I would and can accept this, if I knew for certain that all of the Henry Award judges have real and practical experience in the theater field. But I don’t. And I question how someone who simply has a history of merely sitting in an audience watching theatre has earned the credibility to be a judge. I don’t doubt that the judges all love theatre. But how can they possibly know the complexities of acting, or of executing a vocal track? How can they know the intricacies of sound and set design; of orchestration, direction or choreography?

    (Photo above: The cast of Town Hall Arts Center's 'Next to Normal' (clockwise from left): Jared Ming, Margie Lamb, Daniel Langhoff, Jacquie Jo Billings, Josh Bess and Ethan Knowles. The Director was Nick Sugar. Photo by Michael Ensminger.)


    The Next to Normal score is incredibly difficult. And I can’t help but wonder if that fact is easily recognizable to the untrained ear. A successful production should make it look easy. That doesn’t mean it was easy. Year after year, I see newer and cutting-edge musicals passed over by the Henry Awards, and I can’t help but think the judging pool might benefit from an infusion of younger (while still qualified) judges who might be more receptive to less traditional material.

    I’m also concerned at how the voting process actually occurs. In order for a show to qualify for awards consideration, six judges must attend the show during the course of the run. Judges are allowed to choose which shows they want to see, as long as they don’t go to the same venues every year. If only five judges make it during the run, the show does not qualify. If 12 judges attend, all completed ballots are then turned upside down on a table, and six are blindly selected as that show’s official scores. The other ballots, some of which might have been filled out by qualified, professional critics, simply don’t count. Luck of the draw.

    Perhaps the Guild should take the bull by the horns and simply assign a considered mix of six judges to every show – no more, no less. If there aren’t enough interested judges, reach out to our community of vocal and acting coaches, choreographers, sound designers and former music directors. They are out here, and they are more than willing to be a part of this process. They might just need to be found and asked.

    This is what has raised my eyebrows in the past. And after 10 years of sitting back and watching the Henry Awards process unfold, this is what now makes me want to speak out. 

    The Henry Awards wisely distinguish between large-budget and small-budget productions in considering the nominees for its design categories because, as the thinking goes, money matters in those areas of production. There is no distinction in the acting categories, because acting is acting. And I agree.

    But judging is not just judging. If the Colorado Theatre Guild wants the Henrys to be truly seen as “Colorado’s Tony Awards,” as it advertises, listen to our voices. Together let’s make a credible awards program we can all respect - whether an individual or a production is nominated or not.

    About Our Guest Columnist:
    Margie Lamb was most recently recognized by Westword as 2015 Best Actress in a Musical for her work in Next to Normal at Town Hall Arts Center. Her work has been seen across Colorado, including The Aurora Fox, Boulder’s Dinner Theater, The Arvada Center and Breckenridge Backstage Theater. She will be appearing at the Miners Alley Playhouse in Pump Boys and Dinettes from July 17-Aug. 23.

    Previous Guest Columns:
    Bryan VanDriel on Lloyd Norton: A name that will live on in Greeley
    Jessica Jackson on Creede Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season
    Susan Lyles on 10 years of staging plays for women in Denver
    Be Our Guest (Columnist)
    The DCPA NewsCenter offers a weekly guest column from a variety of local and national voices covering a wide range of theatre topics. To submit a proposed guest column, email your name and proposed topic to jmoore@dcpa.org.

    2014-15 Henry Awards
    6 p.m. Monday, July 20
    Arvada Center. 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
    Tickets: $23 for CTG members, $30 non-members or $50 VIP. Tickets go on sale July 6 through the Arvada Center website or by calling 720-898-7200. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door for $35.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2015 Henry Awards:
    The Henry Awards: The complete list of nominations
    Duck and cover: Gloria Shanstrom takes your Henry Awards questions

  • Matthew Barney: Biennial brings six-hour cinematic, sensual experience to Denver

    by John Moore | Jul 10, 2015

    “Film” is a woefully inadequate term to describe River of Fundament, an epic undertaking by artist Matthew Barney and composer Jonathan Bepler that will be screened as part of the Biennial of the Americas on Saturday, July 18, at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. 

    While the medium of choice is, yes, film, this multi-layered collaboration seven years in the making combines narrative cinema with elements of sculpture, opera and live performance.

    And it’s six hours long. "So you better bring dinner,” jokes Denver Art Museum Director Christoph Heinrich.  

    Christoph Heinrich quote The film, which begins at 5:30 p.m. and runs until 11:30 p.m., is co-presented by the Denver Art Museum and the Clyfford Still Museum. But, Heinrich says, the Still’s Dean Sobel gets the credit for bringing the film to Denver. “As soon as he mentioned it to me, I said, ‘Yes, let’s collaborate,’ ” Heinrich said.

    River of Fundament is loosely based on Norman Mailer’s 1983 novel Ancient Evenings, which elaborately reinterprets pre-Christian Egyptian mythology while chronicling the seven stages of the soul’s departure from the body as it passes from death to rebirth.

    Barney, who has worked with Bepler since Cremaster 1 in 1995, first imagined staging a nontraditional opera that would be presented as a series of three site-specific live performances across America over a five-year period. The resulting film chronicles these one-time-only events as they were presented before audiences in Los Angeles, Detroit and New York. But that is just the cinematic starting point.

