• Tony Garcia: ‘American Mariachi' is an American beauty

    by John Moore | Feb 15, 2018
    American Mariachi jennifer-parades-doreen-montalvo-photo-by-adamsviscom_26117323378_o
    In the essay below, Su Teatro Executive Artistic Director Tony Garcia offers his reactions to seeing the DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere production of 'American Mariachi.' Pictured are Jennifer Parades and Doreen Montalvo. Photo by Adams VisCom.


    From his new play's very title, José Cruz González challenges us to examine what we consider to be 'American'

    By Tony Garcia
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Chicano and Latino art often struggles to cross over into the mainstream, in large part because the dominant culture can’t understand — and in some cases, even fears — the “otherness” of the language, the culture and the traditions at play. If a story is too authentic, then it runs the risk of being exotic, different or perhaps even threatening. But if a play makes too much accommodation to include audiences outside the culture, it runs the risk of being criticized by those in our own community who view Chicano and Latino artistic endeavors with ultra-sensitivity, and often hold them to a higher standard.

    Luis Valdez, the father of Chicano theatre, explained the paradox of the contemporary Chicano experience in Los Vendidos (The Sellouts) by having a character say: “Wait a minute, you want something Mexican … but American?” 

    a jose-cruz-gonzalez-webJosé Cruz González’s American Mariachi, a play now having its world premiere at the Denver Center, is straightforward in portraying Mexicans as normal, and mariachi as an honored tradition. And the play is familiar enough to be accessible to a crossover audience. (Pictured at right: José Cruz González.)

    American Mariachi is profound in its title, which challenges us to look at our definitions of both words. And it challenges us to examine what we consider to be American. Is it American to be mariachi? Or can mariachi be American? The answer to both questions is yes. González’s title tells us that mariachi music, often portrayed as a novelty form with its bawdy costumes, its loud instruments clashing with disinterested voices and crashing dishes in overcrowded restaurants, is part of what we call “American.” And it’s not up for debate. González proceeds to treat that conversation as a settled matter.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Although the play is set in the U.S., the location is never a factor in the story. The characters speak Spanish and English. They work, love their families and have dreams. They do not talk about their immigrant experience or border crossings. They do not talk about gang life, prison sentences or drug use. The characters are “normal.” And that is one of the greatest beauties of American Mariachi: The profound yet simple and true assumption that we are normal — in contrast to the contemporary political landscape, where we are portrayed as anything but normal. There is tremendous power in that.

    The playwright also makes no accommodation for a monocultural audience. He interweaves Spanish and English, often without translation. Some of the biggest punchlines in the play are told only in Spanish. We are also not given a European-American character to serve as our guide through this very Mexican journey. There are no translators or sympathetic allies waiting to sweep in and save us. The play is offered from a very entre nosotros perspective. This is as if to say: “This is our family, complete with joy and pain. You are invited in to view and share. We understand that we are not perfect — can you?”

    AM 800 bobby-plascencia-and-the-company-of-american-mariachi-photo-by-adamsviscom_39989603211_oWe are also passionate people, and our passion for mariachi is deep. It is steeped in tradition. Mariachi music is cross-generational with parents judiciously teaching their children its value. Mariachis pass the music through their families with some of the greatest mariachis being the product of multi-generational descendants of master musicians. Luthiers (guitar- and violin-makers) design, build and repair instruments for specific musicians. These instruments are also passed down from generations to generation, and American Mariachi celebrates this tradition. The play describes the role of each instrument. It talks about the sacredness of each aspect of the mariachi experience including the traje — the traditional costume — a vestige of the horse culture of Guadalajara. We are immersed in a respect for the music and the form. Welcome to Mariachi 101.

    (Pictured at right: Bobby Plascencia, center, and the company of 'American Mariachi.' Photo by Adams Viscom.)

    The core of American Mariachi is its heart. This is a play about family and intense love. And like any good bolero, it carries with it that aching moment of hubris that will scar the family for years to come. Its humanness and accompanying weakness invoke elements of a Greek tragedy, and it is that diametrical opposite human trait — forgiveness — that allows us to reconcile the two forces that eventually will heal us.

    I attended Opening Night of the Denver Center’s American Mariachi. At the climactic moment of the story, I heard sniffling in the crowded theater. That reminded me of a performance by El Teatro Campesino of La Carpa de los Rasquachis more than 4o years ago at the sad moment when Rasquachi realizes — like the iconic Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman — that his life given to toil and sacrifice has led to ultimate failure. The American Dream has become his nightmare. Upon Rasquachi’s inevitable death, the sniffles began. I looked around then, expecting to see all the soft-hearted Latinas in the audience with hankies to their eyes. And they were. But my older muy macho peers were also wiping tears from under their sunglasses.

    At a similar moment in American Mariachi, there was a symphony of sniffles. But as I looked around the emotional Stage Theatre, what struck me was the number of white males who were wiping their eyes under their bifocals this time.

    Both experiences revealed to me the power of theatre.

    Tony Garcia 160Tony Garcia is the Executive Artistic Director of El Centro Su Teatro since 1989 and has been a company member since 1972. He received his BA in Theatre from the University of Colorado Denver. He won a 2006 United States Artists Fellowship, was named The Denver Post’s 2010 Theatre Person of the Year and received the prestigious Livingston Fellowship from the Bonfils Stanton Foundation. He is also an adjunct professor at Metro State College in Denver.

    American Mariachi: Ticket information

    160x160-amercian-mariachi-tempAt a glance: Lucha and Boli are ready to start their own all-female mariachi band in 1970s’ Denver, but they’ll have to fight a male-dominated music genre and pressure from their families to get it done. This humorous, heartwarming story about music’s power to heal and connect includes gorgeous live mariachi music.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of American Mariachi:
    When Leonor Perez found mariachi, she found her true voice
    American Mariachi
    Perspectives: Music as a powerful memory trigger
    Photos, video: Your first look at American Mariachi
    American Mariachi
    's second community conversation: Food, music and tough issues
    Cast announced, and 5 things we learned at first rehearsal
    American Mariachi
    : Community conversation begins
    Summit Spotlight video: José Cruz González, American Mariachi
    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company season
    Denver Center taking new plays to new level in 2017-18

  • Phamaly's new era includes new Managing Director Sasha Hutchings

    by John Moore | Feb 15, 2018
    Ashley Kelashian_8004
    Phamaly's 2017 production of 'Annie' at the DCPA's Stage Theatre broke the company's all-time attendance record by 20 percent. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

    'It is a privilege to join an organization that uses the magic of live theatre to create meaningful, lasting social change.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Denver’s Phamaly Theatre Company took another major step on its road back to solvency today when it named Sasha Hutchings to the newly created title of Managing Director. No, not the Broadway performer of that name. The self-described nerd and bookworm from Wyoming who owns a rescue dog. 

    Hutchings, Director of the Victim Services and Advocacy Network in the Denver District Attorney’s office, has served in the Denver nonprofit community since 2008 for organizations including the Seeds of Hope Charitable Trust and the Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center.

    Sasha Hutchings. PhamalyHutchings, 38, is also co-founder of "The Word, A Storytelling Sanctuary," a non-profit that promotes voices from underserved communities and diverse backgrounds — specifically those who have faced adversity and injustice — through literature.

     “One cannot overstate the power of story and art – of seeing yourself in characters, connecting to the experience of others, and bringing stories (alive) that speak to your life,” Hutchings said. “It is a privilege to be joining an organization that uses the magic and power of live theatre to create meaningful and lasting social change.”

    The appointment was announced today by Artistic and Executive Director Regan Linton, who was named the True West Awards’ 2017 Colorado’s Theatre Person of the Year in December after returning to Phamaly in October 2016 and leading the company back from a potentially catastrophic deficit of more than $200,000.  

    Hutchings’ hire signals “one more step,” Linton said, in the continuing comeback of the internationally acclaimed theatre company that for 29 years has produced professional plays and musicals exclusively for actors with disabilities.

    “I don’t think nonprofit arts organizations are ever good-to-go indefinitely,” Linton said, “but I think we’re on a better path of making thoughtful choices that are going to sustain us into the future.”

    Hutchings’ hire completes a reorganization of the company’s leadership structure. The main focus of the Managing Director be will fundraising, development, marketing and leadership — responsibilities that had previously been shared by Linton, former Executive Director Maureen Johnson Ediger, and former Director of Development and Marketing Tamara Arredondo.

    True West Award: How Regan Linton led Phamaly back

    “We’ve changed the title because we will be sharing leadership responsibilities between the Artistic Director and the Managing Director,” Linton said. “Moving forward, the artistic leadership will be equal in importance to the administrative leadership, which was not the case in the past.” Phamaly's Director of Production and Operations remains Paul Behrhorst, the other key figure in Phamaly's leadership team.

    Originally from Rock Springs, Wyo., Hutchings’ early life was spent between Denver and Arizona before heading east for college in Connecticut, where she said she developed a passion for social justice and serving disenfranchised communities.

    In her new job, she sees great opportunity for continuing Phamaly's artistic excellence while enhancing its impact on both individuals living with disabilities, she said, as well as those audiences who experience Phamaly programming.

    Hutchings’ appointment follows a five-month national search conducted by Phamaly’s board and staff. Linton said Hutchings’ salary will be commensurate with Managing Directors at comparably sized professional theatres across the nation.  

    “Our search committee devoted a great deal of time and energy to finding the optimal candidate to complement the current board and staff and help carry Phamaly into the future,” Linton said. “Sasha brings a wealth of nonprofit development experience to Phamaly, as well as vibrant energy and a passion for effecting meaningful impact. Phamaly is poised for great new chapter, and we are ecstatic to have her.”

    Hutchings earned her Master of Arts from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Religious Studies with a Minor in Sociology from Fairfield University in Connecticut.

    Each summer, Phamaly presents a Broadway-scale musical at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. In July, the company will stage Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods at the Space Theatre under the direction of Christy Montour-Larson (DCPA Theatre Company’s Two Degrees) and Mac Merchant.

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

    More about Phamaly Theatre Company

    Now in its 29th season, Phamaly Theatre Company is an award-winning Colorado-based nonprofit that produces professional plays and musicals that exclusively feature actors with all nature of disabilities: physical, cognitive, intellectual, and emotional. Phamaly has become a leader in the field with its approach to disability inclusion, access, and transforming social perceptions of disability. Phamaly is known for its innovative reinvention of conventional stories, creating what has become some of the most entertaining and moving experiences available to Denver audiences. Phamaly’s mission is to inspire people to re-envision disability through professional theatre.

    Coming up from Phamaly Theatre Company in 2018:

    Romeo and Juliet (workshop production)

    • By William Shakespeare
    • Directed by Regan Linton
    • April 14-22
    • Dairy Arts Center, Boulder
    • Tickets onsale at phamaly.org

    Into the Woods

    • By James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim
    • Directed by Christy Montour-Larson
    • Musical Direction by Mac Merchant
    • Choreography by Debbie Stark and Ronni Stark
    • July 12-Aug. 5
    • Space Theater at the Denver Performing Arts Complex

    Harvey

    • By Mary Chase
    • Directed by Rand Harmon
    • In partnership with Senior Housing Options
    • Oct. 18-Nov. 11
    • The historic Olin Hotel

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • $70 million Ent Center isn't a game-changer: It's a whole new game

    by John Moore | Feb 14, 2018
    Ent Center for the Arts

    Photos from the opening of the $70 million Ent Center for the Arts on the University of Colorado Colorado Springs campus. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    New home for students, arts groups, artists and residents is in many ways the new gateway to Colorado Springs

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    COLORADO SPRINGS — It took 40 years to bring the $70 million Ent Center for the Arts to life. But it took no more than the opening of its doors this month to forever transform the cultural life of Colorado Springs and the surrounding Pikes Peak region. 

    “A year from now, the assumption is going to be that if something is happening in Colorado Springs, then it is probably happening here,” said Drew Martorella, executive director of UCCS Presents, which will manage the 92,000 square-foot home to music, dance, theatre, film, art, academia and more in a perhaps unprecedented public-private partnership. “We have staked our claim to being a nexus for the arts in Colorado Springs.”

    This is not just a game-changer. "It's the beginning of  whole new game," said Kevin Landis, associate professor of theatre at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs that now houses the stunning, silvery arts center that was built on a slope of grassland along I-25 at Nevada Avenue to be a new home for students, community nonprofit arts groups, world-class artists and the people of Colorado Springs. It is the new gateway to the college and, in many ways, to the city itself.

    And while the Ent Center was just four years under construction, it truly was four decades in the making. Back to when the legendary Murray Ross, who died a year ago, was first hired at the university.  

    The story goes, as Martorella tells it, “that when Murray was hired to come here from Rochester (N.Y.), he wrote a letter to a friend that said: ‘I’ve accepted a job to teach English and run a theatre program at the university in Colorado Springs. They don't have much in the way of facilities right now — but they have assured me they will build me one in the very near future.’ ”

    Photos by Tom Kimmell and Chuck BiggerThat was in 1975.

    The Ent Center that was christened at a massive gala on Feb. 3 features a dramatic metal skin that complements the wave-like clouds that form when air moves over the nearby Rockies. Imagine the Denver Art Museum — with gentler curves. For anyone driving along I-25, there will be no missing the Ent Center. And that’s on purpose.

    "The client was not shy about wanting the building to stand out," architect Chris Wineman of Semple-Brown Design told The Colorado Springs Gazette. “They told us, ‘We want people to know where to find it. Let’s stretch the boundaries.’ ”

    Job completed.

    (Story continues below the photo. Gala image above by Tom Kimmell.)


    Ent Center


    The Ent Center instantly becomes perhaps the defining architectural marker of the state's second-largest city. Two giant silver sculptures dominate the outer grounds, one perhaps a Phoenix, the other akin to a weather vane. The pieces are borrowed from the family of the late Starr Kempf, a bold, Colorado Springs artist known for his graceful steel wind kinetic sculptures. They were left in his backyard following the artist’s suicide in 1995, and the Ent Center staff asked the family for a two-year loan. “They just respond to the environment in a beautiful way, and their enormous scale just seems to complement the building in a really nice way,” Martorella said.

    The Ent Center rests on the trailhead for the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail. A handy walkway leads pedestrians under the highway to the sprawling University Village that is quickly turning the surrounding area into an entertainment district.

    Our tribute to TheatreWorks founder Murray Ross

    But it’s what’s inside the Ent Center that is truly transforming Colorado Springs. It features four major performance spaces, an art gallery, and houses the university’s entire music, theatre and dance programs. The Ent Center, which from inside glass walls provides spectacular views of the Rockies from several vantage points, will soon be home to an array of Colorado Springs arts groups of varying sizes and budgets. The major presenter will UCCS Presents, whose programming  includes TheatreWorks (the professional theatre company founded by Ross), the Gallery of Contemporary Art (GOCA), and a new dance and music series that debuts this month under the guidance of Aisha Ahmad-Post, who was hired away from The New York Public Library’s flagship cultural series to be the Ent Center's first director. The series opened Feb. 10 with Keigwin + Company, a contemporary dance company, and acclaimed pianist Seong-Jin Cho in concert Feb. 28.

    “With more than 160 productions already scheduled this spring, ranging from student shows to performances by regional arts organizations and even nationally acclaimed artists, we’re hitting the ground running and look forward to welcoming the community into the Ent Center for this incredible inaugural season," Ahmad-Post said.

    Here is a quick rundown of the facilities by size and scope:

    Shockley-Zalabak Theater, 786 seats: "This is the new home for the arts in Colorado Springs,” Martorella said of the flagship theatre with a dance-friendly white oak sprung floor, and named for Pam Shockley-Zalabak, the chancellor emerita largely responsible for the construction of the Ent Center. “We already have two 2,000-seat theatres in Colorado Springs, but what we don't have is a medium-sized theatre,” he said. “And we have lots of non-profit performing arts groups that have no place to call home. Places like the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs and the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale have performances throughout the year but they have to fight to find space and often end up performing at a church or a high-school auditorium.” This will be their new home.”

    Ent Center 400Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theatre, up to 300 seats on two levels: This imminently flexible space will allow TheatreWorks to accommodate about 20 percent more audiences for any given show than it could in its previous space (with the same name) on the opposite side of the campus. “Murray Ross basically designed this space before he died,” Martorella said. “It is a scaled-down version of the Dorfman Theatre in London.” In addition to a second, mezzanine seating level, actors and set pieces now can ascend from below the stage for the first time, and they can go about 10 feet higher as well. The theatre officially opens tonight (Feb. 15) with a multi-ethnic staging of Oklahoma! More on that, with a complete cast list, at the end of this report.

    Chapman Foundations Recital Hall, 250 seats: There is not going to be a finer place to listen to classical music or any kind on non-amplified music than this hall, Martorella boasts. “Acoustically, this room is perfect,” he said. It can also serve as a cinema.

    Marie Walsh Sharpe Gallery of Contemporary Art, 2,500 square feet: Now open with a stunning tribute to Manitou Springs artist Floyd Tunson — and it doubles as a daytime yoga studio.

    Osborne Theatre, flexible up to 100 seats: While students often participate in TheatreWorks productions, that is a professional theatre and a destination for leading actors and artists across the state. The Osborne (also retaining its former name) will again be an exclusive home for college productions. “Only it's about 100 times better,” Martorella said.    

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    Ent Center. Photo by John Moore
    A view of the Shockley-Zalabak Theater. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    In addition:
    The Ent Center also includes rehearsal rooms, acoustically sealed music classrooms, a recording studio, the Murray and Betty Ross public lobby, Pinney's Cafe (named after beloved local actor Bob Pinney), a dance and movement studio, and the Crow's Nest rehearsal studio for TheatreWorks. That room was made possible by a gift from Williams College Class of 1963 — 16 remarkable former classmates of Murray Ross' who stayed in touch after college for 40 years and recently visited Colorado Springs to remember him. A Ent Center. Murray Ross On the wall hangs a framed piece of art crafted by Ross’ wife, Betty, comprised of seemingly random Murray Ross personal artifacts such as a credit card ripped into pieces. It is called The Crow’s Nest because Ross’ nickname in college was The Crow. All of the performance areas share a common backstage area that the architects modeled after the “Green Room” in the Denver Center's Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex. The architects also headed the recenr renovation of the DCPA's Space Theatre.

