• Meet the Cast video series: Eddie Lopez

    by John Moore | Oct 21, 2014


    In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 70: Meet Eddie Lopez of Sacramento, who plays the lovably oblivious boy-toy Spike in the Theatre Company at the DCPA's new production of Christopher Durang's celebrated comedy, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

    Lopez talks about capoeira (the national sport of Brazil), his first impressions of Denver and his thoughts on Meryl Streep ... and kindness.

    Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play. It's about adult siblings whose lives are disrupted by a visit from their Hollywood star sister ... and a boy named Spike. It plays through Nov. 16 in the Ricketson Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Run time: 3 minutes.

    And, hey: Check out our new media outlet covering Colorado theatre at MyDenverCenter.Org

     Vanya_Meet_The_Cast_Eddie_Lopez_800
    Let's just be honest: Eddie Lopez has the assets you need in an actor who plays a muscular boy toy named Spike.
    Photo by Jennifer L. Koskinen
    .


    Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    : Ticket information
    Performances run through Nov. 16
    Ricketson Theatre
    303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org


    Previous 2014-15 "Meet the Cast" episodes:

    Charlie Franklin, Lord of the Flies
    Patty Goble
    , The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Matthew Gumley, Lord of the Flies

    Paolo Montalban, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Linda Mugleston, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Donna English, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Burke Moses, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Ben and Noah Radcliffe, Lord of the Flies
    Gregory Isaac Stone, Lord of the Flies

    Meet the cast episodes from the 2013-14 season:
    Death of a Salesman
    Just Like Us
    Jackie & Me
    The Most Deserving
    A Christmas Carol
    black odyssey
    The Legend of Georgia McBride
    Hamlet
    Shadowlands
    Animal Crackers

      Our previous coverage of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
      Opening Night photos
      Video: Watch a montage of scenes from the production

      Cold coffee, hot popcorn make for a good stew
      Durang strikes an unexpected peace with an indifferent Broadway
      Vanya ... is the most popular play in America
      Vanya ... First rehearsal photos
      Check out our Study Guide
    • Video: Talking 'Appoggiatura' with James Still and Risa Brainin

      by John Moore | Oct 19, 2014



      Appoggiatura_Video_Interview_800The world premiere of the play Appoggiatura will be performed Jan. 16 through Feb. 22 in the Ricketson Theatre. It's a sun-drenched romance about love, loss, and a broken family re-living the past and healing their hearts in Venice. Followed by a violin-playing Vivaldi, a charming but bogus Italian tour guide accompanies a widow and a bereaved middle-aged man who both mourn for the same person while a granddaughter questions her future.

      Appoggiatura is a Denver Center commission by three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist James Still, who In this video talks with director Risa Brainin about the play, and staging it in Denver. When it debuted as a reading at the  2014 Colorado New Play Summit, the word that came up most in response to it was "sweet." 

      "And I think it takes enormous courage right now to approach a new play with that kind of deeply sweet quality," says Still, "because it is risky."

      The plays that have been selected to be read at the 2015 Summit will be announced Monday, Oct. 20.

      "I can't imagine any writer not wanting to have a play premiere at the DCPA," says Still. "That's just an incredible honor."

      For ticket information to Appoggiatura, go to http://www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore.


    • Photos: Opening night of 'Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike'

      by John Moore | Oct 18, 2014
      Vanya_Opening_Night_800_1

      If only they liked each other. From left: Amelia White, Lesley Shires, Socorro Santiago, Kathleen McCall, Director Jenn Thompson, Eddie Lopez and Sam Gregory. Photo by John Moore.


      To see our complete gallery of opening-night photos from "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," click here.

      Photos from opening night at the Theatre Company at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play.

      This Chekhovian mash-up erupts into chaos when Vanya and Sonia receive a surprise visit from their Hollywood star sister, Masha, and her boy-toy Spike.

      The Theatre Company production runs through Nov 16, 2014 in the Ricketson Theatre.

      Photos by John Moore. 303-893-4100 or www.denvercenter.org

      Vanya_Opening_Night_800_2
      Cast members from "Lord of the Flies" and "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" lend their support to the cast of "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" at the opening-night party. Photo by John Moore.

      To see our complete gallery of opening-night photos from "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," click here.


      Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

      Through Nov. 16
      Ricketson Theatre
      Accessible Performance: Nov. 15, 1:30 pm
      Tickets: 303.893.4100 | denvercenter.org
      Talkback: 3:30 p.m., Oct. 19, Ricketson Theatre
      Page to Stage Discussion: Noon, Nov. 4, Colfax Tattered Cover
      Higher Education Advisory Council Talkback: 3:30 p.m. Nov. 9
      Theatre & Theology: 8:30 p.m., Nov. 11
      Book Club Discussion: 5:30 p.m., Nov. 12, Colfax Tattered Cover
      Theatre Thursday: 5:30 p.m., Nov. 13, Ricketson Theatre
      Events information: Click here


      Our previous coverage of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
      Video: Watch a montage of scenes from the production
      Cold coffee, hot popcorn make for a good stew
      Durang strikes an unexpected peace with an indifferent Broadway
      Vanya ... is the most popular play in America
      Vanya ... First rehearsal photos
      Check out our Study Guide

      Cast list
      Vanya: Sam Gregory
      Sonia: Amelia White
      Masha: Kathleen McCall
      Spike: Eddie Lopez
      Nina: Lesley Shires
      Cassandra: Socorro Santiago

    • Molly Brown kin: New Denver musical is 'icing on the cake'

      by John Moore | Oct 17, 2014

      Molly_Brown_Benziger_Dog_800
      Helen Benziger, with her dog, Brojan, gave her blessing to the DCPA's new "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" at the opening-night party. Photo by John Moore.   


      Helen Benziger is not like most descendants of Margaret Tobin Brown. She actually liked the 1964 movie that made her great-grandmother famous. Even if it got almost everything about her life wrong.

      “I actually adored the movie,” Benziger said of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, the celluloid adaptation of what many theatre aficionados have, until now, considered the unfixable Broadway musical.

      And she really likes the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company's launch of a brand-new take on the original 1960 musical.

      “I was overwhelmed with what they did with the play,” said Benziger. “A lot of us have been trying to get the real story out about who Margaret really was, and this is the icing on the cake. This is going to make people understand more about her.”

      Benziger has inherited the mantle of representing those “please-don’t-call-her Molly” Brown family members who have cringed at how the most famous survivor of the Titanic disaster has been portrayed in pop culture since she died more than 80 years ago.

      Starting with that first name. For the record, Margaret never went by Molly. Not even as a nickname.

      “They changed it to Molly (for the musical) because it was easier to sing,” said Benziger, who has devoted much of her life since 1999 to setting the record straight on behalf of a family that, for the most part, wanted to hear nothing of it when Dick Scanlan set out in 2005 to revisit the Meredith Willson musical. Generations of family have complained about gross misrepresentations of Brown in the character Debbie Reynolds made famous.

      “My grandmother wouldn’t have anything to do with the movie,” Benziger said. “She would always say, ‘This is not the mother I knew. This is someone I don’t even know.’ ”

      Molly_Brown_Benziger_Quote_2

      The movie shows Molly as an uneducated mountain girl with only a surrogate father. Margaret had two loving parents, including a mother, Johanna Tobin, who insisted she receive an eighth-grade education, which was three years more than the average woman for the time.

      “Margaret was quite sophisticated, and she spoke many languages,” said Benziger. “She ran for Senate before women even had the right to vote.”

      Brown didn’t drop out of that 1914 race because of a scandal involving her philandering husband, J.J., Benziger said. “Oh make no mistake -- he was very much a philanderer,” she said. “But Margaret really dropped out because her sister married a German baron at a time when such a relationship was scandalous. But she couldn't say, 'Hey, sis drop the baron because I am running for office.’ ”

      The film depicts Molly coming down the Colorado River in a basket, and being raised by a drunken Irishman named Shamus. “It's so ridiculous,” Benziger said. But her family cringes most over the scene in the movie where J.J. Brown accidentally burns his own money after Molly hides it in the stove.

      “What makes that so funny is that they didn't even have paper money in Leadville at that time,” Benziger said.

      Given all that misinformation, it was a bit unexpected when Benziger accepted an invitation to attend the opening performance of Scanlan’s delightfully received retelling of the Molly Brown musical at the DCPA.

      “You have to understand, I first saw the movie at a rather young age,” Benziger said. “It was just a big movie to me, and I thought it was great. It was only later on and I kept watching it that I realized most of it wasn’t true. But what was true is that the original movie captured her heart, her spirit and her soul.”

      Molly_Brown_Benziger_Quote_1

      Benziger, who is visually impaired, couldn’t be living the spirit and soul of Margaret more. She lives in a log cabin with her husband and guide dog, Brojan, in Story, Wyo. That’s a quiet a town of 800 people nestled in the Bighorn Mountains about 400 miles north of Denver near Sheridan.

      Molly_Brown_Benziger_Beth_Malone_400What Benziger loved most about the movie, she said, “is that it kept Margaret alive until we could start telling the real story.”

