• Photos: Rehearsals begin for Denver launch of 'Frozen'

    by John Moore | Jun 20, 2017
    Frozen

    Rehearsals began on Monday for Disney Theatrical Productions' new Broadway musical Frozen, the new stage adaptation of the popular animated film that plays its out-of-town tryout at Denver's  Buell Theatre from  Aug. 17-Oct. 1 before joining Disney hits Aladdin and The Lion King on Broadway in spring 2018 at the St. James Theatre.

    To see more photos, hit the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by Jenny Anderson for Disney Theatrical Productions.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Frozen. Caissie Levy. Patti Murin. Photo by Jenny Anderson
    Caissie Levy, left, and Patti Murin at the first rehearsal for 'Frozen.' Photo by Jenny Anderson.


    Frozen
    : At a glance

    From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours.

    Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    Aug. 17-Oct. 1
    Buell Theatre
    Sales to groups of 10 or more here

    BUY NOW

    Ticket information for Denver:
    Single tickets for the pre-Broadway engagement of Frozen are on sale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Casting completed for Denver launch of Frozen
    Denver Frozen tickets go on sale May 1
    Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    Denver dates for Frozen announced
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen
  • Denver-bound Wolfe and Kantor on five years of 'The Last Five Years'

    by John Moore | May 17, 2017
    The Last Five Years

    Broadway stars Betsy Wolfe and Adam Kantor will perform the acclaimed musical 'The Last Five Years' as a special one-night concert in the Seawell Ballroom on May 22.


    Betsy Wolfe and Adam Kantor talk about how a failed love can still produce smarter, stronger, better people  

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Adam Kantor and Betsy Wolfe have now known each other for the last five years. And in that time the couple have been married and divorced, backward and forward. Dozens of times, in fact.

    The rising Broadway stars have made extraordinary extracurricular careers out of performing The Last Five Years, Jason Robert Brown’s celebrated and most unusual 2001 musical rumination on his first, failed marriage.

    The show uses an innovative form of storytelling in which the man sings his version of the story in chronological order, while the woman tells hers in reverse order. So the two stories only briefly intersect for their wedding, right in the middle.

    Last Five Years squareIt was a completely unexpected musical for its time, and instantly praised as a modern classic. And in 2013, Kantor and Wolfe breathed new life into the tale when they starred in a record-breaking off-Broadway revival directed by Brown himself. Since then, Kantor and Wolfe have met up for nearly a dozen one-night stands around the country performing a special, stripped-down concert version of the musical. This coming Monday (May 22), the pair will revisit the marriage of Cathy and Jamie in the Denver Center’s Seawell Grand Ballroom.

    “We’re always joking to each other: How many more years do you think we can get away with this before we have to make Jason write The Next Five Years?” said Wolfe, who was talking with the DCPA NewsCenter on a very big day in her life: Her first day of rehearsal in preparation for taking on the lead role in Broadway’s Waitress on June 13.

    Because the two actors essentially take turns singing songs, The Last Five Years is one musical where you might think their chemistry as a couple is not all that essential to the production. But Kantor and Wolfe exude magnetism, even from afar.

    Adam Kantor Quote“We've been best friends now for five years,” said Wolfe. “So not only have we been doing this show together, we have experienced some significant real-life ups and downs together. And I think that just further enriches what we do onstage. After all we have been through, I can't imagine going through this experience with anyone else.”

    Kantor, who recently appeared in a landmark Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof as Motel, says Wolfe has similarly upped his stage game. “She has made me a better actor and a better performer and a better person,” he said.

    Ironically, Kantor says, one of the most common comments the couple receives from audiences has to do with their stage mojo. “When we performed the full production in New York, we were onstage together for a grand total of maybe five minutes,” he said.

    So how can two people communicate that kind of chemistry when they hardly ever interact? “I think it is because the way we rehearsed it,” Kantor said.

    In preparation for off-Broadway, the actors had the unusual opportunity to be directed by the man who wrote the music. Rather than rehearse the two alone, Jason Robert Brown had the actors sing to each other. Even though one actor was always silent, they were reacting to one another. They were playing off each other's energy. So when it came time for the actors to take to the stage and sing alone, they were now essentially playing opposite a real memory. As all of us must do when thinking back on a failed love.

    “I tell you, we each both felt the presence of the other,” Kantor said. “The moments I was performing alone onstage were still very much based on the reactions Betsy gave me in rehearsal. So it's almost like we were playing with the ghost of the other, in a weird way. And the audience feels that energy.”

    Part of the fun in now presenting the story as a concert is that the actors don’t have to disappear from the stage when they aren’t singing. They can just take step back and watch what they never got to see in full performance: They other actor performing.

    “What’s funny is that the staged version is in so many ways, just a slightly enhanced version of a concert anyway, because we are singers take turns,” said Wolfe. “The stage production fills in some of the obvious visual blanks. You know where we are in the story, for example: We are in a bookstore. You can see that. What I personally love about the concert version - and why I actually think it's even more successful at times than the staged production - is that it allows the audience to fill in the blanks for themselves. It's not so black and white. This story is all about the grey areas of a relationship. And not having the sets, the lights or the costumes allows you to go deeper into the relationship."

    (Story continues below the video.)

    Video: Listen to Betsy Wolfe sing 'A Summer in Ohio'




    Kantor feels it, too. “I do think there is something energetically unique about having the two of us onstage throughout the concert, versus in the full production,” he said. “There is more of an awareness of the presence of the other. In concert, we are able to play with each other a little bit more in the moments when Cathy and Jamey might actually be together onstage.”

    One reason The Last Five Years’ enduring success is still somewhat surprising is that audiences go into it, even on first viewing, knowing the end of the story. So why should we care about a couple that we know from the start isn’t going to make it?

    “It’s true,” Kantor said, “Cathy and Jamie are two people who fundamentally weren't meant to be in a forever relationship. There is a crack in the foundation, and I think that just makes it all the more tragic. Because despite that, I do believe they made each other better people. They made each other smarter and stronger. I think that’s why it’s so relatable. How many of us have been in a relationship that was filled with love, that was filled with dreams of perfection and infinity, but didn't come to fruition the way we thought it would?”

    Which leaves only one big and oft-debated question over these last 15 years of The Last Five Years: Why Brown decided to tell his story with the two narrators swinging from two opposing pendulums of time.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “Audiences might look at that as courageous and unconventional,” said Wolfe. “But if you ask Jason, he will tell you that it was the only way that it could be done.”  

    Betsy Wolfe QuoteKantor thinks Brown’s approach gets at something essential about the way we experience time. “Whenever you are looking at a memory,” he said, “there are so many angles in. Here, he is giving us two ways in.”

    In their initial rehearsals, when Wolfe and Kantor were first exploring these fated characters, they both thought it would be a bright idea to rehearse the story in chronological order, just to see how that felt. Brown just smiled. When The Last Five Years bowed off-Broadway back in 2002, stars Norbert Leo Butz and Sherie Rene Scott also thought that might be a useful exercise.

    “But it was completely unhelpful,” Wolfe said. “Because when you look back at a relationship and it comes across as, 'OK, well this happened, and then this happened,' then it's just the blame game. If you see what each person is feeling at the same time, I think it's too easy to pick sides. Better to explore the relationship as a big picture instead of with a magnifying glass. You just can't tell this story any other way.”

    Wolfe says these special one-off concerts tend to draw first-timers and 50-timers alike. But she’s not sure how many years The Last Five Years has left.

    Adam and I are very proud of our history with this show,” said Wolfe. “I like to think we are giving you a show that will make aficionados proud and will make huge new fans of this show as well. But I don't know how many more times we'll get to do it. Our schedules have gotten busier. At some point, the time will come to say, ‘OK, I think we're good.' One of the biggest compliments we get is when people say, ‘I knew I should have gone, and I am devastated that I missed it.’ ”

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

      

    The Last Five Years in concert starring Adam Kantor and Betsy Wolfe

    Last Five Years Kantor WolfeAbout the show: Adam Kantor (Fiddler of the Roof, RENT and Next to Normal on Broadway, Avenue Q off Broadway) and Betsy Wolfe (Falsettos, Bullets Over Broadway and The Mystery of Edwin Drood on Broadway) star in The Last Five Years in Concert. This intimate musical by Jason Robert Brown (Parade, Songs for a New World, Honeymoon in Vegas, The Bridges of Madison County) chronicles the five-year relationship between two New Yorkers, struggling actress Cathy and promising writer Jamie, from their first meeting to their last goodbye. The Last Five Years is a powerful and personal look at marriage told from both points of view – Jamie’s story begins at the first meeting and follows through to the couple’s ultimate breakup, while Cathy relates the story in reverse, from falling out of love back to the first spark of romance. This innovative storytelling structure makes for a show nearly entirely comprised of solo songs, with the actors meeting just once in the middle of the show in a duet.
    • May 22
    • Seawell Grand Ballroom
    • Tickets start at $45
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – online at DenverCenter.Org – is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for The Last Five Years in Denver. Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the Denver Center for the Performing Arts News Center.


    Video: A message to Denver from Adam Kantor and Betsy Wolfe


    Interview bonus: More with Adam Kantor and Betsy Wolfe

    John Moore: I have to ask you about some of you your other projects: Betsy, you appeared in The Mystery of Edwin Drood opposite Chita Rivera.

    Betsy Wolfe: Every night. I had played Princess Puffer in a college production. So when I first got called in for the Broadway Edwin Drood, silly me, I just assumed, 'Oh, they want to see me for Princess Puffer.” And they are like, “No, Betsy. Chita Rivera is playing Princess Puffer.” And I thought, “Oh yeah, - that's right. I'm in the real world now.” So I played Rosa Bud and Miss Deirdre Peregrine. And that was pretty thrilling. Every night, Chita sang the second-to-last song, and she sang it right to me. She’s reminiscing about her life and how some things went right and some things went wrong. And of course as much as I am trying to be 100 percent in character, I am sitting there going, "Chita Rivera is singing to me at 80 years old about her life.” I'll never forget it. It's ingrained in my memory.

    John Moore: And Adam, you just appeared in a wildly received production of Fiddler on the Roof.

    Adam Kantor: Yes. Fiddler on the Roof was the first show that I ever did, when I was in 6th grade. That was a school production. I played Mendel, the Rabbi's son. And then two years later, in 8th grade, I played Tevye. That was community theatre. So the show lives in my bones and in my blood on multiple levels. Going deeper, I am a descendant of Jewish immigrants. To do some prep for the show, I did a big trip through Eastern Europe and traced my ancestry. The whole journey from my preparation through this really gorgeous production really was like an excavation of the soul. I learned a lot about myself, and my roots. I just loved doing it. I am really grateful for it.

    John Moore: And Betsy, next you will be taking over the lead role in Waitress on Broadway. The national tour comes to Denver in December. What are we in for?

    Betsy Wolfe WaitressBetsy Wolfe: I'll say this - and you can't say this about all shows: It is pure joy from start to finish. And I mean joy in every sense of the word. It's joyous to watch this woman who is so broken find her footing, because we are all that person in a way. And so few females are written like this now, where we get to see them have this incredible journey. It's a huge gift to get to play this role, in same way that The Last Five Years is a gift. It's also just funny. I remember seeing one of the first preview performances as an audience member, and my stomach hurt because I was laughing so hard. These characters are outrageous and yet … they are us. There is a part of them in everyone. You can't leave this show without feeling better about decisions you have made. And the music is incredible. Sara Bareilles has written one of the most incredible scores I’ve ever heard.

    (Photo above: Betsy Wolfe and writer and actor Sara Bareilles recently appeared together on 'Good Morning America.') 

  • Dear Evan Hansen, You will be found ... in Denver

    by John Moore | May 16, 2017
    Dear-Evan-Hansen-You-Will-Be-Found-4645-Photo-Credit-Matthew-Murphy 800Director Michael Greif says 'Dear Evan Hansen' 'is going to give people the opportunity to talk about some really important and healing things.' Photo by Matthew Murphy

    The Denver Center will launch the acclaimed
    new musical’s first national tour in October 2018

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Dear Evan Hansen, one of the most celebrated musicals of the current Broadway season, will launch its first national touring production in Denver in October 2018, it was just announced, continuing a trend that has recently included Denver premieres of If/Then, Pippin and The Book of Mormon.

