• Photos: 'One Night in Miami' is getting ready to rumble

    by John Moore | Feb 27, 2015
    Images from the making of 'One Night in Miami' in Denver, to date. Photos by John Moore.


    One Night in Miami has had two stagings to date – one at the Rogue Machine in Los Angeles, and the other at Baltimore CenterStage. Both enjoyed extended hit runs. The L.A. production earned four NAACP Awards, while the separate Baltimore production broke CenterStage's 52-year box-office record.

    After that first production in L.A., “I called every artistic director, producing artistic director and literary manager that I had in my Rolodex,” said Carl Cofield, the play’s L.A. director.

    Two people responded: The Artistic Directors at Baltimore CenterStage and the DCPA Theatre Company.

    “One of the greatest things that Kent Thompson said to me was, ‘I will see the play with one stipulation -- that I pay for my own ticket,’ “ Cofield said. “He put his money where his mouth is.”

    Thompson did more than that – he put One Night in Miami on the Theatre Company’s 2014-15 season. “As soon as I saw it, I immediately wanted to do it,” Thompson said. And he wanted Cofield to direct it.

    Playwright Kemp Powers’ script imagines what occurred the night boxer Cassius Clay spent with activist Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and football player Jim Brown after Clay's historic win over heavyweight champ Sonny Liston in 1964.

    “I'm not a competitive person,” Cofield said with a grin while relaying this story to cast, crew, and supporters gathered at the public first rehearsal in Denver last week. “But with this group of extraordinary actors, and with a design team that is out of this world … I want to see if we can push some records here in Denver.”

    What fascinated Thompson when he read the script were its subject, events and themes. “It brought back a lot of memories for me, having grown up in the South,” Thompson said. “I can remember that night, and I think what Kemp has done with the play is really fascinating. I was also taken Carl's direction of the play in Los Angeles, and I know the kind of persuasive, articulate, passionate artist he's always been, so I'm delighted he's at the helm." 

    Thompson hired Cofield as an actor at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival more than a decade ago.

    “I stand here in a tremendous debt of gratitude to Kent Thompson,” Cofield said. “The big word I kept thinking about on the plane ride here to Denver was serendipity. … Serendipity in that nothing happens by accident.

    “I am a seventh-generation Floridian. I was reared in Miami. My son's name is Cassius. So if I couldn't direct this play … I couldn't direct traffic.

    Cofield added that “as a kid and as a younger artist, the DCPA was one of the places I put up on my wish board. If I could ever work at any theater, this would be it. Why? Because people in Denver have a sense of agency about their theatre. Everybody I have met feels like this is their theater as a Coloradan. That sense of agency is palpable.”

    Cast list (in order of appearance):
    Sam Cooke: Nik Walker
    Jamal: York Walker
    Kareem: William Oliver Watkins
    Malcolm X: Jason Delane
    Cassius Clay: Colby Lewis
    Jim Brown: Morocco Omari
     
    'One Night in Miami': Ticket information
    Performances run March 20 through April 19.
    Space Theatre
    Performances daily except Mondays
    Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site here

    Our previous coverage of One Night in Miami:
    Video: DCPA's 'One Night in Miami' cast gives Shout-Out to Baltimore Center Stage
    Full casting announced
    Video: Interview with 'One Night in Miami' Director Carl Cofield
    New Denver Center season includes 'One Night in Miami'
    Go to the official show page

    'One Night in Miami' Director Carl Cofield at the first rehearsal at the DCPA. Photo by John Moore.
    'One Night in Miami' Director Carl Cofield at the first rehearsal at the DCPA. Photo by John Moore.
  • Scott Shiller becomes third CEO in DCPA's history: 'Theatre is in my bones'

    by John Moore | Feb 26, 2015
    Scott Shiller Quote

    Scott ShillerScott Shiller fell in love with theatre from the very back row. Not the cheap seats … the free seats.

    The Shiller family turned day trips from their small farming community in rural Missouri into theatre outings at St. Louis’ massive, 4,500-seat Fox Theatre, where the seats in the very back row are always free.

    “Both of my parents were college professors, on college professors’ salaries,” said Shiller. “But they wanted me and my brother to grow up with arts and culture as part of our lives. So mom and dad would pack the family in the car with a picnic lunch and we would drive to downtown St. Louis. We would sit on the sidewalk and wait for the box office to open to get access to the free tickets.”

    Young Scott Shiller saw incredible stories unfold through high-powered opera glasses. Stories like Big River, about the adventures Huckleberry Finn. “To see these stories that I grew up imagining in my mind’s eye unfold onstage changed my life,” Shiller said. “I was hooked. I was reeled-in. Theatre was in my bones. Theatre has the power to transform lives. It did for me.”

    Shiller will soon be moving his theatre bones to Colorado as President and only the third CEO in the 43-year history of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Shiller has served as Executive Vice President of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami since 2007. Daniel Ritchie, who has served as both CEO and Chairman of the Board of Trustees since 2007, will continue as Chairman. Shiller starts May 1.

    Scott Shiller QuoteShiller is a proud, admitted theatre geek. Anyone who works at a place like the Denver Center, he said, should be. He talks with childlike wonder of the time he got to sit in the orchestra pit during a touring performance of Evita, feeling the music as the horns blared in his ears and the drums rumbled right through his core. “I looked up and just behind the conductor, you could see just the noses and eyes of the people in the front row, and the glow of the stage lights off of their faces,” he said. “That was a phenomenal, transformative moment for me.” 

    The DCPA is the largest not-for profit theatre organization in the country, one that produces and presents Broadway, cabaret and homegrown theatre while supporting an Education Division that engages more than 68,000 students of all ages every year. And leading that organization into the next generation will be one of the nation’s youngest CEOs. At only age 39, Shiller is less than half the age of the man he is replacing.

    Shiller, who was named to the prestigious "40 Under 40" by the South Florida Business Journal, never wants to forget the magic that happens to a child who sees Big River for the first time. Or a slightly more adolescent Shiller seeing The Blue Man Group for the first time - a performance that reached its crescendo with the entire theatre covered in toilet paper. 

    “I had never seen anything so immediate and so loud and so interesting,” he said. “By the end of this whirlwind grand finale, I found myself standing on my seat yelling at the top of my lungs. That was the visceral, immediate reaction I had to the art that was on the stage. I thought that was great, and I want everyone to be able experience that feeling.”

    And he can’t wait to do it in Denver.

    “What makes theatre incredibly powerful, and what makes me thrilled to be a part of creating and contributing to the national landscape of theatre, is the magic that happens when an audience comes into a space together to have a shared experience,” Shiller said. “The electricity that happens at a good night of theatre where the artists on stage are having a real communication with the audience is like lightning in a bottle. And the Denver Center gets it right more than almost anywhere else in the country.”

    In his first year at the Arsht Center, Shiller led a $3.3 million turnaround with a growth in average ticket sales from 43 to 70 percent, and recorded a 76 percent increase in attendance.

    How did he do it?

    “It was really about tapping into the community,” he said. “It was about doing all the things that the Denver Center already does day in and day out. All the things that are baked into their DNA here.”

    To turn things around in Miami, Shiller focused on tearing down any perceived barriers to entry. “For example, if language is a barrier to entry, we need to find ways to create great theatre where language is not a barrier,” he said. “If price is a barrier to entry, we need to find ways to be open to the community and to provide free and reduced-price admissions like I had available to me as a child.”

    Ritchie, 83, said Shiller “joins us at a pivotal time in the DCPA’s history. “Following an extensive analysis of our priorities, our emphasis will be on deepening and enriching relationships with our entire community. And Scott’s leadership will enable me to focus on board matters and reauthorization of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District in 2016.” 