      What Brown’s family most want from pop culture is what Scanlan most wanted when he approached a new The Unsinkable Molly Brown: To show a more human, complicated and significant Molly Brown. A woman who served as director of the American Committee for Devastated France during World War I and was awarded the French Legion of Honor for her work. Who wielded her influence in national politics, particularly in the area of workers' rights.

      Brown was motivated to action by the Ludlow Massacre of 1914, when 11,000 workers went on strike and resorted to living in tents after their families were turned out of company-owned housing. When the miners' union refused to surrender two petty criminals, the National Guard fired into the crowd, killing five men. That night, the Guard doused tents in oil and burned them to the ground, killing nearly a dozen children. Brown sent nurses, shoes and clothing to Ludlow. She then spearheaded the investigation into the miners' deaths.

      Not that all of this is depicted in the new The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

      Scanlan rewrote the book to show audiences a more significant heroine and a more complicated love story. Which is not to say that Scanlan and his team felt beholden to write a stage documentary set to Willson songs.

      “This is still very much a musical,” said Director Kathleen Marshall, who set out to stage an old-fashioned musical and not apologize for it. Only improve it.

      Benziger was particularly charmed by actor Beth Malone’s portrayal of her great-grandmother. She was perfect,” Benzinger said. “She embodied her spirit. And she's just a doll. She’s so sweet.”

      Benziger appreciated Malone’s pluck, her powerful voice and her dancing. But the primary reason she liked Malone may surprise you. 

      Molly_Brown_Benziger_Cup “I really like the fact that she's not fat,” said Benziger. “People always portray Margaret as being a large woman, and she wasn't. Kathy Bates, who played Margaret in the Titanic movie, was three times her size. If you look at the picture of Margaret presenting the ‘Loving Cup’ Arthur Rostrand, the captain of the Carpathia, her waist is tiny.”

      Now that the new stage musical of The Unsinkable Molly Brown has Benziger’s seal of approval, she predicts it will … not have much impact on the rest of her extended family.

       "I am really the only one on my side of the family who is doing this,” she said. “And I don’t have children, so there is no one to take over.” 

      If any of her relatives ever do see the show, she predicted, “I think they will love it. And I think they will get a lot out of it. I don’t think they will, but I hope they do.”

      And if Benziger has any say in it – and  she does not -- they will have another chance after the show closes in Denver on Oct. 26.

      “It’s going to New York,” she said. “My word on it. I mean, it has to go. It will go.”

      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.

      Molly_Brown_Benziger_Cast_800
      Helen Benziger, with her dog, Brojan, meet cast members from the DCPA's new "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" at the opening-night party. Photo by John Moore.   


      The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      : Ticket information
      Stage Theatre
      Runs through Oct. 26
      303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org


      Our Previous Molly Brown coverage on Denver CenterStage:
      'Molly Brown' Meet the cast videos:
      Beth Malone
      Burke Moses
      Patty Goble
      Paolo Montalban
      Linda Mugleston
      Donna English


      Molly_Brown_Benziger_Beth_Malone_Burke_Moses_800

      Beth Malone and Burke Moses, above, bring levels of complexity to their roles as Molly and J.J. Brown in the DCPA's new "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." Below, Malone meets Molly Brown's granddaughter, Helen Benziger. Photos by John Moore.   


      Molly_Bronw_Benziger_Beth_Malone_800
    • 'Vanya': Cold coffee, hot popcorn and an opening this Friday

      by John Moore | Oct 14, 2014

      Vanya_Cast_800
      Director Jenn Thompson (in the super-cool shades) with, from left: Eddie Lopez, Kathleen McCall, Amelia White, Lesley Shires, Sam Gregory and Socorro Santiago. Photo by John Moore. To see our full gallery of photos showing "the making of "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," click here

       

      Vanya_Jenn_Thompson_300Director Jenn Thompson is an experienced Broadway and regional actor, so she knows what she speaks of when she says making live theatre isn’t always “kismet and magic.”

      Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, she said of her DCPA directorial debut, “is a really nice stew.”

      Her ingredients included assembling a cast from all over the country, and inheriting an entire Denver-based design team.

      “That is an unusual circumstance for a director who is coming into a place where everybody is established and has worked together -- and you are the new person,” Thompson said at Perspectives -- a gathering of audience members before last week’s first preview performance of Christopher Durang’s 2013 Tony Award-winning best play.

      As a child actor, Thompson played Pepper in the original Broadway production of Annie, starred in the film Little Darlings and appeared in the TV series Harper Valley PTA. She later appeared on Broadway in Ah, Wilderness! and The Heiress and is now the co-artistic director of The Actors Company Theatre (TACT) in New York. So she is more used to mixing her own stew.

      Vanya_Jenn_Thompson_Quote


      “Often, you bring your own team to a theatre like Denver,” she said. “But here they bring the creative team to you. That is something that is unique here, and it ended up being incredibly successful. But also two of the leads (Kathleen McCall and Sam Gregory) are Denver-based actors who are very well-known to this audience -- but were not known to me at all before I got here.”

      Thompson rounded out her cast with two actors she has worked with extensively in the past (Amelia White and Lesley Shires) along with two actors who were new to her who won their roles cold in auditions (Eddie Lopez and Socorro Santiago).

      The result, she believes … “is kismet and magic.”

      “But it’s a little bit of a psychological experiment, because there is matchmaking involved. We got really lucky with this cast because not only was everyone really well-suited to their roles in terms of their skill-sets as actors, but it was a really fun process. When there is trust there, I find that actors will do anything for you.”

      Thompson told the story of how Lopez won his role as Spike, the hunky young boyfriend who seems to spend more time with his clothes off than on. Thompson had any number of beefcake actors to choose from. But Lopez got the job, she said, not just because of what he did with his 15-minute audition, but because he was a nice guy.

      “I cast Eddie because he was the one I would most want to be in the same room with for the next six weeks,” she said.

      Sam800

      "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" actor Sam Gregory ... before and after. Scenic design by Lisa Orzolek. Photo by John Moore. To see our full gallery of photos showing "the making of "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," click here


      Thompson knew she had struck the right chemistry at the first rehearsal last month.

      “It’s always a good sign when actors bring food to share,” she said. “I am not kidding. They brought brownies, popcorn ... And we all go to dinner every Sunday after rehearsal. That is another good sign: When the week is over, and people still want to see each other.”

      Dramaturg Allison Horsley called the rehearsal space “a fantastically inappropriate room. It was always funny, and it was always fun.” Thompson termed it “an NC-17 room.”

      Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a chaotic Chekhovian mash-up, but Thompson said it stands on its own as a serio-comic look at adult sibling relationships.

      The story takes place in the Bucks County countryside of Pennsylvania. Siblings Vanya (Gregory) and the adopted Sonia (White), who were named by their eccentric parents after Chekhov characters, are wiling their adult lives away without much purpose. They live at their childhood home off the largess of their Hollywood star sister, Masha (McCall).

      When Masha and her boy-toy, Spike (Lopez), arrive unannounced, the residents of the normally quiet household are thrown into comic upheaval as they confront issues of sibling rivalry, regret, lust, love and, of all things … cold coffee.

      Not unlike Chekhov, “Durang offers these huge, philosophical questions in tandem with the more mundane misery of everyday life,” said Horsley. “I think it is very funny that Durang’s characters become very upset that the coffee has gotten cold -- and they see that as a metaphor for their lives having been unfulfilling.”

      It is Durang’s ability to celebrate Chekhov and send him up at the same that is a big reason Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is currently the most popular play in America. With 27 professional productions slated across the country this season, Durang’s ditty will be produced nearly three times more often than any other play not written by Dickens or Shakespeare.

      “But what’s most amazing is that it’s not a parody,” Thompson said. “I think this play is a little bit of a departure for him, because of this Chekhovian flavoring that he drew from for inspiration. There is always an element of pain and sadness in his work, which for me only heightens what is funny.”

      For those who might be intimidated by the title, Thompson emphatically stated that it’s not important to know Chekhov to enjoy the play.

      “No, not even a little bit,” she said. “I think it’s an enhancement if you do. But you can know nothing about it and go completely along for the ride and enjoy it.” 


      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.


      Vanya_Jenn_Thompson_800_Cast
      Director Jenn Thompson addresses her cast after the final rehearsal before previews began last week. Photo by John Moore. To see our full gallery of photos showing "the making of "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," click here


      Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

      Through Nov. 16
      Ricketson Theatre
      Accessible Performances: Nov. 15, 1:30 pm
      Tickets: 303.893.4100 | denvercenter.org
      800.641.1222 | TTY: 303.893.9582
      Groups (10+): 303.446.4829
      Talkback: 3:30 p.m., Oct. 19, Ricketson Theatre
      Page to Stage Discussion: Noon, Nov. 4, Colfax Tattered Cover
      Higher Education Advisory Council Talkback: 3:30 p.m. Nov. 9
      Theatre & Theology: 8:30 p.m., Nov. 11
      Book Club Discussion: 5:30 p.m., Nov. 12, Colfax Tattered Cover
      Theatre Thursday: 5:30 p.m., Nov. 13, Ricketson Theatre
      Events information: Click here

      Cast list
      Vanya: Sam Gregory
      Sonia: Amelia White
      Masha: Kathleen McCall
      Spike: Eddie Lopez
      Nina: Lesley Shires
      Cassandra: Socorro Santiago

      Our previous coverage of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
      Durang strikes an unexpected peace with an indifferent Broadway
      Vanya ... is the most popular play in America
      Vanya ... First rehearsal photos
      Check out our Study Guide
    • Photos: Blue Man Group paint Jefferson High School ... blue

      by John Moore | Oct 11, 2014
      Blue_Man_Group_Jefferson_800_1

      Mike Brown, left, and Adam Zuick of the Blue Man Group put a Jefferson High School student through his training at the school on Friday. Photo by John Moore. To see our complete gallery of photos showing The Blue Man Group's visit to Jefferson, click here.


