• 'Birds of North America' flocks into global warming, family heat

    by John Moore | Oct 27, 2017
    Birds of North America by Michael EnsmingerChris Kendall, left, and Lindsey Pierce are a strained father-daughter combo in Anna Moench's 'Birds of North America.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.

    Playwright explores feathers, family, flaws and feelings in Boulder — without a soap box in sight.

    By Heather Beasley
    Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company Dramaturg

    Anna Moench is the author of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's world-premiere play Birds of North America, now playing through Nov. 12 at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder.

    Anna Moench Quote Moench, originally from Baltimore and now raising a family in San Diego, is an Asian-American whose play won BETC's national 2016-17 Generations competition. As part of her prize, Moench visited Boulder last spring for a one-week residency to hone the script with the cast and crew.

    Moench is a third-year MFA playwright at the University of California-San Diego and was recently named one of Hollywood's top 100 new writers on the 2016 "Young and Hungry" list. She once rode a bicycle across the United States.

    Here are seven questions with the rising playwright:

    NUMBER 1What is your play about? While birding in their backyard over the course of a decade, a father and daughter struggle to understand the parts of one another that defy understanding. Their politics and personal views couldn’t be more different, but family bonds compel their annual migration.

    NUMBER 2What drew you to writing about this family? I have long been interested in writing about the emotional experience of climate change. Throughout my lifetime, climate change has been visible all around me. It's not unlike the experience of watching a loved one age and die. That was my way into the material, and why my "climate-change play" is a family drama. I am very interested in the question of how a child can never truly know his or her parent, and that's something this play wrestles with. I look at my 1-year-old son and think about how he thinks my entire life begins and ends with him. And in one way, it does. When a person becomes a parent, they are themselves reborn the moment their child is born.

    NUMBER 3What can you tell us about the development of this play? I wrote this play last year, during my pregnancy and in my early months as a mother, while I was in my first and second years as a graduate student. I workshopped the play with student actors, and then had a production of the play in the Wagner New Play Festival at UC-SD. Then, I was fortunate to go back to the table and work on the play in Boulder, fine-tuning and adjusting things. There really isn't a better development process leading up to a world premiere than that. I wish that for every playwright on the planet.

    NUMBER 4Birds of North America by Michael EnsmingerWhat was your intention in weaving climate change as a key social issue throughout the play? I have strong views about climate change, but I don't have much interest in using my writing as a soap box. If I wanted to do that, I'd write op-eds. My work as a playwright is much more focused on how to complicate things, rather than explain them. So I wanted to look at how a person who thinks all the noble things can actually fail the people he loves the most by being a slave to those ideals, by not bending a little bit to accommodate others. We all know we're living in politically charged times, if we aren't living in a bubble under a rock. As I was writing Birds of North America, I was thinking less about the right and the left, and more about the pragmatists and the idealists, and the human flaws that people in both camps exhibit. But even though I have very strong opinions and feelings (how can I not, as a woman and a person of color?) I think our underlying humanity is the most important thing.

    NUMBER 5What are you working on right now? The older I get, the angrier I get about the injustices people of color and women experience. I'm working on a play that explores victim-blaming for sexual assault, and the wide gulf that exists between the revenge fantasies of girls at the idea of sexual assault, and the grim acceptance of women after the experience of sexual assault. Every woman knows the moment I'm talking about: The moment you go from thinking you're a person to knowing you're a woman.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    NUMBER 6What did you learn from writing Birds of North America that you're taking into your current work? Not to be afraid of engaging with "Issues" in my work. I really hate "Issue" plays. Birds of North America has helped me realize there's a way to write about this stuff that feels true to me, and that doesn't sacrifice the elements of craft and storytelling in service of a political point.

    NUMBER 7What do you hope audiences leave this production thinking about? I hope people call their parents or their kids, if they can. (Not to talk about my play, just, you know, to chat.) And I hope people call their senators and representatives – because all of us can do that.

    Birds of North America: Ticket information
    • Through Nov. 12
    • Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder
    • 303-440-7826 or go to BETC.org

    Cast and crew:
    • John: Chris Kendall
    • Caitlyn: Lindsey Pierce
    • Director: Stephen Weitz
    • Stage Manager: Jordon Brockman
    • Set Designer: Tina Anderson
    • Costume Designer: Katie Horney
    • Lighting Designer: Katie Gruenhagen
    • Sound Designer: Jason Ducat
    • Dramaturg: Heather Beasley


    Related events:

    Friday, Oct. 27
    , after the 7:30 p.m. performance:  A conversation with Susan Bonfield, executive director of Environment for the Americas, and David Schimel, senior climate researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report. They will talk about conservation efforts, climate change, and how the themes of Birds of North America relate to important efforts beyond the stage.