    A2 Scott Shiller QuoteShiller thinks the SCFD – a voter-approved, penny per $10 tax that funds arts organization throughout the metro area with about $50 million a year – is "forward-thinking, unprecedented and essential."

    He also said of Ritchie: “He has an incredible reputation across the country. And I have a tremendous respect for the work he has done in driving the organization forward.”

    Under Shiller, the Arsht Center’s programming continued to experience broad growth and now includes more than 500 public performances, nearly 900 ancillary events and more than 500,000 guests each year. In 2007, he bucked the national trend by launching the equivalent of the DCPA Theatre Company for the presentation and performance of homegrown theatre. He has presented 12 world premiere plays and musicals at the Arsht Center in the past eight years.

    “That was both an incredible joy and a labor of love,” he said, “to be working with incredible local playwrights, national playwrights and amazing artists with the goal of creating work that is really tied to the community.”

    Shiller is somewhat in awe to be taking the reins of the Denver Center, which is not only the largest non-profit theatre organization in the nation by size, it’s No. 1 in audience engagement: Last season, the Denver Center, which does $52 million in annual business, entertained nearly 800,000 visitors through 43 productions, 816 performances and 138 events.

    “I am amazed at how the Denver Center stacks up against the leading organizations in this category,” Shiller said. “Think of that number: 800,000 visitors is more than the total number people who are living in Denver.” (And by more than 150,000.)

    “When I look at places like Center Theatre Group (in Los Angeles), which did 19 productions last year, or the Kennedy Center (in Washington D.C.), which did 18 theatre productions - and then you see that the Denver Center did 43? That’s pretty impressive. There are very few no-for-profit arts organizations that present both Broadway and produce original theatre. I think it's sometimes easy to forget what an incredible gem you have in your community.”

    Scott Shiller QuoteAs a whole, the cultural industry had a $520.8 million economic impact on Colorado in 2013. Last month, the National Endowment for the Arts released a study that put Colorado No. 1 in per-capita trips to theaters, concert halls and museums. Nearly 52 percent of all Colorado adults reported attendance at one or more live performing-arts events in 2012, far above the national average of 37.4 percent. Attendance at nonmusical plays in Colorado is roughly twice the rate of the country as a whole. 

    “I think that shows the audiences in Denver are incredibly sophisticated,” Shiller added. “You have an incredibly diverse audience that has clearly demonstrated with these attendance figures that they are willing to go along for the ride.” 

    Prior to the Arsht Center, Shiller presented and produced shows in major cities across the U.S., serving as Vice President of Programming at The Chicago Theatre and L.A.’s Kodak Theatre; Director of Programming and Engagement Manager at Boston’s On the Line Company; and as Theatre and Marketing Manager for Broadway in Boston. His Broadway credits include working on Wicked, The Graduate, Cabaret and The Diary of Anne Frank (Natalie Portman), and The Vagina Monologues (Eve Ensler). Click here to read his complete bio.

    Under Shiller, the multidisciplinary Arsht Center designed programs to welcome new patrons of all ages and backgrounds — family performances, gospel Sundays and extensive partnerships through the Miami-Dade County Public School District.

    Shiller is particularly proud of his Learning Through the Arts program, which has made performances of the Rock Odyssey available free to middle-school students. That is an innovative, rock opera approach to Homer’s The Odyssey that was written developed at the Walden Family Playhouse in Lakewood.

    Scott Shiller Quote“Through Rock Odyssey, we have introduced 300,000 students to the magic of live theatre,” said Shiller, who received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emerson College in 1997 and has served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University in Chicago.

    “There are so many studies that have proven that students who are introduced to the arts at a young age become lifelong learners in the arts.”

    Shiller believes his lifetime of producing shows on Broadway, of bringing national tours to the cities where he has worked, and launching his new regional theatre company in Miami have all prepared him to lead the Denver Center. Shiller says his top priorities will include education, access and diversity. But he says it is too soon for him to know yet how he can best impact the organization right away.

    “I am coming into an extremely healthy organization that is at the top of its game,” said Shiller, who is married to wife, Kerry. “The staff and the team members there have accomplished so much. And I think the community is really behind continuing the trend of the Denver Center becoming great. My goal will be to listen, learn, collaborate and challenge both (DCPA Broadway Director John Ekeberg and DCPA Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson) to create work that is at the top of their game.”

    Asked what he hopes will be said of him a year from today, Shiller said: “That we were able to really muster our resources, and boy are we moving in the right direction with a full tank of gas and a lot of excitement."




    Scott Shiller is featured in this short documentary on the making of "Rock Odyssey" at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.The children's musical, first developed at the Walden Family Playhouse in Lakewood, introduced 300,000 students to the magic of live theatre in Miami.


    Previous coverage
    :
    Ritchie shifting focus to SCFD 'because we can't afford to fail'


    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.
  • Curious, Aurora Fox seasons bring trilogies, 'Black Elk Speaks' and Laura Eason

    by John Moore | Feb 25, 2015
    Black Elk Speaks at the DCPA, 1993.
    Black Elk Speaks at the DCPA in 1993.


    Black Elk Speaks
    , which had its world premiere by the DCPA Theatre Company in 1994 and was remounted a year later, will be presented on the Aurora Fox's 31st season, it was announced today. And Curious Theatre Company has announced an expanded commitment to serial programming over several seasons.

    On March 7, Curious opens In the Red and Brown Water, the first chapter of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brother/Sister Plays, a trilogy set deep in the Louisiana Bayou. The Brothers Size  will be performed later this season and the final chapter, Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet, will be staged in the 2015-16 season.

    Quiara Alegría Hudes Now comes the announcement of a second trilogy, this one called The Elliot Plays, by Pulitzer Prize-winner Quiara Alegría Hudes (26 Miles). Curious Theatre will become the first theatre in the world to produce Hudes' trilogy consecutively and in its entirety. It focuses on Elliot Ortiz and his experiences as a Marine in Iraq. The trilogy is described as "a moving exploration of war, the strength and sorrow of our soldiers and the power of heritage and family. Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue, will debut next spring while Water by the Spoonful and the The Happiest Song Plays Last will follow in 2016-17.

    "This innovative audience experience immerses patrons into the world of a series of plays that span multiple seasons, fostering a deeper connection to the playwrights, the characters and the stories," said Curious founder Chip Walton. The idea, he added, is to

    "expand the Curious experience to much more than just attending an individual production in a single night."

    Curious' new season also includes the comedy Sex with Strangers, written by Cherry Creek High School graduate Laura Eason, who is now Chicago-based and has risen to national prominence with Sex With Strangers,

    Eason is a commissioned DCPA playwright whose The Vast In-Between was read at the 2013 Colorado New Play Summit. Her adaptation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was produced on the 2011-12 mainstage season.

    Curious has also slated Annie Baker’s opus The Flick, winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

    The Aurora Fox season announcement always includes word of a shared production with the handicapped Phamaly Theatre Company, which will present Fuddy Meers at the Fox from Feb. 6-Feb. 21.

    No local company has taken on Black Elk Speaks since the DCPA introduced it. Lakota visionary and healer, Nicholas Black Elk, grew up during the closing decades of the 19th century when white settlers were invading the homeland of the Lakota Sioux, decimating buffalo herds and threatening to extinguish the tribe’s way of life. As presented onstage, Black Elk recounts the history of his people to his government-educated grandson, Hoksila, as members of the ensemble play Indian Warriors and American Generals re-enacting many fierce battles leading up to the massacre at Wounded Knee.

