• Vintage, Denver Center collaborate to bring 'Lady Day,' Mary Louise Lee, to stage

    by John Moore | Nov 20, 2017
    Lady Day Mary Louise Lee Adams Viscom Mary Louise Lee in the 2016 DCPA Theatre Company workshop of 'Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.' Photo by  AdamsVisCom.

     

    From First Lady to Lady Day: Billie Holiday musical to open at Vintage, then move to Denver Center's Galleria Theatre

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Mary Louise LeeWhen Mary Louise Lee revisited her signature role as Billie Holiday
    in a special workshop production of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill last year, she dedicated the performance to Shadow Theatre Company founding Artistic Director Jeffrey Nickelson. Lee considers having played the jazz legend in 2002 to be the most meaningful performance of her storied career.

    It couldn't be more fitting, then, that when Vintage Theatre Productions brings the story to full stage life again this January with Lee in the title role, she will be be performing in the Jeffrey Nickelson Auditorium. 

    Nickelson, who died in 2009, was a graduate of the DCPA’s National Theatre Conservatory masters program. In 1997, he founded Shadow Theatre to present “stories from the heart of the African-American community,” as he liked to say. And the biggest hit in Shadow’s history was that 2002 production of Lady Day, with Nickelson directing and Lee starring as Holiday.

    Lady DayFor her haunting portrayal of a woman with a singular singing voice — and a lethal heroin habit  — Lee won a Westword Best of Denver Award for Best Actress in a Musical. The review said: “A stunning evening of theatre. Lee's singing is absolutely radiant. Her voice is smooth as glass. At times she sounds uncannily like Holiday, at others entirely like her full-throated self." She reprised the role for a special three-day workshop engagement in 2016 at the Denver Center's Jones Theatre. 

    After Nickelsen died of a heart attack in 2009, the theatre he opened at 1468 Dayton St. in Aurora was renamed the Jeffrey Nickelson Auditorium. Vintage took over operations there in 2011. 

    Berry HartToday, Vintage and the Denver Center announced an unprecedented collaboration. Vintage will introduce its new production of Lanie Robertson's Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, starring Lee and directed by Betty Hart (pictured right), from Jan. 12 through Feb. 18. The production will then move to the Denver Center's Garner-Galleria Theatre on March 5 and perform there on Monday nights through April 23 — while the Denver Center's ongoing musical comedy First Date continues its run for the rest of the week.

    Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill tells Holiday's troubled life story through the songs that made her famous, including "God Bless the Child," "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," "Strange Fruit" and "Taint Nobody's Biz-ness." Set in Philadelphia in 1959, Holiday's performance at Emerson's Bar & Grill was one of her last, and Lady Day is not just a memorable tribute to the singer, but also a moving portrait of her struggles with addiction, racism, and loss.

    "We're thrilled, of course," said Vintage Theatre Artistic Director Bernie Cardell. "This is an exciting event for Vintage and for the theatre community overall. If we are to thrive, collaboration is the key. While we certainly can survive on our own, we can reach bigger heights together. My hope is this is just the start of a new way of producing quality theatre for our community."

     Lady Day Mary Louise Lee. 2002Lee's performing career began at the Denver Center when she appeared in Beehive at what is now the Garner Galleria Theatre while only 18 years old and still a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School. In 2011, Lady Day also became the First Lady of Denver when her husband, Michael B. Hancock, was elected Mayor.

    (Pictured right: Mary Louise Lee in rehearsal for her award-winning turn in 'Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill' for Shadow Theatre in 2002.)

    Lee has performing at many high profile events over the past two decades, including the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Democratic National Conventions. She performed with the Colorado Symphony at the 911 Remembrance Ceremony, and in the First Ladies of Jazz concert. She has sung the national anthem before 78,000 Denver Broncos fans, was featured vocalist at the grand opening of Union Station was a Season 9 contestant on America's Got Talent.  She has toured internationally performing for the troops of the U.S. Department of Defense. She returned to the DCPA in 2014 to sing with the cast of the national touring production of the Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet onstage at the Buell Theatre. And last December, Lee won a 2015 True West Award for her performance in the new musical, Uncle Jed's Barbershop.  

    Read John Moore's Denver Post profile of Mary Louise Lee

    Mary Louise Lee The Wiz. AfterthoughtSome of Lee's other notable local theatre performances have included Vogue Theatre’s A Brief History of White Music, the Arvada Center’s The 1940s Radio Hour, Country Dinner Playhouse’s Ain’t Misbehavin', Denver Civic’s Menopause the Musical and Afterthought Theatre Company's The Wiz, as Glinda the Good Witch (pictured right). She took on that role just after Hancock was elected in 2011.

    From students to senior citizens, Lee is committed to being an ambassador for the arts to help expose and expand access to Denver’s vibrant arts and cultural communities. She is choir director at the New Hope Baptist Church and founder of “Bringin’ Back the Arts," a foundation that encourages arts education in the public schools.

    Betty Hart, the director, recently moved to Denver from Atlanta, where she was a Teaching Artist at the Alliance Theatre. She is the Special Projects Coordinator for Kaiser Permanente Arts Integrated Resources program and recently joined the board of directors for the Colorado Theatre Guild.

    The Music Director will be Trent Hines. He was most recently the conductor and pianist for The Wild Party at the Stanley Marketplace, and he also performed in the show.


    A Lady Day Westword

    Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill: At Vintage Theatre

  • Jan. 12-Feb 18, 2018 (Note: The Feb. 3 show will be performed by Shandra Duncan)
  • 1468 Dayton St., Aurora
  • Tickets $15-$34
  • Call 303-856-7830 or BUY ONLINE


  • Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill: At the Garner-Galleria Theatre

  • March 5-April 23, 2018
  • Denver Performing Arts Complex
  • Tickets start at $42
  • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • The show runs approximately 90 minutes without intermission
  • Adult language and content
  • Age Recommendation: 17 and over
  •  

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Video: Mary Louise Lee sings with Million Dollar Quartet:

    Video: Watch Mary Louise Lee sing 'Fools Fall in Love' with the cast of  the national touring production of 'Million Dollar Quartet' at the Buell Theatre in 2014.

  • The evolving Beth Malone: So Far ... So Good

    by John Moore | Apr 06, 2017
    Beth Malone. Photo by John Moore

    Beth Malone returns to Denver for two intimate cabaret concerts on April 15 at the DCPA's Garner Galleria Theatre. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Beth Malone's journey from a gravel road in Castle Rock to Broadway's bright lights took a right turn at a mirror.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    It’s about 1,800 miles from Haystack Road to Broadway, but the funny and sad and twisted and ultimately triumphant journey Beth Malone took from Castle Rock to New York City was light years in the making.

    Malone starred in the DCPA Theatre Company’s 2014 reimagining of The Unsinkable Molly Brown and was nominated for a Tony Award for her work in the groundbreaking musical Fun Home. She will tell her story in two uncommonly intimate cabaret concerts on April 15 at the Denver Center’s Garner Galleria Theatre.

    It’s called Beth Malone: So Far, and it covers Malone’s formative years in Colorado. She describes the family, friends and lovers she encountered on her way to starring in Broadway’s first musical with a lesbian protagonist.

    Audiences can expect a swath of recognizable pop songs and very funny anecdotes filled with local references. “I mention Country Dinner Playhouse, the Arvada Center and Boulder's Dinner Theatre (now BDT Stage) before the end of the opening number,” she says.

    But there is a beating and very vulnerable heart at the center of Malone’s story. It’s the crucial off-stage part that covers how she discovered her sexuality and came to own her true self — and the toll it took on her suburban, testosterone-fueled Castle Rock family. Her father, Bill, is a cowboy, and so naturally Malone was a cowboy, too. She is careful not to use the word "cowgirl."

    A Peggy Malone“No, I was a cowboy. I used to be my dad's little clone,” she said. Her mother, Peggy Malone, continues to be a popular country singer along the Western Slope, and she grew up alongside three typically competitive brothers.

    “So Far is about my redneck beginnings and how my parents ended up with such a wildly left-swinging daughter,” Malone said. “But more than anything, it’s really about my relationship with my dad, and what happened when I came out.”

    When Malone performed So Far two years ago at Joe's Pub in New York City, the show went over like gangbusters, she said. In part because cabaret concerts typically deliver upbeat songs and funny anecdotes — and Malone has plenty of those to tell. Like when she stumbled across the film Singin’ in the Rain on TV as a girl. “I didn’t know stuff like this existed,” she said. “I remember running down the hall and saying, ‘Mom, the most amazing thing is on TV!’ And she was like, ‘Yeah, that’s called a musical.’ And I said, ‘Well … that’s what I am doing with the rest of my life.”

    But cabaret concerts don’t typically also deliver a meaningful and sadly universal story of a father and daughter finding each other, breaking apart, and finding each another again  — in an entirely new and uncomfortable context.

    “It’s unexpectedly heart-wrenching,” said Malone. “You are laughing your butt off, and then you find yourself really invested in the love story between me and this heroic cowboy father-figure. When it gets hard for me, I think it gets hard for a lot of people in the audience, too.”

    Beth Malone. Photo by John Moore
    Beth Malone in Leadville. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Malone’s first play was Annie for Castle Rock Junior High School in 1984. When she was just 16, she landed her (first) dream job — as a hostess at the Country Dinner Playhouse. Two years later, she starred there in Baby. She made her Denver Center debut that same year at age 18 as the understudy to Mary Louise Lee — now the First Lady of Denver — in Beehive at the very same theatre Malone will be performing So Far on April 15.