    The Ent Center is similar to the Arvada Center in size and somewhat akin to the Newman Center at the University of Denver in terms of its partnership with a local college. But the Ent Center stands alone because of its associations with the surrounding cultural community.

    “I can't think of a lot of equivalents in the entire county," Landis said. “Not just in Colorado. Anywhere.” It’s a brand-new era for students attending the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, as well. The second floor of the Ent Center is home for all of the college's arts programs.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “For our students, it's just not comparable,” Landis said of the change. “We went from a converted office building where we were securing things with duct tape and a prayer to spaces in which the technology is advanced beyond anything we have ever had before. Think about it this way: We have professionals all over our classrooms. But now we have professionals all over this building — and now students can walk right downstairs and intersect with those professionals. I don't see that happening anywhere else.

    “Now one of our priorities will be figuring out how we use this beautiful space to recruit. I want the best students in Colorado Springs to come here — and I want the best students in New York to come here."

    New era begins tonight

    Ent Center Bon Vivant Murray Ross’ dream for a new home for TheatreWorks officially comes true tonight (Feb. 15) with the opening of Oklahoma! in the new Bon Vivant Theatre. It will be bittersweet given that Ross was intended to direct the production.

    “Murray was not a musical theatre person,” Martorella said. “The only reason we are doing Oklahoma! is because many years ago, Murray and I became enchanted by a spare production of Carousel we saw at the Living Room Theatre in Kansas City, which only seated about 75. We loved seeing big musicals in small spaces, and we marinated on Oklahoma! for years. We finally decided this was the time to do it."

    After Ross died, Martorella reached out to Kyle Hatley, who directed that Kansas City production of Carousel years before. And he said yes to directing Oklahoma!

    Many in Colorado Springs have been speculating what Ross would think of the Ent Center, and the blowout party that marked its opening on Feb. 3. “I just know he would have been glowing,” Landis said, “because Murray had that childlike persona that made him such an infectious force in the arts. I think he would have been just over the moon about this." 

    And, Martorella added with a laugh … "he would have notes. Because Murray always said, ‘There is no such thing as perfection. And there is always more work to be done.’ "

    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.

    Ent Center Cultural partnerships:

    Regional performing arts and cultural organizations that will use the Ent Center for the Arts to varying degrees include:

    • Colorado Springs Youth Symphony
    • Chamber Orchestra of the Springs
    • Colorado Springs Choral Society
    • Colorado Springs Conservatory
    • Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale
    • Colorado Springs Dance Theatre
    • The Colorado Springs Philharmonic
    • Opera Theater of the Rockies
    • Imagination Celebration
    • Starz Theater Company

    Where the money came from:

    The building budget for the Ent Center was $60 million, plus $10 million in infrastructure for a total project of $70 million. Here’s how it was paid for:

    • $30 million from Colorado Legislature
    • $12.6 million from Ent Federal Credit Union in exchange for 15-year naming rights
    • $10 million from CU's Office of the President
    • $10 million from private donors

    Oklahoma! Ticket information and cast list:

    • Feb. 15 through March 11
    • Music by Richard Rodgers; book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
    • Tickets start at $35 (UCCS students: Free)
    • At the Ent Center for the Arts, 5225 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, 80918
    • Call 719-255-3232 or go to theatreworkscs.org

    Cast list:

    • Laurey: Sumi Yu
    • Curley: Zach Guzman
    • Aunt Eller: Jen Lennon
    • Will Parker: Kevin Pierce
    • Jud Fry: Dylan Mosley
    • Ado Annie: Rachel Fey
    • Ali Hakim: Hossein Forouzandeh
    • Carnes: Bob Morsch
    • Gertie: Carmen Shedd
    • Fred: Kyle Dean Steffen
    • Slim: Nels Jacobson II
    • Joe: Max Ferguson

    Artistic team:

    • Kyle Hatley: Director
    • Mark Arnest: Musical Director
    • Jack Magaw: Scenic Designer
    • Stephanie Bradley: Costume Designer
    • Jeffrey Cady, Lighting Designer
    • Joseph Concha: Sound Designer
    • Lauren Duggin: Props Master
    • Mary Ripper Baker: Choreographer
    • Kristen Wickersheim: Stage Manager
    • Alex Williams: Assistant Stage Manager
    • Don Fox: Production Manager
    • Ken Stark: Technical Director
    • Seth Alison: Master Electrician

    Also this weekend: Oskar Eustis and Jeanine Tesori
    One reason Kevin Landis won a 2017 True West Award for "Prologue," a series of theatre conversations with prominent members of the national theatre community. At 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18, he will welcome Oskar Eustis and Jeanine Tesori to talk about Fun Home, They'll talk about will the state of American theatre and the creation of new work just as Fun Home is about to open at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College next month. Go to uccspresents.org to register.

  • Summit prep begins at the intersection of Eugene O'Neill and Metallica

    by John Moore | Feb 13, 2018
    2018 Colorado New Play Summit Photos from the first day of the DCPA Theatre Company's 13th annual Colorado New Play Summit, which features readings of new works by Sigrid Gilmer, David Jacobi, Kemp Powers and Barbara Seyda. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of downloadable photos. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     

    DCPA's 13th annual Colorado New Play Summit is underway as dozens of artists begin work on four new plays 

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Preparations for the DCPA Theatre Company's 13th annual Colorado New Play Summit officially got underway today with the first gathering of dozens of professional actors, playwrights, directors and other creative artists who will help to develop four promising new plays over the next two weeks.

    They will take on developing works that address systemic racism and hypocrisy in the criminal-justice system, that revisit the Challenger space disaster and an 1855 slave trial. One — no joke — explores the intersection of Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams and the heavy-metal band Metallica

    A Summit 400"We're in this rocky time in this country, in our lives and in our history," Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett (pictured right) said at the welcome gathering. "As a nation, we are trying to figure who we are and who we are going to be — and in these moments, I feel like it is so important to listen to playwrights."

    The Colorado New Play Summit, which has one public weekend of readings Feb. 17-18, followed by a second weekend attended mostly industry professionals Feb. 23-25, is the DCPA’s signature festival dedicated to supporting playwrights and developing new work for the American theatre. Garrett made a point of thanking former DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Kent Thompson for founding the celebration of playwrights back in 2006. The Summit comes at a time when Denver Center-born new plays are proliferating on national stages like never before. And just yesterday, it was announced that  Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride, which was born at the 2013 Colorado New Play Summit, will be made into a film starring Jim Parsons.

    Summit PlaywrightsThe 2018 Summit will feature readings of new works by (clockwise from top left) David Jacobi, Kemp Powers, Barbara Seyda and Sigrid Gilmer, alongside world-premiere productions by José Cruz González, Matthew Lopez and Lauren Yee.

    The playwrights, some commissioned by the Theatre Company, are given two weeks with professional directors, actors and dramaturgs to workshop their new plays.

    "We get to hear from the mouth and the body and the heart and the soul of these vessels who bring forth their incredible ideas to remind us how much better we can be in the world," Garrett said.

    The pool of more than 35 actors is a mix of familiar names in the Colorado theatre community, returning Denver Center, visiting actors and several who currently performing in Theatre Company world premieres.

    The roster includes Colorado Theatre Guild Lifetime Achievement winner Billie McBride, legendary film and stage director donnie l. betts; Denver Center veterans Steven Cole Hughes, Emily Van Fleet, Gareth Saxe, Erin Willis, Nick LaMedica and Aspen Rader; DPCA Teaching Artists Joelle Montoya, Quinn Marchman and Robert Lee Hardy; and nearly the entire cast of Curious Theatre's current offering of Detroit '67: Jada Dixon, Cajardo Lindsey and Anastasia Davidson. She and Alaina Beth Reel recently appeared in The Catamounts’ You on the Moors Now.

    The Summit casts also include Linden Tailor and Bob Ari from the DCPA Theatre Company's The Great Leap; Natalie Camunas from American Mariachi; and Nija Okoro, Grayson DeJesus and Nick Ducassi from Zoey's Perfect Wedding.
     
    Since its founding, the Summit has introduced 53 new plays, over half of which returned to the stage as full Theatre Company productions. Recent Summit world premieres include Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will, Tanya Saracho’s FADE, Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale, Theresa Rebeck’s The Nest, Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey, Karen Zacarias’s Just Like Us, Jeffrey Haddow and Neal Hampton’s Sense and Sensibility The Musical, and Dick Scanlan’s reimagined version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

    2018 FEATURED NEW-PLAY READINGS:

    2018 New Play Summit 2018 Gilmer Mama Metallica
    By Sigrid Gilmer

    Directed by Jaki Bradley
    Dramaturgy by Ricardo A. Bracho
    Stage Manager: Dana Reiland
    Stage Management Apprentice: Molly Langeberg

    Budding playwright Sterling Milburn has always been overshadowed by her fabulous mother, Louise. Even when she’s holed up in a care facility with Parkinson’s, Louise finds a way to steal the spotlight. But with the overly critical eyes of Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams to fuel her rebellion and the frenetic energy of Metallica to help find her voice, Sterling sets out to write a story that is finally her own. As unfortunate histories mesh with hilarious interludes, Sterling must face the truth: her pain, her joys and her life will forever be shaped by and linked to the woman who raised her. Sigrid Gilmer’s joyfully irreverent black comedy entwines issues of identity with pop-culture icons for a truly unique — and head-banging experience.

    Says the playwright: "The two big influences on my life have been my mom and the heavy-metal band Metallica. My play is about how those two things collide. The play is also a love letter to theatre and the tradition of those big, sweeping autobiographical mid-20th century plays by Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams."

    • Sterling Milburn: Courtney Sauls
    • Louise Bell Milburn: Lee Sherman
    • James Hetfeld: Nick Ducassi
    • Lars Ulrich: Grayson DeJesus
    • Kirk Hammett: Linden Tailor
    • Cliff Burton: Adam Haas Hunter
    • Blue Orchid: Robert Lee Hardy
    • Pink Orchid: Luis Quintero
    • Stage Directions: Aspen Rader

    2018 New Play Summit 2018 David JacobiThe Couches
    By David Jacobi

    DCPA Theatre Company Commission
    Directed by Caitlin Ryan O’Connell
    Dramaturgy by Doug Langworthy
    Stage Manager: Corin Ferris
    Stage Management Apprentice: Amy LeGore

    Ethan Couch has lived in a bubble of pampered privilege for his entire life, so when he’s convicted of killing four people while driving drunk, he and his mother take $40,000 and flee to a resort in Mexico rather than face the consequences. In this self-imposed state of limbo, Ethan pays hotel clerk Daniel $1,000 to be his friend and help maintain the facade of his prior life. But as the unlikely pair drink, sing, and stumble through the night, delusions of how the world works melt away as quickly as their cash flow. Playwright David Jacobi draws from the infamous real-life 2013 “affluenza” court case to weave a surreal story of personal and legal recklessness.

    Says the playwright: "Ethan Couch came from a rich family and he a had a great lawyer who argued that Ethan was too rich to know right from wrong. I was enraged when he went on the run, but when he was caught, I felt like this was a really interesting idea of late-stage capitalism: These people hiding out in this antiseptic place waiting for justice. And the play devolves into this Lynchian nightmare. ... I think it's funny." 

    • Ethan Couch: Nick LaMedica
    • Tonya Couch: Tasha Lawrence
    • Daniel: Cesar J. Rosado
    • Stage Directions: Alaina Beth Reel



    2018 New Play Summit 2018 Kemp PowersChrista McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue
    By Kemp Powers
    A DCPA Theatre Company Commission

    Directed by Nicholas C. Avila
    Dramaturgy by Jerry Patch
    Stage Manager: Rick Mireles
    Stage Management Apprentice: Mariah Brown

    Even though they share the same DNA, twins Steven and Bernard have lived drastically different lives. The big reason? One is plagued by racism because of his dark skin while the other passes as white. Steven spent his childhood fitting in with fellow classmates and is now a successful attorney. Though he was an extraordinarily bright student who had his eyes on outer space, Bernard’s future is as dismal as the Challenger Space Shuttle that once inspired him. As he prepares for trial and potential jail time, Bernard must face his childhood bully behind the judge’s bench and confront his brother’s advantages. Following his DCPA audience favorite One Night in Miami…, playwright Kemp Powers’ piercing meditation on race and privilege targets the circumstances that can change a child’s destiny.

    Says the playwright: "This really happens through a wonder of genetics where one twin comes out looking completely black and the other comes out looking completely white. And in the days leading up to the Challenger disaster in 1986, these two brothers had a massive falling out. I wanted to explore how family so often manages to let each other down — with a racial context added. When the Challenger exploded, every schoolkid in America was watching live on television because Christa McAuliffe was the first schoolteacher to go into space, and that launch was supposed to symbolize where we were going as a society. Ultimately, this is a play about bullying and the issue of nature vs. nurture."   
    • Bernard “Bear” Gentry: Tobie Windham
    • Steven “Sevvy” Gentry: Allen E. Read
    • Joseph “Joey” Martinelli: Bradley Fleischer
    • Mr. B: Bob Ari
    • Migdalia: Natalie Camunas
    • Rich: Quinn Marchman
    • Summer: Anastasia Davidson
    • Stage Directions: Joelle Montoya


    2018 New Play Summit 2018 Barbara SeydaCelia, A Slave
    By Barbara Seyda

    Directed by Nataki Garrett
    Dramaturgy by Sydne Mahone
    Stage Manager: Heidi Echtenkamp
    Stage Management Apprentice: Molly Becerra

    In 1855, 19-year-old African-American slave Celia was convicted of killing her master and hanged. Her story became known as a notorious failure of justice in American history, but to truly understand its significance, look to the people of Calloway County who experienced it all. Using oral histories and official records as her guide, playwright Barbara Seyda investigates the event with a tapestry of interviews with the dead. This stunningly evocative play illuminates the brutal realities of female slave life in the pre-Civil War South as it resurrects a panorama of real people on stage. The piece won the Yale Drama Series playwriting competition.

    Says the playwright: "One of my structural prototypes was Fires in the Mirror, which was Anna Deavere Smith's response to the Crown Heights riot that took place in Brooklyn in 1991. She does this amazing integration of performance and public ritual and journalism, using the stage as a place of truth. My themes include systemic include racism and slave litigation."

    • Jingo: Cajardo Lindsay
    • Ulysses a.k.a. Uncle Pee Wee: donnie l. betts
    • George : Jacob Gibson
    • Justice Abiel Leonard / John Jameson: Gareth Saxe
    • Polly Newsom / Virginia Waynescot: Emily Van Fleet
    • David Newsom / Dr. Hockley Yong / Benjamin Sheets / Felix Bartey: Jake Horowitz
    • Viola / Solace: Nija Okoro
    • William Powell / Judge William Augustus Hall / Higgler: Steven Cole Hughes
    • Mildred Louisa Rollins: Billie McBride
    • Bethena / Euphrates: Jada Dixon
    • Celia: Celeste M. Cooper
    • Vine: Tihun Hann
    • Matt: Owen Zitek
    • Coffee Waynescot: Tristan Champion Regini
    • Aunt Winnie / Stage Directions: Erin Willis

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


    The 13th Annual Colorado New Play Summit

    Launch Weekend: Feb. 17-18
    Festival Weekend: Feb. 23-25
    More details: denvercenter.org/summit

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit
    2018 Colorado New Play Summit selections announced
    Authentic voices: DCPA Education names 2018 student playwriting finalists


  • Video: Your 'First Date' with Director Ray Roderick

    by John Moore | Feb 13, 2018

    In the video above, Director Ray Roderick talks about the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' production of the musical comedy First Date, which he calls a "super-funny, modern love story" that follows two characters as they go through their first date at a busy New York restaurant.

    First Date Fall Casting Photo by Emily LozowAs the date unfolds, the couple quickly finds they are not alone on this unpredictable evening. "It reminds people of what it was to be in love for the first time," Roderick said.

    The all-local cast includes Adriane Leigh Robinson, Seth Dhonau, Steven J. Burge, Jordan Leigh, Lauren Shealy, Barret Harper and Cashelle Butler. (Pictured at right:  Dhonau and Robinson, by Emily Lozow.)

    First Date performs through April 22 at the Garner Galleria Theatre.

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

    Meet the cast: More fun to read than any dating profile!

    First Date: Ticket information
    First DatePerformances through April 22
    Tickets: Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    At the Garner Galleria Theatre

    The book is written by by Austin Winberg. Music and Lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner. Orchestrations by August Eriksmoen. Vocal and Incidental Music Arrangements by Dominick Amendum.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of First Date:
    Understudies talk about their unique role in First Date
    Video: Photos: Your first look at First Date
    Check out the all-local cast of the Denver Center's First Date


    Ray Roderick
  • Denver-born 'Georgia McBride' to be a film starring Jim Parsons

    by John Moore | Feb 12, 2018
    Georgia McBride. Matt McGrath and Jamie Ann Romero. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

    Ben Huber and Jamie Ann Romero were part of the world-premiere cast that launched  'The Legend of Georgia McBride' for the DCPA Theatre Company in 2014. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    The Big Bang Theory star will both co-star and produce film about an Elvis impersonator who turns to drag for money

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Stage and screen star Jim Parsons will co-star and produce a feature-film version of Matthew Lopez’s Denver Center-born play The Legend of Georgia McBride, according to multiple news reports today. The film rights have been acquired by New Regency and Fox 2000, according to Variety.

    Matthew LopezLopez, whose play Zoey's Perfect Wedding is now performing in the Denver Center's Space Theatre through Feb. 25, will adapt the screenplay. Upon completion, Georgia McBride will become only the second DCPA Theatre Company world-premiere play to be made into a feature film, following HBO's The Laramie Project.

