• Banned Together: Theatres across country take stand against censorship

    by John Moore | Oct 11, 2017

    Video: Selections from "Banned Together." Caution: Some song lyrics contain profanity. Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Local actors present censored pieces to raise awareness around the ongoing issue of free expression in live theatre.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    GOLDEN — Miners Alley Playhouse joined a national coalition of theatres on Sept. 28 in presenting an informal evening of censored theatre pieces to raise awareness around the ongoing issue of free expression in live theatre.

    “Censorship of theatrical work is not some medieval practice that we’ve left behind,” Ralph Sevush, Executive Director of the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, said in a statement. “It continues to this day.”

    Banned Together. Photo by John MooreAn array of acclaimed local actors came together in Golden to present songs and scenes from controversial plays and musicals ranging from Cabaret to Fun Home to Rent to Spring Awakening to The Laramie Project to Angels in America to The Vagina Monologues. Seven of the nine featured titles have been banned from being performed in school and community theatres specifically because they address the issue of homosexuality.

    Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret was held in 16 cities from Seattle to Baltimore between Sept. 24-30, also known as Banned Books Week in America. Each city followed a 40-page script provided by the sponsoring Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit organization created by The Dramatists Guild to advocate for free expression in the dramatic arts. The script was compiled by the fund's president, John Weidman (Anything Goes, Assassins).

    “What is it that’s peculiar to a live performance onstage that drives reactionary, narrow-minded forces right around the bend, often at breakneck speed?” Weidman asks in his introduction. He quotes Edward Albee’s opinion that while movies are a passive theatregoing experience, live theatre is active, happening in the present tense — and that’s what makes it dangerous, depending on how people react to it.

    (Story continues below the photo gallery)

    Photo gallery: Banned Together in Golden

    Banned Together 2017

    Photos from 'Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret' Sept. 28 at Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Downloadable photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Recent high-profile examples of theatrical censorship have included the election controversy in New York when Bank of America and Delta Airlines withdrew their funding to The Public Theatre for presenting a Julius Caesar who looked like Donald Trump. Soon after, 36 playwrights and other artists signed a petition demanding that the Lincoln Center cancel its production of To the End of the Land because the production received some funding from Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs. Lincoln Center refused to cancel the show.

    But by far, the most censorship of live theatre happens in schools across the country that try to tackle topics touching on sex, politics, race or religion.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Director and Emcee of the program in Golden was Colorado Theatre Guild Lifetime Achievement winner Jim Hunt, who introduced each cutting with anecdotes covering how each piece has been challenged in various ways. For example, a church group in Maiden, N.C., lobbied the local school board to keep its high school thespians from staging John Cariani’s vignette comedy Almost, Maine, because it comically shows two men (literally) falling in love. (The students raised money to produce the play themselves off school grounds.)

    The actors who performed the challenged and challenging scenes in Golden were Jimmy Bruenger, Sophie Dotson, Josh Hartwell, Steph Holmbo, Jim Hunt, Curtiss Johns, Abigail Kochevar, Len Matheo, Kristen Samu, Suzie Scott, Luke Sorge and Jim Walker. The Music Director was Mitch Samu. The local producer of the event was Hartwell, on behalf of the Dramatists Guild.

    The program included two songs from the 2015 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Fun Home, which was a copacetic coincidence for the host theatre. Miners Alley Playhouse is one of three Colorado theatre companies that will be the first to present homegrown stagings of Alison Bechdel’s coming-of-age story next year. Cabaret exists as a warning against the dangers of Nazi-era propaganda and the death of individual thought, and the program also brought back to Miners Alley the star of its recent production to perform the pointed allegory “If You Could See Her.” The finale was an audience singalong of the Rent anthem, "Seasons of Love."

    Admission was free, with donations accepted for the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund. About $500 was raised.

    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.

    Banned Together. Photo by John Moore

    Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret: Songs and Scenes

    • “Class” from Chicago, performed by Kristen Samu, Steph Holmbo and Mitch Samu
    • Scene from Almost, Maine, performed by Suzie Scott, Luke Sorge and Curtiss Johns
    • “Ring of Keys” from Fun Home, performed by Sophia Dotson and Mitch Samu
    • “Changing My Major” from Fun Home, performed by Abbey Kochevar and Mitch Samu
    • “Totally F*cked” from Spring Awakening, performed by Jimmy Bruenger and Mitch Samu
    • Scene from The Vagina Monologues, performed by Suzie Scott
    • Scene from The Laramie Project, performed by Luke Sorge and Josh Hartwell
    • “If You Could See Her” from Cabaret, performed by Jim Walker, Steph Holmbo and Mitch Samu
    • Scene from Angels in America, performed by Len Matheo and Josh Hartwell
    • “Seasons of Love” from Rent, performed by all
  • 'Smart People' opens rehearsals in full swing

    by John Moore | Sep 21, 2017
    Making of 'Smart People'

    Photos from the first day of rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Smart People,' which features Tatiana Williams, Timothy McCracken, Jason Veasey and Esther Chen. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Sharp comedy takes on the ways in which racism pervades American culture just as the national pendulum swings.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Smart People is a thought-provoking new comedy about all the ways in which racism pervades American culture. And it took playwright Lydia R. Diamond eight years to finish it.

    Imagine taking on that incendiary subject just as Barack Obama was about to assume the presidency, and completing it the same year he would cede it to Donald Trump.

    "She started the play at one time in our collective zeitgeist, and she finished it at a completely different time in our collective zeitgeist,” DCPA Theatre Company Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett said Tuesday at the opening rehearsal for Smart People, which marks her Denver directorial debut. 

    Smart PeopleThe collective national pendulum, as gravity seemingly demands, had fully swung. And Garrett believes the only way today’s highly polarized Americans are ever going to find common ground and genuine connection again is if they slow down and stop talking long enough to meet somewhere in the middle.

    "What's so awesome about something swinging wildly back and forth is the part that's in the middle," said Garrett. "Not the extremes where we all seemingly live now, but the space where we do come together and we are able to find intersection.”

    And that’s what Diamond butts up against in her critically acclaimed, four-person comedy that has its first performance Oct. 13 in the Ricketson Theatre.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Diamond’s story, set on the eve of Obama’s historic 2008 presidential election, centers on four "smart people" with Harvard connections: A surgeon, an actress, a psychologist and a neuro-psychiatrist who is studying how the brain responds to race. As their relationships evolve, the four discover that their motivations and interpretations are not as pure as their wealth of knowledge would have them believe.

    Diamond was inspired to write Smart People by a news report about an actual neuroscientist who was studying the potential link between bias and brain chemistry. He hypothesized that a person's chemical composition can cause him to be biased, prejudiced or racist.

    "For me, the play is kind of like going back to the scene of the crime: Going back to the beginning of something to try to figure out where we are now," said Garrett.

    “This play intersects with these four highly intellectual people who keep smacking up against each other like two rocks trying to make a spark. They are trying figure out, 'Well why don't you believe what I believe? Because if I believe that something is really important and true, then you should also have that belief.’

    “That's what sparks the comedy: You have these four sexy, crazy people who are almost too smart for their own good all colliding around these ideas. But if they could just stop talking and give in to each other's ideas, they might actually be able to hear something.

    “I think ultimately, Smart People is a call for people to listen."

    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.  

    Smart People: Ticket information
    SmartPeople_show_thumbnail_160x160Lydia R. Diamond. This acclaimed new play is a biting comedy that follows a quartet of Harvard intellectuals struggling to understand why the lives of so many people – including their own – continue to be undermined by race. No matter how hard they research, question and confront the issue, their own problems with self-awareness make it difficult to face the facts of life.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • First performance Oct. 13, through Nov. 19
    • Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Smart People:
    Cast announced for Smart People: Fresh and familiar
  • Colorado Shakes comes to bury Caesar ... not Trump

    by John Moore | Jul 06, 2017

    Colorado Shakespeare Festival Anthony Powell

    Colorado Shakespeare Festival opens a Julius Caesar that director Anthony Powell hopes will speak for itself

    By Avery Anderson
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    When Julius Caesar is assassinated in Shakespeare’s famous play of the same name, it sends shock waves through the audience. But when a Caesar who uncannily resembled President Donald Trump was assassinated in a recent New York production of the play, it sent shock waves through the entire country.

