• 2017 True West Award: Claudia Carson

    by John Moore | Dec 06, 2017
    True West Awards. Claudia Carson. Photo courtesy Jimmy Awards

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 6: Claudia Carson


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Claudia Carson loves her job to her core. That job is to help high-students love theatre to their cores. And she’s pretty good at her job.

    There’s far more to it than that. Carson is also a stage manager, choreographer, director and teaching artist. But what really fuels her fire is coordinating two profoundly meaningful student programs for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts: The annual Bobby G Awards, which celebrate achievements in high-school musical theatre, and a year-round, statewide teen playwriting competition.

    “Claudia is just so joyful, so inspirational and so hungry to make an impact with students,” said DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous. “She makes those programs possible with her year-round passion and commitment.”

    Claudia Carson True West BGA 2017The Bobby G Awards, which served 42 high schools and nearly 7,000 students last school year, are Carson’s true labor of love. She manages all operational elements of the wide-ranging, 5-year-old  program, including coordinating in-school workshops, professional adjudications of every production and a big, culminating Tony Awards-style party attended by nearly 2,000 each May at the Buell Theatre.

    Participating high schools have the opportunity to be mentored by DCPA Teaching Artists, and last year 24 schools signed on for 70 workshop classes. Once their school musicals go up, they are judged by a field of professional artists and educators who not only score each show for awards consideration, they provide detailed, constructive feedback that teachers can use to make their programs better.

    The awards ceremony itself is a remarkable celebration of the high-school theatre community. Carson not only directs the slick show, she choreographs sophisticated, original medleys that are performed by all of the male and female leading actor nominees. The two students ultimately named Outstanding Actor and Actress move on to the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City, also known as The Jimmys. And Carson chaperones them every step of the way.

    “I think the magic of Claudia coordinating the Bobby G Awards program is that she cares so much about theatre in Colorado, and she cares so much about teachers,” Watrous said. “Claudia is a full-on champion of high-school theatre in Colorado.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    This past year, the DCPA’s fourth High School Playwriting Competition drew 132 one-act submissions from budding writers in 14 Colorado counties. That after Carson sent DCPA Teaching Artists to 46 high schools, where they conducted 138 workshops for more than 2,800 students. Four of the resulting scripts were chosen to be read by professional actors at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit in February, and two were ultimately given fully staged productions through DCPA Education’s summer academy.

    Claudia Carson True West BGA 2016If that weren’t “job enough,” Carson also returned to her roots as a Stage Manager this year for the recent return engagement of Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women. And as a summer Teaching Artist for DCPA Education, she and a group of ambitious teens created an entire original musical from scratch — in just two weeks.

    If that sounds like a lot, you should know this about Carson: It's in her DNA. Her mother, Bev Newcomb-Madden, is a pioneer of  children's theatre in Denver and has directed more plays than any other woman in Colorado theatre history. Her sister, Glenna Kelly, is an accomplished actor who for a long time ran Kaiser-Permanente’s acclaimed Educational Theatre Programs for Colorado. And her daughter, Claire Carson, studied at Denver School of the Arts and SMU, and is now an actor in Dallas. That’s three generations of accomplished Newcomb women — and counting. And brother Jamie Newcomb performed in the DCPA Theatre Company's recent productions of Benediction and All the Way

    Pictured above and right: Claudia Carson with 2016 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actors Curtis Salinger and Charlotte Movizzo, and DCPA  Senior Manager of Press and Promotions Heidi Bosk).

    “Claudia is a sensitive, caring and compassionate person, and she really has an innate ability to connect with teenagers,” said DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg. “But at the same time, she is also a quintessential stage manager and mother, which is probably why she is so good at both jobs. Part of being a good mom is being a good stage manager.”

    Carson graduated from Denver East High School and studied journalism at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She came to the Denver Center as a stage manager for all Galleria Theatre shows for a five-year stretch starting in 2003 with the longest-running musical in Colorado theatre history, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. She later took charge of the global expansion of the runaway hit Girls Only and then served as Executive Assistant to DCPA President Randy Weeks, who died in 2014. She has also worked as a stage manager at Curious Theatre and the Arvada Center.

    But she seems to have found her sweetest spot working with students.

    “She’s doing what she loves with the people she loves the most,” Ekeberg said. “For someone who has done so many things, that’s a pretty cool culmination of a pretty cool career.”

    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.


    True West Claudia Carson 2017

    The four finalists from the DCPA's fourth statewide High School Playwriting Competition had their plays presented as readings at the 12th annual 2017 Colorado New Play Summit, including 'Dear Boy on the Tree,' above, written by Jasmin Hernandez Lozano of Vista Peak Preparatory Academy in Aurora. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS: '30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS'
    The True West Awards, now in their 17th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2017 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards (to date)


    Video bonus 1: The 2017 Bobby G Awards




    Video bonus 2 Student playwriting:

  • Chris Coleman promises a DCPA Theatre Company that's robust and resonant

    by John Moore | Nov 14, 2017
    Chris Coleman named A.D.
    Photos from today's announcement of Chris Coleman as just the fourth Artistic Director in the nearly 40-year history of the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    The longtime Portland leader champions a range of voices from George Bernard Shaw to Lauren Gunderson, who says: 'Denver is so lucky to get him.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Chris ColemanWhen the Managing Director at Portland Center Stage learned that longtime Artistic Director Chris Coleman was being hired away by the DCPA Theatre Company, she shook her head and said, “Denver, I hope you know you just won the lottery.”

    “Chris Coleman is not only a gifted theater artist, he's one of the best community connectors I've ever worked with,” a resigned Cynthia Fuhrman added from Portland. “That is a rare combination.”

    Coleman was introduced this morning as only the fourth Artistic Director in the nearly 40-year history of the DCPA Theatre Company. For the past 17 years, the Atlanta native has led a company with many of the same sensibilities as his new one. Portland Center Stage offers up to 12 offerings each season ranging from classics to contemporary works to homegrown musicals on two stages while also hosting an annual new-play festival, education programs and an array of community events. All of which sounds a lot like the mission of the DCPA Theatre Company. With one big difference: Twice as many performance spaces, and more financial resources. 

    “There is not another theatre in the country with the same administrative and physical infrastructure inside one organization,” said Coleman, who also will oversee the company’s burgeoning line of Off-Center programming — the kind that takes place in non-traditional performance spaces ranging fro the Stanley Marketplace to the streets of Denver.

    Asked to name one dream offering that might help elucidate his artistic sensibilities, Coleman mulled the possibilities before offering this tantalizing prospect: “One of my fantasies would be to go back to the beginnings of the company and remount The Caucasian Chalk Circle and engage DeVotchKa to write a score for it,” he said. “I just think that would be so cool.”

    Coleman clearly has studied up on his Denver Center history. The Theatre Company launched on New Year’s Eve 1979 with Bertolt Brecht’s modernist masterpiece, starring Tyne Daly. And just last year, Colorado’s own Grammy-nominated gypsy-punk band DeVotchKa not only experimented with Stephen Sondheim’s beloved Sweeney Todd score, but the band members got their necks at every performance.

    Shawn King Devotchke Sweeney Todd. Photo by John MooreColeman lists Brecht as among his favorite playwrights — and it is a wildly eclectic list that includes William Shakespeare, Luis Alfaro, Lynn Nottage, Paula Vogel and the playwright Coleman has directed more than any other: George Bernard Shaw. Under Coleman, 52 of the new plays Center Stage helped in their gestation have been performed at 115 theatres around the country. One he is most proud of is Dan O’Brien’s Body of an American, about how a photograph of an American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu haunted the photographer who took it. (It is currently being presented by Denver’s Curious Theatre).

    Among the many rising playwrights Coleman has nurtured along their paths are Matthew Lopez and Lauren Yee, whose latest plays Zoey’s Perfect Wedding and The Great Leap, respectively, are coming up soon on the Theatre Company’s current season.

    (Pictured above and right: Shawn King of DeVotchka in 'Sweeney Todd' in 2016. Photo by John Moore.)

    In announcing the appointment, DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden cited Coleman’s “commitment to artistic excellence, community engagement, new-play development, crowd-pleasing musicals and discovery of new voices” — all of which she said will resonate throughout the region, and will further the DCPA’s efforts to diversify its audience. Coleman said his priorities also include local storytelling, giving voice to underserved communities and building a robust collaboration with the DCPA’s Education division.

    Chris Coleman and husband Rodney Hicks. Photo by John Moore.  “I am super-interested in figuring out how we put the most resonant work on stage we can,” Coleman said. “And by that I don’t necessarily think every play has to be topical to be resonant. I mean work that really lands emotionally for people. So much so that audiences feel compelled to reach out and let us know that we affected them, and that the work has stayed with them.”

    (Pictured at right: New Theatre Company Artistic Director Chris Coleman with his husband, Rodney Hicks, at today's announcement. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Coleman says he is not only a fan of the Theatre Company's annual Colorado New Play Summit, one of the signature programs launched by his predecessor, Kent Thompson, he sees it as the company’s greatest drawing card, along with the $1.4 million Women’s Voices Fund, which supports plays written and directed by women. “I am eager to connect great artists with the larger conversation Denver is having about its future right now,” he said. “I am interested in telling big stories — both from cultures that haven’t found their way onto our stages yet, and those that are waiting to burst out of the mind of the young playwright down the street.

    “I don't think there is any reason we shouldn't be one of the top institutions for producing new work in the country.”

    ‘He sure can pick em’

    At Portland Center Stage’s 2002 equivalent of the Colorado New Play Summit, Coleman had a hunch about a submission from a budding 18-year-old playwright. So he took the extraordinary step of giving the young woman a featured slot in the festival alongside, among others, a comparatively grizzled 25-year-old named Itamar Moses. His latest play, The Band’s Visit, opened on Broadway just this past Thursday.

    Chris Coleman quote 8 LAUREN GUNDERSONThe teenager’s play was called Parts They Call Deep, about three Southern women in a Winnebago. Now for the kicker: The playwright was Lauren Gunderson, who, fast-forward 14 years, wrote the Denver Center’s red-hot world-premiere The Book of Will and is now the most-produced playwright in America for the second year running. “It has been amazing to watch her rise,” Coleman said. 

    “Yeah, he sure can pick ’em,” Gunderson said with a laugh.

    Gunderson calls Coleman a mentor who helped her to visualize a possible life in the theatre for herself – when she was 12. Her hometown is also Atlanta, where in 1988 Coleman founded Actor’s Express, dubbed Atlanta's "gutsiest and most vital theatre."

    In those tender years, Gunderson fancied herself an actor, and she was cast as the kid in two mainstage productions there — The Philadelphia Story and Approaching Zanzibar — and she absorbed everything. “That’s the first time I realized that people actually sit down and write plays,” Gunderson said. “By just watching Chris, I started to see all of these other avenues for a life in the theatre for me.”

    Coleman, whose family's Atlanta roots go back to 1804 ("But we were poor dirt farmers," he says), was a bit of a star of the stage himself in those days. How big of a fan was Gunderson of his work? “My 14th birthday party was taking my girlfriends to see Chris Coleman play Hamlet,” she said. “I loved it, and I will never forget it.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    While at Portland, Coleman also produced or directed plays by Sophocles, Molière, Anton Chekhov, Edward Albee, August Wilson, Tennessee Williams, Ntozake Shange, Dael Orlandersmith, David Henry Hwang, John Patrick Shanley, Naomi Wallace, Sam Shepard, Douglas Carter Beane, Martin McDonaugh and Amy Freed — among others.

    “He just has such a knack for championing a remarkably wide variety of voices in the new-play world,” Gunderson said. “I think that’s because he has such a variety of experiences himself as a director, playwright, actor and artistic leader. What makes him a genius is that he knows every aspect of the creation of art first-hand. He has nonstop incredible ideas.” 

    Chris Coleman Introduction PhotoColeman is something of a renaissance man. Before he leaves Portland, he will direct a two-part epic he adapted himself called Astoria, featuring a cast of 16. Based on the best-selling book by Peter Stark, it tells of the harrowing but little-known journeys west undertaken by President Thomas Jefferson and millionaire John Jacob Astor that served as turning points in the conquest of the North American continent. It’s a story Coleman imagines might be of interest to Denver Center audiences because it taps directly into the spirit of the west.

