• New DCPA CEO's first day is opening night of 'Motown'

    by John Moore | Apr 01, 2015



    Scott Shiller, newly appointed as just the second CEO in Denver Center for the Performing Arts history, had his first day on the job March 31. After a whirlwind day of greetings and meetings, he attended the opening performance  of the national touring production of Motown, the Musical, playing at the Buell Theatre through April 19.

    Shiller talks about his whirlwind day, which included meeting Denver First Lady and accomplished performer Mary Louise Lee, who made her professional stage debut at the Garner Galleria Theatre (then called StageWest) at the DCPA when she was just 18, and Motown star Allison Semmes (Diana Ross). Shiller also will attend the DCPA Theatre Company's One Night in Miami as well as Friday's world premiere of the new rock musical The 12, which imagines what happened to the disciples during the three days following their leader's death. Shiller begins his full-time duties as CEO on May 1.

    For information on any DCPA show, call 303-893-4100.


    Motown the Musical: Ticket information
    Through April 19
    The Buell Theatre
    ASL, Open Caption and Audio Described performance: April 18, 2 p.m.
    Tickets: 303-893.4100 | Click here to order tickets in Denver online
    800-641-1222 | TTY: 303-893-9582
    Groups (10+): 303-446-4829
    Click here to go to the show's official web site

    Previous coverage of the Scott Shiller hiring:
    Scott Shiller has theatre in his bones

    Previous coverage of Motown, The Musical:
    How Berry Gordy turned a slogan into The Supremes
    Official show page
    Video: Montage of scenes


    DCPA CEO Scott Shiller with 'Motown' star Allison Semmes and Denver First Lady (and performer) Mary Louise Lee. Photo by Emily Lozow.
    DCPA CEO Scott Shiller with 'Motown' star Allison Semmes and Denver First Lady (and performer) Mary Louise Lee. Photo by Emily Lozow.
  • A farewell to Japan: Forever changed, and committed to change

    by John Moore | Apr 01, 2015
    Note: This is our final report from Japan, where members of Denver's handicapped Phamaly Theatre Company participated in a 10-day goodwill trip that culminated with a performance of "The Fantasticks":

    The final afterparty!


    Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali wrote – and delivered - many rhymes in his boxing career.

    Mark Dissette, a founding actor with the Phamaly Theatre Company, kept thinking back to one particular poem Ali penned as Denver’s handicapped troupe wrapped up its life-changing, 10-day goodwill tour to Osaka, Japan.

    Ali delivered his poem during one of his Harvard University graduation speeches. It is believed to be the shortest poem in the English language, and it goes like this:

    Me. We. 

    It is a poem, Dissette said, “that speaks to how all of us are alike.”

    It also speaks to how members of the Phamaly contingent felt earlier today as they boarded a plane to Denver via San Francisco.

    “We have made such good friends here, and I am so sad to leave them now,” said actor Jenna Bainbridge. “I cannot wait to collaborate with the incredible (Japan) team again soon. We are leaving Japan far too soon. Hopefully we've lit the spark in someone that will burn into something as beautiful and vibrant as Phamaly here in Japan.”

    Phamaly has started a new chapter under recently named artistic Director Bryce Alexander, who oversaw this first-ever international venture for Phamaly.  And after what actor Jeremy Palmer called “our sake-fueled final night,” he was taken by the “seemingly limitless possibilities that lay before Phamaly in the years to come.” 

    "I am so grateful to have been a part of this first chapter in our exciting history,” he said.

    Palmer’s wife, actor Lyndsay Palmer, comes home with a new perspective on her home country.

    “I was treated kindly, respected and felt so loved and cared for from people who could barely speak a word of English and have completely different lifestyles,” she said. “The culture, the people, the country are beautiful, unique and peaceful. They are a big community who respect and take care of their country and their people. The crime rate is next to none, and the country is well preserved and taken care of.”

    By comparison, she added, the United States is spoiled and greedy.

    “My goal is to live like the Japanese,” she said. “Care more for my environment and be even more respectful. That way I will have a little of Japan everywhere I go, and maybe just bring more happiness to the people I pass and meet.”

    Harpist Barb Lepke Sims found “participating in something bigger than oneself” to be both humbling and inspiring. The trip put her life into a new perspective.

    “No matter what country we are from or what circumstance we may find ourselves in, being part of a loving and accepting community can help each of us reach our full potential,” she said. “Remember to be kind and helpful to one another can make a lasting impact on another person, which may in turn positively affect the larger community.

    “I think we all, Americans and Japanese alike, have touched each other's hearts and souls in a way that will stay with us and help us be better people by reaching out to others, whether it be in our local community or internationally.”

    For Dissette, a founding member of Phamaly dating back to 1989, “I guess dreams really do come true,” he said. “Not in ways I could even have imagined, but to their own tune and in their own time. Goodbye Japan ... for now.”

     CLICK HERE TO WATCH OUR JAPAN YOUTUBE PLAYLIST

    Above: Our Phamaly photo gallery in Japan.

    SOME FINAL POST-SCRIPTS FROM JAPAN:


    Members of Denver's handicapped Phamaly Theatre Company enjoyed their final two days in Japan as tourists, including tours of local temples and a stop at Universal Studios. There, a woman had her son join the Phamaly group for a greeting and photo. The little boy in the video above ran up to Jenn Bainbridge's wheelchair and kept trying to make the wheels spin. "There seems to be no fear of disability here," Bainbridge said.



    In parts of Japan, deer apparently run rampant. And they can be very aggressive when it comes to begging for food. In the video above, Daniel Traylor is accosted. But actor Jenna Bainbridge had a deer bite her chest. Another reached into her bag and stole her itinerary. Actor Robert Michael Sanders got yelled at for touching the deer in an attempt to get Bainbridge's paper back.  

    Jeremy Palmer, on the trip to Universal Studios: For weeks, a few of us planned to go, if we could figure out how to get there. Some of the college students who helped us "dub" The Fantasticks into Japanaese for the local audience were not only willing to guide us around th park, they went out of their way to pick us up and take the hour-long train ride with us. There is no way we could have made it there with a wheelchair without their help - and we wouldn't have made heads or tails of anything inside Universal Studios anyway because it has very little English anywhere (except "Harry Potter World"). So Jenna, Daniel, Lyndsay and I spent the day getting to know Shinsuke, Rina, and Ayaka, despite their small amount of English contrasting with our nonexistent Japanese. But still we talked about life, school, acting, movies and Phamaly -- all by applying a little patience and judicious word choice. Then of course, they insisted on riding the train back with us, again out of their way, to make sure we got home safely. We are so lucky to have met them and so glad they created Facebook accounts to keep in touch. Here's hoping we meet again some sunny day.

    Robert Michael Sanders, on the visit to local temples: We spent the day touring temples around Osaka and Nara.There was beautiful art and history to be found everywhere, and we again had gracious hosts and interpreters. It was a perfect day to pay respects to the culture that has treated us so well. 


    OUR PREVIOUS JAPANTASTICK PHAMALY JOURNAL ENTRIES:

    No. 1: Phamaly's 'massive moment' in Osaka begins
    No. 2: It's raining yen​
    No. 3: Boundaries created by war can be broken
    No. 4: Overcoming barriers and finding commonality 
    ​No. 5: Making music with total strangers
    No. 6:  Tears of joy as personal stories are turned into theatre
    No. 7: Historic performance before Phamaly's largest audience ever

    OUR RECENT NEWSCENTER COVERAGE OF PHAMALY:

    Phamaly to take The Fantasticks to Japan
    Phamaly picks Bryce Alexander as new artistic director

    Video: Phamaly says thanks to artistic director Steve Wilson
    DCPA Access-Ability Video featuring Phamaly actors

  • Meet the cast video series: York Walker

    by John Moore | Apr 01, 2015

    In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 92: Meet York Walker, who is making his DCPA debut playing Jamaal, a young and impressionable member of the Nation of Islam, in the Theatre Company's "One Night in Miami."

    Walker grew up outside Chicago loving The Muppets, Disney on Ice and Viola Davis ("Every scene she is in, she is living those moments so honestly.") Walker believes the ongoing problem with racial relations in America can be traced to a lack of education and understanding about the African-American story.

    One Night in Miami
    is a powerful new play that imagines what occurred the night Cassius Clay spent with activist Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and football player Jim Brown after Clay's historic win over heavyweight champ Sonny Liston in 1964.

    Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Run time: 2 minutes.

    One Night in Miami: Ticket information
    Performances through April 19 
    Space Theatre
    Performances daily except Monday
    Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

    More One Night in Miami cast videos:
    Meet Colby Lewis
    Meet Morocco Omari
    Meet Nik Walker
    Meet Jason Delane
    Meet William Oliver Watkins


    York Walker in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'One Night in Miami.'  Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.
    York Walker in rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'One Night in Miami.'  Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.


    Previous 2014-15 "Meet the Cast" episodes:

    Leslie Alexander, A Christmas Carol
    Joyce Cohen, Benediction
    Amelia Marie Corrada, Benediction
    Allen Dorsey, A Christmas Carol
    Meet Adrian Egolf, Benediction
    Donna English, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Charlie Franklin, Lord of the Flies

    Patty Goble,The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Sam Gregory, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Matthew Gumley, Lord of the Flies
    Lenne Klingaman, Appoggiatura
    Darrie Lawrence
    , Appoggiatura
    Eddie Lopez, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

    Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Nick Mills Appoggiatura
    Paolo Montalban, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Burke Moses, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Linda Mugleston, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Rob Nagle, Appoggiatura
    James Newcomb, Benediction
    Leslie O'Carroll, A Christmas Carol, Benediction
    Ben and Noah Radcliffe, Lord of the Flies
    James Michael Reilly, A Christmas Carol
    Socorro Santiago, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Lesley Shires, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Gregory Isaac Stone, Lord of the Flies
    Nance Williamson, Benediction

  • Photos: Off-Center's 'Kick-Off Cabaret' kick-starts Kickstarter projects

    by John Moore | Mar 31, 2015


    Off-Center - the DCPA Theatre Company's theatrical testing ground - recently hosted an innovative evening of entertainment and community-building called Kick-Off Cabaret.

    Crowd shot from the Kick-Off Cabaret. Photo by John Moore.  Eight widely varying local Kickstarter project creators – from cooks to programmers to musicians – were invited to make their pitches to a capacity house at The Jones.

    The March 13 evening was hosted by accomplished local actors Regina Fernandez Steffen (Vintage Theatre's Miss Saigon) and DCPA Teaching Artist Justin Walvoord (Aurora Fox's Metamorphoses and the DCPA Theatre Company's Jackie and Me.)

    The night was described as "Ted Talk” meets “Shark Tank.”

    Guest judges from Galvanize and Notion were on hand to choose the most compelling project. Galvanize provides members with work environments that best accommodate start-ups of varying sizes. Notion is a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign centered around a new kind of home security system.

    The winner was to receive one month of free work space through Galvanize, and a consultation with the brains from Notion. In the end, the judges picked two winners: ÉSTAINE and Denver Handmade Homemade.

    ÉSTAINE was founded in 2012 by Dr. Zofia Wosinska, who had long performed cancer research as a part of her PhD studies in photochemistry. While developing dye solutions used in cancer diagnosis, Zofia imagined the beautiful colors and patterns of the stained cells she saw through her microscope gracing flowing dresses and fabrics -- telling the empowering story of a survivor.

    ÉSTAINE creates luxury fashion accessories and fabrics that incorporate the colors and dye patterns used in cancer diagnoses. The hope is these unusual accessories will inspire conversation and raise awareness of the disease. The project became all the more personal when Wosinska was planning her first fashion show. That's when her husband, fashion entrepreneur Jeremy Picker, was diagnosed with Stage 3 lymphoma.

    Denver Handmade Homemade (HAHO for short) is building a micro-business incubator and event space that will offer local handmade craft vendors with discounts to business-building services, opportunities to sell twice a month for free, and a multi-modal space complete with a commissary kitchen and co-working maker space.

    In addition, Off-Center asked audience members to vote for their favorite projects by using stickers. Off-Center then made a donation to each project equaling $5 per audience vote.

    Here's a look at each of the other featured Kickstarter projects:


    Dungeons and Drafts: Coming this spring to Fort Collins. Photo by John Moore. Heat Wraptor: A battery operated, wearable heating pad offering mobile heat therapy for five hours or more.