    Saturday, Oct. 28, 9 a.m.: A free birding nature walk led by Boulder Audubon teen naturalist Luke Pheneger at Sawhill and Walden Ponds. No reservations needed. Meet at the parking lot at Walden Ponds, on 75th Street just north of Valmont Road. Wear good walking shoes; if you need binoculars, Boulder Audubon will have pairs on hand to lend.

    Sunday, Oct. 29, after the 2 p.m. performance: A conversation with Karl Brummert and Kate Hogan from the Audubon Society of Greater Denver, on local citizen science opportunities and conservation efforts throughout the region.

  • First rehearsal: Forecast calls for 'A Snowy Day' at DCPA

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

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

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

    Story continues after the photo:

    The Snowy Day. Photo by John Moore.


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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Cast and creative team:

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

    The Snowy Day and Other Stories: Ticket information

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

    DCPA Education to launch Theatre for Young Audiences

    The Snowy Day. Allsion Watrous. Photo by John Moore. Director Allison Watrous, with her cast behind her, at the first rehearsal for 'The Snowy Day.' Photo by John Moore.
  • 'Appropriate' a call for America to clean out its bigoted closet

    by John Moore | Sep 07, 2017

    Jamil Jude. Appropriate.


    Curious Theatre's season-opening family drama unearths nation's freshly dug racial skeletons

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Charlottesville didn’t rip open a deep American scab last month. For a scab to be ripped open, it would have had to have time to heal.

    “This is not new. Not to me, anyway,” said DCPA Theatre Company Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett, an African-American woman. “The marching you saw in Charlottesville has been happening every single day of my life. It is only new to eyes that have been willfully blind to it.”

    Appropriate. Curious Theatre. Michael Ensminger. But the festering racial divide that was exposed on the streets of Virginia was given a horrifyingly modern face by the dozens of white supremacists who did not even feel the compunction to cover their heads, as their forebears often did decades before while burning crosses and lynching African-Americans under anonymous hoods and cloaks.

    Jamil Jude, the Associate Artistic Director at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre in Atlanta, was in Denver the day James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly plowed his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of Virginia pedestrians, killing counter-protester Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. Jude was here rehearsing Curious Theatre Company’s incendiary new family drama Appropriate, which introduces Colorado theatre audiences to rising young playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.

    (Pictured above right, from left: Dee Covington, Sean Scrutchins and Erik Sandvold in Curious Theatre's 'Appropriate.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.)

    No one in Colorado knows the MacArthur Genius better than Jude and Garrett, who have a broad range of separate and shared experiences directing his work at theatres around the country.

    Jacobs-Jenkins’ six published plays all address race relations in some way, Garrett said. Neighbors, for example, from a strictly black perspective. An Octoroon from the lens of American history. And Appropriate, which plays at Curious through Oct. 14, from an entirely white lens. And while the three plays do not constitute a trilogy, Jude says, they could serve as one.

    Story continues after the video:

    Featured actor in the video above: Sean Scrutchins of Curious Theatre's 'Appropriate.'

    In Appropriate, three adult, estranged siblings descend on a crumbling Arkansan plantation to liquidate their dead patriarch’s estate. He was a powerful man who graduated at the top of his Harvard law class and was on his way to becoming a Supreme Court justice when he died. But when his children find gruesome Southern artifacts among his belongings, they are forced to question who this man was, and the bigotry they have descended from.

    “This family’s legacy is exactly what marched down the street in Charlottesville, and in Berkeley, and tried to do the same in San Francisco and Boston,” Garrett said.

    Jamil Jude Nataki Garrett Appropriate. Enter, into Denver, the work of Jacobs-Jenkins, whose Neighbors is a scathing satire of black entertainment though an uncouth family of black actors named the Crows who perform in blackface. He rose to national prominence with An Octoroon, a modern riff on Dion Boucicault’s 1859 classic melodrama that makes for a subversive take on race in America then and now.

    (Pictured right: Nataki Garrett and Jamil Jude.)

    “The throughline with all three plays is that in the American zeitgeist, there is this need to have conversations around race in which ‘The Other’ does not exist,” said Garrett, who will be directing Lydia R. Diamond’s racially charged Smart People for the DCPA Theatre Company in October. “So when you say, ‘I am not a racist,’ or, ‘I don't see color,’ that requires ‘The Other’ to not exist. What Branden's plays all suggest is that you can't have one without the other. You cannot live outside of that.”

