• Countdown to the Bobby G Awards: Arvada West High School

    by John Moore | May 23, 2016
    Arvada West High School. Bobby G AwardsArvada West is the fifth of five schools nominated for Outstanding Musical we have been featuring here in the DCPA NewsCenter leading up to the May 26 Bobby G Awards at the Buell Theatre. 'Les Misérables' is nominated for 10 awards.

    ARVADA WEST HIGH SCHOOL

    Les Misérables
    11595 Allendale Drive, Arvada CO 80004 MAP IT
    WEB SITE 

    Arvada West High School. Bobby G AwardsThe Arvada West Theatre Company almost had a much more interesting name. "We wanted to go by The Negative Wing Space Theatre Company given our very limited wing space in our theater," joked teacher Lindsey Welsh. "We nixed that idea, but ultimately we are very blessed with our space." Welsh, a graduate of Colorado State University, never took a course in theatre and didn't direct her first show until she got to Arvada West. "My first show was The Curious Savage because that was the last straight play I had acted in," she said. "We had a very small cast and crew, but it was a roaring success. After that, our theatre company has grown exponentially. More students join the company with each production." Welsh is now in her fourth year at the school. "I love to challenge my students," she said. "We have taken on shows such as Noises Off!, The Phantom of the Opera, The Laramie Project, Jekyll and Hyde, and finally Les Mis. It has been quite the adventure."

    Reserve your seat for the May 26 Bobby G Awards

    • Tell us a little about your school’s theatre tradition and history: "Before I came to Arvada West, the theatre department was small and not yet established. The program had gone through six directors in five years. When I walked in, I had no idea what to expect. My two performing-arts colleagues, Chris Maunu and Craig Melhorn, showed me the ropes. It was through them I discovered that the performing arts are incredibly high-achieving departments, and I wanted my theatre department to rise to its former glory. I grew up in Arvada and remembered going to Arvada West musicals as a child and loving them. I remember being captivated by those seemingly professionally executed shows. I wanted to instill that feeling in our theatre company again. I believe we are definitely on the road to that, but there are a few individual students who have really helped shape the program into what it is today. On the technical side, Stage Manager Mikayla Assmus has been a blessing for our department. She has completely transformed the work ethic and expectation of what stage crew means. And on the acting side over the past four years, Jordan Crout, Bradley Becker, Emily Holtz, Stephanie Bess, Danny Miller, Rowan Anderson, and Joe Lopez (just to name a few) have truly set the bar for students to come.
    • Arvada West High School. Bobby G AwardsYour program goals: Without a doubt, my goal is always to put on a Broadway-worthy production every time. I want their performances to be clean, crisp and genuine to the human experience. I want them to elicit some emotion from every individual in the audience. But at the end of the day, I also want them to have fun and to love what they do. (Pictured above: Garrett Charles, left, and repeat nominee Danny Miller, right, are both nominated for Outstanding Actor for their work in 'Les Misérables.')
    • What kind of general support do you get? Our school is incredibly supportive of the arts, as they are with all extra-curricular activities. However, the performing-arts department is consistently pushing the envelope, and I am so blessed to have a school and district that allows for that kind of artistic freedom and exploration. We are urged to challenge our students and go above and beyond every time. From our department to our administration, we have a shared vision.
    • What would you say to a younger student at your school who might be nervous or unsure about participating in the performing arts? It's like a family, so come on in. We might get cranky or overly boisterous but in the end, every one in  our department loves each other and would do anything for one another. I would also say that everyone, no matter what their talents are, can find success and a home in the performing arts. They just have to keep an open mind.
    • What does it mean to your school for your show to be nominated for Outstanding Musical by the Bobby G Awards? We are incredibly humbled and honored. This show has been a dream of ours for the past two years, and this nomination means our blood, sweat and tears have paid off.
    • What does this whole experience tell you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? We have loved participating in the Bobby G Awards because it does very much validate the how much arts education means for our school.
    • Last word: I can't wait to see where the next four years take the Arvada West Theatre Company.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Arvada West High School. Bobby G Awards Arvada West's orchestra is among the school's 10 nominees for Bobby G Awards on Thursday.


    Arvada West's 2016 Bobby G Award nominations

    • Overall Production of a Musical (Les Misérables)
    • Outstanding Direction: Lindsey Welsh
    • Outstanding Musical Direction: Chris Maunu and Craig Melhorn
    • Actor in a Leading Role: Danny Miller, Jean Valjean
    • Actor in a Leading Role: Garrett Charles, Javert
    • Choreography: Angie Dryer
    • Hair and Makeup Design: Kendall Mesch
    • Lighting: Whitney Larson and Kayli Porterfield
    • Chorus
    • Orchestra

    Previous 2016 Outstanding Musical Nominee profiles:
    Cherry Creek High School
    Fairview High School
    Mountain View High School

    Denver School of the Arts
    Arvada West High School



    Bobby G Awards
    : Ticket information

  • Thursday, May 26
  • Buell Theatre 
  • 7 p.m.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of the Bobby G Awards:
    2016 Bobby G Award nominations: The complete list
    Bobby G Awards a triumph for Durango High School
    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)
    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 

  • Countdown to the Bobby G Awards: Denver School of the Arts

    by John Moore | May 21, 2016
    Denver School of the Arts. Spring Awakening. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. Denver School of the Arts is the fourth of five schools nominated for Outstanding Musical we will be featuring here in the DCPA NewsCenter in the days leading up to the May 26 Bobby G Awards at the Buell Theatre. Denver School of the Arts. Spring Awakening is nominated for seven awards. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

    DENVER SCHOOL OF THE ARTS

    Spring Awakening
    7111 Montview Blvd, Denver, CO 80220 MAP IT
    WEB SITE 

    Denver School of the Arts is a comprehensive secondary arts magnet school for grages 6 through 12. It is part of the Denver Public Schools District. In addition to a rigorous academic program, students engage in intensive studies in Creative Writing, Dance, Music, Stagecraft and Design, Theatre, Video Cinema Arts and Visual Arts. DSA is committed to fostering a lifelong love of the arts in a culturally diverse, academically challenging environment. The theatre program itself is made up of about 160 theatre students who auditioned to gain admittance. Its leader is Shawn Hann, who has been at the school for 15 years.

    Reserve your seat for the May 26 Bobby G Awards

    • Tell us a little about your school’s theatre tradition and history: DSA, as it is known for short, started as part of Cole Middle School. Arts classes were held in the Byers building fro the late 1990s until the school was opened in its present location 13 years ago. Our most notable graduate and Colorado thespian is probably Gabriel Ebert (pictured at right), who won the Tony Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work as Mr. Wormwood in Matilda. Most recently he appeared in the movie Ricky and the Flash with Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline. Gabe still comes back as an occasional guest artist, and he  meets up with DSA students in New York every year to talk about acting. Another notable grad is Justine Lupe (Schomp), who was on Harry's Law, Shameless (with William H. Macy), Younger (with Sutton Foster), and in the film Frances Ha. DSA Gabriel Ebertgrad Jesse JP Johnson is currently in SpongeBob the Musical on Broadway. Jesse has done seven national tours, as well as three years in the ensemble of Wicked on Broadway. New York playwright Max Posner (Judy) is also a DSA theater major, as well as his sister Jessica Odede Posner, who founded  Shining Hope for Communities in Kenya, Africa. Also five members of the class of 2010 created the Black Actors Guild in Denver, who take Shakespeare into elementary schools and create original work. 
    • Your program goals: Our school is slightly different than a traditional high school in that we are a DPS magnet school. Students audition for one of 11 arts majors and get the opportunity to be a part of that art every single day for 90 minutes. Many of our students travel between 25 minutes to an hour to get to our campus and are very dedicated to studying theatre. Our goal in our performances is to give as many kids mainstage opportunities as possible in any given year, to challenge them with difficult material, and to work together with dancers, musicians, vocalists, and stagecraft majors. Spring Awakening, however, is cast with only acting majors as it is a theatre major performance not an all-school musical.
    • What kind of general support do you get? We are a "do it yourself" organization.  The tickets for each show pay for each show. Most of the time we barely break even on any show that we put on our mainstage. Support live theatre! 👍.
    • What would you say to a younger student at your school who might be nervous or unsure about participating in the performing arts? Our department motto is this: Step into the fear and be brave. We talk a lot with our students about how taking risks and putting yourself out there, being vulnerable, is the only way that you will get rewards back from this art form. I would say have fun and go for it.
    • What does it mean to your school for your show to be nominated for Outstanding Musical by the Bobby G Awards? We are beyond thrilled to be nominated for Outstanding Musical. The students have worked so hard on this production and believe so strongly in the message this musical carries. When we performed the show at our own school, many audience members were so moved and touched by the story that they opened up to cast members and school counselors about problems they had been dealing with at our school. The whole point of Spring Awakening is to encourage that kind of communication.
    • What does this whole experience tell you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? Theatre changes students' lives. It gives them skills that will transfer into any occupation after high school. From self-esteem to coping skills to organizational skills to working as a team and/or leading a group, stidents walk away with a massive skill set.  

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Denver School of the Arts. Spring Awakening. Jimmy Bruenger. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. Denver School of the Arts' is nominated as Oustanding Supporting Actor for 'Spring Awakening.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.


    Denver School of the Arts' 2016 Bobby G Award nominations

    • Overall Production of a Musical (Spring Awakening)
    • Outstanding Direction: Shawn Hann
    • Actor in a Leading Role: Michael Kosko, Moritz
    • Actor in a Supporting Role: Jimmy Bruenger, Hanschen
    • Hair and Makeup Design: Skylar Arterburn and Owen Nuss
    • Costume Design: Mary V Benoit and Lara Kirksey
    • Orchestra

    Previous 2016 Outstanding Musical Nominee profiles:
    Cherry Creek High School
    Fairview High School
    Mountain View High School

    Denver School of the Arts
    Arvada West High School

    Bobby G Awards
    : Ticket information

  • Thursday, May 26
  • Buell Theatre 
  • 7 p.m.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of the Bobby G Awards:
    2016 Bobby G Award nominations: The complete list
    Bobby G Awards a triumph for Durango High School
    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)
    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 

  • Countdown to the Bobby G Awards: Mountain View High School

    by John Moore | May 20, 2016
    Mountain View Bobby G Awards
    Mountain High School is the third of five schools nominated for Outstanding Musical we will be featuring here in the DCPA NewsCenter in the days leading up to the May 26 Bobby G Awards at the Buell Theatre.


    MOUNTAIN VIEW HIGH SCHOOL

    Anything Goes
    3500 Mountain Lion Drive, Loveland, 80537 MAP IT
    WEB SITE 

    Mountain View Phil Forman The Mountain View High School Drama program is cleverly called C.I.A. - Caught In the Act Productions. It has been run for the past 10 years by Phil Forman (pictured right), also the Music Director for the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's current production of Into the Woods, starring Debby Boone. (She calls him "most wonderful.") "We started with only 30 total kids auditioning and now have close to 100," Forman said. "We average around 75 to 100 kids involved in our spring musical each year. This includes cast, tech, and pit orchestra."

    Reserve your seat for the May 26 Bobby G Awards

    • Tell us a little about your school’s theatre tradition and history: Mountain View High School opened in 2000 and began producing several shows a year. In 2008, our production of Seussical was awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Musical in Colorado in USAWeekend. In certain years we produce a straight play in the fall, a spring musical and an additional show in the late spring that has included student-directed and student-written works, small-scale musicals and variety shows.  For the past four years, we have hosted Day of the Arts. Students from area middle schools come over and view the production in the morning, eat lunch with our company and then take master classes in various art forms in the afternoon. Our students and creative team help run the workshops, which have included: LearniMountain View Bobby G Awardsng a vocal piece from our current show and performing it alongside actual cast members; makeup; dance and visual arts (drawing, photography, jewelry). Band kids learn what it is like to play in the orchestra pit by learning a number from the show and playing it along with one of our leads actors. Our mission is to expose students to world of the arts and allow them to explore their specific passions. We also have been lucky to host several guest artists to allow kids the opportunity to experience professionals in musical theatre. 
    • Your program goals: We have a saying: "Broadway at Mountain View." While we stop at nothing to create a Broadway experiences for kids, our essential mission is to create well-rounded critical thinkers, problem solvers, and passionate, dedicated, hard-working individuals. We also place an emphasis on teamwork and how each individual has to commit to excellence for the betterment of the entire company.
    • What kind of general support do you get? We are self-funded through ticket sales, donations and some district money on occasion. There is quite a bit of collaboration with adults and the community to help make sure our students are successful. Our administration is incredibly supportive and is always willing to help support endeavors such as the Bobby G Awards program.
    • What would you say to a younger student at your school who might be nervous or unsure about participating in the performing arts? You never know if you'll like it if you don't try. Our philosophy is to cast each grade level in every production. For 90 percent of the shows, we do not cast based on seniority. However, we cast who is best for each role. Don't be shy and get to know your cast, crew, pit and creative team. We are here for everyone to succeed and to help you grow in our program and in your artistic endeavors. There is a difference between positive and negative nerves. Positive nerves that are created from feeling well-prepared as opposed to negative nerves, which are created from a lack of preparation.
    • What does it mean to your school for your show to be nominated for Outstanding Musical by the Bobby G Awards? We are humbled by the recognition of the hard work by our students and staff in these productions. It is an incredible opportunity for our students to perform on The Buell Theatre stage. That experience alone is well worth the months of hard work that goes into producing each production at Mountain View.
    • What does this whole experience tell you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? Mountain View is home to the Loveland Integrated School of the Arts with an emphasis on arts-integrated core classes. Students have multiple opportunities for arts education in both performing and visual arts throughout their time in high school. The students' recognition through the Bobby G Awards has helped to raise the awareness of the great opportunities available for our students. We are grateful for such an incredible awards program that recognizes the art form of musical theatre at the high-school level. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Mountain View Bobby G Awards Anything GoesMountain View High School's Bailey Friar and Tammy Johnson are nominated for Outstanding Choreography.

    Mountain View High School's 2016 Bobby G Award nominations

    • Overall Production of a Musical (Anything Goes)
    • Actress in a Leading Role: Savannah Wood, Reno Sweeney
    • Musical Direction: Phil Forman, Bryan Kettlewell and Peter Toews
    • Hair and Makeup Design: Averi Davis and Emma Smith
    • Costume Design: Jen Bleem, Cindy Sipes and Lauryn Starke
    • Scenic Design: Shailyn Clay, Tyler King, Rebecca Reynolds and Lucas Sanchez
    • Choreography: Bailey Friar and Tammy Johnson
    • Lighting Design: Jude Franco and Tanner Friar
    • Chorus
    • Orchestra

    Previous 2016 Outstanding Musical Nominee profiles:
    Cherry Creek High School
    Fairview High School
    Mountain View High School

    Denver School of the Arts
    Arvada West High School


    Bobby G Awards
    : Ticket information

  • Thursday, May 26
  • Buell Theatre 
  • 7 p.m.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of the Bobby G Awards:
    2016 Bobby G Award nominations: The complete list
    Bobby G Awards a triumph for Durango High School
    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)
    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 

  • Debby Boone takes a wicked turn 'Into the Woods'

    by John Moore | May 18, 2016
    Debby Boone Candlelight Dinner Playhouse Into the Woods

    Iconic 1970s pop singer Debby Boone plays The Witch in Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's 'Into the Woods' through June 5.


    Debby Boone, the singer who lit up the 1970s with the biggest-selling hit of the decade, has spent much of her adult life playing against type. She toyed with her wholesome image by playing the promiscuous Rizzo in a Broadway revival of Grease. At the height of her pop popularity, she switched over to country music. And now she's in Johnstown to play the misunderstood Witch in Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse.

    Debby Boone? A witch?

    “Yeah, I think this is the furthest from type I have gone so far,” Boone said with a laugh while preparing for tonight’s opening in Johnstown, located 40 miles north of Denver. “Playing Rizzo was a blast for me. And it was scary as all get-out to go out and do that on a Broadway stage. But this is so much more challenging.”

