• Video: The Denver Center is United in Orange!

    by John Moore | Feb 06, 2016


    Employees of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts make it plain where their loyalties lie when it comes to Sunday's Super Bowl matchup between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. They were videotaped on the set of the DCPA Theatre Company's All The Way - on Opening Night, no less. The background projection is the handiwork of the Denver Center's Topher Blair, Charles MacLeod and Charlie Miller. The DCPA and Phamaly Theatre Company have entered into a friendly wager with the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center and Children's Theatre of Charlotte over the outcome of the game. Read more here.


    This just in: A message from Fun Home on Broadway!


    The cast and crew of Fun Home, the Tony-winning Best Musical of 2015, have a message from Broadway. Fun Home's Tony-nominated Beth Malone is a Castle Rock native and recently starred as Molly Brown in the DCPA Theatre Company's "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." Thank you, Fun Home!

    ​More of our NewsCenter coverage of the Super Bowl:
    Super Bet: DCPA is backing the right horse in the Super Bowl
    Andy Kelso of Kinky Boots: Broadway backs the Broncos

    DCPA United in Orange Go Broncos
    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

  • Emily Tarquin: Disabilities aren't what make Phamaly actors unique

    by NewsCenter Staff | Feb 05, 2016

    Emily Tarquin photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Emily Tarquin photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    By Olivia Jansen
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Passion is certainly not lacking at the Phamaly Theatre Company. The acclaimed company, which makes professional performance opportunities available to actors with disabilities, is passionate about its work, its mission and its message.

    And now Phamaly has a passionate new director – The Denver Center’s own Emily Tarquin. As Artistic Associate for the Theatre Company and Producing Curator for Off-Center, Tarquin has directed many shows, but never anything like Phamaly’s new production of Fuddy Meers, opening Saturday (Feb. 6) at the Aurora Fox.

    For more than 25 years, Phamaly has presented plays and musicals featuring actors with disabilities that span the physical, cognitive and emotional span of the disability spectrum. Tarquin was first introduced to Phamaly shortly after she moved to Denver.

    Trenton Schiondele Quote“I’ve seen a lot of their work over the past seven years, and it’s really awesome,” she said. “Many of their actors work solely with Phamaly, so getting the opportunity to work with them and direct them is cool because I may not have been able to otherwise.”

    Fuddy Meers, a wild comedy written by David Lindsay-Abaire, follows Claire, an amnesiac who wakes up every day as a blank slate. Every morning her husband usually has to remind her who she is, but today is different. A limping, lisping man surprises Claire, claiming to be her brother. He takes her to meet her stroke-impaired mother and introduces her to a strange, secretive man with a puppet. Every twist and turn in Claire's absurd journey brings her closer to discovering her past life and everything she thought she'd forgotten.

    Tarquin said the humor of the play walks a fine line. At its roots, the play is about abuse and disability, so the more you look into the humor, the darker it seems. And that’s what makes it a perfect play for Phamaly to explore.

    Most Phamaly productions shows are staged by a core group of directors, so Tarquin has been a breath of fresh air to cast members who say she has brought a balance of professionalism and love into the creative process.

    “She reached out to us months in advance before rehearsals started,” said Daniel Traylor, who plays Millet. “She’s incredibly passionate about this theatre company and our mission.”

    Read more: Emily Tarquin wins 2015 True West Award

    Actress Jenna Bainbridge, who stars as Claire, was partially paralyzed from a fall at 18 months and walks with a gait. She said directors don’t typically contact actors until rehearsals begin. But Tarquin gathered the Fuddy Meers cast well in advance to start the conversation about mutual expectations and the direction of the play. Traylor, who has hip dysplasia and is hard of hearing, said demonstrating that kind of dedication so early  in the process set a high bar for the show. But Tarquin believes she had nothing to do with that bar.

    “I haven’t worked with them before, but I knew I had a high level of talent to work with,” Tarquin said. “That makes it easy to say, ‘Here’s what we’re going to achieve, because I know we can do it.’ They’re the ones who really set the bar.”

    Based on her time with the actors so far, Tarquin hasn’t found anything different working at Phamaly than any other theatre company. Although the actors at Phamaly have different needs, she believes all actors have a range of needs. So she approached Fuddy Meers as she would any assignment, with her main goal to work with everyone as artists.

    “It’s really not about their disabilities,” she said. “The disabilities are what make them part of Phamaly, and I think that community is really special and important. But in terms of the actual work, it’s about them as artists and the unique qualities they bring.”

    Read more: Phamaly wins 2015 True West Award

    Tarquin, who is very involved with casting DCPA Theatre Company shows, has found it important to encourage Phamaly company members to take their talents to other local theatres. She wants them all to feel comfortable and confident auditioning outside of Phamaly. Many of them have worked at other companies, including the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Miners Alley Playhouse and the DCPA.

    Tarquin has attended many Phamaly shows and later emailed actors to congratulate them and inquire whether they had an interest in auditioning for the DCPA. Leonard Barrett was the Ghost of Christmas Present in the DCPA's 2015 production of A Christmas Carol, and Traylor was a featured performer at last year’s Saturday Night Alive concert fundraiser for DCPA Education.

    Bainbridge, who was nominated for a Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Award for her performance as Hermia in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, credits Phamaly for giving her the skills to audition for entrance into the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music. She also has performed as Cinderella for BDT Stage and recently played Jo in the Aurora Fox’s Little Women.

    Bainbridge said many local companies have been more than accepting and willing to adapt to her physical needs, but that wasn’t always the case. In one show, she was made to spend her entire scene behind a desk so she didn’t have to walk. It seemed to be a game of “show the talent, but hide the disability,” she said. But in Phamaly shows, the actors’ disabilities are incorporated into the characters they play. So if the actor playing Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret has Parkinson’s disease, then so too does Fraulein Schneider - no explanations necessary. That allows the disabled actors to be themselves, while they are playing someone else.

    “There’s definitely no hiding here,” Bainbridge said. “There is that physical freedom of not having to change the way I walk at all. And that’s nice.”

    Cast of Phamaly Theatre Company's 'Fuddy Meers.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.
    Cast of Phamaly Theatre Company's 'Fuddy Meers.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.


    The environment at Phamaly has allowed Trenton Schindele, who has cerebral palsy, to pour all of his energy into his performance as Richard in Fuddy Meers, knowing a wheelchair will be waiting for him when he comes off stage.

    “You want your everything to go into the scene, your character and the story you’re telling,” he said. “There have been many times where I go through all that and my body is just tired, so they have a wheelchair ready for me. There’s just something about Phamaly that brings a kind of freedom and release of fear.”

    Call it a cliché, but Phamaly really is a family. With caustic jokes and stories circulating backstage and in the rehearsal room, it is easy to see how this company has positively influenced so many lives and changed many people's thinking. Traylor thinks one reason for the company’s longstanding success is that Phamaly actors bring something to the stage not all actors can.

    “Being an actor is about looking at the human condition and understanding all the aspects of humanity,” he said. “I think at Phamaly, more than anywhere, there’s just a uniqueness we bring to the stage that you don’t always find in other companies.”

    And that doesn’t necessarily mean disabilities, Schindele added. “It’s because of the things we’ve had to go through as people with disabilities. We go through a lot every single day, which really lets you to tap into different emotions more than other people can.”

    Working with Phamaly has helped Tarquin learn more about herself as an artist. She has loved watching the actors grow into their roles from the beginning moments of getting the show up on its feet – or, in this case, up on its feet and wheels.

    “I think any organization that takes a minority and makes it a majority is a worthy and important cause, especially in the arts,” she said.


    DCPA NewsCenter intern Olivia Jansen is a junior at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, where she is studying multimedia journalism. She is from Johnsburg, Ill. Read her previous profile on DCPA stage manager Rachel Ducat here.



    ​Fuddy Meers: Cast list
    Claire: Jenna Bainbridge
    Richard: Trenton Schindele
    Kenny: Stewart Caswell
    Limping Man: James Sherman
    Gertie: Lucy Roucis
    Millet: Daniel Traylor
    Heidi: Harper Liles

    Lucy Roucis, left, and Jenna Bainbridge in Phamaly Theatre Company's 'Fuddy Meers.' Photo by Michael Ensminger. Lucy Roucis, left, and Jenna Bainbridge in Phamaly Theatre Company's 'Fuddy Meers.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.

    Fuddy Meers: Ticket information
    Presented by Phamaly Theatre Company
    Feb. 6-21 at Aurora Fox Arts Center
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora
    303-739-1970

    ​Feb. 26-28 at Arvada Center for Arts and Humanities
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada
    720-898-7200 Online tickets: Click here

    Note: Phamaly will next present 'Taking Leave,' by former DCPA New Play Director Nagle Jackson, from April 1-17 in the Jones Theatre. Click here for information.


    Cult Following
    : Ticket information
    Presented by Off-Center
    Feb. 12-13 at the Jones Theatre
    Denver Performing Arts Complex
    303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

  • Cast lists: Colorado Shakes bringing Hutton back to Denver

    by John Moore | Feb 04, 2016
    Colorado Shakespeare Festival 2016 Casting
    From left: John Hutton, Carolyn Holding, Steve Maurice Jones and Michael Morgan are among those who are Boulder-bound for the summer of 2016.


    The 2016 Colorado Shakespeare Festival will boast many names that are familiar to local theatre audiences, including many with ties to the DCPA.

    A gender-bending The Comedy of Errors will reunite the primary lovers from the DCPA Theatre Company's recent romantic comedy As You Like ItCarolyn Holding will play Antiphola of Syracuse, and Steve Maurice Jones will play Adriano. The director is DCPA Fight Director Geoffrey Kent, who currently is appearing in All the Way.
     
    In As You Like It, Holding played Rosalind, who dressed as a boy while falling in love with Jones' Orlando. Here, Kent takes the twist one step further by setting Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors in 1930s Paris, with women playing the primary male roles, and vice versa. So the Dromio twins are Dromias and the Antipholus twins are Antipholas.

    The regional premiere of Equivocation will bring longtime DCPA Theatre Company actor John Hutton, last seen in Shadowlands, back to Colorado to play the titular role in Cymbeline, and star in the regional premiere of Bill Cain's Equivocation. Like last year's Wittenberg, Equivocation is a scholarly Bard variation with a fun fictional hypothesis: What if the British government commissioned Shakespeare to write the definitive history of a national crisis, the treasonous Gunpowder Plot, into one of his plays?

    Shag, as Shakespeare is known in this play, will be played by Michael Morgan, who just starred in the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's The Few and will soon join with Diana Dresser (All the Way) as guest artists for Buntport Theater's upcoming new creation, 10 Myths on the Proper Application of Beauty Products (March 4-26).

    Christopher Joel Onken, who just played a savage blue tribesman in the Lone Tree Arts Center's comedy The Explorer's Club, will star as Troilus in Troilus and Cressida.

    Other familiar names in the 2016 CSF company include:
    Returning company members also include Benaiah Anderson (DCPA's Hamlet), Sean Scrutchins (Curious Theatre's 9 Circles) and Sam Sandoe, who will be back for his 27th season this summer.

    Complete cast lists follow. The 2016 season runs June 3-Aug. 7 in Boulder on the campus of the University of Colorado. Play descriptions are provided by the Colorado Shaakespeare Festival. Tickets are currently available by calling 303-492-8008 or going to www.coloradoshakes.org

    Carolyn Holding and Steve Maurice Jones in the DCPA Theatre Company's 2015 'As You Like It.' Photo by Adams Visual Communications.
    Carolyn Holding and Steve Maurice Jones in the DCPA Theatre Company's 2015 'As You Like It.' Photo by Adams Visual Communications.


    THE COMEDY OF ERRORS:
    From the director of CSF’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2013), The Comedy of Errors is Shakespeare’s purest comedy — with a twist. Set in jazzy, sexy 1930s Paris, this new production bends the classic adventure of mistaken identities in a different direction that puts the women in charge ... and the men in their places. Sultry singing, cabaret nightlife, puns and punchlines. In the Mary Rippon Amphitheatre.

    Director: Geoffrey Kent
    Spencer Althoff, Paramour
    Naomi Ambroise, Luce
    Benaiah Anderson, 2nd Merchant
    Alicia Baker, The Parisian Minstrel
    Kristofer Buxton, Ensemble
    Kelsey Didion, Antiphola of Ephesus
    Carolyn Holding, Antiphola of Syracuse
    Steve Maurice Jones, Adriano
    Emelie O'Hara, Dromia of Ephesus
    Paige Olson, Balthasar
    Christopher Joel Onken, Luciano
    Sean Scrutchins, Doctor Pinch/1st Merchant
    Zach Stoltz, Fat Neil
    Howard Swain, Egeon
    Mare Trevathan, Abbess
    Jesse Wardak, Officer/Headsman
    Coleman Zeigen, Duke Solinus

    EQUIVOCATION:
    Reluctant playwright and sleuth “Shag” — aka William Shakespeare — finds himself at the perilous crossroads between artistic integrity and survival when King James I commissions him to rewrite the history of England’s infamous Gunpowder Plot. Under the Orwellian gaze of a security state not far removed from today’s headlines, he must find a way to tell the truth without selling his soul. Indoors.

    Director: Wendy Franz
    Michael Morgan, Shag
    John Hutton, Richard / Garnet
    Rodney Lizcano, Cecil / Nate / Percy
    Hunter Ringsmith, Sharpe / James / Wintour
    Drew Horowitz, Armin / Catesby / Coke
    Elisabeth Collins, Judith

    TROILUS AND CRESSIDA
    God-like heroes, embattled kings, doomed love, and a sinister, snarky clown make Shakespeare’s epic of the Trojan War one of his greatest legends. Like grown-up versions of Romeo and Juliet all too familiar with life’s stark realities, the eponymous lovers face painful choices in this mythic mélange of drama, comedy and history. In the Mary Rippon Amphitheatre.