    Flying Queens: A Basketball Dynasty: A documentary about a 1950s women’s basketball team that won 131 consecutive games.

    True Vintage: A newly formed hip-hop trio wants to record, mix and master professionally.

    The Codex Lacrimae: A fantasy book trillogy involving high adventure, medieval romance, Norse mythology, cosmic peril, and Arthurian lore.

    Alcohol Infused Sweet Treats: Help a local boozy baker move into a larger kitchen.

    Dungeons and Drafts Geek Bar: A tavern for geeks and gamers coming this spring to Fort Collins

    The Kick-Off Cabaret was a test night, meaning audience feedback was taken and a determination will be made to determine if Off-Center should present similar showcases of local artists and entrepreneurs in the future.

    Your 'Cabaret'-themed emcees, Justin Walvoord and Regina Fernadez Steffen. Photo by John Moore.
    Your 'Cabaret'-themed emcees, Justin Walvoord and Regina Fernadez Steffen. Photo by John Moore.


    OFF-CENTER: UPCOMING EVENTS

    April 10-25: Perception. Nothing is what it seems in this fully immersive experience, where every twist of your journey toys with your senses and challenges your perception. For more information, click here.

    May 8: Cult Following, a  popular series of unrehearsed, unscripted comedy evenings featuring the some of Denver’s best improv performers. The next performance will have a pirate theme. Tickets are $15 and the beer is free for those over 21. For more information, click here.

  • Meet the cast video series: Colby Lewis

    by John Moore | Mar 30, 2015


    In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 91: Meet Colby Lewis, who is making his DCPA debut playing "The Greatest": Cassius Clay (soon to be Muhammad Ali) in the Theatre Company's "One Night in Miami."

    Lewis is a basketball player-turned-actor whose very first acting job - ever - was playing Steve in a professional staging of Rent in Wilmington, N.C. He talks about his affinity for Denzel Washington, Voodoo Donuts, and how playing hoops helps him as an actor.

    One Night in Miami
    is a powerful new play that imagines what occurred the night Cassius Clay spent with activist Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and football player Jim Brown after Clay's historic win over heavyweight champ Sonny Liston in 1964.

    Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Run time: 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

    One Night in Miami: Ticket information
    Performances Through April 19 
    Space Theatre
    Performances daily except Monday
    Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

    More One Night in Miami cast videos:
    Meet Morocco Omari
    Meet Nik Walker
    Meet Jason Delane
    Meet William Oliver Watkins


    Colby Lewis, as Cassius Clay, in rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'One Night in Miami.'  Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.
    Colby Lewis, as Cassius Clay, in rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'One Night in Miami.'  Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.


    Previous 2014-15 "Meet the Cast" episodes:

    Leslie Alexander, A Christmas Carol
    Joyce Cohen, Benediction
    Amelia Marie Corrada, Benediction
    Allen Dorsey, A Christmas Carol
    Meet Adrian Egolf, Benediction
    Donna English, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Charlie Franklin, Lord of the Flies

    Patty Goble,The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Sam Gregory, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Matthew Gumley, Lord of the Flies
    Lenne Klingaman, Appoggiatura
    Darrie Lawrence
    , Appoggiatura
    Eddie Lopez, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

    Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Nick Mills Appoggiatura
    Paolo Montalban, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Burke Moses, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Linda Mugleston, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Rob Nagle, Appoggiatura
    James Newcomb, Benediction
    Leslie O'Carroll, A Christmas Carol, Benediction
    Ben and Noah Radcliffe, Lord of the Flies
    James Michael Reilly, A Christmas Carol
    Socorro Santiago, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Lesley Shires, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Gregory Isaac Stone, Lord of the Flies
    Nance Williamson, Benediction

  • Photos: Opening Night of 'One Night in Miami'

    by John Moore | Mar 28, 2015

    Kemp PowersHere's a look in photos at Friday's opening night of the DCPA Theatre Company's One Night in Miami. All photos by John Moore, who was allowed to trail actor Nik Walker (who plays Sam Cooke) backstage before the show. Also: photos from the cast party after the show, including a visit from playwright Kemp Powers (pictured at right).

    The play imagines what happened just after Cassius Clay’s historic win over heavyweight champ Sonny Liston in 1964 when Clay gathered to celebrate with activist Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and football player Jim Brown.

    Clockwise from top left: Colby Lewis as Cassius Clay, Jason Delane as Malcolm X,  Morocco Omari as Jim Brown and Nik Walker as Sam Cooke. Photos by John Moore.


    One Night in Miami
    : Ticket information
    Performances run through April 19
    Space Theatre
    Performances daily except Mondays
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Our previous coverage of One Night in Miami:
    Video: Bringing four icons to the stage in One Night in Miami
    Video, photos: Your first look at One Night in Miami
    Watch a montage of scenes from the play

    Fourth-graders have tough questions for One Night in Miami cast
    Photos: One Night in Miami is getting ready to rumble
    Video: An inside look at the making of One Night in Miami
    Video: DCPA cast gives shout-out to Baltimore Center Stage
    Full casting announced
    Video: Interview with One Night in Miami Director Carl Cofield
    New Denver Center season includes One Night in Miami
    Go to the official show page

    One Night in Miami cast videos:
    Meet Morocco Omari
    Meet Nik Walker
    Meet Jason Delane
    Meet William Oliver Watkins

    From left: Nik Walker, William Oliver Watkins, Morocco Omari, York Walker, Carl Cofield, Colbty Lewis and Jason Delane on opening night of 'One Night in Miami. Photo by John Moore.

    From left: Nik Walker, William Oliver Watkins, Morocco Omari, York Walker, Carl Cofield, Colby Lewis and Jason Delane on opening night of 'One Night in Miami.' Photos by John Moore.

  • Japantastick No. 6: Tears of joy as personal stories are turned into theatre

    by John Moore | Mar 28, 2015
    Note: This is Day 6 of our daily report from Japan, where members of Denver's handicapped Phamaly Theatre Company are participating in a 10-day goodwill trip that will culminate with a performance of "The Fantasticks":



    The cast of Phamaly Theatre Company's "The Fantasticks" does a runthrough of the show with theatre students from a local university "live dubbing" the show so that when the performance takes place, the Japanese audience will understand the words.


    Phamaly Theatre Company’s first week in Japan culminated with unique performances by local Japanese actors they guided through a series of creative workshops.

    At the start of the week, members of Denver’s acclaimed handicapped theatre company coaxed the local Japanese, most with disabilities themselves, into sharing their true, personal stories. Together, they turned those stories into performance pieces.

    Phamaly actor Robert Michael Sanders called it an unforgettable day of memorable stories set to music and dance.

    Stewart Caswell in Osaka. “I saw people who were really shy come out of their shell and perform in front of an audience for the first time,” added Stewart Caswell, who will play Mortimer in Phamaly’s upcoming performance of The Fantasticks in Osaka.

    “I saw a Hitomi, a woman who has been confined to a wheelchair all her life, burst into tears because she was able to sing a song on stage."

    Caswell should know how meaningful the moment was to that Japanese woman. Caswell has cerebral palsy from a brain injury at birth. He uses what he calls "a tricked-out mobility scooter" himself, but that hasn’t stopped him from acting since age 9.

    “A lot of people ask me why I am an actor,” he said. “I love being able to leap into the skin of another person. But more than that, I love that at the beginning of a project, what begins as a room full of people who don’t know each other transforms into a giant family you call really good friends."

    That’s what’s been happening all week in Osaka.

    "It was a very personal day for everyone," said Daniel Traylor, who plays Matt. “There was a sense of accomplishment throughout the room. Things came together flawlessly. Theatre magic is a beautiful thing. “

    Added Jenna Bainbridge, who plays Luisa: “The performances were so moving that I cannot even put it in words.”

    Added Sanders, who plays Bellomy in The Fantasticks: “There were tears and hugs and the overwhelming sound of barriers breaking down. There were lessons learned and memories made across continents, time, abilities and languages. Yet somehow we all landed together and found our light.”

    Curtain call for the workshop performances in Japan.

    Curtain call for the workshop performances in Japan.


    Preparing for the Fantasticks performance

    After the workshop performances, Phamaly actors conducted a table read of The Fantasticks incorporating theatre students from a local Japanese college who have been assigned to play their “counterpart roles” in the upcoming performance.

    The Japanese thespians will shadow their American partners and repeat all of their words in Japanese. The process is called “live dubbing.”

    “They were a joy to work with,” Bainbridge said. “After rehearsal they joined us for dinner and a rousing round of Uno before bed. At dinner, they graciously helped us order and taught us some proper etiquette. They could not have been more gracious.”

    The day’s lesson, said Phamaly actor Mark Dissette: Lead with your heart.

    “You can travel halfway around the world and discover that no matter how far you go, you can't outrun your fears,” said Dissette, who plays Hucklebee. “You must turn and face them. Lessons forgotten rap against your heart sometimes gently at other times with a rending fury.”

    CHECK BACK HERE TOMORROW FOR OUR NEXT JAPANTASTICK UPDATE 

    OUR PHAMALY PHOTO GALLERY (TO DATE):



    OUR PREVIOUS JAPANTASTICK PHAMALY JOURNAL ENTRIES:

    No. 1: Phamaly's 'massive moment' in Osaka begins
    No. 2: It's raining yen​
    No. 3: Boundaries created by war can be broken
    No. 4: Overcoming barriers and finding commonality 
    ​No. 5: Making music with total strangers
     

    OUR RECENT NEWSCENTER COVERAGE OF PHAMALY:

    Phamaly to take The Fantasticks to Japan
    Phamaly picks Bryce Alexander as new artistic director

    Video: Phamaly says thanks to artistic director Steve Wilson
    DCPA Access-Ability Video featuring Phamaly actors

  • Video: Bringing four icons to the stage in 'Miami'

    by John Moore | Mar 27, 2015


    The actors from the DCPA Theatre Company's One Night in Miami, opening tonight  (March 27), talk about portraying four of the greatest entertainment and cultural icons of the 20th century at varying stages of their fame. Set in 1964, audiences will not necessarily meet the same men pop-culture history would have us remember.

    "What I love about what Kemp Powers has written with this play is he takes these four extraordinarily public figures and he reveals something human about each of them that we might not have known," says actor Jason Delane, who plays activist Malcolm X.

    The play imagines the meeting between Cassius Clay, football player Jim Brown, recording star Sam Cooke and Malcolm X immediately after Clay’s historic win over heavyweight champ Sonny Liston in Miami. At the time, Clay was only 22. Within a year, both Cooke and Malcolm X would be dead. Jim Brown was walking way from the NFL at the height of his fame to start a movie career.

    Each man argues his vision for what it means to be black in 1964. The real-life meeting culminated in an early morning announcement from Clay that shocked the world. The play runs through April 19 in The Space Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


    One Night in Miami production photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen:




    One Night in Miami: Ticket information
    Performances run through April 19
    Space Theatre
    Performances daily except Mondays
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Our previous coverage of One Night in Miami:
    Watch a video montage of scenes from the play
    Fourth-graders have tough questions for One Night in Miami cast
    Photos: One Night in Miami is getting ready to rumble
    Video: An inside look at the making of One Night in Miami
    Video: DCPA cast gives shout-out to Baltimore Center Stage
    Full casting announced
    Video: Interview with One Night in Miami Director Carl Cofield
    New Denver Center season includes One Night in Miami
    Go to the official show page

    One Night in Miami cast videos:
    Meet Morocco Omari
    Meet Nik Walker
    Meet Jason Delane
    Meet William Oliver Watkins

    Jason Delane and Colby Lewis in 'One Night in Miami.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. Jason Delane and Colby Lewis in 'One Night in Miami.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.
  • Surprise: New York Times critics really like theatre

    by John Moore | Mar 27, 2015
    Theatre lovers, this may be the best info graphic you are ever going to see. Broadway producer Ken Davenport (Kinky Boots), who created the web site DidHeLikeIt.Com as a way of tracking the tone of New York theatre reviews, has come up with some surprising data that defies many stereotypes the theatre community holds dear about critics. 

    In the past 10 years, 71 percent of all theatre reviews written by The New York Times were mixed or positive. Only 29 percent were negative.

    The New York Times does NOT hate plays, as has been the reputation of reviewers Charles Isherwood and Ben Brantley for lo these many years. Both have reviewed plays more positively than musicals.

