• 2017 True West Award: Colorado Theatre Person of the Year Regan Linton

    by John Moore | Dec 30, 2017
    2017 True West Award Regan Linton



    Regan Linton

    Colorado Theatre Person of the Year

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    We’ll never know whether Phamaly Theatre Company would have survived 2017 had Regan Linton not been here. She was here. And one of the nation's signature theatre companies is still here. And that's why Linton is the True West Awards' 2017 Colorado Theatre Person of the Year.

    For 28 years, one of Denver’s crown jewels has produced professional plays and musicals exclusively for actors with disabilities. But at this time a year ago, it was in catastrophic financial trouble.

    Regan Linton True West Award Quote Photo by John MooreLinton, a former core company member who went on to become a shining national example of what begets opportunity, had just been named Phamaly’s interim Artistic and Executive Director to fill a short-term leadership vacuum.

    Linton’s appointment was a cause for celebration. Not only had the Denver East High School graduate helped elevate Phamaly’s game as an actor with wrenching performances in musicals such as Side Show and Man of La Mancha, she came home with serious cred. In 2012, she became the first paralyzed student ever to be enrolled into one of the nation's top master’s conservatory programs when she was accepted at the University of California San Diego. And in 2015, Linton became the first actor in a wheelchair ever to be hired into the venerable Oregon Shakespeare Festival's year-round repertory company since it was founded in 1935.

    Today, Linton is a highly respected actor, educator and prominent voice for disability inclusion in the national theatre community. And when she accepted the one-year Phamaly assignment last year at age 34, Linton became the first person in a wheelchair ever to lead a major U.S. theatre company as Artistic Director, according to Theatre Communications Group.

    Then came the sticker shock.

    “I immediately became aware that the company was not in as healthy a financial position as I had thought,” Linton said. Phamaly's annual operating budget had more than doubled over the previous seven years, to $850,000. But revenue had not grown proportionally. Just two months into the job, Linton realized Phamaly was facing an immediate $100,000 shortfall.

    (Story continues after the photo gallery below.)

    Photo gallery: A look back at Regan Linton's year (and years) with Phamaly:

    Regan Linton: 2017 Colorado Theatre Person of the Year
    Photos from Regan Linton's first year as interim Artistic and Executive Director of Phamaly Theatre Company, followed by additional photos from years past. To see more images, just click on the image above to be taken to the full gallery. Photos by or compiled by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Linton attacked the problem swiftly, first by shaving the upcoming budget. She scrapped expensive plans to stage Peter Pan with wheelchairs flying over the DCPA’s Stage Theatre. A Shakespeare collaboration with a New York company was put off. And then, on March 28, Linton took a deep breath and released an uncommonly forthright public statement bluntly telling supporters that without an urgent cash infusion, Phamaly would be bankrupt by July 1. And that was just to make it to the summer. “We were really more like $250,000 in the hole,” she said.

    The most important thing to Linton was being open and honest about the situation. “If we were going to go down, then we were going to do it having been completely transparent with every one of our supporters,” she said.

    But, it turns out, It’s a Wonderful Life ain’t just a holiday movie.

    Phamaly’s “Sunny Tomorrow” campaign didn’t just raise $100,000. It raised $108,000, thanks to more than 325 individual donors. And that still takes Linton's breath away. “I feel like that wasn't just people saying, 'We love this theater company.’ It’s deeper than that. I feel like they were saying, ‘People with disabilities are valuable.’ And as a person who lives with a disability, that's really, powerfully meaningful to me.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Just a few weeks after the campaign ended, Phamaly netted an additional, record-obliterating $60,000 from its annual gala — up from $35,000 the year before. And then Annie, which Linton chose to present instead of Peter Pan, drew 6,700 to the Stage Theatre. That’s nearly 20 percent more than the previous Phamaly attendance record.

    Janice Sinden Regan Linton QuoteAll three of those things had to happen, Linton said, for Phamaly to fully climb out of the hole it was in. And all three did.

    But Phamaly didn’t get the backing it needed on sentiment alone. It got it because it was Linton who went out and asked for it, Denver Center President and CEO Janice Sinden said.

    “Regan is a determined, passionate woman who leads with her heart, but always with an outcome in mind,” Sinden said. “She was uniquely situated to lead this campaign because of who she is and what she means to the community. She leveraged smart relationships to drive this turnaround.”

    Boy, did she. The first call Linton made was to Sinden’s predecessor, Daniel L. Ritchie, a longtime Phamaly supporter who cut Linton a $10,000 check just 20 minutes after sitting down with her. The Harvey Family Foundation then agreed to match up to $35,000 in new donations, a goal that was reached in just 17 days.

    But Linton’s greatest fundraising achievement of 2017 came at the end of the year, after Sinden facilitated a visit with William Dean Singleton, retired chairman of The Denver Post and newly named Chairman of the Bonfils Foundation. They hit it off, Sinden said, because the two share a powerful commonality as former able-bodied persons now living with mobility challenges.

    Life changes in the ordinary instant

    Regan Linton HospitalLinton was a 20-year-old undergrad at the University of Southern California when her spine was wrecked in a fraction of an instant on a rainy Santa Monica Freeway. Linton was in the back seat of a car that was stopped for a vehicle that had been abandoned in the fast lane of the highway. The car behind Linton, filled with five sorority sisters, hit her at full speed.

    Linton no longer feels sensation below her chest. And yet, whenever she prepares to go on stage, she playfully says, “I can still feel butterflies.”

    Singleton is a newspaper magnate and cattle rancher who founded MediaNews Group, the fourth-largest newspaper company in the U.S. by circulation, with The Denver Post as its eventual flagship. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 30 years ago, which has slowly robbed him of his mobility, and today he gets around in a motorized chair.

    (Story continues after the video.)

