• Imagine 2020 explores meaningful engagement with Millennials

    by John Moore | Oct 23, 2016
    Imagine 2020 Speaker SeriesPhotos from the DCPA's presentation at the city's Imagine 2020 Speaker Series. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos by
    Steve Hostetler Photography, used by permission.

    At the city’s recent Imagine 2020 Speaker Series, two of the Denver Center’s most accomplished Millennials were invited to talk about ways of meaningfully engaging with, well … other Millennial audiences.

    A Millennial is generally considered anyone ages 18-34. And as a generation, they are as maligned as they are coveted. In a sensational 2013 cover story, Time Magazine labeled Millennials as “The Me-Me-Me Generation,” calling them “lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents,” before conceding one all-important truth: “And they will save us all.”

    Imagine 2020. Charlie Miller and Brianna Firestone. Photo by Steve Hostetler. At a time of rapid cultural and technological change, the future of nearly every existing industry from newspapers to the performing arts depends to varying degrees on capturing the imaginations - and the economy - of Millennials. All you have to do is look at a census. Nationally, Millennials just became the largest generation in America at 75 million, having just surpassed boomers at 74.9 million.

    Millennials are a particularly important demographic in the Denver metro area, which now has the fifth-largest Millennial population per capita of any major U.S. city at about 900,000. (No. 1 is Austin, Texas, followed by Salt Lake City).

    Imagine 2020 is the city’s first effort to produce a strategic blueprint for the future and priority of arts and culture in nearly 20 years. As part of its Oct. 12 Speaker Series, the DCPA’s Charlie Miller and Brianna Firestone were asked to present some of the conclusions the DCPA has gleaned from ongoing research into the local Millennial population it has been conducting as part of a four-year grant from the Wallace Foundation.

    “We’re all about learning how we can continue to build audiences and sustain our art form in the future," Firestone said at the all-day forum held at the McNichols Civic Center Building.  

    She and Miller offered an intriguing window into what Millennials might want as cultural consumers. And busted a few enduring myths.

    Miller, whose official title is Associate Artistic Director for Strategy and Innovation, is the Harvard-trained curator of Off-Center, the DCPA’s signature line of nontraditional programming that is geared toward younger and more adventurous audiences. Firestone is the Theatre Company’s Marketing Director. Both were key players in Off-Center’s recent first foray into immersive theatre. The groundbreaking Sweet & Lucky, which was staged in a 16,000 square-foot warehouse in the RiNo neighborhood, became the largest physical undertaking in the nearly 40-year history of the DCPA.

    Much of Tuesday’s presentation was based on lessons learned from bringing Sweet & Lucky to life. That was an original piece created in partnership with Third Rail Projects of New York, which specializes in off-site, interactive theatre. DCPA crews crafted more than 20 unique playing environments ranging from a graveyard to a drive-in to a swimming hole. The story began in a speakeasy antique store. Audiences were broken into smaller groups that each followed one of three couples through key moments in their life's journey. Eventually, they were all led into a secret bar that was run by mixologist Sean Kenyon of Williams & Graham, where audiences could talk with one another about their necessarily different experiences.

    Sweet & Lucky was a rousing success for Off-Center, with more than 6,000 attending, at just 72 at a time, to make for an even more intimate experience. The run was extended by six weeks and in the end, 89 performances sold out.  That show drew a much younger average demographic than most DCPA programming.

    Now Off-Center’s challenge is to keep the momentum going with its next off-site venture - a just-announced partnership with the Denver-based comedy trio A.C.E. on a new production to be created at the Stanley Marketplace in the spring of 2017. “The goal is to create a show that gives the audience a lens to view this story that is happening in and around all these restaurants and shops,” Miller said.

    Detailed takeaways from the DCPA’s ongoing research will be released upon completion.

    Photos above: Charlie Miller and Brianna Firestone make their presentation at the city's Imagine 2020 Speaker Series. Also: Two faces in the crowd. Photos by Steve Hostetler Photography, used by permission.
  • Meet the cast: Meridith C. Grundei of 'Frankenstein'

    by John Moore | Oct 22, 2016
    Meridith C. Grundei
    Photo of Meridith C. Grundei by Kellie Coughlin.


    Servant/Ensemble/Understudy for Elizabeth and Gretel in Frankenstein

    At the Theatre Company: Sweet & Lucky and SWEAT, both with Off-Center. Other Theatre credits: The Misanthrope (American Conservatory Theatre), God's Ear, Messenger #1, Failure...A Love Story, Mr. Spacky, Mr. Burns, The Three Faces of Dr. Crippen, Spirits to Enforce (The Catamounts), Faith (Local Theater Company) and House of Yes (square product). Recipient of the 2011 Camera Eye Award and nominated as Best Actress in a Comedy by the 2012 Culture West True West Awards. She is married to frequent DCPA Theatre composer Gary Grundei.

    • Hometown: Fort Collins
    • Training: I have an MFA in Contemporary Performance from Naropa University in Boulder
    • What was the role that changed your life? I was in a dance concert, and in one of the dances, the choreographer gave me the lines, “When I grow up, I want to be just like Wonder Woman!”  I loved speaking on stage and from that moment, I wanted to act. I was 10 years old.
    • Why are you an actor? I believe that stories are crucial to our understanding of where we came from, where we are and where we are capable of going. I love being a storyteller. It is my way of giving back in this crazy world we live in.
    • What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t an actor? I would do what I am already doing. I started a business six years ago called Red Ball Speaks where I travel to companies and use improv and theatre to teach team communication.
    • Meridith C. Grundei and Charlie Korman Ideal scene partner: I would have to say Gilda Radner. I would love to have had a good laugh with that woman.
    • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    • Why does this production of Frankenstein matter? It shows how quickly we judge the “other.” If only humans would suspend judgment for a moment and see someone for who they really are, perhaps our world would have fewer “monsters.”
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of seeing Frankenstein? I hope people take the time to reflect on how they treat others. I also hope they feel the tension our director and design team have created. Love it!
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "... for people to experience life, to take risks, to be curious and to ask the hard questions."

    • Failure A Love Story, Meridith C. Grundei. Photo by John MoorePhoto above and right: Cast members Meridith C. Grundei and Charlie Korman at the Opening Night party for 'Frankenstein.' Photo above: Grundei goes for a swim in The Catamounts' 'Failure: A Love Story' in 2013. That was a fanciful musical fable about three 1920s Chicago sisters who never saw death coming. (Also pictured: Ed Cord, front, and Ryan Wuestewald.) Both photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

      Follow Meridith C. Grundei on her web site, or on Twitter @redballspeaks


      Frankenstein: Ticket information
      Frankenstein• Through Oct. 30
      • Stage Theatre
      • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Oct. 23
      • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
      • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

      Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frankenstein:
      Photos: Opening Night of Frankenstein
      Video series: Inside look at the making of Frankenstein
      Five things we learned about Frankenstein at Perspectives
      Photos, video: Your first look at the making of Frankenstein
      : On the making of a two-headed monster
      Frankenstein and race: It IS a matter of black and white
      Breathing life into the Frankenstein set: 'It's alive!'
      A Frankenstein 'that will make The Bible look subtle'
      How Danny Boyle infused new life into Frankenstein
      Casting set for Frankenstein and The Glass Menagerie
      Introducing DCPA Theatre Company's 2016-17 season artwork
      Kent Thompson on The Bard, The Creature and the soul of his audience
      2016-17 season announcement

      More 2016-17 DCPA Theatre Company 'Meet the Cast' profiles:

      Aubrey Deeker, The Glass Menagerie
      Thaddeus Fitzpatrick, Frankenstein
      Sullivan Jones, Frankenstein
      Mark Junek, Frankenstein
      Charlie Korman, Frankenstein
      Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
      Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein
      John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie
      Wesley Taylor, An Act of God

      Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center.

  • Add live theatre to your Denver Halloween festivities

    by John Moore | Oct 21, 2016
    Halloween theatre. Photo: Seph Hamilton as Edgar Allan Poe (by Olga Lopez)
    Your Halloween theatregoing options include Ignite Theatre's 'Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe.' Pictured above: Seph Hamilton as Edgar Allan Poe, and his famous raven. Photo by Olga Lopez.

    By McKenzie Kielman
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    The candy is stocked on the grocery-store shelves and pumpkins are beginning to line the doorsteps. Children are ready to commence with their post trick-or-treat sugar-comas.  Teenagers are finding their fix for fright at haunted houses. The Halloween festivities, however, are not exclusive to the young. There are plenty of Halloween-themed live theatre experiences available for the adults. Here are a few scary theatregoing options to add to your party plans. 

    1 PerspectivesBug Theatre's Night of the Living Dead, Live (with Paper Cat Films)
    Halloween theatre 2With the premise of seven people cornered inside a farmhouse by zombies, the tension is going to grow in the house along with their appetite for flesh. This is the Bug Theatre's 8th Annual seasonal live presentation of Night of the Living Dead. A fun twist has been added this year with the added theme of “Urban Legends.”  Throughout the on-stage adaption of George Romero's 1968 horror film, there will be added visitors from Halloween classics, such as the hook hand, the babysitter, Bloody Mary and more.
    Through Oct. 29
    3654 Navajo St.
    Meet Joseph Graves from Night of the 'Living Dead'
    Photo courtesy The Bug Theatre

    2 PerspectivesAurora Fox's Dracula
    Halloween theatre 3This musical, based off the 1897 gothic horror novel, follows the vampire Dracula as he seeks fresh blood. This is how we got the notion that crucifixes can somehow ward off vampires. Find other ways this classic tale has influenced our perception of the iconic Halloween creature of Dracula. Set in Europe at the end of the Victorian Age and set to a thrilling score, this production will be a beast unto itself.
    Through Nov. 6
    9900 E. Colfax Ave.
    Read the Aurora Sentinel review
    Photo: Leonard E. Barrett Jr. as Dracula (by Christine Fisk)

    3 PerspectivesIgnite Theatre's Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe
    Gain new insight into the man and literary legend from his childhood, personal tragedies, love life, and journey of self-discovery. Edgar Allen Poe’s life work as a poet is put to a musical score that digs deep into who the man behind the bizarre, but classic, stories. Note: This production is being staged at the Crossroads Theatre, making it Ignite's first show since 2009 not to be presented at the Aurora Fox Theatre.
    Oct. 21-Nov. 13
    At the Crossroads Theatre, 2590 Washington St.
    Listen to musical excerpts of the show

    4 PerspectivesDCPA Theatre Company's Frankenstein
    Halloween theatre 4Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, which turns 200 years old this year, tells the classic story of a young scientist who attempts to create life from parts of exhumed corpse parts remains the same, but with an added theatrical twist:  he actors who play the two lead roles, Victor Frankenstein (the scientist) and The Creature, switch every performance.  Come twice and see how differently these characters can be portrayed.
    Oct. 7-30
    Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets
    Westword calls Frankenstein a 'monster hit'
    Photo: Sullivan Jones (by Adams VisCom)

    5 PerspectivesStageDoor Theatre's The Rocky Horror Show
    Halloween theatre 1This tribute to rock and roll, science fiction and horror “B” movies tells the story of ordinary meets extraordinary.  Newly engaged couple Brad and Janet get their world shaken by Dr. Frank ‘n Furter and his full house of odd Transylvanians. For all those looking for the perfect man, this might be the place. The doctor’s newest creation is named Rocky, the perfectly crafted muscle-man.  
    Oct. 7-22
    27357 Conifer Road

    McKenzie Kielman is a sophomore at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, and is an intern this semester for the DCPA NewsCenter. Contact her at cintern@dcpa.org

  • Meet the cast: Wesley Taylor of 'An Act of God'

    by John Moore | Oct 21, 2016
    Wesley Taylor. An Act of God. Photo Credit: Adams VisCom
    In 'An Act of God,' The Almighty comes to Earth to adapt the 10 Commandments for these modern times. But he chooses the approachable human form of a fabulously fun actor with just enough snark and charm - Wesley Taylor, star of stage and screen. Photo Credit: Adams VisCom.

    God in An Act of God

    Wesley Taylor Instagram At the DCPA: Debut. Most recently starred as the Emcee in Signature Theatre's acclaimed production of Cabaret. On Broadway, he created the roles of Lucas Beineke in the original cast of The Addams Family and Franz in the original company of Rock of Ages, which garnered him a Theatre World Award (Outstanding Broadway Debut) and an Outer Critics Circle Nomination (Best Featured Actor). He has performed internationally and all over the United States, with extensive credits in Off-Broadway and Regional theatre. On Television, he's been seen on "The Good Wife" (CBS), "Looking" (HBO), "The Tomorrow People" (CW), "One Life to Live" (ABC), "The Tony Awards" (CBS) and 26 episodes as 'Bobby' on "Smash" (NBC).