    The film combines that footage with scenes set in a reconstruction of Mailer's brownstone apartment in Brooklyn Heights. According to the film’s production notes, Barney and Bepler reimagine Mailer as his own protagonist who reincarnates three times in three different bodies by magically entering the womb of his wife, Hathfertiti. In his attempt at rebirth, Mailer must endure the departure of his soul's seven mythological states. With each incarnation, the undead Mailer emerges from a river of feces that runs beneath his Brooklyn Heights apartment and enters his own wake.

    In a parallel narrative, River of Fundament replaces the body of Mailer with the body of an automobile along the American landscape. The film’s notes say three generations of American cars act as vehicles that carry the narrative forward: A 1967 Chrysler Crown Imperial (known for its crashworthiness) is transmogrified into a 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am (known as the last high-performance engine of the original muscle-car generation) and finally into a 2001 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor (known for its tireless service in the U.S. government fleet).

    Barney is a celebrated, 48-year-old alternative artist from San Francisco who typically works in sculpture, photography, visual art, drawing, film and live role-playing. His early works were sculptural installations combined with performance and video. He is, in Heinrich' estimation, a true American original.

    “For pretty much anybody who has ever seen a Matthew Barney work, it changes you. It changes your perspective,” Heinrich said. “Matthew Barney is one of the most important contemporary artists on the scene."

    Heinrich describes experiencing Barney's art as an incredibly sensual experience. River of Fundament contains scenes of such a strong sexual nature that the film may not be suitable for audiences under 18.

    “It really deals with the human body, but it also has a whole level of poetry to it that is so powerful,” Heinrich said. “Once you see one of Matthew’s images, it never leaves you. It wraps you. It encloses you. It just doesn’t let you go. And at that moment, you just dive into it, and you become a part of it.”

    By revisiting pharaonic Egypt, Heinrich said, Barney has created a sprawling allegory of death and new life within contemporary America. Which makes the film a perfect choice for presentation at the Biennial of the Americas.

    The Biennial is an international festival of ideas, art, and culture that is always hosted in Denver. The Biennial gathers experts together in the hope of broadening  perspectives by examining major issues, ideas, art and culture from across North, South, and Central America.

    “Really the Biennial is a wonderful showcase for Denver, and a great hub for the exchange of new ideas,” said Heinrich. “It’s an opportunity to think about a larger America than just the United States of America.”

    River of Fundament

    • Saturday, July 18
    • 5:30-11:30 p.m.
    • At the Ellie Caulkins Opera House
    • To buy online, click here
    • Presented by the Clyfford Still Museum and Denver Art Museum in partnership with the 2015 Biennial of the Americas.
    • Tickets: $20 general admission; $15 for museum members; $10 students (plus fee if purchased online). Tickets purchased with cash at the Denver Coliseum box office (Saturdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.) are not subject to service fees.
    Photos from 'River of Fundament,' courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. Top photo copyright Chris Winget. Photo above copyright Hugo Glendinning. Photos from 'River of Fundament,' courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. Top photo copyright Chris Winget. Photo above copyright Hugo Glendinning.
  • 'Miscast 2015' is coming to the Town Hall Arts Center

    by John Moore | Jul 10, 2015

    Last year an annual, silly tradition called Miscast returned as a benefit for the new Denver Actors Fund, and Littleton Town Hall Arts has announced it will host "Miscast 2015."

    “Miscast" is an opportunity for some of the local theatre community’s top performers to sing songs and act out scenes they would never … ever! … get cast to perform on a legitimate stage. This popular tradition returns for one night only on Monday, Sept. 14, again as a benefit for the Denver Actors Fund. The director will again be Robert Michael Sanders, with an assist from Ronni Gallup.

    Performers are now invited to apply for the 12 available slots. An invited panel of local luminaries will choose the dozen most creative, intriguing or outrageous performance proposals. The deadline to apply is Aug. 28. The final line-up will be announced on Sept. 2.

    Think gender-bending, race-bending and age-bending. Last year featured a Girl Scout singing "My Unfortunate Erection," and members of the handicapped theatre company PHAMALY doing a "Full Monty" strip-tease. For starters.

    It may be all wrong ... but it feels so right.

    PERFORMERS: To apply to perform at MISCAST please click here and fill out this simple online form

    Your performance should be no longer than 5 minutes of utter or horrifying brilliance.

    Please note before applying: “Miscast” is a fundraiser, so performers will be asked to purchase their admission tickets. You will also be buying our undying love and affection.

    MISCAST 2015:
    7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 14
    Littleton Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St.
    A benefit for the Denver Actors Fund
    Tickets for “Miscast” are $10 (plus fees if ordered online) and are available now at townhallartscenter.org or call 303-794-2781

    To read more about last year's "Miscast," and see photos and video, click here

    Melinda Smart lives out many female actors' dream: She's playing the sadistic dentist from 'Little Shop of Horrors.' Photo by John Moore. Melinda Smart lives out many female actors' dream: She's playing the sadistic dentist from 'Little Shop of Horrors.' Photo by John Moore.
  • Local actor and director Bernie Cardell reaches century milestone

    by John Moore | Jul 08, 2015
    Bernie Cardell quote. Soular Radiant Photography.

    Since the turn of the century, actor and director Bernie Cardell has been in all likelihood the single busiest person in Colorado theatre. His starring role in Spotlight Theatre’s The Foreigner marks his 100th production since 2002. That means Cardell has averaged more than seven productions every year since. He once booked 11 shows in a single calendar year.