    Video bonus: Regan Linton wins 2017 Spirit of Craig Award:

    The video above was played at the annual PUSH Gala for Craig Hospital in April with the announcement of Phamaly Theatre Company Executive and Artistic Director Regan Linton as its 2017 Dave and Gail Liniger Spirit of Craig Award winner. Video provided by Craig Hospital. To watch Linton’s acceptance speech, click here

    “They hit it off when they met,” Sinden said, "and Dean immediately saw an opportunity to help.”

    On Oct. 11, Singleton presented Linton with the Fourth Annual Dean Singleton Legacy Grant, a $50,000 gift made through the Denver Post Community Foundation. “It was very emotional for both of them,” Sinden said.

    A Regan Linton and Dean Singleton“I couldn’t be more proud of our grant recipient this year, for what Phamaly does to inspire people to re-envision disability through professional theatre,” said Singleton. “Phamaly provides such a benefit to the metro-Denver community.”

    Linton called the grant “an incredible honor for Phamaly.”

    In just six months, Linton implemented a campaign that moved Phamaly from the financial brink to something akin to stability. And that, said former Phamaly assistant stage manager Max Peterson, is an astonishing accomplishment.

    “I had both the pleasure and the anxiety of watching Regan and (Director of Production and Operations) Paul Behrhorst walk through that whole mess,” Peterson said. “It was inspiring to see their determination and persistence to bring that company all the way back. The blood, sweat and tears were real — and the stakes could not have been higher.”

    Meanwhile, back on the stage

    A Regan Linton Theatre Person of the Year Ytue West Awards Photo by John MooreLest we forget: While this was going on, Linton also had a company to run, both as Artistic and Executive Director.

    In February, Phamaly presented George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion at the Aurora Fox, followed by the record-breaking run of Annie at the Denver Center and, last month, Phamaly’s annual original sketch comedy called Vox Phamilia at Community College of Aurora.

    (Pictured at right: Regan Linton backstage with the cast of 'Annie' on opening night. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Linton pushed herself to her physical and mental limits in 2017, in part because she also chose to direct Annie on the largest stage in Phamaly history. Linton began to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of it all as preparations for Annie approached. “The stress of even thinking of Phamaly going away was emotionally taxing for me,” she said. "It all finally caught up to me. I was a mess.”

    One of Linton’s smartest moves of the year was calling on former longtime Phamaly Artistic Director Steve Wilson to co-direct Annie with her. “Wilson knows to his bones what directing disabled actors entails: The difficulties many face, the need to work without sentimentality or condescension, and to treat his actors as the artists they are,” wrote Westword’s Juliet Wittman, who called the resulting production “Ready, willing … and very able.”  

    MacGregor Arney and Regan Linton Curious Incident Mixed Blood Photo by Rich Ryan Linton kept her own acting skills sharp in 2017 by performing in two major productions for the Mixed Blood Theatre Company in Minneapolis. In February, she played the governor of California in a site-specific immigration play called Safe at Home that was set and performed at a local baseball stadium. And just last month, she returned in one of the first regional stagings of the big-buzz play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Star-Tribune theatre critic Chris Hewitt said Linton was excellent as an autistic boy’s calm, compassionate teacher.

    (Pictured at right: MacGregor Arney and Regan Linton in 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' for the Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis. Photo by Rich Ryan.)

    As Linton reflects back on her year now, she won’t say she saved Phamaly Theatre Company. But Behrhorst will.

    “I say it because it is true,” Behrhorst said. “Of course Regan didn't do it single-handedly. But from the start, she gave the community, the actors, the board and the staff something to believe in. Regan didn't back away from the problem. She gave us new life."

    Sinden sides with Behrhorst.

    John Moore’s 2005 Denver Post feature on Regan Linton

    “Regan came home and she brought both thought leaders and community leaders to the table who invested in the future of this organization," Sinden said. "Regan put Phamaly on a trajectory for long-term success. And only she could have done that.”

    All of which is only part of the reason Linton has been named the 17th annual Colorado Theatre Person of the Year. She not only saved a theatre company. She not only preserved future performance opportunities for persons with disabilities that do not exist elsewhere. She saved something that is part of the city's soul.

    Regan Linton. Craig Hospital PUSH Gala Photo by John Moore“There's a lot of great theater that happens in Denver,” Linton said. “However, one-fifth of the population of the United States identifies as having a disability. So if you don't have that identity prominently represented in your local theater, then you are missing out on a whole subset of what it means to be human. And that's what I think people would have missed out on if Phamaly had gone away. They would've missed out on this unique experience that opens your eyes to something you just don’t see anywhere else.”

    Linton’s 2017 odyssey has changed her career itinerary in ways that are not yet clear, even to her. Her initial one-year appointment is now entering its 15th month. She says she is very close to hiring the company’s next Executive Director. So what does that mean for Linton, who officially lives in Montana now, while maintaining a second artistic home in Minneapolis?

    “It means I will be around for the near future, at least,” she said. “I feel committed to Phamaly, and I want to see Phamaly succeed. To me, that means following through with my commitment to make sure the company is in a good place if and when I move away. And I don't think that work is done yet.”

    Asked to assess where she is at as 2018 begins, compared to the start of the year, Linton laughs. “Well, I'm not nearly as much of a mess as I was,” she said. “But most of all, I will say I am proud to be part of Phamaly living on, and I'm proud to be part of leading Phamaly into its next chapter.”

