• 2016 True West Award: 'Night of the Living Dead'

    by John Moore | Dec 08, 2016
    Night of the Living Dead. True West Awards


    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 8:
    Night of the Living Dead

                             Paper Cat Films and The Bug Theatre

     
    It started in 2009 as a simple stage adaptation of George Romero’s 1968 cult film phenom about those hilariously slow, flesh-eating zombies in rural Pennsylvania. But writer and director Kris Hipps’ ever-morphing annual live offering of Night of the Living Dead … Live! On Stage! is now a Halloween tradition that has brought both giggles and ghouls to more than 10,000 at Denver’s Bug Theatre over the past eight years.

    You probably know the classic story of seven people trapped in a farmhouse, surrounded by slowly … really slowly … encroaching ghouls. Hipps’ twist is that anything that takes place inside the house is presented live on the stage, while anything that takes place outside the house is projected onto an overhead screen, utilizing pre-filmed sequences that are re-shot each year by Hipps’ partnering company, Paper Cat Films.

    Night of The Living Dead. True West Awards“I've been a zombie fan since the first time I saw the original Night of the Living Dead as a kid and immediately started thinking about ways to barricade our house in case of a zombie attack,” said Hipps, who created the show with Duane Brown.

    Local theatre critic Patrick Dorn calls Night of the Living Dead … Live! On Stage! the Halloween equivalent of It’s a Wonderful Life. “Except that everybody’s either dead or in danger of becoming so, in a most gruesome fashion.”

    Seriously. Deb Flomberg, the only actor to play the same role all eight years, says the cast goes through four gallons of fake blood each year. Flomberg plays Karen, the creepy infected kid who is dying in the basement.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “I accepted the role without having seen the movie, so I didn’t realize Karen was a 12-year-old girl until I got the script,” she said. “I called Kris and said, ‘Hey, I’m 27 years old. She’s 12. But Karen said I was exactly what she wanted, and she gave me the green light to play with it.”

    Night of the Living Dead Quote. Deb FlombergKaren has since developed what Flomberg warmly calls a weird little following. “I’ll be off-stage and people in the audience will start to chant for Karen,” she said. “I was in a grocery story and this lady came up to me and said, ‘Hey you’re that creepy girl!’”

    Hipps keeps her seasonal staging fresh by riffing each year on a singular quirk in the source film. Early on, the movie briefly shows a dead body at the stop of the farmhouse stairs. Romero never goes back to it or explains it. So Hipps does, in a different way each year. Her live stage adaptation always begins with a scene offering a different possible explanation for the dead body at the top of the stairs.

    “One year the zombies broke into the house while a bunch of little old ladies were having a Tupperware party,” Flomberg said. “Another year, the ladies were having a stripper party – and one of the strippers was a zombie. This year, they broke into them having a charades party.”

    Each year, she said, the production also adopts an overall theme. One year, iconic killers from famous ‘80s slasher films kept dropping in. This year, the story embraced common urban legends (such as, “The call is coming from inside the house!”). Next year, the theme will be science fiction. This way, the audience has a reason to come back each year to see what’s different.

    “I think our audiences love the comedic approach that we have taken,” Flomberg said. “We are not trying to scare anyone, or simply re-create the film. We are just offering up our own tribute to the film that started it all in fun and different ways.”

    This year's cast included Joseph Graves as Ben, Janine Kehlenbach as Barbara, Veronica Straight-Lingo as Judy, Seth Harris as Tom, Colin Roybal as Helen, Patrick Brownson as Harry, Deb Flomberg as Karen and Karin Carr, Kris Hipps, Matt Jaramillo, Matt Schultz, Sara Michael and Aran Peters as the hoard of zombies, reporters and other unsuspecting victims.

    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS
    The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    THE 2016 TRUE WEST AWARDS (to date)
    Day 1: Jada Suzanne Dixon
    Day 2: Robert Michael Sanders
    Day 3: After Orlando
    Day 4: Michael Morgan
    Day 5: Beth Beyer
    Day 6: Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski
    Day 7: donnie l. betts
  • Photos: Hedwig's Euan Morton and Hannah Corneau in Denver

    by John Moore | Dec 07, 2016
    'Hedwig' in Denver
    Euan Morton and Hannah Corneau offered songs from Hedwig and the Angry Inch before a Q&A with local media on Wednesday in the Wolf Room at the Buell Theatre. To see more photos, just click the forward arrow on the image above. Video to come tomorrow. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch in Denver: Ticket information

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

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    John Cameron Mitchell on the ageless appeal of Hedwig
    Hedwig'
    s Stephen Trask: There are Thors all around us
    Mitchell and Trask: The two halves of Hedwig's whole
    Casting: Euan Morton to don Hedwig's wig on national tour
    Hedwig named to Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season
    Hedwig creator’s parents are tearing down a wall

    A Hewdwig 800 a
  • DCPA Chairman Daniel Ritchie will step down in 2017

    by John Moore | Dec 07, 2016
    Daniel L. Ritchie

    Daniel L. Ritchie announces the appointment of Janice Sinden as his successor as DCPA CEO in August. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Daniel L. Ritchie announced Tuesday that he will step down as Chairman of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts sometime in the coming year.

    DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden with Vice-Chairman Dean Singleton will work with the Board’s Governance and Nominating Committee to establish a transition plan by March.

    Daniel Ritchie CEORitchie was only the second Chairman in the DCPA’s nearly 40-year history, succeeding Founder and Chairman Emeritus Donald R. Seawell in 2007. Ritchie has led the organization over the past 10 years, culminating in its most successful season in fiscal year 2015-16. Before that, Ritchie served as chancellor for the University of Denver.

    Ritchie, 85, announced his intent to retire as CEO but remain on as chair in 2014. He led the search for the appointment of Sinden as the DCPA's first female CEO in August. "She's just an extraordinary human being, and I have no doubt she will succeed as a person and a leader," he said then.

    Ritchie said he will continue to be an active proponent of the theatre, education and community engagement after leaving the DCPA.

    For more information, including forthcoming comment from Ritchie and Sinden, click on this Denver Post report, which will be updated later today.


  • 2016 True West Award: donnie l. betts

    by John Moore | Dec 07, 2016

    True West Awards donnie l betts




    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 7:
    donnie l. betts

     
    Radio, film and theatre practitioner donnie l. betts is a black man who has been making a personal statement about the marginalization of black Americans for decades with the intentional lower-casing of his name. But in 2016, as protests over ongoing racial inequities in America spilled into stadiums, streets and reservations across the country, the lower-cased betts was having a decidedly upper-case artistic year.

    As America's simmering racial divide was being  ripped open from the Dakotas to Dallas, betts was directing two culturally significant and achingly relevant productions for the Aurora Fox: The first local production of the seminal Native American tragedy Black Elk Speaks since it was premiered by the DCPA Theatre Company in 1994; and the first staging of the classic opera Porgy and Bess by any local theatre company in at least 20 years - and certainly the first since it was reimagined as a more accessible Broadway musical by Diane Paulus and Suzan-Lori Parks in 2012.

    True West Awards donnie l betts Black Elk Speaks Black Elk Speaks recounts with wrenching rawness the systematic genocide that wiped out an estimated 80 percent of the Native American population over a century. The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess tells the story of a reckless, drug-sniffing woman who turns to a disabled street-beggar for rescue from the clutches a violent and possessive lover in the oppressively racist slums of Charleston, S.C.

    No one but betts gets either of those productions to a Denver stage. No one but betts gets the level of cultural authenticity he achieved in Black Elk Speaks with a cast made up largely of indigenous actors. And no one but betts collects the deep cross-section of talent he has on display at the Aurora Fox in The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess through Jan. 1.

    Our report from the set of the Aurora Fox's Black Elk Speaks

    We're talking well-known local veterans like Leonard Barrett Jr. as the cripple Porgy, Dwayne Carrington as Crab Man and Michael Peters as the odious Crown, alongside the sensational second generation of Anna Maria High, Faith Goins-Simmons and Tyrell Rae, who all three continue to be lightning on any stage. All of this matters not without a Bess who can off the equal challenges of properly singing - and playing the wounded Bess. Enter the heart-breaking and ear-seducing Tracy Camp from the San Francisco Opera.

    Porgy and Bess, newly opened in these final breaths of 2016, will certainly go down as one of the most significant achievements of the Colorado  theatre season. This production has it all - a rollicking onstage band led by Jodel Charles; an evocative and fluid slum set from Jen Orf; masterful (as always) work from designers Linda Morken (costumes), Shannon McKinney (lighting), and El Armstrong (sound). And perhaps most seductively: It has living, pulsating, innovative choreography from Laurence Curry. It's a dream team.

    Betts Quote "This is a production that must be seen — for the sheer scope of its ambition, among other things," wrote Westword's Juliet Wittman. "Consider what it took for director donnie l. betts to assemble his terrific small orchestra along with a large cast of tuneful and talented African-American actors, and to meld voices that range from operatic to musical theater into a harmonious, soul-swelling whole."

    No one but betts, whose roots in the Denver theatre community go back to the very beginnings of the Denver Center. When the DCPA Theatre Company was created in 1979, betts was the first local actor hired, working  alongside the likes of Tyne Daly, Delroy Lindo and Tandy Cronyn. That ensemble would later be joined by Mercedes Ruehl, Annette Bening and many other future stars.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Betts was a DCPA regular for nine intermittent seasons. But of all the shows he performed in, it perhaps was one he did not appear in - Black Elk Speaks - that would most impact his future life. Betts was performing in another play on a nearby Denver Center stage nearby, but he would watch Black Elk Speaks from the wings every chance he got. Twenty-two years later, he brought it back to life at the Aurora Fox.

    It's been a long road for betts preserving the culture and voice of the disenfranchised, underrepresented and underserved. But as the protagonist of Black Elk Speaks says: "The longest journey is to the heart."

    donnie l. betts/At a glance

    • Born in Dekalb, Texas, the 12th child of 12
    • Attended Angelo State in San Angelo, Texas, on a football scholarship and later Metropolitan State College in Denver and the Yale School of Drama
    • Founding member of the DCPA Theatre Company, City State Ensemble and the Denver Black Arts Company
    • Performed on Broadway in The Gospel at Colonus, 1988
    • Founded No Credits Production, Inc., a film and video production company that launched his monthly Destination Freedom radio series for KGNU in May 1998
    • Occasionally appeared in the Perry Mason movies that were filmed in Denver in the mid-1990s
    • Directed more than 30 theatrical productions in the Denver area

    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS
    The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    THE 2016 TRUE WEST AWARDS (to date)
    Day 1: Jada Suzanne Dixon
    Day 2: Robert Michael Sanders
    Day 3: After Orlando
    Day 4: Michael Morgan
    Day 5: Beth Beyer
    Day 6: Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski

    True West Awards donnie l betts Porgy And Bess Photos: Top of page, Leonard Barrett and Tracy Camp in 'Porgy and Bess.' Inset right: Doug Good Feather in 'Black Elk Speaks.' Above: A scene from 'Porgy and Bess.' Photos by Christine Fisk for the Aurora Fox.
  • 2016 True West Award: Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski

    by John Moore | Dec 06, 2016
    True West Awards Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski Lost Creatures


    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 3:
    Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski

                      Presented by Henry Award-winning actor Maggy Stacy

     

    His name is Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski. But you can call him by his initials: PEZ. It just seems to fit. Like the classic candy, he’s sweet, colorful, spreads joy – and is seemingly dispensed all over the world. Or at least throughout the Denver Center and surrounding theatre community.