      Three members of the Blue Man Group spent time on Friday, Oct. 10, visiting with students at Jefferson High School in Edgewater.

      The trio demonstrated what they means when they say the completely non-verbal Blue Man Group mean when they call their performance "painting with sound."

      The visiting BMG -- Mike Brown, Adam Zuick and Music Director Jesse Nolan -- demonstrated some of the musical instruments the BMG play, a few of which are their own inventions.

      Zuick explained that the BMG put on their famous blue painted masks as a way of removing the invisible masks we wear in our everyday lives.

      The class in attendance is led by Jefferson High School Spanish Teacher and World Languages Chair Grace C. Lopez-Aliaga.

      The Blue Man Group are only here in Denver through Sunday, Oct. 12. Photos by John Moore and Emily Lozow.

      Blue Man Group
      Oct 10-12
      Remaining shows: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday
      Buell Theatre
      Age recommendation: 4 and up
      303-893-4100
      www.denvercenter.org.

      More coverage of The Blue Man Group:
      Aurora's 'Blue Man' grad: This show is 'exuberance incarnate'


      Blue_Man_Group_Jefferson_800_2

      Adam Zuick demonstrates just how different his intentions appear when he walks up an aisle ... versus when he walks over a crowd of high-school students in their setas. Photos by John Moore.


      Blue_Man_Group_Jefferson_800_3

      Blue_Man_Group_Jefferson_800_4

      To see our complete gallery of photos showing The Blue Man Group's visit to Jefferson, click here. Photos by John Moore and Emily Lozow.


    • Meet the cast video series: Gregory Isaac Stone

      by John Moore | Oct 10, 2014


      In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 68: Meet Gregory Isaac Stone of Bloomington, Ind., who plays the savage young hunter Jack Meridew in the DCPA Theatre Company’s new adaptation of the William Golding classic “Lord of the Flies.” Gregory talks about The Beast -- you know, Grover from the "Sesame Street" classic book "The Monster at the End of This Book." "Lord of the Flies.” It plays through Nov. 2 in the Space Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Run time: 3 minutes.

      And, hey: Check out our new media outlet covering Colorado theatre at MyDenverCenter.Org


      Meet_The_Cast_Gregory_Isaac_Stone_800
      It doesn't take Gregory Isaac Stone long to descend from Choir Director to savage  hunter
      in the DCPA Theatre Company’s new adaptation of the William Golding classic “Lord of the Flies.” Photo by John Moore
      .

      Lord of the Flies
      : Ticket information
      Performances run through Nov. 2
      Space Theatre
      303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

      Previous 2014-15 "Meet the Cast" episodes:

      Charlie Franklin
      Patty Goble

      Matthew Gumley

      Paolo Montalban
      Linda Mugleston
      Donna English
      Burke Moses
      Beth Malone
      Ben and Noah Radcliffe

      Meet the cast episodes from the 2013-14 season:
      Death of a Salesman
      Just Like Us
      Jackie & Me
      The Most Deserving
      A Christmas Carol
      black odyssey
      The Legend of Georgia McBride
      Hamlet
      Shadowlands
      Animal Crackers


      Our Previous Lord of the Flies coverage on Denver CenterStage:
    • Why Lin-Manuel Miranda's father is obsessed with 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown'

      by John Moore | Oct 08, 2014

      Luis_Miranda_Lin-Manuel_800_1Lin-Manuel Miranda, left, and his pops, Luis: "I never had a chance to be anything but a musical theatre guy." Photo courtesy Luis Miranda.



      You’re about to learn everything you need to know about how Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony- and Grammy-winning composer, rapper, lyricist, and actor of In the Heights, turned out the way he did:

      His padre is obsessed with The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

      No joke. Miranda’s 60-year-old father, who grew up poor in a small Puerto Rican town, remains, to this day, obsessed with The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

      “Every time people ask my son about his life in the theatre, he always says, 'I never had a chance,’ ” said Luis Miranda, a community activist turned political consultant who still lives in Inwood, the uptown New York City neighborhood that inspired his son’s 2008 Tony-winning Best Musical, In the Heights.  

      “He's always telling people: ‘If you have a dad whose favorite musical is The Unsinkable Molly Brown -- a title that is not at the top of everybody's list -- how can I have a chance but to be in musical theatre?’ ”

      Luis_Miranda_Lin-Manuel_Quote_1

      Just how obsessed is Luis Miranda? He endured a troubled eight-hour flight to Denver to visit the Molly Brown House Museum and attend the opening performance of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ launch of a newly reimagined The Unsinkable Molly Brown helmed by Broadway royalty Kathleen Marshall and Dick Scanlan.

      Because of those flight problems – which included engine trouble AND a diversion to make way for another plane carrying Vice President Joe Biden -- Luis had to beg the museum staff to stay open late so he could zip through the home where Molly Brown lived on Pennsylvania Avenue (now Pennsylvania Street). Miranda made it to the museum, saw the opening performance, ran out of the Stage Theatre during the curtain call and hopped into a car that took him to the airport for his midnight return flight to Newark.

      And then there was … the birthday party.

      “I just turned 60 on Aug. 23,” said Luis, “and so I held a big party for several hundred people at an unbelievable theatre in Washington Heights called United Palace.”

      Guests were told Luis would screen the 1964 The Unsinkable Molly Brown film starring Debbie Reynolds to end the party. And because most of Luis’ friends know of his proud obsession with Molly Brown all too well, he anticipated many of them might simply slip out as soon as the film started.

      So what did he do? 

      “I lied to everyone,” he said. “I did it in a way that you had to see the movie before you could go into the party. So people had no choice but to sit through The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

      Diabolical. How did all of this happen?

      It turns out Luis Miranda, a prominent New York political consultant who has served in three New York City mayoral administrations, feels a tremendous kinship with the girl from Hannibal, Mo.

      Molly Brown left Missouri at age 18 with nothing and came to Leadville, Colorado. Luis Miranda left Puerto Rico at age 18 with nothing and came to New York City. But by then, Molly Brown was already in his blood … thanks to Debbie Reynolds.

      “I am from a small town of 3,000, but my grandparents lived in San Juan,” Miranda said. “Every Sunday, my family would visit my grandparents, and in the afternoons, my dad and I would go to the movies at a theatre called The Metro."

      And one day in 1965, he took Luis to see The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

      Not because he particularly liked it -- because he knew I liked musicals. I mean, I had seen The Sound of Music, like, 80 times. 

      “I was 10 years old when The Unsinkable Molly Brown came out, and I was captivated by the movie. Thinking back on it now, as an adult, I can see that I always thought there was something bigger for me than just being in my small town. And that's the theme of Molly Brown's life, too: ‘There is more to life than what I have. There is something bigger out there that I am called to do.’”

      And as quickly as Molly Brown came, she left.

      Eight years later, Miranda moved to New York with no plan, no job and no friends. But on his very first night in New York, he knew a larger plan was in action. And he believes its author was, if not Molly Brown, then certainly the woman he calls “Miss Debbie Reynolds,” who starred as Molly Brown in the 1964 film.

      "This was 1973. There was no cable in those times, so you actually had to look at the TV Guide,” Luis said. "And that night, they are showing The Unsinkable Molly Brown on the TV. When I saw that movie again, I knew that leaving my small town and coming to New York without knowing anybody was part of my plan. That is just fate. It is fate that the first day I am in New York, they are showing this movie that meant so much to me when I was 10, but I have not seen again for the last eight years.”

      Miranda rose through the ranks to become a successful businessman and influential player in New York City politics. He raised his family in a neighborhood similar to Washington Heights, one Lin-Manuel has described as similarly “made up of immigrants, Spanish speakers and urban decay softened by panoramic vistas.”

      Luis_Miranda_Lin-Manuel_In_The_HeightsBut in part because of his father’s success, Lin-Manuel went to an elite public high school on the upper East Side, then on to the playwrights’ breeding ground of Wesleyan University. When In the Heights exploded onto Broadway alongside Passing Strange, Lin-Manuel was credited with changing the color and language of the American musical by introducing hip-hop and spoken-word into a mainstream musical. In The New York Times, Charles Isherwood called Miranda “music personified; commanding the spotlight as if he were born in the wings.”

      Actually, he was simply born in the wings of a man who had subjected his son to “If I Were a Rich Man, “The Hills Are Alive” and “Belly Up to the Bar, Boys.”

      Several years ago, Lin-Manuel was hosting a live show for People en Espanol in San Antonio. The hosts gave Lin-Manuel 10 unexpected tickets upon his arrival, and he didn’t have anyone to give them to. So Lin-Manuel took to Twitter. His dad picks up the story from there.