    Director: Carolyn Howarth
    Spencer Althoff, Patroclus
    Naomi Ambroise, Ensemble
    Benaiah Anderson, Diomedes
    Kristofer Buxton, Ensemble
    Kelsey Didion, Agamemnon
    Lilli Hokama, Aeneas
    Carolyn Holding, Cressida
    Steve Maurice Jones, Hector
    Geoffrey Kent, Achilles
    Jihad Milhem, Paris
    Emelie O'Hara, Cassandra
    Paige Olson, Andromochae
    Christopher Joel Onken, Troilus
    Sam Sandoe, Nestor
    Sean Scrutchins, Thersites
    Zach Stoltz, Ensemble
    Howard Swain, Pandarus
    Mare Trevathan, Ulysses
    Jesse Wardak, Ensemble

    CYMBELINE:
    Cymbeline is a vassal king of the mighty Roman Empire, but Britain herself remains a wild and untamed land in this mythic, idyllic romance. When the king banishes Posthumus—his beautiful daughter’s illicit, low-born husband—Imogen flees into a Welsh forest that still rings with Britain’s legendary past. By turns comic, heroic and harrowing, this tale of gods and villains, lovers and warriors, brings the entire CSF company together onstage. Indoors.

    Director: Jim Helsinger
    Spencer Althoff, 1st Lord
    Naomi Ambroise, Ensemble
    Benaiah Anderson, Guiderius / Servant 1
    Kristofer Buxton, Ensemble
    Elisabeth Collins, Ensemble
    Kelsey Didion, Dr. Cornelius / Tribune 1 (1st Senator)
    Carolyn Holding, Helen (Lady/Attendant)
    Drew Horowitz Frenchman/Tribune 2
    John Hutton, Cymbeline
    Steve Maurice Jones, Posthumous
    Geoffrey Kent, Iachimo
    Rodney Lizcano, Pisanio
    Michael Morgan, Caius Lucius
    Emelie O'Hara, British Soldier/Musician
    Paige Olson, Ensemble
    Christopher Joel Onken, Arvigarus/Servant 2
    Anne Penner, Queen
    Hunter Ringsmith, Servant/Roman Soldier 1
    Sam Sandoe, Sicilius Leonatus/Philario
    Sean Scrutchins, Cloten
    Zach Stoltz Ensemble, Jesse Wardak Ensemble

    HENRY VI, PART 2:
    (An Original Practices presentation)
    TO COME.

    Casting by Sylvia Gregory
  • Video: Building 'The Nest': Bringing a bar to life

    by John Moore | Feb 04, 2016

    Press play to watch the video above.

    Take a fascinating backstage look at how DCPA artisans crafted the 13-foot bar that creates the world of The Nest, Theresa Rebeck’s world premiere play now being presented by the DCPA Theatre Company.

    The Nest BarIn the story, The Nest is a Midwestern bar that is now fading more than 100 years after it was exquisitely crafted, anchored by a huge, ornate, beveled German mirror.

    The play’s bar set was designed by Lisa Orzolek, and DCPA carpenters began building it the week of Thanksgiving.

    Our guests in the video above include Properties Director Robin Lu Payne, Carpenter David Hoth and Props Artisan Katie Webster (pictured above right). They explain how they achieved rounded corners and the impression of intricately carved rosewood and ivory marble inlays.

    When asked why it was important for the DCPA artists to build the bar from scratch, paying such close attention to detail, rather than just putting existing set pieces together, Hoth said, “It’s what we do. It’s what we have done for years.”

    The Nest is a provocative new comedy that introduces a group of diminishing, disparate regulars whose social foundations are shaken when a stranger walks in with a lucrative proposition. It plays though Feb. 21 in the Space Theatre.

    Video by Video Producer David Lenk and Senior Arts Journalist John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Photos of the process:

    Building 'The Nest'Photos by John Moore, Carolyn Michaels and Adams Visual Communications for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more photos, hover over the photo above and click the forward arrow.


    The Nest: Ticket information
  • By Theresa Rebeck
  • Through Feb. 21
  • Space Theatre
  • When you have a seat at the bar called The Nest, no conversation is off-limits, whether you’re speaking or eavesdropping. That is, until a stranger walks in with a lucrative proposition. Pulitzer Prize finalist Theresa Rebeck’s plays “may make you laugh or shudder (or both)” according to American Theatre, and with its feisty humor and scorching dialogue, this explosive new comedy holds a cracked mirror up to friendships, romantic relationships and families.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Nest:

    The Nest flies in face of national gender trends
    Opening night photo coverage
    5 Things We Learned from The Nest ... Like ‘Mansplaining'​
    Theresa Rebeck: Bar plays should be 'humanly reckless'
    Five things we now know about that bar
    Cast list announced
    Theresa Rebeck is not getting angry: She's getting even
    ​American Theatre magazine: The Colorado New Play Summit Is a Developing Story

    Meet the Cast profiles (to date):

    Meet Kevin Berntson
    Meet Brian D. Coats
    Meet Brian Dykstra
    Meet Victoria Mack
    Meet David Mason
    Meet Carly Street
  • The Yellow-Brick Road from Oz to Denver: A timeline

    by NewsCenter Staff | Feb 03, 2016
    Wizard of Oz. Photo by Daniel A. Swalec
    From left: Aaron Fried as Lion, Jay McGill as Tin Man, Morgan Reynolds as Scarecrow and Sarah Lasko as Dorothy in the national touring production of 'The Wizard of Oz.'  Photo by Daniel A. Swalec.


    The Wizard of Oz is one of the most recognizable icons of North American pop culture. It has been interpreted, reinterpreted, parodied, plagiarized and performed across every medium.

    The latest incarnation, by Andrew Lloyd Webber, comes to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts for a week beginning Feb. 7, so we thought it appropriate to follow the long and winding road that takes us from L. Frank Baum’s source book to the present. We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore.

    Wizard of Oz montage1903
    L. Frank Baum writes an original American fairytale — The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

    1908
    Dorothy makes her first appearance on the silver screen in The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays, Baum’s first attempt to create a cinematic version of his Oz books. He goes bankrupt.

    1910
    A silent film based partly on the 1902 stage musical and directed by Otis Turner is released.

    1925

    Another silent film makes its debut and credits L. Frank Baum Jr. as the screenwriter.

    1939
    The MGM classic starring Judy Garland is released.

    1942

    The 1939 film is adapted into a stage musical.

    1902
    The first musical adaptation premieres in Chicago and then moves to Broadway in 1903.

    1975
    The Tony Award-winning The Wiz puts Oz in the context of African-American culture. It is remade as a movie in 1978 starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. A new adaptation is aired live on national
    TV in 2015.

    1976
    Oz is an Australian reimagining of the classic film transferred to hard-rocking 1970s Australia.

    1985
    Return to Oz is Disney’s unofficial sequel to the classic; it incorporates many characters from Baum’s sequels.

    1986
    A full anime adaptation of Baum’s books called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is created featuring 52 episodes.

    1987

    The Wizard of A.I.D.S. is an adaptation used as an educational play about AIDS.

    1987-89
    The 1939 film is adapted for stage again, this time for the Royal Shakespeare Company. It is truer to the screenplay than the adaptation from the 1940s.

    1995
    Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked reimagines the story of the Wicked Witch of the West addressing how she may have gotten to be that way.

    1995
    The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True is a star-studded benefit concert at New York’s Lincoln Center.

    2003
    Maguire’s novel is adapted into the Tony Award-winning Broadway smash hit musical Wicked, which has visited Denver a record five times.

    2005
    The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival.

    2007
    The Sci Fi Channel released a mini-series called The Tin Man — a reimagined science-fiction version of Dorothy’s tale.

    2010
    Scott Stanford’s novel Dorothy: The Darker Side of Oz is a modern retelling of Baum’s original story.

    2011
    Oz — The Wonderful Wizard is a full-length ballet by the Staatsballett Berlin.

    2012
    Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new stage production takes the stage before going on tour — the same tour now visiting Denver.

    2013
    Oz: The Great and Powerful, a film about the Wizard’s arrival in Oz is released starring James Franco.

    2013
    The animated film Dorothy of Oz hits the big screen.

    The Wizard of Oz. The 1939 film starring Judy Garland.
    The 1939 film classic starring Judy Garland.

    THE WIZARD OF OZ • Feb 7 – 13 • Buell Theatre

    ASL interpreted, Audio described & Open Captioned performance: Feb 13, 2pm
    Tickets: 303.893.4100 • denvercenter.org • Groups: 303.446.4829

  • Meet the cast: David Mason of 'The Nest'

    by Olivia Jansen | Feb 03, 2016
    David Mason plays Nick in the DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere play, 'The Nest.' Photo by Adams Visual Communications.

    David Mason plays Nick in the DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere play, 'The Nest.' Photo by Adams Visual Communications.


    MEET DAVID MASON

    Nick in The Nest

    Mason, DavidAt the Theatre Company: Debut. Other regional credits include: Cape Playhouse, Geva Theatre Center, Syracuse Stage, TheatreSquared, Portland Stage, New Century Theatre, The Public Theater, Shadowland Theatre, Foothills Theatre, Summer Theatre at Mt. Holyoke, Majestic Theater, Judson Theatre Co. NYC credits include:  Ensemble Studio Theatre, Civilian Studios, Primary Stages, Present Company Theatorium, NativeAliens, Impact Theatre Festival, Red Fern Theatre, Circle East, Chip Deffaa Invitational. TV: “The Leftovers” (HBO), “House of Cards” (Netflix), “Law & Order: SVU,” “All My Children.”

    • Hometown: New York City
    • Training: University of Massachusetts Amherst
    • Website: www.davidmason.info
    • What was the role that changed your life: Lendall in Almost, Maine. I met my future wife performing in that show, and life has never been the same since.
    • Why are you an actor? Because it's EXTREMELY LUCRATIVE. Just kidding. To learn. To grow. To entertain. It’s the easiest and most challenging job I’ve ever had. Making people laugh, cry or think differently about something or someone within the scope of their own lives is wonderfully rewarding. I also love the smell of backstage, the friendships born out of intense collaboration, the thrill of shared experience and the challenge of always striving to do better.
    • David Mason QuoteWhat would you be doing for a career if you weren’t an actor? Something with computers or technology, because I’m a geek and I hear it’s a real up-and-coming career path.
    • Why does The Nest matter? For one, because it was commissioned by the Denver Center's Women’s Voices Fund, and that is a wonderful thing. Beyond that, Theresa Rebeck has written a play that speaks to current issues of class, gender, equality and friendship within the scope of legacy and holding onto the past at the expense of moving into the future. I think it speaks to people from all walks of life and does it in a way that makes you think, laugh, cry and think some more.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of it? I hope they are entertained and moved to think about it and discuss it and bring it with them long after they leave the theatre.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "... peace, equality and understanding for all. And then a pizza party."


    The Nest:
    Ticket information
  • theresa-rebeckBy Theresa Rebeck (pictured right)
  • Through Feb. 21
  • Space Theatre
  • When you have a seat at the bar called The Nest, no conversation is off-limits, whether you’re speaking or eavesdropping. That is, until a stranger walks in with a lucrative proposition. Pulitzer Prize finalist Theresa Rebeck’s plays “may make you laugh or shudder (or both)” according to American Theatre, and with its feisty humor and scorching dialogue, this explosive new comedy holds a cracked mirror up to friendships, romantic relationships and families.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Nest:

    Photo coverage: Opening Night
    The Nest flies in face of national gender trends
    5 Things We Learned from The Nest ... Like ‘Mansplaining'​
    Theresa Rebeck: Bar plays should be 'humanly reckless'
    Five things we now know about that bar
    Cast list announced
    Theresa Rebeck is not getting angry: She's getting even
    ​American Theatre magazine: The Colorado New Play Summit Is a Developing Story

    Previous 2015-16 'Meet the Cast' profiles:

    Meet Adeoye of Lookingglass Alice and All the Way
    Meet Kevin Berntson of The Nest
    Meet J. Paul Boehmer of As You Like It
    Meet Molly Brennan of Lookingglass Alice
    Meet Courtney Capek of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Brian D. Coats of The Nest
    Meet Tad Cooley of Tribes
    Meet Paul DeBoy of All the Way
    Meet Allen Dorsey of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Kevin Douglas of Lookingglass Alice
    Meet Napoleon M. Douglas of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Brian Dykstra of The Nest
    Meet Isabel Ellison of Tribes
    Meet Kate Finch of Tribes
    Meet Ella Galaty of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Mike Hartman of All the Way
    Meet Ben Heil of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Carolyn Holding of As You Like It
    Meet Drew Horwitz of As You Like It
    Meet Maurice Jones of As You Like It
    Meet Geoffrey Kent of As You Like It and All the Way
    Meet Emily Kron of As You Like It
    Meet Nick LaMedica of As You Like It
    Meet Victoria Mack of The Nest
    Meet Andrew Pastides of Tribes
    Meet Shannan Steele of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Carly Street of The Nest
    Meet Samuel Taylor of Lookingglass Alice
    Meet Lindsey Noel Whiting of Lookingglass Alice
    Meet Jake Williamson  of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Matt Zambrano of As You Like It
  • Perspectives: What we learned about 'All the Way': Johnson gave a dam!

    by John Moore | Feb 02, 2016
    All the Way Perspectives 'All the Way' Perspectives conversation on Jan. 29 at The Jones Theatre, from left: Actor Todd Cerveris (Gov. George Wallace), Scenic Designer Robert Mark Morgan, Voice and Dialect Coach Jack Greenman, Costume Designer David Kay Mickelsen and Director Anthony Powell. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.



    Perspectives
    is a series of free panel conversations moderated by DCPA Theatre Company Literary Manager Douglas Langworthy. They take place from 6 p.m. to 6:45 on the evening of each production's first preview performance. The next Perspectives will be held Feb. 5 (discussing FADE) in the Jones Theatre. No reservations necessary.