    “There was one weekend that year where I had three shows running in the same weekend,” Cardell said. “Now that was insane.”

    Not a lot of creative people ever make it to 100 shows - and certainly not at Cardell’s breakneck pace. He attributes that to getting a late start.

    Luke Terry and Bernie Cardell in Spotlight Theatre's 'The Foreigner.' Soular Radiant Photography. “When I discovered theatre later in life - I was 28,” he said, “I felt I had found something I should have been doing my entire life. I feel like I have a lot of lost time to make up for. That certainly keeps me going, as well as the people of this theatre community who are so loving, welcoming and very, very funny.”

    (Photo: Luke Terry and Bernie Cardell in Spotlight Theatre's 'The Foreigner.' Soular Radiant Photography.)

    Cardell was born in Pennsylvania and moved with his family to Las Vegas when he was 7. He studied English at the University of New Mexico, moved on to Santa Fe and then to Denver in 2001. He quickly established himself as a comic actor with the E-Project in Lakewood, the precursor to today’s Edge Theatre.

    Since then, he has worked with a whopping 29 local theatre companies, most regularly with Spotlight (in the John Hand Theatre at Colorado Free University) and Vintage Theatre in Aurora.

    The Foreigner
    , which has been extended through Aug. 1, is Larry Shue’s lighthearted comedy about a socially awkward Englishman who pretends to speak no English so he doesn’t have to talk with other guests at a remote fishing lodge in Georgia. But the comedy takes on significant social undertones when Cardell's Charlie learns of an impending, unwelcome visit by the Ku Klux Klan.

    “The biggest challenge with this role is not speaking for so long in Act I,” Cardell said. “Finding ways to connect with the material and the other actors when you are not supposed to understand what they are saying has been the greatest - and most fun - challenge of this show."

    With five more upcoming jobs already booked, it’s unlikely Cardell will be slowing down anytime soon. Cardell took a moment this week to look back – and forward – at his whirlwind 14 years in the Colorado theatre:

    Mari Geasair and Bernie Cardell in Spotlight Theatre's 'The Foreigner.' Soular Radiant Photography.

    Mari Geasair and Bernie Cardell in Spotlight Theatre's 'The Foreigner.' Soular Radiant Photography.

    John Moore: In your first 100 shows, which two would you say show the greatest range on your resume?

    Bernie Cardell: I would say Angels in America (which I directed) and Run for Your Wife (my first breakout acting role). Does it get any more deeply dramatic than Tony Kushner's masterwork, or any sillier than Ray Cooney's classic farce?

    John Moore: At this stage of your career, do you prefer directing or acting, and why?

    Bernie Cardell: I definitely prefer directing. I have always liked acting and would never want to give it up completely. But with directing, there is a wider scope and vision you can impart to your audience. I adore working with actors and designers to achieve a singular vision for each show I direct, and I love witnessing many divergent paths leading to opening night.

    John Moore: Give us one great all-time favorite anecdote from those first 100 shows.

    Bernie Cardell: I discovered an innate talent for pratfalls by accident. On opening night of Play On! one of the lighting instruments went out, so I had moved upstage. Then, when the maid came out and slipped - as she was supposed to - she crashed into me, and I went down as well. The director loved the moment and decided to keep it in the show. This led to 10 years of tripping, falling over couches and getting smacked in the face with doors.

    John Moore: What’s your Bucket List directing job?

    Bernie Cardell: Stephen Sondheim's Follies.

    John Moore: What’s your Bucket List acting role?

    Bernie Cardell: Mel Edison, the Jack Lemmon role in Neil Simon’s The Prisoner of Second Avenue

    John Moore: So with all of your stage work, it should be pointed out that you still have an outside career to pay the bills. What's your day job?

    Bernie Cardell: I work in the accounts payable department for an engineering company.  December will mark my 10th year with the company.

    John Moore: Do you think the day will ever come when you and other local actors and directors will be fairly compensated for your time and talent? What would it take?

    Bernie Cardell: This brings up the question of what's fair, and what I think is fair is what we are willing to accept. People should never accept a job for less than what they think is fair. They will only resent the project. This is really an issue of supply and demand. As long as actors are willing to work for what a theater is willing to pay, then the compensation won't go up. It's the same with directors.

    John Moore: From your perspective, how would you describe the health of the Colorado theater ecology, and how would that answer compare to when you first started out?

    Bernie Cardell: From the number of shows that are happening, the Colorado theater ecology is healthier than ever. Of the 29 companies I have worked for, 12 are no longer with us. But I would hazard a guess that 16 to 20 new companies have opened to take their place. More companies are featuring new works, which I think is very important. We're holding auditions this weekend where over 150 people will show up. I don't know if there are more actors than 14 years ago, but the level of talent remains strong. It's a great community to work in.

    John Moore: And what shows do you have coming up?

    Bernie Cardell: I am directing several shows:


    The Foreigner: Ticket information

    • Presented by Spotlight Theatre Company
    • Performs through Aug. 1
    • At the John Hand Theater, 7653 E. 1st Place, Denver, CO 80230
    • Showtimes 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays
    • Tickets $19-$21
    • Information: 720-880-8727 or www.thisisspotlight.com
  • Video: 'The Tale of the Almighty Sword' performs

    by John Moore | Jul 07, 2015

    The DCPA's second annual year-long Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition culminated June 26 with two fully staged performances of The Tale of the Almighty Sword by Jack Hansen of Arapahoe High School. 

