• City announces security change at Buell Theatre

    by John Moore | Feb 12, 2018

    Buell Theatre.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    COMPLETE GUIDELINES FOR CITY-RUN ARTS COMPLEX VENUES:

    PERMITTED ITEMS INSIDE:

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

    PROHIBITED ITEMS INSIDE:

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

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

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

  • Announcing the 'Hamilton' lottery in Denver

    by John Moore | Feb 12, 2018

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

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

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

    HOW TO ENTER:

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

    ADDITIONAL RULES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    About THE DENVER CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS

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

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Hamilton

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

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

    by John Moore | Feb 10, 2018

    STOMP 2018. Photo by Junichi Takahashi.

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

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

    Genevieve Miller Holt
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

    But not here.

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Lester Ward retires: 'There were really no dark days'

    by John Moore | Feb 01, 2018

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


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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

    Calling Mr. President …

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

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

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

    (Story continues below the photo gallery)

    Photo gallery: Lester Ward through the years

    Lester Ward: A Look back

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ‘Denver is now the greatest city …’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Lester Ward: Four favorites

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

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


    Lester Ward: Highlights

    • Hometown: Pueblo
    • Graduated from Pueblo Central High School, Harvard College and Harvard Law School
    • Wife: Rosalind, 53 years
    • Children: Ann Marie, Alison Kay and Lester III. Four grandchildren. Niece Elizabeth Ward Land is a Broadway actor, most recently in Amazing Grace
    • Served in the U.S. Army, 1955-57
    • Partner at the private law firm of Predovich, Ward and Banner, 1957-89
    • Named Outstanding Young Man of 1964 by the Pueblo Jaycees
    • Appointed by Governor Dick Lamm to serve on the Colorado Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, 1975
    • President of the Colorado Bar Association, 1983-84
    • Named to the DCPA Board of Trustees, 1986
    • Named President and Chief Operating Officer of the DCPA on July 1, 1989
    • Chair of the Performing Arts Center Consortium, consisting of 27 major performing-arts centers in the U.S., Canada and Australia, 2001-02
    • President of the Helen G. Bonfils Foundation, 2007-16
    • Boards and charities including: Pueblo Kiwanis Club, Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center, Pueblo Public Library, St. Mary Corwin Hospital, Thatcher Foundation, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Colorado Lawyers for the Arts
  • 'Rise Up!' More things to know about 'Hamilton' tickets

    by John Moore | Jan 30, 2018

    Hamilton Solea Pfeiffer, Emmy Raver-Lampman and Amber Iman. Photo by Joan MarcusFrom left: Solea Pfeiffer, Emmy Raver-Lampman and Amber Iman in the national touring production of 'Hamilton' that performs in Denver from Feb. 27-April 1. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    Here are more helpful tips for Hamilton audiences – for example, don’t post pics of ticket barcodes on social media.

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is the only authorized ticket provider for the Denver engagement ofHamilton and tickets are currently not available. Here are some more things to know about tickets to the Denver engagement:

    NUMBER 1 By purchasing through the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, regardless of when or how the transaction was made (subscriber pre-sale, on Jan. 22 or after), account holders receive a receipt that looks like this, assuring they bought an authorized ticket from the DCPA. We recommend that customers compare the account number on their receipt with their actual DCPA account to make sure they match. No one will have actual, hard tickets in hand until the week of Feb. 12.

    VIEW A LEGITIMATE DCPA RECEIPT EXAMPLE

    TheNUMBER 2 DCPA’s Ticket Purchase and Sale Terms and Policies are what we follow for ticket purchases to all shows and plays so that we can do everything possible to assure that the customer is getting a legitimate ticket at the correct price. The DCPA team is currently analyzing the legitimacy of every transaction. We did identify a brief code error from our ticketing provider that occurred on Jan. 22, which has been remedied.

    Three important highlights from those policies: 

    • Tickets may not be sold for more than face value. Even fairly obtained tickets.
    • Tickets purchased from a source other than DCPA may be lost, stolen, fake or otherwise violate our terms or policies. Such tickets will not be honored at the door.
    • The DCPA is analyzing transactions for patrons who purchased more than the maximum limit of tickets per account.

    Ticket-buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker, or any third party, run the risk of overpaying or potentially buying illegitimate tickets. If they do, they should be aware that the DCPA is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and are unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance.

    Any patrons found to be in violation of our terms may have their tickets canceled. Any canceled seats may be available to the public as we get closer to the engagement. We welcome patrons to check back at denvercenter.org/Hamilton at their convenience to purchase any tickets that may be made available.

    If you suspect suspicious behavior that violates our policies, please send that information to feedback@dcpa.org

    NUMBER 3 Patrons who do not violate the DCPA ticketing policy can plan on being "in the room where it happens" for the performance and in the seating location noted on their official DCPA receipt. 

    More answers to your Hamilton questions in our FAQ

    NUMBER 4 Our authorized tickets prices vary by date and availability. We welcome patrons to check back at denvercenter.org/Hamilton at their convenience to purchase any tickets that may be made available.

    Hamilton Sample Ticket

    Hamilton stickersNUMBER 5 When customers receive their tickets the week of Feb. 12, we highly recommend that they always #CoverTheCode when posting photos of their tickets online or on social media. Why? The barcode can be easily copied from a photo and resold. We don't want them to "throw away their shot" to see the show. They can keep it simple and cover it with their hand or, the Hamilton App has some excellent stickers (examples at right).

    Hamilton Sample Ticket

    NUMBER 6 There also will be a lottery for 40 $10 orchestra seats before every performance — details will be announced closer to the engagement. The best way to be informed about how the lottery will work is to sign up for alerts at denvercenter.org/Hamilton or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram @DenverCenter.

    Hamilton: At a glance

    Related NewsCenter coverage:
    Hamilton Tickets
  • 'Hamilton' tickets in Denver: Don't get scammed on Monday

    by John Moore | Jan 17, 2018
    Mathenee Treco, Jordan Donica, Ruben J. Carbajal & Michael Luwoye - HAMILTON National Tour (c) Joan Marcus

    From left: Aurora native and Eaglecrest High School graduate Mathenee Treco with Jordan Donica, Ruben J. Carbajal and Michael Luwoye in the 'Hamilton' national touring cast. Tickets for the Denver engagement go on-sale Jan. 22. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    Here's how to make your ticket-buying experience go smoothly when Hamilton tickets go on sale Jan. 22

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Monday will be a historic day in Colorado theatre when single tickets go onsale for the Denver run of Hamilton, one of the most honored and rapturously received musicals in Broadway history. Denver Center officials are expecting consumer interest to be akin to that of a Denver Broncos playoff game.

    But along with passionate theatergoers, the Hamilton ticket sale promises to also attract third-party ticket brokers hoping to scoop up tickets and re-sell them for well above face value — which for most tickets in Denver will not exceed $165 on the Jan. 22 on-sale date.

    Re-selling sports and entertainment tickets is big business. How big? according to Northcoast Research, it's a $5 billion annual industry. They do it by using “bot” technology that can access legit online ticket providers such as denvercenter.org and essentially replicate human behavior. By the thousands. And with super-human speed.

    JohnEkebergHAMILTONQUOTE"This is a worldwide problem," said John Ekeberg, Executive Director of DCPA Broadway. "The bigger the show, the bigger the problem."

    And shows don't get any bigger than Hamilton. With tickets going on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 22, this is both "buyer beware" and "buyer be aware" time for all potential consumers, whether you choose to buy tickets in person, on the phone or online.

    "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 Vice President of Information Technology. But he and his team are in an endless race against technological advances that help secondary brokers get their hands on tickets.

    Those safeguards include limiting purchases to four tickets per account so if the brokers win, they don’t win as much as they might have won before. "Anti-bot" technologies have been implemented to prevent bots from obtaining tickets. Another safeguard: The Denver Center does not allow a single credit-card to be used from multiple computers.

    But perhaps the biggest new weapon in the good guys’ toolbox is a service called “Queue It.” That's a virtual waiting room that guarantees your place in line, and lets you know in real time how long it will be before it is your turn to buy. "We will even let those folks know that they can either stay on the site or we will let them know via email that it's their turn," said Pina.

    No matter how long you have been purchasing your theatre tickets from denvercenter.org, this will be a whole new consumer experience. The "Queue It" service will help ensure a smooth patron experience when purchasing tickets online.

    Here’s how it works:

    Visit hamilton.denvercenter.org between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan 22. You will find yourself in a virtual waiting room. At 10 a.m., you and everyone else in the virtual waiting room will be assigned a random place in line. (And then any latecomers who join after 10 a.m. will be placed, in order, at the back of the line.)

    Hamilton Virtual Waiting RoomOnce your place in line is randomly assigned (see example pictured at right), your place in line is secure. If and when you reach the front of the line before Monday’s allotment of tickets are claimed, you will have 15 minutes to complete your transaction.

    "The whole point of this new system is to ensure that the patron purchasing experience online is as smooth and as efficient as possible," Pina said.

    Now here’s perhaps the best news for legit Hamilton-loving customers: After Monday’s available tickets are gone and the sale is over, the DCPA has committed to reviewing every single online purchase for its legitimacy before any sale is final. That part of the process is essentially a cleansing of the list of unfairly bought tickets.

    "We will be looking for different indicators of purchase behavior that violates our ticket policy," Ekeberg said. Any and all transactions that are detected to be “bot” purchases will be canceled without further consideration. Also: Any patrons who create duplicate accounts with the intention of purchasing more than four tickets per account will also find their orders canceled.

    "We want to reassure people that we are doing everything we can to make this as fair as possible," Ekeberg said. 