    Julius Caesar has been a hot topic since the Public Theatre played up similarities between the title character and Donald Trump. The murder of a Caesar who was played by a white actor wearing a business suit and a long, red tie, struck some as too close to home. Sponsors Delta and Bank of America pulled their support of the production. After word of the controversy quickly spread, pro-Trump protesters stormed the stage and halted a performance, to the derision of the crowd.

    Robert SicularDelta said the production did not reflect its values and that the "artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste." Bank of America felt the production "intended to provoke or offend."

    The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund was quick to condemn Delta and Bank of America for their decision.

    “Good taste is a matter of opinion, and an ‘intention to provoke’ may be an integral part of a play's mission,” President John Weidman and Executive Director Ralph Sevush said in a combined statement. “Delta doesn't appear to have had a problem with the ‘values’ or ‘taste’ of such depictions before.”

    In 2012, The Guthrie Theater’s production portrayed Caesar as then-President Obama. Delta sponsored that production in Minneapolis, but did not pull its support.

    Now, amid the still-swirling discourse about the rights and responsibilities of both artists and sponsors, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival is set to open its own take on Julius Caesar on Saturday at the Mary Rippon outdoor amphitheatre in Boulder. And the company is already receiving calls from curious patrons wanting to know just how political this staging might be.

    All over the country, from New York to Oklahoma to Oregon, theaters are staging Julius Caesar this year, the New York Times opined, “as a way to chew over politics, power, democracy and authoritarianism at a moment when a populist leader with a fondness for executive power has moved into the White House.”

    Actress explores Hamlet's feminine side for Colorado Shakes

    Shakespeare’s play has always been about far more than the death of Julius Caesar, who is killed in the middle of the play — bloodily — by Brutus and his band of co-conspirators. In this familiar world, Caesar is an increasingly powerful leader who is killed in the name of saving the republic. But be careful what you wish for, Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt told the Times, noting the chaos and bloodshed the assassination unleashes. “The very thing that you think you’re doing to protect the republic can lead to the end of the republic,” Greenblatt said.

    The Public’s Oskar Eustis, one of the most influential directors in the American theatre, said he decided immediately after the election that his title character would be a provocative stand-in for President Trump. “When we hold the mirror up to nature,” Eustis said in his opening-night speech, “often what we reveal are disturbing, upsetting, provoking things. That’s our job.”

    Public Theatre Julius CaesarIn his program notes, Eustis added, “Julius Caesar can be read as a warning parable to those who try to fight for democracy by undemocratic means.”

    Shana Cooper, who is directing Julius Caesar for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this summer, believes that although there is an assassination scene in Julius Caesar, the play is not encouraging the death of the president or anyone else.

    “Julius Caesar in no way condones assassination,” Cooper wrote in a letter to audiences. “In fact, it is actually a story about the relentless cycle of violence that is set in motion by that singular act. It is a story about a group of citizens who allow their civic love to be contorted by the conclusion that the only way to oppose a world of tyranny is with the world’s weapons. And that choice to continue the cycle of violence costs them everything: family, friends, and the very republic they sought to protect.”

    (Pictured above right: The Public Theatre's staging of a Trump-like 'Julius Caesar.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    Why Julius Caesar speaks to politics today. With or without Trump.

    The Public Theatre received threats because of the controversy. The New York Classical Theatre, Shakespeare and Company, and Shakespeare Theatre Company have as well - even though none of them are producing Julius Caesar this year.

    Colorado Shakespeare Festival Director Anthony Powell hopes the controversy ends up being much ado about nothing in Boulder. He says his production will be staged as written, set in Shakespeare's time.

    “It is super radical that we are setting it in Ancient Rome,” Powell joked. “It seems like that was the right decision.”

    Powell has been a longtime director for the DCPA Theatre Company (most recently Lord of the Flies and All the Way), but Julius Caesar is his first production with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. He said the New York controversy is in no way impacting what he is doing in Boulder. In fact, “I wish people would stop talking about it,” he said, though he expects the subject to be a popular topic in post-show talkbacks.

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    Colorado Shakespeare Festival

    Robert Sicular, who is playing Julius Caesar in Powell's production, said the controversy has not even come up for discussion in rehearsals.

    “We are just doing the show and trying to make it work, tell the story, have the characters believable and speak the language well,” Sicular said. “This is probably my 85th to 90th Shakespeare play, and I have found that the more outlandish the concept, the less accessible the production.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Sicular is well-known to DCPA Theatre Company audiences, having performed in 11 plays since 1994, most recently Heartbreak House, The Liar and The Taming of the Shrew.

    “I understand how theatre can be used for political aims,” Sicular said. “But I think it is actually more powerful when the play can speak for itself.”

    Powell said Shakespeare can be presented  in any form as long as the creative team and actors do their part.

    “I don’t think Shakespeare needs to be done in tights or togas,” Powell said. “But it makes a strong statement about how timeless Shakespeare’s themes are. You can set it in Rome; you can set it on the moon. It doesn’t matter. As long as we do our job right, the audience will make their own connections between then and now.”

    Julius Caesar: Ticket information

    • Performance July 8 through Aug. 12
    • Performance dates and times vary
    • Mary Rippon Outdoor Amphitheatre
    • Tickets $20-$70
    • Call 303-492-8008 or go to cupresents.org

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

  • April: Here's what's coming this month in Colorado theatre

    by John Moore | Mar 30, 2017
    April Listings Baby Dance

    NOTE: At the start of each month, the DCPA NewsCenter offers an updated list of upcoming theatre openings, spotlighting work being presented on stages statewide. Companies are encouraged to submit listings and production photos at least two weeks in advance to the DCPA NewsCenter at jmoore@dcpa.org.

    Five intriguing titles for April:

    NUMBER 1The Nether. The new Benchmark Theatre debuts March 31 with the regional premiere of Jennifer Haley’s serpentine crime drama at Buntport Theater. This haunting sci-fi thriller is described as a virtual wonderland where one can simply log in, choose an identity and indulge your every desire. But when a young detective uncovers a disturbing brand of entertainment in this world, she triggers an interrogation into the darker corners of the imagination. The cast features Haley Johnson, Jim Hunt, Marc Stith, Cameron Varner and Ella Madison. Directed by Rachel Bouchard. Performances 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 6 p.m. Sundays through April 23 at 717 Lipan St. Tickets at the door or online at benchmarktheatre.com.

    NUMBER 2The Gun Show. Playwright EM Lewis takes aim at her own relationship with firearms in And Toto Too Productions' 12th-season opener at The Commons on Champa, a newly available performing space at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. From a farming community in rural Oregon to the big cities of Los Angeles and New York, The Gun Show features one actor (Mark Collins) sharing Lewis' unique, middle-ground perspective on the issue with her true stories about America’s favorite and perhaps most dangerous pastime. And Toto Too is Colorado's only theatre company dedicated exclusively to women's voices. The Commons on Champa is subsidized in part by the city's The Next Stage NOW, a public initiative with a mission to enliven, diversify and sustain the downtown arts complex. Performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays from April 13-29 at 1245 Champa St., 720-583-3975 or andtototoo.org.

    NUMBER 3Waiting for Godot. When Samuel Beckett's existential masterpiece opens April 21, the Arvada Center's first repertory season will be in full swing, joining The Drowning Girls and Bus Stop in the studio theatre. (And Jesus Christ Superstar continues on the mainstage through April 16.) Waiting for Godot, the story of a couple of patient hobos, their hats, boots and a tree, is directed by the Denver Center's Geoffrey Kent (An Act of God) and features DCPA Education Head of Acting Tim McCracken, Sam Gregory (A Christmas Carol), Josh Robinson and Sam Gilstrap. 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    NUMBER 4Robert SchenkkanBuilding The Wall. Denver Center commissioned playwright Robert Schenkkan wrote this dystopian play as an immediate and angry response to the presidential election. In it, he imagines us six months into the Donald Trump presidency by invoking George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, and the Nazi regime. The play focuses on the frontman of the new administration, who loses his humanity amid chaos and martial law. His policies have  resulted in the mass roundup of millions of illegal aliens, with their incarceration overflowing into private prisons and camps reminiscent of another century. Building the Wall, Schenkkan told the DCPA NewsCenter, “is a terrifying and gripping exploration of what happens if we let fear win.” The play is being presented from April 4-19 by Denver's Curious Theatre, featuring John Jurcheck and Brynn Tucker, at 1080 Acoma St. 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org