    Here’s some of what we learned from Langworthy’s conversation with cast and crew from All the Way, which imagines Lyndon Baines Johnson’s chaotic first year in office following the John F. Kennedy assassination and his sudden ascension to the presidency. His guests were Director Anthony Powell, Actor Todd Cerveris (Gov. George Wallace), Costume Designer David Kay Mickelsen, Voice and Dialect Coach Jack Greenman and Scenic Designer Robert Mark Morgan.

    1 Perspectives Johnson gave a dam. All the Way covers the 11 months between the Kennedy assassination and when LBJ was elected to his own term. It was, in essence, a very public tryout for the job. And during that time, he successfully got the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed. "He would do whatever was necessary to get the job done,” said Powell, “including bullying or cajoling or giving you a dam.” That's DAM. Johnson, indeed, paved the way for Oklahoma’s Eufaula Dam, which was both needed and politically expedient. “Johnson had been head of the Senate for many years, and he was a master of parliamentary rules. And once he was in the presidency, he continued that kind of puppeteering and manipulation while trying to keep his fingerprints off it - which fooled no one.”  

    2 Perspectives It's 1960s Shakespeare! Playwright Robert Schenkkan's work has been equated to Shakespeare's in terms of characters, structure and language. In addition to basic devices such as direct-address monologues that show a character thinking out loud as he comes to critical decisions, the bones of the play were intentionally structured like a Shakespearean history. “All the Way was originally commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and they wanted to tell a modern history in the form of what a Shakespeare history play might be like,” said Greenman. “So you see a lot of characters, and you get a lot of story and a lot of plot, and you have a central character to focus on."

    And Powell says the central character of LBJ is “absolutely” Shakespearean in scope and complexity. “In fact, I saw a documentary on LBJ five years ago and I remember saying, ‘This is the American Lear.’ Because Vietnam came and destroyed everything he set out to do.”


    John Moore's 2009 interview with Colorado native Angela Reed, wife of 'All the Way' actor Todd Cerveris.

    3 Perspectives

    Michael Cerveris, left, and Todd CerverisHe ain't heavy. What does actor Todd Cerveris have in common with Sweeney Todd? Cerveris, who plays Gov. George Wallace and other characters in All the Way, is the brother of two-time Tony Award-winning Broadway actor Michael Cerveris, whose credits include the Demon Barber. Michael won his first Tony in 1993 for The Who’s Tommy, and last year for playing the conflicted father in Fun Home opposite Castle Rock native Beth Malone. Todd Cerveris has appeared on Broadway in South Pacific and Twentieth Century. The brothers are active on social media and are often encouraging each other’s work on Twitter. “The bedeviling thing about my brother is that he's a nice guy,” said Todd. The pair know each other’s strengths, weaknesses and acting tools better than anyone, so they often play the role of coach or professional adviser to one another, Todd said. (Photo above: Michael Cerveris, left, and Todd Cerveris.)

    Todd almost never followed in his big brother’s footsteps. “When I graduated from college, it made the most sense to go into theatre - which is why I didn't,” he said. “I spent about five years doing anything but (theatre). I drove a bike taxi for a while. I taught high-school English. I was a phlebotomist at a health clinic.”

    But Todd has another significant, small-world ally in his theatrical corner. He is married to actor Angela Reed, who graduated from Ponderosa High School and the University of Colorado-Boulder. She is a Colorado Shakespeare Festival alum and starred in the DCPA Theatre Company’s 2006 production of After Ashley. She returned to Denver in 2009, playing all of the adult women in the national touring production of Spring Awakening.

    “We understand each other,” Todd said. “We're good at talking each other off the cliff when either of us has been without a job for a long period of time.”

    All The Way Photo gallery above: Your first look at the DCPA Theatre Company's production of 'All the Way.' To see more photos, click the forward button above. Credit: Adams Visual Communications.)

    4 Perspectives Costume longevity: Costume Designer David Kay Mickelsen (pictured right) has been with the DCPA Theatre Company for 21 seasons. All the Way marks his 56th production, and it is a whopper. There are 20 actors in the cast, and all but three play multiple roles. But when you work with certain recurring actors over time, you develop a shortcut. Mickelsen has been outfitting Sam Gregory, for example, for nearly two decades. Gregory plays 10 characters in All the Way. Fitting an unknown actor for 10 costumes might normally take Mickelsen half a day. He was done with Gregory in 45 minutes. "That includes 10 costumes, wigs and mustaches,” Mickelsen said. “But I have dressed Sam so many times, I know how to fit him. I know how he carries himself. I know what I can hand him that he will turn into something wonderful.” Cerveris said the challenge of playing multiple roles is making each character distinct. It's essential for the audience to follow the story - and costumes are only one tool at their disposal. Others include wigs, dialect, posture and vocal variance. "Sometimes the pieces can be very simple but very profound, like a shock of white hair or a pair of glasses,” Cerveris said.

    5 Perspectives Common cause? In his research, Powell found himself constantly challenging the history he was taught in school. Perhaps most significantly, he found that certain groups you might assume would be in ideological lock-step “were absolutely not,” he said. “Everybody had a different idea about how to affect change in America, and people you thought might be on the same side were often at each others' throats. MLK was thought by some to be outmoded by age 35. The Black Power movement was coming up, and they were going, 'We have no time for you and your nonviolence.' When the Watts riots happened, Dr. King went to L.A. to try to help, and black audiences booed him. He was told he wasn’t wanted there.”


    Photo gallery: The making of All the Way:


    All the Way in Denver Photo gallery above: The making of the DCPA Theatre Company's production of 'All the Way in Denver.' To see more photos, click the forward button above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 



    All the Way
    : Ticket information

  • All the WayJan. 29-Feb. 28 at the Stage Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of All the Way
    Video: Cast reads from Civil Rights Act
    When Robert Schenkkan meets LBJ, sparks fly
    Five ways you don't have to connect the dots 'All the Way' to today
    Art and Artist: Stage Manager Rachel Ducat

    Full casting announced
    Official show page
    DCPA Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16

    Meet the Cast Profiles (to date)
    Meet Paul DeBoy
    Meet Mike Hartman
  • Art and Artist: Rachel Ducat has the mother of all jobs

    by NewsCenter Staff | Feb 02, 2016
    Rachel Jason Ducat. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins
    Rachel and Jason Ducat. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins.


    By Olivia Jansen

    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Stage Manager Rachel Ducat knows a thing or two about being a mom. Not only does she care for her 17-month old twin boys, she considers being “the mom of the room” part of her job description. From the week before rehearsals begins until any given show closes, Ducat has a slew of responsibilities. She acts as the liaison between everyone from the director to actors to costume-makers to marketing to the running crew. She manages the daily rehearsal schedule and she stays up-to-date on all needs concerning costumes, props, the set and more. Once the play moves from the rehearsal room into the actual theatre, Ducat takes a lead role in running the show. And once the show opens and the director departs, the Stage Manager officially takes over all aspects of the production.

    Rachel Jason Ducat. Of course, she has some help. Her assistant on the DCPA Theatre Company’s All the Way, opening Friday, is Matt Campbell. When technical rehearsals begin, Campbell makes sure Ducat’s directions are followed backstage. Ducat also manages an apprentice who helps get anything done that needs being done.

    “I’m their mom during the entire run, and then I close the show,” said Ducat, whose recent assignments have included Theatre Company productions of Tribes, One Night in Miami and Appoggiatura. “I maintain it from top to bottom.”

    Like any job, stage-managing presents challenges. Ducat said learning how to read people is critical, and how to deal with the inevitable conflict that comes with balancing so many personalities and departments. She said she’s learned a lot about herself and how to read situations. Just like being a mom.

    With Monday as her only one day off each week, Ducat misses her family a lot. But she and her husband, Jason Ducat, make it work. Some days Jason, who was a DCPA sound designer for seven years, will bring the twins to the Denver Center so the family can spend time together over dinner breaks. On big shows like All The Way, the company rehearses from noon to 4 p.m., and again from 6-10 p.m. Rachel typically arrives earlier than that, and leaves later than that.

    “I have babies at home, so I miss them,” she said. “I miss the day-to-day of, ‘What did they do today?’ and, ‘What did they eat today?’ They are long days but it’s what we love, so it’s what we do.”

    Parents will tell you their worlds change after having kids. Ducat said she and her husband have made sacrifices, but it’s all for the babies. With two little ones at home, they compromise to make their work schedules fit together. If Rachel is working a show, Jason will turn down jobs so he can be home, and vice versa. Ducat said having children also changes where she chooses to work.

    “I did a few seasons at Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder, but that’s not really feasible anymore,” she said. “It’s a 45-minute drive from my house, and that’s too much time away from my babies.”

    Rachel Ducat quoteBut she considers turning down remote jobs to be a luxury; it means she gets to work close to home and be near her family.

    Ducat personifies many qualities of being a great stage manager, said her boss, DCPA Production Stage Manager Chris Ewing, including her organizational skills and  levelheadedness.

    "She doesn't panic in the midst of crisis or chaos - two things a stage manager has to deal with frequently," Ewing said.

    Theatre has been part of Ducat’s life since she was little. As a singer, she loved musical theatre. As an actor, she enjoyed straight theatre. As an English minor, she liked Shakespeare. But she knew she didn’t want to be a professional actor, so she needed to find her theatrical niche. As a child, she often was cast as the sister, or Friar Tuck, or other random small parts that didn’t interest her. But she loved the production side of theatre. And she has known she is the “mom type” since working as a counselor at a summer camp.

    She decided to study theatre production at the University of Delaware. She graduated in 2001 and has been stage-managing ever since. She worked her first show, Twelfth Night, as an intern at the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival. She says her internships were the best part of her education because she didn’t do much stage management in school. She learned what she knows now from everyone she worked with after graduation.

    Ducat has worked in Cleveland, Chicago, Michigan, Ohio and Connecticut, which she says is part of what she loves about theatre; it can bring you to many new places and allow you to meet many new people. While in Chicago, she worked on blockbuster hits such as Wicked, Jersey Boys and Dirty Dancing.

    Her opportunity to work on Wicked is proof the theatre community can be a very small world. Ducat lived in Chicago for about seven years and worked at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. The show she worked on was geared toward children, so she worked mornings and had nights off. One night, during Wicked’s sit-down in the city, Ducat shadowed her friend, an assistant stage manager on the show. The production stage manager was looking for people who could come in at the last minute to work on the show should anyone on the stage management team call in sick. Ducat jumped at the chance. When she sat down with the production stage manager to go over her resume, they realized they had a mutual job connection – the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival. She got the job.

    “He remembered coming up to the stage with tears in his eyes to tell me my mother was on the phone crying and that my grandmother had passed away,” Ducat recalled. “So it’s a very small world in this business; Matt (Campbell) and I worked at the same theatre in Michigan, but at different times. Then we were both hired here at the DCPA in the same season.”

    Rachel Ducat addresses cast, crew and visitors to the recent opening rehearsal for 'Tribes.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Tribes
    Rachel Ducat addresses cast, crew and visitors to the recent opening rehearsal for 'Tribes.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Theatre also brought Rachel and her husband together. They met at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which has two venues: Rachel interned at one while Jason worked at the other. They would carpool together but never worked side-by-side until they arrived at the Denver Center. Rachel said Jason is not only her husband, but also her best friend.

    What exactly does Jason do as a sound designer? Anything heard at a show, from sound effects to scene-ending transitions, was created by a sound designer. They also might compose music for some shows. The goal is to create feeling at a show. But since Jason wanted to focus more on teaching, which he started doing at Metropolitan State University this semester, he’s taken more freelance jobs at local theatres such as the Curious and Edge theatre companies.

    Couples working together within the Denver Center’s design staff is something of a DCPA peculiarity, Ducat said. With Charles and Jan MacLeod (Lighting Design and Costume Director), and Lisa and Bob Orzolek (Director of Scene Design and Associate Technical Director), Ducat joked there must be something in the Denver Center’s water. But for her, partnering with someone you work with just makes sense.

    “You’re in the theatre for so many hours a day, so where else would you meet people?” she asked. “A lot of times people marry someone where they work because we’re here for so long.”

    The Ducats have made many friends at the Denver Center, and they both have found second working homes at Curious Theatre. They love the weather and the schools, and they see Denver as a great place to raise their boys. But, she said, it’s mostly the people.

    “The Denver Center attracts people who want to stay here for the long run,” she said. “We come and we stay.”


    DCPA NewsCenter intern Olivia Jansen is a junior at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, where she is studying multimedia journalism. She is from Johnsburg, Ill. Read her previous profiles of Denver actors Karen Slack and Paige Price here.

    Rachel Ducat runs a rehearsal at the Colorado Shakespeare Festval's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Rachel Ducat runs a rehearsal at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.



    All the Way: Ticket information

  • All the WayJan. 29-Feb. 28 at the Stage Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of All the Way
    Video: Cast reads from Civil Rights Act
    When Robert Schenkkan meets LBJ, sparks fly
    Five ways you don't have to connect the dots 'All the Way' to today

    Full casting announced
    Official show page
    DCPA Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16

    Previous DCPA 'Art and Artist' profiles:
    Lisa (Director of Scene Design) and Associate Technical Director) Bob Orzolek
    Box office Subscription Manager (and Off-Center host) Micah White
    Costume Crafts Director Kevin Copenhaver
    Stage manager Jennifer Schmitz
    Costume Designer Megan Anderson Doyle
    Graphic Designer Kyle Malone
    Stage Manager Kurt Van Raden
    Teaching Artist Jessica Austgen
    Head of Acting Lawrence Hecht
    Lighting Designer Charles MacLeod
    Director of I.T. Bruce Montgomery
    Stage Manager Lyle Raper
  • Photo gallery: Opening Night of 'The Nest'

    by John Moore | Feb 01, 2016
    The Nest


    From left: Lighting Designer Grant W. S. Yeager, Kevin Berntson, Andrea Syglowski, Brian D. Coats, Carly Street, Playwright Theresa Rebeck, Brian Dykstra, Victoria Mack, Director Adrienne Campbell-Holt, Laura Latreille and David Mason.