    Malone made her debut with the DCPA Theatre Company in 1993 in the world premiere of Jeffrey Hatcher’s Bon Voyage, an adaptation of Noel Coward’s failed musical Sail Away. She went on to make her name performing on stages all over Colorado from the Crystal Palace to Theatre Aspen to the Arvada Center, where she played the narrator in holiday stagings of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for five years running.

    But all through those years, Malone felt like an “other,” she says, and she didn't yet know exactly why. “I have a number in the show about what it's like to be Mulan in a dressing room with Snow White, Belle and Arial. … Do you know what I mean?”

    For those who might not know what she means, Malone describes Mulan as the cross-dressing Disney heroine who looks like a boy. “She's the action figure that nobody wants,” she said with a laugh. “That’s pretty sad for Mulan — and Mulan is me.”

    Malone fully expected to get married — to a man — when she met Rochelle (Shelly)  Schoppert 25 years ago. She says feeling true love for the first time was so intense, it felt like being shot by a gun. And that she fell in love with a woman, she said, “ruined my family for many, many years.” And yet, in 2014, the then 23-year couple rode their bikes to New York's City Hall and legally married.

    Beth Malone. Denver Broncos. Photo by John MooreMalone and her father will never come to a mutual understanding about many things, including their feelings on the current president. But time has a way of morphing the once inconceivable into the more natural order of things. Into something resembling a family. And like many families, the Malones have more in common than not — their love for the Colorado outdoors, their cowboy ways and perhaps most important — their intense mutual love of the Denver Broncos. Bill and Peggy Malone have accompanied Beth and her wife both times she sang the national anthem at Mile High Stadium, in 2014 and '16. (Pictured above from left: Peggy Malone, Beth Malone, Bill Malone and Rochelle Schoppert by John Moore.) Beth recently took her father on a trip to Ireland.

    So Far is actually a really warm, fuzzy, feel-good story,” Malone says of the way her story plays out. “And by the end, you’ll just want to call your dad.”

    Malone’s song list leans more toward pop than showtunes, starting with an appropriately country slant. “The show opens with Happiest Girl in the Whole USA, recorded by Donna Fargo, and segues into a Barbara Mandrell medley, so ... you can see where I am going with this,” Malone said with a laugh. “No one was more obsessed with Barbara Mandrell than I was.” Just wait till you hear the story about the kiss an 11-year-old Malone got from none other than ... Barbara Mandrell. 

    Coming-of-age songs include Melissa Etheridge’s Bring Me Some Water and k.d. lang’s Constant Craving alongside Foreigner’s I've Been Waiting for a Girl Like You. Musical-theatre fans will get a taste of Spring Awakening and a Fun Home mash-up that somehow invokes John Mayer. It builds, she says, to a poignant LeAnn Rimes song called What I Cannot Change.

    Malone has been developing So Far for years with initial producer Peter Schneider, playwright Patricia Cotter (The Break Up Notebook: A Musical) and Beautiful: The Carole King Story Music Director Susan Draus (who will play the show in Denver). But it has necessarily changed in tone, Malone said, since she last performed it in 2015, when  the gay community was riding an unprecedented wave of acceptance and legal victories.

    “All of these amazing, progressive things had just happened,” she said. “Marriage equality had passed, health-care was happening and Fun Home had won the Tony Award for Best Musical. So back then, I ended the show by saying, ‘It's a really bad time to be an angry white guy in America.’ ”

    Well ... that was then.

    "Now I have to say that the pendulum has fully swung the other way, and angry white guys are having their day again,” Malone said. “It’s just a hate orgy out there right now. That's how it feels to me. So there is a different vibe now, and I have had to rewrite the ending of the show a little because of that.”

    Beyond Fun Home
    The success of Fun Home has brought new career opportunities for Malone. Notable TV credits have included Brain Dead and The Good Wife. She has an upcoming indie film called Laying Low. But the biggest break by far was appearing opposite Robert DeNiro in last year's star-studded film The Comedian. Malone has a nice, long scene where she plays a reality-TV producer who gives DeNiro the brush-off when he pitches her an idea for a new show.

    “Yes, I busted DeNiro’s (bleeps),” Malone says with evident glee. “It was pretty amazing.”

    Also amazing: Hanging out on the set with the likes of Edie Falco, Danny DeVito and Broadway legend Patti Lupone when Lupone figured out that Malone was the star of Fun Home.

    “I was like, 'Oh my God, is anybody hearing this? Patti Lupone is telling me how good I am right now!’ " Malone said. "And sure enough, Edie Falco came up to me and said, ‘Patti Lupone was just crazy about you.’ It was just the best.”

    A Beth Malone 800 5

    Still, the greatest impact Fun Home has had on Malone's life was not only giving her a voice, she said. “It also gave me an audience that wanted to hear that voice," she said.

    Fun Home helped me to define my own beliefs and to commit to them publicly,” she said. “As an actor, I was always sort of a politician. I wanted to be with my wife, Shelly, behind closed doors, but I never was political about it, and I never pushed it anyone's face. I never stood up for anyone besides myself.

    "I have lived in Aspen, L.A. and New York – and being gay there is pretty easy. I never really gave a thought to teenagers who were trying to come out in Tennessee and Kentucky and Alabama. Now, I think about those kids all the time. Now, I talk to them whenever I can. That is my gift from Fun Home: The awareness that just living my life openly can be a beacon for other people – if only I am strong enough to stand up and claim it.”

    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.

    Beth Malone: So Far
    Beth Malone About the show: Tony-nominated Beth Malone (DCPA Theatre Company’s The Unsinkable Molly Brown) brings her acclaimed solo show back to where it all happened. Follow this adorably insane little lesbian as she takes you on a journey from Castle Rock to the South Pacific. From little girl crushes to grown-woman heartbreak. Join us for comedy, tragedy, and a crush on Connie Chung.

    • April 15, 5 and 8 p.m.
    • Garner Galleria Theatre
    • Tickets start at $50
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    An update on The Unsinkable Molly Brown:

    Molly_Brown_Beth Malone_JK_800Beth Malone will return to the role she re-created for the DCPA Theatre Company this summer when The Unsinkable Molly Brown plays The Muny this coming July 21-27 in St. Louis. The Muny is America’s largest outdoor musical theatre. After that, Malone said, the goal is Broadway.

    "That is absolutely the intention of putting it up at The Muny,” Malone said. “There is no other reason than for it go to Broadway," she said. And while there is not yet a producer attached for New York, “everyone involved with it feels very strongly that it we are completely on track to move it there.”

    (Photo above by Jennifer M. Koskinen.)

    The show has changed in some significant ways since its debut in Denver, Malone said. The song Don't Put Bananas on Bananas, originally written by Meredith Willson to be included in The Music Man, has been cut. And Molly Brown’s activism and commitment to social causes is given more dramatic importance in the new storyline.

    “Molly Brown was the head of the Survivors Committee of the RMS Titanic, and a big part of her work was making sure that all of those people in steerage weren't just immediately kicked out and sent back to the countries they came from because their paperwork was at the bottom of the ocean. Her commitment to the plight of the immigrant makes the story seem more relevant since our election in November.”

    There has been no announcement yet who will play opposite Malone as Leadville Johnny Brown.

     Selected previous Beth Malone coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter:



    Photo gallery: Beth Malone in Denver:

    Beth Malone in Denver

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Meet the cast: Jamie Grayson of 'An Act of God'

    by John Moore | Jan 29, 2017
    Jamie Grayson. An Act of God


    MEET JAMIE GRAYSON

    Understudying the roles of God and Michael in An Act of God

    At the Denver Center: Debut. New York: Man in Chair in The Drowsy Chaperone and Narrator/Mysterious Man in Into the Woods at The MacHaydn Theatre. Tours and regional: Cats, Hairspray, A Chorus Line and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. He is also an internationally recognized baby-gear expert who has been seen on “The Martha Stewart Show,” “The Today Show,” and speaks at events for new and expectant parents.

    • Twitter-sized bio: Sometimes actor/full-time baby-gear expert and "guncle." New to Denver and loving every minute. Fred Armisen *might* have played me in a movie.
    • Hometown: Little Rock, Ark.
    • Home now: I moved to Denver in July
    • Jamie Grayson. Baby Guy Website: babyguygearguide.com
    • Social media:  @TheBabyGuyNYC on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
    • Training: BFA in Acting from the University of Mississippi
    • What was the role that changed your life? My first professional gig was in Shenandoah at The MacHaydn Theatre in Chatham, N.Y. I worked there every summer throughout college and a few years after. Summer stock taught me to be a quick study, taught me work ethic, and taught me the "play" in performing. There are not many theatres like this still around, and it's truly the best training a young actor can have. That place feels like home.
    • Why are you an actor? At its best, theatre is communion with an audience. There are not many true places of communion now. So to be in a room with strangers and tell them a story and get immediate engagement and energy back is just the absolute best feeling - so it translates well into my actual career.
    • What would you be doing if you weren't an actor: My "real" job is a baby gear expert/speaker/social media "personality" - LOL. I was on tour for years and grew weary of suitcase life, so I took a survival gig at a store and it ended up turning into an insane career that I love. I knew once I stopped acting I would go into education, so my current job combines my desire to educate and entertain. It's kind of perfect, and I feel very fortunate that I've found ways to begin bridging my two lives.
    • A Jamie Grayson Jodie FosterIdeal scene partner: Jodie Foster. I just love her. Always have. Always will. But also Meryl Streep, because ... duh.
    • Why does An Act of God matter? I was shocked at how intelligent the script is. It's not just some off-the-wall, slap-your-leg, laugh-until-you-hurt piece. It's quieter than that, but very funny and forces you to listen. On top of that, there are references to current events and sections that really make you question your "why" in "why I believe."
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of seeing it? Theatre is a time to shut your phones off, sit with people in the dark, and have an experience. I cannot tell you what your experience will be. I can only hope you have one.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "...  to get better every day." Stagnation is a horrible thing.
    An Act of God: Ticket information
    • The story: God takes human form in this critically acclaimed new comedy direct from Broadway. He's finally arrived to set the record straight.
    • Through April 8
    • Garner-Galleria Theatre
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Selected Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    An Act of God extends through April 8
    Steven J. Burge is following in God's footsteps
    Meet the cast: Steven J. Burge
    Meet the cast: Erik Sandvold
    Meet the cast: Steven Cole Hughes
    Video, photos: DCPA, Macy's help 'Make-A-Wish' come true
    Casting announced for An Act of God
    A day in the busy life of Director Geoffrey Kent
    Interview: Geoffrey Kent on a laugh-a-minute God
    Geoffrey Kent's 2015 True West Award