    (Pictured above right: Follow Wesley Taylor on our Instagram account throughout the day and tonight's opening performance of 'An Act of God' at the DCPA's Garner-Galleria Theatre. Click here.)

    • Wesley Taylor QuoteHometown: I was born in New Jersey and Iive in L.A. now - but NYC still feels like home.
    • Training: I have a BFA in Drama from North Carolina School of the Art.
    • Twitter-sized bio: "There is something innately untrustworthy about Wesley when he walks into the room." - Famed director, to my agent
    • What was the role that changed your life? Playing Falstaff in Henry IV at drama school. It was very hard. Very rewarding.
    • Why are you an actor? It's what makes me feel most alive.
    • What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t an actor? I would be a full-time writer.
    • Ideal scene partner: Romantically opposite James Dean, thanks.

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    • Why does An Act of God matter? It's important to endow Biblical literacy with comedy. Religious legalism should be made fun of.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of seeing An Act of God? Escape, mostly. But don't be fooled, there's a message in this play :)
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "... the kindness of strangers."
    Follow Wesley Taylor on Twitter @WesTayTay and on Instagram @sirwestaytay

    An Act of God: Ticket information
    • Through March 12, 2017
    • Garner-Galleria Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: TBA
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Selected Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    Director Geoffrey Kent on a laugh-a-minute God
    Casting announced for An Act of God
    Geoffrey Kent's 2015 True West Award

    More 2016-17 DCPA 'Meet the Cast' profiles
    Aubrey Deeker, The Glass Menagerie
    Thaddeus Fitzpatrick, Frankenstein
    Charlie Korman, Frankenstein
    Sullivan Jones, Frankenstein
    Mark Junek, Frankenstein
    Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
    Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein
    John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie

    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center.

  • There's plenty of Colorado in 'Jersey Boys'

    by John Moore | Oct 20, 2016

    Jersey Boys Matthew Dailey. Photo Jeremy Daniel

    Arapahoe High School graduate Matthew Dailey, far right, is playing Tommy DeVito in the national touring production of 'Jersey Boys' coming to The Buell Theatre on Nov. 9, alongside, from left, Keith Hines, Aaron De Jesus and Cory Jeacoma. Pomona High School graduate Andrew Russell plays Hank Majewski. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

    There always has been plenty of Jersey in Colorado. The towering 14,110-foot Pikes Peak, for example, is named after a New Jerseyan named Zebulon Pike. Had to be a Jersey Boy who got to the summit first, said local public relations maven and Garden State transplant Wendy Aiello. “Who else is going to be that pushy?”

    Other well-known Denverites from Jersey include Nuggets strongman Kenneth Faried, top chef Frank Bonnano, CBS4 General Manager Walt DeHaven and anchor Kathy Walsh. But when the show for all seasons that is about the Four Seasons returns to Denver for a fourth time, there will be plenty of Colorado in Jersey Boys, too.

    Jersey Boys tells the story of the band that combined doo-wop with astounding harmonies to make enduring No. 1 hits like “Oh What a Night,” “Sherry” and “Walk Like a Man.” The current national touring cast visiting Denver includes Arapahoe High School graduate Matthew Dailey, who plays Tommy DeVito, and Pomona High School graduate Andrew Russell, who plays short-lived band member Hank Majewski while also covering for musical mastermind Bob Gaudio. Both actors saw their very first professional theatrical performances at The Buell Theatre when they were kids. For Dailey: Beauty and the Beast in 1997. For Russell: Rent, starring Anthony Rapp, in 2001.

    Jersey Boys Andrew Russell Quote“The Buell is where I would go and see all of these people living out the dream that I hoped to achieve one day,” said Dailey. For Russell, “The Buell was my Broadway,” he said. “That was my ticket to becoming what I wanted to be in my life.”

    They both call performing at The Buell for the first time now a dream come true.

    “It's really going to be meaningful to hopefully bring that same feeling to a new generation of kids in the audience who will be wanting to be up on that Buell Theatre stage someday, too,” said Dailey.

    The Four Seasons were the most popular band in the world before the Beatles, charting 50 hit singles and selling an estimated 100 million records worldwide. While there have been 36 members of the band, which still performs into its sixth decade, the core during the 1962-67 heyday were lead singer Frankie Valli, Gaudio on keyboards, DeVito on lead guitar and Nick Massi on electric bass. The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

    All of which was news to Russell when he was a student at Pomona High School – more than 40 years after “Sherry” was the No. 1 song in America. It was 2005 when the Jersey Boys Broadway soundtrack was released and found its way to Arvada.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “My friends and I would be singing along down the halls of Pomona High School,” Russell said. “I had never heard these songs before. I didn’t know who the Four Seasons were. So me being able to pick up these songs at my age and really attach to them is very much attributable to Bob Gaudio's genius in writing these iconic songs. They are just so memorable that kids generations later can snap along just as much as their parents did.”

    Jersey Boys Matthew Dailey QuoteJersey Boys is preparing to end its 11-year New York run in January after having played 4,642 shows, attracting 13 million people and winning the Tony Award for Best Musical. It will end as the 12th-longest-running show in Broadway history.

    Not bad for a band that rose up from the gutter all the way to the street corner.

    “Our scrappiness comes from living in the street,” Gaudio said. “We came from the kind of areas most people strive to get out of, so that you can make something of yourself.”

    DeVito, played by Dailey, was the initial driving force behind the group until gambling debts put him on the outs with the mob. He was known for stealing milk off people's porches as a kid. But he did it according to his own set of ethics, Dailey said.

    “First, he never stole from his own neighborhood, because those were his people. And he would never steal from a house that only had one jug of milk. If a house had two, he took one. If it had three, he took two. But he always left them with something.”

    How Matthew Dailey's family responded to loss

    Colorado’s Jersey Boys are where they are today, they believe, because of strong family and educational support growing up in Denver. Dailey’s mother is award-winning local Music Director Mary Dailey. Matthew has dedicated his Jersey Boys performance to his late father, Phil Gottlieb, who died in 2009. Dailey’s training began at age 8 at an afterschool theatre school run by Paul Dwyer and Alann Estes Worley, whose wee students also included future TV star Melissa Benoist (“Supergirl”), Tony-winning actor Annaleigh Ashford (Kinky Boots) and Broadway actor Jesse JP Johnson (Wicked).

    Russell’s theatrical mentor is Gavin Mayer, his director at both Pomona High School (Footloose) and, later, at the Arvada Center (Legally Blonde). “I was this very shy, awkward kid in high school, and I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life,” Russell said of his freshman-year alter ego. “Gavin was the person who inspired me to join theatre. He cast me in my first production of anything, and later he cast me in my first professional production, at the Arvada Center.”

    Those who come to see these local actors fulfill their childhood dreams in Jersey Boys will be treated, Dailey says, to a night like no other.

    “There is great music, a great story, great musicians, good-looking girls, good-looking guys and flashy costumes. It's got something for everybody.”

    Including plenty of Denver Boys who don’t normally go to the theatre.

    “The theatre stereotype is that women have to drag their husbands and boyfriends to the theatre,” Dailey said. “For this show, it’s the other way around. This is the show that boyfriends and husbands drag their girlfriends and wives to. It’s like a Hollywood blockbuster – only it’s live.”

    Look for our expanded, individual interviews with Matthew Dailey and Andrew Russell leading up to the arrival of 'Jersey Boys' in Denver on Nov. 9.

    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. This article includes some quotes from a previous article he wrote for The Denver Post.

    Jersey Boys: Ticket information

    • Nov. 9-13
    • Buell Theatre
    • Talkback with the cast following Thursday, Nov. 10 performance
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Additional NewsCenter coverage of Jersey Boys:
    Video, photos: Jersey Boy sings national anthem at Broncos game

    Jersey Boys Andrew Russell Matthew Dailey. Photo by P. Switzer
    Two current Jersey Boys in previous Arvada Center productions: Top, Matthew Dailey, far right, with Matt LaFontaine, Ben Dicke, Lauren Shealy and Shannan Steele in 2011's 'The 1940s Radio Hour'; and, above Andrew Russell with Rob Costigan in 2014's 'She Loves Me.' Photos by P. Switzer.

    Video: More about Matthew Dailey

  • Mary Louise Lee dedicates 'Lady Day' to Jeffrey Nickelson

    by John Moore | Oct 19, 2016
    Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill

    Photos from the opening rehearsal of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill starring Mary Louise Lee from Oct. 28-30 in the Jones Theatre. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 2002 production photos provided by Mary Louise Lee. 

    Mary Louise Lee, star of the DCPA’s upcoming limited engagement of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill at the Jones Theatre, has dedicated the run to late Shadow Theatre Company founder Jeffrey Nickelson.

    Nickelson, who died in 2009, was a graduate of the DCPA’s National Theatre Conservatory masters program. He went on to present “stories from the heart of the African-American community,” he liked to say, from 1997-2011. The biggest hit in Shadow’s history was a 2002 production of Lady Day, with Nickelson directing and Lee playing jazz legend Billie Holiday.

    This new three-day “workshop production” at the Jones is being directed by Hugo Jon Sayles, who was Nickelson’s longtime Associate Artistic Director at Shadow. If Nickelson was the heart of the Shadow Theatre, then “Hugo Jon Sayles is the soul,” actor Jaime Lujan said when Sayles became Shadow's Artistic Director in 2010.

    Jeffrey loved this show,” Sayles said at Tuesday’s opening rehearsal of Lady Day. “He was just so proud of it. And Mary was wonderful in it. It could have kept running and running. We only stopped because we had another show starting up.”

    (Pictured above right, from left: Michael Williams, Mary Louise Lee and Hugo Jon Sayles at Tuesday's rehearsal. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Lady Day, written by Lanie Robertson, is a 1986 concert play that recounts Holiday’s troubled life as she performs in a run-down Philadelphia bar just days before her death in 1959. Holiday was known for songs like "God Bless the Child," "Strange Fruit" and "Taint Nobody's Biz-ness." She had a singular singing voice — and a lethal heroin habit. Her powerful yet untrained vocal style pioneered a  new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. One critic equated Holiday's voice to a broken toy cornet, often slurred by addiction and pain, but one that could convey a range of emotions like few others.

    Lady Day. Hugo Jon sayles. Photo by John Moore“When I first heard Billie Holiday sing, I didn't like her voice,” said Sayles. “But then I met this old jazz player who said, 'I really dig Billie Holiday, man, because when she sings - it's like a horn.' And then I listened to her sing again, and I said, 'It is a horn!' From then on, I really understood why jazz musicians loved her.”

    Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill reintroduces audiences to the jazz of the 1940s and 1950s, as well as to the tragic life of Holiday, who died at age 44. "It’s a tough story," Sayles said, "but I think it can engage the spirit." 

    There has been a huge resurgence of interest in Lady Day since superstar Audra MacDonald brought it to Broadway for the first time in 2014. But Lee never lost interest.

    “For years, every time I saw Mary, she would stop me and say, 'When are we going to do Lady Day again?’ ” said Sayles. “Just seeing the light in her eyes right now, doing it again, is so fulfilling.”

    Check out or Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Lee’s professional career began at the Denver Performing Arts Complex when she joined the cast of Beehive at what is now the Garner-Galleria Theatre. She was just a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School at the time. Through a career that has included performances around the world and singing in front of 75,000, Lee still considers her haunting portrayal of Holiday in 2002 to be her most meaningful performance.

    The Musical Director for Lady Day is Sayles’ longtime musical collaborator Michael Williams. Sayles said he once asked Williams’ mother when she knew her son was going to be something in music. She told him: “When he walked up to me as a boy and said, 'The refrigerator is B-flat,’ ” Sayles said with a laugh.

    Remaining tickets are very limited for the three-day run of Lady Day, but Sayles hopes further opportunities will come from that. “I would love for it to have more life after this,” he said.

    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.

    Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
    Lady DayBy Lanie Robertson
    Featuring Mary Louise Lee
    Directed by Hugo Sayles
    Music Direction and Piano by Michael Williams
    Oct. 28-30
    The Jones Theatre
    Tickets start at $25
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    The show runs approximately 90 minutes without intermission
    Adult language and content
    Age Recommendation: 17+

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Mary Louise Lee:
    Mary Louise Lee returning to Denver Center roots in Lady Day
    2015 True West Award: Mary Louise Lee and Yasmine Hunter
    Video: Denver First Lady hosts students, Motown the Musical cast members
    Mary Louise Lee sings with cast of Million Dollar Quartet
    Denver first lady Mary Louise Lee is her own woman
    Video podcast: Running Lines with Mary Louise Lee of The Wiz
  • 10 things Bryan Cranston said in Denver last night

    by John Moore | Oct 18, 2016
    Bryan Cranston, Alamo Drafthouse, Tattered Cover, Breaking Bad, Photo by John Moore.