    "Words can't summarize what I have experienced," Hansen said. "It has shown me that what I want to do with my life is endless."

    The program was designed to nurture Colorado high-school student writers, develop new plays and inspire creativity through playwriting. Members of the DCPA Education staff conducted classroom workshops for nearly 3,000 students last fall, which led to 158  one-act play submissions. Of those, 10 were chosen as semifinalists and three were then selected to have their plays workshopped and read by professional actors at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit.

    'The Tale of the Almighty Sword' by Jack Hansen. Pictured: Michelle Piccone. Photo by John Moore.At that point, Hansen's play was chosen to be fully performed by DCPA Education summer students in the Conservatory Theatre.

    The Tale of the Almighty Sword is a comedy inspired by Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The action follows a sword crafted by the gods that gets passed on from person to person - emphasis on "passed on." Anyone who touches the sword must carry it until death, and - let's just say Hansen's play comes with a high body count.

    In the video above, DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and Senior Arts Journalist John Moore show you excerpts from the performances, along with comments from Hansen, Director Steven Cole Hughes and actors Michelle Piccone and Sean Coughlin - both of whom, like Hansen, incidentally also attended Arapahoe High School. (Piccone is pictured above right. Photo by John Moore.)

    "This program allows students to try. It opens their minds to a whole new world of possibilities," said Coughlin.

    Added Hughes: "The film director John Hughes said the teenage voice is the most important voice to be heard. That's why we are doing this."

    Play submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and educational professionals. The three finalists each received a cash scholarship of $250. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists received a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms.

    For more information on the program and how to schedule a workshop in your school in the fall of 2015, click here.

    Our Almighty Sword photo gallery:

    All of our photos are downloadable for free, in a variety of sizes. Simply click "View original Flickr image." All photos by John Moore.

    Video: Student playwriting program featured at 2015 Colorado New Play Summit:

    Almighty Sword cast list

    Written by Jack Hansen
    Avery Dell: The Old Knight
    Nik Velimirovic: Sir Nicholas
    Zoe Fonck: Rubert
    Michelle Piccone: Kaj/Merchant's Wife
    Nicholas Chavez: Christopher/Jaquis
    Matthew Cooper Parone: Merchant
    Maddie Beatty: Thief
    Rachel Sanderson: Narrator
    Sean Coughlin: The Almighty Voice
    Steven Cole Hughes: Director

    Some previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2014-15 Playwriting Competition:
    Video: Highlights of readings from the Colorado New Play Summit
    Three student plays chosen for Colorado New Play Summit readings
    Denver Center launches statewide high-school playwriting initiative
    Official information page on the DCPA's teen playwriting program

    Meet our 10 talented semifinalists:
  • Divide by Kiana Trippler, ThunderRidge High School
  • Election by Catherine Novotny, Grandview High School
  • Lark’s Mechanics by Kaytlin Camp, Gunnison High School
  • Life According to Mauve by Keely Kritz, Denver School of the Arts
  • Open Mic by Joshua Contreras, Gunnison High School
  • Paper Clips by Christina Arias, Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy
  • The Suburbs by Kendra Knapp, Valor Christian High School
  • The Tale of the Almighty Sword by Jack Hansen, Arapahoe High School
  • The Window on the Fourth Wall by Ryan McCormick, Fort Collins High School
  • Unspoken by Nathan Mast, Thomas B. Doherty High School

The DCPA's Regional High School Playwriting Competition is sponsored by the Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from FirstBank, MarkWest Energy Partners, The Ross Foundation, Stonebridge Companies and June Travis.

'The Tale of the Almighty Sword' playwright Jack Hansen. Photo by John Moore.'The Tale of the Almighty Sword' playwright Jack Hansen. Photo by John Moore.
  • Our tragic, universal flaw: We are all Othello

    by John Moore | Jul 06, 2015

    Peter Macon as Othello and Laura Baranik as Desdemona in in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's 'Othello.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. Peter Macon as Othello and Laura Baranik as Desdemona in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's 'Othello.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published in The Denver Post in 2010 before the Denver Center Theatre Company's staging of 'Othello.' A new production featuring DCPA veterans Geoffrey Kent, Sam Gregory, Peter Simon Hilton and Rodney Lizcano is now being presented by the Colorado Shakespeare Festival through Aug. 8 in Boulder. Ticket information below.

    By John Moore

    There was only one Othello.

    But even 400 years later, it seems as if there are aspects of the murderous Moor's general character — and character flaws — in each of us.

    Some of us are born great. Some of us wouldn't know greatness if it were thrust upon us.

    But we are all, at times, so easily misled. We succumb to insecurity. We misplace our trust. We turn degrees of violent.

    We see the fallout play out in news headlines every day.

    Singer Kurt Cobain, the pop legend now reads, followed a siren into the drug culture and eventually paid for it with his life. Thousands of investors — Othellos, all of them — trusted Bernie Madoff with their money, and it cost them at least $18 billion.

    The fictional black Othello rose from slave to leader of the Venetian military. He fell fully in love with a white wife who was unafraid to challenge the prevailing racial bias of her day. They loved in bliss until malevolent and unfounded gossip fueled his utter moral disintegration.

    Like a thread irretrievably pulled, this once-noble lover murders his innocent wife in a fit of blind, barbaric jealousy.

    We all have a string-puller. Othello's is a viper at his side named Iago. The general's top lieutenant is motivated by military ambition and sexual jealousy. But he serves, in effect, as evil personified, and leads Othello down a dark path.