    To theatre audiences, Appropriate might seem to be a racial incongruity. Jacobs-Jenkins has been hailed as one of the essential new African-American voices in the American theatre. But you won’t see an African-American actor on stage at Curious Theatre. And that, said Jude, is by design. Garrett, who has directed both An Octoroon and Neighbors from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, says that in a metro area like Denver where the population is only 10 percent African-American, it just makes practical sense to introduce audiences to Jacobs-Jenkins’ work with Appropriate.

    Our 2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: Appropriate

    Garrett recalls a recent evening attending a local theatre production accompanied by Denver Center CEO Janice Sinden, who is white. “A very nice white woman approached me and asked, ‘How did you get here?’ ” Garrett said. “She didn’t ask Janice that question. She asked me. I didn’t know how to answer her, so I just said, ‘I got into my car and drove here.

    “So you can't just start all the way over there,” Garrett added. “You have to condition all of your audience to be able to sit in that room together. And that means you need a few more plays before you get there.”

    Jude believes Jacobs-Jenkins has plenty to say about race from the perspective of white characters, but he said there is an elephant in the room, and it is most definitely white. “Appropriate will be one of the most-produced plays in America over the next two to three years, and that is absolutely by his design,” he said, “because it is a play that talks about race - and you don't have to hire any people of color to do it.”

    That is not the case at Curious though. Jude said it was important to the company that it hire an African-American to direct the play. And it was important for Jude to bring more people of color inside the creative process. His assistant director is acclaimed area actor Jada Dixon (who will be appearing in Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s upcoming The Revolutionists), and he invited in several recent college graduates to assist and learn in various ways.

    Jude assumes and accepts that the majority of his audiences for Appropriate will be white. And given the freshness of Jacobs-Jenkins’ voice, they might be surprised, he said, by just how traditional Appropriate will seem to them, at least in form. This is a classic living-room family drama that Jacobs-Jenkins says he gleefully ripped off in style from Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, Sam Shepard and Tracy Letts. Academics call the living-room drama “an inherited form," and borrowing from that form, Jude said, is also by design.

    “When you look at some of the great plays of the past century, the issue of race is so deeply rooted into these characters, even though it is never discussed that way,” he said. “We never go out of our way to say, 'Oh this is a white Southern experience,’ or, ‘This is a white Northern experience.’ We just assume that it is. I think this is Branden’s way of saying, 'I am going to appropriate this form, and I am going to use it to have a deeper conversation with you about race. We're bringing all of that to the table, so you can't circumvent it. You have to embrace it. You have to investigate it.”

    And there is that key word: Appropriate.

    The title of the play is very much a double entendre. There is “appropriate,” as in, “suitable for a given occasion.” And there is the alternately pronounced take on the word meaning “borrowing (or stealing) from a particular person or culture.”

    “This play is definitely, intentionally both,” said Jude. “He's very much saying, ‘This is the conversation I want to have. You all have identified me as a black playwright, and anytime I write something, you say that it is racially charged. Well, then, I am going to use the most American of play forms - the living-room drama - and I am going to have a conversation about whiteness and race using that very form.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    But if a familiarity with the form momentarily lulls the audience into a false sense of comfort, Jude says, just you wait. “He challenges that (bleep) right away," he said. Like two pages into the script.

    "Even as the lights start to go down, you are immediately made to feel slight discomfort that will grow throughout the play, regardless of who you are. I don't know if we ever get comfortable.”  

    Those white supremacists were certainly marching comfortably in Charlottesville last month, “and that’s because Donald Trump has allowed them to feel comfortable,” Jude said. “What needs to be unmasked now are not the names of individual protesters but rather those people who are in positions of real power, especially in the judicial system, who hold these personal prejudices and apply their power in ways that are abusive and unjust. It is the system that is the problem, not the people inside of it.

    “In this play, we see a family that is wrestling with the question, ‘What do I do with the legacy that has been passed down to me?’ And we see them constantly fail to eradicate the system they come from.”

    Jacobs-Jenkins’ plays are a gift to his audiences, Jude said. “He gives audiences a chance to investigate their own family origins and then hopefully inspire them to do something about it,” he said.