    'Breaking Bad' star Bryan Cranston appeared on at the Alamo Drafthouse on Oct. 17 to discuss his memoir, 'A Life in Parts.' The event was presented by the Tattered Cover Book Store. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.  

    Actor Bryan Cranston is, proudly, the sum of his parts. And over 40 years in Hollywood, those parts have included Malcolm in the Middle’s tidy-whitey dad, Jerry Seinfeld’s sadistic dentist, blacklisted author Dalton Trumbo, President Lyndon Baines Johnson and, most chillingly, the cancer-stricken high-school chemistry teacher-turned murdering drug lord Walter White in the game-changing TV series Breaking Bad. Cranston has even titled his new memoir A Life in Parts.

    But just as chromosomally, Cranston is also the dozens of walk-on characters he played on TV while working his way up and to Breaking Bad, on shows from CHiPS to Hill Street Blues to Baywatch. All of them, he said, helped make him the man, and the actor, he is.

    It might have been a bit discombobulating – or at least anachronistic – for Breaking Bad fans to meet the buoyant, vulnerable storyteller who appeared at the Alamo Drafthouse on Monday night for a warm, 90-minute conversation that was seen live or by simulcast by more than 800 fans who were spread out over five full Alamo theatres. His book – and Monday’s conversation, which was held in partnership with the Tattered Cover Book Store and hosted by co-owner Len Vlahos, revealed a man of humility and deep gratitude. Perhaps Walter White, had life had thrown him a bone.

    Order Bryan Cranston's A Life in Parts from Tattered Cover

    Cranston is 60, has four Emmy Awards, a Tony Award and an Oscar nomination. But he was keenly aware the reason the Alamo was overrun by his fans on Monday night was because for five seasons the murky morality of Breaking Bad wend its way around all of them. And even three years later, it still has some hold on them.

    “(Series creator) Vince Gilligan planted that seed in every one of us - including me,” Cranston said. “He not only put the drama and the intensity and the anxiety on the screen, he put it inside every single one of us. And so as soon as one episode is over, you want another one. It’s as addictive as the drug itself.”

     Here are 10 things Bryan Cranston said in Denver last night:

    1 PerspectivesA teenage Cranston, future portrayer of one of TV’s most notorious criminals, aspired to a career in law enforcement. His older brother had joined a police cadet program in high school that took him on summer trips to Hawaii and Japan. “So I joined the group as soon as I was 16,” said Cranston, who was soon sent to Europe for five coming-of-age weeks with 20 other teens. “I lost my virginity on that trip when we visited Amsterdam's red-light district,” Cranston  said. “I thought that because I was an amateur, I should go to a professional. And so I did."

    Bryan Cranston quote2 PerspectivesCranston decided he wanted to be an actor because of Henrik Ibsen – and a torrential rainstorm when he was 22. He and his brother had been aimlessly traveling the country by motorcycle for two years, "and I had this epiphany on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia,” Cranston said. The brothers pulled over at a rest stop to wait out a storm that did not let up for six days. "It was like a prison,” said Cranston, who had brought along a book of plays and started reading Hedda Gabler. “By the time I was done, I looked up – and it was night,” he said. “I had never missed the transition from day to dusk to night before – not while I was awake. It blew my mind. That’s when I realized the transformational power of storytelling. I thought, ’OK, that’s my signal. I am going to try to do this. In fact, I know I’m going to do this. I’m all in.' "

    3 PerspectivesCranston learned a valuable lesson from his early "bit parts" in television. “It's a very scary time when you walk onto the set of a TV show because everyone there knows everyone else – except you,” Cranston said. “I remember the people who really extended themselves to greet me and welcome me. That taught me, ‘OK, if I am ever in a position of running a show, I am going to make sure that I greet everybody who comes on that show.' Not only is it the right thing to do, and the kind thing to do - but in truth, it helps raise the level of the show. When people are greeted and feel comfortable, they work better, and the whole show is lifted.”

    4 PerspectivesCranston played the dentist Tim Watley in six episodes of Seinfeld and is best remembered for the episode where Jerry wakes up thinking perhaps he has been molested. In the scene, Dr. Tim asks his nurse to pass the laughing gas, but he takes a hit off of it himself before giving it to Seinfeld. The idea for the bit actually came from a crew member. Cranston was alone on the set after rehearsing the scene when he heard a voice say, “You know what would be funny?” He turned around and saw an electrician on a ladder adjusting a light. He told Cranston he should take his own hit first. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, that’s brilliant,' ” Cranston said. “So, I did it, and Jerry fell over laughing, because he didn’t see it coming. And Larry David is going, ‘That’s very funny. Keep that.’ We did that scene about 14 times because Jerry could not keep a straight face. Jerry is smiling in the take you see in the actual episode, because that’s the best we could do - Jerry not laughing.” But that was Seinfeld, Cranston said – “a good idea could come from anywhere on that show."

    Alamo Drafthouse teams with Denver Actors Fund on film series

    5 PerspectivesEven though Cranston won a Tony Award for playing LBJ in Robert Schenkkan's play All the Way and on Monday slid easily into mid-sentence impressions of Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld and GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, he doesn’t think he could fairly play Trump on stage or screen. “Playing any character requires an actor to find an empathy and an understanding of that character - and I don’t think I can do that right now,” he said to big laughs.

    Bryan Cranston. Alamo Drafthouse. Photo by John Moore. 6 PerspectivesTwo things actors must innately possess are an insatiable curiosity and a keen eye for observation, Cranston said. “I used to go shopping with my wife, but I wouldn't go into the stores,” he said. “I would sit out in the middle of the mall and study people. When a couple gets into a fight, most people want to get away from that. But I want to get as close to the argument as I can. I would go to airports and emergency rooms and airports and just watch the tension. Train stations are always good to find people filled with anxiety. Someone is always leaving someone. Or a kid can't wait for someone to arrive. Maybe a family is going on a trip - but they could be very sad about it. I wonder if it's a funeral? You are making all of these guesses. And every time I am observing people, I am filing their behavior away.”

    7 PerspectivesTV had not seen anyone like Breaking Bad's Walter White before. “To change a major character from good to evil over the life of a show had never been done in series television before,” Cranston said. “TV at that point had always been about stasis. Even Tony Soprano (The Sopranos) was Tony Soprano when you first met him. Vic Mackey (The Shield) was Vic Mackey. Archie Bunker (All in the Family). Ross and Rachel (Friends). They are who they are. But not Walter. Like chemistry itself, this was all about change, and we are going to go from this sad, sweet, sympathetic guy to this horrific murderer who would take on the cloak of toxicity and infest everyone who comes around him.”

    Check out or Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    8 PerspectivesWhen Cranston first read the pilot script for Breaking Bad, “I was absolutely hooked,” he said. “It was the best one-hour drama I had ever read. And I wanted it. I wanted it badly. I would have dreams about it. I would get up in the morning and I would start writing down characteristics of Walter White. I was getting these feelings from the power of the script about how he should look and dress. It was a way of taking ownership. Before I even got the part, I went in to talk with Vince Gilligan, and I said, 'I want to gain weight. He should have love handles. He's gone to seed. He always looks like he needs a haircut. Take the color out of my face. Make me disappear into the walls. My clothes should all be pale yellow and taupe and sand colored.’ ”

    9 PerspectivesBryan Cranston quoteTo Cranston, Walter White was the invisible man from the moment we first met him. “He was invisible to society - and to himself,” Cranston said. “And you felt for him. He's a man who was just trying to put one foot in front of the other. He’s taken a second job at a car wash to pay for his son's special needs. He’s looking out into his classroom teaching what he loves, and seeing nothing but a sea of apathy. There wasn't one student who looked up with any care or interest in his passion for chemistry at all. What does that do to you? Walter was in a deep depression. That’s where we first find him. He is a beaten-down man. And so, what then? ... Cancer! Two years to live. He is going to die. And not only that, he will leave his wife and children penniless. That's not how he wants it to be. If he is ever going to make a bold move, it's now, because he has nothing to lose. Then he’s introduced to crystal meth and it's like, 'This is my chance. Just do this, make as much money as I can, give it to my family so they don't lose the house, and let me die at least knowing that.' There is a certain honor to that. We were all sympathetic to that. It was like we went fishing. We dropped the bait – and you all took it. You grabbed the nice piece of shrimp, and you swallowed it. You're going, ‘Go Walt, go Walt, go Walt ... oh no, wait … are you just going to watch that girl die?' And he does. And you want to spit out the hook because you don't want to follow this anymore. … But you can't.”

    10 PerspectivesThe moment Cranston refers to above is the moment he says Walter fully crossed over from Mr. Chips to Scarface: Watching Jesse's girlfriend choke to death on her own vomit while in a heroin-induced stupor. Cranston said Gilligan initially wrote the scene for Walter to proactively turn the blackmailing Jane into her pillow and essentially snuff her out – but the censors made him pull back. And Cranston agreed. “It was only Season 2,” he said. “It was too much, too soon.” So instead, Walter touches Jane’s shoulder – perhaps even in an act of tenderness. She naturally turns over on her back, and soon starts to choke. Walter does nothing to help her, gravity does the rest, and he watches her die. That, he said, is when Walter changes from a self-preservationist into cold-blooded killer. And how did the actor pull it off? While filming that brutal scene, Cranston said his eyes involuntarily saw not actor Krysten Ritter choking on that bed, but rather his own real-life daughter, Taylor. And it devastated him. He choked up Monday even saying the words out loud.

    When Breaking Bad was over, Cranston writes in his book, “I needed to let Walter White die.”

    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.

     Bryan Cranston, Alamo Drafthouse, Tattered Cover, Breaking Bad, Photo by John Moore.

    Above, some of the 800 who came to the Alamo Drafthouse on Monday to see actor Bryan Cranston. Below, Cranston with Tattered Cover Book Store co-owner and conversation host Len Vlahos. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     Bryan Cranston, Alamo Drafthouse, Tattered Cover, Breaking Bad, Len Vlahos, Photo by John Moore.

  • Meet the cast: Charlie Korman of 'Frankenstein'

    by John Moore | Oct 16, 2016

    William Frankenstein in Frankenstein

    At the Theatre Company: Sweeney Todd, Lord of the Flies, Shadowlands, A Christmas Carol (six seasons) and Ed, Downloaded. Elsewhere: Oliver! (Denver School of the Arts), Poor Baby in Whistle Down the Wind, Our Time Cabaret, Bye Bye Birdie (Stagedoor Manor). Training: Sweatshop Dance, Vocal Training with Bob Downard. Awards: 2016 NYCDA regional Junior Outstanding Dancer first runner-up, 2016 Stagedoor Manor Best Featured Actor in a Musical, 2015 Stagedoor Manor Best Member of an Ensemble.

    • Charlie Korman and Jeff Cribbs. A Christmas Carol. Photo by Terry ShapiroHometown: Denver
    • School: Denver School of the Arts Theatre Major
    • What was the role that changed your life? Playing Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol for the DCPA Theatre Company. I started portraying him when I was only 5, and did it every year until I was 9. That was my start to a professional career. The experience was truly once in a lifetime, and it hooked me up with many talented performers.
    • Why are you an actor? The best part of going to the theatre is watching others go on a journey, and learning something valuable about yourself in the meantime. That's why I became an actor - to change people’s lives. 
    • What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t an actor? If I don’t become an actor when I grow up, then I want to be a computer programmer. I have a
      fascination with how computers and other machines work. And I have found a website that has been teaching me code.
    • Ideal scene partner: I would want to work with Charlie Chaplin. He has such a wonderful presence on screen, and can make any generation laugh. He also revolutionized physical comedy, and the way an actor can be funny, without even speaking. And lastly, he has a pretty awesome name.

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    • What do you hope the audience gets out of seeing Frankenstein? I hope they get a new look on horror. Horror movies nowadays are mostly cheap ghost films or bad serial-killer flicks. But this play has a whole new (yet old) take on horror. This is horror that gets inside your brain.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "... equality for all races, religions, and nationalities."

