• Theatre world has finally caught up to A.C.E.'s kind of adventure

    by John Moore | Mar 23, 2017

    Travelers. From the Hip Photo
    From left: Linda Klein, Barbara Gehring and Matthew Taylor. From The Hip Photo.

    'Immersive theatre' has taken the world by storm. The kind Denver's A.C.E. has been creating for 18 years.

    By John Moore
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Linda Klein, Barbara Gehring and Matthew Taylor felt pretty hip when “immersive theatre” suddenly became “cool-kid theatre” a few years back.  The movement exploded in 2011 when a British theatre company unleashed Sleep No More on New York audiences. That’s a riff on Macbeth that takes place over five floors of an abandoned hotel in the Big Apple’s meatpacking district. Before long, as Stefon might say on Weekend Update, Sleep No More was New York’s hottest nightclub, with limos pulling up at midnight filled with decidedly nontraditional theatre audiences.

    Out of the blue, theatre that was mobile, interactive and took place in unexpected places was being embraced everywhere as the future of the American theatre.

    Back in Denver, Gehring looked at what was happening and thought, ‘Wow, we have been doing this very thing for 18 years.”

    Travelers. Adams VisCom photo.Gehring is a member of Denver’s enduring A.C.E. Entertainment comedy trio, which has created 50 original productions since 1998. Make that 51 with last week’s launch of Travelers of the Lost Dimension, its new commissioned comedy for the DCPA’s Off-Center at the Stanley Marketplace. The group’s ongoing, runaway success is Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women, which returns in September for its fourth engagement at the Garner Galleria Theatre.

    (Pictured above right: Leigh Miller leads the audience through a performance of 'Travelers of the Lost Dimension.' Photo by Adams VisCom.)

    A.C.E. is an acronym for “An American” (Klein), "a Canadian" (Gehring) and "an Englishman" (Taylor). In the early days, A.C.E created one show that played out on the 16th Street Mall. Another took place on a light-rail train. Another lured unsuspecting audiences into the woods near Golden. The very same kinds of environmental shows that theatre companies across America are now scrambling to devise to appeal to the next generation of theatregoers.

    Now Gehring freely admits to not being clairvoyant. “The reason we didn’t perform in a theatre a lot of the time back then was purely because we didn't have a venue to perform in,” she said with a laugh.

    And A.C.E. never called their quirky brand of entertainment “immersive theatre.” “We call what we do ‘adventure comedy,’ ” Gehring said. Regardless, they were clearly ahead of their time. But recently Gehring had a moment when she thought, "The heck with that. THIS is our time."

    Off-Center jumped into the “immersive” breach last year with a wildly successful production of Sweet & Lucky, which played out in a RiNo warehouse that became the biggest physical undertaking in the DCPA’s nearly 40-year history. Sweet & Lucky was an evocative exploration of memory, and an intentionally ephemeral and mysterious theatregoing experience.

    And A.C.E. is here to tell you: Travelers of the Lost Dimension is no Sweet & Lucky.

    Travelers. From the Hip photo.“The most important difference is that our show is a comedy,” said Klein. One that takes place not in the same kind of controlled environment the DCPA built for Sweet & Lucky. This is happening right out in the open at the Stanley Marketplace, which opened last year near the Stapleton neighborhood just east of Denver. Stanley is an urban marketplace made up of local, independent businesses that believe in sustainable retail and community development. The 22-acre space was once Stanley Aviation headquarters, where airplane ejector seats were engineered and manufactured.

    “For Sweet & Lucky, they took an empty space and essentially built several theatres inside of it,” said Taylor. “So they still controlled the space and lights and sound. Whereas we are doing this piece in a public space. So not only do you have your Travelers audience but then you also have the general public looking on. It’s fascinating because you really never know how they are going to behave every night.”

    (Pictured above right: Linda Klein, Barbara Gehring and Matthew Taylor. From The Hip Photo.)

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    So what is Travelers of the Lost Dimension? Like Sweet & Lucky, its creators believe that it’s best for the audience to know as little as possible before attending. “Part of the fun is just taking the leap and going along for the ride,” said Klein. But there is a clue to be found on the Travelers web site. It says: “With wit, wonderment and some dubious technology, a ragtag group of explorers will brave an inter-dimensional journey to discover the fantastical realm in the beyond.”

    “Without giving anything away, I would say that it's a romp,” said Gehring. “There is a lot of a lot of comedy, a lot of fun characters, and a lot of the unexpected. Those are the things that drive all our shows.”  

    Klein says the most important element of any A.C.E. show is the unexpected. “We want to emphasize the intrigue as opposed to simply explaining to people in advance what they will be experiencing,” she said. “Half of the fun not knowing what is coming next.”

    Too often, Taylor said, our entertainment forms are passive. “A lot of times we are just handed everything,” said Taylor, author of a comic collection of tales called Goat Lips: Tales of a Lapsed Englishman. “We, as human beings, are puzzlers. We love to work things out. So wee rely on our audience being brilliant. We like to allow them to work it out for themselves.”

    Travelers. Adams Viscom photo.
    A scene from 'Travelers of the Lost Dimension' at Stanley Marketplace. Adams Viscom photo.

    A.C.E. has a loyal fan base, but collaborating with the DCPA will expose themto many audiences who have never seen their work before. “For the past 18 years, we have really gotten to know our audiences,” said Gehring. “But it’s true: Travelers is opening us up to a whole world of people who have never experienced an A.C.E. show. I'm excited to just see what their responses are because it'll be very new for us – and for them.”

    The three A.C.E. creators are performing in Travelers through April 2, and then a team of local actors will take over and continue the run. The cast includes DCPA veterans Leigh Miller (Sweet & Lucky), Diana Dresser (Sweet & Lucky), Adrian Egolf (As You Like It), Nanna Thompson (Off-Center's Cult Following)  and Bruce Montgomery (Off-Center’s Wheel of Misfortune).

    “We were not only looking for great actors, but we were also looking for really nice people,” said Gehring. “In our shows, you are interacting so much with the audience and the general public that you have to have people who are really flexible and think on their feet.” Taylor said that working with the A.C.E. newcomers “is a little terrifying because they are a really bloody good. Right across the board, they are fabulous.”

    Audiences are capped at 45 for each performance, they say, to maximize each audience member’s individual experience.

    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.

    Travelers of the Lost Dimension: Ticket information
    Travelers of the Lost DimensionThrough April 23
    • 2501 Dallas St, Aurora, CO 80010 MAP IT
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Please note that each performance is limited to 45 audience members and many performances already are sold out.

    Bonus coverage: Girls Only set for September return

    Girls OnlyHard to believe, but when Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women returns in September, it will have been nearly four years since the original comedy that celebrates the honor, truth, humor and silliness of being female last played at the Garner Galleria Theatre. It has now played to nearly 125,000 (mostly female) audiences around the world since it debuted at Denver's Avenue Theater in 2008.

    “The Denver gals are constantly asking for it to come back,” said Gehring. “They keep meeting new people and they want to share it with them, so that's why we keep doing it.”

    Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women: Ticket information
    Girls Only – The Secret Comedy of WomenSept. 21-Oct. 22
    • Garner-Galleria Theatre
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Off-Center:
    Off-Center throwing a Wild Party at Stanley Marketplace this fall
    Stanley Marketplace soon to welcome Travelers of the Lost Dimension
    Off-Center to partner with A.C.E comedy trio, Stanley Marketplace

    A scene from 'Travelers of the Lost Dimension' at Stanley Marketplace. Adams Viscom photo.A scene from 'Travelers of the Lost Dimension' at Stanley Marketplace. Adams Viscom photo.
  • Off-Center throwing a 'Wild Party' at Stanley Marketplace this fall

    by John Moore | Mar 21, 2017
    Charlie Miller

    By Hope Grandon
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Off-Center, the unconventional and most adventurous wing of Denver Center programming, has announced its next off-site collaboration and first full-scale musical production: An immersive, 360-degree staging of Michael John LaChiusa’s jazz musical The Wild Party to run Oct. 12-31 at Stanley Marketplace.


    Amanda Berg Wilson “Last summer, Off-Center took over a 16,000-square foot warehouse in RiNo to bring you Sweet & Lucky. This fall, we’re breaking out the bathtub gin and heading to the Hangar at Stanley to tackle the first musical in Off-Center’s history,” said Off-Center curator Charlie Miller.

    “Much like Sweet & Lucky, The Wild Party will transport audience members to a different era where they will be immersed in the story as guests at Queenie and Burr’s party. The live band will be swinging, and we’ll find out what happens when you let down your guard and give yourself over to the party. I am so excited to dive into this piece with our incredible team of collaborators.”

    The Wild Party, which was nominated for seven Tony Awards when it appeared on Broadway in 2000, will be directed by Sweet & Lucky cast member Amanda Berg Wilson (pictured above), also the artistic director of the Boulder-based company The Catamounts and a 2016 True West Award winner.

    Stanley Marketplace home to Travelers of the Lost Dimension

    This production continues the partnership forged between Off-Center and Stanley, which began with the adventure comedy Travelers of the Lost Dimension, currently running throughout the public spaces at Stanley through May 21. 

    Full details including cast and creative team will be announced at a later date.

    The Stanley Marketplace, which opened last year near the Stapleton neighborhood just east of Denver, is a community of like-minded businesses and residents who believe sustainable retail and community development. The more than 22-acre space, which occupies 140,000 square feet, was once Stanley Aviation headquarters, where airplane ejector seats were engineered and manufactured. Today it is an adaptive re-use community hub, home to a park, beer hall and an urban marketplace. All businesses are local and independent. The address is 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora. MAP IT

    (Note: The Michael John LaChiusa adaptation of 'The Wild Party' is very different from the Andrew Lippa version that was presented last year by Ignite Theatre at the Aurora Fox.)

    The Wild Party
    Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    Oct. 12-31, 2017
    At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • In the Spotlife: Napoleon M. Douglas of 'Jesus Christ Superstar'

    by John Moore | Mar 20, 2017
    NAPOLEON M. DOUGLAS. Photo by John Moore. Napoleon M. Douglas gave audiences a sneak peek of his upcoming performance as Judas Iscariot at last week's benefit screening of the 1973 'Jesus Christ Superstar' film for The Denver Actors Fund at Alamo Drafthouse. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    (EDITOR'S NOTE: On March 22, it was announced that vocal issues will prevent Napoleon M. Douglas from performing the role of Judas in this production. He has been replaced by Matt LaFontaine.) 


    Napoleon M. Douglas, who has appeared in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol' and is a DCPA Education Teaching Artist who performs at area high schools as part of the 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot' program, will play Judas Iscariot in the Arvada Center's 'Jesus Christ Superstar.'  from March 24 through April 16.

  • Hometown: Washington D.C.
  • Home now: Denver
  • NAPOLEON M. DOUGLAS High School: Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa
  • College: BA in Theatre Arts from Drake University in Des Moines; MBA in Entrepreneurship from Southern New Hampshire University (in progress)
  • What have you done for us lately? I played T.J. in Sister Act at the Arvada Center
  • Twitter-sized bio: I am a black kid named Napoleon, which makes me unforgettable. My spirit animal is the Energizer Bunny, which makes me unstoppable.
  • What was the role that changed your life? Playing Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime. When I was a senior in high school, I had a serious knee surgery that ended my not-too-promising athletic career. I always loved to sing and had recently become involved in the drama department, so I decided to audition for the ensemble in our school production of Ragtime. When I saw my name next to Coalhouse’s name, I promptly quit. I told my director: 'I am not fit to lead a musical. I don’t even know what that means.' She responded, 'Well, you will find out.' I was thrown into a situation I was very unfamiliar with, but I came out of it understanding what it is like to share a powerful story with audiences. I realized that performance art is something I can't live without. Not because of the praise we got at the end of each performance, but because it is an opportunity to affect how people look at the world. 
  • Ideal scene partner: One from my long list is Heath Ledger. His performances were always beyond captivating. Working with him would have pushed me as an artist, both in terms of my technical skills and my emotional being. Although his career got the best of him, the dedication he had to his roles is admirable. I would have loved seeing his work habits up close and personal.
    Napoloeon Scene
  • What is Jesus Christ Superstar all about? The story surrounds what happened in the final week of Jesus’ life, while highlighting the political and interpersonal struggles between Judas Iscariot and Jesus of Nazarath that are not present in the Bible.
  • Tell us about the challenge of playing Judas: First, this is a sung-through musical – meaning there is no spoken dialogue – and Judas has a very difficult vocal line to carry throughout the show. Beyond that, Judas is the antagonist because he opposes the direction Jesus has taken his ministry during the three years preceding where our story begins. Judas believes that if Jesus doesn’t regain his humility, severe consequences will happen. It is hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that that every other character on stage is not on my side. I have to be the brick wall – the purest definition of the bad guy. Just like in real life, Judas just wants someone to understand and relate to him. But Judas has no one rooting for him but Judas.
  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing this play? I hope they understand that there is always more than one way to look at a story. If you take the time to look at the same issue from multiple angles, you will have a better foundation to really stand for what you believe in.
  • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • What's one thing most people don't know about you? I hate warming up my voice. So instead, I play basketball and run for up to five miles before every performance. By working up a sweat, my 'vocal folds' warm up along with the rest of my body. (And, yes, they are called 'vocal folds,' not 'vocal chords.')
  • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? America will never be 'great again’ until we stop with all the labels and respect and love one another for who we are. Until all sides come together and remember that we are already the greatest country on this planet, we will always be as troubled as we are now.
  • Instagram handle: Napoleonic.code
  • Twitter handle: _napoleoniccode

  • From left: Jenna Bainbridge, Billy Jewis Jr. and Napoleon Douglas. M. Gale Photography.
    From left: Jenna Bainbridge (Mary Magdalene), Billy Jewis Jr. (Jesus of Nazareth) and Napoleon M. Douglas (Judas Iscariot) in the Arvada Center's 'Jesus Christ Superstar.' M. Gale Photography.