    Photos from Opening Night of the DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere play The Nest, written by Theresa Rebeck and directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt. To see more photos, press the "forward" arrow on the photo above.

    The Nest David Mason The cast includes Kevin Berntson, Andrea Syglowski, Brian D. Coats, Carly Street, Brian Dykstra, Victoria Mack, Laura Latreille and David Mason. Guests at the celebration afterward included cast members from upcoming productions of All the Way and FADE.

    The Nest is new play written specifically for the DCPA Theatre Company as part of its new-play development program.

    “This play is about the dream of wanting your life to turn out a certain way, and it hasn't," said Campbell-Holt. “It's about combative people trying to create their own tribe. It's Chekhov meets Cheers meets Long Day's Journey Into Night.”

    Pictured above right: Actor David Mason reviews his notes on the set about an hour before the opening performance. ​

    Video: First look at The Nest:



    The Nest:
    Ticket information
  • theresa-rebeckBy Theresa Rebeck (pictured right)
  • Through Feb. 21
  • Space Theatre
  • When you have a seat at the bar called The Nest, no conversation is off-limits, whether you’re speaking or eavesdropping. That is, until a stranger walks in with a lucrative proposition. Pulitzer Prize finalist Theresa Rebeck’s plays “may make you laugh or shudder (or both)” according to American Theatre, and with its feisty humor and scorching dialogue, this explosive new comedy holds a cracked mirror up to friendships, romantic relationships and families.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Nest:

    The Nest flies in face of national gender trends
    5 Things We Learned from The Nest ... Like ‘Mansplaining'​
    Theresa Rebeck: Bar plays should be 'humanly reckless'
    Five things we now know about that bar
    Cast list announced
    Theresa Rebeck is not getting angry: She's getting even
    ​American Theatre magazine: The Colorado New Play Summit Is a Developing Story

    Meet the Cast profiles (to date):

    Meet Kevin Berntson
    Meet Brian D. Coats
    Meet Brian Dykstra
    Meet Victoria Mack
    Meet Carly Street


    Photos: The Nest production photos:
    The Nest Photos by Adams Visual Communications. To see more, click the "forward" arrow.
  • Video: Ryan Jesse is getting down and Dirty (Dancing) in Colorado return

    by John Moore | Jan 29, 2016

    Ryan Jesse, a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, is back in Colorado through Jan. 31 playing Neil Kellerman in Dirty Dancing  –  The Classic Story On Stage. Based on the hit 1987 film, the musical features the hit songs “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey Baby,” “Do You Love Me?” and Jesse's personal favorite from the show, “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.”

    Jesse made his Broadway debut in 2010 playing Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys.

    Interview by DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story On Stage
    Click the forward arrow to see more production photos by Matthew Murphy.

    Dirty Dancing  —  The Classic Story on Stage

    Through Jan. 31
    Buell Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Groups: 303-446-4829
    ASL interpreted, Audio described and open-captioned performance: 2 p.m. Jan. 30

    Ryan Jesse. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.  Ryan Jesse outside the Buell Theatre. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 
  • 5 Things we learned at 'The Nest' Perspectives ... Like 'Mansplaining'

    by John Moore | Jan 29, 2016


    'The Nest' Perspectives conversation on Jan. 22 at The Jones Theatre, from left: BrIan D. Coats, Director Adrienne Campbell-Holt, Lighting Designer Grant W. S. Yeager and host Douglas Langworthy, Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    A The Nest Perspectives 300Perspectives
    is a series of free panel conversations moderated by DCPA Theatre Company Literary Manager Douglas Langworthy. They take place from 6 p.m. to 6:45 on the evening of each production's first preview performance. The next two Perspectives will be held tonight Jan. 29 (All the Way), and Feb. 5 (FADE) in the Jones Theatre. No reservations necessary.

    Here’s some of what we learned from Langworthy’s conversation with cast and crew of The Nest, Theresa Rebeck’s world-premiere new play written specifically for the DCPA. “This play is about the dream of wanting your life to turn out a certain way, and it hasn't," said Director Adrienne Campbell-Holt. “It's about combative people trying to create their own tribe. It's Chekhov meets Cheers meets Long Day's Journey Into Night.”

    1 PerspectivesThe Nest takes place entirely in a bar. And, perhaps surprisingly, there is not a long tradition of successful plays set primarily in bars. Three that leap to mind are Eugene O'Neill’s The Iceman Cometh (1936), Conor McPherson’s The Weir (1997) and Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile (1993). Iceman is set in Harry Hope's dank skid-row bar in 1912. The Weir plays out in a rural Irish pub and centers on ghost stories. Picasso imagines Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso meeting at a bar in Paris in 1904.

    There are a few others, but not a lot funny ones. And The Nest is funny. DCPA Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson has repeatedly said he thinks the opening scene of The Nest is the funniest he has seen in any new play in years.

    2 PerspectivesThe Nest Carly Stret and Brian Dykstra. Photo by Adams Visual Communications. A bar should make for an irresistible setting for any playwright. Why? It’s a place where people naturally tell stories. A bar offers a writer endless possibilities in characters, but generally bars gather people who have known each other for years and really know how to push each others buttons – without necessarily being blood family. And then there is the booze. “Alcohol tends to fuel the story and the emotional response,” said The Nest actor Brian Dykstra, himself a playwright. People tend to loosen up faster with alcohol.” (Photo above: Carly Street and Brian Dykstra in a scene from 'The Nest.' Credit: Adams Visual Communications.)

    3 PerspectivesWe learned a new word, courtesy of the director: “Mansplain.” It refers to a man explaining "the way things are" to a woman in a manner regarded by the receiver as condescending or patronizing. “There are characters in the play who talk about being sick of listening to guys ‘Mansplain,’ said Campbell-Holt, who proudly identified herself as a feminist. So too, by the way, has Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “I am proud to be a feminist,” Trudeau said this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “The role we have as men in supporting and demanding equality, and demanding a shift, is really, really important.”

    4 PerspectivesIt pays to tell someone your feelings. Nearly 30 years ago, Dykstra and Rebeck were students at Brandeis University in Boston. Rebeck wrote a play that Dykstra saw and liked, but he had to leave as soon as the performance was over. “So I left her a fan letter in the mailbox on the way out,” he said. Nine years later, Dykstra met Rebeck at a party, and she remembered the note. “I guess you don’t forget your first fan letter,” he said. Dykstra has since become one of Rebeck’s go-to actors, having recently played the lead role in her roast of academia called Seminar. Rebeck is now writing a play as a star vehicle for Dykstra to play a chef. It is expected to be staged later this year at the San Francisco Playhouse.

    5 PerspectivesRobert Schenkkan’s Tony-winning best play All the Way follows The Nest with an opening night here at the Denver Center one week from tonight (Feb. 5.) The celebrated play focuses on how LBJ and MLK got the historic Civil Rights Act passed in 1964. And wouldn’t you know: Dykstra just played LBJ in a production of All the Way for the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Asked for his insights, Dykstra compared the task to Sisyphus being forced to roll that immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down. “It’s not told in an episodic way, so people are coming and going so fast that there are times when you don’t know what scene you are in,” Dykstra said with a laugh. He also wished his Denver Center counterpart C David Johnson well because, he said, “I think I had only five minutes where I was not on stage.” 


    Video: First look at The Nest:



    The Nest:
    Ticket information
  • theresa-rebeckBy Theresa Rebeck (pictured right)
  • Jan. 22-Feb. 21
  • Space Theatre
  • When you have a seat at the bar called The Nest, no conversation is off-limits, whether you’re speaking or eavesdropping. That is, until a stranger walks in with a lucrative proposition. Pulitzer Prize finalist Theresa Rebeck’s plays “may make you laugh or shudder (or both)” according to American Theatre, and with its feisty humor and scorching dialogue, this explosive new comedy holds a cracked mirror up to friendships, romantic relationships and families.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Nest:

    The Nest flies in face of national gender trends
    Theresa Rebeck: Bar plays should be 'humanly reckless'
    Five things we now know about that bar
    Cast list announced
    Theresa Rebeck is not getting angry: She's getting even
    ​American Theatre magazine: The Colorado New Play Summit Is a Developing Story

    Meet the Cast profiles (to date):

    Meet Kevin Berntson
    Meet Brian D. Coats
    Meet Brian Dykstra
    Meet Victoria Mack
    Meet Carly Street

    Photos: The Nest in process:
    The Nest

    Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click the "forward" arrow.


    Photos: The Nest production photos:
    The Nest

    Photos by Adams Visual Communications. To see more, click the "forward" arrow.
  • Super Bet: DCPA backing the right horse in Super Bowl 50

    by NewsCenter Staff | Jan 29, 2016



    By Hope Grandon

    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is excited to announce a friendly wager between two Denver theatres and two Charlotte theatres based on the outcome of Super Bowl 50 between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers.

    The "Super Bet" will pit the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and Denver's Phamaly Theatre Company (Team Broncos) vs. Blumenthal Performing Arts and Children’s Theatre of Charlotte (Team Panthers).

    And while Forbes Magazine is estimating that $4.2 billion will be wagered on the game, this challenge comes with real consequences. The Denver Center is putting its loyalty where its art is:

    THE TERMS:

    • Losing city’s theatres must incorporate an element of the opposing team into the set of a future production. (For example: in the highly unlikely event of a Broncos loss, the DCPA Theatre Company will place a framed photo of Cam Newton on the set of its world premiere production of FADE).

    • Staff of losing city’s theatre companies must wear the opposing team’s colors to work on Monday, Feb. 8 and document it on social media.

    • Losing city’s theatres must buy a stuffed version of the opposing team’s mascot and prominently display it at their box offices from Feb. 8-14.


    THE TEAMS:

    About The Denver Center for the Performing Arts

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) is a not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. The DCPA is the largest non-profit theatre organization in the nation, offering more than 40 plays and musicals year-round that engage and inspire audiences of all ages and interests. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is a not-for-profit organization.

    About Blumenthal Performing Arts
    Blumenthal Performing Arts serves the Carolinas as a leading cultural, entertainment and education provider. For more information, call (704) 372-1000 or visit BlumenthalArts.org. Blumenthal Performing Arts receives operating support from the Arts & Science Council and North Carolina Arts Council. Blumenthal Performing Arts is also supported by PNC Bank, sponsor of the PNC Broadway Lights.

    About Phamaly Theatre Company
    Now in its 27th season, Phamaly is an award-winning Colorado based theatre company comprised entirely of performers with a wide variety of physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities. Phamaly’s mission is to inspire people to re-envision disability through professional theatre.

    About Children’s Theatre of Charlotte
    Children’s Theatre of Charlotte was established in 1948 by the Junior League of Charlotte. Sixty-eight years later, it has become one of the top professional theatre companies for young audiences and families. This year, 18 productions will offer approximately 600 performances - more than any other theatre company in the state. Called “the city’s leading professional troupe,” Children’s Theatre of Charlotte has been praised as “the most technically imaginative and resourceful theatre productions in the region.” The powerful productions are matched by an extraordinary range of Education programs. Each year the Theatre enrolls more than 2,300 young people in enrichment classes and summer camps, teaching confidence and self-esteem while encouraging creativity and self-expression. Children’s Theatre also offers programs for every grade of the Charlotte Mecklenburg school system, from residencies that enhance core curriculum using drama techniques, to productions and workshops addressing alcohol and substance abuse prevention. The Theatre is also proud of its Community Involvement Program, which encourages participation among non-traditional audiences in the region. Its home at ImaginOn was created through a partnership of Children’s Theatre of Charlotte and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library which now serves as a national model for integrating literacy, education and the performing arts, and has been named #1 in Libibility.com’s list of the Top 10 Libraries for Children.

    MORE ACTION!
    There are other cultural institutions in both cities that are getting into the betting spirit. The Denver Zoo has agreed to a friendly wager with the North Carolina Zoo and the Western North Carolina Nature Center over Super Bowl 50.  If the Denver Broncos win, the directors of the North Carolina agencies will have to greet their guests at the main entrance holding a sign congratulating Denver on the win. Should Carolina win, Denver CEO Shannon Block will wear Newton’s jersey in the zoo’s main plaza while holding a sign congratulating Carolina.
  • Kaptain Ka-Boom: Paul Stone lived life as if shot out of a cannon

    by John Moore | Jan 28, 2016

    Paul_Stone_ALS_1
    Paul Stone, a k a "The Cannon Guy," was the DCPA Theatre Company's first shop foreman. Photo by John Moore.


    Paul Stone was not an actor, but he certainly knew how to put on a show.

    Stone was a pyro-technician, fireworks aficionado and the original shop foreman for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company. More than 35 years later, he  is still spoken of in reverential tones as the founder of the DCPA’s Power Tool Olympics.

    The what?

    The Power Tool Olympics. You know: Boxing matches with power drills as the pugilists. High-diving competitions with saws making death-defying leaps into pools of water. A toaster triathlon.

    Stone was the rare backstage theatre technician who could steal the spotlight in a snap - while donning a Lilly Pulitzer print. But he never chose acting for his own career, said lifelong friend Adrian Egolf, "because he was too smart for that. There were too many other things he wanted to do with his life."    

    Stone died Monday night in Lansing, Kan., of ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 65. 

    "I cannot imagine another human soul who embodied so much playfulness and silliness," said Egolf, a Creede native, DCPA actor (Benediction) and sidekick in any number of ridiculous Paul Stone productions from the age of 7. "He was a true original."