    More 2016-17 DCPA Theatre Company 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Aubrey Deeker, The Glass Menagerie
    Thaddeus Fitzpatrick, Frankenstein
    Meridith C. Grindei, Frankenstein
    Sullivan Jones, Frankenstein
    Mark Junek, Frankenstein
    Charlie Korman, Frankenstein
    Jennifer Le Blanc, The Book of Will
    Rodney Lizcano, The Book of Will
    Wesley Mann, The Book of Will
    Robert Manning Jr., The Christians

    Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
    Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein
    John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie
  • 'An Act of God' extends; Burge ascends to Almighty status

    by John Moore | Jan 24, 2017
    Steven J. Burge An Act of God
    Steven J. Burge in the title role of the hit comedy An Act of God. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Steven J. Burge will assume the role of God in An Act of God starting tonight, and today the Denver Center for the Performing Arts announced that the hit comedy is being extended through April 8 at the Garner Galleria Theatre.

    An Act of God is directed by Geoffrey Kent and also includes Steven Cole Hughes as Michael and Erik Sandvold as Gabriel. Jamie Grayson joins the cast as understudy for God and Michael. 

    A Steven J. BurgeGod takes human form in An Act of God, the acclaimed new play direct from Broadway that opens with the Almighty tackling His greatest challenge yet: The Mile High City. He’s finally arrived to set the record straight about the commandments and other quotes that have been attributed to Him over time ... and He’s not holding back. The script is based on the critically acclaimed book written by God (otherwise known as "The Bible") and transcribed by David Javerbaum, a 13-time Emmy Award-winner for his work as a head writer and executive producer for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

    The play premiered on Broadway on May 7, 2015, and ran for a limited run with God occupying the body of Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory"). The play returned to Broadway June 6, 2016, for another limited engagement starring Sean Hayes ("Will and Grace"). This production in Denver is one of the first regional productions of the hit comedy.

    Since making his Colorado debut in 2003 as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, Burge has appeared on stages throughout the Denver metro area including the Denver Center, Curious Theatre, Arvada Center, Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret and many others. He is also the co-host of the Colorado Theatre Guild's annual Henry Awards.

    The role of God was was originated by Broadway star Wesley Taylor, whose contract ran through Jan. 22. Burge has been serving as understudy in the roles of God and Michael.

    The Denver creative team includes the DCPA's Lisa M. Orzolek (scenic design), Meghan Anderson Doyle (costume design) and Charles R. MacLeod (lighting design). Making his DCPA Broadway/Cabaret sound design debut is Anson Nicholson.

    Steven J. Burge, Erik Sandvold, Steven Cole Hughes, An Act of God. Photo by John Moore.
    From left: Erik Sandvold, Steven J. Burge and Steven Cole Hughes in 'An Act of God.' Photo by John Moore.


    An Act of God
    : Ticket information

    An Act of GodThe story: God takes human form in this critically acclaimed new comedy direct from Broadway. He's finally arrived to set the record straight.
    • Through April 8, 2017
    • Garner-Galleria Theatre
    • Tickets start at $47: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Selected Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    Steven J. Burge is following in God's footsteps
    Meet the cast: Steven J. Burge
    Meet the cast: Erik Sandvold
    Meet the cast: Steven Cole Hughes
    Video, photos: DCPA, Macy's help 'Make-A-Wish' come true
    Casting announced for An Act of God
    A day in the busy life of Director Geoffrey Kent
    Interview: Geoffrey Kent on a laugh-a-minute God
    Geoffrey Kent's 2015 True West Award
  • Steven J. Burge following in God's footsteps

    by John Moore | Dec 02, 2016

    Steven J. Burge. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins
    Steven J. Burge is shown co-hosting the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards in July. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins.


    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts announced today that award-winning Denver actor Steven J. Burge will assume the role of God in the comedy An Act of God when Broadway star Wesley Taylor's contract ends on Jan. 22. Burge will assume the supreme role in the Garner Galleria Theatre starting Jan. 24.

    God takes human form in An Act of God, the "sinfully funny" and critically acclaimed new play direct from Broadway. It opens with the King of the Universe tackling His greatest challenge yet: The Mile High City. He’s finally arrived to set the record straight about the commandments and other quotes that have been attributed to Him over time ... and He’s not holding back. The script is based on the critically acclaimed book written by God (otherwise known as "The Bible") and transcribed by David Javerbaum, a 13-time Emmy Award-winner for his work as a head writer and executive producer for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

    Since making his Colorado debut in 2003 as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, Burge has appeared on stages throughout the Denver metro area including the Denver Center, Curious Theatre, Arvada Center, Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret and many others. He is also the co-host of the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards.

    Wesley Taylor Taylor, a Broadway star and fan favorite in the NBC-TV show “Smash,” will play God as scheduled through Jan. 24. Westword's Juliet Wittman said of Taylor's performance: "He is so charming, sometimes puckish, sometimes tough ... and has such magnificent abs." Taylor has been seen on Broadway in Rock of Ages and The Addams Family. On  Nov. 14, he presented a star-studded evening of own short plays in New York City, raising thousands of dollars for charity. 

    Burge has been serving in the understudy roles of God and Michael. Local auditions to understudy for these roles will take place from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21. For more information visit Denvercenter.org/about-us/careers.

    The cast of An Act of God also includes Steven Cole Hughes as the angel Michael and Erik Sandvold as the angel Gabriel. The director is Geoffrey Kent. The creative team includes the DCPA's Lisa M. Orzolek (scenic design), Meghan Anderson Doyle (costume design) and Charles R. MacLeod (lighting design). Making his DCPA Broadway/Cabaret sound design debut is Anson Nicholson.

    The play premiered on Broadway on May 7, 2015, and ran for a limited run with God occupying the body of Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory"). The play returned to Broadway June 6, 2016, for another limited engagement starring Sean Hayes ("Will and Grace"). This production in Denver is one of the first regional productions of the hit comedy.

    MEET STEVEN J. BURGE
    God starting Jan. 24, understudy God/Michael through Jan. 22

    Steven J. Burge. The award winning character actor landed in Denver following national tours of … And Then They Came for Me and A Christmas Carol. He was the recipient of The Denver Post Ovation Award for Best Solo Performance in Fully Committed (Aurora Fox), a one-man show in which Steven portrayed more than 30 different characters. The piece also earned him a Henry Award nomination, Westword’s Best of Denver Award and an Out Front Colorado Marlowe Award. Steven has also been recognized for his work in Contrived Ending (Buntport Theater) and Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead (Avenue Theater).

    • Hometown: Martelle, Iowa. It's a cute little farm town with fewer than 300 people in it.
    • Training: I have a Bachelor’s Degree from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa
    • How do we follow you on social media? I don’t do the Twitter or the Instagram. I’m firmly and archaically planted in the land of the Facebook. Friend me here! <3
    • What was the role that changed your life? In 2003, a tour I was doing ended and I came to Denver to take a three-month contract playing Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors. The plan was for me to do the show and hit the road again. Colorado was so beautiful, however, and the people were so great, that I just kept postponing my departure date. I kept forgetting to leave. Now, 13 years later, I consider myself a proud Denverite. I guess that role didn’t just change my life … it sort of created it.
    • A Steven J. Burge quoteWhy are you an actor? Because I would do it even if I weren’t getting paid to do it. Sometimes I feel like I’m pulling a fast one on the universe when I cash a paycheck from a theatre company. I love being in a room with other creative, passionate, interesting people. I look forward to rehearsals. I look forward to performances. And I’m bummed out on days off and closing nights. I don’t know how many people out there are working jobs they don’t want to take a vacation from  — my guess is, not many. But that’s how I feel about my job. And I never take that feeling for granted.
    • What would you be doing if you weren't an actor: I’d like to find a job where I got paid to sit down and listen to people tell me their stories. I think people are fascinating and I would love to learn about as many of them as possible. Is that a job? If it is, and you’re reading this and you’re the boss of that job … invite me in for an interview.
    • elvira4Ideal scene partner: Denver is known for its sports teams and outdoorsy activities. That’s for certain. But we are also home to a thriving artistic community. I have met and worked with some of the best, most inspiring, most creative actors anywhere, right here in Denver. It might sound like a cop-out, but honestly? I’d love to roll up my sleeves and work with any one of Denver’s own resident performers, any day. (But if that answer isn’t good enough, then I'll say Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. She cracks me up.
    • Why does An Act of God matter? Everybody believes in something, right? You either believe there is something bigger than us out there somewhere, or you believe there is not something bigger than us out there somewhere. I think An Act of God does a great job of creating a space for everyone  — regardless of spirituality or religion or lack thereof  — to explore those beliefs in a safe and often hilarious place.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of seeing it? I hope it provides a few good belly laughs, as well as a few quiet moments to contemplate. And if there is a lively discussion or spirited debate on the car ride, home, all the better. That is when theatre is doing what theatre is meant to do.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "... All I want is a room somewhere,
      Far away from the cold night air.
      With one enormous chair,
      Aow, wouldn't it be loverly?"