    Our 2013 video profile of Charlie Korman:

    Video by John Moore.
    'Frankenstein' photos above by Adams VisCom. 'A Christmas Carol' by Terry Shapiro.
    Follow Charlie Korman on his web site

    Frankenstein: Ticket information
    Frankenstein• Through Oct. 30
    • Stage Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Oct. 23
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frankenstein:
    Photos: Opening Night of Frankenstein
    Video series: Inside look at the making of Frankenstein
    Five things we learned about Frankenstein at Perspectives
    Photos, video: Your first look at the making of Frankenstein
    : On the making of a two-headed monster
    Frankenstein and race: It IS a matter of black and white
    Breathing life into the Frankenstein set: 'It's alive!'
    A Frankenstein 'that will make The Bible look subtle'
    How Danny Boyle infused new life into Frankenstein
    Casting set for Frankenstein and The Glass Menagerie
    Introducing DCPA Theatre Company's 2016-17 season artwork
    Kent Thompson on The Bard, The Creature and the soul of his audience
    2016-17 season announcement

    More 2016-17 DCPA Theatre Company 'Meet the Cast' profiles:

    Aubrey Deeker, The Glass Menagerie
    Sullivan Jones, Frankenstein
    Mark Junek, Frankenstein

    Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
    Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein
    John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie

    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center.

  • Statera Conference in Denver: Theatre has a problem. Women are the solution.

    by John Moore | Oct 15, 2016
    2016 Statera National ConferenceTo see more images from the opening day of the 2016 Statera Conference at the Denver Center, press the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    The American theatre has a big, systemic problem. And those attending the 2016 Statera Conference for gender equity in the American theatre have a simple, systemic solution:

    More women. On stage. Off stage. Writing. Directing. And, perhaps most important: In leadership positions.

    It is not new information that while females make up 68 percent of the average theatre audience, fewer than 25 percent of the stories they see are written by women. But Friday’s opening keynote address at the Denver Center laid bare some deeper statistical atrocities. For example:

    In 2013-14, 73 percent of the Artistic Directors and 62 percent of Executive Directors at leading U.S. theatres were white men. That’s unsurprising. But tellingly - and some might say “damningly” - 65 percent of those working in jobs just below leadership positions were women or persons of color. That means a majority of women already are in place for executive advancement - they just aren’t being rewarded for their experience when leadership jobs become available.

    In other words, said one woman in the conference crowd: “Women do all the work – and men get promoted.”

    A video look at Tira Palmquist's upcoming world premiere of 'Two Degrees' in Denver.

    Tira Palmquist, writer of the DCPA Theatre Company’s upcoming world premiere production of Two Degrees, acknowledged there are employment opportunities out there for women. “But it would be better to have better employment opportunities for women,” she said.

    “There is a clear glass ceiling,” said Sumru Erkut, Senior Research Scientist for the Wellesley Centers for Women. “And it’s not getting better. We have come to the conclusion that for a woman to lead a theatre, she has to start one. That's how she gets to be a leader.”

    Statera ConferenceBut Friday’s featured speaker Carey Elizabeth Perloff, who has been the artistic director of the esteemed American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco for 24 years, dared to imagine another kind of future for women in the American theatre.  

    “If we could change the gender balance across the board in the theatre from leadership to playwrights to directors to what is happening backstage, I truly think we would be telling more inclusive, more complex and more richly imagined stories,” Perloff said via Skype. “Therefore we would start to cast our net much wider in terms of audiences who are passionate about the theatre.”

    Perloff addressed more than 200 women (and a few men) who have gathered in Denver this weekend to strategize, commune, commiserate, network, workshop and rally for the cause of gender equity. Guests include playwrights, directors, actors, teachers, students and administrators from organizations as varied as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Baltimore Playwright’s Festival, Shakespeare Detroit, the Arvada Center, Athena Project, Colorado Shakespeare Festival and Center Group of Los Angeles.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “We believe the answer to gender parity in the American theatre lies in the philosophy of ‘top-down and bottom-up,’ ” said Statera Foundation co-founder Shelly Gaza of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. “Yes, we work to affect change at the top tiers of American theatres. But we are also working from the bottom up so that we, in a sense, meet in the middle to achieve parity.”

    Statera, by the way, is a Latin word for “balance.”

    Statera quoteThe DCPA makes a perfect host for Statera’s second national conference, Gaza said, because the Denver Center not only acknowledges the prevailing gender disparity in the American theatre, it is actively working to eradicate it.

    DCPA Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson drew applause when he announced that the Denver Center has recently changed one of its stated core company values to equity, diversity and inclusion. “I feel my most profound job as an Artistic Director is to offer windows on the world to audiences - and those windows have to reflect women in our society,” Thompson said.

    He introduced to conference attendees the now 11-year-old Women's Voices Fund, the Denver Center's $1 million endowment that makes directing and playwriting opportunities available to women.  Thompson pointed out that only about 15 of the company’s first 250 productions over 26 seasons were directed by women - and fewer than a dozen had been written by women. But in the 11 years since Thompson’s arrival, the Theatre Company has presented 26 plays by women - nine of them world premieres.

    Here are more key findings and killer quotes from Day 1 of the 2016 Statera Conference, which runs through Sunday at the DCPA:

    • “Until gender parity and gender equity are the norm, there will be a need for all of our passion and purpose and action,” said Statera CEO Melinda Vaughn, who is working for the day “when equal space and equal pay and equal opportunity are not ideals for which you have to fight or create - they are the expectation. That shift in expectation is powerful.”
    • Lucy Roucis, a longtime actor with Denver’s acclaimed Phamaly Theatre Company, which exists to create performance opportunities for actors with disabilities, acknowledged the loss just the day before of prominent Denver director and playwright Terry Dodd. “I saw Terry just last week, and we were talking about this very subject,” Roucis said. “Terry he told me, ‘Lucy, there will be equality in the theatre when there are more women producers. Women have to do it themselves.’ ”       
    • Jane Page, an original member of the DCPA Theatre Company in 1979 and most recently director of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer here in 2011, flew to Denver from Cairo to attend the conference, she said, ”because I feel very strongly about the issue of parity for women in theatre.” Page was accompanied by a college student from Yale she is mentoring at the conference. “After 40 years in the business, I think it's important for me to be a part of this conversation,” said Page. “But I also think it's important to hear from those young women who are just entering into the profession.” Page had been in Cairo directing a contemporary version of Tartuffe set in modern-day Orange County.
    • Carey Perloff tried to do everything right when she arrived at ACT in 1992, “but I did everything wrong instead," she said. She was convinced she would be fired after her first season in San Francisco - which makes her not uncommon among women, she said. “I felt how I think every woman leader feels, which is, 'When you fail, you fail for all women – and that when we succeed, it's luck,’ ” Perloff said. ”People told me, 'You have to stop saying that.' Because women always say they got lucky when they get a job. But men never do that. The fact is, men are hired on their potential, and women are hired on their resumes. And that makes our challenge that much greater.”
    • The beauty of being a leader in the American theatre, Perloff said, “is you get to choose the kind of plays you want to promote. I always said, 'It’s such a hard job, but at least you don't have to do Sylvia - that play where the woman plays a dog. When it's your own theatre, you get to say no. We are not going to do plays where women are tangential all the time. We're not going to do plays where women are demeaned. We are not going to do plays where women are two-dimensional. We are going to choose plays where there are women directors involved. And there are vigorous roles for women. And we are going to make sure that the backstage life has women.”
    • A priority of the Statera Foundation, Perloff said, is embracing the role of motherhood that often goes with artistic leadership. “Being a parent is like being in perpetual tech rehearsal,” Perloff said. “But you have to remember that while the days are long – the years are short. If you are a leader, you have more control over your own time and destiny, so it's all the more important for women to claim these leadership positions."
    • Sumru Erkut, the research scientist, said no woman needs to be told how difficult it is to maintain a work-life balance – especially in the arts. “I have to tell you - there is no conversation going on about the work-life balance in the American theatre,” Erkut said. “But it's a reality we have to confront. This is not just a women's issue. It's a human-being issue. We have to make it possible for the next generation to both work and be a parent.“
    • Among the more than 50 speakers and workshop leaders presenting this weekend are Actor’s Equity Association Executive Director Mary McColl and American social justice activist Chris Crass. Locally, speakers include DCPA Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson; Directors Christy Montour-Larson (Two Degrees), Ina Marlowe (The Glass Menagerie) and Geoffrey Kent (An Act of God); Actors Meridith C. Grundei (Frankenstein), Lucy Roucis and Lisa Young; and Educators Allison Watrous, Jessica Austgen and Gillian McNally.

    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.
  • In the Spotlife: Timothy McCracken of 'The Firestorm'

    by John Moore | Oct 14, 2016

    Timothy McCracken and Jada Suzanne Dixon in 'The Firestorm.' Photo by George Lange for Local Theatre Company.

    (The DCPA NewsCenter regularly profiles actors performing in theatre productions throughout the state of Colorado.)


    McCracken, whose day job is Head of Acting for DCPA Education, plays Patrick Henderson in Local Theatre Company's 'The Firestorm' at the Dairy Arts Center.

    • Hometown: St. Helena, Calif.
    • Home now: Beautiful Denver
    • High School: Justin-Siena in Napa, Calif.
    • College: I have a BA in Theatre from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., and an MFA in Acting from the DCPA's National Theatre Conservatory
    • Timothy McCracken QuoWhat have you done for us lately? I played Anthony in Outside Mullingar for Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, and Old Joe in A Christmas Carol for the DCPA Theatre Company
    • What's coming up next? I will be playing Estragon in Waiting for Godot for the Arvada Center, with Sam Gregory as Didi and directed by Geoffrey Kent (An Act of God
    • What is The Firestorm all about? The Firestorm is a relationship and race play. Gaby and Patrick are a hot political power couple on the verge of moving into the governor’s mansion. But when the campaign is hit with an impending political scandal, the race — and the marriage — begin to fracture. Tensions rise. The personal becomes explosively political. And a husband and wife must heartbreakingly confront just how strong their alliance really is.
    • Tell us about your character: Patrick is running for Governor of Ohio, and I am highly motivated in my pursuit. I love how many facets of humanity there are to these people, Patrick included. I have integrity, and am well-intentioned in my career, marriage and life — and yet there are things that I have done, and behaviors that I exhibit, that show many other colors. One of my many challenges is connecting with the very specific rhythms and seemingly “naturalistic” yet precise language that playwright Meredith Friedman has created. There is meaning in every beat and punctuation. I  find that fascinating, and I want to honor it.
    • What do you love most about this play? I love that Local Theatre Company has chosen this play at this particular time, when our country is facing a great deal of divisiveness in regard to race, power, politics and human behavior. It is very timely,  and it will spark strong opinions and conversation. It will make a theatregoer think. 
    • What's one thing most people don't know about you? Most people don't know Frank and Ralph. These are two bell peppers (one red, one yellow) who live in “Pepper Brooklyn” and speak in strong Brooklynese dialects. Frank and Ralph have been the central characters in my son Conlan’s imaginary world, and mine, for more than five years. They are with us every day, and I love them!
    • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? Here’s a simple and enjoyable suggestion for many parts of your day, from the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh: "Breathe in through your nose, and when you exhale, SMILE. It does wonders for you!

    Local Theatre Company's The Firestorm: Ticket information
    • By Meredith Friedman
    • Directed by Pesha Rudnick
    • Oct. 16-Nov. 13 (previews Oct. 14-15)
    • Carsen Theatre at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., in Boulder
    • Performances: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 4 p.m. Sundays
    • Tickets $15-$32
    • Info: 303-444-7328, or thedairy.org

    Cast List:
    • Jada Suzanne Dixon as Gaby
    • Iona Leighton as Leslie
    • Timothy McCracken as Patrick
    • Maduka Steady as Jamal

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre'sThe Crucible
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Terry Dodd: A playwright, director who bled empathy

    by John Moore | Oct 13, 2016
    Terry Dodd remembered

    A photo retrospective on the works of playwright and director Terry Dodd, left. To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above.

    Terry Dodd will be remembered as one of the most prolific local directors in the Colorado theatre community, as well as an accomplished playwright and screenwriter known for exploring deeply personal family issues. But he also will be remembered as a proud advocate for local theatre, for actors, and certainly for the projects he took on. 

    Dodd was interested in real, down-to-earth human stories that often centered on characters working to reconcile past mistakes. Asked in 2013 to describe his directing philosophy, Dodd said: “Love the play, cast well, always have something for the ear or eye for the audience, and be the best cheerleader going. Keep the drama onstage. And have fun."

    In one word, he said he thought the most important personal attribute in any good director is empathy.

    Terry Dodd Services Dodd oozed empathy over four decades in the Colorado theatre community. He died Wednesday night of a massive heart attack at his apartment, according to his friend and neighbor, Bill Deal. Dodd, who had just turned 64 on Sept. 18, was taken to Denver Health Medical Center at about 6 p.m., but he did not survive emergency surgery, Deal said. The DCPA NewsCenter later confirmed the death with four independent sources, although Denver Health Medical Center said it was awaiting pathological identification through next of kin.