    Arvada Center's Jesus Christ Superstar: Ticket information

    • Written my Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Tim Rice (lyrics)
    • Directed by Rod Lansberry and David Nehls (music)
    • March 24 through April 16
    • Performances 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and 1 p.m. Wednesdays
    • 6901 Wadsworth Ave.
    • Tickets $53-$77
    • Info: 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Cast list:
    • Jesus of Nazareth: Billy Lewis Jr.
    • Judas Iscariot: Napoleon Douglas
    • Mary Magdalene: Jenna Bainbridge
    • Caiaphas: Stephen Day
    • Annas: Joe Callahan
    • Pontius Pilate: Markus Warren
    • King Herod: Wayne Kennedy

    • Men's Ensemble: Adam Estes, Aaron M. Davidson, Michael Bouchard, Reace Daniel, James Francis, Barret Harper, Tyler Nielson, Damon Guerrasio, Drew Horwitz, Brett Ambler, Rob Janzen, Matt LaFontaine, Daniel Langhoff
    • Women's Ensemble: 
    Norrell Moore, Satya Chavez, Sheryl McCallum, Rae Leigh Case, Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck, Sarah Rex, Piper Arpan

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Kelsey Didion of Curious Theatre's Constellations
    Meet Denise Freestone of OpenStage's August: Osage County
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Jim Hunt of Buntport's The Zeus Probem
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre'sThe Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Angela Mendez of Beauty and the Beast
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Cory Sapienza of Miners Alley Playhouse's Hir
    Meet Sean Scrutchins of the Arvada Center's Bus Stop
    Meet Jane Shirley of Santa's Big Red Sack
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas
  • Video: Tap master Savion Glover on America's call to arts

    by John Moore | Mar 14, 2017

    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Interview by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    Savion Glover on the importance of arts education, listening to your elders and 'the best show ever in Denver'

    Virtuosic tap dancer and choreographer Savion Glover simply wasn't like other kids. He started dancing at 7 and was cast as Broadway's Tap Dance Kid at the tender age of 12. "But I was never braggadocios about it,” he says now, 31 years later. “I don't ever walk around saying, 'Oh I have a special gift.’ ” Glover sees his ability to dance as a gift that was given to him, much like a pair of socks on Christmas. But simply having a gift doesn’t make you special, he insists. Because every kid has his own pair of socks. It’s what you do with those socks that's your responsibility.

    "We all have a talent, and no matter what it is or where we are, whether it's on Broadway or the inner city ... it's our duty to continue to express that talent,” Glover told the DCPA NewsCenter just before his headlining performance before 800 helped raised a record $1 million for DCPA Education programs at the annual Saturday Night Alive benefit on March 4 at the Stage Theatre.

    Savion Glover. Photo by John Moore“I believe that once we learn how to express ourselves, whether through dance, art, writing, painting, construction or whatever … we find our voice. And once we are heard through our artistic expression, we are better understood,” he said. “Someone might be able to draw a painting that might express who they really are better than one might be able to articulate with words.”

    Glover is best known for works like Jelly's Last Jam and Bring in 'da Noise/Bring in ‘da Funk, which won him a Tony Award for Best Choreography. He was nominated again last summer for his work on Shuffle Along . He has been featured on the TV dance shows So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars.

    Arts education is a continuing passion for both Glover and the Denver Center. The DCPA’s extensive educational programs reached more than 105,000 students last year. Glover, 42, established the HooFeRzCLuB School for Tap, and regularly visits schools across the country to spread his enthusiasm for dance and arts education. He was known to millions of Sesame Street fans for his appearances from 1990–95.

    Glover, who was born in New Jersey, was taught by tap legend Gregory Hines, who once said, "Savion is possibly the best tap dancer who ever lived." Glover calls his style "young and funk." When asked to describe what funk is, he says in his biography: "Funk is anything that gets one's head on beat. It is riding with the rhythm. It is a pulse that keeps one rolling with the beat."

    Here’s more of Glover’s conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore: (Story continues below photos.)

    Photo gallery: Savion Glover's Busy Day in Denver:

    Savion Glover in Denver The photo gallery above includes highlights from Savion Glover's performance and master class. To see more, just click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    John Moore: Your performance is going to help raise $1 million for education programs here at the DCPA. Why was it important for you to be here?

    Savion Glover: Once the schools started to eliminate arts funding, I made it a part of my journey to advocate for the arts. In many states, they are quickly eliminating arts programs. That's unfortunate because, in my opinion, the arts fuel the entire education system. The more kids are able to express themselves, the more we adults, educators and teachers are able to see what the future will hold.

    John Moore: How important then is it that there are places like the Denver Center to help fill the gap?

    Savion Glover QuoteSavion Glover: I honor and applaud organizations like this one, as well as individual educators who have stepped up because we do have a void to fill. Establishments like the Denver Center realize there is a need for arts in education to continue. I look forward to coming to venues like this where they realize the importance of self-expression and the importance of allowing children to know that it's still OK to express yourself in an artistic way.

    John Moore: This morning you taught a master class for wide range of dance students. Why was it important for you to fit that into your limited schedule here in Denver?

    Savion Glover: I love teaching the kids because when I teach, I learn myself. I look at the kids as the teachers. Little do they know ….

    John Moore: What was it like for you growing up in New Jersey?

    Savion Glover: I grew up in a house where you could taste the love in the food. Then you go somewhere else and you go, "There is no love in this food."

    John Moore: You aren’t like, well, many other kids. You were already on Broadway at age 12. So how do you relate to kids today who don't yet know what they want to be?

    Savion Glover: To be on Broadway was not a part of my plan. I started dancing when I was 7 years old and one thing led to another. I was playing in a band, and then my mom signed up myself and my two older brothers for tap classes. It was just something to do. After a year or so of classes, I got an audition. Once I got cast, my life began to change. Then I began to travel, and I met many wonderful men and women like Jimmy Slyde, Lon Chaney, Gregory Hines, all of these great contributors who later would become my mentors and educators and great friends. I have dedicated my life to them and their contributions to the art, and to humanity.

    John Moore: How important is it for young dancers to have mentors?

    Savion Glover: It is very important to have what I would call a human resource. We live in an era of technology. You need someone to confide in who will give you honest criticism. I have turned to older people. My mentors were 70 and 80 years old, and I just dug them so much as people. If there is someone available to tell you a story about what happened in the 1950s, and you hear it right from that person’s mouth, and you can feel that energy and their emotion, that might better allow you to express that story yourself. I am happy with the progress of technology, but there is nothing like hearing a story from someone who was there.     

    John Moore: You told your students today, “If you can imagine it, you can express it.” How do you teach a kid to do that?

    Savion Glover: I think there is a muscle that allows us to express what we see - we just have to be able to communicate what that is. My son is 12 years old, and he can draw these pictures through animation. I'm no artist in that way, but he just sees it in his mind, and he brings it to life. I believe we all have that ability. We can't all draw, but we all should be able to articulate what we can imagine in our own way, whether that is through dance, music, writing or other art forms.  

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: Congratulations on your latest Tony Award, for Shuffle Along. What was that experience like for you?

    Savion Glover: My time in Shuffle Along was one of my greatest experiences. (Director) George C. Wolfe is a genius. I respect him as a man and as an artist. He is one of the smartest human beings I know. He knows everything, and I am the type of person where if there is an opportunity to learn, I am going to take full advantage of that. I also had a ball just being a choreographer, and bringing the stories of these men and women to life who you would never know about if not for our version of Shuffle Along.  

    John Moore: So what’s next for you?

    Savion Glover: I continue to search and hone in on my craft. I have a mission. I am on a journey to continue what I do, and I am thankful for that.

    John Moore: Your show here at the Denver Center has been sold out for weeks. So for those people who can't get in, what kind of a show will you be putting on tonight?

    Savion Glover: For those of you who can't get in tonight, well, this is unfortunate. Because this is going to be the best show ever in Denver. You're just going to have to read about it, ask about it and wish that you were here. I can’t tell you how it’s going to start. I can't tell you how it's going to end. But when you hear about it, you are just going to say, "Oh, man."  

    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.

    Savion Glover. Photo by John Moore
    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Saturday Night Alive:
    Savion Glover to headline DCPA's Saturday Night Alive
    Photos: Saturday Night Alive 2017

    The Presenting Sponsor of the 2017 Saturday Night Alive was BMW of Downtown Denver. Platinum Sponsors were the Salah Foundation and United Airlines. Emerald Sponsors were the Colorado Oil and Gas Industry, HealthOne, The Westin Hotel Denver. Gold Sponsors were Always Best Care Senior Services, Epicurean Catering, Kathie and Keith Finger, u.s. bank, Colorado State Bank and Trust, The Tuchman Family Foundation and Triptyk Studios. The Surprise Box Sponsor was Kendra Scott. The 2017 Event Chairs were L. Roger and Meredith Hutson.
  • Breaking news: Denver 'Frozen' tickets go on sale May 1

    by John Moore | Mar 13, 2017


    Single tickets for the pre-Broadway engagement of Frozen, a new musical based on Disney’s Academy Award-winning musical film, will go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, May 1, it was announced this morning. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account.

    Frozen plays The Buell Theatre from Aug. 17 through Oct. 1, 2017. For more information, to to sign up for email alerts, go to Denvercenter.org/Frozen.


    Please be advised that the DCPA’s web site – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for Frozen in Denver. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party should be aware that DCPA is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and is unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance.

    This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours.

    FrozenWritten by a trio of Oscar-winners, Frozen features music and lyrics by the creators of the film score Kristen Anderson-Lopez (In Transit, Up Here) and EGOT-winner Robert Lopez (Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon, Up Here) and a book by Jennifer Lee (Wreck-It Ralph), the film’s screenwriter and director (with Chris Buck). Frozen won 2014 Oscars for Best Song (“Let It Go”) and Best Animated Feature.

    Frozen’s director is Michael Grandage, a Tony Award-winner (Red) and director of three Olivier Award-winning Outstanding Musicals (Merrily We Roll Along, Grand Hotel and Guys & Dolls), and Tony winner Christopher Gattelli (Newsies, South Pacific, The King and I) is choreographer. The design team for Frozen includes scenic and costume design by Tony and Olivier Award winner Christopher Oram (Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Evita), lighting design by six-time Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (Aladdin, An American in Paris, The Glass Menagerie) and sound design by four-time Tony nominee Peter Hylenski (The Scottsboro Boys, Motown, After Midnight).

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Two-time Tony Award winner Stephen Oremus (Avenue Q, Wicked, The Book of Mormon) is music supervisor and creates vocal and incidental arrangements.

    Frozen is slated to join Disney hits Aladdin and The Lion King on Broadway in spring 2018 at the St. James Theatre.

    Casting and Broadway dates will be announced at a future date.

    Frozen is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions.

    Frozen: At a glance
    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut.

    Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    Aug. 17 through Oct. 1, 2017
    Buell Theatre
    Sales to groups of 10 or more here


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Breaking: Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    Denver dates for Frozen announced
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen
  • Broadway's Ashford, Kelso and more in Denver benefit concert April 30

    by John Moore | Mar 13, 2017

    Tony Award-winning actor Annaleigh Ashford will reunite with her Kinky Boots co-star (and fellow Colorado native) Andy Kelso for United in Love, a special concert event presented by Ebner-Page Productions and benefiting the Denver Actors Fund on Sunday night, April 30, at the Lone Tree Arts Center. TICKETS HERE

    Joining the headliners will be Mara Davi (Dames at Sea, Smash, A Chorus Line), who grew up in Highlands Ranch. These three powerhouse Broadway performers are coming home to unite with local performers and spread a message of love and hope while raising funds for the Denver Actors Fund, which in three years has made $82,000 available to local theatre artists facing situational medical need. 

    Ashford, a graduate of Wheat Ridge High School, won the Tony Award for her work in You Can’t Take it with You and is currently receiving rave reviews with Jake Gyllenhaal in a limited Broadway engagement of Sunday in the Park with George. She also has appeared on Broadway in Sylvia, Hair, Wicked and Legally Blonde. Kelso, a graduate of Eaglecrest High School in Aurora, starred in Kinky Boots after a three-year run in Mamma Mia.

    Click here to choose your April 30 concert seats now

    The concert also will feature longtime Denver performer (and Denver First Lady) Mary Louise Lee, Broadway’s Jodie Langel (Les Misérables) and Denise Gentilini, composer of the Armenia genocide musical I Am Alive.

    “These stars are returning to their roots to support the theatre community they came from,” said Ebner, who conceived the United in Love concert with Paul Page. “They are examples to all of us for fulfilling their dreams while inspiring and encouraging others.”

    Additional appearances are scheduled from Denver favorites Jimmy Bruenger, Eugene Ebner, Becca Fletcher, Clarissa Fugazzotto, Robert Johnson, Daniel Langhoff, Susannah McLeod, Chloe McLeod, Sarah Rex, Jeremy Rill, Kristen Samu, Willow Samu, Thaddeus Valdez, and the casts of both The Jerseys and the upcoming 13 the Musical (featuring an all-student casts).

    The lineup is subject to change, and additional stars may be added.

    The emcees of the event will be performer and local TV arts journalist Eden Lane with actor Steven J. Burge, currently starring in the Denver Center's An Act of God at the Garner-Galleria Theatre.

    United in Love

    The Denver Actors Fund was founded in 2013 by former Denver Post Theatre Critic John Moore and actor/attorney Christopher Boeckx. The Denver Actors Fund  offers both financial assistance with medical bills, insurance, co-payments, supplies and more, as well as volunteer assistance ranging from meals to transportation to snow-shoveling. Recently the Denver Actors Fund has helped a young father undergoing chemotherapy, a director who had triple-bypass surgery, and the parents of a child who died with medical and burial expenses. An team of more than 60 volunteers have provided more than 250 hours of service.

    “We are a grassroots organization to the core, and we depend on the kindness of people like Eugene Ebner and Paul Page to organize events like United in Love on our behalf, and the incredible generosity of the performing community for pull nights like this off,” said Moore, the DAF’s Executive Director. “United in Love will be the biggest night in our history, and we are united in gratitude to everyone who is helping to make it possible.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Denver Actors Fund is a 501c3 nonprofit, and all donations are tax-deductible. For more information, or to apply for aid, go to denveractorsfund.org.

    The audience is invited to mingle with the performers at a post-show reception for additional $25. (There are only 100 full show/reception tickets available.)

    The Presenting Sponsor of United in Love is Delta Dental of Colorado. Silver Sponsors are Skyline Property Management and the Alliance Insurance Group.

    DAF Contest Lone Tree

    Front-row student social-media contest:
    The 14 front-row seats for the United in Love concert will be made available for $25 to seven students (high school seniors or younger) who make a 15-second video promoting the April 30 contest by professing their fandom for one of the performers on the lineup. Make a video and send it by Google Drive to denveractordfund@gmail.com. Deadline to submit: April 1. You will be notified if you are a winner. Two $25 tickets (face value $84 each) will be made available to the seven winners, along with free access to the post-concert reception. Questions, email denveractorsfund@gmail.com.

    Video bonus: Our 2014 interview with Ashford and Kelso at Kinky Boots:

    Look back on our backstage visit with Tony nominee Annaleigh Ashford and Andy Kelso, Denver-area natives with leading roles in 'Kinky Boots' on Broadway. Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

  • 'Disgraced': It has been known to leave audiences gasping

    by John Moore | Mar 12, 2017
    'Disgraced' in Denver Photos from the making of Ayad Akhtar’s play 'Disgraced' by the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. 'Disgraced' begins performances on March 31. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    At a turbulent political time in America, Ayad Akhtar’s celebrated play thrusts us from the frying pan into the fire.