    Fro the L.A. Times: "Black Elk was an Oglala Sioux uniquely situated to tell the story of his people's genocide. His father participated in the Fetterman Massacre in 1865, in which the Native Americans left not even a dog alive. Black Elk fought as a child at Little Bighorn and as a man at Wounded Knee. He was cousin to Crazy Horse. He lived to be quite old in the hills of South Dakota, and that is where John Neihardt found him and published his tale in 1932."

    CURIOUS THEATRE COMPANY SEASON
    (Exact dates to be determined)


    The Flick
    (Fall 2015)
    By Annie Baker
    Directed by Chip Walton
    At a once grand movie theater in a nowhere town in Massachusetts, young employees Avery, Sam and Rose search for meaning and connections in their mundane lives. Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

    Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet (Fall 2015)
    By Tarell Alvin McCraney
    Directed by Dee Covington
    Sixteen-year-old Marcus is haunted by his father’s mysterious legacy, his own sexuality, and his dreams of torrential downpours. A beautiful portrait of a boy coming to grips with his identity and finding the bravery to become a man.

    Sex with Strangers
    By Laura Eason
    A one-night-stand transforms into something deeper when art, generations, success and online personalities collide, creating real-life complications.

    Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue (spring 2016)

    By Quiara Alegría Hudes
    Directed by Chip Walton
    A young boy, Elliot Ortiz, leaves his home and his family behind to fight the war in Iraq, and returns a hero and a man. But his search has just begun to better understand his Puerto Rican heritage and the meaning of heroism

    To be announced: Final play of the 2015-16 season

    Info: 303-623-0524, or click here to go to Curious' web site



    AURORA FOX 2015-16 SEASON
    Sept. 18-Oct. 11: Jekyll and Hyde, The Musical
    Based on the classic story by Robert Louis Stevenson and featuring a pop-rock score from Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse.

    Nov. 27-Dec. 27: Little Women, The musical
    An all-new version based on  Louisa May Alcott's 19th century novel about the March family of Concord, Massachusetts. Music by Kim Oler and Alison Hubbard; book by Sean Hartley.

    Jan. 8- Feb. 14, 2016: The Arabian Nights
    (in the Studio Theatre) 
    Mary Zimmerman of Metamorphoses fame brings her take on the classic tale of Scheherazade, whose cliffhanger stories of the 1,001 nights prevent her husband, the cruel Shahryar, from taking her life.

    March 18-April 10, 2016: Black Elk Speaks
    Based on the book by John G. Neihardt, adapted by Christopher Sergel

    April 22-May 15, 2016: Catch Me If You Can
    Based on the hit DreamWorks film and the story that inspired it about Frank W. Abagnale, Jr., a teenager who runs away from home and lives the glamorous life funded by millions of dollars in forged checks. Book by Terrance McNally and  score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

    February 6- 21, 2016: Fuddy Meers
    Presented by Phamaly Theatre Company
    This quirky play by David Lindsay-Abaire tells the story of an amnesiac, Claire, who awakens each morning as a blank slate on which her husband and teenage son must imprint the facts of her life.

    Info: 303-739-1971 or go to the Aurora Fox web site



    Note: The DCPA Theatre Company will release its 2015-16 season in mid-March.
  • Mike Hartman brings the 'Plainsong' Trilogy full circle

    by John Moore | Feb 25, 2015

     

    Mike Hartman: Benediction has made history for the DCPA as the Theatre Company completes the first trilogy in its 36 years. And veteran actor Mike Hartman has been front and center as all three plays have brought the Colorado plains and its rural residents to vivid life over the past seven years.

    In Eric Schmiedl’s Plainsong and Eventide, based on the novels of the late Kent Haruf, Hartman played lovable old Raymond McPheron, the rancher who experiences first love in his 70s. In Benediction, Hartman plays Dad Lewis, a dying hardware store owner who is estranged from his adult son.

    What appeals most to the actor about these two disparate men Haruf has created, he said, is that they are, in his words, "earth-bound."

    “Their feet are just so well-planted,” Hartman said. “They are so dependable and so unyielding in their principles. If you are honest to what Kent has written, you really can't make too many mistakes.”

    Hartman comes from a rural farming background in Ohio, where both sets of grandparents were small-town farmers. “So I feel I know these people,” he said of the residents of fictional Holt, “and their simplicity toward life.”

    Hartman came to the DCPA in 1992 and has since created some of the most indelible characters to ever walk its stages: A pistol-packing political cowboy. A surly old bigot. An aging hippie draft-dodger. He is married to actor Lauren Klein, his co-star in both the Theatre Company’s Eventide and last year’s Death of a Salesman.

    Mike Hartman QuoteWhile Plainsong celebrated the resilience of the mutating American family and Eventide is a sweet celebration of late-in-life love, Benediction, closing March 1, brings greater stakes to the stage. And they don’t get any bigger than a man facing his last chance to make things right with his family and friends.

    John Moore: What does it mean to you to be able to finish what you started with the Plainsong Trilogy?

    Mike Hartman: These three projects have been terrific vehicles, I’ve been so excited just to be a part of it. I think so much of Kent Haruf and Eric Schmiedl and Kent Thompson for making these plays happen. 

    John Moore: Is it exciting for you as an actor that this new character, Dad Lewis, seems to have at least one more evident character flaw for you to play off than perhaps Raymond had?

    Mike Hartman: You are right, but I also think it's come at a point in Dad’s life where he has many regrets for some of his actions. He wants to try to make some changes. In a conversation with his own daughter, he says, "I didn't make time." And the real regret he has with his son and his views on the kid being a homosexual, well, he can't do anything about that, because he doesn't have the opportunity.

    John Moore: Why do you think this trilogy, a throwback to old-fashioned storytelling, has been so popular with this Theatre Company's audiences at a time when theatres are trying so hard to engage a younger demographic?

    Mike Hartman: I think the first reason is that it's homegrown. It's a Colorado story about Colorado people. I think as much as Denver wants to shake that cowtown image that people want to project of it, they still have those cattle come down 17th Avenue every January to promote the National Western Stock Show. I think Kent Haruf was so much in touch with Colorado's roots. And the second reason is that all three of these plays are such simple, marvelous, touching stories. Even when I read Eric Schmiedl's sixth draft of Benediction, I caught myself near tears five or six times just reading it.

    John Moore: What does that tell us about this endless pursuit of new kinds of stimulation in live theatre? Are we trying too hard?

    Mike Hartman: I only know that good storytelling works. I think when theatre tries to compete too much with film and television, it doesn't always work for me. It's like going to a ballgame. I'm a big baseball fan. When I go, I sit there and I watch the game. I keep score. It’s a slow game. I get annoyed when “The Wave” happens, or when the scoreboard urges me to cheer, or when they have constant noise happening. But that’s what young people expect. Maybe the theatre requires more of your attention. But people don't feel comfortable just sitting and listening and watching anymore.

    John Moore: So how is the end of this trilogy affecting you?

    Mike Hartman: It’s hitting me at a point in my life where there is an awareness that I am probably in my last 25 years of my existence, if I am lucky, and that can be a frightening thing. I just hope when my time comes that I go through it with as much grace as Dad Lewis does. That I think not only of myself but about how to make things easier for the people I care about. When was the last time the house was painted? To me, that's what this story is all about.

    Benediction: Ticket information
    Performances run through March 1
    Space Theatre
    Performances daily
    Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org


    Joyce Cohen and Mike Hartman in 'Benediction.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

    Mike Hartman, Cathy Haruf and Lauren Klein at the Kent Haruf celebration on Feb. 7. Photo by John Moore.

    Mike Hartman with Joyce Cohen in 'Benediction,' above. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. Hartman with Cathy Haruf and Hartman's wife, Lauren Klein, at the Kent Haruf celebration on Feb. 7. Photo by John Moore.