    The DCPA’s Associate Director of Education is a master teacher, educator and administrator who also found time this fall to direct And Toto Too Theatre Company’s world premiere of the play Lost Creatures. Local playwright Melissa Lucero McCarl imagined what might have happened in 1978 when eminent British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan interviewed reclusive silent-film star Louise Brooks in her dingy apartment for a profile he was writing for The New Yorker. North Denver Tribune critic Craig Williamson said Elkins-Zeglarski “took the roots of the concept and watered it, fed it, nurtured it, and let it grow and fully blossom.”

     

    True West Awards Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski SonderElkins-Zeglarski’s day job is helping DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous run every aspect of a massive program that has provided access to nearly 106,000 students in the past year, of which 84,000 were youth.

    Last summer, he directed Sonder (pictured right), the winning entry in the DCPA’s third annual statewide teen playwriting competition. This week, he is overseeing one of the entries in the DCPA’s Adult One-Act Festival. This winter, he will lead the DCPA’s highest-level adult acting masters class, which will culminate in a public performance of Born Yesterday. Next summer, he will direct advanced high-school students in a production of Our Town.

    Elkins-Zeglarski was born in Sacramento and began working at the DCPA as a Teaching Artist in 2000. He is as gentle with a beginning actor, Watrous says, as he is with a seasoned pro like Colorado Theatre Guild Lifetime Achievement winner Billie McBride (DCPA Theatre Company's Benediction), who starred in Lost Creatures alongside 2015 True West Award winner Mark Collins and Annabel Reader.  

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Watrous said it is Elkins-Zeglarski’s authenticity that allows him to connect with artists of every experience level.

    “Truly, he leads with humor, grace and generosity,” Watrous said. “Our DCPA Education team is so joyful, and he is at the center of that joy. He provides an ear for every one of our teaching artists, and he is an example for how each of us can grow in our artistry. Everybody is better because PEZ is in the room.

    “Plus, he decorates our hallways for holidays. He brings that kind of joy to work with him every day. And, he owns more PEZ paraphernalia than anyone.”

    True West Awards Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski


    Elkins-Zeglarski's name was brought up for True West Award consideration by 2016 Henry Award-winning Denver actor Maggy Stacy. Elkins-Zeglarski directed Stacy in a short piece for And Toto Too Theatre Company’s fun annual play crawl along six blocks of Tennyson Street last summer. The event raised funds for one of the only theatre companies in the country that is fully dedicated to telling stories written by women. Elkins-Zeglarski also has furthered the cause of storytelling by women with his work on the Athena Project’s past three new-works festivals – in 2016, 41 performances by women playwrights over 38 days.

    “Patrick has been an artist, educator, director and mentor for many of us in Denver,” said Stacy. “His ethics are unwavering. His artistic approach is based on high values and quality standards. And his work supports and empowers his fellow artists and teaching artists.”

    Stacy nominated Elkins-Zeglarski for a True West Award, she said, “because Patrick rarely gets recognized for his commitment and efforts. But the impact of his contributions has had, and continues to have, a mighty rippling effect.”


    Our video report from the culminating performance of DCPA Education's statewide teen playwriting competition last summer. The winning entry was given a full performance directed by Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski.

    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS
    The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    THE 2016 TRUE WEST AWARDS (to date)
    Day 1: Jada Suzanne Dixon
    Day 2: Robert Michael Sanders
    Day 3: After Orlando
    Day 4: Michael Morgan
    Day 5: Beth Beyer
  • Denver dates for 'Frozen' announced

    by John Moore | Dec 05, 2016

    Frozen

    The Pre-Broadway engagement of Frozen, a new musical based on Disney’s Academy Award-winning musical film, will play The Buell Theatre Aug. 17 through Oct. 1, 2017, it was announced this morning.

    FrozenThe Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Broadway subscribers may purchase additional tickets starting at 10 a.m. on Dec. 12. Broadway subscriptions are available now. Sales to groups of 10 or more will start in February.

    Single tickets will go on sale to the public in the spring of 2017. For more information and to sign up for alerts, go to Denvercenter.org/Frozen.

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

    Frozen is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions.

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

    Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    Aug. 17 through Oct. 1, 2017
    Buell Theatre

    • Broadway subscribers may purchase additional tickets starting at 10 a.m. on Dec. 12
    • Broadway subscriptions available here
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more will start in February
    • Single tickets will go on sale to the public in the spring of 2017

    MORE INFO


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Breaking: Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen
  • 2016 True West Award: After Orlando

    by John Moore | Dec 03, 2016
    True West Awards After Orlando


    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 3:
    After Orlando, Benchmark Theatre

        Presented by Colorado Theatre Guild Life Achievement winner Billie McBride

     

    The worst gun massacre in U.S. history left the gay community feeling not just vulnerable.


    Hunted.

    The terrorist may have thought leaving 102 dead or injured, most gay and/or Latino, on the floor of the Pulse nightclub would send "others" of all kinds back into hiding. He knows not artists, who realize full well that it is never more urgent than in the wake of tragedy for the raging and waging of peace in the world through art. As the Russian actor Vsevolod Meyerhold once said: "I want to burn with the spirit of the times."

    The international theatre community continues to mark the Florida massacre with "After Orlando," an ongoing series of gatherings in cities around the world to remember the victims; to start a dialogue on how mass gun violence has become so commonplace America; and to prove yet again the enormous role that live theatre can play in communal grief and transformation. 

    More than 50 "After Orlando" events around the U.S. began on Sept. 12 and will continue through Jan. 31. Each consists of a series of short readings of plays from among more than 70 contributed by celebrated playwrights for the project. In most cities, one local theatre company has hosted an "After Orlando" event on behalf of that city's entire theatre community.

    Our NewsCenter report on Denver's 'After Orlando' event

    The Denver gathering on Nov. 14-15 was different. The new Benchmark Theatre Company, which doesn't even debut until next year, presented Denver's "After Orlando" event as an opportunity to collaborate with local companies from Boulder to Colorado Springs. Participating companies included the Athena Project, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, Buntport Theater, Curious Theatre, Edge Theatre, Local Theatre Company, Phamaly Theatre Company, Funky Little Theatre Company (Colorado Springs) and Vintage, with a special appearance by The Denver Gay Men's Chorus. Dozens of local actors donated their time to participate in the readings.

    Benchmark not only gathered the community for a common cause on two sold-out nights at the Vintage Theatre, it raised $2,000 for the Human Rights Campaign. Benchmark is co-founded by Rachel Bouchard and Haley Johnson, and its "After Orlando" event was primarily organized by Denver School of the Arts Youth Facilitator Kate Folkins and playwright Jeffrey Neuman (Edge Theatre's Exit Strategies).
     

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    "We are humbled not only at the turnout of audiences who came to support this cause, but also the turnout of artists who volunteered their time and talents," said Johnson. "Because of them, we've contributed to an organization that fights for equality and human rights. That is what art is all about - coming together as one to raise each other up."

    The national curators of "After Orlando" are New York's Missing Bolts Productions artistic directors Blair Baker and Zac Kline; and NoPassport Theatre Alliance founder Caridad Svich, whose English translation of The House of the Spirits was premiered by the DCPA Theatre Company in 2010. The point of "After Orlando," Svich said, is "to make some healing art, some fiery art, and some work that just says we can rise up from and through collective mourning.”

    After Orlando Benchmark Theatre True West Awards

     

    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS
    The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    THE 2016 TRUE WEST AWARDS (to date)
    Day 1: Jada Suzanne Dixon
    Day 2: Robert Michael Sanders
    Day 3: After Orlando

    After Orlando in Denver: Our photo gallery:

    After Orlando: Denver
    To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Photos in the award certificate at the top of this page by Susannah McLeod for McLeod9 Creative.

  • Steven J. Burge following in God's footsteps

    by John Moore | Dec 02, 2016

    Steven J. Burge. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins
    Steven J. Burge is shown co-hosting the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards in July. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins.


    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts announced today that award-winning Denver actor Steven J. Burge will assume the role of God in the comedy An Act of God when Broadway star Wesley Taylor's contract ends on Jan. 22. Burge will assume the supreme role in the Garner Galleria Theatre starting Jan. 24.

    God takes human form in An Act of God, the "sinfully funny" and critically acclaimed new play direct from Broadway. It opens with the King of the Universe tackling His greatest challenge yet: The Mile High City. He’s finally arrived to set the record straight about the commandments and other quotes that have been attributed to Him over time ... and He’s not holding back. The script is based on the critically acclaimed book written by God (otherwise known as "The Bible") and transcribed by David Javerbaum, a 13-time Emmy Award-winner for his work as a head writer and executive producer for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

    Since making his Colorado debut in 2003 as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, Burge has appeared on stages throughout the Denver metro area including the Denver Center, Curious Theatre, Arvada Center, Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret and many others. He is also the co-host of the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards.

    Wesley Taylor Taylor, a Broadway star and fan favorite in the NBC-TV show “Smash,” will play God as scheduled through Jan. 24. Westword's Juliet Wittman said of Taylor's performance: "He is so charming, sometimes puckish, sometimes tough ... and has such magnificent abs." Taylor has been seen on Broadway in Rock of Ages and The Addams Family. On  Nov. 14, he presented a star-studded evening of own short plays in New York City, raising thousands of dollars for charity. 

    Burge has been serving in the understudy roles of God and Michael. Local auditions to understudy for these roles will take place from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21. For more information visit Denvercenter.org/about-us/careers.

    The cast of An Act of God also includes Steven Cole Hughes as the angel Michael and Erik Sandvold as the angel Gabriel. The director is Geoffrey Kent. The creative team includes the DCPA's Lisa M. Orzolek (scenic design), Meghan Anderson Doyle (costume design) and Charles R. MacLeod (lighting design). Making his DCPA Broadway/Cabaret sound design debut is Anson Nicholson.

    The play premiered on Broadway on May 7, 2015, and ran for a limited run with God occupying the body of Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory"). The play returned to Broadway June 6, 2016, for another limited engagement starring Sean Hayes ("Will and Grace"). This production in Denver is one of the first regional productions of the hit comedy.