    Debby Boone Quote Into the woods CandlelightAnd she’s the first to admit: When she got the call asking her to join the company in Colorado, “My jaw hit the floor like everybody else,” she said.

    But this isn’t your typical stunt casting. While Boone is not a formally trained classical singer, she’s got training in her DNA. Her maternal grandfather is country music star Red Foley. And her father, Pat Boone, was second only to Elvis Presley in record sales in the late 1950s. Debby Boone began touring in gospel shows with her parents at age 14 along with her three sisters. The deeply religious Boones were essentially America's Von Trapps.

    Debby made her Broadway debut in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in 1982 and has performed around the world in productions of The Sound of Music, South Pacific, Meet Me in St. Louis, Camelot and even Human Comedy by Galt MacDermot, the man behind Hair. At a proud 59, the pop star has more than credibly crossed over into musical theatre.

    But, c’mon. This is Sondheim.

    “Yes, and this is so much harder than anything I ever imagined,” said Boone, who deep down wanted nothing more than to bite into the juicy role of the infamous witch who is not good, not nice but rather – “I’m just right.” Still, the singer who sold 4 million singles in 1977 alone had a crisis of confidence when she was asked to take on the role The Witch.

    “Hey I know that, on many levels, it's a stretch,” she admitted. “I asked myself, ‘Can I do this?’ Because honestly - it's really scary.”

    Boone found the strength to say yes from two past experiences: One was when her famous father was turning 60 (as she will this coming September), and he starred in a production of The Will Rogers Follies, without any previous musical theatre experience. “He had to learn how to do all of those complicated rope tricks and other things that were so completely foreign to him,” Boone said. “All my life, I have watched him just fearlessly move into things he doesn't necessarily have the background for, but he just goes for the challenge.”

    The other was her own decision to play Rizzo in a 1996 Broadway revival of Grease. This wasn’t Boone’s first time on Broadway stage. After having toured Seven Brides for Seven Brothers for a year in preparation for Broadway, the show was savaged by the New York Times and closed after two weeks. Why would she open herself up to that kind of pain again?

    “Because the only reason not to do it would have been fear,” she said. “And I just don't want to live that way.”

    She ultimately said yes to Candlelight, she said, “because I really wanted to take this on as a challenge and as a growing experience. “

    Boone wasn’t nervous last month when she joined the 20-plus actors who had already been working on Into the Woods for a week before her arrival. She was terrified. Asked whether the locals geeked out just a little bit when Debby Boone first walked into the room, she said, “I think it was the other way around. I was shaking in my boots with intimidation.

    “Listen, I have had many opportunities to do musicals, but I always come in feeling like I am the odd man out, because it's true,” she said. “I don't have training. I never went to a college that has a music program. I've hardly studied voice. I'm a pop singer. But these guys here at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse all have had training, and they have these huge vocal ranges. I have to say, they have assembled the most gifted, talented cast here that I could ever hope to be among.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    She thanks the cast for welcoming her, and especially the “most wonderful” Musical Director, Phil Forman. “This is a very tiring role vocally, and he really worked with me,” said Boone. “He showed me how not to waste my voice when I don't need to -  and when I really have to bring it.”

    She’ll be bringing it, all right, starting tonight and for the next three weeks, through June 5. After that, Into the Woods continues through July 10, with Beth Beyer playing The Witch – an actor Boone says flatly is better in the role than she is.

    Boone, whose husband, Gabriel Ferrer, is an Episcopal priest and the son of legendary crooner Rosemary Clooney, is the mother of four and also a first-time grandmother. She had plenty more to say about Beyer; the song that put Boone the musical map; the single she’d rather you listened to; who the ‘You’ is in You Light Up My Life; and a juicy little story about the songwriter who induced an honest-to-goodness profanity out of that squeaky-clean mouth. Read on.




    John Moore: Take us back to 1977. It’s the height of disco. You’re 21 years old. You have never sung solo - and the songwriter Joseph Brooks asks you to record the title track to his film, You Light Up My Life.

    Debby Boone: It’s funny because the way things are now, with shows like American Idol and The Voice, 21 is like an old hag. And I felt so young. I was still living at home. Going into that studio in New York to record You Light Up My Life, for me, was the exciting beginning of what I call the long, hard climb. I had no anticipation that the song would ever be heard by anyone other than the people who were there in the studio. I did not see it as a hit record. And so no one was more shocked and surprised by what happened than I was.

    Debby Boone Quote Into the woods CandlelightJohn Moore: Did that song ever come to feel like a burden or a curse?

    Debby Boone: Oh yeah. Especially early on. When you are young and you have a big start like that, you are kind of naive. I had been part of The Boone Family Show. I had never been out there on a stage by myself. So I felt very unprepared for what was coming my way. It was really kind of scary. And after that song came out, it was the only song anyone wanted to hear. Everywhere I went, that song had to be done. Of course, you get sort of sick of singing the same thing over and over and over - and you want people to know there is more to you. But I got over that really quickly as I became a little more seasoned. I realized there was no reason to be anything but grateful for people wanting to hear you sing. The kind of emotion that song brings up for people, and the stories they have told me over the years of what that song has meant in their lives personally, has made me realize what a gift and a blessing it is. When I begin to sing that song, it's palpable in the room, and that is a tremendous feeling to experience.

    John Moore: So Joseph Brooks wrote the song. But to you, who is 'You' in You Light Up My Life?

    Debby Boone: When I first decided how that lyric struck me, I never thought anybody was ever going to ask me that question. It really took me off-guard the first time. I couldn't do anything but tell the truth, even though sometimes in print it looks like I had an agenda, which I certainly did not. But, for me, those words really lent themselves to becoming a prayer. I always think of my relationship with God in terms of love and light - of being alone, and God filling that place. Now, the guy who wrote the song was not a very nice man. Somebody asked him in an interview about how Debby Boone said she sang his song to God, and his eloquent response was, 'Bull(bleep!).'

    John Moore: Now I wish this were a podcast so people could have heard you say that word. So tell me this then: For those people who have never heard you sing another song, what’s another single I can point them to that you consider a favorite?

    Debby Boone: When I sang I'm So Lonesome by Hank Williams, I discovered a place in me I had never known was there. It brought together all of the musical influences of my life. My grandfather, Red Foley, was a big Country and Western gospel singer from the Grand Ole Opry and a contemporary of Hank Williams. It was on an album dedicated to Rosemary Clooney, who had also recorded that song. When we were putting the song together, I felt this country depth, as well as a kind of jazz fusion happen in the moment. It was magical. So that was a favorite for a really long time.     

    John Moore: Who do you love among today's country stars?

    Debby Boone: I am a huge fan of Alison Krauss.

    John Moore: You went from pop music to Broadway in 1982. Today, it has become common for performers from shows like American Idol to be cast in shows like Chicago and Rock of Ages. Is that good for Broadway?

    Debby Boone: I really feel for the people who have worked so hard to have a well-formed craft - like the very people I am working with at Candlelight right now. When they see somebody come in who has none of that kind of training or experience, they might see it as taking jobs from them – and I completely empathize with that. I really do. But I also think there are no jobs for those people if theatre continues to dwindle. So there is something to be gained when you have someone in your show who people will come to see – and wouldn't necessarily come if one of their favorite performers were not in it. And if they come, then you have introduced new people to musical theatre. And they may come back because you exposed them to something they didn't ever really notice before. And then there are shows like Hamilton that are not star-driven but they are so original that they draw new people in, too. So I say: Whatever works.

    John Moore: How's your dad?

    Debby Boone: He's great. He is inspirational in that he is 82 years old. He stays busy, and he's always wanting to learn and be involved and vibrant - and he can't stand the thought that he's 82. He still loves to get up on a stage and perform and meet people. There's a chance he may come out to Colorado to see this, but he just signed on to do another movie, so it's not looking like he might be able to get here. But he would love this.

    debby boone into the woodsJohn Moore: So, you … in Johnstown … performing Into the Woods: How did this happen

    Debby Boone: I was brought in about five years ago when they started to do personal-appearance concerts at Candlelight. I did a Christmas show. I was so impressed with the theatre and the quality of the sound. The whole environment was just lovely. It was my ex-manager who suggested to them that maybe they should ask known recording artists to come in and do some of the actual theatrical performances.

    (The photo at right comes from Debby Boone's Instagram account with the caption: "Got to wear my prosthetics for 'Into The Woods' today. We are making some color corrections, but the transformation begins!)

    John Moore: So tell us about The Witch.

    Debby Boone: I find her to be very identifiable. She's acting out of woundedness and insecurities, She has this daughter she loves and wants to protect. But she is in dreaded fear of losing her, and so she acts badly. I have four kids, and I know some of the worst mistakes I have ever made have been out of love and fear of them making their own mistakes.

    John Moore: Essentially she’s just a woman who has had a curse put on her, and she wants it to be lifted. And as we have seen from Beauty and the Beast to Wicked, there really is a human underneath the curse.

    Debby Boone: Yes, and when people hurt people, the circles keep growing and manifesting. Out of her own hurt she creates the same kind of imprisonment on her daughter that was also placed on her. That’s life. That is so much life.

    John Moore: When Meryl Streep played the role in the movie, she said Into the Woods is just a metaphor for how can we all just get along. 

    Debby Boone: I think so, too. And even broader than that, for everybody in this story, it's moving from fear to love.

    John Moore: So tell people why they should come see Into the Woods.

    Debby Boone: It is a magical night of theatre with the most talented cast that I could ever hope to be among. And I think it will be such a surprise to people who aren't familiar with this show. This is a beautiful piece. We are going to take audiences on a ride, and they are going to feel something.

    John Moore: You are performing through June 5, but the show goes on after that. Why should people still come even after you have left the building?

    Debby Boone: The woman who will also play this role is named Beth Beyer, and she is just fantastic. I certainly hope that no one who can't make it in the first three weeks might think they are going to see something ‘less than’ - because it really is quite the opposite.   

    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.

    Into the Woods: Ticket information

    • Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
    • 4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, CO 80534 MAP IT

      (I-25 at Exit 254, just south of Historic Johnson's Corner)

    • Performances through July 10 (Debby Boone appears through June 5)
    • Showtimes:

      Thursday through Saturdays: Dinner at 6 p.m., Show at 7:30 p.m.

      Saturday Matinees: Dinner noon, show at 1:30 p.m.

      Sunday Matinees: Dinner 12:30 p.m., show at 2 p.m.

    • Call 970-744-3747 or go to at www.ColoradoCandlelight.com

     




  • Countdown to the Bobby G Awards: Cherry Creek High School

    by John Moore | May 18, 2016
    Cherry Creek High School Bobby G Awards 2016

    Cherry Creek High School is the first of five schools nominated for Outstanding Musical we will be featuring here in the DCPA NewsCenter in the days leading up to the May 26 Bobby G Awards at the Buell Theatre.


    CHERRY CREEK HIGH SCHOOL

    How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
    9300 E. Union Street, Greenwood Village, CO 80111 MAP IT
    WEB SITE 

    The Cherry Creek High School Drama Club is called the Union Street Players, Troupe 1730. We received our Charter from the International Thespian Society in 1957.The program is run by local actor and costumer Jimmy Miller, who is in his 18th overall year teaching and his third year teaching at Cherry Creek. He recently earned his masters degree in Theatre Education at the University of Northern Colorado Greeley. Miller is a graduate of CCherry Creek and a member of Troupe 1730 since 1981. "It is a wonderful experience to lead about 200 exceptional students in Creek’s theatre program," he says.

    Reserve your seat for the May 26 Bobby G Awards

    • Tell us a little about your school’s theatre tradition and history: Our program was started in 1973 by Bob Wells (currently resident director at the Town Hall Arts Center). When I took this job three years ago, I wanted to return the program to how it was when Michelle Busti taught here. I have worked with Creek’s thespian board and all my theatre students to build positivity and inclusivity in our program.
    • Cherry Creek Bobby G AwardsYour program goals: My goal is to run our theatre program like a professional theatre and to give my students as much of a professional experience as possible. My objective at the beginnings of shows is to help students create memorable, authentic character choices to bring our productions life and energy. I also strive to have as many original elements designed by students as possible. We have meetings for set and lighting design, costume design, and overall production. We have structured rehearsal times and organized tech weeks to help create the best shows possible.
    • What kind of general support do you get? The administration, faculty, and community at Creek have been incredibly supportive of our theatre program. While we do not have the same recognition as the football team, we have earned a reputation for putting on professional-quality shows and for raising the bar in production qualities and acting values.
    • What would you say to a younger student at your school who might be nervous or unsure about participating in the performing arts? Our thespian board has made it a goal to make strong connections with younger thespians and with students outside of our theatre community. Theatre teaches so many aspects about dealing with the challenges of life, and we work to be welcoming of all students who want to participate, be it on the stage or behind the curtain.
    • What does it mean to your school for your show to be nominated for Outstanding Musical by the Bobby G Awards? Considering the excellent productions also named, we are deeply honored to be nominated this year for our work on How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. The Bobby G Awards are the gold standard of excellence in Colorado high-school theatre, and we are humbled to receive this recognition.
    • What does this whole experience tell you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? We have worked incredibly hard this school year on all our productions, and I know our school and community highly value arts education and extracurricular activities here at Creek. A perennial goal of our program is to maintain a professional atmosphere that encourages further support and respect from our school and community.
    • Last words: We are honored to be a part of the Bobby G Awards this year, and we cannot wait to see all of the amazing work put on by our fellow thespians.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Cherry Creek Bobby G Awards CostumesCherry Creek High School is nominated for Outstanding Costumes.

    Cherry Creek High School's 2016 Bobby G Award nominations

    • Overall Production of a Musical
    • Direction: Jimmy Miller
    • Hair and Make-up Design: Marrisa Hadden
    • Costume Design: Jimmy Miller and Katya Zabelski
    • Lighting Design: Yasmin Farsad
    • Scenic Design: Jack Hagen, Yuuki Hashimoto and Caleb Nghe
    • Choreography: Ronni Gallup
    • Chorus

    2016 Outstanding Musical Nominee profiles:
    Cherry Creek High School
    Fairview High School
    Mountain View High School
    Denver School of the Arts
    Arvada West High School


    Bobby G Awards
    : Ticket information

  • Thursday, May 26
  • Buell Theatre 
  • 7 p.m.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of the Bobby G Awards:
    2016 Bobby G Award nominations: The complete list
    Bobby G Awards a triumph for Durango High School
    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)
    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 

    Cherry Creek Bobby G AwardsJimmy Miller, right, won a 2014 Bobby G Award. The production was 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Twice is nice for a Denver return of 'once'

    by NewsCenter Staff | May 17, 2016



    In 2007, the seductive, off-beat Irish film once opened to glowing reviews and quickly developed a fervent following. This lyrical musical tells the story of two down-on-their-luck musicians: an angst-ridden Dublin street singer/songwriter who works as a vacuum cleaner repairman, and a Czech immigrant who sells flowers to support herself and her family.

    A Once quoteGirl (as she is known) initiates a friendship with Guy (as he is known), and in the course of a week they make music together, fall in love and part, but not before changing each other’s lives.

    Once is both graceful and gritty. It has a naturalism and intimacy that are generally best achieved in film, which explains why the Irish playwright Enda Walsh was less than enthusiastic when he was asked if he would write the book for a Broadway-style musical based on the movie.

    “I guffawed when my agent called and asked me to speak to the producers,” says Walsh. “I said, ‘What a stupid idea.’ It’s a two-hander with very little plot. It’s delicate. I called the producers and told them it wasn’t for me. There’s no tradition of musical theatre in Ireland. Then they told me John Tiffany was attached to it as director.”

    Walsh and Tiffany are longtime friends, and although Tiffany also had doubts at first as to the viability of the material as a musical, he convinced Walsh not to reject the idea outright.