    The New York Times
     reviews do not make or break a show. Yes, while only 18 percent of negatively reviewed shows recouped their investments, those shows clearly had bigger problems than The New York Times . Because only 29 percent of positively reviewed shows recouped their investments. The leader in the recouping category - at 33 percent - were shows that received mixed reviews.

    The New York Times prefers plays directed by women (50 percent) to plays directed by men (43 percent).

    And yes, while I did once win an award for writing a snarky, backhanded compliment of an essay titled I Hate Mamet, I really don't. But guess what? A full 75 percent of Mamet plays have been negatively reviewed by the Times. On the other hand, the Times loves Stephen Sondhem (75 percent) and is middling on Shakespeare (38 percent). Probably unsurprising, they really love Tom Stoppard (83 percent). 

    Pull up a chair and take it all in. This graphic receives a positive review from me:

    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, where he is the editor of a new media outlet that covers the Colorado theatre community.


    DidHeLikeIt graphic
  • Japantastick No. 5: Making music with total strangers

    by John Moore | Mar 27, 2015
    Note: This is Day 5 of our daily report from Japan, where members of Denver's handicapped Phamaly Theatre Company are participating in a 10-day goodwill trip that will culminate with a performance of "The Fantasticks":


    Video above: Phamaly Theatre Company Musical Director Mary Kay Dailey leads four random Japanese students she met in a park in a song.


    Taking a respite from rehearsals and workshops, Phamaly Theatre Company Music Director Mary Kay Dailey and harpist Barb Lepke-Sims took to the streets and quickly found themselves at a loss for words. Specifically a loss for Japanese words.

    Phamaly in Japan. Mary Kay Dailey. “Barb snapped pictures of the station stops so we could backtrack our way home like leaving breadcrumbs in the forest,” Dailey said. But if there is a universal language, it is music. As Daily arrived at her destination of Osaka Palace, she heard faint singing in the distance.

    “Four young girls in proper school uniforms stood in a circle by the entrance to the park. They had sheet music in their hands and they seemed to be practicing,” said Dailey, who couldn't help but ask to listen.

    “Through an awkward game of charades, I found out that they were in a choir and their high school was right across the street,” Dailey said. “I explained that I am a music teacher.”

    And then they communicated the only way they really could.

    “I pointed to the soprano and alto lines of the four-part vocal score," Dailey said. "They were all sopranos. I hummed a note, and we all sang the tune.

    “My entire day before and after was a communication challenge, but for those brief 30 seconds, we totally understood and communicated in the same language – music. I am truly blessed to be able to share and receive the gift of music, for it has no boundaries.”


    'Frozen' barriers melt away in Disney song: 


    Video above: In case you wanted to know, here is how the monster hit song "Let it Go" from "Frozen" sounds in Japanese. Video by Jenna Bainbridge.

    Back at the Big-I – headquarters for Phamaly’s week of cultural goodwill – actor Jenna Bainbridge discovered if there is one more universal language besides music, it is Disney music. As Bainbridge began to try to find a commonality with her assigned Japanese students, she discovered they all knew – and love – the song “Let it Go” from Disney’s global animated hit film, Frozen. And the teacher became student.

    “They proceeded to teach me how to sing it in Japanese,” she said. “One girl was so helpful, that she wrote everything down phonetically so the Americans could sing it, too. We now know it all in English and Japanese, and are eager to perform it in the workshop."


    Lennon song still making, not imagining, a better world:  

    Video above: Phamaly Theatre Company Artistic Director Bryce Alexander directing, interpreted first into Japanese, then into Japanese Sign Language. The final piece has no words but is still understandable to anyone watching. Video by Jeremy Palmer.

    Jeremy Palmer is not only a Phamaly board member but also an actor, director and writer as well. He has headed the company’s now longstanding venture into creating original comedy performance opportunities for disabled actors through ongoing  programs called Vox Phamilia and dislabled. Palmer, Alexander and actor Robert Michael Sanders took three chosen “storytellers” from among the Japanese workshop participants and helped them shape their personal stories into original staged pieces.

    “The first woman had a piece that was already so beautiful and expressive, we all understood it even though it was completely silent,” said Palmer, who plays El Gallo in The Fantasticks. “Bryce added and expanded her movement and it was done.” Later Bainbridge and Palmer added other choral singers at the end as the woman, named Hirowei (“But I can't swear to that spelling,” he says) signed and danced to John Lennon’s song, "Imagine."

    A young transgendered girl with autism named Syuyo asked for a script to read, so Palmer did what he has always done with new Phamaly actors back home in Denver. He let her talk - through an interpreter. Over lunch, Palmer formed his notes into a narrative monologue. The interpreter then read his words to Syuyo’s mother, who then wrote it out in Chinese characters – and then rewrote it again in Japanese characters Syuyo could  understand. A circuitous and successful journey toward communication.

    At one point, Syuyo told her Phamaly group leaders she wants to help others like her, because she feels like she can't express herself.

    “Bryce and I explained that 26 years ago, that's why Phamaly was founded,” Palmer said. “One can only hope that many years from now, Syuyo might look back on this week as a spark that started something just as significant as Phamaly.”

    More observations from the day from Phamaly members in Japan:

    Lyndsay Palmer (The Mute in “The Fantasticks): “After a shaky start, I ended up working with my fellow cast members to teach my parasol dance originally choreographed by Phamaly's Debbie Stark to a full room of workshop participants. And they locked it up in a snap. It brought tears to my eyes to see us all work together like that, in spite of barriers of disability and language. I'm so proud, and I know we will put on a beautiful show together tomorrow.”

    Daniel Traylor (Matt): “I'm sitting among so much passion right now, it's overwhelming. We're breaking down language barriers and constructing a production in a matter of hours. I feel like I'm witnessing passions blossoming that have otherwise been stifled. Something has been awakened in them, and I hope that when we leave, we won't be taking their only creative outlet away. Some of these performers will want to follow in Phamaly's footsteps. Maybe Big-i will be a part of that.”

    Jenna Bainbridge (Luisa): "We went to a wonderful restaurant where our waiter handed us the translation app on the phone. It said, in very broken English, ‘You has pictures of all?’ I assumed the waiter was asking if we wanted a picture of the whole table, so I handed him my phone - and he ran away. He came back a moment later with a Polaroid camera and asked to take a picture of us all to put on a wall in the back. He was so helpful and eager to talk to us that he kept handing his translation app to us so we could communicate. We wrote on our picture: ‘Phamaly, The Fantasticks, March 2015. Wonderful food, Love Stewart, David, Lyndsay, Jeremy, Jenna.’ What a great time.

    CHECK BACK HERE TOMORROW FOR OUR NEXT JAPANTASTICK UPDATE 

    OUR PHAMALY PHOTO GALLERY (TO DATE):



    OUR PREVIOUS JAPANTASTICK PHAMALY JOURNAL ENTRIES:

    No. 1: Phamaly's 'massive moment' in Osaka begins
    No. 2: It's raining yen​
    No. 3: Boundaries created by war can be broken
    No. 4: Overcoming barriers and finding commonality 

     

    OUR RECENT NEWSCENTER COVERAGE OF PHAMALY:

    Phamaly to take The Fantasticks to Japan
    Phamaly picks Bryce Alexander as new artistic director

    Video: Phamaly says thanks to artistic director Steve Wilson
    DCPA Access-Ability Video featuring Phamaly actors

     

     



    Phamaly in Japan.
  • Japantastick No. 3: Boundaries created by war can be broken

    by John Moore | Mar 25, 2015
    Phamaly group photo at Japanese theme park.

    Note: This is Day 3 of our daily report from Japan, where members of Denver's handicapped Phamaly Theatre Company are participating in a 10-day goodwill trip that will culminate with a performance of "The Fantasticks":



    Last night, as a group from Denver’s Phamaly Theatre Company sat down for dinner on their second full day in Japan, an older man who spoke very little English approached them.

    “He apologized the best way he could for interrupting our dinner,” said Phamaly Artistic Director Bryce Alexander. “He had a gentle, kind look in his eyes. He managed to introduce himself to us by simply saying: 'I ... 1950s ... Hiroshima.'  

    “He smiled, shook our hands very warmly, and bowed with the deepest respect. He had no other words.” 

    Welcome Phamaly The Americans, representing Denver’s acclaimed theatre company made up entirely of actors with disabilities, had no way to respond. “We were rendered speechless - and not because we know so very little Japanese,” Alexander said. 

    Such are the ordinary, extraordinary encounters the Phamaly contingent is in for during their 10-day goodwill trip to Osaka, which will culminate in their performance of The Fantasticks before 1,500 at the Communication Center for Persons with Disabilities, also known as “Big-i” in Osaka. 

    “It became very clear that being here, in this culture, is so very important for so many reasons,” Alexander said. “That with all of the awful news in the world, there is hope, and love, and forgiveness, and openness between peoples. That boundaries created by war, or poverty or disability, can be broken. That in the end, life should be about living - struggles, triumphs, and all.”

    Added actor Robert Michael Sanders: “Everywhere we go, we are witness to what seems to be a lifestyle of kindness and efficient simplicity.”  

    Actor Daniel Traylor said the overwhelming courtesy is a big part of the culture shock he's experiencing. “People have gone out of their way to be helpful, rather than turning a blind eye,” he said. “One steward in particular never left our side from the instant we got off the plane until we had gathered our bags and left. He never acted as though we were keeping him from something else, and was patient until we said our goodbyes.” 

    Theme of the day: Theme park
    The Phamaly team had a full day to themselves on Tuesday before today’s first official workshop. They spent it at a Japanese movie studio theme park in Kyoto. Some observations: 

    Robert Michael Sanders (Bellomy): “Today we saw some samurai demonstrations as well as films being made. While trying to make conversation with a local woman in a gift shop, I remembered to give her my card that says, “American actor" in Japanese. “As she read, she began jumping up-and-down as if George Clooney had just entered the building. I assured her he hadn't.  But it was quite amazing. The people are busy but never rude. In fact, they are very patient, accommodating and willing to help.” 

    Jenna Bainbridge (Luisa): I've learned children in particular love to talk to Americans. I had quite a few run up to me, yell “hello” at me and run away -- some as young as 4. I can't wait for another adventure tomorrow.”

    Lyndsay Palmer (The Mute): “They were actually filming a ninja movie at the park. We also got to show off our anime drawing skills and have fun in a trick art museum. We ate at a place called Lotteria, which served hamburgers and French fries but Robert Michael Sanders was convinced it was kangaroo meat. You could even smoke in the restaurant, but not during lunch hour. ... We were not there during lunch hour ... Eww!”

    Jeremy Palmer (El Gallo): “We spent the day at a watching ninja and samurai shows. Fingers crossed we replace our sword fight in The Fantasticks with an epic katana blade battle! 

    More on where the conference is happening:
    The Big-i in Osaka. The location of the conference is called “The Big-i," which is the International Communications Center for Persons with Disabilities. The institute was established in 2001 for the commemoration of the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons (1983-1992). Among the ideas The Big-i promotes: 

    • Persons with disabilities play the leading role.
    • Promotion of social participation by persons with disabilities through art, cultural activities and international communications.

    “It is a state-of-the-art facility,” said Phamaly harpist Barb Lepke-Sims."We are staying in the Western rooms where they even have heated toilet seats. (Definitely something that should be adopted by the Colorado housing industry.)

    OUR PHAMALY PHOTO GALLERY (TO DATE):



    CHECK BACK HERE TOMORROW FOR OUR NEXT JAPANTASTICK UPDATE
     

    OUR PREVIOUS JAPANTASTICK PHAMALY JOURNAL ENTRIES:
    No. 1: Phamaly's 'massive moment' in Osaka begins
    No. 2: It's raining yen​

    OUR RECENT NEWSCENTER COVERAGE OF PHAMALY:
    Phamaly to take The Fantasticks to Japan
    Phamaly picks Bryce Alexander as new artistic director
    Video: Phamaly says thanks to artistic director Steve Wilson
    DCPA Access-Ability Video featuring Phamaly actors

  • Meet the cast video series: Nik Walker

    by John Moore | Mar 24, 2015


    In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 89: Meet Nik Walker, who is making his DCPA debut playing Sam Cooke in the Theatre Company's One Night in Miami. Nik talks about his appreciation for British actor Idris Elba, Motown Night at Denver's Beauty Bar and performing in the Flaming Lips' world premiere concept musical, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. "That's one of the best things I have ever worked on in my life," Walker said. One Night in Miami is a powerful new play that imagines what occurred the night Cassius Clay spent with activist Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and football player Jim Brown after Clay's historic win over heavyweight champ Sonny Liston in 1964. Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Run time: 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

    One Night in Miami: Ticket information
    Performances March 20 through April 19, 2015 
    Space Theatre
    Performances daily except Monday
    Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

    More One Night in Miami cast videos:
    Meet Jason Delane
    Meet William Oliver Watkins


    Nik Walker in rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'One Night in Miami.' Photo by John Moore.
    Nik Walker in rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'One Night in Miami.' Photo by John Moore.