    Stone worked at theatres across the country as a carpenter and props director before settling in the tiny town of Creede, which is nestled in the San Juan Mountains 250 miles southwest of Denver. 

    Paul Stone Quote
    Photo courtesy John Gary Brown.


    In Creede, Stone is known simply as "The Cannon Guy." Kaptain Ka-Boom. He would amuse himself by firing bowling balls off the mountainside next to the town. He even applied to shoot Hunter S. Thompson's ashes out of a cannon -- and reportedly made it into the top five.

    “He like to blow things up,” said Egolf. “Toilets, turkeys, TVs, flourescent lightbulbs. ... He called it ‘explosion therapy.’ "

    Stone also made perfect ham sandwiches by shooting the tasty luncheon meat through a series of blades he constructed. It was an elaborate cannon accessory that produced sandwiches in a manner David Letterman would have applauded as the stupidest of human tricks.

    "A lot of people think Americans are just a bunch of gun nuts — but a lot of us are into artillery too," Stone said in a 2010 interview with The Denver Post.

    Stone lived his life, friends said, always in danger of growing up. His story, they say, is a lesson in living the life you imagine.

    Each May, when Creede Rep's 70 or so seasonal company members arrive for the summer, Stone would lead them into the Rio Grande National Forest on a cannon-shoot pilgrimage. A typical bowling ball travels a half-mile up in the air and lands about a mile away.

    "People get scared when they hear the sound of cannon fire in town," Stone said. "But I've gotten pretty good at not endangering people's lives."

    The tradition started 25 years ago as a promotion for a now-defunct local bowling alley. People would drop a ball off a cliff, aiming it at a tiny bowling pin placed all the way at the bottom. "It would bounce like God's Superball — we're talking 1,200 feet in the air," said Stone. He built his cannon as a ball return, "because we got tired of carrying them back up the hill."

    Stone called his cannon shenanigans performance art. "It's the best street theater you'll ever see — without the street," he said. "Or the theater."

    His friends chronicled all of their crazy Stone stories in a video documentary by Allie Quiller titled Paul Freakin' Stone: That’s Who.


    The trailer introducing Allie Quiller's documentary, “Paul Freakin' Stone: That’s Who.”


    "Paul is a fixture in Creede and the theatre world in general," said Kate Berry, a former actor with the Creede Repertory Theatre. "He's kind of a technical theatre god. And his life has been pretty incredible."

    That life began Nov. 3, 1950, in Casper, Wyo. He attended high school in Kansas City and attended the University of Kansas, where he once hosted a stand-up show that included him performing open-heart surgery on a Cabbage Patch Doll — with a chainsaw. While washing (and blow-drying) his hair. While doing his taxes (long form, natch). While shooting his foot out of a cannon. 

    Stone first visited Creede after his freshman year of college in 1972. “As with many, he was sucked into the magic of Creede and couldn’t get away,” said actor Christy Brandt, who just completed her 41st season with the Creede Repertory Theatre.

    Stone moved to Creede the next year to be the company’s full-time shop foreman. Although his budding romance with Brandt fizzled, Stone would be the best man in her wedding to John Gary Brown in 1981.

    Stone always wanted to work for the movies, so he left Creede for Los Angeles in 1974. He built sets for a string of Hollywood blockbusters including “Jaws,” “Marathon Man” and “The Towering Inferno.”

    “But I think L.A. was too crazy for him,” Brandt said. “He was crazy enough on his own.”

    Stone worked for some of the nation’s top regional theatre companies, including the Seattle Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Alaska Repertory Theatre.

    He returned to Creede and bought a piece of land for $50. He built his own house out of salvage from two dilapidated houses. The new place included a greenhouse on the first floor. “He put in a drip system and grew tomatoes and marijuana,” Brandt said with a laugh. “He may have been Colorado’s first grower.”

    Stone was widely loved in Creede, in part because he was a handyman and could fix anything in a town where the winter population drops to 500 and the average annual snowfall is 47 inches. Oh, and he was a stripper.

    “It’s true,” Brandt said. “If you were having a bachelor party, you called Paul. He would dress as a woman … or not.” In 2007, Egolf surprised her mother for her birthday by hiring Stone. He came as a fisherman. "I remember fishing waders ... and a very large pole," said Christina Egolf.

    Stone worked in various capacities at the theatre in Creede, including designing scenery and props. At the meet-and-greet each May, Stone would always introduce himself as the company psychiatrist. “If any of you girls have any problems, come to me,” he would say.

    Though Stone never married, “Paul was very successful with the ladies,” Brandt said. He built a hot tub on his property that was affectionately referred to as “The Babe Crock Pot.” "Whenever you wanted to find the most beautiful young women in the company,” Brandt said, “the first place you would check was the Crock Pot.”

    They were drawn, she said, by Stone’s singular sense of humor.

    When asked why a man who loved noise and constant visual stimulation chose to make Creede his home headquarters for more than 40 years, Stone said, “I like the peace and quiet.” (Seriously.)

    In June 2013, Stone was diagnosed with ALS, an insidious, progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. ALS robs patients of voluntary muscle action, leading to paralysis and eventual death. The disease left Stone and his family with more than $100,000 in medical expenses. Using an online fundraising page, friends have paid the tab down to about $56,000.

    Stone rarely spoke about his disease. “When he was diagnosed, all he said was, ‘I am going to get the fastest electric wheelchair ever made,' ” Brandt said. “And he did. I raced him in it.”

    The disease progressively robbed Stone of his ability to walk and talk. “But his sense of humor was the last thing to disappear,” Brandt said.

    Stone was the youngest of five brothers. He is survived by brothers Tim, Ted and Jay, and their mother, Edna Stone. He was preceded in death by brother Mike.

    Stone insisted there be no memorial service, but today (Jan. 28), the town of Creede is observing Paul Stone Day at the Creede Historical Museum, where Stone’s cannon is now on permanent display.

    He has donated his body to scientists for ALS research. After a period of time, his ashes will be returned to his family. “And I am sure he will want his ashes blown out of a cannon,” Brandt said.

    Adrian Egolf said Stone's life was essentially an ongoing, entertaining mashup of vaudeville and burlesque.

    "What I love most about Paul is that he has never apologized for anything he has ever done," she said. And why would he?

    "He never found anything that he did to be strange or out of the ordinary."

    Simply put, Brandt said: "He was one of the wittiest, most entertaining, most imaginative people the world has ever seen."



    Paul Stone riding on motorcycle in Creede's Fourth of July parade, raising money for his annual fireworks display. Photo by John Gary Brown.


    Social media comments:
    Cassaundra Rene Seamster Honeycutt: "The world, and especially Creede, was a better place for having him in it. He was one-of-a-kind, and a kind one to boot."

    Mig Lillig: "If not for Paul, my children would not know that you can fry a pickle; that  trophies can be works of art; that vacuums can suck up just about everything; that fireworks can rise from mountains, or that you can live your life exactly how you want."

    Deb Stavin: "Paul is one of the funniest and most original, creative people I've been lucky to meet in my life. Thanks for the many fabulous, blow-milk-out-my-nose, hilarious moments."

    Paul Stone Creede. Photo by John Gary Brown.
    Paul Stone riding with Scott Lamb in Creede's 2015 Fourth of July parade, above. Below: the final canon shoot at the rifle range near Creede in 2014. Photos by John Gary Brown.


    Paul Stone Creede. Photo by John Gary Brown.

  • February: Colorado Theatre Openings

    by John Moore | Jan 27, 2016
    February Heathers Ignite Theatre
    Ignite Theatre opens the first local staging of "Heathers The Musical" featuring Lindsey Falduto on Feb. 26. A special advance screening of the source movie will be held on Feb. 14 at the Alamo Drafthouse in Littleton to benefit the Denver Actors Fund. Photo by John Moore.


    NOTE: At the start of each month, the DCPA NewsCenter offers an updated list of all upcoming Colorado theatre openings. Companies are encouraged to submit future listings and production photos at least two weeks in advance to jmoore@dcpa.org.

    Check out your more than 60 new and continuing theatregoing options for February, including 23 openings: 


    THIS MONTH'S NEW THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:
    (Submit your listings to jmoore@dcpa.org)

    DCPA February listingsFeb. 4-21: Phamaly Theatre Company's Fuddy Meers
    At the Aurora Fox, 9900 E. Colfax Ave., 303-575-0005 or phamaly’s home page

    Feb. 4-21: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Driving Miss Daisy
    30 W. Dale St, Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Feb. 5-March 13: DCPA Theatre Company's FADE
    Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Feb. 5-March 27: Vintage Theatre Productions' One Man, Two Guvnors
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Feb. 5-27: Equinox Theatre Company’s The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page

    Feb. 6-27: Su Teatro's Ehecatl: Winds of Creation (Third in the El Espiritu Natural Series)
    721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or su teatro’s home page

    Feb. 7-13: The Wizard of Oz
    Buell Theatre. Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org 

    Feb. 11-27: Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s Clarence Darrow
    121 S. Ridge St., 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    Feb. 11-21: Millibo Art Theatre's Dream Carousel
    1626 S. Tejon St. Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, themat.org Feb. 12-13: Off-Center's Cult Following
    Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Feb. 12-27: Upstart Crow's Twelve Angry Jurors
    At the Nomad Theatre, 1410 Quince Ave, Boulder, 303-442-1415 or upstart’s home page



    Feb. 16-28: National touring production of A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
    Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Feb. 18-March 6: TheatreWorks' Satchmo At The Waldorf
    3955 Regent Circle, Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    Feb. 18-28: Thingamajig Theatre Company's How to Eat Like a Child
    Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, 2313 Eagle Drive, 970-731-7469 or pagosacenter.org

    Feb. 19-March 20: Town Hall Arts Center's The Man Who Came to Dinner
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    ​Feb. 19-28: Longmont Theatre Company's Boeing Boeing
    513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    Feb. 19-March 6: Evergreen Chorale's Guys and Dolls
    27608 Fireweed Dr., 303-674-4002, evergreenchorale.org 

    Feb. 20-March 19: Firehouse Theatre's The Champagne Charlie Stakes
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. 1st Place, 303-562-3232 or firehousetheatercompany.com

    Feb. 26-March 20: Ignite Theatre's Heathers: The Musical
    At the Aurora Fox, 9900 E. Colfax Ave., 720-362-2697 or ignitetheatre.com

    Feb. 26-March 27: Theatre Esprit Asia's Yohen
    At ACAD Gallery, 1400 Dallas St., Aurora, 720-492-9479, or www.theatre-esprit-asia.org

    Feb. 26-28: Phamaly Theatre Company's Fuddy Meers
    At the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 303-575-0005 or phamaly’s home page

    Feb. 26-March 20: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ideation
    Feb. 28, March 17-20 at Boulder Chamber of Commerce, 2440 Pearl St.
    March 3-13 at MobileDay, 2040 14th St.
    303-351-2382 or boulderensembletheatre.org 

    Feb. 26-March 19: Openstage Theatre Company's The North Plan
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    Feb. 26-March 12: Thunder River Theatre Company's Rashomon
    67 Promenade, Carbondale, 970-963-8200 or thunderrivertheatre.com

    Feb. 26-March 12: Coal Creek Community Theatre's Escanaba In Da Moonlight
    Louisville Center for the Arts, 801 Grant St., 303-665-0955 or cctlouisville.org

    Wizard of Oz

    Photo by Daniel A. Swalec.


    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:

    Through Jan. 30: Funky Little Theatre's Italy
    2109 Templeton Gap Road, Colorado Springs, funkylittletheater.org

    Through Jan. 31: Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story On Stage
    Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org 

    Through Jan. 31: Inspire Creative and Parker Arts’ Mary Poppins
    At the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Avenue, Parker, inspirecreative.org

    Through Jan 31: Millibo Art Theatre’s Echo
    1626 S. Tejon St. Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321 or www.themat.org/echo

    Through Jan. 31: Theater Company of Lafayette's The Gin Game
    Mary Miller Theater, 300 E. Simpson St., 800-838-3006 or tclstage.org

    Through Jan. 31: Thingamajig Theatre Company's Moon Over Buffalo
    Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, 2313 Eagle Drive, 970-731-7469 or pagosacenter.org

    Through Feb. 6: Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s Murderers
    121 S. Ridge St., 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    Through Feb. 6: Openstage Theatre Company's Outside Mullingar
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    Through Feb. 6: Spotlight Theatre’s The Big Bang
    At the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    Through Feb. 7: Town Hall Arts Center’s Violet
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    Through Feb. 7: Vera Rubin: Bringing the Dark to Light
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or betc.org 

    Through Feb. 7: Springs Ensemble Theatre’s The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence
    1903 E. Cache La Poudre St., Colorado Springs, 719-357-3080 or springsensembletheatre.org

    Through Feb. 13: Lone Tree Arts Center's Reunion ‘85
    10075 Commons St., just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue, 720-509-1000 or .lonetreeartscenter.org

    Through Feb. 14: The Edge Theatre Company's Medea
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com

    Through Feb. 14: StageDoor Theatre’s Calendar Girls
    27357 Conifer Road, Conifer, 303-886-2819 or stagedoortheatre.org

    Through Feb. 14: Aurora Fox’s The Arabian Nights
    Studio Theatre, 9900 E. Colfax Ave., 303-739-1970 or aurorafoxartscenter.org

    Through Feb. 20: Curious Theatre’s Sex with Strangers
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org

    Through Feb. 21: DCPA Theatre Company’s The Nest
    Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Through Feb. 21: Denver Center Cabaret's Murder For Two
    Garner Galleria Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Through Feb. 21: Arvada Center’s Mrs. Mannerly
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Through Feb. 21: Progressive Theatre’s Oleanna
    *Jan. 31 at the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, benefiting Spotlight Theatre
    *Feb. 6 at Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora
    *Feb. 20-21 at the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, benefiting Firehouse Theatre