    (Pictured at above and right: Chris Coleman with husband Rodney Hickst o his right and, to his left: DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden, and Chairman Martin Semple. Photo by Brittany Gutierrez for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    But his acting days are likely behind him, he says. These days, he is far more interested in ballot measures and fundraising and other administrative duties (he swears). He led the design and construction of Portland Center Stage’s new home in the 122-year-old Historic Portland Armory. That experience will be critical as the DCPA prepares to renovate both its Stage and Ricketson theatres within the next four years.

    Under Coleman, who earned his BFA from Baylor University and his MFA from Carnegie Mellon University, annual attendance at Portland Center Stage increased from 77,000 to 139,000. The average age of the audience dropped from 64 to 48. The company brings in about 7,600 students a year to see its plays.

    Coleman will direct his two-part adaptation of Astoria, followed by Major Barbara at Portland Center Stage before moving to Denver with his husband, Rodney Hicks, in May. In the meantime, he will work with DCPA Managing Director Charles Varin and Associate Artistic Directors Nataki Garrett and Charlie Miller to finalize the 2018-19 season selection.

    “I just think he is a great voice for the American theatre as a whole, and I can’t wait to see what he does to continue Kent’s legacy," Gunderson, said. “Oh my God, Denver is so lucky to get him.”  

    Video above: A 2015 interview with Portland Center Stage Artistic Director Chris Coleman.

    7 QUICK QUESTIONS WITH CHRIS COLEMAN:

    NUMBER 1Rodney Hicks King Lear Terry ShapiroHey, we already know your husband here in Denver: Rodney Hicks played bad-boy Edmund here in Kent Thompson’s 2007 production of King Lear. He was in the original Broadway cast of Rent and Come from Away. Is it safe to say he will be an active member of our acting community? It is not safe to say that. Rodney is totally excited about coming to Denver, and he wants to figure out what engaging with the artistic community here might look like for him. But his focus right now is primarily on film and television and his budding writing career. Rodney had a big career before we met, and there’s every reason to believe he will have a big career for the rest of his life. So while I think you will see him around Denver a lot, I am not sure you are ever going to see him onstage at the Denver Center.

    Pictured above right: Rodney Hicks as Edmund and Markus Potter as Edgar in the DCPA Theatre Company's 2007 production of 'King Lear.' Photo by Terry Shapiro.)


    NUMBER 2What was your introduction to theatre as a kid? It was my mom, who was trained as an actor. She started a drama ministry at our Southern Baptist church in the 1970s. So literally from the time I can remember, I was dragging angel wings around or operating a dimmer board or giving the actors their lines. So it's always been a part of my life. During my senior year in high school, it became clear that's what I wanted to pursue. And when I got to Baylor University I very quickly realized, 'This is what I want to do. This is the room I want to be in. This is my tribe of people.' 

    NUMBER 3How do you plan to move the dial when it comes to the national problem of equity, diversity and inclusion in the American theatre? As a gay man, I am on the bandwagon. I absolutely agree with the movement, and I believe it is high time for there to be opportunities for lots of different kinds of people in leadership roles. And I think there is a lot that any artistic leader can do to make positive changes, no matter that leader's gender and skin color. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who is more passionate and committed to move us forward on that front. That certainly was the case in Portland, and I expect that only to increase in Denver.

    NUMBER 4You may have heard that Denver Center audiences are passionate about their Shakespeare. Will there be a continuing commitment to Shakespeare? And if so — what kind of Shakespeare? There absolutely will be a continuing commitment to Shakespeare. Now, over the years, I have done every kind of radical Shakespeare reinvention you can possibly imagine. But then about four years ago, I thought: 'You know what would be really radical? To do a Shakespeare play in the period when it was actually written. That would be radical.’ I expect that I am probably more of a centrist when it comes to Shakespeare at this point in my life. What I value most is truthfulness, authenticity and the ability for an audience to engage emotionally. I just want audiences to take the whole ride and not sit back.

    NUMBER 5Should the DCPA Theatre Company be actively responding to the political polarization of the country right now? I think if you are doing interesting new plays, then that happens, whether you want it to or not. Politics tends to show up whenever you are talking about the things that are happening in our world. For example, when we programmed a new play we are staging right now called Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, we already knew of course that immigration is a big issue in this country. But we had no idea how searingly hot it was going to be by the time we opened the play. It is delightful that Luis Alfaro’s play engages with the issues of the current moment, but that’s not why we did it. We did it because we liked the play. But the issue allowed us to build community partnerships around the play that are absolutely conscious of engaging with the conversation of the moment. For example, we have two symposiums in partnership with Catholic Charities that will include our attorney general, a leading immigration attorney, the deputy director of I.C.E. and two Dreamers. That kind of thing is totally in our zone. It’s not just pushing one point of view. It’s bringing together many sides and deepening the conversation you just experienced on the stage.

    NUMBER 6george-bernard-shaw-9480925-1-402So what’s with your love for George Bernard Shaw? I will tell you: The play we are doing this season that most directly engages the executive leadership of this country is Major Barbara — which of course never refers to America or our current president because it was written in 1907. But the themes are uncannily resonant.

    NUMBER 7Is there a place for current DCPA Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett on your team? I have actually known Nataki Garrett for 20 years because she stage-managed a show I acted in back in Atlanta. I have enormous respect and fondness for her, and I was delighted when she was hired to be the Associate Artistic Director here. I anticipate that she will continue in that role until she decides she doesn’t want it anymore. I also know there are a lot of people around the country who have noted Nataki's leadership capabilities, so I suspect there are people knocking at her door.

    NUMBER 8DCPA Education just launched its Theatre for Young Audiences program with a production of The Snowy Day that is directed at pre-kindergarten through third graders, and it was made in full collaboration with the Theatre Company's design staff. How important is it for the Theatre Company to have a strong relationship with the Education division? It's critical to me. One, because we have to prepare future audiences. It is so easy today to walk through life without any real cultural participation of some kind. So I think it's critical that we create, invent and provide as many on-ramps as we can. So education, outreach, and using every opportunity we can to build community relationships with people is just huge.

    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.

  • Robert Lee Hardy of 'The Snowy Day' on living with joyous goodwill

    by John Moore | Nov 07, 2017
    Cast of The Snowy Day. Adams Viscom

    The cast of DCPA Education's 'The Snowy Day Other Stories,' from left: Rachel Kae Taylor, Robert Lee Hardy and Zak Reynolds. Age recommendation: Pre-school to 3rd grade, with adult supervision. Photo by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    MEET ROBERT LEE HARDY
    Robert Lee Hardy QuotePeter in The Snowy Day, playing through Nov. 18 in the Conservatory Theatre. Recent stage credits include A Time To Kill at the Vintage Theatre in Aurora; Flyin’ West, The Three Sisters and Home. TV and film credits include Jazz in the Diamond District, Jamesy Boy and HBO’s The Wire.

    • Hometown: Baltimore
    • Home now: Denver
    • Training: I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Theatre Arts and Film
    • What's your handle? @RobertLeeHardy on Twitter and Instagram
    • What was the role that changed your life? The role was Cephus Miles from the play Home by Samm-Art Williams. I had to learn eight monologues, the production only had three characters — and it was over two hours long with no intermission! I understood Cephus. He was my grandfather, my uncle and my father. Cephus lost his home, was thrown in jail for not wanting to fight in the Vietnam War and became addicted to drugs. During the run of the show, I was going through a really rough point in my life, and Cephus inspired me. Despite all, he never lost his joyous goodwill or his indomitable spirit. He held onto to his faith in himself and ended up with a life filled with love and happiness.
    • Why are you an actor? I love suspending reality. I have the power to use this gift bestowed upon me, to take people's level of consciousness to a higher level.
    • What do you be doing if you were not an actor? I would be a news anchor. I love the words, I love the camera and I love storytelling.
    • RobertLeeHardyJeffreyWrightIdeal scene partner: Jeffrey Wright (pictured right) and Heath Ledger. They literally know how to put on someone else's shoes, and walk in them.
    • Why does The Snowy Day matter? When I was a child I didn't often see people who looked like me onstage, film or TV. The Snowy Day allows children to see that actors and artists come in all colors, shapes and sizes.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? I want them to leave the show feeling inspired. Whether you can't whistle or write well. If you believe in yourself, the possibilities are endless.
    • Complete this sentence: “All I want is … “
      "... for the world to know that a career as an artist is realistic and ideal.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Robert Lee Hardy A Time to Kill. Vintage

    Robert Lee Hardy, right, starred as Carl Lee Hailey with Drew Hirschboeck as Jake Brigance in Vintage Theatre's regional premiere production of 'A Time to Kill' in April. He has since joined DCPA Education's 'The Snowy Day.'   


    The Snowy Day and Other Stories: Ticket information
    Snowy DayFrom the joys of a first snowfall and learning how to whistle to thrilling encounters delivering a precious invitation, the delightful moments of childhood are perfectly captured in this medley of simple, sweet stories.

    • Written by Ezra Jack Keats; adapted for the stage by Jerome Hairston
    • Performances through Nov. 18
    • School performances: Weekdays 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. (except Thursdays are at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.)
    • Public performances: 1:30 p.m. Saturdays
    • Conservatory Theatre, located in the Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education, 1101 13th St.
    • Tickets $10 (discounts and scholarships available)
    • Best suited for: Pre-K through third grade
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Teachers: Inquire by clicking here or calling 303-446-4829
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Snowy Day and Other Stories



  • 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.

  • Rachel Kae Taylor of 'The Snowy Day' on the magic of being a kid

    by John Moore | Oct 11, 2017
    RachelKaeTaylor


    MEET RACHEL KAE TAYLOR
    Actor, Teaching Artist and Puppet Designer Rachel Kae Taylor is one of three ensemble members in DCPA Education's The Snowy Day and Other Stories, by Ezra Jack Keats, playing through Nov. 18 in the Conservatory Theatre. She plays Archie, Amy, Mom and other roles.

    At the Denver Center: The Servant of Two Masters, One Foot on the Floor and A Christmas Carol. Other theatres: Touch the Names (Ensemble Studio Theatre N.Y., Cleveland Play House); The Good Woman of Setzuan, 5th of July (National Theatre Conservatory).

    • Hometown: Denver
    • Training: University of Colorado, MFA from the Denver Center's National Theatre Conservatory (pictured below right with Patrick Goss in 'The Fifth of July'.)
    • Rachel Kae Taylor and Patrick Goss in The Fifth of JulyTwitter-sized bio: Mom of the coolest 14-year-old on the planet. Visual artist. Zombie fanatic. Ghost-story addict. Baseball lover. Doing my part to keep 80s alternative music alive. Undefeated at Tetris.
    • Web site? rkaetaylor.com and CupOfTwigs on ETSY
    • What was the role that changed your life? This is a tough one because I think every role changes your life in some way, and it should.
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? I actually have my dream career as a Teaching Artist and At-Risk Coordinator for DCPA Education. I have the privilege of teaching and developing theater arts programing for underserved communities and Title One schools across Colorado. If I hadn’t gone into the arts, I would have been an anthropologist or forensic sculptor. I am the biggest geek for all things science. Humans are endlessly fascinating.
    • RachelKaeTaylor Larry Hecht 160Ideal scene partner? Larry Hecht (pictured right), the former head of adult acting at the DCPA. He could literally wizard things out of you. Things you had no idea you could do or be.
    • Why does The Snowy Day matter? Ezra Jack Keats was such a groundbreaker in terms of social awareness in children’s literature, in a quiet and beautiful way.  For a child to be able to read a story and say “Hey, they look like me!’ is a very powerful thing. I remember the first time it happened to me to this day.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? I hope that for adults it is a reminder of how truly beautiful the simple things in a life are. Whether it is the wonder of a new snowfall, or having your heart flutter for the first time, or little acts of bravery, it’s easy to forget sometimes in our adult lives how magical these moments are. I hope that the kids find themselves within the characters and their discoveries about the world around them. If it is their first time at the theater, I hope they fall madly in love with it, like I did.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      " ... to live my favorite quote, which I saw spray-painted on a door in Queens: “Art changes people, and people change the world.’ "

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Rachel Kae Taylor. AdamsVisCom. The Smowy DayThe cast of 'The Snowy Day Other Stories,' from left: Rachel Kae Taylor, Robert Lee Hardy and Zak Reynolds. Photo by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Snowy Day and Other Stories

    First rehearsal photos: Forecast calls for a Snowy Day at DCPA
    DCPA Education to launch Theatre for Young Audiences
    Meet Zak Reynolds of The Snowy Day, 'a fan of being happy'

    The Snowy Day and Other Stories: Ticket information
    Snowy DayFrom the joys of a first snowfall and learning how to whistle to thrilling encounters delivering a precious invitation, the delightful moments of childhood are perfectly captured in this medley of simple, sweet stories.