    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 

    Regan Linton: 2017
    •  Artistic and Executive Director for Phamaly Theatre Company
    •  Winner, 2017 Spirit of Craig Award READ MORE
    •  Played the Governor of California in Mixed Blood Theatre's Safe at Home in Minneapolis
    •  Co-Directed Phamaly's mainstage production of Annie at the DCPA's Stage Theatre
    •  Played Siobhan in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nght-Time for Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis

    The True West Awards' Theatre Person of the Year / A look back

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

    Phamaly Theatre Company: Coming in 2018
    • April 14-22: Romeo & Juliet, at the Dairy Arts Center
    • July 12-Aug. 5: Into the Woods, at the DCPA's Space Theatre
    • Oct. 18-Nov. 11: Harvey, at the The Olin Hotel Apartment, in partnership with Senior Housing Options
    Information: 303-575-0005 or phamaly.org

    Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of Phamaly:
    Photos: Phamaly Theatre Company's amazing opening-night tradition
    The triumph of Phamaly's not-so-horrible Hannigan
    Pop-culture Annie, from comics to Broadway to Jay-Z
    Phamaly gala, campaign raise $200K, ‘save the company’
    Phamaly launches emergency $100,000 fundraising campaign
    Regan Linton accepts Spirit of Craig Award
    Regan Linton returns to lead Phamaly in landmark appointment

    About The 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's 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

  • Study: There's a lot of Denver in Denver Center casts this fall

    by John Moore | Dec 13, 2017

    Fall Casting 800 Photos by Adams Viscom

    Survey of DCPA cast lists shows 56 percent of all available jobs this fall have gone to actors who live in Denver area 

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    There has been a lot of Denver at the Denver Center this fall. An analysis of cast lists for the eight shows presented since the start of September shows that 56 percent of all actors who have taken to a DCPA stage also call Denver home.

    That doesn’t even include the eight child actors who currently populate the Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol. And when you add in all the actors who grew up in Colorado but are now based elsewhere, the number of actors with local connections jumps to 67 percent.  

    “The Colorado acting community is such a multi-talented group, and that is evident in all the amazing work featured across the entire state and on every one of our stages at the DCPA this fall,” said DCPA Director of Casting Grady Soapes.

    The survey includes all homegrown programming offered by the DCPA, totaling 73 adult actor slots. Much of the local infusion this year can be traced to Off-Center’s immersive musical The Wild Party at the Stanley Marketplace, as well as DCPA Cabaret’s newly launched musical First Date at the Galleria Theatre, both of which cast entirely local actors.

    First Date Fall Casting Photo by Emily LozowFirst Date director Ray Roderick, who is based out of New York, is responsible for the longest-running musical in Colorado Theatre history, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, also at the Galleria, as well as The Taffetas, Five Course Love and many others. And while he is always empowered to cast actors based anywhere around the country, he almost always fills his Denver cast lists with Denver actors. Why? Because he can, he says.

    (Pictured above and right: Local actors Seth Dhonau and Adriane Leigh Robinson will be taking their 'First Date' through April 22. Photo by Emily Lozow.)

    “There is no question that there is a wealth of talent here in Denver,” Roderick said. “When I work at other regional theatre centers and I choose my cast, I’m often told, 'Well what have they done on Broadway?’ I never get that here at the Denver Center. The fact is, when you are casting a show, what matters is the story, period. And we have beautiful storytellers in Denver. That they happen to live in Denver has nothing to do with their level of talent.”

    It was the Denver Center’s Jeff Hovorka who convinced then-DCPA President Randy Weeks that the first staging of the Galleria Theatre’s Always…Patsy Cline back in 1997 could be effectively cast with local actors. Melissa Swift-Sawyer and Beth Flynn made Denver musical-theatre history when their show ran for three and a half years, only to be surpassed by I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, another all-local show that opened in 2000 and became Denver’s longest-running musical by 2004.

    “The three biggest successes in the Galleria Theatre history, including Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women, all have had local casts,” said Hovorka, now the DCPA’s Director of Sales and Marketing for Broadway and Cabaret. “Denver always has had an incredibly strong talent base, and we are always proud to celebrate the homegrown talent we have in this city.”

    Check out the all-local cast of DCPA's First Date

    The Wild Party Director Amada Berg Wilson, also the founder of a Boulder theatre company called The Catamounts, put 15 local actors to work on Off-Center’s risky plunge into immersive musical theatre, which was attended each night by 200 live party guests.

    “Having an all-local cast is evidence that we really do have the talent right here to pull off a show like this,” said Wilson. “And I think it is great that as the Denver Center continues to experiment with immersive theatre, we are developing a base of talent right here who have the tools and the vocabulary to make this specific kind of work. We are discovering that audiences are really hungry for more of it, and now we have the people here to do it.”

    michael-fitzpatrick-leslie-ocarroll-photo-credit-adamsviscom_24874516748_oThe list of local actors working for the Denver Center this fall spans beloved veterans such as Leslie O’Carroll, who is again playing Mrs. Fezziwig in the Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol, to first-timers such as longtime BDT Stage favorite Wayne Kennedy and Adriane Leigh Robinson, who just played Sally Bowles for the Miners Alley Playhouse’s Cabaret.

    (Leslie O'Carroll, right with 'A Christmas Carol' castmate Michael Fitzpatrick, is now the longest-tenured actor in the DCPA Theatre Company.)

    Longtime Galleria Theatre favorites Jordan Leigh and Lauren Shealy, now appearing in First Date, have built sustainable acting careers around steady work at the DCPA, including occasional crossover roles in Theatre Company productions. Shealy, headlined the Lone Tree Arts Center’s summer production of Evita that was nominated for Outstanding Musical by the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Awards.

    Colorado theatre favorite Steven J. Burge, who joined the Denver Center earlier this year to play none other than God in the long-running Galleria Theatre hit An Act of God, is back in First Date, which runs through April 22. This is a job, Burge says, “that I would not quit even if I won the lottery, because I love it so much.”

    Each May, the Denver Center holds three days of “general auditions” that are open to local actors to sign up for. This year a record 100 union and 275 non-union actors participated, directly resulting in many of the fall hirings.

    Many of the Denver Center’s current crop of actors have tentacles that reach throughout the Colorado theatre community from Creede Repertory Theatre (Diana Dresser and Emily Van Fleet) to Phamaly Theatre Company (Leonard E. Barrett), which exists to create performance opportunities for actors with disabilities.