      That's from My Fair Lady. Yes, I am a #MusicalTheatreGeek

    An Act of God
    : Ticket information

    An Act of God• The story: God takes human form in this critically acclaimed new comedy direct from Broadway. He's finally arrived to set the record straight.
    • Through March 12, 2017
    • Garner-Galleria Theatre
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    (Please be advised that the DenverCenter.org is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for the Denver engagement of An Act of God.)

    Selected Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    Meet Wesley Taylor, An Act of God
    Meet Steven Cole Hughes, An Act of God
    Meet Erik Sandvold, An Act of God
    Casting announced for An Act of God
    A day in the busy life of Director Geoffrey Kent
    Interview: Geoffrey Kent on a laugh-a-minute God
    Geoffrey Kent's 2015 True West Award

    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Video: Annaleigh Ashford's Day in Denver

    by John Moore | Apr 06, 2015


    In advance of Annaleigh Ashford's performances of her critically acclaimed Lost in the Stars cabaret act, she returned to her hometown of Denver to talk about the show.

    Annaleigh Ashford. Photo by John Moore. We followed the Tony-nominated Broadway star
    as she co-hosted the Everyday show on KDVR FOX31 with Kathie J., and then at her appearance at the DCPA's monthly Page to Stage conversation at the Tattered Cover Book Store hosted by DCPA Arts Journalist John Moore.

    Lost in the Stars will be an evening of song, story and sequins at the Galleria Theatre on April 11 and 12.  Performing alongside Will Van Dyke and the Whisky 5 band, Lost in the Stars honors the disco of Donna Summer to Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall. There will be an Alanis Morissette singalong as well as a mash-up of Stephen Sondheim and Kurt Weill. All woven together by Ashford's heartfelt stories, many of which cover her days growing up in Wheat Ridge.

    Video by John Moore and David Lenk.

    READ OUR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ANNALEIGH ASHFORD HERE

    Our Annaleigh Ashford in Denver photo gallery:


    Annaleigh Ashford – Lost in the Stars: Ticket information

    • 8 p.m. Saturday, April 11
    • 5 p.m. Sunday, April 12
    • Single tickets start at $50
    • To charge by phone, call 303-893-4100 | TTY: 303-893-9582) | Groups of 10 or more: 303-446-4829
    • Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby
    • buy online
    Please be advised that The Denver Center for the Performing Arts – including  DenverCenter.Org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for the Denver engagement of “Annaleigh Ashford – Lost in the Stars”

    Video: Watch Annaleigh perform at last week's Miscast in New York

    Annaleigh Ashford with Kathie J. Photo by John Moore.

    Annaleigh Ashford with Kathie J. Photo by John Moore.

  • Four Westword Best of Denver Awards go to DCPA

    by John Moore | Mar 26, 2015
    Westword Best of Denver
    Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen and Terry Shapiro.


    The DCPA was singled out for four of Westword’s Best of Denver Awards for 2015, it was announced today. The alternative weekly produces an annual special edition with a wide swath of both traditional and quirky award categories. 

    Best Ensemble
    Animal Crackers

    Directed by Bruce Sevy Animal Crackers was a romp of a musical, a trifle, a bright, funny nothing full of bad puns, visual jokes and silly stunts. The cats included Michael Fitzpatrick, Celia Tackaberry, Christine Rowan, Jeremy Benton, Stephanie Rothenberg, M. Scott McLean, Jim Ferris, Jonathan Brody, Jonathan Randell Silver, Jeffrey Roark, Shannan Steele, Brett Ambler and Justin Walvoord. Read more

    Best Light Entertainment
    Garner Galleria Theatre
    The Garner Galleria is the place to sit back with a drink in hand, ease off your shoes under your seat and catch some laughs. Read more

    Best Page-to-Stage Adaptation
    Benediction

    Author Kent Haruf, author of luminous novels about life on Colorado's eastern plains, died last fall, and this year, the Denver Center presented Benediction, dramatized by Eric Schmiedl, the third of Haruf's novels the company has staged. Read more

    Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
    Amelia White,  Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

    Having dressed up for a costume party, Sonia, played by Amelia White, transforms from a down-at-the-heels, enraged and self-pitying nobody in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike into a magnificent sequin-clad dowager. Read more
  • Interview with a Queen: Shirley Delta Blow revs up 'Drag Machine'

    by NewsCenter Staff | Mar 11, 2015


    Video: Captain Shirley Delta Blow and her Drag Queen Time Machine give us a brief history of drag through time travel.

    By Elizabeth Jewitt
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Shirley Delta Blow. Stuart Sanks’ drag persona Shirley Delta Blow is no stranger to the Denver drag scene, and her colorful, over-the-top costumes are just as unforgettable.

    Shirley is starring in the DCPA’s upcoming production of Drag Machine from March 12-29 in the Garner Galleria Theatre.

    “I have this gorgeous prom dress - a strapless gown with a leopard print in the colors of the rainbow,” said Sanks. "It’s such a fun dress. I usually top it off with a gigantic pink foam wig and my favorite heels. Colorful, sparkly accessories like a peacock bracelet and big crystal necklace complete the look."

    Sanks wore the same dress while performing as Shirley in Club Denver as part of last year’s The Legend of Georgia McBride post-show festivities.

    “I had to duck just to fit through the doors,’ he said. “Remember, in drag, more is more!”

    Sanks often has Shirley's outfits custom-made. Drag is all about the interpretation of a song, and Shirley focuses on matching the look to the tune.

    “The outfit for me is based in reality, and then I turn it up a notch,” said Sanks, who describes Shirley's outfits as fun, playful, big and over the top.

    “It’s like every day is the Pride Parade!”

    Shirley Delta Blow Quote. Like many women, Shirley appreciates a great pair of shoes, but she often has trouble finding them in her size: Women’s 13.

    “As a young queen, I went to all the shoe stores looking for the right pair, but few stores carry my size,” said Stuart. "Many designers don’t make the styles I look for that big.

    “I bought my first pair of heels with my mother at a mall in Kansas. She thought I should get something sensible, but I knew I needed something fashionable so I bought the tallest pair of heels I could find. I think it took me two or three walks up the aisle to feel comfortable, and there has been no turning back. I don’t think that Payless has been the same since. I even wore them to the Olive Garden for extra practice."

    Since then, Stuart has found Shirley's go-to shoe stores: Nordstrom Rack and Studio Lites.

    Shirley Delta Blow. “They have a fine selection of shoes, wigs and all the accessories for a girl like Shirley.”

    Stuart’s friend Meghan Anderson Doyle, who has designed many DCPA Theatre Company productions and is one of the costume coordinators for Drag Machine, makes most of Shirley’s outfits. But when the two go out looking for fashion accessories and fabrics, they keep their shopping intentions to themselves.

    “On one trip, we found a bolt of Alexander Henry’s man fabric, a classic pin-up look with beefy men dressed in fun and flirty Christmas get-ups. We couldn’t decide how we would use it, but knew it needed to come live in our cart,” said Stuart.

    Stuart has received many curious questions when he's revealed the fabric he's buying is for him.

    "We have learned to keep out mouths shut. When asked about what we were making, we responded, 'Pillows.' The ladies at Joann Fabrics think I have lots and lots of pillows!”


    Drag Machine: At a glance
    March 12-29
    Garner Galleria Theatre
    Featuring Shirley Delta Blow, Miss Candy LaRue, Miss Representation, Gavin Danger, Mile High Pinky Pie and Ruby Bouche
    Performances Thursdays through Sundays
    Call 303-893-4100 or click here to go to the show page

    Creator and Director: Emily Tarquin
    Developed by Stuart Sanks
    Choreography by Grady Soapes
    Set design by Lisa Orzolek
    Lighting Design by Charles MacLeod
    Costumes by Meghan Anderson Doyle, Caitlin Ayers and cast
    Original video design by Charlie Miller
    Video Design and Animation by Topher Blair
    Sound Design by Tyler Nelson


    Shirley Delta Blow.

    Shirley Delta Blow.
  • Video: Last call for 'Forbidden Broadway' in Denver

    by John Moore | Feb 13, 2015
    Video by John Moore and David Lenk.



    William Selby. Photo by John Moore. In the video above, William Selby, director of Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!, talks about how the popular franchise, now in its 32nd year, is all-new for Denver.

    This comic roast of Broadway has just two weeks left in its return run to Denver with a fresh view of the highs and lows of recent Broadway shows. It features outrageous costumes, comic rewrites of classic showtunes old and new, and dead-on impressions by a stellar, all-Colorado cast of Lauren Shealy, Sarah Rex, Jordan Leigh and Chad T. Reagan. "You talk about Colorado Pride: I am super-proud of this group. One of the best I have ever worked with," said Selby, who has directed 18 iterations of Forbidden Broadway. The Musical Director is Denver's Martha Yordy.

    There show plays only through March 1 at the Garner Galleria Theatre. Appropriate for children 8+. 303-893-4100 or go to the DCPA's web page.

    Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!: Ticket information
    Performances run through March 1
    Garner Galleria Theatre
    Run time: 1 hour 40 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission
    Performances daily except for Monday
    Tickets: Start at $25
    Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

    Our previous coverage of Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!
    Go to the show page
    Video: Jordan Leigh's fresh take on Adam Sandler's 'Hanukkah Song'
    Opening Night performance coverage
    Jennifer Schmitz is an unsung hero of Forbidden Broadway
    Download the program
    Meet the homegrown cast of Forbidden Broadway

    Photos by Terry Shapiro for the DCPA.
  • Photos: Denver opening of 'Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking'

    by John Moore | Nov 23, 2014
    Forbidden_Broadway_Alive_Kicking_Opening_800_1
    The cast and crew of the DCPA's world premiere of 'Forever Broadway" Alive and Kicking' gathered at LImelight for a post-show celebration. Photo by John Moore.


    Here are photos from Friday's opening performance of the brand new Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!, which plays at the Garner Galleria Theatre through March 1. To see our complete gallery of downloadable Opening Night photos, click here

    Forbidden Broadway is a comic roast of Broadway that has picked up nine Drama Desk Awards, a special Tony Award, an Obie, a Lucille Lortel and Drama League Award. This New York sensation returns to Denver with an all-new, fresh view of the highs and lows of recent Broadway shows. It pays special attention to shows that Denver audiences have recently seen: Pippin, Kinky Boots and The Book of Mormon.

    The show features outrageous costumes, rewrites of popular showtunes  and celebrity impressions by an all-Denver cast of Lauren Shealy, Sarah Rex, Jordan Leigh and Chad T. Reagan. The director is Bill Selby, who also celebrated his birthday on Opening Night. The musical director is Martha Yordy. 

    Photos by John Moore. To see our complete gallery of downloadable Opening Night photos, click here


    Forbidden_Broadway_Alive_Kicking_Opening_800_2
    Opening night was also Director Bill Selby's birthday. Photo by John Moore.



    Forbidden_Broadway_Alive_Kicking_Opening_800_3
    A scene from the show: Here are Jordan Leigh and Chad T. Reagan sending up 'The Book of Mormon.' Photo by Terry Shapiro.


    More photos:
    To see our complete gallery of downloadable Opening Night photos, click here

    Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!: Ticket information
    Created by Gerard Alessandrini
    November 15 through March 1
    Garner Galleria Theatre
    Run time: 1 hour 40 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission
    Tickets: Start at $25
    Age recommendation: Appropriate for children 8+
    303-893-4100
    DenverCenter.Org


    Our previous coverage of Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!
    Meet the homegrown cast of Forbidden Broadway


    Scenes from 'Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking.' Video by David Lenk.
  • Randy Weeks celebration draws 1,500 to recall a singular friend in story and song

    by John Moore | Nov 05, 2014



    A month before Randy Weeks died in a London hotel room, he mailed his godson a random greeting card that said: “Life is not measured by how many breaths we take, but in the number of moments that take our breath away.”

    That was but one of many poignant remembrances peppered between showstopping musical numbers at a bittersweet public celebration on Monday afternoon for the President of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, who died in his sleep Oct. 9 while attending a conference of theatre presenters. He was 59.

    It was delivered from the Buell Theatre stage by Jimmy Calano, who was Weeks’ pledge son 40 years ago at the Kappa Sigma fraternity at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Later, Calano asked Weeks to be the godfather to his own son.

    “Although Randy was cheated out of his fair share of breaths, he took our breath away by the power of his friendship, by the way he made us feel special, and by how he flat-out took care of us,” Calano told a crowd that was estimated at 1,500 by the city of Denver.

    Video: Cast members from 'Kinky Boots' sing 'Give My Regards to Broadway' to honor the late Randy Weeks. To see our entire downloadable photo gallery from the Randy Weeks celebration, click here.

    Attendees included family and friends; DCPA employees past and present; theatre audiences; more than 100 fraternity brothers; and members of the local and national theatre communities including theatre owners, producers, presenters, booking agents, press agents and representatives from both The Broadway League and the Independent Presenters Network.

    Dean Singleton, chairman of The Denver Post and a member of the DCPA’s Board of Trustees, said, “We have lost one of the greatest minds in theatre. Not only did Randy bring Broadway to Denver, but he made Denver the first stop for some of the greatest productions leaving New York. Randy had the unique ability to convince people that Denver was the right place for a first stop -- and he delivered.”


    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_Quote_2

    In his 23 years as the Executive Director of the DCPA’s Broadway division, Weeks presented more than 400 shows that served 11.6 million patrons. In his tenure, Denver hosted the launches of 10 national touring productions, including The Lion King, The Book of Mormon and, most recently, Pippin. Representatives from those shows and more flew to Denver to attend Monday’s classy send-off. The program culminated with University of Northern Colorado freshman Abby Noble singing “One (Singular Sensation)” from A Chorus Line alongside nearly 30 members of the Denver School of the Arts’ recent production of Hairspray.

    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_800_1

    Abby Noble of Grandview High School and the University of Northern Colorado, right, performing with students from Denver School of the Arts. Photo by John Moore. To see more photos, click here.

    In May, Noble was named Outstanding Actress in a Musical at the Bobby G Awards, which honor achievements in Colorado high school theatre. The program was spearheaded by Weeks in 2012 and quickly became his greatest professional joy. He also served on the Friends Foundation at Denver School of the Arts.

    Two of Monday’s performers were DSA students Jimmy Bruenger and Madison Kitchen, who fell in love with Broadway musicals by watching productions that Weeks brought to the Buell Theatre stage. Monday’s celebration afforded both the opportunity to perform on that same stage for the first time. Even in death, Bruenger said, Weeks was making dreams come true.

    “When I found out we were being asked to perform here, I started hyperventilating,” Kitchen added. “Both of us saw Kinky Boots here just last night. And so to be on that stage for the first time today? It’s incredible.”

    Video: Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress Abby Noble sings "One" with students from Denver School of the Arts.


    The Pippin tour has recently bestowed upon Weeks what is believed to be an unprecedented honor: The entire tour has been dedicated to Weeks, who will now be acknowledged in programs in every city Pippin visits. The idea was suggested by Kathleen O’Brien, Weeks’ counterpart with the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

    “This has been the best tour-opening experience in my 27 years out on the road, and Randy is the reason,” said Pippin national press rep Anita Dloniak, citing the camaraderie and professionalism he inspired in his staff. “And he throws the best parties,” she added. Honoring Weeks, she said, was one way for the Pippin family to grapple and cope with their grief over his sudden death. 

    “He is just a wonderful force to be reckoned with,” Dloniak said. “A giant ... but a gentle giant.”

    Nancy Gibbs attended Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver and has since produced many major theatricals including Wicked; I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (the longest-running show in Denver theatre history); Traces; Next to Normal, and Peter and the Starcatcher, which launched its first national tour in Denver in August.

    “Randy was a leader,” Gibbs said. “Once he stepped up to the plate, he knocked it out of the ballpark.”

    David Turner, General Manager for The Book of Mormon, said it was Weeks who convinced producers that Denver was the only place for that tour to launch.

    “Randy was the one who knew that the writers (Trey Parker and Matt Stone) were from here, and he really wanted us to make that connection,” Turner said.

    The Book of Mormon launch in Denver sold all 51,000 available tickets in less than five hours. Turner called that an “extremely important” validation of the show.

    “For everybody who wasn’t sure how The Book of Mormon would be received outside of New York, that was an incredible vote of confidence,” Turner said. 

    Weeks was respected by his colleagues for his uncanny ability not only to maximize blockbuster, popular fare, but to predict the next big thing. One of the most poignant moments in Monday’s celebration came when seven members of the 2013 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Kinky Boots took the stage to sing “Give My Regards to Broadway” in Weeks’ honor. The show is currently playing in Denver through Sunday (Nov. 9).

    “During a very early preview performance of Kinky Boots, Randy ran up to me at the intermission and said, ‘Promise me this show will play Denver,’ ” said Kinky Boots’ Hal Luftig. “To a producer with a show still in previews, that meant the world to me. And now, here we are in Denver, playing to packed houses every night.”

    Weeks also was credited for his willingness to take risks both large and small. Weeks could have responsibly passed on important, challenging musicals with questionable commercial road potential, like Next to Normal (about a mother’s suicidal depression) and Spring Awakening (about 1890s German teens experiencing puberty in the complete absence of information). But when Weeks came across shows that had the potential to change audiences’ lives, he felt a deep obligation to schedule them.

    “He was so clearly willing to take risks here,” said The Book of Mormon’s Turner, “and over time, he developed an audience that was willing to take risks with him. That combination is very rare.”

    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_800_2
    Actor Shannan Steele and director Ray Roderick banter with an aptly dressed Randy Weeks stand-in at Monday's celebration. Photo by John Moore. To see more photos, click here. 

     

    Added Ray Roderick, who directed large world premieres like I Love a Piano in the Auditorium Theatre and small cabaret shows in the Garner Galleria: “Randy saw the Denver community as one that was going to embrace good work no matter what it was. Denver is a very big demographic, and a very smart demographic, and Randy managed to please a lot of different kinds of people.”

    Weeks was remembered on Monday for far more than just his many professional successes. He was remembered as an uncommonly compassionate friend … and a most decidedly uncommon dresser.