    "Iagos" can take many forms, wreaking carnage that can range from silly to monumental. On the reality TV series The Hills, for example, fans see Spencer Pratt as an Iago figure for turning his wife, Heidi Montag, against all her friends.

    But Iago can also be more institutional, and far more consequential: The CIA led Gen. Colin Powell to believe in the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And his fervid belief in that intelligence propelled an ongoing, unpopular war and cost him his own political aspirations.

    And sometimes Iago is simply the devil inside. The most obvious, modern-day Othello of them all is former football hero O.J. Simpson. He, too, is a black man widely thought to have murdered his privileged, white ex-wife and her friend in a jealous rage.

    "You hear about it all the time," said Robert Jason Jackson, who played the Moor in the Denver Center Theatre Company's 2010 production of Othello. "A jealous man comes in and shoots the wife, the kids, the grandmother and anybody else who's around."

    According to the World Health Organization, three women are killed by an intimate partner every day.

    "What is it in a person?" Jackson asks rhetorically. "We can't understand it — but we can relate to it. Because over and over, we see people do horrible things, ruining the lives not only of themselves, but of anyone and everyone around them."


    The monster that blinded Shakespeare's fallen hero remains so recognizable, there is a name for it in psychoanalysis: It's called the Othello syndrome — by definition, the delusion of infidelity by a spouse or partner. And it is often accompanied by some degree of post-traumatic stress that manifests itself in a passion that turns to jealousy that turns to savagery.

    And it's magnified when the deluded one already has made a career out of killing.

    "There is a schizophrenia associated with war," said Jackson, "with men who have spent all their lives killing people in battle."

    Think Robert Duvall, who in Apocalypse Now delivers the immortal cinematic line, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning." Think he's coming out the other end well-adjusted?

    At a military base in Killeen, Texas, an Army psychiatrist went on a shooting rampage last year that left 13 dead and dozens wounded.

    Closer to home, there have been a cluster of murders involving Fort Carson soldiers experts believe returned from combat duty in Iraq with brain injuries or various forms of stress-related anxiety.

    And sometimes all it takes to set a fragile psyche off is a whisper in a vulnerable ear.

    "Othello" is not a tragic character solely because of what he does to Desdemona, Jackson said; it's also because of who he once was.

    "When we meet Othello, he is a man of an open and honest nature. He believes in the decency and virtues of people," said Jackson.

    A man with royal roots

    Othello was born into African royalty, but at that time, whoever was the Turkish leader was considered the leader of the entire Islamic world. "He would literally seize all the royal children that were born in various Islamic countries, and that would keep their parents in tow," he said.

    If their parents ever did anything against the Turkish leader, their children would be sold into slavery. And that's what happened to Othello.

    It's his subsequent rise to lead Venice's army and his great love affair with Desdemona that make him a great, tragic figure.

    "Othello is considered by some Shakespearean authorities as perhaps the greatest lover in the entire canon; certainly equal to Romeo," said Jackson. "It's an idyllic love. Desdemona has turned away suitors of her own culture and status, and has instead fallen for this exotic man — this alien, really — at a time when Venetian society was very closed."

    That racial element, Jackson said, is what makes it difficult to fully equate any contemporary figure to the real Othello.

    "The difference is that, today, most all of our societies — European, Asian, African, the Americas — we all have people of different ethnicities and cultures within our societies. That was not the case in Venice. So there was that much more at stake."

    But what compares and endures is the gigantic arc in Othello's character: a man celebrated for his prowess on the battlefield, yet utterly naive when it comes to personal, human relations.

    "I really am constantly amazed at how clued-in Shakespeare was to the human condition," Jackson said. "That's what makes this 400-year-old play still so very relevant today."

    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, where he is the editor of a new media outlet that covers the Colorado theatre community.

    Othello in real life

    We all have buttons that, when pushed, can lead to our own unraveling. For Shakespeare's Othello, it was his wife's imagined infidelity, simmered by his pal Iago's lies. But history is full of Othellos who misplace their trust - or listen to the devil inside them. A few to consider:

    Modern-day OthellosKurt Cobain, like Othello, was an outsider who rose through the ranks to become a great leader. For Othello, it was an army, for Cobain, it was an army of ambivalent grunge rockers. Courtney Love was both his Desdemona and his Iago - she was the great love of his life, but also the woman said to have gotten him started on the drugs that led to his suicide.

    O.J. Simpson was a famous, rich and gifted black man. Nicole Brown was his white wife, and mother of their children. And he was found responsible (at least in civil court) for savagely butchering her and her friend, Ron Goldman, in a bloody ambush.

    Colin Powell is a four-star Army general whose civility and statesmanship earned him widespread bipartisan respect. His testimony that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction, based largely on CIA briefings, swung the tide of public opinion in favor of war. But the weapons have never been found, and that has cost Powell his reputation and, some say, any chance at the presidency.

    In the most admittedly vapid application of our point, Crested Butte-born reality TV star Heidi Montag could be considered Othello to Spencer Pratt's Iago. Fans think of him as pure evil, a man who wed Montag in 2008 and has since cost her all her friends, including series star Lauren Conrad.

    Gossipmongers feasted in 2006 on news that Brooke Astor, the New York socialite and philanthropist with Alzheimer's, was swindled of millions and mistreated by her own son. Tony Marshall, her only child, was indicted on criminal charges, including grand larceny, possession of stolen property, forgery and conspiracy.