    • Written by Ezra Jack Keats; adapted for the stage by Jerome Hairston
    • Performances through Nov. 18
    • School performances: Weekdays 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. (except Thursdays are at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.)
    • Public performances: 1:30 p.m. Saturdays
    • Conservatory Theatre, located in the Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education, 1101 13th St.
    • Tickets $10 (discounts and scholarships available)
    • Best suited for: Pre-K through third grade
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Teachers: Inquire by clicking here or calling 303-446-4829
  • Meet Zak Reynolds of 'The Snowy Day': 'A fan of being happy'

    by John Moore | Sep 21, 2017
    Zak Reynolds, Rachel Kae Taylor and Robert Lee Hardy. Snowy Day.

    The cast of 'The Snowy Day Other Stories,' from left: Zak Reynolds, Rachel Kae Taylor and Robert Lee Hardy. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    MEET ZAK REYNOLDS
    Zak Reynolds is one of three ensemble members in DCPA Education's The Snowy Day and Other Stories, by Ezra Jack Keats, playing through Nov. 18 in the Conservatory Theatre, located in the Newman Center for Theatre Education. 

    At the Denver Center: Debut. National tours: A Year with Frog and Toad. Regional: World premiere of Bella: An American Tall Tale (Dallas Theater Center); Spamalot, Les Miserables, Schoolhouse Rock Live! (Casa Mañana), Go Dog, Go!, Skippy Jon Jones, A Wrinkle in Time (Dallas Children's Theater), Dogfight (WaterTower Theater), The Liar, Less Than Kind (Theatre 3). Named Best Actor 2014 by D Magazine.

    • Zak Reynolds. Snowy DayHometown: Fort Worth, Texas
    • Training: Circle in the Square Theatre School, New York
    • Twitter-sized bio: I am always psyched to be consistently moving and working on something new or innovative. Challenging myself keeps me on my toes. I’m a fan of forming new relationships. I love being happy, and I feel that I can be a role model for young actors looking to find their own light, whether in theater or any other lifestyle.
    • What was the role that changed your life? When I did Dogfight at the WaterTower Theater, it was a difficult time for me. I had just joined the union at the beginning of that year, and began to lose my hair due to Alopecia right before the production went into rehearsals. That role challenged me to stay patient with my aspirations because no matter what I looked like on stage, hair or no hair, I knew I still could be successful, even with mental barricades in the way. It took a while to be comfortable, but looking back on that time it is something that I will never forget, and I am now grateful for.
    • Why are you an actor? Acting is a way to be free for a few hours a day. It takes me out of whatever I may be facing in real life and lets me portray another set of challenges in someone else’s shoes. It’s so rewarding to expose theater to children. I grew up around a theatrical family. It is in my blood to make sure future generations are just as inspired by theatre as I was.
    • What do you be doing if you were not an actor? I’m always up for the service industry. As crazy as this might sound, I love the high-end restaurant world. Or I would be a nurse. A nurse would be neat.
    • Ideal scene partner? Alan Langdon. When I went to school at Circle in the Square, he was always the teacher I never understood completely but I feel like I didn’t free myself enough to the work as much as I wanted to at 18 years old. He questioned every single moment of my scene work, no matter the text. He was definitely a mentor who challenged all of my senses, and I thrived.
    • Why does The Snowy Day matter? Because even though a kid might be timid or a little less animated than others it’s totally OK to be that way - and also have tons of fun. Peter is a kid who wants to go on adventures and play all of the time, but he still has a quiet, thoughtful side to him. We can all connect with learning how to whistle or finding out who our first crush is. No matter how hard a journey may be, this is a story that shows everything ends up just fine.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? I want them to feel chills leaving the theater, having seen something they might never have seen before. I hope they all feel connected by the notion of learning to whistle or dealing with mom making you put on your PJs. As long as they connect in some way, then we actors have done a great job.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      " ... for people to chill out, look on the bright side of life, and know that someone is always there for you when hard times arise."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Snowy Day and Other Stories

    First rehearsal photos: Forecast calls for a Snowy Day at DCPA
    DCPA Education to launch Theatre for Young Audiences

    The Snowy Day and Other Stories: Ticket information
    Snowy DayFrom the joys of a first snowfall and learning how to whistle to thrilling encounters delivering a precious invitation, the delightful moments of childhood are perfectly captured in this medley of simple, sweet stories.

    • Written by Ezra Jack Keats; adapted for the stage by Jerome Hairston
    • Performances through Nov. 18
    • School performances: Weekdays 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. (except Thursdays are at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.)
    • Public performances: 1:30 p.m. Saturdays
    • Conservatory Theatre, located in the Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education, 1101 13th St.,
    • Tickets $10 (discounts and scholarships available)
    • Best suited for: Pre-K through third grade
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Teachers: Inquire by clicking here or calling 303-446-4829
  • First rehearsal: Forecast calls for 'A Snowy Day' at DCPA

    by John Moore | Sep 08, 2017
    Making of 'The Snowy Day'

    Photos from the first day of rehearsal for 'The Snowy Day Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats‬‬‬‬‬,' featuring a cast of, from left: Zak Reynolds, Rachel Kae Taylor and Robert Lee Hardy. To see more photos, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Up to 20,000 area children will experience what Director Allison
    Watrous calls 'the largest pop-up book ever.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    DCPA Education is fully launching its new Theatre for Young Audiences program on Sept. 21 with the opening of The Snowy Day and Other Stories in the Conservatory Theatre. It is estimated that 20,000 children from around the metro area will see the fully interactive production sometime this fall. 

    The Snowy Day, written in 1962 by Caldecott Award-winning author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats, tells the simple story of a boy named Peter and the wonder of his first encounter with snow. The stage production also will include Keats' Whistle for Willie, Goggles and A Letter to Amy, each representing one season of the year.

    The Denver Center production, staged in full partnership with the design team from the DCPA Theatre Company, will include multimedia, puppets, projections and, of course ... lots of snow. "We are approaching this as the largest pop-up book ever," said Allison Watrous, both the DCPA's Director of Education and the Director of The Snowy Day. Added Scenic Designer Lisa M. Orzolek: "We're excited for this opportunity to bring the same quality of theatre to little people that we regularly offer on our main stages."

    The cast, which gathered for the first time Tuesday, will feature Robert Lee Hardy as Peter, along with Zak Reynolds and Rachel Kae Taylor in ensemble roles. Hardy played Carl Lee Hailey in Vintage Theatre's recent production of A Time to Kill. Taylor, who also will assist in designing shadow puppets for the play, is a DCPA Teaching Artist and At-Risk Coordinator.

    "I am excited for students to walk into the Conservatory Theatre and say to themselves, 'I can see myself as the hero of a story. I can see myself inside a story. And I can create my own story,' " Watrous said. "What Ezra Jack Keats is saying to them is, 'Yes, you absolutely can create a story.' And we want to help them to discover their authentic voice in that process."

    Story continues after the photo:

    The Snowy Day. Photo by John Moore.


    Watrous promises a brightly colored world that will depict the simple beauty of discovery in singular childhood moments such as learning how to whistle, discovering snow and the art of the first jump-rope. Keats' series was considered revolutionary for its time because he chose to make a black child his protagonist. Keats' stories also address the challenges of growing up, from social interactions to bullying to how to properly ask a girl to a second-grader's birthday party.

    School groups will be invited to stay after each performance and participate in complementary (and complimentary!) 45-minute workshops presented by DCPA Teaching Artists. "That will give them the opportunity to really dive into the tactile world of the show inside our studio classrooms," Watrous said.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The creative team includes many family connections, including Stage Manager Rachel Ducat and her husband, award-winning Sound Designer Jason Ducat. "We have 3-year-old twins and we are excited to expose them to theatre," said Rachel Ducat.

    The goal of the Theatre for Young Audiences program is not only to expose children to theatre at a young age, but to give them an boost in their overall childhood development as well. According to the Denver Great Kids Head Start Community Assessment 2016, early exposure to the arts reduces dropout rates, improves standardized test scores, increases graduation rates and increases the likelihood of a student receiving a college degree (the latter by 165 percent).

    The Snowy Day. Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski, Photo by John Moore. “If you cultivate the wonder of the arts at an early age, then that becomes part of the fabric of the learner - and the human being,” Watrous said. “Theatre makes you a stronger reader. Theatre makes you more collaborative. Theatre makes connections in your mind that can change how you look at a book, how you look at a painting, how you look at a sculpture and how you look at difficult issues in our world. Of all the beautiful transferable skills you can develop through live theatre, perhaps the most important is that it can make you more empathetic in how you view the world."

    (Pictured right: The DCPA's Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski has developed the classroom curriculum that accompanies the 'Snowy Day' experience. Photo by John Moore.)

    Most of the 100 performances will be held on weekdays for schools taking field trips to the Denver Center. Saturday performances will be open to the public. Tickets are $10, but the DCPA will make 9,000 “scholarships” (free tickets) available to teachers whose students need financial assistance to attend.

    "I am just beyond excited for our community," said Denver Center President and CEO Janice Sinden. "This is why we are here. It's all about the children. This is our future." 


    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.

    Cast and creative team:

    • Actors: Robert Lee Hardy, Zak Reynolds and Rachel Kae Taylor
    • Director: Allison Watrous
    • Music Direction: Robyn Yamada
    • Scenic Design: Lisa M. Orzolek
    • Costume and Puppet Design: Kevin Copenhaver
    • Projection Design: Matthew Plamp
    • Composer: Victor Zupanc
    • Lighting Design: Shannon McKinney
    • Stage Manager: Rachel Ducat
    • Sound Design: Jason Ducat

    The Snowy Day and Other Stories: Ticket information

    • Written by Ezra Jack Keats; adapted for the stage by Jerome Hairston
    • Sept. 21-Nov. 18
    • School performances: Weekdays 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. (except Thursdays are at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.)
    • Public performances: 1:30 p.m. Saturdays
    • Conservatory Theatre, located in the Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education, 1101 13th St.,
    • Tickets $10 (discounts and scholarships available)
    • Best suited for: Pre-K through third grade
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Teachers: Inquire by clicking here or calling 303-446-4829
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Snowy Day

    DCPA Education to launch Theatre for Young Audiences

    The Snowy Day. Allsion Watrous. Photo by John Moore. Director Allison Watrous, with her cast behind her, at the first rehearsal for 'The Snowy Day.' Photo by John Moore.
  • Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays performed

    by John Moore | Jul 13, 2017
    Video above: We talk with the two student playwrights whose works were fully staged by DCPA Education actors on June 11. 



    DCPA Education's fourth annual Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition is a one-act playwriting competition designed for Colorado high schools. Its mission is to help high-school writers find and cultivate their authentic voices.

    Each fall, local playwrights and DCPA Teaching Artists go out into schools statewide, conduct writing workshops and encourage students to submit one-act plays for the competition. This past year, 138 playwriting workshops were held in 46 Colorado high schools. More than 2,823 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 15 counties around the state.

    Student playwriting A total of 132 submissions were judged blindly. Ten were named as finalists. Four of those were chosen to be workshopped and have a staged reading at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit in February. In previous years, one play has then been chosen for a full summer production by DCPA Education’s summer teen company. But this year, competition officials chose to advance two scripts to full stagings. The winning plays were Dear Boy on the Tree, written by Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano of Vista Peak High School (pictured above), and Spilt Lava, written by Ryan McCormick of Fort Collins High School. Each play had two public performances on June 11 in the Conservatory Theatre.

    Video: Our report from the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit

    This video above includes interviews with the playwrights, Director Steven Cole Hughes and student actors Nathaniel Pagibigan, Madeleine Kee and Jacob Maki.

    For information on next year's competition, starting with school workshops in the fall of 2017, go to denvercenter.org/education.

    Video by David Lenk and Avery Anderson for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     


    Photo gallery: 2016-17 Student Playwriting

    2017 Student Playwriting

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos are downloadable for free and may be used for personal and social purposes with credit. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
     

    2017 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition Sponsors:
    Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 10 of the 2017 semifinalists:
    Parker Bennett, Fossil Ridge High School
    Corinna Donovan and Walker Carroll, Crested Butte Community School
    Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano, Vista Peak High School
    Ryan Patrick McCormick, Fort Collins High School
    Abby Meyer and Nic Rhodes, Fossil Ridge High School
    Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School
    Samantha Shapard, Overland High School
    Sarah Shapard, Overland High School
    Daniela Villalobo, York International
    Jessica Wood, Denver Christian School

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Video: Tournament raises $110,000 for DCPA Education programs

    by John Moore | Jun 23, 2017

    The Denver Center’s annual Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament, held June 16 at Legacy Ridge Golf Course in Westminster, raised a record $110,954 to support the DCPA’s arts in education programs.