    Previous 2014-15 "Meet the Cast" episodes:

    Leslie Alexander, A Christmas Carol
    Joyce Cohen, Benediction
    Amelia Marie Corrada, Benediction
    Allen Dorsey, A Christmas Carol
    Meet Adrian Egolf, Benediction
    Donna English, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Charlie Franklin, Lord of the Flies

    Patty Goble,The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Sam Gregory, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Matthew Gumley, Lord of the Flies
    Lenne Klingaman, Appoggiatura
    Darrie Lawrence
    , Appoggiatura
    Eddie Lopez, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

    Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Nick Mills Appoggiatura
    Paolo Montalban, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Burke Moses, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Linda Mugleston, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Rob Nagle, Appoggiatura
    James Newcomb, Benediction
    Leslie O'Carroll, A Christmas Carol, Benediction
    Ben and Noah Radcliffe, Lord of the Flies
    James Michael Reilly, A Christmas Carol
    Socorro Santiago, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Lesley Shires, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Gregory Isaac Stone, Lord of the Flies
    Nance Williamson, Benediction

  • Photos: Best of 2015 'Saturday Night Alive'

    by John Moore | Mar 23, 2015

    Saturday Night Alive. Photo by Emily Lozow. The 2015 "Saturday Night Alive" gala raised a record $914,000 for the DCPA's Education programs on March 7. Last year, the Education Division engaged more than 68,000 students of all ages. The gallery above includes some of the best photos taken during the night, including the benefit concert headlined by Jessie Mueller and Jarrod Spector at The Stage Theatre. Photos by Steve Peterson, John Moore and Emily Lozow. (Photo above by Emily Lozow.)

    To see EVEN MORE photos we took at the gala, click here. (Seriously: There are, like,  four times more photos at this link here.)  All photos are downloadable for free in a variety of file sizes.

    Our previous coverage of the 2015 Saturday Night Alive:


    Watch our video podcast with Jessie Mueller and Jarrod Spector (push play)
    Broadway stars to headline 2015 Saturday Night Alive

    The complete 'Saturday Night Stars' video series:
    Meet Roger Hutson
    Meet Susan Stiff
    Meet Claudia Miller
    Meet Fred Churbuck
    Meet Hassan Salem

    Denver Post Editor Greg Moore and wife Nina Henderson Moore at Saturday Night Alive. Photo by Steve Peterson
    Denver Post Editor Greg Moore and wife Nina Henderson Moore at Saturday Night Alive. Photo by Steve Peterson

  • 'The 12': Three days that rocked the world

    by John Moore | Mar 23, 2015

    In the video above, Robert Schenkkan introduces 'The 12' to DCPA subscribers. Below right: Neil Berg and Robert Schenkkan. Photo by John Moore.



    Robert Schenkkan quote


    They are perhaps the three most impactful days in the history of man, and remarkably little is known about them: the 72 hours between Jesus’ crucifixion and what Christians believe was his resurrection. It was the birth of what is now the world’s largest religion, with about 2.1 billion followers worldwide.

    The DCPA Theatre Company’s new rock musical The 12 imagines what those three days must have been like for his closest followers in the immediate, dangerous aftermath of the death of Jesus.

    Neil Berg and Robert Schenkkan. Photo by John Moore. “It’s useful to remember how young these people were,” Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Robert Schenkkan said of the disciples. “These are very blue-collar, gritty, uneducated men. Yet their passion and their ultimate commitment to this individual — and the ideas that he embodied — are so fierce that they all will ultimately give their lives for him. That’s a very powerful idea, and we take that responsibility very seriously.”

    But The 12, opening in preview performances on Friday (March 27), is not a narrative play. Set against the backdrop of composer and co-lyricist Neil Berg’s classic rock ’n’ roll score, it is a big, loud, crank-it-up-to-10 musical.

    “The culmination of this event in history was, of course, a world-changing revolution of the most potent kind,” said Berg. “Rock ’n’ roll is the anthem of revolution, so that entirely supports this kind of passionate musical expression in our show.”

    What The 12 is not, both men said, is a treatise on religion. It is not a polemic. It does not take a stand on the certainty of the resurrection — although, Berg teases, “Everyone will have their own very clear idea of what happens at the end.”

    The 12  is instead an imagined, human story, Berg said, based on a real historical event. It is set to original music inspired by Berg’s love of classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin and The Who. In addition to being a trained writer of musical theatre, Berg has a long history as a touring musician with groups like the still-active Joe D’Urso & Stone Caravan. He has opened for Bruce Springsteen and The Doors, and has played at Red Rocks and McNichols Sports Arena.

    Neil Berg quoteThe score he has produced for The 12, he said, is a perfect match for the angst, the tension and the drive of Schenkkan’s story. “It is going to be authentic rock ’n’ roll, I can tell you that,” Berg said.

    The 12 has been described as picking up where Jesus Christ Superstar leaves off, and chronologically speaking, Berg said, that is accurate. However, he says his original musical score “is really an open love letter to classic rock ’n’ roll.”

    The 12 will now join a genre of popular Biblical rock musicals of widely different tones, including Superstar, Godspell, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (coming to The Buell Theatre April 22-26) and Children of Eden.

    “I think The 12 is a different, great addition to that group,” Berg said. “Because the characters are all trapped in one room this story is intense from the beginning. You’re in it. And the music reflects that.”

    Christina Sajous, Tony Vincent and Colin Hanlon. Photo by John Moore.  Schenkkan, who also wrote the 2014 Tony-winning best play All the Way (which will be staged by the DCPA Theatre Company early next year), loves Superstar and Godspell, but those musicals are far more stylized than The 12, he said. “This is a more natural and thoughtful approach to the material,” he said. “Our approach is much less sensational. And, I think, more powerful because of it.” (Pictured: Christina Sajous, Tony Vincent and Colin Hanlon. Photo by John Moore.) 

    It was Schenkkan’s decision not to use Jesus’ name in The 12, and he did it for two reasons.

    "First, like so many details in the Jesus story, we can’t be sure about this but it is unlikely in Jewish society at that time that his followers would have addressed him using his name as that would have been considered disrespectful. More likely he would have been called an honorific like, 'teacher' or 'Rabbi.'  Second, it was done to remove a possible barrier between the story and its potential audience.

    “The phrase ‘Jesus the Lord’ is so loaded in terms of what it will later come to mean. By taking the name out of the equation, it puts the focus back on the immediacy of this very human story.

    “The tendency of the audience will be to look at this event with the weight of 2,000 years of bitterly contested doctrine, and everything that comes with that. We are trying to strip all of that away and say, ‘Wait a minute: What if you were one of these fishermen on the sea of Galilee, and this guy you might have heard something about comes up to you and says, ‘Follow me.’ And for reasons that are not clear even to you in that moment, you do, because there is something about him that compels you. What does that mean? It is kind of unfathomable.”

    To Berg, the central question is this: “When the head of this revolutionary group is suddenly killed, what makes these followers continue on?”

    Robert Schenkkan quote

    Still, Schenkkan understands why potential audiences may feel some trepidation about what is, for now, a theatrical unknown.

    “Oftentimes, unfortunately, when writers have dealt with issues of faith, it’s hard not to feel that there is some condescension there. Some smugness. Some superiority,” Schenkkan said. “That’s unacceptable, quite honestly. I think it’s prejudice.

     “We have tried very seriously to get at this fundamental question of belief and commitment to something which cannot ultimately be proved in rational, scientific terms. And to me, that is a very exciting, dramatic proposition: How does one get there? We have all experienced a dark night of the soul. A time where everything we have believed in whether it is a religious expression or an idea or a cause has failed us. And we have to find a way to go forward. To recover our faith and our belief. That’s at the heart of what we are trying to do here.

    "And it’s why I believe that all of our audience — including members of all various faith-based communities — will find this a story that is not only accessible and respectful, but also very compelling.”



    This video offers a sample of a song from 'The 12' called 'Do You Remember?' written by Neil Berg and Robert Schenkkan.

    The 12: Ticket information
    March 27-April 26
    Stage Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or buy online
    Toll-free: 800-641-1222 | TTY: 303-893-9582
    Groups of 10 or more: 303-446-4829
    ASL interpreted, audio described and open-captioned performance: 1:30 p.m. April 26


    Our previous coverage of The 12:
    Video: Robert Schenkkan introduces The 12
    The 12 opens rehearsals with a mandate to 'dig deep'
    Full casting announced for The 12
    Final offering of Theatre Company season: Rock musical The 12
  • Japantastick No. 1: Phamaly's 'massive moment' in Osaka begins

    by John Moore | Mar 22, 2015

    Stewart Caswell, David Wright and Jeremy Palmer. Photo by Michael Ensminger

    From left: Stewart Caswell, David Wright and Jeremy Palmer in Phamaly Theatre Company's 'The Fantasticks.' Photo by Michael Ensminger  



    It is, in the words of actor Daniel Traylor, “a massive moment in Phamaly's history.”

    Denver’s acclaimed professional handicapped theatre company is traveling today to Osaka, Japan, to perform the classic musical The Fantasticks. It will be the first-ever international performance in the company’s 26-year history.

    “I am at once exhilarated and anxious,” said newly appointed Phamaly Artistic Director Bryce Russell Alexander. The 10-day cultural exchange trip will include Phamaly actors leading community workshops and will culminate with a performance of The Fantasticks in front of more than 1,500 – the largest one-time Phamaly audience ever ... by perhaps three times.

    Fantasticks Quote“How will they react - not only to our very open disabilities - but also to the production?” Alexander said. "Only time will tell.”

    Phamaly has produced professional plays and musicals since 1989, cast entirely with performers who have physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. The company has been invited to Japan by the Communication Center for Persons with Disabilities, also known as “Big i” in Osaka. The nickname stands for the first letter of the words independence, information, intercommunication and international. The name was chosen in hopes of advancing global exchange and the independence of people with disabilities.

    “This whole thing hasn't settled for me quite yet, and I don't think it will till we land in Japan,” said Traylor, who plays Matt in The Fantasticks. “We're going out there embracing what makes each other's awareness of disabilities different and successful. I'm excited to see the butterfly that comes from this.”

    Original company member Mark Dissette, who plays Hucklebee, says he has "wondered, cried, screamed and begged for Phamaly to have more recognition beyond Denver. Now, that time has come.”

    Harpist Barb Lepke-Sims is new to Phamaly with this production, which was recently presented at both the Aurora Fox and Arvada Center. “I am excited to become part of the Phamaly family and make new friends in Japan,” she said. “I also want to thank the Japanese harpists who made it possible for us to rent a harp in Japan so that Phamaly could be able to use the full orchestration for the play.”

    Lepke-Sims first played harp for The Fantasticks as a high-schooler in New Jersey, and she has been playing the show regularly in the 35 years since. “As a 17-year-old, I would never have dreamed this play would one day take me to Japan,” she said. “It’s exciting to see how one thing leads to another and how one's life unfolds.”

    Alexander and his cast of eight actors will lead four days of mock auditions and acting workshops for nearly 100 participants traveling from all over Osaka Prefecture, a geographical region of Japan that spans 733 square miles. At the end of the four days, the community participants will hold their own performance of original writing, in which they will share their own stories.

    “The opportunity to share our stories, understand their experiences and combine our performance styles will result in a deeper and unified understanding of disability theory and advocacy across our cultures,” Alexander said. “We will bring that knowledge back to the United States where we can broaden our impact, refine our messaging and deepen our artistic process.”

    The Fantasticks, written by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, is the world’s longest-playing musical. It has been running off-Broadway for more than 52 years in New York. It is the poignant tale of two young lovers, their meddling fathers and the wall that divides them.

