• Breaking: 2018 Saturday Night Alive guests will attend 'Hamilton'

    by John Moore | Oct 19, 2017

     

    Guests of the Denver Center's signature fundraiser for arts education will experience the Broadway show first-hand

    Guests of the DCPA's 38th annual signature fundraiser, Saturday Night Alive, next March 3, will attend that evening’s performance of Hamilton at The Buell Theatre, it was  announced tonight at a kickoff party at Le Méridian Denver Downtown

    Every year, Saturday Night Alive helps DCPA education programs give more than 106,000 students the opportunity to take their first step toward changing their lives and transforming the world around them.

    Chris De'Sean Lee, Jose Ramos, Wallace Smith, Miguel Cervantes - HAMILTON - (c) Joan Marcus 2016“At the DCPA, we believe that the arts are a fundamental part of a well-rounded education,” said DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden. “Being able to celebrate that with Hamilton, a show that is equally passionate about arts education, is an exciting opportunity for our  Saturday Night Alive donors.”

    (Pictured right: Chris De, Sean Lee, Jose Ramos, Wallace Smith, Miguel Cervantes from the original Broadway company of 'Hamilton.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    Individual tickets for Saturday Night Alive start at $1,000 and will go on sale at the end of November. Tables of 10 start at $10,000. Prices include a donation to the DCPA, the events of the evening, and tickets to Hamilton that evening. Visit denvercenter.org/SNA  for more information.

    SNA_Social_AnnouncementPlease Note: Tickets to the Denver engagement of Hamilton are currently not on sale. Tickets to Hamilton will go on sale after the first of the year. Information regarding the specific date and details of the public on-sale will be announced at the end of 2017. Please be aware that if one sees tickets for sale from a third party, there is a very good chance these are not legitimate tickets. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the ONLY authorized ticket provider for Hamilton 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.

    To receive alerts related to Hamilton in Denver, click here

    SNAAt Saturday Night Alive, which is a regular sell-out on the Denver social calendar, guests will enjoy not only that evening’s performance of Hamilton, but also elements that have made this event an eagerly anticipated highlight of the social scene for nearly four decades:

    • Surprise Box Sale: A Saturday Night Alive original. Bidders purchase a box without knowing what is inside.
    • Computerized Luxury Silent Auction featuring nearly 100 items including artwork, jewelry and fabulous trips both domestic and worldwide courtesy of United Airlines and Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
    • Dinner provided by Epicurean Culinary Group in the elegant Seawell Grand Ballroom.
    • Post-show desserts and dancing, to which members of the Hamilton company have been invited.

    (Pictured above and right: Broadway stars Kelli O'Hara and Brian d'Arcy James headlined the 2016 Saturday Night Alive.)

    Last year, Saturday Night Alive grossed more than $1.2 million to support the Denver Center’s extensive educational programs. Over the past three decades, an estimated $21 million has helped the DCPA provide theatre programs to more than 1.9 million students — a testament to the volunteers, donors, sponsors and attendees who have made this event a success.

    Video Bonus: Savion Glover at the DCPA's 2017 Saturday Night Alive

    Tap-dancer and choreographer Savion Glover's headlining performance helped raised a record $1 million for DCPA Education programs last year at the Denver Center's annual Saturday Night Alive benefit. In addition, he taught a master class for a wide range of Denver dance students. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Interview by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Related NewsCenter coverage
    :
    Hamilton dates, 2017-18 Broadway season titles announced
    Broadway's Hamilton is heading to Denver
    Lin-Manuel Miranda on the power of theatre to eliminate distance
    Why Lin-Manuel Miranda's father is obsessed with The Unsinkable Molly Brown



    Note:
    The 2018 Saturday Night Alive Event Chairs are Susan and Steve Struna. Corporate Chairs are Lisa and Norm Franke/Alpine Bank. Auction Co-Chairs include Keri Christiansen and Jane Netzorg. Patron Chairs are Lyn and Dr. Michael Schaffer. sponsors are United Airlines, The Westin Denver Downtown, Epicurean Culinary Group, Kathie and Keith Finger, HealthONE and the Colorado Oil and Gas Industry.

  • Something old, something new, something borrowed and 'Something Rotten!'

    by John Moore | Oct 17, 2017
    something-rotten_cast-of-the-national-tour_jeremy-daniel_33063145961_o

     

    Cast of the national touring production of 'Something Rotten,' opening tonight (Oct. 17) at the Buell Theatre. Photo by Jeremy Daniel. 

    Something Rotten! is a cheeky new musical with its tongue planted firmly in the cheek of Broadway's past  

    Most Broadway newcomers don’t get their first show produced by Tony Award-winner Kevin McCollum, and they don’t typically land Tony-winner Casey Nicholaw as their director-choreographer. But brothers Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick and British comedy writer John O’Farrell, the creators of the Tony Award-nominated Something Rotten!, aren’t like most Broadway first-timers.

    Growing up in Louisiana, the Kirkpatrick brothers fell in love with musical theater, appearing in high school shows and going to what’s now the Baton Rouge River Center to see touring productions of Broadway hits. In 1983, Karey Kirkpatrick saw his first show on Broadway, My One and Only, starring Tommy Tune and Twiggy, at the St. James Theatre – the theater that’s now home to Something Rotten!.