    Dear Evan Hansen, which is nominated for nine Tony Awards including Best Musical, is the story of a lonely boy who perpetuates a lie that earns him Internet fame. Director Michael Greif, who also helmed the groundbreaking musicals Rent and Next to Normal, says Dear Evan Hansen “is a cathartic story about a kid who comes to love himself. And it's about a grieving family that gets healed.”

    And Greif could not be happier that the show’s hopeful message will be going out into the heartland, starting in Denver.

    Michael Greif quote“This show has such a beautiful and generous and important message,” Greif said in an exclusive interview with the DCPA NewsCenter. “I am thrilled that the universal appeal of this story is going to continue to touch and move people throughout the country. It’s going to give people the opportunity to talk about some really important and healing things, and I can’t wait to share that with as many people as possible.”

    Dear Evan Hansen, which will open DCPA Broadway’s 2018-19 season in the Buell Theatre, was greeted by overwhelming critical and box-office success when it opened in December. The New York Times called it “a gorgeous heartbreaker of a musical for anyone with a beating heart.” The Washington Post called it historic.

    The plot turns when a misunderstanding over a teenager’s death inadvertently turns Evan into a social-media celebrity. Greif says he knew the unlikely story would work on a Broadway stage before he even finished reading the earliest draft of Obie Award-winner Steven Levenson’s script. The score is written by the songwriting team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who just won Academy Awards for La La Land.

    “I knew right away - which I don't often say, and I don't often believe,” said Greif. “As soon as I got to talk to these three brilliant writers, I knew that this was a very special project. I knew it because of the incredible, complicated way they were going at this material. I just think it's so smart and beautifully crafted. I love it because the real theme of the play is not lying or fabrication - it's actually generosity."

    The score is built around a celebrated anthem called “You Will Be Found.” And as was the case when he directed Rent and Next to Normal, Grief is being reminded nightly of live theatre’s power to save lives.

    “It’s really unbelievable what we are hearing from kids and from parents and from families in crisis,” Greif said. “They are telling us that they are seen. They are telling us that things they didn't feel they could talk about – yes, they can talk about them. They are telling us that the redemption and the catharsis and the forgiveness in Dear Evan Hansen is helping them to get through whatever they are going through, and to forgive and to accept themselves.

    “Evan coming to terms with himself in our story is a proxy for our audiences being able to come to terms with their own issues."

    Listen to the anthem 'You Will Be Found'

    The Associate Director of Dear Evan Hansen is Adrienne Campbell-Holt, who last year directed the world premiere of the DCPA Theatre Company’s The Nest, by Theresa Rebeck. The producer is Stacey Mindich.

    DEH-Mike-Faist-Ben-Platt-0104-Photo-Credit-Matthew-Murphy 800The original Broadway cast recording of Dear Evan Hansen was released on Atlantic Records in February 2017 with the highest Billboard Chart debut of any cast recording in the past 50 years. 

    This is just the latest coup for Denver, which is quickly rising among the country's elite touring cities.

    “I am thrilled and honored the Dear Evan Hansen team has chosen Denver for their upcoming tour launch," said John Ekeberg, Executive Director for DCPA Broadway. "Bringing new voices and artistically powerful work to the stage is a primary goal of the DCPA, and this compelling new musical embodies all of these qualities and more.” 

    Information regarding on-sale dates and tickets will be announced at a later time. To sign up to receive alerts, click here or visit DearEvanHansen.com. Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – will be the only authorized ticket provider for Dear Evan Hansen tickets in Denver.

    (Pictured above and right: Mike Faist, left, and Ben Platt from the original Broadway company of 'Dear Evan Hansen.' Photo by Matthew Murphy.)

    Here's more from John Moore’s interview with Michael Greif:

    John Moore: Do you think we've ever seen a protagonist quite like Evan Hansen in a Broadway musical before?

    Michael Greif: When I first met this play and started to get to know it, it felt like we were doing the Natalie and Henry story from Next to Normal. It was really profound for me to be able to think, ‘Oh, what's so wonderful here is that the focus has shifted, and this here is a musical about Henry.’

    John Moore: I think with the advent of social media, we have created a generation of teenagers who are both more connected and more isolated than ever before. Now that you have been through this experience, what do you think are the pros and cons of growing up in the world of today’s social media?

    Justin Paul, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek - Photo Credit Jenny Anderson 800Michael Greif: I have a 22-year-old and an 18-year-old, so I have really watched it through the eyes of a parent, which has been very helpful in developing this musical with these three fantastic writers. What's remarkable about our story is how organically the role of social media informs both plot and characters. This particular story could only take place because the mechanism of Evan's fame is so credible to us in this moment. The germ of Benj's original idea had to do with how one high-school kid's identity changes through the various things that people say about him on social media. From the very beginning, the interaction of a very domestic plot in relation to access to the bigger world has always been a really, really important part of this musical. Like everything, my thoughts about social media relate to monitoring and understanding. It would be backward and conservative and wrong for me to say that it's not wonderful to be able to be in touch with the world the way social media allows us today. It's spectacular to have that kind of access to the rest of the world.

    (Pictured above, from left: 'Dear Evan Hansen' writers Justin Paul, Steven Levenson and Benj Pasek. Photo by Jenny Anderson.)

    John Moore: Why are you particularly attracted to the kind of theatre like Rent, Next to Normal and Dear Evan Hansen that can have such a profound impaMichael Greif quotect on the lives of their audiences, as opposed to the safer escapism of other musicals? 

    Michael Greif: I think everyone is attracted to great stories. I am really fortunate that I have some sort of a track record, so that I actually get the opportunities to work on these kinds of projects. The opportunity to recognize yourself, or someone you know, or some of the pain or struggles that you feel or have felt, in someone else’s acting, is both powerful and profound. And I think all three of those terrific musicals you mentioned share that. All three have incredible music and compelling characters and great stories. But what I think Dear Evan Hansen has that Next to Normal and Rent do not is an extraordinary duality. You are able to completely give your heart over to Evan and to the grieving Murphy family. And at the same time, your mind is racing because there is this whole other level of mistrust about the whole thing. So while your heart is feeling one thing, your head is feeling another. I think that’s just remarkable.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: Are you watching 13 Reasons Why, which also addresses similar issues?

    Michael Greif: Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal, If/Then) wrote that, and so I am very interested in it, but I have not yet had the opportunity to watch it. I have a great regard for Brian Yorkey, as you know, and I am excited to be able to dive into that series when I have a little more time.

    John Moore: Speaking of If/Then, which also began its national tour in Denver, what are your thoughts about Denver as the launch pad for Broadway touring productions?

    Michael Greif: I am looking forward to spending time in Denver again because I had such a wonderful time there with If/Then. It's a great walking town, and that is fantastic for me. The audiences are open and interested and interesting, so I think Denver is a wonderful place to launch it.

    John Moore: Several years ago, producer David Stone told me it was the encouragement he got from late Denver Center Broadway President Randy Weeks that even got him thinking that a national touring production of Next to Normal might work.

    Video: Watch the NBC News report on Dear Evan Hansen

    Michael Greif: I know that there was the concern about touring that show. I feel so happy about the great success of that tour. I think the Fun Home tour also tells us that these are great stories and people around the country are hungry for them. I think it's wonderful when you can really integrate the play-going and the musical-going audiences. I don't think they should be two different kinds of audiences. I always love it when people who say, 'I generally prefer plays,' get so much out of musicals like Dear Evan Hansen and Rent and Next to Normal.

    John Moore: Speaking of Rent, the 20th anniversary tour is also coming to Denver, in November. After two decades, do you feel this is now a nostalgia piece for the original fans, or can Rent still be a musical for the Dear Evan Hansen generation?

    Michael Greif: It's certainly a wonderful opportunity for a new generation of people who love Dear Evan Hansen to see an ancestor. I think Rent remains profound because it's a musical about a group of people who learn to take care of one another.  And they have seen both the cost and the reward of taking care of one another.


    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.


    Video: Dear Evan Hansen:



    Ben Platt and Laura Dreyfuss from the original Broadway company perform 'Waving Through a Window' on 'Late Night with Seth Meyers.'

    Dear Evan Hansen: Denver information

    UntitledOctober 2018
    • The Buell Theatre
    • Tickets: An on-sale date will be announced at a later time. For more information, 303-893-4100 or sign up for EMAIL ALERTS
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    • ASL, Audio-Described and Open-Captioned performance 2 p.m. June 11

    Dear Evan Hansen: Creative team

    • Book by Steven Levenson
    • Score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

    • Directed by Michael Greif
    • Music direction by Ben Cohn
    • Choreography by Danny Mefford
    • Scenic design by David Korins
    • Lighting design by Japhy Weideman
    • Costume design by Emily Rebholz
    • Sound design by Nevin Steinberg
    • Projection design by Peter Nigrini
    • Hair design by David Brian Brown
    • Music supervision, orchestrations and additional arrangements by Alex Lacamoire
    •Vocal arrangements and additional arrangements by Justin Paul




  • Video: A message from Betsy Wolfe and Adam Kantor

    by John Moore | May 08, 2017



    DCPA Broadway will present a concert version of Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years starring Adam Kantor (Fiddler on the Roof, Rent, Next to Normal) and Betsy Wolfe (Falsettos, Bullets Over Broadway, The Mystery of Edwin Drood). The video above is a personal message from the stars, who come to the Seawell Grand Ballroom on May 22.

    The Last Five Years traces the five-year relationship between two New Yorkers from their first meeting to their last goodbye. It's a personal look at marriage told from both points of view – Jamie’s story begins at the first meeting and follows through to the couple’s ultimate breakup, while Cathy relates the story in reverse, from falling out of love back to the first spark of romance.

    This innovative storytelling structure makes for a show nearly entirely comprised of solo songs, with the actors meeting just once in the middle of the show in a duet.

    The Last Five Years in concert starring Adam Kantor and Betsy Wolfe

    Last Five Years Kantor WolfeMay 22
    Seawell Grand Ballroom
    Tickets start at $45
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Ticket information
    Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – online at DenverCenter.Org – is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for these productions in Denver. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party should be aware that the DCPA is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and is unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance.

    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the Denver Center for the Performing Arts News Center.

  • 'Frozen' tickets: Don't get scammed on Monday

    by John Moore | Apr 27, 2017

    John Ekeberg. Frozen


    Here's how to freeze out the third-party price-gougers
    when Frozen tickets go on sale to the public May 1

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Yovani PinaAnyone who has attended a Denver Broncos game and passed dozens of ticket scalpers outside Mile High Stadium hawking tickets at well above face value knows that re-selling sports and entertainment tickets is big business. But how big? according to Northcoast Research, it's a $5 billion annual industry.  

    "This is a worldwide problem," said John Ekeberg, Executive Director of DCPA Broadway. At the Denver Center, "the more popular the show is, the bigger the problem."

    And shows don't get much bigger than Disney's highly anticipated pre-Broadway engagement of Frozen in Denver. With tickets going on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, this is both "buyer beware" and "buyer be aware" time for all potential consumers.

    "We have safeguards in place to try to keep tickets in the hands of those people who actually want to attend our performances," said Yovani Pina, DCPA Associate Vice President of Technology. But he and his team are in a constant race against technological advances that help the secondary brokers get their hands on tickets they procure solely to re-sell for big profits.

    Here are some tips to keep you from being scammed on Frozen tickets, and how you can make your purchasing experience go as smoothly as possible on Monday:

     7 tips to keep you from being scammed on Frozen tickets

    NUMBER 1The Denver Center's web site at DenverCenter.Org is the only authorized online ticket provider for Frozen. Do not buy from any other online source. You will pay more on any other site. Look for the Denver Center logo at the top of the page. Make certain that you see "denvercenter.org" in your URL. Don't be fooled by sites with URLs that might even include official-looking words like "buelltheatre" in the web address. It's all a ploy to make you believe you are buying from an official site, when you aren't. Bottom line: On Monday, just remember "DenverCenter.Org."



    NUMBER 2When you buy tickets from the official seller, such as DenverCenter.Org, you are assigned an exact section, row and seat number – and your place is guaranteed. (See below.) A broker might only be able to give you a general sense of where you might be seated. If your ticketing outlet does not issue you an exact section, row and seat number, then you are dealing with a broker – and your seat is not guaranteed. 