    More than 106,000 students of all ages participated in DCPA Education programs around the state last year. Proceeds from the golf tournament help underwrite these important efforts, including:

    • Nearly 22,000 youth benefited from free and reduced-price tickets, matinees for their schools, and special Student Nights.
    • Shakespeare in the Parking Lot toured to 60 schools in 10 different counties, providing more than 9,000 unique interactions with students.
    • DCPA Teaching Artists offered workshops for all 189 schools participating in the annual DPS Shakespeare Festival, which attracted nearly 5,000 to the Denver Performing Arts Complex last month.
    • The Bobby G Awards celebrates achievements in Colorado high-school musical theatre. Trained judges adjudicate more than 40 local high-school musicals, culminating in a Tony Awards-style celebration that advances two local students to the National High School Musical Theatre Awards (The Jimmys) in New York City.
    • DCPA Education administers a year-round one-act playwriting competition to nurture high-school writers. This year, four finalists had their plays presented at the DCPA’s annual Colorado New Play Summit. And earlier this month, two plays were selected for fully staged performances in the Conservatory Theatre.
    • DCPA Education also contributes to workforce development through multiple industry courses, a Career Readiness program and Job Shadow Days.

    Randy Weeks worked from the ground up to become President of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He started in the box office as a college student and was named Executive Director of the DCPA’s Broadway division in 1991. He was promoted to president in 2004. As President, welcomed more than 11.6 million guests to the Denver Center until his death in 2014.

    Guests on the video above include DCPA CEO Janice Sinden, President John Ekeberg, Bobby G Awards winner Austin Hand, and golf-tournament event co-chairs Shawn Fowler and Maxwell Bull. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and intern Avery Anderson.


    Photo gallery: 2017 Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament:

    Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament

    DCPA CEO Janice Sinden gets a lift at the 2017 Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament. To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by Amanda Tipton. Photos may be downloaded and shared with proper photo credit. 


    Our 2017 Bobby G Awards Video Playlist (so far):
    Road to the Jimmy Awards: Austin Hand performs at the DCPA golf tournament
    Road to the Jimmy Awards: Bobby G Awards winners perform for DCPA Board
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards: The full video recap
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards: Nominated actors medley
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards: Performance Highlights
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards in 60 seconds
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards welcome to all participating schools

    More of our 2017 Bobby G Awards coverage:
    Our complete photo gallery
    Our full Bobby G Awards report: Persistence pays off at Valor Christian
    Video, photos and top quotes from the 2017 Bobby G Awards
    Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress finalists
    Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor finalists
    2016-17 Bobby G Award finalists are announced

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


  • Video, photos and quotes from 2017 Bobby G Awards

    by John Moore | Jun 02, 2017
    A VIDEO LOOK BACK:


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


    The Bobby G Awards celebrate achievement in high-school musical theatre. Our look back in video, photos and words. 

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Denver Center's fifth annual Bobby G Awards celebrated achievement in Colorado high-school theatre on May 25 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. (Click here for complete night-of coverage of the awards, including a list of winners and nominees.)

    Bobby G Awards. Boulder High RentThe video above provides a recap of the evening and includes interviews with students, teachers and DCPA staff. Our photo gallery below includes the red-carpet walk, the awards, student performances, backstage trophy presentations and a look back at rehearsals leading up to the big night.

    The Bobby G Awards are a culmination of a year-long program administered by the Denver Center that emphasizes camaraderie and shared experiences - but there is also much at stake. The students named Outstanding Actor and Actress go on to represent Colorado at the The Jimmy® Awards/National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City. This year’s honorees are Elleon Dobias of Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch and Austin Hand of Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins.

    (Pictured above: Boulder High School's performance of 'Rent.')

    Our full report from the 2017 Bobby G Awards

    Bobby G Awards. Valor Christian.  PippinFor Dobias, was her record fourth straight nomination and first win. “Yes, I was nominated for Bobby G Awards my freshman, sophomore and junior year, and lost, lost, lost. But you lose some - you lose some,” she said with a giggle. “I was super excited to be nominated again this year just to have the chance to maybe go out on a win. I can't believe it. My mind is short-circuiting right now because I am just so happy.”

    Dovias played Catherine in Valor Christian's production of Pippin, which was named Outstanding Musical (pictured right). Valor Christian is a private Christian school in Highlands Ranch. "My freshman year when I auditioned for the school play, there were 10 people auditioning," she said. For Pippin, we had more than 60 people audition. I think recognition from a program like the Bobby G Awards has helped that growth."

    (Story continues below the photo gallery)

     

    COMPLETE PHOTO GALLERY:

    2017 Bobby G Awards

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos by John Moore and Emily Lozow for the DCPA NewsCenter. All photos may be downloaded and redistributed with permission from the DCPA with proper photo credit.

    Award presenters included Denver First Lady Mary Louise Lee and Colorado native Gene Gillette, who is a member of the national touring production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, currently performing at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House through  June 25.

    Bobby G Awards. Valor Christian.  Pippin“High school was pretty rough for me,” Gillette told the DCPA NewsCenter. “I really look up to and envy these kids and the discipline they have to have gotten this far at this young of an age. I've been lucky to have theatre in my life." Asked his advice to the teens, Gillette wisdom of his own theatre professor from the University of Colorado. “He told me, "There are two wolves inside of you. There is the wolf that wants to do good, and the wolf that wants to do bad. And whichever wolf you feed, that's what you become. So feed your good wolf.”

    (Pictured right: Reaction to naming of Valor Christian's 'Pippin' as Outstanding Musical.)

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    While the Bobby G Awards culminate each year with the awards ceremony, which is modeled after the Tony Awards, the year-long focus of the program is to both celebrate and educate. The participating schools receive detailed feedback on their musical productions from the adjudicators. Joe Robinson, who played Dewhurst in Chaparral High School’s The Scarlet Pimpernel, was named the 2017 Rising Star. That’s an award reserved for a promising underclassman. 

    “I would like to thank my Bobby G adjudicators for all of the valuable feedback you gave me,” Robinson said in his acceptance speech. “It really helped me in the right direction last year, moving into this year, and now going into next year.”

    (Story continues below the photo)

    Bobby G Awards

    Timothy McCracken, Head of Acting for DCPA Education, said the Denver Center is proud to offer the Bobby G Awards in Colorado because it aligns so well with its overall educational mission. “We are always looking for ways to continue to offer opportunities for younger artists to see what art and theatre can bring to a community, and to themselves as individuals. And this is one of those programs that highlights that."

    Coming next week: A separate video offering performance highlights.

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

    MORE QUOTES OF NOTE:

    • Shelly Cox-Robie, Director, Boulder High School (and 25-year actor at the nearby BDT Stage): The theatre kids feel like this is their equivalent of the football team going to state. As both a parent and as a teacher, it means so much for these kids to have the support and the camaraderie and the family that they have with (school theatre).
    • Bobby G Awards. North High School and Strive Prep's 'In the Heights'Maya Stone, North/Strive Prep High School's In the Heights: Doing In the Heights made a really big impact at our school because the story of In the Heights isn't just a story to our community. It's our story. We have such a feeling of pride. So many people put in so much work to make this happen. And it means so much to come together for one final performance her at the Bobby G Awards. I was telling (a castmate) on closing night, 'I just want to go on stage as Nina one more time. You always want that when a show closes - and it is amazing that we get that opportunity to do that here tonight.
    • Davie Gonzalez, North/Strive Prep High School's In the Heights: It feels great to be invited to the party. It makes us feel like we did something really special. Something this big makes us feel really happy about ourselves, and makes us feel like we really do matter to this community.
    • Dayna Marshal, North/Strive Prep High School's In the Heights: Being nominated for Outstanding Musical was a very big deal to us. It meant coming out of the shadows. It meant proving everyone wrong about a minority community at a small school. It means everything to us. And as for performing tonight at the Ellie: It feels like butterflies are exploding in my stomach.
    • Trey Kochevar, Outstanding Actor finalist, Lakewood High School: At school, it's become a lot more that arts can be a cool thing thanks to the Bobby G Awards, rather than it just being about sports. You get a lot more respect when you are able to showcase your craft like all of the other extra-curricular activities can.  
    • Grace Nolte, Outstanding Actress finalist, Chaparral High School: I came into this experience so scared that it was going to be such a catty environment. That changed the first minute we were all together. I have never been in such a collaborative environment with such contagious energy.
    • Asha Romeo Outstanding Actress finalist, Boulder High School: I think this program raises up the schools that have put  a lot of work and dedication into their productions, and pushes other schools to better their own programs.
    • Jesse Shafroth, Outstanding Actor finalist, Boulder High School: The Bobby G Awards has given us all good insight into what  show business is actually like. Because these rehearsals have been really fast-paced, and we have been learning a lot of stuff very quickly. I want to give a shout-out to our (Bobby G Awards) director, Claudia Carson. She's the best.
    • Chantal King, Outstanding Actress finalist, Niwot High School: Everyone has been so nice. Meeting everybody here was such a humbling and great experience.
    • Gable Kinsman, Outstanding Actor finalist, Valor Christian High School: “I think theatre doesn't usually get the credit that it deserves at our schools, but I think the Bobby G Awards program definitely helps.
    • Austin Hand, Outstanding Actor, Fossil Ridge High School: This was the first year Fossil put itself up for nominationf, so just everyone was so excited when we found out that we were even nominated for two awards. I feel like athletics in schools get most of the recognition because of the competitive nature of sports. Theatre doesn't have that, so its fun to have that extra push that Bobby G Awards provides to strive for greatness.
    • Timothy McCracken, Head of Acting for DCPA Education: I have an 8-year-old son and I cannot wait till he has an opportunity to be in this environment, I think it is so inspiring. There are so many people here. The excitement is just amazing. You can just feel everyone bubbling over.
    Bobby G Awards. Outstanding Actor and Actress medley.
    The Bobby G Awards' Outstanding Actor and Actress finalists performed a medley tailored to each other, and their school musicals.

    Previous 2017 Bobby G Awards coverage

    Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress finalists
    Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor finalists
    2016-17 Bobby G Award finalists are announced
    Video: The 2017 Bobby G Awards in 60 seconds
  • 2017 Bobby G Awards: Persistence pays off at Valor Christian

    by John Moore | May 25, 2017

    A Bobby G AwardsThe cast of Valor Christian's production of 'Pippin,' which was named Outstanding Musical tonight. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Fourth time is the charm for Outstanding Actress
    Elleon Dobias, who will represent Colorado in New York.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The fifth annual Bobby G Awards, which celebrate achievement in Colorado high-school theatre, were proof positive that persistence pays off. Valor Christian High School Senior Elleon Dobias (pictured at right), who was nominated all three of her underclassman years but had never before won a Bobby G Award, was named Outstanding Actress. And her school won Outstanding Musical for the first time for its production of Pippin.

    Bobby G Awards. Elleon DobiasLakewood High School led all schools by earning four of the evening’s 19 awards for its epic production of Sweeney Todd. In all, a record 12 schools won at least one award, spreading the love wide among the 42 participating high schools. Valor Christian's Pippin earned three. Bobby G Awards will soon be taking up new residence at schools throughout the state, including at Aspen, Glenwood Springs and Niwot high schools.

    The Bobby G Awards are a culmination of a year-long program administered by the Denver Center that emphasizes camaraderie and shared experiences - but there is also much at stake. The students named Outstanding Actor and Actress go on to represent Colorado at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City.

    Bobby G Awards (Pictured at right: The cast of North High School/Strive Prep's production of 'In the Heights', which was nominated for best musical. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Austin Hand of Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins was named Outstanding Actor for his performance as Gomez Addams in The Addams Family. Dobias had been nominated as a freshman and sophomore in the "Rising Star" category, for promising underclassmen. Last year she was nominated as Outstanding Supporting Actress, and this year, playing the widow Catherine in Pippin, she won for Outstanding Actress.

    "For this to be my fourth year to be nominated at the Bobby G Awards and to go out on such a high has been a delight, to say the least," said Dobias, who also graduated from high school earlier in the day.