    "Terry was an exceptionally kind and brilliant guy who did a lot for the local theater scene,” said Veronica Straight-Lingo, his friend and also a tenant in the apartment building where Dodd was proctor. Residents of the Executive House Apartments on Capital Hill were individually informed of the news this morning by building management, she said.

    Terry Dodd QuoteDodd has directed dozens of local stage productions at the Arvada Center, Aurora Fox, Nomad Theatre and Bas Bleu, among many others. He considered a personal milestone to be his direction of the second half of the six-hour opus Angels in America, a 2004 co-production between Fort Collins’ Bas Bleu and OpenStage theatre companies.

    "Two of the milestone productions in the history of Bas Bleu were directed by Terry – Angels in America and Three Viewings," said Bas Bleu co-founder Wendy Ishii. “He made some major contributions to our theatre, and his willingness to come up from Denver to help us really elevated our place in the local theatre community.” 

    In 2008, Dodd came to the rescue of Bas Bleu when the director of The 1940s Radio Christmas Carol was hospitalized.

    Laura Jones, who directed the first half of Angels in America with Dodd, remembers a moment during the summer just before the 9/11 attacks. "My husband and I did a houseboat weekend with friends on Lake Powell," she said. "It was very hot, so we slept on the top deck under the stars. At one point, my husband said, 'I feel like I'm in a Terry Dodd play.' Terry loved that story."

    Dodd won the 2006 Denver Post Ovation Award for best year by a director for a lineup that included The Holdup; The Smell of the Kill; Private Eyes; The Caretaker; The Man From Nebraska; I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, and The Weir – all in one year.

    He originated the annual theatre productions that are still staged each summer in the lobby of the downtown Barth Hotel, a venture that specifically raises money for Senior Housing Options to provide housing and essential services to more than 500 special-needs seniors. Dodd was a big proponent of site-specific theatre, staging Stanton’s Garage in an actual auto-repair garage (until it got shut down for doing so!) and Hot’l Baltimore in the lobby of the Barth.

    “By seeing site-specific theater, I think the boundaries are opened up to an audience,” Dodd said in a Denver Post interview. “These plays greatly expand our ideas of where and how theater can happen."

    Dodd was nominated for a Henry Award for directing James O’Hagan-Murphy in the one-man RFK: A Portrait of Robert Kennedy, which began at the Vintage Theatre and was later re-staged at the Avenue Theatre and Town Hall Arts Center.

    “That was a really lovely experience,” Dodd said. “When I first read the play, I broke out crying at the end.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Another personal favorite of Dodd’s was Picasso at the Lapin Agile, which imagines a chance meeting between a young Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso in 1904.

    He also experienced some success as a screenwriter. "He co-wrote a screenplay in the late 1990s, and I remember the giddiness when he showed me the check for $200,000," said his friend, Dave Maddux. 

    Dodd graduated from George Washington High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. He was a professor at the University of Colorado-Denver and a Teacher at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop. His plays were produced nationally, and he was a member of the DCPA Theatre Company's Playwriting Unit in the 1980s.

    Terry Dodd Curious Theatre Home By Dark Michael Ensminger
    Terry Dodd considered his play 'Home By Dark' to be his favorite. It was staged at Curious Theatre in 2010 with Jake Walker, left, and Michael McNeill as Dodd's cop dad. Photo by Michael Ensminger for Curious Theatre Company.

    Dodd wrote 16 plays, "and he considered each of them his children," Bill Deal said. "Terry had a difficult childhood, and he rose above it. He used to say it was a good thing that he found the arts, because they saved his life. He went on to become a proud gay man and activist."

    Dodd frequently mined his own past as a writer to explore complex family relationships. His autobiographical coming-out story Home By Dark, which was produced by Curious Theatre in 2010, focused on a charged confrontation between a father and son who are both harboring secrets. It was based on a snowy 1974 morning when a state patrolman - Dodd's father - woke Terry with a pounding on his door. "It’s rare to see plays centering on father-son relationships," Dodd said, "and that's because men only talk when they are cornered ... And my dad was cornered.”

    Dodd’s Vaughn, NM, Christmas Eve, 1956 was a more sentimental memoir recalling a childhood trip to Roswell, N.M. in a raging snowstorm.

    Dodd’s Amateur Night at the Big Heart began as a staged reading featuring Kathleen M. Brady for the DCPA Theatre Company. It was fully staged at the Arvada Center in 1992 with David Ogden Stiers of M*A*S*H fame directing. It was later revived at the Aurora Fox in 2012 with Rhonda Brown starring. The story focuses on a group of beautiful losers in a bar in Pueblo called Big Heart. Dodd said the script owes a nod to The Time of Your Life and the TV show “Cheers.”

    Dodd was also a voracious film buff who was working on a new play about Alfred Hitchcock.

    "Terry Dodd was an important playwright not only in our past, but also for Denver and Colorado," said DCPA Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson. "He was really bright spirit." 

    Dodd was beloved at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop, says program director Andrea Dupree. "He was a real heart of our organization," said Dupree. "He was known for lovely quirks, like saying 'dynamite!' when students read their work aloud.

    "He was just someone who was in it for the love of stories, and he passed that on to anyone he worked with. He mentored many of our students into having their work published and produced. He made their dreams come true. He was just the most genuine, kind and generous person."

    Given that Dodd was an expert in nearly every facet of storytelling, Ishii says she once asked Dodd why he never tried his hand at acting. “I thought he would be great at it, because when he gives notes as a director, he sometimes immediately accesses the character in a really wonderful way,” Ishii said. “But I remember him saying, ‘I can't act. I'm too much in my head.’ ”

    Given his longevity, Dodd worked with hundreds of actors, designers and technicians in the Colorado theatre community of all experience levels. One of them was Cat DiBella Lindsey, who appeared in several stagings of Three Viewings, three monologues set in a funeral parlor.

    "I'm at a loss over this loss," DiBella said. "I did my first play in Denver with Terry, and my last play in Denver with Terry - and almost all of my plays in Denver with Terry. Now that he's gone, I feel like I'm mourning both the loss of Terry and the lost chances. I loved him, and I treasure the things we did get to do together."

    DiBella then added with a laugh, "Now who is going to hire me to play a hooker?"

    A celebration of Terry Dodd will be held at 7 p.m., Monday. Nov. 28, at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard. A social hour will precede, beginning at 6 p.m.

    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.

    Significant writings:

    Home By Dark (produced by Curious Theatre), 2010, play
    Stealing Baby Jesus,
    Goodnight, Texas
    (1986 DCPA Prima Facia presentation, and Colorado Council on the Arts fellowship winner), play
    Vaughn, New Mexico, Christmas Eve 1956
    , play
    House Warming
    (was chosen as a semi-finalist for the Humana Festival), play
    Closer to Heaven
    (2002 Colorado Council on the Arts Fellowship winner), film

    Selected seminal plays directed include:

    Angels in America, Bas Bleu and OpenStage, 2004
    A Raisin in the Sun
    , Arvada Center, 2005
    Twelfth Night
    (set in the 1960s), Victorian Playhouse, 2008
    RFK: A Portrait of Robert Kennedy,
    Vintage Theatre and others, 2013
    99 Histories, Theatre Esprit Asia, 2013
    A Steady Rain at the Edge Theatre, 2014 

    Additional reader comment:
    "Terry had such an understanding of the West, and he made me love it through his eyes. He was smart, visionary and funny." - Kathy Holt, Scenic Designer, Angels in America

    "Terry was my playwriting teacher at DU and a constant source of support and encouragement from that moment on. He will be greatly missed. "Meghan Anderson Doyle, Costume Designer, DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Glass Menagerie'

    My husband (Augustus Truhn) and I first met at the callback for Communicating Doors and were both cast, leading eventually to ... well ... our current lives together. Terry was always a friend to and cheerleader for us, personally and professionally. We will both miss him immensely." Karen LaMoureaux

    "Terry was one of the least pretentious people I’ve ever known about his art. He loved what he loved.  He’d fight for Shakespeare in Love or The Remains of the Day in a way that a lot of artists wouldn’t. I really got a kick out of that — and it humanized him to those who can feel left out of the discussions of “high art” (though he could talk about the highest of the highbrow, he loved it all).  His brand of artistic candor is rare, I think, and it was yet another of my favorite things about him. Andrea Dupree, Program Director, Lighthouse Writers Workshop
  • Euan Morton to don Hedwig's wig on national tour

    by John Moore | Oct 13, 2016

    Euan Morton, left, and Hannah Corneau.

    The long-awaited first national touring production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch will come to Denver starting Dec. 6 with Tony and Olivier Award-nominee Euan Morton in the title role of the internationally ignored song stylist, it was announced this morning.

    Morton is perhaps best known for originating the role of Boy George in the musical Taboo in London and New York. Hannah Corneau will play Yitzhak in Broadway’s 2014 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Revival.

    Denver will be the second stop on the new tour after it officially opens Nov. 29 in San Diego.

    “I have been blessed in my career, but no blessing has been as exciting as the chance I've been given to take over the role of Hedwig,” said Morton. “Joining the cast is the kind of challenge an actor dreams of.”

    Read John Moore's interview with John Cameron Mitchell's parents

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the landmark rock-concert musical by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask that debuted off-Broadway in 1998 and was made into a cult-hit indie movie in 2001. It’s about a fictional rock band fronted by an East German singer named Hedwig - formerly Hansel - who undergoes a botched sex-change operation to marry an American soldier who helped her to escape East Germany to Kansas, where he abandoned her.

    The now iconic role was originated by Mitchell off-Broadway and again on film. But when Hedwig finally arrived on Broadway (or, as the clever story now goes, when Hedwig essentially trespassed her way onto Broadway), the role of Hedwig was bequeathed onto the man Mitchell calls “America’s Sweetheart” - Neil Patrick Harris.

    Hedwig quoteBut as successful as Hedwig was on Broadway, with more than 500 performances, the role was not conceived to be performed by a major celebrity. That national touring audiences will not be as familiar with Morton, Mitchell said, will work to the show’s advantage.

    “I have to say that I am really, really excited about (Euan),” Mitchell said in an exclusive interview with the DCPA NewsCenter. “His audition was spectacular. It was the best that I have ever seen for Hedwig.

    “The pressure on Broadway was harder because you had more seats, the ticket price was higher. You had to have some kind of name, or you were going to close. On the tour, we are selling 'the show.' So there is a certain release in being able to cast the best, as opposed to someone who is really good that is famous.”

    Added Trask: “Euan’s Hedwig is going to be so exquisitely beautiful and achingly heartbreaking. He is otherworldly.” Mitchell said he is going to be taking special care with Morton “to give him the benefit of what I know and help him out along the way - because I have sneaking suspicion that he could be spectacular.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Morton was born in Scotland and received both Olivier and Tony Award nominations for his performance as Boy George in Taboo. More recently, he appeared as Prince John in the play Heart of Robin Hood in Canada opposite Denver School of the Arts alum Gabriel Ebert as Robin Hood.

    “I'm ready for the ride of my life; I hope America is ready for her ride too,” Morton said.

    Corneau just played the title role in Evita at the Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre outside of Chicago and Fantine in the Paramount Theatre production of Les Miserables. “Hannah is a force of nature, and I'm really excited to unleash her on the country,” said Hedwig director Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening).

    The members of Hedwig’s band “The Angry Inch” – aka “Tits of Clay” – are music director Justin Craig (guitar and keyboards), Matt Duncan (bass), Tim Mislock (guitar), and Peter Yanowitz (drums), all of whom originated their roles on Broadway. Rounding out the company are Mason Alexander Park (Standby for Hedwig), Shannon Conley (Standby for Yitzhak), Dylan Fusillo (Standby for Schlatko) and Matt Katz-Bohen (Standby for Skszp, Jacek and Krzyzhtoff).

    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.

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch: Ticket information
    Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the genre-bending, fourth-wall-smashing musical sensation, with a pulsing score and electrifying performances, that tells the story of one of the most unique characters to ever hit the stage.
    • Dec 6-11
    • Buell Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Dec. 10
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 
  • How Peter became Pan: Exclusive interview with Diane Paulus

    by John Moore | Oct 12, 2016
    Finding Neverland. Laura Michelle Kelly. Photo by Carol RoseggLaura Michelle Kelly of the original Broadway cast of' Finding 'Neverland,' which comes to Denver on Dec. 20. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

    Acclaimed director calls Finding Neverland

    'a complete love letter to theatre'

    EDITOR'S NOTE: The first national touring production of Finding Neverland opened Oct. 7 in Buffalo, and will come to Denver starting Dec. 20. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore was given exclusive access to the entire Finding Neverland creative team this summer, and he will post his extensive interviews in a five-part series here on the DCPA NewsCenter. Part 1: Director Diane Paulus. Next: Choreographer Mia Michaels.