    If you do not make it to the front of the virtual line by the time Monday’s allotment of tickets are gone, an announcement will appear in the waiting room that says, “This Event Has Ended.” But if that happens to you, do not despair: Before every performance, there will be a lottery for 40 $10 orchestra seats. That’s 1,500 lucky people who will see Hamilton in Denver from great seats — and for only 10 bucks each. Details will be announced closer to the Feb. 27 opening.

    Here are more helpful tips, useful background information and answers to some of your anticipated questions, not only to help you from being scammed on Monday, but also to help you make your purchasing experience go as smoothly as possible:  

    Five helpful tips to make your Monday go better:

    NUMBER 1 This is big: If you have not created a ticket-buying account on denvercenter.org, do it before Monday. Heck, do it right now. Here's where to do it. Fill out all your information now, so that if you make it to the front of the virtual line on Monday, your transaction will go that much faster. (And those behind you in line will thank you for it.)

    If you already have a Denver Center account, know your username and password. Test it today so that you won't have any trouble purchasing tickets quickly on Monday. If you are unsure of your username and password, please call the box office at 303-893-4100 no later than 5 p.m. on Jan. 21 to ensure a smooth login process on Monday.

    Also: Look up your account information and write it all down in a secured, secondary place so if you need that information on Monday, you will have it handy — on a device separate from your computer.



    NUMBER 2This one is even bigger: The Denver Center's web site at hamilton.denvercenter.org is the only authorized online ticket provider for Hamilton. Do not buy tickets from ANY OTHER online source. You will pay more on any other site. And how to know you are buying from the Denver Center?
    • Look for the Denver Center logo at the top of the online page.
    • Make certain that you see "denvercenter.org" somewhere within 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 3Real Hamilton tickets will range from $75 to $165 on the Jan. 22 onsale date, with a select number of $585 premium seats available for all performances.

    Take it from 9News' Jeremy Jojola: Only buy from denvercenter.org


    NUMBER 4 Bonfils ComplexThe DCPA is providing three points of purchase: Online, by phone (303-893-4100) and at the box office located in the lobby of the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex. (See map at right.) Tickets are not guaranteed for any point of purchase, and agents are authorized to process only one transaction per customer, regardless of point of purchase. If you choose to purchase in-person at the DCPA box office, know that the line outside will not be allowed to form until after 6 a.m. on Monday. If you plan to purchase by phone, you can expect a very high call volume. Certain carriers may give a "disconnect" message as opposed to an "all circuits are busy" message — which is, unfortunately, out of the DCPA's control.


    NUMBER 5If you succeed in buying tickets, congratulations! As part of your purchase, you will be asked whether you prefer to have your tickets mailed to you, or left for you at will call. For this show only, the Denver Center’s "Print at Home" service is not a ticketing option — purely as a safeguard to cut down on potential fraud. So if any seller says they will email your tickets as a PDF to download, print and take to the theatre, know that it's a fake.



    And a bonus: Even after Monday’s sale, a small number of new tickets often become available for a variety of reasons. Before overpaying any secondary broker, try checking back on denvercenter.org first for any new availability. 

    View answers to your Hamilton questions in our FAQ

    Now, you might be asking: If tickets for Hamilton don’t go onsale until Monday, why am I seeing them being offered online right now, and for as much as $3,000 a seat?

    The answer: These brokers do not even have their hands on any actual tickets yet, because until Monday, Hamilton tickets do not exist. Potential customers searching the web today for Hamilton tickets will find such offers and might think the Denver Center is gouging them — only it isn't the Denver Center that is doing the gouging.

    So how can these brazen brokers sell tickets they don't have? "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, added Pina: “They are gambling. And they are betting the house.”

    Despite the Denver Center’s best efforts, Ekeberg acknowledges, the brokers will successfully amass some inventory of actual Hamilton tickets. Just how many is not currently measurable.

    HAMILTON Google screen shot One of the most common mistakes buyers make, Pina said, is trusting a Google search to send them to the right place for real tickets. For example, if you search "Hamilton tickets Denver," the first four options you will see are actually paid ads from third-party ticket brokers. The official denvercenter.org outlet only comes up fifth. (See the example at right.)

    "Most folks hear about a show like Hamilton on TV or the radio, and they go to Google to buy," Pina said. "But most consumers aren't aware that the first few options they see 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 might be selling a $70 ticket for $500."

    What to do? If you start at hamilton.denvercenter.org, you will not have this problem. But if you do use Google, keep scrolling until you see the real denvercenter.org option. hamilton.denvercenter.org is the only place you can buy tickets at face value.

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Hamilton: At a glance:
    HamiltonWith book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton is based on Ron Chernow’s biography.  It is the story of America's Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington's right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, Hamilton is the story of America then, as told by America now.

    Feb. 27-April 1
    Buell Theatre

    Related NewsCenter coverage:
    Hamilton Tickets
  • Tickets for 'Hamilton' in Denver go on-sale Jan. 22

    by John Moore | Dec 29, 2017
    Mathenee Treco, Jordan Donica, Ruben J. Carbajal & Michael Luwoye - HAMILTON National Tour (c) Joan MarcusFrom left: Aurora native and Eaglecrest High School graduate Mathenee Treco with Jordan Donica, Ruben J. Carbajal and Michael Luwoye in the 'Hamilton' national touring cast. Tickets for the Denver engagement go on-sale Jan. 22. Photo by Joan Marcus.


    Tickets go on-sale to the public next month with a caveat: Buy only from the Denver Center or risk overpaying 

    Producer Jeffrey Seller and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts announced today that single tickets for Hamilton at the Buell Theatre will go on-sale to the public at 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 22, at hamilton.denvercenter.org. Tickets will be available for performances Feb. 27 through April 1.  

    There is a maximum purchase limit of four (4) tickets per account for the engagement. Prices vary by date and availability. There will be a lottery for forty (40) $10 orchestra seats for all performances. Details will be announced closer to the engagement.

    Helpful tips for when Hamilton tickets go on sale in Denver

    Seller said anyone buying tickets to Hamilton anywhere other than hamilton.denvercenter.org runs the risk of overpaying.

     

    “It's tempting to get tickets any way you can," said Seller. "There are many web sites and people who are selling overpriced, and in some cases, fraudulent tickets. For the best seats, the best prices and to eliminate the risk of counterfeit tickets, all purchases for the Denver engagement should be made through hamilton.denvercenter.org.”

    PUBLIC ON-SALE FAQ

    SUBSCRIBER PRE-SALE FAQ

     Hamilton Tickets

    Tickets will also be available by phone at 303-893-4100 or in-person at the DCPA Box Office in the lobby of the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby, located at the northwest corner of the Denver Performing Arts Complex at Speer Boulevard and Arapahoe Street.

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

    To receive alerts related to Hamilton in Denver, click here

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

    The Hamilton creative team previously collaborated on the 2008 Tony Award-winning best musical In the Heights. Hamilton  features scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Paul Tazewell (DCPA Theatre Company's The Unsinkable Milly Brown), lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, and casting by Telsey + Company, Bethany Knox, CSA. The musical is produced by Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman and The Public Theater. The Hamilton original Broadway cast recording is available everywhere nationwide. The Hamilton recording received a 2016 Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album.

    For more information on Hamilton, visit:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Related NewsCenter coverage:

    SoleaPfeifferEmmyRaver-LampmanAmberIman-HAMILTONNationalTour(c)JoanMarcusSolea Pfeiffer, Emmy Raver-Lampman and Amber Iman in the 'Hamilton' national' touring production of 'Hamilton.' Photo by Joan Marcus.

  • Video: Genie from Disney's 'Aladdin' sings Broncos anthem

    by John Moore | Dec 27, 2017

    Anthony Murphy, who has joined the Melbourne production of Disney's Aladdin, visited Denver on Nov. 19, 2017, to sing the National Anthem at the Denver Broncos' home game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Mile High Stadium. Murphy will not be appearing in the U.S. touring production that will play at the Buell Theatre from April 7-28, 2018, but he was here as an ambassador for the show.

    Watch as Murphy goes through sound check and gets advice about the vagaries of stadium singing from the Denver Broncos' Liz Coates, as well as the pomp surrounding the anthem — including the induction of running back Terrell Davis into the Broncos' Ring of Fame. After the anthem, Murphy is shown being congratulated by Broncos nose tackle Domata Peko, who also tells Murphy he enjoyed seeing Disney's Aladdin on Broadway.

    Tickets to the show's upcoming visit to Denver now on sale. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter. Anthem footage provided by Denver Broncos.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

     

    Disney’s AladdinDisney's Aladdin: Ticket information
    From the producer of The Lion King comes the timeless story of Aladdin, a thrilling new production filled with unforgettable beauty, magic, comedy and breathtaking spectacle. It’s an extraordinary theatrical event where one lamp and three wishes make the possibilities infinite. Directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Something Rotten!),with sets, costumes and lighting from Tony Award winners Bob Crowley (Mary Poppins), Gregg Barnes (Kinky Boots) and Natasha Katz (An American in Paris).

    • National touring production
    • Performances April 7-28
    • 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

    Aladdin Photo by Deen van Meer National touring production of Disney's 'Aladdin.' Photo by Dean van Meer.
  • Desi Oakley: 'Waitress' is a celebration of gloriously ordinary, real women

    by John Moore | Dec 18, 2017

    Bryan Fenkart and Desi Oakley in the National Tour of WAITRESS Credit Joan Marcus
    Bryan Fenkart and Desi Oakley in the national touring production of the hit Broadway musical 'Waitress,' playing at The Buell Theatre in Denver from Dec. 19-31. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    The star of the national tour says Waitress is a movie, a stage musical and a concert experience — all at once

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Desi Oakley has played a lot of larger-than-life characters in her stage career, from Evita to Elphaba. But the popular new musical Waitress gives the Broadway star the rare opportunity to play a gloriously ordinary real woman: Jenna, the pie-maker in an everyday diner in Smalltown USA.