      “He said the first person to name my dad's favorite movie gets the tickets, and the response was unbelievable,” Luis Miranda said. “At least 20 people said, The Unsinkable Molly Brown."


      How did they know?

      “Because every time a reporter ever asks my son about how he ended up this way, he tells them.”

      The Mirandas keep a home in Montauk, N.Y., in the East Hamptons of Long Island. Lin-Manuel hadn’t visited in years, so he took collaborator Tom Kitt (Bring it On) there to work on their hilarious opening number for the 2013 Tony Awards. Back home in the city, Luis checked his very active Twitter account, and chuckled.

      “I see this Tweet from my son saying that he’s taping several hundred musical LPs that I have left back in my place in Montauk,” Luis said. “He Tweeted out: 'I never had a chance to be anything but a musical theatre guy.’ ”

      Luis_Miranda_Lin-Manuel_Quote_2


      It was Lin-Manuel who informed his father that the DCPA was going to launch a newly conceived iteration of the original 1960 Broadway The Unsinkable Molly Brown musical in Denver. Luis immediately wrote to Lin-Manuel’s agent and said, “You have got to get me invited to this.”

      Luis was told the DCPA would be delighted to have him at the opening performance on Sept. 19, as well as a guest. But this would prove to be a problem. Keep in mind, all of this was happening just a week or so after … the birthday party.

      “I tried to get everyone I know to come with me,” Luis said. “And the only one who had a real excuse was Lin-Manuel.”

      Lin-Manuel was deep into preparations for his highly anticipated new musical Hamilton, which explores the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton. It opens Jan. 20 at the Public Theatre in New York. Luis calls it “pure genius.” Lin-Manuel was off the hook.

      “So then I asked my wife, and she says, 'I just saw The Unsinkable Molly Brown with you on your birthday, honey, and you make us watch The Unsinkable Molly Brown every year!’ He said back to her: “But honey, this is a very different production.” And she responded: “I'll see it with you when it comes to New York.”

      In her defense, Luis’ wife took a vow to be with him in sickness and in health -- but not at every opportunity to see every incarnation of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

      “So then I asked my daughter, who is 40 years old and has three kids. She was sincere when she said, 'Dad, I would love to go with you, but I don't know if you remember this but I have three kids -- and you are asking me the week before you are going to Denver. No.' ”

      Next on the list was Luis’ 13-year-old nephew. “He has been with me since he was born, and I am his legal guardian, so I invited him. He was my last hope. He never says no.”

      He said no.

      “He’s like, 'Tio! We just saw The Unsinkable Molly Brown a week ago!' And so I gave up. I went by myself."

      Then came the troubled flight. But eight hours later, there he was in Denver dashing through Molly Brown’s house. Then came the performance on The Stage Theatre.

      “And the minute it ended, I ran out,” Luis said. “I didn't even stay for the applause.”

      The musical Luis saw in Denver was significantly changed from the movie he fell in love with. The book has been completely rewritten. Writer Dick Scanlan and Musical Director Michael Rafter were given permission to overhaul the original score. Only six songs remain untouched from the original Meredith Willson score, and Scanlan has introduced 11 “new" Willson songs.

       So … what was Luis’ assessment?

      “People have got to see this new version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” he said. “I was delighted that I did. I had a great time.” 

      Miranda had been prepared to expect something new from an article he had read in The New York Times.

      “I read about how the musical starts at a different place -- just as she was surviving the Titanic disaster,” he said. “Through the years, I have read enough about Molly Brown to know that the movie was a little bit of a fantasy. I knew she had parents -- but in the movie, there is only a surrogate dad. I knew Molly Brown had kids -- and in the movie, there are no kids.

      “Today, people want their stories to be a more faithful to real life. In the 1960s, the studios didn't care. So I knew that I would be seeing a more historically accurate production of the life of Molly Brown, and that did not bother me at all. The important thing to me was that I knew my favorite songs will continue.”

      Luis_Miranda_Lin-Manuel_Molly_Brown_800Beth Malone and Burke Moses in the DCPA Theatre Company's "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen


      Miranda also offered praise for Beth Malone, the actor who plays Molly Brown -- even though he admits she had an impossibly high bar to clear.

      “You have to understand … There is no other woman in the world to me like Debbie Reynolds … other than my wife,” Luis said. “She is my favorite. So I had to erase Debbie Reynolds from my head. 

      “One of the highlights of my life was spending a night with Debbie Reynolds at her home when Lin-Manuel did In the Heights at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles. I literally flew out for the last night of the show, because I knew we were going to spend the night with Debbie Reynolds. She was so funny when I finally met her. She was like, 'Oh my God, your wife is going to be jealous.’ ”

      Reynolds sent Miranda home with a signed photo just for his wife. It said: "To a lovely lady who can put up with this man.”

      Luis_Miranda_Lin-Manuel_Debbie_Reynolds

      A smitten Luis Miranda meets Debbie Reynolds at her home in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy Luis Miranda.



      That said, Miranda added, “Beth Malone absolutely lived up to my expectations. I enjoyed her portrayal of Molly Brown very much.”

      While no one knows whether the new The Unsinkable Molly Brown’s future will take it to Broadway, Miranda certainly hopes that it does. “And if it does,” he said, “I will clearly be going to the theatre many more times to see it. But when I like something ... I sort of go a little bit overboard. I saw Wicked nine times.” 

      But as long as the show remains in Denver, Miranda has a message to those in the Mountain Time Zone:

      “I will not understand why anybody who is just a car ride away would not go to see The Unsinkable Molly Brown when I went in a plane for eight hours to see a two hour and 15-minute production,” he said. “It would be unthinkable to me that they would not go and see The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

      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 Unsinkable Molly Brown
      : Ticket information
      The Stage Theatre
      Runs through Oct. 26.
      303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

      Our Previous Molly Brown coverage on Denver CenterStage:
      'Molly Brown' Meet the cast videos:
      Beth Malone
      Burke Moses
      Patty Goble
      Paolo Montalban
      Linda Mugleston
      Donna English
    • Photos: Opening Night at 'Lord of the Flies'

      by John Moore | Oct 06, 2014
      Lord_Of_The_Flies_Opening_800_1

      The Opening Night "Lord of the Flies" afterparty was proof that we really CAN all just get along.  Photo by John Moore.


      Oct. 3 was the opening performance of  Lord of the Flies, the DCPA Theatre Company's provocative adaptation of William Golding's classic novel. Stranded on a deserted island, a group of English schoolboys become intoxicated by sudden freedom. Their time on the beach quickly descends not only into a savage struggle for power, but an exploration into whether man's inherent nature is to be civilized or animals.

      Photos by John Moore. To see our complete gallery of Lord of the Flies Opening Night photos, click here.


      Lord_Of_The_Flies_Opening_800_2

      Charlie Franklin (Ralph) takes it all in following the opening performance of "Lord of the Flies" on Oct. 3. Photo by John Moore.


      Lord_Of_The_Flies_Opening_800_3 
      The cast and design team from "Lord of the Flies" engaged the first preview audfience with a pre-show Prologue panel discussion on Sept. 27. To see more photos from the Prologue event, click here.


      Lord of the Flies
      : Ticket information
      Performances run through Nov. 2
      The Space Theatre
      Featuring Charlie Franklin, Gregory Isaac Stone, Matthew Gumley, Kurt Hellerich, Jack DiFalco, Ben Radcliffe, Noah Radcliffe, Allen Dorsey, Skyler Gallun, Ben Griffin, Charlie Korman and Geoffrey Kent.
      303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

      Our Previous Lord of the Flies coverage on Denver CenterStage:

      Meet the cast video episodes:
      Charlie Franklin
      Matthew Gumley

      Ben and Noah Radcliffe

      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.



    • Photos, video: 'Miscast 2014' highlights for the Denver Actors Fund

      by John Moore | Oct 05, 2014
      Video by John Moore for the DCPA.


      “Miscast 2014” was an opportunity for members of the local theatre community to sing songs and act out scenes they would never … ever! … get cast to perform on any legitimate stage. This popular tradition was brought back by the Aurora Fox Theatre as a fundraiser for the Denver Actors Fund on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014.

      To see our complete gallery of photos from the evening, which raised just more than $2,000 for The Denver Actors Fund, click here.

      The Denver Actors Fund provides financial and practical services to members of the local theatre community who find themselves in medical need. The hosts were Elvira Barcelona and Damon Guerrasio. The director was Robert Michael Sanders.

      Performers included Alisa Schmidt, Chris Boeckx, Damon Guerrasio, Daniel Traylor, Debbie Weinstein Minter, Jalyn Courtenay Webb, Jeremy Palmer, Josh Nelson, Lyndsay Giraldi-Palmer, Mark Pergola, Melinda Cary Smart, Nigel Huckle, Owen T. Niland, Patrick Brownson, Sam Wood, Arlene Rapal, Laura Chavez Slack, James Sherman, Jenna Bainbridge, Stewart Caswell, Mark Dissette and Lisa Young.

      In addition, four students from Denver School of the Arts performed a song from their recent production of Hairspray -- with actors Madison Kitchen, Jeremy Willis, Jimmy Bruenger and Amelia Corrada switching roles. Two weeks earlier, the Hairspray cast presented the Denver Actors Fund with the largest donation in the non-profit's existence: $2,411.