    By Sylvie Drake
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Political plays have illuminated politics for millennia, but recently the growing specter of worldwide terrorism — with its companion racism — have spawned a mutant variety of the species. I don’t mean worldly political events, though that too, as in John Patrick Shanley’s 2003 Dirty Story, an uncommonly personalized take on the Israeli-Arab conflict (staged by the DCPA Theatre Company in 2004). What I do mean is the interior effect of politics on the privacy of our living rooms, intimate dinner parties and family conversations — events that directly affect individuals, including, as in the case of Ayad Akhtar’s galvanizing play Disgraced, the affective politics of the American home and workplace, often more cutthroat than a battlefield.

    Ayad_Akhtar 160Akhtar’s thoughtful dissection of five lives in Disgraced should give us all pause. True, the play was written well before the searing election that only deepened the cracks in our domestic landscape. But those cracks had been identified long before they had hardened into political reality. (Pictured at right: Ayad Akhtar.)

    As the threat of terror in daily life kept spreading since that fateful 9/11, it was joined by its pernicious companion — fear. The subject only grew in the eyes and hands of playwrights, as well as in the sophistication of these writers’ approach. Lisa Loomer’s 2012 Two Things You Don’t Talk About At Dinner, which premiered at the Denver Center, may have started the ball rolling with its quasi-comic Judeo-Islamic conflict at a Passover Seder that devolves into serious indigestion. But Akhtar’s Disgraced goes a step further: It thrusts us from the frying pan into the fire.

    Disgraced is a big deal. It won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was the mCarl Cofield Quoteost produced play by professional theatres in America last season. Akhtar warns that, in performance, the play should not sound like “Big Ideas” mouthed by actors — a common pitfall — and director Carl Cofield, who staged the DCPA Theatre Company’s production of One Night in Miami in 2015, was reassuring: “It’s [no] accident that the characters are drinking a lot,” he said. “Sitting on festering frustration and mixing in booze is a sure way to get at the truth.”

    Things start out quietly enough. Amir Kapoor, a confident New York attorney, is posing in his upscale high-rise apartment for his wife Emily, a rising star in New York’s art world. She is painting his portrait. What could be more the picture of upper middle class success, comfort and bliss?

    The session is interrupted by Amir’s nephew, an ardent young man who recently changed his name from Hussein Malik to Abe Jensen. Yet in a spurt of identification with a jailed Imam that Abe/Hussein believes is innocent and deserves to be released, he’s here to solicit his uncle’s help.

    Like Akhtar, Amir is American-born of Pakistani/Indian descent and while he was raised a Muslim, he is neither religious nor political, and has outspoken disdain for the more stringent dictates of the Quran. He also has no desire to get involved in the Imam’s defense, since he knows the attorneys who are managing it and deems them very capable.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Out of affection for his nephew, however, and thanks to his wife’s entreaties, Amir makes a small concession to Abe’s request. It alters the course of his life. One unintended thing leads to another, compounding damage at every turn. The end results are damning.

    More than its topicality, what makes Disgraced absorbing is that, consciously or not, it adheres rigorously to the Ancient Greek definition of tragedy — when, entirely without malice, events take over and there is no deviating from the path of destiny.

    A Disgraced 800No one in Disgraced does or has done anything consciously malevolent — no more than Oedipus did when he killed his father and married his mother. Some human frailty always exists, but there are no villains and no frauds here. Seemingly independent actions follow one another in an inexorable collision of fate and circumstance, multiplying and magnifying problems and ultimately rendering them fatal. 

     “I don’t agree with or condone [Amir’s] actions,” said Cofield, “but over the course of the play, we glean a little insight into his world.... He’s trying to win at the American game of life, but has been handicapped by prejudice. That resonates loudly with me. One of the greatest things about the theatre,” he added, “is that [it allows us to] feel empathy for other people.”

    (Pictured above, from left: Actors Benjamin Pelteson, Dorien Makhloghi and Vandit Bhatt on the first day of rehearsal for 'Disgraced.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    The cast of characters includes Isaac, a curator who handles Emily’s artwork, and Isaac’s wife Jory, another upwardly mobile lawyer at Amir’s firm who happens to be African American. If the racial lineup is a little calculated, it serves a plot in which events take on a life of their own and overtake individual action. The grinding interaction of these five people hits and hits hard. It has been known to leave an audience gasping.

    Read more: Director Cofield on pushing your (empathy) button

    Disgraced is a potent theatrical event that raises the most persistently difficult questions; that is what theatre does best. It also offers no reliable answers. But it does show us, painfully, that rancor and division kill.

     “As a black man and theatre-maker, my hope always is how can we begin the conversation,” Cofield said. “I hope the audience learns something about the characters and, more important, about themselves.

    The word ‘theatre’ comes from the Greeks, he pointed out, and it means ‘the seeing place.’ “Hopefully, we can see something of one another, learn from it and … begin talking to [instead of] at each other,” he said.

    No roads will lead back home, but some may move us forward an inch or two. There are, as always, choices to be made.

    Sylvie Drake is a translator and contributing writer to culturalweekly.com, American Theatre magazine and is a former theatre critic and columnist for the Los Angeles Times. 

    The DCPA hosted a community roundtable on March 2 gathering members of various faiths to talk about the Theatre Company's upcoming production of 'Disgraced.' The gathering was an opportunity to discuss otherness and sometimes false suppositions we make just by looking at someone. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    : Ticket information
    DisgracedIn this raw new play, Amir has built the perfect life. But as a high-profile case and his wife’s art show reveal how little his culture is understood, their misconceptions become too much to bear.
    March 31 through May 7
    Ricketson Theatre

    ASL and audio-described performance: 1:30 p.m. April 30
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Disgraced:
    Disgraced: Director promises to push your (empathy) button

  • Shakespeare rolls down the window on today's world

    by John Moore | Mar 12, 2017
    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

    Photos from DCPA Education's 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot' program over the past three years, most recently a visit to University Schools in Greeley. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by McKenzie Kielman and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    How presenting Shakespeare in a pick-up truck
    rolls down the window on everyday issues for students 

    By McKenzie Kielman
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    “What light through yonder window breaks?” 

    If you are Stuart Barr and Max McEwen, abosutely none. For the DCPA Education crew to arrive in Greeley on time, the equipment must be loaded onto a truck before the sun rises. On this Tuesday morning, that’s 4:30 a.m. Pitch dark.

    Traveling to high schools across Colorado, DCPA teaching artists perform abridged versions of Shakespeare plays for a popular education program called Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. The next day, the actors conduct classroom workshops to help students make the connection between the play its current-day relevance in their own lives.

    Stuart BarrThere would be no Shakespeare in any parking lot without the early morning prep work undertaken by Barr, the DCPA Education’s Technical Director, and McEwen, his Assistant Technical Director. They meet in the pre-dawn dark at the downtown warehouse where the equipment is stored, but they have devised a methodical system to load their rig under the helpful aid of a nearby streetlight. The main set piece going along for the ride is an old, white 1980 Ford F-250 Farm Truck. It’s a beat-up contraption with a crystal door handle to accessorize the gearshift. But it has no mirrors, license plates or other legalities necessary to be road-ready.

    In fact, the truck has been known to have a mind of its own when Barr tries to get the motor to turn over after chilly evenings. The gas pedal will stick, and off they often fly. Surely the Bard’s line, “Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?” has come to Barr’s mind during these moments. The crew jokes that in order for the truck to be the center of a production filled with interesting characters, it had to be a character itself. They call this truck Rosaline - after the poor girl Romeo dumped about two seconds after first seeing Juliet.   

    When the truck has been tamed and tethered onto the flatbed, there is a quick double-check of necessary equipment, and then off toward Greeley they go, the Hamilton soundtrack punctuating the crisp morning air.

    While the program is called Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, the “parking lot” portion of the title can be interpreted liberally. The location of the actual performance at each school can vary widely depending on the building layout, traffic, noise pollution and weather.

    Problems are solved as they come up through trial and error, which at times can be painful. During the program's pilot run in 2015, Barr found out the hard way that wireless microphones do not work well near metal buildings. So the crew had to completely dismantle the whole staging and reassemble elsewhere. Now it's more of a well-oiled machine.

    Read more: Shakespare in the Parking Lot visits Weld Central

    Upon arrival, Barr and McEwen go straight into memorized action. And one of the most important items on their daily checklist is to simply take a moment to enjoy the sunrise. After a brief discussion about its quality of color and a comparison to the numerous others they have experienced together, they go back into work mode. Soon the actors arrive and begin assisting with the equipment and other assigned tasks. 

    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot By McKenzie KielmanOnce the stage is set, the equipment operational and the sound check complete, it’s time for fight call. According to union rules, each fight sequence in the performance must be practiced in advance under the supervision of the designated fight captain. Although the actors could by now do these exercises in their sleep - and often do depending on how early their call time is - Fight Captain and actor Jessica Austgen reminds the crew: “Safety first, safety last, safety always.” 

    Other performers in this cast of Romeo and Juliet are John Hauser as Romeo, Jenna Moll Reyes as Juliet, with Napoleon M. Douglas, Chloe McLeod, Joelle Montoya and Justin Walvoord playing a variety of supporting roles. Depending on the size of school, the actors can do up to four performances a day, each 45 minutes long, for audiences that at times exceed 200. 

    Long days spent together in the parking lot or in the classroom together over an intensive five weeks have fostered close friendships among the crew. Between performances, the group will play Frisbee or occasionally luck out to find the school has, say, a disc golf course. It’s in the downtime this crew has gone from co-workers to comrades.

    The sun, if not a curtain, rises

    The performance is timed to coincide with a typical high-school class session so as not to disrupt the normal school routine. On this day, the students seem intrigued by the unusual setting of the performance, the fight scenes, the masquerade ball, Shakespeare in the Parking Lotthe love story and Shakespeare’s beguiling words – all happening on and around this broken-down truck.

    More than 400 years later, Romeo and Juliet remains steeped in recognizable themes of violence, blind loyalty and the origin of love. As the playwright himself said, “Never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

    While the set and costuming are modernized, it is important to DCPA Education Director Allison Watrous, who conceived this pilot program, that the students hear Shakespeare’s actual, if abbreviated, language.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    "Oftentimes, the students watching these performances have recently read Romeo and Juliet as part of their preparation for the actors’ visit. Seeing the play performed by professional actors after having read it can be vitally helpful in helping the students comprehend the action and its meaning," she said.

    Romeo and Juliet is a cornerstone of high-school reading curricula all over the country. And reading about a sword fight can certainly be exciting. However, it’s a completely different experience to watch a fully choreographed stage combat scene, let alone one that takes place against the cab of a truck.”

    Watrous came up with the idea for Shakespeare in the Parking Lot from seeing newfangled food trucks in action. Performing the play in an environmental setting gives the DCPA an opportunity to engage young audiences in a new way.

    “This unique approach breaks out of the physical theatre and directly delivers the show to students in an outdoor, non-traditional playhouse experience that introduces thousands of students across the region to the theatre arts,” Watrous said.

    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot By McKenzie Kielman 2
    On the second day, the 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot' program moves into the classroom, here at University Schools in Greeley. Photo by McKenzie Kielman

    Why don't you take it inside?

    The next day, in this case a Wednesday at University Schools in Greeley, the actors lead students through three workshop activities to foster a discussion about the production and its meaning. They are asked to name a line from the play that sounded familiar to them, a character they related to, a moment in the play that stood out, or perhaps the trickiest question: Did Romeo and Juliet really experience true love? The fictional girl is only 14, after all, and the couple have no shared past. The question, put another way: Do you believe in love at first sight?

    With each question, the volume in the classroom grows along with the students' passionate opinions. “When you know, you know,” one group concludes. Another cluster of students disagrees, saying, “We’re too young to know anything for sure.”

    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot By McKenzie Kielman 3For the next segment, the students are asked to register their opinion on a suggested issue by moving to one side of the room or the other, like in a political caucus, to reflect whether they agree or disagree. Taking the middle ground – or being unsure – is not allowed in this exercise. They must take a stand. But as the students begin to defend their positions out loud, they can change sides by moving from one group to the other.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    An example: “Holding a grudge is a sign of strength.” One student immediately moves to the side indicating that she agrees. When asked to support her position, she giggles and says, “Because I’m petty.” A fellow student disagrees, saying, “It takes more guts to forgive someone.”

    More consequentially, the students are asked: “Violence always leads to violence.” One student disagrees. “You shoot someone, they’re dead,” he says. “They can’t do anything.” But DCPA actor John Hauser, who is co-leading this session, plays devil's advocate by pointing out an example from the performance the day before: Tybalt kills Mercutio, so Romeo kills Tybalt. And in the end, both Romeo and Juliet are dead.

    Another student responds with a real-world example by saying simply: “ISIS.”

    In a lighter moment, the student are asked whether friends should always come first in every situation, even before significant others. A quieter student sets up the scenario more simply: “Pals before gals.” It's a moment of welcome levity after such an earnest examination of the play’s issues.

    (Story continues below video)

    Video: Our visit to Weld Central High School in 2015:

    The workshop allowed the students to dig deep into matters that are clearly important to them both at school and at home. The moderators suggested the following talking points, and each sparked meaningful back-and-forth among the students:

    • Loyalty is dangerous
    • The only appropriate punishment for murder is death
    • Parents can never understand what a child feels
    • Going behind someone’s back can be necessary
    • Teenagers have right to privacy no matter what
    • Parents have a right to know a child’s whereabouts at all times
    • Parents own and therefore can regulate any items they have bought for their child

    To finish up, the students are presented a “what-if” scenario involving a fictional teenager and her father: A senior in high school, a few months shy of turning 18, has been getting into trouble and is disrespectful to her father. She is breaking curfew and other house rules. Frustrated and concerned, the father would like to gain access to her password-protected cell phone and computer. So he asks his older, adult daughter for her help with the passwords. Should the older sister give them to her father? 

    Students immediately dive into arguments on both sides of the issue. As the debate continues, the DCPA moderator adds to the stakes: What if the girl is also coming home with alcohol on her breath, and is possibly experimenting with drugs?

    Most of the students remain on the daughter’s side: “People need privacy,” says one. “Strict parents make for sneaky children,” offers another.

    Others sympathize with where the father is coming from. “What if she’s getting into illegal stuff?” one asks. “If you are not doing anything bad, there would be nothing to hide,” opines another.

    Check out the Shakespeare in the Parking Lot home page

    There is one classroom consensus - that a direct, one-on-one conversation between the father and younger daughter is in order.

    From the start of one normal class period to the end, these students have gone from being quiet and impartial to conversational and assertive. DCPA actor Justin Walvoord later says the point of the workshop wasn’t to change the students' minds about any particular issue. It was to empower them to be opinionated, and also to more thoughtfully consider and respect the opinions of people they don’t necessarily agree with. 

    In its first two years, more than 15,000 students have participated in Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. The program returns on April 3 and runs through May 12 - one week longer than originally scheduled to accommodate demand. Participating schools can now choose between Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

    The bottom line, Barr said, is that Shakespeare in the Parking Lot “is a touring production that introduces Shakespeare to young people who have never seen a play before with a group of very hard-working professional performers who have become a tightly knit group of friends," he said. 