    Michael Bouchard and Luke Sorge, the two actors playing David in Off-Center’s The SantaLand Diaries, are both company members with the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, which was co-founded by occasional DCPA Theatre Company actor and Director Stephen Weitz.  

    The Theatre Company’s season-opening production of Macbeth included local playwright Steven Cole Hughes, also a longtime Teaching artist for DCPA Education and graduate of the Denver Center’s National Theatre Conservatory. Robert O’Hara’s cast was a Denver Center reunion of sorts that also brought home Colorado natives Gareth Saxe, Erik Kochenberger and Skyler Gallun.

    Skyler GallunSaxe, a graduate of Colorado College and Denver East High School, played Scar for two years on Broadway in Disney’s The Lion King, but his DCPA Theatre Company roots go back to Cyrano de Bergerac in 2001. Kochenberger also graduated from East High School — but his was in Pueblo. Gallun, who previously appeared in Lord of the Flies, led a talkback with students from his alma mater, George Washington High School, after one Macbeth matinee (pictured at right by John Moore).

    DCPA Education head of acting Timothy McCracken, who has recently performed with both BETC (Outside Mullingar) and Local Theatre company (The Firestorm), landed this fall in both the Theatre Company’s Smart People and A Christmas Carol. His Smart People co-star Jason Veasey graduated from Coronado High School in Colorado Springs and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. His many past local credits include playing Jesus in Town Hall Arts Center’s Godspell.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    This fall also has brought the launch of DCPA Education’s new Theatre for Young Audiences program. The three-person cast of The Snowy Day who performed Ezra Jack Keats’ beloved story for 19,000 pre-kindergarten through third-graders included longtime DCPA Teaching Artist Rachel Kae Taylor (also an NTC grad with three Theatre Company credits) and Robert Lee Hardy, who was recently seen in Vintage Theatre’s A Time to Kill In Aurora.  

    finalpdheadshots0005-web“This has been an exciting year not only for the local actors but for myself and the DCPA,” Soapes (pictured right) said of his local casting. “The dedication this organization has made to further highlighting the talent we have here in Denver has also deepened our appreciation for the artists who are working hard every day to entertain our audiences —  my hat goes off to them,” he said.

    Soapes said his top priority always will be to cast the best person for every role, regardless of ZIP code.

    “We here at the DCPA are excited to continue to tap further into the local talent pool, open our doors wider and show the entire industry why Denver is a destination for quality theatre,” Soapes said.

    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.

    Grady Soapes Quote

    Denver Center Fall 2017 Casting:

    Macbeth: 17 actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Steven Cole Hughes as Doctor of the Psychic/Ensemble)

    Actors from Colorado:

    • Skyler Gallun as Donalbain/Ensemble
    • Erik Kochenberger as Hecate Two/Ensemble
    • Gareth Saxe as Duncan/Ensemble)

    'A Snowy Day. Rachel Kae Taylor, Robert Lee Hardy. Zak Reynolds. Photo by Adams Viscom.The Snowy Day:
    Three actor jobs

    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Rachel Kae Taylor as Archie, Amy, Mom and others
    • Robert Lee Hardy as Peter

    Smart People: Four actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Timothy McCracken
    Actors from Colorado:
    • Jason Veasey

    The Wild Party: 15 actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Brett Ambler as Gold
    • Leonard Barrett Jr. as Oscar D’Armano
    • Allison Caw as Sally
    • Laurence Curry as Black
    • Diana Dresser as Miss Madelaine True
    • Katie Drinkard as Mae
    • Trent Hines as Phil D’Armano
    • Drew Horwitz as Burrs
    • Wayne Kennedy as Goldberg
    • Sheryl McCallum as Dolores
    • Jenna Moll Reyes as Nadine
    • Marco Robinson as Eddie Mackrel
    • Emily Van Fleet as Queenie
    • Aaron Vega as Jackie
    • Erin Willis as Kate

    Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women: Three actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Barbara Gehring
    • Linda Klein
    • Amie MacKenzie

    A Christmas Carol (through Dec. 24): 21 adult actor jobs; eight youth jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Sam Gregory as Ebenezer Scrooge
    • Chas Lederer as Swing
    • Kyra Lindsay as Martha Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Chloe McLeod as Swing
    • Timothy McCracken as Ebenezer Scrooge understudy
    • Leslie O’Carroll as Mrs. Fezziwig/Ensemble
    • Jeffrey Roark as Jacob Marley/Ensemble
    • Shannan Steele as Ensemble
    • Marco Robinson as Ensemble

    A Michael Bouchard 800The SantaLand Diaries (through Dec. 24): Two actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Michael Bouchard as David
    • Luke Sorge as David understudy
    First Date (through April 22): Eight actor jobs

    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Adriane Leigh Robinson as Casey
    • Seth Dhonau as Aaron
    • Steven J. Burge as Man 1
    • Aaron Vega as Man 2 (Nov. 11-Dec. 3)
    • Jordan Leigh as Man 2 (Dec. 5-April 22)
    • Lauren Shealy as Woman 1
    • Barret Harper as Male Understudy
    • Cashelle Butler as Female Understudy
  • 2017 True West Award: Claudia Carson

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

    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

    Video bonus 1: The 2017 Bobby G Awards

    Video bonus 2 Student playwriting:

  • Gareth Saxe's 'Lion King' homecoming

    by John Moore | Nov 13, 2015

    Gareth Saxe, who has long played Scar in Disney's The Lion King on Broadway, has temporarily joined the national touring production so that he can play the deliciously evil role in his hometown of Denver, where this touring production began in 2001.

    Saxe, a graduate of Denver East High School and Colorado College, has performed with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and the DCPA Theatre Company. He grew up watching plays at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex, and said doing so while idolizing actors such as Kathleen M. Brady, John Hutton and Jacqueline Antaramian was “close to 95 percent” of the reason he became a professional actor.