    Careers took the brothers and their Something Rotten! collaborator O’Farrell in different creative directions – Karey to success as a screenwriter, songwriter and director, with credits including The Rescuers Down Under, James and the Giant Peach and Chicken Run; Wayne to acclaim as a Grammy Award-winning songwriter (Eric Clapton’s Song of the Year Change the World and Garth BrooksWrapped Up in You are his); O’Farrell to multifaceted success in the U.K. as a comic novelist, columnist and TV and film writer.

    The seeds of Something Rotten! were sewn in the mid-1990s when Karey, who now lives in Los Angeles, and Wayne, who calls Nashville home, would get together for holidays or catch up by phone.

    “We were big history buffs. It started with, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if Shakespeare’s London were a lot like what Broadway was in the 1930s?’” Karey says. “Then it was, ‘What would it be like to be writing plays in the shadow of William Shakespeare, after Romeo and Juliet just opened?’”

    “We thought of two writers,” Wayne says. “What if one went to a soothsayer? Then somewhere along the way it was, ‘What if the two writers were brothers? What if the soothsayer’s name was Nostradamus, but he wasn’t The Nostradamus? What if he was a senile, bad soothsayer, his nephew?’ Eventually it was, ‘If we’re going to do this, we should really get serious about it.’”

    The brothers buckled down, and in 2010, Karey reached out to McCollum, producer of Rent and Avenue Q.

    “We called Kevin and said, ‘What do you need?’ He said that Avenue Q was three songs and an idea,” Karey says. “He came to my house and we pitched him five songs and the idea. He said, ‘I think you’ve got something here.’ ”

    Karey brought in O’Farrell, whom he’d met on Chicken Run, to help write the show’s story. The brothers crafted the music and lyrics, eventually writing more than 50 songs. What they had, after plenty of revisions and a multi-year developmental process, is a buoyant musical set in Shakespeare’s day that imagines the creation of the very first musical.

    Something Rotten! centers around Nick and Nigel Bottom (the last name comes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream), brothers desperate for a hit in Elizabethan London, where William Shakespeare is a rock star-like god of the stage lately given to cribbing plots. 

    Nick’s wife, Bea, a can-do gal in the style of Shakespearean heroines who cross-dress to get things done, tries to help. Nigel falls for a pretty Puritan named Portia, whose daddy strongly disapproves. Unreliable soothsayer Thomas Nostradamus, nephew of the Nostradamus, looks into the future and tells Nick that theater’s next big thing will be – tahdah! – “musicals,” where people sing, dance and act all at the same time.

    Something Rotten! is laced throughout with humor for Shakespeare aficionados and musical theater geeks.

    “We were conscious of not wanting to be so inside that you could only get it if you had seen the most obscure musicals,” Wayne Kirkpatrick said. “We went broad, purposely. We referenced not only the musicals that inspired us, but also musicals people would know even if they hadn’t seen them, or maybe they’d only seen the movie. The same with Shakespeare. Everybody knows some Shakespeare lines. There are a lot of what we refer to as his ‘hits’ that everybody is going to know.” 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The end result is a show so that has been called fresh and funny and appeals to audiences of all backgrounds. “I think it doesn’t matter how much you know,” said Nicholaw, whose other current Broadway shows are Disney's Aladdin (coming to Denver April 6-28) and The Book of Mormon (returning to Denver from June 13 through July 1). “My nieces and nephews say it’s their favorite show that I’ve done, and they don’t know any of the references.”

    Added O’Farrell: “If it works as a musical for people who don’t know musicals or Shakespeare, then I’m happy. It’s about show business and putting on a show. The show works on many levels, but the main level it works on, I hope, is that it’s just a great fun night out.”

    For the no-longer-green creative team, Something Rotten! has been a challenge, an education and a joy, an experience they still savor as the touring production plays cities all over the United States.

    “This was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but [it was] so rewarding to sit in a theater and watch all these amazing contributions from people who took it beyond our idea to create this magical, happy experience,” Wayne Kirkpatrick said.

    (The preceding article was provided by Something Rotten!)


    Bonus: Something Rotten! sings!


    AChorusLine

    'Something Rotten!'
    is brimming with references from some of the most beloved modern musicals throughout history. Jazz hands out! Below is a list of just some of our favorites from the show-stopping number 'A Musical':

    “I believe it’s called ‘Miser-ahh-bluh’”: This is directly referring to Les Misérables, with music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, original French lyrics by Alain Boubil and Jean-Marc Natel and an English libretto by Herbert Kretzmer.

    “Feel that fascinating rhythm move into your feet”: These lyrics are from George and Ira Gershwin’s Fascinating Rhythm, which was first included in the Broadway musical Lady Be Good in 1924 with Fred and Adele Astaire.

    “It’s a musical, a Seussical?”: Seussical was a musical that debuted on Broadway in 2000 and was based on the books of Dr. Seuss. Stephen Flaherty independently composed the music and co-wrote the book with Lynn Ahrens, who also wrote the lyrics.

    Sailor Hats: During A Musical, Nostradamus and the chorus men don sailor hats, which harkens to several nautical-themed musicals, including South Pacific, Anything Goes, On the Town and Dames at Sea.

    “All That Jazz” number: This number comes from the John Kander and Fred Ebb musical Chicago (returning to the Buell Theatre starting Nov. 28), featuring the iconic Broadway choreography of Bob Fosse.