    Says Walsh, “John said, ‘Let’s just take two days, and we can read the screenplay and listen to the songs and talk about it.’ I said, ‘Okay, we’ll do two days — and that’s all we’ll do.’ ”

    Well, not quite.

    “Those two days convinced us that we wanted to do this show,” says Tiffany.

    The musical became such a critical and commercial success that it spawned a London production, a Broadway show and a U.S. national tour — a journey that saw this modest undertaking win no fewer than eight 2012 Tony® Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book (Walsh), and Best Direction of a Musical (Tiffany).

     “I never think about adapting films for the stage. That’s not the way I work,” insists Tiffany. “When I was approached about once, I hadn’t even seen the film. But one of my best friends said, ‘You will love the music.’ So I downloaded the soundtrack — and I absolutely loved it. I’d never heard music like that. [It’s] the reason I wanted to do the show. Not just the music itself, but the fact that it’s a story about creating music, the healing power of music.”  

    Once 600In reading through John Carney’s screenplay, Walsh discovered there was much he could relate to. “I’m a big fan of the movie Brief Encounter, and I saw similarities,” he says. “There’s a bittersweet pang that really hurts. Very quickly I thought I was a good match for the material. I tend to write characters that are inarticulate and lonesome, and something comes into their life that changes them. From listening to the songs, I thought it might be good for me to do something about Ireland, which was so hurt in the recession. A little love letter to Dublin. 

    (Pictured right: Sam Cieri and Mackenzie Lesser-Roy from the 'once' tour company. Photo by Joan Marcus.) 

    “That was my way in. You start by bringing two people together and getting them to talk to one another. The tone shows itself quickly, so you step out of the way and allow it to write itself.

    “I knew all along that there were markers. I just had to unlock a stage language that was right. As soon as the Girl started talking, I thought, ‘That’s the swagger of it.’ She became the style of it and the force of the piece — and the central storyteller.”  

    The 12 adult members of the cast play at least one instrument and are onstage virtually throughout the show. “I didn’t want anyone on stage we didn’t get to know intimately,” says Tiffany. By individualizing each character, adds Walsh, “we built a community, and that became the heart of the piece.”

    As the show unfolds, the focus, of course, is on the relationship between Guy and Girl, but the audience also catches glimpses of the lives of the other characters.

    “We needed to be sure that there are all these other love stories in the air. Each person is riffing off a love that’s been lost, that got away. That was the key: for the audience to feel part of the experience, and look at the people on the stage and go, ‘They’re us.’ ”

    In the end, the material proved to be as powerful on stage as it is on film.

    “What’s very moving about the piece is how sometimes we meet people who we don’t necessarily stay with forever, but they give us the resources to move on to the next part of our life,” says Tiffany. “There’s something very truthful in that. People have said to me, ‘When I was sitting in the theatre watching once, I felt like I was watching it with everyone I’ve ever loved, whether or not they’re still in my life.’ ”  

    Portions of this text were provided by the show’s production company

     

    Once national tour photo gallery:

    once

     Photos from the 'once' tour company by Joan Marcus. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the 'forward' arrow. 

    ONCE: Ticket information 
    May 24-29
    At The Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 (Groups: 303-446-4829 or BUY ONLINE
    ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: 2 p.m. May 28

  • DCPA CEO Scott Shiller: Whose stories belong on our stages?

    by Scott Shiller | May 16, 2016

    Scott Shiller National Western. Photo by Olivia Jansen.
    The parade that opened the annual National Western Stock Show in January. Photo by Olivia Jansen for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    I recently heard someone refer to Denver as a “cow town.” As a somewhat recent transplant (one of the more than 100,000 who have moved here over the past five years), I was confused.

    Scott Shiller QuoteGranted, I’ve seen the livestock parade that opens the Western Stock Show. And I know ranching is an essential part of Colorado. But I look around and I don’t see a cow town. I see a vibrant American city, growing by leaps and bounds, with one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the country. I see the country’s most-attended arts and culture scene. To borrow a term from our successful start-up scene, I see Denver 2.0.

    None of this suggests our past needs to be left in the past. In fact, it’s more important than ever that we honor our heritage and keep our stories alive in the present. It’s just that our story gets richer and more expansive as we grow. America is a land of reinvention. Right now, Denver is living that promise out in a very real and exciting way.

    So if our past is (debatably) bovine, what is our present? Or more to the point, who is our present? We transplants consider Colorado home now, along with all of you who have been here for years, decades or even generations before us. Thank you for welcoming us. We may be strangers but we love living here just as much as you do. We love the stories we hear about Denver’s past. And we appreciate the opportunity to add our tales to the mix.

    I believe live theatre is a crucial piece of our shared storytelling experience. It’s always been a place to see both time-tested stories and fresh new perspectives. Seems like now is the time to ask ourselves whose stories belong on our stages. So what do you think, natives and newcomers? Whose stories do you want to see? Which voices from our past still resonate and which new voices deserve to be heard? How can our theatres amplify the voices that honor the cow and the now?

    Let us know your thoughts by commenting at the bottom of this story.



    About our Guest Columnist:
    Scott Shiller, a nationally recognized Producer, Presenter and Entertainment Executive, was named President and Chief Executive Officer of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in February, 2015. As President & CEO, Shiller has overall responsibility for the DCPA’s programmatic, operating, revenue, marketing, development and administrative functions. He comes to the DCPA from the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, where he served as Executive Vice President from 2007 to 2015. With direct oversight of programming and marketing initiatives, Shiller’s first season at the Center resulted in a $3.3 million turnaround, more than 100 sold-out performances, and a 76 percent increase in attendance. Shiller began his career working with Tony Award-winning producer Jon B. Platt on productions including Wicked (Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, Joel Grey), Man of La Mancha (Brian Stokes Mitchell), Sly Fox (Richard Dreyfuss), The Graduate (Kathleen Turner, Alicia Silverstone, Jason Biggs), Blue Man Group: Tubes, Cabaret (Teri Hatcher, Norbert Leo Butz), Master Class (Faye Dunaway), Wait Until Dark (Quentin Tarantino, Marisa Tomei), Taller than a Dwarf (Matthew Broderick, Parker Posey), Macbeth (Kelsey Grammer), The Diary of Anne Frank (Natalie Portman), and The Vagina Monologues (Eve Ensler).



    Previous conversations with Scott Shiller:
    Previously, Scott Shiller posed these questions for NewsCenter readers:

    *We are going to shake things up: What do you think the future of live theatre should be? Should we tear up the rulebook and see what happens? To read his essay - and reader responses, visit our NewsCenter here

    *Where the wild thoughts are: What’s important to you and your family in a cultural facility? To read his essay - and reader responses, visit our NewsCenter here

    *Making Cents of Arts Funding:
     "Should the federal government allocate more funding to the National Endowment for the Arts?" To read his essay - and reader responses, please visit our NewsCenter here

    *Declining arts coverage:
    How to respond to declining arts coverage? To read his essay - and reader responses, please visit our NewsCenter here

    *Social media in the theatre:
    How will we, as theatre professionals and audiences, find common ground for mobile devices in theatres? To read his essay - and reader responses, please visit our NewsCenter here

  • Photos, Video: Denver Actors Fund 'Be Brave' concert

    by John Moore | May 14, 2016
    Denver Actors Fund 'Be Brave' concert Our photo gallery from the Hard Rock Cafe's "Be Brave" concert on May 10. To see more photos, hover your cursor over the photo above and click the "forward" arrow. Photos by John Moore and Emily Lozow for the DCPA's NewsCenter.


    The Hard Rock Cafe Denver hosted a concert to honor late Denver Actors Fund President Brenda Billings on May 10. Local actors re-gathered to perform songs from musicals directed by Billings for the Evergreen Players and Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden.

    Family members also participated, including in the video below, daughters Jamie, Jacquie Jo, Jessica and son Brady.




    The event raised $3,814 for the Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and other services to members of the local theatre community in situational medical need.

    New Denver Actors Fund Board Member Will Barnette (Billings' son-in-law) announced a $10,000 gift from an anonymous donor in honor Billings, who died April 13 at age 57. The $10,000 donation puts the Denver Actors Fund over the $100,000 mark in total funds raised in less than three years of existence. It will be applied toward the Denver Actors Fund's first-ever matching campaign, the Brenda Billings Memorial Match.

    The $10,000 donor's hope was that friends of Brenda Billings will match the donation in her honor. Here's how to help: www.coloradogives.org/BrendaBillingsMemorialMatch.

    In addition, the concert raised $2,414 for Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden, where Billings was Artistic Director. The emcee was Paul Dwyer. The Musical Director was Mitch Samu. In all, there were 30 performers, including surprise guests Tucker Worley (Billings' nephew) and Jordan Geiger, both New York-based actors.

    In the video above, Will Barnette announces the $10,000 Brenda Billings Memorial Match.

    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of Brenda Billings
    Donor launches $10,000 Brenda Billings Match Campaign
    Evening of songs to honor Brenda Billings at Hard Rock Cafe
    Photos: Brenda Billings' Life Celebration brings Ashford home
    Colorado theatre loses Brenda Billings: 'A warrior of acceptance'
    Brenda Billings named Denver Actors Fund President
    ​Miners Alley Playhouse makes way for new artistic leadership

    Brenda Billings Be Brave

    Be Brave performer list:
    Megan Augustin
    Jacquie Jo Billings
    Jamie Billings
    Ashley Brown
    Chris Burroughs
    Timothy Campbell
    Lisa DeCaro
    Paul Dwyer
    Kerri Emswiller
    McKenzie Evans
    Jordan Geiger
    Drew Horwitz
    Matt Kok
    Shelley Krane
    Margie Lamb
    Kate Lubotsky
    Daniel Langhoff
    Chas Lederer
    Mark Lively
    Patrick May
    Gail Montgomery           
    Gabriel Morales
    Andy Nikhomvan-Nuanhngam
    McKenna O'Meara
    Anna Paul
    Ken Paul
    Rory Pierce
    Tyrell D. Rae
    Leslie Randle
    Josh Rigo
    Kristen Samu
    Cody Schuyler
    Sonsharae Tull
    Brad Wagner
    Bailey Walton
    Tucker Worley

    The band: Mitch Samu, Mitch Jervis, Steve Klein, Tag Worley.

  • Photos: 'Sweeney Todd' through Robert Petkoff's bloody lens

    by John Moore | May 13, 2016
    Through The Eyes of Sweeney- Robert Petkoff's Photo Story

    Robert Petkoff Sweeney Todd Michael Brian Dunn Sweeney Todd has been an extraordinary creative and personal experience for all those involved with the DCPA Theatre Company's acclaimed production, which closes Sunday (May 15).

    And, clearly, a lot of fun.

    Robert Petkoff, who plays the titular role, has been chronicling his experience in Denver from the first rehearsal, and today he shares his backstage photos with DCPA NewsCenter readers and Theatre Company audiences. All photos by Robert Petkoff.

    To see the complete gallery, hover your cursor over the photo at the top of the page. Click the forward arrow to be taken to the next photo.

    (Pictured at right: Robert Petkoff has a little bit of fun with castmate Michael Brian Dunn [the barber Adolfo Pirelli] during a rehearsal break. Photo by Robert Petkoff.) 


    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Robert Petkoff Sweeney Todd Kathleen McCall and Christine Rowan. Photo Credit: Robert Petkoff.

    Robert Petkoff caught this lovable lick between the Beggar Woman (Kathleen McCall) and ensemble member Christine Rowan. Photo Credit: Robert Petkoff.

    Sweeney Todd
    : Information

  • 270x270-sweeney-toddMusic and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; Book by High Wheeler (adapted by Christopher Bond); musical adaptation by DeVotchKa
  • Through May 15
  • Stage Theatre
  • Grammy-nominated Denver band DeVotchKa takes on the legendary demon barber of Fleet Street, serving up a reinvention of Sondheim’s musical thriller. Hell-bent on revenge, Sweeney Todd takes up with his enterprising neighbor in a devilish plot to slice their way through London’s upper crust. Justice will be served — along with audacious humor and bloody good thrills.
  • Tickets:  SOLD OUT

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of Sweeney Todd:
    Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16
    DeVotchKa frontman promises a Sweeney Todd that's 'loud and proud'
    DCPA announces DeVotchka-infused Sweeney Todd casting
    ​Where the band meets the blade: Rehearsals open
    Co-stars on bringing DeVotchKa’s fresh blood to Sondheim
    Video sneak peek with DeVotchKa
    Five things we learned at Perspectives: Use a dull blade!
    Interview, video: Sweeney Todd actors sing for Denver Actors Fund
    Opening Night photo gallery and story
    Sweeney Todd star recalls agony, ecstasy of Tantalus

    Previous Sweeney Todd cast profiles:
    Meet Danny Rothman
    Meet Jean McCormick
    ​Meet Daniel Berryman 
    Meet Michael Brian Dunn
  • Macbeth. Happy Friday the 13th. Macbeth Macbeth Macbeth.

    by John Moore | May 12, 2016




    Is there a ghost in the Buell Theatre? DCPA Video Producer David Lenk set up his camera to make a time-lapse video that would Superstition Ghost Lightcapture the load-in of the 'If/Then' national touring production's set in Denver's Buell Theatre back in October 2015. His camera took a photo every 30 seconds for three days and nights. The evident light at the bottom of the screen is a so-called "ghost light" - a theatre tradition in which one standing light is left on throughout the night to ward off ghosts. It may or may not have worked in this case. Upon reviewing the footage, Lenk discovered an unmistakable - and unexplainable blip in the upper-left region of the screen. It was captured in the dead of night, when the building was otherwise empty. "It is either reflecting light from something, or it is generating its own light," said Lenk, "because there is no other light source. It's completely dark." Lenk believes the blip could not be an anomaly or camera glitch, or the mistake would have repeated itself. The video above was slowed down by 180 percent to make the aberration easier to see. 


    By John Moore
    DCPA Senior Arts Journalist

    Theatre superstitions are real. Whether there are real consequences for flaunting those unfounded fears is in the belief of the beholder.

    In honor of today being the only Friday the 13th of 2016, we decided to focus not on merely repeating all those well-worn superstitions. Instead, we asked theatre artists to tell us specific stories of what happened when those superstitions were violated. And there were many.

    Theatre SuperstitionsWhen Austin Terrell was playing Macbeth in high school, the actor made a pact with his castmates not to say the name of the play in the theatre.

    This is a superstition dating back to the 17th century that warns against saying "Macbeth" in a theatre. And while no one knows for sure how it began, there are countless legends of mishaps and even deaths during performances of the play. Maybe it’s all that “Double, double toil and trouble…” sorcery in the play. Regardless, if someone slips up and says the name of the play inside a theatre (outside of the actual performance), that person must exit the theater, spin three times, spit and then utter some vulgarity to neutralize the curse.

    “I was one of the chief enforcers of that rule – and for good reason, being the titular character,” Terrell said. “On the final night of rehearsal before our first performance, I called out the cursed name in a moment of anger, which was answered by gasps and giggles alike. Move ahead 20 minutes to our big fight scenes. One missed step of fight choreography meant a rusty, chipped sword blade across the knuckles of my left hand. Fourteen stitches and a tetanus shot later, I still refuse to say that name in house.”

    Taunting always seems to be a guaranteed way of getting a ghost’s dander up. When actor Erica Lee was in high school, some of her Our Town castmates decided to poke fun at their teacher’s deep respect for theatre superstitions. So they, of course, repeatedly yelled “Macbeth” inside the theatre. “It was minutes before the start of the closing performance of the show,” she said. “During the opening monologue, the trellis fell, seemingly unprovoked, causing a loud boom and an audience gasp. Later, one of the ladders followed suit, nearly injuring the actor playing Emily Webb during the adorable puppy-love scene.

    “After we closed the show, we thought the bad luck was over - until one cast member found a bee in her hair as we walked to the cast party. Then another. Then another. Suddenly, the whole cast and crew were shrieking as we were being chased by an angry swarm of bees inside the house.”

    The Our Towners later received a stern lecture from their director about the dangers of disrespecting theatrical superstitions ... as they passed around the calamine lotion.