    Mare Trevathan and Audrey Graves in Curious Theatre's 'Appropriate.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.)“I hope people walk out of this play and then ask their parents deep questions about where they came from and how they were raised,” he said. “I don't feel like we can actually address issues around systemic injustice, police brutality and inequality until we start to clean up our own houses. You have to clean your own closets before you can go somewhere else and start to address it.

    “I hope when people walk out of this play, they really question what is happening in their own families. I hope they say, ‘Uncle Frank says some really sexist stuff. How can I challenge my own sexist ideologies so that I can then challenge Uncle Frank? Then, when my kids see Uncle Frank being sexist, they might not think that's funny.' ”

    Little frustrates Jude more than white friends telling him they just can’t talk to their conservative family members at the holidays.

    “Listen, you are not my ally if you can't talk to your own family member about me at your dinner table,” Jude said. “Because if your family member is racist, or if your family member believes in building a wall on our Southern border, then they are never going to let my black (butt) at their dinner table so that I can try to challenge their notions myself. So, don't tell me you are my ally when you don't fight for me in my stead. If you don't fight for people who look like me, and you choose to pass the buck and hope that somehow, through osmosis, your family members can change, then we are not friends.”

    And until we can engage in those deeper conversations, Garrett said, “We are kind of screwed as a nation.”

    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.

    (Pictured above and right: Mare Trevathan, Rhianna DeVries and Audrey Graves in Curious Theatre's 'Appropriate.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.)

    Appropriate: Ticket information

    • Presented by Curious Theatre Company
    • Sept. 2-Oct. 14
    • 1080 Acoma St.
    • 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org
    • Playwright: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

    Cast list:

    • Dee Covington: Toni
    • Erik Sandvold: Bo
    • Mare Trevathan: Rachel
    • Sean Scrutchins: Frank
    • Alec Sarché: Rhys
    • Rhianna DeVries: River
    • Audrey Graves: Cassidy
    • Harrison Lyles-Smith: Ainsley

     Creatives:
    • Jamil Jude: Director
    • Markas Henry: Scenic Designer
    • Kevin Brainerd: Costume Designer
    • Richard Devin: Lightning Designer
    • Jason Ducat: Sound Designer
    • Kristin MacFarlane: Props Designer
    • Dane Torbenson: Fight Choreographer
    • Jada Suzanne Dixon: Assistant Director
    • A. Phoebe Sacks: Stage Manager

  • 2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: 'General Store' and 'In the Heights'

    by John Moore | Aug 31, 2017
    For 10 days, the DCPA NewsCenter is offering not just 10 intriguing titles to watch on theatre stages throughout Colorado. This year we are expanding our preview by featuring 10 musicals AND 10 plays. Today is Day 3.

    PLAY OF THE DAY: Creede Repertory Theatre's’ General Store

    Featured actor in the video above: Logan Ernstthal

    • Now through Sept. 16
    • 124 Main St., Creede, located 250 miles southwest of Denver
    • 719-658-2540 or go to creederep.org
    • Playwright: Brian Watkins
    • Director: Christy Montour-Larson

    A Creede Repertory Theatre 400The story: General Store, first presented at Creede Rep's 2016 Headwaters New Play Festival, is set in rural Colorado. Mike is determined to keep his faltering general store up and running, and he’ll let nothing get in the way: Not his two wily daughters, the trucker who thinks he’s dead, the rancher who thinks he’s dying or even the blizzard outside. But something mysterious is under the floorboards. And it’s getting louder and hungrier. Can Mike save his American Dream from the ravenous creature beneath his store? Or should he just save himself instead? Part Sam Shepard, part Stephen King, Watkins is an innovative playwright with an American voice all its own. This one of the most technically challenging plays Creede Rep has ever brought to its stages, and it will grip you until the final blackout.

    But what is it about? General Store is about what happens when your way of life is being devoured by forces you can’t control. Mike’s American dream is literally and figuratively crashing down around him. (Provided by Creede Repertory Theatre.)

    • Of special note to travelers: Creede Repertory Theatre has worked out some special lodging deals for September to make it easier for visitors from around the state to see General Store as well as Lanford Wilson's Talley's Folly. If you mention the Colorado Theatre Guild when orderering, you get the senior ticket price. (Call 719-658-2540.) And the following hotels are offering discounts of 10-15 percent on lodging: Antlers Rio Grande Lodge, Finding Gems and Aspen Inn, Blessings Inn, Blue Creek Lodge, Cascada (weekdays only), Club at the Cliffs, Creede Snowshoe Lodge, Dragonfly Flats, Big Country Fun Outdoor Adventures, The House on Old Mill Road, Windsock Acres, Windsor Hotel and The Soprano Suite.