    “And seeing some beautiful Colorado sunrises!”

    McKenzie Kielman is a sophomore at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, and an intern for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     Shakespeare in the Parking Lot is made possible by a grant from Anadarko

    Selected previous coverage of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot brings Bard to life at Weld Central High
    2015 True West Award: Rosaline the 1980 Ford F-250 Farm Truck
    The Shakespeare in the Parking Lot home page

  • Barton Cowperthwaite: A Denverite in 'Paris' returns to alma mater

    by John Moore | Mar 11, 2017

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

    Denver native Barton Cowperthwaite, a featured ensemble member in the national touring production of An American in Paris, visited his Denver School of the Arts alma mater on March 8.

    Barton Cowperthwaite. Photo by John MooreCowperthwaite, son of Curious Theatre co-founder Laura Cowperthwaite, conducted a master class for dance and musical-theatre majors at the school, where he is a member of the Class of 2010. "It's cool to impart on them the wisdom that I wish I could have told myself when I was that age," he told DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore.

    Interviews also include DSA Director of Dance Alicia Karczewski and Director of Theatre Shawn Hann. Cowperthwaite, already a member of several major dance companies and Denver's Black Actors Guild, is making his musical-theatre debut in An American in Paris, playing several roles and understudying the lead role of Jerry Mulligan.

    "As a dancer, it’s exciting that there is a show that gets to employ really well-trained dancers in this musical format," Cowperthwaite said.

    Photo gallery: Barton Cowperthwaite at Denver School of the Arts

    Barton Cowperthwaite

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    An American in Paris
    : Ticket information
    An American In ParisAn American in Paris brings the magic and romance of Paris into harmony with unforgettable works from George and Ira Gershwin. This new hit musical about an American soldier, a mysterious French girl and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war, earned more awards than any other musical in the 2014-15 Broadway season.
    Through March 19
    Buell Theatre
    ASL, audio-described and open-captioned performance 2 p.m. March 19
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of An American in Paris
    An American Paris dances from beginning to end
    Meet Sara Esty, who plays Lise
    Meet Garen Scribner, who plays Jerry

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Meet Robert Montano of 'Two Degrees'

    by John Moore | Mar 10, 2017
    Robert Montano Adams VisCom

    Kathleen McCall and Robert Montano in the world premiere of Tira Palmquist's 'Two Degrees,' playing through March 12. Photo by Adams VisCom.


    Jeffrey, Eric and Malik in Two Degrees

    At the Theatre Company: Debut. Broadway: Kiss of the Spiderwoman, On The Town, Cats, Chita + 2, Legs Diamond. Regional: Barcelona, Fallow, Cloud Tectonics, References to Salvador Dali Makes Me Hot, One Shot One Kill  (all world premieres), Diosa, Marty (opposite John C. Reilly). Television: Shades of Blue, Elementary, Blue Bloods, Army Wives, Without a Trace, Sex in The City, Law & Order: SVU, Undefeated. Film: Shame, The Yards, Chicago, Center Stage, Hustling, The Strike, Passionada.

    • Robert Montano. Photo by Jimmy ReedHometown: Bayside, Queens
    • Web site: RobertMontano.Com
    • What was the role that changed your life? It was a play written by Richard Vetere called One Shot, One Kill." I played Sgt. Nick Harris, a Marine sniper at the top of his class. This was May of 2002, not long after 9/11 when I was glued for days watching CNN and wondering what our next step was going to be after the attack. I spent weeks in my apartment watching the news, not eating, losing weight and feeling sick and nervous. I thought to myself, "I have to get up and do something ... something meaningful." So I went to the recruiting station in Times Square to sign up for the Marines. When the recruiting officer told me I was too old to be recruited, I nearly fell over. I felt helpless. So in January of 2002, I was offered the role of the sniper. I read up on all these sniper gods within the Marine Corps. But that wasn't enough for me. I needed to know what the brotherhood was all about. I asked my director, Joe Brancato, if he could set up a trip to Quantico for me to train with Marine snipers. It was there I learned the realities of what our selfless men and women do for our country - the discipline, the honor, the brotherhood and willing sacrifice. I wanted to get it right, and bring that into my work. This play, this story and this character changed my life.
    • Why are you an actor? I like wearing other people's shoes.
    • What would you be doing if you weren't an actor: I would go back to being a professional racehorse jockey in a minute. Plain and simple, I love horses. I love the competition. I love the adrenaline rush. It's just unfortunate that I became too physically big to continue on. While some men want to be tall, dark and handsome, I just wanted to be small.
    • Robert MontanoIdeal scene partner: Sean Penn, hands down. He's unpredictable, diverse and constantly surprises you by his choices. He is a creative force to be reckon with. One of the greatest actors of our time.
    • Why does Two Degrees matter? I was given the Two Degrees script in January 2016 for the Colorado New Play Summit. Before I got halfway through, I called my manager and told him this was an important script, a story that has to be told - and that I wanted in. I watch a lot of news and political shows and whenever I'd hear them talking about climate change, I'd go, "A-huh." But I was never really invested because of the climatological jargon. I didn't really know how fossil fuel impacted climate change. When having read this play I saw clearly how important climate change mattered, especially through the eyes and struggle of our leading character, Dr. Emma Phelps. I saw how imperative it is for us to have scientists, advocates and the politically powerful fighting for this serious cause. Two Degrees makes it plain why we must combat the deniers, and the clowns who are only out to protect their own interests. We need to put a stop to it, because this is real. And this is now.  
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? I can only hope the subject matter will stir up a conversation about how serious climate change really is. And more important, I hope audiences read up on it, act on it and help in any small way to prevent further destruction.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "... calm and understanding." It's not a lot in the grand scheme of things.

    Robert Montano. Photo by John Moore.'Two Degrees' actor Robert Montano performed an excerpt from his one-man play 'Small,' which recounts his growing up as a jockey at the famed Belmont race track in New York, at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Ticket information: Two Degrees
    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.
    • Through March 12
    • Jones Theatre
    • 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Two Degrees:
    Video: How do they make that ice, ice, baby?
    Photos, video: Your first look at Two Degrees
    Two Degrees: A telling exchange at public forum
    Tira Palmquist on Two Degrees: Grief for a husband, and a planet
    Two Degrees
    cast digs deep into Boulder ice-core research
    Meet the cast: Kim Staunton
    Two Degrees
    heats up conversation on global warming
    Opening night photo coverage
    Two Degrees: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

    More 2016-17 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Steven J. Burge, An Act of God
    Liam Craig, The Book of Will
    Aubrey Deeker, The Glass Menagerie
    Thaddeus Fitzpatrick, Frankenstein
    Meridith C. Grundei, Frankenstein
    Steven Cole Hughes, An Act of God
    Sullivan Jones, Frankenstein
    Mark Junek, Frankenstein
    Charlie Korman, Frankenstein
    Jennifer Le Blanc, The Book of Will
    Cajardo Lindsey, The Christians
    Rodney Lizcano, The Book of Will
    Wesley Mann, The Book of Will
    Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
    Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein
    Erik Sandvold, An Act of God
    John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie
    Kim Staunton, Two Degrees


  • Meet Garen Scribner of 'An American in Paris'

    by John Moore | Mar 10, 2017
    A Garen Scribner 800. Photo by Matthew Murphy


    Jerry Mulligan in An American in Paris

    Garen comes directly from the Broadway company, where he also played Jerry Mulligan. A former soloist with the San Francisco Ballet and an artist of Nederlands Dans Theater I, Garen believes art has the capability of changing lives, and he is grateful for the opportunity to share his passion with the audience. Follow Jerry, Garen and his dog, Pilot, behind-the-scenes at @GarenScribner5.

    • Garen ScribnerHometown: Brooklyn
    • Your Twitter-sized bio: I love to laugh, have fun, be on stage with my colleagues, love design, music, art, dance and the people who create such things.
    • What was the role that changed your life? This role. It taught me how to be a leading man, onstage and off. Being a star is not a gift. It is a huge responsibility and humbling honor.
    • Why are you a performer? It’s where life brought me.
    • What would you be doing if you weren't a dancer? I have an obligation to help guide others and cultivate talent, nurture developing projects, stay involved in the form without performing myself.
    • Sara EstyIdeal scene partner: Sara Esty, who I have the privilege of performing with every day. She and I have a special bond that can’t be described. (Pictured right.)
    • Tell us about the particular challenge of playing Jerry in An American in Paris. Jerry is an artist, he’s optimistic and brave to a fault. He believes in the power of true love and that both art and love are transformative and intrinsic to one another. I’m right there with him.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this musical? Inspiration, hope and joy.
    • What is one thing many people might not know about you? I can name almost every kind of hook-billed bird. Had a parrot obsession as a kid.
    • What's one thing you want to get off your chest? To all you AirBnB hosts, here’s what most of you are missing: Hooks, colanders, cheese graters, garlic presses, chests of drawers, large pots, aluminum foil and last but most importantly, a new, clean sponge. We’ve stayed in a lot of AirBnB’s on this tour!
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      " ... to be happy and spread love."
    • Twitter and Instagram handle: @GarenScribner5
    • Web site: garen.co

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Nick Spangler, Garen Scribner and Etai Benson. Photo by Matthew Murphy

    Three men, one object of their affection. From left: Nick Spangler, Garen Scribner and Etai Benson in 'An American in Paris,' playing in Denver through March 19. Photo by Matthew Murphy.


    An American in Paris: Ticket information
    An American In ParisAn American in Paris brings the magic and romance of Paris into harmony with unforgettable works from George and Ira Gershwin. This new hit musical about an American soldier, a mysterious French girl and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war, earned more awards than any other musical in the 2014-15 Broadway season.
    Through March 19
    Buell Theatre
    ASL, audio-described and open-captioned performance 2 p.m. March 19
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of An American in Paris
    An American Paris dances from beginning to end
    Meet Sara Esty, who plays Lise

  • Meet Sara Esty of 'An American in Paris'

    by John Moore | Mar 08, 2017
    Sara Esty. Photo by Matthew Murphy.


    Lise Dassin in An American in Paris

    Broadway: An American in Paris (OBC ensemble, Lise alternate). Théâtre du Châtelet: An American in Paris (Lise standby). Former soloist with the Miami City Ballet. Training: Maine State Ballet, School of American Ballet, and Miami City Ballet School. Sara received a Princess Grace Fellowship Award for excellence in dance, and has performed various works by Balanchine, Robbins, Tharp, Taylor, Scarlett, Ratmansky, Wheeldon, and Peck. Special thanks to the ever growing AAIP team and family, and BRS/Gage. For M, D, L, my family, and the man I love. Vive la France! @sesty5

    • Sara EstyHometown: Gorham, Maine
    • Training: Former soloist with the Miami City Ballet
    • Your Twitter-sized bio: Sara is thrilled to be exploring the country with the national tour of An American in Paris! She is looking forward to seeing it all, making memories ... and finding the best spas across the nation.
    • What was the role that changed your life? This would be it. The role of Lise Dassin not only demands a high level of ballet technique, which I love tackling, but it provides so many new and exciting elements. Using my voice to express who she is has been life-changing.
    • Why are you a dancer? It's not really something I've consciously chosen to do. It's always been a part of who I am. I absolutely cannot imagine my life without dancing.
    • What would you be doing if you weren't a dancer?: I would for sure still be active. I've always loved skiing and being outdoors, or even a physical therapist or massage therapist. Who knows?
    • Ideal scene partner: I love the work of Tom Hanks. I'm such a movie buff, and he never disappoints. So many layers. Would love to have that to bounce off of.
    • Tell us about the particular challenge of playing Lise in An American in Paris. From start to finish, she is on the go nonstop. At the end of a show, you are mentally and physically drained. So two-show days definitely require a nap, a good meal and a hot shower!
    • What's one thing not many people know about you? I played the French horn for five years. It was bigger than me - but was fun.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this musical? I hope they leave holding hands, with a smile. Love trumps all, and I hope they feel that. We all go through hardships, but with a little love, anything is possible.
    • What's one thing you want to get off your chest? Why are women still fighting for equality? For that matter ... why is any human, in this day and age, still fighting to be seen? And also ... why do people in scary movies always go down the dark hallway? Common sense, people.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      (I'm not sure my answer is appropriate for this forum. LOL.)
    • Twitter and Instagram handle: @estygrl

    Garen Scribner and Sara Esty. Photo by Matthew Murphy. Garen Scribner and Sara Esty in 'An American in Paris,' playing in Denver through March 19. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    An American in Paris
    : Ticket information
    An American In ParisAn American in Paris brings the magic and romance of Paris into harmony with unforgettable works from George and Ira Gershwin. This new hit musical about an American soldier, a mysterious French girl and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war, earned more awards than any other musical in the 2014-15 Broadway season.
    Through March 19
    Buell Theatre
    ASL, audio-described and open-captioned performance 2 p.m. March 19
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of An American in Paris
    An American Paris dances from beginning to end

  • Photos: Best of Savion Glover, Saturday Night Alive 2017

    by John Moore | Mar 07, 2017
    2017 Saturday Night Alive

    This photo gallery includes highlights from Savion Glover's performance and master class, as well as the gala and afterparty. To see more, just click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by Amanda Tipton and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts' 37th annual Saturday Night Alive gala on March 4 netted a record $1 million. The fundraiser is a benefit for the DCPA’s extensive theatre education programs, which serve more than 105,000 students each year.

    The sold-out crowd of 800 was treated to a high-energy show by Tony-winning choreographer Savion Glover in the Stage Theatre, plus a live showcase of the DCPA's educational programs over dinner performed by students from DCPA programs. Among those in attendance were Congressman Mike Coffman. The emcee was Ed Greene of CBS Denver.

    Glover, a virtuosic tap dancer who made his Broadway debut at 12, was mentored by, among others, tap legend Gregory Hines, who said of Glover:  “Savion is possibly the best tap dancer who ever lived.”

    The afterparty band was Denver's Wash Park Funk Band.

    The 2017 Event Chairs were L. Roger and Meredith Hutson.

    The Presenting Sponsor of the 2017 Saturday Night Alive was BMW of Downtown Denver. Platinum Sponsors were the Salah Foundation and United Airlines. Emerald Sponsors were the Colorado Oil and Gas Industry, HealthOne, The Westin Hotel Denver. Gold Sponsors were Always Best Care Senior Services, Epicurean Catering, Kathie and Keith Finger, u.s. bank, Colorado State Bank and Trust, The Tuchman Family Foundation and Triptyk Studios. The Surprise Box Sponsor was Kendra Scott.