    “525,600 Minutes” excerpt: This moment comes from the song Seasons of Love from Jonathan Larson’s Rent which won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1996. The 20th anniversary tour of Rent comes to the Buell Theatre Nov. 14-21,

    Wash Buckets: The ensemble brings on cleaning buckets and emulates the iconic staging of the song It’s the Hard Knock Life from Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin’s Annie. BDT Stage will be presenting Annie in Boulder from Nov. 18-Feb. 24.

    Get in 'Line': The lyrics refer to the tradition of a chorus or ensemble dancing in a line in synchronized fashion. This can be seen with the world-famous Radio City Music Hall’s Rockettes and the musical A Chorus Line. At the end of the song, the entire company crosses to one line downstage with headshots (or rather head… sketches) in front of their faces. This is also replication of the iconic staging from the musical A Chorus Line.



    Fun photo gallery: A peek at the Playbills. Elizabethan style!

    Something Rotten! A Peek at the Playbills

    As a show about the "first" Broadway musical, there are naturally quite a few hilarious references to the Great White Way in Something Rotten! See how the titles of some famous shows would have changed if they were created at the turn of the 17th century. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears.



    Something Rotten!: Ticket information
    Something Rotten!At a glance: Set in 1595, this hit musical comedy  tells the story of two brothers who set out to write the world's very first musical. It was called  'The Producers + Spamalot + The Book of Mormon. Squared,' by New York Magazine. The New York Post called Something Rotten! 'a big, fat hit.'

    • National touring production
    • Performances Oct. 17-29
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
  • 'Frozen': Your first look at production photos

    by John Moore | Sep 14, 2017
    The video above captures the excitement from Opening Night of the pre-Broadway engagement of 'Frozen; in Denver on Sept. 14, 2017. The run continues at the Buell Theatre through Oct. 1 before the moving to Broadway in February 2018. 


    Your first look at Opening Night and production photos from the Denver debut of the upcoming Broadway musical

    The first production photos of Disney Theatrical’s new Broadway musical Frozen were released this morning. The pre-Broadway engagement at the Buell Theatre opens tonight (Sept. 14)  and continues through Oct. 1. Photos by Deen van Meer.
     

    Jelani Alladin (Kristoff) and Patti Murin (Anna) in FROZEN. Photo by Deen van Meer
    Jelani Alladin (Kristoff) and Patti Murin (Anna) in 'Frozen.' Photo by Deen van Meer.



    Patti Murin (Anna) and John Riddle (Hans) in FROZEN. Photo by Deen van MeerPatti Murin (Anna) and John Riddle (Hans) in 'Frozen.' Photo by Deen van Meer.


    Jelani Alladin (Kristoff) and Andrew Pirozzi (Sven) in FROZEN. Photo by Deen van MeerJelani Alladin (Kristoff) and Andrew Pirozzi (Sven) in 'Frozen.' Photo by Deen van Meer.


    Patti Murin (Anna) and Caissie Levy (Elsa) with Jacob Smith in FROZEN. Photo by Deen van Meer

    Jelani Alladin (Kristoff), Patti Murin (Anna) and Caissie Levy (Elsa) with Jacob Smith in 'Frozen.' Photo by Deen van Meer.

    The Company of FROZEN. Photo by Deen van MeerThe Company of 'Frozen.' Photo by Deen van Meer.


    Video: Our interviews with stars, creative team:

    Video above: Our series of interviews with members of the cast and creative team from the upcoming new Broadway musical Frozen, which continues in Denver through Oct. 1. Videos by David Lenk. Interviews by John Moore.

    Frozen: Ticket information

    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. 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
    • Through Oct. 1
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Single tickets are onsale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY NOW
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Following its pre-Broadway engagement, Frozen will join Disney Theatrical hits Aladdin and The Lion King on Broadway, beginning performances at the St. James Theatre on Feb. 22, 2018, and opening March 22. Tickets for Broadway performances are on sale now through Aug. 12, 2018. Visit FrozenTheMusical.com for more information.

    Photo gallery: Making of Frozen

    Frozen
    'Frozen' photo gallery in Denver. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Rehearsal photos by Jenny Anderson.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Our exclusive first interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin
    Frozen performance added for Friday, Aug. 18
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Meet the entire cast 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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


     

  • Video: The 'Frozen' interviews, Part 3: Thomas Schumacher

    by John Moore | Aug 18, 2017

     


    Disney's Thomas Schumacher: 'Frozen is not a musical film. It’s a theatrical musical on film.'

    In advance of the Denver debut of the upcoming new Broadway musical Frozen on Aug. 17, we present you with this series of interviews with members of the cast and creative team.

    Thomas-Schumacher-denver-center_frozen_photo-by-jenny-andersonPart 3: Thomas Schumacher, President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions, who talks about his company’s special relationship with the city of Denver, and what makes Frozen the perfect choice for a musical stage adaptation.

    “At its core, Frozen is not a musical film. It’s a theatrical musical on film,” Schumacher said. “The characters tell the stories with their songs. The songs turn the corner for the story action. Music propels it forward. And that’s why it wants to be on the stage.”

    Interview by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Frozen plays in Denver through Oct. 1.

    (Pictured above from left: Director Michael Grandage, Thomas Schumacher and Scenic and Costume Designer Christopher Oram. Photo by Jenny Anderson.)