    Our previous coverage of Benediction:

    Kent Haruf: The complete final interview
    For two inaugural DCPA company actors, you can come home again
    Photos from Opening Night
    Video, photos: DCPA celebrates life of Colorado novelist Kent Haruf
    'Benediction' opens as a celebration of ‘The Precious Ordinary’
    Video: Your first look at Benediction
    Doris Duke Foundation awards $125,000 for Benediction
    Bittersweet opening for 'Benediction' rehearsals
    Kent Haruf, author of 'Plainsong' Trilogy, dies at age 71
    Kent Thompson on the 2014-15 season, play by play
    2014 Colorado New Play Summit will complete 'Plainsong' trilogy
    Video: 'Benediction' reading at the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit

    Meet the cast videos:
    Meet Joyce Cohen
    Meet James Newcomb
    Meet Mike Hartman
    Meet Nance Williamson
    Meet Leslie O'Carroll
    Meet Adrian Egolf

  • American Theatre magazine: The Colorado New Play Summit Is a Developing Story

    by John Moore | Feb 24, 2015
    Photos from Week 1, above.


    Editor's note: American Theatre, the leading industry magazine in the country, asked DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore to contribute a feature report covering this year's Colorado New Play Summit: Here is an excerpt:

    Visitors to the 10th Colorado New Play Summit in Denver are calling the addition of a second week this year a real game-changer in the evolution of new-play development for the American theatre. "I think adding a second week is sort of electrifying and extremely original,” said Theresa Rebeck, whose The Nest was one of four featured readings in the Summit.

    CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY

    Photos from Week 2, above.

    OUR SUMMIT SPOTLIGHT VIDEO SERIES:
    Part 1: The Nest, by Theresa Rebeck
    Part 2: The There There, by Jason Gray Platt
    Part 3: Holy Laughter, by Catherine Trieschmann
    Part 4: Fade, by Tanya Saracho

    MORE COVERAGE FROM THE 2015 COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT:

    Matthew Lopez's 2015 Summit Soliloquy video
    Primer: Your guide to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
    Summit cast lists: Familiar names and new names
    Playwrights named for inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
    2015 Summit to introduce inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
    Colorado New Play Summit expands to two weekends; playwrights announced

    Click here to go to our NewsCenter.

    Colordao New Play Summit, The There There. Photo by John Moore. "The There There," with Melissa Recalde and Nick Mills. Photo by John Moore.
  • Photos: Week 2 of the Colorado New Play Summit

    by John Moore | Feb 22, 2015


    Our comprehensive photo gallery from the second weekend of the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit spans a special performance of Off-Center's Cult Following; professional readings of three plays written by selected local teen playwrights; two playwriting workshops hosted by acclaimed writer and teacher Paula Vogel (How I Learned to Drive), and the Saturday night wrap party. All photos by John Moore and Suzanne Yoe.

    To see our photos from the first week of the  2015 Colorado New Play Summit, click here.

    For all of our Summit coverage, click here to go to our NewsCenter.

    THE SUMMIT SPOTLIGHT VIDEO SERIES:
    Part 1: The Nest, by Theresa Rebeck
    Part 2: The There There, by Jason Gray Platt
    Part 3: Holy Laughter, by Catherine Trieschmann
    Part 4: Fade, by Tanya Saracho

    MORE COVERAGE FROM THE 2015 COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT:


    Matthew Lopez's 2015 Summit Soliloquy video
    Primer: Your guide to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
    Summit cast lists: Familiar names and new names
    Playwrights named for inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
    2015 Summit to introduce inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
    Colorado New Play Summit expands to two weekends; playwrights announced


    Emily Tarquin and Steven Cole Hughes. Photo by John Moore.
     The DCPA's Emily Tarquin and Steven Cole Hughes at the Saturday night wrap party for the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit in the Seawell Balroom. Photo by John Moore.

  • Meet the cast video series: Nance Williamson

    by John Moore | Feb 22, 2015


    In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 84: Meet Nance Williamson, who got her start in show-biz as the Sauerkraut Queen of Marion, Wisc. Williamson first worked at the DCPA in the 1999 world premiere of A Hotel on Marvin Gardens, and is now playing newly retired schoolteacher Alene Johnson the DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere of Benediction, a powerful drama made up of three interwoven family stories set on the High Plains of Eastern Colorado. Video by John Moore. Run time: 2 minutes, 20 seconds.

    Benediction: Ticket information
    Performances run through March 1
    Space Theatre
    Performances daily except Mondays
    Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

    More 'Benediction' videos:
    Meet Joyce Cohen
    More to come.

    Previous 2014-15 "Meet the Cast" episodes:

    Leslie Alexander, A Christmas Carol
    Allen Dorsey, A Christmas Carol
    Donna English, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Charlie Franklin, Lord of the Flies

    Patty Goble,The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Sam Gregory, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Matthew Gumley, Lord of the Flies
    Lenne Klingaman, Appoggiatura
    Darrie Lawrence
    , Appoggiatura
    Eddie Lopez, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

    Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Nick Mills Appoggiatura
    Paolo Montalban, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Burke Moses, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Linda Mugleston, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Rob Nagle, Appoggiatura
    Leslie O'Carroll,A Christmas Carol
    Ben and Noah Radcliffe, Lord of the Flies
    James Michael Reilly, A Christmas Carol
    Socorro Santiago, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Lesley Shires, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Gregory Isaac Stone, Lord of the Flies

      Nance Williamson. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

      Nance Williamson, as Alene, right, communes with young Zoe Delaney Stahlhut and Billie McBride in the DCPA's world-premiere staging of 'Benediction.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. 
    • Photos: Off-Center's Cult Following: 'Secrets and Confessions'

      by John Moore | Feb 22, 2015

      One of the bonus events of Colorado New Play Summit weekend was a sold-out performance of Cult Following, presented by Off-Center @ The Jones, on Feb. 19. The theme was "Secrets and Confessions," and the guest host was Chris Parente of Colorado's Everyday Show on KDVR.

      Off-Center is the DCPA Theatre Company's theatrical testing ground. Cult Following is a popular series of unrehearsed, unscripted comedy evenings featuring the some of Denver’s best improv performers: Sarah Kirwin, Jessica Austgen, Nanna Sachicko Thompson and Chris Woolf. The show is is created by Charlie Miller and Emily Tarquin, along with the ensemble.

      The next performance, which will have a pirate theme, is May 8. Tickets are $15 and the beer is free for those over 21. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.; the 90-minute performance begins at  8. Appropriate for ages 18 and older.  Advisory: Unpredictable adult themes and language. For more inormation, click here.

      Photos by John Moore for the DCPA.

      Sarah Kirwin and Chris Parente. Photo by John Moore.
      Sarah Kirwin and Chris Parente play a boy and his therapist in an improv scene from 'Cult Following.' Photo by John Moore.

    • 2015 Summit Spotlight video: Tanya Saracho's ‘Fade'

      by John Moore | Feb 21, 2015


      Fade, by Tanya Saracho, is about Mexican-born Lucia, who is hired as a novice to write for a Latina character on an L.A.-based TV series. The play is based on Saracho's own experiences writing for the TV shows Devious Maids, Girls and Looking. "Listen: I got into television because I was a diversity hire,' she says bluntly. "I don't care why I got in there. I just needed an in, because we need to be in there."

      In Fade, the  character of Lucia soon discovers that the film studio's Chicano studio custodian has a windfall of plot ideas. As their friendship grows and she begins incorporating his insights into her scripts, Lucia’s professional stardom starts to rise, but her personal life only becomes more and more compromised. The cast includes Alejandra Escalante, Eddie Martinez and Amy Luna. The director is Jerry Ruiz.