    MEET STEVEN J. BURGE
    God starting Jan. 24, understudy God/Michael through Jan. 22

    Steven J. Burge. The award winning character actor landed in Denver following national tours of … And Then They Came for Me and A Christmas Carol. He was the recipient of The Denver Post Ovation Award for Best Solo Performance in Fully Committed (Aurora Fox), a one-man show in which Steven portrayed more than 30 different characters. The piece also earned him a Henry Award nomination, Westword’s Best of Denver Award and an Out Front Colorado Marlowe Award. Steven has also been recognized for his work in Contrived Ending (Buntport Theater) and Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead (Avenue Theater).

    • Hometown: Martelle, Iowa. It's a cute little farm town with fewer than 300 people in it.
    • Training: I have a Bachelor’s Degree from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa
    • How do we follow you on social media? I don’t do the Twitter or the Instagram. I’m firmly and archaically planted in the land of the Facebook. Friend me here! <3
    • What was the role that changed your life? In 2003, a tour I was doing ended and I came to Denver to take a three-month contract playing Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors. The plan was for me to do the show and hit the road again. Colorado was so beautiful, however, and the people were so great, that I just kept postponing my departure date. I kept forgetting to leave. Now, 13 years later, I consider myself a proud Denverite. I guess that role didn’t just change my life … it sort of created it.
    • A Steven J. Burge quoteWhy are you an actor? Because I would do it even if I weren’t getting paid to do it. Sometimes I feel like I’m pulling a fast one on the universe when I cash a paycheck from a theatre company. I love being in a room with other creative, passionate, interesting people. I look forward to rehearsals. I look forward to performances. And I’m bummed out on days off and closing nights. I don’t know how many people out there are working jobs they don’t want to take a vacation from  — my guess is, not many. But that’s how I feel about my job. And I never take that feeling for granted.
    • What would you be doing if you weren't an actor: I’d like to find a job where I got paid to sit down and listen to people tell me their stories. I think people are fascinating and I would love to learn about as many of them as possible. Is that a job? If it is, and you’re reading this and you’re the boss of that job … invite me in for an interview.
    • elvira4Ideal scene partner: Denver is known for its sports teams and outdoorsy activities. That’s for certain. But we are also home to a thriving artistic community. I have met and worked with some of the best, most inspiring, most creative actors anywhere, right here in Denver. It might sound like a cop-out, but honestly? I’d love to roll up my sleeves and work with any one of Denver’s own resident performers, any day. (But if that answer isn’t good enough, then I'll say Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. She cracks me up.
    • Why does An Act of God matter? Everybody believes in something, right? You either believe there is something bigger than us out there somewhere, or you believe there is not something bigger than us out there somewhere. I think An Act of God does a great job of creating a space for everyone  — regardless of spirituality or religion or lack thereof  — to explore those beliefs in a safe and often hilarious place.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of seeing it? I hope it provides a few good belly laughs, as well as a few quiet moments to contemplate. And if there is a lively discussion or spirited debate on the car ride, home, all the better. That is when theatre is doing what theatre is meant to do.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "... All I want is a room somewhere,
      Far away from the cold night air.
      With one enormous chair,
      Aow, wouldn't it be loverly?"


      That's from My Fair Lady. Yes, I am a #MusicalTheatreGeek

    An Act of God
    : Ticket information

    An Act of God• The story: God takes human form in this critically acclaimed new comedy direct from Broadway. He's finally arrived to set the record straight.
    • Through March 12, 2017
    • Garner-Galleria Theatre
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    (Please be advised that the DenverCenter.org is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for the Denver engagement of An Act of God.)

    Selected Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    Meet Wesley Taylor, An Act of God
    Meet Steven Cole Hughes, An Act of God
    Meet Erik Sandvold, An Act of God
    Casting announced for An Act of God
    A day in the busy life of Director Geoffrey Kent
    Interview: Geoffrey Kent on a laugh-a-minute God
    Geoffrey Kent's 2015 True West Award

    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 2016 True West Award: Robert Michael Sanders

    by John Moore | Dec 02, 2016
    True West Awards. Robert Michael Sanders


    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 2:
    Robert Michael Sanders

    Robert Michael Sanders has been one one of the busiest members of the Colorado theatre community for years, and not even a botched shoulder surgery that left his hands partially paralyzed in 2014 has even slightly slowed him down. In 2016, his haberdashery included acting, direction, properties and public relations. He is also an accomplished singer who just completed his second solo album under the name Robert Michael for release on iTunes later this month. (His 2007 cover of Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over" has more than a million plays on Spotify, and he released three previous albums with his band Silence.)

    True West Awards. Robert Michael SandersSanders is nothing if not versatile - and adaptable. Here's a quick rundown of his theatre year:

    • Directed Tell Me on a Sunday for The Avenue Theater; The Last Romance for Cherry Creek Theatre; Guys on Ice for Town Hall Arts Center; and the children's shows Jumping Jiving Juliette and Seussical Jr. for Town Hall
    • Performed in the Edge Theatre's Getting Out and Murder Ballad 
    • Assisted the properties master on The Avenue Theater's Wait Until Dark
    • Directed publicity efforts for Aurora Fox's Little Women, Black Elk Speaks and Catch Me If You Can, as well as The Avenue's Bakersfield Mist

    Onstage, good-guy Sanders is often called upon to play the bad guy - his "resume of racists" is longer than other actors' entire CV's. He has had particularly hiss-worthy turns over the years in the Arvada Center's Ragtime, Memphis and A Man of No Importance, and he owned that persona again this year in the Edge Theatre's Getting Out, playing a former prison guard who takes a shine to a woman just out of prison - with lecherous strings attached. "Sanders'  dual personality turns on Arlene in the worst possible way," wrote reviewer Bill Wheeler. "Sanders delivers his schizophrenic character beautifully, going from the nicest guy on stage to the nastiest in the blink of an eye."

    But what made 2016 a singular year for Sanders was the range he showed in The Edge's Murder Ballad, one of those unctuous contemporary rock musicals that dares you not to like it. But Sanders managed to emerge from a veritable menagerie of pool-hall damage by showing a full and effective range of emotion from gentle to, well, murderous, thanks to a score uniquely suited to his rock background.

    But for all the good Sanders does on and around the stage, perhaps his most impressive trait is his ongoing commitment to the fellow artists in the Colorado theatre community. Sanders organizes and directs Miscast as an annual fundraiser for the Denver Actors Fund - a silly night of games and songs where actors get to play roles they would never get cast to perform in otherwise. It is a logistical nightmare and a dream-come-true for the fund that makes money and personal services available to artists in situational medical need. Sanders' three Miscast-directed events have now raised more than $13,000 for the Denver Actors Fund - a record $7,067 in 2016 alone.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Sanders was chosen to be the recipient of today's True West Award by former Phamaly Theatre Company Artistic Director Bryce Alexander, who relied on Sanders as both an actor and general liaison during his tenure running the acclaimed local theatre company that creates performance opportunities for actors with disabilities.

    "I am constantly amazed at Robert's overall commitment to every single level of Colorado theatre," said Alexander. "Robert is always there to support you. This amazing artist and person (and his wife) should be celebrated."

    That amazing wife would be Megan Van De Hey. Yes, Sanders capped his exceptional year with a personal coup by marrying one of the most consistently honored actors in the Colorado theatre community. Not bad for a nice guy.

     

    Robert Michael Sanders/At a glance:

    • High School: Broomfield
    • Denver Center tie: He was in the cast of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change at the Garner Galleria Theatre
    • Album: “Feel It Coming,” under the name of Robert Michael
    • Next project: Directing Almost Maine for the Avenue Theater, Jan. 13-Feb. 12


    Robert Michael Sanders. Miscast. Photo by John Moore. Robert Michael Sanders addresses the crowd at 'Miscast 2016,' which he directed on behalf of the Denver Actors Fund. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS
    The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org


    THE 2016 TRUE WEST AWARDS (to date)
    Day 1: Jada Suzanne Dixon
    Day 2: Robert Michael Sanders
  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'A Christmas Carol' 2016

    by John Moore | Dec 01, 2016


    The DCPA Theatre Company's 2016 staging of A Christmas Carol has been reimagined with a new director (Melissa Rain Anderson) and star (Sam Gregory). Here is your first look. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.


    A Christmas Carol production photos: Our first-look photo gallery

    A Christmas Carol 2016

    To see more photos, click on the "forward" arrow on the image above. Photos by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    A Christmas Carol:
    Ticket information

    A Christmas CarolAt a glance: Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, this joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations.

    Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    By Charles Dickens
    Adapted for the stage by Richard Hellesen
    Music by David de Berry
    Directed by Melissa Rain Anderson
    Through Dec. 24
    Stage Theatre
    ASL Interpreted and Audio-Described Performance: 1:30 p.m. Dec 11
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of A Christmas Carol
    Behind the Scenes video, Part 1: Making the hats
    Costume Corner: What's new with A Christmas Carol?
    A Christmas Carol
    undergoes its own rebirth with new director, star
    Cast lists: A Christmas Carol, The SantaLand Diaries begin anew
    Video: Leslie O'Carroll performs A Christmas Carol in five minutes
    Photos, video: Philip Pleasants takes final bow as Scrooge

    Sam Gregory in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol.' Photo by Adams VisComSam Gregory in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol.' Photo by Adams VisCom
  • The Christians: 'The play is a pathway to empathy'

    by John Moore | Dec 01, 2016

    In this video interview courtesy of and conducted by Playwrights Horizons, Lucas Hnath talks about his new play The Christians, which will be staged by the DCPA Theatre Company from Jan. 27 through Feb. 26, 2017.


    According to the Pew Research Institute, 70 percent of Americans identify themselves as persons of faith. Yet they remain a largely underserved audience group in the American theatre. And when companies do take on stories about religion, Alissa Wilkinson wrote last year for Christianity Today, “The New York theatre scene is not noted for its religious acumen or open-mindedness.”

    The DCPA Theatre Company has bucked that trend by regularly and responsibly addressing complex questions of faith in a variety of recent plays spanning Two Things You Don’t Talk About at Dinner, Shadowlands, Benediction, The 12 and now, Lucas Hnath’s The Christians.

    The Christians Quote Kent ThompsonProducing Artistic Director Kent Thompson doesn’t think of the local trend as overtly serving the faith-based. That’s because any compelling drama must, in some way, question an audience’s core beliefs, he says — whether the subject of the story is religion or not. That’s the cornerstone of good storytelling.

    “What is intentional for me is that I am always interested in looking at moments in our lives where events happen, and your beliefs are profoundly shaken — and you have to figure out how to move on,” Thompson said. “Maybe that means within your faith. But you don’t only find faith in religion. Faith can be in all kinds of movements, whether you're talking about civil rights or the environment or otherwise.”