    The full Frozen video series:
    Part 1: Caissie Levy and Patti Murin
    Part 2: Director Michael Grandage
    Part 3: Thomas Schumacher, President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions
    Part 4: Choreographer Rob Ashford

    Frozen: Ticket information

    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. 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 Production
    • Aug. 17-Oct. 1
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Single tickets are onsale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY NOW
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Photo gallery: Making of Frozen

    Frozen
    'Frozen' photo gallery in Denver. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Rehearsal photos by Jenny Anderson.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Our exclusive first interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin
    Frozen performance added for Friday, Aug. 18
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Meet the entire cast 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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


  • Video: The 'Frozen' interviews, Part 4: Choreographer Rob Ashford

    by John Moore | Aug 16, 2017

     


    The choreographer calls the new Broadway musical's mingling of old and new songs 'seamless'

    In advance of the Denver debut of the upcoming new Broadway musical Frozen on Aug. 17, we present you with this series of interviews with members of the cast and creative team.

    Travis Patton, Rob Ashford & James Brown III Photo by Jenny AndersonPart 4: Choreographer Rob Ashford, who says the mingling of old and new songs is surprisingly seamless. "When I first heard all the new music, I was like, ‘Is that a new song? I’m not sure.’ Because they all feel like they could have absolutely been in the film."

    Ashford says he had something of a blank slate because there is not much dancing in the animated source film. He's points to the Coronation Ball as an example of a scene he thinks the movement really works. "Anna sees Elsa across the room and she is thrilled to see her sister again, but doesn’t know how to approach her," said Ashford," and so all of those things are done through dance." He calls choreographing Frozen "a joy and a privilege."

    Interview by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Frozen plays in Denver through Oct. 1.

    (Pictured above, from left: Travis Patton, Rob Ashford and James Brown III. Photo by Jenny Anderson.)

    The full Frozen video series:
    Part 1: Caissie Levy and Patti Murin
    Part 2: Director Michael Grandage
    Part 3: Thomas Schumacher, President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions
    Part 4: Choreographer Rob Ashford

    Frozen: Ticket information

    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. 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, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Single tickets are onsale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY NOW
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Photo gallery: Making of Frozen

    Frozen
    'Frozen' photo gallery in Denver. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Rehearsal photos by Jenny Anderson.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Our exclusive first interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin
    Frozen performance added for Friday, Aug. 18
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Meet the entire cast 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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


  • Video: The 'Frozen' interviews, Part 2: Director Michael Grandage

    by John Moore | Aug 13, 2017

     


    Frozen director: 'The vision is to honor the film but at the same time give it its own identity.'

    In advance of the Denver debut of the upcoming new Broadway musical Frozen on Aug. 17, we present you with this series of interviews with members of the cast and creative team. Second up: Director Michael Grandage.  

    Frozen Michael Grandage "The vision is to honor the film but at the same time give it its own identity. We can do a lot onstage that you can’t do otherwise," Grandage says. 

    As for his own hopes for the audience, he added: "I’ve always found that if you can have your life changed just a little bit by watching theatre, and it can really make a difference in your life, then I think we have done our job. I hope Frozen does that.  

    Interviews by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Frozen plays in Denver through Oct. 1.

    Pictured above from left: Patti Murin, Michael Grandage and Caissie Levy. Photo by Jenny Anderson.

    The full Frozen video series:
    Part 1: Caissie Levy and Patti Murin
    Part 2: Director Michael Grandage
    Part 3: Thomas Schumacher, President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions
    Part 4: Choreographer Rob Ashford

    Frozen: Ticket information

    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. 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, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Single tickets are onsale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY NOW
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Photo gallery: Making of Frozen

    Frozen
    'Frozen' photo gallery in Denver. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Rehearsal photos by Jenny Anderson.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Our exclusive first interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin
    Frozen performance added for Friday, Aug. 18
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Meet the entire cast 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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


  • Video: The 'Frozen' interviews, Part 1: Caissie Levy and Patti Murin

    by John Moore | Aug 11, 2017

     


    Frozen stars: 'It's great that this is the city Disney trusts to give them a valid and educated response.'

    In advance of the Denver debut of the upcoming new Broadway musical Frozen on Aug. 17, we present you with this series of interviews with members of thA Frozen. Rehearsale cast and creative team. First up: Caissie Levy (Elsa) and Patti Murin (Anna).  

    Says Levy: "I think you are going to mostly see the show that will arrive on Broadway, but you get to see it first here in Denver, which is cool - and you will know all those insider tweaks that happened. I think that's why we are excited to be here, because this is such a savvy theatregoing city."

    Read more: First interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin

    Says Murin: "Any changes that are made between Denver and New York are going to be because of how the Denver audience reacts. And so it's great that this is the city Disney trusts to give them a valid and educated response." 

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

    Frozen plays in Denver through Oct. 1.

    The full Frozen video series:
    Part 1: Caissie Levy and Patti Murin
    Part 2: Director Michael Grandage
    Part 3: Thomas Schumacher, President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions
    Part 4: Choreographer Rob Ashford

    Frozen: Ticket information

    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. 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, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Single tickets are onsale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY NOW
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Photo gallery: Making of Frozen

    Frozen
    'Frozen' photo gallery in Denver. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Rehearsal photos by Jenny Anderson.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Our exclusive first interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin
    Frozen performance added for Friday, Aug. 18
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Meet the entire cast 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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


  • 'Frozen' performance added for Friday night, Aug. 18

    by John Moore | Aug 10, 2017
    Frozen
    'Frozen' photo gallery in Denver. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Rehearsal photos by Jenny Anderson.