      Of working at the DCPA on this featured Colorado New Play Summit reading, Saracho adds: "The support of everyone is really amazing because they are just trying to get your play born. So it's like everyone is a midwife." 

      Video by John Moore and David Lenk.

      For all of our Summit coverage, click here to go to our NewsCenter.

      THE SUMMIT SPOTLIGHT VIDEO SERIES: (to date):
      Part 1: The Nest, by Theresa Rebeck
      Part 2: The There There, by Jason Gray Platt
      Part 3: Holy Laughter, by Catherine Trieschmann
      Part 4: Fade, by Tanya Saracho (today)

      MORE COVERAGE FROM THE 2015 COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT:

      Photos: Week 1 of the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
      Matthew Lopez's 2015 Summit Soliloquy video
      Primer: Your guide to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
      Summit cast lists: Familiar names and new names
      Playwrights named for inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
      2015 Summit to introduce inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
      Colorado New Play Summit expands to two weekends; playwrights announced

      Alejandra Escalante and Eddie Martinez in 'Fade.' Photo by John Moore. Alejandra Escalante and Eddie Martinez in 'Fade' rehearsal. Photo by John Moore.

    • 2015 Summit Spotlight video: Catherine Trieschmann's 'Holy Laughter'

      by John Moore | Feb 21, 2015


      In Catherine Trieschmann's Holy Laughter, an Episcopal priest finds the reality of leading a church in the Eastern Plains of Colorado to be radically and comically different from what she learned in seminary. As she wrestles with church finances, eccentric parishioners, changing sexual mores and her own doubting heart, Abigail struggles to make peace with the realities of contemporary church life.

      Trieschmann also wrote last season's hit comedy, The Most Deserving. While Holy Laughter is set in the church, 'The play really has its fingers in some universal questions," Treischmann says.

      The cast includes Sadieh Rifai, Kelley Rae O’Donnell, Michael Santo, Kim Staunton, Chris Murray, Mehry Eslaminia and Chelsea Frye. The director is Shelley Butler. Video by John Moore and David Lenk.

      Of working at the DCPA, Trieschmann says:  "My relationship with the Denver Center has changed my life — and my ability to afford child care, honestly while I write. Knowing I can write a complicated, female protagonist, and that this theatre is going to embrace that? These things have been incredibly encouraging to me."

      For all of our Summit coverage, click here to go to our NewsCenter.

      THE SUMMIT SPOTLIGHT VIDEO SERIES:
      Part 1: The Nest, by Theresa Rebeck
      Part 2: The There There, by Jason Gray Platt
      Part 3: Holy Laughter, by Catherine Trieschmann
      Part 4: Fade, by Tanya Saracho

      MORE COVERAGE FROM THE 2015 COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT:

      Photos: Week 1 of the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
      Matthew Lopez's 2015 Summit Soliloquy video
      Primer: Your guide to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
      Summit cast lists: Familiar names and new names
      Playwrights named for inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
      2015 Summit to introduce inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
      Colorado New Play Summit expands to two weekends; playwrights announced

      'Holy Laughter.' Photo by Kyle Malone. Kelley Rae O'Donnell and Chris Murray have a laugh during 'Holy Laughter' rehearsal. Photo by Kyle Malone.
    • 2015 Summit Spotlight video: Jason Gray Platt's 'The There There'

      by John Moore | Feb 21, 2015


      Jason Gray Platt's new play The There There looks at one couple's relationship over 60 years, with two sets of actors playing the lovers as young and old. The twist of staging it as a featured reading at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit is that the play features two overlapping casts. On the first weekend of the Summit, the couple was played as two men (Nick Mills, Vin Kridakorn, Nasser Faris and Lenny Von Dohlen). The second weekend of the Summit, the couple was played as a man and a woman (Mills, Von Dohlen, Melissa Recalde and Lise Bruneau). So audiences who saw both readings saw one set of male actors play the same script opposite men, and then women.

      But at its essence, Platt says, gender is irrelevant to telling a story that strives to be about "how technology informs the loss of loved ones, and how our increasing connection with one another is complicating our ability to grieve fully for people." The reading's director was Courtney Sale, and the reader was Heather Hughes.

      Video by John Moore and David Lenk.

      For all of our Summit coverage, click here to go to our NewsCenter.

      THE SUMMIT SPOTLIGHT VIDEO SERIES: (to date):
      Part 1: The Nest, by Theresa Rebeck
      Part 2: The There There, by Jason Gray Platt
      Part 3: Holy Laughter, by Catherine Trieschmann
      Part 4: Fade, by Tanya Saracho (coming next)

      MORE COVERAGE FROM THE 2015 COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT:

      Photos: Week 1 of the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
      Matthew Lopez's 2015 Summit Soliloquy video
      Primer: Your guide to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
      Summit cast lists: Familiar names and new names
      Playwrights named for inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
      2015 Summit to introduce inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
      Colorado New Play Summit expands to two weekends; playwrights announced

      'The There There.' Photos by John Moore. One iteration of the 'young couple': Nick Mills and Melissa Recalde, left) and one iteration of the 'older couple': Nasser Faris and Lenny Von Dohlen. Photos by John Moore.
    • 2015 Summit Spotlight video: Theresa Rebeck's 'The Nest'

      by John Moore | Feb 20, 2015



      Theresa Rebeck’s The Nest is about a bar that is on its last legs, “but it’s got very beautiful bones inside it,” she says. Here’s our inside look at the making of this ripping comedy that is a featured reading at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit.

      For the small-town regulars at The Nest, life is an endless series of jokes and over-the-top conversations that liven up the neighborhood watering hole … until a well-heeled woman walks in and tries to buy the beautiful antique bar. The cast includes Carly Street, John Procaccino, Brian D. Coats, Laurence Lau, Carine Montbertrand, Victoria Mack, Kevin Berntson, Jessica Love and Royce Roeswood.

      Video by John Moore and David Lenk.

      For all of our Summit coverage, click here to go to our NewsCenter.

      THE SUMMIT SPOTLIGHT VIDEO SERIES: (to date):
      Part 1: The Nest, by Theresa Rebeck
      Part 2: The There There, by Jason Gray Platt
      Part 3: Holy Laughter, by Catherine Trieschmann
      Part 4: Fade, by Tanya Saracho (coming next)

      OUR COVERAGE HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 2015 COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT:
      Photos: Week 1 of the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
      Matthew Lopez's 2015 Summit Soliloquy video
      Primer: Your guide to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
      Summit cast lists: Familiar names and new names
      Playwrights named for inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
      2015 Summit to introduce inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
      Colorado New Play Summit expands to two weekends; playwrights announced

      rian D. Coats, John Procaccino, Carine Montbertrand, Laurence Lau and Victoria Mack from 'The Nest.' Photo by Kyle Malone. Brian D. Coats, John Procaccino, Carine Montbertrand, Laurence Lau and Victoria Mack from 'The Nest.' Photo by Kyle Malone.
    • Phamaly promotes Bryce Alexander to replace longtime artistic leader

      by John Moore | Feb 19, 2015

      Steve Wilson and Bryce Alexander. Photo by John Moore.
      The retiring Steve Wilson, left, and his replacement, Bryce Alexander. Photo by John Moore.


      Denver’s Phamaly Theatre Company, acclaimed for creating performance opportunities for hundreds of actors with disabilities, has named Bryce Alexander its new Artistic Director. 

      Alexander, 25, hBryce Alexander Quoteas been with Phamaly for six years, most recently as Associate Artistic Director under Steve Wilson, who resigned after 14 years on Dec. 31.