    Enron's Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling. Think of these two as a pair of Iagos who pressured the now-defunct accounting firm Arthur Andersen (we'll call them Othello) to help them defraud their shareholders. Talk about a disaster. It cost 20,000 employees their jobs and many of them their life savings. Investors lost billions.

    And a few you may not have thought of ...

    Hisham Talaat Moustafa was one of Egypt's biggest property owners, worth $800 million. He was sentenced to death by hanging for paying $2 million for the 2008 killing of Lebanese pop star Suzanne Tamim, his former lover. A new trial has been ordered.

    Sir Walter Raleigh was the British knight who led the royal search for a rumored "City of Gold" in South America. But when a Spanish outpost was illegally ransacked by men under Raleigh's command, he was arrested on his return to England and beheaded in 1618. He was said to be brought down by the machinations of corrupt Spanish ambassador Count Gondomar, who successfully lobbied King James for his death.

    Compiled by John Moore, with help from "Othello" cast members Meghan Wolf, Allison Pisotrius, Stephen Weitz, Randy Moore and Denver Center dramaturg Doug Langworthy.


    Tragedy. Presented by the Colorado Sheakespeare Festival.

    Dates: June 26-Aug. 8 in the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre .

    Tickets are available at coloradoshakes.org or by calling 303-492-8008.

    The box office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and is located in the University Club on the CU-Boulder campus.

    Also playing: Much Ado About Nothing, Wittenberg, Henry V and Henry VI, Part I

    Previous coverage of the 2015 Colorado Shakespeare Festival:
    2015 Colorado Shakes: Tried and true; black and blue-blooded


  • Video, photos: Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament raises $45,000

    by John Moore | Jul 02, 2015

    The DCPA's 12th annual fundraising golf tournament, held June 29 at the Lakewood Country Club, was renamed this year in honor of the late DCPA President Randy Weeks.

    The 2015 Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament raised $45,000 for the Bobby G Awards, an annual celebration of achievement in Colorado high-school theatre founded by Weeks in 2013.

    Over 12 years, the annual tournament, previously called the Swing Time Tournament, has raised $1 million for DCPA programming.

    Students from Westminster High School sing from 'Rent' before the Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament. Photo by John Moore. The year-long Bobby G Awards program includes personal workshops at all 30 participating schools hosted by DCPA Education Teaching Artists. A field of several dozen professional adjudicators then fan out across the state and attend those schools'  musicals, then provide constructive feedback.

    Their scores serve as the basis for a Tony Awards-style celebration at the end of each schoolyear held at the Buell Theatre. The two students named Outstanding Actor and Actress advance to the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City.

    In the video above, DCPA Broadway executive Director John Ekeberg welcomes the field of 68 participating golfers and explains the value of the Bobby G Awards.

    Just before the shotgun start, students from Westminster High School's Rent (pictured above) serenaded the golfers with that show's signature song, "Seasons of Love." Rent was one of five nominated outstanding musicals at the most recent Bobby G Awards ceremony held May 28 at the Buell Theatre. They are introduced by Andre' Rodriguez, who won the Bobby G Award for Outstanding Direction.

    "Regardless of whether or not they pursue theatre as a career," Rodriguez said, "they are getting skills that are truly preparing them for the 21st century."

    Finally, new DCPA President and CEO Scott Shiller thanked the golfers for supporting both Weeks' dream, and the DCPA's mission.

    "Randy really wanted to celebrate the craft of theatre for high-school students, and to celebrate the arts and culture in schools in the same way that sports are celebrated," Shiller said.

    Weeks was a lifelong fan of golf and theatre. Twelve years ago, he and former Development Director Dorothy Denny started the DCA's annual golf tournament at Lakewood Country Club, where Weeks was a member.

    The golfers were afforded several fun opportunities to win show-related prizes. One hole dedicated to the Theatre Company's upcoming production of As You Like It had golfers aim their tee shots at a life-sized fairway cutout of William Shakespeare. A closest-to-the-pin par-3 hole was designated the Sweeney Todd "Closest Shave" hole.

    At another tee stop, golfers posed for photographs as their favorite Wizard of Oz characters. And in honor of DCPA Broadway's upcoming launch of the If/Then national tour, golfers on one hole had to designate one player to pull a random fortune card from a dealer. It either contained good news (such as, "Subtract one shot from your score") or bad news (such as, "Proceed to the nearest bunker.")

    Most golfers played in a best-ball team competition, while the elite players in the field played a straight, stroke-play format.
    Photos and video by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.

    For more information on the Bobby G Awards, click here.

    A panorama showing golfers participating in the pre-golf putting contest.  Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament. Photo by John Moore.
    A panorama showing golfers participating in the pre-golf putting contest at the Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament. Photo by John Moore.

    Our photo gallery from the 2015 Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament:

    All photos by John Moore. Click on "Go to original image" and download any image for free.

    2015 Tournament Sponsors:
    Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management
    Comcast Spotlight
    Fineline Graphics
    Sprint Press
    Wilks Broadcasting
    MKK Consulting Engineers, Inc.
    Centerre Construction
    Shawn and Elisa Fowler
    Max and Kea Bull

    Golfers pose as their favorite 'Wizard of Oz' characters. The beloved musical returns to Denver next year. Photo by Chelley Canales.
    Golfers pose as their favorite "Wizard of Oz" characters. The beloved musical returns to Denver next year. Photo by Chelley Canales.