      The Denver Actors Fund, founded by DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore in May 2013, provides financial and practical services to members of the local theatre community who find themselves in need from a medical situation.

      To donate to the Denver Actors Fund, click here.

      To see our complete gallery of photos from Miscast 2014, click here.

      To read stories of from artists who have benefited from Denver Actors Fund support, click here.


      Denver_Actors_Fund_Miscast_800_1

      The stormy love affair between "Miscast 2014" co-hosts Damon Guerrasio, left, and Elvira Barcelona kept audiences entertained all evening. Photo by John Moore.

      Denver_Actors_Fund_Miscast_800_2

      Denver's handicapped Phamaly Theare Company brought the house down with a climactic strip-tease, "Let It Go," from "The Full Monty. Photo by John Moore.


      Denver_Actors_Fund_Miscast_800_3

      Melinda Smart lives out many female actors' dream: She's playing the sadistic dentist from "Little Shop of Horrors." Photo by John Moore.
    • Meet the cast video series: Charlie Franklin

      by John Moore | Oct 05, 2014


      In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 67: Meet Charlie Franklin of Albany, N.Y., a 22-year-old graduate of Pace University. Charlie talks about performing on Broadway in "The Bridges of Madison County," working with Kelli O'Hara, and why, if he ever met Jim Carrey ... they'd probably be fighting. Charlie plays Ralph (pronounced "Rafe"), the hunted leader of the British schoolboys still trying to hold on to their civility after a plane crash in the DCPA Theatre Company’s new adaptation of the William Golding classic “Lord of the Flies.” It plays through Nov. 2 in the Space Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Run time: 2 minutes, 28 seconds.

      And, hey: Check out our new media outlet covering Colorado theatre at MyDenverCenter.Org

      Lord_Of_The_Flies_Meet_Charlie_Franklin_800

      Charlie Franklin, right, with 'Lord of the Flies' Director Anthony Powell at an audience discussion before the first preview performance. Photos by John Moore
      .


      Previous 2014-15 "Meet the Cast" episodes:

      Patty Goble
      Matthew Gumley

      Paolo Montalban
      Linda Mugleston
      Donna English
      Burke Moses
      Beth Malone
      Ben and Noah Radcliffe

      Meet the cast episodes from the 2013-14 season:
      Death of a Salesman
      Just Like Us
      Jackie & Me
      The Most Deserving
      A Christmas Carol
      black odyssey
      The Legend of Georgia McBride
      Hamlet
      Shadowlands
      Animal Crackers

      Lord of the Flies: Ticket information
      Performances run through Nov. 2
      Space Theatre
      303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

      Our Previous Lord of the Flies coverage on Denver CenterStage:
    • Wilson resigns from Phamaly Theatre Company after 14 years

      by John Moore | Oct 04, 2014
      Steve_Wilson_Phamaly_8001

      Steve Wilson addresses his cast just before the opening performance of "Fiddler on the Roof" at the DCPA's Space Theatre in 2013. Photo by John Moore.


      Steve_Wilson_Phamaly_FaceSteve Wilson, longtime Artistic Director of the internationally acclaimed Phamaly Theatre Company, announced his resignation today after 14 years as the creative leader of a troupe dedicated to creating professional performance opportunities for actors with disabilities.

      While the decision was termed mutual, Phamaly Executive Director Christopher Silberman said it was spurred "by our collective desire to create a full-time Artistic Director position for the company."

      Wilson also serves as full-time Executive Artistic Director of the Mizel Arts and Culture Center,  a multidisciplinary arts center on the campus of the Jewish Community Center with an annual budget of $3 million.

      The resignation is effective Dec. 31.

      In a statement, Silberman said the announcement comes as the demands of both companies have exponentially increased in recent years. Until seven years ago, Phamaly performed just one show annually. The company now produces up to six shows each year, plus a regional touring show. In March 2015, Phamaly will bring its production of The Fantasticks to Osaka, Japan.

      “It is difficult to express the colossal impact of Phamaly on my life," Wilson said in a statement. "It has been a warm, nurturing, creative home for me. It has been my artistic identity and a place where I have always felt embraced as a leader and mentor.” 

      In Wilson’s time with Phamaly, he directed or co-directed 18 plays and musicals, most recently the company’s 25th anniversary reprisal of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

      Wilson won Denver Post Ovation Awards for directing Phamaly's first Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 2005 and Side Show in 2008. He also won Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards for Joseph, Urinetown, Man of La Mancha and Beauty and the Beast.

      Wilson, a graduate of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' National Theatre Conservatory masters program, also picked up a 2003 Ovation Award for acting, in Theatre Group's "Gross Indecency."

      “Phamaly would not be what it is today without Steve’s brilliant artistic mind, passion and direction," said Silberman, who added he hopes Wilson will return at some time in the future as a guest director. But for now it is unknown who will helm Phamaly's announced summer 2015 musical, Cabaret.

      Wilson was known for putting his signature spins on Phamaly productions that helped create deeper layers of meaning in the stories on stage, while giving audiences a unique insight into the challenges of living with a disability.

      Wilson set Joseph in a mental hospital, making the Biblical storytelling a temporary escape for a group of mentally and disabled outcasts. Side Show is a story that centers on conjoined twins presented as circus freaks, so there were inherently deeper levels of meaning when Wilson cast those parts with actors in wheelchairs. He was unafraid to make political commentaries as well, often for comic effect. He cast exclusively blind actors to play the greedy town leaders in Urinetown.

      What might present itself as a challenge to other directors has been to Wilson an opportunity for groundbreaking staging innovations.

      Wilson's Man of La Mancha  will be forever remembered for paralyzed actor Regan Linton, playing the whore Aldonza, crawling across the floor after having been attacked and thrown from her wheelchair. It was a moment no other La Mancha could possibly deliver.

      "We always hoped we would be a place where the disabled could grow, both as actors and human beings," Wilson told me in a 2010 interview.

      Perhaps Wilson's greatest legacy is growing his company from a group of actors who primarily performed only for Phamaly -- because only Phamaly would have them -- to one whose members are regularly cast by companies across the state and country. Two examples: Jenna Bainbridge has performed in leading roles the past two summers with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder. Linton is now a company member with the Oregon Shakesepare Festival in Ashland.

      "There are a lot of preconceptions in the theater when it comes to accepting and fully integrating disabled actors," Wilson said.

      A core tenet of Phamaly under Wilson's tenure has been not to ignore his actors' disabilities, but rather to incorporate them. "My job is to highlight the fact that the world we inhabit is a world full of disabilities," Wilson said.

      Beauty and the Beast is perhaps best known for a big, sweeping waltz between Belle and the Beast. Bainbridge, who played Belle, has neurological spine disorder. "That means she walks with a sizable gait — and I love it," Wilson said. "I think it's beautiful."

      The "tale as old as time" has always been about redefining our notions of beauty. And Wilson's staging of Beauty and the Beast with disabled actors became about redefining beauty for his own audiences.

      "I'm not going to cover up what they are," Wilson said, "because I love who they are."

      Wilson said his sadness at leaving Phamaly now is "profound."

      "I gave everything possible in my time with the company and have received much more in return," he said. "But I know my leaving will provide the company with an ability to excel in new ways with a refreshed artistic energy."

      Silberman will lead a national search process for Wilson’s successor, details of which will be announced later this month.


      Steve_Wilson_Phamaly_8002

      Steve Wilson with his parents, daughter and wife Leslie O'Carroll, a longtime actor with the DCPA Theatre Company. Photo by John Moore.


      Next for Phamaly: Vox PHAMALIA: Pity Pity Bang Bang
      (
      Phamaly Theatre Company's 'differently-abled sketch comedy' show)
      Performances Oct. 16-26
      The Avenue Theatre, 417 E. 17th Ave. 
      7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, plus Oct. 20 and 23; also 2 p.m. Sundays
      Tickets: $20 in advance or $24 at the door
      303-321-5925
      Click here to go to the ticketing page

      About the Phamaly Theatre Company
      Phamaly Theatre Company (formerly known as the Physically Handicapped Actors & Musical Artists League) is celebrating its 25th anniversary season of professional-scale performances exclusively featuring actors with disabilities (physical, cognitive, and emotional). Their mission is to inspire people to re-envision disability through professional theatre. Phamaly produces plays and musicals throughout the Denver Metro region, in venues such as the Denver Performing Arts Complex, the Arvada Center, the Aurora Fox Arts Center, and the Lone Tree Arts Center. The organization additionally has a regional touring program. This year, Phamaly is serving over 200 performers with disabilities and nearly 20,000 audiences across the state. For more information on Phamaly, visit www.phamaly.org.
    • The scenic canvas of 'Lord of the Flies': Fire, smoke, rocks ... and blood

      by John Moore | Oct 04, 2014
      Jim_Kronzer_Lord_Of_The_Flies_800_1
      When the boys decide to set a ritualistic fire, flames go up about 24 inches in the center of the Space Theatre ... " And it’s just beyond beautiful," says Scenic Designer James Kronzer. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen


      Lord of the Flies
      brings fire and smoke to the stage. An airplane crash. A parachuting corpse. A bloody pig. A murder off a high rock.