      "I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to deepen my relationship with our extraordinary company through the trust of the board, the staff, the performers and the community," Alexander said. "Steve Wilson has built Phamaly’s reputation of high quality, professional theatre. I am humbled to succeed him and take Phamaly to the next level."

      DCPA Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson hired Alexander as his Assistant Director for White Christmas in 2012 and Just Like Us in 2013. “I am thrilled by Bryce’s appointment, having seen several productions he has directed,” said Thompson. Alexander also assisted Art Manke on the Theatre Company's The Three Musketeers.

      “I have no doubt that his energy, talent and deep commitment to Phamaly will help it reach new heights of artistic success and national acclaim,” Thompson added.

      Phamaly has produced professional plays and musicals since 1989, cast entirely with performers who have physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. While the company now performs up to six productions a year, its primary offering each year is a Broadway musical staged at the Space Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. 

      Bryce AlexanderWilson, who served on the search committee to find his own replacement, was overjoyed by the decision. “There is no one in whom I would place more confidence to lead Phamaly to the next level than Bryce,” he said. 

      Phamaly Executive Director Chris Silberman said Alexander’s artistic talent and operational skills “have served as the glue for all of the many moving parts of this company.” He cited Alexander’s successful efforts to send Phamaly’s current production of The Fantasticks to Japan as part of a convention to advance the global independence of people with disabilities. The musical, directed by Alexander, opened with three weeks of performances at the Aurora Fox. It moves to the Arvada Center from Feb. 27-March 1 before heading to Osaka for a 10-day goodwill mission in March that will culminate with a performance in a 1,500-seat theatre. This will be the 25-year-old company’s first-ever international performance.

      Alexander “turned the idea from an unachievable dream to a reality,” Silberman said.

      Alexander, who lives in Westminster, graduated from Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora, and earned his graduate degree in Theatre Performance from the University of Colorado in Boulder. His thesis was titled Applying Modern Disability Theory as an Actor and Director to Theatrical Texts of the Past and Present. He was an assistant director for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival for three summers. For Phamaly, he co-directed The Elephant Man and It's a Wonderful Life and directed The Glass Menagerie and several children’s productions. 

      "In many ways, Phamaly is the place where I truly learned to be an artist; a place that challenged my perceptions, encouraged my exploration and deepened my respect for our craft," Alexander said. "To have the opportunity to lead this incredible organization forward, to continue our exceptional growth, to deepen our exploration of humanity - and our own understanding as a result - is a dream come true."

      Last year, Alexander interned under the retiring Guthrie Theatre Artistic Director Joe Dowling for its staging of My Fair Lady.

      His disability-related experience includes working as a counselor at Adam’s Camp Colorado, and swim coach for Special Olympics Colorado.

      For Phamaly, Alexander conceptualized and implemented a series of sensory-friendly performances that led to Phamaly recently having received a $14,000 award from the Arts Affinity Group of The Denver Foundation. Alexander also has had a hand in shaping Phamaly’s outreach and tour programming that has toured to Crested Butte, Colorado Springs and Wyoming. He came to Phamaly in 2009 as an intern.

      "I have always found Bryce to be as wonderful with people as he is with details,” said frequent Phamaly Musical Director Donna Debreceni. “It's great to have someone in his position who I can trust to take care of whatever is asked. And in this company, that could be about anything.” 

      While Silberman said Alexander will direct many of Phamaly’s future shows, including this summer’s Cabaret at the DCPA, the Artistic Director position will be expanded to include artistic visioning and planning, as well as community engagement on a local and national level. Alexander’s three primary goals will be to serve a more broad population of actors with disabilities; to seek out new education opportunities for individuals with disabilities of all ages; and to engage the local theatre community and encourage more performance opportunities for actors with disabilities on stages outside of Phamaly’s.

      "There are distinct challenges, but unmistakable achievements ahead as we expand our programming, enrich our audience experience, refine our messaging, and expound our impact," Alexander said. "Phamaly is poised to become a national model for disability in the arts, and I am confident that the company will work together to further cement our place in the local, national, and international arts and disability communities."

      The selection of Alexander, Wilson added, “will leave the company in very good hands moving forward.”

      Previous coverage of the Phamaly leadership change story:
      Video: Phamaly says thanks to artistic director Steve Wilson
      Wilson resigns from Phamaly Theatre Company after 14 years
      Wilson named 2014 Theatre Person of the Year

      'The Fantasticks,' Directed by Bryce Alexander. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

      'The Fantasticks,' directed by Bryce Alexander and featuring, from left, Stewart Caswell, David Wright and Jeremy Palmer, will be performed in Japan after an upcoming weekend at the Arvada Center. Photo by Michael Ensminger.
    • Video: 'Page to Stage' highlights with 'Benediction' cast

      by John Moore | Feb 19, 2015


      Video highlights from this month’s Page to Stage noontime conversation at the Tattered Cover Book Store with Benediction cast members James Newcomb, Leslie O'Carroll and Benjamin Bonenfant. Newcomb was a member of the inaugural DCPA Theatre Company and spent much of his childhood performing at the Tattered Cover when it was the Bonfils Theatre.

      "Kent Haruf is a singular voice in lterature for what it means to live on the plains," Newcomb says of the Benediction novelist.

      Benediction, a powerful drama made up of three interwoven family stories set on the High Plains of Eastern Colorado, completes the DCPA's staging of Kent Haruf's Plainsong Trilogy as original world premieres. Benediction runs through March 1 at The Space Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or click here to go to the show's online page. Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

      Join us for our next free Page to Stage event at noon on Tuesday, March 24, at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2625 E. Colfax Ave. We will be talking about the newly announced Broadway touring season with DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg.

      Benediction
      : Ticket information

      Performances run Jan. 30 through March 1
      Space Theatre
      Performances daily except Mondays
      Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

      Our previous coverage of Benediction:

      Kent Haruf: The complete final interview
      Photos: Benediction Opening Night festivities
      For two inaugural DCPA company actors, you can come home again
      Video, photos: DCPA celebrates life of Colorado novelist Kent Haruf
      'Benediction' opens as a celebration of ‘The Precious Ordinary’
      Video: Your first look at Benediction
      Doris Duke Foundation awards $125,000 for Benediction
      Bittersweet opening for 'Benediction' rehearsals
      Kent Haruf, author of 'Plainsong' Trilogy, dies at age 71
      Kent Thompson on the 2014-15 season, play by play
      2014 Colorado New Play Summit will complete 'Plainsong' trilogy
      Video: 'Benediction' reading at the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit

      Meet the cast video series (to date):

      Meet Joyce Cohen

      'Benediction' cast with members of Kent Haruf's family at Page to Stage.

      Among the attendees were late novelist Kent Haruf’s brother, Mark, and Mark’s wife, Kathy. From left: Moderator John Moore; Benediction actors Benjamin Bonenfant and James Newcomb; Cathy and Mark Haruf, and 'Benediction’s' Leslie O’Carroll


    • Meet the cast video series: Joyce Cohen

      by John Moore | Feb 18, 2015


      In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 83: Meet Joyce Cohen, who was working as a nurse when she scored a day job as an extra on The Exorcist. Cohen plays Mary, the wife whose husband has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, in the DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere of Benediction, a powerful drama made up of three interwoven family stories set on the High Plains of Eastern Colorado. Benediction runs through March 1 in the Space Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center's web page. Video by John Moore. Run time: 2 minutes, 20 seconds.