    NUMBER 5Lauren ShealyEvita. Argentina's controversial First Lady is the subject of Andrew Lloyd Webber's enduring musical masterpiece, which features Denver actor Lauren Shealy (DCPA's Forbidden Broadway) in the starring role alongside Broadway actors Miles Jacoby (Che) and Jesse Sharp (Perón). As an illegitimate 15-year-old, Eva escaped her dirt-poor existence for the bright lights of Buenos Aires. Driven by ambition and blessed with charisma, she was a starlet at 22, the president's mistress at 24, the First Lady at 27, and dead at 33. The director is Gina Rattan, who helmed the recent national tour of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. Runs April 13-29 at the Lone Tree Arts Center, just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue, 720-509-1000 or lonetreeartscenter.org

    DCPA April theatre listings


    (Submit your listings to jmoore@dcpa.org)

    March 30-April 23: Cherry Creek Theatre Company’s The Baby Dance
    Pluss Theatre at the the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., Denver, 303-800-6578 or cherrycreektheatre.org

    April Listings Blue KitchenMarch 30-April 31: Bas Bleu Theatre's The Blue Kitchen
    401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949or basbleu.org

    March 31-May 7: DCPA Theatre Company's Disgraced
    Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    March 31-April 30: Town Hall Arts Center's The Robber Bridegroom
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or town hallartscenter.org READ MORE

    March 31-April 23: Benchmark Theatre's The Nether
    At Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan St., benchmarktheatre.com READ MORE

    March 31-April 23: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Bye Bye Birdie
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    March 31-May 21: Vintage Theatre’s The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    March 31-April 16: Star Bar Players' Tape
    The Cottonwood Center for the Arts, 427 E. Colorado, Colorado Springs
    Info: Email tickets@starbarplayers.org or call 719-357-5228

    March 31-April 30: Dangerous Theatre's Dogmai (world premiere)
    2620 W. 2nd Ave #1, 720-989-1764 or dangeroustheatre.com

    April 1-April 29: OpenStage's Don't Dress for Dinner
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    April Listings Crimes of the HeartApril 1-29: Firehouse Theater Company's Crimes of the Heart
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. 1st Place, 303-562-3232 or firehouse’s home page 


    April 1-29: Miners Alley Children's Theatre's Peter and the Wolf
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    April 4-19: Curious Theatre's Building the Wall
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org

    April 6-30: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Silent Sky
    Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or betc.org READ MORE

    April 6-22: 5th Wall Productions' Life Lessons
    At The Bakery, 2132 Market St., 5th-wall-productions.com

    April 7-May 21Vintage Theatre’s A Time to Kill
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintage’s home page

    April 7-30: Germinal Stage-Denver's Arms and the Man
    At Westminster High School, 69th Avenue and Raleigh Street, 303-455-7108 or germinalstage.com

    April 7-15: Theatre Company of Lafayette’s The X-Files: The Spoof is Out There
    Mary Miller Theater, 300 E. Simpson, 720-209-2154 or tclstage.org

    April 7-8: PACE Center and Inspire Creative's Mr. Popper's Penguins
    20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker,  303-805-6800 or parkerarts.org

    April 11-16: National touring production of Mamma Mia!
    Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    April 13-29: Lone Tree Arts Center's Evita
    10075 Commons St., just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue, 720-509-1000 or lonetreeartscenter.org

    April 13-29: And Toto too Theatre Company’s The Gun Show (world premiere)
    The Commons on Champa, 1245 Champa St., 720-583-3975 or andtototoo.org 

    April 14-30: Funky Little Theatre Company’s Sylvia
    2109 Templeton Gap Road, Colorado Springs, 719-425-9509 or funkylittletheater.org

    April 14-22: Robert Dubac’s The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?
    At the Avenue Theater, 417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com

    April 14-29: StageDoor Theatre's Footloose, The Musical
    27357 Conifer Road, Conifer, 303-886-2819, 800-838-3006 or stagedoor’s home page

    April 21-May 28: DCPA Theare Company's The Secret Garden
    Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    April 21-May 21: The Edge Theatre's Misery
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheatre.com

    April 21-May 20: Arvada Center's Waiting for Godot
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org READ MORE

    April 21-May 28: Aurora Fox's Priscilla Queen of the Desert
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    April 22-May 7: TheatreWorks' Pride and Prejudice
    3955 Regent Circle, Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    April 23-May 13: square product’s She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange (world premiere)
    At The Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or the dairy.org

    April 27-May 7: Upstart Crow's Dark of the Moon
    At the Nomad Playhouse, 1410 Quince Ave., Boulder, 303-442-1415 or theupstartcrow.org

    April 27-May 13: Dairy Arts Center's The Testament of Mary
    2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or tickets.thedairy.org

    April 28-May 21: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins (Second Stage)
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org


    Through March 31: Vintage Theatre Productions’ Stella & Lou
    At The Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or vintagetheatre.com

    Through April 2: The Edge Theatre's The Nance
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheatre.com

    Through April 2: Millibo Art Theatre's The Crucible
    1626 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321 or themat.org

    Through April 2: BiTSY Stage's The Lass Who Went Out With The Cry Of Dawn: A Celtic Yarn
    1137 S. Huron St., 720-328-5294 or bitsystage.com

    Through April 8: DCPA Cabaret's An Act of God
    Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Through April 8: Athena Project Arts Festival's The Wave That Set the Fire
    At the Byron Theatre in Newman Center for Performing Arts at the University of Denver, 2344 E Iliff Ave., AthenaProjectFestival.org


    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Through April 9: Aurora Fox's Chinglish
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    Through April 9: Performance Now's Hello, Dolly!
    Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway, 303-987-7845 or performancenow.org

    Through April 9: The Avenue Theater's Oddville
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com

    Through April 15: Evergreen Players' Enchanted April
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.com

    Through April 15: Equinox Theatre Company’s Stage Kiss
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinoxtheatredenver.com

    Through April 15: Curious Theatre's Constellations
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org READ MORE

    Through April 16: Arvada Center's Jesus Christ Superstar
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Through April 30: Miners Alley Playhouse's A Skull in Connemara
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com READ MORE

    Through April 30: Denver Children's Theatre's The Jungle Book
    Elaine Wolf Theatre at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., 303-316-6360 or maccjcc.org

    Through May 6: BDT Stage's Disenchanted
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com


    Through May 14: Arvada Center's Bus Stop
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org READ MORE

    Through May 19: Arvada Center's A Year With Frog and Toad
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Through May 21: Off-Center's Travelers of the Lost Dimension, with A.C.E.
    At the Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St., Aurora, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Through May 21: Arvada Center's The Drowning Girls
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Through May 27: Midtown Arts Center's Sister Act
    3750 S. Mason St., Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Through June 4: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s 42nd Street
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com


    Ongoing productions
    2406 Federal Blvd., Denver, 303-455-1848 or adamsmysteryplayhouse.com

    Through April 8: World-premiere play The Wave That Set the Fire
    At the Byron Theatre in the Newman Center for Performing Arts at the University of Denver, 2344 E Iliff Ave. INFO

    2017 Plays In Progress Series

    • April 1 at 1 p.m. and April 8 at 4 p.m.: Beating a Dead Horse by Jennifer Stafford
    • April 1 at  4 p.m. and April 2 at 7 p.m.: Famous Last Words by Katherine Millett
    • April 8 at 1 p.m. and April 9 at 7 p.m.: Handcrafted Healing by Nancy Beverly

    At the Byron Theatre in the Newman Center for Performing Arts at the University of Denver, 2344 E Iliff Ave. ticket info

    Special Table Reading

    • April 2 at 9:30 a.m. and April 3 at 7 p.m.: Honor Killing by Sarah Bierstock

    At the Byron Theatre in the Newman Center for Performing Arts at the University of Denver, 2344 E Iliff Ave. ticket info

    April 8-9: Vintage Theatre presents RFK – A Portrait of Robert Kennedy
    Starring James O’Hagan Murphy at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 8, and at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 9.
    1100 E. Colfax Ave., Bennett (35 miles east of Denver). 303-856-7830 or vintagetheatre.com


    • Saturday, April 8: Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey (Monthly theatre for young audiences at 1 and 3 p.m. the second Saturday of each month, through May 13)
    • Saturday, April 9: Very Short Stories: International for Stories on Stage, at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Su Teatro, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org
    • Tuesday, April 18: The Great Debate (monthly)
    • Wednesday, April 19: The Narrators (a monthly live storytelling show and podcast)
    • Friday, April 28: Untitled (in the freight elevator at the Denver Art Museum, monthly)
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com


    • Saturdays in April: 1980s Burlesque Tribute: Ladies of the '80s

    D&F Clocktower, 16th and Arapahoe streets, 303-293-0075 or clocktowercabaret.com

    Concert Lone Treey 340

    • Sunday, April 9: Screening of the film Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, with live pre-screening entertainment for the cast of the Aurora Fox's upcoming stage production of the stage musical. Entertainment 6:30 p.m.; film at 7.