    “Jenna is just your average girl next door,” Oakley said in advance of Waitress’ arrival in Denver on Tuesday. “And in fact, I felt even more of a calling to tell this story because she's so real.”

    Waitress is the stage adaptation of the late Adrienne Shelly’s breakout indie film of the same name. Oakley plays a pregnant, unhappily married waitress who, Oakley says, is a bit stuck.

    Waitress Quote Desi Oakley“You know immediately that this woman is not in the best place,” Oakley said. “And the people who love her are asking, ‘Are you going to stay where you're at for the rest of your life? Or are you going to dive deep, discover where you really want to be, and go for your dreams? Do you have the guts? Those are the big questions we ask throughout the show.”

    And now that she is embodying a gloriously ordinary waitress, Oakley said, she can never look at a real-life server in a restaurant the same way again.  

    "I absolutely cannot,” she said for emphasis. “Jenna is a great reminder for all of us that when you walk into a Denny's or an International House of Pancakes, you should never assume that you know what the life is behind this person who has been tasked with serving you. You never know what somebody is going through. You have no idea how long they've been standing on their feet that day.

    "When I go onstage, we do a show for a couple of hours. Your real waitress might be pulling a double-shift. And she doesn't get an intermission.”  

    Oakley likes to talk about the bones of people. Down deep, deep, deep, deep — what are your bones like? And when she walks into a Denny’s, she can’t help but see the bones of the women serving her. And more often than not, she discovers that waitress bones are shared bones.

    “I notice how they talk to each other,” she said. “How they rely on each other. How they find these little moments to share things with each other. How they sneak away to dry the mugs that are already dry, just to get a couple seconds together to catch up about life. Those dynamics are interesting to me. Do these people necessarily host each other for dinner parties? Maybe not. But at the restaurant, they're each other's lifeline. They're each other's rock. That’s true in our story too.”

    Jenna's bones, Oakley said, are sweet and kind and loving. "But she's also kind of witty and sarcastic. And she’s a little bit dry. She might give you a little one-liner here or there. But ultimately, she will smile at you, and she will take your order, and she will hustle it to the back. She'll probably offer you special pie of the day that she invented that morning.

    “She was probably in the pantry by 6 a.m. making her pies — 27 varieties of them, every day, by the way. She's proud of it — but that's all she knows. She doesn't necessarily think of herself as anything more than what you see at first. But she's got a lot more going on at home than meets the eye.”

    Here’s more from our conversation with Desi Oakley in advance of the national touring production of Waitress’ arrival in Denver on Tuesday:

    John Moore: You came through Denver starring in the national tour of Evita. Does being here for the holidays have any special significance for you?

    Desi Oakley: Oh, yes. I have a huge, special place in my heart for Denver. I grew up next door in Kansas, and we came to Colorado every year for camping, skiing, summer hikes, winter ski trips — all that stuff. And not only does the outdoors and nature appeal to me immensely, but there is a vibe about the city of Denver that is so cool and so relaxed. You have awesome restaurants, and the buzz is just cool. Denver is my second-favorite city in the whole United States, in fact, next to New York City.

    Our interview with Lenne Klingaman of Waitress

    John Moore: So if people know anything about Waitress, it’s from the source film. What do you want to say to fans of the movie about how the musical is different or enhances it?

    Desi Oakley: If you loved the movie, you are going to love this musical. Plain and simple. Jessie Nelson, our book writer, adapted Adrienne Shelly's book into the screenplay. Some of these lines are straight from the film.

    John Moore: So you have two writers who are really big deals right now — pop star Sara Bareilles, who has been nominated for six Grammy Awards — and Jessie Nelson, who writes for Curb Your Enthusiasm, among others. And they both came to Waitress new to writing for the musical theatre. So how is Waitress the musical enhanced by the fact that neither of the writers come from a traditional musical-theatre background?

    A 400 2 waitress_credit-joan-marcus_23881748257_oDesi Oakley: Sara Bareilles, who wrote our music and lyrics, has taken the slightly sarcastic tone of the film and somehow implanted it into our music. But even before Waitress, I would contend that every one of her pop songs is its own miniature musical. Sara is such a witty, dynamic storyteller, and she can write a hook like nobody's business. The songs in Waitress sound like they came right off of the radio. Believe me, you'll walk out singing all of this music.

    John Moore: What did you think when you first heard Bareilles was crossing over to write the music for Waitress?

    Desi Oakley: That was one of the most appealing things about this show to me, honestly, and also that’s what helps make the story so real. When people hear, ‘It’s a musical,’ they usually think of big Broadway blockbusters like A Chorus Line or 42nd Street, with big tap-dance numbers and all these crazy costumes. But I am telling you: Watching Waitress on stage is so much like watching a film that it's just wild. It’s like a film is somehow being brought to life in front of you in a way that I've never seen before in musical-theater history. It is as though the audience is the camera lens and we literally zoom in and out of these characters’ lives, and we flash back, and we pan. To me, Sara’s music works like the score of a film. It’s relevant, it's topical, It's nowadays. So as an audience member, you're getting the best of everything that you could possibly want: It’s a movie experience, it’s a musical-theater experience, and it’s a concert experience, all at once. It is so real and tangible and electric — it is just buzzing the whole time.

    John Moore: What does it mean to you to be part of the first Broadway musical to have women in all of the primary creative roles?

    Desi Oakley: It is an unbelievable honor for me to be a part telling this story alongside these women creators. It’s a dream come true, especially as a woman actor. Particularly with this story. I feel like it's so meant to be. But you should also understand that this is a universal story with men characters — and certainly a lot of men in the audience.

    John Moore: Can you give me an example of how the storytelling is enhanced by the fact that these are women creatives telling the story?

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Desi Oakley: Well, absolutely. Jenna goes through some insanely woman-type things, like a pregnancy. So at one point in rehearsal, our Director, Diane Paulus, says to me, “Desi, when you have your contraction, let me just tell you, it feels like this …” That was extremely helpful advice. A lot of my performance comes directly from the actual life experiences of the women on our team. A man's perspective is helpful, of course, but the fact that these women can dive in and pour into my Jenna woman-to-woman is insanely special.

    John Moore: What does it say that it took until 2015 in an industry where 68 percent of all audiences are female for women to get the opportunity to create their own Broadway show?

    Desi Oakley: It’s too bad. But all the more reason to celebrate. I mean the time is now. And, hopefully, we won't ever look back. We’re starting this trend and, paving the way gladly. Waitress says that women have a voice in this industry to tell stories, and to tell them loud, bold and clear. And that is important. And it is empowering." 

    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.


    A video message to Denver from Desi Oakley:

    Wichita native Desi Oakley has been seen on Broadway in Wicked, Les Misérables and Annie (original revival cast). And in other national tours: Evita and Wicked. As a singer-songwriter, her original music can be found on Spotify and iTunes. Follow her on social media channels @desioakley.

    waitressWaitress in Denver: Ticket information
    Inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s beloved film, Waitress tells the story of Jenna — a waitress and expert pie-maker who 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. This is an uplifting musical celebrating friendship, motherhood, and the magic of a well-made pie.

    • National touring production
    • Performances Dec. 19-31
    • 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

    Selected NewsCenter coverage of Waitress:

    Lenne Klingaman. Waitress. Photo by Joan MarcusFrom left: Lenne Klingaman, Desi Oakley and Charity Angel Dawson in the first national touring production of 'Waitress,' coming to Denver from Dec. 19-31. Photo by Joan Marcus.
  • Meet Denver's Jack Stephens of 'ELF the Musical'

    by John Moore | Dec 15, 2017
    Jack Stephens Elf

    Jack Stephens of Eaglecrest High School is the Company Manager for the national touring production of 'ELF The Musical,' visiting the Buell Theatre through Sunday (Dec. 17).


    MEET JACK STEPHENS
    Company manager of ELF The Musical, playing through Sunday, Dec. 17, at the Buell Theatre. He was the Company Manager for the Blue Man Group when it visited Denver in 2014    

    • Hometown: Denver
    • Home now: The road
    • High school: Eaglecrest in Aurora
    • Training: University of Colorado Denver
    • What's your handle? @sirjackstephens on Instagram
    • What's playing on your your Spotify? Adam Young's various "film scores." Known more popularly as "Owl City," he set out on a project last year to compose one film score per month. And he did it. The scores are for films that don't really exist —  but as you listen, you can imagine those cinematic visions playing out before you. And the sheer scope of his project speaks to his talent and proclivity as a musician.
    • One thing we don't know about you: Even if I see a large, scary spider, or some similar creepy thing, crawling around my house, i can't bear to harm them, so I catch and release.
    • How should we nurture the next generation of theatregoers? I'd love to see shows get back to "event theatre." In the 1990s in particular, when a big Broadway show came to town, it was a real event. Audiences were exposed to all sorts of fascinating behind-the-scenes information on how the show was created. Also, having quality, affordable theatre — even on a small scale, where storytelling is strong and one's imagination muscles are flexed. Making theatre available to a diverse array of audiences is important. 
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of seeing ELF The Musical? I hope our show puts them in the Christmas spirit, and I hope it reminds everyone to prioritize the important things in life. 
    • One thing you want to get off your chest: It is unwise and unfair to make broad, sweeping generalizations about groups or types of people based upon the actions or behaviors of only a few. I so wish more people in our government and in our society could understand this idea. 

