• '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 Bareillis, 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 Bareillis 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
  • Breakin' Convention workshop spreads message of hip-hop and hope

    by John Moore | Nov 03, 2017
    Breakin' Convention in Denver

    To see more photos, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter

    Breakin' Convention's French hip-hop stars work up a sweat with local breakers at Denver's Bboy Factory

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The aptly named French hip-hop star Salah stood before two dozen breathless breakdancers on Wednesday night practicing what he preaches: Joy. Taking just a one-minute break from an aerobic 90-minute workout worthy of a gleeful boot camp, Salah smiled widely through his sweat.

    The featured performer at this weekend's Breakin' Convention international festival of hip-hop dance theatre at the Buell Theatre told the assembled dancers of widely varying ages, genders and skin colors that, yes, technique and precision are just as important in hip-hop dancing as they are in Broadway or ballet. But hip-hop not only allows for a dancer's individuality to make itself known, he said — it demands it. 

    "You know what makes you a memorable dancer is having fun moments while you are also showing your abilities," he told the dancers who flocked to Denver's Bboy Factory dance studio in Globeville for a first hand-look at the longtime French star of Moroccan and Algerian descent whose last U.S. appearance was eight years ago. His name means "Muslim prayer," but not just any prayer — Salah refers to a physical, mental and spiritual act of worship. Not unlike his dancing.

    "I am an Arab man," said Salah, who won the fourth season of a hit TV show in France literally called Arabs Got Talent. He says letting his infectious joy for dance shine through has helped him to eradicate preconceived ideas some people might have about Muslims.

    (Story continues below the photo)

    Breakin Convention. Lisa Engelken. Photo by John Moore.


    That point hit home with workshop dancer Lisa Engelken, who has been studying Saleh's dancing for many years. "Now I get it," she said. "He's goofy. And he's really being himself when he dances. From now on, when I watch him dance, I'll know exactly why he dances like that."

    Salah. Breakin Convention. Photo by John Moore. Though Engelken proudly rocked her "Ladies of Hip-Hop" T-Shirt, she grew up taking classes at Denver's internationally renowned Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, where she now teaches. And while relatively new to what she calls the world of street dance, she's part of two crews that will be featured this weekend at Breakin' Convention, the world's biggest annual festival of hip-hop dance theatre.

    She's appearing with Nasty Kidz at Saturday's 303 Jam — a full afternoon of free performances and activities in and around the Buell Theatre featuring live DJs, workshops and demonstrations. Then on Sunday, Engelken will take to the Buell Theatre mainstage with Malika — three women whose like-minded intention "is to bring good energy to the masses."

    Salah's workput was followed by another 90-minute aerobic whirlwind led by Bee D, co-founder of France's multidisciplinary dance group Yeah Yellow, another Breakin' Convention headliner along with Protocol (U.K.), Soweto Skeleton Movers (South Africa) and Popin’ Pete (U.S). In all, five members of Yeah Yellow burned through Bee D's workout, right alongside Bboy Factory's breakers in training.

    Click here for more coverage of the Colorado theatre community

    Teaching dance combinations to the students made Wednesday's calorie-incinerating master classes look not all that different from a Broadway rehearsal, with two key differences: The fashion — and the individuality. "The thing I really like about hip-hop is you can create your own moves," Bee D told his dancers. "It's not like classic dance. In hip-hop, it's very important that you NOT look like the person next to you. You have to be you."

    Ian Flaws has hosted many of hip-hop's greatest icons since opening  Bboy Factory in 2012 with a stated mission of preserving traditional hip-hop culture. He said other forms of dance, from Broadway to ballet to modern, could stand to take a cue from hip-hop, which is much less constricted in its rules. "Hip-hop allows for so much range of movement and expression and exploration and creativity," said Flaws, whose clientele ranges from children to adults, from beginners to high-level artists,who come from as far away as Boulder and Aurora.