    Saxe fulfilled a lifelong goal in 2001 when he was cast to play Valvert in the DCPA Theatre Company’s Cyrano de Bergerac. His co-stars included Bill Christ, Ryan Shively, Randy Moore, Tony Church, Christopher Leo, Gabriella Cavalerro, Louis Schaefer, January LaVoy, Tracy Shaffer, Erik Tieze, Jason Henning and Chad Henry. (Photo: Gareth Saxe as Scar in Disney's 'The Lion King.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    Saxe remembers performing in Boulder in 1998 with Colorado Shakes as a seminal summer. “To be able to work on that language in that space in Boulder in the summer is magic,” said Saxe, who was cast to understudy Richard II while also playing Costard in Love’s Labour’s Lost.

    “The guy who was playing Richard was also playing Don Armado in Love’s Labour’s Lost, which we opened the night before we opened Richard II,” he said. "I was onstage with this actor as he was doing a little jig, and I heard his knee go … snap!

    “I realized at that moment I was not going to sleep for the next 48 hours because that meant that I would be going on as Richard the next night. It was the single most terrifying moment of my young adult life - and also the most thrilling. That’s like one of those nightmares you wake up from in chills. But then it happens and you don’t die and you think, ‘Well, maybe I can do this.’ ”

    Saxe went on to perform in The Homecoming, Heartbreak House and The Lion King on Broadway. He credits in part two of his Colorado College professors for his success. “Tom Lindblade and Jim Malcolm were instrumental in the kind of program that CC has,” said Saxe of teachers who also helped launch the acclaimed Buntport Theater ensemble and Thaddeus Phillips, who has debuted several of his inventive, experimental works at theatres in Denver and Colorado Springs under his company name, Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental.

    "It was an extraordinary experience, and I can’t thank them enough,” Saxe said of his time in Colorado Springs. 

    The Lion King is playing in Denver through Nov. 29. Call 303-893-4100.

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

    More of Gareth Saxe's performance credits:

    Broadway: The Homecoming, Heartbreak House. Off-Broadway: Richard III, The Winter’s Tale (Public); Echoes of the War (Mint Theater). Regional: A Moon to Dance By (George Street Playhouse); Hamlet, Dangerous Liaisons (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ); Sexual Perversity in Chicago (American Conservatory Theater); iWitness (Mark Taper Forum). Film and TV: Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, “Law & Order,” “SVU.” MFA: NYU.

    Disney’s The Lion King: Ticket information

  • Nov 4-29 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. Nov. 28

  • Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for Disney's 'The Lion King.'

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Lion King:
    For South Africans, Pride Lands are the land of opportunity 
    Circle of Life: The Lion King tour returns to Denver birthplace
    Technical director David Bencken on hanging 12 tons of equipment
    Original The Lion King orchestra member plays 15 different flutes
    Official show page

    Gareth Saxe poses in the lobby of the Buell Theatre last week in Denver. Photo by John Moore. Gareth Saxe poses in the lobby of the Buell Theatre last week in Denver. Photo by John Moore.

    Gareth Cyrano 600
    Gareth Saxe as the Spanish officer Valvert in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Cyrano de Bergerac.'

    Gareth Saxe's program bio from 2001 when he made his DCPA Theatre Company debut in 'Cyrano de Bergerac,' directed by Nagle Jackson and starring Bill Christ.
  • Denver Center names three student playwriting finalists

    by John Moore | Jan 16, 2014


    From left: Victoria Capraro, Jack Fletcher and Laurain Park.

    By John Moore and Alexandra Griesmer

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts has announced the three finalists for its inaugural Regional Youth Playwriting Workshop and Competition for Colorado high-school students.

    The finalists are:

    [[MORE]]The finalists each will receive a $250 cash scholarship, and their one-act plays will be given professional staged readings on Feb. 8 as part of the  2014 Colorado New Play Summit. In addition, their sponsoring teachers each will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms.

    The winner of this year's competition will be determined after the Summit readings, which will be held successively beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Conservatory Theatre  in the Newman Building. (Entrance is free and open to the public, but reservations are recommended by clicking this link.)

    The winning play will be fully produced by the Denver Center Theatre Academy during the 2014 summer program.

    "I'm so impressed that all three of the finalists are young writers experimenting with theatrical form," said award-winning playwright Steven Cole Hughes ("The Billy Trilogy"), who led the adjudicating team. "One-Sided Fish breaks the fourth wall; Into the Stars moves back and forth between reality and fantasy; and Sailor's Knot features poetry and aerial dance."

    The statewide playwriting program was launched in September. In all, 75 one-act plays were submitted by students. Local playwrights and the Denver Center Education staff taught 83 playwriting workshops for more than 1,750 high-school students to help them along. In all, workshops were held in every school district in the Denver metro area and in 11  counties including Park County, El Paso and Gunnison County.

    "When we launched the program, we had no idea if playwriting would be an artistic medium that was valued or respected by Colorado’s current high-school generation," said Denver Center director of education Tam Dalrymple Frye. "We are thrilled to report that the act of playwriting is alive and thriving in our Colorado high schools. The depth and breadth of these one-acts was staggering. We can’t wait for next year.”

    Here's more on (and from) each of the three finalists:


    Victoria Capraro: "I am incredibly honored to have placed as a finalist. Writing this play has completely changed the way I see theatre, and has sparked a passion within me for the artistic process. I love that it gives me a voice as an artist in my community."

    Class: Junior, Denver School of the Arts

    What is your play about? "Two people who fall in love. Their story is told by a Greek-style chorus who represent fate. It seeks to examine the nature of nature itself, and the process it takes for stars to align."