    The Legend of Georgia McBride is about a broke young Elvis impersonator and father who turns to drag to feed his growing family. The play was chosen by former Artistic Director Kent Thompson to be introduced at the Denver Center’s 2013 Colorado New Play Summit and was fully staged the next year under the direction of Mike Donahue — who is also the director of Zoey’s Perfect Wedding.

    JimParsons160Parsons, star of TV’s The Big Bang Theory and who will return to Broadway this season in The Boys in the Band, will play the role of Miss Tracy Mills, a veteran drag queen who coaches a young man named Casey in the art of drag. The role was originated in Denver by Matt McGrath.

    The Big Bang Theory
    has been renewed for a 12th season and has garnered a spinoff series called Young Sheldon. Parsons most recently starred opposite Claire Danes in the play A Kid Like Jake, which coincidentally will be presented in Denver by Benchmark Theatre, opening Friday (Feb. 16) at the former Edge Theatre in Lakewood.

    Mathew Lopez: America could use a laugh right now

    Parsons will produce the film with Todd Spiewak via their That’s Wonderful Productions banner, according to Variety. Eric Norsoph will executive produce and oversee the project, and Fox will distribute the feature film.

    Matt McGrath in 'The Legend of Georgia McBride.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. DCPA Theatre Company Managing Director Charles Varin said because the play was originally produced by the Theatre Company, the Denver Center owns a small percentage of the property's subsidiary rights. Most significantly, that means the film's end credits will acknowledge that the work was developed and first presented in Denver.

    "It's exciting that Matthew is now getting recognized as an accomplished writer in many different ways — stage, TV and now film," Varin said. "His time has come, and we are proud to have been part of his journey."

    (Pictured above and right: Matt McGrath originated the role of Miss Tracy Mills, who will be played in the film by Jim Parsons. The original cast in Denver also included Ben Huber, Jamie Ann Romero and Nick Mills. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Lopez, the Denver Center's Playwright in Residence for the 2014-15 season, is currently in London for the March 2 premiere of his highly anticipated two-part play The Inheritance at The Young Vic. The epic play takes a panoramic view of gay life in New York today in the aftermath of the AIDS crisis depicted in Tony Kushner’s sprawling Angels in America. Lopez posted the news on his Instagram account saying he was “happy and proud” for the news.

    DCPA Theatre Company taking new plays to new level

    Last year, The Legend of Georgia McBride  became the most-produced new Denver Center work since Quilters in 1982. After Georgia McBride was fully staged in Denver, Lopez continued to fine-tune the script as it had subsequent stagings at the MCC Theater in New York City and the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. In all, 10 companies from California to Florida staged the pay in 2018, with at least four more slated for 2018.

    “We couldn’t be happier for Matthew,” said Doug Langworthy, the Denver Center’s Director of New Play Development. “Georgia McBride was such a big-hearted success here, and I’m sure filmgoers will love it as much as our audiences did.”

    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. News reports contributed to this report,

    Video: Your first look at Zoey's Perfect Wedding

    Your first look at 'Zoey’s Perfect Wedding.' Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Zoey's Perfect Wedding
    :
    Ticket information
    Zoey_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: The blushing bride. The touching toast. The celebration of true love. These are the dreams of Zoey’s big day…and the opposite of what it’s turning out to be. Disaster after disaster follow her down the aisle, from brutally honest boozy speeches to a totally incompetent wedding planner. Even worse, her friends are too preoccupied with their own relationship woes to help with the wreckage around them. Like a car crash you can’t look away from, watch in awe as this wildly funny fiasco destroys her expectations with the realities of commitment, fidelity and growing up.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Through Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Video: Director on how perfect Zoey's Perfect Wedding is

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Zoey's Perfect Wedding:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • City announces security change at Buell Theatre

    by John Moore | Feb 12, 2018

    Buell Theatre.


    Enhanced security, including metal detectors, will be in place by Tuesday, Feb. 13. Please plan accordingly.

    To ensure the safety of guests, the city of Denver’s Department of Arts & Venues has announced enhanced security, including metal detectors, at The Buell Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

    The first installation will be in place by Tuesday, Feb. 13, said Brian Kitts, marketing director for Denver Arts & Venues, the division of the City of Denver that manages the Buell Theatre. Tuesday is opening night of the national touring production of STOMP

    Much like any major concert or sporting event, guests will now pass through a metal detector and all bags will be inspected. Wand inspections and pat-downs are possible. Guests are encouraged to pack light, be aware of the guidelines and are strongly encouraged to arrive up to one hour before the ticketed start of any show.

    Security screenings and bag checks are becoming standard practice in civic spaces, Kitts said, and the city has been considering upgrading security at the venues it manages at the Denver Performing Arts Complex for some time. But he said these new procedures apply only to The Buell Theatre.

    “The Buell was chosen to pilot these new measures because it’s the most active venue at the Denver Performing Arts Complex,” Kitts told The Denver Post.

    The new measures specifically ban most outside food and beverages, weapons, marijuana and other drugs without prescription, and bags larger than 12 by 12 by 12 inches. The complete list can be found below.

    “Most people going to these performances have been through some sort of security before, whether it’s at the airport or Coors Field or the Pepsi Center,” Kitts told The Post. “This shouldn’t be any different than that.”

    But increased security does take advance planning. “We just ask that if you have a big, bulky bag with you and know it’s going to be searched, just leave it in the car,” he said. Arts Complex management, he added, reserves the right to refuse any item deemed a potential safety or security risk or with the potential to be a distraction to the event being held.

    “The Denver Center for the Performing Arts places the highest value on the safety of our guests,” said Suzanne Yoe, the DCPA’s Director of Communications and Cultural Affairs. “The DCPA has a dedicated security team focused on ensuring that our campus is safe, and that we continually evolve our safety procedures to meet current standards. We appreciate the leadership of Arts & Venues as it works to improve security throughout the Arts Complex campus.”

    She added that the DCPA will continue to evaluate security measures in the spaces it manages — The Stage, Space, Ricketson, Jones, Garner Galleria Theatre, Conservatory Theatre and Seawell Ballroom.

    COMPLETE GUIDELINES FOR CITY-RUN ARTS COMPLEX VENUES:

    PERMITTED ITEMS INSIDE:

    •    Empty or factory-sealed water (plastic and aluminum) bottles
    •    Limelight Restaurant beverages in plastic cups with lids
    •    Bags smaller than 12” x 12” x 12” (must fit under designated seat)

    PROHIBITED ITEMS INSIDE:

    •    ALL OUTSIDE FOOD AND BEVERAGES (exceptions: factory-sealed water bottles and Limelight beverages in plastic cups with lids)
    •    Marijuana and drugs without a prescription
    •    Laser pointers (will be confiscated and patron subject to ejection)
    •    Coolers (hard sided and soft sided)
    •    Audio or video recording devices, GoPros, professional cameras or cameras with removable lenses
    •    Weapons or items construed as weapons (including, but not limited to: firearms, knives of all sizes, sharp-edged objects, mace and pepper spray, tasers, props/toys)
    •    Bullhorns or noisemakers
    •    Balloons
    •    Selfie Sticks
    •    Confetti, glitter and other items that can be thrown
    •    Commercial signage
    •    Animals (except service animals)
    •    Bicycles and scooters
    •    Patrons bringing skateboards, inline skates, hoverboards, or strollers will be asked to check them at the theatre
    •    Remote control flying devices or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles)
    •    Bags larger than 12” x 12” x 12”

    NOTE: Theatergoers may be asked to open bulky outerwear, such as jackets, prior to entering.

    For additional general information, please email Lori.Garza@denvergov.org

  • Announcing the 'Hamilton' lottery in Denver

    by John Moore | Feb 12, 2018

    Hamilton lottery. Photo by Joan MarcusThe national touring production of 'Hamilton.' Photo by Joan Marcus.

    The #HAM4HAM lottery will make 40 tickets for every performance at the Buell Theatre available for $10 each

    Producer Jeffrey Seller is pleased to announce a digital lottery for HAMILTON tickets will begin in conjunction with the show’s first performance (February 27) in Denver at The Buell Theatre.  Forty (40) orchestra tickets will be sold for every performance for $10 each.  The digital lottery will open at 11:00 AM MT on Sunday, February 25 for tickets to the Tuesday, February 27 performance.  Subsequent digital lotteries will begin two days prior to each performance. The digital lottery will begin two days prior to each performance.

    HOW TO ENTER:

    • Use the official app for HAMILTON, now available for all iOS and Android devices in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store (hamiltonmusical.com/app).
    • You can also visit hamiltonmusical.com/lottery to register.
    • The lottery will open at 11 a.m. (Mountain Time Zone) two days prior to the performance date and will close for entry at 9 a.m. (Mountain Time) the day prior to the performance.
    • Winner and non-winner notifications will be sent at approximately 11 a.m. (Mountain Time) the day prior to the performance via email and SMS (if mobile number is provided).
    • There is a limit of one entry per person, and each winner can purchase two tickets. Repeat entries and disposable email addresses will be discarded.
    • Tickets must be purchased online with a credit card by 4 p.m. (Mountain Time) the day prior to the performance using the purchase link and code in a customized notification email. Tickets not claimed by 4 p.m. (Mountain Time) the day prior to the performance are forfeited.
    • Lottery tickets may be picked up at will call beginning two hours prior to the performance with a valid photo ID. Lottery tickets void if resold.

    ADDITIONAL RULES

    Limit one (1) entry per person, per performance. Multiple entries will not be accepted. Patrons must be 18 years or older and have a valid, non-expired photo ID that matches the name used to enter. Tickets are non-transferable. Ticket limits and prices displayed are at the sole discretion of the show and are subject to change without notice.

    Lottery prices are not valid on prior purchases. Lottery ticket offer cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions. All sales final — no refunds or exchanges. Lottery may be revoked or modified at any time without notice. No purchase necessary to enter or win. A purchase will not improve the chances of winning.

    Tickets for HAMILTON are currently on sale.  Patrons are advised to check the official HAMILTON channels, denvercenter.org/hamilton, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Box Office for late release seats which may become available at short notice.

    HAMILTON is the story of America's Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington's right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary.  Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, HAMILTON is the story of America then, as told by America now.

    With book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and music supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, HAMILTON is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. The HAMILTON creative team previously collaborated on the 2008 Tony Award ® Winning Best Musical In The Heights. HAMILTON features scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, and casting by Telsey + Company, Bethany Knox, CSA.

    The musical is produced by Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman and The Public Theater. The HAMILTON Original Broadway Cast Recording is available everywhere nationwide.  The HAMILTON recording received a 2016 Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album.

    For information on HAMILTON, visit HamiltonMusical.com, Facebook.com/HamiltonMusical, Instagram.com/HamiltonMusical and Twitter.com/HamiltonMusical.

    About THE DENVER CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) is the largest non-profit theatre organization in the nation, presenting Broadway tours and producing theatre, cabaret, musicals, and innovative, multimedia plays. Last season the DCPA engaged with more than 1.2 million visitors, generating a $150 million economic impact in ticket sales alone. Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the Denver Center for the Performing Arts News Center. The DCPA Broadway season is generously sponsored by UCHealth and United Airlines. Media sponsorship is provided by The Denver Post and CBS4. Denver Center for the Performing Arts is supported in part by the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD).

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Hamilton

    Hamilton’s celebrated education program debuts March 21 at DCPA
    'Rise Up!' More things to know about Hamilton tickets
    Hamilton tickets: Don't get scammed on Monday
    2018 Saturday Night Alive guests will attend Hamilton

  • 'STOMP' returns to Denver in all its explosive, syncopated glory

    by John Moore | Feb 10, 2018

    STOMP 2018. Photo by Junichi Takahashi.

    'STOMP' returns to The Buell Theatre in Denver from Feb 13-18. Photo by Junichi Takahashi.

    Using percussion, everyday objects and not a word of dialogue, another sweeping storm of rhythm is brewing

    Genevieve Miller Holt
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    It’s been a while since you heard those clomping, clanging racket makers — racketeers? — right here in your own back yard. Yes, STOMP is back in Denver in all its explosive, syncopated glory with those incredible percussionists who treasure the old adage about one man’s trash…

    STOMP 2018. Photo by Steve McNicholas.The troupe still doesn’t look at everyday objects the way the rest of the world does. In their hands, brooms, garbage cans, Zippo lighters (we’re not sure about Grouchos and Harpos) and the general detritus of the 21st century takes on a life of its own. Stomp, created and directed by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, is an exploration of the outer limits of rhythmic invention. It’s a Pipe (read drain pipe) and Drum (read anything) Corps for our age. 

    And speaking of age, it has not withered STOMP's clatter — or fun.STOMP, that concatenation of sound and skill, is back with its rhythms and drumbeats intact. 

    The same goes for its nonstop movement of bodies, objects, sound — even abstract ideas. There’s no dialogue, speech or plot. But music? Absolutely. Uncommon music, created in nontraditional ways — with every day objects ranging from matchbooks to every household item you can imagine. “It’s a piece of theatre that’s been created by musicians,” said  McNicholas. “It doesn’t have narrative and it doesn’t have dialogue and it doesn’t have melody particularly, but it is totally rhythmically based.” You’re bombarded by a caterwauling noise that under any other circumstances you would choose to shut out. 

    But not here.

    Here all is syncopated and choreographed with the precision of an army bugle corps (minus the bugles) and by the fertile imagination of buskers or street performers from the streets of Brighton — the spot where STOMP’s creators hail from and where they dream up versions of this utterly inventive, unexpected, whacked-out show. “Most ideas come from everyday life,” said McNicholas, “but when we put a routine together we are thinking not just in terms of the rhythmic qualities, the sound qualities of the instruments, but also visual impact.”

    And impact it will have. So sit back, relax, tap your feet, clap your hands. There’s only fun to be had here — from the ringing of hollow pipes to clashing metal weaving its spell, and industrial strength dance routines involving a lot of supremely well-coordinated bodies.

    Genevieve Miller Holt, formerly of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, is the General Manager for Broadway Across America in Cincinnati. Photo above and right by Steve McNicholas.

    STOMP in Denver: Ticket information
    STOMPSTOMP
    is explosive, inventive, provocative, witty and utterly unique — an unforgettable experience for audiences of all ages. The international percussion sensation has garnered armfuls of awards and rave reviews and has appeared on numerous national television shows. The eight-member troupe uses everything but conventional percussion instruments – matchboxes, wooden poles, brooms, garbage cans, Zippo lighters, hubcaps – to fill the stage with magnificent rhythms. Year after year, audiences worldwide keep coming back for more of this pulse-pounding electrifying show. 

    • National touring production
    • Performances Feb. 13-18
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • When Leonor Perez found mariachi, she found her voice

    by John Moore | Feb 09, 2018

    Video: Dr. Leonor Xochitl Perez curated the lobby exhibit on "The Trailblazing Women of Mariachi Music" in conjunction with the DCPA Theatre Company's 'American Mariachi,' playing through Feb. 25 before moving to the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and Senior Arts Journalist John Moore. 


    Pioneering female mariachi was taught to keep her voice down, until she found the music that invited her to scream

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Today, Dr. Leonor Xochitl Perez holds a PhD in Education from UCLA and a master’s degree in human development and psychology from Harvard. Which would be enough for most people.

    But Perez has lived an entirely additional accomplished life as the leading proponent and preservationist of women's mariachi history in two countries.

    Back in 1973, young Perez was just an unassuming wisp of a girl who took up mariachi music at her junior high school in East Los Angeles, little realizing that by joining one of the first youth mariachi groups in the country, she would soon be breaking decades-old barriers in a predominantly macho musical culture.

    American Mariachi quote“Back then, we were at the beginning of a time where we were reclaiming our right to hang on to our culture and our heritage,” Perez said at opening festivities for the DCPA Theatre Company’s world-premiere play with music American Mariachi, by José Cruz González.

    “I walked into a mariachi class for the first time as a girl who was not allowed to embrace her culture,” said Perez , who went on to an accomplished career in higher education. “My parents were more concerned about upward mobility and assimilation. But when the guitarrón, which is the big bass instrument, started playing, I could feel vibrations of that sound throughout my body. And it was reaching somewhere deeper than that moment and that sound.

    "I know that when I heard that music, I was reaching somewhere further back in time.”

    Perez went on to perform at two Presidential Inaugural Balls — one at 19 years old — and at the Hollywood Bowl.

    (Fast-forward through many years of raising a family and astonishing success in higher education here.)

    Perez decided to return to the arts in 2012 to become Artistic Projects Manager for the San Diego Symphony. She went on to found Mariachi Women, an organization that exists to recognize and empower mariachi women throughout the world, primarily through staging large women’s mariachi festivals throughout the world.

    For the Denver Center's production of American Mariachi, Perez has curated a massive lobby exhibit outside the Stage Theatre called The Trailblazing Women of Mariachi Music.

    "It's very exciting that Denver is the first venue to offer this play," she said, "and it’s actually a beautiful thing because Denver has an important place in Mexican-American history. In March of 1969, the first-ever convening of Mexican-American students happened right here in Denver. More than 1,500 Latino youth came from all over the country and they redefined their ethnic identity as Chicanos. Many of them went on to  become activists and important people nationally and internationally. So I'd say it's no coincidence that this play is starting here in Denver."

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    American Mariachi. Photo by Adams VisCom
    The company of 'American Mariachi.' Photo by Adams VisCom

    American Mariachi
    , set in the 1970s American southwest, follows a young woman named Lucha who becomes determined to learn how to play mariachi music as a way of keeping her mother from slipping further into her dementia. This at a time when being a female mariachi player was unheard of in the United States. And that fictional character’s story is, in some ways, Perez’s story as well.  

    "I'm so honored now, so many years later, to be able to tell the story of voices that have never been heard,” Perez said of her exhibit, which includes tales of pioneering women and includes actual suits worn by mariachi women at different times and places.