    Coming soon:
    Video our interview with Savion Glover, plus concert highlights

    Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    Savion Glover to headline DCPA's Saturday Night Alive

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    A Saturday Night Alive. Photo by Amanda TiptonHow the Seawell Grand Ballroom looked as education students performed at Saturday Night Alive. Photo by Amanda Tipton.
  • Martin Semple to succeed Ritchie as DCPA Chairman

    by John Moore | Mar 07, 2017

    Martin Semple

    By Suzanne Yoe

    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Martin Semple will succeed Daniel L. Ritchie as only the third Chairman of the Board of Trustees in the nearly 40-year history of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, it was announced today. The appointment is effective in July.

    Semple and his wife, Jo, have been patrons and donors of the DCPA since the 1980s. Semple, a partner with the Denver law firm of Semple, Farrington & Everall, P.C., served as the DCPA’s legal counsel for more than three decades. He joined both the DCPA Board of Trustees and the Helen Bonfils Foundation Board of Trustees in July 2007.

    “Martin has been an invaluable member of the Denver Center’s Board of Trustees for a decade,” said Ritchie. “He and his wife have been staunch supporters, loyal patrons and committed donors who have contributed to the ongoing success of this organization for nearly 40 years. I can’t imagine a better successor to serve as our third Chairman of the Board.”

    Added DCPA President & CEO Janice Sinden: “As a business leader, civic partner and individual patron, Martin has been entrenched in all aspects of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. I am delighted that  he will lend his expertise and friendship to the continued success of the DCPA as we develop a vision for the future that embraces our community, elevates our artists, and enhances our place as one of the city’s cultural gems.”

    Semple graduated from St. Patrick’s College in Dublin and earned doctorates in law from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and the Catholic University of America. His current Board memberships include the DCPA and National Jewish Health. Past Board affiliations include Colorado Children’s Hospital Foundation (1985-1995; Chairman 1990-1992); National School Boards Association (2000-2001), Common Good Colorado (2009-2011), National Council of School Attorneys (Chairman 2000-2001) and Colorado School Attorneys Council.

    Semple has specialized in public and private sector labor and employment law and represents nonprofit organizations, school districts and cities among other client groups. Additionally, Semple has served as an Adjunct Faculty member at the University of Denver College of Law and the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado at Denver.

    “I am honored that the Denver Center’s Board of Trustees has selected me to succeed Dan as its new Chairman,” said Semple. “I look forward to working with my colleagues, Janice and the exemplary staff of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts to develop a vision that engrains this organization into the very fabric of our community — both locally and throughout the American theatre.”

    Semple also has served as President of the Helen G. Bonfils Foundation since 2015, an endowment fund established to support the Denver Center. Denver Post Chairman William Dean Singleton will succeed Semple as President of the Foundation. Singleton, who was co-founder of the Denver-based newspaper chain MediaNews Group (now known as Digital First Media), has been served on both the DCPA and Bonfils boards since March 2001.

    Semple joins Ritchie and founding Chairman Donald R. Seawell as DCPA board chairs. Seawell served as Chairman from 1979-2006 and worked together with Semple building the DCPA for more than 25 years. Seawell was founder of both downtown’s Denver Performing Arts Complex (the facility) and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (the largest nonprofit theatre organization in the nation). Seawell was succeeded by Ritchie, philanthropist, businessman, civic leader and education champion, in 2007. Under their leadership, the Denver Center has had many notable accomplishments through its six distinct lines of programming:

    • DCPA Theatre Company — Tony-winning company that produces an annual season of up to 10 homegrown productions, including more than 160 new works (The Book of Will, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Sense & Sensibility The Musical, Tantalus, Lydia, The Whale, Quilters, Black Elk Speaks).
    • DCPA Broadway — A preferred stop on the Broadway touring circuit including more than a dozen national tour launches (The Lion King, The Book of Mormon, If/Then, Pippin) and the pre-Broadway debuts of Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Frozen (2017).
    • DCPA Cabaret — Intimate, casual entertainment featuring shows including Denver’s longest-running cabaret hit, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
    • DCPA Off-Center — A theatrical testing ground that develops innovative, participatory programming both on- and off-site (Sweet & Lucky, Travelers of the Lost Dimension).
    • DCPA Education: Statewide educational programs that serve more than 105,000 students annually through acting classes, in-school workshops, in-theatre field trips and audience engagement programs.
    • DCPA Event Services: Pemier rental venues that utilize theatrical innovation to capture the imagination of guests in lobbies, theatres, the Directors Room and the Seawell Grand Ballroom.

    As Chairman of the Board, Semple will work with fellow Trustees and CEO Janice Sinden to remain integral to Denver’s rapidly growing community, build upon the strong foundation that has enabled the DCPA to attract the nation’s top talent, and, above all else, provide the leadership, resources and partnerships that will sustain the organization’s commitment to art for years to come.

    Suzanne Yoe is Director of Communications and Cultural Affairs for the DCPA.

    Previous coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter
    DCPA Chairman Daniel Ritchie will step down in 2017
    From Mayor to Mother: Insight into new DCPA boss Janice Sinden
  • 'An American Paris' dances from beginning to end

    by John Moore | Mar 06, 2017
    'An American in Paris' in Denver

    Photos from 'An American in Paris' visiting Denver through March 18. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter

    It’s deceptively challenging to adapt a beloved film for the stage. After all, the original object of people’s affection is not some distant memory, but readily available for viewing and inevitable comparisons. The stage version has to find a way to shine on its own terms. And the Broadway production of An American in Paris, the recipient of rave reviews and 12 Tony Award nominations, has done just that.

    This new An American in Paris has flourished for many reasons. Like the movie, the show is a valentine to the timeless music of George Gershwin, drawing on more of his concert music and more of the songs that he wrote with his brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin. The piece is propelled by the beautiful, vibrant, Tony-winning choreography of Christopher Wheeldon, who also directed. The book, by Craig Lucas, acknowledges the film’s plot, but uses it as a starting point for a more nuanced, compelling story. An American in Paris works so well because Wheeldon and Lucas did not put the film on stage. Instead, they created a brand new piece of musical theater inspired by, but not beholden to, the movie.

    "We set about making our version of the story, but we didn’t want to completely turn our backs on the movie,” said Wheeldon. “We were eager to make a show that would appeal to people who love the movie, but at the same time take those who hadn’t seen it on a different kind of journey.”

    Christopher Wheeldon An American in Paris

    In a departure from the film, the show is set just after World War II ends, and Bob Crowley’s Tony-winning scenic design brings post-war Paris to life, taking the ravaged city out of the darkness and into the light. The bare bones of the story are the same as in the movie, but the characters have been rethought and fleshed out, and the narrative reconsidered and deepened for a contemporary audience.

    “The show is about the characters’ struggle to find life, to find love, to find happiness again after this dark period,” said Wheeldon. “The movie was made in the early ’50s and the war was still very fresh, so Paris was treated in a kind of hyper-unrealistic way. With the distance of time, there was so much more we could do. We had the freedom to place Paris in a more realistic, historical context, and talk about what the city was like after the Nazis left, and how romance and art and music were balm to the wounds. Paris behaves as a character in the show, and we see the city open up and breathe again, and take on all the beautiful qualities that we associate with it.”
    Wheeldon, one of the most sought-after choreographers in the world, had never directed on Broadway before. But lead producer Stuart Oken wanted a singular vision for the show. “He felt that I would be able to bring a unique quality of movement to it,” said Wheeldon, “not only to the dancing, but to the transitions and the flow of the piece as a whole.”
    An American in Paris Matthew Murphy
    Photo by Matthew Murphy.

    Wheeldon was very much involved with the shaping of the show and the selection of the music. “Craig wrote a brilliant treatment that acted as a framework, and then we all jumped in – Craig, Rob Fisher [who adapted and arranged the score] and I,” he says. “Then it was really about which pieces of music best told our story. We wanted it to feel like the Gershwins had written this music specifically for our show.”
    The show features such classic songs as “I Got Rhythm,” “The Man I Love,” “Stairway to Paradise,” “But Not For Me” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” as well as numerous orchestral gems, including the lesser-known Second Rhapsody and Cuban Overture.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The musical dances from beginning to end, and Wheeldon employs a variety of styles, including tap, jazz, old-fashioned Broadway and, most uniquely, ballet. He sets the tone at the very beginning, with a wordless opening sequence performed to the Concerto in F.

     “People always talk about the importance of the opening number,” he says. “So I wanted to signal to the audience that there is going to be a lot of dancing, and a lot of storytelling through dance. The opening tells the story of Paris and introduces characters through movement.”
    Wheeldon uses dance in An American in Paris much in the way that one of his mentors, Jerome Robbins, did in West Side Story. That is, it forwards the plot and helps tell the story with great clarity. “Because I’m a ballet choreographer, and the leads are ballet dancers, many people who haven’t seen the show think we’re doing a ballet,” said Wheeldon. “But it’s not a ballet. It’s a classic Broadway musical with a story told through its book, music, singing, acting and movement. And it features incredibly beautiful, talented performers doing extraordinary things.”
    As in the film, the culmination of the show is the American in Paris ballet. Wheeldon created a largely abstract work that includes a stunning and moving fantasy duet. “It contains the first truly romantic moment for Jerry and Lise. Earlier in the show, they have a flirtatious dance by the Seine, which marks the beginning of their romance. The pas de deux is the emotional, romantic climax of the whole show.”

    Note: The cast of 'An American in Paris' includes Barton Cowperthwaite, a Denver native and former member of the Black Actors Guild.

    (This report was provided to the DCPA NewsCenter by 'An American in Paris.')

    An American in Paris
    : Ticket information
    An American In ParisAn American in Paris brings the magic and romance of Paris into harmony with unforgettable works from George and Ira Gershwin. This new hit musical about an American soldier, a mysterious French girl and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war, earned more awards than any other musical in the 2014-15 Broadway season.
    March 8-19
    Buell Theatre
    ASL, audio-described and open-captioned performance 2 p.m. March 19
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of An American in Paris
    An American Paris dances from beginning to end
    Photos, video: A Denverite in 'Paris’: Barton Cowperthwaite returns to alma mater
    Meet Sara Esty, who plays Lise
    Meet Garen Scribner, who plays Jerry

    Photo gallery: An American in Paris production photos

    An American in Paris
    Photos from the national touring production of 'An American in Paris' by Matthew Murphy. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above.

  • March: Colorado theatre listings

    by John Moore | Mar 04, 2017
    A March Openings ODDVILLE

    NOTE: At the start of each month, the DCPA NewsCenter offers an updated list of upcoming theatre openings, spotlighting work being presented on stages statewide. Companies are encouraged to submit listings and production photos at least two weeks in advance to the DCPA NewsCenter at jmoore@dcpa.org.

    Five intriguing titles for March:

    NUMBER 1Jesus Christ Superstar and Drowning Girls. The Arvada Center's new "black box" repertory company goes into full gear for the first time when the new play Drowning Girls joins the ongoing Bus Stop in alternating performances in the studio theatre through May 21. It's a surreal true-crime story that explores the deaths of three women murdered by the same man. As if that weren't enough, Rod Lansberry's highly anticipated take on the Tim Rice-Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Jesus Christ Superstar opens on March 24. 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    NUMBER 2LOCAL LabThe Local Lab. Now in its sixth year, Boulder's premier new-play festival will feature readings of urgent new plays about a Syrian refugee, Jason Grote's riveting biographical look at prolific Soviet-era composer Dmitri Shostakovich, and Colorado's first taste of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s massive controversial Play On! project - updated "translations" of every Shakespeare play. The new The Merchant of Venice will be read here, The festival runs March 17-19. A full breakdown of events is listed at the bottom of this page. Call 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org,

    NUMBER 3Athena Project Arts Festival. This 5th annual, month-long celebration of women in the arts is centered around the fully staged world premiere of local playwright Ellen K. Graham's The Wave That Set the Fire,
    running March 10-April 8 at the University of Denver's Byron Theatre, 2344 E Iliff Ave.Set in the near future, the play explores what constitutes justice in a damaged world. A full breakdown of events is listed at the bottom of this page. Information and tickets: AthenaProjectFestival.org

    NUMBER 4Mas. Su Teatro's fact-based story by Milta Ortiz is about a community's battle to hold onto their history, identity and humanity after the Tucson Unified School District's decision to end its Mexican-American Studies program. Watch how Comedy Central covered the story in the video above. March 9-26 at 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or go to suteatro.org

    NUMBER 5Magic Moments. Since 1983, Magic Moments has produced a massive annual pop-music revue that integrates persons with physical and developmental disabilities with able-bodied actors both amateur and professional. Shows often feature 200 or more cast members of all ages. Each year the show threads a loose, original story with covers of showtunes and contemporary pop songs. This year's show is called Step Right Up and runs March 23-26 at the Kent Denver School, 4000 East Quincy Ave., Englewood. Call 303-575-1005 or go to magicmomentsinc.org

    March Openings DCPA


    (Submit your listings to jmoore@dcpa.org)

    Disenchanted_Glenn_Ross BDTMarch 3-May 6, 2017: BDT Stage's Disenchanted
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    March 3-April 2: The Edge Theatre's The Nance
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheatre.com

    March 3-25: Theatre Company of Lafayette's Blood Privilege
    Mary Miller Theater, 300 E. Simpson, 720-209-2154 or www.tclstage.org

    March 4-April 2: BiTSY Stage's The Lass Who Went Out With The Cry Of Dawn: A Celtic Yarn
    1137 S. Huron St., 720-328-5294 or bitsystage.com

    A March Openings BLOOD PRIVILEGEMarch 8-19: National touring production of An American in Paris
    Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    March 9-26: Su Teatro's Mas
    721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or suteatro.org

    March 10-April 8: Athena Project Arts Festival's The Wave That Set the Fire
    At the Byron Theatre in Newman Center for Performing Arts at the University of Denver, 2344 E Iliff Ave., AthenaProjectFestival.org

    March 11-April 15: Curious Theatre's Constellations
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org

    March 12-April 30: Denver Children's Theatre's The Jungle Book
    Elaine Wolf Theatre at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., 303-316-6360 or maccjcc.org

    A March Openings LassMarch 16-April 23: Off-Center's Travelers of the Lost Dimension, with A.C.E.
    At the Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St., Aurora, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    March 16-April 2: Millibo Art Theatre's The Crucible
    1626 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321 or themat.org .