    Weeks was known for wearing argyle sweaters and golfing pants adorned with animal prints only Rodney Dangerfield could love. The sweaters were a tribute to his late mentor, Robert Garner. “But the pants were all Randy,” said his longtime assistant, Claudia Carson, who directed the musical portion of Monday's celebration. Family members confessed that Weeks left seven pair of Brooks Brothers animal-print pants behind in his closet at home.

    “We’re going to miss Randy because he was always there with outstretched arms and a sweater that looked like something out of 1962 Paris Vogue,” joked Kris Andersson, otherwise known as Dixie Longate, whose Dixie’s Tupperware Party has played in the Garner Galleria Theatre four times. “It was so vogue that you probably wouldn’t want to dress that way. You’d look at it and go, ‘Really?’ But Randy owned it.”

    Andersson’s longtime manager Michele Helberg credited Weeks for “reinvigorating the Dixie brand” five years ago when he first brought the Tupperware Party to Denver. And Andersson credited Weeks for green-lighting last summer’s mouthful of a sequel, Dixie’s Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull and 16 Other Things I Learned While I was Drinking Last Thursday.

    “He used his influence with other people in the industry to take a new artist and a new piece of work and move it forward further than if we had to do it on our own,” Helberg said. “If it hadn’t been for Randy and his Denver Center family, I don’t think we would be where we are right now.”

    "Randy used to say, 'It’s all about the fun,' ” Andersson added. “We get to have fun every day of our lives, and a really big part of that is because Randy looked at our show and said yes. And then, when the opportunity came along to do the new show, Randy put tickets on sale before I had even written it. He had that much faith in me.”

    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_800_3

    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_Quote_1



    Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein are two other performers whose lives were forever changed when Weeks decided to move their two-woman sleepover Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women from the Avenue Theatre to the DCPA.

    And here’s the thing: “He picked up our show without ever even seeing it,” Klein said. In those days, the title was truth in advertising: No men allowed.

    “He had heard about it, and he knew that women loved it, and so he just said, ‘Why aren’t we doing this?’ ” Klein said.  

     That came as no surprise to Ekeberg, Weeks' protege and successor.

     “Randy led with his heart, and he put his heart into everything,” Ekeberg said.

    Girls Only played at the Garner Galleria Theatre for two years and has now been seen by 250,0000 women … and a few men. “That’s not something Linda and I could have done on our own,” Gehring said.

    Girls Only is currently playing in Rochester, N.Y., but the Denver-based duo came home for Monday’s celebration.  “We had to,” said Klein. “We needed to grieve with our friends.”

    DCPA Chairman Daniel Ritchie welcomed Monday’s crowd, and the master of Ceremonies was CBS-4 Critic-At-Large Greg Moody. Speakers included all three of Weeks’ siblings -- Pam Weeks, Joel Weeks and Stephanie Gamble. Others included Al Nocciolino, representing the Broadway League and the Independent Presenters Network. He was with Weeks at the London conference. He told Monday’s crowd that Weeks spent his final day shopping, and bought a deck of cards adorned with vintage fighter planes for his history-buff dad. That night, Weeks attended a performance of the controversial new play King Charles III in London's West End. Afterward, Nocciolino said, “Randy was holding court and telling everyone he had just seen the best performance he had ever seen.” 

    Video: "I Love a Piano" performed by Shannan Steele, Lauren Shealy, Randy St. Pierre, Michael Gold, Sarah Rex and Jordan Leigh.

    The musical program included performers from some of Weeks’ favorite shows, including I Love a Piano and Forever Plaid. The first show Weeks ever presented in the Garner Galleria Theatre was Forever Plaid, and on closing night in 1992, cast members sang “Old Cape Cod” as a gift to him in honor of his New Hampshire roots. Michael Gold, Drew Frady, Randy St. Pierre and Scott Rathbun sang the song at Monday’s celebration.

    Shannan Steele credited Weeks for hiring local actors, citing the upcoming opening of Forbidden Broadway in the Garner Galleria Theatre, which has an all-local ensemble.

     “I think most of my career wouldn’t exist without his efforts and his vision for the local community,” Steele said. “If you ever got to work under Randy, it was always a huge employment opportunity – and a huge artistic opportunity.”

    Gold, who performed in Roderick’s I Love a Piano, has known Weeks since he joined the DCPA box-office team as a college student in 1978. “I remember seeing him run credit cards over carbon paper; it was that long ago,” Gold said.

    When Joel Weeks took to the podium at the Buell, he referenced Weeks’ eulogy to his mentor, Robert Garner. “In it, he said, ‘How can you know someone for such a long time and never fully comprehend how much they have become a part of your life?’ ” Joel Weeks said.

    “My journey will be an amazing one if I can just try to emulate a fraction of what my brother was.” 

    Ekeberg, the final speaker, said his boss’ true strength lay in one-on-one relationships. “He made you feel special; he made you feel heard, and he made you feel important,” Ekeberg said. To honor that spirit, he urged the crowd to heed the message of Pippin:

    “Find the simple joys,” Ekeberg said.

    Our coverage of the death of Randy Weeks:
    DCPA president Randy Weeks dies at London conference
    Video: Randy Weeks honored with dimmed lights, moments of silence
    Randy Weeks photo gallery
    DCPA to celebrate Randy Weeks' life on Nov. 3
    A look back at Randy Weeks' 'It Gets Better' video
    'Pippin' dedicates entire tour to Randy Weeks



    Video: Randy St. Pierre, Michael Gold, Drew Frady and Scott Rathbun sing 'Old Cape Cod.'

    MORE PHOTOS:

    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_800_3


    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_800_4

    TO SEE OUR COMPLETE GALLERY OF DOWNLOADABLE PHOTOS FROM THE RANDY WEEKS CELEBRATION, CLICK HERE.
          

    Memorial Contributions
    Memorial gifts can be made to The Randy Weeks Memorial Fund for the Bobby G Awards, which supports the advancement of musical theatre for Colorado high school students. Please make checks payable to Denver Center for the Performing Arts and mail to: DCPA Development Office, 1101 13th Street, Denver, CO 80204.

  • Interview: Life lessons from Dixie from atop a mechanical bull

    by John Moore | Apr 22, 2014

    Dixie had me in 2010, when she said to me, “Well, aren’t you sweeter than poop?!”

    Dixie Longate, America’s favorite Tupperware Lady, is back in her adopted city of Denver for the fourth time, having just wrapped up another run of her silly fun comedy, Dixie’s Tupperware Party.

    She’s back, and she’s spicier than a habanero pepper on a Biker Jim’s Alaska Reindeer Sausage. (We visited Biker Jim’s food cart on the 16th Street Mall. I swear to Jesus that Biker Jim’s slogan is “Off the Streets and Into Your Mouth.” If ever there were a match made in heaven, It’s Biker Jim and Dixie Longate.)

    Dixie has become such a favorite at the Garner Galleria Theatre that spellbound hookers, er, honchos at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts asked her to stay and develop a new play. Dixie talks real fast, so it should come as no surprise that she can say, Dixie's Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull and 16 Other Things I Learned While I was Drinking Last Thursday in less than three seconds flat.

    She’s a master with her mouth. Just ask her.

    We’ve been following Dixie around all over Denver for a silly ongoing video series called Dixie Does Denver. She’s always on the move. But we roped her long enough to get her to sit down and talk drinking, tube tops and mechanical bulls the other day, just in time for Thursday’s opening. Dixie's Never Wear a Tube Top … plays through May 11. Call 303-893-4100 or click here to go to the Denver Center web site.

     Here’s what she had to say …

     image

     

    "Dixie's Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull and 16 Other Things I Learned While I was Drinking Last Thursday." Photo by John Moore. Thanks: Grizzly Rose.

     

    John Moore: So who is Dixie Longate ... really?

    Dixie: She is so pretty. Do you remember that Diane Sawyer interview, when she asked that lady, "Hey, what tree would you be?" And she said, "I'm a weeping willow." Do you remember that? That's just the dumbest question I've ever been asked. You know what? I'm just a simple gal from the wrong side of the trailer. I did some bad things like everybody else in the world has done. I made some mistakes.  And then you get a lesbian parole officer and you get on the straight and narrow because they have things that you don't want them to hit you with. And then she introduced me to Tupperware Brand Products, and she said to me, "Sell some crap!" I said, “But I can't, because of the restraining order.” But she's like a magic wizard lesbian, and she got that restraining order pulled. And then -- shut up! -- I was able to go into people's homes and sell them fantastic plastic crap and then drink for free! So it’s been great. I'm just a lover. I'm a giver.

    John: Are you saying that all parole officers are lesbian?

    Dixie: No, just mine is, and I was lucky for it. I don't know. Maybe there is an underground club of lesbian parole officers I've never been invited into.

    John: So you mentioned you have a criminal record. What did you do?

    Dixie: Just little things, like when you go into the store at Thanksgiving to match the turkey to the table linens? I totally brought that turkey in with me. I put it under my coat on account of the fact that it was cold outside. It was November, and I didn't want it to get frostbitten. So I put it under my coat, and then some little child hit me and it fell out of my coat and they said, "You stole that!" I was like, "I was keeping it warm!" Listen, if Winona Ryder can steal a hat and not go to prison, then why the (bleep) do I have to go to prison just because I have a turkey under my coat?”

    John: I can't argue with that.

    Dixie: But I have never been indicted in any of the murders of my husbands, so that is very important to know.

    John: Wait, was that plural? "Husbands?”

    Dixie: I had three husbands, all of whom have died mysteriously. But I've been through my grieving process, and I am fine.

    John: You're fine?

    Dixie: Oh, yeah.