    The Normal HeartThrough Feb. 21, 2016: Vintage Theatre’s The Normal Heart
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Through Feb. 27: BDT Stage's The Addams Family
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Through Feb. 27: The Avenue’s Tell Me on a Sunday
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com

    Through Feb 28: DCPA Theatre Company’s All The Way
    Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Through March 4: Midtown Arts Center's I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Through Feb. 28: Bas Bleu Theatre’s Hide Sky
    401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org

    4000 Miles Miners Alley PlayhouseThrough March 5: Miners Alley Playhouse’s 4000 Miles
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Through March 6: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s Hello, Dolly!
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970) 744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Through March 25, 2015: Midtown Arts Center's Ring of Fire
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Photos above:
    The Normal Heart by Christine Fisk for DenverMind Media
    4000 Miles by Cody Schuyler

    ONGOING, MONTHLY or ONE-TIME PROGRAMMING:

    5TH WALL PRODUCTIONS
    Feb. 5: Art for Art + Improv Extravaganza
    At Three Leaches Theater, 985 Santa Fe Dr.
    Feb. 27 and March 5: The Soul of Wit 3: Sex, Religion and Politics
    At Crossroads Theater, 2590 Washington St.
    5th-wall-productions.ticketleap.com/sex-religion-politics

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

    BUNTPORT THEATRE
    Feb. 16: The Great Debate: Arguing dumb topics
    Feb. 17: The Narrators: True stories centered on a monthly theme
    Feb. 26: untitled (at the Denver Art Museum)
    Feb. 27: Duck Duck ... DUPE (all ages family theatre)
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.org

    DENVER ACTORS FUND
    Feb 14: Screening of Heathers (the film)
    Entertainment by Ignite Theatre; appearance by film Director Michael Lehhmann
    Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 7301 S Santa Fe Drive, Littleton, drafthouse.com

    LANNIE’S CLOCKTOWER CABARET
    Feb. 8: Ebner/Page Presents All We Need is Love
    D&F Clock Tower, 16th and Arapahoe streets, 303-293-0075 or lannies.com

    LAKEWOOD CULTURAL CENTER
    Feb. 6: Broadway's Next H!t Musical
    470 S. Allison Parkway, 303-987-7845 or Lakewood.org

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

    STORIES ON STAGE
    Feb. 21: True Story, featuring Kevin Kling
    At the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org

    SU TEATRO
    Feb. 13: Dia de San Valentin
    721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or su teatro’s home page

  • When Robert Schenkkan meets LBJ, sparks fly

    by NewsCenter Staff | Jan 25, 2016
    All the Way
    Robert Schenkkan: 'Lyndon Johnson's motives, particularly when it came to civil rights, were genuine and selfless.' But in 'All the Way,' the audience sees Johnson use the same tactics simply to get elected. "We begin to feel queasy about it," Schenkkan says. "He’s playing on the cutting edge of the moral quandary."


    By Sylvie Drake

    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Robert Schenkkan is no shrinking violet.

    When he accepted the Best Play award for All the Way at the 2014 Tony Awards, he had no hesitation reminding the American Theatre Wing that it had taken its time coming across with a Tony for his work.

    Robert Schenkkan. It was 1994 when Schenkkan’s The Kentucky Cycle, a sprawling two-part, six-hour epic consisting of nine short plays, won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Drama — the first time in the history of the Pulitzers that a play that had not first been presented in New York City was selected for the award.

    The Kentucky Cycle covered two centuries in its unvarnished look at the brutal history behind our American mythology. But while it was nominated for a Best Play Tony, it did not win.

    More than 20 years later, Schenkkan (pictured at right) again dipped into American history for inspiration. All the Way is a fictional construct of Lyndon Johnson’s chaotic first year in office following the Kennedy assassination and his sudden ascension to the presidency. We find him facing the growing ramifications of the Vietnam War, embarking on some complex political maneuvering for passage of his civil rights bill, while also working to win election to his first full term in office.

    Commissioned by and first produced at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the play became OSF’s first sortie on Broadway. That this 20-actor historic drama won the Tony was a surprise. That it quickly recouped its initial investment, breaking box office records for selling more dollars-worth of tickets for a straight play in Broadway history, is astonishing.

    Schenkkan was interviewed while in Los Angeles for the HBO filming of his adaptation of All the Way. Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad,” Trumbo), who scored a Tony award for his Broadway performance as LBJ, is again starring. Release is expected in May.

    Robert Schenkkan Quote

    Sylvie Drake: Judging by your output, American politics and history attract you. Why?

    Robert Schenkkan: I can’t point to a single exciting event that sparked this interest, but I grew up in the South, where history and the past are very present, in a household with parents who were politically active, interested in the life of the mind, and who both read extensively. As a consequence I did as well and, for whatever reason, I’ve always found history provocative and deeply pleasurable.

    Sylvie Drake: Oregon Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Bill Rauch has said “our country is a never-ending series of changes.” Is that part of the attraction?

    Robert Schenkkan: I have a personal connection to history. My family’s history affected me long before I understood why, and the understanding of what had happened made clear the feelings that I had, that history isn’t there as a part of the past, that it continues to resonate, to affect us. We have a very odd relationship to it in this country. We’ve had this enormous energy moving forward in a herky-jerky kind of way and, simultaneously, a fierce resistance to that motion—and a lot of people, it seems to me, pay a lot of attention to our history.

    Robert Schenkkan: History at present is a battleground between liberals and conservatives. It’s very much a question of who gets to tell the story. The story has become increasingly politicized and the winner determines what history is. But I do feel that [history] has been more consciously politicized in this country. Look at the causes of the Civil War. There are textbooks out there — textbooks — that mention slavery almost in passing. And there are many, many people who resent the notion that the Civil War was about slavery. Certainly not from their family’s point of view. This simply isn’t true. There is no question about this. When I wrote The Kentucky Cycle, one of the things I touched on was the notion, in terms of western expansion, its psychological motor, that the past didn’t matter. You could leave it behind.  You could start over. Re-invent yourself. And part of the point of themes I was working on was how both liberating and energizing that concept is—and how damaging.

    Sylvie Drake: Still true?

    Robert Schenkkan: Yes. But we’re at a point in our history and socially, in terms of class, where opportunities for that are much less true. There’s much less upward mobility now. At the turn of the century, wealth was amassed by a very small group of individuals and we are now again in a place where we are seeing a consolidation of wealth and power in such a small number of people that the middle class is stagnating at best. Opportunities are fewer. We badly need to turn our ship around. Badly. The most optimistic view is we’re in that process, but it’s hard to tell sometimes.

    Sylvie Drake: What exactly drew you to LBJ and civil rights?

    Robert Schenkkan: Well, I grew up in Austin, Texas, part of the hill country, which was Johnson’s turf. My father knew Johnson in a limited but critical way. My father was a pioneer in public television and radio, hired by the University of Texas to create and manage the first public TV and radio station, not just in Texas but in the Southwest. Job one was to go to then-Senator Johnson and get his donation, because said station would compete directly with Johnson’s media empire. Johnson went on to sign into law the bill that created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. So he was on my radar. My family initially saw him as a very good man. I remember the ’64 election—the first election that I do remember. Two years later, with troop levels in Vietnam suddenly up from 25,000 to 275,000 and my oldest brother nearing draft age, I had a very different feeling about him. He was a complicated guy.

    Sylvie Drake: How much time did you spend on actual events to get the story right, and how much on setting them aside, so you could write a play? 

    Robert Schenkkan: The research was ongoing. There was so much material to sort out, I never really stopped. I worked on All the Way commissioned by Oregon — and my other LBJ play, The Great Society, commissioned by Seattle Rep — on and off for seven years, getting plenty of dramaturgical support, readings and workshops, from each theatre. I would meet people who then introduced me to other people… There was so much material that it became about what’s the story? What can I really use? How do I tell this…? I was mindful of my audience, too.

    Sylvie Drake: How do you feel about actors who are not lookalikes playing political figures whose physical features are so familiar to us?

    Robert Schenkkan: I’ve always resisted this notion of, oh, everybody has to look exactly like the character they’re playing. It’s a trap. It treats the experience more like docudrama or a History Channel piece. It’s not; it’s a play, a carefully selected and translated theatrical vision of history, that I have taken over. Not everything happens on stage exactly the way it happened in life.

    Sylvie Drake: But doesn’t it then demand an extra suspension of disbelief?

    Robert Schenkkan: Oh, yes. Here’s a classic example. In every production, I’ve been emphatic that the actors not go to YouTube to immerse themselves or try to capture that actual image. This was especially true for LBJ because, frankly, we all know LBJ was a terrible public speaker. Boring. He was not like that in real life, ordinary life. Everyone who knew him described him as an incredibly charismatic, wildly entertaining individual. At a party he was funny and profane. But the public speaking thing was due to his sense of inadequacy, his upbringing. He didn’t go to Harvard like Jack Kennedy, so when he became president, he developed a speaking style that he thought was presidential. It drove his family crazy. I told the actors don’t pay any attention. That’s not the LBJ we want. So that’s just one example of how unimportant, and actually antithetical, it was to me that the actors look like the character. We gave them accents, dressed them in period clothes, as we remember them. These were improvements in terms of helping the audience deal with regional differences. But no one was going to imitate anyone.

    Sylvie Drake: Is that also true of the HBO film?

    Robert Schenkkan: We cast that much closer to look than I did on stage, but at no sacrifice to quality. The film, which is being produced under the Amblin banner, is scheduled to air sometime in May after a 43-day shoot. Quite a lot of days for an event like this. It has a generous budget by HBO standards, as expensive as anything they’ve made. I’m an executive producer, along with Bryan [Cranston] and Steven Spielberg. In this situation, I have as much creative control as any writer could have.  But while this development is splendid, my roots are on stage, especially at Seattle Rep and Oregon.

    Sylvie Drake: Political plays have many pitfalls, yet you’ve avoided them well. How?

    Robert Schenkkan: If it’s true, it’s because I focus on the human story. Politics is based in human struggle. I’m interested — and in All the Way in particular — in what it takes to make progress, to get something done, even something I consider to be arguably a good thing. It comes at a price. People don’t understand that and they need to. Politics is compromise. And politics cannot be “sausage-making,” as Bismarck called it. I find that struggle interesting in people who intend to do good, yet must question their means.


    Neil Berg and Robert Schenkkan. Photo by John Moore.
    Robert Schenkkan was in Denver last year developing the DCPA's world premiere of his new rock musical, 'The 12,' with co-writer Neil Berg, left. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Sylvie Drake: And motives?

    Robert Schenkkan: Not motives necessarily. Lyndon Johnson is a good example in this regard. His motives, particularly when it came to civil rights, were genuine and selfless. [Passing that act] was not necessarily the right liberal thing to do in 1964. It could have gone very badly. The means employed were not always pleasant. Not very clean. As the play progresses into Act Two, the focus increasingly becomes the election, and the audience is treated to the sight of Johnson using the same tactics he used to pass civil rights — for which we mostly cheer him — now simply to get elected. We begin to feel queasy about it. He’s playing on the cutting edge of the moral quandary. I find that fascinating.

    Sylvie Drake: Plans for your other LBJ play, The Great Society…?

    Robert Schenkkan: We expect to bring it into New York some time in 2016. The money’s in place. It’s my All the Way producers. It’s a question of finding a star. You can’t get a theatre without one, and Bryan’s not interested in returning to Broadway.



    'All the Way' cast members read from the Civil Rights Act of 1964. ​


    A FEW ADDITIONAL WORDS FROM DIRECTOR ANTHONY POWELL:

    Sylvie Drake: How do you approach a play that is so rooted in real political events? 

    Anthony Powell: It's a variation on that old joke about "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" Research, research, research! Robert Schenkkan's wonderful play packs so much historical fact into every single page , that it's been important for every member of the production team to really get in there and pore over the historical record in order to gather clues that have informed our decisions about the casting and design of the piece.

    Sylvie Drake: What do you focus on mostly: character or fact?


    Anthony Powell: Robert Schenkkan has done an amazing job of making each and every role in the script—even some of the smaller ones — such real-seeming flesh and blood characters, that the reader is immediately drawn to them as individuals. My primary job on this production will be to tell the story and lay out the facts in the cleanest, clearest way possible, but I imagine that a lot of the joy will be in getting to know all of these astonishing characters and watching them interact with one another. 

    Sylvie Drake: Is it potentially harder than directing actors in a play with purely fictional characters?

    Anthony Powell: There may be a desire on the part of our cast to honor these amazing historical figures by striving for accuracy, by trying to do imitations of them, which I think could be dangerous. We certainly didn't worry about definite physical resemblances to actual persons during the casting process. I was much more interested in the qualities of the actors themselves, and what each of them might bring to the telling of the story. I've been imagining this process as being more about cast members utilizing certain elements they grab from the true-life characters they'll be playing and then allowing their own actorly instincts to run free.

    Sylvie Drake: What are some of the differences?

    Anthony Powell: This will be my very first experience directing a historical drama, so you'll have to ask me that question again in a couple of months.

    Sylvie Drake was Director of Media Relations and Publications for The Denver Center for the Performing Arts, 1994-2014. She is a former theatre critic and columnist for the Los Angeles Times and a regular contributor to culturalweekly.com. 


    All the Way: Ticket information

  • All the WayJan. 29-Feb. 28 at the Stage Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of All the Way
    Video: Cast reads from Civil Rights Act
    Five ways you don't have to connect the dots 'All the Way' to today

    Full casting announced
    Official show page
    DCPA Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16

    Meet the Cast Profiles (to date)
    Meet Paul DeBoy
    Meet Mike Hartman
  • Meet the cast: Mike Hartman of 'All the Way'

    by John Moore | Jan 25, 2016
    Mike Hartman Benediction, Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.Mike Hartman last year completed the 'Plainsong Trilogy' of plays written by Eric Schmiedl from the books by Kent Haruf with 'Benediction.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.