    Asked what the Leonor Perez of 2018 might say to the Leonor Perez of 1973, she said with a smile: "I would tell that little girl to hang in there, because there's going to be a very important place for the telling of this story — and that that little girl will be the person telling this story.”

    Here’s more of our conversation with Dr. Perez:

    John Moore: When did you start to become interested in researching women in mariachi?

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: While I was a graduate student at UCLA and I was learning research skills, I began to ask the question: ‘When exactly did women start playing mariachi music as instrumentalists? Not as singers, but as instrumentalists?" So I applied my academic and research skills into the idea of discovering the answer to that question.

    John Moore: How did you get started playing mariachi in the first place?

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: In 1973, there were various forces that came together to promote the idea of providing Mexican music in the U.S. schools. That included the 1968 Bilingual Education Act. There was the Chicano civil-rights movement. The study of ethnic music and Chicano studies were emerging in universities. All of this was happening at the same time. For me, playing mariachi music at my school was somewhat of a lonely experience because some kids played it as an extracurricular activity, but I continued to play this music throughout my entire life.

    John Moore: How did you become a leading mariachi researcher with everything else that was happening in your life?

    Mariachi community conversation: Food, music, issues

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: Regardless of my degrees, or the family life, or where I moved, I was always playing mariachi music.

    John Moore: Tell us how your life intersects with the story of the play.

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: The play shows the struggles that women have had to endure in order to play this music, because it is a male-dominated genre — and I had some of those challenges as well. As a young girl growing up in East Los Angeles, I was expected to live out the life of a traditional Latina young woman, and that meant being domestic and looking forward to motherhood and being a wife. That meant being demure and being quiet. All of those things are good, but I felt like there was so much more for me in life. So when I found mariachi music, I was able to express myself in ways that were not allowed in my community. For example, in mariachi music, we give out an expressive yell during the performance of this music. At home, I was told to be quiet, to watch my words, to keep my voice down, to not ask so many questions. But when I was in mariachi music, whenever I felt it, I'd let a grito — a yell — come out, just to show my love for the music, whether it's a romantic bolero or a traditional son.

    John Moore: We don't necessarily think of the arts, in many cultures, as patriarchal. Why was it so unheard of that a woman should play this music in the 1970s?

    40049100881_5ecae8ed49_zLeonor Xochitl Perez: Well, it's interesting, because mariachi music originates in the rural areas of Mexico. The ranchers would play mariachi music. Women would stay home. The ranchers were the ones who would work, and then go and relax at the bars after that. Some of them would play the music of the ranch. During the Mexican Revolution, there was this cultural renaissance where they had to rethink what the cultural identity of Mexico was going to be. So because it was very much focused on the people, and particularly more of the general population in Mexico, they brought forth a lot of the traditional and cultural practices of the country, and that included mariachi music. They brought it forth as a cultural symbol of national identity post-Mexican Revolution. And because it was male and for the males in the ranches, it just remained that way. It was the offering of this music in the school systems in the United States that actually opened the doors for women to begin to play this music in large numbers.

    John Moore: How did being part of one of the very first school programs that allowed girls to play mariachi empower you?

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: I was raised in a classical music program. I was first chair in the school orchestra, and we were expected to play delicately and blend in. But when I played mariachi music, I'd use my bow arm, and I'd grind into the strings right short of screeching with the intention to project that sound and to express its vibrancy. That's something I wasn't physically allowed to do in any other space when I was growing up. Also, in mariachi music, I was able to go places I wasn't allowed to go. As a young Latina in a traditional family, we had to stay near home. But with a mariachi group, I was able to travel to different places — not just across the city or across the state. Across the country. Eventually, I got an internship in Washington D.C. after high school.

    John Moore: What did you think when you heard that Jose Cruz Gonzalez had written American Mariachi, and that the Denver Center, one of the largest performing-arts organizations in the country, was going to be presenting this story on its largest stage?

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: I was so thrilled to hear that finally the story and the challenges of women in mariachi will begin to be told on a mainstream level. But I was even more excited to hear that I was going to be given the opportunity to curate this lobby exhibit — because the truth is that women have been engaged in the mariachi music for more than 100 years. The play is a great start, because it talks about women in the U.S. coming together in a male-dominated field. But women have been in mariachi music since 1903 in Mexico.

    John Moore: What about in the United States?

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: I found a group that started playing in 1967 in Alamo, Texas. And what's really special about them is not only that they played in Alamo, but they were recruited to go entertain the troops in Vietnam. So they did their civic duty and traveled very far to continue the tradition of mariachi at the same time.

    John Moore: Give us an overview of what your display covers.

    A American Mariachi Lobby Display Leonor Perez 400 Photo by John MooreLeonor Xochitl Perez: The exhibit is a brief chronology of the 100 years of women in mariachi music. It focuses, specifically, from 1903 to the mid-'70s, when the play begins. It focuses on vintage photographs of the all-female groups that started from 1948 to 1953. There is also a really beautiful display of the uniforms they used back then. I have original suits from some of the groups that started back in the '60s and '70s. We don’t cover it here, but contemporary women are also making big strides and achieving quite a bit in the field of male mariachi music. For example, Mariachi Divas have been nominated for a Grammy eight times. They're the only mariachi group that has ever received two American Grammys — so they have beaten the men.

    John Moore: I want to know about Rosa, the gun-toting mariachi player you have pictured on the wall.

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: So Rosa Quirino started playing mariachi music in 1903 as a 13-year-old. And she loved it so much that eventually, she led a predominantly male group. She was the only female, and she was the director of that group. But it was a rough environment for a woman, so she needed to carry a gun to protect herself. And, apparently, she had no reservations about using it when she needed to.

    John Moore: How did you meet playwright José Cruz González and Music Director Cynthia Reifler Flores?

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: I give presentations on the history of women in mariachi music wherever I'm invited. I've been all over the world, actually. I've been to Kazakhstan and to Ireland talking about women in mariachi. I first met José on March 11, 2015, when I was provided the opportunity to go to California State University Los Angeles, where he teaches, and he came and heard my talk. Also in the audience was Cindy, who I already knew because she has been actively a participant in the mariachi field since the 1980s. I knew her as a musician in Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, so I was very aware of her contributions to mariachi music in Los Angeles. That was the intersection. It's just an honor for all of us who really are very passionate about this music that all of us can work together on this.

    John Moore: What are your thoughts on the play? This is a very specific story about one family in the 1970s. So tell us how this is a story for all audiences.

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: We have a population that's aging right now, and we're all going to have to address issues like dementia in our families. In that context, I think American Mariachi tells a story that's general to the public at large. It tells the relationship between a daughter and an aging mother. One of the lines in the play is "music is memory." And in this case, the music was the memory that became the glue that held them together. I think that's very important. And I think it's going to be relevant to many of us who are engaged in caring for our aging parents.

    John Moore: And, finally, this play is going to go straight from Denver to San Diego to be seen by audiences there. What does it mean to you that this is just the start of this play's journey?

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: I think that as the Latino population grows, we have to reassess the cultural content that we put out nationally. And I think that Denver taking the step to honor this story and by showing it and investing in it, is really a tremendous step in demonstrating to the nation at large the importance of reaching this growing population. We have major contributions that we make in this country, and very few people know about that. But I think we become stronger as a nation when we reflect our diversity in our art. So I think it's very important.

    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.

    American Mariachi: Ticket information

    160x160-amercian-mariachi-tempAt a glance: Lucha and Boli are ready to start their own all-female mariachi band in 1970s’ Denver, but they’ll have to fight a male-dominated music genre and pressure from their families to get it done. This humorous, heartwarming story about music’s power to heal and connect includes gorgeous live mariachi music..

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of American Mariachi:
    When Leonor Perez found mariachi, she found her true voice
    American Mariachi
    Perspectives: Music as a powerful memory trigger
    Photos, video: Your first look at American Mariachi
    American Mariachi
    's second community conversation: Food, music and tough issues
    Cast announced, and 5 things we learned at first rehearsal
    American Mariachi
    : Community conversation begins
    Summit Spotlight video: José Cruz González, American Mariachi
    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company season
    Denver Center taking new plays to new level in 2017-18

    American Mariachi Lobby Display Leonor Perez. Photo by John MooreDr. Leonor Xochitl Perez. Photo by John Moore.
  • Photos: First look at 'The Great Leap,' Opening Night of 'American Mariachi'

    by John Moore | Feb 09, 2018
    Production photos: Your first look at The Great Leap:


    The Great Leap Photos from 'The Great Leap,' opening Friday (tonight) and performing through March 11 in the Ricketson Theatre. To see more photos, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery. Photos by Adams VisCom.  

    The Great Leap: Ticket information
    GreatLeap_show_thumbnail_160x160When an American college basketball team travels to Beijing for an exhibition game in 1989, the drama on the court goes deeper than the strain between their countries. For two men with a past and one teen with a future, it’s a chance to stake their moment in history and claim personal victories off the scoreboard. American coach Saul grapples with his relevance to the sport, while Chinese coach Wen Chang must decide his role in his rapidly changing country. Tensions rise right up to the final buzzer as history collides with the action on the court.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Through March 11
    • Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here


    Photos: Opening night of American Mariachi:

    Making of 'American Mariachi'

    Photos from opening night of the DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere of 'American Mariachi,' performing in the Stage Theatre through Feb. 25. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    American Mariachi: Ticket information

    160x160-amercian-mariachi-tempAt a glance: Lucha and Boli are ready to start their own all-female mariachi band in 1970s Denver, but they’ll have to fight a male-dominated music genre and pressure from their families to get it done. This humorous, heartwarming story about music’s power to heal and connect includes gorgeous live mariachi music..

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'Respect' uses pop music to trace women from codependence to independence

    by John Moore | Feb 08, 2018
    Cast of Respect. Cherry Creek Theatre. Photo by Olga Lopez
    From left: Sarah Rex, Rachel Turner, Anna High and Sharon Kay White. Photo by Olga Lopez. Not pictured: Traci Kern.

    How a management professor turned a lecture into a musical tracing the story of American women over a century

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Respect: A Musical Journey of Women
    started in 2004 as a conference lecture. Fourteen years later, it is a boutique musical that has been performed in 75 cities. It's a genial evening of wine, women and song — literally. The evening’s host uncorks a bottle and guides four girlfriends through a history lesson covering 100 years of pop music, which she believes parallels the ongoing struggle of American women from co-dependence to independence.

    But author Dorothy Marcic, a management professor turned playwright, admits there is something about the show that feels more urgent to her now in the wake of the #MeTooMovement.

    “I now see some of the parts of the show differently because of that," she said. "There are many kinds of abuses women have suffered over the centuries, and now there is more awareness. It is time for us to notice that. But my show was never about blaming men, because we were all socialized in the same way. Now we are all learning how to work together as partners.”  

    Respect. Cherry Creek Theatre Photo by John MooreThe Cherry Creek Theatre Company is presenting the Colorado premiere of Respect with an emphatically all-female cast and creative team led by director and choreographer Shannan Steele, a Denver Center favorite whose acting credits include the longest-running musical in Colorado theatre history, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Her cast is deliberately stacked with high-powered local actors who each cover distinct pop-music genres: Sharon Kay White, Sarah Rex, Anna High, Rachel Turner and Musical Director Traci Kern. (White is also headlining two evenings of cabaret at the Aurora Fox on Friday and Sunday, Feb. 16 and 18.) 

    (Pictured above and right: Dorothy Marcic and Cherry Creek Theatre co-founder Maxine Rossman. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Below and right: Sarah Rex and Anna High. Photo by Olga Lopez.)

    Marcic, now a professor at Columbia University, attended opening weekend at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center and spoke to audiences afterward. Here are excerpts from her Q&A:

    What is a little of your background?

    I got my doctorate in organizational behavior, so I became a management professor and conducted hundreds of workshops on assertiveness training. I then became a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Economics in Prague. Four years later, I moved to Nashville to teach at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management. That was quite a culture shock. When I lived in Prague, I had season tickets to the Czech National Opera. When I moved to Nashville, I had tickets to Opryland.

    How did that lead to the start of creating your show?

    Nashville is a music city, so I decided to incorporate music into my seminars. I was always interested in women in leadership. In 1999, I was asked to give a talk about gender equality, and I decided to throw some songs in there because I thought that might help to tell the larger story of women. So I went back and looked at popular music that started around 1900 and it’s all there: From Someone to Watch Over Me to I Will Survive.

    When did the lecture become a musical?

    Sarah Rex and Anna HighIt was at a conference in 2002 and one of the organizers who ran Cameron Macintosh’s office in New York City said to me, 'Dorothy, this has some commercial value. You have to develop this into a musical.' I thought, 'What do I know about musicals? I am a management professor.' But I workshopped it with some people in Nashville, and we started getting gigs. I was invited to bring it to South Africa and Israel and New Zealand and Australia and then it got picked up by a commercial producer in 2004. One day I woke up and I said, 'Oh my God - I am a playwright.' So I quit my job at Vanderbilt and started taking classes. I got my MFA in playwriting last year. In the meantime, Respect played for two years in Florida, one year in Chicago, and one year in Boston. We opened in New York in October under a different title: This One is for the Girls.

    How did you come up with the score that spans Betty Boop to Billie Holiday to Cyndi Lauper to Sara Bareilles?

    I did content analysis research looking at how women were depicted in 20,000 top-40 songs. These are songs that were really part of the zeitgeist of the culture. I focused on songs where women are singing, and they had to be top 40. People have asked me, 'Why don't you include a group like the Indigo Girls?' Well they were important, but they never had a top-40 song. For me, every song had to be iconic. So most of the songs were actually Top 10.

    And there is something of a sequel playing off-Broadway?

    Yes. Sistas The Musical is the African-American variation, and it has now been playing for 6 1/2 years off-Broadway.

    What do you want people to take away from this?

    In this show, your favorite Top-40 songs lay the soundtrack to real women’s personal stories about finding dreams, lost love, relationship issues, entering the workforce and gaining independence. My goal was to be entertaining but also help change your awareness, which is what theatre is about, isn't it? Seeing things in a new way.

    Respect: A Musical Journey of Women

    • When: Through Feb. 25
    • Showtimes: 7 p.m.Thursdays; 2 p.m. Sundays, Sun @ 2 p.m.; 7:30 p.m. Saturdays. Additional performances 7 p.m. Sundays, Feb. 18 and 25. (No shows on Fridays.)
    • Tickets $35 Adult; $30 Students and Seniors
    • 303-800-6578 or online at www.cherrycreektheatre.org
    • Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St.

    Additional creative team:

    • Susie Snodgrass: Producer
    • Kortney Hanson: Stage Manager
    • Tina Anderson: Scenic Designer
    • Star Pytel: Lighting Designer
    • Steffani Day: Costume Designer
    • Morgan McCauley: Sound Designer
    • Beki Pineda: Prop Mistress
    • Gloria Shanstrom: Publicist

     

     

  • Hamilton’s celebrated education program debuts March 21 at DCPA

    by John Moore | Feb 08, 2018
    Hamilton. Joan Marcus

    The 'Hamilton' national touring company. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    2,700 students and teachers will attend performance of the Broadway musical at The Buell Theatre

    The innovative educational program that debuted at HAMILTON on Broadway will continue in Denver (Denver Center for the Performing Arts) on Wednesday, March 21 when 2,700 students and teachers from Denver area high schools attend the matinee performance of the musical at The Buell Theatre. 

    The March 21 all-student matinee performance in Denver will provide more than 2,700 Denver area high school students the opportunity to experience the musical HAMILTON after having spent several weeks in their classrooms studying American history through a special integrated curriculum about Alexander Hamilton and the nation’s Founding Fathers. 

    In addition to seeing a performance of HAMILTON, students will participate in a Q&A with members of the HAMILTON cast.  As well, students representing various schools in attendance will perform an original work they created based on their classroom studies – songs, rap, poetry, scenes, monologues – on The Buell Theatre stage in front of their peers.  

    The Hamilton Education Program is one of several history education programs at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Its president, James G. Basker -- who devised the education program in New York in tandem with HAMILTON creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, producer Jeffrey Seller, The Rockefeller Foundation and the NYC Department of Education -- adds, “This project is transformative. HAMILTON has struck a chord with our nation’s students because it embodies what great history education is all about: bringing the past to life, and fostering connections with the exceptional individuals and moments that have made us who we are. This program empowers students to reclaim their own narrative and empowers teachers to bridge classroom learning with the stage.”

    HAMILTON producer Jeffrey Seller, who was instrumental in developing the HAMILTON Education Program, says about the program in Denver, “Our goal is to ensure that students have a shot to see HAMILTON and use its words, music and staging to further their understanding and enjoyment of American History, music and drama. We’ve had the pleasure of expanding the education program outside of New York in Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities around the country.”

    Dr. Rajiv Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation said “After the initial success of the partnership in New York City we could not throw away our shot to ensure students across the United States had the opportunity to witness living breathing history. We look forward to seeing the creativity and engagement this program continues to spur.”

    The HAMILTON producers are making tickets for this educational partnership available for $70, $60 of which is subsidized by Google. Tickets will cost $10 for each student.

    "Google is proud to work with Hamilton Education Program and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to bring Hamilton to thousands of students in the Denver community. The play shares a critical piece of American history and it's especially important for high school students to be engaged in civic learning and have a deep understanding of our country's past so they can make informed decisions about its future," says Gerardo Interiano, Head of External Affairs for Colorado. 

    The Rockefeller Foundation provided an initial grant of $1.46 million that funded the educational partnership in New York City.  After the resounding success of the partnership in New York, The Rockefeller Foundation committed an additional $6 million to the effort to support the national expansion of the program.  The Rockefeller Foundation has a long history of supporting the arts and humanities, fueled by a belief that the cultivation of aesthetic sensibilities through literature, music and other fine arts is essential to the well-being of humanity.  The HAMILTON Education Program underscores the Foundation's commitment to nurturing the vitality of American cultural institutions and the role of the arts as a catalyst for social change.   