    Read our 2014 interview with Jack Stephens

    ELF The Musical: Ticket information
    elfAt a glance: Based on the beloved 2003 film, ELF The Musical is a modern day Christmas classic that is sure to make everyone embrace their inner ELF. Variety proclaims, “ELF is happy enough for families, savvy enough for city kids and plenty smart for adults."

    • National touring production
    • Performances through Dec. 17
    • 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
    • ASL Interpreted, Audio-Described and Open Captioned Performance: Dec. 16, 3 p.m.

    ELF The Musical. Jeremy Daniel Photography. The cast of 'ELF The Musical,' which comes to Denver's Buell Theatre from Dec. 13-17. Jeremy Daniel Photography.


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of ELF The Musical
    :
    How ELF became an instant holiday tradition on stage and scree

    More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Katie Drinkard of Off-Center's The Wild Party
    Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of Su Teatro's I Don't Speak English Only
    Meet Autumn Hurlbert of Something Rotten!
    Meet Zak Reynolds of DCPA Education's The Snowy Day
    Meet Rachel Kae Taylor of DCPA Education's The Snowy Day
    Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
    Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'Waitress' writer Jessie Nelson has a tip: Tip your waitress

    by John Moore | Dec 11, 2017
    Waitress. Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman. Waitress. Photy by Joan Marcus

    From left: Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman of the first national touring production of 'Waitress,' coming to Denver from Dec. 19-31. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    Telling a story about a woman doesn't make it a woman's story, says the veteran scribe. 'It makes it a human story.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    If you saw the recent episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where caustic comedian Larry David hilariously stalks an Uber driver who repaid his trademark rudeness with a poor customer rating, it will come as no surprise that the director of that episode also wrote the breakout underdog Broadway musical hit Waitress.

    Jessie Nelson knows what it’s like to be mistreated in a service industry. Long before she hit in big as a writer in TV and film (I am Sam), Nelson hoofed it for years as a waitress while she pursued her dreams.

    Waitress. Jessie Nelson “I always called waitressing my Hollywood Finishing School, because I learned everything I know about writing from waitressing,” Nelson told the DCPA NewsCenter. “You can know everything you need to know about a person by how they treat their waitress. You can size up a person's character in two brushstrokes. There is something profound in that.”

    While Nelson was pulling hundreds of invisible and anonymous double shifts, she came across both amazing real-life characters — “people with really generous, open hearts,” she said — “and those people who think they are entitled to treat you like you are not a human being.”

    The Denver-bound national touring production of Waitress was Nelson’s first foray into musical theatre. The stage adaptation of the late Adrienne Shelly’s breakout indie film of the same name is about a pregnant, unhappily married waitress named Jenna who falls into an unlikely relationship as a last attempt at happiness.

    “We call Jenna ‘The Queen of Kindness and Goodness,’ ” said Nelson. “She knows how to take care of everybody but herself. She presents this sunny exterior, and she bakes these extraordinary pies, and she's the only one who can handle the curmudgeonly customers. But she's also living this very dark secret — this relationship she’s in that is really destroying her self-esteem, her hopes and her dreams.”  

    “What's so beautiful about this story that Adrienne created is the whole restaurant — the customers, her fellow waitresses, the cook, the owner — they all rally around Jenna to support her in this huge next step she is taking.”

    Waitress made history in 2015 as the first-ever Broadway musical with a female director (Diane Paulus), writer (Nelson), composer (pop star Sara Bareilles), choreographer (Lorin Latarro) and orchestrator (Nadia DiGiallonardo). Nelson considers collaborating with Bareilles, a six-time Grammy nominee, to be “the greatest gift of this experience” — especially given this was the first piece either of them had ever written for the theatre.

    “We both have a background in the musical theatre from when we were younger, but our careers took in very different directions,” Nelson said. “So because neither of us had ever done this before, there were a lot of 2 a.m. emails that said things like" 'Hey, how about we try this?' or, 'Hey, how about a song right there that talks about how much she loves baking?' ” 

    Our interview with Lenne Klingaman of Waitress

    It can come as a shock to some first-time book writers just how collaborative making a musical can and ultimately must be. “You will write a scene that you are so proud of and someone will say, ‘Hey it might be better to turn that scene into a song,’ ” Nelson said. “I felt it was one of the greatest compliments to watch Sara Bareilles take a scene I had written and turn it into a beautiful song. It was an amazing thing to witness, because Sara can really capture characters and story with her music in such a beautiful way. Eventually you get to this point where there's no divide between you and your writing partner. You're birthing it together."

    Waitress is a uniquely female story in that its protagonist is a woman who was brought to the stage by women. But Nelson doesn’t think of Waitress as a uniquely female story. “I think of it as a uniquely human story,” she said. “I think everybody can relate to the overriding themes in the story. There’s the theme of daring yourself to pull a long-forgotten dream off a shelf and to just go for it. The theme of getting out of a relationship where you’ve had to shrink yourself to fit into it just to survive the relationship. I think everyone can relate to the liberation you feel when you dare to step out a toxic relationship. Men understand that. The themes are really universal, and I am pleased that men seem to respond to the piece as much as women.”


    Waitress. Photo by Joan Marcus

    Photo above by Joan Marcus.


    Here’s more from our conversation with Jessie Nelson about Waitress being the first Broadway musical to be led by an all-female creative team, her connection to Colorado’s own Supergirl, Melissa Benoist (who grew up in Littleton), and much more:

    John Moore: OK, so you produced Danny Collins, the movie that put Melissa Benoist in a scene with Al Pacino on one side of her, and Annette Bening on the other.

    Jessie Nelson: And she completely held her own. She's such a nice person to boot.

    John Moore: And at the time of this interview, we’ve just learned that Lenne Klingaman, who just played a female Hamlet for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, has been cast to play Jenna’s waitress friend Dawn on the tour that is coming to Denver. What can you tell us about her?

    Jessie Nelson: That she's just so good in the part. She's got such a natural funnybone, and she is just bringing so much to the role. I'm thrilled we cast her.

    John Moore: Much has been made that Waitress made Broadway history as the first musical to be led by an all-female creative team. What does that milestone mean to you?

    Jessie Nelson: The funny thing is, none of us even noticed until a man pointed it out to us. At the time, we were so knee-deep in the work and finding people who were really in sync with the vision that was forming that no one even thought about gender. It was about a creative connection. When it got pointed out to us, that was just an extraordinary thing to observe because honestly, people were only chosen because they were right for their creative role in the team. It means more to me as time passes.

    John Moore: What should we glean from that?

    Jessie Nelson: That when you throw women into the mix in hiring, they bring a lot to the table.

    John Moore: Studies show 68 percent of the Broadway audience are made up of women. So why are not more women writing the material that the primary Broadway audience is watching?

    Jessie Nelson: I think that is the most important question. I see it in film, too. Women choose the movies you go to, and they think it's an anomaly when there is a successful female movie. It's been shown time and time again that when you have a woman at the center of musicals, people — all people — want to see those stories. And people want to see stories where women are kind to each other and support each other, like they do in our piece. That was very important to us. I do think this is a time where more and more female voices are emerging, so I have great hope for this next chapter, and for the world.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: How is creating a Broadway musical not unlike being part of a team of waitresses getting through the dinner rush?

    Jessie Nelson: Both experiences are really team sports. When you are waitressing, it’s like this: ‘You get the menus. I'll get the water. I'll bus that table for you. You bring that pie over there.' You are all working together to get through those very intense few hours when there is a lot of demand on you. And that’s a lot like the creative process on a musical, which goes a little like this: I’ll say, ‘I'll write this scene that will express this.’ And then the composer will go, 'Oh, hey, can I take those five lines of yours out of the scene and turn them into a song?' And the director will go, 'Well, if you give me five more bars of music here, we can make a beautiful transition here.' And then the choreographer will say, 'Actually, if you add just a little more room here, I can create this really beautiful visual moment that will kick us off into the next scene.’ In both examples, you are only as good as the trust and the intimacy that develops between you and the rest of the team."

    Bryan Fenkart and Desi Oakley in the National Tour of WAITRESS Credit Joan Marcus
    Bryan Fenkart and Desi Oakley in the National Tour of 'Waitress.' Photo by Joan Marcus.


    John Moore: Before you go, what do you want us to know about the next person who greets us when we walk into a diner?

    Jessie Nelson: That saying something as simple as, 'Hi, what’s your name?' to your server can change the entire interaction. I love that. It's so important for us to think about what they might be going through that you cannot be aware of. This person is living a whole life that's completely separate from taking your order.

    John Moore: And lastly: What do you think Waitress is ultimately about?

    Jessie Nelson: For me, Waitress is about daring to find your authentic self, or your voice or your talent, and finding some way to express that. I also think it is about community and these unexpected families we form with the people we work with. Sometimes you can be closer to them than you are to your own families because you spend so much time together, and they see you for who you really are.

    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.

    Jessie Nelson/At a glance
    Jessie Nelson wrote, directed, and produced Corrina, Corrina with Whoopi Goldberg and I Am Sam with Sean Penn, who received an Academy Award nomination for his performance. Recently she directed Love the Coopers with Diane Keaton and John Goodman. She also co-wrote Step Mom and The Story of Us, and produced both Danny Collins with Al Pacino and Annette Bening, and Fred Claus with Vince Vaughn. She co-wrote Alice By Heart with Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik (creators of Spring Awakening), which was developed at The National Theatre. Nelson began her career in the theater working with Mabou Mines and The New York Shakespeare Festival. And she co-wrote the children’s book Labracadabra. Nelson has been the Artistic Director of the Sundance Institute’s Writers Lab.

    waitressWaitress in Denver: Ticket information
    Inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s beloved film, Waitress tells the story of Jenna — a waitress and expert pie-maker who 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. This is an uplifting musical celebrating friendship, motherhood, and the magic of a well-made pie.