    By John Moore
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Acclaimed Broadway Director Diane Paulus was drawn to Finding Neverland because as an artist, she says, “It is a complete love letter to theatre.” Because as a mother, this was a show she could create through the eyes of her two young daughters. Because as a storyteller, this was the first story to fully explore how author J. M. Barrie first imagined Peter Pan and brought his iconic character to life.

    But mostly, she was drawn to a line from the show that Captain Hook says to Barrie himself:

    Diane Paulus Quote Finding Neverland"You can go back to being what everyone expects you to be. ... Or you can find the courage to write your own story."

    That resonated deeply with Paulus, the director, mother and artist who previously brought the launch of the national touring production of Pippin to Denver in 2014.

    “That could mean literally, ‘write your own story.’ Or it could mean, ‘write the story of your life,’ ” said Paulus.

    The story of Peter Pan, she says, is a call to anyone of any age to ask themselves: “When do we wake up and live the life that we know we need to live - not the life we think we should be living?” That, she said, is the story of Finding Neverland.

    The innovative Broadway musical is based on the 2004 Oscar-winning film of the same name. The story follows Barrie as he summons the courage to become the writer – and the man – he yearns to be. Barrie finds the inspiration he’s been missing when he meets a widow and her four young sons who inspire him to conjure the magical world of Neverland. And it was surprisingly risky for him to put the resultant play on stage before high-minded, high-society London theatergoers.

    “I love stories that take us backstage, that take us through all the trials and tribulations and the fear that go into making art,” Paulus said. “All sorts of people who have seen Finding Neverland have then said to themselves, ‘Oh my goodness - what am I doing with my life? I've got to wake up, do what I love and take a risk. That's where the riches of life will lie.”

    The lasting influence of Peter Pan on popular culture is vast and continuing. There has been the 1953 animated Disney film, of course; the 1954 Broadway musical; and countless movies and songs. It has been suggested that Peter Pan influenced J. R. R. Tolkien's creation of his Elves of Middle Earth. And in 1983, psychologists even gave a name to young men with underdeveloped maturity: The Peter Pan Syndrome.

    “This story has been part of our psyche and in our zeitgeist and on our peanut-butter jars for so long that it’s hard for us to imagine a time when there wasn't Peter Pan,” said Paulus. “It feels like an archetypal myth, and yet it didn't exist until J. M. Barrie took this artistic plunge in 1904. And in doing so, he really comes into his own as an artist. And at the same time, he discovers himself as a father. And so in that way, Finding Neverland is also a story that redefines family.”

    Here is more of our conversation with acclaimed Director Diane Paulus. It took place the morning after the 2016 Tony Awards:

    John Moore: Last night was a certainly celebration of diversity in the theatre.

    Diane Paulus: You know, I'm so excited to be part of this theatre community, and particularly this last season on Broadway - the artists that it embraced and of course the many landmarks that were reached.

    John Moore: Congratulations on Waitress. What did it mean for you to direct the first Broadway musical with an all-female creative team?

    Diane Paulus: I've said it time and time again: Every artist is in their position at Waitress because they were best person for the job. There was no agenda to only consider women. It's just a reflection that women are at the top of their fields in composing, in writing and in choreography. This is the 21st Century, and we all have benefited from the generations of women behind us who actually were told that they couldn't be the directors or the writers. We all have benefited from their mentorship and their example. I hope more than anything we can provide that same example to the next generation of artists wherever they are across America. We need to say, “Look, this is a place for anyone, if you work hard and you work with integrity. If you tell important stories, this is not a closed door.” I mean, we still have a long way to go for women. But, yes, this was a great landmark - and let’s hope it continues.

    Diane Paulus on Broadway's response to the Orlando massacre

    John Moore: How does this sudden proliferation of women storytellers tangibly manifest itself in what we see in the theatre?

    Diane Paulus: One out of three women in the United States experiences some form of intimate-partner domestic-violence abuse. This is a syndrome in our culture. It's a crisis in our time and in our world. So the fact that the stories being told this year are stories like Eclipsed, Black Bird, Waitress, The Color Purple, Spring Awakening -  these are all stories about women who have encountered some form of abuse or violence. We need to be telling these stories - not because that's all we care about as women, but because it's actually happening in our world.

    Finding Neverland, Denver Center_Finding Neverland, Sawyer Nunes and Aidan Gemme.  Photo by Carol Rosegg
    Sawyer Nunes and Aidan Gemme from te original Broadway cast of 'Finding Neverland,' which comes to the Buell Theatre in Denver on Dec. 2. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

    John Moore: Switching gears, can you give us an idea of what kind of theatrical experience we're in for with Finding Neverland?

    Diane Paulus: I was so drawn to Finding Neverland because it operates on so many important levels for me. One, it's about the creation of a seminal work of theatre: J. M. Barrie’s play of Peter Pan. He had a producer named Charles Frohman who committed, come hell or high water, to make it happen. So Finding Neverland is the story of how Peter became Pan. And of course, inextricably threaded through that is the discovery of love and family.

    John Moore: Speaking of family: When we last talked, you said you wanted to take on this particular project specifically for your two daughters. How has this experience impacted their lives?

    Diane Paulus: I did think this would be one that I could really create with my two daughters in mind. They are 9 and 11 now, and they were always present with me throughout this process. You know: The spirit of what it means to be a kid, and how kids see the world, and their honesty, and their imaginations, and their ability to see things. I've seen it in my own living room. A blanket literally becomes a magic carpet, and you can go anywhere you want just by being pulled through the hallways of your house. That is so much of a part of my life as a mother, and it is so much a part of Finding Neverland. I think they've grown through this, especially my younger daughter. The story also deals with how you survive hardship. It's about resilience. It's about overcoming some of the hardest challenges in life. It’s sort of like when children experience the heartache of Bambi. They understand that, and they move through that, and then they find comfort in that. We've experienced so much of that as a family. We have had people of all ages come to see Finding Neverland, whether they're kids or grandparents, who have experienced loss. If a kid has experienced the loss of a grandparent, there is something deeply comforting about this story and the power of metaphor and how we use metaphor in stories to help us in life. Theatre is metaphor. This idea of the ticking clock chasing you constantly was obviously so central to J. M. Barrie. And the idea that there is this place called Neverland where you never grow up. Peter Pan has really become this archetypical myth, and these myths are there to help us. I have really come to appreciate the power of Finding Neverland as a piece of theatre. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: Between Finding Neverland and Peter and the Starcatcher and so many others, why do you think Peter Pan myth is remains such a good source for new stories?

    J. M. Barrie QuoteDiane Paulus: Because I think Peter Pan is such a classic archetype. The definition of a classic is, for me, that you can take it and twist it and interpret it and re-interpret it - and no matter what you do to it, it survives all the tests of time. You can have any number of productions of Hamlet, and it stays Hamlet. Hamlet will survive. There's something about this story, and our fascination with it, and people wanting to get inside of it or look at it from a different angle. That’s what we do with classics. We want to feel them and explore them and get inside them in different ways. And I think this one is so powerful because it applies across generations. This is not just a kids show. Adults have grown up living with Peter Pan and love Peter Pan and remember their childhoods through Peter Pan.

    John Moore: Can you tell us how the stage version is not a mere replica of the source film?

    Diane Paulus: It's a beautiful film, and Kate Winslet and Johnny Depp give a sublime performances. But film has a certain pace that is completely appropriate for that medium, and that doesn’t always necessarily work on a stage. I knew it was the imagination of J. M. Barrie that we had to explode on that stage. That is really what led me to understand how Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy's pop score could function in the story. Because J. M. Barrie’s imagination is timeless, I learned that we could be in 1904 London and have the juxtaposition of this very British pop score representing the timelessness of J.M. Barrie’s imagination. The musical takes small moments in the movie and makes them into whole numbers - like the dinner party where the kids, through J.M. Barrie’s instigation, misbehave. That becomes this disastrous dinner-party number called “We Own the Night.” To me, the movie felt like it should become a musical because I could see these portals into musical theatre where we could dig deeper than the film ever could because we have music to take you there.

    Kevin Kern. Finding NeverlandJohn Moore: What can you tell us about the actor playing your J.M. Barrie, Kevin Kern? (pictured at right) 

    Diane Paulus: Kevin played the role on Broadway so much this past year. He's just a genius in the role. He sings it like no one else, and he knows this role inside and out. And he's such a generous soul. He is an incredible father of a huge family, and God bless him. I think it’s all going to work out, and we are so lucky he's going to be leading the tour. 

    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.

    Finding Neverland: Ticket information
    • Dec 20, 2016, through Jan. 1, 2017
    • Buell Theatre
    • Cast talkback: After the Dec. 21 performance
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Dec. 30
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 
    Selected Previous NewsCenter coverage:

    Diane Paulus on the rise of 'adventure theatre'
    Diane Paulus on the Tony Awards' response to Orlando massacre
    Finding Neverland flies onto Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season
    The Pippin Profiles: Diane Paulus on directing without a net

  • A day in the busy, busy life of Geoffrey Kent

    by John Moore | Oct 11, 2016

    Geoffrey Kent An Act of God
    'An Act of God' Director Geoffrey Kent, right, with his cast, from left: Steven Cole Hughes, Erik Sandvold and Wesley Taylor. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Artists are natural multitaskers. Perhaps that stems from a young age and the struggle to scrape together a reasonable living in the arts. The more you know – and the more you know how to do – the more likely you might be to pay your rent. But even when artists reach the top of their craft(s), they continue to find their services in great demand throughout their careers. Many continue to juggle a variety of creative duties, often on multiple shows at once. That is certainly the case at the Denver Center.

    Take Geoffrey Kent, for example. Kent is a Colorado native who started teaching classes with DCPA Education back in 1996 and debuted as an actor with the DCPA Theatre Company in Anthony Powell’s Hamlet in 2002. He won a 2015 True West Award for his performance as Iago for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. He’s also a certified stage-combat expert. Literally. He’s the former President of the Society of American Fight Directors, the largest organization of stage combatants in the world. In September, he became one of only 18 certified “Fight Masters,” and the youngest by a decade.

    With that kind of cred, Kent is also the resident Fight Director for all Theatre Company plays. He is also member of the Arvada Center's new resident acting company, where he will act in Bus Stop and direct Waiting for Godot. Kent will make his DCPA directorial debut when An Act of God premieres regionally at the Garner Galleria Theatre on Oct. 21. And while he’s been getting that Broadway comedy ready for opening, he’s also been choreographing the complicated stage combat in Frankenstein. And teaching weekly stage-combat classes at the Denver Center.

    Twenty years after his arrival at the Denver Center, Geoff Kent is as busy as any kid ever was trying to break into the business. In short, he continues to practice pretty much every theatre discipline he ever learned - at the same time. To illustrate the point, we asked him to take notes we could share with readers that show a day in the life of Geoffrey Kent. He chose Saturday, Oct. 1, just a few days before he completed his work on Frankenstein, and just a few days after starting on An Act of God with Broadway star Wesley Taylor in the role of The Almighty.

    Here is his report, in his own words:

    Titus Geoffrey Kent6 a.m.: I’m usually up at 6 because that’s when my “Titus Hates Cats” alarm goes off. Here’s how it goes: The cats enter the bedroom to ask for breakfast. Titus, my Chihuahua who thinks he’s a Great Dane, runs subtle interference by emerging from under the covers yammering at me at 100 mph. “OK, I’m awake! God! I mean, Dog!”

     6:15 a.m.: Breakfast consists of microwave poached eggs on toast - because I’m lazy. And coffee. Times 3. While over-caffeinating, I shoot off some emails about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Play On!  Project to DCPA Literary Manager Douglas Langworthy. The OSF is commissioning modern translations of every Shakespeare play – and Doug is writing three of them. His Henry VI Parts I and II will be read in a workshop in Boulder soon.

    6:30 a.m.: I’m wracking my brain trying to find the right kid to play Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol, which I will be directing next for the Colorado Springs TheatreWorks. I just cannot find that kid. Face palm. My wife, DCPA Teaching Artist Jessica Austgen, is adapting this version. We have a quick connection about the script - over yawns.

    7 a.m.: A walk with my proud post-cat-barking attack dogs.