      Clearly, the actors in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' visceral adaptation of William Golding’s masterwork don’t get to have all the fun. The Space Theatre has become scenic designer Jim Kronzer’s personal sandbox.

      Seriously. We’re talking tons of sand.

      Kronzer, a DCPA veteran (When Tang Met Laika and Ed, Downloaded), talks about creating both an indoor island … and a metaphorical monster.
       
      John Moore: Lord of the Flies was my favorite book growing up, even though it gave me night terrors. What are your earliest recollections?

      Jim Kronzer: When I first encountered the story, I took it literally: That it was just a story about a bunch of stranded kids who do bad things while trying to survive. I am much more aware now that it is a metaphor for where society can go very quickly and very easily, given how we are tribal, how society deals with those who are weaker, and how reason doesn’t always win.

      John Moore: What rings truest for you today?

      Jim Kronzer: How timeless it is. Reading the script, I couldn’t help but think about Vladimir Putin launching his way into the Crimea. He’s the big bully going in and getting his way without concern for reason. That’s what makes Lord of the Flies so interesting and universal — and frightening.

      John Moore: Do you want people to enter The Space and feel they’ve been transported to an actual island? Or do you want to take them into a more surreal world? Because, let’s face it — you have a roof. And no ocean.

      Jim Kronzer: Well, you start with, “What is this place…really?” I wanted to get a literal, visual sense of where these kids are running around. So Phase 1 was researching islands and rocks and that kind of thing. And then you have to consider that the architecture of your theatre space always dictates design. But I was very excited to learn that we are doing it in The Space Theatre because it is the perfect place to tell this story.

      John Moore: Beyond roundness, what else makes The Space the right venue for this island story?

      Jim Kronzer: It gives us the sense that the kids can be anywhere and come out from anywhere in the theatre. I love the idea of us not being so comfortable when watching theatre. So I think The Space Theatre can be a little less predictable, more expansive and more immersive.

      John Moore: Let’s talk about a few of your staging challenges. How about the aerial battle, when a dead fighter pilot drifts down to the island in a parachute and gets tangled in a tree?

      Jim Kronzer: That’s why I love my job. When I read a stage direction like that one, it’s just so wonderful to figure out. Without giving too much away, yes, there is a pilot, and it will be chilling and creepy. I will say I found these great pictures of parachute test dummies from the 1940s, and they were almost puppet-like. And you have to remember, the pilot is the symbol of something larger.

      John Moore: Here’s a biggie: When Jack’s savages set fire to the forest, much of the island is consumed in flames.

      Jim Kronzer: We have actual fire on the stage. [Shop Foreman] Bob Orzolek did a great test in the shop. It’s a burner ring with propane gas. When the boys decide to set this ritualistic fire, they pull up a piece of almost sand-colored rock that covers the propane ring. The flames go up about 24 inches or so, and it’s just beyond beautiful. Now, that comes with all kinds of other responsibilities, like working with the Fire Department about safety mechanisms. Part of the process was trying to figure out just how much real flame and fire we could do. In the theatre, the artistic is always buffeted by the pragmatic.

      John Moore: And the murder of Piggy?

      Jim Kronzer: He jumps off a rock and into an abyss. And it was important to me that we got it so that everybody in the audience can see it. That’s such a pivotal moment in the story, we all felt we had to pull it off, and pull it off well. So basically these two rocks  part to reveal a hole in the stage, and this kid jumps into a pit. He’s standing on a rock that is 48 inches off the floor, which doesn’t sound like a lot. But when you figure he’s dropping down at least another 6 to 8 feet, he does do quite the plummet into a black hole surrounded by a ring of rocks. That was the toughest challenge of all for me, and I think we solved it quite beautifully.

      John Moore: It sounds like the island is going to be as pivotal a character in this story as any human.

      Jim Kronzer: It certainly is a great canvas for these larger stories to play out in. The island starts out neutral, but it becomes a stronger personality as time goes on. This all goes back to the sense that there is always a larger story being told here.


      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.


      Jim_Kronzer_Lord_Of_The_Flies_800_2

      The set of "Lord of the Flies" at the DCPA, designed by Jim Kronzer. Photo by Gabe Koskinen.


      Lord of the Flies
      : Ticket information
      Performances run through Nov. 2
      The Space Theatre
      Featuring Charlie Franklin, Gregory Isaac Stone, Matthew Gumley, Kurt Hellerich, Jack DiFalco, Ben Radcliffe, Noah Radcliffe, Allen Dorsey, Skyler Gallun, Ben Griffin, Charlie Korman and Geoffrey Kent.
      303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

      Our Previous Lord of the Flies coverage on Denver CenterStage:

      Meet the cast video episodes:
      Charlie Franklin
      Matthew Gumley

      Ben and Noah Radcliffe



    • 'Lord of the Flies' opens: Photo essay, montage of scenes

      by John Moore | Oct 03, 2014
      A photo essay ... in video


      Senior Arts Journalist John Moore put together this brief photo essay on the DCPA Theatre Company's harrowing new stage adaptation of William Golding's classic novel, Lord of the Flies.

      In the story, a group of British schoolboys become stranded on a deserted island and are quickly intoxicated by sudden freedom and power. It plays through Nov. 2 in the Space Theatre.

      Featuring Charlie Franklin, Gregory Isaac Stone, Matthew Gumley, Kurt Hellerich, Jack DiFalco, Ben Radcliffe, Noah Radcliffe, Allen Dorsey, Skyler Gallun, Ben Griffin, Charlie Korman.

      Lord of the Flies plays through Nov. 2 in the Space Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org.

      Video montage of scenes

      Video by David Lenk

      Lord of the Flies: Ticket information
      Performances run through Nov. 2
      Space Theatre
      303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

      Our Previous Lord of the Flies coverage on Denver CenterStage:

      Lord_Of_The_Flies_Montage_800

      Skyler Gallun, Gregory Isaac Stone and Jack DiFalco. Photos by John Moore.
    • Meet the Cast video series: Ben and Noah Radcliffe

      by John Moore | Oct 03, 2014


      In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 66: Meet Ben and Noah Radcliffe, 15-year-old identical twins from Meridan, Conn., who are actors, singers and classical pianists. Their grandfather is Randy Burns, a noted 1960s Greenwich Village folk singer. The brothers play twins Sam and Eric in the DCPA Theatre Company’s new adaptation of the William Golding classic “Lord of the Flies.” Here, they talk about how they fell into acting, how change starts with homeless puppies, and Ben offers a demo from an original piano composition. Lord of the Flies plays through Nov. 2 in the Space Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Run time: 2 minutes.

      And, hey: Check out our new media outlet at MyDenverCenter.Org

      Lord_of_The_Flies_Meet_The_Cast_Radcliffe

      Ben and Noah Radcliffe in 'Lord of the Flies.' Photos by John Moore
      .

      Previous 2014-15 "Meet the Cast" episodes:
      Patty Goble
      Matthew Gumley
      Paolo Montalban
      Linda Mugleston
      Donna English
      Burke Moses
      Beth Malone
      Ben and Noah Radcliffe

      Meet the cast episodes from the 2013-14 season:
      Death of a Salesman
      Just Like Us
      Jackie & Me
      The Most Deserving
      A Christmas Carol
      black odyssey
      The Legend of Georgia McBride
      Hamlet
      Shadowlands
      Animal Crackers

      Lord of the Flies:
      Ticket information
      Performances run through Nov. 2
      Space Theatre
      303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

      Our Previous Lord of the Flies coverage on Denver CenterStage:

    • Meet the homegrown cast of 'Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking!'

      by John Moore | Oct 01, 2014

      Forbidden_Broadway_Group_800_2

      "Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking," a comic roast of Broadway, returns to the Garner Galleria Theatre on Nov. 15.  From left: Joshua Archer, Chad Reagan, Sarah Rex, Jordan Leigh and Lauren Shealy. Not pictured: Katie Drinkard. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA. To see our full, downloadable photo gallery with the cast of "Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!," click here.



      Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!
      skewers all things musical theatre, but you don’t have to be a Big Apple insider to enjoy it.

      “The writers seem to have figured out a way to make it work for rabid musical theatre fans and more casual fans alike,” said actor Jordan Leigh, who is part of an all-local ensemble who put the Denver in the Forbidden Broadway.

      This returning favorite has since 1981 offered an always fresh and always changing comic parody of recent Broadway shows and tried-and-true classics. The evening features outrageous costumes, hilarious rewrites of songs you already know well, and dead-on impressions of actors and characters who have become part of the pop-culture landscape.

      What shows will the writers take on specifically for Denver?

      That’s “forbidden” information, but it’s a good bet the cast will have some comedy “magic to do” regarding Pippin, which recently launched its first national tour at the Buell Theatre, as well as Kinky Boots, Matilda and The Book of Mormon. Every show in every city is different, but some of the Broadway classics that often pop up for parody include My Fair Lady, Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera and The Lion King.

      Adding to the familiarity for Denver audiences will be a cast of performers who all call Denver home. Leigh was part of the longest-running show in Denver theatre history, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, which ran for four years at the Garner Galleria Theatre. He’s also been seen at the DCPA in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Five-Course Love and The Taming of the Shrew.