     

    Disney's Thomas Schumacher: Creative team will benefit from additional early performance before Denver audience

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The first performance of the highly anticipated developing Broadway musical Frozen takes place in Denver on Thursday, Aug. 17. And the second performance, as of right now, will be the next evening, it was just announced.

    According to the original Frozen schedule, Friday, Aug. 18, was to have been a full work day, with no public performance that evening. But Frozen Director Michael Grandage and Disney Theatricals President Thomas Schumacher have decided the Frozen creative team will benefit more from getting several performances in the books before implementing any potential changes.

    “Frankly, we want to get on a roll, and one performance isn’t enough to help us do that,” said Schumacher. “If we can have a second preview right away, then we can size up more than just one audience.”

    The newly added performance will take place in the Buell Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18, which means an additional 2,800 seats have just been made available to the public at denvercenter.org, starting at $25.

    Frozen rehearsal. Caissie Levy and Patti Murin. Photo by Jenny Anderson. Pre-Broadway productions don’t always follow the same performance schedules audiences come to expect from established touring productions that visit Denver. Instead, shows still in development target specific “work days” to stop and incorporate lessons learned from early performances in front of live audiences. Those might include script, set or costume changes that can only be safely incorporated with additional, dedicated rehearsal time. The team still has planned “work days” scheduled for Aug. 22 and 29. 

    The entire seven-week run of Denver is, in essence, a preview period for the show’s opening next spring at the St. James Theatre in New York. For those unfamiliar with the term, a preview performance is essentially any that takes place before a designated opening night. In Denver, the official opening night is Sept. 14, after which any significant potential changes would not be implemented until the Denver run closes on Oct. 1.

    Our exclusive first interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin

    Schumacher said the Denver audience’s role in the creative process is of vital importance to the creative team. The audience contributes to the creative conversation simply by the way it responds to the story with its laughter, applause and tears. That’s why the creative team wants as much feedback as possible before considering any major changes.

    Michael Grandage, Thomas Schumacher, Christopher Oram. Photo by Jenny Anderson“You can't go by just one audience, because there will be diversity from one audience to the next depending on the time of day and day of the week,” Schumacher said. “Certain people love to come to a weekend matinee, and that is a very specific kind of crowd. The weekday audience is a different crowd. The people who hear about this newly added performance and buy a ticket tomorrow is a different audience than the people who bought their tickets four months ago. The people who bought their tickets four months ago are big Frozen fans. But I think this show also has so much appeal to the traditional audience that might not realize what we are even doing yet. They might not know yet that that this is actually a big, brand-new, proper musical. And when they come, we are going to learn from them as they watch the show, too.”

    The bottom line, Schumacher said: “We're in rehearsal. Previews are part of our process. And we want to get enough of them under our belt to take full advantage of what we learn from our Denver audiences to keep the momentum going.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Tickets for the added performance top out at $75, Schumacher said, since it’s such a late addition to the performance schedule. He added that the Denver engagement of Frozen is selling very well.

    “Today we have sold more tickets for Frozen than for The Little Mermaid pre-Broadway run in Denver 10 years ago,” Schumacher added. He attributed that to Frozen being staged in the Buell Theatre, which has a much higher capacity than the Ellie, which hosted The Little Mermaid.

    And yet, there are still 24,000 seats available to the public for Frozen in Denver, he said. Weeknights have the best availability.


    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.

    Pictured above: Top right: Caissie Levy and Patti Murin in 'Frozen' rehearsal. Above right, from left: Michael Grandage, Thomas Schumacher and Christopher Oram. Photos by Jenny Anderson.

    Frozen: Ticket information

    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. 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, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Single tickets are onsale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY NOW
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    dcpa.org


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen

    Exclusive first interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Meet the entire cast 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

  • Colorado Shakes' Hamlet joining Denver-bound 'Waitress' tour

    by John Moore | Aug 09, 2017
    Lenne Klingaman



    DCPA Theatre Company favorite Lenne Klingaman
    will return to Denver with Waitress on Dec. 19

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Lenne Klingaman Asked recently by the DCPA NewsCenter what her next project will be, Lenne Klingaman teased, "I can't tell you yet, but it is going to be fun!"

    Now we know. And it is going to be fun.

    Klingaman, who is playing a female Hamlet for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival through Sunday (Aug. 13), will next join the Denver-bound national touring production of Waitress, it was announced today. 

    Waitress is the new Broadway musical from Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles inspired by Adrienne Shelley's 2007 motion picture. Klingaman, who played Juliet in the DCPA Theatre Company's Romeo and Juliet and Sylvie/Young Helen in the world premiere of Appoggiatura, will play Dawn in Waitress.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Waitress. Desi Oakley and Bryan FenkhartThe Waitress cast will be led by Desi Oakley (Les Miserables, Evita) as Jenna, Bryan Fenkhart (Memphis) as Dr. Pomatter, Nick Bailey (Red Oaks) as Earl and Ryan G. Dunkin (Bull) as Cal. They will be joined by current Broadway cast members Charity Angél Dawson (Waitress, Side Show) as Becky, Larry Marshall (Waitress, Smokey Joe’s Café) as Old Joe and Jeremy Morse (Waitress) as Ogie.