    March 17-May 21: Arvada Center's The Drowning Girls
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    March 17-April 9: The Avenue Theater's Oddville
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com

    March 17-26: Longmont Theatre Company's Other Desert Cities
    513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    March 17-26: PACE Center's Steel Magnolias (at the Schoolhouse Theater)
    20000 Pikes Peak Avenue, Parker, parkerarts.org

    March 18-19: National touring production of Shaping Sound: After the Curtain
    The Ellie, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    March 21-26: National touring production of Kinky Boots
    Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    March 23-June 4: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s 42nd Street
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    March 23-26: Magic Moments' Step Right Up
    At Kent Denver School, 4000 East Quincy Ave., Englewood, 303-575-1005 or magicmomentsinc.org

    March 24-April 16: Arvada Center's Jesus Christ Superstar
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    March 24-April 9: Aurora Fox's Chinglish
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    March 24-April 30: Miners Alley Playhouse's A Skull in Connemara
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    March 24-April 9, 2017: Performance Now's Hello, Dolly!
    Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway, 303-987-7845 or performancenow.org

    March 24-May 27: Midtown Arts Center's Sister Act
    3750 S. Mason St., Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    March 24-April 15: Evergreen Players' Enchanted April
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.com

    March 24-April 15: Equinox Theatre Company’s Stage Kiss
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinoxtheatredenver.com

    March 30-April 30: Bas Bleu's Blue Kitchen and The Blue Kitchen Craic
    417 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org

    March 30-April 23: Cherry Creek Theatre Company’s The Baby Dance
    Pluss Theatre at the the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., Denver, 303-800-6578 or cherrycreektheatre.org

    March 30-April 29, 2017: OpenStage's Don't Dress for Dinner
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    March 31-May 7: DCPA Theatre Company's Disgraced
    Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    March 31-April 30: Town Hall Arts Center's The Robber Bridegroom
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or town hallartscenter.org

    March 31-April 23: Benchmark Theatre's The Nether
    At Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan St., benchmarktheatre.com

    March 31-April 23: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Bye Bye Birdie
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    March 31-May 21: Vintage Theatre’s The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintage’s home page


    Through March 18: OpenStage Theatre & Company’s August: Osage County
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org READ MOREMarch Openings And Then There Were None

    Through March 18: Breckenridge Backstage Theatre's The Toxic Avenger
    121 S. Ridge St. 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    Through March 18: Spotlight Theater Company's Sabrina Fair
    At the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    Through March 18: Midtown Arts Center's Million Dollar Quartet
    3750 S. Mason St., Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Through March 18: Midtown Arts Center's Forbidden Broadway (Studio Theatre)
    3750 S. Mason St., Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    March Openings Bonnie and ClydeThrough March 19: Town Hall Arts Center's Bonnie & Clyde
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or town hallartscenter.org

    Through March 19: Vintage Theatre Productions' Billy Elliot, The Musical
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com


    Through March 26: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Junie B. Jones: The Musical
    Second Stage, 30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Through April 8: DCPA Cabaret's An Act of God
    Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Through May 14: Arvada Center's Bus Stop
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org READ MORE

    Through May 19: Arvada Center's A Year With Frog and Toad
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org


    Ongoing productions
    2406 Federal Blvd., Denver, 303-455-1848 or adamsmysteryplayhouse.com

    March 10-April 8: World-premiere play The Wave That Set the Fire
    At the Byron Theatre in the Newman Center for Performing Arts at the University of Denver, 2344 E Iliff Ave. ticket info

    Saturday, March 18: Evening of Dance at Armstrong Center for Dance
    At the Armstrong Center for Dance, 1075 Santa Fe Drive, athenaprojectfestival.org

    March 23 and 24: Mini Music Festival and Panel Discussions
    Swallow Hill Music, 71 E. Yale Ave., athenaprojectfestival.org

    Saturday, March 25: Girls Create Celebration
    At the Byron Theatre in the Newman Center for Performing Arts at the University of Denver, 2344 E Iliff Ave.athenaprojectfestival.org

    2017 Plays In Progress Series
    April 1 at 1 p.m. and April 8 at 4 p.m.: Beating a Dead Horse by Jennifer Stafford
    April 1 at  4 p.m. and April 2 at 7 p.m.: Famous Last Words by Katherine Millett
    April 8 at 1 p.m. and April 9 at 7 p.m.: Handcrafted Healing by Nancy Beverly
    At the Byron Theatre in the Newman Center for Performing Arts at the University of Denver, 2344 E Iliff Ave. ticket info

    Special Table Reading
    April 2 at 9:30 a.m. and April 3 at 7 p.m.: Honor Killing by Sarah Bierstock
    At the Byron Theatre in the Newman Center for Performing Arts at the University of Denver, 2344 E Iliff Ave. ticket info

    March 21: Tommy y Orchestra Cabaret Performance
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com


    Saturday, March 11: Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey (Monthly theatre for young audiences at 1 and 3 p.m. the second Saturday of each month, through May 13)
    Wednesday, March 15: The Narrators (a live storytelling show and podcast)
    Tuesday, March 21: Buntport Radio Hour (live recording of a radio show) Tickets here
    Friday, March 31: Untitled (in the freight elevator at the Denver Art Museum)
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    Saturday, March 18: Jason Craig
    The playwright of Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage will be on-site for a pre-show meet-and-greet (6:30 p.m.) and post-show talk.
    The Dairy Arts Center, Carsen Theater, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or the dairy.org


    Friday, March 24: The Jerseys sing the Four Seasons and more
    D&F Clocktower, 16th and Arapahoe streets, 303-293-0075 or clocktowercabaret.com



    Monday, March 13: Screening of the film Jesus Christ Superstar, with live pre-screening entertainment for the cast of the Arvada Center's upcoming stage production of the stage musical. Entertainment 6:30 p.m.; film at 7.
    Alamo Drafthouse Littleton, 7301 S Santa Fe Drive, drafthouse.com

    March 17-19: Workshop: "Pain Management" (Devising original theater pieces)
    2-5 p.m. March 17; 12-4 p.m. Saturday; 12-1 p.m. Sunday
    At 311 Mapleton Ave., Boulder

    Friday, March 17: Reading: Wisdom From Everything, by Mia McCullough
    7 p.m. at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder

    Saturday, March 18: Playwrights Panel, moderated by Megan Mathews
    4:30 p.m. at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder

    Saturday, March 18: Reading: Shostakovich, or Silence, by Jason Grote
    6 p.m. at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder

    Sunday, March 19: Reading: The Merchant of Venice, translated by Elise Thoron
    2 p.m. at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder
    Information: 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org


    Sunday, March 26: Aquila Theatre’s The Trojan War: Our Warrior Chorus
    10075 Commons St., just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue, 720-509-1000, lone tree’s home page

    Every third Monday: Monday! Monday! Monday! Cabaret
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org

    Saturdays March 11 and 18: Storybooks on Stage
    Stories will be performed by John Jurcheck, Erin Rollman and Anthony Powell
    March 11: 10:30 a.m. at the McNichols Civic Center Building, 144 W. Colfax Ave., Denver, 303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org
    March 18: 10:30 a.m. at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St. Boulder, 303-444-7328 or www.thedairy.org
  • Lenne Klingaman to explore Hamlet's feminine side for Colorado Shakes

    by John Moore | Mar 02, 2017
    Lenne Klingaman

    The Colorado Shakespeare Festival has announced casting for its 60th anniversary season in the summer of 2017, and it includes not only a female Hamlet, but one familiar to DCPA Theatre Company audiences. Lenne Kingaman, who played Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and two roles in Appoggiatura, will be mulling the meaning of her existence on the University of Colorado's intimate indoor stage. 

    And DCPA veteran Robert Sicular will be playing Julius Caesar. He’s performed in 11 Theatre Company productions from 1994-2012, most recently Heartbreak House, The Liar and The Taming of the Shrew. Anthony Powell (All the Way) directs.

    "I’m super excited about the cast we’ve put together,” Producing Artistic Director Timothy Orr. “We worked really hard to assemble a group of local favorites — some of the best in Colorado — as well as actors from California and New York who we’ve been trying to get out here for several years.”

    Robert SicularCarolyn Howarth is directing a contemporary version of Hamlet in a fresh way that should unlock more of the enduring mysteries of the play, Klingaman said.

    “To be a woman sinking my teeth into a role that is so iconic, but from a female perspective, is going to allow us to open up the characters and the relationships in the story in a way that will help us find our way to an even more universal portrayal of the character and the play as a whole,” she said.

    For centuries, women have been going through the same juggernaut of earth-shattering experiences Hamlet went through, Klingaman said. Audiences just have not been allowed to see that play out on a stage until now.

    “To be a woman and to get to tackle those issues of power and mortality and duty and love will be extremely thrilling," Klingaman said. “But I am also excited about what it does to every relationship in the play" 

    It should be noted that Ophelia still will be played by a woman (Emelie O'Hara).

    “Our understanding of masculinity and femininity today is so different from Shakespeare’s time," she said. "Some of our ideas of what might be feminine today are now more in line with might have been considered masculine in Shakespeare’s time. I want to open up a more fluid conception of gender and masculinity and femininity. It's not just a question of one or the other."

    University of Northern Colorado theatre professor Shelly Gaza will make her Colorado Shakes debut as Kate in a New York-centric, post-war The Taming of the Shrew. Scott Coopwood, a Marin Shakespeare Company and Portland Center Stage regular, will play Petruchio.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Gaza’s Kate is a plucky Air Force pilot who’s just returned to New York City from a tour in World War II, and Coopwood’s Petruchio, older and wiser in this production, must grapple with the fact that he’s fallen in love with his strong, stubborn match.

    Michael Bouchard (The SantaLand Diaries) and DCPA Teaching Artist Sean Scrutchins will play the title characters in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, a comic retelling of Hamlet from the perspective of its two most minor characters. Most of the actors in Hamlet will play their same roles in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.

    “I can’t believe I get to work with Sean and Michael in the title roles,” said Orr, who will direct. “Comedically, these guys can tear the roof off a theatre.”

    Other familiar DCPA names include Sam Gregory (Scrooge in A Christmas Carol), Mare Trevathan (The Sweetest Swing in Baseball), Rodney Lizcano (The Book of Will) and Meridith C. Grundei (Frankenstein). Also well-known to Colorado Shakes audiences or around the metro area include Christopher Joel Onken, Casey Andree, Rachel Turner, Sam Sandoe, Anne Sandoe, Bob Buckley and Anne Penner. 

    The design teams include DCPA costumer Meghan Anderson Doyle (An Act of God, The Glass Menagerie), sound designer Jason Ducat (Two Degrees) and lighting designer Shannon McKinney (Tribes). Acclaimed New York scenic and lighting designer Stephen C. Jones will light both indoor plays (the other is a yet-to-be-cast Original Practices performance of Henry VI, Part 3.

    Additional reporting by Jill Kimball of CU Presents.

    HAMLET, indoors
    June 23-Aug. 13
    Shakespeare’s masterpiece, often considered the greatest play in the English language, returns for CSF’s 60th season. When Hamlet’s world is ripped apart by his father’s sudden death and his mother’s hasty remarriage, the young prince’s mind wrestles with his heart in a tormented quest to uncover the truth. Staged for the first time inside the intimate University Theatre, this is Hamlet as you’ve never seen it before.

    Gary Wright: Claudius
    Michael Bouchard: Rosencrantz
    Kristofer Buxton: Osric/Tragedian
    Elise Collins: Fortinbras/Tragedian
    Sam Gregory: The Player/Ghost
    Lenne Klingaman: Hamlet
    Ava Kostia: Laertes
    Rodney Lizcano: Polonius/Gravedigger
    Jihad Milhem: Horatio
    Emelie O'Hara: Ophelia
    Sean Scrutchins: Guildenstern
    Cindy Spitko: Voltemand/Tragedian
    Austin Terrell: Cornelius/Tragedian
    Mare Trevathan: Gertrude
    Blake Williams: Marcellus/Tragedian

    Carolyn Howarth: Director
    Paul Behrhorst: Stage Manager
    Whitney Brady: Assistant Lighting and Scenic Designer
    Jason Ducat: Sound Designer
    Hugh Hanson: Costume Designer
    Stephen C. Jones: Scenic Designer, Lighting Designer
    Darion Ramos: Assistant Stage Manager

    JULIUS CAESAR, outdoors
    July 7-Aug. 12
    Benaiah Anderson: Cinna/Titinius/Ensemble
    Casey Andree: Casca/Strata/Ensemble
    Bob Buckley: Cobbler/Publius/Lepidus/Ensemble
    Michael Chen: Volumnious/Ensemble
    Scott Coopwood: Marcus Brutus
    David Derringer: Trebonius/Clitus/Ensemble
    Evan Ector: Young Cato/Ensemble
    Erik Fellenstein: Flavius/Anthony's Messenger/Octavius Caesar/Ensemble
    Ian Roy Fraser: Lucius
    Shelly Gaza: Calphurnia
    Christopher Joel Onken: Marc Anthony
    Anne Penner: Portia/Soothsayer
    Tony Ryan: Carpenter/Metellus Cimber/Lucilius/Ensemble
    Sam Sandoe: Caius Ligarius/Ensemble
    Matthew Schneck: Cassius
    Robert Sicular: Julius Caesar
    Ayla Sullivan: Artemidora/Ensemble
    Andy Walker Decius: Brutus/Pindarus/Ensemble
    Coleman Zeigen: Marullus/Populous/Lepidus/Ensemble

    Anthony Powell: Director
    Caitlin Ayer: Scenic Designer
    Jonathan D. Allsup: Assistant Stage Manager
    Jason Ducat: Sound Designer
    Clare Henkel: Costume Designer
    Shannon McKinney: Lighting Designer
    Stacy Renee Norwood: Stage Manager

    June 11-Aug. 13
    CSF kicks off its 60th season with a zany comedy set in swinging 1940s New York City. Enter Kate, a plucky pilot who’s just returned from the fray of World War II, and her stubborn match, Petruchio. On the vibrant streets of Little Italy, the two duke it out in a battle of wits, dance the night away and discover, against all odds, a mutual respect that’s almost like being in love.

    Benaiah Anderson: Biondello
    Casey Andree: Hortensio
    Michael Chen: Ensemble
    Scott Coopwood: Petruchio
    David Derringer: Tailor / Ensemble
    Evan Ector: EnsembleIan
    Roy Fraser: Haberdasher/Ensemble
    Shelly Gaza: Kate
    Meredith C. Grundei: Curtis
    Christopher Joel Onken: Lucentio
    Tony Ryan: Tranio
    Anne Sandoe: Widow
    Sam Sandoe: Gremio
    Matthew Schneck: Grumio
    Robert Sicular: Baptista
    Ayla Sullivan: Ensemble
    Rachel Turner: Bianca
    Robert Wester: The Pedant
    Coleman Zeigen: Vincentio

    Christopher DuVal: Director
    Caitlin Ayer: Scenic Designer
    Jonathan D. Allsup: Assistant Stage Manager
    Meghan Anderson Doyle: Costume Designer
    Jason Ducat: Sound Designer
    Shannon McKinney: Lighting Designer
    Stacy Renee Norwood: Stage Manager

    July 21-Aug. 13
    In this hilarious and mind-bending comedy by the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Shakespeare in Love, Hamlet is brilliantly retold through the eyes of two minor characters. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two bewildered schoolmates sent to pull Prince Hamlet out of his descent into madness, grapple with fate, free will and the game of life. CSF’s production brings its full Hamlet cast on stage to inhabit Stoppard’s ingenious parallel universe of wit and wisdom.