    Hnath, like Thompson, is a Preacher’s Kid (or “P.K.”). Thompson’s father was a well-known Southern Baptist preacher and, his son says, a mesmerizing storyteller. Hnath’s mother is an evangelical minister and he thought he might follow in her footsteps until playwriting lured him away. Although The Christians didn’t pull him too far from the world he knew.

    “I was having a very difficult time thinking of other contemporary plays that took on the subject of religion, and specifically Christianity, that did so without satirizing it or prompting us to roll our eyes at ‘those Christians,’” Hnath told The New York Times. “It seemed to me that there was a lack of effort to try to understand what’s at stake in those beliefs.”

    The Christians takes place in an evangelical megachurch that serves a flock of nearly 20,000 followers. Thompson likens the leaders of these institutions to mayors of small cities. The founder of this church is Pastor Paul, who creates a deep schism among his flock when he announces a ground-shaking epiphany that has changed his personal opinion about a fundamental belief regarding eternal salvation. The theological fallout within his congregation will be enormous.

    “The thing I love about this piece is that we are all human beings, and it's all so very complex,” Thompson said. “All theatre is about conflict — but then you have to figure out the path forward, either as a group or independently. How do you deal with events that challenge your core beliefs?  It’s the hero’s journey, and that has really become my obsession.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Thompson said audiences who do not attend megachurches might be unfamiliar with their institutional structure. These churches are essentially independent businesses and are often not affiliated with traditional denominations.

    “There might be a series of beliefs that these churches share,” Thompson said, “but each church hires its own pastor. It's not like the Catholic or Episcopal church where you are appointed by an established religious hierarchy.”  

    In Pastor Paul’s case, his changing beliefs are his own. “But this is how he now perceives God's word to be,” Thompson said, “and he believes profoundly that this is where he must take this community for the next step in its spiritual development.”

    In doing so, Thompson insists Hnath is not making a playwriting statement about anyone’s religious beliefs. “That isn't about pointing the figure at these Christians and judging them in any way,” Thompson said. “It's about watching these dynamics play out that are intensely personal and very human.”

    Lucas Hnath. The ChristiansThe bones of the play, Hnath says, are secretly those of Antigone, Sophocles' play about the daughter of Oedipus who defies her uncle's law to bury her brother. In the end, Hnath says, The Christians is "a pathway to empathy."

    He describes the play itself as “a kind of sermon.” Sometimes it’s a literal sermon, he teases, “and sometimes it’s made up of scenes that use the formal elements of a sermon.” In addition to Pastor Paul, the audience will be introduced to his wife, an associate pastor, a church elder and a younger congregant.  Every performance includes an on-stage praise band made up of eight singers and three musicians.

    Hnath admits his play is made up of intentional ambiguities and contradictory opinions. No single argument “wins.” There’s no resolution.

    “A church is a place where people go to see something that is very difficult to see,” he said in an interview with Playwrights Horizons. “A church is a place where the invisible is — at least for a moment — made visible. The theatre can be that too.”

    Thompson had an opportunity to speak with Hnath about the commonalities in their upbringings, and what the playwright thought was most important that Thompson get right.

    “First, that we present every person on stage as a fully developed and complex human being,” Thompson said. “And to really ensure this is dramatic and emotionally engaging and moving, and not only for what we would call a Christian community, but for any community. Whether that’s theatre-lovers who don't go to church or those who do, or the public at large. Because the journey here is core to the human endeavor. That makes The Christians a story for everyone.”

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


    The Christians:
    Ticket information

    The ChristiansAt a glance: Pastor Paul inspires faith in the members of his growing congregation through his preaching. But when he brings up unexpected questions during a sermon, his changing perspective may ask too much of his followers. Featuring live music at every performance.

    Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    Written by Lucas Hnath
    Directed by Kent Thompson
    Jan. 27-Feb. 26, 2017   
    Stage Theatre
    ASL Interpreted and Audio-Described Performance: 1:30 p.m. Feb. 12
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Making of The Christians: Photo gallery

    Making of 'The Christians' Photos from the making of 'The Christians at the DCPA. To see more, click the forward arrown on the image above. More will be added as the process continues. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

  • 2016 True West Award: Jada Suzanne Dixon

    by John Moore | Dec 01, 2016
    Jada Suzanne Dixon True West Award


    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 1:
    Jada Suzanne Dixon

    2016 may have the most been the most volatile year in a tense and divided America since 1968. More than 1,000 people have been killed by police, and more than 130 police have been killed in the line of duty. During a hotly contested presidential election, Donald Trump brazenly called Hillary Clinton a bigot. Clinton brazenly retorted that Trump was normalizing white nationalism. "Black Lives Matter" became not only a movement - but a flash point. People aren't just talking about race and politics. They're shouting about race and politics.

    Live theatre can be a refuge from the din because, for 90 minutes at least, audiences have no choice but to listen, if not hear. But theatre is also, by the necessities of long-term scheduling, often a year or two behind the national conversation.
    Jada Suzanne Dixon True West Award
    Not in 2016.

    As protests spilled onto America's streets over race and politics, plays about race and politics spilled onto many of our local stages. And smack in the middle of two was Jada Suzanne Dixon, who took on incendiary roles in two incendiary plays that spoke with uncommon urgency to our volatile national problem that permeated the entire election season.

    Dixon (formerly Roberts) played the only black character in Curious Theatre's White Guy on the Bus. Bruce Graham's literary Molotov cocktail essentially ridicules white people for the ultra-P.C. ways in which they talk about race. Until the main character's wife, an educator, is brutally murdered. He then sweetly preys on Dixon's character, Shatique, a struggling stand-up single mother, for her help in exacting his revenge.

    Dixon was a revelation. Westword's Juliet Wittman wrote: "Jada Dixon, sitting in shadow during the evening’s final moments, commands your attention. You see it all on her face – Shatique’s weariness, rage and pain; her intense and terrible loneliness – and can only wonder at the courage it takes to reveal such emotional depths."

    Dixon then dove head-first into the other end of the American cesspool in Local Theater Company's world-premiere of Meridith Friedman's The Firestorm. Here she played a  highly successful lawyer and wife of a white man on the verge of becoming governor. But when a scandal hits, the power couple begins to fracture. It's very Clintonesque, only with additional and uncomfortable racial undertones that call into question the interracial couple's motivations for marrying in the first place.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Dixon, Denver-raised and NYU-trained, has been a powerful if sadly intermittent  presence on Denver stages for 20 years. In 2016, she morphed before our eyes from a poor and powerless woman facing an impossible dilemma into a poised and privileged political partner. (And opposite two of Denver's most formidable leading men in Sam Gregory and Tim McCracken.)

    At a time when our country is facing such divisiveness in regard to race, power, politics and unseemly human behavior, there was no better time for a strong woman of color not only to emerge on the stage, but to allow audiences to discover - and consider - two strong and very different women of color.

     

    Jada Suzanne Dixon/At a glance:

    • High School: Bishop Machebeuf Catholic High School
    • College: New York University, Tisch
    • Additional training: Harvard - American Repertory Theatre
    • Artistic Company Member, Curious Theatre Company
    • Denver Center tie: She was in the cast of the DCPA Theatre Company's black odyssey


    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS

    The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org


    THE 2015 TRUE WEST AWARDS IN REVIEW
    Day 1: Rachel D. Graham
    Day 2: BALLS! A Holiday Spectacular
    Day 3: Creede Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season
    Day 4: Laurence Curry
    Day 5: Bernie Cardell
    Day 6: Susan Lyles
    Day 7: John Jurcheck
    Day 8: Christopher L. Sheley
    Day 9: DCPA Education's 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot'
    Day 10: Man and Monster: Todd Debreceni and TJ Hogle
    Day 11: Shauna Johnson
    Day 12: Geoffrey Kent and Benjamin Bonenfant
    Day 13: Sesugh Solomon Tor-Agbidye
    Day 14: Keith Ewer
    Day 15: Allison Watrous
    Day 16: Jonathan Farwell
    Day 17: Bob, Wendy and Missy Moore
    Day 18: Emma Messenger
    Day 19: Shannon McKinney
    Day 20: Mary Louise Lee and Yasmine Hunter
    Day 21: Charlie Miller and Emily Tarquin
    Day 22: Scott Beyette
    Day 23: Augustus Truhn
    Day 24: Jimmy Bruenger
    Day 25: The Masters of Props: Rob Costigan, Peki Pineda and Becky Toma
    Day 26: Jalyn Courtenay Webb
    Day 27: Andre Rodriguez
    Day 28: Rebecca Remaly
    Day 29: Mark Collins
    Day 30: Phamaly Theatre Company's Cabaret
    Bonus: Donald R. Seawell
  • Video, photos: Terry Dodd life celebration

    by John Moore | Nov 30, 2016

     


    Terry Dodd. Hitchcock Dreaming. Photo by John Moore. Click the video above to watch highlights from the Terry Dodd life celebration held Monday, Nov. 28, at the Arvada Center. Dodd, a longtime Denver playwright and director, died of a heart attack on Oct. 12. About 400 gathered to honor Dodd with stories, remembrances and readings from some of his notable plays. The host was John Ashton. Click here for information on the new Terry Dodd Memorial Writer's Scholarship established by the Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Photo above and right: Amy Elizabeth Gray and Seth Palmer Harris performing a scene from Dodd's final play, Hitchcock Dreaming.

    Read more: Terry Dodd: A playwright, director who bled empathy

    Listen in: Terry Dodd's 2006 podcast interview with John Moore


    Photo gallery: Terry Dodd life celebration

    Terry Dodd Life Celebration

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Video: Behind the Scenes at 'A Christmas Carol': Making the hats

    by John Moore | Nov 30, 2016

    In this first video in our series taking you backstage to the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's 2016 staging of A Christmas Carol, DCPA Costume Crafts Director Kevin Copenhaver explains some of his secrets in creating the show's signature hats. Video by David Lenk.


    The making of A Christmas Carol: Our photo gallery

    A Christmas Carol 2016

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


    A Christmas Carol:
    Ticket information

    A Christmas CarolAt a glance: Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, this joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations.

    Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    By Charles Dickens
    Adapted for the stage by Richard Hellesen
    Music by David de Berry
    Directed by Melissa Rain Anderson
    Through Dec. 24
    Stage Theatre
    ASL Interpreted and Audio-Described Performance: 1:30 p.m. Dec 11
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of A Christmas Carol
    Costume Corner: What's new with A Christmas Carol?
    A Christmas Carol
    undergoes its own rebirth with new director, star
    Cast lists: A Christmas Carol, The SantaLand Diaries begin anew
    Video: Leslie O'Carroll performs A Christmas Carol in five minutes
    Photos, video: Philip Pleasants takes final bow as Scrooge

    Kevin Copenhaver. A Christmas Carol
  • In the Spotlife: Jane Shirley of 'Santa's Big Red Sack'

    by John Moore | Nov 29, 2016
    Jane Shirley
    Michael O'Shea, Derek Hartman, Jeff Kosloski and Jane Shirley in the Avenue Theater's 'Santa's Big Red Sack.' Photo by Steve Hirsch.