      Benediction: Ticket information
      Performances run through March 1
      Space Theatre
      Performances daily except Mondays
      Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org


      Previous 2014-15 "Meet the Cast" episodes:

      Leslie Alexander, A Christmas Carol
      Allen Dorsey, A Christmas Carol
      Donna English, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      Charlie Franklin, Lord of the Flies

      Patty Goble,The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      Sam Gregory, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
      Matthew Gumley, Lord of the Flies
      Lenne Klingaman, Appoggiatura
      Darrie Lawrence
      , Appoggiatura
      Eddie Lopez, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

      Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      Nick Mills Appoggiatura
      Paolo Montalban, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      Burke Moses, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      Linda Mugleston, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      Rob Nagle, Appoggiatura
      Leslie O'Carroll,A Christmas Carol
      Ben and Noah Radcliffe, Lord of the Flies
      James Michael Reilly, A Christmas Carol
      Socorro Santiago, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
      Lesley Shires, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
      Gregory Isaac Stone, Lord of the Flies

        Joyce Cohen and Mike Hartman in 'Benediction.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

        Joyce Cohen and Mike Hartman in the DCPA's world-premiere staging of 'Benediction.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. 
      • Part 6: Matthew Lopez's 2015 Summit Soliloquy video

        by John Moore | Feb 18, 2015


        "Summit Soliloquies" is a video series leading up to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit where playwrights from past and present Summits talk about writing, the Denver Center, the Summit and more. Here, DCPA Playwriting Fellow Matthew Lopez ("The Legend of Georgia McBride") talks about the Denver Center's new-play program. The 2015 Colorado New Play Summit is Feb. 20-21. Video by John Moore and David Lenk.

        TEXT OF MATTHEW LOPEZ'S COMMENTS:


        "The reason  the Colorado New Play Summit is so important, and so unique, is for the sheer fact that it focuses almost all of its attention on the writer, and the writer's process.

        Writing new plays is incredibly difficult, and it feels very lonely at times, and it's nice to know that there are people who spend not just these two weeks of the Summit, but the entire year planning the Summit really thinking very, very carefully and very passionately about writers and their work.

        It's nice to know that there are people out there who care. And then to get invited here to participate is a dream come true. It's a lot of fun. And you get a lot of work done." 



        Check out our photo gallery covering parts of Matthew Lopez's Playwriting Fellowship in Denver, above.

        MATTHEW LOPEZ IN DENVER: THE  SERIES TO DATE:
        Part 1: Why take the Playwriting Fellowship? The hunger for new work
        Part 2: Lopez to students: Be citizens. Be informed. Have opinions.
        Part 3: Is sweetness a risk in the American Theatre?
        Part 4: Peter Pan Live made Matthew Lopez cry - and fly
        Part 5: Matthew Lopez on the changing role of marketing in making art
        Part 6: Matthew Lopez's 2015 Summit Soliloquy video (today)
        Next: Matthew Lopez leads acting, playwriting workshops at  2015 Summit (coming next)

        AMERICAN THEATRE WRITES ABOUT THE MATTHEW LOPEZ FELLOWSHIP:
        Paying Playwrights More Than Play Money

        SELECTED PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF MATTHEW LOPEZ AT THE DCPA:
        Matthew Lopez named DCPA Playwriting Fellow for 2014-15
        Georgia McBride will be staged in New York
        Matthew Lopez's trip down the straight and fabulous
        2015 Colorado New Play Summit expands to two weekends
        Georgia McBride team: 'Subtlety is our enemy'

        OUR PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE 2015 COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT:
        Photos: Week 1 of the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
        Colorado New Play Summit expands to two weekends; playwrights announced
        Primer: Your guide to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
        Summit cast lists: Familiar names and new names
        Playwrights named for inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
        2015 Summit to introduce inaugural Local Playwrights Slam

        Matthew Lopez. Photo by John Moore.

        Matthew Lopez. Photo by John Moore.
      • Thompson sees Guthrie's historic hire as mandate for change

        by John Moore | Feb 18, 2015

        Joseph HajThe unexpected appointment of Joseph Haj as the new artistic Director at Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theatre is being heralded with surprised enthusiasm from around the country.

        Haj, the son of Palestinian immigrants, becomes the only Arab-American to ever head a major American theatre. Kent Thompson, Haj’s peer counterpart at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, calls Haj smart, persuasive, empathetic and curious. 

        “Joe is a talented artist and director, a lover of the classics and new plays, a champion of the theatre industry, and always devoted to nurturing the next generation of theatre audiences, artists and performances,” said Thompson.

        “In addition, his leadership in issues of diversity has already had a significant impact on the American Theatre.  For me, Joe’s Arab-American heritage and perspective is an added bonus, but his appointment also signals a recognition by The Guthrie to broaden its artistic and organizational mandate.” 

        Thompson considers the Guthrie “a neighbor theatre” to the DCPA, which was in many ways modeled after the Guthrie Theatre. Founder Donald Seawell hired namesake Sir Tyrone Guthrie to his first Artistic Director, but he died during the complex’s initial planning stages in 1971.

        Kent Thompson on Joseph HajHaj, 51, is currently producing artistic director of PlayMakers Repertory Company at the University of North Carolina, and heads their MFA training program.

        “He’s a huge player on the national scene — one of the finest theater artists working in America today,” Ralph Remington, former head of theater at the National Endowment for the Arts, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “I can’t think of a better choice for that job.”

        Haj, 51, will succeed Joe Dowling, who retires June 30 after 20 years at the helm of the Guthrie, which sold 360,000 tickets last year, and has a budget of roughly $27 million.

        Said Haj: “A great theater makes a community bigger, kinder and saner.”

        Read the full story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune


      • Full casting announced for DCPA's 'The 12,' 'One Night in Miami'

        by Hope Grandon | Feb 17, 2015

        From left: Richard Seyd, Terence Archie, Jeannette Bayardelle, Tony Vincent, Colin Hanlon and Anthony Fedorov.
        From left: Richard Seyd, Terence Archie, Jeannette Bayardelle, Tony Vincent, Colin Hanlon and Anthony Fedorov.


        The 12Today, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts announced full casting for the Theatre Company’s upcoming world premiere of The 12, a new rock musical with book and lyrics by Tony and Pulitzer Award winner Robert Schenkkan (All The Way), and music and lyrics by Neil Berg (Grumpy Old Men).

        The cast includes Terence Archie (John), Mike Backes (Swing), Jeannette Bayardelle (Mother Mary), Anthony Fedorov (Andrew), Colby Foytik (Jimmy), Colin Hanlon (Pete), Jordan Leigh (Matt), Andrew Mayer (Bart), Christina Sajous (Mary Magdalene), Maximilian Sangerman (Thad), Heath Saunders (Swing), Chaz Lamar Shepherd (James), Brad Standley (Phil), Gregory Treco (Simon), Tony Vincent (Tom), and Erin Willis (Swing). 

        Archie appeared on Broadway in Rocky; Bayardelle in Hair and The Color Purple; Sajous appeared in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and American Idiot; Fedorov is an American Idol Season 4 finalist and appeared on Broadway in Rent;  Hanlon has appeared in Rent, Wicked, Modern Family and Submissions Only; and Vincent appeared on The Voice, American Idiot, Jesus Christ Superstar and We Will Rock You.

        Leigh is currently appearing in the DCPA's Forbidden Broadway through March 1 at the Garner Galleria Theatre. Erin Willis, a swing in The 12, appeared in the Theatre Company's recent production of A Christmas Carol.

        The director will be veteran Richard Seyd, joined by Connor Gallagher (Choreographer), Michael Mancini (Music Director), Wendy Bobbitt Cavett (Music Supervisor), John Iacovelli (Scenic Designer), Denitsa Bliznakova (Costume Designer), Lap Chi Chu (Lighting Designer) and Zach Williamson (Sound Designer).