      His castmates will include Lauren Shealy (I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change; A Christmas Carol), Sarah Rex (Five Course Love) and noted opera baritone Chad Reagan. Their understudies are Joshua Archer, a University of Northern Colorado senior who just completed a busy summer with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and Highlands Ranch native Katie Drinkard.

      Leigh calls Forbidden Broadway a win-win for the local theatre community – and the audience.

      “I feel lucky to have the opportunity to be working at the highest level that Denver has to offer, and to share the stage with incredible talent,” Leigh said. “Plus, I think audiences like seeing actors they know.”


      See our full photo gallery:

      Forbidden_Broadway_Casting_Collage_2_800
      To see our full, downloadable photo gallery with the cast of "Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!," click here. All photos by John Moore.


      Meet the cast:

      Forbidden_Broadway_Casting_800


      Forbidden_Broadway_Casting_JordanJordan Leigh

      Hometown: Born in Denver, raised in Southern Cal … Broncos fan forever! (South Park premiered the year I returned to my Colorado birthplace and the Broncos won their first Super Bowl. Coincidence? I think not.)

      High School: Palm Springs

      College: UCLA, majoring in Theatre

      First Broadway musical you saw: Cats in 1985

      First musical you were in: Alice In Wonderland. I played the White Rabbit.

      Favorite charity: Anything having to do with helping animals!

      One thing you are forbidden from doing:  I'm a vegetarian, so I forbid myself from eating meat.

      One musical that is rife for Forbidden Broadway satire: Well, not to avoid the question or anything, but I think the creators of Forbidden Broadway kind of have their finger on that pulse.  So I will say … all the musicals we satirize in our show! (And anything Disney).

      Name your own cologne, starting with Forbidden (fill in the blank):
      I'm a natural-scent, animal-welfare kind of guy, so mine would be called: Eau de Forbidden Testing On Animals In Order To Cover Up Your Sickly Sweet Human Musk.


      Forbidden_Broadway_Poppins_Lauren_ShealyLauren Shealy

      Hometown: Centennial

      High School: Arapahoe

      College: Metropolitan State, majoring in Secondary English Licensure; BFA in Drama from NYU

      First Broadway musical you saw: The national touring production of The Secret Garden at the Buell Theater in 1993.

      First musical you were in: Santa Says No. I played Mrs. Claus.

      Favorite charity: The Girl Rising Fund, which aims to remove barriers to education faced by many girls in developing nations.

      One thing you are forbidden from doing: When I was a little girl, my parents forbade gum. My father was afraid my sisters and I would “aspirate” the treat.

      One musical that is rife for Forbidden Broadway satire: Floyd Collins. I don't know if many people know this musical. The story draws directly from the entrapment and subsequent death of a miner inside a cave in 1925. The musical is absolutely genius, but the super-serious subject matter, Kentucky dialect and Adam Guettel's distinct musical style could provide the raw material for a great parody.

      Name your own perfume, starting with Forbidden (fill in the blank):
      Forbidden Donut

      Forbidden_Broadway_Casting_RexSarah Rex

      Hometown: North Reading, Mass.

      High School: North Reading

      College: Oral Roberts University, majoring in Music Education

      First Broadway musical you saw: Yul Brynner in the national touring production of The King and I in Boston. I can’t tell you what year it was. ... I just can’t.

      First musical you were in: Lil Abner in ninth grade. I was one of the scientists.

      Favorite charity: Susan G. Komen for the Cure, raising money to fight breast cancer.

      One thing you are forbidden from doing: Going near snake pits. I have a strange phobia of snakes.

      One musical that is rife for Forbidden Broadway satire: Fifty Shades the Musical. I say, "Let's spoof the spoof!"

      Name your own perfume, starting with Forbidden (fill in the blank):
      Forbidden Stank ... "You will stank no more with a spritz of Forbidden Stank. The odor of true love!"

      Forbidden_Broadway_Casting_ReaganChad Reagan

      Hometown: I am a third-generation Denverite, and fifth-generation Coloradan

      High School: Sheridan

      College: University of Northern Colorado majoring in Voice with a minor in Economics

      Graduate school at DU in Opera Performance.  

      First Broadway musical you saw: The national touring production of The Phantom of the Opera at the Denver Center in 1997

      First musical you were in: I was in Bye Bye, Birdie as member of the ensemble. The first actual role I had was as Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls.  

      Favorite charity: I have always been a big supporter of Merkins for Hope. (Sorry, I couldn't resist a 30 Rock reference). … But actually, I have always tried to support the March of Dimes whenever possible.

      One thing you are forbidden from doing: Speaking to my wife in a German accent for more than five minutes in a day. ... Or in any accent, for that matter.  

      One musical that is rife for Forbidden Broadway satire: It has to be Rocky. I mean, did you see the Tony Awards?!

      Name your own cologne, starting with Forbidden (fill in the blank):
      This really funny, because in college I actually joked with my friends about my own line of cologne that nobody would actually want to buy under my "... by Chadwick" guise. Two of my favorites were Pittz and Hamper. I don't know either of those would sound following the word Forbidden: Forbidden PittzForbidden Hamper. Sketchy. But they sound hilarious when you whisper the words “by Chadwick” after you say them. Try it: Forbidden Pittzby Chadwick. Forbidden Hamper … by Chadwick. See what I mean? But I guess in semi-seriousness I would say Forbidden Opulence, because, well ... why not? I think it is good for people to know that I have a (not-so) secret desire to be an early era Hip-Hop artist, and that I know Rapper's Delight by heart.

      Forbidden_Broadway_Casting_ArcherJoshua Archer

      Hometown: San Antonio, Texas

      High School: Lady Bird Johnson

      College: Finishing up my senior year at the University of Northern Colorado, majoring in Musical Theatre

      First Broadway musical you saw: Once' in the summer of 2012

      First musical you were in: As a high-school freshman, I auditioned for West Side Story and I got the one Jet who doesn't have any lines. Correction: the only Jet with no lines. The character's name was Mouthpiece … and I'm not kidding.

      Favorite charity: Hope World Wide, I've worked them my entire life both in the U.S. and overseas. It is an incredible charity dedicated to ending the hardships of poverty around the world.

      One thing you are forbidden from doing: Nothing … so far!

      One musical that is rife for Forbidden Broadway satire: The obvious answer is anything involving Mandy Patinkin. But I think Les Miserables, because even though it’s one of my all-time favorites, it also has got such high drama that it’s practically begging for us to make fun of it. 

      Name your own cologne, starting with Forbidden (fill in the blank):
      Forbidden Chocolate. Oh, sorry that’s the forbidden snack I most want. I think I would call my cologne Forbidden Contact: It's got a dark, musky ... manly smell. I don't know. I think it would sell well though! 


      Forbidden_Broadway_Katie_Drinkard_300Katie Drinkard

      Hometown: Highlands Ranch

      High School: ThunderRidge

      College: Ithaca College Class of 2014, BFA Musical Theatre

      First Broadway musical you saw: Les Miserables in 2002

      First musical you were in: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and I was in the chorus of children (rocking that colored T-shirt)

      Favorite charity: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

      One thing you are forbidden from doing:  I should be forbidden from going anywhere near a track-and-field hurdle course. My first track of meet of middle school, I attempted to compete in hurdles having never attempted the event before. It was truly a valiant and courageous effort, coupled with a lot of contact with the ground, and I don't think I will ever be the same.

      One musical that is rife for Forbidden Broadway satire: I can't think of one that fits the bill that hasn't already been Forbidden Broadway-ified. I think the shows that are most rife for satire are anything big budget or "epic" where mimicking the sheer enormity, scale, and drama of the production is inherently comical.

      Name your own perfume, starting with Forbidden (fill in the blank):
      OK, I will call it Forbidden Fantasy. ... I went for the alliteration. 


      Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!

      Created by Gerard Alessandrini
      November 15 through March 1
      Garner Galleria Theatre
      Run time: 1 hour 40 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission
      Tickets: Start at $25
      Age recommendation: Appropriate for children 8+
      303-893-4100
      DenverCenter.Org

      Forbidden_Broadway_800_3

      Photo by John Moore for the DCPA. To see our full, downloadable photo gallery with the cast of "Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!," click here.
    • Meet the cast video series: Matthew Gumley

      by John Moore | Sep 29, 2014


      In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 65: Meet Matthew Gumley, a 17-year-old Florida native who already has two big-time Broadway credits to his name: Elf and The Addams Family. Matthew plays Piggy in the DCPA Theatre Company's Lord of the Flies. Here, Matt talks about playing opposite Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, his first impressions of Denver, and offers some perhaps surprising opinions about Johnny Carson and Jimmy Fallon. Lord of the Flies plays through Nov. 2 in the Space Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Run time: 2 minutes.

      And, hey: Check out our new media outlet at MyDenverCenter.Org


      Lord_Of_The_Flies_Meet_The_Cast_Matthew_Gumley_800
      Matthew Gumley in 'Lord of the Flies.' Photo by John Moore.