    MEET MIKE HARTMAN
    Rep. Howard “Judge” Smith, Sen. Everett Dirkesen and Gov. Carl Sanders in All the Way

    Mike HartmanAt the DCPA Theatre Company: 17 seasons, including Benediction, Death of a Salesman, Other Desert Cities, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Great Wall Story, To Kill A Mockingbird, Superior Donuts, The Catch, Eventide, A Raisin in the Sun, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Richard III, Glengarry Glen Ross, Plainsong, You Can’t Take It With You, A Christmas Carol, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, King Lear, Season’s Greetings, All My Sons, Dirty Story, The Grapes of Wrath. Broadway: The Grapes of Wrath, The Kentucky Cycle, Sherlock Holmes. Other Theatres: cowboyily (Creede Rep), The People’s Temple (Guthrie), Cleveland Play House ( eight seasons), Cincinnati Playhouse, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Center Stage, Kennedy Center, Geva Playhouse, Virginia Stage.

    • Mike Hartman quoteHometown: Dayton, Ohio, but I've lived in New York since 1975 and spent much of the past 17 years in Denver.
    • Training: Otterbein University
    • What was the role that changed your life: I played four roles, including one of the Narrators, in Steppenwolf Theatre's production of The Grapes of Wrath. The production won the Tony Award for best play. I got the part from an Equity open call. I was one of  600 actors who auditioned. That made me realize I had to do everything I could on  my end, and then let it go.
    • Why are you an actor? I became an actor after studying for the ministry. I started having more religious experiences in the theatre than in the church. Also: There were a lot of pretty girls.
    • What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t an actor? I would be a forest ranger. I love the woods and nature. We have a place in the Catskills that I wander in the woods with my dog, Jack the wonder dog. 
    • Jimmy StewartIdeal scene partner: Jimmy Stewart. He's my favorite.
    • Why does All the Way matter? Because we know so little about history and how things happen to be the way they are.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of it? All the Way is an historical perspective of the lives of LBJ and MLK, the men. We are not perfect. We do the best we can. This is a play about ideals.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "... for all of us to be able to look at people with love in our hearts and see them for who they are. Not black, white, women, men, different religions, gay or straight. But humans struggling to survive. ... I also want another Baltimore Orioles World Series championship before I die." 

    All The Way: Ticket information
  • By Robert Schenkkan
  • Jan. 29-Feb. 28
  • Stage Theatre
  • Called a “jaw-dropping political drama” by Variety, this 2014 Best Play Tony-winner vividly portrays the groundbreaking steps taken by President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr. – to pass the Civil Rights Act.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


    Here's a 'Meet the cast' video we did with Mike Hartman when he was appearing in 'Death of a Salesman.'


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of All the Way
    Video: Cast reads from Civil Rights Act
    Five ways you don't have to connect the dots 'All the Way' to today
    Full casting announced
    Official show page
    DCPA Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16

    Previous 2015-16 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Meet Adeoye of Lookingglass Alice and All the Way
    Meet Kevin Berntson of The Nest
    Meet J. Paul Boehmer of As You Like It
    Meet Molly Brennan of Lookingglass Alice
    Meet Courtney Capek of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Brian D. Coats of The Nest
    Meet Tad Cooley of Tribes
    Meet Paul DeBoy of All the Way
    Meet Allen Dorsey of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Kevin Douglas of Lookingglass Alice
    Meet Napoleon M. Douglas of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Brian Dykstra of The Nest
    Meet Isabel Ellison of Tribes
    Meet Kate Finch of Tribes
    Meet Ella Galaty of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Ben Heil of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Carolyn Holding of As You Like It
    Meet Drew Horwitz of As You Like It
    Meet Maurice Jones of As You Like It
    Meet Geoffrey Kent of As You Like It and All the Way
    Meet Emily Kron of As You Like It
    Meet Nick LaMedica of As You Like It
    Meet Andrew Pastides of Tribes
    Meet Shannan Steele of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Carly Street of The Nest
    Meet Samuel Taylor of Lookingglass Alice
    Meet Lindsey Noel Whiting of Lookingglass Alice
    Meet Jake Williamson  of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Matt Zambrano of As You Like It

  • Jonathan Parker: A voice of tolerance in an intolerant age

    by John Moore | Jan 22, 2016

    Jonathan Parker
    Jonathan J.P. Parker. Courtesy Parker family.


    Growing up in an interracial family in segregated Denver in 1958, it was not uncommon for the Parker family to be followed by police while driving in the family station wagon.

    “We would ask my Daddy, ‘Why is Mr. Charlie always following us?” said international dance legend Cleo Parker Robinson. “And Daddy would tell us, ‘See how lucky you kids are to get a police escort? It’s because we are just as important as the president of the United States!’

    “He was always taking the edge off situations that might otherwise make us very angry or resentful,” said Robinson. “He was always working on our hearts.”

    Parker’s father was Jonathan "J.P." Parker, a pioneering Denver actor at the old Bonfils Theatre, professor at Colorado Women’s College and longtime facilities manager at the University of Denver's Newman Center. He died Dec. 19 at the Collier Hospice Center in Wheat Ridge. He was 87.

    “We called him The Chief,” Robinson said. “He was committed to passion and compassion.”

    A celebration of Parker's life will be held at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 1 at the University of Denver’s Newman Center, 2344 E. Iliff Ave.

    Cleo Parker Robinson grew up to be the founder, executive artistic director and choreographer of the now 40-year-old Denver institution known as Cleo Parker Robinson Dance. She will incorporate a dance tribute to her father on Saturday, Jan.  23, at the International Association of Blacks in Dance Founders Showcase she is hosting from 8-10 p.m. at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

    A Jonathan Parker 600 1

    Jonathan Parker was born Jan. 20, 1928, on a family farm in Texarkana, Ark. Not wanting to pick cotton, he migrated to Denver on his own at age 15. He developed abilities in music and sports at Manual High School and intended to become a doctor. His role model, Robinson said, was the actor Paul Robeson. “He wanted to be all-state in football, basketball - and singing,” she said.

    Parker met his wife, Martha Mae Roberts, through music. She was an apprentice playing the French Horn for the San Diego Symphony, which was visiting the University of Denver, where Parker was a student trying to get into pre-med. They met in the band room and, Robinson said, “she fell in love at first sight.”

    The couple were married in 1956, “but they had to go to five states before they could find someone to do it,” Robinson said. Interracial marriage would not become legal in Colorado until 1957, and in the United States as a whole until 1967. Martha was disowned by her parents for marrying an African-American.

    Jonathan Parker QuoteMartha was completely naïve to racism when she met Parker, Robinson said. But eventually she became an activist after witnessing first-hand so much discrimination against her husband and four children, including an inability to convince anyone to sell the couple a house. The Parkers instead moved into the second floor of the landmark Rossonian Hotel in Five Points, where the black community gathered because of discrimination throughout the rest of the city. But encounters with greats such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday and Nat King Cole were common. Still, in a reversal of discriminatory norms, Martha was made to enter the Rossonian through the back entrance. Once the Parkers got a house, a cross was burned on the lawn.

    At age 10, Robinson almost died when her kidneys shut down and a segregated Dallas hospital did not admit her quickly enough to prevent heart failure. The Parker children were often taunted for their mixed heritage. At one point, a white woman attacked Robinson with a broken bottle.

    But through it all, she said, her father “carried the peaceful principles of Dr. Martin Luther King in his soul.” She said her parents “were both real about their love of people and music and each other.”

    Writing in the journal African American Voice, Dr. Sharon Albert-Honoré said compassion and charity were more than just empty ideological concepts for Parker.

    “As an expression of his lessons for tolerance, the family developed strong ties with a neighbor, Winston, who was homosexual,” Albert-Honoré wrote. “Winston, who happened to be white, was harassed with hate crimes, and eventually was viciously murdered. In the midst of mourning the horrific death of his beloved family friend, J.P. served as a pillar of strength to his family and encouraged his children to use love, compassion and tolerance when confronted with ignorance, envy and hate.”

    Parker applied for a janitorial job at the Bonfils Theatre in 1956 to help pay for his studies. And he almost didn’t get it.

    “Daddy was very proud, but he had just started a family, and he needed a job,” said Robinson. “So he didn’t care what he did.”

    Days before the first show was to open after the arrival of the late, legendary producer Henry Lowenstein at the Bonfils Theatre, the building's custodian was found dead after having had a heart attack. With a new show opening, a replacement was needed immediately.

    Jonathan ParkerIn walked Parker. "He obviously had talents that went way beyond being a maintenance man,” Lowenstein said in a 2009 interview. “I was going to hire him, but then I found out that people there were aghast. They said, 'We can't hire a BLACK person. What are you thinking?' "

    When Lowenstein heard the complaint, he said, "I am going to call (owner) Helen Bonfils, because this kind of thing is crap. I said to everyone, 'The doors are going to be open to everybody here, and everybody is going to be welcome.’ So I called Helen up. She said, 'Of course you will hire him.’ ”  

    Before long, Parker was helping out backstage, and eventually Lowenstein cast him in the role of a clown, making Parker the first black actor at was then Denver’s most prestigious theatre. But no one in the audience ever knew it. As the clown, Parker was covered in white face.

    “Even though they never intended to hire a person of color in the first place, Daddy was never bitter about it,” Robinson said. “In fact, I think that is part of the reason he became such a great actor. Internally, he may have been crying, but theatre allows us to put on a mask where we can hide our true selves.”

    Robinson called Lowenstein’s decision to hire Parker a powerful and courageous one. “Daddy understood the concept of systemized racism,” Robinson said. “As far as he was concerned, Henry wasn’t white, and he wasn’t black. So I asked Daddy, ‘Well then - what is he?’ And Daddy said, ‘He’s Jewish!’ ”

    Tom and Cleo Parker Robinson with Jonathan ParkerEventually, Parker was given larger roles over the next decade at the Bonfils Theatre. He was cast to play a butler with no speaking lines, but Robinson said Parker drew laughs and applause just carrying a tray across the stage. The progression culminated when he was cast to play the leading role of Walter Lee Younger in a milestone production of A Raisin in the Sun.

    “I know it changed his life because that play was his life,” Robinson said. “He didn’t have to act, because that was his story.”

    It was also important, she said, for white audiences of the day to see black performers on the Bonfils Theatre stage.

    “This was long before they were seeing Bill Cosby on television,” Robinson said. “This was people being able to see that black people and brown people and white people - we’re all just real human beings sharing real human experiences together.”

    The Parkers had four children: John Whalon Parker Jr., who died in his sleep at age 19; Cleo Parker Robinson; Leslie Sue (Susie) Parker Wallace; and Randall Belafonte Parker. The Robinsons also fostered two teenage brothers in the neighborhood. Parker nicknamed Randall “Poncho Villa” because he was the defiant one.

    “So if you can imagine, here we had a black daddy and a white mommy and we’re calling our little brother Poncho Villa,” Robinson said with a laugh.

    “Roundtables at home were largely geared toward whatever piece he was working on at the time. But he would relate them to our society, and he wanted us to voice our opinion. Daddy always spoke in parables that were colorful and powerful and filled with dimension and complexity.”

    Parker left acting behind when he was hired to be a manager and professor at the former Colorado Women's College Houston Fine Arts Center. He was also the first technical director of his daughter's company — Cleo Parker Robinson Dance.

    "I am saddened by his passing, yet my heart fills with his love and unique energy and vision for peace," said his former student, Beckah Reed. "He was subtle ... yet solid."

    Today, Randall Parker works as an actor and musician on the West Coast. Susie toured internationally as a dancer. Martha Parker, who was amicably divorced from Parker, died in 2005. Parker married Reina Parker and together they had a son, Nicholas, and daughter, Samantha, now 18 and 16.

    “Jonathan Parker exhibits the epitome of the human spirit,” Albert-Honoré wrote.

    (Photo above right: Cleo Parker Robinson with husband Tom Robinson. left, and father Jonathan Parker.)

    A Jonathan Parker 600 2Jonathan Parker, second from left, in the early days of the Denver Center. Producer Henry Lowenstein is second from right.
  • Meet the Cast: Paul DeBoy of 'All the Way'

    by John Moore | Jan 21, 2016
    Paul DeBoy All the WayPaul DeBoy joined with 'All the Way' castmates last week to read from the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act. The video can be viewed here. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    MEET PAUL DEBOY
    Robert McNamara/Sen. James Eastland in All the Way

    Paul DeBoy All the WayAt the DCPA Theatre Company: Debut. Broadway: Harry Bright in Mamma Mia! (also national touring production), Nick in Sight Unseen at Manhattan Theatre Company. Other Theatre: Eurydice at 2nd Stage; My Fair Lady at Pioneer Theatre; The 39 Steps at Repertory Theatre of St Louis; as well as Cincinnati Playhouse, Kansas City Rep, The Walnut Street Theatre, Maltz Jupiter Theatre, The Olney Theatre and Studio Arena. TV/Film: “Royal Pains,” “The Following,” “Law & Order,” “CI,” “Trial by Jury,” "A Dirty Shame," by John Waters.