    • National touring production
    • Performances Dec. 19-31
    • 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

    Selected NewsCenter coverage of Waitress:

  • Play 'Cast Album Karaoke' with 'Waitress' band on Dec. 28

    by John Moore | Dec 08, 2017
    Bryan Fenkart and Desi Oakley in the National Tour of WAITRESS Credit Joan Marcus
    Bryan Fenkart and Desi Oakley in the national touring production of Waitress, which plans a special audience event on Dec. 28. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    Here's a good idea: Sing Bad Idea - or another favorite Waitress song - at a post-show karaoke with the band.

    Following the Thursday, Dec. 28 evening performance of Waitress at The Buell Theatre, audience members will have a chance to sing one minute of any song from the show accompanied by the Waitress band.

    It's a fun audience appreciation event called Cast Album Karaoke that started with the  Broadway cast in New York. It was so popular there, the team is taking it on the road to cities like Denver. 

    The Dec. 28 performance is also a designated Theatre Thursday event. When you order your tickets, Enter the code THURSDAY to receive a discount off the purchase price, as well as a free pre-show drink from the lobby bar.

    Interested audience members with tickets to the Dec. 28 evening performance will be chosen at random for Cast Album Karaoke. Just find one of four volunteers in Waitress shirts and carrying Waitress clipboards to sign up for consideration. The four will be stationed on all levels of The Buell Theatre lobby.

    Signups are available before the show and at intermission. You will be asked to include your name, what song from Waitress you want to sing and a fun fact about yourself. You can sign up to sing solo, in duets or as a group. Up to eight names will be drawn. A book of lyrics will be provided. But, hey, if you want to practice in advance, the cast album is available for listening or download on Spotify, iTunes or Amazon

    With original music and lyrics by six-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles (“Brave,” “Love Song”), Waitress is an uplifting musical celebrating friendship, motherhood and the magic of a well-made pie. Inspired by Adrienne Shelly's beloved film, Waitress tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and expert pie maker who dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. While her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness, a baking contest in a nearby county and the town's new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, but Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life. This irresistible new hit features a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam), and direction by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus (Finding Neverland, Pippin, Hair).

    Tickets are on sale now for the Dec. 19-31 Denver engagement at denvercenter.org. Information below.

    DCPA Tickets

     

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    waitressWaitress in Denver: Ticket information
    Inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s beloved film, Waitress tells the story of Jenna — a waitress and expert pie-maker who 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. This is an uplifting musical celebrating friendship, motherhood, and the magic of a well-made pie.

    • National touring production
    • Performances Dec. 19-31
    • 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

    Selected NewsCenter coverage of Waitress:

    Waitress. Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman. Waitress. Photy by Joan MarcusFrom left: Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman of the first national touring production of 'Waitress.' Photo by Joan Marcus
  • Video: 'Waitress' cast members shout-out to Denver

    by John Moore | Dec 07, 2017

    To watch all nine cast testimonials to Denver audiences, press play above.


    Lenne Klingaman is among nine cast members who recorded short video messages from the Waitress road

    DCPA Theatre Company favorite Lenne Klingaman is among nine cast members returning to Denver for the holidays with the national touring production of Waitress playing at the Buell Theatre from Dec. 19-31. And they share their thoughts on that subject in a series of short videos above, which you can see by simply clicking the play button above. 

    Klingaman last appeared here as the title character in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s ‘Hamlet’ and twice performed with the DCPA Theatre Company as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and two roles in the world premiere of Appoggiatura. Ensemble member Grace Stockdale grew up in Steamboat Springs. Others talking Denver include Charity Angél Dawson, Nick Bailey, Ryan G. Diunkin, Jeremy Morse and Bryan Fenkart.

    With original music and lyrics by six-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles, Waitress is an uplifting musical celebrating friendship, motherhood and the magic of a well-made pie.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    waitressWaitress in Denver: Ticket information
    Inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s beloved film, Waitress tells the story of Jenna — a waitress and expert pie-maker who 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. This is an uplifting musical celebrating friendship, motherhood, and the magic of a well-made pie.

    • National touring production
    • Performances Dec. 19-31
    • 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
      Selected NewsCenter coverage of Waitress:
    Waitress. Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman. Waitress. Photy by Joan MarcusFrom left: Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman of the first national touring production of 'Waitress.' Photo by Joan Marcus
  • How ELF became an instant holiday tradition on stage and screen

    by John Moore | Dec 05, 2017
    Elf The Musical Jeremy Daniel Photography
    The cast of 'ELF The Musical,' which comes to Denver's Buell Theatre from Dec. 13-17. Jeremy Daniel Photography.

    Director: 'ELF The Musical on tour is really its own entity, and we’re very proud of that.'

    Elf, the 2003 Christmas movie, is America’s newest holiday classic. It ranks up there with It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story and Miracle on 34th Street. When Buddy, a 6-foot-plus man raised by elves, sets out to find his father, his rosy, optimistic and endearing outlook on humankind thaws even the coldest heart — his dad’s. Director Sam Scalamoni discusses how collaborators brought this iconic movie to life for the tour of ELF The Musical, visiting Denver's Buell Theatre from Dec. 13-17.

    Tell us about your experience directing ELF The Musical on tour.

    When they were planning the tour, the original Broadway director was unavailable. So they passed it to me and I brought on my choreographer and design team. We re-imagined the whole show from scratch. It was an amazing experience. We were able to work with the original writers: Matt Sklar [music], Chad Beguelin [lyrics], Bob Martin [book] and Tom Meehan [book]. They were incredible collaborators and they continue to work with us each year to refine it. ELF The Musical on tour is really its own entity, and we’re very proud of that.

    Did the writers resist the changes you wanted?

    Not at all – in fact, they really embraced our ideas. They see the tour or a run-through in the studio every year. So Tom will see it and might say, “This isn’t funny. This joke is working – this isn’t.” They had some strong opinions not only about things they wanted to keep, but some they wanted to change. For example, the second year the show was on Broadway they added a new song called “Happy All the Time.” It’s a very funny opening number Santa sings about how happy the elves are all the time and how he just needs a little break.

    Whose idea was it to put the elves at the North Pole on their knees?

    We came to the idea together. When we came to Gregg Barnes [the original Broadway costume designer who redesigned the show for the tour] with it he said, “Oh great, because I designed these amazing things; they’re called ‘knee shoes’” that wrap around the actors’ knees with a built-in kneepad. The actors are as comfortable as they can be and the shoes lay flat on the floor. It’s really brilliant.

    Why do you think both the movie and now the musical have become such instant classics?

    It’s one of the few contemporary films about the holidays that really connects with audiences. The fact that the story is present day with current content really strikes a
    chord with people. 


    ELF The Musical: Ticket information
    elfAt a glance: Based on the beloved 2003 film, ELF The Musical is a modern day Christmas classic that is sure to make everyone embrace their inner ELF. Variety proclaims, “ELF is happy enough for families, savvy enough for city kids and plenty smart for adults."

    • National touring production
    • Performances Dec. 13-17
    • 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
    • ASL Interpreted, Audio-Described and Open Captioned Performance: Dec. 16, 3 p.m.

    ELF The Musical. Jeremy Daniel Photography.
  • Lenne Klingaman's reader-to-riches 'Waitress' story

    by John Moore | Nov 29, 2017
    Lenne Klingaman. Waitress. Photo by Joan MarcusFrom left: DCPA Theatre Company favorite Lenne Klingaman, Desi Oakley and Charity Angel Dawson in the Denver-bound national touring production of 'Waitress,' opening at the Buell Theatre on Dec. 19. Photo by Joan Marcus.


    Denver Center favorite pivots from playing female Hamlet in Boulder to quirky waitress in Denver-bound Broadway hit

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Actor Lenne Klingaman has one of those incredible stories that will make you say, “Yeah, right.”  

    But in this case: Right!

    Klingaman's story starts in an audition room in New York City at the start of 2017. What you need to know is that when an actor auditions for a specific role, the casting director often provides what’s called “The Reader” for the hopefuls to exchange dialogue with. "The Reader" may not be the appropriate gender, age or type, but it doesn’t matter. The reader isn’t the one auditioning. "The Reader" never gets the part.

    Lenne Klingaman QuoteScratch that. In this case, Klingaman was "The Reader." And she got The Part.

    Klingaman returns to her adopted city of Denver on Dec. 19 to play Dawn in the first national touring production of the hit Broadway musical Waitress. This follows her triumphant summer turn as a female Hamlet for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder. In between, there was a storybook wedding.

    But we digress.

    Despite a long list of national credits that includes playing Juliet in the DCPA Theatre Company’s Romeo and Juliet and two roles in the world-premiere play Appoggiatura, Klingaman somehow ended up in the audition room for Waitress as “The Reader” alongside Director Diane Paulus, who was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People On This or Any Other Planet; Curb Your Enthusiasm writer Jessie Nelson; and six-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles. None of them knew who Klingaman was at the time. But as she went about her job reading lines for the actual job-seeking actors to play off, she made an impression.

    “After the final day, Diane followed me out of the room and asked if I sang at all,” said Klingaman, who told the influential director that, in fact, she had just released her debut pop album, The Heart is The Hunter. Paulus liked it, Bareillis liked it and, fast forward, Klingaman is now playing quirky Dawn in the first national touring production of Waitress. “I could not believe it was happening,” she says. “It's been quite a whirlwind experience.”