    YovaniAny legitimate ticket purchased from the Denver Center tells you your exact seat, as shown above. Oftentimes brokers can't do that - because they don't have their hands on any tickets yet.


    NUMBER 3Frozen tickets start at $25, and the top regular ticket price, as of May 1, will be $115 (plus fees). So if any seller asks you for more than $115 (plus fees), something is probably wrong.

    DCPA's Yovani Pina talks tickets tips with 9News' Jeremy Jojola


    NUMBER 4For this show only, the Denver Center will only be mailing tickets directly to patrons. "Print at Home" will not be a ticketing option for Frozen - purely as a safeguard to cut down on potential fraud. So if any seller wants to email you tickets as a PDF to download, print and take to the theatre, know that it's a fake.



    NUMBER 5If you plan to buy tickets to Frozen online on Monday, here's a helpful tip: Create your DCPA ticket-buying account today, so that your buying experience goes more quickly on the big day. Here's where to do it.



    NUMBER 6If you already have a DCPA ticket-buying account, know your password. Test it today so that, if necessary, you can change or verify it now so you won't have any trouble purchasing tickets quickly on Monday.



    NUMBER 7Don't assume a lack of ticket availability. Even though Frozen is expected to be a high-demand show, "We are going to have a lot of tickets to sell on denvercenter.org," DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg says. "People should not just assume that if they miss the first day sales that they are going to have to buy off the secondary market. Try DenverCenter.Org first." 



    The problem explained in greater detail:
    How much difference does it make where you buy your Frozen tickets? Consider that  third-party online ticket brokers already are offering tickets to Frozen for more than $500 - more than four times the highest face value - and they don't even have their hands on any tickets yet, because individual seats do not go on sale to the public until Monday.

    One online broker already is offering tickets to Hamilton in Denver in 2018 - another show that has not gone on-sale yet - for an astonishing $3,030 a seat. Potential customers searching the web today for tickets to either of those hot shows might encounter similarly outrageous prices and think the Denver Center is gouging them - only it isn't the Denver Center that is doing the gouging.

    Wait: Isn't ticket scalping illegal in Denver?
    On the federal level, there is no law criminalizing the re-sale of tickets above face value. Ticket scalping is illegal in the City and County of Denver - which includes some parts of Littleton, Westminster and Aurora. In some surrounding counties, the practice is legal, for now. It is important to remember though, that even if you purchase a ticket at an inflated price from an internet broker, you are not allowed to re-sell that ticket for higher than the value written on the ticket in Denver.

    How can brokers sell tickets they don't have?
    So how do these brazen broker sites put tickets on sale before they even have them in hand? "Essentially they are making promises to their buyers in the certainty that, one way or another, they will get their hands on enough tickets to satisfy their demand," Ekeberg said. Bottom line, said Pina: They are gambling. And they are betting the house.

    So how do brokers get their hands on real tickets to sell?
    Ticket brokers employ "bots" that can access legit online ticket providers such as DenverCenter.Org and TicketMaster.Com. "Bots" are programmed to mimic an actual human user like you, using a program that can zip through the ticket-buying process much more quickly than you can. The DCPA has safeguards in place to weed these "bots" out. One powerful "anti-bot" tool is CAPTCHA, which has largely rendered "bot" software ineffective. But brokers are responding by hiring hundreds of actual humans to man server banks whenever high-demand tickets go onsale. The DCPA attempts to minimize the success of these planted broker-buyers by limiting every sale to eight tickets per account. Another safeguard: The Denver Center does not allow a single credit-card to be used from multiple computers. Still, Ekeberg acknowledges, the brokers will successfully amass an inventory of tickets. Just how many, though, is not currenty measureable.

    Now that they have their tickets, how do they fool you into buying them?
    Frozen screengrabThird-party ticket-sellers set out to fool you into thinking you are buying from an official website when you aren't. One of the most common mistakes buyers make, Pina said, is trusting a Google search to send them to the right place. For example, if you search "Frozen tickets Denver," the first two options you will see are actually paid ads from third-party ticket brokers. The official denvercenter.org outlet comes up fifth. (See the example above and right.)

    "Most folks hear about a show like Frozen on TV or the radio, and they go to Google to buy," Pina said. "But most consumers aren't trained to notice that the first few options are paid advertisements. Take a second to look at your screen. These are sites that pay big money to look like the Denver Center when they are not. And if you click one of the wrong sites, you are going to find a ticket broker who is selling a $70 ticket for $500."

    What to do? Those who start at denvercenter.org will not have a problem. But those using Google should scroll down and see the Denver Center option. Denvercenter.org is the only place you can buy tickets at face value.

    If the tickets are real, does it really matter who I buy from?
    Beyond the obvious price inflation, consider this: The Denver Center communicates essential information to its customers before and after every performance. If you purchase tickets from a broker or any third party, you aren't in the Denver Center database. So the Denver Center cannot, for example, re-print or replace your lost or stolen tickets. It is also has no way to contact you about time changes, weather alerts, parking or other news.

     

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Frozen: At a glance:
    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours.

    Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    Aug. 17 through Oct. 1, 2017
    Buell Theatre
    Sales to groups of 10 or more here

    MORE INFO

    Ticket information for Denver:
    Single tickets for the pre-Broadway engagement of Frozen will go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, May 1. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Denver Frozen tickets go on sale May 1
    Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    Denver dates for Frozen announced
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen


    'Frozen' principal casting. Top row, from left: Caissie Levy, Patti Murin and Jelani Alladin.
    Bottom row, from left: Greg Hildreth, John Riddle and Robert Creighton.

  • Principal casting for 'Frozen': Caissie Levy to star as Elsa

    by John Moore | Apr 17, 2017


    Top row, from left: Caissie Levy, Patti Murin and Jelani Alladin.
    Bottom row, from left: Greg Hildreth, John Riddle and Robert Creighton.

     

    Single tickets to the pre-Broadway engagement in Denver opening in August go on sale May 1.

    Caissie Levy will star as Elsa and Patti Murin will star as Anna in Disney’s new Broadway musical Frozen, opening at the St. James Theatre in spring 2018. Also joining the principal cast are Jelani Alladin as Kristoff, Greg Hildreth as Olaf, John Riddle as Hans and Robert Creighton as Duke of Weselton.

    Frozen plays its out-of-town tryout at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Aug. 17-Oct. 1. Single tickets for performances in Denver go on sale at 10 a.m. May 1. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account. To sign up for email alerts about the Denver engagement, go to Denvercenter.org/Frozen.

    Tickets for Broadway performances will go on sale later this year. Visit FrozenTheMusical.com to sign up for Broadway ticket announcements and other news.

    Levy, who has starred on Broadway in Ghost, Wicked and the 2014 revival of Les Misérables, will create the role of Elsa, a young woman wrestling with powers beyond her comprehension or control. Murin, seen in the original Broadway productions of Lysistrata Jones and Xanadu, will star as her younger sister Anna, trying to reconnect with the person once closest to her. The two women are joined by Jelani Alladin in his Broadway debut as Kristoff, Greg Hildreth (Peter and the Starcatcher, Cinderella, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) as Olaf, John Riddle (The Visit’s Young Anton) as Hans and Robert Creighton (The Little Mermaid, Anything Goes, Off-Broadway’s Cagney) as Duke of Weselton.

    Additional principal and ensemble casting will be announced soon.

    Tony Award winner Rob Ashford has joined Frozen’s creative team as choreographer. One of the busiest director-choreographers on Broadway and in London, Ashford is a Tony winner for Thoroughly Modern Millie and a Tony nominee for the Daniel Radcliffe revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Curtains, among his eight nominations. In London, Ashford and Frozen director Michael Grandage have enjoyed more than a decade of illustrious collaboration: Ashford helmed Parade (receiving Olivier nominations as director and choreographer), A Streetcar Named Desire and Anna Christie (Olivier Award, Best Revival) at The Donmar Warehouse under Grandage’s artistic leadership, and he received Olivier nominations for choreographing Grandage’s West End productions of Evita and Guys and Dolls. Ashford also has a history with Disney, having choreographed Kenneth Branagh’s smash film Cinderella.

    Christopher Gattelli, previously announced as choreographer, has chosen to leave the show ahead of rehearsals in June.

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

     Frozen’s director is Michael Grandage, a Tony Award winner (Red) and director of three Olivier Award-winning Outstanding Musicals (Merrily We Roll Along, Grand Hotel and Guys and Dolls).

     The design team for Frozen includes scenic and costume design by Tony and Olivier Award winner Christopher Oram (Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Evita), lighting design by six-time Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (Aladdin; Hello Dolly!; An American in Paris) and sound design by four-time Tony nominee Peter Hylenski (The Scottsboro Boys, Motown, After Midnight).

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

    Frozen is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions.

     CAISSIE LEVY (Elsa). On Broadway, Ms. Levy created the roles of Fantine in the 2014 revival of Les Misérables, Molly in Ghost (also West End & cast album), and Sheila in the 2009 revival of Hair (also West End & cast album), and played Elphaba in Wicked (also Los Angeles) and Penny in Hairspray (also 1st national tour & Toronto). Off-Broadway, she starred as Julie Nixon and Patti Davis in First Daughter Suite (The Public Theater), Sara in Murder Ballad and Maureen in the national tour of Rent. She has played solo to sold-out audiences throughout the US, UK & Canada, was a guest soloist with The United States Military Academy at West Point, backed up Sir Rod Stewart in Las Vegas and most recently made her Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Pops. Her debut solo album, With You, is available on iTunes.

    PATTI MURIN (Anna). Broadway/national tour: Lysistrata Jones (Lysistrata), Wicked (Glinda), Xanadu (Euterpe). Off-Broadway: Love's Labour's Lost (Shakespeare in the Park); Fly By Night (Playwrights Horizons); Lady Be Good! (Encores!). Almost Broadway: Nerds (Sally). Can currently be seen as Dr. Nina Shore on NBC's "Chicago Med."

    JELANI ALLADIN (Kristoff). Broadway debut. Off-Broadway: Sweetee (Signature Theatre  - upcoming), Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope (York Theatre). Regional: I and You (TheatreSquared), Choir Boy (Studio Theatre DC, Marin Theatre Company), The History Boys (PalmBeach Dramaworks), Violet (Clarence Brown), Josephine (Asolo Rep – world premiere). Graduate of the NYU Tisch New Studio on Broadway.

    GREG HILDRETH (Olaf). Broadway: Cinderella, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Peter and the Starcatcher. Off-Broadway: The Robber Bridegroom. TV: “The Good Wife” (recurring), “Royal Pains.” Film: Radium Girls, Wall Street II.

     JOHN RIDDLE (Hans) was last seen on Broadway in Kander and Ebb's The Visit starring Chita Rivera. His other stage credits include Tony in West Side Story (Casa Manana), Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid (St. Louis MUNY), Joe Hardy in Damn Yankees (PCLO), Evita (1st national tour), Little Dancer (Kennedy Center) and My Paris (Long Wharf). Other: The Secret Garden in concert at Lincoln Center, Cincinnati Pops. Last year, John debuted his solo show, Keep It Simple at Feinstein's/54 Below. He can be heard on John Kander's Hidden Treasures from Harbinger Records. CCM grad.

    ROBERT CREIGHTON (Duke of Weselton). Recently conceived, co-authored and starred as James Cagney in Cagney Off-Broadway. Broadway credits include The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Durdles), Anything Goes (Purser), Chicago (Amos), The Little Mermaid (Chef Louis), The Lion King (Timon) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. TV: “The Family,” “Elementary,” “Law & Order,” “Life on Mars.”