    Theatre Superstitions

    Fanci Berndt said “the word” in a theatre her junior year in college, when she was playing a maid in Scapino. And she she stubbornly refused to submit to the cleansing tradition.

    “That afternoon, I got knocked in the head by a flying broom,” she said. “Later, as I was ducking under the stairs backstage, I hit my head and was temporarily knocked out.” Later in life, working as a substitute teacher, Berndt’s class decided to write a play about Shakespeare's ghost. “My daughter and son both contracted chicken pox,” she said.

    Of course, not everyone buys into theatre superstitions. DCPA Fight Director Geoff Kent, also the director of the Galleria Theatre’s upcoming An Act of God, calls them utter (bleep). “I was in a production of Twelfth Night where a light instrument shattered above the audience, dropping hot glass and injuring the audience. An actor later in the run became sick to the point of vomiting blood. Another actor suddenly left the production in the middle of the night to be replaced with no prep. And no one calls it "The Illyrian play" with hushed overtones.

    But Kent was quick to add: "I respect those who hold those rules sacred, if only not to mess with their focus. I find most of the superstitions silly. But there is no need to poke those fears with a stick."

    Too late.

    Your stories:

    Technician Mike Haas: As a talisman to protect the set and keep the technology of a production working, I've hidden a Yoda action figure into the set of every production I've been tech director on. That's more than 100 shows here in Denver protected by Yoda everywhere from the Aurora Fox to Town Hall Arts Center to The Avenue.

    Actor Emma Messenger: On the way to the theater, I have to spot a dog on a leash. The more dogs, the better the show will be. The safer the show will be. It's protection against something going wrong. If I don't see any dogs, I make my husband drive around the neighborhood until we find one. It also works for shows I'm going to see, even if I'm not in them. It's terrible if it's a snowy or rainy day because no one is out walking their dog. In that case, I have to spot a billboard with a dog or some sign of a dog, such as a veterinary clinic. It started several years ago when I was in a production of Sylvia. It's such a well-written, heartfelt play. Making the connection was irresistible. It became a crutch. When I see that dog, it's such a relief.

    Actor Charles Redding: I had just finished building a full-sized deer-carcass prop. It was not for a show. It was the final project for my props-making class (at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs). I was also currently involved in a production of The Spanish Tragedy, where I would be playing The Hangman. I was chatting about the deer carcass with another actor just inside the doors of the Osborne Studio Theatre when the actor said of my prop, “That's fantastic. You could add that into so many different shows. You could use it in Macbeth!" Suddenly the director shouts from behind the set: "Hey! I'm working with NOOSES OVER HERE!" So then came the whole turning ritual, which I was not aware of. I was kind of blown away. For the record, no one died, the hanging effect was fantastic, and the deer recently performed in a Christmas sketch show as Rondo, everyone's favorite expanded-universe reindeer.

    Technician Mitch Chew: Before every rehearsal of Black Elk Speaks at the Denver Center, the cast did a smudge ceremony to ward off any unwanted evil spirits, and to keep actors and technicians safe. It was taken very seriously. I still have the talisman they gave to each of the technicians.

    Costumer Sharon McClaury: During my last year of college, Mary Jo Catlett was a guest artist playing Momma Rose in Gypsy for the Little Theater of the Rockies in Greeley. I was her dresser and personal assistant. Well, she had a pretty good fit when they wanted to use peacock feathers as set dressing in one scene. She insisted she would not share the stage with the "Evil Eye." Onstage, peacock feathers are apparently the "Evil Eye.” She could not believe none of us had ever heard of this "theater no-no." I had designed Bus Stop that same season - and used peacock feathers on one of those costumes. So you can bet I kept my mouth shut!


    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.

  • 'Sweeney Todd' star recalls agony, ecstasy of 'Tantalus'

    by John Moore | May 12, 2016
    Robert Petkoff Tantalus

    Robert Petkoff appeared as Achilles in the DCPA's co-production of 'Tantalus' with the Royal Shakespeare Company. 

     Robert Petkoff Sweeney ToddSweeney Todd isn’t the first time actor Robert Petkoff has been seen slinging blades with abandon across a Denver Center stage.

    Petkoff, currently slicing away eight times a week as theatre’s most famous cutter, played the knife-wielding Achilles in Tantalus back in 2000 in the same Stage Theatre. That was a massive, 10-play co-production between the DCPA Theatre Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company that is billed to this day as the largest undertaking in theatre history.

    “At the time, of course, I didn’t think of it that way,” said Petkoff, who has received overwhelming audience and critical acclaim for his present performance in Sweeney Todd. “I was just happy to have a chance to work with (Royal Shakespeare Company founder) Peter Hall and (writer) John Barton, both of whom were giants in theatre.”

    DCPA founder Donald R. Seawell brought the Trojan War cycle to Denver at a cost of $8 million. It was created by a hybrid crew of American and international actors and designers.

    "Nothing has come along like it, and it probably won't ever happen again,” said Seawell, who died last year at 103. "It brought more attention to the Denver Center than anything else we have ever done. It brought critics from all over the world. It brought people from more than 40 countries."

    Robert Petkoff quote

    Tantalus was an epic spectacle, on-stage and off. The PBS documentary Tantalus: Behind the Mask chronicled the six-month rehearsal process through the Denver debut and subsequent British tour. The film captured the artistic squabbles, clashing egos, mounting tension, hurdles of time and money – and spectacular artistic achievement.  

    The creative process destroyed the friendship between Barton and Hall after Hall’s requests for rewrites. Instead Barton returned to London, where he sat as the Denver marathon was being rapturously received. Meanwhile, as opening approached, frustrated co-director Mick Gordon disappeared without a trace. The cast and crew told the documentary team that Gordon’s flight was no less than a ruthless, demoralizing act of abandonment.

    “I think working on Tantalus helped me understand the opening line in A Tale of Two Cities: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,’ ” Petkoff said this week. “There were moments that felt like agony and betrayal, and more moments that were sheer ecstasy and filled with the joy of storytelling in an exciting and original way.”

    Robert Petkoff Sense and Sensibility

    Here’s more of our conversation with Petkoff, who returned to the DCPA in 2013 to appear in the world premiere of Sense & Sensibility, The Musical. He continues to play Sweeney Todd through May 15, though all performances are sold out:

    Robert Petkoff TantalusJohn Moore: What was your role in the story?

    Robert Petkoff: I played Achilles, his son Neoptolemus, Orestes and Aegisthus.  One of the great things about being in masks  - which I really resisted in the beginning - was the ability to truly transform in the audience’s eyes. My wife told me of witnessing two men arguing between plays about whether the role of Achilles and Neoptolemus were played by two different actors. The voice and physicality of the characters were very different: one a brutal warrior, the other a very young, effeminate boy. That’s, of course, very flattering to an actor. But it was the masks that really made that happen. The audience can project onto the mask a face they want or expect to see. That enables an actor to seem like two different people.

    John Moore: What was opening night like when you had audience members from 40 states and seven foreign countries?

    Robert Petkoff: I wondered what the hell people would make of this show.  We were all so close to the material and had lived with it for so long I don’t think any of us could tell whether or not it would succeed.  

    John Moore: In the end, was it good art?

    Robert Petkoff TantalusRobert Petkoff: I can’t really say whether it was successful art or not. There were so many people who told me they thought it was extraordinary. But the nature of art is that for every person who is moved by something there is someone who sniffs at it and feels it was a trifle and not worth their time.  I will say this though: There were those who came to the marathon performances and saw one-third of the play, then had lunch together, saw another third, then had dinner together, and finally came back for the last third of the 10 1/2 hour event. At the end of those marathon days the energy that came from the audience to the actors when we finally removed our masks and took our final bows is something I will never forget and probably will never experience in my lifetime again as an actor. For both the audience and the actors it was truly extraordinary and unique and powerful.  That’s what I will always carry with me.

    John Moore: What’s your craziest story of an onstage happening during the run?

    Robert Petkoff: The event I remember the most happened during the tour in the United Kingdom. At the end of one of the plays, I was in a “wedding dress” that I thought looked a bit like a red Tilt-a-Whirl.  It was a very dramatic costume.  At the blackout, someone was supposed to guide me with a flashlight off the stage into the wings, but at this particular venue - no one did. I saw a light and walked toward it and fell 5 feet off the front of the stage and landed on my back. Fortunately the enormous amount of fabric and the structure of the costume helped break my fall. The light I had walked toward was an exit sign. I got up as quickly as I could and walked toward that exit. Still in blackout. When I opened the door, it flooded the auditorium with light so the entire audience could see me trying to escape. In my panic, I tried to go straight out the door, but the costume was so wide, I kept hitting the doorframe and couldn’t get out.  With the house lights coming up, I finally turned sideways and shimmied out the door.

    John Moore: What was it like being back on that same stage to star in Sweeney Todd?

    Robert Petkoff: Stepping into the theatre again to do Sweeney Todd, I had a moment that I told my wife about later that night. I said to her that everything I went through backstage and in rehearsals in the nine months that we worked on and performed Tantalus in Denver all seemed so dramatic and important at the time. Now that I was back so many years later, what seemed important was that we created this unique work. Everything else seemed so inconsequential and trivial.

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter



    Sweeney Todd
    : Information

  • 270x270-sweeney-toddMusic and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; Book by High Wheeler (adapted by Christopher Bond); musical adaptation by DeVotchKa
  • Through May 15
  • Stage Theatre
  • Grammy-nominated Denver band DeVotchKa takes on the legendary demon barber of Fleet Street, serving up a reinvention of Sondheim’s musical thriller. Hell-bent on revenge, Sweeney Todd takes up with his enterprising neighbor in a devilish plot to slice their way through London’s upper crust. Justice will be served — along with audacious humor and bloody good thrills.
  • Tickets:  SOLD OUT

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of Sweeney Todd:
    Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16
    DeVotchKa frontman promises a Sweeney Todd that's 'loud and proud'
    DCPA announces DeVotchka-infused Sweeney Todd casting
    ​Where the band meets the blade: Rehearsals open
    Co-stars on bringing DeVotchKa’s fresh blood to Sondheim
    Video sneak peek with DeVotchKa
    Five things we learned at Perspectives: Use a dull blade!
    Interview, video: Sweeney Todd actors sing for Denver Actors Fund
    Opening Night photo gallery and story

    Previous Sweeney Todd cast profiles:

    Meet Danny Rothman
    Meet Jean McCormick
    ​Meet Daniel Berryman 
    Meet Michael Brian Dunn
  • 'Legally Blonde' director on 'The Hair That Ate Hollywood'

    by John Moore | May 11, 2016

     A legally blonde quote 2

    Legally Blonde is not the kind of script you would expect an edgy and award-winning student director to want for his first major studio film. Robert Luketic certainly did not. 

    “I actually had to be talked into it,” said Luketic, who sat on the contract offer from MGM Studios for more than a year before pulling the pink trigger on the feel-good film of 2001. “I was  little gun-shy. You're thinking, 'OK, someone has given me my shot, right? But is this the one I want to be known for? Is this how I want to start my career?’ ”

    A legally blonde credtsBut Luketic is not your typical dark and rebellious art-house film director. He’s an uncommonly self-aware Aussie whose big break was a whimsical 10-minute musical he shot in Cinemascope about an Italian girl called Titsiana Booberini. “She has a hairy upper lip and she works in a supermarket where she battles the prettier girls for the affections of the handsome assistant manager,” he said.

    “I made it to rebel against all the darker stuff that was being made at the time. Because as film students, we tend to like black and white, and heroin addiction and incest. And so I said, ‘I am going to make a Technicolor musical set in a supermarket.’ People thought I was crazy, but I think the risk paid off.”

    Well, it led directly to Legally Blonde, a film that cost $18 million to make, and grossed $142 million worldwide. So you could say the risk paid off.

    Legally Blonde has been called a “bait and switch” movie that fooled even MGM when it turned out to be an uncommonly progressive and, dare it be said – empowering piece of fluffy pink feminism. “Initially, they thought it was going to be much more wet T-shirts and boobs than it actually turned out to be,” said Luketic.

    Turns out the script, written by the 10 Things I Hate About You team of Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith and Karen McCullah - was ahead of its time. So was Reese Witherspoon, who would win an Oscar four years later for Walk the Line. Over the years, Legally Blonde has grown in esteem from simple summer escapism in the halcyon days leading up to the 9/11 attacks, to a film the internet’s “Rogue Feminist” recently called “incredibly woman-positive and an important staple in feminist pop culture.”

    Read more about the Denver Actors Fund

    Luketic, Smith and McCullah will be in Littleton on Monday, May 23, for a special benefit screening of Legally Blonde. It’s the latest offering in the Alamo Drafthouse’s “Denver Actors Fund Presents …” a monthly film series that features films that either inspired - or were inspired by - stage musicals that are currently being performed by a Colorado theatre company. Cast members from the Town Hall Arts Center’s upcoming staging of Legally Blonde, the Musical will entertain the audience at 6:30, with the film screening, and a Q&A with the creative team, to follow.

    Protagonist Elle Woods, of course, is the severely underestimated sorority girl who manages to get into Harvard Law School to impress a former boyfriend - only to realize she’s far too good for him.

    Reserve tickets to Legally Blonde screening and Q&A

    Luketic was just 25 when he got the offer to direct Legally Blonde. But he quickly discovered the team of Smith and McCullah would be his perfect entrée into the worlds of Hollywood moviemaking – and college sororities.

    “He’s from Australia, so he didn’t know much about the Greek system,” Smith said. “I remember going with him to all these sorority houses at UCLA so he could get a sense of that world. His joie de vivre is something really special, and you can feel it in the film.”   

    Luketic put it more simply: “We just get each other. We love to hang out. We get drunk together. It just works for us.”

    Luketic knows who he is. More important, he knows what is expected of him. "Listen, I am not making fine art," he said. "I make a commercial product that sells tickets. I understand that."

    Here are six essential things we learned from Luketic and Smith about the making of Legally Blonde. Burning issues such as, "What is the origin of the bend-and-snap?" and, "Whatever happened to that dog?" Read on ...

    A legally blonde

    1 PerspectivesThe hair has a name. “Oh my God, it became known as ‘The Hair That Ate Hollywood,’ ” Luketic said. “It became all about the hair. I have this obsession with flyaways. It would annoy Reese a little bit because I would always have hairdressers in her face. But really the most time and research and testing on the set went into getting the color right, because ‘blonde’ is subject to interpretation, I found.”

    2 PerspectivesDespite her impeccable credentials, Reese Witherspoon was not MGM Studios’ first choice for Elle. Charlize Theron, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alicia Silverstone, Katherine Heigl, Christina Applegate, Milla Jovovich and Jennifer Love Hewitt were all considered for the role. “But there was only one name that I was obsessed with, and it was Reese,” Luketic said. While Legally Blonde was his first feature, Witherspoon already had 15 major credits to her name, including American Psycho, Cruel Intentions and Pleasantville. “I had just seen Election, and I was all into this woman,” Luketic said. “She was perfect for the voice. Admittedly, she wasn't the first name that the studio wanted, but I wanted someone with gravitas and brains. There had to be more behind the face, and Reese just fit the bill.”

    3 PerspectivesThe now iconic “bend and snap” was the result of inspired desperation. “We had been instructed to add a (plot twist) into the second act by producer Marc Platt, and we were kind of wits end,” said Smith.  We’d come up with all these crazy ideas: “The nail salon gets robbed!” “Paulette gets deported and Elle has to use her knowledge of immigration law to get her out of it!” Nothing was clicking. Finally, we were in a bar one night in Beverly Hills and I said to Karen something like, ‘What if Paulette has a crush on a UPS guy who always comes in, and Elle teaches her one of her patented moves to get the guy? Like, "You should try the bend and snap." ' I demonstrated the move for Karen in the middle of the bar. She laughed - so we put it in,” Smith said. “Sometimes you can wrack your brain to find a solution. Then you have to take a break and be silly, and the right idea can come to you.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    4 PerspectivesLuketic owes his big break to two film festivals in Colorado, and today he even lives here. Sort of.  “I keep a residence at the Ritz-Carlton in Vail,” he says. Luketic started making movies in Australia at age 16. He entered his short film Titsiana Booberini for the Telluride Film Festival and it went on to win "Best Film" at the Aspen Shortsfest, landing Luketic his MGM contract. “When I entered my film into Telluride as a short, I had very little expectations,” he said. "It was through a program called Filmmakers of Tomorrow, and I heard there were going to be all kinds of fancy students and films. I was surprised that I got in, and I was even more surprised at the reaction I got after the screening. It was a life-changing moment. You get an agent and a manager and a deal with a major studio. This all happened within 40 minutes of my film screening.”