        Seyd is a Los Angeles-based director whose most recent work includes Noises Off by Michael Frayn at La Mirada Theater, and By the Waters of Babylon, also written by The 12's Schenkkan, at the Geffen Playhouse.

        The 12, set to an original, authentic classic rock music score, follows the disciples as they face the ultimate test of faith in the wake of their leader’s unthinkable death. The world premiere will begin performances on March 27 and run through April 26 in the Stage Theatre.

        “The score of The 12, while totally original, is my open love letter to many of the great genres in the history of classic rock and roll, and can only be tackled by powerful, authentic voices,” said Berg, the composer. “We are thrilled with the cast we have assembled so far and cannot wait to bring this unique musical to Denver.”

        The new musical is described as "thrilling, heart-pounding music - and one of the most influential stories of all time." Broadwayworld.com calls the show "a powerful rock and roll experience that rises up from where Jesus Christ Superstar ends.”

        "(DCPA Producing Artistic Director) Kent Thompson and I have long discussed working together and I am delighted to see that dream realized in this world premiere production of The 12,” said Schenkaan. “I'm a huge fan of the Theater Company. They do extraordinary work for an audience which is both sophisticated and enthusiastic, and Neil and I are thrilled to be joining them this season."


        The 12 Performance schedule:

        • Opens for previews March 27. Opening night April 3. Runs through April 26
        • Performances 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; plus 1:30 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday.
        •  Tickets may be purchased online at www.denvercenter.org, by phone at 303-893-4100 or at Denver Center Ticket Services in the lobby of the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex. No children under 4 admitted.

        Our previous coverage of The 12:
        Final offering of Theatre Company season: Rock musical 'The 12'


        One Night In Miami
         
        One Night in Miami...The cast list was also released for the DCPA Theatre Company's production of Kemp Powers' One Night in Miami. The director is Carl Cofield.

        One Night in Miami is a slice-of-life dramedy that imagines what occurred the night boxer Cassius Clay spent with activist Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and football player Jim Brown after Clay's historic win over heavyweight champ Sonny Liston in 1964. DCPA audiences will remember Wiliam Oliver Watkins from Ruined and Jackie & Me.

        CAST (in order of appearance):
        Sam Cooke: Nik Walker
        Jamal: York Walker
        Kareem: William Oliver Watkins
        Malcolm X: Jason Delane
        Cassius Clay: Colby Lewis
        Jim Brown: Morocco Omari
         
        SCENIC DESIGN: Lisa Orzolek
        COSTUME DESIGN: Meghan Anderson Doyle
        LIGHTING DESIGN: Charles R. MacLeod
        SOUND DESIGN: Tyler Nelson
        DRAMATURG: Douglas Langworthy
        VOICE AND DIALECT COACH: Kathryn G. Maes Ph.D
        CASTING: Elissa Myers Casting / Paul Foquet, CSA
        DIRECTOR OF PRODUCTION: Jeff Gifford
        STAGE MANAGER: Rachel Ducat

        The 12 Performance schedule:

        • Opens for previews March 20. Opening night March 27. Runs through April 19
        • Performances 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; plus 1:30 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday.
        •  Tickets may be purchased online at www.denvercenter.org, by phone at 303-893-4100 or at Denver Center Ticket Services in the lobby of the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex. No children under 4 admitted.
        Our previous coverage of One Night in Miami:
        Video: Denver gets first look at upcoming 'One Night in Miami'
        New Denver Center season includes 'One Night in Miami'


      • Podcast: Running Lines with ... Margie Lamb of 'Next to Normal'

        by John Moore | Feb 16, 2015



        Episode 172: Award-winning actor Margie Lamb is diving back into the dark waters of the Broadway musical Next to Normal for a third time, again playing Diana in the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical that examines one suburban family's decades-long struggle with mental illness. She is joined on our Running Lines podcast by Jill Oliver, a licensed clinical social worker who worked for 20 years at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan. The two talk frankly about the inherent problems in attempting to cure an incurable epidemic in America, including shame, funding and rampant over-medication. Lamb, the mother of two sons, also talks about the impact that playing Diana three times has had on her acting career, and her family.

        Daniel Langhoff and Margie Lamb in 'Next to Normal.' Next to Normal, directed by Nick Sugar, runs through March 15 at the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St. The cast also features Daniel Langhoff as Dan (DCPA Theatre Company's A Christmas Carol), Jacquie Jo Billings as Natalie, Josh Bess as Gabriel, Ethan Knowles as Henry and Jared Ming as the doctors. For tickets, call 303-794-2787 or click here to go to Town Hall's home page

        For information on mental health services that are available to anyone, call the Colorado Crisis and Support Line at 844-493-TALK (8255).

        In the podcast, Oliver says the scope of the problem of untreated mental illness is as evident as the headlines: "I think we can look around and see how big of a problem it is," she says, "especially here in our state, with some of the catastrophes that have happened over the past 15 years - starting with Columbine. I think it’s big, and it impacts our lives on a daily basis."

        Oliver's perspective is clear: Mental illness ranges from road rage to suicide and horrific violence - and everyone has some degree of it. "We all have mental health and mental illness," she said, "and it is our personal responsibility to keep as healthy as we can. We have to pay attention to our mental health on a regular basis."

        Oliver has seen Next to Normal twice, and praises the musical for its accuracy and for the opportunity it creates for people to talk about a subject that is still taboo subject in many American families.

        "The musical represents mental illness in a way that helps people understand what it is all about, because it helps people understand how close we are all," she says. "We’re just one little step away sometimes."

        Suicides in Colorado reached a record high in 2012, The Denver Post reported through the state health department. About 1,053 people in the state committed suicide, the highest number since at least 1940. No one knows exactly why the rate is so much higher in Colorado than in other parts of the country, but Oliver offers up some probable factors: 

        • Much of the state is rural and geographically isolated.
        • Colorado has a large military population with a high rate of trauma and post-traumatic stress.
        • Much of Colorado is ideologically and religiously conservative, which can add to the stigmatization of mental illness, depression and suicide.
        • The prevailing gun culture makes weapons more readily available here than in other parts of the country.
        • Colorado ranks 33rd among states in funding for mental illness, according to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Research Institute.
        In the podcast, Lamb says she digs emotionally deeper into the story of the damaged suburban more than ever before.

        Reviewing a previous staging of Next to Normal starring Lamb, DCPA Arts Journalist John Moore wrote of her for performance for The Denver Post:

        "Hers is a relentlessly human portrayal of a mother named Diana who is torn between a man and a memory. She's caught in a madness that's rooted in the greatest love of all. And we're with her all the way as doctors try to drug it, shock it and burn it out of existence. Even those who saw the gutsy, Tony-winning Alice Ripley perform the role might like Lamb better. ... She is very much the relatable embodiment of the suburban American mom."

         

         

      • Photos: Week 1 of the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit

        by John Moore | Feb 15, 2015




        Our comprehensive photo gallery spans the first-day meet-and-greet, rehearsals for all four shows, the first-ever Local Playwrights Slam, and both acting and playwriting workshops conducted by DCPA Playwriting Fellow Matthew Lopez.

        Check back next week for more photos and video from each of the readings, and a full recap of Summit activities. All photos by John Moore and Kyle Malone.

        Local Playwrights Slam at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore.

        Nina Miller, Leslie C. Lewis and Jeffrey Neuman, curators of the first Local Playwrights Slam at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore.



        Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit:
        Colorado New Play Summit expands to two weekends; playwrights announced
        Primer: Your guide to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
        Summit cast lists: Familiar names and new names
        Playwrights named for inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
        2015 Summit to introduce inaugural Local Playwrights Slam


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

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