    Excerpt from Sailor's Knot:

    HIM: Fate. It’s what happens when the whole universe just knows.
    HER: Knows what?
    HIM: That it is meant to be.
    HER: But surely…surely the stars are not without fault.
    HIM: And surely humans are not without defiance.
    (THE SIRENS step forward. HIM and HER exit. She puts the star, with the paper, in her pocket.)
    THEY: And with the twinkle of the sun on the afternoon coast, in the stillness of the summer day, galaxies crashed above them, making way for the calamity. The calamity of fault. And the victory of defiance.

    Judge Hughes' comments: "I'm always interested in what makes theatre theatre, and this play has it: Poetry, a chorus, aerial dance and a nice love story. And I love the title (Sailor’s Knot: A Play in Six Movements)."



    Jack Fletcher: "This means so much to me, as a writer and as someone who's fallen in love with the theatre in the past few years. I'm honored to be among some of the best young playwrights in Colorado. The theatre has shown me new friendships, undoubtedly, but it's also shown me new ways to think, and I've discovered so many new things within myself because of it. That's why it's so exciting to receive this honor."

    School: Senior, Denver East High School

    What is your play about? A youth lies comatose in his hospital bed after a car accident six months prior. The play takes place both in the real world, where we see his family struggling, and in his mind, where he captains a starship.

    Excerpt from Into the Stars:

    DANIEL (to DOCTOR): I remember when he was a little boy, on the night his mother died. We were sitting there, on the couch, and we hadn't been home for hours. It must have been 2 in the morning. We were eating McDonald's there on the couch, because while we were away at the... well, Annabelle's casserole burned in the oven. And he just sat in my lap and ate his fries, in his little tiger blanket. And he turned and he looked up at me, and he said that he couldn't wait. And I said, "Can't wait for what, son?" And he said, "Until I grow up."  So I said, "Well, what do you want to be when you grow up?" And I knew the answer, but I asked anyway. And he said, "Daddy, I want to be an astronaut." And I said, "Well, why's that, Cory?" And he said ... he said, "Because astronauts go into the stars. When I'm a grown up, I'm going to be an astronaut. So when I go into the stars, I can find mommy there."

    Judge Hughes' comments: "This is a great idea for a play. It's also the rare trick of being personal and moving, with a little bit of SciFi."



    Laurain Park: "This means more to me than I can describe. I thought I was a math and science student, and until I was told that I placed as one of the three finalists, I had forgotten about my childhood dream to be a writer. I never imagined that I can express my thoughts just as well as others, even if English is not my first language. This, to me, was not only the discovery of my hidden talent, but the discovery of everything."

    School: Freshman, Alexander Dawson School, Lafayette

    What is your play about? Probably most people will have some kind of regret about their school days, and this story is about some of those regrets. Maybe an uneventful, plain story, feelings, thoughts,  surroundings, and behaviors of a shy girl, telling us few interesting messages is what this play is about.

    Excerpt from One-Sided Fish:

    FELICITY:  No one actually fully knows about themselves. Everyone has infinite potential. If you think you have a clue about what you want, or already chose a path to walk, question yourself. "Is this the real thing that I want?" Look up from your path. Look around. There’s so much in this world that you don’t even know about. Discover those things; express your thoughts; so there’s no stupid regrets that you’ll have. Isn’t it unfair if you regret something you could actually make better by saying a word? It’s just one life given to everyone. Isn’t it sad if your only life was driven by others? And there’s even songs and quotes you’ll know: Live like you’re dying."

    Judge Hughes' comment: "I love this writer! Her voice is unique, it's authentic and it's heartbreakingly beautiful."

    To read our individual profiles on each finalist, or to learn more about their plays, click on their names below.

    Read our profiles of all 10 semifinalists:

    No. 1: Mateo Correa, Denver School of the Arts
    No. 2: Kendall Horan, Cheyenne Mountain High School
    No. 3: T.J. Norton, Discovery Canyon Campus High School
    No. 4: Victoria Capraro, Denver School of the Arts
    No. 5: Jack Fletcher, Denver East High School
    No. 6: Gabriela Gonzales, Denver School of the Arts
    No. 7: Nicholas Sugarman, Cherry Creek High School
    No. 8: Meg Flinders, Heritage High School
    No. 9: Tristan Cunningham, Sand Creek High School
    No. 10: Laurain Park, Alexander Dawson School

    For more information on the playwriting program at the Denver Center, please visit denvercenter.org/playwright, or contact academy@dcpa.org.

  • The Scenesters: Meet our 10 teen playwriting semfinalists

    by John Moore | Jan 06, 2014

    Today on Denver CenterStage, we present the 10 talented high-school student playwrights whose works have been selected as semifinalists for our inaugural statewide teen playwriting competition. 

    SCENESTER NO. 1: Mateo Correa


    School: Denver School of the Arts
    Teacher:  Shawn Hann
    Play Title: The Story of You

    What is your play about?: It’s about how people allow fate, religion, people and more control their lives, whether it’s for the best or worst. It follows the stories of several people spanning several generations, showing how cause-and-effect makes the world what it is.

    Favorite word that appears in your script: Copulate.

    Dream casting: John Goodman playing the part of Boy 2/God. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want to see John Goodman play an overstressed, chain-smoking, loud-mouthed God?

    Who or what was your inspiration for writing your play? The whole world, really. More specifically, my grandpa Paul. In fact, I dedicate this play to him.

    What did you learn from writing this play? That I can write a play in seven days if I disregard friends, family and sleep.

    Words invoked by our judges to describe your play:

    SCENESTER NO. 2: Kendall Horan


    School: Cheyenne Mountain High School, Colorado Springs
    Teacher: Jodi Papproth
    Play Title: The Coffee Shop

    What is your play about?: When a small coffee shop in an old downtown building is scheduled for demolition, seven characters react to the situation - and to each other - in seven very different ways.

    Favorite word that appears in your script: Clincher.

    Dream casting: If I could cast anyone, no matter his status or payment expectations, I would cast Stephen Fry as Mr. Albert. One, Stephen Fry is an amazing actor with the exact amount of wordy eccentricity possessed by the character Mr. Albert. And two, I really, really want to meet Stephen Fry.