    Our 2014-15 Bobby G Awards coverage to date:
    Bobby G Awards a triumph for Durango High School
    Break a Leg video: Cheering on Bobby G Awards winners in New York
    Bobby G Awards winners' daily video blogs
    Video: Outstanding Musical nominees perform
    Video: Outstanding Actor Nominee Performances
    Video: Bobby G Award winners sing National Anthem at Rockies game
    Video: The Acceptance Speeches
    Video: A look at Durango's Outstanding Musical, Les Misérables
    Photos: The 2015 Bobby G Awards. (Download for free)
    Video: The 2015 Bobby G Awards in 60 seconds
    Andre' Rodriguez's stirring Bobby G Awards speech
    Video: See how we introduced all 30 participating schools
    Video: Page to Stage highlights with Bobby G Awards winners
    Meet your Bobby G Awards nominees, in their own words Video: Coloradans on Broadway to high-schoolers: 'Be relentlessly yourself'
    2014-15 Bobby G Awards: Complete list of nominations 
    2015 Bobby G Awards announces list of participating schools
    Annaleigh Ashford raises $735 for new Bobby G Awards memorial fund
    Denver Center establishes Randy Weeks Memorial Fund for The Bobby G Awards

    2015 Tournament field:






























































    Von Wold




















    St. Martin











































    Mary Ann










  • Avenue Theater changes direction under Gavin Mayer

    by John Moore | Jul 01, 2015
    Gavin Mayer.

    The venerable yet ever-changing Avenue Theater is embarking on a new direction toward consistent, drama-based programming with the hiring of Gavin Mayer as its new Executive Director and Artistic Director.

    The change is, in essence, a move from the comedy fringe back toward the center, Mayer says.

    The Greeley native, who is best known as a director at the Arvada Center, has just announced The Avenue's 27th year of programming - and the first "official season" in the theatre's history. 

    The slate includes Bright Ideas, a contemporary satire of parents who are willing to do anything to get their child into the best pre-school; the classic horse-eye-gouging Peter Shaffer psychodrama Equus; the return of The Avenue's holiday tradition Santa's Big Red Sack; a one-woman comedy tracing a woman's life through her bras called Cups; the historical comedy Legacy of Light by Karen Zacarías (who also wrote last year's Denver Center's world-premiere immigration story Just Like Us); and a British coming-of-age drama called Beautiful Thing.

    Mayer calls his inaugural slate "LGBT and feminist-friendly," but one with a well-rounded and wide range of appeal for traditional theatregoing audiences whose expectations go beyond comedy.

    The slate of directors will include Mayer, the very in-demand Christy Montour-Larson (DCPA's Shadowlands and the Creede Rep's upcoming August: Osage County), Colorado Theatre Guild President Pat Payne (Bright Ideas) and Kitty Skillman-Hilsabeck (Cups), who is best-known as the Arvada Center's resident choreographer.

    The only announced casting so far is tour-de-force local actor Megan Van De Hey, who will star in Joni Sheram's one-woman comedy, Cups.

    The late Joni Sheram performed her one-woman play 'Cups' throughout Colorado. Megan Van De Hey will perform it for The Avenue.  (Photo at right: The late Joni Sheram performed her one-woman play 'Cups' throughout Colorado. Megan Van De Hey will perform it for The Avenue.) 

    The Avenue Theater has been in a state of transition and uncertainty for several years. Mayer believes he has been hired to ground, center and expand the operation, which audiences have lately known primarily as a place for sketch and improv comedy.

    The theatre's proud comedy tradition was once based largely on open-ended runs where productions could play for as long as there was audience demand. That history includes recurring stagings of the silly mystery Murder Most Fowl over 17 years - still the longest non-continuously running production in Colorado theatre history. But peppered in between have been significant if sporadic dramatic presentations, including landmark stagings of Mary Zimmerman's watery Metamorphoses, which ran for nine months, and an award-winning dark comedy called Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, which imagined the troubled Peanuts characters as troubled teens. High-profile stagings of the rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch took place in successive years. And several Avenue productions have run for two years or more, including Sylvia and Dearly Departed. The Avenue also birthed Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women, which transferred to the DCPA's Galleria Theatre for two years and has been playing around the world ever since. 

    Last year, The Avenue hosted Grounded, a searing drama about an American drone pilot who becomes pregnant, but that was staged by the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, which rented the space.

    Because The Avenue is itself a tenant and not a land owner in one of Denver's hottest (and therefore most expensive) neighborhoods, Mayer feels it is all the more important to offer wide-ranging and dependable dramatic fare that for the first time can draw on season subscribers.

    "We are creating programming that serves the core of who we think The Avenue audience is and always has been," Mayer said, "but this is also about building a new audience from the ground up." 

    Robert Wells founded the Avenue Theater in 1985 at its original location 2 miles east at 17th Avenue and Vine streets. Wells ran the theater for its first seven years. He turned over operational control to comedy partner and former Denver theatre critic John Ashton in 1990. Ashton was forced out by his landlord to make room for an expansion of the brewery next door, and so in 2003 he moved The Avenue to its present location at 17th Avenue and Logan Street. In 2005, Ashton and business partner Robert Roehl sold the theater back to Wells and his business partner, Dave Johnson. There have been a series of administrative changes since 2011 that Mayer believes will end with him.