    Cast list:
    • Logan Ernstthal: Mike
    • Ben Newman: Jim
    • Stuart Rider: Rick
    • Caitlin Wise: Nikki
    • Bethany Eilean Talley: Greta

    More creatives:
    Scenic Design: Robert Mark Morgan
    Costume Design: Clare Henkel
    Lighting Design: Jacob Welch
    Sound Design: Jason Ducat
    Production Stage Manager: Devon Muko

    A Creede Repertory Theatre 610 2
    Of 'General Store,' Logan Ernstthal (left) says, 'It’s as if Sam Shepard, the Coen Brothers and Stephen King had a love child. And it’s got a huge metaphor hiding under the floorboards.' Photo by John Gary Brown.


    MUSICAL OF THE DAY: Town Hall Arts Center’s In the Heights


    Featured actor in the video above: Jose David Reynoza

    • Sept. 8-Oct. 8
    • 2450 W. Main St., Littleton
    Town Hall In the Heights303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org
    • Director: Nick Sugar
    • Music director: Donna Kolpan Debreceni

    • The story: In the Heights is set in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood – a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions to take with you, and which to leave behind. This music was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who just won the Pulitzer Prize for Hamilton.

    • Why should I see it? The live music: In the Heights blends rap, hip-hop, merengue and salsa. The humor: If you want to laugh out loud, witty lines abound. The story: In the Heights is a fantastic piece of musical theatre, but also a beautiful story that leaves you feeling happy and uplifted. Three more words: Lin-Manuel Miranda. (Provided by Town Hall Arts Center.)

    Cast list:
    Usnavi de la Vega: Jose David Reynoza
    Vanessa: Sarah Harmon
    Nina Rosario : Rose Van Dyne
    Benny: Randy Chalmers
    Sonny de la Vega: Chris Castaneda
    Daniela: Chelley Canales
    “Abuela” Claudia: Margie Lamb
    Kevin Rosario: Anthony Rivera
    Camila Rosario: Nancy Begley
    The Piragua Guy (Piragüero): George Zamarripa
    Carla: Destiny Walsh
    Graffiti Pete: Joseph Lamar Williams
    Ensemble: Andy Nuanhngam, Cassie Lujan, Gabriel Morales, Jenny Weiss Mather, Jordan Duran and Tashara May

    The band:
    Donna Kolpan Debreceni: Keyboards
    Austin Hein: Bass
    Scott Smith: Guitars
    Larry Ziehl: Drums and Percussion
    Dustin Arndt: Percussion
    Rob Reynolds: Trumpet and Flugelhorn

    More creatives:
    Scenic Designer: Tim Barbiaux
    Costume Designer: Linda Morken
    Lighting Designer: Seth Alison
    Sound Designer: Curt Behm
    Props Designer: Becky Toma
    Production Stage Manager: Steven Neale
    Technical Director: Mike Haas
    Assistant Choreographer: Jenny Weiss Mather
    Dialect/Cultural Awareness Coach: Olga Lopez

    Town Hall Arts Center In the Heights Jose David Reynoza says 'In the Heights’ represents a culture that isn't often seen on stage. It really is an honor to be a part of a story that portrays a large part of who I am here in the United States,’ says Reynoza, himself an immigrant. From left: Jenny Weiss Mather, Andy Nuanhngam, Anthony Rivera, Reynoza and Nancy Begley. Photo by Becky Toma. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Our complete 2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview:

    Day 1: Curious Theatre's Appropriate and BDT Stage's Rock of Ages
    Day 2: The Catamounts’ You on the Moors Now and Rocky Mountain Rep’s Almost Heaven: Songs of John Denver
    Day 3: Creede Repertory Theatre's General Store and Town Hall Arts Center's In the Heights
    Day 4: Avenue Theater’s My Brilliant Divorce and the Arvada Center’s A Chorus Line
    Day 5: Bas Bleu’s Elephant’s Graveyard and Evergreen Chorale’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    Day 6: Firehouse Theatre’s The Mystery of Love and Sex and the Aurora Fox’s ‘Company’
    Day 7: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s The Revolutionists and Off-Center’s The Wild Party
    Day 8: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Pretty Fire and the Aurora Fox's Hi-Hat Hattie
    Day 9: Edge Theatre Company’s A Delicate Balance and Midtown Arts Center’s Once.
    Day 10:  Local Theater Company’s The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Grace B. Matthias and Thin Air Theatre Company’s The Toxic Avenger Musical

    This 2017 Colorado fall preview is compiled by Denver Center for the Performing Arts Senior Arts Journalist John Moore as a service to the Colorado theatre community. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011 and is the founder of The Denver Actors Fund.
  • 2017 Henry Award nominations make way for the new

    by John Moore | Jun 20, 2017
    Beowulf. Catamounts

    From left: Allison Caw, Amanda Berg Wilson and Joe Von Bokern in The Catmounts'  'Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,' which tied for the most Henry Award nominations by a musical with nine. Photo by Michael Ensminger. 