    Who was your inspiration for writing your play? In November, my granddad passed away at the age of 95. I had been working on my play already, but wasn't super happy with the direction I'd been taking. Once I learned that my granddad passed away, I realized that I wanted not only to design a character based on him, but also to make the piece as a whole a character study; a look at how different people deal with a common event; an event much like the death of my granddad in type and tone.

    What did you learn from writing this play? Hearing your dialogue read aloud is an invaluable playwriting tool.  Also, a coffee shop and a copy shop are not the same thing ... no matter what autocorrect says.

    Words invoked by our judges to describe your play:


    Scenester No. 3: T.J. Norton


    School: Discovery Canyon Campus High School
    Teacher: Amy Keating
    Play Title: Lost

    What is your play about? Lost is an absurdist coming-of-age story about a boy, depicting what everyone must face when crossing the threshold into adulthood. After seeking out purpose in his relationships, the boy creates something beautiful out of the pain he feels, and finds true purpose comes from being happy with yourself.

    Favorite word that appears in your script: Vulnerable.

    Dream casting: I wouldn’t necessarily cast any known actor in my play. Lost is about real people experiencing real emotions, and the purpose is for real people to learn how to authentically and vulnerably play these characters. Lost shouldn’t be performed by an experienced actor; it should be experienced by an ordinary person.

    Who or what was your inspiration for writing your play? Lost was inspired after a master class I did with Ben Vereen ("Roots") at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. He asked me not to perform, but, instead, to draw from my personal experiences and be vulnerable in front of my audience. I wanted to create a work of theatre that expressed my state of mind, my fears, and emotions, but also helped other actors achieve the same honesty and truth that makes theatre so much more than just a performance.

    What did you learn from writing this play? I learned the importance of contrast. My dialogue is often stark, emotionless, and in the style of theatre of the absurd, but I also experimented with intermixing poetry in my dialogue, giving the play more depth. The same went for adding humor. Although Lost isn’t a comedy, some lighter moments were necessary to make the serious moments more profound.

    Words invoked by our judges to describe your play:

    Victoria Capraro



    School: Denver School of the Arts
    Teachers: Brandon Becker and Shawn Hann
    Play title: Sailor’s Knot: A Play in Six Movements

    What is your play about? Two people who fall in love. Their story is told by a Greek-style chorus who represent fate. It seeks to examine the nature of nature itself, and the process it takes for stars to align.

    Favorite word that appears in your script: Melancholy. It translates directly to “dark sickness,” which embodies the specific ache that comes from being in love.

    Dream casting: I’d want Tim Curry to play Him (the male lead), but only if he did it in his full Frank-n-Furter costume from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Not because I think Tim Curry is at all suited for this kind of role, but because I want to meet him and obsess over him and the Rocky Horror franchise. To me, he is the king of risks, and I’d love to see what he did with this script.

    Who or what was your inspiration for writing your play? While I was writing this play, I took a trip with my school to the United Kingdom and participated in the marvelous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I saw strong ensembles using unconventional ways to tell simple stories, a concept I found remarkably powerful. I saw a lot of strong Shakespeare done there, and many of his ideas about fate translate into my work. Whether Romeo is screaming to the heavens, “I defy you, stars!” or Cassius is rationalizing that “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves…” his characters are constantly questioning the valid role of destiny in their lives. My work follows the same idea. My biggest question is this: If love is determined by fate, then why does the course of true love never run smooth?

    What did you learn from writing this play? I learned that playwriting is hard ... but ultimately rewarding. I am incredibly proud of this play because my own work and my own artistic process are the foundations of its success. I learned to trust myself as an artist and as a human.

    Words invoked by our judges to describe your play:
    "Visually stunning."


    SCENESTER NO. 5: Jack Fletcher


    School: Denver East High School
    Teacher: Melody Duggan
    Play title: Into the Stars

    What is your play about? A youth lies comatose in his hospital bed after a car accident six months prior. The play takes place both in the real world, where we see his family struggling, and in his mind, where he captains a starship.

    Favorite word that appears in your script: Deterioration.

    Dream casting: I would cast Gary Oldman as Daniel Logan, because the character has moments of eccentric anger, and moments of grief, both of which I have seen Gary Oldman play very well.

    Who or what was your inspiration for writing your play? I am a huge science-fiction fan, and I’ve wanted to explore creating my own stories therein for some time. As for the idea of the coma patient, there’s a sense of morality and mortality that I think is worthwhile to explore.

    What did you learn from writing this play? I learned things ranging from causes of heart attacks and vascular anatomy to rank structure in the Navy to the proper script formatting of a stage play.

    Words invoked by our judges to describe your play:


    SCENESTER NO. 6: Gabriela Gonzales


    School: Denver School of the Arts
    Teacher: Moss Kaplan
    Play title: Yesterdays

    What is your play about? When Ainsley moves into her new apartment with the help of her high-school sweetheart and friend, Levi, both realize how much they’ve changed since their adolescence. While Levi wants nothing but to help her, Ainsley is afraid of becoming dependent on him again and tries to push him away.

    Favorite word that appears in your script: Cactus-y!

    Dream casting: I would choose Anna Kendrick in the role of Ainsley. In the movies I've seen her in, she is able to play a strong female character with her guard up as well as get across a vulnerability that explains her character's fear to reveal herself to others. These characteristics are really important to the story of Yesterdays and the character of Ainsley.

    What was your inspiration for writing your play? Probably the conversations and relationships of people around me. I love to listen to people talk and interact with each other, so being able to replicate that in a story of my own is exciting to me. I also pull characteristics from friends, family and myself that can be meshed together to create characters that engage in interesting conflict while being able to find a way out of that same conflict.