    The DCPA NewsCenter will follow Phamaly’s trip by producing a daily blog with words and photos from the cast and crew in Japan.

    Daniel Traylor, who plays Matt, sang at the DCPA's recent 'Saturday Night Alive' fundraiser. Photo by Steve Peterson.As the team prepared to make the flight today, we asked them to tell us what they are most excited or nervous about. Here are some of their responses:

    • "Who do you have to write to get international time sped up? This cultural exchange of ideas and friendship can't happen fast enough." —Stewart Caswell, Mortimer
    • “How do I fit everything I need for 10 days into a manageable suitcase? If only there were some art of folding I could study, but where in the world would THAT be a thing?” Jeremy Palmer, El Gallo
    • “I am anxious and so very excited for Sunday to get here, even though I'm not packed at all for our 10-day trip yet.” Lyndsay Palmer (Mute)
    • “I am so excited. I have no idea what to expect, but I know it will be a great adventure. I mean, look who I am going with. This will be the trip of a lifetime for this old (older) man.” David Wright (Henry the old Actor)
    • “I am nervous about the plane trip and that we get there safely. But once we arrive, I will be 100 percent open to anything that happens.” Harpist Barb Lepke-Sims.
    • “I (feel I) must meet a challenge that is both exciting and terrifying in a place that I have only read about." Mark Dissette, Huckabee.
    Phamaly’s primary production each year is a Broadway musical staged at the Space Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. This summer, it will present Cabaret from July 16-Aug. 9.


    Pictured above right: Daniel Traylor, who plays Matt, sang "Being Alive" from "Company" at the DCPA's recent "Saturday Night Alive" fundraiser. Photo by Steve Peterson.

    CHECK BACK HERE TOMORROW FOR OUR NEXT JAPANTASTICK UPDATE 

    CAST LIST:
    El Gallo: Jeremy Palmer
    Luisa: Jenna Bainbridge
    Matt: Daniel Traylor
    Hucklebee: Mark Dissette
    Bellomy: Robert Michael Sanders
    Henry: David Wright
    Mortimer: Stewart Caswell
    Mute: Lyndsay Palmer

    OUR RECENT NEWSCENTER COVERAGE OF PHAMALY:
    Phamaly to take 'The Fantasticks' to Japan
    Phamaly picks Bryce Alexander as new artistic director
    Video: Phamaly says thanks to artistic director Steve Wilson
    DCPA Access-Ability Video featuring Phamaly actors
  • Fourth-graders have tough questions for 'One Night in Miami' cast

    by John Moore | Mar 20, 2015
    Photos from Hallett Fundamental Academy by John Moore for the DCPA.


    Director Carl Cofield is an old pro at answering questions about the play One Night in Miami. He is in Denver to direct the acclaimed play by Kemp Powers for his second time. The play imagines what happened when Cassius Clay won the heavyweight boxing championship in 1964 and immediately withdrew to a hotel room with Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X.

    But Cofield has never faced questions like the ones he and his actors took from the fourth- and fifth-graders last week at Hallett Fundamental Academy, a Denver magnet school with a 95 percent African-American enrollment. Questions like:
    • Were African-Americans immigrants?
    • If we really did have a "separate but equal" society, do you things would still be "separate?"
    • If Malcolm X were still alive, what would he say about things today?
    • If you were an abolitionist, how would you end slavery? Is violence or nonviolence the solution?
    • Since people didn't like Muhammad Ali, did he want to beat everybody up - or did he prefer to talk it out?

    One student had not a question but a prescient comment about the rule of law that mandated racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern U.S. states from Reconstruction through 1965. “It was because of Jim Crow laws in those times that they couldn’t have the kind of schools white people had,” he offered.

    Out of the mouths of babes.

    Cofield was joined on the hot seat by actors Colby Lewis, who plays Cassius Clay in the DCPA’s staging of One Night in Miami that had its first preview performance on Friday; Morocco Omari, who plays football and movie star Jim Brown; and York Walker and William Oliver Watkins, who play bodyguards for Malcolm X from the Nation of Islam.

    “Wow, these are the best questions,” Cofield told the students.

    Carlotta Walls. Photo by John Moore. In the back of the Hallett library, smiling from ear to ear, stood Denver’s Carlotta Walls (pictured right). She is a member of the Little Rock Nine, the group of African-American students who were enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. They attended only after the intervention of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Supreme Court’s historic ruling that called for the desegregation of all schools throughout the nation.

    Walls especially loved when a boy timidly but straightforwardly asked the most loaded of questions: The one on "separate but equal."

    Specifically: “Would we have integrated schools?”

    Walls liked it because, in the past 60 years of talking about the Little Rock Nine, no adult has ever asked her that question. "That's why I prefer talking to student groups," she said with a laugh. But she was happy to tackle it.

    “If separate really were equal, I still feel we would have integrated schools because we have the right to have integrated schools,” she said. “However, you will notice that in any environment, groups of people congregate together. So if you were Asian and you said, ‘I want to be right here with all the other Asians,’ or, ‘I want to be in this group with all Chicanos,’ then that is your right.

    “But at the same time, we also have a right to go across the line and be a part of a diverse, inclusive society. To me, that's what this country is all about. “

    Watkins, taking his shot at the question, told the room packed with 10-year-olds his belief that the very concept of "separate but equal" is flawed. 

    Hallett Quote“It is impossible,” Watkins said. “If you have not gotten to the point where you can accept another person who is different from you, then I think society will implode on itself. Today, it is white and black. But then say we separate. OK, so now over here, we are all white. But now we separate again, say, people who are over 6-feet tall, and people who are under 6-feet tall. OK, now we separate people who have blue eyes and green eyes.

    "If you have it in your soul that in order for you to survive, you have to be separate from people who are not like you, then I think that's a cancer. And I think it will continue to eat at you and you will never be happy. So, no: I do not believe 'separate but equal' will work under any circumstance.”

    And that was just for starters. Here’s how they took on the other questions:

    Were African-Americans immigrants? 

    Lewis tried to explain the difference between those who have come to America searching for a better life, and those who were brought here against their will.  Omari was more direct.

    “No,” he said unflinchingly. "During the slave trade, 120 million Africans were brought over to this country on slave ships. Sixty million died. Why? Because when the Native American weren’t able to toil the land, they brought Africans over to do it. The slaves were bought and sold. They were treated like animals. Bred like animals. And if you didn't follow the rules, bad things happened. You could get sold and taken away from your mother and father. You could get hung. They were not immigrants.”


    If you were an abolitionist, how would you end slavery? Is violence or nonviolence the solution?


    There isn’t a right or wrong answer to that, Watkins said. “There were people fighting to end slavery with their words and their fists and guns for hundreds of years. The Civil War finally did it – although a lot of people will tell you the war had more to do with economics than with what was morally correct. But my belief is that every single thing that happened was what it took to end slavery. There needed to be people who were willing to stand nonviolently, but there comes a time when you don't have any more cheeks to turn. So there was no one answer."

    Hallett Principal Charmaine Keeton greets cast members. Photo by John Moore.  Denver. Photo by John Moore. Since people didn't like Muhammad Ali, did he want to beat everybody up - or did he prefer to talk it out?

    “I believe he did a little bit of both,” Lewis said. “He internalized all of the bad things that people were saying about him, and he internalized all of the bad things that were happening around him - like the Jim Crow laws that wouldn't let him eat at the front of the restaurant. He took in all the writers who said he would never be a world champion. But he was a talker, too. He was notorious for spitting all of those words back into the faces of the people who doubted him. He took the things that made him angry, and he used it to give himself confidence to believe, ‘I can make it. I will succeed.’ He used his power in the media. So whenever reporters were there, he would talk junk to them and say things like, 'I'm going to beat so-and-so in the fifth round - watch me.' And he would do it, because of the belief he had in himself. He used all that that anger and injustice and that fueled his fights in the ring. So he did fight back, but in a very smart and specific way. So he battled back on two fronts."

    Omari said Ali used his simmering rage to his economic advantage as well.

    “He used to tell people, ‘If you want see me get beat up, then you gotta come and pay your way in,’ ” Omari said. “He made people so angry that they would have to come see the fight. That made the purse bigger - and that meant he made more money. He called it, ‘Sour the people ... sweeten the purse.’ ”

    Hallett Fundamental Academy. Photo by John Moore.

    Students from Hallett Fundamental Academy in Denver. Photo by John Moore.


    If Malcolm X were still alive, what would he say about things today?

    “If Malcolm X were looking at current conditions, I would guess he would say we need to empower ourselves, instead of looking for outside support from the government,” Cofield said. 

    "I think Malcolm would say, 'We need to save our own money. We need to open our own Amazon.com, or whatever. If we have our own businesses, we don’t have to tell someone to go to school and then go look for a job. We can tell someone, "Go to school, and when you are ready, I will have a job waiting for you." ' ”

    Omari called that strategy “reinvesting in yourself.”

    “That means not going out and spending your money on the new Jordans,” he told the kids. "That means making your money work for you instead of you working for your money.

    "Think about Oprah Winfrey.  She has economic freedom. She is able to go anywhere she wants to go in this world because she has the money.” 

    Cofield and his actors told the students about One Night in Miami, but cautioned that the play itself is not appropriate for a younger audience to watch because of the language and subject matter. But he encouraged the students to read, to learn and to achieve.

    Watkins left them with a word about Malcolm X.

    “He had zero fear, and he believed in what he believed with all of his heart. I believe those two things together make you a superhero,” Watkins said. “When you have no fear, you can accomplish anything. That was his power. And I think all of us have the potential to have that power.”

    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.

    Students from Hallett Fundamental Academy in Denver. Photo by John Moore.

    The cast of 'One Night in Miami' poses with students from Hallett Fundamental Academy in Denver. Photo by John Moore.


    'One Night in Miami
    ': Ticket information
    Performances run through April 19
    Space Theatre
    Performances daily except Mondays
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Our previous coverage of One Night in Miami:
    Video: An inside look at the making of One Night in Miami
    Video: DCPA cast gives shout-out to Baltimore Center Stage
    Full casting announced
    Video: Interview with One Night in Miami Director Carl Cofield
    New Denver Center season includes One Night in Miami
    Go to the official show page

    Meet the cast video series (to date):

    Meet Jason Delane (Malcolm X)
    Meet William Oliver Watkins (Kareem)

    Cast members with Carlotta Walls at Hallett Fundamental Academy in Denver. Photo by John Moore.
    Cast members with Carlotta Walls at Hallett Fundamental Academy in Denver. Photo by John Moore.
  • Theresa Rebeck is not getting angry: She's getting even

    by John Moore | Mar 19, 2015
    Theresa Rebeck quote
    Photo by John Moore from the Playwrights' Slam at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit.


    Theresa Rebeck wishes the topic of gender disparity in the American theatre would go away. But for that to happen, gender disparity would have to go away. And it seems to Rebeck and other prominent American playwrights not to be going anywhere.

    “There seems to be something intractable about it,” Rebeck said last month while attending the DCPA’s Colorado New Play Summit in Denver.

    theresa-rebeckRebeck has been talking about gender disparity for years. She was talking about it in 2007, when she came to Denver for the world premiere of her play Our House. The problem is: She’s pretty much been talking to herself.

    “I would love for the discussion to happen, but it’s still not happening,” she said. “And then – nothing happens.”

    And when nothing happens, the only recourse is to take matters into your own hands.

    So Rebeck, whose play The Nest has been selected for its world premiere as part of the DCPA Theatre Company’s 2015-16 season, started The Lilly Awards with Marsha Norman and Julia Jordan in 2010 as a way to honor the work of women in the American theatre. Why?

    “Because we are being completely shut out of the (other) theatre awards,” Rebeck said.

    All this month in New York, the Lilly Awards are presenting an inaugural reading series spotlighting new works by female playwrights. And the festival opened March 9 with a play familiar to Denver audiences: The Comparables, by Laura Schellhardt. Inspired in part by Jean Genet's The Maids and all things David Mamet, The Comparables takes a biting look at competition among women in the workplace. It was a featured reading at the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit. It’s now having its world premiere at the Seattle Repertory Theatre.

    American Theatre correspondent Nicole Serratore, reporting last week from the festival opening in New York, thought it deliciously apropos that the play – and the reading series – opened with the Madeleine Albright quote, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” 


    Video: A quick look at 'The Comparables,' when it was presented as a featured reading at the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit.