    HAMILTON is the story of America's Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington's right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary.  Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, HAMILTON is the story of America then, as told by America now.  

    With book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, HAMILTON is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.

    The HAMILTON creative team previously collaborated on the 2008 Tony Award ® Winning Best Musical In the Heights. 

    HAMILTON features scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, and casting by Telsey + Company, Bethany Knox, CSA.

    The musical is produced by Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman and The Public Theater.

    The HAMILTON Original Broadway Cast Recording is available everywhere nationwide. The HAMILTON recording received a 2016 Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album. 

    For information on HAMILTON, visit www.HamiltonMusical.com, www.Facebook.com/HamiltonMusical, www.Instagram.com/HamiltonMusical and www.Twitter.com/HamiltonMusical.

    ABOUT THE GILDER LEHRMAN INSTITUTE OF AMERICAN HISTORY

    Founded in 1994 by philanthropists Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is the leading American history nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 education, while also serving the general public. Drawing on the 65,000 documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection and an extensive network of eminent historians, the Institute provides teachers, students, and the general public with direct access to unique primary source materials.

    As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is supported through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians.

    For information on the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, visit www.gilderlehrman.org, www.Facebook.com/gilderlehrman, www.instagram.com/gilderlehrman and www.twitter.com/Gilder_Lehrman.

    About THE DENVER CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) is the largest non-profit theatre organization in the nation, presenting Broadway tours and producing theatre, cabaret, musicals, and innovative, multimedia plays. Last season the DCPA engaged with more than 1.2 million visitors, generating a $150 million economic impact in ticket sales alone. Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the Denver Center for the Performing Arts News Center. The DCPA Broadway season is generously sponsored by UCHealth and United Airlines. Media sponsorship is provided by The Denver Post and CBS4. Denver Center for the Performing Arts is supported in part by the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD).

  • Rodney Lizcano leads 2018 Colorado Shakes lineup as Richard III

    by John Moore | Feb 08, 2018
    American Mariachi Rodney Lizcano. Adams Viscom

    Rodney Lizcano, currently playing several roles in the DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere of 'American Mariachi,' will headline the 2018 Colorado Shakespeare Festival season in the title role of 'Richard III.' Photo by Adams Viscom.

    A flood of familiar faces this summer will join what the festival is calling the most diverse lineup in its history

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Rodney Lizcano, an award-winning comic and dramatic actor now performing in the DCPA’s American Mariachi, is a character actor no more.

    Rodney LizcanoThe Colorado Shakespeare Festival announced today that Lizcano, a graduate of the Denver Center’s National Theatre Conservatory long known for his supporting roles, will play Shakespeare’s most murderous and malicious king in Richard III  this summer.

    “Rodney can slip chameleon-like in and out of different roles with such skill and charisma,” said Colorado Shakes Producing Artistic Director Timothy Orr. “He is thrilling to watch on stage, and we can’t wait for him to sink his teeth into Richard III.”

    Lizcano was nominated for a 2016 Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Award for his comic portrayal of Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, and again last year for playing a more somber Ralph Crane in the Denver Center’s world-premiere The Book of Will.

    As part of the Denver Center’s world-premiere cast of American Mariachi now performing in the Stage Theatre, Lizcano will travel with the production to San Diego for a run at the Old Globe Theatre opening March 28 before Colorado Shakespeare Festival rehearsals begin.

    Lizcano’s extensive Denver Center credits include Frankenstein, Hamlet, American Night, The Merchant of Venice, Gross Indecency, The Rivals, A Christmas Carol and more. His Colorado Shakes titles have included Hamlet, Equivocation, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Henry V, Tempest, The Merry Wives of Windsor and both parts of Henry IV. He has also performed with Theatre Aspen and the Arvada Center, among others.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Orr said the Colorado Shakespeare’s 61st season will again consist of two separate repertory companies: One to perform Love’s Labour’s Lost and Cyrano de Bergerac on the Mary Rippon outdoor stage, and another to perform Richard III and You Can’t Take it With You on the indoor stage.

    Orr also said 2018 promises to be its most diverse season in company history, with one third of all roles going to actors of color.

    Berry HartAmong those making their Colorado Shakes debuts is Betty Hart (pictured right), a new Colorado Theatre Guild board member who is directing DCPA Cabaret’s upcoming presentation of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, starring Denver First Lady Mary Louise Lee and playing Mondays at the Galleria Theatre from March 5-April 23. She will play Queen Elizabeth in Richard III and Mrs. Kirby in You Can’t Take it With You.

    Anthony Adu, from Off-Center’s Drag On, will play Moth in Love’s Labour’s Lost. And Brynn Tucker (DCPA’s Frankenstein and Last Night and the Night Before, will play Roxanne in Cyrano de Bergerac.

    Brynn Tucker Summit. Photo by John Moore“Historically, there haven’t been many opportunities for minority actors in classical theatre, and we’re committed to changing that,” Orr said. “Our aim is for the CSF stage to reflect the strengths and talents of the diverse communities in which we live.”

    Other returning Colorado Shakespeare Festival favorites include Sam Gregory and Leslie O’Carroll as Grandpa Vanderhof and Penelope Sycamore in You Can’t Take it With You, the classic 1930s screwball comedy about a young couple whose two very different families meet at a disastrous dinner.  

    Gregory, who plays Scrooge in the Theatre Company’s seasonal stagings of A Christmas Carol, appeared last summer in Colorado Shakes’ Hamlet and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. He is about to star in All My Sons at the Arvada Center, opening March 2. O’Carroll’s history with the Theatre Company goes back nearly 30 years, most recently as Mrs. Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol.

    Seth DhonauSeth Dhonau, currently starring in DCPA Cabaret’s First Date, and University of Northern Colorado alumna Desiree Mee Jung will play the quick-witted couple Rosaline and Berowne in Love’s Labour’s Lost. Marco Robinson, who just performed in Off-Center’s The Wild Party and is currently featured in Miners Alley Playhouse’s Fun Home, will star as King Ferdinand. DCPA Teaching Artist Chloe McLeod, who plays Joan in that same Fun Home, will play Essie Carmichael in You Can't Take it With You.

    Starring as Cyrano will be Scott Coopwood, who played Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew and Brutus in Julius Caesar last year. Anastasia Davidson, currently appearing in Curious Theatre’s Detroit ’67, will play Jaquenetta in Love’s Labour’s Lost. Young Augie Reichert, who has been appearing in the DCPA Theatre Company’s annual stagings of A Christmas Carol since 2014, will play Little Richard in Richard III.

    Returning favorites include Michael Bouchard, Off-Center’s longtime Crumpet in The SantaLand Diaries, along with Sean Scrutchins, with whom he won a 2017 a True West Award for last season’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. Also: Sam Sandoe, Anne Sandoe, Bob Buckley, Benaiah Anderson, Matthew Schneck, Mare Trevathan, Casey Andree, Brian Kusic, Sam Sandoe, Jihad Milhem, Emelie O'Hara, Austin Terrell and more.

    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.

    LL_Image4Love's Labour's Lost

    • By William Shakespeare
    • Outdoor stage
    • June 8-Aug. 12
    • Directed by Brendon Fox

    In the bucolic Kingdom of Navarre, four attractive young men make a pact to swear off romance and focus on academia — just minutes before the four loves of their lives wander by. Shakespeare’s comedy about the struggle to balance heart and head is the perfect ode to the festival's academic surroundings.

    • Marco Robinson: King Ferdinand of Navarre
    • Desirée Mee Jung: Princess of France
    • Seth Dhonau: Berowne
    • Scott Coopwood: Boyet
    • Rafael Untalan: Don Adriano de Armado
    • Matthew Schneck: Holofernes
    • Michael Bouchard: Costard
    • Grant Bowman: Anthony Dull
    • Anthony Adu: Moth
    • Brynn Tucker: Rosaline
    • Benaiah Anderson: Forrester/Mercade
    • Aziza Gharib: Maria
    • Amber Scales: Katherine
    • Casey Andree: Sir Nathaniel
    • Anastasia Davidson: Jaquenetta
    • David Derringer: Dumaine
    • AJ Voliton: Longaville


    richard.3.6.18.12Richard III

    • By William Shakespeare
    • Indoor stage
    • June 22-Aug. 11
    • Directed by Wendy Franz

    Richard, Edward IV’s deformed and embittered younger brother, will do anything to take the crown for himself — but once he has the throne, everything falls apart. Four centuries later, the masterful conclusion of Shakespeare’s Henriad history cycle still speaks volumes about lies, honor and the dark side of ambition.(Pictured: Richard III in 2012.)

    • Sam Gregory: Hastings
    • Leslie O'Carroll: Duchess of York
    • Betty Hart: Queen Elizabeth
    • Brian Kusic: Richmond/Grey/Alderman
    • Coleman Zeigen: Stanley
    • Sam Sandoe: Catesby/First Murderer
    • Christian Ray: Dorset/Second Murderer/Messenger/Alderman/Soldier
    • Jihad Milhem: Clarence/Earl of Oxford/Mayor of London
    • Lindsay Ryan: Lady Anne
    • Rodney Lizcano: Richard III
    • Sean Scrutchins: Buckingham
    • Austin Terrell: Brackenbury/Ratcliffe
    • Leraldo Anzaldua: King Edward IV/Bishop of Ely/Alderman/Soldier/Faceless Ghost/Fight Choreographer
    • Anne Penner: Margaret
    • Mike Largent: Rivers/Soldier/Alderman/Faceless Ghost
    • Kyle Chesney: Ensemble/Alderman/Soldier
    • Elena Sayeedi: Ensemble/Lady in Waiting/Alderman/Soldier
    • Alex RosenthalEnsemble/Alderman/Soldier
    • Luka Teodoru: Prince Edward
    • Augie Reichert: Little Richard, Duke of York
    • Kaiyane Arabian: Little Lady


    Cyrano de Bergerac

    • By Edmond Rostand
    • Outdoor stage
    • July 6-Aug. 11
    • Directed by Christopher DuVal

    In Rostand’s timeless romantic comedy, Cyrano is witty and proud but crippled by insecurity. He secretly pines for Roxanne — but she has her eyes on handsome, empty-headed Christian.

    • Marco Robinson: Christian de Neuvillette
    • Desirée Mee Jung: Sister Claire/Lady/Lise/Precieuse/Ensemble
    • Seth Dhonau: Brissaille/Cavalryman/Capuchin/Another Actor/Cadet 2/Cook 2 and Apprentice/Nun/Ensemble
    • Scott Coopwood: Cyrano de Bergerac
    • Rafael Untalan: Comte de Guiche
    • Matthew Schneck: Le Bret
    • Michael Bouchard: Ragueneau
    • Janae Burris: Bellerose/Doorkeeper/Actress/Poet 2/Nun/Ensemble
    • Anthony Adu: Jodelet/Cadet 3/Poet 1/Guard/Actor/Nun/Ensemble
    • Brynn Tucker: Roxanne+Read Bio for Brynn Tucker
    • AJ Voliton: Musketeer/Spanish Officer/Cadet 5
    • Benaiah Anderson: Vicomte de Valvert/Cadet 1/Cadet 6/Ensemble
    • Aziza Gharib: Flower girl/Nun/Poet 3/Pickpocket/Foodseller/Ensemble
    • Amber Scales: Sister Marthe/Duenna/A Lady/Ensemble
    • Casey Andree: Cuigy/Citizen/Cooks 1 and 4/Cadet 8/Ensemble
    • David Derringer: Ligniere/Nun/Cadet 4/Ensemble
    • Anne Sandoe: Mother Marguerite de Jesus/1st Marquis/Poet 4/Ensemble
    • Bob Buckley: Montfleury/Carbon de Castel-Jaloux/Cadet 7/Ensemble
    • Robert Wester: Cook 3/Bertrandous/Cadet


    You Can't Take It With You

    • By Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman
    • Indoor stage
    • July 20-Aug. 12
    • Directed by Carolyn Howarth

    When Alice brings her boyfriend’s traditional, straight-laced family to dine with her household of freethinking eccentrics, fights break out and fireworks erupt. Kaufman and Hart’s 1930s classic pays homage to those who march to the beat of their own drum and reminds us all to choose dreams over drudgery.

    • Sam Gregory: Martin (Grandpa) Vanderhof
    • Leslie O'Carroll: Penelope Vanderhof Sycamore
    • Betty Hart: Mrs. Kirby
    • Mare Trevathan: Olga/Gay
    • Coleman Zeigen: Mr. Kirby
    • Sam Sandoe: Mr. De Pinna
    • Lauren Dennis: Rheba
    • Christian Ray: Tony Kirby
    • Jihad Milhem: Ed Carmichael
    • Lindsay Ryan: Alice
    • Rodney Lizcano: Boris Kolenhkov
    • Sean Scrutchins: Henderson
    • Chloe McLeod: Essie Carmichael
    • Leraldo Anzaldua: Paul Sycamore/Fight Choreographer
    • Mike Largent: Donald
    • Kyle Chesney: The Man
    • Elena Sayeedi: G-man photographer


    Edward III

    • By William Shakespeare and Thomas Kyd
    • Outdoor stage
    • Aug. 5
    • Directed by Kevin Rich

    Colorado Shakes’ “Original Practices” tradition continues with a history play that’s been mired in mystery for hundreds of years. England’s king is out to capture the crown of France and the heart of a married countess. The cost of his lust? Personal humiliation and 150 years of English battle and bloodshed. This is a one-night-only performance, inspired by the stage practices of Shakespeare’s own time.

    • Michael Bouchard: Earl Douglas/Charles
    • Marco Robinson: Lorraine/Villers/Esquire 1/Calais Citizen 1
    • Desirée Mee Jung: Countess of Salisbury/Frenchman 2/Calais Citizen 2
    • Seth Dhonau: John of France
    • Scott Coopwood: Edward III
    • Benaiah Anderson: Prince Edward/Fight Choreographer
    • Aziza Gharib: Frenchman 4/French Herald 3/French Captain/Esquire 2/Herald
    • Emelie O'Hara: Lodwick/French Woman/Queen Phillipa
    • Leslie O'Carroll: Audley
    • Betty Hart: Artois
    • Sam Sandoe: Warwick/Frenchman 3/French Herald 1/Copland
    • Christian Ray: Messenger/Percy/Philip
    • Jihad Milhem: Mountague/French Mariner/Salisbury
    • Leraldo Anzaldua: David of Scotland/Gobin de Grey/Frenchman 1/Montford/French Herald 2
    • Kevin Rich: Derby

    *Play descriptions provided by Colorado Shakespeare Festival

    Casting by Sylvia Gregory Casting

    Ticket information
    The Colorado Shakespeare Festival's 2018 season runs through June 8-1Aug. 12 in Boulder on the campus of the University of Colorado. Tickets are available by calling 303-492-8008 or going to www.coloradoshakes.org

    Video bonus: Rodney Lizcano's Old Joe transformation:

  • Video: First look at 'The Great Leap,' and 5 things we learned at Perspectives

    by John Moore | Feb 06, 2018
    Your first look at 'The Great Leap.' Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Playwright Lauren Yee intends to take audiences right down to the buzzer when her new play opens Friday  

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Denver audiences have not yet seen Lauren Yee’s new basketball play The Great Leap, opening Friday in the Ricketson Theatre. But while no literal hoops action goes down on the stage, actor Linden Tailor says the story plays out much like any good, close basketball game: You don't know how it’s going to come out till the very end.

    “The play builds in intensity the same way a game does in those final two minutes,” said Tailor, who plays a short but scrappy Chinese-American player named Manford in Yee's tale of a college basketball team that travels to Beijing for a “friendship” game and lands right in the middle of the Cultural Revolution. “That’s the feeling I hope the audience gets when they see the play.”

    The occasion was Perspectives, the DCPA Theatre Company’s ongoing series of community conversations held just before every first preview performance. Literary Manager Douglas Langworthy was joined by Yee, Tailor, actor Keiko Green, Dramaturg Kristin Leahey of the Seattle Repertory Theatre and Scenic Designer Wilson Chin.

    Yee takes great pains to make her play mirror the game she honors in several ways. The sound of dribbles make for heightened sound effects, for example. Intermission is like halftime. There is a big game at the end of the play, but the audiences only hear about it in a fugue of language. Actors quickly toss words back and forth like the passing of a basketball. "There are times when all four of us are sharing a sentence," Green said. The effect is similar to the teamwork you see in a game. “You can feel it when the players are comfortable and supportive of each other," she said. "And that’s the feeling we hope to convey as actors."

    Here are five things we learned about The Great Leap at Perspectives. Next up: A conversation with the creative team from Native Gardens at 6 p.m. Friday, April 6, in the Jones Theatre:

    The Great Leap Perspectives. Photo by John Moore

    From left: Douglas Langworthy, Keiko Green, Linden Tailor, Lauren Yee, Kristin Leahey, Wilson Chin and Eric Ting. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Full photo gallery below.

    NUMBER 1"Let's go co." In its nearly 400 productions, the DCPA Theatre Company has only participated in two previous “co-productions” — world-premiere plays created in full partnership with another company. And they both took place in 2000: The Laramie Project, with Moisés Kaufman’s Tectonic Theatre Project in New York, and the epic 10-play cycle Tantalus with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Until now. This season, the DCPA is launching two "co-pros" simultaneously: The Great Leap with the Seattle Repertory Theatre (opening there March 28) and American Mariachi with the Old Globe in San Diego (opening there on March 29). One of the primary reasons most theatres enter co-productions is the opportunity to share expenses. But Leahey said this arrangement has far more to do with overlapping interests. "It was an affinity for the play, for the playwright and the opportunity to collaborate with our friends the Denver Center," she said. "It was not for financial reasons."