    Oakley was the Eva Alternate on the Evita tour that visited Denver in 2013. Fenkhart played the lead role of Huey Calhoun when the Memphis tour came to Denver in 2012. 
     
    The ensemble includes Skyler Adams, Law Terrell Dunford, Patrick Dunn, James Hogan, David Hughey, Arica Jackson, Kyra Kennedy, Emily Koch, Maiesha McQueen, Gerianne Perez and Grace Stockdale. Koch was the standby for Elphaba in the 2015 tour of Wicked that visited Denver. 

    Read Lenne Klingaman's interview in the New York Times

    Brought to life by a groundbreaking all-female creative team, this irresistible new hit features original music and lyrics by 6-time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles ("Brave," "Love Song"), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam), choreography by Lorin Latarro (Les Dangereuse Liasons, Waiting for Godot) and direction by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus (Hair, Pippin, Finding Neverland). Paulus launched the national tour of Pippin in Denver.
     
    Inspired by Adrienne Shelly's beloved film, Waitress tells the story of Jenna - a waitress and expert pie maker, Jenna dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town's new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life.
     
    "It's an empowering musical of the highest order," said the Chicago Tribune.

    The national tour of Waitress premieres in Cleveland, on Oct. 17. It visits Denver's Buell Theatre from Dec. 19-31. Single tickets go on sale on Friday (Aug. 11) at denvercenter.org.

    In the Spotlife: Our profile of Lenne Klingaman


    Lenne Klingaman in 'Appoggiatura,' left, and 'Romeo and Juliet.' Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen.
    Lenne Klingaman played Juliet in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Romeo and Juliet' and two roles in the world premiere of the time-traveling 'Appoggiatura.' Now she is one of the few female actors to take on Hamlet, for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

    dcpa.org
  • A new 'Frozen' for every age: Our exclusive interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin

    by John Moore | Jul 31, 2017

    Frozen Quote. Caissie Levy, Patti Murin. Photo by Jenny Anderson


    Disney's new musical Frozen 'is about women being supportive of each other. Simply put: Together we are stronger.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Caissie Levy and Patti Murin never imagined they would grow up to be princesses. “Not in a million years,” Levy said, just for emphasis. But there’s no question both Broadway stars have been living a fairy tale since they were cast to play Elsa and Anna in Disney’s Broadway-bound stage adaption of Frozen.

    “I am so proud to be a part of this company. I count my blessings every day,” Murin said in an exclusive interview just a week after rehearsals began for the pre-Broadway launch in Denver that runs from Aug. 17 through Oct. 1.

    “To be in this club is thrilling, to say the least,” added Levy, who plays Elsa to Murin's Anna. “And with each new day we have been working on it, that sense of giddiness and excitement has just grown deeper and deeper.”

    Both actors say the stage adaptation of Frozen will surprise people with its universal appeal to all audiences.

    (Story continues after the video)

    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver:

    “There is something for everybody,” Levy said. “We have discovered so many more layers to examine within this story that can only happen in the theatre. A lot of adult themes are explored. It’s not just for kids.”

    Murin added that adapting the 85-minute film into a full, two-act Broadway production with more than twice as much music gives the actors the opportunity to dig deeper into their characters’ storylines.

    “This is a complete show,” Murin said. “With the addition of so much new material, we have the freedom to expand and to go deeper than you are able to in a film.” To Director Michael Grandage, it’s about emphasizing “the beating heart of the story,” she said. 

    “I think what’s so brilliant about what the writers and Michael and (Choreographer) Rob Ashford are doing is that while they are using the film as a template, they are not trying to re-create what we saw on the screen for the stage,” Levy said. “This is not a replica of the movie. It’s a wholly new work of art. People who love the movie will want to buy a ticket to the musical because they love the movie, but once they are in the theatre they are going to have a completely new experience coming at them.”

    Great care has gone into the stage adaptation, said Levy, because with great opportunity also comes royal pressure.

    “This is not just any Disney show. It’s Frozen,” said Levy. “Elsa and Anna mean so much to so many people. The weight of that is both a huge responsibility and a huge honor.” 

    Frozen earned $1.2 billion at cinemas worldwide and that was before it was made available for home viewing. The soundtrack became the highest-selling album of 2014, moving more than 10 million units. The New Yorker magazine said Frozen “has transcended the commercial realm and captured the culture.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Levy totally gets it. The Oscar-winning anthem “Let It Go” has become so pervasive, Levy said, that her 16-month-old is already singing the song from his diapers.

    So how does one go about creating a new character for the stage that comes from a film that is already so ingrained in the hearts and minds of its Frozen 800. Caissie Levy, Michael Grandage and Patti Murin. Photo by Jenny Anderson. Frozen.audience?

    “It’s tricky,” Levy said with a laugh. “I think the reason Elsa resonates with so many people is that her struggle to figure out how to be who she really is and accept and own that and love herself in spite of her flaws, is so relatable. She is trying to shed the pressure of other people’s expectations of her and figure out how to celebrate her flaws as part of who she is. And that is what I am trying to focus on as the actor playing Elsa. A lot of people have expectations about how she should be portrayed, but I am trying to take a page from ‘Let It Go’ and get all of that out of my head.”

    Frozen is the story of two princesses, one cursed with the power to control and manipulate ice. When Elsa accidentally injures her sister, it sets off a series of betrayals, treacheries and curses that can only be healed with an act of true love. But unlike most fairy tales, the heroic act that saves the day in Frozen doesn’t have anything to do with a handsome prince; it’s all about sisterhood.