    Geoffrey Kent An Act of God8 a.m. Saturdays are my busiest day of the week because, in addition to my other show duties, I work a three-hour Rapier and Dagger class at the Denver Center into the mix. I bike to work, taking the long route. I only live about 4 miles from the Denver Center, but I am really enjoying this gorgeous ride ... until I hit 15 miles, when I realize that 15 miles was a terrible and unnecessary choice to start the day. The soundtrack to Rock of Ages gets me through it. My God in An Act of God – Wesley Taylor – sings on that soundtrack, and I realize I am singing my God’s part. Badly. (PS: I say “my God”) a lot these days.

    9:30-12:30: My Rapier and Dagger class at the DCPA’s Newman Education building. That’s across Arapahoe Street from the Denver Performing Arts Complex. I have 16 swashbucklers in this class, with special guest Samantha Egle. (Who among many things is also house-managing for Denver Center shows that will be beginning at 1:30 p.m. today.) She is a mean sword-fighter to boot. On deck for today is fancy footwork and prise de fer – a move where the fencer takes the opponent's blade into a line and holds it there in preparation for attack. It literally means “taking the blade.”

    12:25 p.m.: I enjoy a brief visit from my talented wife, who is teaching an improv class nearby - and she brought coffee! – which is already bringing me to the brink of blissful caffeine overload.

    12:30 p.m. sharp: Class ends. I make a quick stairwell run to join my An Act of God rehearsal, which begins at 12:30 in the Orange Studio. Note to self: Remember to eat.

    An Act of God Scenic Design 12:31 p.m. I forget to eat. Rehearsal starts.

    12:32 p.m.: It’s fun to be working on An Act of God in the Orange Studio. As a longtime fight director I have… well … killed a lot of people in this room. Last week, in rehearsal for Frankenstein, we snapped some necks in this very same spot. Having multiple jobs is weird. (No snapped necks are anticipated for An Act of God.) 

    (Pictured above right: Erik Sandvold, Wesley Taylor and Steven Cole Hughes get a first look at the scenic model for 'An Act of God' at the Galleria Theatre.)

    12:32-5:30 p.m.: We work through the first half of the script. We are encouraged to localize the script, meaning to change jokes about New York to jokes about Denver. God is kind of a braggart at the top of the play. The conceit is that God is coming down to Earth to adapt the dusty 10 Commandments for these modern times. But because the very majesty of God might simply be too much for we mere mortals to handle, He takes on the far more approachable human form of a fabulously fun actor with just enough snark and charm. And he’s chosen Wesley Taylor, star of stage and screen ("Smash"). I encourage Wesley to make the bragging even braggier. So we add a bit where Wesley flashes his abs to the audience. This works. When you see them, you’ll know. We have a short discussion about how to best localize a joke about “the gayest area of Denver.” (It’s a surprise.)

    It's delightful to rehearse a comedy with a team of actors who have such amazing timing. Wesley’s castmates are longtime Denver favorites Erik Sandvold and Steven Cole Hughes.  Wesley is game for anything. We try 10 punchlines to a single joke. We settle on a favorite, only to abandon it for a better one five minutes later.

    Geoff Kent QuoteAt the end of the rehearsal, I get to give God notes. (Isn’t that weird?) A miniaturized version of Noah’s Ark is a set piece. I catch myself actually saying, “God: Can you cradle the ark like it’s a baby?"

    5:30 p.m.: We wrap An Act of God rehearsal for the day and make plans to work the second half of the play on Sunday. I then eat food … I think?

    6:45 p.m.: It’s fight call for Frankenstein. That means a preview performance is about to take place on the Stage Theatre. About 45 minutes before every show, all of the actors who have any physical contact with another actor during the show meet on the stage for a quick run-through of all violent stage business. This exercise keeps the actors sharp, and safe. It also helps them work these movements into their muscle memory. Frankenstein has lots of short bits of physical action, but this show is further complicated by the fact that two actors trade places each night playing the leading roles of Frankenstein and his Creature. I never remember who is playing the scientist and who is playing the monster on any given night until I show up. My fight captain is Rodney Lizcano, who also is an actor in the show. Because I can’t always be there, a Fight Captain is designated to help the actors with any concerns they may have. One of my fun tasks with Rodney is figuring out how to throw young Charlie Korman about the stage by his head - without actually throwing young Charlie Korman about the stage by the head.

    You really can leave nothing to chance when it comes to fight direction, because the safety of the actors is at stake. In my job, the No. 1 priority is and always will be, “Do no harm.” 

    One major challenge in Frankenstein is staging a moment of conflict between Frankenstein and the Creature that is staged on a massive coffin suspended above the stage by four ropes. Now imagine these two actors wrestling around on this very narrow piece of scenery that is hanging above the stage. Complicated by the fact that the lights go in and out during the scene. Also: The Creature’s eyes are closed. There is very … very little room for error.

    We run the scene. No one dies. … Success!

    7:30 p.m.: I watch the preview performance of Frankenstein. The young Charlie Korman head-toss toss goes well. I note a few tweaks for Rodney to fix the next day. I will next be working with these actors directly on Tuesday. I watched the show from the grid above the stage with Avi Levin (Charlie's understudy), and he hangs on every word for the entire show. It's infectious.

    Jessica Austgen Tartuffe9:30 p.m.: The creative team goes over notes with the cast. Some of the audience has stayed to watch the crew work on the show’s snowfall mechanics. We all say goodbye to amazing Scenic Designer Jason Sherwood, whose work is done, and he leaves town tomorrow. The end of the creative process is often a long series of slow goodbyes, only with no yearbooks to sign. Jason rocks.

     9:45 p.m.: Now I forget where I parked my car and wander the parking garage aimlessly. The bike helmet clipped to my bag fails to remind me that I did not actually drive the car to work today. Eventually I remember this ... and that I forgot to bring my bike lights. So I wait for my wife to finish her performance in the Arvada Center’s Tartuffe. She kindly comes for me and gives me a ride home.

    Midnight: I walk the dogs quickly. They are oddly silent. Surely they are saving their barks for the 6 a.m. wake-up call tomorrow.

    (Pictured above right: Geoffrey Kent's wife, Jessica Austgen, performing in the Arvada Center's 'Tartuffe.' Photo by Matthew Gale Photography.)

    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center.

    Geoffrey Kent Teaching
    In this 2015 file photo, Geoffrey Kent is shown conducting a stage swordsmanship class for DCPA Education. His students are Kyle Steffen, left, and fellow Teaching Artist Jessica Austgen (Kent's eventual wife.) Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    An Act of God
    : Ticket information

    • Oct. 15 through March 12, 2017
    • Garner-Galleria Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: TBA
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Frankenstein: Ticket information
    • Through Oct. 30

    • Stage Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Oct. 23
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Geoffrey Kent:
    Geoffrey Kent on 'a laugh-a minute God'
    Casting announced for An Act of God
    Geoffrey Kent's As You Like It cast profile
    Geoffrey Kent's NewsCenter podcast on the Colorado Shakespeare Festival
    Geoffrey Kent's 2015 True West Award
  • Photos: Opening Night of 'Frankenstein'

    by John Moore | Oct 11, 2016
    'Frankenstein' in Denver
    To see more photos from Opening Night of 'Frankenstein,' click the forward arrow on the image above.

    The DCPA NewsCenter takes you backstage before all DCPA Theatre Company opening nights, offering a glimpse of the actors in preparation, and following through to the post-show celebration.

    In the Theatre Company’s new staging of Frankenstein, which opened on Oct. 7, leading actors Sullivan Jones and Mark Junek alternate nightly playing the roles of Victor Frankenstein and his creation.

    Our backstage visit includes watching the actors being fit with their wigs, as well as Junek inserting the colored contact lens that makes it look as if the monster has one yellow eye. When Jones plays the Creature, he wears the yellow lenses on both eyes. In the source novel, author Mary Shelley makes mention of the Creature having yellow eyes.

    Photos by John Moore and McKenzie Kielman for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Frankenstein: Ticket information
    Frankenstein• Through Oct. 30
    • Stage Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Oct. 23
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    Video series: Inside look at the making of Frankenstein
    Five things we learned about Frankenstein at Perspectives
    Photos, video: Your first look at our montage of Frankenstein scenes
    : On the making of a two-headed monster
    Frankenstein and race: It IS a matter of black and white
    Breathing life into the Frankenstein set: 'It's alive!'
    A Frankenstein 'that will make The Bible look subtle'
    How Danny Boyle infused new life into Frankenstein
    Casting set for Frankenstein and The Glass Menagerie
    Introducing DCPA Theatre Company's 2016-17 season artwork
    Kent Thompson on The Bard, The Creature and the soul of his audience
    2016-17 season announcement

    More 2016-17 DCPA Theatre Company 'Meet the Cast' profiles:

    Meet Mark Junek
    Meet Sullivan Jones
    Meet Jessica Robblee

    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center.

    'Frankenstein' cast members, from left, Erin Willis, Brynn Tucker and Nellesa Walthour. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

  • Meet the cast: Mark Junek of 'Frankenstein'

    by John Moore | Oct 09, 2016

    Alternating nightly as Victor and the Creature in Frankenstein

    At the Theatre Company: Debut. Elsewhere: The Performers on Broadway, The Forgotten Woman at Bay Street Theatre, after all the terrible things I do at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, The Vibrator Play at Syracuse Stage, Family Play at The New Ohio, Galileo and A Midsummer Night's Dream at New York’s Classic Stage Company, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and The Imaginary Invalid at Bard Summerscape, among others. Television credits include the second season of “The Outs,” “Blindspot,” “Forever,” “Smash” and “Law and Order: SVU.”

    • Mark Junek Hometown: Grove Heights, Minn.
    • College: BA in English from Columbia University; Juilliard School, Drama Division
    • What was the role that changed your life? Frankenstein! I played the Creature my sophomore year of high school, and it was the first time I was asked to really "transform" for a role. It was fun and weird - it totally hooked me.
    • Why are you an actor? Because I love pretending to be other people in different places and situations. And because I think as storytellers, actors have the ability to affect people and even heal them. 
    • What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t an actor? I would be a woodworker because I love working with my hands. In my off-time, I'm always working on some D.I.Y. project. But I specifically love furniture and the intersection of simple forms and utilitarian function.hoffman
    • Ideal scene partner: Meryl Streep (of course), since apparently she's an incredibly generous scene partner. But also Phillip Seymour Hoffman because I think he would have scared me. He was always so deep in the scene work, he gets lost. It would have been a terrifying prospect to play opposite him because he seems so out of control, but I think he could have pushed me to go further, to sink deeper into the scene and the character.

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    • Why does this production of Frankenstein matter? I think this play highlights the complicated relationship between parents and their children - mostly the disappointing realization that you can't control who your family is. Children can't pick who they are born to and parents can't control how their children will ultimately turn out. The bond of family is still so strong that even if you try to deny it, it'll come back to haunt you.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of seeing this play? I hope they're really scared in an entertaining way - like a great scary movie. But I also hope they're moved by our performances and it makes them think about their own lives in one way or another. You know a play is good when people are talking about their own lives in relation to the play rather than the play itself!
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "... for everyone to just chill out and eat ice-cream together. Or maybe doughnuts."
    Mark Junek

    Follow Mark Junek on Twitter @mark_junek or on his web site

    Frankenstein: Ticket information
    Frankenstein• Through Oct. 30
    • Stage Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Oct. 23
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    Meet Sullivan Jones of Franknstein
    Video series: Inside look at the making of Frankenstein
    Five things we learned about Frankenstein at Perspectives
    Photos, video: Your first look at the making of Frankenstein
    : On the making of a two-headed monster
    Frankenstein and race: It IS a matter of black and white
    Breathing life into the Frankenstein set: 'It's alive!'
    A Frankenstein 'that will make The Bible look subtle'
    How Danny Boyle infused new life into Frankenstein
    Casting set for Frankenstein and The Glass Menagerie
    Introducing DCPA Theatre Company's 2016-17 season artwork
    Kent Thompson on The Bard, The Creature and the soul of his audience
    2016-17 season announcement

    More 2016-17 DCPA Theatre Company 'Meet the Cast' profiles:

    Aubrey Deeker, The Glass Menagerie
    Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
    Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein
    John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie

    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center.

  • Video series: Inside look at the making of 'Frankenstein'

    by John Moore | Oct 06, 2016

    For every Theatre Company production, the DCPA NewsCenter takes you backstage for an inside look at the making of the show. For Frankenstein, we have broken up our tour into four short videos:

    Part 1: Interviews with Director Sam Buntock and lead actors Sullivan Jones and Mark Junek

    Part 2: Bringing the scenic design to life with Technical Director Eric Rouse and House Foreman Doug Taylor

    Part 3: Touring the backstage scene shop

    Part 4: Costumes with Kevin Copenhaver

    Play the video above, and all four videos will play in succession. Or click on each individual link above.