    NUMBER 2The evolution will not be televised. Yee's play was first introduced to Denver Center audiences last February as a featured reading at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. Since then, "I think the play has changed an incredible amount," said Yee — and not just the title, which has morphed from the original Manford at Half Court to Manford at the Line Or The Great Leap to, finally, the shortened The Great Leap. "As a writer, I tend to know the major pieces of the puzzle early on, like the characters and the setting," Yee said. "For me the rewriting process — like being at the Summit for two weeks and seeing how it works in front of audiences — is figuring out better ways of connecting those pieces together."

    NUMBER 3Language barrier. Half of The Great Leap takes place in San Francisco, and half takes place in China. Yee was asked by a Perspectives audience member if the play will ever be staged in China, and she said that had not yet even occurred to her. "I don't think it would work there," she said. "My references are so American, both in terms of language and pop-culture references, that I don't know how it would read to a Chinese audience. In America, we have a very specific take on what our history is, and I'm sure that China has a very specific take on what world history is. I think if you were to see my play in China, you would be like, "No. You are completely wrong about our history. I see it entirely differently.' "

    NUMBER 4The Great Leap Linden Tailor Nuggets. Photo by Hope GrandonThe Hornets rest. The Great Leap cast made a field trip on Monday to the Denver Nuggets' game against the Charlotte Hornets, where they were welcomed by a message on the giant scoreboard. They also met Rocky, one of the most popular mascots in all of sports. And in return, the cast sent the Nuggets their good vibes, which surely played a part in the Nuggets' 121-104 rout. "It's fun to go to a game and have it be research," Tailor joked. (Photo: Rocky and Linden Tailor. Photo by Hope Grandon.)

    NUMBER 5Ordinary people. Yee’s next play is called Cambodian Rock Band, and it bears one major similarity to The Great Leap, she said: Ordinary people intersecting with extraordinary places in history. “In Cambodia during the 1960s and '70s, there was a whole psychedelic surf-rock scene that you never heard about because the communists took over Cambodia in 1975, after the Vietnam War ended," Yee said, "and the first thing they did was kill all the artists. In four years, 90 percent of their musicians died, and the only ones who survived are those who hid their identities. My play is the story of a Cambodian-American woman and her father, who is a Khmer Rouge survivor. In the course of the play, the daughter learns that her father was in this rock band. I think that's something we can all relate to: Not really fully knowing who your parents are.” It opens March 3 at the South Coast Repertory in Orange County, Calif.

    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.

    Photo gallery: The making of The Great Leap:

    The making of 'The Great Leap' Photos from the making of 'The Great Leap,' opening Friday and performing through March 11 in the Ricketson Theatre. To see more photos, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Pictured above is Director Eric Ting (pictured). 

    The Great Leap: Ticket information
    GreatLeap_show_thumbnail_160x160When an American college basketball team travels to Beijing for an exhibition game in 1989, the drama on the court goes deeper than the strain between their countries. For two men with a past and one teen with a future, it’s a chance to stake their moment in history and claim personal victories off the scoreboard. American coach Saul grapples with his relevance to the sport, while Chinese coach Wen Chang must decide his role in his rapidly changing country. Tensions rise right up to the final buzzer as history collides with the action on the court.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Through March 11
    • Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Read more: Our complete interview with Lauren Yee

    Selected previous coverage of The Great Leap:
    For The Great Leap playwright Lauren Yee, family is a generation map
    Five pieces of fun hoops history to know, like: What's a pick and roll?
    Five things we learned at first rehearsal, with photos
    Summit Spotlight: Lauren Yee lays it all on the free-throw line
    Vast and visceral: Theatre Company season will include The Great Leap

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • For 'The Great Leap' playwright, family is a generation map

    by John Moore | Feb 04, 2018
    Photo gallery: The Great Lap Opening Night:

    The making of 'The Great Leap'

    Photos from opening night of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Great Leap' on Feb. 9, from backstage before the show through the afterparty. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr photo gallery. Lauren Yee's world-premiere play performs through March 11. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Lauren Yee draws inspiration for new play from her father and his 1980s international basketball odyssey in China  

    By Douglas Langworthy
    Denver Center Literary Manager

    Every family has stories that get passed down through the years, often taking on mythic proportions. For playwright Lauren Yee, one such story she grew up with was her father’s trip to China to play basketball in the 1980s. “It was family lore from a very young age,” she said. “I knew that the trip had been a very large part of his life before he had kids.”

    Larry Yee, Lauren’s father, traveled with a basketball team to play “friendship games” in China in the period after the Cultural Revolution. Larry was born in San Francisco and this was his first time visiting the homeland of his parents. His international journey became the loose storyline of Lauren’s play The Great Leap.

    One part of the story that Lauren was curious about was the idea of being Chinese-American and going to China to represent America. “Who do you root for?” she said. “Do you root for the people who have the same citizenship as you? Do you root for the people who look like you? Are you ever torn?”

    Yee didn’t know a lot about China and basketball going into the project, so she needed to do her research. Her primary source was her father, of course — she loved listening to his stories about the trip. In addition, she attended some pro games. She talked to players. She also spoke with a professor from China at the University of Denver who shared his experiences growing up. “I got a window into what an ordinary person’s life was like growing up in China in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s,” Yee said. 

    Lauren Yee Quote. Photo by John MooreShe studied basketball and became consumed by the big philosophical ideas behind the game. “One idea that I found very helpful,” she said, “was that basketball is all about creating space for yourself on the court. That every pass and every fake and every dribble is made with the intent of losing your defender long enough for you to have a chance to make a shot. And I think that has parallels for our everyday lives — everyone in this world goes about their lives trying to make space for themselves that they can call their own.”

    (Photo at right of Lauren Yee by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    She was surprised to discover that basketball has a long history in China. “Even though it wasn’t professionalized until the mid-’90s, basketball has had a very long love affair with China, the way it’s had with America," she said.

    Yee’s father inspired another one of her plays, King of the Yees, based on family history, sort of. “A lot of this is true,” the play’s inscription reads, “but a lot of it is only kind of true. Just like the stories your father once told you as a child.”

    Set in San Francisco, Yee folds herself and her father into the middle of this meta-theatrical play, so there is an actor playing an actor playing Larry and an actor playing an actor playing Lauren, as well as two actors playing the “real” versions of each of them. 

    After Larry Yee saw King of the Yees and attended a reading of The Great Leap, he turned to Lauren and asked if she was done with him. “I think that’s enough about me,” he told her.

    Lauren isn’t bothered by seeing herself portrayed on stage: “I know by making myself a character I’ve immediately theatricalized it. What I am interested in is someone else’s interpretation of that particular character in those circumstances.” 

    “It was in the play’s DNA from the first scene to set you up to love my father, Larry,” she said, “and be disappointed to find out that this play is about Lauren. I set the Lauren character up for being a bit roasted in this play.”

    When asked to describe her writing process, Yee said: “I start writing as soon as I come up with a world I find interesting but don’t completely understand, and a character voice that I find really compelling. Usually if I spend enough time in that world with those voices then I am led to some sort of plot and general structure. With The Great Leap, I immediately heard Manford (the central character) and also heard Saul, his coach. 

    “I go into the writing process like an audience member, I don’t know why these characters want what they want yet, but usually, after a couple of drafts, I stumble upon things. So for me, a lot of things that happen in the play were things that I did not know at the very beginning of the writing process. I think in order for the audience to be surprised in a play, I need to be surprised while I am writing.”

    And who doesn’t love a surprise?

    Douglas Langworthy is the Denver Center's Literary Manager and resident Dramaturg. 

    Playwright Lauren Yee’s works include 'Ching Chong Chinaman,' 'The Hatmaker’s Wife,' Hookman,' 'In a Word,' 'King of the Yees,' 'Samsara' and 'The Tiger Among Us.' 'The Great Leap,' which was commissioned by DCPA Theatre Company as part of its new-play development program, will go on to the Seattle Repertory Theatre following its Denver debut.

    Video: Your first look at The Great Leap:

    Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    The Great Leap: Ticket information
    GreatLeap_show_thumbnail_160x160When an American college basketball team travels to Beijing for an exhibition game in 1989, the drama on the court goes deeper than the strain between their countries. For two men with a past and one teen with a future, it’s a chance to stake their moment in history and claim personal victories off the scoreboard. American coach Saul grapples with his relevance to the sport, while Chinese coach Wen Chang must decide his role in his rapidly changing country. Tensions rise right up to the final buzzer as history collides with the action on the court.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Through March 11
    • Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Bonus coverage: Five pieces of fun insider basketball info:

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The DCPA Theatre Company’s world premiere play The Great Leap coincides with the 50th year of professional basketball in Denver. In honor of the play, and Denver’s storied basketball past, we offer five things you might want to know about the game or its history before you attend:

    NUMBER 1JeremyLinLinsanity! Lauren Yee has dedicated her play “to all the Jeremy Lins (on and off the court).” Who’s Jeremy Lin? The first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to ever play in the NBA, for one. Lin came out of nowhere in 2012 to lead an unexpected winning streak with the lowly New York Knicks, which generated a fleeting global craze known as “Linsanity.” Lin, who now plays for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, was the iconic underdog overachiever. Unfortunately, he is sitting out the entire current season with a ruptured patella tendon.

    NUMBER 2DenverRocketsLogo2Denver's India.Arie connection. The The play is set in 1971 and ’89. In 1971, the Denver Nuggets were still the Denver Rockets of the American Basketball Association, and they were led by a promising young guard named Ralph Simpson, who would go on to play in seven all-star games. Today he’s best known as the father of Grammy Award-winning soul singer India.Arie, who lived in Denver until she was 13. In 1989, the Nuggets, now of the NBA, were coached by Doug Moe. And — speaking of talented hoops progeny — Moe’s granddaughter, Lyndie Moe, visited Denver in November as Maureen in the 20th anniversary tour of RENT.

    NUMBER 3Pick and RollNo, not 'pick your nose!' One bit of common basketball lingo that comes up in the play is an offensive play called the “pick and roll.” That’s when you have one player holding the ball face-to-face with a defender, until a teammate comes and essentially blocks the defender off on one side. That frees the player with the ball to make a move to the basket or dump it back to his teammate who “rolls” behind him and heads for the basket.

    Read more: Our complete interview with Lauren Yee


    NUMBER 4You might want to watch this. At one point in The Great Leap, Connie urges her cousin Manford to join her at the TV for the end of an NBA playoff game, and it’s a well-chosen one: The series finale between Chicago and Cleveland on May 7, 1989. Manford doesn’t want to watch, and misses what has come to be known in NBA lore as simply “The Shot”: Michael Jordan’s buzzer-beater over Craig Ehlo.  

    John Moore: Growing Up Nuggets Defined a Childhood

    NUMBER 5David ThompsonBefore Michael Jordan, there was "The Skywalker," and he played for Denver. David Thompson once scored 73 points in a single game. He had a 44-inch leap, and in 1975, he was the highest-paid player in the history of team sports. Thompson and Julius Erving put on such a show in the first Slam-Dunk Contest at the 1976 ABA All-Star Game in Denver that the NBA later adopted it as its own. If not for off-the-court problems that cut his career short, fans no doubt would still speak of Thompson in the same breath with Jordan.

    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. His father, Ralph Moore, covered professional basketball in Denver from its inception to his retirement in 1983.

    Selected previous coverage of The Great Leap:
    Five things we learned at first rehearsal, with photos
    Summit Spotlight: Lauren Yee lays it all on the free-throw line
    Vast and visceral: Theatre Company season will include The Great Leap

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'Zoey' playwright Matthew Lopez: America could use a laugh right now

    by John Moore | Feb 03, 2018
    Zoeys Perfect Wedding. Photo by Adams Viscom

    The cast of 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding' includes, from left: Mallory Portnoy, Grayson DeJesus, Nija Okoro and Jeff Biehl. Photo by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    In the face of these trying times, the playwright rejects the notion that simply 'checking out' is an acceptable option

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    In this painfully protracted period of ideological divisiveness in the country, there is perhaps one (single) thing we can all agree on: America could use a laugh. 

    But despite the preponderance of comedies high and low to be found on screens large and small, American playwrights have not been widely producing flat-out, laugh-out-loud comedies for generations. And that, says playwright Matthew Lopez, is a good thing. Because theatre can do better than that. 

    matthew_lopez Quote Zoey 800“Comedy has one of two functions: To make you think or to make you forget,” he said. “The best make you forget that you’re thinking. I hope we’re the latter.” 

    Lopez is the author of the DCPA Theatre Company’s  2014 breakout hit The Legend of Georgia McBride, which went on to be performed Off-Broadway and at theatres across the country. He’s back this season with another world premiere comedy Zoey's Perfect Wedding — which is anything but. 

    “I’m allergic to the notion that, in the face of trying times — or perhaps more accurately put: in the face of a full-scale national disaster — it’s preferable to simply check out,” Lopez said. “Checking out really isn’t an option in a democracy. One could argue that’s how we got into this in the first place. However, we don’t always need to think directly at the thing.”   

    There’s nothing wrong with people spending two hours laughing and having fun at the theatre, Lopez believes. But the route to funny must pass through true understanding.  

    Zoey’s Perfect Wedding presents a wedding where disaster after disaster follows the frost-caked bride down the aisle, from boozy and brutally honest speeches to obliviously self-absorbed supporting characters to a wildly incompetent wedding planner. Ain’t weddings fun? 

    Lopez has been to enough to know that self-absorbed people often turn weddings into a referendum on their own lives. Put another way, he said: It’s shockingly easy to act like a narcissist at someone else’s wedding.

    Video: Director on how perfect Zoey's Perfect Wedding is

    “It was once said of Teddy Roosevelt that he was the bride at every wedding, and the corpse at every funeral,” Lopez said. “I think that applies to more people than anyone cares to admit.”

    It’s also true what they say about your misery being another person’s funny, because Zoey’s Perfect Wedding was inspired by a train wreck of a wedding Lopez was right in the middle of a few years after college.

    “It was the weekend after Thanksgiving,” Lopez said. “We had all just seen each other two days before, and here we were back again with nothing really more to talk about than what a fun night Thanksgiving was. Then one friend began to pick at a scab of something that bothered them from Thanksgiving and, before we knew it, we were all in a full-scale verbal brawl that eventually ended up ruining the night for most of us. 

    Zoey. Adams Viscom“I’m certain that, had this been a dry wedding, we all would have had a much better time. And I am certain that is the first time those words have ever been uttered.” 

    The characters and events in Lopez’s play are pure imagination. But the notion of friends showing up to a wedding and forgetting they’re at a wedding and acting like it’s just another night out at the bar? “That, I am ashamed to admit, is true,” he said. 

    (Pictured, from left: Nija Okoro and Mallory Portnoy of 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding.' Photo by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    But it was the underlying fuel propelling that booze-soaked fire that interested the writer in Lopez. “These characters wrestle with commitment, loyalty and honesty,” Lopez said. “They wrestle with the difference between our expectations and our reality — and those are things we all grapple with in one way or another every day.” 

    Which is why it’s misleading to label his new play a simple comedy. Lopez would like for us to move beyond distinctions between comedy, tragedy and their many variations. The fact is, a great many plays are comedies … until they just aren’t anymore. 

    “Things aren’t funny if they aren’t true,” Lopez said. “Even sight gags require the laws of physics be obeyed in order to work. If and when a comedy veers unexpectedly into drama, perhaps the question one should ask is: ‘Is that true?’ Here’s an example: Is August: Osage County a comedy or a drama?”

    The same can be said about a great joke in the middle of an unquestionably serious play. If the moment is rooted in character, then it is rooted in truth.

    “Humans are funny. Humans are sad. Humans are sometimes funny and then, the next second, tragic,” Lopez said. “Life does not fit neatly into categories and neither should our stories. At the end of the day, it all comes down to story. And if stories are not rooted in some kind of recognizable truth, they are worthless.  

    “Lest we forget: There’s a fart joke in Waiting for Godot.”

    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.

    Matthew Lopez is currently in London for the March 2 premiere of his highly anticipated two-part play The Inheritance at The Young Vic. The epic play takes a panoramic view of gay life in New York today in the aftermath of the AIDS crisis depicted in Tony Kushner’s sprawling Angels in America.

    Video: Your first look at Zoey's Perfect Wedding

    Your first look at 'Zoey’s Perfect Wedding.' Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Zoey's Perfect Wedding
    :
    Ticket information
    Zoey_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: The blushing bride. The touching toast. The celebration of true love. These are the dreams of Zoey’s big day…and the opposite of what it’s turning out to be. Disaster after disaster follow her down the aisle, from brutally honest boozy speeches to a totally incompetent wedding planner. Even worse, her friends are too preoccupied with their own relationship woes to help with the wreckage around them. Like a car crash you can’t look away from, watch in awe as this wildly funny fiasco destroys her expectations with the realities of commitment, fidelity and growing up.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances ThroughFeb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here


    Bonus read: The perfect union behind Zoey’s Perfect Wedding


    Zoey’s Perfect Wedding is not about a perfect wedding. It’s about a wedding where one hilarious disaster follows another. But one creative marriage that was built to last is the one between playwright Matthew Lopez and director Mike Donahue, which started, and continues, in Denver. 

    Zoey Mike Donahue Matthew LopezThe pair first teamed up in 2013 for a reading of The Legend of Georgia McBride at the Colorado New Play Summit. After the DCPA Theatre Company’s world premiere staging the next year, Donahue and Lopez took the comedy to New York, and it has since been performed at theatres across the country. The two are partnering again on Zoey’s Perfect Wedding, which plays through Feb. 25 in The Space Theatre. 

    Donahue was definitely the pursuer in this relationship. He read an early draft of Georgia McBride, loved it, and asked his agents to arrange a meeting with Lopez. But Donahue was told that Lopez was probably a bit out of his league, because his breakthrough drama The Whipping Man had taken off in New York, he had landed a few screenplays, and was writing for TV’s “The Newsroom.” Jilted, but not for long — because Cupid conspired to bring them together a few years later for the 2013 Colorado New Play Summit in Denver. 