    “It’s about women being supportive of each other,” Murin said. “Simply put: Together we are stronger.”

    Levy and Murin have played Elphaba and Glinda, respectively, in Wicked — just not at the same time. Like Elphaba, Elsa possesses a power she has repeatedly been told is a bad thing, and it inadvertently hurts someone she loves. Levy said it is crucial for women in the audience to see their own individual power — whatever that power might be — as a beautiful thing.

    Patti Murin Quote “It’s all about harnessing that power and taking those things we don’t love about ourselves and trying to see the positive side of it,” Levy said. The essential message of Frozen, Murin added, is “accepting who you are — and not being afraid to be who you are.”

    The purpose of the seven-week Denver run is for the creative team to explore, experiment, act and react as the musical continues its development up to its Broadway opening in 2018. “The feedback from the audiences is critically important to the production as the creative team molds the show,” said Jack Eldon, Vice President of Domestic Touring and Regional Engagements at Disney Theatrical Productions.

    But Levy already has a pretty good idea of the theatrical experience audiences are in for here.

    “I think it’s going to really surprise people,” she said. “Yes, it is going to be visually spectacular. Yes, it is going to sound incredible. Yes, it’s going to have all of the things that you want out of a Disney production. But it is also going to have so much depth and heart and soul.

    “Nothing about this is frothy. What you will see is every important moment in the lives of these characters. You are going to come away having experienced something unique and new, while still within the template of something you know and love already.”

    Video bonus: Caissie Levy and Patti Murin:

    Our video interview with 'Frozen' stars Caissie Levy (Elsa) and Patti Murin (Anna).


    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.


    Frozen: Ticket information

    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. 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, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Single tickets are onsale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY NOW
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa Meet the entire cast 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

  • The triumph of Phamaly's not-so-horrible Hannigan

    by John Moore | Jul 14, 2017
    Ashley Kelashian. Photo by Michael Ensminger


    Despite physical challenges, Phamaly's Ashley Kelashian says the girls of Annie just wanna have sun.

    By Avery Anderson
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    It was the first day of rehearsal for a highly anticipated new production of Annie, and one overwhelmed young actor in a wheelchair began to panic. The girl was one of the many novices who will play orphans in Phamaly Theatre Company’s upcoming staging on the DCPA Theatre Company’s biggest stage.

    For 28 years, Phamaly has made performance opportunities available for actors with disabilities, culminating in a big Broadway musical every summer at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. For actors with mental and physical challenges, adjusting to the move from the rehearsal room to the vaunted stage with dozens of fast-moving cast and crew swirling about can be too much.

    Ashley Kelashian. Photo by John MooreBut veteran Phamaly actor Ashley Kelashian spotted the girl and took action. Within seconds, she managed to maneuver her own wheelchair to the girl’s side and comforted her, despite the enormous pain she was in herself. That’s the way it goes at Phamaly, where there is always an army of special people standing by to help those with special needs.

    At Phamaly, everyone is different - which is what makes everyone the same.

    “We are aptly named Phamaly because it is a family too,” said Kelashian, who, ironically, will be scaring the bejeebers out of the orphans in the iconic role of the mean Mrs. Hannigan when Annie opens on Saturday.

    Kelashian and the girl she helped have more in common than wheelchairs: She has been acting since she was old enough to play an orphan herself. She knew performing was her calling when she was 13 and a teacher told her forcefully, ‘That is what you are supposed to do with your life.’ ”

    Kelashian grew up in Texas and attended the University of Texas at Arlington, where she received the R.L. Frasier Scholarship for Artistic Excellence. It was there, while playing a witch in Macbeth, she discovered something was going wrong with her body.

    “There was a point in the play when we had to run up over this hill because it was an outdoor theatre,” she said. “But I had a breakdown and all these lumps popped up over me. I didn’t know what was wrong with me.” When she admitted to her director that she could no longer accommodate the physical demands of the blocking because she was in such pain - she was cut from the show.

    Phamaly campaign raises $200K, 'saves the company'

    “Everyone was like, ‘You need to handle this. You shouldn't be on stage if you aren’t in shape to run down the hill,’ ” Kelashian said. “Instead of just changing things around so I wouldn’t have to run down the hill, they let me go.”

    A life-changing diagnosis

    Kelashian was diagnosed with Dercum’s disease, a rare condition that caused tumors to grow over her body and under her skin. The result is extreme and constant pain.

    Her peers just didn’t get it, and Kelashian dropped out of college. She says the next couple of years were a dark time. She was depressed because she could no longer act out her passion for theatre - and scared because of the uncertainty this little-known disease brought.

    “That was a rough experience,” she said. “I really don’t talk to anyone from that time of my life, just because it was such a strange thing to go through at a young age.”

    Kelashian enrolled at a local community college where she studied Speech and Debate - “or what I call ‘Competitive Theatre,’ she quipped. It was during a competition she met the man she would marry and start a family with.

    The couple moved to Denver with son Edric, she said, because of the city’s reputation for providing services that allow the disability community to live full and independent lives. “Denver is the the disability mecca,” she said with a laugh. The subsequent legalization of medical marijuana has been a godsend, she says, because it eases her chronic pain.