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

    MEET JANE SHIRLEY

    She plays multiple characters in the Avenue Theater's 'Santa's Big Red Sack,' a holiday tradition that began when Shirley and her husband, Dave, opened the Rattlebrain Comedy Theater (now Lannie's) in 2002. 'Santa's Big Red Sack' runs through Dec. 24.

    • Jane Shirley Quote Hometown: Norman, Okla.
    • Home now: Denver
    • High school: Norman
    • College: BFA from Oklahoma State University and masters degree from the University of Northern Colorado
    • What have you done for us lately? I played multiple characters in the Avenue Theater's Motherhood Out Loud.
    • What's next? I will be playing Lonely 2 in Oddville – opening at the Avenue Theater next spring.
    • What is Santa's Big Red Sack all about? The absurdities that are all around us during the holiday season and the love and joy that abounds when you just give in to the silliness of it all.     .
    • Tell us about the challenge of jumping into Santa's Big Red Sack: The actors handle all props and set changes in this show. I play 11 different characters, so I have to be very organized about costume changes and props placement. I am not an organized person. So that’s a challenge.
    • What do you love most about the challenge? I love getting to do original work, and I love creating with an ensemble. We first opened Santa in 2002, and every year we create new things. I also love it when people who come to the show let me know that they saw us do improv at Governor’s Park or first saw us when we opened the Clocktower. It makes me feel old, but I still love it.
    • What's one thing most people don't know about you? I was a high-school principal for 10 years and had the opportunity to create my dream school - the kind of school I wish I could have attended. It’s still going strong and remains one of the coolest schools on the planet. 
    • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? If we really want improve our communities and solve the world’s most complex challenges, then we need to change our thinking about the purpose of education. Currently, we have a school system designed to sort kids and one which disenfranchises some of our most talented and creative youth. We have a definition of success that stems from a narrow set of metrics that no one even cares about in the real world. Let’s instead demand schools that nurture curiosity and insist that kids create things, replacing standardized tests with original work. If we can turn our schools into creative communities, then we’ll be graduating students who are truly prepared to lead us into a better future.

     Jane Shirley. Photo by Steve Hirsch

    The cast of 'Santa's Big Red Sack. Photo by Steve Hirsch.



    Santa's Big Red Sack: Ticket information
    • Written by ensemble
    • Through Dec. 24
    • Presented by the Avenue Theater, 417 E. 17th Ave.
    • Performances: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays; 4 p.m. Sundays; 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21, and 4 p.m. Christmas Eve, Dec. 24
    • Tickets $27.50
    • Info: Call 303-321-5925 or go to the avenue’s home page

    Cast list:

    • Jane Shirley
    • Michael O'Shea
    • Jeff Kosloski
    • Derek Hartman

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre'sThe Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Angela Mendez of Beauty and the Beast
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Colorado Gives Day: Links to all 40 participating theatre nonprofits

    by John Moore | Nov 28, 2016
    DCPA Education Teen Playwriting
    Every year the DCPA introduces more than 84,000 students of all ages to the theatre arts, including a statewide playwriting competition. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is just one of 1,800 worthy nonprofits that greatly benefit from Colorado Gives Day, an annual statewide effort to increase philanthropy in Colorado through online giving. The 7-year-old program is administered through Community First Foundation and FirstBank. The mantra: "Give Where You Live."

    CGD logo 600Colorado Gives Day raised $28.4 million in 2015. Since its inception in 2010, the event has raised more than $111 million for Colorado nonprofits.

    This year, Colorado Gives Day falls on Tuesday, Dec. 6 - but donors can schedule donations for their favorite nonprofits in advance.

    Because it can be a bit overwhelming for givers to sort through 1,800 worthy organizations, we have compiled a list that should be handy for givers with a particular interest in live theatre: Direct links to the giving pages for all 40 local theatre organizations that are eligible to participate in this year's Colorado Gives Day.

    Like what you see? Click and give. (Look for the CO GIVES DAY button.) You also can choose to set up monthly donations of any amount if you feel so compelled.

    To sweeten the pot (literally), Colorado Gives Day features a $1 Million Incentive Fund. Every nonprofit receiving a donation on Colorado Gives Day receives a portion of this fund, which increases the value of every dollar donated. Questions? Click here

    (Pictured above right: The DCPA is joining other local theatre companies for a theatre-specific Colorado Gives Day Kickoff Happy Hour hosted by the Denver Actors Fund from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29. The public is encouraged to attend. (This is a party, not a giving event.



    THEATRE ORGANIZATIONS PARTICIPATING IN COLORADO GIVES DAY

    Arvada Center

    Audience of 1 Youth Theatre

    Augustana Arts

    Backdoor Theatre

    Backstage Breckenridge

    Bas Bleu Theatre

    Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company

    Boulder Fringe

    Buntport Theater

    Buntport Theater for All Ages

    The Catamounts

    CenterStage Theatre Company (Louisville)

    Cherry Creek Theatre

    Colorado Acts

    Creede Repertory Theatre

    Curious Theatre Company

    CYT Denver

    Debut Theatre Company

    Denver Actors Fund

    Denver Center for the Performing Arts

    Denver School of the Arts Friends Foundation

    The Edge Theatre

    The Evergreen Chorale

    Evergreen Players

    Fort Collins Children’s Theatre

    Historic Elitch Gardens Theatre Foundation

    Ignite Theatre

    Lake Dillon Theatre Company

    Local Theater Company

    Longmont Theatre Company

    Magic Moments

    Miners Alley Playhouse

    Motus Theater

    Northglenn Arts

    OpenStage Theatre Company

    Performance Now Theatre Company

    Phamaly Theatre Company

    Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre

    StageDoor Theatre

    Stories On Stage

    Su Teatro

    Thingamajig Theatre Company

    Thunder River Theatre Company

    Town Hall Arts Center

     The Venue Theatre Company

  • John Cameron Mitchell on the ageless appeal of Hedwig

    by John Moore | Nov 27, 2016

    John Cameron Mitchell Quote. Photo by Nick Vogelson.John Cameron Mitchell photo by Nick Vogelson.

    John Cameron Mitchell knows the impact his underground rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch has had on a generation of misfits over the past 20 years. It's not overstating to say his musical has saved lives by giving those who have felt divided or separated a place to belong.

    But even now, after Hedwig’s long journey from a gay New York nightclub to off-Broadway to a cult-hit film and on to Broadway before now its first, Denver-bound national touring production, Mitchell thinks perhaps he’s perhaps not the best person to assess the show’s lasting cultural impact.

    “I feel wonderful when people say it has changed their lives - and I am assuming they mean that in a good way,” Mitchell said from San Francisco in advance of Hedwig’s Dec. 6 opening in Denver with Euan Morton (Taboo) starring as Hedwig.

    “I think the most common positive effect I hear is that the show is so specific about someone who is so unique that it creates space in people's lives to find themselves. I think that ‘s one of the important things about any good, fictional narrative piece: It's true enough that you can buy its logic. Obviously you have to care. And ideally you have metaphors and ideas that resonate in your life.”

    Stephen Trask: There are Thors all around us

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch has a big idea at its core: Co-written by Stephen Trask, the show is essentially a rock concert featuring a genderqueer singer who is following a rock star and former lover named Tommy Gnosis around the country. Between songs, Hedwig tells the harrowing details of her shocking life, including how she was born a boy in communist East Germany and underwent a botched sex-change operation to marry an American soldier who then abandoned her in a Kansas trailer park. Now Hedwig seems doomed to search (or stalk) the earth for her "other half,” who may or may not be Tommy Gnosis.

    There is an ambitious metaphor running underneath all of this as well: The story is steeped in "The Origin of Love,” a cautionary tale related by Aristophanes in “Plato's Symposium.” It's about about how the vengeful god Thor long ago split the three sexes of human beings down to two - damning all descendants of prehistoric man to an unending search for whatever is missing in us.

    “ ‘The Origin of Love’ is a myth that can be interpreted in a lot of ways,” Mitchell said. “What your ‘other half’ is can be many things. It was originally talked about in a romantic way, but it's flexible enough that you can think of it in a religious way, too. You can also think of it in a personal, internal way of seeking a certain wholeness. That idea is really strong for a lot of people.

    “Everyone is a misfit and a loser – or they have felt that way. Everyone is fighting a battle, and Hedwig’s battle is particularly hard. But she laughs at it, and that makes it a communal thing. That resonates, especially in this cyber, anti-empathy moment that the industrialized world is in right now.”

    How so?

    “Let's just say that looking at screens has not done much for people's compassion. When you can't see a face, you tend to not really hear what people are saying.”

    The video above shows John Cameron Mitchell singing 'Origin of Love' in the 2001 film version of 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch.'

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch was inspired in large part by Mitchell’s visits to his parents’ home in 1980s Cold War Berlin. John’s father, Army Maj. Gen. John H. Mitchell, was in charge of all U.S. military forces in West Germany and stood behind Ronald Reagan in 1987 as the president famously demanded, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” The character of Hedwig was specifically inspired by a real woman who babysat Mitchell when he was a boy. She was an actual German, divorced U.S. Army wife who moonlighted as a prostitute from her trailer-park home in Junction City, Kansas.

    From 2005: Mitchell’s parents are tearing down a wall

    Although Mitchell created Hedwig onstage, Tommy is the character based on Mitchell himself. Both are gay, the sons of an army general and from deeply Roman Catholic homes. Hedwig became the story's protagonist when Trask encouraged Mitchell to showcase their earliest material in 1994 at a drag-punk nightclub called Squeezebox, where Trask headed the house band and Mitchell's longtime partner, Jack Steeb, played bass.

    It would be 20 years before Hedwig would make it to Broadway. And by then, at age 51, the right person to play Hedwig was no longer Mitchell, who instead happily handed the wig over to the man he calls “America’s sweetheart,” Neil Patrick Harris. He was followed by a steady stream of bankable stars including Michael C. Hall, Darren Criss, Taye Diggs, Andrew Rannells and, for three months … John Cameron Mitchell.

    Yes, after the show was an established hit on Broadway, Mitchell decided to step back into Hedwig’s heels and bring his personal journey full circle. He says he took on the challenge as a way to shake himself free from the complacency he felt stuck in following the deaths of Steeb in 2005 and his father, from Alzheimers disease, in 2012.

    “It was just like the old days, but somehow better because there was less at stake,” said Mitchell. "I was just having fun."