    Moments after the ceremony ended, the newly named Outstanding Actors already were exchanging phone numbers with previous recipients. "This is a family you've entered into," said last year's Outstanding Actor, Curtis Salinger. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Bobby G Awards. Austin Hand.As Colorado’s winners, Dobias and Hand (pictured right) will be joined next month by other regional honorees for "The Jimmys," as they are known in New York City. That’s 10 days of intensive training with some of Broadway's leading actors, choreographers and directors, all leading up to a fully staged, one-night performance at Broadway's Minskoff Theatre.

    Nominees for the Bobby G Awards are determined by scoring from a team of professional adjudicators. Unlike other awards categories, the Outstanding Actor and Actress winners are determined by two equally scored criteria: First, the students are judged for their actual performances in their respective school musicals. The five students with the highest scores then go before a professional panel for a private, scored audition.

    This year, a record 42 schools participated in the statewide Bobby G Awards program, up from 30 two years ago. Valor Christian, a private school with an enrollment of 879, is located on a 35-acre campus in Highlands Ranch. When she was a freshman, Dobias said, only 10 kids tried out for the school play at Valor Christian More than 60 auditioned for Pippin, she said.

    Bobby G AwardsColorado native Gene Gillette, who is a member of the national touring production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, opening Tuesday at the very same Ellie Caulkins Opera House, presented two awards.

    (Pictured at right: Gene Gillette with former Outstanding Actor Curtis Salinger and Outstanding Actresses Abby Noble and Charlotte Movizzo.)

    Gillette encouraged the high-school kids in their pursuits, saying professional success takes discipline, a strong belief in yourself and a strong sense of wonder.

    Denver First Lady and prominent area singer and actor Mary Louise Lee, who runs a nonprofit called Bringing Back the Arts, presented two awards. Lee, who made her professional debut at the Denver Center when she was 18, riffed from the signature song from The Wiz, "Believe in Yourself." The students were also greeted by DCPA CEO Janice Sinden and Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg.

    Among the heartfelt and comic acceptance speeches was Will Warner, who was named Outstanding Supporting Actor for his work as Beadle Bamford in Lakewood High School's Sweeney Todd. "I would like to thank the women in my life," Warner said ... "Because they told me I had to."

    (Story continues after the video.)

    Video: 2017 Bobby G Awards in 60 Seconds


    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Interviews by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore. More video and photos to come.


    Of note to the local theatre community was longtime BDT Stage performer Shelly Cox-Robie's nomination as a fifth-year director at Boulder High School. She directed Rent, with her son playing Angel. Two of her actors were nominated as Outstanding Actor (Jesse Shafroth) and Actress (Asha Romeo). Boulder won for both Outstanding Chorus and Orchestra.

    Students and educators were honored in the areas of performance, design, direction, choreography, technical production and overall production excellence. All participating schools received one personal master class session with a DCPA Education theatre teacher. Winners of the Outstanding Supporting Actor, Actress and Rising Star (Outstanding Underclassman) awards also earn a full year of free classes at the Denver Center. "Theatre is alive in Colorado," said Education Director Allison Watrous. “The DCPA is proud to be a part of your journey.”

    A Bobby G AwardsWhile the Bobby G Awards culminate each year with Thursday's awards ceremony, which is modeled after the Tony Awards, the year-long focus of the program is to both celebrate and educate. The participating schools receive detailed feedback on their musical productions from the adjudicators. The 10 nominated Outstanding Actors and Actresses are invited to the Denver Center two weeks before the awards to prepare a medley together in community and friendship, which they then perform at the ceremony on the Ellie Caulkins stage.

    Each of the five nominated Outstanding Productions performed a musical number during the ceremony, each drawing thunderous appreciation from an enthusiastic Ellie Caulkins  crowd estimated at 1,800.

    The Bobby G Awards were founded in 2013 by the late DCPA President Randy Weeks. They are named after late producer Robert Garner, who established Denver as a top destination for touring Broadway shows.

    The Master of ceremonies was again Greg Moody, longtime known as Colorado's Critic-At-Large for CBS-4.

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

    THE 2016-17 BOBBY G AWARDS

    Hair and Makeup

    Outstanding Achievement in Hair and Make-up Design

    Cierra Denning and Izze Sajdak
    The Scarlet Pimpernel
    , Chaparral High School

    Other nominees:

    • Devan Green, Fiddler on the Roof, Brighton High School
    • Katie Kostenik, Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School
    • Lydia Cole, Averi Davis, Emma Smith and Hannah Tester, Children of Eden, Mountain View High School
    • Maya Julien, Christina Larez and Simone Rodriguez, In the Heights, North High School and STRIVE Prep Excel High School


    Costumes

    Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design

    Camille Gionet, Kaila Govan and Alyssa Mader
    Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School

    Other nominees:
    • Joe Kennedy and Anne Murphy, Aida, Fairview High School
    • Mollie Beck and Rebecca Spafford,The Addams Family, Fossil Ridge High School
    • Jen Bleem, Lauryn Starke, Cynthia Vega and Ramses Vega, Children of Eden, Mountain View High School
    • Mona Lucero, Simone Rodriguez and Sarah Davies-Schley, In the Heights, North High School and STRIVE Prep Excel High School


    Lighting


    Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design

    Ethan Thomas and T.J. Thomas
    The Little Mermaid,
    Ralston Valley High School

    Other nominees:
    • Demian Detweiler and Scott Nelson, Pippin, Aspen High School
    • Brian Morgans, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Chaparral High School
    • Jude Franco, Dennis Gilsdorf and Nich Gilsdorf, Children of Eden, Mountain View High School
    • Karley Durate, Anthony Heredia, Joylene Quintana and Travis Roth, Tarzan, Westminster High School


    Scenic

    Outstanding Achievement in Scenic Design
    Hannah Freeman and Tom Ward
    Pippin,
    Aspen High School

    Other nominees:

    • Katya Hirsch and Chris Sweeney, Rent, Boulder High School
    • Clare Buntrock, Rachel Barckholtz, Taylor Dykstra and Jace Smykil, Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School
    • Josh Belk and Starr Samkus, Starlight Express, Palmer Ridge High School
    • Tori Byam and Liam Southwick, Beauty and the Beast, Durango High School


    Choreography

    Outstanding Achievement in Choreography
    Angie Dryer
    Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School

    Other nominees:

    • Lindsey Solano, Fiddler on the Roof, Brighton High School
    • Caitlin Parets, Guys and Dolls, Loveland High School
    • Evan DeBord, Tammy Johnson, Cydney Kutcipal and Rachel Miller, Children of Eden, Mountain View High School
    • John DeYoung and Jamie Geary, Pippin, Valor Christian High School


    Musical Direction

    Outstanding Achievement in Musical Direction
    Marty Magehee, Rick Paswaters and Jenny Timmons
    Pippin, Valor Christian High School

    Other nominees:

    • Duncan Cooper, Cabaret, Bear Creek High School
    • Mary Bateman, Rent, Boulder High School
    • Steve Hinman and Luke Tredinnick, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Chaparral High School
    • Bryce Melaragno and Debbie Miller, Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School


    Chorus

    Outstanding Performance by a Chorus
    Rent

    Boulder High School

    Other nominees:

    • Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School
    • Children of Eden, Mountain View High School
    • Pippin, Valor Christian High School
    • The Pirates of Penzance, Wheat Ridge High School


    Orchestra

    Outstanding Performance by an Orchestra

    Rent

    Boulder High School

    Other nominees:

    • Cabaret, Bear Creek High School
    • Fiddler on the Roof, Brighton High School
    • The Producers, Denver School of the Arts
    • Aida, Fairview High School


    Supporting Actress

    Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
    McKinley Mueller
    Grandma Addams, The Addams Family
    Glenwood Springs High School

    Other nominees:

    • Stella Martin as Andrea, Once on This Island, Conifer High School
    • Anna Rosenthal as Grandma Addams, The Addams Family, Heritage High School
    • Alexa Hand as Sydney, It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman, Resurrection Christian School
    • Libby Lukens as Jan, Grease, Steamboat Springs High School


    Supporting Actor

    Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
    Will Warner
    Beadle Bamford
    Sweeney Todd

    Lakewood High School

    Other nominees:

    • Will Coleman as Lumiere, Beauty and the Beast, Arvada West High School
    • Brandon Michael as Herr Schultz, Cabaret, Bear Creek High School
    • Adrian Clark as Farleigh, The Scarlett Pimpernel, Chaparral High School
    • Luccio Dellepiane, Harold Bride, Titanic, Cherry Creek High School


    Rising Star

    Rising Star

    Joe Robinson
    Dewhurst
    The Scarlet Pimpernel

    Chaparral High School

    Other nominees:

    • Ana Lemus as Serena, Legally Blonde, D’Evelyn High School
    • Luke McKenzie as Theo, Pippin, George Washington High School
    • Sam Feng as Oz Guard, The Wizard of Oz, Lutheran High School
    • Ellie Hill as La Fou, Beauty and the Beast, Regis Jesuit High School

    Leading Actress

    Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

    Elleon Dobias
    Catherine
    Pippin

    Valor Christian High School

    • Asha Romeo as Joanne Jefferson, Rent, Boulder High School
    • Grace Nolte as Marguerite St. Just, The Scarlett Pimpernel, Chaparral High School
    • Cameron Marter as Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School
    • Chantal King as Witch, Into the Woods, Niwot High School


    Leading Actor

    Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
    Austin Hand
    Gomez Addams
    The Addams Family

    Fossil Ridge High School

    Other nominees:

    • Jesse Shafroth as Mark Cohen, Rent, Boulder High School
    • Chandler Carter as Chauvelin, The Scarlett Pimpernel, Chaparral High School
    • Trey Kochevar as Sweeney Todd, Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School
    • Gable Kinsman as Pippin, Pippin,Valor Christian High School


    Direction

    Outstanding Achievement in Direction
    Tami LoSasso and Yovana Milosevic
    Sweeney Todd

    Lakewood High School

    Other nominees:

    • Shelly Cox-Robie, Rent, Boulder High School
    • Kate McRaith, The Addams Family, Glenwood Springs High School
    • Katie Marshall, Children of Eden, Mountain View High School
    • Lindsey Hutcheon and Kurt Muenstermann, Pippin,Valor Christian High School


    Overall Production

    Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical
    Pippin

    Valor Christian High Schoo
    l

    Other nominees:

    • Rent, Boulder High School
    • The Scarlet Pimpernel, Chaparral High School
    • Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School
    • In the Heights, North High School and STRIVE Prep Excel High School

    Valor


    Valor Christian High School's production of 'Pippin.'



    Video: A look back at the 2016 Bobby G Awards



    More video and photos from Thursday's awards ceremony will be posted next week.

    2017 SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT WINNERS:

    • Achievement in Orchestra: Tim Costello, Cabaret, Bear Creek High School
    • Achievement in Scenic Design: Danielle Waldman, The Producers, Denver School of the Arts
    • Achievement in Technical Direction: Chris Brown, Into the Woods, Niwot High School
    • Special Achievement for a Premiere Production in Colorado: cast and crew of Starlight Express, Palmer Ridge High School
    Previous 2017 Bobby G Awards coverage
    Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress finalists
    Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor finalists
    2016-17 Bobby G Award finalists are announced

    Video: Montage welcoming all 42 participating schools:

    Watch our welcoming video introducing all 42 schools participating in the 2016-17 Bobby G Awards. Video shot by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

  • Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor Finalists

    by John Moore | May 25, 2017

    The Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. The fifth annual awards and performance take place Thursday, May 25, at the Buell Theatre. (RESERVE YOUR SEAT HERE.)

    Today we introduce you to the five students who are finalists for Outstanding Lead Actor. The winner will advance to represent Colorado at the national Jimmy Awards in New York City.

    Actor 1 Carter

    CHANDLER CARTER

    Chauvelin in The Scarlet Pimpernel
    Chaparral High School
    Class of 2017

    • First role: I played Baby Elephant in a kids version of The Jungle Book in fourth or fifth grade. But the first role I feel like I really played was Frank Senior last year in Catch Me If You Can.
    • Why do you perform? Because I love to sing, and I've always loved making jokes as other "characters" in daily conversation. Theatre gives me a place to do that where it doesn't feel odd or out of place.
    • Ideal scene partner: I'd love to be in a scene with Kyle Gill from ThunderRidge High School. He’s one of my very best friends and I don't get to be around him nearly enough.
    • Favorite moment from your show: The first night that Jack, who played Percy, decided he was going make a joke about Chauvelin's name being "like a shovel!" on-stage, in front of an entire audience. I was so close to breaking, and it's a moment I'll never forget.
    • Fun with a moment where something went wrong: There was one night where my cape decided that it wasn't going to come off right before a fight scene, after which the sword I was trying to grab fell to the floor. I just kept going, because at that point there's nothing else you can do.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? It's amazing, and something I wasn't expecting. It's really cool to get to work with the other nominees.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities? I already valued arts education and extracurricular activities so much. But I'm so glad that this program exists. It makes me happy to see high-school theatre being recognized for the work we all put into it.