    How real is the problem of gender disparity? According to American Theatre:

    • 68 percent of the Broadway audience and 51 percent of the American population are female.
    • The 2014 Pulitzer Prize and all finalist nods went to women. But there was not even one play written by a woman presented on Broadway during the 2013-14 season.
    • Only about 24 percent of all plays produced across the country this season were written by a woman, living or dead.
    • Of those 24 percent, only two female playwrights (Amy Herzog for 4000 Miles and Nina Raine for Tribes) landed on the annual list of the 10 most-produced plays of the year.

    (Note: 4,000 Miles, starring Benjamin Bonenfant and Billie McBride, who both just appeared in the DCPA’s Benediction, opens March 26 at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Tribes will be presented by the DCPA Theatre Company opening Oct. 9.)

    The numbers, Rebeck said, are unacceptable. And they are a national epidemic. But she takes heart that the DCPA has been an exception to the rule.


    Theresa Rebeck quote

    Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson is commissioning women playwrights, Rebeck said. He’s hiring women directors. He’s presenting two world premiere plays next season written by women. Retiring DCPA Chairman Daniel L. Ritchie has added the DCPA's Women's Voices Fund to his will.

    The Women's Voices Fund is one of the nation’s largest theatre endowments, having recently exceeded $1 million in donations in just its 10th year. The Fund enables the DCPA Theatre Company to commission, workshop and produce new plays by women. More than that, it empowers the DCPA to rally fundraising efforts by celebrating women. (Click here for a complete list of all the artists who have benefited to date.)

    "Kent Thompson absolutely walks the walk," Rebeck said. "And to me, the thing that is electrifying about Kent is that he went out in front of everybody 10 years ago and said, 'We are not doing enough plays by women. Women are more than half our audience and more than half the human race.' And for some reason, the rest of the American theatre is still catching up with Kent’s vision on this. Before anyone else was doing anything for women writers, Denver had the Women’s Voices Fund."

    The Women’s Voices Fund has enabled the DCPA to produce 24 plays by women (including nine world premieres), commission 14 female playwrights and hire 18 female directors since 2006.  And perhaps ironically, the big three leading the charge are men – Thompson, Associate Artistic Director Bruce K. Sevy and Literary Manager Doug Langworthy. Rebeck doesn’t care what gender they are. She cares about what they are doing for female playwrights.

    “Kent doesn’t talk about it much at all. He just does it,” Rebeck said, “and it has made an enormous difference.”

    Rebeck stopped talking about this issue for a time, because it only led to frustration.

    Jessica Love and Kevin Berntson in 'The Nest' at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore. “One of the things I discovered is that people are terrified of women being negative or angry,” Rebeck said. “And I would think, ‘Jesus, we have been shut out of the storytelling of the American culture on such a profound level for so long – in theatre, in film, and in TV – why wouldn’t we be angry?'

    “I am sort of curious that in the face of something that is clearly a spooky injustice, no one wants to engage in real emotions around why it is happening. What is it? In New York, I think there is a comfort level about people working with people they have worked with before, or who look like them.”

    At the reading series in New York, there has been talk of women playwrights being overlooked “less because of overt discrimination than more insidious forms of prejudice,” Serratore wrote for American Theatre. The Tall Girls playwright Meg Miroshnik implied more of an unconscious bias in the way theatre producers choose plays and playwrights. “There are not shadowy cabals sitting down to program seasons consisting entirely of plays written and directed by white men,” Miroshnik told the magazine.

    But Rebeck can’t shake the feeling that something more sinister might be at play.

    “I actually deeply believe it has something to do with issues of power, and the power structure in the American theatre,” she said. “I don’t think anyone can say, ‘I don’t want to produce women writers because they don’t sell tickets.’ That’s not in the discussion, and it wouldn’t be true if it were. So is it a terror over the loss of power? 

    “I don’t feel like audiences care what gender a playwright is. I don’t know anyone who goes to see a play because it was written by a man or a woman. I think audiences are happy with plays that engage them. Most of the time, audiences don’t even know who wrote the play  – they just know if they liked the play.”

    So apparently, Rebeck is talking about gender again. 

    “I really don’t mind talking about,” she said, “but I don’t talk about it very much anymore because I am kind of bored with how unimaginative the discussion remains.

    “But I will say that Kent and Bruce and Doug like to stand in the face of all that and say, ‘We’re taking action.’ And that is a really great thing. I wish more people knew about what is happening in Denver. I hope that this gets out.”


    Video: A quick look at 'The Nest,' when it was presented as a featured reading at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit. it will get a full production on the 2015-16 Theatre Company season, with an opening set for Jan 26, 2016.

    OUR COMPLETE SUMMIT SPOTLIGHT VIDEO SERIES:
    Part 1: The Nest, by Theresa Rebeck
    Part 2: The There There, by Jason Gray Platt
    Part 3: Holy Laughter, by Catherine Trieschmann
    Part 4: Fade, by Tanya Saracho

    MORE COVERAGE FROM THE 2015 COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT:

    American Theatre: The Colorado New Play Summit Is a Developing Story
    Matthew Lopez's 2015 Summit Soliloquy video
    Primer: Your guide to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
    Summit cast lists: Familiar names and new names
    Playwrights named for inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
    2015 Summit to introduce inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
    Colorado New Play Summit expands to two weekends

    Click here to go to our NewsCenter.

  • America: Hal Holbrook would like to have a little talk

    by John Moore | Mar 15, 2015
    Photos of Hal Holbrook's appearance at the Sie Film Center in Denver on March 20. Photos by John Moore.


    Hal Holbrook Quote


    Hal HolbrookWhat we have here in America, the enduring actor Hal Holbrook believes, is a failure to communicate.

    It’s not that we’re not talking. It’s that we’re not talking to each other. Unless it’s to our own kind.

    “People are afraid to talk openly about politics today,” Holbrook said last week. “We have become so nervous about offending anyone’s opinion. Plus, we have so many ridiculous opinions circulating on the cyber-circuits that to deal with political opinion today is not only chancy; you are just going to turn people off and scare them.” 

    But Holbrook, as the world has well-known these past 90 years, is not afraid to talk. Either as himself, or as the alter ego he has lived with for seven decades now. Holbrook returns to Denver on March 21 to perform for the 11th time Mark Twain Tonight, the second-most presented show in DCPA history (Sorry, Hal: You can’t touch A Christmas Carol. Yet.)

    Holbrook is talking, all right. Just as Twain might if he had not had the bad form to die as a whippersnapper of just 75. He’s talking about the gun culture. About religious hypocrisy. About racism. About abuse of power by police. (He’s experienced it, too, he says.) He’s even talking about the legalization of marijuana in Colorado.

    “What is going on in the world today is dangerous,” he says. And not just in Syria and France and Africa. Right here at home. But what’s most dangerous, says America’s modern-day Will Rogers, is what will surely come to pass if we don’t start talking about it openly. Forget congress. (They’re beyond hope, he says.) Forget the “yacky, yacky yack” televangical opinion-makers on Fox or MSNBC. (They are all talking so fast, you can’t follow them anyway,” he says.)

    No, the onus is on the real and regular people of America to start talking to one another again, Holbrook says. At the dinner table, in churches and at taverns. More important, we have to learn all over again how to listen. 

    “We are living in a world where there is a terrible religious war underway, and it has been brewing for a long time,” Holbrook said. “And if we aren't able to talk about it without taking partisan sides, we're in deep trouble. Because we have something really golden in this country, which is the tradition of being able to have your own idea about something. And being able to express it. And if we go hiding that in the closet, and suppress it, you can just imagine what kind of world we are heading into.” 

    Hal Holbrook QuoteBut into this culture of animosity and hostility and division, we still have, through Holbrook, an immortalized Mark Twain going out into every corner of America talking about who we were and what we were thinking 100 years ago. And in doing so, he is in some strange way touching on who we are and what we are thinking now.

    When Holbrook walks out on stage sporting Twain’s trademark white suit, wild white hair and indelible witticisms, it’s like being sat down by your grandfather’s grandfather for a good talking to. 

    “I am so grateful that I still have this Mark Twain show; that I never gave it up; that I never got tired of it,” said Holbrook, who has performed Mark Twain Tonight nearly 2,500 times in all 50 states, 20 countries and behind the Iron Curtain. “It gives me a tremendous feeling of moving forward. It gives me energy. I love doing the show, and I love the challenge of trying to talk to people today about what is going on in our world.”

    Although the show is always 100 percent Twain, it is always changing. Holbrook promises Denver audiences will see at least an hour of new material since his last visit here in 2013. He has a new number from Huckleberry Finn that recounts the comic family feud between the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons, who have been fighting for so long, no one can remember why it began in the first place. “Strangely enough,” Holbrook says,” it has something powerful to say about the gun culture today and our love affair with guns.

    “I have another new piece that I think was pretty chancy to add in, and that has to do with Mark Twain's thoughts on the Christian Bible. It’s about how people use the Bible without even understanding what Jesus is saying in it. And I am telling you, it is right on the nose. As a religious nation, we have a tremendous lack of understanding of what Jesus Christ is telling us. We turn it into something else and make a mess of it. That's what happens when you marry politics to religion. That’s what we’ve done, and it is creating a big problem in this country. Politics and religion do not go well together.”

    These are dicey, controversial topics of conversation. But no matter your politics, the dialogue somehow flows more easily when America’s most beloved, cigar-chomping humorist is leading it. Holbrook has voted for both Democrat and Republican presidents – and he’s been alive for every one of them since Calvin Coolidge. Growing up, his family was conservative. “But I was born with a question mark on my head, so I can't be a Republican,” he says. Like Twain, he hails from the party of common sense.

    And right now, his common sense is telling him that America will live in shame for decades for the way it has treated President Barack Obama. And he doesn’t exonerate the left in that assessment.

    “My thoughts begin with this powerful realization that Barack Obama was elected in 2008 with the largest number of popular votes ever given to any U.S. president (69.5 million). It was as close to a landslide as you can get,” he said. “The very next day, the opposing party announced very clearly and very prominently that their one goal in the next four years would be to get rid of the man we had just elected by the largest number of votes ever given to any president in U.S. history. That, to me, was unforgivable. Obama has been under a bombardment like no president I have ever seen. No one has ever been shot at and attacked the way he has.”

    What’s more important than Obama being picked on is the underlying reason Holbrook believes he is being picked on -- and how that unmasks the greatest problem facing America today.

    Hal Holbrook Quote“Obama has accomplished an amazing amount in the past six years – and nobody is talking about it. Not even the Democrats are standing up for him. And why is that? If this guy is achieving all this good stuff against such tremendous odds, why aren't the people in his own party standing up for him? There is one element that comes into this whole picture, which all of us try to put out of our minds, and that is racism. And the fact that President Obama is black.

    “There is such a powerful tide of racism in this country today, and I don't think we can blind ourselves to that fact.”

    It’s that kind of blood-pumping talk that keeps Holbrook getting up in the morning. That keeps him thinking about how to change and improve Mark Twain Tonight when he lies in bed at night. When he swims in the pool. 

    “I'm working hard, but when you are 90 years old, there all kinds of thoughts in your head that you'd really like to chase away,” he said. “You can’t sit there and linger on how old you are and worry about dying. You just have to pick up and go.”

    In the meantime, he is keeping the conversation going. He and Mark Twain.

    “I was writing my son the other day, who is very intelligent and very hard to argue with. He has very strong opinions. I was trying to tell him, 'David, I think what I have been trying to do with Mark Twain all my life is to make people say to themselves, 'Wait a minute. Let's not be too sure about that …’ " 

    The night before Holbrook’s March 21 performance at the Buell Theatre, he will be presenting a documentary titled Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey at the Sie Film Center (7 p.m. Friday, March 20, 2510 E. Colfax Ave.) It shows performance excerpts from Mark Twain Live and includes interviews with Sean Penn, Martin Sheen, Emile Hirsch, Cherry Jones and others.

    “It's really good, I have to say,” he said.



    Here are a few excerpts of Holbrook talking about other important subjects:

    ON RACE IN AMERICA
    “We are watching the whole racial thing happen again, over and over. We have done a great deal to try to solve it since the beginning 300 years ago ... but it ain't solved yet.