    Here are excerpts from more of John Cameron Mitchell’s wide-ranging conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore covering, among other things, Mitchell’s time in both the original Broadway cast of “The Secret Garden” and the DCPA Theatre Company’s “Peter Pan.” 

    John Cameron Mitchell Books


    John Moore: When we last talked in 2011, even though there had been talk, you thought there was no way Hedwig would make it all the way to Broadway. What changed?

    John Cameron Mitchell: The world changed. And Broadway changed. The idea of rock 'n roll on stage, the idea of drag and the idea of an unusual story became less frightening. It was just time, and we wanted to make sure we had the right person playing Hedwig, so we waited until Neil Patrick Harris was free to do it. That was the right move because he was America's sweetheart. That allowed people to not be afraid of it. It was just the right time. And now we are on a national tour, which seems crazy because back in the day, people weren't ready for it.

    John Moore: After so many years, what did it mean for you to finally be able to play Hedwig on Broadway?

    John Cameron Mitchell: It was very exciting. I hadn't really performed onstage in 15 years, so I was kind of nervous. I knew it would turn out right but it was physically really hard and I was sick during rehearsals, and my voice wasn't what it used to be. I had to lower some keys. So it was definitely hard. And then when I got in front of an audience, it was awesome.

    John Moore: How was the crowd response?

    John Cameron Mitchell: It was a very loving audience the whole time, so we could do anything. I tried to not be pandering. I don't want it to become a Rocky Horror, where you are winking at it too much. So it was wonderful - but it was hard. I was used to doing someone else's choreography, and I hurt my knee. I had to do a lot of it in a leg brace. But that was just an opportunity for more rewrites, which was fun, too.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: You created that character at such a specific time in your own young life that I can't help but wonder – has the character fundamentally changed with the passage of time?

    John Cameron Mitchell Quote 3John Cameron Mitchell: Yeah. We kept the story happening now, as in today, which means we pushed up when she met Tommy to the 2000s. And that meant instead of grunge jokes, we have Creed jokes. Because Creed was the horrifying progeny of grunge - the misshapen, deformed child of grunge. It was fun to rewrite some jokes but the structure of the show was still very solid, and it still works. But yes, the character can age. The story can be told at any time. It's a role you can do at any age.

    John Moore: So does the story hit you differently with 22 years under your boots?

    John Cameron Mitchell: Some of the things were just more important than others in terms of what the story is now. I felt more compassion for Hedwig's (bleeped)-up parents.

    John Moore: What has it been like for you seeing a steady stream of celebrities playing your signature character?

    John Cameron Mitchell: I don't feel possessive about it in any way. I love seeing other people do it. And every Hedwig has a different take on it. Darren Criss, who just did the role here in San Francisco, is quite young, so his performance was very ebullient and super-improvised. When someone is older and beat cancer like Michael C. Hall has, it has a different feeling. We will always tailor the role for the actor. 

    Euan Morton John Moore: When we talked about Hedwig's road to Broadway, it was a given that it would have to be star-driven, or it just wouldn't have happened. But the road is different. Euan Morton is a Tony Award-nominated actor, but he isn't a household name. How much does it matter that when it goes out on the road, people in Denver might not have heard of him?

    John Cameron Mitchell: The pressure on Broadway was harder because you had more seats to fill, and the ticket price was higher. You had to have some kind of name or you were going to close. On the tour, we are selling "the show." So there is a certain release in being able to cast the best, as opposed to someone who is really good that is also famous. I have to say that I am really, really excited about Euan. His audition was spectacular. It was the best that I have ever seen for Hedwig. I am going to be talking special care with him to give him the benefit of what I know and help him out along the way - because I have a sneaking suspicion that he could be spectacular. 

    John Moore: How much freedom does each actor playing Hedwig have to make the role their own? 

    John Cameron Mitchell: They are actually required to make the role their own. That's part of the process. I don't do that for them. Some people are more comfortable with improvising than others. And some might over-improvise. I am very clear with them that there are some sections where they might find it easier to improvise and it won't mess up the internal structure. Neil Patrick Harris came up some jokes that were so good I kept them in the script. And then there were some new things that I came up with. The script is a living document, like the Constitution, only with different Founding Fathers adding their lines to it. It’s the pursuit of unhappiness in our case. That's what I love about it.

    DSA students join 25th anniversary Secret Garden concert

    John Moore: A left turn before we go: The DCPA Theatre Company is about to stage a 25th anniversary production of The Secret Garden, and since you originated the role of Dickon on Broadway in 1991, I have to ask your thoughts on that show now.

    John Cameron Mitchell: I saw a concert performance in New York earlier this year and Daisy Eagan, who won the Tony Award playing Mary Lennox, played an adult role in it. She was great. But it's funny. It's interesting going back to things that you were in when you were young and look at what still resonates and what doesn't. I am still am very touched by it. There are some corny moments, but there are some gorgeous moments as well. I am a sucker for the orphan trying to find her way. I love Oliver. I love Annie. I love orphans - especially in British settings. I can't help it.  

    Peter Pan John Cameron Mitchell. DCPA Theatre CompanyJohn Moore: I also wanted to let you now that next summer, an acclaimed local theatre company called Phamaly, which makes performance opportunities available for actors with disabilities, will be staging Peter Pan in the very same Stage Theatre where you starred for the DCPA Theatre Company in 1996. What do you think?

    John Cameron Mitchell: Whoa. I think a sword fight with wheelchairs is something that I would fly to Denver to see. I am kind of dorky, physically, in real life, but when I am on stage, I suddenly gain superpowers. As Peter Pan, someone could throw a sword across the stage and I could always catch it at the hilt. Whereas in life, I throw like a girl and drop a ball like a little boy. So there could be some surprising physical things that happen when that adrenaline is flowing. I don't know if anyone in a wheelchair is going to be picking up a Toyota off a child, but let them know that if you believe, and you clap your hands, strange things are going to happen. It sounds like a beautiful idea. The idea of Lost Boys being all kids who are challenged is an amazing metaphor, isn't it?

    John Cameron Mitchell Quote 2(Photo above right: John Cameron Mitchell starring as Peter Pan for the DCPA Theatre Company in 1996.)

    John Moore: It is. Part of that company's whole philosophy is: We all have disabilities - only some of them, you can't see.

    John Cameron Mitchell: That is very true, and the mental and emotional disabilities that otherwise able-bodied people are experiencing can be much more destructive. You can see that happening in politics right now.

    (Note to readers: The Radical Faeries describe themselves a group that “tends to be gay men who are looking for a spiritual dimension to our sexuality; many of us are healers of one kind or another. Our shared values include feminism, respect for the Earth, and individual responsibility rather than hierarchy.”)

    John Moore: The last time we saw you in Denver, you were on theJohn Cameron Mitchell Nick Sugar road with the Radical Faeries. You stopped by Lost Lake on East Colfax to DJ a dance set and meet the cast of a local production of Hedwig. Do you still pop in and do that kind of thing?

    (Photo right: John Cameron Mitchell with one of Denver's past Hedwigs, Nick Sugar, at Lost Lake in 2011. Photo by John Moore.)

    John Cameron Mitchell: Yeah, we still do a party in New York once a month. We have about five different DJs. We did a party in Austin and we did Halloween at a place near San Francisco. Next, my new composer and I are going on a road trip for a month to write for my new musical.

    Mitchell and Trask: The two halves of Hedwig's whole

    John Moore: And how much can we know about your new musical?

    John Cameron Mitchell: Nothing. Because I am still figuring it out.

    John Moore: OK, so, last question: Have we seen the last of John Cameron Mitchell playing Hedwig?

    John Cameron Mitchell: I am sure I will do it one more time when I am in my 70s - in a chair. I'm just sure the keys will be very low.

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

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

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    Hedwig's Stephen Trask: There are Thors all around us
    Mitchell and Trask: The two halves of Hedwig's whole
    Casting: Euan Morton to don Hedwig's wig on national tour
    Hedwig named to Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season
    Hedwig creator’s parents are tearing down a wall
  • In the Spotlife: Angela Mendez of 'Beauty and the Beast'

    by John Moore | Nov 25, 2016
    Angela Mendez in Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Christine Fisk
    Angela Mendez in Vintage Theatre's 'Beauty and the Beast.' Photo by Christine Fisk.

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

    MEET ANGELA MENDEZ

    Belle in Vintage Theatre's 'Beauty and the Beast,' running now through Jan. 15.

    • Hometown: Lakewood
    • Home now: Denver
    • High school: D’Evelyn
    • College: Regis University
    • Angela MendezWhat have you done for us lately? I played Jo in the Aurora Fox's Little Women, the Musical, and was part of the ensemble that traveled with Director Christy Montour-Larson to perform I Am Alive a musical about the Armenian massacre, at the Alex Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • At its core, what is Beauty and the Beast about? It's about getting to know people. Looking past what is on the outside and falling in love with what you find underneath. Well, that and dancing dinnerware.
    • Tell us about the challenge of playing your Belle: Like many of our audience members, I grew up watching the original animated version of Beauty and the Beast on endless repeat in my living room. If you say “Little Town, it’s a quiet village…” to a group of people, before long they will answer back every villager’s, “Bonjour!” and continue into Gaston’s “Right from the moment when I met her, saw her…”  without needing much prompting.  This is an iconic soundtrack that lives in our memory banks. With my character, Belle (originally voiced by Paige O’Hara), my determined task is to take what I loved about the original and then freshen her up and ground her in my life experiences. What is most important to me is to unearth what is not cartoonish in Belle’s story, but real and human and true.
    • What do you love most about the Colorado theatre community? Clay White, our director, has brought together the most warm and generous collective of people to bring this show to the Vintage stage. The production staff, crew and cast are all such exceptional people to be around. The glow they bring to a room is very real, and does not stop when we finish running a scene. When a room has that kind of palpable warmth, you get all the more excited to bring an audience into the experience.
    • Angela Mendez. Aurora Fox's Little WomenWhat's one thing most people don't know about you? I’m a bit of an ambivert - a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert qualities. I love people, but I often forget to ask them out to coffee.  So, if you ever need a listening ear, or a friend, hit me up. I like you. 
    • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? Denver theatre family: Love your actors. Develop their talent. Mentor them. Teach them. Put food in their bellies. Give them dollars for their time. Kindle the sparks in an actor and you are sure to see that magic reflected on the stage and in the world.

    (Pictured above right: Angela Mendez, far right, with Jenna Bainbridge, Katie Jackson and Chloe McLeod in the Aurora Fox's 2015 'Little Women.' Pictured below: Mendez with James Francis in Vintage Theatre's 'Beauty and the Beast.' Photo by Christine Fisk.).

    Angela Mendez in Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Christine Fisk.