    DCPA leads way as always wildly unpredictable nominations embrace companies from Carbondale to Colorado Springs

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Suffice it to say, a whole lot of people will be attending the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Awards for the very first time.

    While the DCPA Theatre Company led all Colorado companies for the fifth straight year with 21 nominations, followed by the Arvada Center with 16, a plethora of companies that have barely registered on the Henrys’ radar in the past have emphatically taken their place at the table this year – most from outside the Denver metro area.   

    Sean Jeffries. Henry Awards. Thunder RiverThunder River, a small theatre company in Carbondale, didn’t just receive its first Henry Award nominations - it received its first 11. Most of that can be attributed to a mind-boggling individual accomplishment: Sean Jeffries (pictured right) becomes the first person to ever receive five nominations in a single year for his lighting, scenic and sound designs. New Thunder River Executive Artistic Director Corey Simpson also picked up nominations as both a director (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) and supporting actor (The Tempest).

    Lone Tree Arts Center, which mostly presents touring shows and concerts, earned 13 nominations for staging three of its own shows. The city of Colorado Springs steamrolled its way into the party with 12 nominations for TheatreWorks, 11 for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, and even three for the tiny Springs Ensemble Theatre. The love for TheatreWorks could not have come at a more poignant time, following the January death of founder Murray Ross, who is nominated of Outstanding Direction of Marivaux’s romantic comedy The Game of Love and Chance.

    Denise FreestoneUp in Fort Collins, OpenStage & Company charted 12 nominations, followed by the Midtown Arts Center with seven. Other breakout years: Eight nominations each for the Backstage Breckenridge Theatre, the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre of Grand Lake, and PACE Center/Inspire Creative. Those nine emerging companies garnered just 17 cumulative nominations last year. This year, they totaled 90.

    (Pictured right: Denise Burson Freestone and Sydney Parks Smith are both nominated as Outstanding Lead Actresses in OpenStage Theatre & Company's 'August: Osage County.') 

    The 12th annual Henry Awards will be presented July 17 at the PACE Center in Parker. The seven companies under consideration for Outstanding Season are the Arvada Center, DCPA Theatre Company, Lone Tree Arts Center, Openstage Theatre & Company, Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre, TheatreWorks and Thunder River.

    Book of Will. Rodney Lizcano The most honored play of the season is the DCPA Theatre Company’s world premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will, with 12 nominations, followed by OpenStage’s August: Osage County, with seven. The Book of Will tells how two obscure members of William Shakespeare’s acting company took it upon themselves to publish the first complete published collection of Shakespeare's plays. It already has been picked up for subsequent productions all around the country.

    (Pictured right: Rodney Lizcano is one of three of 'Book of Will' castmates nominated as Outstanding Supporting Actor.)

    The leading musicals of 2016-17 in a topsy-turvy Outstanding Musical field were Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Man of La Mancha and The Catamounts’ Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage, with nine nominations. That was a blood-pumping, gypsy-punk musical based on the ninth-century epic poem with an original score by Dave Malloy, composer of Broadway’s Natasha, Pierre, And The Great Comet of 1812.

    That was followed by the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s Man of La Mancha (9), the Arvada Center’s Jesus Christ Superstar (7), PACE Center and Inspire Creative’s collaborative staging of Monty Python’s Spamalot (6) and two Lone Tree Arts Center stagings, of Evita (6) and the world premiere of Randal Myler’s Muscle Shoals (6), which chronicled the music that came out of the famous recording studio in Muscle Shoals, Ala., in the 1960s.

    But all that emergence means a lot of traditional Henry Award favorites are taking a back seat this year. Last year, for example, Performance Now, Vintage, Buntport and Town Hall combined for 29 nominations. This year, the four scored a combined three. 

    The Henry Awards are a notoriously unpredictable affair from year to year, often heaping unexpected love on a breakout company one year and then all but forgetting it the next. Theatre Aspen, which earned a whopping 25 nominations and swept the 2016 Henrys with eight awards, received only one nomination this year.