    Gary Wright: Claudius
    Michael Bouchard: Rosencrantz
    Elise Collins: Tragedian
    Sam Gregory: The Player
    Lenne Klingaman: Hamlet
    Rodney Lizcano: Polonius
    Jihad Milhem: Horatio
    Emelie O'Hara: Ophelia
    Sean Scrutchins: Guildenstern
    Cindy Spitko: Tragedian
    Austin Terrell: Tragedian
    Mare Trevathan: Gertrude
    Blake Williams: Tragedian

    Timothy Orr: Director
    Paul Behrhorst: Stage Manager
    Whitney Brady: Assistant Lighting and Scenic Designer
    Jason Ducat: Sound Designer
    Hugh Hanson: Costume Designer
    Stephen C. Jones: Scenic Designer, Lighting Designer
    Darion Ramos: Assistant Stage Manager

    Casting by Sylvia Gregory Casting
    Company Armorer: Benaiah Anderson
    Props Supervisor: Katie Hamilton
    Costume Shop Manager Adam M. Dill



  • 'Hamilton' dates, 2017-18 Broadway season titles announced

    by John Moore | Mar 01, 2017

    Chris De'Sean Lee, Jose Ramos, Wallace Smith and Miguel Cervantes in Broadway's 'Hamilton. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    Here's what you have been waiting to hear:

    Hamilton opens in Denver next Feb. 27

    February 27 through April 1.

    Those are the dates theatre audiences from all over the Rocky Mountain region have been waiting to hear, and here they are. Hamilton, the history-making story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, will play The Buell Theatre as part of DCPA Broadway’s 2017-18 season, opening just shy of a year from today. 

    Joining Hamilton for the full 2017-18 Broadway subscription season are Something Rotten!; First Date; Waitress; Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King And I; Disney’s Aladdin; School Of Rock, and On Your Feet!

    New subscriptions for next season are not available at this time. A single ticket on-sale will be announced at a later date. For more information and to sign up for the subscription waiting list, go to denvercenter.org/Broadway.

    The DCPA also announced several non-subscription shows, including (in order of their Mile-High arrival): Dixie's Tupperware Party; Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus Live!; Girls Only - The Secret Comedy of Women; Rent 20th Anniversary Tour; Chicago; Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis; Elf The Musical; STOMP; The Book of Mormon; and Les Misérables.

    (Subscription shows in bold)

    Dixie's Tupperware Party

    Garner Galleria

    July 19-Aug. 6, 2017

    Men are from Mars,
    Women are from Venus Live!

    Garner Galleria

    Aug. 9-27, 2017

    Girls Only - The Secret Comedy of Women

    Garner Galleria

    Sept. 21-Oct. 22, 2017

    Something Rotten!


    Oct. 17-29, 2017

    First Date

    Garner Galleria

    Nov. 11, 2017-
    April 22, 2018

    RENT 20th Anniversary Tour


    Nov. 14-19, 2017



    Nov. 28-Dec. 3, 2017

    Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis


    Dec. 9-10, 2017

    Elf The Musical


    Dec. 13-17, 2017



    Dec. 19-31, 2017

    Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I


    Jan. 2-14, 2018



    Feb. 13-18, 2018



    Feb. 27-Apr 1, 2018

    Disney’s Aladdin


    April 6-28, 2018

    School of Rock


    May 29-June 10, 2018

    The Book of Mormon

    The Ellie

    June 13-July 1, 2018

    Les Misérables


    July 25-Aug 5, 2018

    On Your Feet!


    Aug. 8-19, 2018



    (In alphabetical order; descriptions provided by DCPA)

    Disney's ALADDIN

    • AladdinApril 6-28, 2018
    • Buell Theatre

    Discover a whole new world at Aladdin, the hit Broadway musical. From the producer of The Lion King comes the timeless story of Aladdin, a thrilling new production filled with unforgettable beauty, magic, comedy and breathtaking spectacle. It’s an extraordinary theatrical event where one lamp and three wishes make the possibilities infinite. Hailed by USA Today as “Pure Genie-Us,” Aladdin features all your favorite songs from the film as well as new music written by Tony and Academy Award winner Alan Menken (Newsies) with lyrics penned by the legendary Howard Ashman (Beauty and the Beast), Tony Award winner Tim Rice (The Lion King, Aida), and book writer Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer).


    Ryan Bondy. The Book of Mormon. Joan Marcus

    • June 13-July 1, 2018
    • The Ellie

    Back by popular demand, The New York Times calls it “the best musical of the century.” The Washington Post says, "It is the kind of evening that restores your faith in musicals." And Entertainment Weekly says, “Grade A: the funniest musical of all time.” Jimmy Fallon of “The Tonight Show” calls it “Genius. Brilliant. Phenomenal.” It's The Book of Mormon, the nine-time Tony Award-winning best musical. This outrageous musical comedy follows the misadventures of a mismatched pair of missionaries, sent halfway across the world to spread the Good Word. Now with standing room only productions in Australia, London, on Broadway, and across North America, The Book of Mormon has truly become an international sensation. (Contains explicit language.)

    (Photo: Ryan Bondy, by Joan Marcus)


    Chicago. Barrett Martin.

    • Nov. 28-Dec. 3, 2017
    • Buell Theatre

    There’s never been a better time to experience Chicago, Broadway’s razzle-dazzle smash. This triumphant hit musical is the recipient of six Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards, a Grammy, thousands of standing ovations and now the #1 longest-running American musical in Broadway history. Chicago has everything that makes Broadway great: a universal tale of fame, fortune and all that jazz; one show-stopping song after another, and the most astonishing dancing you've ever seen.  It’s no surprise that Chicago has wowed audiences from Mexico City to Moscow, from Sao Paulo to South Africa. And now it’s returning to Denver. Whether you're looking for your first Broadway musical, whether you've seen the Academy Award-winning film and want to experience the show live on stage, or whether you've seen it before and want to recapture the magic, Chicago delivers.


    • Dixie's Tupperware PartyJuly 19-Aug 6, 2017
    • Garner Galleria Theatre

    Denver’s favorite Tupperware lady returns. Critics and audiences have howled with laughter as Dixie throws a good ol' fashioned Tupperware party filled with outrageously funny tales, heartfelt accounts, free giveaways, audience participation and the most fabulous assortment of Tupperware ever sold on a theater stage. Loaded with the most up-to-date products available for purchase, Ms. Longate will share how she became the number one Tupperware seller in the world as she educates her guests on the many alternative uses she has discovered for her plastic products.


    • Dec 13-17, 2017
    • Buell Theatre

    Elf The Musical is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. This modern day Christmas classic is sure to make everyone embrace their inner Elf.

    (Photo: Connor Barth and Matt Kopec by Joan Marcus.)


    • First Date Nov. 11, 2017-April 22, 2018
    • Garner Galleria Theatre

    When blind date newbie Aaron is set up with serial-dater Casey, a casual drink at a busy New York restaurant turns into a hilarious high-stakes dinner. As the date unfolds in real time, the couple quickly finds that they are not alone on this unpredictable evening. In a delightful and unexpected twist, Casey and Aaron’s inner critics take on a life of their own when other restaurant patrons transform into supportive best friends, manipulative exes and protective parents, who sing and dance them through ice-breakers, appetizers and potential conversational land mines. Can this couple turn what could be a dating disaster into something special before the check arrives? Produced by DCPA Cabaret, First Date is directed by Ray Roderick. Auditions will be posted at a later date at http://www.denvercenter.org/about-us/careers.


    • Girls OnlySept. 21-Oct. 22, 2017
    • Garner Galleria Theatre

    Girls Only – The Secret Comedy of Women, written by Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein, is an original comedy that celebrates the honor, truth, humor and silliness of being female.  With a two-woman cast and audiences full of raucous, laughing ladies, the show has found quick popularity in its unique examination of all things girly. Born out of the earnest and sweetly absurd writings the two authors discovered in their girlhood diaries, the Girls Only mix of sketch comedy, improvisation, audience participation, and hilarious songs and videos reminds audiences of the very funny and very charming similarities all women share.

    (Photo: Linda Klein and Barbara Gehring by Terry Shapiro)


    • Hamilton. Joan Marcus 2016Feb. 27-April 1, 2018
    • Buell Theatre

    Hamilton is the story of America's Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington's right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary.  Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, Hamilton is the story of America then, as told by America now. With book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and musical direction and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.

    (Photo: Karen Olivo, Ari Afsar, Samantha Marie Ware by Joan Marcus)

    Rodgers & Hammerstein's THE KING AND I

    Jose Llana and Laura Michelle Kelly in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I.  Photo by Matthew MurphyJan. 2-14, 2018
    Buell Theatre

    Two worlds collide in the Lincoln Center Theater production of this “breathtaking and exquisite” (The New York Times) musical, directed by Bartlett Sher. One of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s finest works, Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I boasts a score that features such beloved classics as “Getting To Know You,” “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello Young Lovers,” “Shall We Dance” and “Something Wonderful.” Set in 1860’s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher whom the modernist King, in an imperialistic world, brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children. Winner of the 2015 Tony Award for best musical revival.

    (Photo Jose Llana and Laura Michelle Kelly by Matthew Murphy.)


    • July 25-Aug. 5, 2018
    • Buell Theatre

    Cameron Mackintosh presents the new production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Tony Award-winning musical phenomenon Les Misérables, direct from its acclaimed Broadway return. Featuring the beloved songs “I Dreamed A Dream,” “On My Own,” “Stars," “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More,” and many more, this epic and uplifting story has become one of the most celebrated musicals in theatrical history. With its glorious new staging and dazzlingly reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, this breathtaking new production has left both audiences and critics awestruck. “Les Miz is born again!” (NY1). 

    (Photo: John Owen-Jones by Matthew Murphy.)


    • MS_GreenTour_Roxanne_Layton-Becky_Kia-234Dec. 9-10, 2017
    • Buell Theatre

    Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis has been America’s favorite holiday tradition for more than 30 years. Grammy Award winner Chip Davis has created a show that features Mannheim Steamroller Christmas classics along with a selection of compositions from his groundbreaking Fresh Aire series, which introduced the distinctive Mannheim sound to all of America. The program celebrates the group’s recent anniversary of 30 years since the first Christmas album and 40 years since the first Fresh Aire album and includes dazzling multimedia effects performed in an intimate setting. Experience the magic as the spirit of the season comes alive with the signature sound of Mannheim Steamroller.  Their holiday CDs have become synonymous with Christmas and continue to occupy top spots on Billboard’s seasonal charts every year.

    (Photo: Roxanne_Layton and Becky_Kia.)


    • Aug. 9-27, 2017
    • Garner Galleria Theatre

    This hysterical show will have couples elbowing each other all evening as they see themselves on stage. Sexy and fast paced, this show is definitely for adults, but will leave audiences laughing and giggling like little kids. When Mars and Venus collide, the adventures are earth-shatteringly hysterical. It's a great recipe for a night out: a little storytelling blended with some comedy and a dash of sage wisdom from the book. A delicious evening of entertainment!


    • On Your FeetAug. 8-19, 2018
    • Buell Theatre

    From their humble beginnings in Cuba, Emilio and Gloria Estefan came to America and broke through all barriers to become a crossover sensation at the very top of the pop music world. But just when they thought they had it all, they almost lost everything. From international superstardom to life-threatening tragedy, On Your Feet! takes you behind the music and inside the real story of this record-making and groundbreaking couple who, in the face of adversity, found a way to end up on their feet. Directed by two-time Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots), with choreography by Olivier Award winner Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys) and an original book by Academy Award winner Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman), ON YOUR FEET! features some of the most iconic songs of the past quarter-century — and one of the most inspiring stories in music history.

    (Photo: Gloria Estefan by Matthew Murphy)

    RENT 20th Anniversary Tour


    • Nov. 14-19, 2017
    • Buell Theatre

    In 1996, an original rock musical by a little-known composer opened on Broadway…and forever changed the landscape of American theatre. Two decades later, Jonathan Larson’s Rent continues to speak loudly and defiantly to audiences across generations and all over the world. And now, this Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning masterpiece returns to the stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary touring production. A re-imagining of Puccini's La Bohème, Rent follows an unforgettable year in the lives of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams without selling out. With its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear, this timeless celebration of friendship and creativity reminds us to measure our lives with the only thing that truly matters — love.  



    • School of Rock Original London Cast. Photo by Tristram Kenton.May 29-June 10, 2018
    • Buell Theatre

    School of Rock is “an inspiring jolt of energy, joy and mad skillz!” (Entertainment Weekly). Based on the hit film, this hilarious new musical follows Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock star posing as a substitute teacher who turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band. This high-octane smash features 14 new songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber, all the original songs from the movie and musical theater’s first-ever kids rock band playing their instruments live on stage. Vanity Fair raves, “Fists of all ages shall be pumping.”

    (Photo: 'School of Rock' Original London Cast. Photo by Tristram Kenton.)


    •  Cast of the Something Rotten! National Tour. © Jeremy DanielOct. 17-29, 2017
    • Buell Theatre

    With 10 Tony Award nominations including best musical, Something Rotten! is a “big, fat hit!” (New York Post). Set in the ’90s — the 1590s — this hilarious smash tells the story of Nick and Nigel Bottom (Tony nominee Rob McClure and Broadway’s Josh Grisetti), two brothers who are desperate to write their own hit play while the “rock star” Shakespeare (Tony nominee Adam Pascal) keeps getting all the hits. When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theatre involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first MUSICAL! With its heart on its ruffled sleeve and sequins in its soul, Something Rotten! is “The Producers + Spamalot + The Book of Mormon. Squared!” (New York Magazine). 


    • STOMPFeb. 13-18, 2018
    • Buell Theatre

    STOMP is explosive, inventive, provocative, witty, and utterly unique—an unforgettable experience for audiences of all ages. The international percussion sensation has garnered armfuls of awards and rave reviews and has appeared on numerous national television shows. The eight-member troupe uses everything but conventional percussion instruments – matchboxes, wooden poles, brooms, garbage cans, Zippo lighters, hubcaps – to fill the stage with magnificent rhythms. Year after year, audiences worldwide keep coming back for more of this pulse-pounding electrifying show. As The Boston Globe says, “If you haven’t seen STOMP, GO! If you have seen it, take someone and share the pleasure.”

    (Photo by Junichi Takahashi.)


    • Nick Cordero as Earl and Jessie Mueller in the Original Broadway Production of Waitress Credit Joan Marcus 2016Dec. 19-31, 2017
    • Buell Theatre

    Brought to life by a groundbreaking all-female creative team, this irresistible new hit features original music and lyrics by six-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles (“Brave,” “Love Song”), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam) and direction by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus (Hair, Pippin, Finding Neverland). “It’s an empowering musical of the highest order!” raves the Chicago Tribune. Inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s beloved film, Waitress tells the story of Jenna — a waitress and expert pie maker, who dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town’s new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life. “Waitress is a little slice of heaven!” says Entertainment Weekly and “a monumental contribution to Broadway!” according to Marie Claire. Don’t miss this uplifting musical celebrating friendship, motherhood, and the magic of a well-made pie.