    5 PerspectivesA legally blonde heather hachLegally Blonde was made into a Broadway musical in 2007, and the script was written by Loveland native and University of Colorado grad Heather Hach (pictured right), who was nominated for a Tony Award. Smith, who met Hach briefly years ago, says she very much enjoyed the stage musical. “MGM flew us out to the opening night on Broadway, and it was so amazing to walk into the theater and see that they’d outfitted the whole place in pink — pink carpet, pink curtains. It was nuts,” said Smith. “It’s one thing to walk onto a movie set and see your screenplay coming to life with a film crew and actors. But it was a whole different thing to see your scenes and your dialogue turn into a full-blown rollercoaster of a musical with a stage full of Broadway singers and dancers.” Luketic has never met Hach, “but she did a great job," he said. Luketic loves the musical. He has seen it live in London, Australia and New York.

    Read John Moore's 2007 profile of Heather Hach

    6 PerspectivesOK, so most film critics did not love Legally Blonde. But AO Scott of the New York Times did concede that the film “made me and some of my dyspeptic colleagues laugh giddily and helplessly.” Something neither Smith nor Luketic were aware of (until now!). “Wow. I’d never read that,” Smith said. “AO Scott is a titan of film criticism, so that’s a huge compliment.” Luketic is a little more blunt. “I got burnt when the first reviews for Legally Blonde came out," he said. “I mean, I was excoriated. Most of my life I have gotten bad reviews, actually, and I am OK with that because I don't read them. I just know there’s a lot of bad stuff out there because a lot of people come up to me and say, ‘Oh, I am so sorry.’ You know, in that way like maybe someone has just died. But it makes me want to be better, I guess.”

    7 PerspectivesJust a few weeks ago, Bruiser died. Actually, the little Chihuahua was named Moonie, and he was 18. “Reese would joke that I thought Moonie was a better actor than she was,” Luketic said. “So for a wrap gift, she gave me this lovely little Tiffany’s silver frame with a picture of me and Moonie. In fact, I am sitting here at my desk looking at it right now as you brought that up.” It’s a sad passing, but is 18 a good, long run for a dog. “Are you kidding? That's a blockbuster of a life for a dog,” Luketic said.

    Bonus coverage: More from our interview with Luketic and Smith: 

    John Moore: So why did this underdog-of-a-movie work?

    Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith: Lots of reasons - the main one being Reese. She was so perfect in the role. MGM's marketing and PR for the movie was also incredible. They did so much creative stuff.  They created a National Blonde Day - in the pre-hashtag era.  They got Regis Philbin to dye his hair blonde.  They had a float at the Gay Pride Parade that Jennifer Coolidge rode on surrounded by a bunch of shirtless guys throwing out T-shirts. It was a perfect tumbleweed of good fortune that rarely happens in Hollywood: We gave our brilliant producer a script that attracted a great young director and an incredible actress who got the movie green-lit by a studio that left us alone to make the movie and then knew when and how to release it. 

    Robert Luketic: I think Elle was a young onscreen heroine women could feel positive about. For the first time, the woman in a movie wasn't just an accessory to a man. This was a film about being yourself in a world where we are meant to be cookie-cutter skinny things. The best version of ourselves is when we can be ourselves.

    John Moore: What are you working on now?

    Robert Luketic: I have an interesting project I am doing with Jaden Smith that's kind of edgy and different. More in the world of 21. And then I will be reuniting with the two girls, Kiwi and Karen, to make a killer, all female-driven action film called The Bells. It's sort of an inspired spin-off of The Expendables franchise - except this is all women. It's very exciting. And very empowering - so it takes me back to some familiar territory. I really think females drive the decision to go and watch a movie on a weekend. This is a segment of audience that my business has ignored for so many years, but I think now is a golden time when we are seeing films made for women. The only thing that is lacking is that not enough women are making films for women. But I think that will change.

    John Moore: It’s 15 years past Legally Blonde. What kind of groundbreaking story do you think young women need to hear now? 

    Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith: Let’s take a poll! I’d love to hear from young women what kinds of stories they’re burning to hear.  We’ll be at the Alamo Drafthouse on May 23 if they want to chat about it in person!

    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. He is also the founder of the Denver Actors Fund.

    Denver Actors Fund Presents ... Legally Blonde
    A benefit screening for the Denver Actors Fund
    Monday, May 23
    At the Alamo Drafthouse, 7301 S. Santa Fe Drive, Littleton, 303-730-2470

    • 6pm Doors
    • 6:30p.m. Live entertainment from Town Hall Arts Center
    • 7pm film
    • 9pm Q&A with Director Robert Luketic and screenwriters Kirsten ‘Kiwi’ Smith and Karen McCullah

    Tickets $20 CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE

    Note: The Town Hall Arts Center will present Legally Blonde, the Musical onstage from May 20-June 19 at 2450 Main St., Littleton. The director is Nick Sugar. Call  303-794-2787, or go to townhallartscenter.org

  • Judi Wolf: A woman for all costumes

    by NewsCenter Staff | May 11, 2016
    Judi Wolf Donald Seawell Hattitude 2015 DCPA Founder Don Seawell is pictured above with flamboyant DCPA Trustee Judi Wolf at the 2015 Hattitude luncheon. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.


    DCPA Trustee Judi Wolf has been playing in costumes since she was 6.

    “I started in my mother’s ballgowns,” she said. “I would put them on and get completely lost in them.”

    Judi Wolf QuoteRed is both Wolf’s color and her moniker. From her flaming red hair to her flair for the dramatic, she exudes red.

    Wolf has been a staunch supporter of the DCPA since the first opening night in 1979, and openings continue to be a very big deal to her. She wore a toga to the opening of the 10-hour epic Greek cycle Tantalus in 2000. She arrived at The Little Mermaid in 2007 dressed as Ariel’s mother where she held fish-shaped balloons while her household manager blew bubbles in her wake.

    There are method actors, and there are method dressers. Imagine what the audience thought when Wolf arrived at The Man Who Came to Dinner in 1990 wearing a cocktail dress and riding in a wheelchair. The play’s cranky protagonist Sheridan Whiteside, of course, spends the play in a wheelchair. Now that is commitment to craft.

    But in this case, says Wolf, she needed it. “I had tripped walking out of the beauty shop,” she said, “so I rode to the opening in ambulance with ice on my knee and ankle. It was opening night. I wasn’t going to miss it.”  Wolf is a Denver native with a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Denver. She taught Spanish at Graland Country Day School and was named as the Fine Arts Foundation Citizen of the Arts in 2012.

    She has sponsored the Costume Corner column in the DCPA's Applause magazine for the past five years because she believes the costume arts must be championed.

    “What is theatre without costumes?” she said. “It’s radio!”

    Denver Stories Curious Judi Wolf Jim Hunt

    Judi Wolf at home on the "red" carpet with "Denver Stories" Director Jim Hunt at Curious Theatre. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Haley Johnson: From extra to a screening at Cannes

    by John Moore | May 10, 2016
    Haley Johnson Genesis



    Denver actor Haley Johnson went from answering a local call for extras to playing the lead female role in a film that will be screened Friday at the Cannes Film Festival.

    How does that feel?

    “Surreal. Unbelievable. A once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will, unfortunately, miss attending,” she said.

    Alas, Johnson will miss the screening of Genesis in Cannes because she is currently appearing in Casa Valentina through May 22 at The Edge Theatre. She plays the rather … disapproving daughter of a retired 1960s Army veteran who happens to enjoy wearing women’s clothes.

    But wait … how did this happen?

    Haley Johnson Casa ValentinaGenesis is a locally produced zombie film written and directed by Loveland native Michael McCarthy and his production company, Killgore Films, which put out a call for extras that Johnson answered way back in 2012.

    “I showed up on location and there were at least 20 or 30 other people there,” she said. "I said I’d be happy to be covered in blood and dirt and went so far as to roll around on the ground to get my clothes filthy.” Apparently, McCarthy noticed.

    “When we had to re-write and re-cast, it was clear that Haley had amazing talent, so we wrote a large part for her,” McCarthy said of Johnson, whose recent stage work includes playing the mother of a boy killed in traffic (Rabbit Hole) and a daughter whose mother who announces her intention to commit suicide (the Henry Award-winning Night, Mother).

    Genesis is an apocalyptic thriller in which U.S. Marshals are sent to a remote farmhouse in Colorado to retrieve a scientist in the Witness Protection Program who may hold the key to solving the unfolding pandemic. Johnson plays a mystery woman named Ilsa. “As the story unfolds, you learn small details about who she is, what she wants and how she fits into the puzzle,” she said.

    Johnson moved to Littleton from Pensacola, Fla., in 1995 and graduated from Arapahoe High School. She attended Florida State University for two years before graduating from the University of Colorado Denver and has been working in the Denver metro theatre community as an actor, director and playwright for the past 12 years.

    To be precise, Genesis is not in consideration for the Palme d'Or (the highest prize awarded at the Palm). It won entry into the Marche de Film, which is a market festival at the Cannes. But, still ...

    GenesisCover
    Courtesy Killgore Films.


    Here’s more about Haley Johnson's long, strange trip not to France:

    John Moore: Where was Genesis shot?

    Haley Johnson: It was shot all over Northern Colorado but my scenes were specifically shot on location at a turn-of-the century farmhouse in Greeley. The first few times I was called as an extra were for night shoots. When I was given the role of Ilsa, I shot my scenes on  location, all over one weekend.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: So how hard is it not to be in France this weekend?

    Haley Johnson: It would have been a pricey trip, and it’s next to impossible to book a hotel anywhere near Cannes. But, I’m currently performing in Casa Valentina at The Edge Theatre, and I’ve never missed a performance of a show I’ve been a part of. Ever. I will miss the screening, but I was more bummed at the possibility that I may be missing the opportunity of bumping into Tom Hardy at a French café.

    John Moore: How can we see Genesis in Colorado?

    Haley Johnson: Genesis will have a screening for cast and crew in Loveland this June, and it will be available on Blu-Ray and iTunes later this summer.

    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.

    Go to the official Genesis web site

    Courtesy Killgore Films.
  • A look back at Denver's Great, Rowdy White Way

    by Olivia Jansen | May 10, 2016


    Photos courtesy Denver Public Library's Western History Department.


    Thomas Edison once called it "the brightest street in America." The Great White Way was lined with 13 grand theatres, their bright signs and lights illuminating the street so intensely there was no need for streetlights. On busy nights, the street became so congested with cars, a police officer was stationed in the center to direct traffic.

    Denver Theatre history quoteThis particular street was not made in Manhattan, but right in downtown Denver. During the 1900s, Curtis Street was known as the Great White Way, and not far from the present-day Denver Performing Arts Complex.

    Attending theatre was a popular pastime during that era. In 1914, the population in Denver was 230,000. And while there is no way to verify this now, it was reported at the time that an average of 100,000 of them attended a theatre show of some variety - every single day.

    But live performance had been popular long before the 1900s. The Rocky Mountain News published stories about the beginnings of theatre in Denver dating as far back as 1859. Many of those early shows had one thing in common - they were rowdy.

    “Not infrequently, some of the most pathetic passages and scenes on the stage were provokingly interrupted by the clinking of glasses, the rattling of billiard pins and the attempts at vocal melodies from the uproarious regions below,” The Rocky Mountain News reported in a retrospective of Denver in 1859 that was published in 1934.

    Most theatres then were primarily bars, with theatres on the second floor. It wasn’t uncommon for an audience member to invite cast members downstairs for a drink after the first act, which often resulted in poor performances in the second act. But the audience rarely complained.

    Curtis_Street_at_dusk__early_1900s_known_as
    Curtis Street.


    One of the first local theatres to “clean up the stage” and go legit was the Tabor Grand Opera House, which opened in 1881 on Curtis Street. At the time, it was one of the few grand theatres in the country, with cherry wood from Japan and mahogany from Honduras. Up until the 1920s, it attracted the world’s greatest actors and productions.

    One of the more unique theatres at the time was at Elitch Gardens, which opened in 1890. The Elitch Theatre was partly run by Mary Elitch, who became internationally famous as the only female owner of a zoo after her husband died. Vaudeville and opera were staples on her stage, and later a symphony orchestra was introduced during Friday afternoons. It drew anyone “who could get a foothold on the little street car that ran out to the Gardens, find a ‘rig,’ or walk out over sandy roads,” reported The Rocky Mountain News.

    The Elitch Theatre remained open through the mid 1980s, known as the world’s oldest summer-theatre company and hosting some of the biggest stars of the day, from Grace Kelly to Douglas Fairbanks Jr. There have been ongoing efforts to restore and reopen the theatre ever since.

    And then came the boom of movie theatres in Denver. Harry Huffman was the man behind many of the great theatres in the city. He opened his first “Bide-A-Wee,” for the sole purpose of bringing business to his drug store across the street, which ended up being a huge success. More theatres followed. The majority concentrated on Curtis Street, which soon became known as “Theatre Row.” Today, it is still referred to as the Denver’s Theatre District.

    When one cinema became electrically lighted, the rest followed, and soon the “street was a blaze of illumination for three solid blocks and came to be known as the best lighted street in the world,” wrote The Rocky Mountain News.

    Imagine walking down Curtis Street in the early 1900s, being surrounded by beautiful buildings, towering electric signs and some of the most popular performers of the time.

    Princess_Theater

    On one side of the street would be The Iris, one of the oldest theatres, built in the 1880s. It cycled through a number of names in its lifetime, including The Curtis, The Denver, and Gem - but its final name was The New Paris. Back then, a movie would cost between 5 and 75 cents, which is hard to believe when a ticket today costs around $11. It was the final Curtis Street theatre left standing before it was demolished in 1974.

    Another block down would be The Princess, built in 1910. It showed silent movies and often offered stage shows before the movie started, such as dancers, jugglers or vaudeville routines. In 1919, it was renamed The Victory Theatre to honor those who fought in World War I. In 1951, the theatre met the fate of so many other historical buildings and was torn down.

    The Isis, built in 1912, was considered one of the first “swanky” theatres in Denver because of its expensive and luxurious interior. The stage was large enough to host children’s events and political meetings in addition to the movies. It also boasted the first theatre organ.

    “An obscure church decided to sell its organ and The Isis management bought it. The console was installed in the balcony, and if the patrons wished to see the organist, they had to turn from the picture and crane their necks up and to the back,” reported The Rocky Mountain News.

    Torn down 43 years later, the site of The Isis is now used for public parking.

    America_Theatre

    Strolling down Theatre Row, it would be impossible to miss The America Theatre, which opened in 1917. It was recognized as one of the most lighted theatres on the street. With two entrances came two immense signs, one weighing 15 tons. It was considered the largest sign in the West and could have sufficiently lit the street on its own.

    One of the last great theatres to be built in Denver was The Aladdin on East Colfax. Everyone who attended was in awe of the luxurious green carpets and sky-blue ceiling, featuring hundreds of tiny, twinkling lights. Built in 1926, it was the first in Denver made for sound pictures. There were even Arabian murals and a fountain, decorations vastly different than movie theatres have now.

    By 1925, Curtis Street had at least 13 vaudeville and movie houses. Today, not one of those historical theatres is left standing. All the memories and history of each were lost to build high-rises or parking lots.