    He said Breakin' Convention is a unique opportunity for the larger metro population to get a taste of what hip-hop is all about — especially if for the first time.
       
    "It will be a great introduction to hip-hop," said Flaws. "And when I say hip-hop, that usually brings an automatic assumption that we are only talking about rap music. Hip-hop is really a big, vibrant culture that includes dance, art, food and music. And this weekend, all of that is going to be represented on one of Denver's biggest stages. Hip-hop is a culture that comes from the street, and I think Breakin' Convention will be a beautiful introduction to everything that is positive in hip-hop culture."

    Engelken first saw Breakin' Convention at the famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem, and she still can't quite believe Denver was chosen to be just the fifth North American city to host it. So she feels it is especially important for a wide swath of Denverites to come out and represent.

    "I hope people just come out and experience the true spirit of hip-hop, which is childlike play and just having fun," she said. "I think Breakin' Convention will be a good tool to demystify some stereotypes. I think people will be happily surprised. Just come and try it out."

    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.

    Breakin’ Convention 2017 International Festival of Hip Hop Dance Theatre

    Breakin' Convention: Ticket Information

    • Nov. 4-5
    • The Buell Theatre and surrounding areas
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    • Special student performance at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 3
    • Breakin’ Convention officially kicks off with the free 303 Jam from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov 4 at The Buell Theatre. Enjoy free activities and performances including live DJs, workshops, free demonstrations and performances by DJ Cavem, The Reminders and more. Free fun for the whole family.

    Breakin' Convention: The international lineup

    • Yeah Yellow (France) - An explosive b-boy crew from France, YY brings agility, creativity and invention to the BC stage. Bodies create orifices to dive through, and reform physical shapes with muscular alchemy. Recently performed at BOTY16.
    • Protocol (U.K.) - Lanre Malouda directs as well as performs in this duet that explores racial dynamics. Popping and tutting techniques, as well as text and physical theatre is used to present ideas that reflect the tensions in our community today.
    • Salah (France) - A living legend in the world of hip-hop dance, Salah returns to the Breakin’ Convention stage after an eight year hiatus. This consummate performer is a master popper, locker, b-boy, clown and all around entertainer. Known for his amazing battle abilities, Salah will present his theatre piece The Sickness.
    • Soweto Skeleton Movers (South Africa) - From the most notorious township on the African continent comes the Soweto Skeleton Movers. The audience highlight of Breakin’ Convention 2016 returns with a brand new show. Experts in a particular form of pantsula dance developed by Skeleton Mover pioneer Jabulani, the crew use comedic contortionism, frenetic footwork, and magical hat tricks. 
    • Popin’ Pete (U.S.) - Also known as Timothy Earl Solomon, Popin' Pete is an American dancer, choreographer, innovator, one of the originators of the "popping" dance style and member of the Electric Boogaloos. His career has spanned 30 years developing funk culture as a whole.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Breakin' Convention:

    • Breakin' Convention to bring largest festival of hip-hop dance theatre to Denver
    • Breakin' Convention promises to bring authenticity, local artists to DCPA
    • Video: Our talk with the one and only Jonzi D of Breakin' Convention
    • Denver's DJ CaveM: Saving lives one healthy beat, and bite, at a time
    • Video: Denver Arts Week is off to a hip-hop start
  • Video: Denver Arts Week is off to a hip-hop start

    by John Moore | Nov 02, 2017

    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    The annual nine-day celebration of Denver’s creative community begins with the mayor getting hip-hop happy

    French hip-hop dancer Salah, who is in town for Breakin' Convention this weekend at the Buell Theatre, appeared with Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden today to launch the city's 11th annual Denver Arts Week, which will celebrate the Mile High City’s vibrant arts scene this year from Nov. 3-11.