    Beauty and the Beast
    :
    Ticket information

    • Written by Alan Menken; Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Linda Woolverton
    • Directed by Clay White and Trent Hines
    • Through Jan. 15
    • Presented by Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St. in Aurora
    • Performances: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Sundays; 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5
    • Tickets $28-$31
    • Info: Call 303-856-7830, or go to vintagetheatre.org 

    Cast List:

    • Angela Mendez (Belle)
    • James Francis (Beast/Prince)
    • Craig Ross (Maurice)
    • David Gordon (Gaston)
    • Ben Hilzer (Lefou)
    • Preston Lee Briton (Lumiere)
    • Caitlin Conklin (Babette)
    • Jeffrey Jesmer (Cogsworth)
    • Onna Poeter (Madame De La Grande Bouche)
    • Suzanne Connors Nepi (Mrs. Potts)
    • Sullivan McConell (Chip)
    • Ensemble: Michael Barlow, Court Clark, Jessica Clayton, Holly Joyce Dalton, Gina Eslinger, Katie Jackson, Kayla Mally, Jordan Manchego, Eli Stewart. and Ryan Walkoviak

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre'sThe Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Last year at this time, Sharon Kay White was in another Arvada Center holiday production, 'Irving Berlin's White Christmas,' with Paul Page. Photo P. Switzer.
  • Hedwig's Stephen Trask: There are Thors all around us

    by John Moore | Nov 22, 2016

    Stephen Trask photo by Bruce Gilkas
    Stephen Trask photo by Bruce Gilkas.


    Hedwig is an iconic fictional character divided by gender, born out of one divided nation and now living in another. Birthed from two creators who imagined a world where from its earliest form, love itself was violently divided by an angry and capricious god of lightning.

    Her two makers, Stephen Trask and John Cameron Mitchell, have been divided throughout their own lives by their own forms of otherness. Yet for the past 18 years, their cult-favorite rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch has told the rocking, wrenching and ultimately healing story of a woman seeking wholeness.

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch was born in a raucous gay New York nightclub called Squeezebox. It grew into a seminal off-Broadway production that ran for nearly three years before being made into an underground phenom movie. Finally, in 2014, Hedwig arrived tattered and triumphant on Broadway, where it won three Tony Awards including best revival. Now, as it embarks on its first tour of the American heartland, Trask sees the opportunity for a divided America to stop shouting and start singing … fist-pumping and full-throated.

    “I'd like to see a world where people don't have to spend as much mental energy dividing us all into categories of us vs. them or as a series of 'others,' ” Trask said on the eve of Hedwig’s arrival in Denver on Dec. 6. “ I hope people can come to understand that the categories we have grouped ourselves in are really just states of mind. I hope we all will be able to love each other more and share the planet better.”

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock concert, during which our heroine intermittently reveals the intimate details of her shocking life. Hedwig was born a boy in communist East Germany and underwent a brutal sex-change operation to marry an American soldier who takes her to Kansas and abandons her there. Now she travels the country following a young boy named Tommy Gnosis whom she believes has stolen her music, her fame and half of her soul. The origin of her emptiness – indeed of our universal human emptiness, she believes – is explained in the song "Origin of Love," which tells of the petty god Thor, who used lightning bolts to split prehistoric man in half, damning all descendants to an unending search for our "other half.”

    And in the wake of this bitterly fought election season, Trask sees plenty of Thors in our world who are creating divisions in every direction.

    “In the opening song, Hedwig comes out and she says very defiantly that she's right in the middle of all of these divides,” Trask said. “And it's not just gender divides. It's a lot of divides. But she tells us, ‘Hey, there ain't much of a difference between a bridge and a wall. And without me right in the middle, babe, you would be nothin' at all.’

    “What she means is, you can look at that thing that is dividing you, that wall, and say that's actually a connecting point. The thing that is dividing us is actually also what makes us have stuff in common. What's binding us is our common humanity. And if we tear down those mental constructs as much as possible, the whole world just opens up in a way that makes life better - not just for other people, but for yourself.”

    The video above shows John Cameron Mitchell singing 'Origin of Love' in the 2001 film version of 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch.'

    In advance of Hedwig’s arrival in Denver starting Dec. 6, Stephen Trask opened up for a wide-ranging conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore covering how he and John Cameron Mitchell first conceived the Hedwig character, how he approached writing the seminal song “Origin of Love,” and much more – including his blunt response to the blunt question, “Do you feel like you have gotten your share of the credit over the years?” Along the way, Trask references Barbra Steisand, Dr. Seuss, The Clash and The Justice League of America, among others. Here are excerpts from that conversation:

    John Moore: The Hedwig story really starts at Squeezebox, where you were the bandleader. What was going on in your life and in the world that made that the right time and place for Hedwig to be born?

    Stephen Trask: I was a gay singer-songwriter trying to disguise my softer side in punk-rock music and glam-rock music. I had a band, and I think people were interested in what we were doing because the songs were melodic and the music was fun and the lyrics had meaning. But people were pretty put off by the idea of an outwardly gay singer-songwriter, particularly one for whom it wasn't really a political thing. For me it was political to not be political. Sometimes I might write a song about an issue, but we were not political in the way that The Clash were political. Politics was not the point of our band, so there really wasn't much room for us in the music scene. I got to be friends with Pat Briggs, who was one of the co-founders of Squeezebox. We both bonded over the fact that there really wasn't much space in the rock world for gay people, and there wasn't really a space for rock music in the gay world. He and Michael Schmidt decided to start this club and asked me if I would be the bandleader of it. It had reached the point where enough people now wanted to see a drag queen singing a real rock song instead of lip-syncing to a Barbra Streisand song. Or who wanted to hear a DJ who was playing rock music of all eras and punk rock and new-wave. And it turned out that there were a lot of people who wanted this. Squeezebox was a hit from the moment it opened its doors. Every week we put on a different show with a drag queen. I was leading a four-piece rock band, and it was basically the same lineup that's in the Hedwig band. That was also my band outside of the club.   

    So at the same time, John and I were working on a new show. There was no female character in it yet, but we started inventing her together - and I emphasize 'her' because if this character were to be a woman, and John were playing her, then that would mean I could get us a gig at Squeezebox. Hedwig was partly drawn on somebody John knew, and partly drawn on my experiences as a frustrated musician, which is part of her story, too. We thought she was going to be a minor part of this show but we kept getting gigs. And so we slowly developed this original show.

    John Moore: So the idea for John to play this failed rock star was really yours?

    Stephen Trask quote Stephen Trask: Oh, yeah. That was my idea. We had a rock-star character in our story that was loosely based on John who later became Tommy Gnosis. But frankly, and no offense to John, but he wasn't really that interesting of a character. Now, I am sure if we really wanted to make the story about John, we could have made it very interesting, but it wasn't really a subject we were getting very far with. I had taken a class in biography in college, and they taught us how to interview people. So I got my notebook out and I started interviewing John. I thought we would find some biographical material that we can use. And sure enough, he started telling me about this babysitter he had as a kid. And I just said, "John, why don't we take her and make her into a failed rock musician who used to have a relationship with our central rock-star character. But he went on to become famous, and she is left singing in dives, and she is bitter about it, and that's what she talks about. I'll write “Wicked Little Town,” her song of bitterness over never getting out of the town. You'll write a monologue and you'll play the character. We'll get her a wig and we'll put her in Squeezebox." And so that's kind of how it happened. We just sort of invented her right there in the room.

    John Moore: I've gotten to interview John a couple of times and one of the most meaningful stories I ever got to write was an interview with his parents, who were living in Colorado Springs when the first production of Hedwig was being staged down there. So I knew John's father was the high-ranking general based in Berlin who stood behind Reagan when he called on Gorbachev to tear down the wall. Now all of those biographical details seem to equate John's life more directly to the character of Tommy than Hedwig.

    Stephen Trask: Right.

    Mitchell and Trask: The two halves of Hedwig's whole

    John Moore: And so that would make you the internationally ignored sing stylist?

    Stephen Trask: That part's me. Absolutely. The person looking for her other half? That's John. And the internationally ignored song stylist? That’s me. We just kind of mashed it together. She's an odd character. Her biography is a bit of a fairy tale, but we were able to make it feel human because we were able to both tell our own story without being self-indulgent. I can talk about being a bitter rock star. I'm not actually bitter, but when you are a struggling musician, you want to make it. You don't want to be singing in dives. I can relate.      

    John Moore: So do you feel like you have gotten your share of the credit for creating this character over the years?

    Stephen Trask: No. Not one bit. No, not at all.

    John Moore: So speaking of Hedwig as of two halves of a whole, I guess the fair way to say it is that Hedwig really is half of both of you.

    Stephen Trask: Yeah, very much so. Yeah.




    John Moore: Well speaking of that very thing, I want to take advantage of the opportunity to ask you about the origin of "Origin of Love." When I was a reporter at the Denver Post, I wrote a column called "The 10 Most Gut-Scraping Songs of the Aughts," and I put "Origin of Love" on the list. I cheated a little bit by citing the Rufus Wainwright cover, because that put me in the right decade, but I specifically called out the song for your line, “I was looking at you. You had a way so familiar, but I could not recognize. ’Cause you had blood on your face; I had blood in my eyes.” I just want to know what gave you the confidence that you could distill everything that is going on in that story into a pop song and communicate all of its depth and complexity in three minutes.

    Stephen Trask: I first heard of the story because John bought me that book, "Plato's Symposium." He said to me, 'Can you write a song about this?' I was very into ambitious narrative songwriting. I was also obsessed with Lou Reed at the time. He had that huge mythic song called "Last Great American Whale," but he had tons of other songs that were just as hugely ambitious. And there was the Townes Van Zandt song "Pancho & Lefty." Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard did a spectacular cover of that one. I had been trying in different ways to write songs that tried to cover a lot of subject matter. So when John gave me this story, I knew this was something I could really sink my teeth into. The big thing I knew I was always leading up to was telling the story as a myth and then turning it personal at the end. Doing the whole thing in a way where you set up this really fascinating story and then make it gut-wrenching. It started out with me figuring out that I could get in by describing it in a kind of Dr. Seuss language. I had this book called "Happy Birthday to You" when I was growing up, and there is this really strange world described in this book. The drawings were these really spectacularly strange creatures. So I thought, “Well, let's describe this world before humans were cut down into their current size when there were just these big, huge two-faced, eight-limbed beings, and how can I tell this story like Dr. Seuss?” Once I figured that out, it came out almost all at once. It was just:

    When the earth was still flat,
    And clouds made of fire.
    Mountains stretched up to the sky.
    Sometimes higher.

    It’s very sing-songy. You can even imagine where the pages of the book turn, and what the pictures would look like.
     
    Folks roamed the earth.
    Like big rolling kegs.
    They had two sets of arms.
    They had two sets of legs.