    Among the ongoing Henry Awards mysteries is the continuing snub of the rock-solid Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, which has now received only four nominations the past three years combined. Phamaly Theatre Company, which makes performance opportunities available to actors with disabilities, was shut out. For the second straight year, Cherry Creek Theatre received no nominations, and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival received just one – for Hunter Ringsmith’s riveting performance as supporting actor in Equivocation.

    One of the most dramatic individual nominations of the year has to be Matt LaFontaine’ s recognition as an Outstanding Actor in a Musical. He assumed the role of Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar just days before the opening because of an illness in the cast.

    Colorado Springs husband and wife Joye Cook-Levy and Scott RC Levy are both nominated as directors - Joye for TheatreWorks’ play Constellations and Scott for Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s musical Man of La Mancha. The married couple of Meridith C. Grundei and Gary Grundei are nominated as director and musical director, respectively, of The Catamounts’ Beowulf. And Joan Bruemmer-Holden is nominated as both a supporting actor and the choreographer of that show.

    Other multiple nominees this year include costumer Clare Henkel, scenic designer Brian Mallgrave, and sound designers Jason Ducat and Allen Noftall.

    A glaring omission from this year’s nominee slate is Curious Theatre Company, historically one of the Henrys’ favorite recipients - but also a prime example of the feast-or-famine nature of these awards. After winning a remarkable 20 Henry Awards over three years from 2012-14, Curious was shut out the past two seasons. Artistic Director Chip Walton later pulled his company out of consideration for this year’s awards, citing a profound lack of diversity among last year’s winners.

    Curious Theatre quote“Curious approached the Colorado Theatre Guild with concerns about the lack of diversity represented at the Henry Awards last year, as well as many judges' limited knowledge of the theatre craft, especially with regard to technical design,” said Managing Director Katie Maltais. “As the Guild chose not to change its practices or provide additional learning opportunities for judges, Curious left the Henry Awards. We hope that one day the Henry Awards will showcase the full richness of our theatre community, and our strong stance on equity and inclusion and firm commitment to artistic excellence demands we wait until that day to participate in the awards.” 

    Despite its 21 nominations, the DCPA slate also reflects the roller-coaster nature of the Henry Award nominations. While The Book of Will led all productions with 12 nominations, including three supporting actors, the critically acclaimed Disgraced, The Secret Garden and Frankenstein only managed five among them. The Glass Menagerie earned three.

    The Colorado Theatre Guild is a statewide advocacy group, and last year it expanded its nominations to spread more bounty to more companies throughout the state by now designating seven nominations for each category. This year nominations went to 29 different companies and 56 of 190 eligible shows. The expanded pool of nominees means each has just a 14 percent chance of actually winning.

    The Guild also splits the four design categories into two tiers determined by member companies' annual overall operating budgets. Only six companies have annual budgets above the $1.2 million threshold and therefore are considered Tier I: The DCPA, Arvada Center, Creede Repertory Theatre, Theatre Aspen, Colorado Shakespeare Festival and Colorado Springs TheatreWorks. The rest all compete in Tier II.

    Established in 2006, the Henry Awards serve as the Colorado Theatre Guild's annual fundraising event. The awards are named for longtime local theatre producer Henry Lowenstein. Nominations are determined through a judging process conducted by more than 45 statewide theatre reporters, educators and assigned judges.

    2016-17 HENRY AWARD NOMINATIONS

    Outstanding Season for a Theatre Company

    • Arvada Center
    • Colorado Springs TheatreWorks
    • DCPA Theatre Company
    • Lone Tree Arts Center
    • OpenStage Theatre and Company
    • Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Thunder River Theatre Company

    Outstanding Production of a Play

    • "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company, Dulcie Willis, Director
    • "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company, Davis McCallum, Director
    • "Constellations," TheatreWorks, Joye Cook-Levy, Director
    • "Don’t Dress for Dinner," OpenStage Theatre & Company, Wendy S. Moore, Director
    • "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Thunder River Theatre Company, Corey Simpson, Director
    • "The Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks, Murray Ross, Director
    • "Tartuffe," Arvada Center, Lynne Collins, Director