    Video: Lenne Klingaman sings from her solo album:


    Klingaman's roles in Hamlet and Waitress could not be more different, and yet both projects are emphatic expressions of female artistic empowerment. Colorado Shakespeare Festival Director Carolyn Howarth, for one, did not have Klingaman play Hamlet as a brooding man. In this A Midwinter Night’s Dream variation on the theme, the actor was allowed to explore Hamlet’s feminine side, and the result was an unorthodox but universal revelation in part because, The Boulder Daily Camera's A.H. Goldstein said, "Madness knows no boundaries of gender."

    When the play closed, Klingaman immediately got married. Then she joined the first touring cast of Waitress, which took its pace in theatre history when it became the first Broadway musical to have women as the director, writer, composer, choreographer (Lorin Latarro) and orchestrator (Nadia DiGiallonardo).

    "It has been an amazing joy to go from playing someone as intense and complex and dramatic as Hamlet to playing a ray of light like Dawn who looks at the world in a very positive, loving way,” she said.

    Here are excerpted highlights of Klingaman's wide-ranging conversation with the DCPA NewsCenter:

    John Moore: What did it mean to you to be given the chance to explore one of the great roles of the canon without having to subvert your own femininity?

    Lenne KlingamanLenne Klingaman: It was extremely empowering to work with Carolyn Howarth on a female Hamlet because it opened up this whole range of possibility of what acting can be, and of what women can do on the stage. There was something so freeing about playing a role written for a man. It demanded such a range that I don't think most women ever get the opportunity to play. Going forward, I am sure I will be wanting to push beyond where the feminine concept seems to end in roles I'll be playing in the coming years.

    (Photo above and right: Lenne Klingaman and Gary Wright in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's 'Hamlet.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.)

    John Moore: Did the unprecedented female gender dynamic in the Waitress rehearsal room make a real difference in the creative process?

    Lenne Klingaman: To go straight from Hamlet — which was directed by a strong and wonderful woman, by the way — into an experience where, across the board, they were all women, was pretty incredible. It has been thrilling to be part of that collaborative female vibe. This is an amazing group of women who are creative and decisive and effective problem-solvers. But they also allowed for flexibility and fluidity, and they allowed us to put our own individual stamps on the show.

    Our interview with Lenne Klingaman on Hamlet

    John Moore: It seems ridiculous to think that it took 100 years for there to be an all-female creative team on Broadway. Do you feel like you're part of a moment for women in Broadway that is many decades late in coming?

    Lenne Klingaman: I hope this trend continues. I hope that people see that stories told by women, that are about women, and that are for women can be successful. Can be universal. And can be really huge hits. They used to call stories about women “chick flicks” in the movies. But stories like Waitress are worthy and valuable for everyone. And it's valuable to have women at the helm telling them from a different vantage point. It’s not that men can’t tell a woman's story — but there are angles that might only get bitten into from a female point of view. In Waitress, you'll see it in everything from the choreography to Sara Bareillis' lyrics to the way Diane makes the whole story move. So, yeah. I really do feel it.

    John Moore: Has Waitress changed to way you look at real-life waitresses?

    Lenne Klingaman in 'Appoggiatura,' left, and 'Romeo and Juliet.' Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen. Lenne Klingaman: I think about how these women have to keep a smile on their faces and keep so much of their personalities submerged during  their interactions with the strangers they serve, and what that can do to a person once they get home. My character, Dawn, definitely suppresses part of herself at work because she's kind of a turtle when it comes to her personal life. I think it’s important for people to keep in mind that the people who serve them are human beings who have a lot of stuff going on in their lives. In our story, there is a bond and a sisterhood that these three waitresses share.

    (Photos above and right: Lenne Klingaman in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Appoggiatura,' left, and 'Romeo and Juliet.' Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen.)

    John Moore: What else can we know about Dawn?

    Lenne Klingaman: The amazing part about Dawn is what a rich inner life she has, which you get to see in the second half of the show. She's a little bit of a nerd and she's a little bit O.C.D., but there is this beautiful kind of spark in the origin of her quirkiness that comes from a really serious place in her. That's been a joy to find as an actor, because all of her humor is really full of wonder and positivity.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: So how is this story a universal story — meaning for men, too?

    Lenne Klingaman: I think it's universal for the same reason a woman playing Hamlet is universal. What's happening for these three women is that they're all at the precipice of taking huge risks so that they can be who they truly are in their hearts. And when it comes to taking a leap into the unknown, and to really risk being your authentic self, your gender is immaterial. That moment of truth crosses any gender line. This is about letting your freak flag fly. It doesn't matter to an audience whether you are a man or a woman. It's pretty fun and sexy and daring for each of these women to take the risk, and I think that will be extremely enjoyable for everyone to watch.

    John Moore: What place does Colorado have in your life now after having spent so much time here?

    Lenne Klingaman: I feel like Denver has become a home away from home, and I am so excited to come back. And I'm really excited to be coming back with this show because of the light and life and joy that it brings. When we sing Everything Changes and we take our final bows, it is a communal and beautiful and joyful moment — after an entire evening of laughing your butt off. I'm really excited for Denver and Colorado to get to feel that in this moment and at this time we're existing in. This show will remind you of the true beauty of humanity.

    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.

    waitressWaitress in Denver: Ticket information
    Inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s beloved film, Waitress tells the story of Jenna — a waitress and expert pie-maker who 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. This is an uplifting musical celebrating friendship, motherhood, and the magic of a well-made pie.

    • National touring production
    • Performances Dec. 19-31
    • 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

      Selected NewsCenter coverage of Waitress:

  • Paul Ludick: The man who dressed Ben Platt for the part

    by John Moore | Nov 21, 2017
    Paul Ludick and Ben Platt. Dear Evan Hansen.Former longtime DCPA Theatre Company dresser Paul Ludick has spent the past year working with Tony-winning actor Ben Platt, who completed his run in the title role of Broadway's 'Dear Evan Hansen' on Sunday. Photo courtesy Paul Ludick.

    Former Denver Center dresser explains the expansive, intimate role of the backstage dresser at Dear Evan Hansen

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Actor Ben Platt completed his Tony Award-winning run in the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Sunday, which means one thing: He’s going to have to dress himself for a while.

    Since the celebrated Broadway musical opened a year ago, that job (at least at the Music Box Theatre) has gone to Paul Ludick, who also worked for 16 seasons as a dresser for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company.

    Platt earned raves for his performance as Evan Hansen, the lonely high-school student who perpetuates a lie that earns him Internet fame. Platt not only won the Tony Award, he became the youngest recipient of The Drama League's Distinguished Performance Award. That’s an accolade an actor can win only once in a lifetime — and Platt won it at age 23.

    And from the first Broadway preview in October 2016 through Platt's final performance on Sunday, it was Ludick who made sure Platt always was dressed for the part. That and so much more.

    DEH-Mike-Faist-Ben-Platt-0104-Photo-Credit-Matthew-Murphy 800

    By definition, a dresser helps cast members backstage with their costume changes — but the job is far more involved than that. 

    “Yes, we take care of the costumes and we help the actors change in and out of them,” Ludick said. “But sometimes you're also a therapist, a doctor, a personal assistant or a mediator. You’re there to deal with everything that comes up that needs dealing with. My job was to make sure Ben had everything he needed so that he could fully focus on his performance.”

    That included shepherding the actor’s guests backstage and filtering email. Ludick would stay long after each performance to make sure Platt got to his car safely.

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

    Paul Ludick 400 Peter PanLudick was a dresser for many DCPA Theatre Company productions between 1988 and 2006, as well as homegrown cabaret musicals in the Garner-Galleria Theatre. In his first season alone, Ludick dressed both Burke Moses and future Tony Award nominee Craig Bierko in Carousel, as well as future Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator John Cameron Mitchell in the Theatre Company’s Peter Pan. (Coincidentally, both Bierko and Moses later played Leadville Johnny Brown in various incarnations of the Denver Center’s recent premiere of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.)

    Ludick, a Chicago native, first came to Colorado in 1987 to work for Central City Opera. His most meta experience at the Denver Center had to be when he was the dresser for The Dresser, an acclaimed play by Ronald Harwood starring two Denver legends – Jamie Horton and Tony Church.

    (Photo above and right: John Cameron Mitchell in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Peter Pan.' Story continues after the photo below.)

    Paul Ludick The Dresser. Jamie Horton. Tony Church Jamie Horton, left, played the dresser in 'The Dresser,' with Tony Church, for the DCPA Theatre Company in 1988. Photo by Terry Shapiro.

    Horton played a backstage assistant who struggles to keep an aging actor’s life together. To research his role, Horton asked Ludick if he could shadow him as he worked on Always … Patsy Cline at the Galleria Theatre.

    “I shadowed Paul for a very good reason:  He was damned good at what he did, and I knew I would learn from him,” Horton said. “And learn I did.” One example: How to properly place a wig on a wig block (that's essentially a Styrofoam mannequin head). At a subsequent rehearsal, Horton interjected: “That’s not how Paul set the wig, so I'm going to do it the way Paul did it.”

    Before Dear Evan Hansen, Platt was known for his appearances in the Pitch Perfect movies. But in the past year, during which Platt was named People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man on Broadway” and secured a recording contract, Ludick witnessed a rising young star enter into a new stratosphere in the pop-culture landscape.

    PAUL LUDICK QUOTE

    “Ben is a phenomenon I've never experienced before," he said. "I’m so happy for him, especially him being so young. For someone to be that in-tune with his life at 23 was amazing to see.”