    Alamo Drafthouse Littleton, 7301 S Santa Fe Drive, drafthouse.com

    • Sunday, April 30: United in Love: A benefit concert starring Broadway's Annaleigh Ashford, Andy Kelso and Mara Davi. Featuring Mary Louise Lee, Jodie Langel and Denise Gentilini. Hosted by Eden Lane and Steven J. Burge.

    At the Lone Tree Arts Center, 10075 Commons St., just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue, 720-509-1000 or lonetreeartscenter.org READ MORE


    • BethMalone-SO FAR-artApril 1: Hal Holbrook: Mark Twain Tonight!, Buell Theatre READ MORE INFO
    • April 15: Beth Malone: So Far, Galleria Theatre INFO READ MORE
    • April 28 and May 12: Cult Following & SCRIPTprov™, Jones Theatre INFO
    • April 29 and May 13: Cult Following: Rated G, Jones Theatre INFO

    Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org


    • Saturday, April 29: Giving Motherhood a Microphone

    One-day live staged-reading event where local writers share their stories of motherhood. At Unity of Boulder, 2855 Folsom, Boulder, listentoyourmothershow


    • Sunday, April 30: United in Love: A concert benefiting the Denver Actors Fund

    Starring BROADWAY'S Annaleigh Ashford, Andy Kelso and Mara Davi. Featuring Mary Louise Lee, Jodie Langel and Denise Gentilini. Hosted by Eden Lane and Steven J. Burge.
    10075 Commons St., just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue, 720-509-1000 or lonetreeartscenter.org

    • April 1-2: James and the Giant Peach
    At The Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or the dairy.org


    • Every third Monday: Monday! Monday! Monday! Cabaret

    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org

    • Saturday, April 9: Very Short Stories: International
    Flash fiction from around the world. Stories will be performed by Erin Rollman, Hannah Duggan, Erik Edborg and Brian Colonna of Buntport Theatre.
    1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Su Teatro, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org


    • April 18- 29: Wordfest

    Su Teatro's third annual festival of readings of new work, presentations and performances
    721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or su teatro’s home page

  • In the Spotlife: Jim Hunt of 'The Zeus Problem'

    by John Moore | Feb 10, 2017

    Jim Hunt as Zeus in Buntport Theater's 'The Zeus Problem.' Photo courtesy of Buntport Theater.

    (The DCPA NewsCenter regularly profiles actors performing in theatre productions throughout the state of Colorado.)


    Zeus in Buntport Theater's 'The Zeus Problem, through Feb. 25. 

  • Hometown: Fort Morgan
  • Home now: Denver
  • High School: Westminster High School
  • College: BA and masters degree from the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley
  • What have you done for us lately? I played Scrooge in Miners Alley Playhouse's five-actor version of A Christmas Carol
  • What's next? I will be playing Doyle in Benchmark Theatre's Debut production, The Nether, from March 31-April 22 at Buntport Theater
  • Jim HuntWhat is The Zeus Problem all about? Well, you pretty much have an entitled god (he calls himself “The Supreme”) who may be the original malignant narcissist. Emotionally, he’s about 8 years old. He’s hoping to revisit the Prometheus story and “improve upon the original.” Prometheus was the creator of mankind who faced eternal punishment from Zeus for stealing fire from Mount Olympus and giving it to man. Summoned to his long table in our play are a maiden Zeus has seduced and turned into a cow to hide her from his jealous wife; Prometheus, whom he’s chained to a rock; Eagle, his symbolic Girl Friday who’s tasked with the daily ripping out of Prometheus’ liver with her beak; and Henry David Thoreau. Yes, that Thoreau, who actually, in his lifetime, completed a translation of AeschylusPrometheus Bound. Any similarity to our current political cesspool is purely coincidental.
  • Tell us about the challenge of playing Zeus: When the geniuses at Buntport Theater ask you to be in a full-length original piece of theirs, and they offer you a role they’ve written with you in mind, and you’ll be playing the titular character - that gets your attention. Big Time. When I confessed that I can’t bear to watch President Dumpster on TV, and asked if I should be watching clips of the debates and the coronation, they adamantly said no - which was a huge relief for me. They did not want an impersonation. I may be channeling the wayward brat who’s occupying the Oval Office in the White House, but I was not asked to do what Alec Baldwin does so brilliantly on Saturday Night Live. (OK, I’ve just confessed that, although I can’t bear to look at the thing itself, I enjoy watching the parody.)
  • What do you love most about Buntport Theater? I have been a Buntport fan for most of their 16 years. Once I discovered them, I couldn’t stop coming. I think they are the bravest, most humble, most fragile half-dozen people I know. Their genius is truly collective, and so it is impossible to say who the pilot light is. The minute I’m sure it’s Erin Rollman, I suddenly shift and decide it’s Brian Colonna. And then there’s Samantha Schmitz, who doesn’t act but who does so much more. But maybe it’s Hannah Duggan. Of course, it’s Hannah. Then there’s Erik Edborg. Wait, what if it’s Evan Weissman, who’s on sabbatical? He came to watch a run-through before we opened and offered a helpful idea that we implemented on the spot. Is he the pilot light? Holy wah!
  • The Zeus ProblemHow did this play come about? We were originally going to do a play about the killers Leopold and Loeb, and I was going to play Clarence Darrow, their lawyer. That would have been a trip down memory lane for me, having played Darrow in Nick Sugar’s 2001 production of Never the Sinner at the gone but never forgotten Theatre on Broadway. But when the White House was forced to welcome an irascible child into the Oval Office, the Buntporters knew it was their artistic mandate to shift gears, and The Zeus Problem was created. What I love about the piece is that we don’t solve anything, but we don’t pretend that what's going on isn’t going on. Still, it’s a challenge to play a character who will remind people of the person I loathe the most of any human being I’ve been confronted with in the 73 years of my existence. I can’t pretend to, nor would I want to, understand him. But I do have a lot of experience with malignant narcissism, so I can cavort as if I understand.
  • What's one thing most people don't know about you? My master’s degree is in American and British literature, and I thank whatever gods may be that my professors at the University of Northern Colorado (then called Colorado State College) gave me the gift of poetry. My beloved professor George Gates introduced me to Robinson Jeffers, and the prickly Jeffers gave me one of the most sustaining lines of my life: To “find the honey of peace in old poems.” Let’s overwhelm our injured planet with poetry. 
  • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? We live in an amazing town where there is so much vibrant theatre that I almost can’t stand it. And I know what I’m talking about. I see a lot of stuff.

    Jim Hunt. Buntport Theater. The Zeus Problem.
    Jim Hunt as Zeus in Buntport Theater's 'The Zeus Problem' with, from left, Erin Rollman, Erik Edborg and Hannah Duggan. Photo courtesy of Buntport Theater.

    The Zeus Problem: Ticket information

    • Written and directed by the Buntport ensemble
    • Through Feb. 25 at Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan St. 
    • Performances: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays, plus pay-what-you-can at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13 
    • Tickets $15-$20
    • Info: Call 720-946-1388 or online at buntport.com

    Cast list:

    • Brian Colonna
    • Hannah Duggan
    • Erik Edborg
    • Jim Hunt
    • Samantha Schmitz (off-stage)

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre'sThe Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Angela Mendez of Beauty and the Beast
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Cory Sapienza of Miners Alley Playhouse's Hir
    Meet Jane Shirley of Santa's Big Red Sack
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas


    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'Two Degrees' cast digs deep into Boulder ice-core research

    by John Moore | Feb 03, 2017
    'Two Degrees' in Denver

    Photos from the 'Two Degrees' field trip to the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at CU-Boulder (INSTAAR) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above.