    ON HIS RECENT RUN-IN WITH POLICE
    I think there is as much racism in Missouri as in any state in the union. I know what it's like when you give some guy a uniform and a gun. I was totally humiliated by a young police officer in Springfield, Mo., just so he can be big stud making an old man go though a whole routine. He followed me because I took a wrong turn on a totally dark road around 11 at night. There was nobody on the road. No traffic. Nothing. He was accusing me of DUI. I hadn't been drinking for 20 years, and he made me do all kinds of stuff. It was really insulting. Now, if you happen to live in a state where there is a lot of racism when you were growing up, I think it would be childish to dream that a fellow who’s got a uniform on has not carried some of that racism into his adulthood.  We know that now from the actual facts that have come out of the city government in Ferguson. It's all proved now.

    Hal Holbrook QuoteON OBAMACARE
    He introduced a health-insurance program that was long overdue. Every civilized country in the world has had one for their people except the wealthiest country in the world. And then congress got a hold of this bill - and the lobbyists - and I  won't say they mutilated it, but they certainly made it a lot more complex than it originally was going to be. All that being said, yes, it's been a terrible mess. I have friends who hate it. But the upside of it is this: Eleven million people now have health insurance because of it. So you cannot dismiss the accomplishment. I think it’s quite extraordinary.

    ON CONGRESS
    These are basically very dumb people. They would sell their mother for a dollar, and they do it every day down there.

    ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY
    I have voted Republican several times in my life. But they have taken this party and they have twisted it in ways that do not help us at all. Did you see the picture of the guy from Arkansas (Tom Cotton) who wrote the letter to the Ayatollah in Iran? Have you seen his picture? He looks like a 28-year-old kid. This guy is a thinker? This is somebody we are supposed to admire?

    ON THE LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA IN COLORADO
    People are not going to like hearing me say this, but it doesn't make sense to me to think that somebody who is smoking marijuana is not going to have his judgment affected somewhat - maybe a lot - while driving. I don't want to be killed, and I don't want my grandson who is just turning 18 in April and is going to be driving all the way across this country to live in California - to be killed. I want to tell you, the people in California are driving more and more crazy every day. They are doing things I have never seen done before. I'm not kidding. Now I don't know whether they are on some drugs or what, but they have no respect for the rules of the road anymore. I smoked pot a couple of times in my life, OK? I didn't like it. I was doing a show once when my second marriage was breaking up, and I was having an affair with this sexy girl who was on the show. She was much younger and she was into all kinds of things like EST. So another friend wanted us to come over and smoke marijuana, and I said, "I don't want to smoke marijuana.” They said, “Oh, Hal, you've gotta loosen up. We want you to take a few puffs of marijuana.” So I said, ‘Oh hell, all right, all right, all right, c'mon...” And I smoked a couple puffs. Now (my girlfriend) says to me, "I want us to tell the truth about what we feel about each other. Tell the truth about what you think of me, Hal!" And I said, "OK: I think you're a nut!" And she got mad and left the room.  So, that's what I think about marijuana: It'll free you up, all right. But it's not safe!”

    ON 102-YEAR-OLD DCPA FOUNDER DONALD R. SEAWELL
    He's my inspiration. I'm 12 years behind him. He’s such a remarkable gentleman in the true sense of the word. He is powerful in his positive feeling about his ability to keep going. That is the best medicine you possibly can have when you start to get into your 90s. I keep trying to catch up to him … but he makes it very hard.

    ON THE 2010 DEATH OF HIS WIFE, DIXIE CARTER
    I think of her every minute of the day. I can constantly hear her talking to me. And it's rearranging my idea of where heaven is. I think it's right around here. Her presence is constantly here in this house. And so, it’s very, very hard for me to make peace. Not only with losing someone you love. But it's very hard for me to make peace with how you justify taking someone away who was not only so full of life, but also all that talent and kindness and good feeling for people. But at the same time, I have to remember that Dixie was a very sincere Christian. She did not preach it. She just lived it. She respected everybody. That, to me, is the kind of Christian I like.     

    HAL HOLBROOK IN MARK TWAIN TONIGHT
    Saturday, March 21
    7 p.m.
    Buell Theatre
    Denver Performing Arts Complex
    303-893-4100
    Click here for tickets

    DOCUMENTARY FILM: HOLBROOK/TWAIN: AN AMERICAN ODYSSEY
    Friday, March 20
    7 p.m.
    Sie Film Center
    2510 E. Colfax Ave.
    Click here for tickets

     

  • DeVotchKa frontman promises a 'Sweeney Todd' that's 'loud and proud'

    by John Moore | Mar 13, 2015

    Video: DeVotchka appearing with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at Red Rocks.


    It’s too soon to know just how Sweeney Todd will sound once Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece gets put through the megaphone of revered local band DeVotchKa.

    But frontman Nick Urata, who’s got a bit of the demon barber running through his own veins, knows how he hopes his fresh musical meat pie comes out of the oven a year from now.

    “We kind of want to make it loud and proud,” Urata said this week.  “And hopefully we will sneak some rock ’n roll elements in there if possible, too.”

    DEVOTCHKA800The Denver Center for the Performing Arts has announced an unprecedented programming departure with the release of its 2015-16 season: Its homegrown Theatre Company will present a full staging of Sweeney Todd set to an adapted score by DeVotchka. The plan is for Jeanie Schroder, Shawn King and Tom Hagerman to be playing in the orchestra pit every night. And, if his schedule allows, Urata has every hope of joining them, and up four or five additional musicians.

    DeVotchKa was Grammy-nominated for scoring the 2006 film Little Miss Sunshine. Urata has gone on to score several more, including Crazy Stupid Love, Ruby Sparks, Paddington and the current Will Smith behemoth Focus, which has grossed $125 million worldwide in its first three weeks of release.

    But for two decades in Denver, DeVotchKa has been a band of musical misfits beloved for a strict adherence to their gypsy roots and most comfortably living on the fringe.

    “I was just thinking about how many years we were on the outside looking in,” said Urata, whose band now regularly sells out Red Rocks (and is expected to again at its fifth annual concert with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra on July 23). “It’s such an honor to be thought of as part of the actual scene now.”

    Urata Quote 1Named after a line from Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, DeVotchKa's music comes with a signature sound and a flavor all its own. Urata’s Sicilian vocals are enveloped by bass, tuba, trumpet, accordion, violin and percussion. It all mixes together for a Latin and Slavic aural amalgam that is often described as “mariachi polka punk.”

    Sweeney Todd is such a guilty pleasure,” Urata said. "I can’t think of a more perfect platform for us, being that we like coming from a dark and twisted place, and this is the ultimate dark and twisted musical opera.”

    The dark and twisted DeVotchKa sound starts with Urata’s haunting wails that sound as though he has just emerged from a nightmare in a cold sweat, blurting his most intimate confessions to the world. And perhaps those phantasms are traceable to a 9-year-old Urata growing up in Croton, N.Y.

    “When I was a kid, they would show commercials on Channel 9 for the New York production of Sweeney Todd, like, four or five times a night, and it used to give me nightmares,” Urata said with a laugh. “I didn't even really know what a Broadway show was back when I was seeing those weird commercials every night. But it was constantly playing on TV, so it always loomed as large and mysterious. And it stayed with me. So I eventually got the soundtrack, and I have seen many various productions of it since then.”

    Urata sees his collaboration with the DCPA evolving in much the same way it has with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and other chamber groups. He imagines complementing the core band sound with horns, violins … and a barrage of percussion.

    “The brass is really important in this show,” said Urata. “Trombones played a big part in the original score, and that’s one of our favorite instruments to write for, so we plan to expand on the brass section. Hopefully we will have multiple exotic horns in that section.”

    Whatever DeVotchka comes up with will be necessarily groundbreaking, but the DCPA is not the first theatre to experiment with Sondheim’s exalted score. Last year, the master gave his permission for the Landless Theatre Company in Washington D.C. to concoct a prog-metal version of the musical, a form that blends classical and jazz while using metal to highlight some of the darker elements of the show.

    Nick Urata Quote“If I know anything about Sondheim, it’s that he is very open-minded,” said Urata, who counts Sondheim's West Side Story as his favorite musical. “I think that's why we all love him - because he has always been so experimental.”

    Urata knows Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd is already considered by many to be a masterpiece. He does, too. That’s why he said DeVotchKa intends to honor the source material.

    “It’s a lofty challenge,” he said. “There are some vocal acrobatics in this show that have to be approached with some reverence. That's the vehicle the story travels on in this play. So we have to stay true to that and just kind of build around it with our rock ‘n roll gypsy sound.”

    To that point, Urata had not yet given a thought to the fact that in order for this unique collaboration to happen in Denver, Sondheim himself had to sign off on it. But then Urata was asked about it.

    “And now that you say that, in the back of my mind, all I am thinking is like, ‘Wow, Stephen Sondheim is going to listen to this.' We just hope he doesn't puke when he hears it. But if anything, that will definitely light a fire under our (butts) to make this good.”

    The idea started with a conversation between DCPA Artistic Associate Emily Tarquin and DeVotchKa's Hagerman, who will be providing original music for Off-Center @ The Jones' upcoming bit of theatrical experimentation called Perception, opening April 10.

    Urata can’t wait to sharpen his musical blade, especially if the effort induces the band’s fans to come to the Denver Center and see live theatre.  

    “That would be amazing,” he said. "People don't realize that we have this world-class orchestra, and we have this world-class performing arts center right downtown. Hopefully we can bring some people who might not otherwise check it out.”

    DeVotchKa is not a band known for making demands. But, Urata admits, they did have one. All four and members want to have their throats slit, eight times a week.

    “Yeah … that’s true,” said Urata. “We really want to get into that chair, if possible.”

    Go big or go home, right?

    “Exactly.”

    DeVotchKa capsule

    Here are more excerpts from our conversation with Nick Urata: 

    John Moore: You have made some interesting, crazy departures. And this might be the most interesting, crazy departure of all. How did it happen?

    Nick Urata: When we heard what show we are talking about, we definitely wanted to be a part of it. We’ve just been dancing around the issue for the past couple of months trying to clear out our schedules, and so it only became a reality in the last couple of days. It's all pretty fresh.


    Tom Hagerman ogf DeVotchKa - and off-Center's 'Perception.' Photo by John Moore. John Moore: When I watch many local bands playing live, I can see an untapped theatricality to their music that sometimes I don't think they even realize. But there has been an inherent theatricality to DeVotchKa from the very beginning. How do you feel about fully crossing over into theatre with this project?

    Nick Urata: I think we have always been walking the line between those two worlds. We cut our teeth backing up burlesque shows back in the day. One of our first big tours was this vaudevillian variety show, and we were the pit orchestra. We had to think on our feet, and we had to dabble in all these different genres and mood swings throughout the show. We were at a crossroads as a band at that point, and I think it pushed us in the direction we took. We wrote a ton of our songs during that period.

    John Moore: So is that Nick we are seeing on the stage, or a character?

    Nick Urata Quote 3Nick Urata: I have always felt, especially with this band, that I do my best work when I am not myself. In any given song, you are trying to tell a story, so that means you are portraying a character.

    John Moore: That's what actors do on the stage, of course, but I don't know too many frontmen in local bands who think that way. Well, Slim Cessna and Jay Munly come to mind as frontmen who are assuming a character when they get up to perform.

    Nick Urata: I have to. That's how I am able to embody a song. My favorite part of being an artist is playing a part for people, so I don’t want to bring too much of myself into it. You want to be bigger than life and more interesting to people than just being some guy singing at a mic.

    John Moore: So 9-year-old Nick may not have known what a Broadway musical was when he saw those commercials for Sweeney Todd. Did live theatre become a part of your life as you grew older?

    Nick Urata: Luckily, I had older brothers and sisters who were in musicals, so I became deeply immersed in that world throughout my childhood. I have always been a fan of musicals. Maybe that's my dirty secret ...

    John Moore: … Or maybe that is something to be celebrated.

    Nick Urata: Yeah.

    John Moore: So what kind of theatre turns you on?

    I love the classics: Rodgers and Hart, and Rodgers and Hammerstein. West Side Story is my favorite musical. I love amazing melodies and lyrics that stand alone, even away from the show. That's the stuff that takes me back to a warm and fuzzy place.   

    John Moore: Well, Sweeney Todd is not a warm and fuzzy place.