    Donahue was here directing Grace, or the Art of Climbing for the DCPA Theatre Company when the selected titles were announced for the upcoming Summit. “One of the plays on the list was Georgia McBride, and there was no director attached to it,” said Donahue, who again called his agents and ask them to arrange a phone call with Lopez. “He didn’t call me back,” Donahue said with a laugh. “But three weeks later I got the offer, and now Matthew is one of my best friends.” 

    It’s not lost on Donahue that both of his Lopez plays have now originated at the Denver Center. “Who knows? Maybe Denver is just a magical place,” said Donahue, who says what he loves most about Lopez’s comedies is that “they are incredibly funny 
    and have a big heart.” 

    We also asked Lopez to explain what makes Donahue such a good fit to direct his plays.

    “As with any good marriage, we just get each other,” Lopez said. “We share a complimentary — though not identical — view of the world, of theatre, of storytelling. He’s smart in ways I’m not, and I’m intuitive in ways he might not always be. And sometimes vice versa.” 

    “What can I say? He completes me.”

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Zoey's Perfect Wedding:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'American Mariachi' Perspectives: Music as a powerful memory trigger

    by John Moore | Feb 02, 2018
    Making of 'American Mariachi'

    Photos from the making of 'American Mariachi.' The world-premiere play with music performs in the Stage Theatre from through Feb 25. Photo above from the public Perspectives conversation hosted by Douglas Langworthy. From left: Playwright José Cruz González, director James Vásquez and Scenic Director Regina Garcia. To see more photos, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Director James Vásquez says it’s a good story — 'and the best party you'll come to this winter in Denver.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The DCPA Theatre Company’s world-premiere play American Mariachi, opening tonight in The Stage Theatre, is a memory play. But not in the way Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie is considered a memory play — where a character looks back (often unreliably) on a story that took place many years before.

    American Mariachi is literally a play about memory. And music has long been proven to be one of the brain’s biggest triggers for memory.  

    “The play is inspired by a story I was told about an older woman who was suffering from Alzheimer's,” playwright José Cruz González told about 100 who gathered last week before the first preview performance of American Mariachi. “But when her family played this woman’s favorite song, she just lit up. I thought that was fascinating, and I soon realized this is such a common thing that affects all of us around the world.”

    American Mariachi, set in the 1970s American southwest, follows a young woman named Lucha who is caring for a mother with dementia. When Lucha finds a mariachi record that briefly brings her mother back to life, she becomes determined to learn how to play the song for her live, before it is too late. But this was a time when being a female mariachi player was unheard of in the United States.

    Here are five things we learned at Perspectives, a series of free public community conversations  held just before the first preview performance of every DCPA Theatre Company offering. Next up: The Great Leap at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2, in the Jones Theatre.

    NUMBER 1The rhythm is gonna get you. Often when you attend a play, or even a musical, the audience is expected to politely sit back on their hands. That will not be the case here. Mariachi music has always encouraged cathartic, joyous yells from anyone within earshot. “We had an invited audience at our final dress rehearsal, and as soon as the music started paying, gritos were thrown from the audience, and we encourage that,” director James Vásquez said. “You can't help but want to get up and holler and clap and sing if you know the words.” The American Mariachi band also played at the beginning of a community conversation two weeks ago, “and it turned into a party,” Vásquez said. “That's how I like to think of our play: It’s a good story — but and it's also the best party you'll come to this winter in Denver.”

    Mariachi community conversation: Food, music, issues

    NUMBER 2 American Mariachi Perspectives  Amanda RoblesSchool of mariachi. This production is made up of nine actors and five professional mariachis — and the actors all learned to play instruments along the way. Crissy Guerrero, for example, learned to play the vihuela, a guitar-like instrument from 19th-century Mexico with five strings (no E) and a vaulted back. The Mexican vihuela is tuned similarly to the guitar. The difference is that the open G, the D and the A strings are tuned an octave higher than a guitar, thus giving it a tenor sound or a higher pitch. Amanda Robles, a professional singer, learned how to play the trumpet from scratch — which González called fitting for this show, because his characters are also learning to play from scratch. Robles was surprised by how different she found singing mariachi to be, compared to traditional musical theatre. “In a typical musical, you are always thinking about singing higher,” she said, “whereas mariachi is more guttural. You need to double down and really sing your heart out.” (Pictured above, from left: Costume Designer Meghan Anderson Doyle, actor Crissy Guerrero and actor Amanda Robles.) 

    NUMBER 3The train has left the station. The American Mariachi that opens tonight is a full hour shorter than the version that was read at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. It moves. “Jose has been able to really compact the story and the heart of the story,” said Guerrero, who was an original cast member. “A lot of painful decisions were made to cut things, I am sure. But we have always wanted to stay focused on the story we are telling.” 


    amanda-robles-photo-by-adamsviscom

    Photo of the 'American Mariachi' mural designed by Regina Garcia. Pictured: Amanda Robles. Photo by Adams VisCom.

    NUMBER 4 Plaza sweet. The action in American Mariachi takes place in multiple locations, so Scenic Designer Regina Garcia created a world that takes you inside a single home that grows into a community plaza with towers of residential windows and a stunning 60-foot brick mural. “In the spirit of collage, I decided to celebrate the Mexican arts in general with the mural, and that includes dance, cinema, spoken word, poetry, playwriting, civic leadership and community,” said Garcia. When González and Vásquez first arrived in Denver, they were taken into the DCPA scene shop where the mural was being created, “and we burst out crying, it was so gorgeous,” González said.

    NUMBER 5 Why is the play set in the 1970s? Because the stakes were higher. “That was when women really started to push for their right to play this music here in the United States,” González said. "Here these women are trying to push open a door that has been closed to them. And this music has been closed to them. It's been passed from father to son, not father to daughter. I felt it was the right time to tell a story about the empowerment of these Latinas." 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Bonus: What is the derivation of the word mariachi? It's a bit of a mystery, but it is thought to date back to the French invasion of Mexico in 1861. “It was thought that the word was connected to the French word mariage (or marriage),” Dramaturg Shirley Fishman said. Some say that’s because the Europe-born Emperor Maximilian of Mexico encouraged the music to be played at weddings. González’s theory dates back to the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés in the 1590s: "When Cortes arrived in the New World, his soldiers brought guitars, while the native people here played drums and flutes," said González. “And soon a new kind of music evolved. You can hear the African, the native and the Spanish influences in the rhythms of mariachi." Today the word mariachi can refer to a single player, a group, or the music itself.

    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.

    American Mariachi: Ticket information

    160x160-amercian-mariachi-tempAt a glance: Lucha and Boli are ready to start their own all-female mariachi band in 1970s’ Denver, but they’ll have to fight a male-dominated music genre and pressure from their families to get it done. This humorous, heartwarming story about music’s power to heal and connect includes gorgeous live mariachi music..

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of American Mariachi:
    Photos, video: Your first look at American Mariachi
    American Mariachi
    's second community conversation: Food, music and tough issues
    Cast announced, and 5 things we learned at first rehearsal
    American Mariachi
    : Community conversation begins
    Summit Spotlight video: José Cruz González, American Mariachi
    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company season
    Denver Center taking new plays to new level in 2017-18

  • February openings: 'Hamilton,' a Summit and a new $60 million jewel for Colorado Springs

    by John Moore | Feb 01, 2018
    February Arvada Center Electric Baby. Matt Gale Photography

    Jessica Robblee and Abner Genece in the Arvada Center's magical realism play 'The Electric Baby. Matt Gale Photography 2018.


    R-E-S-P-E-CT, Colorado theatre: You have provided 82 theatregoing options in the shortest month of the year

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Hamilton.

    OK, there is a lot more than that going on in local theatre in February. At the Denver Center alone (in addition to that eagerly awaited national touring production) there will be three consecutive world-premiere plays: Zoey's Perfect Wedding, American Mariachi and The Great Leap that will be the cornerstone of the upcoming Colorado New Play Summit that was just named among the top 20 theatre festivals in the world. Also: STOMP's eighth Denver visit, and the musical comedy First Date continues at the Galleria Theatre. (Go to denvercenter.org for info on all of them.)

    And then there is ... the rest of the state. Now try to keep up ... but we warn you, it won't be easy — because the shortest month of the year may be presenting the most theatre offerings of any month ... ever. We're talking 34 openings and a whopping 83 theatregoing options overall, counting a huge number of special events. In 28 days.

    Here are just a few highlights outside the Denver Performing Arts Complex, followed by a comprehensive list of all your Colorado theatregoing options for February:

    Ten intriguing titles for February:

    NUMBER 1Oklahoma! All eyes will be on Colorado Springs this month for the opening of the jaw-dropping $60 million Ent Center for the Arts on the campus of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. The new home of the venerable TheatreWorks and several other performing groups is a 92,000-square-foot building with multiple performance and gallery spaces. It officially launches with TheatreWorks' presentation of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical in a sparkling new theatre with a familiar name to TheatreWorks audiences: The Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater. Feb. 15-March 11 at 5225 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org.

    NUMBER 2Respect: A Musical Journey of Women. Cherry Creek Theatre's musical tribute to women is being billed as the company's show of support for the #MeToo Movement. It's an all-female production: Directors, cast, crew and playwright. That's Dorothy Marcic, who will be in attendance for both the evening performance on Saturday, Feb. 3, and the matinee on Sunday, Feb. 4. The show is co-directed and choreographed by longtime Denver Center favorite Shannan Steele with a cast that includes big-shots Sharon Kay White, Rachel Turner, Sarah Rex, Anna High and co-director Traci Kern. The Top-40 score includes "I Will Survive," "These Boots are Made for Walking," "What's Love Got to Do with it" and many more. NOTE: No Friday performances — and evening shows start at 7 p.m. Feb. 1-25 at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., 303-800-6578 or cherrycreektheatre.org

    NUMBER 3Intimate Apparel. The newly merged Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College brings revered playwright Lynn Nottage's breakout work to southern Colorado for the first time. Nottage, who later won Pulitzer Prizes for Ruined and Sweat, here tells an intensely personal story that weaves the joys and sorrows of an African-American seamstress in 1905 New York City. Feb. 8-25 at 30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    NUMBER 4Crying Wolf: Stories of the Lupus Warriors. Rhonda Jackson's new  play, presented by The Source Theatre Company (which has grown up in the shadow of the former Shadow Theatre Company) is an attempt to document what it's like to live with a chronic autoimmune disease such as  lupus. For mature audiences. Feb. 8-17 at Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org

    NUMBER 5 The Electric Baby. The Arvada Center's second full repertory season kicks into full gear with Stefanie Zadravec's adult folktale about six strangers whose lives collide after a tragic car accident, forcing them to confront their secrets, hopes and fears. At the play’s center is a mysterious baby who glows like the moon. The play, directed by Rick Barbour of the University of Denver, combines magic, myth and humor to explore devastating loss and hopeful healing. Running Feb. 9-May 4 and in repertory with Sense and Sensibility and All My Sons (opening March 2) at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    NUMBER 6Waiting for the Parade William A. CottonWaiting for the Parade. Playwright John Murrell's 1977 fact-based drama introduces five very different women who find a way to survive by working together and accepting one another’s differences during the depths of World War II in 1940s Calgary. It's based on interviews with wartime survivors. Co-directed by Ami Dayan and Lou Ann Wright. Feb. 3-March 4 at the Bas Bleu Theatre, 401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org (Photo by William A. Cotton)

    NUMBER 7JANE/EYRE. Denver, meet the Grapefruit Lab, a new performance company that debuts with a queer adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel with live original music by Teacup Gorilla and Dameon Merkl (of the Denver band Bad Luck City). Adapted by author, musician and True West Award winner Miriam Suzanne, along with former LIDA Project director Julie Rada. Their  hybrid play/concert takes a dark and often humorous look at early feminism — bringing a contemporary, queer perspective to Jane’s story. Feb. 23-March 3 at The Bakery, 2132 Market St., eventbrite.com

    NUMBER 8Wisdom from Everything. The latest provocative offering from Boulder's Local Theater Company asks: What you would sacrifice to escape a war? Chicago playwright Mia McCullough's story presents a 19-year-old Syrian who finds herself educating girls in the largest refugee camp in the world — until an older Jordanian doctor offers her an education in exchange for marriage. The primo cast includes  Amy Carle (known for her work on "Chicago MED" and for the Goodman and Steppenwolf theatres) and Mehry Eslaminia, who performed in the DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere play Appoggiatura. Feb. 28-March 26 at The Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org

    Fun Home is finding a home on stages all over Colorado

    NUMBER 9The Book Handlers. Buntport Theater's newest original creation in its 17th season of original creations is a world-premiere comedy about a handy service that will make your books look read, even though they haven't been. Because, you know ... who reads anymore? This fun satire is inspired by a short story written by Brian O'Nolan. Feb. 23-March 17 at 717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    NUMBER 10A Kid Like Jake. Benchmark Theatre moves into its permanent new home at the former Edge Theatre with Daniel Pearle’s 2013 play that explores the conflict that grows between a married couple when it becomes plain their 4-year-old prefers Cinderella to GI Joe. Directed by Warren Sherrill. The Lakewood theatre has been renamed The Bench at 40W. Feb. 16-March 25 at 1560 Teller St., benchmarktheatre.com

    DCPA February listings
    Photo of 'American Mariachi' by Adams Viscom.

     

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

    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:

    Feb. 1-25: Cherry Creek Theatre's Respect: A Musical Journey of Women
    At the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., 303-800-6578 or cherrycreektheatre.org

    Feb. 1-4: UpstART's Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    604 Clinton St., Ridgway, 81432, 970-325-3501or http://www.upstartmoves.org

    Feb. 2-25: DCPA Theatre Company’s American Mariachi
    Stage Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Feb. 2-March 11: Vintage Theatre's Sleuth (with Lowry's Spotlight Theatre)
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Feb. 2-17: Longmont Theatre Company's Steel Magnolias
    513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    Seussical Ben Griffin and Melissa Morris. Matt Gale Photography 2018Feb. 2-May 25: Arvada Center Children's Theatre's Seussical
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    (Pictured at right: Ben Griffin and Melissa Morris. Matt Gale Photography 2018)

    Feb. 3-March 4: Bas Bleu Theatre's Waiting for the Parade
    401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org

    Feb. 3-March 3: Miners Alley Children's Theatre’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Feb. 8-25: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College’s Intimate Apparel
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Feb. 8-17: The Source Theatre Company’s Crying Wolf: Stories of the Lupus Warriors
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org

    Feb. 8-18: Millibo Art Theatre's Cake
    1626 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, themat.org

    Feb. 9-March 18: DCPA Theatre Company’s The Great Leap
    Ricketson Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Feb. 9-May 4: Arvada Center's The Electric Baby
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Feb. 9-25: 5280 Artists Co-op's Colorism
    At the Aurora Cultural Arts District Building, 1400 Dallas St., Aurora, 720-432-9162 or 5280ArtistCoop.com

    Feb. 9-11: National touring production of Shen Yun
    Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 888-316-4234 or shenyunperformingarts.org

    Feb. 9-Aug. 11: Iron Springs Chateau’s A Precious Bit of the West, or: She Was Simply a Delight!
    444 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs, 719-685-5104 or ironspringschateau.com

    Feb. 13-18: National touring production of STOMP
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Feb. 15-March 4, 2018: Springs Ensemble Theatre's The Totalitarians
    1903 E. Cache La Poudre St., Colorado Springs, 80909, 719-357-3080 or springsensembletheatre.org

    Feb. 15-March 11: Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Oklahoma
    At the Ent Center for the Arts, 5225 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    Feb. 16-March 25: Benchmark Theatre's A Kid Like Jake
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, benchmarktheatre.com

    Feb. 16-24: Theatrix USA's Call Me Mrs. Evers
    At the Lakewood Cultural/Heritage Center, theatrixdenver.com




    Feb. 17-25: DCPA Theatre Company’s Colorado New Play Summit
    Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Feb. 17-March 17: Firehouse Theatre's Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. 1st Place, 303-562-3232 or firehousetheatercompany.com  

    Feb. 22-March 4: Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Trouble in Tahiti
    At the Ent Center for the Arts, 5225 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    Feb. 22-March 10: Thunder River Theatre Company's The Price
    67 Promenade, Carbondale, 970-963-8200 or thunderrivertheatre.com

    Feb. 22-April 8: The BiTSY Stage’s Jotunheim: A Legend of Thor and His Hammer
    1137 S. Huron St., 720-328-5294 or bitsystage.com

    Feb. 23-March 17: Buntport Theater's The Book Handlers
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    Feb. 23-March 25: Town Hall Arts Center's Something’s Afoot
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    Feb. 23-March 18: Aurora Fox's Real Women Have Curves
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    Feb. 23-April 15: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's Kiss Me Kate
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Feb. 23-March 10: Coal Creek Theater of Louisville’s Becky Shaw
    Louisville Center for the Arts, 801 Grant St., 303-665-0955 or cctlouisville.org

    Feb. 23-March 3: Grapefruit Lab's JANE/EYRE
    The Bakery, 2132 Market St., eventbrite.com

    Company Evergreen Chorale Feb. 23-March 11: Evergreen Chorale's Company
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4002 or evergreenchorale.org

    Feb. 27-April 1: National touring production of Hamilton
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Feb. 28-March 26: Local Theater Company's Wisdom from Everything
    At The Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org

     

    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:

    Through Feb. 3: Lowry's Spotlight Theatre's Rumors
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    Through Feb. 3: Funky Little Theatre Company's The Bigot
    2109 Templeton Gap Road, Colorado Springs, 719-425-9509 or funkylittletheater.org

    Through Feb. 4: Town Hall Arts Center's Peter and the Starcatcher
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    Through Feb. 4: Theatrix USA's Kiss
    At Dobrin Studios, 931 Santa Fe Drive, theatrixdenver.com

    Through Feb. 10: Aurora Fox's Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    Through Feb 11: Inspire Creative's The Little Mermaid
    At the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker, 303-805-6800 or inspirecreative.org

    Through Feb. 11: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Building the Wall
    At the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, 460 Blue River Pkwy, Silverthorne,  970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org

    Through Feb. 11: StageDoor Theatre's The 39 Steps
    27357 Conifer Road, Conifer, 303-886-2819, 800-838-3006 or stagedoortheatre.org

    Through Feb. 14: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's Beauty and the Beast
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Through Feb. 17: OpenStage Theatre Company's The Crucible
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    Through Feb. 17: Breckenridge Backstage Theatre's Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits
    At  121 S. Ridge St. 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    Through Feb. 17: Equinox Theatre Company's Evil Dead: The Musical
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page

    Through Feb. 18: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Guards at the Taj
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or boulderensembletheatre.org

    Through Feb. 18: Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com READ MORE

    Through Feb. 18: BDT Stage's Motones vs. Jerseys
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com (Sundays only)

    Through Feb. 24: Curious Theatre's Detroit 67
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org READ MORE

    Through Feb. 24: BDT Stage's Annie
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Through Feb. 24: Avenue Theater's Comedy Sportz
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com READ MORE

    Through Feb. 25: DCPA Theatre Company’s Zoey’s Perfect Wedding
    Space Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    SophieDotsonAbigaleKochevarandSusannahMcLeod Fun Home. Photo by Sarah Roshan.Through March 4: Miners Alley Playhouse's Fun Home
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com READ MORE

    (Pictured: Susannah McLeod, Sophie Dotson and Abigail Kochevar. Photo by Sarah Roshan.)