    The actors' visit to Boulder brought them face-to-face with the scientists - and the science - in their world-premiere play.

    By John Moore
    For the DCPA NewsCenter
    The cast and creative team from the DCPA Theatre Company’s upcoming world premiere play Two Degrees took a recent field trip to Boulder and learned about a whole lot more than climate change.

    Fun stuff like: Polar bears in the Arctic can smell you from 100 miles away. That the oldest discovered ice on Earth is more than 800,000 years old. And that disgraced cycling champion Lance Armstrong was busted by the same science used in ice cores.

    Two Degrees Field Trip. John MooreSeriously.

    The stripped Tour de France winner was caught blood-doping, and what nailed him was isotopes, said scientist Bruce Vaughn, who should know.  He’s got the most distinct business card from Boulder to Greenland: Stable Isotope Lab Manager at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at CU-Boulder. Or INSTAAR, for short.

    “The steroids they were using were synthetic, so they have a different carbon isotopic signature than the ones your body would produce,” said Vaughn, who could give Bill Nye a run for his isotopes when it comes to his enthusiasm for science.

    Isotopes, it turns out, are forensic smoking guns. They are unique atomic differences in water molecules that record past climate changes over hundreds of thousands of years in ice cores. It was a tool first conceived by the father of ice-core science, Willi Dansgaard. In the atmosphere, isotopes can act like a red dye tracer, revealing the sources of and sinks of greenhouse gases.

    “There is no problem so big it can't be solved with isotopes," said Vaughn, only half joking. He is convinced that ice buried 2 miles under the surface of the earth is telling us that we are on a path to ecological catastrophe.

    (Photo above and right: Director Christy Montour-Larson and cast feign being locked in a locker where 1,000-year-old ice is kept at minus-10 degrees. A photo of the cast touching the ice is shown below. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    The cast’s Boulder tour covered INSTAAR and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, or NCAR. They got a crash course in climate history, ice-core research and what that means for our changing atmosphere. “You may hate me by the end of the day," Vaughn joked. Instead, there were hugs all around. When Vaughn let his visitors touch a 1,000-year old ice-core sample, they immediately melted into awestruck 8-year-olds.

    Two Degrees Field Trip “To have the opportunity to touch something that is 1,000 years old is just extraordinary,” said actor Kathleen McCall.

    Vaughn says these precious samples prove the rise in global temperature since the Industrial Age is linked to the rise in manmade greenhouse gasses. “They are in lock-step,” he said. “No one can argue that.”

    Two Degrees, written by Tira Palmquist and directed by Christy Montour-Larson, introduces us to a paleoclimatologist named Emma who is called to Washington to reluctantly testify before a congressional committee on proposed climate legislation. At NCAR in Boulder, the cast was introduced to Marika Holland, a very Emma-like paleoclimatologist who is just as unenthusiastic when called upon to testify before politicians about her area of expertise.

    “That kind of thing makes me nervous, to be perfectly honest,” Holland said, “because it’s very confrontational – and I am not a terribly confrontational person.”

    Two Degrees Field Trip QuoteHolland has a PhD in ice-core research and has spent 25 years studying how and why the climate is changing so rapidly, and what that means for the Earth’s future.

    Holland and dozens of global collaborators have been charting rapid sea-ice loss, rising global temperatures and the impact that is having on plant and animal life around the world. Hundreds of species are going extinct every day, and dwindling ice sheets are profoundly affecting the survival of polar bears, seals, penguins and more.

    More dramatically Vaughn warned that future sea-level rise is a serious probability. Some projections show parts of Miami and other Florida areas under water in 2100. If that happens, an estimated 9,200 structures will be lost and 1 million homes will be below average high tide. That puts 26 hospitals, 213 schools and seven power plants at risk. Total value of the endangered property: $390 billion.

    “And it is human activity that is increasing greenhouse gas emissions. That is not for debate,” he said. “And the decisions we make today have irrevocable implications for the future, so we have to act now.”  

    There are few political issues as polarizing as climate change, which hurts the souls of climate scientists because, to them, this is a human issue, not a political issue. People in the insurance industry, oddly enough, are the ones who "totally get it," Vaughn said. “That’s because they have the most to lose.”

    Two Degrees Field TripBut politicians are another challenge.

    “It’s not that they are intimidated by the science,” said INSTAAR Research Scientist Anne Jennings, who specializes in the study of ocean sediments. “I just think they find it inconvenient, like Al Gore called it. This information gets in the way of commerce.”

    Telling someone you are a climate scientist in this heated political environment can certainly bring a dinner party to a halt, said Holland, a mother of two who would rather spend her time more peacefully on the ice or in her lab. When people discover Vaughn’s profession, he added, the inevitable, incredulous first question that tends to follow is something along the lines of: “Do you really believe in climate change?' Which makes him say: “Are we really having this conversation in 2017?” Just not out loud.

    “No, what I really say is, 'I don't believe in climate change any more than I believe in gravity. Because it’s not a belief system. It's physics,’” Vaughn said.

    “You can have your own opinion, but you can't have your own physics."

    Two Degrees Trump TweetMcCall asked Holland how she reacts when, say, then-candidate Donald Trump tweeted out his belief that global warming is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese.

    “First I get angry, which isn't necessarily the most productive response,” Holland said. “When someone tells me, 'You lie; you are part of the hoax,’ it does feel very personal. Your integrity is being attacked.

    “I think of myself as a very honest person, and I am raising my children to be honest people. I love my work, and I try to educate people when I talk about it. The fact of the matter is, there is a great deal of uncertainty about what we do. For example, I would say we are 100 percent sure that sea-ice loss is occurring; that greenhouse gas emissions are causing dramatic changes in our climate, and that we humans are responsible for those emissions. That foundation of information is incredibly solid.

    Two Degrees Field Trip Quote“But if you want me to tell you whether humans are responsible for, say, 50 percent of the sea-ice loss, or 80 percent of the sea-ice loss, that is a much more complicated question, and that is where the uncertainty comes in.”

    Vaughn said the discussion now really should be directed toward children, “because it’s the next generation that is really going to have to deal with this,” he said. Holland most enjoys talking with school groups because, she said, “they are not deniers or skeptics. They’re curious.”

    Trump’s election has the local scientists worried, given his stated opinion on climate change, and that the Boulder institutes are funded by U.S. tax dollars.

    “There has been a lot of discussion about defunding climate science,” Holland said, “but we don’t know yet exactly how it will play out.” Senior Scientist Bette Otto-Bleisner, head of NCAR's Paleoclimate Modeling Program, is concerned about the larger distrust of science and medicine that seems to be growing among some Americans. “We are living in a very anti-science moment right now,” added Palmquist, the playwright. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Despite the gloomy ecological forecast, the cast and crew left their Boulder field trip eager to get back into the rehearsal room with a renewed focus. McCall said it was a gift to be playing a rare female paleoclimatologist and to have a real-life one just like her character living and working just 30 miles north.

    “The biggest thing I got out of watching Marika was how composed and still and confident she is in her science,” she said. “This is not a hunch to her. Having that base of knowledge gives her a solid center.”

    Actor Jason Delane Lee was especially interested to learn more about the mindset of climate skeptics, because he plays a substantive contrarian in Two Degrees. Actor Robert Montano called the field trip “confirming.”

    “This has just made everything so much more clear,” Montano said. “Everything these scientists told us is written in Tira’s script. They match.”

    Added Lee: “You can argue about a lot of things. But you can’t argue the science.”

    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.

    Two Degrees Field Trip
    Photo by John Moore.

    Video bonus: Playwright Tira Palmquist talking about Two Degrees

    Our video with 'Two Degrees' playwright Tira Palmquist, at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Two Degrees: Ticket information
    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.

    Feb. 3-March 12
    Jones Theatre
    ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Two Degrees:
    Two Degrees heats up conversation on global warming
    Two Degrees: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

  • 'Two Degrees' heats up conversation on global warming

    by John Moore | Jan 26, 2017
    Two Degrees. Christy Montour-Larson. Photo by John Moore.  'Two Degrees' director Christy Montour-Larson. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Two Degrees
    , the provocative title of Tira Palmquist’s new world-premiere play, is meant to both set up her story … and sound an alarm.