    Actor 2 Hand


    AUSTIN HAND

    Gomez Addams in The Addams Family
    Fossil Ridge High School
    Class of 2019

    • First role: I played the frog in Thwacked, a rendition of The Princess and the Frog, in fifth grade.
    • Why do you perform? To find out more about myself through the complexity of a character.
    • Ideal scene partner: I would love to act in a scene with Jack Nicholson because the energy he brings to each and every character is so unique and real to the point that it is almost terrifying.
    • Fun moment where something went wrong: During a dress rehearsal, we reached the end of the show when I was supposed to kiss Caroline Frevert, who played Morticia. That night was the first time that makeup had experimented with drawing my mustache on, and after the kiss I remember looking up and hearing all of the directors and crew laughing in the audience. I was confused until I looked back at Caroline and noticed that most of my mustache had rubbed off onto her lip, making it appear as though we had matching facial hair.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? I don't think that it has quite sunk in yet. It's a very surreal and humbling opportunity that I am so thankful to have been given. Working with some of the most talented (and kind) high-school thespians in the state has been one of the most fun experiences of my life, and has only solidified my passion for theatre and acting.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities? A truly magnificent thing occurs when people of all different backgrounds come together to develop a shared passion, whether it is theatre, sports, academics or anything else. School is a place where people of varying perspectives and beliefs are sort of forced together in a building, and these activities provide a medium to unite each individual in creating something brand new and entirely unique.

    Actor 3 Kinsman

    GABLE KINSMAN

    Pippin in Pippin
    Valor Christian High School
    Class of 2018

    • First role: I played a sailor in Christian Youth Theatre's production of The Little Mermaid in 2008. I vividly remember my one line at the end of Act 1 when I yelled 'C’mon mateys, let’s get out of here!' and shortly after, I was followed offstage by the rest of the pirate crew. I felt like the coolest 8-year-old in town.
    • Why do you perform? To communicate with people through the telling of
      stories. It is a special thing to me that I get to communicate with people I have never met before through a story that comes to life on stage. I personally have been very impacted by stories through performance, and that inspires me to do the same unto others.
    • Ideal scene partner: If I were to take the stage with Derek Klena and Robin Williams, I think I would pee my pants. They both have been huge inspirations to me, Robin through his impeccable film and standup work, and Derek through his incredible performances in his multiple musicals as a lead. I have grown up watching and listening to both of them, and just being in the same room as them would be an honor.
    • Favorite moment from Pippin: At our very last dress rehearsal before opening night, our Theo, who was played by a 12-year-old, wasn’t able to make the rehearsal. But without a hesitation, our fearless stage manager (Neil Trotter) stepped in to play Catherine’s (Elleon Dobias) strapping young son. He waddled on, playing the best little boy he could play, which actually turned out to be pretty good. Now this was my first time seeing Neil onstage performing instead of hiding backstage in the dark, but was so dedicated to giving the most realistic performance possible, with his high-pitched voice and enthusiastic youthfulness. Let me tell you, it was an inspiration to experience that first-hand onstage. Elleon and I finished the scene, fighting through the tears of laughter, as our directors in the audience laughed hysterically at the fact that Catherine’s son was taller than both her and Pippin. I still think he could get a job as either a stage manager or playing a young boy. Or both.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? It is surreal. I can’t describe how incredible it feels. It has been such a joy to work with the rest of the nominees and get to know them. They are so much fun to be around. Working with (Bobby G Awards Director) Claudia Carson and (Musical Director) Robyn Yamada has been such a blast. They are like my two new moms. I feel honored and humbled to be nominated, and I’m so glad that I get to go through this whole process with one of my best friends, Elleon Dobias, who is such a deserving nominee as Outstanding Actress for her work as Catherine.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? This process has shown me
      the importance of education through creativity. People are able to hone
      different skills when they learn creatively, and this is very important for everyone to experience. Theatre alone provides so many opportunities to excel through creative art, which is a very special thing. Also, this process has reminded me how much I love this community. The other nominees have become some of my best friends in just the first two days that I have been rehearsing with them. That doesn’t happen anywhere else.


    Actor 4 Kochevar

    TREY KOCHEVAR

    Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
    Lakewood High School
    Class of 2017

    • College plans: University of Northern Colorado’s acting program
    • First role: I was in the ensemble of Lakewood High School’s Young Frankenstein in my freshman year. I was 14 years old and I played a mad scientist and an angry villager.
    • Why do you perform? Because people can learn a lot about themselves and society from art. It allows us to become self-aware and question ourselves. I have always been so intrigued by all the tiny details I have seen in acting performances both onstage and in film, and I love being a part of telling stories that make people re-think aspects of their lives.
    • Ideal scene partner: Philip Seymour Hoffman, because he knew how to get to the core of a scene. He had a very human, instinctual sense of grit when attacking any piece of dialogue. He’s one of those actors who makes every performance a believable one. To have shared the stage or screen with someone who had such a tremendous presence would have been an absolute honor.
    • Favorite moment from your show: When I finally felt confident with my character. This is an iconic role that has so much expectation attached to it. So for the first month or so it was a struggle to figure out my own take on the role. I did my character research, analyzed the script and even read excerpts from the original penny dreadful. It finally started feeling more organic, and I was gaining more confidence in my performance as the show approached. I knew I had found a character of my own on the night of the first performance, when I was greeted by both laughs and gasps.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? This has been a truly humbling experience, and the talent I’ve seen in my fellow nominees has just blown me away. This year’s nominees are a true display of the positive effects of the arts in education, and I am honored to have the opportunity to perform with them.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? I’ve learned that both extracurricular activities as well as arts education in schools allow students a therapeutic outlet that can be difficult to find elsewhere at this age. I’ve seen students who would rather stay at school working on building a set than go home and face whatever challenges they are dealing with. That’s OK, because that’s what helps them. It teaches them to refocus their energy and contribute to something bigger. But at the same time, when something tragic does occur, those within their extracurricular activities are often their most powerful source of support. On top of that, the arts teach life skills that can be difficult if not impossible to find in a math or English class.

    Actor 5 Shafroth

    JESSE SHAFROTH

    Mark Cohen in Rent
    Boulder High School
    Class of 2019

    • First role: I played Yao, the fat, bad-tempered soldier in Mulan Jr. in the seventh grade at Casey Middle School. I wasn’t going to audition, but my friend dragged me into it, and I’m glad he did.
    • Why do you perform? I love making people feel. Whether it’s laughter, crying or shock, seeing people care about a character I’m portraying feels awesome. Plus, it’s fun.
    • Ideal scene partner: I would love to do a scene with Robert Downey Jr. He is just so hilarious and random and all over the place, it would be fun to see what we could create. Also, just ’cause he’s Robert Downey Jr.
    • Favorite moment from your show: After an eight-hour rehearsal, we were running the final scene for the second time. By then, we were all really tired and, honestly, feeling quite weird. So when our lead guitarist began shredding on his electric guitar, we all just let loose and started dancing and singing like there was no tomorrow. Our directors were fine with it. In fact, they started filming us and posted it to Facebook. It was quite a way to end a long and stressful day.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? I am so, so honored. Even though it’s been stressful at some points, it has really been a great experience, and it is helping me to understand what show business is like.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities? The arts foster a very inclusive social circle. People from all walks of life can be a part of this incredible community without being judged. A lot of extracurricular activities promote inclusiveness, but I think the arts are almost completely nondiscriminatory because art is fluid. To be on a sports team, you have to be good at that sport. To be on a trivia team, you have to be smart. But art is everywhere. Art can be anything.

    Reserve your seat for the May 25 Bobby G Awards celebration here!

    Previous coverage of the 2017 Bobby G Awards:
    Meet your 2017 Outstanding Actress Finalists
    2016-17 Bobby G Award finalists are announced
    Video: Montage welcoming all 42 participating schools

    Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress Finalists

  • Photos: 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot'

    by John Moore | May 24, 2017
    2017 Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

    Photo gallery: DCPA Teaching Artist John Hauser performs with 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot' at the recent Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Traveling to high schools across Colorado, DCPA teaching artists perform abridged versions of Shakespeare plays for a popular education program called Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. The next day, the actors often conduct classroom workshops to help students make the connection between the play its current-day relevance in their own lives. Here are photos from spring 2017, when the cast performed 45-minute versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet.

    Now finishing its third year, Shakespeare in the Parking Lot has now served about 25,000 Colorado students, 15,000 this school year alone. DCPA Education traveled to 31 schools in eight counties, did 98 performances and conducted 59 classroom workshops. The photos above come from performances of Midsummer at a local library, as well as the Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival.

    Our full coverage of the DPS Shakespeare Festival

    The current cast is made up of Jessica Austgen, John Hauser, Kevin Quinn Marchman, Chloe McLeod, Jenna Moll Reyes and Justin Walvoord, with technical support from Stuart Barr. The director is DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous.

    Teachers can book performances for the fall by emailing education@dcpa.org.

    All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot is made possible by a grant from Anadarko.

    Selected previous coverage of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
    How Shakespeare in a truck rolls down the window on today's world
    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot brings Bard to life at Weld Central High
    2015 True West Award: Rosaline the 1980 Ford F-250 Farm Truck
    The Shakespeare in the Parking Lot home page

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Video: 2017 Bobby G Awards welcome montage

    by John Moore | May 22, 2017


    The fifth annual Bobby G Awards, which culminates in a Tony Awards-style ceremony and performance on Thursday, May 25, at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, celebrates outstanding achievement in high-school musical theatre in Colorado. This year the program included participation from a record 42 high schools across Colorado, and 30 of those received at least one nomination. That's up nearly double from 16 a year ago. Here's brief a look at all of the participating schools.

    Reserve your seat for the May 25 Bobby G Awards celebration here!

    Previous coverage of the 2017 Bobby G Awards:
    2016-17 Bobby G Award finalists are announced


    Photos: A look back at last year's Bobby G Awards:

    2016 Bobby G Awards

    To see more, click the 'forward' arrow on the image above. This year's ceremony will be May 25 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

  • With 'The Snowy Day,' DCPA Education launches 'Theatre for Young Audiences'

    by John Moore | May 06, 2017

    nowy Day Allison Watrous
    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.



    Up to 20,000 area children will be introduced to live theatre
    next fall through the story of a boy who discovers snow.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Although the Denver Center served more than 84,000 youth last year through its expansive education programs, it recently identified a gap: Live theatre was being exposed to virtually every age group except pre-school through 3rd graders. And educators believe it is crucial to introduce the vital force that live theatre can be in the lives of young people during those early years, said DCPA Education Director Allison Watrous.

    Theatre has not only been shown to boost academic achievement among early childhood learners, “live performance can have a large impact on the way a kindergartner views and thinks about the world,” said Watrous. “This is a critical new audience base for the Denver Center to seek out and serve."

    A Snowy Day PeterAnd so, starting in the fall, DCPA Education is launching its new Theatre for Young Audiences program. In full partnership with the DCPA Theatre Company, DCPA Education will stage 100 performances of The Snowy Day and Other Stories in the Conservatory Theatre. It is estimated that 20,000 children from around the metro area will see the production between Sept. 21 and Nov. 18.

    “It is definitely a goal of the Education Department to make sure that we are engaging as many students as we can throughout the year through live performance,” Watrous said. “We think we are doing a fantastic job serving middle school and high school kids through our student matinee program; through our traveling Shakespeare in the Parking Lot program; and through our classes and workshops. But there is always more to do. And with The Snowy Day, now we have the opportunity to really open up the world to younger children.”

    By expanding the focus to welcome early education students, “the DCPA will now serve a full spectrum of ages and expand its opportunities for youth by more than 20 percent,” said Suzanne Yoe, DCPA Director of Communications and Cultural Affairs.