    ROB ASHFORD (Choreographer) is a Tony Award, Olivier Award, Emmy Award®, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award-winning director/choreographer. Rob was most recently Kenneth Branagh's associate on the film Murder on the Orient Express. Theatre credits on Broadway include Cat On A Hot Tin Roof; Evita (Tony Award nomination); How to Succeed (Tony Award nominations for direction and choreography); Promises, Promises (Tony Award nomination); Thoroughly Modern Millie (Tony Award Best Choreography); Shrek; John Water's Cry Baby (Tony Award nomination, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Fred Astaire Awards); Curtains (Tony Award nomination) and Wedding Singer (Tony Award nomination). Other credits include The Entertainer (Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company), Romeo and Juliet (Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company), The Winter’s Tale (Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, Olivier nomination Best Director), Harlequinade (Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company), Macbeth (Park Avenue Armory, New York and Manchester International Festival), and at the Donmar Warehouse, the Olivier Award-winning productions of Anna Christie, A Streetcar Named Desire (Olivier nomination for Best Revival) and Parade (Olivier nominations for director and choreography). Directed and choreographed “Peter Pan Live!” and “The Sound of Music Live!” (NBC - DGA Award nominations for both). Directed The Barber of Seville and Carousel (Lyric Opera Chicago). He choreographed and staged the 2015 Academy Awards with Neil Patrick Harris, the 2014 Academy Awards with Ellen DeGeneres and the 2013 Academy Awards with Seth MacFarlane. For the Academy Awards 2009, won the Emmy Award for Best Choreography for his work on Baz Luhrmann's production number featuring Hugh Jackman and Beyoncé. He has also choreographed the opening number for Neil Patrick Harris for 4 years and James Corden last year for The Tony Awards, and staged tributes at the Kennedy Center Honors for Barbra Streisand, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jerry Herman, Barbara Cook, Tom Hanks, Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep. Films include choreography for Beyond the Sea, Disney’s Cinderella, A Million Ways to Die in the West and Ted 2. Rob is an Artistic Associate for The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company and is a Trustee of The Joyce Theatre in New York City

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

     

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

    Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    Aug. 17 through Oct. 1, 2017
    Buell Theatre
    Sales to groups of 10 or more here

    MORE INFO

    Ticket information for Denver:
    Single tickets for the pre-Broadway engagement of Frozen will go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, May 1. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account.

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

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

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


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Denver Frozen tickets go on sale May 1
    Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    Denver dates for Frozen announced
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen
  • Guest column: Judy Craymer on the origins of 'Mamma Mia!'

    by John Moore | Apr 04, 2017
    MAMMA MIA!

    Photo from the farewell national touring production of 'Mamma Mia!' visiting Denver's Buell Theatre from April 11-16. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by Kevin Thomas Garcia.


    By Judy Craymer

    Creative Producer

    As Creative Producer of Mamma Mia!, my job started long before any script had been written. The story begins more than 25 years ago when I first met Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, the songwriting geniuses behind ABBA. I was working for Sir Tim Rice at the time, who was collaborating with Benny and Björn on his musical, Chess, and I was immediately smitten — after all, these were the men who had written Dancing Queen, one of the greatest pop songs of all time — but it was another of their songs, The Winner Takes It All, that first suggested to me the potential of an original musical using their compositions. The lyrics revealed a roller-coaster story of love and loss that struck me as extraordinarily theatrical, but how was I to bring this to life?

    First I had to approach Benny and Björn, who were a little unsure of my intentions. I explained that the project I had in mind would focus on a new and exciting story. It wouldn’t be a tribute show or “The ABBA Story,” but rather a truly original “book” musical. They weren’t 100 percent convinced.

    Mamma Mia Quote Judy CraymerSo I sat on the floor of my apartment listening to ABBA late into the night. I may have driven my neighbors to despair but as time passed, I became more and more certain of my idea. In 1995 my tenacity finally paid off. Björn said, “If you can find the right writer and story, well ... let’s see what happens …”

    A year later I was on location with a film I was producing when the director mentioned Catherine Johnson. I was aware of her work as a playwright. We met in January 1997 and soon I was confidently telling Björn that we had found our writer.

    My brief to Catherine was that no lyrics could change, the story should be a contemporary, ironic, romantic comedy and that if she listened carefully to ABBA’s songs, she’d notice how they fell into two different generations: the slightly younger, playful songs like Honey, Honey and Dancing Queen and the more mature, emotional songs such as The Winner Takes It All and Knowing Me, Knowing You ... and so the idea of a cross-generational love story was devised.

    By the end of that year Catherine had finished the first draft of the script and I persuaded Phyllida Lloyd to come on board as our director. Her background was serious, legit theatre and opera, and her secret weapon was her dry-martini wit.

    It was unusual, if not unheard of, for three women to be the collaborative creative force. I think it readdressed the balance and had a great nurturing effect on the production. Appropriately, Mamma Mia! features three strong women in the story. Their characters are completely different — slightly bossy, a bit chaotic, extremely practical, and very high maintenance. We have a lot of laughs about who is who in real life.

    Suddenly it was time to give up my day job as a TV and film producer and prepare for the white-knuckle ride of making the dream a reality: Money to raise, a theatre to find, artwork to create, ticket agents to seduce, deadlines to meet. It was the summer of 1998 and we had to open by April 7, 1999, or we’d lose Phyllida, who’d been booked to direct an opera in London. April 6 happened to be the anniversary, to the day, of ABBA winning the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo 25 years before. It seemed a good omen.

    Mamma Mia Although Björn was enthusiastic and shared the vision for the musical, Benny was a little more cautious and at any time both, he could have put an end to the project. It was a tense time, as their emotional backing as well as their creative input was very important. If they were going to trust me with their fabulous songs, I didn’t want to let them down. Benny and I agreed that on our opening night one of us would be able to tell the other “I told you so.”

    By now we had a date for opening but we had no theatre. We’d been looking at smaller venues when suddenly the rather large and prestigious Prince Edward Theatre in London’s West End became available. But its sheer size meant that the scale of the production had to expand dramatically too, with cast, crew, set and budget all having to be reworked. A lot of fingers were crossed for the big night.

    And so ... April 6, 1999, a night I will never forget — the world premiere of Mamma Mia! The audience was charmed, and one British critic wrote, “Mamma Mia! could put Prozac out of business.”

    Benny heartily accepted his defeat: with the entire theatre dancing in the aisles, he turned to me and said, “You can say it now.” I flashed back, “I told you so!”

    (Pictured above and right: Betsy Padamonsky in the farewell tour of 'Mamma Mia!, which visits Denver from April 11-16. Photo by Kevin Thomas Garcia.)

    Our very first North American premiere was in Canada, where we were booked for six months and stayed for five years. The first U.S. tour opened in 2000 at San Francisco’s Orpheum Theatre. Having celebrated more than 12 years and 5,000 performances at the Winter Garden Theatre, Mamma Mia! transferred to the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway in late 2013. As of its final performance in September 2015, it was the eighth longest-running show in Broadway history. There it remains, ahead of Wicked and Beauty and the Beast. Mamma Mia! also holds the title of longest-running "jukebox musical" (one with a pre-existing score).

    And let’s not forget Mamma Mia – The Movie, which had had its worldwide premiere in London on June 30, 2008, rapidly making history as the highest-grossing movie of all time at the UK and Irish box offices.

    One thing I’ve learned from 17 fun and frantic years of overseeing and coordinating the many productions of Mamma Mia! is that the potential and possibilities are continuously exciting, and seem to be limitless.

    Editor's Note: The DCPA NewsCenter offers a regular guest column from a variety of local and national voices covering a wide range of theatre topics. To submit a proposed guest column, email your name and topic to jmoore@dcpa.org.

    About our Guest Columnist: Judy Craymer
    Judy Craymer graduated from the Guildhall School of Music in 1977 and has since worked extensively in the theatre, film, television and music industries. She worked as a stage manager for the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester, the Old Vic Theatre, London, and on the original production of Cats for Cameron Mackintosh and the Really Useful Theatre Company. In 1984, Judy became the managing director of Three Knights Ltd, formed by Benny Andersson, Tim Rice and Björn Ulvaeus and was the Executive Producer for the West End production of Chess at the Prince Edward Theatre. The idea for Mamma Mia! originated with Craymer, Judy who in 1996 formed Littlestar Services Limited to produce the stage musical. She is the Creator/Producer of Mamma Mia! and has produced 50 productions of the show in more than 440 cities around the world.




    Mamma Mia! Farewell Tour
    : Ticket information
    MAMMA MIA! This hit musical that combines ABBA’s greatest hits, including Dancing Queen, S.O.S., Super Trouper, Take A Chance on Me and The Winner Takes It All, with a romantic tale  of love, laughter and friendship.

    April 11-16
    Buell Theatre
    ASL and audio-described performance: 2 p.m. April 15
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Selected previous Guest Columns:
    Douglas Langworthy on 'translating' Shakespeare: First, do no harm
    David Nehls: Live theatre returns to Elitch Gardens after 24 years
    Gillian McNally: Colorado's oldest theatre celebrates Artistic Director Tom McNally
    Margie Lamb on the Henry Awards: Something doesn't add up
    Bryan VanDriel on Lloyd Norton: A name that will live on in Greeley
    Jessica Jackson on Creede Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season
    Susan Lyles on 10 years of staging plays for women in Denver
  • America: Hal Holbrook would like to have a little talk

    by John Moore | Mar 21, 2017
    Hal Holbrook. Photo by John Moore.

    Note: The following interview was first published in 2015. Holbrook returns to Denver for a 12th time to perform his signature show, 'Mark Twain Tonight,' on April 1. The story and ticket information below have been updated to reflect that.


    America: Hal Holbrook would like to have a little talk

    By John Moore
    DCPA Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

    But Holbrook, as the world has well-known these past 92 years, is not afraid to talk. Either as himself, or as the alter ego he has lived with for seven decades now. Holbrook returns to Denver on April 1 to perform for the 12th time Mark Twain Tonight, the second-most presented show in DCPA history (Sorry, Hal: You can’t touch A Christmas Carol. Yet.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “I am so grateful that I still have this Mark Twain show; that I never gave it up; that I never got tired of it,” said Holbrook, who has performed Mark Twain Tonight nearly 2,600 times in all 50 states, 20 countries and behind the Iron Curtain. “It gives me a tremendous feeling of moving forward. It gives me energy. I love doing the show, and I love the challenge of trying to talk to people today about what is going on in our world.”

    Although the show is always 100 percent Twain, it is always changing. Holbrook promises Denver audiences will see some new material since his last visit here in 2015. For his 2013 visit, he added a new number from Huckleberry Finn that recounts the comic family feud between the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons, who have been fighting for so long, no one can remember why it began in the first place. “Strangely enough,” Holbrook says, "it has something powerful to say about the gun culture today and our love affair with guns.

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

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

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

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

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

    Hal Holbrook Quote“Obama has accomplished an amazing amount in the past six years – and nobody is talking about it," Holbrook said in 2015. "Not even the Democrats are standing up for him. And why is that? If this guy is achieving all this good stuff against such tremendous odds, why aren't the people in his own party standing up for him? There is one element that comes into this whole picture, which all of us try to put out of our minds, and that is racism. And the fact that President Obama is black.

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

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

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

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

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

    The night before Holbrooks last appearance in Denver in  2015, he presented a documentary titled Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey at the Sie Film Center. The film shows performance excerpts from Mark Twain Live and includes interviews with Sean Penn, Martin Sheen, Emile Hirsch, Cherry Jones and others.

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

    Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight!: Ticket information
    Saturday, April 1
    7 p.m.
    Buell Theatre
    Denver Performing Arts Complex
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


    More words of wisdom from Hal Holbrook
    :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ON DCPA FOUNDER DONALD R. SEAWELL, WHO HAS SINCE DIED AT 103:
    He’s such a remarkable gentleman in the true sense of the word. He is powerful in his positive feeling about his ability to keep going. That is the best medicine you possibly can have when you start to get into your 90s.

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

    Hal Holbrook at the Sie Film Center in 2015. Hal Holbrook at the Sie Film Center in 2015. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Video: Tap master Savion Glover on America's call to arts

    by John Moore | Mar 14, 2017


    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Interview by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    Savion Glover on the importance of arts education, listening to your elders and 'the best show ever in Denver'

    Virtuosic tap dancer and choreographer Savion Glover simply wasn't like other kids. He started dancing at 7 and was cast as Broadway's Tap Dance Kid at the tender age of 12. "But I was never braggadocios about it,” he says now, 31 years later. “I don't ever walk around saying, 'Oh I have a special gift.’ ” Glover sees his ability to dance as a gift that was given to him, much like a pair of socks on Christmas. But simply having a gift doesn’t make you special, he insists. Because every kid has his own pair of socks. It’s what you do with those socks that's your responsibility.