      Previous 2014-15 "Meet the Cast" episodes:

      Patty Goble

      Paolo Montalban
      Linda Mugleston
      Donna English
      Burke Moses
      Beth Malone

      Meet the cast episodes from the 2013-14 season:
      Death of a Salesman
      Just Like Us
      Jackie & Me
      The Most Deserving
      A Christmas Carol
      black odyssey
      The Legend of Georgia McBride
      Hamlet
      Shadowlands
      Animal Crackers

      Lord of the Flies: Ticket information
      Performances run through Nov. 2
      Space Theatre
      303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

      Our Previous Lord of the Flies coverage on Denver CenterStage:
    • 'Vanya' the most popular play in America

      by John Moore | Sep 27, 2014
      Vanya_Rehearsal_800

      Actor Socorro Santiago on the first day of rehearsal for the DCPA's "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," opening Oct. 10. Photo by John Moore.


      Christopher Durang’s Tony-winning comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will not only be the most produced play in the country by large, professional theatre companies over the next year, according to an annual survey just released by American Theatre Magazine. It will be staged nearly three times more than anything else.

      The magazine compiled its list based on self-reporting of all productions scheduled to open between Oct. 1 of this year and Sept. 30, 2015. In all, the 404 surveyed companies are slated to produce 1,876 titles (and of those, 403 are new plays).

      Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will be staged by 27 theater companies in the coming season, including the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. This black comedy and winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play opens Oct. 10 and runs through Nov. 16 in the Ricketson Theatre. 

      The survey does not include Shakespeare titles or holiday offerings. But for the record: A Christmas Carol will get 46 productions, and The SantaLand Diaries eight. The DCPA's A Christmas Carol runs Nov. 28 through Dec. 28 in The Stage Theatre, and Off-Center @ The Jones is co-producing The SantaLand Diaries (again starring Matt Zambrano) with the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company from Nov. 28-Dec. 24.

      The most-produced Shakespeare plays will be A Midsummer Night’s Dream (10) and Romeo and Juliet (8).

      Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
      also made the list last year. It finished in  eighth place, with 11 productions.

      “I feel very lucky, like I’ve won the lottery,” Durang told The New York Times. Thanks to the Broadway run and the advances that have come from licensing the play, he added, “the last year was the most money I have ever made.”

      Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is the story of two adult siblings who live together in their parents' country house in Bucks County. Pa. Their lives are thrown into upheaval when they receive a visit from their Hollywood star sister and her boy-toy.

      The play is a chaotic Chekhovian mash-up, with the story and characters all having some basis in works by the Russian master. But it stands fully on its own as a very funny look at adult sibling relationships.

      DCPA Director Jenn Thompson says the play is outrageously funny because, ironically, "all great comedy comes out of some sort of great pain. Durang just goes to dizzying heights with it."

      To see our report from the first day of Vanya rehearsals, click here.


      Coming in seventh on the list with seven professional stagings was The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez. That uncommon Civil War story was staged locally by the Curious Theatre Company, and the production went on to win eight Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards. Last week, Lopez began a six-month residency as the DCPA's first-ever Playwriting Fellow.

      This marks the third straight year Lopez has made the Top 10 list.

      THE 10 MOST-PRODUCED PROFESSIONAL PLAYS OF 2014-15:

      • Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang: 27
      • Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Shanley: 10
      • Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon: 8
      • Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz: 8
      • Around the World in 80 Days adapted from the novel by Jules Verne: 7
      • Peter and the Starcatcher, adapted by Rick Elice from Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson: 7
      • The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez: 7
      • Tribes by Nina Raine: 7
      • 4000 Miles by Amy Herzog: 6
      • Into the Woods, book by James Lapine, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim: 6
      • Venus in Fur by David Ives: 6

       

    • First look: 'Lord of the Flies' first preview tonight

      by John Moore | Sep 26, 2014
      Lord_Of_The_Flies_Poster_800

      Tonight marks the first preview performance of the Lord of the Flies, the Theatre Company's highly anticipated adaptation of William Golding's classic novel.

      Stranded on a deserted island, a small group of English schoolboys become intoxicated by sudden freedom, and their games quickly descend to a savage struggle for power. This compelling glimpse into dystopia explores the darkest reaches of human nature and fragility of free will. It is directed by Anthony Powell. We caught the actors after a recent dress rehearsal, snapped some photos and turned it into this poster. 
       
      Top row, from left: Jack DiFalco, Allen Dorsey, Ben Griffin, Skyler Gallun
      Second row: Gregory Isaac Stone, Kurt Hellerich, Charlie Franklin
      Bottom row: Charlie Korman, Noah Radcliffe, Ben Radcliffe, Matthew Gumley.

      Photos by John Moore.

      William Golding’s Lord of the Flies
      Adapted for the stage by Nigel Williams
      Sep 26 - Nov 2, 2014
      The Space Theatre
      Age Recommendation: Appropriate for children ages 13+
      Advisory: Violent and disturbing content for some audiences
    • The Making of 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' + the origin of every song

      by John Moore | Sep 25, 2014


      The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is hosting the launch of a completely re-imagined The Unsinkable Molly Brown, directed by Kathleen Marshall and featuring both a new book by Dick Scanlan and a recalibrated Meredith Willson score that includes many new Willson songs. Marshall calls the result "Americana at its best: Big, strong, open-hearted and optimistic.”

      The video above tells the story of the making of the musical in Denver. It includes interviews with Kathleen Marshall, Dick Scanlan, Beth Malone, Burke Moses, Paul Tazewell and Eric Rouse. Video by David Lenk. Interviews by John Moore. The musical plays through Oct. 26 at the Stage Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.DenverCenter.Org.


      The new 'Molly Brown score: Where do the songs come from?


      Audiences are leaving The Unsinkable Molly Brown humming a tune -- but they might not know where their tune comes from. Writer Dick Scanlan and Musical Director Michael Rafter were given permission to overhaul the musical's original score, eliminating some songs and adding others from the Willson canon.  For example, one centerpiece song, Don't Put Bananas on Bananas, originally was written to be included in Willson's masterpiece, The Music Man.

      In the end, six songs remain untouched from the original The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Scanlan has introduced 11 "new" songs to the score, though seven of the 11 aren't entirely new. Scanlan also was allowed to interpolate songs, meaning that he has added additional lyrics written by Willson or original lyrics written by himself. Some songs draw from several sources.

      One, you may be surprised to learn, resulted from a song Willson wrote as a commission for the U.S. government -- advocating the use of chemical warfare. (True story!) That song has been turned into a lovely ballad here called Wait for Me.

      Read our full interview with Dick Scanlan by clicking here.

      Here are the stories of the origins of all the songs in the musical, as provided by Scanlan. (The commentaries are his):

      May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You: "Meredith wrote this for The Big Show, Tallulah Bankhead's radio show in the early '50s, for which he was the bandleader.  It was a modest hit at the time."
       
      Colorado, My Home: "From the Broadway production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown  with some new lyrics by me." The new version of the song recognizes the many varied ethnic origins of the Colorado immigrant miner population. 
       
      I Ain't Down Yet: "From the Broadway production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with no new lyrics."
       
      The Wonderful Plan: "Meredith tried to use this in every one of his shows. He finally did in 1491. Substantial new lyrics by me."
       
      Just Becuz: "Standalone song written by Meredith with minimal new lyrics by me."
       
      I've A'ready Started In: "From the Broadway production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown,  with no new lyrics."
       
      Belly Up to the Bar, Boys: "From the Broadway production of  The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with no new lyrics."
       
      I'll Never Say No: "From the Broadway production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with no new lyrics."
       
      My Own Brass Bed: "From the Broadway production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with no new lyrics."
       
      He's My Friend: "From the movie version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with substantial new lyrics by me."
       
      Are You Sure: "From the Broadway production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with no new lyrics."
       
      Beautiful People of Denver: "From the Broadway production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with substantial new lyrics by me."
       
      The Sacred Thirty-Six: "New song created by me lyrically to music from two Willson songs, An Old-Fashioned Fourth of July (the bridge) and May-Birds (the chorus)."
       
      "I'd Like to Change Everything about You": "New song created by me lyrically to music from a Willson song, We're Spending Our Honeymoon in Escrow."
       
      "Cuppa Tea": "New song created by me lyrically to a song cut from the Broadway version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown titled Dignity."
       
      Don't Put Bananas on Bananas: "Song cut from The Music Man, with no new lyrics."
       
      Dolce Far Niente: "From the Broadway production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with no new lyrics."
       
      The Same Little Chapel: "Song written by Meredith during World War II, with some new lyrics by me."
       
      I May Never Fall in Love with You: "From the Broadway production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with no new lyrics."
       
      Wait for Me: "New song created by me lyrically to a song entitled Fire Up! The original song was written at the behest of the Defense Department in support of chemical warfare."

      Share the Luck: "The verse is new lyrics to the song You and Me. The song song itself was written by Meredith Willson for the Red Cross around the time of The Music Man.   He only wrote one chorus.  I created two additional choruses lyrically so we could build this into a rousing finale.  An astonishingly well-written tune that makes me smile every time I hear it."


      Molly_Brown_Beth_Malone_Burke_Moses_800_Video

      Beth Malone and Burke Moses in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.


      The Unsinkable Molly Brown: Ticket information
      Performances
      Stage Theatre
      Runs through Oct. 26
      303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

      Our Previous Molly Brown coverage on Denver CenterStage:

      'Molly Brown' Meet the cast videos:
      Beth Malone
      Burke Moses
      Patty Goble
      Paolo Montalban
      Linda Mugleston
      Donna English

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

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