    John: Speaking of which, is it true that you didn't go to your grandmother's funeral?

    Dixie: Yes. Because she died on a Wednesday. It was inconvenient. If you want me to come to your funeral, don't inconvenience me. Die on a Friday … like Jesus.

    John: How many children do you have?

    Dixie: Three ... that I kept.

    John: That you kept?

    Dixie: Yeah.

    John: And you have been on the road doing your Tupperware Party for how long?

    Dixie: Since 2008. Do you believe that?

    John: So here’s the obvious question, Dixie: What about the children??

    Dixie: What about the children? They are sticky. You know what? I used to do that thing with Skype, where they say, "Hey, call me at home, so I can see your face." And you know what? I would open up the computer, and I would see their faces, and I'd be like, "Why is there blood on my trailer wall? How come the cat only has three legs? It had four when I left! What's that (bleep) on fire?" So after a while, I would just say, "Hey kids, my Skype's not working! And then I’d make that crackly noise like I was losing the connection and I'd say, "I can't hear you. I don't speak English,” and I’d shut it off. So now I just send them a text every once in a while. Like: "Is the trailer on fire?" "No." ... "OK, then, you’re fine. Leave me alone."

    John: This is what you get for giving them a computer in the first place.

    Dixie: Well you know what they say: Don't poke a stick with a dog.

    John: Is that what they say?

    Dixie: They get so moody. And then they poop. And then you gotta clean it up.

    John: Are you talking about dogs … or kids?

    Dixie: Both.

    John: So, are you really America's leading Tupperware saleswoman?

    Dixie: I have been No. 1 two different times in the United States and Canadia ... which is a different country.

    John: Canadia?

    Dixie: Yeah. It's nearby.

    image

     

    "Dixie's Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull and 16 Other Things I Learned While I was Drinking Last Thursday." Photo by John Moore. Thanks: Grizzly Rose.

     

    John: And now, after all these years, you have a new show. ... Does that mean you are done with Tupperware?

    Dixie: No! I'm never gonna be done with Tupperware. You know what? I am having the time of my life. I've been at the Denver Center four different times now, and they said to me, "Hey, do you want to present something new? Because people want to see more of you." And I said, "Well, aren't you sweet and neighborly?" So I come up with this new one. I was talking to my best friend Georgia Jean one night. She owns the honky-tonk bar back in Mobile – that’s in Alabama -- and it's got a mechanical bull in it. I just love her. We've been friends for so damn long. Anyway, I was trying to put together her send-off party because she was getting hitched. I told her not to. She never listens to me. So we was out drinking, and we was putting together all of these party ideas, and then the next morning when I woke up in my truck, I thought, "Oh, my lord and savior!" I read back everything I had wrote down and I thought, "This stuff is amazing." It wasn’t just stuff for the party but there was all of these life lessons. Real good stuff. And I said, "I need to get this out to people.” Because sometimes you see your life going back and forth and you go, "I need to change my perspective." And so that's what I'm talking about in my new program. It's gonna make your life run better … because most people are stupid.

    John: And so how do you come up with that title, Dixie's Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull and 16 Other Things I Learned While I was Drinking Last Thursday?

    Dixie: Well it's the title that just made sense. I mean, you don't want to ride a mechanical bull while you got on a tube top because it's going to fall down and become a belt. And there were other things I learned while I was drinking, and so I picked out my Top 16 that made the most sense. Because some of them are like, "Don't lick the Reverend's face during the sermon.” Like, that's so obvious. I shouldn't have to tell that to people no more. I mean, some people, yes, because some people are “touched.” But mostly I don't think that's something everybody's gonna need to know. So these are just the Top 16 that everyone should know. The ones for real stupid people will come out later. I’m gonna call it, Never Lick the Reverend's Face During the Sermon, and 872 Other Things I Learned that I Need to Tell You Because You're Just Stupid.

    John: That could be a really long show.

    Dixie: Oh my lord, I wouldn't even bother to stand up. I would open up my book and I'd be like, "OK, take notes, bitches, because … come on. Really!"

    John: So take me through last Thursday.

    Dixie: Well like I said, we was drinking, and we was writing stuff down, and I said, "You know what we need for your party? Silk bunting." And Georgia Jean goes, "I don't need bunting. I own a honky-tonk!" I said, "Well, that's true." Because that will get all messy. And then she said, "But you know what we do need? Firefly Vodka, because it tastes like fireflies in an ice tea. And then there is also vodka, which makes you take your pants off.” And then we started laughing and then Georgia Jean said, "You know what else we need? We need people to learn how to ride a mechanical bull properly." And she’s so right. Because the one we got in the honky-tonk in Alabama got busted by some idiot, so now we are waiting for the parts to come in. And so then she said, "You know, you should never wear a tube top while you are riding a mechanical bull," And I just said, "That's truth speaking." So we wrote it down.

    John: You know, I don't see anything wrong with a lady wearing a tube top while she's riding a mechanical bull.

    Dixie: Yeah, but that's because you are a lascivious, horrible person.

    John: That's possible.

    Dixie: Here's the thing about riding a bull: If you've got people that are doing it wrong, then everybody lookin' at it says, "Oooh, that's scary. I don't want to go up on it." But you want everyone in the bar to enjoy riding the mechanical bull by the end of the evening. That's the whole point of it.

    John: Why is it that you always tend to be drinking when you learn the most important lessons in life?

    Dixie: Because don’t you know that when you drink, you get smarter?

    (Dixie burps).

    Dixie: Oh my lord, I had Mexican for lunch ... I don't remember his name, but he was so handsome. He had a leaf blower. That's how I knew he was a Mexican. Did you know those things have a reverse switch on them? They don't just blow. They'll suck. Oh my lord. You get that thing on your (butt) by mistake, that's gonna leave a mark. You’re not gonna be sitting in church, but you're gonna be singin' to Jesus. So anyway, it’s true: The things that kept coming out on the list just made more sense when we was drinking.

    John: What's your favorite thing to drink?

    Dixie:  Oh, my lord. I don’t even wanna narrow it down because I like it all so much. But who don't like Jack Daniels? Anything named after a proper gentleman, you should put in your mouth. I love a good margarita. Who doesn't? It's like being in Mexico without having to go nowhere. My friend made me a Tom Collins, which I really liked because I do like gin.  It’s real fruity and high-falutin' and I drink them like candy because I forget that there's alcohol in them. And then I'm like, "Hey, officer, why is my bra on your head?" And then that always goes badly.

    John: So what do you want to tell the fans of your first show is different and exciting about the new show?

    Dixie: The Tupperware Party is my job. I love my job. But just like how you have friends that you work with? You want to know a little bit more about them when they are off the clock? The things they do on the weekend? People are always so neighborly to me, and they are like, "I like hanging out with you. You're fun. I want to know more about you." And I'm like, "Well, we should hang out when I'm on my off-time, and that's sort of like this show. You're getting to hang out with me when I'm on my off-time, at my favorite place in the world, which is in a honky-tonk. And I get to share some of my favorite things and some true messages and life lessons.

    John: And so how has Denver treated you?

    Dixie: I love Denver. Everyone is so damn neighborly. We have the best time. Audiences come up and they say the nicest things, and they keep coming back again and again. People say, "I've seen you three or four or five times, and I'm bringing back new people." That just makes my day. I wouldn't call them stalkers because the police aren't usually involved.

    John: What did you think of your visit to the Grizzly Rose?

    Dixie: Not only did it get me in the mood, my thighs were chafing for the next week and a half. I felt like I had just sex with the entire junior varsity football squad. But I didn't get any of the fun part afterwards.

    John: Can you buy Tupperware at the Tube Top show?

    Dixie: Well, the focus is not on the Tupperware this time, but we will have some pieces available. Because I'm a giver.

    John: Well, if Diane Sawyer did it, then I will too: If you were a tree, Dixie Longate … what kind of tree would you be?

    Dixie: That one where you put something in it and that real nice stuff comes out of it that you want to suck on? Like in The Hunger Games. Did you see that? They put the spigot on the tree and got water. But I wouldn't want water. I would want syrup or honey or vodka coming out. I want to be a Vodka Tree, the kind you get at a party and tap it and it all comes out in your mouth, and you are like, "Hey, what time is it?" And you are like, "It's Vodka Tree Time. Why, thank you, Dixie.”

    John: Anything else you want to say to your potential audiences in Denver?

    Dixie: I want to say, "Come on, grab on that mechanical bull and have yourself one hell of a ride. We’re gonna have a good time."

    John: Final word?

    Dixie: Have more sex. Practice makes perfect.

     

    Dixie's Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull and 16 Other Things I Learned While I was Drinking Last Thursday

    When: April 24 through May 11

    Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex

    Performance times: 7:30pm Wednesdays through Fridays; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays: 2 p.m. Sundays

    Tickets: Call 303-893-4100 or go to the Denver Center’s web site

    Advisory: Contains strong language and adult content.

     image

    "Dixie's Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull and 16 Other Things I Learned While I was Drinking Last Thursday." Photo by John Moore. Thanks: Grizzly Rose.

     

     

  • Photos: Breaking all the rules on opening night of 'Girls Only'

    by John Moore | Jan 20, 2014

    image

    An opening night rallying-cry with cast and crew of "Girls Only."