    But Curtis Street is still known for its live theatre. The west end of the street was reborn in 1972 as the home of the Denver Performing Arts Complex, the nation’s performing-arts facility under one roof. Today the DCPA attracts about 800,000 a year for performances, classes and other activities.

    But while Curtis Street now has new buildings with new lights, it hardly compares to the beauty and magic of the Great White Way in its glory days.

    About the Author: Olivia Jansen

    Olivia JansenDCPA NewsCenter intern Olivia Jansen, right, is a junior at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, where she is studying multimedia journalism. She is from Johnsburg, Ill. Read her previous profiles of DCPA Education Director Allison Watrous; Denver actors Karen Slack and Paige Price; and Stage Manager Rachel Ducat.





    Denver_movie_street_Curtis_from_Sixteenth_toward_18thDenver's 'Movie Street' was Curtis Street from 16th through 18th street.
  • Photos, video: Hattitude 2016: Playing for a level playing field

    by John Moore | May 06, 2016

    Video coverage of the 2016 Women with Hattitude luncheon by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Interviews by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore. Just push play.


    Denver dance legend Cleo Parker Robinson looked around a ballroom filled to capacity with 650 (mostly) women donning majestic, artistic, floral, ethnic, comic and even playfully gaudy millinery - and simply marveled.

    “It’s just like rainbows moving, dancing and singing,” said Robinson, founder of the internationally acclaimed Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, and a former DCPA Trustee. “It’s just wonderful.”

    Hattitude quote Cleo Parker RobinsonThe occasion was Thursday’s 11th annual DCPA Women with Hattitude luncheon at the Seawell Ballroom. Robinson was part of the original African-American Task force that dreamed up Hattitude to support the hiring of female playwrights and directors.

    Eleven years later, Artistic Director Kent Thompson’s Women’s Voices Fund is a national model that enables the DCPA Theatre Company to commission, workshop and produce new plays by women. Now valued at more than $1 million, the Women’s Voices Fund is one of the largest funds of any kind devoted to creating new works for the American theatre. Thursday's luncheon raised $80,000 for the cause.

    Last year, the DCPA Theatre Company presented world premieres by Theresa Rebeck (The Nest) and Tanya Saracho (FADE). Its Education Division’s annual statewide youth playwriting competition produced 10 semifinalists this year - nine of them young women - from a field of 212. In July, Kendra Knapp’s Sonder will get a full production in the Conservatory Theatre.

    Studies have shown that while women make up nearly 60 percent of all live theatregoing audiences nationwide, only about 25 percent of all plays and musicals staged in America are written by women. In its first 10 years, the Women’s Voices Fund made it possible for the DCPA Theatre Company to produce 26 plays by women (including 10 world premieres), commission 15 female playwrights and hire 17 female directors.

    “The Women’s Voices Fund matters so much because the majority of people in this industry seem to be female, but the majority of positions of authority seem to be held by men,” said Lori McClain, an actor performing in The Realish Housewives of Cherry Creek in the Galleria Theatre. “The movie industry could take a cue from this event.”

    Next season, the Theatre Company will be presenting two world premieres, both by women: Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will and Tira Palmquist’s Two Degrees. Thompson also pointed out Thursday that the new Broadway musical Waitress spent some of its development time at the Denver Center. Kathleen Marshall workshopped the piece here while she was also bringing The Unsinkable Molly Brown to life in 2014. Waitress is the first Broadway musical in history with an all-female creative and design team.

    Our 2016 Women with Hattitude photo gallery:


    Hattitude 2016 Photos from the 2016 Hattitude luncheon. To see more, press the forward button on the image above. Click on any photo to download for free. Photos by John Moore and Emily Lozow for the DCPA NewsCenter. More photos will be added to this gallery next week.

    “We are leading the way in making sure women’s voices are heard throughout the nation,” said DCPA CEO and President Scott Shiller. “And what we have done for the past 11 years is just the start of what we are going to do for the next 10.”

    The Hattitude tradition began in 2005, growing out of the Theatre Company’s presentation of Regina Taylor’s Crowns.  Her musical play explored black history and identity, using an exquisite variety of hats to tell the shared history and rituals of African-American women, ranging in era from slavery to current fashion.

    Crowns deals with what it meant for a woman to have her head covered, and the statement that it makes,” Robinson said. “In the African tradition, when we wear head wraps, it’s almost a regal thing.”

    Hattitude Mary Louise LeeThompson, who had just arrived at the DCPA in 2005, created the African-American Task Force that included Robinson. “It was very important for us to include all multicultural communities,” said Robinson. The annual Hattitude luncheon, she added, was the perfect opportunity for women of all backgrounds to come together, share lunch and tell stories, while also raising money for the Women’s Voices Fund.

    “This was one way to get out the African-American community. And you know - we sisters love to wear hats,” Robinson said. “Our hats make a cultural statement, and they make an age statement. It about her attitude - and her hattitude.”

    (Pictured at right: Denver First Lady Mary Louise Lee.)

    Hattitude culminates with a whimsical fashion show – each of the 65 tables nominate one woman (or man!) to walk down a runway and show off their hats. This year, University of Northern Colorado freshman musical-theatre student Abby Noble led the parade while singing “I Feel the Earth Move” from the upcoming touring musical Beautiful - The Carole King Story (July 19-31).

    More information on the Women’s Voices Fund

    As a young artist hoping to graduate into a more equitable world, Noble clearly gets the need, the benefit and the fun of an afternoon like Hattitude.

    “Women coming together to support women in the theatre is so necessary because of course women need to be represented equally in the theatre community,” said Noble, who as a high-schooler won the DCPA’s 2014 Bobby G Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical. “This event is so important because it illustrates that we are making an impact, and we are trying to change (the numbers).”

    Hattitude quote Realish Housewives of Cherry Creek
    From left: Katy Carolina Collins, Denise Snyder (Mariel of Cherry Creek), Emjoy Gavino, Jackson Evans, Katie Caussin, Lindsey Pearlman, Lori McClain. Front: 'Best in Show' hat winner B.J. Dyer. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Director Christy Montour-Larson, who directed Two Degrees at the Theatre Company’s 2016 Colorado New Play Summit, was energized to see “such a wide spectrum of humanity, of women, and of hats” at Thursday’s luncheon. “Every time I look out into an audience, they are women. And if we give women opportunities to write plays and direct plays, then we hear their stories.”

     Hattitude Kevin Curtis Sweeney ToddAnd that matters to audiences, says Michanda Lindsey.

    “I think there is a palatable difference when I see a play that has been directed by a woman, or has the voice of the woman as the writer,” said Lindsey, a Transformation Coach and wife of frequent Theatre Company actor Cajardo Lindsey (All the Way). “Different layers are captured that I believe are so necessary to tell the full spectrum of who we are as a humanity.”

    Hattitude was hosted this year by CBS-4 anchors Jim Benneman and Karen Leigh. The Event Chair was longtime Denver philanthropist Jamie Angelich. Actor Kevin Curtis (pictured right), who plays Tobias Ragg in the Theatre Company's critically acclaimed Sweeney Todd, sang "Nothing's Gonna Harm You," to the accompaniment of Erik Daniells.  

    Hattitude Best In Show. BJ DyerLongtime DCPA Trustee Judi Wolf acknowledged the recent passing of DCPA founder Donald R. Seawell, noting his attendance at all 10 previous Hattitude luncheons. It was Wolf’s task to choose the “Best in Show” hat, and she went with one lined entirely with ticket stubs to The Realish Housewives of Cherry Creek. Its creator was BJ Dyer, owner of Denver’s Bouquets floral and gift shop (pictured right). Another award-winner was Lannie Garrett, owner of Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret and recent inductee into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Hattitude was especially fun, if a bit unfamiliar, for the newly arrived cast of The Realish Housewives of Cherry Creek, who tour their Real Housewives parody from city to city, localizing the material for local audiences.

    “I really look forward to the time where the playing field is level in terms of gender diversity so we don’t have to have these gender designations like, ‘This is for women,’ or, ‘This is for people of color,’” said Realish actor Katie Caussin. “Hopefully soon we can have a level playing field - because artists are artists.”

    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.

    DCPA CEO Scott Shiller and Event Chair Jamie Angelich
    DCPA CEO Scott Shiller, left, and Hattitude Event Chair Jamie Angelich. Below, dignitaries and hat winners. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Hattitude dignitaries and hat winners.


  • Tony Garcia of Su Teatro: On moving from marginalized to mainstream

    by John Moore | May 03, 2016
    Su Teatro's Anthony Garcia was disappointed when his recent production of 'Enrique's Journey in Los Angeles garnered attention from the Los Angeles Times, but not form the local media in Denver. Photo by John More for the DCPA NewsCenter.
    Su Teatro's Anthony J. Garcia was disappointed when he brought his recent production of 'Enrique's Journey' to Los Angeles and it garnered attention from the Los Angeles Times - but not from the hometown media in Denver. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    By most any measure, Su Teatro has arrived. Denver’s only Chicano theatre company has been serving the statewide community for more than 40 years and now attracts about 12,000 a year to its live theatre, films and concerts – while somehow managing an average ticket price of just $10.

    Su Teatro calls itself “Locally Grown, Nationally Known,” having emerged from the protest movement of the early 1970s and surviving several moves to its current home as a fully functioning multidisciplinary cultural arts center on Santa Fe Drive.

    Last week, Su Teatro won a $42,880 national grant from The MAP Fund to support Chicano Roots Rehab, a new music and theater project developed by Su Teatro’s proudly rebellious Executive Artistic Director, Anthony J. Garcia. The grant will dispatch Garcia and his musical collaborator, Daniel Valdez, to communities in Colorado and New Mexico to collect songs and stories in danger of being lost. 

    In its 44 years, Su Teatro has created more than 30 original, full-length theatre productions that have toured widely to venues such as New York's Public Theater, The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio and the Plaza de la Raza in Los Angeles. Su Teatro has been funded over the years by the Shubert Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Theatre Communications Group, the American Composers Forum and, now, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, among others.

    Locally grown, nationally known.

    Tony Garcia QuoteBut the question that still gnaws at Garcia is this: Why is Su Teatro not more locally known?

    “We have, in many ways, a greater national presence than local presence,” said Garcia, the only Colorado artist ever to earn both the Theater Communications Group’s Directing Fellowship and a United States Artist Fellowship.

    “Do you feel culturally marginalized?” he was asked bluntly. His answer: Somewhat.

    “But just to be clear about it, I don't feel this is necessarily a cross,” he said. “I think it’s a reality. We used to always say we aren't trying to fit into the mainstream - we're trying to broaden the mainstream so people understand that there's a broader palette that is actually part of that mainstream.”

    Garcia believes there is a chasm that separates Su Teatro and other culturally specific local arts companies like Cleo Parker Robinson Dance and Museo de Las Americas from the area’s largest cultural institutions whose mandate is to serve all segments of the community.

    But the local landscape has changed dramatically since Garcia grew up in the 1960s in Denver’s west-side barrio. He was one of the hundreds of Chicanos who were involuntarily displaced to make room for the Auraria campus. Growing up, he saw the cumulative effects of how social and economic neglect on a proud, poor community manifested themselves in crime and alcoholism.

    “But now we have Latino U.S. senators,” said Garcia, 62. “We have Latinos who are running for president. We see bilingual commercials on television. So this idea that we’re exotic and we’re on the periphery is no longer true. We are participants in the mainstream U.S. economy. We are participants in the mainstream democracy. We are participants in the mainstream culture.”  

    But he believes the little guys “must work harder, smarter and leaner” for their share of public and private support. “If you were a sponsor, who would give a better profile to: The large, mainstream institution or the little barrio group?” he said. “If you are a newspaper or TV outlet, what event would you want to cover? If you were an artist, which gig would rather do: The one where you get better pay and exposure, or the small, neighborhood event?”

    But while Hispanics and Latinos now make up 35 percent of Denver’s population,  Su Teatro remains the state’s only dedicated Chicano theatre company, to Garcia’s great frustration. So why hasn’t there been commensurate growth in institutions along with the change in population? We asked Garcia to expand on issues of cultural equity.

    Tony Garcia Quote

    John Moore: Explain what it means to be marginalized.

    Tony Garcia: There is a lot of conversation right now about how racism is an economic issue, and it is. Racism is an economic structure that allows for the advancement of one group from the exploitation of another group. That is why economic disparity exists. I define marginalization as the norm versus the abnormal. I think the problem in Denver is that a lot of what is perceived as the mainstream is actually the mainstream from 20 years ago. Now Su Teatro and other organizations are pushing up against the perception of what “was” the mainstream. They talk about marginalization in political-science classes in terms of the "other." The fear of the other. It’s xenophobia. And I think that’s part of marginalization. 

    John Moore: You have always been bilingual but primarily English-speaking in your theatrical presentations. What is said in Spanish is generally repeated in English, which I think non-Spanish speaking audiences appreciate. But some of your titles are in English, and some of them are in Spanish. Are your plays differently received when you go with the Spanish title?

    Tony Garcia: Yes. The language becomes another barrier, and that’s part of marginalization. We did a piece called Cuarenta y Ocho, which means 48, and in the story, it refers to the 48 hours in-between two bombings. A lot of people just wouldn’t say the words in Spanish; they just referred to it as 48. With the title, a lot of people assumed it would be presented entirely in Spanish, even though it was mostly in English. So, yes, I think the title being in Spanish kept some people away.  I just thought Cuarenta y Ocho sounded a lot better than 48.

    John Moore: How did that play out at the box office?

    John Moore’s 2005 profile on Tony Garcia

    Tony Garcia: We had just finished doing Real Women Have Curves, which drew astronomical numbers. The place was just packed all the time with heavily drinking women. But I would say the attendance was 50 percent lower for Cuarenta y Ocho.

    John Moore: So you think seeing a title in Spanish …

    Tony Garcia: It’s a deterrent.

    John Moore: It’s a deterrent, yes. But is it racism?

    Tony Garcia: That’s a good question. I think there are other elements tied into the racism. I don’t think someone ever specifically says: "I don't want to go because there are Mexicans there - and I dislike Mexicans." The racist element comes in when someone says: “This is outside the norm.” There's a marginalization that occurs when you say: “I am placing what you do on the margins.” Racism can be very nuanced, but we can make some assumptions. We get more white audience members when our titles are in English versus Spanish.

    Anthony J. Garcia of Su Teatro.

    Anthony J. Garcia of Su Teatro spoke up last month on a compromise that moved the SCFD reauthorization forward in its legislative odyssey. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    John Moore: Are you saying that the demographics of Denver have changed and the old mainstream hasn’t caught on that they really aren’t the mainstream anymore?

    Tony Garcia: I am saying the dynamics in Denver are all changing. The demographics are changing. Political and the economic dynamics are changing. Latinos are moving out of Denver, because we're all moving out of Denver. We have to, because the housing situation is pushing more and more people of lower economic status out to the suburbs. Denver's Latino population is 35 percent in the city. And they are expecting that by 2030, the population will be 20 percent across the board in all seven metro counties. Latinos have become a majority minority. That’s because we’re all having kids. And those kids are not immigrants, because they're already here in this country. So when I say things are changing, that's happening. Ergo, the mainstream is going to change. No matter where people came from, you have a whole group growing up, for lack of a better word, as Chicanos. They're bilingual, they're bicultural and they are going to be a huge force here. With that as a given, when we have conversations about what's going on here in the city and we're not included in those conversations - there's a disconnect.

    Tony Garcia QuoteJohn Moore: You are operating at a time when it is getting more and more difficult for anyone to attract major media attention. But do you feel the difficulty you are facing is a cultural bias – or are you just like everyone else who is struggling to get some attention in an era of dwindling newsrooms?

    Tony Garcia: To me, that is a question of economics, because I don't have the time or economic capacity to be on the phone tracking down reporters for an article.

    John Moore: But do you feel you are being ignored because of who you are?