    "We all have a talent, and no matter what it is or where we are, whether it's on Broadway or the inner city ... it's our duty to continue to express that talent,” Glover told the DCPA NewsCenter just before his headlining performance before 800 helped raised a record $1 million for DCPA Education programs at the annual Saturday Night Alive benefit on March 4 at the Stage Theatre.

    Savion Glover. Photo by John Moore“I believe that once we learn how to express ourselves, whether through dance, art, writing, painting, construction or whatever … we find our voice. And once we are heard through our artistic expression, we are better understood,” he said. “Someone might be able to draw a painting that might express who they really are better than one might be able to articulate with words.”

    Glover is best known for works like Jelly's Last Jam and Bring in 'da Noise/Bring in ‘da Funk, which won him a Tony Award for Best Choreography. He was nominated again last summer for his work on Shuffle Along . He has been featured on the TV dance shows So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars.

    Arts education is a continuing passion for both Glover and the Denver Center. The DCPA’s extensive educational programs reached more than 105,000 students last year. Glover, 42, established the HooFeRzCLuB School for Tap, and regularly visits schools across the country to spread his enthusiasm for dance and arts education. He was known to millions of Sesame Street fans for his appearances from 1990–95.

    Glover, who was born in New Jersey, was taught by tap legend Gregory Hines, who once said, "Savion is possibly the best tap dancer who ever lived." Glover calls his style "young and funk." When asked to describe what funk is, he says in his biography: "Funk is anything that gets one's head on beat. It is riding with the rhythm. It is a pulse that keeps one rolling with the beat."

    Here’s more of Glover’s conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore: (Story continues below photos.)

    Photo gallery: Savion Glover's Busy Day in Denver:

    Savion Glover in Denver The photo gallery above includes highlights from Savion Glover's performance and master class. To see more, just click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    John Moore: Your performance is going to help raise $1 million for education programs here at the DCPA. Why was it important for you to be here?

    Savion Glover: Once the schools started to eliminate arts funding, I made it a part of my journey to advocate for the arts. In many states, they are quickly eliminating arts programs. That's unfortunate because, in my opinion, the arts fuel the entire education system. The more kids are able to express themselves, the more we adults, educators and teachers are able to see what the future will hold.

    John Moore: How important then is it that there are places like the Denver Center to help fill the gap?

    Savion Glover QuoteSavion Glover: I honor and applaud organizations like this one, as well as individual educators who have stepped up because we do have a void to fill. Establishments like the Denver Center realize there is a need for arts in education to continue. I look forward to coming to venues like this where they realize the importance of self-expression and the importance of allowing children to know that it's still OK to express yourself in an artistic way.

    John Moore: This morning you taught a master class for wide range of dance students. Why was it important for you to fit that into your limited schedule here in Denver?

    Savion Glover: I love teaching the kids because when I teach, I learn myself. I look at the kids as the teachers. Little do they know ….

    John Moore: What was it like for you growing up in New Jersey?

    Savion Glover: I grew up in a house where you could taste the love in the food. Then you go somewhere else and you go, "There is no love in this food."

    John Moore: You aren’t like, well, many other kids. You were already on Broadway at age 12. So how do you relate to kids today who don't yet know what they want to be?

    Savion Glover: To be on Broadway was not a part of my plan. I started dancing when I was 7 years old and one thing led to another. I was playing in a band, and then my mom signed up myself and my two older brothers for tap classes. It was just something to do. After a year or so of classes, I got an audition. Once I got cast, my life began to change. Then I began to travel, and I met many wonderful men and women like Jimmy Slyde, Lon Chaney, Gregory Hines, all of these great contributors who later would become my mentors and educators and great friends. I have dedicated my life to them and their contributions to the art, and to humanity.

    John Moore: How important is it for young dancers to have mentors?

    Savion Glover: It is very important to have what I would call a human resource. We live in an era of technology. You need someone to confide in who will give you honest criticism. I have turned to older people. My mentors were 70 and 80 years old, and I just dug them so much as people. If there is someone available to tell you a story about what happened in the 1950s, and you hear it right from that person’s mouth, and you can feel that energy and their emotion, that might better allow you to express that story yourself. I am happy with the progress of technology, but there is nothing like hearing a story from someone who was there.     

    John Moore: You told your students today, “If you can imagine it, you can express it.” How do you teach a kid to do that?

    Savion Glover: I think there is a muscle that allows us to express what we see - we just have to be able to communicate what that is. My son is 12 years old, and he can draw these pictures through animation. I'm no artist in that way, but he just sees it in his mind, and he brings it to life. I believe we all have that ability. We can't all draw, but we all should be able to articulate what we can imagine in our own way, whether that is through dance, music, writing or other art forms.  

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: Congratulations on your latest Tony Award, for Shuffle Along. What was that experience like for you?

    Savion Glover: My time in Shuffle Along was one of my greatest experiences. (Director) George C. Wolfe is a genius. I respect him as a man and as an artist. He is one of the smartest human beings I know. He knows everything, and I am the type of person where if there is an opportunity to learn, I am going to take full advantage of that. I also had a ball just being a choreographer, and bringing the stories of these men and women to life who you would never know about if not for our version of Shuffle Along.  

    John Moore: So what’s next for you?

    Savion Glover: I continue to search and hone in on my craft. I have a mission. I am on a journey to continue what I do, and I am thankful for that.

    John Moore: Your show here at the Denver Center has been sold out for weeks. So for those people who can't get in, what kind of a show will you be putting on tonight?

    Savion Glover: For those of you who can't get in tonight, well, this is unfortunate. Because this is going to be the best show ever in Denver. You're just going to have to read about it, ask about it and wish that you were here. I can’t tell you how it’s going to start. I can't tell you how it's going to end. But when you hear about it, you are just going to say, "Oh, man."  

    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.


    Savion Glover. Photo by John Moore
    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Saturday Night Alive:
    Savion Glover to headline DCPA's Saturday Night Alive
    Photos: Saturday Night Alive 2017


    The Presenting Sponsor of the 2017 Saturday Night Alive was BMW of Downtown Denver. Platinum Sponsors were the Salah Foundation and United Airlines. Emerald Sponsors were the Colorado Oil and Gas Industry, HealthOne, The Westin Hotel Denver. Gold Sponsors were Always Best Care Senior Services, Epicurean Catering, Kathie and Keith Finger, u.s. bank, Colorado State Bank and Trust, The Tuchman Family Foundation and Triptyk Studios. The Surprise Box Sponsor was Kendra Scott. The 2017 Event Chairs were L. Roger and Meredith Hutson.
  • Breaking news: Denver 'Frozen' tickets go on sale May 1

    by John Moore | Mar 13, 2017

    Frozen


    Single tickets for the pre-Broadway engagement of Frozen, a new musical based on Disney’s Academy Award-winning musical film, will go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, May 1, it was announced this morning. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account.

    Frozen plays The Buell Theatre from Aug. 17 through Oct. 1, 2017. For more information, to to sign up for email alerts, go to Denvercenter.org/Frozen.

    Frozen

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

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

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

    Frozen’s director is Michael Grandage, a Tony Award-winner (Red) and director of three Olivier Award-winning Outstanding Musicals (Merrily We Roll Along, Grand Hotel and Guys & Dolls), and Tony Award winner Rob Ashford is the choreographer (Thoroughly Modern Millie, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Curtains). The design team for Frozen includes scenic and costume design by Tony and Olivier Award winner Christopher Oram (Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Evita), lighting design by six-time Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (Aladdin, An American in Paris, The Glass Menagerie) and sound design by four-time Tony nominee Peter Hylenski (The Scottsboro Boys, Motown, After Midnight).

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

    Frozen is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions.

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

    Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    Aug. 17 through Oct. 1, 2017
    Buell Theatre
    Sales to groups of 10 or more here

    MORE INFO


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Breaking: Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    Denver dates for Frozen announced
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen
  • Barton Cowperthwaite: A Denverite in 'Paris' returns to alma mater

    by John Moore | Mar 11, 2017

    Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Denver native Barton Cowperthwaite, a featured ensemble member in the national touring production of An American in Paris, visited his Denver School of the Arts alma mater on March 8.

    Barton Cowperthwaite. Photo by John MooreCowperthwaite, son of Curious Theatre co-founder Laura Cowperthwaite, conducted a master class for dance and musical-theatre majors at the school, where he is a member of the Class of 2010. "It's cool to impart on them the wisdom that I wish I could have told myself when I was that age," he told DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore.

    Interviews also include DSA Director of Dance Alicia Karczewski and Director of Theatre Shawn Hann. Cowperthwaite, already a member of several major dance companies and Denver's Black Actors Guild, is making his musical-theatre debut in An American in Paris, playing several roles and understudying the lead role of Jerry Mulligan.

    "As a dancer, it’s exciting that there is a show that gets to employ really well-trained dancers in this musical format," Cowperthwaite said.

    Photo gallery: Barton Cowperthwaite at Denver School of the Arts

    Barton Cowperthwaite

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


    An American in Paris
    : Ticket information
    An American In ParisAn American in Paris brings the magic and romance of Paris into harmony with unforgettable works from George and Ira Gershwin. This new hit musical about an American soldier, a mysterious French girl and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war, earned more awards than any other musical in the 2014-15 Broadway season.
    Through March 19
    Buell Theatre
    ASL, audio-described and open-captioned performance 2 p.m. March 19
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of An American in Paris
    An American Paris dances from beginning to end
    Meet Sara Esty, who plays Lise
    Meet Garen Scribner, who plays Jerry

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Meet Garen Scribner of 'An American in Paris'

    by John Moore | Mar 10, 2017
    A Garen Scribner 800. Photo by Matthew Murphy


    MEET GAREN SCRIBNER

    Jerry Mulligan in An American in Paris

    Garen comes directly from the Broadway company, where he also played Jerry Mulligan. A former soloist with the San Francisco Ballet and an artist of Nederlands Dans Theater I, Garen believes art has the capability of changing lives, and he is grateful for the opportunity to share his passion with the audience. Follow Jerry, Garen and his dog, Pilot, behind-the-scenes at @GarenScribner5.

    • Garen ScribnerHometown: Brooklyn
    • Your Twitter-sized bio: I love to laugh, have fun, be on stage with my colleagues, love design, music, art, dance and the people who create such things.
    • What was the role that changed your life? This role. It taught me how to be a leading man, onstage and off. Being a star is not a gift. It is a huge responsibility and humbling honor.
    • Why are you a performer? It’s where life brought me.
    • What would you be doing if you weren't a dancer? I have an obligation to help guide others and cultivate talent, nurture developing projects, stay involved in the form without performing myself.
    • Sara EstyIdeal scene partner: Sara Esty, who I have the privilege of performing with every day. She and I have a special bond that can’t be described. (Pictured right.)
    • Tell us about the particular challenge of playing Jerry in An American in Paris. Jerry is an artist, he’s optimistic and brave to a fault. He believes in the power of true love and that both art and love are transformative and intrinsic to one another. I’m right there with him.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this musical? Inspiration, hope and joy.
    • What is one thing many people might not know about you? I can name almost every kind of hook-billed bird. Had a parrot obsession as a kid.
    • What's one thing you want to get off your chest? To all you AirBnB hosts, here’s what most of you are missing: Hooks, colanders, cheese graters, garlic presses, chests of drawers, large pots, aluminum foil and last but most importantly, a new, clean sponge. We’ve stayed in a lot of AirBnB’s on this tour!
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      " ... to be happy and spread love."
    • Twitter and Instagram handle: @GarenScribner5
    • Web site: garen.co

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Nick Spangler, Garen Scribner and Etai Benson. Photo by Matthew Murphy

    Three men, one object of their affection. From left: Nick Spangler, Garen Scribner and Etai Benson in 'An American in Paris,' playing in Denver through March 19. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

     

    An American in Paris: Ticket information
    An American In ParisAn American in Paris brings the magic and romance of Paris into harmony with unforgettable works from George and Ira Gershwin. This new hit musical about an American soldier, a mysterious French girl and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war, earned more awards than any other musical in the 2014-15 Broadway season.
    Through March 19
    Buell Theatre
    ASL, audio-described and open-captioned performance 2 p.m. March 19
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of An American in Paris
    An American Paris dances from beginning to end
    Meet Sara Esty, who plays Lise

  • 'Motown' performers visit D-Town's North High School

    by John Moore | Feb 17, 2017

    Video above: Cast members from the national touring production of Motown the Musical visited students from Denver's North High School to sing a song and answer their questions about life in the theatre.