    “There has been an effort to describe where we need to cap the escalating temperature of the Earth in order to forestall a whole host of problems including melting ice caps and rising ocean levels,” Palmquist said. “Two degrees Celsius was the number given. And that number resonated for me. It’s a number that can help people understand this palpably thin margin we are fighting for. Two degrees (or 3.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

    Two Degrees. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenterTwo Degrees, Palmquist says, is a proudly political play. But it’s also a human play about a woman in crisis. That’s why, she said, it’s no accident that her story begins with two people engaging in, well…their own kind of global warming.

    “For me, this is a play about climate change, but it’s also about what it means to be a woman over 40,” Palmquist said. “And you know what? Women over 40 have sex.”

    “Not only that,” added Two Degrees director Christy Montour-Larson with a laugh, “but we like it. And we’re good at it.”

    (Above and right: Christy Montour-Larson, left, and Tira Palmquist. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Two Degrees began as a challenge from a friend who encouraged Palmquist to write a play for a female protagonist over 45 — something as rare as uncooked steak. It became all the more personal when Palmquist chose to make the story about climate change and grief. Grief for a loved one. And grief for the planet.

    “When I read about climate change, I actually feel a physical grief in the pit of my stomach,” Palmquist said. “I despair of what will happen if we don’t act. And that became an important catalyst for the play. How do we make this clear to people that climate change is real? And then, what can we do about it?”

    Two Degrees introduces us to a scientist named Emma who has been called to Washington to testify before a congressional committee on climate legislation. This is a particularly difficult moment for her because it also happens to be the anniversary of her late husband’s death.

    Montour-Larson calls it “a beautiful, thought-provoking and witty play of today about an important human issue.” And did we mention? “I think it’s a pretty funny play,” Palmquist added.

    What Two Degrees is not is the same play it was when it was introduced to DCPA audiences last February as a featured reading of the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Neither is it the same play it was on Nov. 7, the day before Donald Trump won the presidential election.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Palmquist already was planning to make changes to her script based on the victor because the outcome of this particular election would have a drastic impact on what Emma would be doing in Washington — helping to pass a possibly unpopular legislation, or trying to fight a perhaps scientifically unwise legislation, depending on which party controlled Congress. And in November, Americans elected a president whose firmly stated beliefs on climate change are, at best, highly oppositional to Emma’s.

    A Two Degrees quote“The election has absolutely changed the urgency of the play,” Palmquist said. “It also has changed the villain of the piece. One of the villains I see are those legislators who are not educated on what the science is saying. I also think apathy and fear are villains. I worry that people will give in to despair. Or worse, that they won’t understand that this is an actual pressing problem. Either eventually will mean that we are dooming future generations.”

    But Palmquist promises that her play is not unwelcoming of contrary points of view. “One of the main characters in the play, Clay, works in the mineral-exploration industry, and Clay has a point of view,” she said. “It is not necessarily my point of view, but I feel certain that we could get past that to find common ground. It’s true that someone who does not believe in climate science may find their point of view challenged. But I welcome them to come, and then maybe we can have a conversation.”

    There is a sacred place in theatre for comedies, musicals, romances and adventures. Montour-Larson believes plays that are political in nature are just as essential.

    “I think it’s important to remember artists are cultural architects,” she said. “The world needs people with reckless imaginations like Tira. We have a passion for the possible, and we have a commitment to creativity, because to create is to be fully human. And we are healers. Through our work, we can heal and give hope.”  

    It has long been said that theatre is supposed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. “And if that is true, then I think that it’s also important to try to find the hopefulness in this play,” Palmquist said. “This play ends up not being a tragedy. This is a play about what it means to start having conversations.”

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

    Video bonus: Tira Palmquist on Two Degrees

    Our video with 'Two Degrees' playwright Tira Palmquist, at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Two Degrees: Ticket information
    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.

    Feb. 3-March 12
    Jones Theatre
    ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Two Degrees:
    Two Degrees: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

    Two Degrees. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenterThe cast of 'Two Degrees' at first rehearsal. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • John Cameron Mitchell on the ageless appeal of Hedwig

    by John Moore | Nov 27, 2016

    John Cameron Mitchell Quote. Photo by Nick Vogelson.John Cameron Mitchell photo by Nick Vogelson.

    John Cameron Mitchell knows the impact his underground rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch has had on a generation of misfits over the past 20 years. It's not overstating to say his musical has saved lives by giving those who have felt divided or separated a place to belong.

    But even now, after Hedwig’s long journey from a gay New York nightclub to off-Broadway to a cult-hit film and on to Broadway before now its first, Denver-bound national touring production, Mitchell thinks perhaps he’s perhaps not the best person to assess the show’s lasting cultural impact.

    “I feel wonderful when people say it has changed their lives - and I am assuming they mean that in a good way,” Mitchell said from San Francisco in advance of Hedwig’s Dec. 6 opening in Denver with Euan Morton (Taboo) starring as Hedwig.

    “I think the most common positive effect I hear is that the show is so specific about someone who is so unique that it creates space in people's lives to find themselves. I think that ‘s one of the important things about any good, fictional narrative piece: It's true enough that you can buy its logic. Obviously you have to care. And ideally you have metaphors and ideas that resonate in your life.”

    Stephen Trask: There are Thors all around us

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch has a big idea at its core: Co-written by Stephen Trask, the show is essentially a rock concert featuring a genderqueer singer who is following a rock star and former lover named Tommy Gnosis around the country. Between songs, Hedwig tells the harrowing details of her shocking life, including how she was born a boy in communist East Germany and underwent a botched sex-change operation to marry an American soldier who then abandoned her in a Kansas trailer park. Now Hedwig seems doomed to search (or stalk) the earth for her "other half,” who may or may not be Tommy Gnosis.

    There is an ambitious metaphor running underneath all of this as well: The story is steeped in "The Origin of Love,” a cautionary tale related by Aristophanes in “Plato's Symposium.” It's about about how the vengeful god Thor long ago split the three sexes of human beings down to two - damning all descendants of prehistoric man to an unending search for whatever is missing in us.

    “ ‘The Origin of Love’ is a myth that can be interpreted in a lot of ways,” Mitchell said. “What your ‘other half’ is can be many things. It was originally talked about in a romantic way, but it's flexible enough that you can think of it in a religious way, too. You can also think of it in a personal, internal way of seeking a certain wholeness. That idea is really strong for a lot of people.

    “Everyone is a misfit and a loser – or they have felt that way. Everyone is fighting a battle, and Hedwig’s battle is particularly hard. But she laughs at it, and that makes it a communal thing. That resonates, especially in this cyber, anti-empathy moment that the industrialized world is in right now.”

    How so?

    “Let's just say that looking at screens has not done much for people's compassion. When you can't see a face, you tend to not really hear what people are saying.”

    The video above shows John Cameron Mitchell singing 'Origin of Love' in the 2001 film version of 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch.'

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch was inspired in large part by Mitchell’s visits to his parents’ home in 1980s Cold War Berlin. John’s father, Army Maj. Gen. John H. Mitchell, was in charge of all U.S. military forces in West Germany and stood behind Ronald Reagan in 1987 as the president famously demanded, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” The character of Hedwig was specifically inspired by a real woman who babysat Mitchell when he was a boy. She was an actual German, divorced U.S. Army wife who moonlighted as a prostitute from her trailer-park home in Junction City, Kansas.

    From 2005: Mitchell’s parents are tearing down a wall

    Although Mitchell created Hedwig onstage, Tommy is the character based on Mitchell himself. Both are gay, the sons of an army general and from deeply Roman Catholic homes. Hedwig became the story's protagonist when Trask encouraged Mitchell to showcase their earliest material in 1994 at a drag-punk nightclub called Squeezebox, where Trask headed the house band and Mitchell's longtime partner, Jack Steeb, played bass.

    It would be 20 years before Hedwig would make it to Broadway. And by then, at age 51, the right person to play Hedwig was no longer Mitchell, who instead happily handed the wig over to the man he calls “America’s sweetheart,” Neil Patrick Harris. He was followed by a steady stream of bankable stars including Michael C. Hall, Darren Criss, Taye Diggs, Andrew Rannells and, for three months … John Cameron Mitchell.