    As is the case in Harwood’s play, Ludick says, dressers can develop lifelong friendships with the actors they serve. It happened with Bobby Cannavale when the Mr. Robot star performed alongside Chris Rock in the edgy Broadway comedy The Motherf**ker with the Hat. That’s a play that got done mostly because Rock, a Broadway newbie, signed on to do it. “I thought Chris Rock did a great thing for theater,” Ludick said. “When a guy of that stature lends his name to a Broadway show that a lot of people who normally don’t go to theater came to see, that is just great.”

    Ludick has seen some careers seriously move. “So always be nice … because you never know,” he said with a laugh.  

    Ludick reunited with Cannavale in 2013 for The Big Knife, and at closing, the star presented Ludick with a framed poster from the original play as thanks. Other New York milestones include working on the original Broadway production of Spring Awakening, and dressing for Mark Ruffalo on Awake and Sing!

    Dear Evan Hansen will launch first national tour in Denver

    Ludick lists Dear Evan Hansen right up there among them, partly because of Platt, but more so because the show is saving lives. Ludick likens its impact to that of Spring Awakening.

    Dear Evan Hansen has touched a nerve that young people can relate to,” Ludick said. “And now, because we have social media, they don't even have to be in New York to experience the essential message of the show. They are hearing about it in Omaha and Charlotte and everywhere in-between."

    The story is about young people who feel there's no one out there for them. "But there are people out there ready to help,” Ludick said. “You just have to reach out and make it known that you're going through a hardship. Ben's character, for example, has anxiety disorders, which we found from his fan mail and from the kids coming to the stage door is a very common thing. Some of them have contemplated suicide. Our show helps them to realize there are ways to get help and people to talk to. And we're opening up a lot of parents’ eyes, too.”

    Read our coverage of Colorado theatre on the NewsCenter

    When Dear Evan Hansen hits the road with its first national touring production next year, Ludick said it will have the opportunity to positively impact tens of thousands more lives. And that road starts in Denver in October 2018 — which is meaningful to Ludick.

    “That's just perfect, because it's a show that I love, in a place that I love,” Ludick said. “That’s just a perfect way to start a tour."

    As Ludick now adjusts, as he has so many times before, to serve a new actor (Noah Galvin), he likes to believe he will occupy a small but special place in Platt’s memory.

    “We've been with each other almost every day for more than a year, so that friendship is strong,” Ludick said. “Once he goes on to start being a mover and a shaker, hopefully we'll stay in touch. Each person I have ever dressed I have a special relationship with, and every one is different. But whenever I see them again, it's like we haven't missed a beat.”

    Ludick was a bit bemused by the request to be interviewed for this story, given the covert nature of his daily work. But he was glad for the opportunity to sing the praises of dressers and the thousands of other invisible practitioners of the unseen arts.

    “If we're doing our job right, we go completely unnoticed,” Ludick said. “That’s actually our goal — to go unnoticed. It’s the same for everyone backstage. But what we do that you don’t see is what makes a show whole. It takes every little part to make the show work.”  

    Jamie Horton, who is now a theatre professor at Dartmouth College, is a believer.

    “I have great respect and admiration for the dressers who have been such an important part of my professional life as an actor,” he said, “and I wish Paul the very, very best.”

    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.


    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 303-446-482

  • 'RENT' and more: No day like Tuesday at the Denver Center

    by John Moore | Nov 15, 2017
    Rent Cast Denver Rodney Hicks. Photo by John Moore
    Original 'RENT' cast member Rodney Hicks, front, joins the ensemble performing the RENT 20th Anniversary Tour playing at the Buell Theatre through Tuesday, Nov. 21. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Original cast member meets the newest crop of stage squatters, capping a Tuesday that's one to remember

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    “No day but today,” the cast sings at the finale of RENT, which opened in Denver on Tuesday night. But there was no day quite like Tuesday at the Denver Center in recent memory.

    The day began early with the morning introduction to employees of Chris Coleman as the DCPA Theatre Company’s fourth Artistic Director. Coleman, who has led Portland Center Stage for 17 years, was accompanied by husband Rodney Hicks, who originated the role of Paul and others when RENT debuted on Broadway in 1996.

    Tuesday was a homecoming for Hicks, who played Edmund in the DCPA Theatre Company’s King Lear in 2007. Coleman said Hicks was encouraging about the potential new job in Denver based on his brief experience here. "He told me, ‘What’s possible in that performing-arts complex is very unique in the American theatre,’ ” said Coleman.

    Chris Coleman Rodney Hicks. Photo by John Moore. Coleman also told the gathered company members a personal story that elucidates why storytelling means so much to him. It happened when his sister died quickly and unexpectedly, he said, from a burst clot that stopped her heart.

    “What that solidified for me is that we know not the hour or the day,” Coleman said. “We do know that the universe calls to each of us to carve out meaning in the time that we have together on this planet.”

    (Pictured right: Chris Coleman and his husband, Rodney Hicks. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    At the same time Coleman was being introduced, DCPA Education was staging a morning performance of its inaugural Theatre for Young Audiences offering, The Snowy Day, in the Conservatory Theatre.

    That evening, as RENT was opening its 20th Anniversary touring production to screaming fans in the Buell Theatre, the the Garner Galleria Theatre was hosting a preview performance of the homegrown musical First Date, featuring a cast of all-local actors. Over in the Ricketson Theatre, the Theatre Company's smart comedy Smart People was playing out. It's the story of four young Harvard intellectuals who collide over race and sexual politics.

    Breaking: Coleman DCPA Theatre Company's new leader 

    Following RENT, Hicks and Coleman were taken backstage along with DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden and Broadway Division Executive Director John Ekeberg. The cast and crew gathered in the green room to meet Hicks, trade some stories and take a group photo.  

    Hicks told the newest RENT squatters their performance transported him right back into his 21-year-old shoes, and that at intermission, he texted superstar Anthony Rapp (the original Mark Cohen) to tell him all about it. Hicks, who has several other Broadway credits, most recently Come from Away, returned to the RENT family in 2007 to play Benny, the conformed ex-roommate who is now evicting his penniless old bohemian friends “for their own good.” Hick spoke to the cast of the ongoing influence the late RENT composer Jonathan Larson has on his life.

    Back in the Buell, four cast members regaled a few hundred audience members who stayed for a post-show Q&A — and some in the crowd returned the favor. One woman told the story of having been in attendance at RENT’s first pre-Broadway performance (and that this touring cast compared quite favorably). Another thanked the cast for bringing the show back to life with this touring production, and revealed a RENT shoulder tattoo that takes its inspiration from the show.

    A Rent Lyndie Moe 400The audience was also delighted to learn that actor Lyndie Moe, who plays the demonstrative performance artist Maureen in RENT, is a Colorado native and granddaughter of beloved former Denver Nuggets coach Doug Moe. She was asked how the loveable, legendary old coach liked seeing her perform the evocative role created by Idina Menzel. “I’m not going to lie, I was nervous about that — but he actually really liked it, thank God,” said Lyndie, whose sport of choice was volleyball through high school and college.

    (Here is a video of Lyndie Moe performing the national anthem at a Nuggets game at McNichols Sports Arena in 2006. Photo at right.)
     

    One young audience member asked what advice the cast has for aspiring performers such as herself.

    “Well, RENT was my first audition in New York — and I got it,” said Moe. “So my advice is to just go for everything, because you can never know what you are going to get.”  

    All in all, “today” was one very full day at the Denver Center, one that was unique in many ways but at the same time representative of the non-stop activity that both surrounds and fuels the Denver Performing Arts Complexon a daily basis. 

    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.

    RENT: 20th Anniversary Tour: Ticket information200x200-rent
    At a glance: This Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning masterpiece returns to the stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary touring production. With its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear, this timeless celebration of friendship and creativity reminds us to measure our lives with the only thing that truly matters.

    • National touring production
    • Performances Nov. 14-21
    • 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
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of RENT:
    Two decades later, RENT still comes in on time
    RENT announces daily Denver lottery for $20 orchestra seats
  • 'RENT' announces daily Denver lottery for $20 orchestra seats

    by John Moore | Nov 10, 2017
    RENT Carol-Rosegg
    Kaleb Wells and Sammy Ferber of the Denver-bound 'RENT 20th Anniversary Tour' playing at the Buell Theatre from Nov. 14-21.

    Hopefuls may enter their names in a drum starting
    2½ hours before each performance in Denver

    Seats in the first two rows of the orchestra section will be available for $20 for every Denver performance of the RENT 20th Anniversary Tour, the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical playing at the Buell Theatre from Nov. 14-21.

    The $20 tickets are available for in-person purchases at The Buell Box Office on the day of each performance only. Starting 2½ hours before each performance, everyone who presents themselves at the Buell Theatre box office will have their names placed in a lottery drum. Thirty minutes later, names will be drawn for seats in the first two rows of the orchestra at $20 each.

    This lottery is available only in-person at the box office, with a limit of two tickets per person. Lottery participants must have a valid photo I.D. when submitting their entry form and, if chosen, when purchasing tickets.

    The tradition of the $20 Rent tickets began in New York in 1996 when the show moved to Broadway after a sold-out run in a small downtown theatre. The producers of the show are committed to continuing the tradition of offering orchestra seats for $20 in every city the show will play.

    RENT: 20th Anniversary Tour: Ticket information200x200-rent
    At a glance: This Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning masterpiece returns to the stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary touring production. With its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear, this timeless celebration of friendship and creativity reminds us to measure our lives with the only thing that truly matters.