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    Ashley Kelashian. Photo by John Moore


    The only thing that was missing from her life here was theatre. That changed in 2012. One day while scanning the audition notices in The Denver Post, one upcoming production caught Kelashian’s eye: Phamaly was looking for disabled actors to perform in Little Shop of Horrors.

    “I fell to pieces,” Kelashian said. “I didn't know anything except that whatever this was, it was for me. I just cried and cried. I auditioned, I got in - and that is what I have been doing ever since.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Kelashian instantly felt she could be herself again in the company of Phamaly. Subsequent roles with the company have included Yente in Fiddler on the Roof and Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie. Her son, Edric Kelashian, joined his mother in the ensemble of Fiddler.

    Ashley Kelashian_Quote 2Through it all, Kelashian has tried not to let her disease change her instinct to always put others first.

    “You have to be humble,” she said. “You have to be patient through your own pain, so you have to be patient with other people's pain. Any opportunity you have to make someone feel good is a good chance for me.”

    As Phamaly's official Literary Manager, Kelashian maintains a script library to help her fellow actors prepare for auditions. She has resisted the frequent suggestion that she should charge for the service.

    “My motto is, ‘Kind is the most important thing you can be,’ ” Kelashian said. “I hope people would say I am kind and helpful whenever I can be.”

    She seems by all accounts, completely miscast to play the role Carol Burnett made famous on film. Mrs. Hannigan is the booze-sodden, kid-hating caretaker of the ratty New York orphanage where she makes her girls scrub the floor till it shines like the Chrysler Building. But while Kelashian might not be wicked, she is known for her wicked sense of humor.

    “Sometimes she just channels Hannigan," said castmate Jenna Bainbridge, who plays good-girl Grace. “Last night one of the kids were driving us crazy and she said, ‘Oh, God, I feel like Hannigan today. I need a drink, you guys.' "

    The sun will come out in Texas

    The Kelashian family moved back to Texas a year ago so Edric could attend his freshman year of high school with his friends there. Ashley has been traveling to and from Denver for the past year to continue her work for Phamaly.  

    For this run of Annie, Kelashian is living in an apartment with a roommate, and she admitted there are times when she needs to ask for help.

    “I don't want to say I overestimated myself before I came back here for this - but I did,” Kelashian said. “I have gotten to the point where when I do the dishes, the repetitive motion tears the tissue in my arm. And at rehearsal, I need to wave the kids all about, and that is more painful than normal.”

    Ashley Kelashian. Photo by Avery AndersonBut all Kelashian had to do was say the word, and "within 30 minutes," she said, help was on the way. The Denver Center, which not only makes its theatres available for Phamaly productions but also assists with production, marketing and logistical support, had made one of the apartments it owns in nearby Brooks Tower building available to another out-of-town Annie performer. And that convenience has made her available to help Kelashian at a moment's notice.

    "I got a phone call saying she could come over and help me with things and take me to the emergency room if I ever needed it,” Kelashian said. “I was just crying. Nowhere else in the world would I get this kind of accommodation to do what I love doing.”

    And when Edric graduates from high school in 2020, Kelashian and her husband plan to come home to Colorado for good.

    “Phamaly is the end-game of my life,” Kelashian said. 

    Phamaly Theatre Company's Annie: Ticket information
    • July 15 through Aug. 6
    • Stage Theatre Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Directed by Regan Linton and Steve Wilson. Musical Direction by Trent Hines
    • Tickets: $20-$37
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Accessible performances: July 23, Aug. 3

    Video: View Phamaly's official Annie trailer


    Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of Phamaly:

    Pop-culture Annie, from comics to Broadway to Jay-Z
    Phamaly gala, campaign raise $200K, ‘save the company’
    Phamaly launches emergency $100,000 fundraising campaign
    Regan Linton accepts Spirit of Craig Award
    Regan Linton returns to lead Phamaly in landmark appointment

    About the author:
    Avery-Anderson Avery Anderson is interning with the DCPA NewsCenter for the summer. He is the General Manager and producer of Met TV at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He was won two Heartland Student Emmy Awards for his work on The Met Report. He has a passion for local arts and culture and enjoys covering theatres across the Denver area and the state. Follow him on Twitter at @a_anderson64.

  • Video: The summer of 'Frozen' is heating up in Denver

    by John Moore | Jun 23, 2017

    Disney Theatrical Productions launches its new Broadway-bound musical Frozen from Aug. 17-Oct. 1 at Denver's Buell Theatre. The new stage adaptation of the popular animated film plays here for seven weeks before joining Disney hits "Aladdin" and "The Lion King" on Broadway in spring 2018 at the St. James Theatre.

    In this video, DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg talks Frozen as banners for the show were hoisted throughout the Denver Performing Arts Complex - ironically, on the first day of summer.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    "Hosting a pre-Broadway theatrical engagement is so unique because this will be the first time any audience gets to see the full Broadway production up on its feet in the theatre before it goes to New York next spring," said Ekeberg. The venture is also great for the local economy, he added, "because it provides a lot of jobs for the Denver region."

     Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. 

    Frozen Banner. John Moore
    Banners are going up throughout the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
    More photos here.


    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
    Photos: Rehearsals begin for 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
  • 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 returned to Denver for a 12th time in April to perform his signature show, 'Mark Twain Tonight.' Today (Sept. 14, 2017), Holbrook, at age 92, announced he will no longer play the role live onstage - after 63 years. In honor, we're re-posting our most recent interview.


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

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