    Tony Garcia: Yes. Yes. Because the media gets to decide “this is what is important to the greatest number of people.” I don't believe the media have an obligation to cover us. But I do believe there is a big disconnect when you're completely ignorant of us. The dominant culture has a responsibility to understand the minority culture. It should not be all on us to educate every white person who comes along to what is sensitive, and to what is important. That’s a lot of educating we would have to do.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: There are more than 60 theatre companies in Denver. But you're the only one whose mission is to present Chicano and Latino plays. So do you think the media have a responsibility to pay attention to you, regardless of the numbers?

    Tony Garcia: They have a responsibility to the greater community, but they do not have that responsibility to me. As an individual artist at Su Teatro, I always believe that we put our stuff out there and we compete for attention equally and openly. We understand that it’s a matter of capacity and resources, too. And I understand that there are a lot of other groups that are doing a lot of important things out there. But I also I believe that our community contributes to that infrastructure. I don't like the idea that we're the only Latino theatre in town. But that also means what we do here represents a big part of the Denver population. And I also think there's a benefit to the mainstream community for us to get stronger and for us to continue to produce. So in a broader sense, I would say “yes.”

    John Moore: I want to try to pinpoint who you're really mad at. 

    Tony Garcia: I’m mad that I don't have an HVAC (heating and air conditioning).  Mine is messed up. I need $125,000 to fix it, but we don't have those kinds of resources within our community right now to make it happen. It's like we’re trying to build an ark with rocks. But we’ll figure out a way. My daughter tells me, "I have always felt if they gave you a rock and a rubber band, you could build a play." That’s kind of the way we've always been.

    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.

    Su Teatro /Upcoming

    • May 8: Serenata Madrelinda: Mother’s Day brunch and concert.
    • June 9-26:El Sol Que Tu Eres/The Sun That You Are: Revival of original musical adapted from the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice)
    • June (dates TBA): Bless Me, Ultima: Revival of Rudolfo Anaya play about the coming of age of Antonio Márez y Luna, with the guidance of his curandera, mentor, and protector, Ultima.
  • Colorado's ties to the 2016 Tony Award nominations

    by John Moore | May 03, 2016


    With a Pulitzer Prize already under its bulging belt, the question this morning when the Tony Awards nominations were announced was just how historic of a morning this would be for the historical musical Hamilton.

    The answer: As historic as it gets. Lin-Manuel Miranda's groundbreaking musical earned 16 nominations, making it the most-honored production in Broadway history. Miranda's hip-hop-flavored biography about the first U.S. treasury secretary broke record of 15 nominations held by The Producers and Billy Elliot. Hamilton was nominated in virtually every category it could compete in.

    The other unfortunately timed productions nominated for Best New Musical are Bright Star, School of Rock, Shuffle Along and Waitress.

    The Humans. Photo by Joan Marcus(Pictured right: Stephen Karam's extraordinary family drama 'The Humans' earned six nominations. Photo by Joan Marcus.) 

    The Best New Play nominees are Eclipsed, The Father, The Humans and King Charles III.

    For the first time in many years, there appear to be no direct nominees with a considerable Colorado connection. George Washington High School graduate Sierra Boggess is headlining Andrew Lloyd Webber's Best Musical nominee School of Rock. That ensemble also features Tally Sessions, who starred in the Arvada Center's Chess.

    Sierra Boggess tweet
    Denver native Sierra Boggess tweeted out congratulations to her 'School of Rock' team for its Best New Musical nomination.


    Paul Tazewell, who designed costumed for the DCPA Theatre Company's The Unsinkable Molly Brown in 2014, earned his sixth Tony Award nomination, for Hamilton. Aisha Jackson, a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado, is an ensemble member in the nominated Waitress.

    Longtime DCPA Theatre Company actor Lauren Klein, wife of actor Mike Hartman, is an\ key player in the the celebrated Best Play nominee The Humans, but there had been some speculation she might be among the individual nominees for her acclaimed performance.

    Likewise, Colorado Springs native Jeremy Shamos is a member of the ensemble of Noises Off, a nominee for Best Revival of a Play, but he was not singled out. Several of his castmates were, including David Furr, who starred in the DCPA Theatre Company's production of All My Sons in 2005. He was nominated as Best Featured Actor.

    Colorado native Aaron Quintana, who performed often for the Performance Now Theatre Company, is the Associate Company Manager for the Best Musical nominee Shuffle Along ...

    Jessie Mueller, who co-headlined the DCPA's 2015 Saturday Night Alive fundraiser for its Education programs, was nominated for Waitress.

    The Tony Awards ceremony will be hosted by James Corden on June 12 and broadcast on CBS-TV.

    Nominations for the 2016 American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards®
    Presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing

    Best Play

    Eclipsed

    Author: Danai Gurira
    Producers: Stephen C. Byrd, Alia Jones-Harvey, Paula Marie Black, Carole Shorenstein Hays, Alani Lala Anthony, Michael Magers, Kenny Ozoude, Willette Klausner, Davelle, Dominion Pictures, Emanon Productions, FG Productions, The Forstalls, MA Theatricals, The Public Theater, Oskar Eustis, Patrick Willingham

    The Father

    Author: Florian Zeller
    Producers: Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow, Barry Grove

    The Humans

    Author: Stephen Karam
    Producers: Scott Rudin, Barry Diller, Fox Theatricals, James L. Nederlander, Terry Allen Kramer, Roy Furman, Daryl Roth, Jon B. Platt, Eli Bush, Broadway Across America, Jack Lane, Barbara Whitman, Jay Alix & Una Jackman, Scott M. Delman, Sonia Friedman, Amanda Lipitz, Peter May, Stephanie P. McClelland, Lauren Stein, The Shubert Organization, Joey Parnes, Sue Wagner, John Johnson, Roundabout Theatre Company, Todd Haimes, Harold Wolpert, Julia C. Levy, Sydney Beers

    King Charles III

    Author: Mike Bartlett
    Producers: Stuart Thompson, Sonia Friedman Productions, Almeida Theatre, Robert G. Bartner, Norman Tulchin, Lee Dean & Charles Diamond, Scott M. Delman, Ruth Hendel, Stephanie P. McClelland, Jon B. Platt, Scott Rudin, Richard Winkler, Zeilinger Productions, The Shubert Organization


    Best Musical

    Bright Star

    Hamilton. Lin-Manuel MirandaHamilton 

    School of Rock—The Musical

    Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

    Waitress


    Best Revival of a Play

    Arthur Miller's The Crucible

    Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge

    Blackbird

    Long Day's Journey Into Night

    Noises Off


    Best Revival of a Musical

    The Color Purple

    Fiddler on the Roof

    She Loves Me

    Spring Awakening


    Best Book of a Musical

    Bright Star, Steve Martin

    Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda

    School of Rock—The Musical, Julian Fellowes

    Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, George C. Wolfe


    Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

    Bright Star: Music: Steve Martin and Edie Brickell

    Lyrics: Edie Brickell

    Hamilton: Music & Lyrics: Lin-Manuel Miranda

    School of Rock—The Musical: Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics: Glenn Slater

    Waitress: Music & Lyrics: Sara Bareilles


    Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

    Gabriel Byrne, Long Day's Journey Into Night
    Jeff Daniels, Blackbird
    Frank Langella, The Father
    Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III
    Mark Strong, Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

    Jessica Lange, Long Day's Journey Into Night
    Laurie Metcalf, Misery
    Lupita Nyong'o, Eclipsed
    Sophie Okonedo, Arthur Miller's The Crucible
    Michelle Williams, Blackbird


    Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

    Alex Brightman, School of Rock—The Musical
    Danny Burstein, Fiddler on the Roof
    Zachary Levi, She Loves Me
    Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
    Leslie Odom, Jr., Hamilton


    Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

    Laura Benanti, She Loves Me
    Carmen Cusack, Bright Star
    Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
    Jessie Mueller, Waitress
    Phillipa Soo, Hamilton


    Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

    Reed Birney, The Humans
    Bill Camp, Arthur Miller's The Crucible
    David Furr, Noises Off
    Richard Goulding, King Charles III
    Michael Shannon, Long Day's Journey Into Night


    Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

    Pascale Armand, Eclipsed
    Megan Hilty, Noises Off
    Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans
    Andrea Martin, Noises Off
    Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed


    Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

    Daveed Diggs, Hamilton
    Brandon Victor Dixon, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
    Christopher Fitzgerald, Waitress
    Jonathan Groff, Hamilton
    Christopher Jackson, Hamilton


    Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

    Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple
    Renée Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton
    Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me
    Jennifer Simard, Disaster!
    Adrienne Warren, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed


    Best Scenic Design of a Play

    Beowulf Boritt, Thérèse Raquin
    Christopher Oram, Hughie
    Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge
    David Zinn, The Humans


    Best Scenic Design of a Musical

    Es Devlin & Finn Ross, American Psycho
    David Korins, Hamilton
    Santo Loquasto, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
    David Rockwell, She Loves Me


    Best Costume Design of a Play

    Jane Greenwood, Long Day's Journey Into Night
    Michael Krass, Noises Off
    Clint Ramos, Eclipsed
    Tom Scutt, King Charles III


    Best Costume Design of a Musical

    Gregg Barnes, Tuck Everlasting
    Jeff Mahshie, She Loves Me
    Ann Roth, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
    Paul Tazewell, Hamilton


    Best Lighting Design of a Play

    Natasha Katz, Long Day's Journey Into Night
    Justin Townsend, The Humans
    Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller's The Crucible
    Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge


    Best Lighting Design of a Musical

    Howell Binkley, Hamilton
    Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
    Ben Stanton, Spring Awakening
    Justin Townsend, American Psycho

     

    Best Direction of a Play

    Rupert Goold, King Charles III
    Jonathan Kent, Long Day's Journey Into Night
    Joe Mantello, The Humans
    Liesl Tommy, Eclipsed
    Ivo Van Hove, Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge

    Best Direction of a Musical

    Michael Arden, Spring Awakening
    John Doyle, The Color Purple
    Scott Ellis, She Loves Me
    Thomas Kail, Hamilton
    George C. Wolfe, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

     

    Best Choreography

    Andy Blankenbuehler, Hamilton
    Savion Glover, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
    Hofesh Shechter, Fiddler on the Roof
    Randy Skinner, Dames at Sea
    Sergio Trujillo, On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan


    Best Orchestrations

    August Eriksmoen, Bright Star
    Larry Hochman, She Loves Me
    Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton
    Daryl Waters, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

    Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-competitive Categories 

    Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
    Sheldon Harnick, Marshall W. Mason

    Special Tony Award
    National Endowment for the Arts, Miles Wilkin

    Regional Theatre Tony Award
    Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn, NJ

    Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award
    Brian Stokes Mitchell

    Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre

    Seth Gelblum

    Joan Lader

    Sally Ann Parsons

     

    Tony Nominations by Production

    Hamilton - 16
    Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed - 10
    She Loves Me - 8
    Long Day's Journey Into Night - 7
    Eclipsed - 6
    The Humans - 6
    Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge - 5
    Bright Star - 5
    King Charles III - 5
    Noises Off - 5
    Arthur Miller's The Crucible - 4
    The Color Purple - 4
    School of RockThe Musical - 4
    Waitress - 4
    Blackbird - 3
    Fiddler on the Roof - 3
    Spring Awakening - 3
    American Psycho - 2
    The Father - 2
    Dames at Sea - 1
    Disaster! - 1
    Hughie - 1
    Misery
    - 1
    On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan
    - 1
    Thérèse Raquin
    - 1
    Tuck Everlasting
    - 1
  • 2015-16 Bobby G Awards Finalists are announced

    by John Moore | May 02, 2016
    2015-16 Bobby G Award Finalists

    For more 2015-16 nominees, click the 'forward' arrow on the image above.


    Finalists for the fourth annual Bobby G Awards were released this afternoon. The awards program, which culminates in a Tony Awards-style ceremony and performance on May 26 at the Buell Theatre, celebrates outstanding achievement in high-school musical theatre in Colorado. This year the program was expanded to include 40 schools across Colorado, up from 30 the year before.

    Savannah Wood Mountain ViewThree schools garnered 10 nominations each: Mountain View High School in Loveland (Anything Goes), Arvada West (Les Misérables) and Boulder Fairview (Guys and Dolls). Those three are all up for Outstanding Production of a Musical, along with Denver School of the Arts’ Spring Awakening and Cherry Creek High School’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.  All five schools will be invited to perform at the May 26 Bobby G Awards ceremony, as well as the 10 individuals nominated for Outstanding Actor or Actress. (Pictured right: Savannah Wood of Mountain View High School.)

    In all, 16 schools earned at least one nomination, not including this year’s Special Achievement winners, which were announced today: 

    • Annie Trumble, Costumes, D’Evelyn High School’s Young Frankenstein
    • Shu Lee & Aurora Vadas-Arendt, Student Direction, Niwot High School’s The Sound of Music
    • Tristana Whetten, Orchestra Vista PEAK Preparatory’s Beauty and the Beast

    The Bobby G Awards, overseen and hosted by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, are Colorado's regional representative within the larger National High School Musical Theatre Awards, otherwise known as "The Jimmy Awards.” The winners of Colorado's Outstanding Actor and Actress awards not only will be invited to attend the Jimmy Awards on June 27 at the Minskoff Theatre in New York, but to participate in a week-long series of intensive classes and workshops with Broadway actors, directors and designers.

    Video highlights from the 2015-16 Bobby G Awards ceremony.


    Last year’s Bobby G Award winner for Outstanding Actor was Evatt Salinger for Durango High School’s Les Misérables. This year, his younger brother, Curtis Salinger, is nominated in the same category for playing Emmett Forrest in Legally Blonde.

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

    With today's announcement, tickets are now on sale for the 2015-16 Bobby G Awards ceremony, which will include performances by students from across Colorado on the Buell Theatre stage. The evening is an opportunity for the students to commune and mutually support one another’s work. Click here to purchase tickets.

    (Story continues after the following list of nominations.)