    Breakin Convention Salah Photo by Btrent AndeckSalah (pictured at right), who is considered a living legend in the world of hip-hop dance, taught the dignitaries a few dance moves as part of the fun. Salah is a master popper, locker, b-boy, clown and all-around entertainer who is returning to the Breakin’ Convention stage after an eight-year hiatus.

    Breakin' Convention is the world’s largest festival of hip-hop dance theatre, and Denver is only the fifth North American city to host it. Salah will perform at the Buell Theatre along with international acts Yeah Yellow (France), Protocol (U.K.), Soweto Skeleton Movers (South Africa) and Popin’ Pete (U.S.), as well as a number of Denver hip-hop crews.

    Click here for more coverage of the Colorado theatre community

    For more than a decade, Denver Arts Week has been a nine-day citywide celebration of  Denver’s creative community. It consists of hundreds of events that involve thousands of people each year. Signature events this year will include the 40th annual Denver Film Festival; Breakin' Convention; Know Your Arts First Friday; free nights at area museums, and more than 400 events at galleries, museums and arts districts throughout the city. Denver Arts Week is presented by Visit Denver and the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

    Breakin’ Convention officially kicks off with the free "303 Jam" from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 at The Buell Theatre. Enjoy free activities and performances including live DJs, workshops, free demonstrations and performances by DJ CaveM, The Reminders and more.

    Photo gallery: Denver Arts Week launches

    Denver Arts Week 2017

    To see more photos, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. All photos © Brent Andeck Photography, LLC.

    Breakin’ Convention 2017 International Festival of Hip Hop Dance Theatre

    Breakin' Convention: Ticket Information

    • Nov. 4-5
    • The Buell Theatre and surrounding areas
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    • Special student performance at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 3

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Breakin' Convention:

    Breakin' Convention to bring largest festival of hip-hop dance theatre to Denver
    Breakin' Convention
    promises to bring authenticity, local artists to DCPA
    Video: Our talk with the one and only Jonzi D of Breakin' Convention
    Denver's DJ CaveM: Saving lives one healthy beat, and bite, at a time

     

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

    by John Moore | Oct 19, 2017

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

    SNA_Social_AnnouncementPlease Note: Tickets to the Denver engagement of Hamilton are currently not on sale. Tickets to Hamilton will go on sale after the first of the year. Information regarding the specific date and details of the public on-sale will be announced at the end of 2017. Please be aware that if one sees tickets for sale from a third party, there is a very good chance these are not legitimate tickets. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the ONLY authorized ticket provider for Hamilton in Denver. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party should be aware that the DCPA is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and is unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance.

    To receive alerts related to Hamilton in Denver, click here

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

    (The preceding article was provided by Something Rotten!)


    Bonus: Something Rotten! sings!


    AChorusLine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

    Something Rotten! A Peek at the Playbills

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



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

    • National touring production
    • Performances Oct. 17-29
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
  • Search is on for two young Denver actresses to perform in 'Waitress'

    by John Moore | Sep 29, 2017
    Waitress. Jesse Mueller. Photo by Jeremy Daniel
    The DCPA will present the Tony-nominated musical 'Waitress' at The Buell Theatre from Dec. 19-31. The Broadway production (above) originally starred Jessie Mueller. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

    Two local girls no older than 5 years, 3 months, can audition to play LuLu while the musical visits Denver.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The search is on for two young local girls to perform the role of “Lulu” for the duration of the Denver engagement of Waitress.

    “Lulu” is a sweet and carefree young girl aged 4-5 who appears in the production’s finale.

    Auditions will be held in two sessions on Thursday, Oct. 5, at the Newman Center for Theatre Education, located at 1101 13th St. The first session will be from 3 to 4:30 p.m. The second session will be from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Those auditioning need only attend one session

    To sign up for an audition or get more information, parents or guardians can visit denvercenter.org/auditions.