    Nick Urata: Yeah, and that is what is so cool about it. I don't know if we can pull off the bright and sunny thing with this show.

    John Moore: When you were growing up, did you ever perform in live theatre?

    Nick Urata: Only in very amateur productions.

    John Moore: Gotcha. I was just wondering if you harbored any deep desires to play Sweeney Todd yourself.

    Nick Urata: We haven't talked about it - but I've certainly thought about it. (Laughing). Is there still time to audition? I would give it a try.

    John Moore: I’ve heard you sing, but I’ve never heard you sing Sondheim. You realize he only writes music that only a very small fraction of superhuman beings are capable of singing well, right?

    Nick Urata: Yeah, but Sweeney gets the best songs in the play, for sure. 

    John Moore: Speaking of … we know Tom and Jeanie and Shawn are planning to be in the pit and playing every performance, along with with added musicians. What about you?

    Nick Urata: I am planning on it. We are just trying to work out the logistics of it right now.

    John Moore: So there is a possibility that all four of you will be playing every night?

    Nick Urata: That's what we're hoping. We don't want to say it is definite and then let everybody down if it turns out I can't do it logistically. It is a long run, and there are some other obligations I have to keep. But we are going to write it with all four of our parts in mind and then take it from there.

    John Moore: So imagine yourself a year from now. What do you want to bring to his show that people have never seen before?

    Nick Urata: Mostly, I am hoping we will bring people to the theatre who have never seen the show before to check out some Sweeney Todd. Maybe some of those people who might otherwise be at the hi-dive. 

    READ MORE ABOUT THE DCPA THEATRE COMPANY'S NEW SEASON HERE

    Tickets and subscriptions
    New and renewing subscribers have the first opportunity to reserve tickets. Tickets are available to subscribers beginning Monday, March 16, online here,  or by calling 303-893-6030 or 303-893-4100. Subscribers are guaranteed the best seats at the best prices, guaranteed, along with additional benefits. Single tickets will go on sale to the general public in late summer.
  • DCPA Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16

    by John Moore | Mar 13, 2015
    Lookingglass Alice"Lookingglass Alice" as presented in Chicago.


    The DCPA Theatre Company’s 37th season will mark a groundbreaking musical collaboration with a beloved local rock band, and a much-requested return to Shakespeare. And not just any Shakespeare: It’s a title the Theatre Company has never performed in its history (As You Like It).

    DeVotchKaFor the fourth straight year, the season will end with a massive musical undertaking. Not only will the Theatre Company stage Stephen Sondheim’s epic masterpiece Sweeney Todd, the DCPA has received permission from the author to allow the Denver band DeVotchKa to adapt the score for what promises to be a cutting-edge new interpretation.

    "When we heard what show we are talking about, we definitely wanted to be a part of it," said DeVotchKa frontman Nick Urata, whose music is described as "mariachi gypsy punk."

    "We’ve just been dancing around the issue for the past couple of months trying to clear out our schedules, and so it only became a reality in the last couple of days. It's all pretty fresh."

    The Theatre Company's new slate affords another usual collaboration, this one with Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre. Somewhat in the vein of Traces’ visit in 2011, Lookingglass debuted as a company with its magical reimagining of Alice in Wonderland that employed trapeze and other circus aerial effects. Lookingglass has toured this signature work ever since, but the production in Denver will a completely new staging performed on a completely reconfigured Stage Theatre.

    Kent Thompson. Photo by John Moore. The season lineup also reinforces the DCPA’s commitment to both new plays and women’s playwrights with the selection of two world-premiere comedies by women – both commissioned by the Theatre Company and featured in last month’s Colorado New Play Summit: Theresa Rebeck’s The Nest and Tanya Saracho’s FADE.

    And for the second straight season, the Theatre Company has slotted the most recent Tony Award-winning best play: The LBJ play All the Way. Before this year’s staging of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, the Theatre Company had not presented a Tony-winning best new play since Doubt in 2008 - and has only staged three since 2000.

    “This coming season, we will challenge the boundaries in our theatrical spaces like never before to create incredible experiences for our patrons,” said Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson. “It will be a creative, emotionally charged and exhilarating eight months.”

    For the second straight season, the Theatre Company has announced an eight-show season. That’s down from 10 in 2013-14. Last year, Thompson explained that the company was responding to financial considerations, artistic sustainability and audience feedback.

    READ JOHN MOORE'S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH NICK URATA OF DEVOTCHKA

    THE 2015-16 SEASON AT A GLANCE
    :
    Sept. 11-Oct 11: Lookingglass Theatre Company’s Lookingglass Alice, Stage Theatre
    Sept. 25-Nov 1: As You Like It, Space Theatre
    Oct. 9-Nov. 15: Tribes, Ricketson Theatre
    Nov. 27-Dec 27: A Christmas Carol, Stage Theatre
    Jan. 22-Feb. 21, 2016: The Nest, Space Theatre
    Jan. 29-Feb 28, 2016: All The Way, Stage Theatre
    Feb. 5-March 13, 206: FADE, Ricketson Theatre
    April 8-May 15, 2016: Sweeney Todd, Stage Theatre

    THE PLAYS IN GREATER DETAIL:




    Lookingglass Theatre Company’s Lookingglass Alice

    Sept. 11-Oct 11
    Stage Theatre
    Adapted and Directed by David Catlin from the works of Lewis Carroll
    Produced in association with The Actors Gymnasium, Lookingglass Alice is a gravity-defying hit inspired by Lewis Carroll’s beloved stories. Called “Spectacular” and “pure, unadulterated magic” by the Chicago Sun-Times, Lookingglass Alice transports audiences to a circus-infused playground. It promises “breathtaking theatricality and wildly inventive acrobatics.”

    Says Kent Thompson: “We are extremely excited to kick off our season by bringing the unique magic of Chicago’s Lookingglass Alice to Denver. This is a wildly inventive production that allows audiences of all ages to join Alice as she literally tumbles down the rabbit hole. And one of the very important things is we will be completely re-staging The Stage theatre for this production because there will be about 175 seats onstage looking through back performance area. We think it will be very popular with families, multi-generationals and theatre people.”

    As You Like It
    Sept. 25-Nov. 1
    Space Theatre
    By William Shakespeare
    After falling under each other’s spell, the lovers Orlando and Rosalind are separately banished and become entangled in a beguiling game of mistaken identity when Rosalind disguises herself as a young man. Merry mischief, curiosity, and surprise flourish in one of Shakespeare’s richest and most popular comedies.

    Kent Thompson: “I’m thrilled to bring Shakespeare back to the Theatre Company with one of the Bard’s most famous comedies. This is a piece I’ve had the pleasure of directing several times and that I’m continuously drawn back to. Rosalind is hands-down one of the most intelligent and appealing female roles in all of Shakespeare. As You Like It has four couples that get married at the end. We are sure that not all four will last, but they represent all forms of love, from love at first sight to love seen through the eyes of lust."

    Tribes
    Oct. 9-Nov. 15
    Ricketson Theatre
    By Nina Raine
    In this drama, called “the best-written, deepest, most daring – and funniest – new play in recent years” by The Wall Street Journal, the members of Billy’s fiercely intelligent and proudly politically incorrect family share private languages, inside jokes and fiery arguments. But meeting Sylvia causes Billy, deaf since birth, to question what it means to be understood. Tribes dissects the possibilities of belonging, family and language.

    Kent Thompson: “I was very drawn to Nina Raine’s writing. This is a really dark and almost surreal, sometimes absurdist story about a dysfunctional family who are incredibly literate and verbal. I think for an American audience, it will seem like they are vicious – and sometimes they are. They have raised their adult son as if he were hearing, and he’s become involved with a woman who is now losing her hearing. Having a central character who is deaf allows us to examine how we communicate, and how we don’t. I know that our multimedia team is ready to dive right in to the challenging production elements of this piece.”



    A Christmas Carol

    Nov. 27-Dec 27
    Stage Theatre
    By Charles Dickens
    Adapted by Richard Hellesen
    Music by David de Berry
    Returning for a 23rd staging, A Christmas Carol this opulent seasonal tradition traces Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations. (This staging is an added attraction and is not included in the subscription season package).

    Kent Thompson: “This version of A Christmas Carol has everything. It’s full of humor, scariness, drama, spectacle and music. Most important, this version allows us to follow the full transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge and perhaps see a little of the change that happens in our own hearts.”


    Note: The footage above is from rehearsal for the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit. The full production is not yet cast.

    The Nest
    Jan. 22-Feb. 21, 2016
    Space Theatre
    By Theresa Rebeck
    The middle-class regulars at a struggling bar called The Nest talk about everything you can imagine: Race, ethnicity, cultures and work struggles. No conversation is off-limits ... until a woman walks in and offers a large sum for the beautiful antique bar. With its feisty humor and scorching dialogue, this new battle of the sexes holds a cracked mirror up to friendships, romantic relationships and families. This world premiere is a DCPA commission.

    Kent Thompson: “Theresa Rebeck has created a comedy that is both hilarious and acerbic. I can honestly say The Nest contains the best first scene of a play that I’ve read in 20 years. She is undeniably one of the more foremost female playwrights in the country, and we are excited to bring this commission to a fully staged premiere.”


    Note: The footage above is from the Broadway production of "All the Way." The DCPA production is not yet cast.

    All The Way

    Jan. 29-Feb 28, 2016
    Stage Theatre
    By Robert Schenkkan
    All The Way
    , a “jaw-dropping political drama,” according to Variety, portrays Lyndon Baines Johnson as one of the most controversial, ambitious and ruthless figures of the 20th century. Set in the pivotal year between JFK’s assassination and Johnson’s election, LBJ hurls himself at the Civil Rights Act, determined to rebuild the country into "The Great Society" by any means necessary. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan (The 12, The Kentucky Cycle), All The Way won the 2014 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics’ Circle awards for best new play.

    Kent Thompson: “The story is centered in an incredible period of tragedy and change in American history that is still relevant today. We are excited to again feature Robert Schenkkan’s incredible work, and are honored to count him among our Denver Center commissioned playwrights.”

    Note: The footage above is from rehearsal for the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit. The full production is not yet cast.

    FADE
    Feb. 5-March 13, 2016
    Ricketson Theatre
    By Tanya Sarach
    In this sharp, world-premiere comedy, a one-time Mexican-American novelist named Lucia is hired to write for a popular weekly TV serial that features a Latina character. Lucia is out of her league but, as her friendship with the Latino studio custodian grows, she begins incorporating his very real stories into her scripts - and discovers a fast track to success with her bosses. But her choices come with personal consequences. This play is a Denver Center commission.

    Kent Thompson: “Tanya Saracho is a funny, gifted, rising writer who is intensely aware of the layers and complexities in the Hispanic culture. FADE uses humor and some of Tanya’s own life experience as a writer in Hollywood to examine our assumptions about each other, and to reveal some of the fissures within the Latino community. At the same time: This is a really funny play.”




    Sweeney Todd
    April 8-May 15, 2016
    Stage Theatre
    By Stephen Sondheim
    Based on an adaptation by Christopher Bond
    Musical adaptations by DeVotchKa
    DeVotchKa, the Grammy-nominated, Denver hometown music heroes, take on the legendary demon barber of Fleet Street, serving up a delicious reinvention of Sondheim’s magnificent musical thriller. Hell-bent on revenge, Sweeney Todd takes up with his enterprising neighbor in a devilish plot to slice their way through London’s upper crust. Justice will be served — along with audacious humor, bloody good thrills, and DeVotchKa’s lush brand of gypsy punk. Not only will DeVotchKa orchestrate this new version, members of the band will be among the live orchestra each night.

    Kent Thompson: “Sweeney Todd is one of the great musical theatre pieces of all time. With Sondheim’s blessing, we’re thrilled to partner with Denver favorite DeVotchKa to create a new orchestral backdrop for this epic villain.”

    READ JOHN MOORE'S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH NICK URATA OF DEVOTCHKA

    Tickets and subscriptions
    New and renewing subscribers have the first opportunity to reserve tickets. Tickets are available to subscribers beginning Monday, March 16, online here,  or by calling 303-893-6030 or 303-893-4100. Subscribers are guaranteed the best seats at the best prices, guaranteed, along with additional benefits. Single tickets will go on sale to the general public in late summer.

POPULAR POSTS
 
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.