    2015-16 Bobby G Award Finalists: 

     

    Outstanding Achievement in Hair and Make-up Design

    Les Misérables

    Arvada West High School

    Kendall Mesch

    Beauty and the Beast

    Boulder High School

    Austin Sabala

    How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

    Cherry Creek High School

    Marrisa Hadden

    Spring Awakening

    Denver School of the Arts

    Skylar Arterburn & Owen Nuss

    Anything Goes

    Mountain View High School

    Averi Davis & Emma Smith




    Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design

    Beauty and the Beast

    Boulder High School

    Harrison Haggas, Chaney McCulloch, Shelly Cox-Robie & Chris Sweeney

    How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

    Cherry Creek High School

    Jimmy Miller & Katya Zabelski

    Spring Awakening

    Denver School of the Arts

    MaryV Benoit & Lara Kirksey

    Anything Goes

    Mountain View High School

    Jen Bleem, Cindy Sipes & Lauryn Starke

    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

    Wheat Ridge High School

    Molly Merewether, Teri Nydegger, Amy Sares & Denise Wood




    Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design

    Les Misérables

    Arvada West High School

    Whitney Larson & Kayli Porterfield

    How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

    Cherry Creek High School

    Yasmin Farsad

    Guys and Dolls

    Fairview High School

    Lenora Gant & Caleb Werkmeister

    Anything Goes

    Mountain View High School

    Jude Franco & Tanner Friar

    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

    Wheat Ridge High School

    Mallory Hart & Katherine Yates




     

     

    Outstanding Achievement in Scenic Design

    Tarzan

    Brighton High School

    Jane Archuleta, Nick Dibbern, Phil Lollar & Sammy Perez

    How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

    Cherry Creek High School

    Jack Hagen, Yuuki Hashimoto & Caleb Nghe

    Anything Goes

    Mountain View High School

    Shailyn Clay, Tyler King, Rebecca Reynolds & Lucas Sanchez

     

     

     

    The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

    Westminster High School

    Corey Baca, Brandon PT Davis & Andre Rodriguez

    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

    Wheat Ridge High School

    Mallory Hart, Riley Hoffman & Rhys Holton

    Outstanding Achievement in Choreography

    Les Misérables

    Arvada West High School

    Angie Dryer

    Tarzan

    Brighton High School

    Leigh Miller & Lindsey Solano

    How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

    Cherry Creek High School

    Ronni Gallup

    Anything Goes

    Mountain View High School

    Bailey Friar & Tammy Johnson

    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

    Wheat Ridge High School

    Karen Cassel & Emma Sappey




    Outstanding Achievement in Musical Direction

    Les Misérables

    Arvada West High School

    Chris Maunu & Craig Melhorn

    Guys and Dolls

    Fairview High School

    Michael Bizzaro & Travis Keller

    Company

    Fort Collins High School

    Kaitlin Miles

    Anything Goes

    Mountain View High School

    Phil Forman, Bryan Kettlewell & Peter Toews

    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

    Wheat Ridge High School

    Brian Cook, Charles Craig & Vicki Duckworth

     

    Outstanding Performance by a Chorus

    Les Misérables

    Arvada West High School

    Tarzan

    Brighton High School

    How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

    Cherry Creek High School

    Guys and Dolls

    Fairview High School

    Anything Goes

    Mountain View High School





     

     

    Outstanding Performance by an Orchestra

    Les Misérables

    Arvada West High School

    Beauty and the Beast

    Boulder High School

    Spring Awakening

    Denver School of the Arts

    Guys and Dolls

    Fairview High School

    Anything Goes

    Mountain View High School

     

    Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

    Tarzan

    Brighton High School

    Lauren Rocha

    Kala

    Legally Blonde

    Durango High School

    Tilly Leeder

    Vivienne Kensington

    Legally Blonde

    Durango High School

    Senora Robinson

    Serena

    Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Broadway)

    Legend High School

    Hannah Jones

    Gabrielle

    Mary Poppins

    Valor Christian High School

    Elleon Dobias

    Miss Andrew

     

     

    Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

    Beauty and the Beast

    Boulder High School

    Marcos Ospina

    Lumiere

    Spring Awakening

    Denver School of the Arts

    Jimmy Bruenger

    Hanschen

    Guys and Dolls

    Fairview High School

    Jacob Sadow

    Harry the Horse

    Guys and Dolls

    Fairview High School

    Brandon Warren

    Nicely-Nicely Johnson

    Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Broadway)

    Legend High School

    Michael Mathey

    Jean-Michel





    Rising Star

    Legally Blonde

    Durango High School

    Matti Guillette

    Margot

    Legally Blonde

    Durango High School

    Jenna Szczech

    Pilar

    Company

    Fort Collins High School

    Audrey Smith

    Sarah

    Mary Poppins

    Valor Christian High School

    Abby Lehrer

    Bird Woman

    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

    Wheat Ridge High School

    John Kibozi

    Levi




     

     

    Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

    Guys and Dolls

    Fairview High School

    Sienna Sewell

    Sarah Brown

    Anything Goes

    Glenwood Springs High School

    Abbie Cheney

    Reno Sweeney

    Anything Goes

    Mountain View High School

    Savannah Wood

    Reno Sweeney

    Sweet Charity

    Ponderosa High School

    Charlotte Movizzo

    Charity Hope Valentine

    Legally Blonde

    Steamboat Springs High School

    Keala Fraioli

    Elle Woods





    Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

    Les Misérables

    Arvada West High School

    Danny Miller

    Jean Valjean

    Les Misérables

    Arvada West High School

    Garrett Charles

    Javert

    Spring Awakening

    Denver School of the Arts

    Michael Kosko

    Moritz

    Legally Blonde

    Durango High School

    Curtis Salinger

    Emmett Forrest

    Guys and Dolls

    Fairview High School

    Jacob Pearce

    Nathan Detroit





    Outstanding Achievement in Direction

    Les Misérables

    Arvada West High School

    Lindsey Welsh

    How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

    Cherry Creek High School

    Jimmy Miller

    Spring Awakening

    Denver School of the Arts

    Shawn Hann

    Guys and Dolls

    Fairview High School

    Lanny Boyer & Janice Vlachos

    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

    Wheat Ridge High School

    Brian Cook, Annie Dwyer & Tom Mullin



    Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical

    Les Misérables

    Arvada West High School

    How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

    Cherry Creek High School

    Spring Awakening

    Denver School of the Arts

    Guys and Dolls

    Fairview High School

    Anything Goes

    Mountain View High School















     

    Special Achievement Award-Winners

    Outstanding Special Achievement in

    Costumes

    Young Frankenstein

    D’Evelyn High School

    Annie Trumble

    Outstanding Special Achievement in Student Direction

    The Sound of Music

    Niwot High School

    Shu Lee & Aurora Vadas-Arendt

    Outstanding Special Achievement in Orchestra

    Beauty and the Beast

    Vista PEAK Preparatory

    Tristana Whetten

     

    Today’s announcement produced several return nominees, including Danny Miller of Arvada West, who was nominated as Outstanding Actor for his role as Valjean in Les Misérables. In 2014, Miller was nominated in the same category as a sophomore for playing the title role in The Phantom of the Opera.

    Reserve your seat for the May 26 Bobby G Awards celebration!

    Other repeaters from 2014-15 include Cherry Creek's Jim Miller, who’s nominated both for Direction and Costuming How to Succeed…. Last year, Miller won the Costuming award. Karen Cassel, a co-nominee for choreographing Wheat Ridge High School’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, won the award last year for Fairview’s Anything Goes.

    Jack Hagen of Cherry Creek High School (How to Succeed ...) has now been part of three straight nominations for Scenic Design. Mountain View’s Costuming team of Jen Bleem, Jerri Hartshorn and Cindy Sipes were nominated last year. Among those who have been nominated twice over the past three years are Cherry Creek High School’s Yasmin Farsad (Lighting Design), among others.

    Jimmy Miller is nominated for directing and choreographing Cherry Creek High School's 'How to Succeed in Business...'

    Jim Miller is nominated for directing and choreographing Cherry Creek High School's 'How to Succeed in Business...' 


    Notables from Colorado theatre community:

    • A Michael KoskoLanny Boyer: The University of Northern Colorado grad who appeared in the BDT Stage's production of The Music Man was co-nominated last year for lighting Anything Goes at Fairview High School. This year, he is a co-nominee for directing Guys & Dolls.
    • Annie Dwyer and Tom Mullin, longtime favorites at the former Heritage Square Music Hall, are among three nominees for Outstanding Direction of Wheat Ridge High School's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Dwyer is a Henry Award-winner who now appears often at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse.
    • Ronni Gallup (who performed in Town Hall’s West Side Story) is nominated for a third straight year in Choreography (Cherry Creek’s How to Succeed…)
    • Michael Kosko, a senior at Denver School of the Arts (pictured right), was nominated as Outstanding Actor for his role as Moritz in Spring Awakening. He recently starred in Miners Alley Playhouse’s Brighton Beach Memoirs and appeared in The Avenue Theater’s Tigers Be Still.
    • Leigh Miller, a graduate of the DCPA’s National Theatre Conservatory and will soon appear in Off-Center’s Sweet & Lucky, is nominated for Brighton High School’s Tarzan
    • BDT Stage veteran Shelly Cox-Robie is part of the Boulder High School team nominated for Outstanding Costume Design for Boulder High School's Beauty and the Beast.

    2015 Bobby G Awards Ceremony

    Photos from the 2015 Bobby G Awards ceremony.


    Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of the Bobby G Awards:

    Bobby G Awards a triumph for Durango High School
    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)
    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 

  • Soggy skies can't shake 5,000 students' Shakespeare spirit

    by John Moore | Apr 29, 2016
    2016 DPS Shakespeare Festival

    Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos may be downloaded and recirculated with source attribution. Click on any photo to download.

    "April hath put a spirit of youth in everything." - William Shakespeare, Sonnet 98

    Michael Berger grew up with a stutter. On Friday, the high-school senior stood ebulliently in the rain and welcomed thousands to the 32nd annual Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival.

    A DPS Shakespeare 160"This is the greatest honor I have ever had in my theatre career,” said Berger, a senior at Denver School of the Arts who was chosen from hundreds of DPS students to perform as none other than the Bard himself at the festival’s opening ceremonies in Skyline Park.

    “My first performance as an actor was here. It was in the fourth grade, I was 8 or 9, and I performed Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 1,” he said definitively. “Because of that, I was inspired to continue in the theatre. And it was through Shakespeare that I learned how to speak clearly. So this is very much full circle for me.”

    The rain-snow mix didn’t dampen the students’ spirits, but the chill surely put the shake in the Shakespeare as nearly 5,000 chilly students from 80 schools in grades kindergarten through high school braved the cold to perform more than 640 short scenes, dances, soliloquies and sonnets on stages in and around the Denver Performing Arts Complex while bundled in an array of colorful costumes that were often covered in parkas.

    DPS Shakespeare Fetsival opening ceremonies: Micael Berger as Shakespeare, Vicky Serdyuk as Queen Elizabeth I, and DCPA CEO Scott Shiller. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
    DPS Shakespeare Festival opening ceremonies: Michael Berger as Shakespeare, Vicky Serdyuk as Queen Elizabeth I, and DCPA CEO Scott Shiller. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Denver Center or the Performing Arts CEO Scott Shiller served as Grand Marshall for the three-block opening parade alongside Berger and George Washington High School senior Vicky Serdyuk, who won the annual honor of playing Queen Elizabeth I at the oldest and largest student Shakespeare festival in the country.

    “Shakespeare was the first live performance I ever saw – and I was in daycare,” Serdyuk said with a laugh. “I remember that the actors talked funny, but that they made it sound so good.”

    Shiller told the students that by participating in arts-education programs like the Shakespeare Festival, studies indicate they will be more likely to graduate, enroll in college, contribute meaningfully to civic life and volunteer. “Plus, children who are exposed to live performance are 165 percent more likely to receive a college degree,” he said.

    Gillian McNally, who served as a festival adjudicator and general encourager, was undaunted by the cold. Despite the gloomy weather, she declared Friday to be the most beautiful day of the year.

    DPS Shakespeare Quote “This might be the only time most of these students ever perform on a stage in their whole lives – and we celebrate that,” said McNally, an Associate Professor of Theatre Education at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. “Just look at these wonderful, handmade costumes,” she added, indicating young students from the DaVinci Academy dressed as a human forest. “That tells me teachers collaborated with students and their parents, and they made something together. That’s what this is all about: We are making something together.”

    More than half of all students enrolled in Denver Public Schools speak English as a second language. Serdyuk says it makes sense that many DPS English teachers use Shakespeare as a language-learning tool in the classroom. “Shakespeare’s English follows a lot of the same rules as many of these students’ first languages,” she said. 

    Berger serves as student teacher for Denison Montessori School’s Shakespeare program.  He says Shakespeare is less intimidating for students whose native language isn’t English because they are already learning one foreign language – so what’s another? “It’s neat seeing kids learn to speak Shakespeare while they are learning English at the same time,” Berger said.

    Christine Gonzalez, who teaches kindergarten through 6th grade students at Denison, said Berger has been a big help to her students. “He keeps it light and fun and inspirational,” she said. “It’s easier to learn when you make it fun.”

    DPS Shakespeare Festival. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Mary Louise Lee, an accomplished performer and also the First Lady of Denver, addressed the crowd about the importance of arts education. “I am a proud product of the Denver Public Schools,” said the graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School. Lee, wife of Mayor Michael B. Hancock, has made restoring arts-education programs in schools her top priority since founding her nonprofit, Bringing Back the Arts.

    The DPS Shakespeare Festival draws students of all ages and experience levels. While hundreds were performing for the first time Friday, Denver School of the Arts senior Jimmy Bruenger was performing in his seventh DPS Festival.

    “I remember feeling nervous my first year because I was performing Shakespeare for the first time,” said Bruenger, who was born in Mexico. “But I looked around and I saw younger kids who were only 6 or 7 years old and they were completely into it. That gave me confidence that I could do it, too.”

    Seven years later, Bruenger is not only a recent winner of a True West Award and Denver Mayor's Award for the Arts, but also a full scholarship to the University of Oklahoma from the Daniels Fund. After he performed in his final Shakespeare Festival on Friday, he was off to star in the opening of a world premiere musical about the Armenian genocide called I Am Alive.

    DPS Shakespeare Festival. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. This is the first year the DCPA served as a full producing partner in the DPS Festival. The DCPA’s Education Department offered up its Teaching Artists to assist all 80 participating schools in their preparations for Friday.

    “We are proud to partner alongside the largest school district in the state,” Shiller said. “Colorado’s commitment to arts integration outpaces the national average in nearly every category. In fact, 64 percent of our high schools offer theatre education, just like our own Shakespeare Festival.”

    Friday’s crowd was peppered with prominent figures in the local theatre community. Susan Lyles, founder of the city’s only company dedicated to female playwrights (And Toto Too) was on hand to root on her son, Harrison Lyles-Smith, who played a shepherd with a wicked death scene in As You Like It.

    Lyles said Harrison and his 5th-grade classmates at Steck Elementary School have been practicing for two hours every Friday since February. “It has given him self-confidence and a fearlessness when it comes to Shakespeare that a lot of adults don’t have,” she said.

    DPS Shakespeare Festival. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Sara McPherson Horle, Executive Producer of The Catamounts Theatre Company of Boulder, happened to have a nephew in that same class at Steck. For her, one of the great rewards young Samuel Davis has gotten out of the experience is the lost art of listening.

    “You have to be self-disciplined to be an actor at any age,” Horle said. “Learning to listen is a huge thing, but especially at this age.”

    McNally said the emphasis of the festival is not on producing professional-quality performances – although many of the older students come awfully close. What the judges want more to encourage is passion, which leads to the development of useful life skills such as public speaking and boosted self-esteem.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    But occasionally there are performances that make even the Shakespeare purists turn their heads. DCPA Head of Acting Timothy McCracken was particularly impressed with the 3rd through 5th graders from Isabella Bird, a “heart-centered” community school where teacher Rebecca Sage says students are all made to feel valued for their own specific, individual talents.

    DPS Shakespeare Quote 2“The general clarity of their storytelling was astounding, and their delivery were astounding,” McCracken said after watching Sage’s students perform a Cinco de Mayo-informed take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Ricketson Theatre. “That was an amazing throughline for elementary-school actors." 

    Sage said her approach to the project was not unlike the approach of any director who takes on a full-fledged theatrical production: “It all starts with table work,” she said. That means working through the script with the students line-by-line, making sure they understand the meaning, the innuendo and most important, the comedy of the words they speak.

    Sage’s students fully bought into the project, she said, in part because Friday’s festival was only the start of their reward. Next week, the students will perform the full story back at the school for parents and friends. Sage said her students have been putting in half-mornings two days a week since January.

    “It was hugely gratifying for them to put in the work, both at home and at school, and then to get that kind of validation and respect once they got here today,” she said. “This whole experience is a huge incentive for them to continue doing things that challenge them and take them to their edge.”

    DPS Shakespeare Festival. John Hauser and Jenna Moll Reyes Shakespeare in the Parking Lot's Romeo and Juliet

    DCPA Teaching Artists John Hauser and Jenna Moll Reyes starred in Shakespeare in the Parking Lot's 'Romeo and Juliet' at the DPS Shakespeare Festival. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Also new this year was the evening Shakespeare After-Fest program, when arts organizations from across Denver came together to continue the celebration of the Bard. The program included music from DeVotchKa's Tom Hagerman and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, mini-performances from The Catamounts, The Black Actors Guild, DCPA's Off-Center, Stories on Stage and PHAMALY. DCPA Education also performed its hour-long production of Romeo and Juliet from its outreach program called Shakespeare in the Parking Lot.

    The First Lady of Denver left the kids with a Shakespeare quote whose authorship has been disputed over time – but its meaning was indubitably apropos for Friday’s occasion:

    “The meaning of your life is to find your gift,” Lee told the gathered crowd. “The purpose of your life is to give it away.”

    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.

    Our 2015 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2014 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

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

    DCPA is 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.