    I imagined it from the start as an animated children's book. I asked myself, 'So who else would the gods have thought were threatening that they would have cut down, like dinosaurs into lizards, and cut the legs off of whales? I just imagined these vengeful gods taking these giant rival creatures and cutting them down to size. I also imagined kind of like The Justice League of America where the gods of all the religions all had one clubhouse together. A place where Thor is like a member of the Justice League. Where creatures from different myths all occupy the same space. It just unfolded like that, just trying to be extremely visual so that I could imagine this picture book that people could listen to and follow along the whole way.

    John Moore: The idea that we all have predestined soulmates is somewhat refuted by my favorite song in the score, "Wicked Little Town." So I am wondering: Do you believe that we have predestined soulmates or are you more the "Wicked Little Town" kind of a guy?

    The film version of the 'Wicked Little Town' reprise.


    Stephen Trask: I am a more the "Wicked Little Town Reprise" kind of guy, actually. John is the one who was very into the 'other half' idea. He's the one who gave me the Plato. When the show was oriented around a character based on John's life, we did explore this idea of, 'Who is my other half?' But that kind of went away. And so when I wrote what Tommy says to Hedwig, it was also me writing to John, saying, 'I don't actually believe in this concept of the other half. I think it's more the love you create with the people around you and the relationships you create with the people around you, rather than searching for the person you are destined for.   

    John Moore: So what did it mean to you when the show finally got a chance to be seen on Broadway after so many years?

    Stephen Trask: It was life-changing. It definitely put the work out there in a bigger way. It's one thing to have people go, 'Oh, I love that show!' every so often. It's another thing to actually have a lot of people who have seen it. I assume some people don't like it, but for some people, it's clearly life-changing. I tend to gravitate toward the people for whom it is life-changing. When you are doing something like that, you are talking to people. You are trying to put out these ideas, and they aren't, 'Oh, I wish I were a rock star.' Instead it's a discussion about how we construct our world into a series of dualities, and how the lines can be blurred or erased depending on your perspective. The discussion about love and whether love is something that is destined, or whether it is something that you find and recognize and nurture in the way that Tommy also sings about Hedwig. The reprise in "Wicked Little Town" is inspired by the idea of found objects becoming art. It's not just love as something you find as opposed to are destined for, but I believe the world is the thing that we make of it, and it's not really our destiny so much as what we do with who and what we are presented. So you want to get into a discussion like that, and you certainly don't want to be shouting off into the dark. So Broadway brought all of that to a wider audience. When people actually respond to it, and it begins a conversation, and it either has a profound effect on people's lives, or it begins a discussion or an argument, it feels good to have been a part of that.

    I also want to say that we ran the Broadway show as a year-and-a-half-long fundraiser for the Harvey Milk School. We ended up giving them more than $600,000. We are their biggest donor ever. Bigger than car companies. And so, if you feel like you are trying to create some good in the world, then that certainly did it. 

    John Moore: Tell me about solving the specific problem of telling the story on Broadway when the whole idea of the story is based on Hedwig playing in dive bars and bowling alleys? I saw the show on Broadway, and you guys clearly had a lot of fun acknowledging that this really isn't a Broadway show. It's more a Broadway takeover.

    Stephen Trask: Yes, on Broadway, the idea was that Hedwig and company are squatting on the set of the disastrous fictional production of Hurt Locker the Musical, which closed after one performance the night before. And that particular conceit is one that you can only do in a Broadway house when the joke is that big. I mean there we have an entire joke set. You are literally going to a Broadway house and there is the set to an entirely different show. We also made Playbills for Hurt Locker the Musical and scattered them around the theatre as if they had been discarded by patrons who hated it as they left at intermission. There is no end to how much you can tell this joke. It all started when John was visiting my house in Kentucky where I live with my partner, and the two of us were trying to come up with a funny Broadway show title that had closed after one night. We were naming one after the other and my husband actually came up with Hurt Locker the Musical. We just cracked up so much that we knew it was the right one. So then I wrote a song for it, and it's not even necessarily a bad song. The concept is that it's the kind of song that a good writer would write if they agreed to be hired onto a project called Hurt Locker the Musical, and approached it sincerely. The problem isn't the song, per se. The whole idea is wrong, and that's why it was so fun. Everything about that was a blast.
    John Moore: So how do you do that on the road?

    Stephen Trask: We definitely loved the Hurt Locker concept, and the jokes work great, and we didn't want to lose it. So we thought, 'Well, the road is where Broadway shows are being developed.' So on the road, Hurt Locker is not a Broadway show. It's a pre-Broadway run like you would have in cities like Denver,  where the producers are hoping for it to go to Broadway. But it failed. So we found a different context to tell the same jokes.           

    John Moore: So even though Hurt Locker the Musical died on Broadway ... it lives on the road, in cities all across America.  

    Stephen Trask: It lives. It lives.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: And what can you tell us about the new musical you are working on, This Ain’t No Disco!?

    Stephen Trask: I’ll tell you, it’s not really like anything that anyone has said about it so far, except that it vaguely relates to Studio 54. It's about young people who come to New York in the late 1970s and early 80s to find themselves and each other in the nightclub culture of the time. It takes place partly at Studio 54, partly at the Mudd Club, and also in artist spaces and on the streets of the city. What's interesting is the way that people in these cultures find themselves forming found families that are not biological or nuclear. I am writing it with Peter Yanowitz, who is the drummer in the Hedwig band. We developed the story with Rick Elice (Jersey Boys) but it's a sung-through musical, so there is no actual dialogue. The music is a mix of choral and gospel and punk and rock and disco and new-wave and soul and R&B. Rick came up with this great concept of Studio 54 as a church and (Studio 54 founder) Steve Rubell a street preacher.

    John Moore: In closing, now that you are this Broadway big-shot, do you think it might be time for you to embrace your birth name of Stephen Schwartz, and go ahead and let people confuse you with the Stephen Schwartz who wrote Godspell and Wicked

    Stephen Trask: I remember the first check I mistakenly got for writing "Defying Gravity." I said, “What the hell is this?” I didn't know the songs to Wicked, so I had no idea why I was getting it. And it was actually a really small check, unfortunately.

    John Moore: Did you have to give it back?

    Stephen Trask: I called him up and we compared things that he has gotten of mine, and things I have gotten of his, and it was within, like, $10. So we agreed if something big comes in, we'll tell the other person. But it's not worth it to call him up and say, "Hey, I got $3.87 for this.” And he's fine without it.

    John Moore: Final thoughts on Hedwig?

    Stephen Trask: It's going to knock your socks off, I can assure you.

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

    More to come from John Cameron Mitchell
    Look for John Moore’s expanded individual interview with John Cameron Mitchell coming soon to the DCPA NewsCenter

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

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    Mitchell and Trask: The two halves of Hedwig's whole
    Casting: Euan Morton to don Hedwig's wig on national tour
    Hedwig named to Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season
    Hedwig creator’s parents are tearing down a wall
  • In the Spotlife: Sharon Kay White of 'I'll Be Home for Christmas'

    by John Moore | Nov 18, 2016
    I'll Be Home for Christmas. Sharon Kay White. Photo P. Switzer
    Megan Van De Hey, left, and Sharon Kay White in the Arvada Center's 'I'll Be Home for Christmas.' Photo P. Switzer.

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

    MEET SHARON KAY WHITE

    Carol Marie in the Arvada Center’s world-premiere and home-grown new holiday musical, 'I'll Be Home For Christmas,' running now through Dec. 23.

    • Hometown: Gilroy, Calif.
    • Home now: Denver
    • High school: Gilroy High School
    • Quote Sharon Kay WhiteCollege: Bachelor's of Science degree in Textile Science and Polymer Chemistry from the UC-Davis (California)
    • What have you done for us lately? I played Sister Mary Patrick in the Arvada Center's production of Sister Act
    • Coming up: I will be playing Elsa Maxwell in Cherry Creek Theatre's Red, Hot and Cole from Jan. 19-Feb. 26 in the Mizel Arts and Culture Center's Pluss Theatre
    • What is I'll Be Home For Christmas all about? It's about a show-business family filming their annual Christmas TV variety special in 1969, and the challenges that arise when their 24-year-old son returns home from Vietnam and has trouble reconciling his role as an entertainer amid the ravages of war.
    • Tell us about the challenge of playing your character: Carol Marie is one of the comic guest stars of the TV variety special. She's so much fun to play. The acting challenge is to successfully play the tonal differences in the production from the realism "off-screen" to the presentational delivery of the "on-screen" moments. In this production, Carol Marie exists mostly in the on-screen television segments, while the central story is played out largely in the off-screen moments, so there is some challenge in getting the right level of heightened reality without going too far.
    • What do you love most about the Colorado theatre community? I love the supportive nature of our local theatre community. It truly has become like a family to me.
    • What's one thing most people don't know about you? In addition to theatre, I work as a real-estate agent. 
    • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? There is a beautiful exchange in our play: "Do you really thinking singing and dancing can change the world?" "I believe singing and dancing may be the ONLY thing that can change the world." As artists, we feel strongly about this concept. With the fight to keep arts in schools, ever-decreasing government funding for arts in communities, a devaluing of artists' salaries and benefits, we get dejected. We know that arts make a positive impact on individual lives and, by extension, communities. How lucky we are here in the Denver metro area that we have the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District - the SCFD - and a populace that voted overwhelmingly on Nov. 8 to keep it going through 2030. The district collects one penny from every $10 of sales tax in the seven-county metro area and directs those funds to arts, science and cultural organizations. Last year, more than $53 million went toward deserving entities like The Denver Zoo, Denver Art Museum, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and more than 300 other arts organizations, including theatre, that enriching the lives of all our residents. Bravo!

    I'll Be Home For Christmas: Ticket information
    • Original music and lyrics by David Nehls; book by Kenn McLaughlin
    • Directed by Gavin Mayer
    • Through Dec. 23
    • Presented by the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
    • Performances: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; 1 p.m. Wednesdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
    • Tickets start at $53
    • Info: 303-623-0524, or go to curioustheatre.org 

    Cast List:

    • Noah Racey as Dana
    • Megan Van De Hey as Louise
    • Jake Mendes as Simon
    • Kim McClay as Maggie
    • Andrew Diessner as Len
    • Sharon Kay White as Carol Marie
    • Darius Jordan Lee as Sandy
    • Sheryl McCallum as Ruby
    • Ensemble: Rae Case, Jean-Luc Cavnar, Maddie Franke, Darrell T. Joe, Norrell Moore, Benjamin Roeling, Rachel Turner, Tucker Worley

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre'sThe Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
     

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    White Christmas. Sharon Kay White. Photo P. SwitzerLast year at this time, Sharon Kay White was in another Arvada Center holiday production, 'Irving Berlin's White Christmas,' with Paul Page. Photo P. Switzer.
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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.