    “Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women,” starring Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein, is the returning, original comedy by two Denver comics that celebrates the honor, truth, humor and silliness of being female. Borne out of the earnest and sweetly ridiculous writings the two authors discovered in their girlhood diaries, “Girls Only” has found popularity in its unique examination of all things girly. Now in its third Denver Center run, the show has played before more than 90,000 in Denver alone. It's a mix of sketch comedy, improvisation, audience participation, songs and videos. Men are not disallowed, but neither are they encouraged to attend. Not appropriate for under 13. Presented by Denver Center Attractions at the Garner-Galleria Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or the denver center’s ticketing page. Photos by John Moore. 

    image

    The originals: Linda Klein, left, and Barbara Gehring.

     

    image

    Cover actor Amie MacKenzie, who has performed in "Girls Only dozens of times, lends the A-Team some opening-night support.

      image

    Opening-night flowers.

     

    image

    The magic is happening ... right ... now.

     

    image

    There are no lengths Amie MacKenzie won't go to get her shot.

     

    image

    Ready for action, right?

     

    image

    A keepsake that goes wherever Barbara Gehring does.

     

    image

    Assistant stage manager Jennifer Schmidtz very gingerly places the actresses' body mics on their exposed persons.

    image

    Tag: You're it.

     

    image

    Are we not boys? ... Don't answer that.

     

  • 'The SantaLand Diaries' featured in "Opening Nights" photo series

    by John Moore | Dec 05, 2013

    image

    Matt Zambrano attended a Denver appearance by "The SantaLand Diaries" author David Sedaris the week before his own opening. Zambrano waited in line and got Sedaris' autograph and good-luck message. His signed script now reads: "To Matt: You used to be a lesbian."

    The opening performance of "The Santaland Diaries" is the featured production this morning in CultureWest.Org's year-long photo series, "It's Opening Night in Colorado Theater."

    "SantaLand" is a co-production between Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and Denver Center Attractions. Click here to see the full gallery of Opening Night photos, both backstage and at the cast party.

    And click here to see the CultureWest's full series to date, which has included many Denver Center offerings to date. All photos by John Moore.

    [[MORE]]

    Opening No. 140: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s “The SantaLand Diaries”: National Theatre Conservatory graduate and Wheat Ridge native Matt Zambrano is donning the candy-cane tights for a second straight holiday season telling David Sedaris’ real-life story of working as an elf in the New York Macy’s SantaLand display. This staging is a co-production with Denver Center Attractions, which is presenting the show in the Garner-Galleria cabaret bar. Directed by Stephen Weitz. Contains adult subject matter and explicit language. Thanks: Heidi Bosk, Anja Hose, Jess Buttery and Maxie Beth Bilyeu.

    Once again: Click here to see the full gallery of "SantaLand" Opening Night photos

    "The SantaLand Diaries" ticket information:

    When: Through Dec. 24

    Where: At The Garner-Galleria Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets in the Denver Center complex

    Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Tuesdays; also 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. No performances on Wednesdays.

    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or visit the Denver Center's web site

     

    More "SantaLand Diaries" coverage:

    Above: A montage of scenes from the show

     

    Above: Matt Zambrano brings out the inner elf in Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and other metro municipal leaders.

     

    Above: Meet Crumpte: John Moore interviews Matt Zambrano for a "Page 2 Stage" conversation at the Tattered Cover Bookstore.

     

  • Caveman Cody comes home to defend his turf

    by John Moore | Sep 23, 2013

    image

    Cody Lyman is back to perform "Defending the Caveman" after last appearing here in  2013. Photo by John Moore.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published in September 2013. Cody Lyman is returning for another run from April 22 through June 28. The performance information below has been updated to reflect the current run.



    He’s kidding! He was goaded! But when Durango native Cody Lyman was asked how much better he is than the other seven “cavemen on call” who perform in the worldwide Defending the Caveman dynasty, he totally took the bait.

    “Oh, quite a bit better,” Lyman said.

    Take that, Neanderthals.

    Lyman, a graduate of Colorado State University, is happy to be back in his native state performing the one-man show that Rob Becker made famous, and made Rob Becker very wealthy. It’s a theatrical conversation between a modern-day caveman (read: your average husband) and his audience about the ways men and women relate. The show dates back to prehistoric times - 1991, to be exact. It has been performed in 45 countries and translated into 18 different languages. Bet you’d never guess the first one after English was Icelandic. Really. We could tell you that story, but why don’t we just let Cody?

    Cody Lyman: I don’t know if it’s true or not, but the story goes that while Rob was performing the show on Broadway, some guy in Iceland transcribed it, and he performed it - and he apparently had some success with it.

    John Moore: And did Rob sue the pants off him when he found out about it?

    Lyman:
    I’m sure he would have, but he paid Rob for it. But I think that was when Rob first said to himself, "OK, so maybe I can hire other guys to do the show."

    Moore: So now there are eight of you caveman on call at all times, like doctors. Do you all go to a caveman camp together or something?

    Lyman:
    We rarely all get together at once. There are legal concerns that might arise. Local liquor sales would shoot through the roof. But everyone who does the show has made it their own. We all have the same script, but it really is eight different shows.

    Moore: So how long have you been doing it?
    Lyman: Ten years.

    Moore: And do you get sick of it, or this the kind of show you could do for the rest of your life?

    Lyman:  Well, I got married. I still love this show. I love that it speaks to everybody.  One of my favorite things about is that you get people who aren’t your typical theater patrons. You know: Guys who show in jeans. Or were dragged there by their wives. They’re pissed off that they are here, but they end up loving the show.

    Moore: Does the script get constantly updated?

    Lyman: At its heart, it doesn’t need updating. The only prerequisite you should have to really enjoy the show is to have loved someone enough to have been frustrated by them at some point. That’s pretty timeless. We do update some of the details.

    Moore: Why do you think the audience is so steady for these kinds of small cabaret shows that explore relationships? I’m thinking of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, and the two Bob Dubac shows that preceded you here in the Galleria Theatre: Free Range Thinking and The Male Intellect (an Oxymoron).

    Lyman: It is really easy for people to get isolated within their relationships. I get into the dumbest little arguments with my wife, and sometimes I feel like, ‘God, we must be the only people who have this fight.’ But then you go to the theater and you see the exact same story play out. You are sitting in a roomful of people and you are all laughing at the exact same thing ... I think there is something really freeing about that.

    Moore: I think of this genre of modern relationship comedies as a uniquely American kind of amusement. But then I looked at your site and saw that Caveman has played in 45 countries. Do you think that’s about the world’s fascination for all things American, or is this really universal material?

    Lyman: I think the inability to understand the opposite sex is universal. I saw a production of this in Germany years back, and I don’t speak a word of German. But I’m sitting in an audience with 300 people, and they are all laughing at the same parts. They are much more visceral about the sexual stuff, but the themes all remain the same. ... They laugh with an accent, by the way.

    Moore: That confuses me, so I just have to move on. As for the title, in what ways is this show a truly anthropological study of human behavior?

    Lyman: Coming up as a young comic, Rob (Becker) was having some success, but what he realized was resonating best with audiences was his couples humor. So that’s when he devoted himself to this ongoing, informal study of relationships. You know, in all of these archeological digs and excavations of caves you hear about, they keep finding these “mother goddess” figures. In our popular culture, we think of the caveman as a brute who beats a woman over the head and drags her back to the cave. But it turns out the caveman actually worshipped women. Their entire culture seemed to be based on goddess worship. So the caveman has gotten a bad rap. And that’s at the heart of the show.

    Moore: Coming from Durango, what does it mean to you to be able to come home and check in?

    Lyman: It’s so cool. This run, especially. My first exposure to theater was right here at the Denver Center. It was a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1993. I still remember the show. So to come back here now makes me feel like I got somewhere.

    Moore: You had quite an indoctrination into theater at Colorado State, didn’t you?

    Lyman: I did. I went to Fort Lewis for a year, then moved to Fort Collins.

    Moore: Who were your mentors there?
    Lyman: (Colorado State University theatre professor) Laura Jones is still there. ... Morris Burns. ... Wendy Ishii at the Bas Bleu Theatre. All of my own friends were a creative and exciting group -- at least in our own minds. Dr. Jones definitely gave us a lot of opportunities to experiment. We had an improv comedy group, and Dr. Jones let us perform a fully improvised show for an entire summer as part of their Summer Cafe series. We also got to do a lot of stuff with Bas Bleu. Our improv group had a home there. I also had a performance art group, and Wendy let us use their space, too.

    Moore: It’s interesting that here you are doing this comedy, and you just mentioned three of the most respected academic theater-types in Fort Collins right now. How did coming under their influence make you a better comic performer?

    Lyman:
      What they provided was opportunity. It's such a small program and such a small community up there, but they gave us the opportunity to do a wide range of things. We got to experiment, and we got to play, and we got to do that with some pretty professional guidance.

    Moore: I know some people get confused by how to classify this show. What do you cal lit? Is it one-man theater? Stand-up comedy? A lecture? Couples therapy?

    Lyman:
    Well, it depends on who I am trying to sell tickets to (laughs). I say it’s very conversational. It has a lot of stand-up elements, but it has a lot of theatrical elements, too. What is it Steve Martin said? “People want to laugh, they want free parking -- and they want to get home early.”

    Moore: So how do you know if you’ve had a good night?

    Lyman: One of my favorite things to do is to watch how people relate to one another while I am on stage. I love seeing lovers elbow each other in recognition. Most of all, I love seeing them leave the theater arm-in-arm.

    Defending the Caveman
    When: Through Aug. 4
    Written by: Rob Becker
    Performed by: Cody Lyman
    Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays

    At the Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    the denver center's home page

     

    image

    Cody Lyman and his wife on opening night of the last "Defending the Caveman" run in Denver in September 2013. Photo by John Moore.

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

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