    Yes, after the show was an established hit on Broadway, Mitchell decided to step back into Hedwig’s heels and bring his personal journey full circle. He says he took on the challenge as a way to shake himself free from the complacency he felt stuck in following the deaths of Steeb in 2005 and his father, from Alzheimers disease, in 2012.

    “It was just like the old days, but somehow better because there was less at stake,” said Mitchell. "I was just having fun."

    Here are excerpts from more of John Cameron Mitchell’s wide-ranging conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore covering, among other things, Mitchell’s time in both the original Broadway cast of “The Secret Garden” and the DCPA Theatre Company’s “Peter Pan.” 

    John Cameron Mitchell Books

    John Moore: When we last talked in 2011, even though there had been talk, you thought there was no way Hedwig would make it all the way to Broadway. What changed?

    John Cameron Mitchell: The world changed. And Broadway changed. The idea of rock 'n roll on stage, the idea of drag and the idea of an unusual story became less frightening. It was just time, and we wanted to make sure we had the right person playing Hedwig, so we waited until Neil Patrick Harris was free to do it. That was the right move because he was America's sweetheart. That allowed people to not be afraid of it. It was just the right time. And now we are on a national tour, which seems crazy because back in the day, people weren't ready for it.

    John Moore: After so many years, what did it mean for you to finally be able to play Hedwig on Broadway?

    John Cameron Mitchell: It was very exciting. I hadn't really performed onstage in 15 years, so I was kind of nervous. I knew it would turn out right but it was physically really hard and I was sick during rehearsals, and my voice wasn't what it used to be. I had to lower some keys. So it was definitely hard. And then when I got in front of an audience, it was awesome.

    John Moore: How was the crowd response?

    John Cameron Mitchell: It was a very loving audience the whole time, so we could do anything. I tried to not be pandering. I don't want it to become a Rocky Horror, where you are winking at it too much. So it was wonderful - but it was hard. I was used to doing someone else's choreography, and I hurt my knee. I had to do a lot of it in a leg brace. But that was just an opportunity for more rewrites, which was fun, too.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: You created that character at such a specific time in your own young life that I can't help but wonder – has the character fundamentally changed with the passage of time?

    John Cameron Mitchell Quote 3John Cameron Mitchell: Yeah. We kept the story happening now, as in today, which means we pushed up when she met Tommy to the 2000s. And that meant instead of grunge jokes, we have Creed jokes. Because Creed was the horrifying progeny of grunge - the misshapen, deformed child of grunge. It was fun to rewrite some jokes but the structure of the show was still very solid, and it still works. But yes, the character can age. The story can be told at any time. It's a role you can do at any age.

    John Moore: So does the story hit you differently with 22 years under your boots?

    John Cameron Mitchell: Some of the things were just more important than others in terms of what the story is now. I felt more compassion for Hedwig's (bleeped)-up parents.

    John Moore: What has it been like for you seeing a steady stream of celebrities playing your signature character?

    John Cameron Mitchell: I don't feel possessive about it in any way. I love seeing other people do it. And every Hedwig has a different take on it. Darren Criss, who just did the role here in San Francisco, is quite young, so his performance was very ebullient and super-improvised. When someone is older and beat cancer like Michael C. Hall has, it has a different feeling. We will always tailor the role for the actor. 

    Euan Morton John Moore: When we talked about Hedwig's road to Broadway, it was a given that it would have to be star-driven, or it just wouldn't have happened. But the road is different. Euan Morton is a Tony Award-nominated actor, but he isn't a household name. How much does it matter that when it goes out on the road, people in Denver might not have heard of him?

    John Cameron Mitchell: The pressure on Broadway was harder because you had more seats to fill, and the ticket price was higher. You had to have some kind of name or you were going to close. On the tour, we are selling "the show." So there is a certain release in being able to cast the best, as opposed to someone who is really good that is also famous. I have to say that I am really, really excited about Euan. His audition was spectacular. It was the best that I have ever seen for Hedwig. I am going to be talking special care with him to give him the benefit of what I know and help him out along the way - because I have a sneaking suspicion that he could be spectacular. 

    John Moore: How much freedom does each actor playing Hedwig have to make the role their own? 

    John Cameron Mitchell: They are actually required to make the role their own. That's part of the process. I don't do that for them. Some people are more comfortable with improvising than others. And some might over-improvise. I am very clear with them that there are some sections where they might find it easier to improvise and it won't mess up the internal structure. Neil Patrick Harris came up some jokes that were so good I kept them in the script. And then there were some new things that I came up with. The script is a living document, like the Constitution, only with different Founding Fathers adding their lines to it. It’s the pursuit of unhappiness in our case. That's what I love about it.

    DSA students join 25th anniversary Secret Garden concert

    John Moore: A left turn before we go: The DCPA Theatre Company is about to stage a 25th anniversary production of The Secret Garden, and since you originated the role of Dickon on Broadway in 1991, I have to ask your thoughts on that show now.

    John Cameron Mitchell: I saw a concert performance in New York earlier this year and Daisy Eagan, who won the Tony Award playing Mary Lennox, played an adult role in it. She was great. But it's funny. It's interesting going back to things that you were in when you were young and look at what still resonates and what doesn't. I am still am very touched by it. There are some corny moments, but there are some gorgeous moments as well. I am a sucker for the orphan trying to find her way. I love Oliver. I love Annie. I love orphans - especially in British settings. I can't help it.  

    Peter Pan John Cameron Mitchell. DCPA Theatre CompanyJohn Moore: I also wanted to let you now that next summer, an acclaimed local theatre company called Phamaly, which makes performance opportunities available for actors with disabilities, will be staging Peter Pan in the very same Stage Theatre where you starred for the DCPA Theatre Company in 1996. What do you think?

    John Cameron Mitchell: Whoa. I think a sword fight with wheelchairs is something that I would fly to Denver to see. I am kind of dorky, physically, in real life, but when I am on stage, I suddenly gain superpowers. As Peter Pan, someone could throw a sword across the stage and I could always catch it at the hilt. Whereas in life, I throw like a girl and drop a ball like a little boy. So there could be some surprising physical things that happen when that adrenaline is flowing. I don't know if anyone in a wheelchair is going to be picking up a Toyota off a child, but let them know that if you believe, and you clap your hands, strange things are going to happen. It sounds like a beautiful idea. The idea of Lost Boys being all kids who are challenged is an amazing metaphor, isn't it?

    John Cameron Mitchell Quote 2(Photo above right: John Cameron Mitchell starring as Peter Pan for the DCPA Theatre Company in 1996.)

    John Moore: It is. Part of that company's whole philosophy is: We all have disabilities - only some of them, you can't see.

    John Cameron Mitchell: That is very true, and the mental and emotional disabilities that otherwise able-bodied people are experiencing can be much more destructive. You can see that happening in politics right now.

    (Note to readers: The Radical Faeries describe themselves a group that “tends to be gay men who are looking for a spiritual dimension to our sexuality; many of us are healers of one kind or another. Our shared values include feminism, respect for the Earth, and individual responsibility rather than hierarchy.”)

    John Moore: The last time we saw you in Denver, you were on theJohn Cameron Mitchell Nick Sugar road with the Radical Faeries. You stopped by Lost Lake on East Colfax to DJ a dance set and meet the cast of a local production of Hedwig. Do you still pop in and do that kind of thing?

    (Photo right: John Cameron Mitchell with one of Denver's past Hedwigs, Nick Sugar, at Lost Lake in 2011. Photo by John Moore.)

    John Cameron Mitchell: Yeah, we still do a party in New York once a month. We have about five different DJs. We did a party in Austin and we did Halloween at a place near San Francisco. Next, my new composer and I are going on a road trip for a month to write for my new musical.

    Mitchell and Trask: The two halves of Hedwig's whole

    John Moore: And how much can we know about your new musical?

    John Cameron Mitchell: Nothing. Because I am still figuring it out.

    John Moore: OK, so, last question: Have we seen the last of John Cameron Mitchell playing Hedwig?

    John Cameron Mitchell: I am sure I will do it one more time when I am in my 70s - in a chair. I'm just sure the keys will be very low.

    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.