    Through March 17: Midtown Arts Center's Fun Home
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, (970) 225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com READ MORE

    Through March 25: Midtown Arts Center's Always ... Patsy Cline
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Through April 22: DCPA Cabaret’s First Date
    Garner Galleria Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Through May 6: Arvada Center's Sense and Sensibility
    Studio Theatre, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

     

    ONGOING, MONTHLY or ONE-TIME PROGRAMMING:

    ADAMS MYSTERY PLAYHOUSE

    Sharon KayAURORA FOX ARTS CENTER

    • Feb. 16 and 18: True West Award-winning performer Sharon Kay White is the featured artist this month in the Aurora Fox's ongoing cabaret series in its studio theatre. In the shadow of Valentine’s Day, White weaves tales and music through a journey of love, loss, joy, heartbreak, relationships, realities and absurdities.

    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurora fox.org


    BUG THEATRE
    • Feb. 15: The Emerging Filmmakers Project, showcasing Denver's indie film scene on the third Thursday of every month. This month's program will honor local actress Stacy Farrar, who was murdered along with her son by her husband last May.
    • Feb. 26: Freak Train: Open-mic variety show hosted by GerRee Hinshaw on the final Monday of every month

    3654 Navajo St., 303-477-9984 or bugtheatre.info


    BUNTPORT THEATRE


    THE CATAMOUNTS
    • Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 10-11: FEED: Love (an theatrical examination of the journey from our youthful ideals of love, to the more hard-won truths of adulthood — served with a four-course meal and live music by Wes Watkins, formerly of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. 7 p.m.
    At VOCO Studios, 3700 Franklin St., Denver. feedlove.brownpapertickets.com


    Leonard BernsteinCOLORADO COLLEGE
    • Feb. 22-24: Leonard Bernstein at 100, a three-day symposium examining the  composer, conductor and performer as one of the most celebrated figures of the 20th century. Includes and interview with oldest daughter Jamie Bernstein and keynote address by a Bernstein scholar. Registration is limited to 450 attendees and is required by Feb. 15 to attend any events on the conference program.
    At Colorado College’s Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs


    DAIRY ARTS CENTER

    • Thursday, Feb. 8: Every discipline of the arts will be represented in a single evening at this fundraiser for the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder. With food stations, craft beverages, a live DJ and surprises. Performers include Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance with Spinphony, The work of Stacey Steers, Maya and Goddess Here Productions and comedian John "Hippieman" Novosad. 6 p.m.
    2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or thedairy.org

    DUMBANDDUMBER

    DENVER ACTORS FUND

    • Sunday, Feb. 18: Screening of the film Dumb and Dumber starring with live entertainment from Backstage Breckenridge Theatre's upcoming original party musical Totally Awesome '80s Ski Town USA. Entertainment 6:30 p.m.; film at 7

    At Alamo Drafthouse Sloan's Lake, 4255 W. Colfax Ave., drafthouse.com

    Bruce Montgomery 300EVERGREEN PLAYERS

    • Feb. 2 and 10: The Big B.M. (A one-man bio-comedy featuring Bruce Montgomery, pictured at right)

    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.org


    MILLIBO ART THEATRE
    • Feb. 3-4: The Dinosaur Show (for kids)
    1626 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, www.themat.org


    THEATRE MADE IN BOULDER FESTIVAL
    • Continuing through Feb. 10: Staged readings, low-tech productions and free public workshops from local artists. Featured production: How To Screw Up Your Life! by Ami Dayan
    • Feb. 4: Trans/Actions, by K. Woodzick and Ayla Sullivan
    • Feb. 4: What Happens in the Dark, by Kristofer Buxton
    • Feb. 11: Rooted, by Joy Barber
    • Feb. 11: Laura and Ibsen, by Susan Flakes
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or thedairy.org


    THEATREWORKS

    • Saturday, Feb. 3: Grand opening of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs’ Ent Center for the Arts, including dedication ceremonies and performances throughout the building, including  the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale, Theatreworks, UCCS Music Program and UCCS Theatre and Dance Program.
    Located off Austin Bluffs Parkway in Colorado Springs, uccs.edu/entgala


    PARKER ARTS

    • Saturday, Feb. 17: Comedy & Cocktails: Nancy Norton, an evening of stand-up comedy that marks the re-opening of the newly remodeled Schoolhouse Theater. 8 p.m.
    Schoolhouse Theater, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave.,, Parker, 303-805-6800 or parkerarts.org

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


    STORIES ON STAGE
    • Sunday, Feb. 11: Love & Marriage, 1:30 and 6:30 p.m.
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive,  303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org

    Stories on Stage has renowned actors bring stories to life by combining literature with theater. This month: “The Big Cat,” by Louise Erdrich, read by Timothy McCracken; “Madame Lazarus,” by Maile Meloy, read by Randy Moore; and “This is the Story of a Happy Marriage,” by Anne Patchett; read by Mare Trevathan

    VINTAGE THEATRE
    • Feb. 14: Same Time, Next Year (reading featuring Andrew and Kelly Uhlenhopp)
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com
  • Lester Ward retires: 'There were really no dark days'

    by John Moore | Feb 01, 2018

    Lester Ward Donald Seawell 2004
    The retiring Lester Ward, left, stood — literally — as Donald R. Seawell's right-hand man all the way back to the founding of the Denver Center in 1972. And before.


    The DCPA's modest former president and longest-serving trustee officially retired last month after 46 years of service

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    If the late Donald R. Seawell was the dapper, larger-than-life showman who commanded the spotlight for decades as the founder of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, attorney Lester Ward was more the genial and contented partner quietly applauding from the wings.

    But make no mistake, Seawell said in 2004: “Lester Ward has been an integral part of the DCPA since its inception.”

    Ward’s 46-year history with the DCPA is in many ways the history of the DCPA itself. And despite wild fluctuations in the economy and seemingly constant turmoil in the outside world, Ward now says with utter sincerity: “There were really no dark days" at the DCPA ... "because I thoroughly enjoyed every day I spent here.”

    Ward, 87, officially retired last month as the DCPA’s longest-serving board member, dating back to his appointment in 1986. Three years later, he was named the DCPA’s first-ever president and Chief Operating Officer — positions he held until his partial retirement in 2004.

    Lester Ward retired 2017. Photo by Julie Schumacher But Ward’s association with Seawell dates back to the mid-1960s, long before the famed theatre impresario dreamed up the 12-acre Denver Performing Arts Complex at the corner of 14th and Curtis streets on the back of a paper napkin. For decades, Ward stood in lockstep with Seawell as the newspaper magnate and confidant of prime ministers and Broadway stars grew the Denver Center for the Performing Arts into a world-class arts center out of what had been one of the sketchiest parts of downtown Denver.

    But Seawell’s vision was not universally shared by all of Denver. Not at first.

    “Don was rather amazed at the level of opposition there was,” Ward said. “And in fact, that was one of the reasons he wanted some help from me. But once Don decided on a course of action, that course of action was carried out, and carried out vigorously. And thank goodness. Just look what Don’s vision has meant for life in downtown Denver.”

    Audiences slowly came around. By 1998, the DCPA Theatre Company won the American Theatre Wing’s Tony Award as the nation’s Outstanding Regional Theatre. And so, two decades later, at Ward’s final board meeting on Dec. 5, DCPA Board Chairman Martin Semple and CEO Janice Sinden presented Ward with his own, personal replica of that award. 

    “It’s for Outstanding Performance as a Leader and Longstanding Supporter of the DCPA,” Semple said while presenting the award. (Photo above by Julie Schumaker.)

    Ward, Semple added, “was a key figure in the most glorious days of the DCPA and how it has developed over the years.”

    Ward, a modest Pueblo native, served Seawell as the DCPA’s attorney from its inception in 1972. They had met in 1965, when Ward was called in to help Denver Post editor Palmer Hoyt fight off a hostile takeover attempt. The newspaper’s longtime publisher at that time was heiress Helen Bonfils, and Seawell was her attorney and business partner until her death in 1972.

    “And then Don came up with the marvelous idea of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts,” Ward said.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Ward helped Seawell create the DCPA Theatre Company and open the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex in 1979. From there, he had a hand in every significant development in the Denver Center’s growth and evolution. In 1984, for example, Ward facilitated the conversion of Seawell’s American National Theatre and Academy in New York into the DCPA’s on-site National Theatre Conservatory, a three-year masters program that included an apprenticeship with the DCPA Theatre Company through 2012.

    “The DCPA had virtually no education program until Lester came on board,” Semple said of a division that has since grown to serve 106,000 students a year.

    Lester and Rosalind WardWard and Seawell were key players in the 1988 creation of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, a voter-approved penny retail tax on every $10 that today infuses more than $50 million a year into metro-area arts organizations.

    Calling Mr. President …

    Seawell created the title of DCPA President and Chief Operating Officer for Ward in 1989. The job called for Ward to be in charge of all financial and administrative oversight of the DCPA while Seawell took charge of policy, fundraising and artistic direction.

    At the time, Ward still was living with wife Rosalind (pictured above) in their native Pueblo, where he had been a partner in his own law firm for 31 years. But the timing for a move to Denver was perfect. “The youngest of our three children was graduating high school and we were going to be empty nesters. So we thought, 'You know what? That sounds like a most enjoyable second career,' ” said Ward, who was 57 at the time. “It was a major decision, but we have had no regrets. I have been the luckiest guy in the world, with two wonderful careers.”

    But little did Ward know then that his second career would occupy his next 29 years.

    (Story continues below the photo gallery)

    Photo gallery: Lester Ward through the years

    Lester Ward: A Look back

    Photos above from Lester Ward's 46 years with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Click anywhere on the image above to be taken to a full gallery. Photos from Ward's final board meeting on Dec. 5 by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Under Ward's presidency, the Denver Center’s annual budget has grown from $13 million to $57 million. Ward supervised the creation of the DCPA’s National Center for Voice and Speech and the building of the Seawell Ballroom in the early 1990s. He worked with the city to open the Buell Theatre in 1990 as a home for Broadway touring productions. The inaugural visit, from The Phantom of the Opera, drew audiences from 40 states.

    In 2000, Time Magazine listed DCPA Theatre Company world premieres of The Laramie Project and Tantalus as both among the 10 best theatre productions in the United States that year. Tantalus was an epic, 10-play co-production with the Royal Shakespeare Company that the Bonfils Foundation supported with about $12 million. “Nothing in the theater has come along like this in 2,500 years, and it probably won’t ever happen again,” he later said. RSC artistic director Adrian Noble called the collaboration “an extraordinary, landmark event in world culture.”

    In 2002, Ward helped the late DCPA Broadway Executive Director Randy Weeks land the launch of Disney’s The Lion King's first national tour for Denver.

    Robert Petkoff TantalusIn 2004, Seawell, who was then 92, and Ward, who was 75, decided to step down from their primary positions to make way for new blood. In Seawell’s case, that meant new CEO Daniel Ritchie — who was a spry, 73-year-old mountain climber. Ward was succeeded by Weeks, who died in 2014. Seawell and Ward both stayed on as board members, and in 2007, Ritchie persuaded Ward to become president of the Bonfils Foundation — a fund that began as Helen Bonfils' assets from owning The Denver Post and were used by Seawell to build the DCPA.

    But since 2001, the fund's investment portfolio has diminished from $82 million in cash, investments and real estate to about $35 million today, Ward said. That’s largely because in 1995, the Bonfils Foundation borrowed — and has since been repaying — $37 million in bonds and $13 million in interest to pay for building expansions and capital improvements. 

    Of all of Ward’s accomplishments, he said, the most lasting may be the least publicly known: As of December, the Bonfils Foundation — and by extension, the Denver Center — are now debt-free, he said.

    “I made the decision to step down in December because that was the month we paid off those bonds,” Ward said of the Foundation’s ongoing payments of between $1.5 million and $2 million per year.

    “I can say that the Denver Center is in terrific financial shape," Ward said, "and I am so excited for its future.”

    Regrets? He has a few: Seawell, Ward and Semple stood nearly alone when the board voted to close the National Center for Voice and Speech, and later, the National Theatre Conservatory, for financial reasons. “Those were programs that gave us national standing — and that meant something," Ward said.

    But Ward considers among his greatest accomplishments the gradual but now total demolition of the persistent cliché of Denver as being some sort of a cultural cowtown. Mostly because the agrarian in Ward believes the comparison to be an insult to cows.

    Lester Ward 400 FirstSCFDCheck“It’s absolutely a wrong perception to think that because you’re interested in livestock or agriculture or sports that you’re not also interested in theatre, dance or the symphony,” Ward said in a 1992 interview with the Intermountain Jewish News. “Colorado has an incredibly diverse array of lifestyles, and I think this community is as sophisticated as you will find anywhere in the country.”

    As he reflects on that matter today, Ward adds: “I think I am most proud of the way the Rocky Mountain community has adopted theatre into their lives. The theatre that we have both made here at the Denver Center and also presented from Broadway have absolutely made Denver a national focal point for theatre.”

    (Pictured right: Lester Ward with the very first Scientific and Cultural Facilities payout to the Denver Center, for nearly $500,000 in 1989.)

    ‘Denver is now the greatest city …’

    Ward is stepping back for a final time, he says with a laugh, during a period of continuing change at the Denver Center. Within the past two years, the executive team has added a new CEO (Janice Sinden), Board President (Martin Semple) Vice President of Technology (Yovani Pina), Theatre Company Artistic Director (Chris Coleman), Vice President of Marketing (Lisa Mallory) and is currently searching for a Director of Development. But Ward sees nothing but blue skies — and high-quality theatre — ahead.

    “I absolutely feel things are going in the right direction,” said Ward, who calls Sinden “a breath of fresh air” as CEO and says Coleman will be a “top-notch” Artistic Director.

    Like Ward, Semple has been around since the very beginning of the DCPA, and Semple was in the room when Seawell introduced Ward as president back in 1989.

    “Don Seawell described Lester that day as the most intelligent, the most conscientious and the most civic-minded person he knew,” Semple said. “We believe that, because we have seen that.”

    At the final board meeting last month, DCPA trustees voted to designate both Ward and Margot Frank, who also is retiring after 17 years of service, as honorary trustees. The motion passed unanimously. Attorney Robert Slosky pointed out that Frank’s license plate is a shortened version of the word FUNDRAISER. “The T is silent,” Slosky said, “but Margot is not.”

    Ward is feeling good about stepping aside now. “I am just as pleased as I can be,” he said. “Denver is now the greatest city in the country in my opinion, and it has been a privilege for me to be involved with that.” 

    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.

     

    Lester Ward: Four favorites

    MAMMA MIA! North American Tour 2015 by Joan MarcusFor all of his attention to the bottom line, former DCPA President Lester Ward is quick to point out that the sole purpose for the DCPA’s existence is “to make people aware of what a wonderful force live theatre is in our lives. How it helps people to see the world and understand issues of every kind.” To that end, we asked Ward to name four personal favorite Denver Center offerings over the years:

    • St. Joan, Theatre Company, 1989
    • Wit, Theatre Company, 2001
    • Julius Caesar, Theatre Company, 1992
    • Mamma Mia (six Denver stops between 2003-17, pictured at right)


    Lester Ward: Highlights

    • Hometown: Pueblo
    • Graduated from Pueblo Central High School, Harvard College and Harvard Law School
    • Wife: Rosalind, 53 years
    • Children: Ann Marie, Alison Kay and Lester III. Four grandchildren. Niece Elizabeth Ward Land is a Broadway actor, most recently in Amazing Grace
    • Served in the U.S. Army, 1955-57
    • Partner at the private law firm of Predovich, Ward and Banner, 1957-89
    • Named Outstanding Young Man of 1964 by the Pueblo Jaycees
    • Appointed by Governor Dick Lamm to serve on the Colorado Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, 1975
    • President of the Colorado Bar Association, 1983-84
    • Named to the DCPA Board of Trustees, 1986
    • Named President and Chief Operating Officer of the DCPA on July 1, 1989
    • Chair of the Performing Arts Center Consortium, consisting of 27 major performing-arts centers in the U.S., Canada and Australia, 2001-02
    • President of the Helen G. Bonfils Foundation, 2007-16
    • Boards and charities including: Pueblo Kiwanis Club, Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center, Pueblo Public Library, St. Mary Corwin Hospital, Thatcher Foundation, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Colorado Lawyers for the Arts
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ABOUT THE EDITOR
John Moore
John Moore
Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

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