    The Snowy Day Ezra Jac KeatsThe Snowy Day, written in 1962 by Caldecott Award-winning author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats, tells the simple story of a boy named Peter and the wonder of his first encounter with snow. Only there was something revolutionary in the story’s sweet simplicity: Peter is a black child. “Ezra Jack Keats was a Caucasian writer, and that he chose to put an African-American child at the center of several of his books during the civil-rights movement was really extraordinary,” Watrous said.

    The Denver Center production, which will last about an hour, will cover four books in the Snowy Day series – one for each season of the year (including Goggles, A Letter to Amy and Whistle for Willie.). So it essentially will cover a year of Peter’s childhood.

    The play, told largely with the assistance of puppets, will be performed by three professional local actors and will benefit from the resources of the DCPA Theatre Company’s full-time creative staff: Director of Design Lisa Orzolek will create the set; Costume Crafts Director Kevin Copenhaver will design the costumes; and the lights will be designed by Charles MacLeod. Watrous promises a dynamic, tactile production in which all of the audiences’ senses are activated.

    Most of the 100 performances will be held on weekdays for schools taking field trips to the Denver Center. Saturday performances will be open to the public. Tickets are $10, but the DCPA will make 9,000 “scholarships” (free tickets) available to teachers whose students need financial assistance to attend.

    Frozen OnSale.jpg_largeBecause this will be many of the audiences' first exposure to live theatre, DCPA Education will expand the experience by making preparatory classroom materials available to teachers in advance. Schools are also welcome to stay after each performance for complementary (and complimentary!) workshops modeled after the story and presented by DCPA Education’s staff of Teaching Artists.

    “As a large cultural institution within this community, it is important to the DCPA that we support schools, especially in the seven-county metro area, and advocate for arts and arts access for all students,” said Watrous, whose far-reaching involvement in the local theatre community includes directing the upcoming season-opening play The Revolutionists, by Lauren Gunderson (The Book of Will) for the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company in September.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “If you cultivate the wonder of the arts at an early age, then that becomes part of the fabric of the learner - and the human being,” Watrous said. “Theatre makes you a stronger reader. Theatre makes you more collaborative. Theatre makes connections in your mind that can change how you look at a book, how you look at a painting, how you look at a sculpture and how you look at difficult issues in our world. Of all the beautiful transferable skills you can develop through live theatre, perhaps the most important is that it can make you more empathetic in how you view the world.

    “I hope this is the beginning of something really fantastic.”

    Ths month, Well not anymore! Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Education is launching its first Theatre for Young Audiences program, which features two productions in 2017  Oily Cart’s In a Pickle

    Sneak peek: Oily Car's In a Pickle
    Oliy CartA small group of Denver schoolchildren are getting a taste of what is to come from the Theatre for Young Audiences program this month with In a Pickle, an interactive children's story that is being presented May 19-26 as a co-production between DCPA Education, New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. This performance draws upon the inquisitive nature of children ages 2-5. Using all of their senses, these tiny audience members embark on a voyage of discovery through an excerpt from William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale that features fancy costumes, live music, perfumes and textures to explore along the way.

    The story begins when the Shepherdess and her flock of sheep have a party to celebrate the sheep shearing. When they come across a lost baby, the children must follow the clues to determine what to do in search of a happy ending.

    Due to the interactive nature of the play, audience size is extremely limited. An invited group of 30 children per performance is attending In a Pickle from the Clayton Early Learning and Montclair, Barnum and Polaris elementary schools.

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

    The Snowy Day and Other Stories: Ticket information

    • Written by Ezra Jack Keats; adapted for the stage by Jerome Hairston
    • Sept. 21-Nov. 18
    • School Performances: Weekdays 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. (except Thursdays are at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.)
    • Public Performances: Saturdays, time TBA
    • Conservatory Theatre, located in the Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education
    • 1101 13th St., Denver, CO
    • Tickets $10 (discounts and scholarships available)
    • Best suited for: Pre-K through third grade
    • Teachers: Inquire by clicking here or calling 303-446-4829
    • Public weekend performances will go on sale at a later date
  • 'Cult Following: Rated G' brings improv to the 'mini' masses

    by John Moore | Apr 19, 2017
    Cult Following Rated GA scene from 'Cult Following: Decide Your Destiny' in 2015. Next, 'Cult Following' is offering performances geared for third- through fifth-graders. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. 

    The Cult Following actors don’t have to awaken the
    inner child of this audience. They still are their inner child.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    At its best, improv comedy is essentially game night – with a playful audience. A group of highly trained actors perform completely invented scenes driven by audience suggestions. It is unscripted theatre without a net. And when it is done well, the actors behave with the abandon of a third-grader – and their audiences snickering with the abandon of a third-grader.

    Which is what makes professional improv actors – and young audiences – the perfect match. And the Denver Center is doing some matchmaking. Better stated: The Denver Center is arranging a play date.

    Since 2011, Cult Following has been DCPA Off-Center’s signature series of unrehearsed team improv comedy evenings. They feature the fast-talking and quick-thinking talents of some of Denver’s best comic performers typically performing for a pretty cool crowd of generally younger adult audiences.

    But on April 29, and again on May 13, Off-Center and DCPA Education are joining forces for Cult Following: Rated G. Essentially the veteran Cult Following lineup of Jessica Austgen, Sarah Kirwin, Brian McManus, Nanna Sachiko Thompson and Chris Woolf will be creating improvised fairy tales with the help of (ideally) audience of third- through fifth-graders and their families.

    Cult Following Rated G Allison WatrousDCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous says the goal of improv comedy is to get audiences to think like a child, to be willing to play in a sandbox, to think on their feet and laugh at some seriously silly things. The Cult Following actors don’t have to awaken the inner child of this audience. They still are their inner child.

    Watrous emphasizes Cult Following: Rated G is an audience-involved performance, as Off-Center shows always are, but this is not a class teaching young people the basics of improv. (Those kinds of classes are separately available through DCPA Education.)

    “Improv is all about cultivating a sense of play, and all of us were more connected to our sense of play when we were in elementary school,” she said. “As we move through middle school and high school and into adulthood, we are in constant danger of losing that sense of play. Improv comedy is a good reminder for all of us how important play is, and also how productive play is.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Rated G program, developed by Watrous with Austgen, DCPA Associate Director of Education Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski and Off-Center curator Charlie Miller, will include two mid-week matinees for participating schools coming on field trips. The goal from the start was to create a program that will appeal to educators by complementing their classroom work, especially as it pertains to creative writing and effective storytelling.

    "Educators are really looking for experiences for their students that have real value," Watrous said. "We really wanted to make sure that we are connecting to what English teachers might be covering in their classrooms. We're playing within a form that really teaches the students about story structure, about character, about plot and about story climax. So if I were a teacher in an elementary school, I would be really excited about this opportunity to give their students an amazing, fun time, and yet they leave knowing their writing also just got stronger, their vocabulary also just got stronger and their understanding of literary terms also just got stronger."

    Cult Following Rated G Jessica Austgen and in a previous 'Cult Following' performance. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Cult Following: Rated G

    • 11 a.m. Saturday, April 29: Public performance in the Jones Theatre
    • 11 a.m. Sunday, May 13: Public performance in the Jones Theatre
    • Ticket price: $10
    • Run time approximately 60 minutes
    • Age recommendation: All ages. Designed with families of elementary-school children in mind. Children 4 and over are welcome.
    • Tickets: Teachers or schools. Call 303-446-4829 or email groupsales@dcpa.org. There are two student matinees currently available, at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 16.
    • Tickets: Public and families: Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • Video: Mamma Mia's Cashelle Butler returns to Cherry Creek High School

    by John Moore | Apr 14, 2017


    Cashelle Butler, who attended Cherry Creek High School and graduated from Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, is home playing Tanya in the farewell tour of Mamma Mia! at the Buell Theatre through April 16.

    Cashelle Butler. Mamma MiaButler spent an afternoon with the Cherry Creek High School choir and theatre students.

    She answered their questions, taught them some choreography from the show, and toured backstage at her old stomping grounds, where she performed in many school productions including Thoroughly Modern Millie.

    In the video above, Butler talks with Cherry Creek High School Theatre teacher Jimmy Miller about her day, as well as taking classes as a teenager from DCPA Education.

    Chashelle Butler. Town Hall Arts Center. "When I was 14, I took my first class with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts," she said. "I did their high-school theatre intensive. I took classes in singing; acting; dance; speech and dialects; so I got flavor of what it would look like if I went into this as a career. I was so hooked."

    After graduating from UNC, Butler performed in several musicals at the Town Hall Arts Center, including Young Frankenstein, Anything Goes, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and The Marvelous Wonderettes (pictured right with, from left, Taylor Nicole Young, Butler, Cara Lippitt and Colby Dunn).

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


    Photo gallery: Cashelle Butler at Cherry Creek High School


    Mamma Mia in Denver 2017

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


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

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

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Mamma Mia in Denver:
    Guest column: Judy Craymer on the origins of Mamma Mia!

    Cashelle Butler. Mamma Mia.

    Cashelle Butler with teacher Jimmy Miller and his Cherry Creek High School students. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Below, Chashelle Butler with the male ensemble in the 'Mamma Mia' farewell tour. Photo by Kevin Thomas Garcia.

    Chashelle Butler. Mamma Mia. Kevin Thomas Garcia.

  • Authentic voices: 2017 student playwriting winners announced

    by John Moore | Apr 11, 2017
    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    Two student writers will have their one-act plays
    fully staged in public performances in June.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The mission of DCPA Education’s annual year-long student playwriting competition is to help high-school writers find and cultivate their authentic voices. And this year, for the first time, it has ultimately chosen to celebrate two.

    The winning plays of the fourth annual Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition are Dear Boy on the Tree, written by Jasmin Hernandez Lozano of Vista Peak Preparatory Academy in Aurora, and Spilt Lava, written by Ryan McCormick of Fort Collins High School. Both plays will be given full productions in June, performed by DCPA Education’s summer teen company.

    Teen Playwriting QuoteBoth plays feature young couples exploring connection in unusual places. In Spilt Lava, a boy and girl float across each other on doors in a world where the floor is made of burning lava. Dear Boy on the Tree is a gender-reversed take on Rapunzel, featuring a boy hiding in a tree who is trapped by his fear until a girl named Willow happens along.

    “At the DCPA, we know it is so important to cultivate young playwrights,” said Director of Education Allison Watrous. “That's what this program is all about.”

    Each fall, DCPA Teaching Artists go out into schools statewide, deliver playwriting workshops and encourage students to write and submit one-act plays for the competition. This year, those Teaching Artists went to 46 high schools and delivered 138 workshops for more than 2,800 students. “We really want to encourage teenagers to tell amazing stories and put their plays out in the world,” Watrous said.  

    This year, 132 one-act plays were received and judged blindly. In January, 10 were named as finalists. Of those, four were chosen to have a workshop and staged reading by DCPA actors at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit in February. The process mirrors exactly what happens to the four new plays featured by the DCPA Theatre Company at each Summit. “It's really the first time these students have an opportunity to hear the play on its feet with a cast of actors,” Watrous said. “That gives the playwright the opportunity to really fine-tune the play as it moves to its next stage of development.”  

    IStudent Playwriting Ryan McCormickn previous years, one play has been ultimately chosen for a full summer production. This year, competition officials chose to advance both Lozano and McCormick’s scripts to full stagings.

    Lozano, a first-generation American whose parents do not speak English, asked her brothers if she was hallucinating when she read the email telling her she had been named a finalist.

    “I started crying right then and there because it was so emotional,” said Lozano. “Then my mom heard me crying and she said, 'What's happening? What's happening?' I explained everything to her in Spanish and then we all started crying, because we're a family of criers.

    Teen Playwriting Jasmin Hernandez LozanoLozano, who wrote her play in English, was born in a neighborhood “where I had a lot of limits,” she said, “so I would never assume I could win something like this. I don't have a family that has won a lot of awards. So winning this is one step toward getting out of that stereotype that Hispanic people can’t achieve as much as other people.”

    McCormick, now a senior, also was a top-10 finalist his sophomore year. He wrote Spilt Lava in part “because there was a girl I was trying to convince to date me, and she was reluctant,” he said. He credits the DCPA and his teachers for giving him the creative confidence to set his unlikely play on a floor of lava.

    “I've been working on it for a while, so it went through different phases,” he said. “As I got to higher English classes in high school, we started learning about postmodernism and the idea that if everyone believes something, then that is its own reality - and the lava floor is a perfect example of that. I wrote a love story where the floor happens to be lava.”