    Michelle Alves, who plays 15 roles, and 11-year-old CJ Young, who plays a young Michael Jackson, offered advice and encouragement before returning to the Buell Theatre for 'Motown,' the story of founder Berry Gordy's journey from featherweight boxer to heavyweight music mogul. His American dream launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Smokey Robinson. The conversation was led by DCPA Education’s Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski.

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

    Photo gallery: Motown at Denver's North High School:

    'Motown' in Denver 2017
    Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above.

    Motown the Musical: Ticket information
    Motown The MusicalThrough Sunday, Feb. 19
    The Buell Theatre
    ASL, Open Caption and Audio Described performance: 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    800-641-1222 | TTY: 303-893-9582
    Groups (10+): 303-446-4829

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Motown the Musical:
    How Berry Gordy turned a slogan into The Supremes

    Michelle Alves and CJ Young, center, with students from Denver North High School. Photo by John Moore. Michelle Alves and CJ Young of 'Motown the Musical,' center, with students from Denver North High School. Photo by John Moore for the DCA NewsCenter.
  • Video: Beth Malone will return to 'Molly Brown' in St. Louis

    by John Moore | Jan 23, 2017

    Beth Malone talks about playing Molly Brown at The Muny in St. Louis this summer. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Colorado may be Molly Brown’s home, but her next residence will be in her birth state of Missouri. And once again, Tony Award nominee Beth Malone will be playing history’s most unsinkable socialite.

    Two years ago, the DCPA Theatre Company launched a completely re-imagined The Unsinkable Molly Brown, directed by Tony Award-winner Kathleen Marshall and featuring both a new book by Dick Scanlan and a recalibrated Meredith Willson score that includes new songs from the Willson catalog. Marshall called the result "Americana at its best: Big, strong, open-hearted and optimistic.”

    The production was well-received at the DCPA but Molly_Brown_Beth Malone_JK_800its creators were intent on incorporating lessons learned from Denver toward the eventual goal of a larger life on the national stage. The next step in that journey was announced recently when The Unsinkable Molly Brown was included on the 2017 season for The Muny this coming July 21-27. Located in St. Louis, The Muny is America’s largest outdoor musical theatre.

    Marshall again will direct, along with Scanlan and Music Director Michael Rafter. The Muny introduced Malone at an event tonight to announce her return to the role. Full casting will be announced at a later date.

    Malone said she realized a lifelong dream when she was cast in the DCPA Theatre Company’s 2014 production. “For me, that was the culmination of my entire career. It was a giant gift from God and the universe plopped right in my lap. It was amazing.” Shortly after, she was nominated for a 2015 Tony Award for her work in Fun Home.

    Of the St. Louis production, she added, "This is a very exciting next move for this piece, and I am very excited to get in the room again and work on it and put it up again." 

    The Unsinkable Molly Brown tells the story of perhaps the most colorful woman in Colorado history. The original 1960 Broadway musical was beloved by some but was also problematic. The musical tells the story of a Hannibal girl who went to Colorado and married a miner who became fabulously wealthy. But unlike others in her position, Brown opened a soup kitchen and fought for immigrants. Ultimately she boarded the Titanic but survived, rescuing others in the process.

    “It’s a classic American musical: beautiful and heartfelt,” said Mike Isaacson, the Muny’s artistic producer and executive producer. “And what Dick has done with it is extraordinary.”

    (Story continues below)

    Full photo gallery: Beth Malone in Denver:

    Beth Malone in Denver

    The photos above follow Beth Malone's time performing as Molly Brown in Denver, visiting Brown's adopted hometown of Leadville, Colorado, and returning both for Denver Broncos national anthems and to sing the praises of 'Fun Home.' Photos by John Moore and Jennifer M. Koskinen. To see more photos, click the forward arrow in the image above.


    Scanlan, a three-time Tony Award nominee also wrote the book for “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and other musicals.

    “Dick has kept the songs you love…and hopefully he’s gotten rid of the ones you don’t,” DCPA Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson said.

    Meet the cast video series: Beth Malone

    In Molly Brown’s 1932 obituary, The Denver Post’s Jack Carberry wrote: “She was a pot rustler who, shamed by her ignorance, mastered music, literature and the arts to storm the portals and pass the barriers of society.”

    But while Scanlan promises audiences will see a much deeper Molly Brown than they did in the 1960 original, The Unsinkable Molly Brown remains very much a musical. And a musical comedy at that.  
    LEAD MOLLY
    This Molly Brown is still unsinkable, Malone said, "but it’s based more on the historical facts, and the real-life love affair between Molly Brown and JJ Brown."

    “This is not a documentary,” Marshall added. “This is a historical fiction. This is the journey of Molly Brown as a woman, and her marriage.”

    That means this is also a romance.

    “Oh it is very much a romance,” Scanlan said.

    Malone credits her time with Molly Brown in Denver for setting her on the path of her Tony Award nomination for Fun Home.

    "I have to say that doing Molly Brown and have it be a success on the level that it was really helped me walk back into the Fun Home rehearsal knowing that I could lead a cast," said Malone. "Molly Brown and that whole experience at the Denver Center bolstered my confidence in my bones."


    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.

    Beth Malone sings two songs from The Unsinkable Molly Brown:


    In the video above, Beth Malone appeared at the 2015 Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards, where she sang two songs from the show. Watch for at the very beginning, and again at the 2:45 mark. Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.



    Selected previous Beth Malone coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter:

    Selected previous Molly Brown coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter:

     

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Harvy Blanks: 'Wilsonian Warrior' makes Broadway debut in 'Jitney'

    by John Moore | Jan 20, 2017
    Photo gallery: A look back at Harvy Blanks at the Denver Center:
    Harvy Blanks at the Denver Center

    Harvy Blanks, a veteran of 37 productions with the DCPA Theatre Company, including eight of the 10 August Wilson plays, made his Broadway debut on Thursday (Jan. 19) in Wilson's 'Jitney.' Here is a look back at some of his productions with the Denver Center.To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above.


    First the popular actor made theatre history in Denver. Now he is helping to make history on Broadway.

    By John Moore
    For The DCPA NewsCenter

    In 2009, Harvy Blanks made history as part of the DCPA Theatre Company’s Radio Golf, which made Israel Hicks the first director in the world to have completed the entire August Wilson Century Cycle for the same theatre company.

    Blanks made history again Thursday night, when he not only made his Broadway debut, he did it in Jitney, the 10th and final story in Wilson’s legendary series to be told on Broadway. 

    Blanks is a veteran of 37 DCPA Theatre Company productions over 25 years, including eight of the 10 Wilson plays that chronicle the African-American experience in Pittsburgh’s Hill District throughout each decade of the 20th Century. Jitney takes place in the 1970s and tells the story of gentrification as the city tries to shut down a gypsy cab station whose drivers are struggling to survive. The New York Times is already calling the production glorious, “acted by an impeccably tuned ensemble.”

     “The coupling of my doing any August Wilson play, and being on Broadway for the first time, is just too much,” Blanks said this week. “I sit backstage sometimes and I say to myself, 'Man, I'm on Broadway. And I am rubbing elbows with some of the greatest actors in the world.' ’’

    Some of Blanks’ fellow actors would say they are the ones doing the elbow-rubbing. Kim Staunton, who is back at the Denver Center to appear in the upcoming world premiere of the play Two Degrees, appeared in six August Wilson plays alongside Blanks at the Denver Center, which beat Broadway to the August Wilson finish line by seven years. Staunton says Blanks is part of a tribe she calls “The Wilsonian Warriors.”

    “Harvy is one of America's theater treasures, and a kind, gentle, amazing man,” said Staunton. “He so deserves to be on Broadway, and that his debut is the last August Wilson play in the canon to be produced there, couldn't be more perfect and wonderful.”

    Harvy Blanks JITNEY. Photo by Kareem Black.Blanks admits it was hard for him to accept a role in another Wilson play after Israel Hicks died in 2010. “I've seen a whole lot of August Wilson, but not a lot of good August Wilson,” he said, “and if it's not good, it's going to be bad.”

    Blanks wants to do August Wilson anytime he can do it with a good director, he said, and Jitney director Ruben Santiago-Hudson is Wilson royalty.

    (Photo above and right: Cast of Broadway's 'Jitney.' Photo by Kareem Black.)

    “Ruben is a direct descendent of Israel Hicks and Lloyd Richards and that whole circle of August Wilson’s friends,” Blanks said. Many of his Broadway castmates were part of Wilson’s original productions. Santiago first cast Blanks in a staging of Jitney at Two River Theatre in New Jersey back in 2012. And he not only brought most of that cast with him to Broadway - he insisted on it. Including Blanks, who despite all of his regional experience, was an unknown Broadway entity. As is the case with most every high-stakes Broadway production, there was pressure to bring in bigger names from TV or film for Jitney. But Santiago didn’t flinch.

    Harvy Blanks Quote“He is loyal to a fault,” Blanks said, “and I’ll tell you what, man, this production almost did not get done because of that fact. But Ruben was willing to stand up and say, 'Hey, it has to be this way because these are August Wilson's kind of actors, and I can't do it with anything less than these people. Just to have a big name up there is not going to work for me.’ So he fights for his people, and he fights for the right to put the best play on stage that he can. Ruben reminds me of Israel so much. He's an actor's director, and he is a friend.”

    In the Denver Center’s 2002 production of Jitney, Blanks played Turnbo, a gossiping, gun-pulling livery driver. On Broadway, Blanks is playing Shealy, a smooth, well-dressed numbers man. Blanks describes Shealy as “the spice of life” in the play, a comic role he equates to the mechanical characters in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

    “When Shealy comes on, he brings all of the energy and all the hopes and desires and passions that exist on the streets of the Hill District,” Blanks said. “He comes in and he tells stories and he elicits conversation with everyone and by the time he makes his exit, I hope you are wondering, ‘What kind of adventure is he going to bring with him next?’ He's a whirlwind, and he's a storyteller, very much like August himself.”

    In order of each decade in the Wilson cycle, Blanks has played:

    • Eli in Gem of the Ocean (DCPA Theatre Company)
    • Loomis in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (DCPA Theatre Company)
    • Slow Drag in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Two River Theater)
    • Harvy Blank DCPA Radio GolfBoy Willie in The Piano Lesson (DCPA Theatre Company)
    • Canewell in Seven Guitars (DCPA Theatre Company)
    • Gabe in Fences (DCPA Theatre Company)
    • West in Two Trains Running (Two River Theater)
    • Turnbo and Shealy in Jitney (DCPA Theatre Company/Broadway)
    • Stool Pigeon in King Hedley II (DCPA Theatre Company)
    • Sterling Johnson in Radio Golf (DCPA Theatre Company, pictured above)

    And so he was inevitably asked if he has a favorite. And like most actors, Blanks’ favorite character is the character he’s working on now.

    Harvy Blanks JITNEY. Photo by Joan Marcus“Shealy is always in this very fashionable 1970s attire,” he said. “These are the clothes my dad's generation used to wear. I looked in the mirror in the dressing room the other day, and I just saw my dad in that suit, man. You can't know how meaningful that was to me. It took me right back to those days with my dad and my mom getting dressed to go out, and he’s putting on this suit that looks exactly like the one I wear in this play. It warms me. So I'm in love with this guy right now.  And I have to thank August Wilson for that, because the turns of phrases that my dad and my uncles used to use all the time are now pouring out of my mouth.”

    (Pictured right: Harvy Blanks in Broadway's 2017 production of 'Jitney.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    Wilsonian Warriors have that in common, Staunton said.

     “We recognize these people from our own families,” she said. “Having done so many shows with Harvy, I've had the pleasure of hearing his stories of the wonderful community who helped raise him. Like always, I know he has pulled from that extraordinary pool to create Shealy.”

    Blanks last appeared at the Denver Center in a seminal 2011 production of Ruined, a Mother Courage-like story set in a brothel in war-torn Africa. Blanks’ DCPA resume includes roles in many African-American stories, such as Purlie and A Raisin in the Sun. But it’s remarkably varied slate, including August Strindberg’s Miss Julie, Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, Joseph Kesselring’s Arsenic and Old Lace and nine seasonal productions of A Christmas Carol.