    Young girls who would like to audition should be no older than 5 years and 3 months, and be less than 4 feet 2 inches in height. Each audition will take approximately five minutes, and each child will be asked to read two lines from the show. Individual applicants are welcome, as are sets of twins or siblings. If possible, parents should bring a current head shot and resume for each child. Prior acting experience is not required. Sign-up is on a first-come basis with a maximum of 40 slots.

    Waitress is the new Broadway musical from Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles inspired by Adrienne Shelly's 2007 motion picture.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Waitress_3x3.375_Show Tile_UPDATEBrought to life by a groundbreaking all-female creative team, this irresistible new hit features original music and lyrics by six-time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles ("Brave," "Love Song"), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam), choreography by Lorin Latarro (Les Dangereuse Liasons, Waiting for Godot) and direction by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus (Hair, Pippin, Finding Neverland). Paulus launched the national tour of Pippin in Denver.
     
    Inspired by Adrienne Shelly's beloved film, Waitress tells the story of Jenna - a waitress and expert pie maker, Jenna dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town's new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life.

    Waitress cast includes local favorite Lenne Klingamann

    "It's an empowering musical of the highest order," said the Chicago Tribune.

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



    Waitress in Denver: Ticket information

    • 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


    dcpa.org
  • 'Frozen': Your first look at production photos

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


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

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

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



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


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


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

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

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


    Video: Our interviews with stars, creative team:

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

    Frozen: Ticket information

    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours.
    • Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    • Through Oct. 1
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Single tickets are onsale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY NOW
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Following its pre-Broadway engagement, Frozen will join Disney Theatrical hits Aladdin and The Lion King on Broadway, beginning performances at the St. James Theatre on Feb. 22, 2018, and opening March 22. Tickets for Broadway performances are on sale now through Aug. 12, 2018. Visit FrozenTheMusical.com for more information.

    Photo gallery: Making of Frozen

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

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Our exclusive first interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin
    Frozen performance added for Friday, Aug. 18
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Meet the entire cast of Frozen
    Denver Frozen tickets go on sale May 1
    Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    Denver dates for Frozen announced
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


     

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

    by John Moore | Aug 18, 2017

     


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Frozen: Ticket information

    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours.
    • Presented by Disney Theatrical Production
    • Aug. 17-Oct. 1
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Single tickets are onsale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY NOW
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Photo gallery: Making of Frozen

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

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Our exclusive first interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin
    Frozen performance added for Friday, Aug. 18
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Meet the entire cast of Frozen
    Denver Frozen tickets go on sale May 1
    Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    Denver dates for Frozen announced
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


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

    by John Moore | Aug 16, 2017

     


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Frozen: Ticket information

    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours.
    • Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    • Aug. 17-Oct. 1
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Single tickets are onsale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY NOW
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Photo gallery: Making of Frozen

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

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Our exclusive first interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin
    Frozen performance added for Friday, Aug. 18
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Meet the entire cast of Frozen
    Denver Frozen tickets go on sale May 1
    Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    Denver dates for Frozen announced
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


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

    by John Moore | Aug 13, 2017

     


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Frozen: Ticket information

    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours.
    • Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    • Aug. 17-Oct. 1
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Single tickets are onsale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY NOW
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Photo gallery: Making of Frozen

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

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Our exclusive first interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin
    Frozen performance added for Friday, Aug. 18
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Meet the entire cast of Frozen
    Denver Frozen tickets go on sale May 1
    Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    Denver dates for Frozen announced
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


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

    by John Moore | Aug 11, 2017

     


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

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

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

    Read more: First interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin

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

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

    Frozen plays in Denver through Oct. 1.

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

    Frozen: Ticket information

    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours.
    • Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    • Aug. 17-Oct. 1
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Single tickets are onsale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY NOW
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Photo gallery: Making of Frozen

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

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Our exclusive first interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin
    Frozen performance added for Friday, Aug. 18
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Meet the entire cast of Frozen
    Denver Frozen tickets go on sale May 1
    Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    Denver dates for Frozen announced
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


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

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