    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is the largest non-profit theatre organization in the nation, presenting Broadway tours and producing theatre, cabaret, musicals, and innovative, multimedia plays. Last season the DCPA engaged with more than 1.2 million visitors, generating a $150 million economic impact in ticket sales alone.

    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the Denver Center for the Performing Arts News Center.

  • Max Posner's new play to be staged at Playwrights Horizons

    by John Moore | Feb 28, 2017
    Max Posner
    Photo of Max Posner by Elisa Quero.

    So what does rocketing Denver playwright Max Posner have in common with Sarah Ruhl and David Cromer?

    Posner and Ruhl - who was just named among the 10 most important living American playwrights in a national survey by the DCPA NewsCenter - both will have their newest plays premiered later this year by New York’s esteemed Playwrights Horizons. And Posner’s director will be Cromer, a MacArthur Genius best known for his groundbreaking directions of Our Town, The Adding Machine and Angels in America.

    “It’s a total fantasy realized,” said Posner, a 28-year-old graduate of Denver School of the Arts. “I think Playwrights Horizon is my favorite theatre. Going to plays there has enriched my ideas about what a play can and should be. So having my own play staged there is totally insane, and I feel very fortunate.”

    Posner’s The Treasurer will open Sept. 22 in the Peter Jay Sharp Theater in midtown Manhattan. The play is a darkly funny and very private portrait of an aging mother and her son. Ida Armstrong is broke, lonely and fading – and she is spending her children’s money fast. This forces her son into the unwanted role of “The Treasurer,” an arrangement that becomes untenable the more he questions his devotion to her.

    Posner says his play is set “in the hell of a guilty conscience.”

    Max Posner quote“My goal was to address a kind of emotional constipation I have sensed in various relationships between people I know and their aging parents,” said Posner. “I wanted to really think about debt, and people try to monetize their feelings. It’s about what parents think they are owed by their children, and what children think they are owed by their parents.”

    The resulting play, he said, is “definitely emotionally wrenching, But I hope it’s kind of funny, too.” Posner is interested in exploring frayed family dynamics but not by filling the stage with dramatic yelling. “To me, that doesn’t capture the reality of being in a family as I know family to be,” he said. “In fact, when families are facing something really difficult, it seems to me that they mostly speak about it indirectly, or in hushed tones ... And rarely with the person they should be having the conversation with.”

    That approach, it was suggested to Posner, may make him the anti-Tracy Letts - author of August: Osage County. "What’s funny about your comparison is that my play requires the exact same thing a Tracy Letts play needs, but the outlet for that need is a little more decentralized in mine. I think my play sets us on a more winding kind of path.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    A year ago, Posner was selected to have his developing play workshopped by the Sundance Theatre Lab in, of all places, Morocco. When Posner heard he was assigned Cromer as his director, he said, “I was elated - and immediately desperate to make the play worthy of his time.”

    The New Yorker's Hilton Als recently called Cromer a director with singular vision that lifts any script up into something unpredictable, new and fresh. Cromer's expertise, Als said, "is moving human beings from darkness to light and back again."

    Posner and Cromer spent a month together working on The Treasurer last May. During that time, “he really became such a deep and amazing collaborator,” Posner said. “I think he revealed the play to me and the actors. So in many ways he helped form it."

    And now, Posner said, “He’s my buddy.”

    Casting for The Treasurer has not yet been completed, but it’s a safe assumption that it will be performed by some of the biggest names in the New York theatre.

    Max Posner. Lost in Yonkers. MizelAs a teenager, Posner studied writing under Moss Kaplan at Denver School of the Arts. He was also a longtime student of the Curious New Voices young playwrights program under Dee Covington. And he was named one of The Denver Post's "Can't Miss Kids" in 2006. (Pictured at right: Jeremey Palmer and Max Posner in 'Lost in Yonkers' at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center in 2002.) 

    Posner had his first New York production in 2015 with Judy, which is set in the winter of 2040. Posner called Judy “a subterranean comedy about family life when technology fails and communication breaks down."

    For Posner, Judy was also a crash-course in both playing in the big leagues … and swimming with the sharks. The New Yorker hailed Posner as one of New York’s most unique new voices, saying “Posner’s revelations, touching on the linguistic, the sociological and the theological, waver between the explicit and the mysterious, and give us something funny and scary to ponder.”

    But former New York Times critic Charles Isherwood just didn’t get it. And Posner gets that.

    “The success of our plays can’t be measured based on how warmly they are received by any one person,” Posner said. “A lot of my work is about facing moments of extreme discomfort, or dealing with things that are frustratingly undefined. I think it is important that theatre does that. My favorite theatre does that. It’s completely legitimate to be upset by my plays because a lot of my plays are upsetting comedies.”

    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 Treasurer
    By Max Posner
    Opens Sept. 22
    Peter Jay Sharp Theater
    416 West 42nd St., New York
    Info: 212-564-1235

    From the video archive: Our 2015 interview with Max Posner

    Watch our video interview with Max Posner from May 2015 in New York City. Video by John Moore.

    Selected previous coverage of Denver's Posner family:
    Denver playwright Max Posner scores first New York production
    Jessica Posner's triumphant tale is a world-changer and a page-turner
    Jessica Posner: Changing lives in a hell on Earth
    From 2006: Max Posner one of Colorado's "Can't Miss Kids"

    Max Posner/At a glance
    Max Posner’s play Judy premiered Off-Broadway in 2015 (Page 73, directed by Ken Rus Schmoll). Recent productions include Snore (Juilliard, directed by Knud Adams), Sisters on the Ground (Playwrights Horizons Theater School at NYU, directed by Ken Rus Schmoll), and Gun Logistics (Drama League, directed by Knud Adams). He is the recipient of the Helen Merrill Emerging Playwright Award, the Heideman Award from Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, the P73 Fellowship, and two Lecomte du Nouy awards from Lincoln Center. Max is a Sundance Institute Theatre Fellow, a two-time MacDowell Colony Fellow, and was the Writer-In-Residence at Williamstown. He's an alum of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, Ars Nova's Playgroup, The Working Farm at Space on Ryder Farm, and I-73. He contributed to John Early's episode of The Characters (Netflix) and is working on a libretto for the Brooklyn Youth Chorus with composer Ellis Ludwig Leone. Max's plays have been developed by Playwrights Horizons, Soho Rep, Page 73, Clubbed Thumb, Williamstown, The Atlantic, Ars Nova, The Bushwick Starr, NYTW, American Theater Co., The Juilliard School, and Space on Ryder Farm. He is a frequent volunteer at Manhattan's 52nd Street Project. He studied writing as an undergrad at Brown, and recently completed a two-year Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellowship at The Juilliard School. Max was born and raised in Denver and lives in Brooklyn. 

    David Cromer/At a glance
    Recent credits include: Man from Nebraska (Second Stage Theater); The Band’s Visit (Atlantic Theater Company); The Effect (Barrow Street Theatre); Come Back, Little Sheba (Huntington Theatre); Angels in America (Kansas City Rep); and Our Town at the Almeida Theatre in London. New York Credits include: Women or Nothing at Atlantic Theater Company, Really Really at MCC, The House of Blue Leaves and Brighton Beach Memoirs on Broadway, When the Rain Stops Falling and Nikolai and the Others at Lincoln Center Theater. Also at the Barrow Street Theatre he has directed Tribes, Our Town, and Orson’s Shadow as well as Adding Machine, which was a BST production at the Minetta Lane. Originally from Chicago, his credits there include Sweet Bird of Youth (The Goodman); A Streetcar Named Desire, Picnic, and The Price (Writers Theatre); Cherrywood, Mojo, and The Hot l Baltimore (Mary-Arrchie); The Cider House Rules (co-directed with Marc Grapey at Famous Door); and Angels in America (The Journeymen); among others. For Michael Ira Cromer (1966-2015). 

  • 2017 Summit goes global while hitting close to home

    by John Moore | Feb 27, 2017

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

    Colorado New Play Summit goes global
    with stories that hit close to home

    The 2017 Colorado New Play Summit went global in its storytelling while also serving as an intimate and heartfelt celebration of departing founder Kent Thompson.

    Thompson resigned as Producing Artistic Director of the DCPA Theatre Company effective March 3, leaving a legacy that includes starting the Summit in 2006 and the Women's Voices Fund, a $1.4 million endowment that supports new plays by women and female creative team members.

    Summit. Kent Thompson. Photo by John Moore“Kent Thompson is such a champion of new plays. He is such a champion of new and different voices,” said Lauren Yee, author of the featured Summit play Manford at the Line, Or The Great Leap. “He always makes sure that the world we live in is reflected on the stage.”

    This year’s expanded Summit featured readings of five plays that spanned in time from 1931 to present day and traveled the world from Brooklyn to Berlin to Beijing to Geneva to Georgia to a suburban Ohio fertility clinic. 

    Every year, two or more readings from the previous Summit go on to become fully staged plays on the DCPA Theatre Company’s mainstage season. This year’s featured productions were Tira Palmquist’s Two Degrees and Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will, which both started as readings from the 2016 Summit. (Story continues below).

    Photo gallery: A look back at the Colorado New Play Summit

    2017 Colorado New Play Summit Photos from the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. To see more, click the forward arrow in the image above. All photos can be downloaded and shared. Just click. Photos by John Moore and Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    The Colorado New Play Summit has grown into one of the nation’s premier showcases of new plays. Under Thompson, the Summit has workshopped 50 new plays, leading to 29 fully produced world premieres as part of the DCPA Theatre Company’s mainstage season. Thompson has commissioned 44 new plays, almost half written by women.

    “I feel like for the past 12 years, I've had a great opportunity tSummit. Last Night. Adams Viscomo present many different windows on the world, from many different peoples' viewpoints,” Thompson said.

    To understand the impact the Summit has had on the development of new works for the American theatre, one need look no further than Skokie Ill., home of the Northlight Theatre. Recently the DCPA learned that Northlight will be fully producing two Summit plays next season: Gunderson's The Book of Will and The Legend of Georgia McBride by Matthew Lopez.

    Kent Thompson's legacy: Giving sound to unheard voices

    The Summit allows for two weeks of development, each culminating in a round of public readings. Playwrights take what they learn from the first public weekend back into rehearsal before a second round of readings for industry professionals.

    Summit. Donnetta Lavinia Grays. John Moore"That second week of work is absolutely unique," said featured playwright Robert Schenkkan (Hanussen). "I don't know any other theatre festival in the United States that does anything like that. And it's a really critical for the writer because so often, you are just beginning to get your arms around it just as you near the end of that first week. You are just beginning to say, 'Now I see what I need to do.' … And then it's over. Well, that's not true here. You get to take the things that you learned at the first reading and really thrash it out and take all of that complexity and nuance and additional richness back into the text, culminating in a second public reading."

    This year’s Summit drew more local audiences and national industry leaders than ever before, with 44 playwrights and 36 theatre organizations attending from at least 16 states. Visitors represented companies ranging from the Public Theatre in New York to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to the Banff Centre in Ontario to the Dorset Theatre Festival in Vermont. Closer to home, guest included the Creede Repertory Theatre, Curious Theatre, The Catmounts, Athena Festival Project, Lake Dillon Theatre Company and others. More than 920 attended at least one reading, with an overall attendance of nearly 2,900.

    Summit stands in thanks to departing Kent Thompson

    The third annual Local Playwrights Slam was held a week earlier, curated by Josh Hartwell from the Colorado chapter of the Dramatists Guild, which exists to protect playwrights and their copywritten material. Readers this year included Curious Theatre founding member Dee Covington, National Theatre Conservatory alum Jeff Carey and Tami Canaday, whose new play Uncle Rooster will be performed in Brooklyn this summer.

    Summit. High School Playwrights. Photo by John Moore. For the fourth year, winners of DCPA Education’s Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition had their plays presented at the Summit. This year a record four writers were showcased, two from Fort Collins.

    The annual late-night Playwrights Slam drew an eclectic group of writers sampling their developing works in a fun and supportive atmosphere. This year’s crowd was treated to Gunderson singing to a ukulele from her new play Storm Still, and Two Degrees actor Robert Montano performing an excerpt from his one-man play Small, which recounts his growing up as a jockey at the famed Belmont race track in New York.

    The five featured Summit readings:

    Click play to see short videos spotlighting all five 2017 Colorado New Play Summit plays.

    • Donnetta Lavinia Grays’ Last Night and the Night Before opens with a Georgia woman on her sister’s doorstep in Brooklyn, with her 10-year-old daughter in tow. The mystery for both the characters and the audience to solve is what trauma took place in Georgia that brought them here.
    • Rogelio Martinez’s Blind Date centers on Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev's first meeting at the Geneva Summit in 1985 to try to open up channels between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
    • In Eric Pfeffinger’s comedy Human Error, a couple goes to what they think is a routine appointment at their fertility clinic only to discover that their fertilized embryo has been mistakenly implanted into another couple. And it turns out they are polar opposites.
    • Robert Schenkkan’s Hanussen is set in 1931 Berlin and introduces us to the brilliant mentalist Erik Jan Hanussen, captivates German audiences with his ability to read minds and his uncanny predictions of the future. His reputation brings him to the attention of avid occultist Adolf Hitler, who does not realize he is a Jew.
    • Lauren Yee’s Manford at the Line, or The Great Leap follows an American college basketball team as it travels to Beijing for a “friendship” game during the politically charged Cultural Revolution in 1989.

    After Albee: America’s 10 leading, living playwriting voices

    Photos, from top: 'Two Degrees' Director Christy Montour-Larson with retiring DCPA Producing Director Kent Thompson; Jasmine Hughes and Veleka J. Holt in 'Last Night and the Night Before'; Playwright Donnetta Lavinia Grays performs in the annual Playwrights Slam; Grace Anolin and Wyatt DeShong perform from 'Dear Boy on the Tree,' part of the Regional High-School Playwriting readings. Below: Student playwrights, from left, Jasmin A. Hernandez-Lozano, Jessica Wood, Parker Bennett and Ryan McCormick. (Photos by John Moore and Adams VisCom). 

    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.

    Selected previous coverage of the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit:
    After Albee: America’s 10 leading, living playwrights
    2017 Summit welcomes dozens for opening rehearsal
    Summit Spotlight: Robert Schenkkan on the dangers of denial
    Summit Spotlight: Lauren Yee lays it all on the free-throw line
    Summit Spotlight: Rogelio Martinez on when world leaders collide
    Summit Spotlight: Donnetta Lavinia Grays on the aftermath of trauma
    Summit Spotlight: Eric Pfeffinger on the fertile comedy of a divided America
    Summit stands in thanks to departing founder Kent Thompson
    Record four student writers to have plays read at Summit
    DCPA completes field of five 2017 Summit playwrights

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Summit. High School Playwriting. John Moore
    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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