    Videos by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Frankenstein: Ticket information
    Frankenstein• Through Oct. 30
    • Stage Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Oct. 23
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    Five things we learned about Frankenstein at Perspectives
    Photos, video: Your first look at the making of Frankenstein
    : On the making of a two-headed monster
    Frankenstein and race: It IS a matter of black and white
    Breathing life into the Frankenstein set: 'It's alive!'
    A Frankenstein 'that will make The Bible look subtle'
    How Danny Boyle infused new life into Frankenstein
    Casting set for Frankenstein and The Glass Menagerie
    Introducing DCPA Theatre Company's 2016-17 season artwork
    Kent Thompson on The Bard, The Creature and the soul of his audience
    2016-17 season announcement

    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center

  • Five things we learned about 'Frankenstein'

    by John Moore | Oct 05, 2016

    From left: Kevin Copenhaver (costumes), Topher Blair (projections), Jason Sherwood (scenic design), Brian Tovar (lighting), Sam Buntrock (director), Curtis Craig (sound), and actors Max Woertendyke, Molly Carden and Thaddeus Fitzpatrick. Photo by McKenzie Kielman for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    "Perspectives" is a series of free conversations with DCPA Theatre Company cast and crew on the evening of each show's first preview performance (except A Christmas Carol). On Sept. 30, DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore was joined by nine members of the Frankenstein team. Here’s some of what we learned:

    1 PerspectivesThis is a stage play, but it might as well be an action film. Playwright Nick Dear's script consists of 30 scenes, but they take less than two hours to play out. "The first 20 scenes are over in the first half an hour," Director Sam Buntrock said. And why the eventual change in tempo? “At the beginning of the story, the Creature has almost no language skills, so the first five scenes have almost no dialogue. But as the Creature experiences more of the world, and as he learns to communicate better, the play elongates and becomes more conventional." 

    2 PerspectivesCostumer Kevin Copenhaver said the creative team was not interested in furthering the popular cultural depiction of Frankenstein as the neck-bolted, square-headed monster we know from the 1931 Boris Karloff film. Nor the more recent National Theatre approach in London, which turned the monster into something of a mod zipperhead. “When reading Mary Shelley’s book, I was really struck by when she said the Creature had yellow eyes,” Copenhaver said. So the two actors who play the Creature in Denver will be wearing yellow color contacts, and their teeth will be fitted with iron. “But otherwise the monster will appear to be disturbingly normal,” Copenhaver said, in part to force audiences to confront their own feelings about difference and “otherness.” The less freakish this Creature looks, the more disturbing it should be that this society rejects him anyway. (Photo: Sullivan Jones and Charlie Korman by AdamsVisCom.)

    3 PerspectivesJason Sherwood admitted that his vibrant scenic deign, which features one massive (and surprise) overhanging set piece, created a nightmare for Lighting Designer Brian Tovar and others on the creative team. Everywhere a lighting designer might normally expect to place lights, Sherwood has invaded his space with hanging set pieces, as well as accommodation for rain, snow and fire. “The whole team had to get creative all around because of me, and I apologize for that,” Sherwood said with a laugh.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    4 Perspectives Frankenstein PerspectivesActors Sullivan Jones and Mark Junek, the actors who will alternate playing the roles of Dr. Frankenstein and his Creature, have been encouraged to go their own ways – and that freedom affects everyone else on and around the stage. Said ensemble actor Molly Carden: “One thing Sam kept repeating to us was, 'If you are going to have two people play the same role on different nights, you don't want it to be the same performance. That would be antithetical to the whole premise.' ” Or, as Buntrock puts it: “I can't cram one person's performance into another person's. Sometimes I have to keep reminding myself that this show is not the same for both people. It can't be.” That freedom not only means two actors interpreting the text differently, but also having the liberty to move about differently on the stage. That requires flexibility from the acting ensemble, the audience and even the technical crew - specifically, the person operating the lights. “That’s because Mark and Sullivan aren’t always in the same place on the stage each night, even though they are saying the same words,” actor Thaddeus Fitzpatrick said. (Photo: Sam Buntrock by By McKenzie Kielman for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    5 PerspectivesDenver Center newcomer Max Woertendyke plays a gentleman named Felix de Lacey, a man who is devoted to his family and mistress. In fact, Felix is kind, educated, and gentle to all — save for the poor monster. Just a few months ago, Woertendyke was part of the Broadway ensemble of A View From the Bridge, which won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play. “Just to clarify - I don’t think I was the one who got it for us,” joked Woertendyke, who understudied the roles of Louis and Marco.

    6 PerspectivesBonus: Mary Shelley’s source novel turns 200 years old this year. And yet surely some audience members will be experiencing the story for the first time. “I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone - but it's about a monster,” Buntrock said with a laugh.

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

    The next Perspectives will cover The Book of Will at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, in the Jones Theatre. It’s free.

    Photo gallery: The making of Frankenstein in Denver:

    'Frankenstein' in Denver

    To see more photos, click the arrow on the image above. All photos by John Moore and McKenzie Kielman for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Frankenstein: Ticket information
    Frankenstein• Through Oct. 30
    • Stage Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Oct. 23
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Previous NewsCenter coverage:

    Photos, video: Your first look at the making of Frankenstein
    : On the making of a two-headed monster
    Frankenstein and race: It IS a matter of black and white
    Breathing life into the Frankenstein set: 'It's alive!'
    A Frankenstein 'that will make The Bible look subtle'
    How Danny Boyle infused new life into Frankenstein
    Casting set for Frankenstein and The Glass Menagerie
    Introducing DCPA Theatre Company's 2016-17 season artwork
    Kent Thompson on The Bard, The Creature and the soul of his audience
    2016-17 season announcement

    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center

  • Study: Denver metro arts generate $1.8 billion in economic activity

    by John Moore | Oct 05, 2016


    Denver metro arts, cultural and scientific organizations generated  $1.8 billion in annual economic activity in 2015, according to a study released this morning that is conducted every two years by the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts.

    Of that total, the study showed a total economic impact of $512.8 million – which specifically represents new money injected into the economy in 2015.

    The survey showed that metro arts and science groups draw 13.9 million in attendance, reach nearly 4 million children through their educational outreach programs, and are responsible for 10,731 full-time jobs. In return, citizens and foundations gave $176.4 million to local arts organizations in 2015.

    Download the complete Economic Activity Study

    While the $1.8 billion total amounts to a 2.2 percent decline since the most recent study in 2013, CBCA Executive Director Deborah Jordy said the results again show the cultural community’s conitinued "significant and sustained on our local, state and regional economy by creating jobs and providing extensive outreach to metro area schools."

    Jordy attributed the overall decline since 2013 to less capital investment than in previous years. But she pointed out that jobs in arts, cultural and scientific organizations have reached pre-great recession levels. And cultural tourism, measured by dollars spent at cultural organizations by people from outside the metro area, contributed $367 million – the highest total recorded to date.

    (Pictured above right: DCPA Education students participate in the culmination of its annual statewide teen playwriting competition. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    The $1.8 billion overall figure includes $894 million in audience spending, $860 million in operating expenditures and $55 million in capital expenditures.

    “Coloradans understand that tourism is a key driver for our economy. And cultural tourism’s contributions to that effort are important factors in our state’s overall success,” said Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. “Couple those contributions with the total economic activity and jobs created and you begin to understand what key, long-term contributors our cultural organizations are to the overall economic health of our state.”

    Other key findings from the report, which has been issued every two years since 1992: 

    • Corporate sponsorships in the arts were up more than 10 percent since 2013.
    • Outreach to children through educational institutions ensured an average of more than seven arts experiences annually for each metro area student.
    • Following jobs, total payroll for cultural organizations was up more than 9 percent.
    • Free attendance increased by 3 percent since 2013, indicating increased emphasis on access by cultural organizations.
    • Total volunteer hours are up 15 percent over 2013 at 2 million.

     According to the National Endowment for the Arts, Colorado ranks third in the nation in terms of per capita attendance at live dance, music and theatre performances.

    Jordy said the continued success of the arts in Colorado is attributable in large part to the taxpayer-supported Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), which since 1989 has distributed funds from a sales and use tax to cultural facilities throughout the seven-county metropolitan area. In 2013, the tax generated $53.2 million for more than 300 arts and science organizations in metro Denver. A public vote for reauthorization of SCFD will be on the Nov. 8 ballot.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts depends on the SCFD for about 10 percent of its operating budget. The nation’s largest non-profit theatre organization is coming off its most successful season ever, having welcomed 1.2 million guests in 2015-16.That includes engaging with 85,000 through its Education programs.

    “The DCPA is encouraged by the tremendous engagement shown throughout our community in support of art and culture as illustrated in the CBCA’s 2016 study,” said CEO Janice Sinden.

    “The DCPA contributes significantly to the economic impact of our arts community. Over the past five years, ticket sales at Broadway, Cabaret, Theatre Company and Off-Center shows alone have generated a $600 million economic impact.

    “This love of the performing arts, combined with our community’s level of engagement, enable organizations such as the DCPA to attract top talent and Broadway’s biggest hits, including Hamilton and the pre-Broadway debut of Disney’s Frozen.”

    About the Economic Activity Study

    The biennial Economic Activity Study of Metro Denver Culture compiles data from all nonprofit organizations who received funds through the SCFD within a seven-county region: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson. This study examines self-reported data from 264 cultural organizations in the 2015 calendar year with a 100 percent response rate.

  • Photos: 'Miscast' raises $7,000 for Denver Actors Fund

    by John Moore | Oct 04, 2016
    Miscast 2016

    Photos from 'Miscast 2016,' which raised more than $7,000 for the Denver Actors Fund.  To see more, press the forward arrow on the image above. All photos are directly downloadable and may be freely used on social media. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Miscast, a popular annual community-wide benefit held Sept. 26 at the Town Hall Arts Center, raised $7,067 for the Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and practical relief when members of the Colorado theatre community find themselves in situational medical need. In just three years, this grassroots nonprofit has distributed more than $50,000 in direct aid to help local artists.

    More than 30 local actors performed in roles they would never – ever – normally be cast to perform. The event was hosted by Eric Mather and Damon Guerrasio, and directed by Robert Michael Sanders. Many area merchants and theatre companies, including the Denver Center, contributed more than $1,200 in prizes for the event.

    All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. For more information on the Denver Actors Fund and its services, go to DenverActorsFund.Org.

    Video excerpt:

    The criminal kids in the video above deserve to be in jail, because they stole the show at 'Miscast 2016.' Sydney Fairbairn, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hanna Katz, Darrow Klein and Hannah Meg Weinraub performed a storybook version of 'Cell-Block Tango' from 'Chicago,' accompanied by Donna Debreceni and Larry Ziehl. In the week since the performance, this video has been viewed nearly 30,000 times and shared more than 370 times on Facebook.

    MISCAST 2016:

    Damon Guerrasio
    Eric Mather


    • Heather Lacy, Leslie O'Carroll and Shannan Steele, inspired by "Fugue for Tin Horns," from Guys and Dolls
    • Shane Delevan, Lindsey Falduto and Rob Riney, parody inspired by Rent
    • Donovan Arterburn III, Brock Benson, John Greene, Clint Heyn, T.J. Hogle, and Wade Livingston, inspired by "At the Ballet," from A Chorus Line
    • Steven J. Burge, Carter Novinger and Preston Novinger: "I Know It's Today" from Shrek
    • Kevin Ahl, Jacob Elledge, Stewart Caswell, Jill Leslie, Amber Marsh, Gregg Vigil and Lucy Roucis (Phamaly Theatre Company), what a  Wild West duel would be like between two disabled people.
    • Colby Dunn: Inspired by an audition for Dream Girls
    • Sydney Fairbairn, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hannah Katz, Darrow Klein, Hannah Meg Weinraub, inspired by "Cell-Block Tango," from Chicago
    • Barret Harper, Anna High, Tim Howard and Suzanne Nepi, inspired by "I Will Never Leave You," from Side Show
    • Rebecca Joseph, Chelley Canales, Daniel Langhoff and Arlene Rapal, inspired by "My Shot," from Hamilton
    • John Ashton, inspired by "Memories," from Cats
    • Emma C. Martin, Napoleon M. Douglas and company: "You Can't Stop the Beat," from Hairspray

    The hosts also engaged audiences in participatory games such as a "Family Feud" parody ("Name a Bad Boy of the Colorado Theatre Community") and "Carpool Karaoke."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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.

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