    Student Playwriting Allison WatrousThe winning plays will be performed back-to-back twice at 1:30 and 7 p.m. on Friday, June 16, in the DCPA’s Conservatory Theatre. Admission is free, and the public is welcome. Both will be directed by actor and published playwright Steven Cole Hughes.

    The other finalists were Parker Bennett of Fossil Ridge High School (Counting in Clay and Jessica Wood of Denver Christian School (Chill Winds). Wood is the first student in the competition's history to advance to the Colorado New Play Summit twice.

    “It was such an amazing experience last year to be able to see my play go through the workshop process and then have a staged reading,” said Wood. “I was so excited to come back and to experience that again. Programs like this just don't exist in very many places.”

    The four finalists each received personal mentoring from a professional playwright at the Summit, culminating in public readings that were attended by their families and friends alongside theatre professionals from all around the country. Last year, Wood was mentored by Lauren Yee, whose play Manford at the Line was developed at the 2017 Summit and will be fully staged as part of the DCPA Theatre Company’s next mainstage season.

    “It was so amazing to be able to meet with someone who actually makes a living from playwriting,” Wood said of Yee. “Just to hear her say, 'Your play was really good' was an incredible feeling for me.”

    Student Playwriting Allison WatrousMcCormick said advancing as far as the Summit was all he could have hoped for. “To come here and just be able to rub shoulders with professionals and just be a part of this whole Summit has been crazy,” he said.

    In addition, each teacher of the four finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. And as an added bonus, the DCPA will publish all four of the finalists’ plays.

    “We do that so we can continue to create a volume of the plays each year and to really commemorate this work,” Watrous said. “Now these writers are now all published playwrights, which is very exciting.”

    Some of the 132 participating students may become professional playwrights someday. But the greater goal, Watrous said, is to advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication, which are skills that can help them in all aspects of their adult lives.


    Photo gallery: 2016-17 Student Playwriting

    2017 Student Playwriting

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos are downloadable for free and may be used for personal and social purposes with credit. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
     

    2017 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition Sponsors:
    Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 10 of the 2017 semifinalists:
    Parker Bennett, Fossil Ridge High School
    Corinna Donovan and Walker Carroll, Crested Butte Community School
    Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano, Vista Peak High School
    Ryan Patrick McCormick, Fort Collins High School
    Abby Meyer and Nic Rhodes, Fossil Ridge High School
    Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School
    Samantha Shapard, Overland High School
    Sarah Shapard, Overland High School
    Daniela Villalobo, York International
    Jessica Wood, Denver Christian School
  • Video: Tap master Savion Glover on America's call to arts

    by John Moore | Mar 14, 2017


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

    John Moore: So what’s next for you?

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

    by John Moore | Mar 12, 2017
    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

    Photos from DCPA Education's 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot' program over the past three years, most recently a visit to University Schools in Greeley. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by McKenzie Kielman and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    How presenting Shakespeare in a pick-up truck
    rolls down the window on everyday issues for students 

    By McKenzie Kielman
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    “What light through yonder window breaks?” 

    If you are Stuart Barr and Max McEwen, abosutely none. For the DCPA Education crew to arrive in Greeley on time, the equipment must be loaded onto a truck before the sun rises. On this Tuesday morning, that’s 4:30 a.m. Pitch dark.

    Traveling to high schools across Colorado, DCPA teaching artists perform abridged versions of Shakespeare plays for a popular education program called Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. The next day, the actors conduct classroom workshops to help students make the connection between the play its current-day relevance in their own lives.

    Stuart BarrThere would be no Shakespeare in any parking lot without the early morning prep work undertaken by Barr, the DCPA Education’s Technical Director, and McEwen, his Assistant Technical Director. They meet in the pre-dawn dark at the downtown warehouse where the equipment is stored, but they have devised a methodical system to load their rig under the helpful aid of a nearby streetlight. The main set piece going along for the ride is an old, white 1980 Ford F-250 Farm Truck. It’s a beat-up contraption with a crystal door handle to accessorize the gearshift. But it has no mirrors, license plates or other legalities necessary to be road-ready.

    In fact, the truck has been known to have a mind of its own when Barr tries to get the motor to turn over after chilly evenings. The gas pedal will stick, and off they often fly. Surely the Bard’s line, “Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?” has come to Barr’s mind during these moments. The crew jokes that in order for the truck to be the center of a production filled with interesting characters, it had to be a character itself. They call this truck Rosaline - after the poor girl Romeo dumped about two seconds after first seeing Juliet.   

    When the truck has been tamed and tethered onto the flatbed, there is a quick double-check of necessary equipment, and then off toward Greeley they go, the Hamilton soundtrack punctuating the crisp morning air.

    While the program is called Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, the “parking lot” portion of the title can be interpreted liberally. The location of the actual performance at each school can vary widely depending on the building layout, traffic, noise pollution and weather.

    Problems are solved as they come up through trial and error, which at times can be painful. During the program's pilot run in 2015, Barr found out the hard way that wireless microphones do not work well near metal buildings. So the crew had to completely dismantle the whole staging and reassemble elsewhere. Now it's more of a well-oiled machine.

    Read more: Shakespare in the Parking Lot visits Weld Central

    Upon arrival, Barr and McEwen go straight into memorized action. And one of the most important items on their daily checklist is to simply take a moment to enjoy the sunrise. After a brief discussion about its quality of color and a comparison to the numerous others they have experienced together, they go back into work mode. Soon the actors arrive and begin assisting with the equipment and other assigned tasks. 

    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot By McKenzie KielmanOnce the stage is set, the equipment operational and the sound check complete, it’s time for fight call. According to union rules, each fight sequence in the performance must be practiced in advance under the supervision of the designated fight captain. Although the actors could by now do these exercises in their sleep - and often do depending on how early their call time is - Fight Captain and actor Jessica Austgen reminds the crew: “Safety first, safety last, safety always.” 

    Other performers in this cast of Romeo and Juliet are John Hauser as Romeo, Jenna Moll Reyes as Juliet, with Napoleon M. Douglas, Chloe McLeod, Joelle Montoya and Justin Walvoord playing a variety of supporting roles. Depending on the size of school, the actors can do up to four performances a day, each 45 minutes long, for audiences that at times exceed 200. 

    Long days spent together in the parking lot or in the classroom together over an intensive five weeks have fostered close friendships among the crew. Between performances, the group will play Frisbee or occasionally luck out to find the school has, say, a disc golf course. It’s in the downtime this crew has gone from co-workers to comrades.

    The sun, if not a curtain, rises

    The performance is timed to coincide with a typical high-school class session so as not to disrupt the normal school routine. On this day, the students seem intrigued by the unusual setting of the performance, the fight scenes, the masquerade ball, Shakespeare in the Parking Lotthe love story and Shakespeare’s beguiling words – all happening on and around this broken-down truck.

    More than 400 years later, Romeo and Juliet remains steeped in recognizable themes of violence, blind loyalty and the origin of love. As the playwright himself said, “Never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

    While the set and costuming are modernized, it is important to DCPA Education Director Allison Watrous, who conceived this pilot program, that the students hear Shakespeare’s actual, if abbreviated, language.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    "Oftentimes, the students watching these performances have recently read Romeo and Juliet as part of their preparation for the actors’ visit. Seeing the play performed by professional actors after having read it can be vitally helpful in helping the students comprehend the action and its meaning," she said.

    Romeo and Juliet is a cornerstone of high-school reading curricula all over the country. And reading about a sword fight can certainly be exciting. However, it’s a completely different experience to watch a fully choreographed stage combat scene, let alone one that takes place against the cab of a truck.”

    Watrous came up with the idea for Shakespeare in the Parking Lot from seeing newfangled food trucks in action. Performing the play in an environmental setting gives the DCPA an opportunity to engage young audiences in a new way.

    “This unique approach breaks out of the physical theatre and directly delivers the show to students in an outdoor, non-traditional playhouse experience that introduces thousands of students across the region to the theatre arts,” Watrous said.

    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot By McKenzie Kielman 2
    On the second day, the 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot' program moves into the classroom, here at University Schools in Greeley. Photo by McKenzie Kielman


    Why don't you take it inside?

    The next day, in this case a Wednesday at University Schools in Greeley, the actors lead students through three workshop activities to foster a discussion about the production and its meaning. They are asked to name a line from the play that sounded familiar to them, a character they related to, a moment in the play that stood out, or perhaps the trickiest question: Did Romeo and Juliet really experience true love? The fictional girl is only 14, after all, and the couple have no shared past. The question, put another way: Do you believe in love at first sight?

    With each question, the volume in the classroom grows along with the students' passionate opinions. “When you know, you know,” one group concludes. Another cluster of students disagrees, saying, “We’re too young to know anything for sure.”

    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot By McKenzie Kielman 3For the next segment, the students are asked to register their opinion on a suggested issue by moving to one side of the room or the other, like in a political caucus, to reflect whether they agree or disagree. Taking the middle ground – or being unsure – is not allowed in this exercise. They must take a stand. But as the students begin to defend their positions out loud, they can change sides by moving from one group to the other.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    An example: “Holding a grudge is a sign of strength.” One student immediately moves to the side indicating that she agrees. When asked to support her position, she giggles and says, “Because I’m petty.” A fellow student disagrees, saying, “It takes more guts to forgive someone.”

    More consequentially, the students are asked: “Violence always leads to violence.” One student disagrees. “You shoot someone, they’re dead,” he says. “They can’t do anything.” But DCPA actor John Hauser, who is co-leading this session, plays devil's advocate by pointing out an example from the performance the day before: Tybalt kills Mercutio, so Romeo kills Tybalt. And in the end, both Romeo and Juliet are dead.

    Another student responds with a real-world example by saying simply: “ISIS.”

    In a lighter moment, the student are asked whether friends should always come first in every situation, even before significant others. A quieter student sets up the scenario more simply: “Pals before gals.” It's a moment of welcome levity after such an earnest examination of the play’s issues.

    (Story continues below video)

    Video: Our visit to Weld Central High School in 2015:



    The workshop allowed the students to dig deep into matters that are clearly important to them both at school and at home. The moderators suggested the following talking points, and each sparked meaningful back-and-forth among the students:

    • Loyalty is dangerous
    • The only appropriate punishment for murder is death
    • Parents can never understand what a child feels
    • Going behind someone’s back can be necessary
    • Teenagers have right to privacy no matter what
    • Parents have a right to know a child’s whereabouts at all times
    • Parents own and therefore can regulate any items they have bought for their child

    To finish up, the students are presented a “what-if” scenario involving a fictional teenager and her father: A senior in high school, a few months shy of turning 18, has been getting into trouble and is disrespectful to her father. She is breaking curfew and other house rules. Frustrated and concerned, the father would like to gain access to her password-protected cell phone and computer. So he asks his older, adult daughter for her help with the passwords. Should the older sister give them to her father? 

    Students immediately dive into arguments on both sides of the issue. As the debate continues, the DCPA moderator adds to the stakes: What if the girl is also coming home with alcohol on her breath, and is possibly experimenting with drugs?

    Most of the students remain on the daughter’s side: “People need privacy,” says one. “Strict parents make for sneaky children,” offers another.

    Others sympathize with where the father is coming from. “What if she’s getting into illegal stuff?” one asks. “If you are not doing anything bad, there would be nothing to hide,” opines another.

    Check out the Shakespeare in the Parking Lot home page

    There is one classroom consensus - that a direct, one-on-one conversation between the father and younger daughter is in order.

    From the start of one normal class period to the end, these students have gone from being quiet and impartial to conversational and assertive. DCPA actor Justin Walvoord later says the point of the workshop wasn’t to change the students' minds about any particular issue. It was to empower them to be opinionated, and also to more thoughtfully consider and respect the opinions of people they don’t necessarily agree with. 

    In its first two years, more than 15,000 students have participated in Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. The program returns on April 3 and runs through May 12 - one week longer than originally scheduled to accommodate demand. Participating schools can now choose between Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

    The bottom line, Barr said, is that Shakespeare in the Parking Lot “is a touring production that introduces Shakespeare to young people who have never seen a play before with a group of very hard-working professional performers who have become a tightly knit group of friends," he said. 

    “And seeing some beautiful Colorado sunrises!”

    McKenzie Kielman is a sophomore at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, and an intern for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot is made possible by a grant from Anadarko

    Selected previous coverage of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot brings Bard to life at Weld Central High
    2015 True West Award: Rosaline the 1980 Ford F-250 Farm Truck
    The Shakespeare in the Parking Lot home page

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

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