    • National touring production
    • Performances Nov. 14-21
    • 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

    dcpa.org


    More about RENT

    In 1996, an original rock musical by a little-known composer opened on Broadway and forever changed the landscape of American theatre. Two decades later, Jonathan Larson’s RENT continues to speak loudly and defiantly to audiences across generations and all over the world. Now, RENT returns to the stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary touring production. 

    A re-imagining of Puccini's  La Bohème, RENT follows an unforgettable year in the lives of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams without selling out. With its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear, this timeless celebration of friendship and creativity reminds us to measure our lives with the only thing that truly matters — love.   The show received its world premiere off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop on Feb. 13, 1996, and transferred to Broadway on April 29, 1996.

    RENT is winner of the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It is one of only five musicals to win both awards. Based on the original direction by Michael Greif (Tony and Drama Desk nominations), Evan Ensign will restage this 20th anniversary tour. Marlies Yearby (Tony nomination) will serve as choreographer.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of RENT:
    Two decades later, RENT still comes in on time
  • Two decades later, 'RENT' still comes in on time

    by John Moore | Nov 09, 2017
    RENT Carol-Rosegg
    The 20th Anniversary Tour of 'RENT' visits the Buell Theatre from Nov. 14-21. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

    When we think of RENT, we think of the ’90s. Yet it hasn’t become a period piece. Audiences are still coming.

    By Dan Sullivan
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Musicals are time capsules. Oklahoma! recalls what we were fighting for in ’43; Hair shows what we were fighting for in ’67; A Chorus Line mirrors the anxieties of the ’70s; The Phantom of the Opera captures the gilded ’80s.

    When we think of RENT, we think of the ’90s. Yet it hasn’t become a period piece. The music still sounds like today and the story sounds like a storm warning. The burning question, “How we gonna pay the rent?” echoes the not too distant past.   

    It was a question that was true of New York in the ’90s and one that Jonathan Larson, RENT’s young composer-lyricist, often asked himself while waiting on tables in SoHo. When somebody proposed he write a campy uptown version of La Bohème, Larson decided instead to set it in the East Village and to take his characters as seriously as Puccini had.

    To see who's in the 20th Anniversary Tour cast, click here

    The result was the megahit that every Broadway composer dreams of. Tragically, Larson died of an aortic aneurysm just before previews were to begin, as severe a shock as Kevin McCollum, RENT’s co-producer, ever hopes to sustain.

     RENT Carol-Rosegg Quote Kaleb Wells Skyler Volpe“Jonathan’s death was a tragedy,” McCollum said. “But it’s a mistake to see him as a character in his own story. It never occurred to him that he wasn’t going to be the new voice in the American musical theatre.”

    Like La Bohème, Rent concerns a band of would-be superstars, not all of them geniuses, toughing out the winter in an unheated loft in the East Village. As members of Generation X, they speak the musical language they were brought up on: rock, pop, soul, salsa, disco, country.

    Although hard to track, their adventures on Avenue B are both exuberant and alarming. And Rent shows why today’s parents agonize even more than their parents did when a child takes off to a roach-ridden apartment in the big city in order to “find out who I am.”
    “Can’t you do that around here?” Mom and Dad want to say. Instead they murmur, “Don’t forget to call.” Which the kid never does. So the parents do, and get voicemail.

    Mom’s fake-cheery voice from Scarsdale gets a laugh in RENT, but not a mean one: Larson, a White Plains boy, shares her concern. La vie bohème on Avenue B is hard-core and high-risk. Where Hair once glossed over the penalties of freaking out, Rent deals with them. A music video for “the life,” it’s not.

    Human, it is. One’s heart goes out to Mimi, the clueless cat-dancer, and to Roger, the out-of-tune guitarist, struggling to come up with his one great song (which keeps turning into Musetta’s waltz from Bohème).

    Yet hope keeps breaking in. Plus a certain amount of self-dramatization. (I said these were young people.) And true love, of course. (I said it was an American musical.) And a terrific score.

    RENT may not have been the first big step that the rock musical had taken since Hair — we can’t forget Jesus Christ Superstar — but it was the most propulsive musical to surface in a long while, fired not only by the energy of the young, but by their desperate need to make their lives happen before they ran out of time.

    The intensity of the emotion does not swamp the ship. “Mindless,” the usual synonym for rock musicals, won’t work for this one. If Larson’s tunes sound like the Top 40 fare his kids grew up on, he wrote them as a theatre composer, with careful attention to character and situation. Meanwhile his lyrics have an ironic edge that keeps the show from whining.

    “Jonathan did write a song about what victims his characters were; he took it out,” said McCollum, whose partner, Jeffrey Seller, had been tracking Larson’s career. RENT’s first workshop in ’93 hadn’t knocked Seller out. The next winter, Seller said to McCollum: “Remember that thing I saw a year ago? They’re doing another workshop tonight.”
    McCollum wasn’t interested.

    “I’d been doing deals all day and just wanted to go home and read a book. But Jeffrey says it’ll be good for me to go out. We walk into the New York Theatre Workshop. We see this huge stage with three metal tables set up. Jeffrey says, ‘This is either gonna be brilliant or a total mess.’

    “The show starts; I don’t know what’s going on. A girl called Mimi comes out and sings, ‘Light my candle’ and I start to cry. And the next song, and the next, and it’s some of the best writing I’ve ever heard. At the end of the first act I turn to Jeffrey and say, ‘Get out the checkbook.’ ”

    It wasn’t that simple, of course. It got very complicated after Larson’s sudden death just as the show started previews in the winter of 1996. It left McCollum and Seller with an unfinished show. Larson’s score was amazing, his characters alive, but the story still needed sorting out.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    A solution was proposed: Incorporate Larson’s stage directions into the dialogue. The device helped to clarify what the characters wanted — not perfectly, but well enough — and McCollum wasn’t about to apologize for it.

    “We didn’t change Jonathan’s show. We made it clearer by using the clues he left us. We didn’t go with the cliché, ‘What would Jonathan have wanted?’ He would have wanted people to come to his musical.”

    Thousands of performances later, they’re still coming.

    The RENT 20th Anniversary Tour visits the Buell Theatre in Denver from Nov. 14-21.


    Dan Sullivan directed the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Critics Institute and reviewed for the Los Angeles Times.

    RENT: 20th Anniversary Tour: Ticket information200x200-rent

    At a glance: This Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning masterpiece returns to the stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary touring production. With its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear, this timeless celebration of friendship and creativity reminds us to measure our lives with the only thing that truly matters.

    • National touring production
    • Performances Dec. 19-31
    • 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
    RENT. Jasmine Easler, Lyndie Moe. Photo by Carol Rosegg.  Jasmine Easler, left, and Lyndie Moe. Photo by Carol Rosegg. 
  • Voters say emphatically improvements to DCPA and elsewhere are 2B

    by John Moore | Nov 07, 2017

    Denver Election 2017. Photo by John MooreCultural partners who will benefit from the passage of 2B gathered with Mayor Michael B. Hancock tonight in celebration. From left: Tamra Ward (Denver Zoo), Kristy Bassuener (Denver Art Museum), Andrew Rowan (Denver Zoo), Marie Revenew (Denver Zoo), Andrea Kalivas Fulton (Denver Art Museum) and Janice Sinden (Denver Center for the Performing Arts). Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Results mean renovations to Stage and Ricketson theatres, but will benefit an array of area cultural institutions as well

    By John More
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Denver residents overwhelmingly approved a bond initiative tonight that will make funds available for 460 projects valued at $937 million, including $19 million to renovate the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' Stage and Ricketson theatres — without a tax increase.

    The proposed improvements were presented to voters as seven separate spending packages. The referendum that includes the DCPA and other cultural institutions, designated as 2B, passed with 71 percent approval. Votes in favor of 2B numbered 98,640, with 40,536 against. All seven ballot measures passed by similar margins.

    Denver Election 2017 Mayor Hancock. Photo by John MooreMayor Michael B. Hancock called the initiative "a thoughtful, balanced and responsible investment package created by and for the people of Denver." He credited the relatively easy victory to the voters themselves.

    "This is the people's bond," Hancock told the DCPA NewsCenter at a gathering in the Seawell Ballroom. "You led us to these investments. We heard you loud and clear. Tonight, the voters responded appropriately and now, because of you, we are able to go forward."

    DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden said improvements to the Stage and Ricketson theatres are now 40 years in coming. In full, 2B represents about $116 million that will benefit six other are facilities as well: The Denver Zoo, Buell Theatre, Red Rocks, Denver Art Museum, Denver Botanic Gardens and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

    "If voters had not supported 2B tonight, I think our arts and cultural institutions would have needed a lot more time to really engage the community to make these substantial improvements," Sinden said. "It would have taken an extraordinary effort to raise more than $100 million without 2B."

    Hancock, similarly, said what the city would have lost most tonight without these victories is time.

    "It would have taken a lot more time to get where we need to go as a city," he said.  Instead, the outcome represents an unparalleled opportunity for the city. 

    Roughly half of the total bond program will go toward road maintenance, sidewalk connections, intersection improvements and transit infrastructure. The slate includes library renovations; new recreation centers and playgrounds; and upgrades to police and fire stations, cultural institutions and enhancements to Denver Health Medical Center.

    The seven separate ballot questions included:

    • $431 million for transportation and mobility projects
    • $116.9 million for city-owned cultural facility improvements (including the Stage and Ricketon theatres)
    • $75 million for a new outpatient care center at Denver Health Medical Center
    • $77 million for safety facility projects
    • $69.3 million for Denver Public Library improvements
    • $151.6 million for parks and recreation
    • $16.5 million for city-owned facility improvements
POPULAR POSTS
 
ABOUT THE EDITOR
John Moore
John Moore
Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

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