    “I miss it, man,” he said. That’s where I cut my teeth.”

    He knew the Denver Center would be his artistic home, he said, when then-Artistic Director Donovan Marley told him, “We don't have 'color' around here,’ ” Blanks said. “He told me, 'You are going to be a full part of the company, and that means you will be expected to do what Jamie Horton does, or Kathy Brady does, or John Hutton does.’ The biggies. These people were so gifted, and so just by sitting there and watching them work, I became far more disciplined as an actor than I was before I got there. So my time in Denver was huge to me.”

    the-mountaintop_lake-dillon-theatreBlanks returns to Colorado whenever possible. He performed in Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s The Mountaintop opposite Staunton in 2014 (pictured right), and last year he was back in Denver performing in the world premiere of the musical Uncle Jed’s Barbershop at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre.

    Here’s more of our conversation with Blanks, including his take on the new movie version of Fences:

    John Moore: What does it mean to you to be making your Broadway debut at this stage of your career?

    Harvy Blanks: I have certainly wanted to do Broadway, but it wasn't on my bucket list.

    John Moore: How is that possible?

    Harvy Blanks: Because after you have done theatre for a while, you lose that romantic view. And when you let something go, it frees you from your angst. But a lot of times, it comes back to you in strange and magical forms. Once you let something go free, you find yourself meeting up with it again down the road - and that's the way this happened.  

    John Moore: What was your first encounter with August Wilson’s work?

    Harvy Blanks: The first August Wilson experience I ever had was a production of Fences in Chicago with James Earl Jones, and I walked out of there in a daze. It was a nice summer night, and I must have walked forever. I was just completely in my head about what I had just witnessed.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: I was thinking about you and Kim Staunton when I saw the movie version of Fences a few weeks ago. What did you think of the film?

    Harvy Blanks: We were invited by (director and star Denzel Washington) to attend a screening here in New York, and we got to party with him. I was just bowled over ... and I am going to tell you the truth. I was thinking to myself: 'There are no chase scenes, there are no blood spatters, there are no sex scenes. I just don't know if America is ready for this.' But, man. That movie took me on a journey. How Denzel shot it reminded me of A Streetcar Named Desire in a lot of ways. Directors often have a problem turning plays into movies, but this was put on the screen in such an artistic fashion. I think it’s going to change cinema. I got into an argument after the film with a person who said, 'Yeah but they talked so much.’ And I said, 'Yeah, that's what it’s about: People talking. It’s not about helicopter crashes and missiles. It’s a story, and if you listen, you might pick some things.’

    Harvy Blanks quoteJohn Moore: How about Viola Davis and her willingness to get messy? I mean, in that one key scene, she has bodily fluids coming out of three orifices of her face at the same time. There are actors I'm sure who would have said to the director, “Let's cut, because I know I'm not going to look good on camera.” But with Viola Davis, it seems to be the messier the better.

    Harvy Blanks: That was just amazing. And just to be frank: I didn't know how to take it at first. At one point I was just thinking, “Please, Viola, just wipe your nose.” But the more I thought about it, I said, “Yes! When people are in that state - everything flies.” I have been there. I think what she did is going to be a conversation piece for the ages among actors: “To wipe, or not to wipe? That is the question!”

    John Moore: I say don't wipe.

    Harvy Blanks: You say don't wipe.

    John Moore: So to wrap this up, I want to ask you the big question about where we are as a nation and a people right now. In his final interview with American Theatre magazine in 2006, August Wilson expressed hope that with the completion of his cycle, “blacks might now move forward into the next century united, ditching the yoke of disenfranchisement without surrendering their cultural identity.” And then I thought about something you told me in a previous interview. You said we should look at the cycle as a metaphor for what blacks in this country have been struggliHarvy Blanks JITNEY. Joan Marcusng to do since slavery - and that’s trying to find family. But both of those quotes are a decade old now. When you look at them in the context of what has happened in America since, I wonder where you think we're at in terms of that pursuit.

    Harvy Blanks: Well, I think we are still pursuing it, quite frankly. This is what I have basically come to: There are forces out there that don't want you to get what you want, because they want what they want, and they will use whatever powers they can to keep that from happening.

    (Photo above and right: Harvy Blanks and Keith Randolph Smith in Broadway's 'Jitney.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    John Moore: So, do you think we are heading in the right direction as a country?

    Harvy Blanks: Honestly, I never thought we were heading in the right direction. When Obama was elected, I said, “OK, this is a moment in time.” But this whole fantasy of a post-racial society? Are you kidding me? Who came up with that term? It's stupid to think that. Here’s what I think: The American Dream is always in flux. So you and me? We can differ. But I have a feeling, that you are going to basically be straight up with me, and that I can be straight up with you. And I think that in terms of human beings, that's the best that we can hope for: That we can have a dialogue. And that's what August Wilson has provided with his plays.

    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.


    Harvy Blanks' full chronology of plays at the Denver Center:


    Purlie

    Purlie

    1985-86

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

    Jim

    1989-90

    Fences

    Gabriel

    1989-90

    Three Men on a Horse

    Frankie

    1989-90

    White Paint

    Jake Rutledge

    1989-90

    Back to the Blanket

    Buffalo Soldier

    1990-91

    Joe Turner's Come and Gone

    Herald Loomis

    1990-91

    The Man Who Came to Dinner

    Banjo

    1990-91

    Miss Julie

    John

    1990-91

    They Shoot Horses Don't They?

    Rollo

    1990-91

    Arsenic and Old Lace

    Lieutenant Rooney

    1991-92

    Home

    Cephus Miles

    1991-92

    To Kill a Mockingbird

    Tom Robinson

    1991-92

    The Piano Lesson

    Boy Willie

    1992-93

    Someone Who'll Watch Over Me

    Adam

    1994-95

    The Taming of the Shrew

    Curtis

    1994-95

    Seven Guitars

    Canewell

    1996-97

    Dream on Monkey Mountain

    Tigre

    1998-99

    A Christmas Carol (original version)

    Fezziwig/Businessman

    Four years**

    The Winter's Tale

    Cleomenes/Ensemble

    1999-00

    Jitney

    Turnbo

    2001-02

    King Hedley II

    Stool Pigeon

    2002-03

    A Streetcar Named Desire

    Mitch

    2003-04

    Madwoman

    Cop

    2004-05

    A Selfish Sacrifice

    Samuel Armstrong

    2004-05

    Gem of the Ocean

    Eli

    2005-06

    A Christmas Carol* (new version)

    Subscription Gent/Old Joe

    Five seasons*

    Radio Golf

    Sterling Johnson

    2008-09

    A Raisin in the Sun

    Bobo

    2009-10

    Ruined

    Christian

    2010-11

    *Blanks performed in the "new" version of A Christmas Carol in 2006-07, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12

    *Blanks performed in the "original" version of A Christmas Carol in 1994-95, 1995-96, 1998-99 and 1999-00

  • January 2017: Crossword puzzle and solution

    by John Moore | Jan 10, 2017
    With each new issue of Applause Magazine, we offer readers a crossword puzzle related to our current shows. Here is the most recent puzzle, covering Fun Home, The Book of Will, The Christians and Two Degrees. This should be fun - two of the four are world premieres, and Denver audiences have never before seen any of them!  

    The solution is posted below. Print and play! CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTABLE PUZZLE WITH THE SOLUTION!


    Crossword 1

    Crossword 2

    Crossword 3
    Photo credit: Cast of 'Fun Home' by Joan Marcus.


    The solution:

    Crossword Answer January 2017
  • 'Fun Home' opening postponed by road closures

    by John Moore | Jan 10, 2017
    Fun Home. Joan Marcus

    Alessandra Baldacchino as 'Small Alison' and Robert Petkoff as Bruce in the touring production of 'Fun Home.' Photo by Joan Marcus.


    Tonight's scheduled opening of Fun Home has been canceled because of road closures on I-70 preventing the trucks transporting the set to Denver from arriving in time.

    The Denver Center Box Office will contact all ticket-holders who purchased for the Tuesday, Jan. 10 performance through denvercenter.org by Thursday to exchange into another performance or discuss other options.

    Alternatively, ticket holders may call 303-893-4100. Otherwise, they may contact their point of purchase for additional ticket options.

     

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter



    Fun Home
    : Ticket information

    • Jan. 11-22, 2017
    •  The Ellie Caulkins Opera House
    •  Based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic-novel memoir; book and lyrics by Lisa Kron; music by Jeanine Tesori; directed by Sam Gold
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    For more information on the production, please visit FunHomeBroadway.com.


    Video bonus: Broadway's Beth Malone sings the national anthem:


    Video: Colorado native Beth Malone returned home to talk about the Denver-bound Tony Award-winning musical Fun Home and sing the national anthem before the Denver Broncos' Oct. 30 win over the San Diego Chargers at Mile High Stadium. Malone is not appearing in the touring production, but she was here as an ambassador for 'Fun Home,' opening Jan. 11 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Fun Home:

    Beth Malone on Fun Home: ‘It’s about anyone born of a mother'
    Denver’s Sweeney Todd will return with Fun Home tour
    Another Malone takes spotlight at Denver Film Festival
    Fun Home
    highlights Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season
    Denver’s Beth Malone returning to Broadway in Fun Home

  • NewsCenter: Our 10 most popular articles of 2016

    by John Moore | Jan 08, 2017

    Hamilton in Denver. Broadway Nothing got readers more excited last year than the news that the hit Broadway musical 'Hamilton' will be coming to Denver as part of the 2017-18 Broadway season.


    The DCPA NewsCenter was launched in October 2014 as an unprecedented new media outlet covering theatre at the Denver Center and throughout the state and nation telling stories with words, videos, podcasts and photos. It is a service made possible by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts as a shared resource for the Colorado theatre community as a whole. Here are the 10 most-clicked stories on the NewsCenter in 2016 from among the nearly 430 posted. Thanks to our readers for making it a record-breaking year:

    NUMBER 1HamiltonBroadway’s Hamilton is heading to Denver: The national tour of the Broadway musical Hamilton will play the Buell Theatre as part of the Denver Center's 2017-18 Broadway subscription series. Information regarding engagement dates and how to purchase single tickets will be announced at a later time. READ IT

    NUMBER 2Brenda Billings 1Brenda Billings: 'A warrior of acceptance':  Brenda Billings died while doing what she loves most – conducting auditions for an upcoming production of Little Shop of Horrors. She was the co-Artistic Director of Miners Alley Playhouse and  President of the Denver Actors Fund, and she was only 57. “Her passion for storytelling and art is carried on through all of us who were lucky enough to call her friend,” said Tony Award-winning actor Annaleigh Ashford. READ IT

    NUMBER 3Fun Home. Joan Marcus2016-17 Broadway season: Frozen, Fun Home, Finding Neverland and more: The DCPA announced a landmark 2016-17 season lineup that includes both of the most recent Tony Award-winners as well as the pre-Broadway debut of the highly anticipated stage adaptation of Disney’s record-breaking hit Frozen, the highest-grossing animated film in history. It was later announced that the Denver dates for Frozen will be Aug. 17 through Oct. 1, 2017. READ IT 

    NUMBER 4Terry DoddTerry Dodd: a playwright, director who bled empathy: Terry Dodd will be remembered as one of the most prolific local directors in the Colorado theatre community, as well as an accomplished playwright and screenwriter who was known for exploring deeply personal family issues. Dodd died of a heart attack at age 64. READ IT 

    NUMBER 5osg-christiana-clark2In Ashland, converting rage into action: In many ways Ashland, home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, seems to be an insular, harmonious bubble immune to outside social realities. But on June 24, the bubble burst when an African-American company member had an ugly encounter with a white supremacist. Now the local and national theatre communities are asking difficult questions about race. READ IT

    NUMBER 6Finalists for the 2015-16 Bobby G Awards announced: The annual Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in high-school musical theatre in Colorado. The year-long program culminates in a Tony Awards-style ceremony at the Buell Theatre. Here’s who was nominated from among the 40 participating schools. READ IT