    What did you learn from writing this play? I learned how important subtext is in real-life conversations as well as in a fictional dialogue. The problem and resolution don't need to be stated explicitly. People don't always say exactly what they mean in a straightforward way. The underlying meanings in movements, habits and the things unsaid during a conversation can get points across and drive the story in an important and meaningful way.

    Words invoked by our judges to describe your play:


    SCENESTER NO. 6: Nicholas Sugarman


    School: Cherry Creek High School
    Teacher: Jim Miller
    Play title: Never EvEn Tried

    What is your play about? Joe, a lonely shut-in who has not left his apartment in years, faces hallucinations of his inner demons when the girl next door begins to flirt with him. Things don’t go as he planned.

    Favorite word that appears in your script: Wallowing.

    Dream casting: Jim Carrey as the TV, because that character needs an actor with an expressive voice, and Jim Carrey's voice definitely fits the bill.

    What was your inspiration for writing your play? The plot, the TV and Joe were inspired by mixing some of my own life with the novel Welcome to the NHK! by Takimoto Tatsuhiko. Joe’s (only) friend, Anne, was a few different girls I know mixed together. The rest just fell into place as I was writing.

    What did you learn from writing this play? You can’t let one bad thing from a person’s past ruin that person for you. Love’s about taking the bad with the good, after all.

    Words invoked by our judges to describe your play:


    SCENESTER NO. 8: Meg Flinders


    School: Heritage High School
    Teacher: Mark Devine
    Play title: The Adventures of Sammie the Heartless and Cory the Firebreather

    What is your play about? Sammie and Cory think the only way to have fun is to play games and pretend to be swashbuckling pirates. Their parents find it disappointing that Sammie and Cory say they hate stories, and they decide to try everything they can to make stories fun for their children.

    Favorite word that appears in your script: Lubber.

    Dream casting:  I would pick Will Ferrell to play B-Wiz. The key to most of these roles is having fun, but this character is particularly crazy and needs a very comedic actor to pull it off. As we all know from so many of his movies, Mr. Ferrell is fantastic at the weird, crazy, and comedic and would do well performing as B-Wiz.

    What was your inspiration for writing your play? This play was meant to be very family friendly, and is most certainly targeted toward a younger audience. I tried to think about what younger kids would find enjoyable to watch, and even consulted my 11-year-old brother, Kaleb. about things he thought should be included.

    Words invoked by our judges to describe your play:


    SCENESTER NO. 9: Tristan Cunningham


    School: Sand Creek High School
    Teacher:  Leslie Fischer
    Play title: A Case of the Mondays

    What is your play about? It's a comedy about a mundane, minute office-worker, Terrance, who has suddenly had an epiphany. Throughout his abnormal Monday, he fumbles to search for why today is so special, and what exactly has caused his epiphany ... or if he has even had one.

    Favorite word that appears in your script: Stik-Tech

    Dream casting: I would select Jeff Anderson from the indie cult-classic Clerks playing Terrance's best-friend and slacker, Dale. I would choose Jeff because the character he portrays in Clerks, Randal Graves, was the inspiration for Dale and his traits such as being lazy, sarcastic and, most important, a slacker.

    What was your inspiration for writing your play? A mixture of Cormac McCarthy's play The Sunset Limited, Athol Fugard's play Master Harold ... and the boys, and the TV comedy The Office. From McCarthy and Fugard's plays, I became interested in writing a story that took place in the same setting throughout. And thanks to The Office, I was able to find the setting of an office, with added comedy.

    What did you learn from writing your play? I learnedthat it's OK to fail as long as you improve. Writing the play was, at times, difficult when reaching a stall in the story. Now, in hindsight, it was those difficult times that brought firm strength to the play and helped me grow as a writer. It was exciting to see a finished product I was proud of, when at times I thought of scrapping the whole project!

    Words invoked by our judges to describe your play:


    SCENESTER NO. 10: Laurain Park


    School: Alexander Dawson School
    Teacher:  Cynthia Kolanowski
    Play title: One-Sided Fish

    What is your play about? Probably most people will have some kind of regret about their school days, and this story is about some of those regrets. Maybe an uneventful, plain story, feelings, thoughts,  surroundings, and behaviors of a shy girl, telling us few interesting messages is what this play is about.

    Favorite word that appears in your script: "One-sided," because although it may not have a happy atmosphere to everyone, being one-sided allows people to explore different fields and thoughts that they wouldn’t be able to know in their lifetime if they were just focused on general, balanced things.

    Dream casting: I have a tremendous list of favorite actors, but I can’t think of anyone I'd rather play Felicity than Kat Dennings. I’m a huge fan, and I can write pages about the reason. While I was writing this play, I watched Thor, and I loved how she played Darcy Lewis. I got inspired from it, and added more characteristics to Felicity. So it is possible to say that the role of Felicity is made for her.

    [[MORE]]What was your inspiration for writing your play? Three of my favorite sayings are: “Live like you’re dying,” “Be honest to yourself” and “Live a life without regrets.” These are my favorite mottos, and they get forgotten in some occasions.  I was also inspired by my surroundings, my parents'  advice, my sister’s complaint and regret, my teacher’s advice, good movies and books, my friends’ stories, my own stories and some of my favorite song lyrics. Of course, not all stories have a happy ending, so I thought about what choices would make the end better.

    What did you learn from writing your play? The importance of  feedback. I made a few friends, family members and teachers read my play, and asked what they thought about. That way I was able to reduce the number of grammar and spelling mistakes, and got ideas and advice to continue writing the play. I appreciate their help deeply, and I think it really helped.

    Words invoked by our judges to describe your play:


    About the 2013 Regional Youth Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: “Your Story. Our Stage”: This one-act playwriting competition is designed for area high schools.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: Submissions were judged blindly by Denver Center artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, the three finalists will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. The winner will have his or her one-act play fully produced as part of the Denver Center Theatre Academy’s 2014 summer program.

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

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