    Ashton, now the President of The Avenue Theater's board of directors, is eager to see how the change to a season format plays out. "I just did a show and squeezed it for all it was worth," he joked.

    Mayer graduated from Greeley Central High School and the University of Wyoming before receiving his teaching credentials at the University of Northern Colorado, where he currently works as an adjunct theatre professor. He received his masters degree from Roosevelt University and his MFA from Florida State. During his 10 years teaching and directing theatre at Pomona High School, he was brought on to direct teen theatre at the Arvada Center. That turned into an opportunity to direct mainstage shows including Legally Blonde, Miracle on 34th Street, Curtains, A Christmas Carol, The Great Gatsby, Harvey and She Loves Me. Next season, he will also direct the Arvada Center’s White Christmas and The Mountaintop.

    A major component of Mayer's agenda will be to incorporate his passion and experience for teaching. Throughout July, The Avenue will be presenting its inaugural Emerging Voices Series. As opposed to wildly successful teen playwriting programs at the nearby DCPA and Curious Theatre, Mayer is focusing on providing opportunities for student  directors. 

    "I know from being a teacher that one of the biggest challenges my students face is finding opportunities to direct," he said. "That's where I came up with this initiative."

    Four Colorado students have been charged with taking on the real-life job of the theater director from start to finish — including submitting play proposals, hiring cast and crew, and running rehearsals on a tight budget. Here are the pays and their directors:

    • July 6-8: The Pillowman, directed by Trevor Hazell
    • July 10-11: Polaroid Stories, directed by Jackie Honold
    • July 16-18: The Clean House, directed by John Carter
    • July 28-30: Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, directed by Katherine Foote
      Read more about the teen directing program in this 5280 Magazine article.


    (Descriptions provided by Avenue Theater)

    Bright Ideas
    By Eric Coble
    Aug. 27-Oct. 3
    Directed by Pat Payne
    How far would you go for your child? For Genevra and Joshua Bradley, the question is no longer hypothetical. Their 3-year-old son, Mac, is next on the waiting list to get into the Bright Ideas Early Childhood Development Academy — and everyone knows once you're in there, your life will unfold with glorious ease. Josh and Gen have had to scramble all their lives to get this far … and now they are one fatal dinner party away from the ultimate success as parents: The Right Pre-School. You may never look at pre-school the same way again…

    By Peter Shaffer
    Oct. 29-Nov. 21
    Directed by Gavin Mayer
    Dr. Martin Dysart, a psychiatrist, is confronted with Alan Strang, a boy who has blinded six horses in a violent fit of passion. This very passion is as foreign to Dysart as the act itself. To the boy's parents it is a hideous mystery; Alan has always adored horses. To Dysart it is a psychological puzzle that leads both doctor and patient to a complex and disturbingly dramatic confrontation.

    Santa's Big Red Sack

    Nov. 27-Dec. 20
    For the seventh straight year, The Sack will be back. Santa’s Big Red Sack skewers all  things dear in the sketch comedy billed as "The holiday show you shouldn't take your kids to." This show has become an annual tradition for those seeking non-traditional holiday entertainment. It's clever, witty, raunchy and relentless, and not for the easily offended. While the subjects may sound familiar - Santa's reindeer, Christmas carols, bedtime stories, the Whos in Whoville, gift exchanges and good will - the scenes are delivered with a smile and a hint of political spice. Last year, the cast featured Jeff Kosloski, Dave Shirley, Jane Shirley and Derek Hartman.

    By Joni Sheram
    Jan. 21-Feb. 27, 2016
    Directed by Kitty Skillman-Hilsabeck
    Starring Megan Van De Hey
    Joni Sheram’s one-woman play traces the milestones of a woman's life through her bras, which she found to be a perfect metaphor for her larger tales of womanhood. The play, though not autobiographical, was an homage to her mother and grandmother. Sheram used bras to traverse the fictional life of a woman named Nora, from a 1950s training bra to the one she burned in the 1960s to her nursing bra, mastectomy bra and even the one she wore when she fell in love for the first time at middle-age. Sheram died of breast cancer in 2010.

    Legacy of Light

    March 10-April 16, 2016
    By Karen Zacarias
    Directed by Christy Montour-Larson
    Two women scientists, living hundreds of years apart, explore the meaning of love, motherhood, family, art and science in this contemporary comedy. The play juxtaposes the story of Émilie du Châtelet, a mathematician, scientist, and lover of the great 18th-century philosopher Voltaire, who became unexpectedly pregnant at 42, and that of a 21st-century physicist desperately trying to conceive a child.

    Beautiful Thing
    By Jonathan Harvey
    April 28-June 4, 2016
    Directed by Gavin Mayer
    Jamie and Ste (short for Steve) are teen-age neighbours in a working-class housing project in London. Jamie is bookish and shy while Ste is more athletic. Neither has an ideal home life: Jamie's mother is bitter over her romantic life, but she's willing to settle for a bloke named Tony and cover up her disappointment with scathing humour. Ste's father and brother abuse him. After a fight, Ste asks Sandra if he can stay at her house. As their friendship grows, Jamie begins to realize he has stronger feelings for Ste. One night, after Ste suffers a particularly bad beating, the boys decide to experiment together and begin a tentative relationship. When Jamie's mother hears the rumor that her son is gay, she confronts him, and he admits the truth.


    The Avenue Theater is located at 417 E. 17th Ave.
    Call 303-321-5925 or go to The Avenue's online ticketing page

    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 the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre 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.