    NUMBER 7Tom SutherlandFormer hostage Thomas Sutherland is freed a second time: Former Colorado State University professor Thomas Sutherland was held hostage in Beirut for more than six years - or 2,353 agonizing days. The genial Scotsman made his first foray into acting at age 72, and later donated $500,000 to Bas Bleu Theatre Company’s new performance space. He drew it from the $35 million he was awarded in frozen Iranian assets. Sutherland died July 23 at age 85. READ IT http://dcpa.today/EX6aBY

    NUMBER 8David Bowie Elephant ManDavid Bowie's acting career began in Denver: David Bowie’s death had the world mourning the loss of one of rock’s most chameleonic performers. But he was also a versatile stage and screen actor whose legit theatre career began in Denver starring as the ultimate “Broken Man,” John Merrick, in a 1980 touring production of The Elephant Man. "Judging from his sensitive projection of this part, Bowie has the chance to achieve legit stardom,” one critic wrote. READ IT 

    NUMBER 9Buell TheatrePhantom return will mark Buell Theatre’s 25th anniversary: The Buell Theatre was built, in large part, to host the national touring production of The Phantom of the Opera in 1991. It was, Denver Post critic Jeff Bradley wrote at the time, “the most successful theatrical event in Denver history.” We take a look back at the Buell’s first 25 years. READ IT 

    NUMBER 10Theresa Rebeck quoteRebeck's The Nest flies in face of national gender trends: Theresa Rebeck, author of the DCPA Theatre Company’s world premiere play The Nest, says the need to level the gender playing field in the American theatre is urgent. “Women's voices have been marginalized in the theatre, and in film and television,” said Rebeck. But the Denver Center, she said, is bucking the trend. “Kent Thompson and everyone at the Denver Center have always been way ahead of the curve on this issue.” READ IT


    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist.
  • 2016 True West Award: Theatre Person of the Year Billie McBride

    by John Moore | Dec 31, 2016
    True West Awards Billie McBride 800 2



    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    2016 Theatre Person of the Year: Billie McBride

    When Billie McBride won the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014, she was convinced she would never work again. “My first reaction was, ‘Oh my God, they think I am that old?'” she said with a caustic laugh. 

    Pshaw. McBride has barely taken a day off since. One rather wonders how she possibly found time in 2016 to have played seven leading roles and direct three productions from Fort Collins to Dillon to Colorado Springs. That’s 10 productions – for 10 different theatre companies – in 12 months.

    True West Awards Billie McBride Quote“She is, quite simply, the best around,” said Rebecca Remaly Weitz, who directed McBride in Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s Ripcord. And that, quite simply, is why she is the True West Awards’ 2016 Theatre Person of the Year: She’s the best around.

    McBride, who has Broadway credits on and off stage, has now reached a certain age where she gets asked to play, well, “a lot of old ladies,” as she bluntly puts it. A lot of them. But in 2016, that meant bringing a dizzying array of women to life ranging in age from 70 to 91.

    OK, so McBride’s characters often share a few consistent personality traits. They tend to be a bit prickly, terse, cantankerous, curmudgeonly, feisty, annoying, bracing, nasty, sour, volcanic, difficult, acerbic and irascible. (Those are all words critics used to describe McBride’s characters in 2016 – “cantankerous” twice, that I could find).

    But it is important to note that she is not being typecast. “Billie is a genuinely loving, giving, wonderful person,” said Christopher Alleman, who directed McBride in The Velocity of Autumn for the Lake Dillon Theatre Company. She’s just really good at acting cranky.

    Still, McBride’s 2016 portrayals represented a vast breadth of life experiences that informed every aspect of her fully fleshed characters. I mean, she did everything this year from jumping out of a plane to nearly blowing up her own son with a Molotov cocktail. Consider:

    • Driving Miss Daisy, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center: Daisy is a 72-year-old Jewish widow who embodies oblivious Old South racism in 1948 Atlanta.
    • 4000 Miles, Cherry Creek Theatre: Vera is a no-nonsense, 91-year-old New York grandmother, widow … and member of the Communist Party.
    • The Velocity of Autumn, Lake Dillon Theatre Company: Alexandra is an 80-year-old artist who has barricaded herself in her Brooklyn brownstone with enough explosives to take out a city block.
    • Outside Mullingar, Little Theatre of the Rockies: Aiofe is a tremulous, 70-year-old Irish widow trying to keep a leash on her admittedly “cracked” and obstinately single daughter.
    • The Last Romance, Senior Housing Options at The Barth Hotel: Carol is a prim, 79-year-old retired executive secretary who is slowly coaxed into a joyful awakening by a stranger in a park.
    • Ripcord, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company: Abby is an acidic, 80-year-old patrician whose boast that she is not afraid of anything is put to the comic test.
    • Lost Creatures, And Toto Too Theatre: Silent-film star Louise Brooks was a 72-year-old shut-in when British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan invaded her dingy little apartment, and somehow a love story ensued.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    In a recent essay about David Lindsay-Abaire’s Ripcord – perhaps the slightest story among McBride’s 2016 catalog, Ellen Mareneck found unexpected depth in this Odd Couple meets Grumpy Old Men tale of two opposite women forced to share a room in a senior living residence. “Under the docile exterior of age, there is a ruthless drive to retain relevance and power,” Mareneck wrote of the play. But no words could better describe McBride’s ongoing importance to the Colorado theatre ecology.

    By simply doing what she does best year after year in a profession that doesn’t often value women, and in a society that typically renders older people obsolete, McBride stands in towering, empowering opposition to the norm.

    Perhaps the greatest achievement of McBride’s year was her unexpectedly gritty performance in Eric Coble’s The Velocity of Autumn. There was nothing even slightly adorable about McBride’s portrayal of a declining woman locked in a bitter showdown with her family over where she will spend her remaining years. As soon as her estranged son arrives, the emotional bombs start detonating. The play has been praised for “touching a nerve that is exposed in many no-win debates across America over what’s best for a relative no longer at her sharpest.” McBride unflinchingly embraced her role as essentially a domestic terrorist with a profound absence of sentiment.

    "We knew as soon as we chose the play that we had to have Billie play the role,” said Alleman. “There wasn't any more thought put into it. Billie is incredibly talented, and she brought fierceness to the role.”

    True West Awards Billie McBride

    Top row, from left: Lost Creatures, Outside Mullingar.
    Second row: Driving Miss Daisy, 4000 Miles, The Velocity of Autumn.
    Third row: The Last Romance, Ripcord.


    Somehow McBride also managed to direct Lost in Yonkers for the Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins, Hello Dolly! for middle- and high-school actors at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, and the workshop production of a new play called The Closet by Siegmund Fuchs for the Historic Elitch Theatre.

    As a director, McBride is known for asking you to leave your toolbox at the door when you arrive at the theatre. Not the crewmembers building the set – the actors. Just like carpenters, all actors have go-to tactics they go back to again and again. McBride has a reputation for breaking actors of those safe habits like so many wild horses.

    “She is tough and yet incredibly kind,” said Jalyn Courtenay Webb, who hired McBride to direct Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers in Fort Collins. McBride, who has a long history directing for the Denver Children’s Theatre, has a special way with younger actors, said Webb, whose 11-year-old nephew won the role of young Arty. “She was really great at talking to him at his level,” she said. “She didn’t treat him like a kid or like an adult. She treated him like the actor he needed to be in that show.”

    BILLIE McBRIDE/At a glance:

    • Grew up in Le Roy, Ill.
    • College: Illinois Wesleyan University
    • Broadway credits: A Kurt Weill Cabaret, Production Supervisor, 1979; Torch Song Trilogy, Assistant Stage Manager, 1982; played June in Safe Sex with Harvey Fierstein, 1987
    • Made DCPA Theatre Company debut in 2015 playing straight-talking Willa in world premiere of Benediction
    • Selected local credits not mentioned above: The Arvada Center (The Women, Cabaret), TheatreWorks (The Lying Kind), The Barth Hotel (On Golden Pond), Miners Alley Playhouse (Grace and Glorie)
    • Currently a company member with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company

    Video: Our 2015 'Meet the Cast' profile of Billie McBride:



    TRUE WEST AWARDS THEATRE PERSON OF THE YEAR/A look back
    2016: Actor and director Billie McBride
    2015: Donald R. Seawell: Denver Center for the Performing Arts founder
    2014: Steve Wilson: Phamaly Theatre Company and Mizel Center for Arts and Culture
    2013: Shelly Bordas: Actor, teacher, director and cancer warrior
    2012: Stephen Weitz: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company co-founder
    2011: Maurice LaMee: Creede Repertory Theatre artistic director
    2010: Anthony Garcia: Su Teatro artistic director
    2009: Kathleen M. Brady: Denver Center Theatre Company actor
    2008: Wendy Ishii: Bas Bleu Theatre co-founder
    2007: Ed Baierlein: Germinal Stage-Denver founder
    2006: Bonnie Metzgar: Curious Theatre associate artistic director
    2005: Chip Walton, Curious Theatre founder
    2004: Michael R. Duran: Actor, set designer, director and playwright
    2003: Nagle Jackson, Denver Center Theatre Company director and playwright
    2002: Chris Tabb: Actor and director

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

    THE 2016 TRUE WEST AWARDS
    Day 1: Jada Suzanne Dixon
    Day 2: Robert Michael Sanders
    Day 3: After Orlando
    Day 4: Michael Morgan
    Day 5: Beth Beyer
    Day 6: Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski
    Day 7: donnie l. betts
    Day 8: Night of the Living Dead
    Day 9: The Killer Kids of Miscast
    Day 10: Jason Sherwood
    Day 11: Leslie O'Carroll and Steve Wilson
    Day 12: Jonathan Scott-McKean
    Day 13: Jake Mendes
    Day 14: Charles R. MacLeod
    Day 15: Patty Yaconis
    Day 16: Daniel Langhoff
    Day 17: Colorado Shakespeare Festival costumers
    Day 18: Miriam Suzanne
    Day 19: Yolanda Ortega
    Day 20: Diana Ben-Kiki
    Day 21: Jeff Neuman
    Day 22: Gabriella Cavallero
    Day 23: Matthew Campbell
    Day 24: Sharon Kay White
    Day 25: John Hauser
    Day 26: Lon Winston
    Day 27: Jason Ducat
    Day 28: Sam Gregory
    Day 29: Warren Sherrill
    Day 30: The Women Who Run Theatre in Boulder
    Theatre Person of the Year Billie McBride
  • Video, photos: 'Finding Neverland' in Denver: An anthem and an opening

    by John Moore | Dec 22, 2016


    Cameron J. Bond from the national touring production of Finding Neverland sang the national anthem for 76,000 fans before the Denver Broncos' game against the New England Patriots on Dec. 18. Our video follows Bond's day from sound check through his big moment on the field. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    Finding Neverland tells the story behind one of the world's most beloved characters: Peter Pan, and how playwright J. M. Barrie overcome great odds and personal risk to first bring his heartwarming story to the London stage.

    Finding Neverland in Denver: Photo gallery


    Finding Neverland in Denver
    The photos above take you from the opening-night celebration through Cameron J. Bond's day singing the national anthem. To see more, click the 'forward' arrow on the image above. All photos may be downloaded and distributed with proper credit: Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Video Bonus: Beth Malone sings the anthem, talks Fun Home


    Finding Neverland: Ticket information
    Finding NeverlandFinding Neverland tells the story of how one of the world's most beloved fictional characters, Peter Pan, was first brought to the London stage.
    • Dec 20 through Jan. 1
    • Buell Theatre
    • Cast talkback: After the Dec. 21 performance
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Dec. 30
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Finding Neverland Cameron J. Bond Broncos Anthem. Photo by John Moore
    Cameron J. Bond. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Selected Previous NewsCenter coverage of Finding Neverland:

    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 1: Director Diane Paulus
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 2: Choreographer Mia Michaels
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 3: Composers Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 4: Book writer James Graham
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 5: Actor Christine Dwyer (Sylvia)
    Finding Neverland creative team, Part 6: Actor Kevin Kern (J. M. Barrie)
    Finding Neverland creatve team, Part 7: Actor Tom Hewitt (Frohman/Captain Hook)
    Video, photos: Finding Neverland in Denver - an anthem an and opening
    Diane Paulus on the rise of 'adventure theatre'
    Finding Neverland flies onto Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season
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ABOUT THE EDITOR
John Moore
John Moore
Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

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