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch in Denver: Ticket information
    Hedwig and the Angry Inch Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the genre-bending, fourth-wall-smashing musical sensation, with a pulsing score and electrifying performances, that tells the story of one of the most unique characters to ever hit the stage.
    • Dec 6-11
    • Buell Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Dec. 10
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    Hedwig's Stephen Trask: There are Thors all around us
    Mitchell and Trask: The two halves of Hedwig's whole
    Casting: Euan Morton to don Hedwig's wig on national tour
    Hedwig named to Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season
    Hedwig creator’s parents are tearing down a wall
  • Oliver Stone in Denver: Ten awesome quotes

    by John Moore | Mar 07, 2016

    RogerEbert.com editor Matt Zoller Seitz, Oliver Stone and Alamo Drafthouse General Manager Walter Chaw. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter
    From left: RogerEbert.com editor Matt Zoller Seitz, film director Oliver Stone and Alamo Drafthouse Denver General Manager Walter Chaw. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Filmmaker Oliver Stone visited the Alamo Drafthouse in Littleton on Sunday to introduce perhaps his best- and least-known films: Natural Born Killers (1994) and the largely forgotten U-Turn (1997), the latter starring Sean Penn, Jennifer Lopez, Nick Nolte, Jon Voight, Powers Boothe, Julie Hagerty (!), Claire Danes and Joaquin Phoenix. Based on a book and screenplay by John Ridley (Twelve Years a Slave), it's about a man who is heading to Las Vegas to pay off a gambling debt until forced to stop at the broken-down desert town of Superior, Ariz.

    Here are our 10 favorite things that came out of Stone’s mouth after the U-Turn screening, ranging from his thoughts on Will Ferrell as the epitome of all evil; to the shouting from Jennifer Lopez’s motel room while filming U-Turn; to the influence of the animated cat-and-mouse Tom and Jerry on his score; to the letter of recommendation he wrote for Claire Danes; to working with an insecure young actor named Donald Trump on Wall Street ("He doesn't entertain failure"); to how our modern world has been driven to the brink of madness:

    1 PerspectivesOn Sean Penn: Poor Sean. He put up with a lot. He was a replacement for Bill Paxton, who dropped out at the last second because he was freaked out by the role. Strange fellow. But Sean stepped in, and he helped us make the film - because it was really close to falling apart.

    2 PerspectivesOn Jennifer Lopez: She was married at the time to a young Cuban, and the walls of that Arizona motel … man, talk about Latin temperament. There was a lot of banging and screaming. People would say, 'I need sleep, so I can't stay in the room next to Jennifer Lopez.' Meanwhile, Sean Penn has got his eye on her, too, so there was this whole crazy jealousy thing going on. But Jennifer came to see me years later, after she had become “J.Lo.” She was another person completely now. It was after her third marriage or something. She said to me, 'I want to go back. I want to make that kind of movie again. I just want to get real like that.' Because she had been doing all that glittery stuff.

    3 PerspectivesOn whistle-blower Edward Snowden, the subject of his upcoming film, Snowden: I am really not at liberty to say too much. Put it this way: He's smart, he's articulate, he cares very much, and it doesn't matter that he's in Russia. He could be anywhere in the world. He's still connected by the Internet. This is a man who spends possibly 70 percent of his time on a computer. He keeps his contacts up. He participates in forums and discussions and lectures. And he is working very seriously on a constitution for the Internet, which we really need. Many, many people admire him. I find him in good spirits. I didn't see any sign of depression. He has broadened his sense of humor. I showed him the film a couple of weeks ago (Snowden), and he responded very well.

    4 PerspectivesOn the current presidential race: I am scared. But I don't think the Republicans are the issue. Everyone wants to be stronger and stronger in terms of dealing with the world, but that’s not the right way to go about it. I believe in an international balance of power. I am concerned that Hillary Clinton is embraced by the neo-conservatives, or the liberal interventionists as I call them, because her policies, and Obama’s policies, and Bush's policies have driven us to the edge of madness. We have created a mess in the Middle East with four interventions. Also Afghanistan and Libya. We are not effective as a military force abroad. We don't need 800 military bases. We have to change our way of thinking. Sanders gets it, to some degree. And Trump, in his own way, actually gets it, too. He's the only Republican who has come out and said outright: 'Hey, that Iraq war was a stupid (bleeping) thing to do.' And all these Republicans are shocked. The establishment is shocked. 'How can you say that Mr. Bush screwed up?' I mean, come on. It's about time we wake up in this country. Let's get real.

    5 PerspectivesWorking with Donald Trump in Wall Street: He's a smart dude. He's funny. And yet, he’s an egomaniac and a narcissist, as you can see. I'll never forget this: He jumped up after Take 1 of his scene with Michael Douglas and said, 'How was I? I was great, wasn't I?' I said, 'Donald, it was good, but I think you can do better.' I got him to do nine or 10 takes, and he would jump up after every one and say the same thing. 'How was I?' He doesn't entertain failure.            

    6 PerspectivesOliver Stone and Alamo Drafthouse General Manager Walter Chaw. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenterOn U-Turn actors Joaquin Phoenix and Claire Danes: They really did a turn in this film. This was before they became really famous. They were both such fun. It was a delight. Sean Penn’s character says, "Is everybody in this town on drugs?" And that's the overall feeling of the movie. You have to be free and you can’t care. Claire was not hot at that point. She had done Romeo and Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio, and he took off from that movie. She ... less so. So by the time U-Turn came along, she was happy to grab it. She was going back to Yale at that point, and she wanted me to write her a letter of recommendation. I had flunked out of Yale, but I wrote it anyway. She always thanked me for that. She is a wonderful actress.

    7 PerspectivesOn who he looks up to: It would be easier for you to give me a list with everyone on it and I could tell you who to take off. Most of the people would stay on it. Stanley Kubrick was a big deal for me when I was young. So was Federico Fellini. So was Jean-Luc Godard and Luis Buñuel. In my generation: Francis Ford Coppola, of course. Martin Scorsese. William Friedkin. In this generation: Alejandro Iñárritu has done a tremendous job. Birdman is an interesting philosophical story. So is The Revenant. He's got talent. A lot of other people do, too. I think this Adam McKay, who did The Big Short, is very smart. He’s very good with dialogue, too.

    On8 Perspectives the Foley cartoon sounds in U-Turn: The music was by Ennio Morricone, and he has a beautiful history. He not only some wrote Sergio Leone classics but also 1900, which I think is one of the most beautiful scores ever written. He's written for so many people. I wanted him to do two things for me: One was this love theme, which I thought was tremendous. But the rest of it - he didn't do it right. And he is not the easiest guy to get along with, if you talk to most people. He knew the game: His contract said he would never come back to the United States. So there would be no rewrites. When he delivered the score, the love theme was there. But the rest was not what I wanted. So I had to bring him back, and he was really (bleeped) off. That was a rough three days. I was trying to make him understand what I wanted, because I can't put it into musical terms. I can only express it. I wanted the music he had done for Leone, only modernized with those reverbs and those exaggerated sounds. I call it kind of a cartoon sound. That booinnnng sound. He just didn't seem to get it. I was desperate, so I showed him a cartoon of Tom and Jerry. I said, 'That's sort of what I want.' He was so upset. He said: "You want me to write cartoon music? You brought me back to America for this?" He gave me what I wanted on a second pass, thank God. He's still a (bleep) but ... I am glad to see he got an Oscar. Not for his best music (The Hateful Eight). Probably his worst score, in fact. But he I am glad to see he got an Oscar.

    Oliver Stone Quote Will Ferrell Zoolander 2

    9 PerspectivesOn Oliver Stone's movie recommendations: You might boo me for this, but I was laughing my head off when I saw Zoolander 2. The critics all turned on it, They said it was dreck. But it's very witty. Very well-written. And Will Ferrell has never been better as the incarnation of all evil. I say this seriously: You see evil in my movies, but when you see this movie, you will see evil. The way evil has become in the modern world.

    10 PerspectivesAdvice to a first-time filmmaker: Get a good night's sleep. That's very important. Stay healthy. Eat well. It's exhausting. I find directing is like being the host of a giant party. You are trying to put through your vision of a film, if you have one, and you are going to find there are a lot of impediments to that. It takes inner grit.    

    Read Oliver Stone's interview with The Denver Post

    Denver Actors Fund Presents ...
    Ragtime, directed by Milos Forman
    Benefit screening 6 p.m. Monday, March 14, at Alamo Drafthouse
    With a live pre-screening performance by the Performance Now Theatre Company
    7301 S Santa Fe Dr, Littleton, 80120
    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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