    • Hometown: Baltimore
    • Training: American Academy and The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
    • Website: PaulDeBoy.com
    • What was the role that changed your life: I've had a lot of roles I've been fond of, or that challenged me, but I'd have to say playing Harry Bright in Mamma Mia!  changed my life. I gave him four years of my life, he got me out of debt, showed me all of North America and gave me my Broadway debut.
    • Why are you an actor? My two older brothers appeared on the stage at early ages. Watching them made me realize it was something I may have a passion for. Turns out I was right.
    • What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t an actor? I think I'd either be a musician or an athlete. Probably musician because you could have a longer career. I love singing and playing the guitar when I'm not learning lines. 
    • Tom WaitsIdeal scene partner: I am such a huge fan of Tom Waits. I know if I ever met him I would be starstruck and tongue-tied. But to do a scene with him would put us both on just the even keel I'd need to break the ice. He's amazing.
    • Why does All the Way matter? Because it talks about an issue America has been fighting for more than 100 years. Race relations in this country has been an incredibly slow and painful process for much of middle America. This play attempts to depict just how difficult and unequal the balance of power and acceptance was in our political world, and what a struggle it was and still is to right all those wrongs.  
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of it? I lived through the Kennedy and Johnson administrations - grant you, I was young, but I remember very well the events and people we are depicting here. I hope the audience will come, not expecting to be preached to, but interested to see the larger-than-life figures we remember as just simple human beings with faults, humor and warts and all, moving through this historic time in our history. It's a fascinating play, and it has been a joy to grasp a better understanding of these events.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "Besides world peace, all I want is for people to just understand each other a little better. And to realize that life is a whole lot shorter than you think. Try to make the best of it." 

    All The Way: Ticket information
  • Robert Schenkkan. By Robert Schenkkan (pictured right)
  • Jan. 29-Feb. 28
  • Stage Theatre
  • Called a “jaw-dropping political drama” by Variety, this 2014 Best Play Tony-winner vividly portrays the groundbreaking steps taken by ambitious figures of the 1960s – President LBJ and Martin Luther King Jr. – to pass the Civil Rights Act.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of All the Way
    Video: Cast reads from Civil Rights Act
    Five ways you don't have to connect the dots 'All the Way' to today
    Full casting announced
    Official show page
    DCPA Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16

    Previous 2015-16 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Meet Adeoye of Lookingglass Alice and All the Way
    Meet Kevin Berntson of The Nest
    Meet J. Paul Boehmer of As You Like It
    Meet Molly Brennan of Lookingglass Alice
    Meet Courtney Capek of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Brian D. Coats of The Nest
    Meet Tad Cooley of Tribes
    Meet Allen Dorsey of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Kevin Douglas of Lookingglass Alice
    Meet Napoleon M. Douglas of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Brian Dykstra of The Nest
    Meet Isabel Ellison of Tribes
    Meet Kate Finch of Tribes
    Meet Ella Galaty of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Ben Heil of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Carolyn Holding of As You Like It
    Meet Drew Horwitz of As You Like It
    Meet Maurice Jones of As You Like It
    Meet Geoffrey Kent of As You Like It and All the Way
    Meet Emily Kron of As You Like It
    Meet Nick LaMedica of As You Like It
    Meet Andrew Pastides of Tribes
    Meet Shannan Steele of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Carly Street of The Nest
    Meet Samuel Taylor of Lookingglass Alice
    Meet Lindsey Noel Whiting of Lookingglass Alice
    Meet Jake Williamson  of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Matt Zambrano of As You Like It

  • Theresa Rebeck: Bar plays should be 'humanly reckless'

    by John Moore | Jan 20, 2016
    a Womens Voices Fund 800
    Theresa Rebeck recently spoke to a group from the Denver Center's Women's Voices Fund about gender disparity in the American Theatre.


    Celebrated playwright Theresa Rebeck has a soft spot for bar plays. Her newest world premiere, a commissioned work for the DCPA Theatre Company, is a bar play called The Nest. That’s the name of a neighborhood watering hole on its last legs. “But it’s got very beautiful bones inside it,” she says.

    The bar is from another time. Its neighborhood is changing and its regulars have dwindled to an anachronistic few. And now the owner has been approached by outside forces to sell. “It’s really about the architecture of our communities and how they are being razed in favor of a much more impersonal and corporate reality,” she said.

    That Rebeck has a soft spot for anything might come as a surprise to audiences who gasped through her last Denver Center world premiere back in 2008. Rebeck’s Our House was an angry, cutting satire about the corrosion of journalism and the simultaneous rise of reality TV. It skewered random targets such as media mergers, the gun culture and more … with a slowly expanding pool of blood covering the stage floor. The play was a piece of inspired fury.

    Rebeck proudly called Our House “intentionally messy” back in 2008. And eight years later, she summoned the very same expression to describe The Nest.

    Theresa Rebeck Quote“I feel like the mandate of any play that takes place in a bar is that it should ramble a bit,” she said with a laugh.

    “I think it needs to be a little humanly reckless.”

    Rebeck is known for writing uncommonly topical plays that turn a mirror on the contradictions and aggravations of everyday contemporary life. And like most regulars at any given favored watering hole, Rebeck is nothing if not refreshingly outspoken. Let her loose in a fictional bar populated by small-town regulars, then add booze, and you open Rebeck’s pointed pen as wide as a whiskey spout for just about any topic she wants.

    When drinking at The Nest, no conversation is off limits. The same holds true when talking with Rebeck. She doesn’t want you to love her plays. She wants you to listen to what they have to say.

    Visitors to the DCPA’s annual Colorado New Play Summit got a sneak peek at The Nest last February. The Summit introduces four evolving scripts each year, and at least two are then selected for full production the next mainstage season. Last year, the chosen were The Nest and Tanya Saracho’s FADE.

    Rebeck looks at the DCPA Theatre Company’s comprehensive new-play development program, headed by Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson, Director of New Play Development Bruce K. Sevy and Dramaturg Douglas Langworthy, as a national model. Last year, development time at the Summit was expanded to two weeks. Rebeck found the extra time to be invaluable for The Nest, and not only because her play underwent two name changes.

    “Going into the Summit, I just had a feeling the play was too tidy and that what I needed was to explode it a little bit,” she said. “And yes, I exploded it."

    Thompson also co-founded the DCPA’s Women’s Voices Fund, a $1 million endowment that specifically supports new plays by women and the hiring of female directors. The fund has allowed the Theatre Company to produce 26 plays by women, commission 16 female playwrights and hire 20 female directors since 2006.

    “Kent Thompson absolutely walks the walk,” Rebeck said. “Those three guys have a very delicate touch and an enormous respect for all of the artists they invite here. I love it here. I feel very safe.”

    The Nest 2015 Colorado New Play Summit.
    Reading of 'The Nest' at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit last February. Photo by Kyle Malone.


    The issue of gender disparity in the American theatre has grown like a national drumbeat in recent months. According to a recent sampling, just 22 percent of all plays produced on American stages between 2011-14 were written by women, even though women generally average up to 61 percent of the theatregoing audience.

    But this is a conversation Rebeck has been leading her entire adult life. And frankly, she’s happy to pass the mic. “I am encouraged because I don’t have to be at the center of it anymore,” said Rebeck, who created The Lilly Awards with Marsha Norman and Julia Jordan in 2010 as a way to call attention to the work of women in the American theatre.

    “I strongly feel like going to the theatre should always be a lesson in empathy,” she said. “It is something that creates community that can potentially bring us all into the same understanding of our shared humanity. And I think that’s what The Nest is ultimately about. So I cannot wait until we are working in a post-gender universe.”

    That’s why she was happy to hear the following anecdote from last year’s Summit. At the end of a public reading of The Nest, a man turned to his companion and said, “I never would have guessed that was written by a woman.” Rebeck, after all, has been compared to blistering peers such as David Mamet and Neil LaBute. Rebeck, ironically, considers herself to be “absurdly and almost incoherently optimistic.”

    But she took the gender comparison to be compliment, she said. "Because I think that has to be a person who thinks of women in a certain way, and now he has come to understand that what he thinks about women is not necessarily accurate.

    “So I think that’s really good.”


    The Nest: Ticket information
  • By Theresa Rebeck 
  • Jan. 22-Feb. 21
  • Space Theatre
  • When you have a seat at the bar called The Nest, no conversation is off-limits, whether you’re speaking or eavesdropping. That is, until a stranger walks in with a lucrative proposition. Pulitzer Prize finalist Theresa Rebeck’s plays “may make you laugh or shudder (or both)” according to American Theatre, and with its feisty humor and scorching dialogue, this explosive new comedy holds a cracked mirror up to friendships, romantic relationships and families.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Nest:
    The Nest flies in the face of national gender trends
    Five things we now know about that bar
    Cast list announced
    Theresa Rebeck is not getting angry: She's getting even
    ​American Theatre magazine: The Colorado New Play Summit Is a Developing Story

    Cast profiles (to date):
    Meet Kevin Berntson
    Meet Brian D. Coats
    Meet Brian Dykstra
    Meet Carly Street
  • Directors talk tough with local actors: Get to class!

    by John Moore | Jan 19, 2016
    Continuing Classes Forum

    Photos from the recent communitywide forum on the need for continuing education among local theatre performers. To see more photos, hit the 'forward' button. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Local theatre directors and producers had a provocative message for Colorado’s teeming talent pool at a specially called forum last week: “Get to class.”

    Representatives from Colorado theatre companies large and small gathered at Cap City on Jan. 12 to light a fire under the creative community.

    “We’re good,” said longtime BDT Stage Artistic Director Michael J. Duran. “But good is not good enough.”

    Producers sense a complacency settling in over the acting community because, ironically enough, the local theatre ecology is so healthy. There are more than 50 theatre companies in the metro area, and more than 100 statewide, which means there are plenty of shows - and plenty of roles - to go around.

    But if you want the jobs that actually pay more than gas money, the actors were told in the complete absence of sugar-coating: They need to be continually honing their craft.

    “I think the problem is our community doesn’t think they have to work that hard because they are working all the time,” said choreographer Piper Arpan. “If I am working all the time, then there is a sense then that I must be good enough.’ ” 

    Doctors and attorneys are required to participate in continuing education to keep their licenses, but nothing obligates an actor to continue taking dance, voice or acting classes. "Why is that?" Duran said. "Athletes don’t stop practicing when they turn pro."

    But as long as actors continue to be cast in shows, why should they bother with the time, expense and inconvenience of classes?

    Read more: Audition advice from the experts

    Duran had a rather pointed response: Just because actors are working does not mean they are they are getting better by merely working. Worse, Duran said, many don’t even seem to want to get better. And that is being reflected in the quality of productions theatres are putting on local stages.

    “Every one of us (producers) makes concessions and lowers our expectations for our shows,” Duran said. “We dumb it down because we don’t have the dancers to make our shows what they could be. Listen, just because you are cast in a dance show does not make you a good dancer: It makes you a warm body.”

    Tim McCracken QuoteWell, if that doesn’t make a warm body hot … to trot … to class … what will? That is the question.

    “How do we find the competitive edge within ourselves?” Duran said. “How do we create the desire to improve just for the sake of getting better at what we do?”

    Arvada Center Artistic Director Rod Lansberry told the gathering of about 40 that every casting director goes into every audition hoping that any given actor will be amazing. After all, you would then be the solution to the director’s problem. But wishing doesn’t make it so.

    “We want you to have those skills that we need,” Lansberry said. “But you have to bring them to us. We can’t give them to you.”

    This was an uncommonly blunt forum presented by Duran in partnership with the Colorado Theatre Guild. Others who spoke either in person or by proxy included Charles Packard of the Aurora Fox; Chris Starkey from AXS Group; Gloria Shanstrom and Pat Payne of the Colorado Theatre Guild; Jalyn Courtenay Webb from the Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins; Ali King of the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in Johnstown; directors Nick Sugar (Town Hall Arts Center’s Violet”) and Spotlight's Bernie Cardell; Arvada Center choreographer Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck; BDT Stage's Matthew D. Peters, Jessica Hindsley and Scott Beyette; and other interested individuals.

    And the tough love didn’t get any less tough as the evening progressed. For example, Lansberry told attendees that the buzzword today is “triple threat.” As in, “If you want to work in this town, you have to be able to do all three well,” Lansberry said of acting, singing and dancing. “They don’t have shows coming out that are not for triple threats.”

    Starkey took that one step further. “Now you actually have to be a quadruple threat,” he said, “because more and more, shows are calling on performers who also can play their own musical instruments.”

    Once the ABC message got through – “Always Be Classing” – the conversation turned to practical matters, such as: Are there a variety of classes out there available to be taken (there are); how is a potential student to know where they are (read on); and who’s to say the investment will eventually pay off? (No one honestly can.)

    Tim McCracken, the new Head of Acting for DCPA Education, took the opportunity to introduce those in attendance to the breadth of year-round classes the Denver Center makes available to more than 68,000 every year, covering all disciplines, experience levels and age groups.

    “I think in the past there has been this notion that the DCPA is somehow separate from the rest of the theatre community, and that could not be further from the truth,” McCracken said, citing a whole host of the community’s most prominent performers who also work as Teaching Artists for the DCPA. As for any perceived cost barrier, McCracken spoke of scholarship opportunities that can bring the cost of classes down by as much as 75 percent.

    “We want more inclusion with the entire Denver theatre community,” McCracken said. “That’s our goal.”

    Michael J DuranArpan ran down a range of metro area dance companies that offer lessons for all abilities, and Hindsley and Peters spoke of continuing classes held at BDT Stage as well. By the end of the evening, a Facebook page (The Denver Area Actors Continuing Education Forum) had been created that is dedicated to informing potential students about class opportunities. There was also preliminary talk of a more organized repository, perhaps one to be taken on by the Colorado Theatre Guild’s web site.

    “So I would suggest this is not question of opportunity,” Arpan said in conclusion. “It is a question of motivation.”

    This is not a topic of conversation you can start within the local theatre community without opening up a Pandora's Box of ecology-related questions, such as: Why can’t more theatres afford to pay a living wage? Why do the biggest theatres feel they must cast from outside the metro talent pool? How can a mid-size market like Denver make it more attractive for our most talented performers not to leave for New York or Los Angeles? Each is worthy of its own forum.

    But as the discussion pertains to classes, Duran reiterated his staunch belief that the quality of theatre on our local stages would be much higher if every singer, dancer and actor took it upon themselves to continually work on their craft.

    “The thing I think we need to figure out,” Duran said, “is how to make people hungry to be better.”

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

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