    Outstanding Production of a Musical

    • "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts, Meridith C. Grundei, Director; Gary Grundei, Musical Direction                                
    • "Evita," Lone Tree Arts Center, Gina Rattan, Director; Max Mamon, Musical Direction                                
    • "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company, Scott RC Levy, Director; Sharon Skidgel, Musical Direction
    • "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center & Inspire Creative, Kelly McAllister, Director; Tanner Kelly, Musical Direction                                
    • "Motones vs. Jerseys," Midtown Arts Center, Kenny Moten, Director; Jalyn Courtenay Webb, Musical Direction
    • “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There," Lone Tree Arts Center, Randal Myler, Director; Dan Wheetman, Musical Direction
    • "Porgy and Bess," Aurora Fox Arts Center, donnie l. betts, Director; Jodel Charles, Musical Direction

    Outstanding Direction of a Play

    • Lynne Collins, "The Drowning Girls," Arvada Center
    • Joye Cook-Levy, "Constellations," TheatreWorks
    • Davis McCallum, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Matt Radcliffe, "The Elephant Man," Springs Ensemble Theatre Company
    • Murray Ross, "The Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks
    • Corey Simpson, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Dulcie Willis, "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company

    Outstanding Direction of a Musical

    • donnie l. betts, "Porgy and Bess," Aurora Fox Arts Center
    • Meridith C. Grundei, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • Kelly McAllister, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center & Inspire Creative
    • Scott RC Levy, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Randal Myler, “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Gina Rattan, "Evita," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Nick Sugar, “First Date,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company

    Outstanding Musical Direction

    • Neal Dunfee, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” BDT Stage
    • Gary Grundei, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • Max Mamon, "Evita," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Sharon Skidgel, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Jason Tyler Vaughn, “Murder Ballad,” The Edge Theater Company
    • Jalyn Courtenay Webb, "Motones vs. Jerseys," Midtown Arts Center
    • Dan Wheetman, “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There," Lone Tree Arts Center

    Outstanding Actor in a Play

    • William Hahn, "Burn This," The Edge Theater Company 
    • Kevin Hart, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre   
    • Sammie Joe Kinnett, "The Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks
    • Steven P. Sickles, "Le Bete," OpenStage Theatre & Company     
    • Micah Speirs, "The Elephant Man," Springs Ensemble Theatre Company               
    • Dan Tschirhart, "The Flick," OpenStage Theatre & Company        
    • Adam Verner, "Don’t Dress for Dinner," OpenStage Theatre & Company                                                                                                         

    Outstanding Actress in a Play

    • LuAnn Buckstein, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre      
    • Carley Cornelius, "Constellations," TheatreWorks
    • Denise Burson Freestone, "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company      
    • Kathleen McCall, "The Glass Menagerie," DCPA Theatre Company          
    • Emma Messenger, "Misery," The Edge Theater Company
    • Sydney Parks Smith, "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company 
    • Caitlin Wise, "The Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks

    Outstanding Actor in a Musical

    • Leonard E. Barrett Jr. , "Porgy and Bess," Aurora Fox Arts Center
    • Joshua Blanchard, "Cabaret," Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Stephen Day, “Man of La Mancha,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company                                                                
    • Miles Jacoby, "Evita," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • August Stoten, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center and Inspire Creative
    • Colin Summers, "Million Dollar Quartet," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Joe Von Bokern, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts

    Outstanding Actress in a Musical

    • Jacquie Jo Billings, "Little Shop of Horrors," Miners Alley Playhouse
    • Colby Dunn, "The Toxic Avenger," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre        
    • Sarah Groeke, "Cabaret," Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Cecilia Iole, "The Little Mermaid," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Marissa Rudd, "Sister Act," Midtown Arts Center
    • Tracy Warren, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” BDT Stage
    • Danielle Hermon Wood, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center and Inspire Creative

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play

    • Nathan Cox, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Rodney Lizcano, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Wesley Mann, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Owen O’Farrell, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Hunter Ringsmith, "Equivocaton," Colorado Shakespeare Festival            
    • Triney Sandoval, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Corey Simpson, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play

    • Miriam A. Laube, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Carolyn Lohr, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre              
    • Leslie O’Carroll, "Silent Sky," Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    • Amelia Pedlow, "The Glass Menagerie," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Christina Sajous, "Disgraced," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Linda Suttle, "A Time to Kill," Vintage Theatre Productions
    • Edith Weiss, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical

    • Brandon Bill, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center and Inspire Creative
    • Ben Hilzer, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • John Jankow, "A Christmas Story," Midtown Arts Center
    • Matt LaFontaine, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Bob Moore, "Cabaret," Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Nicholas Park, “First Date,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Kyle Ashe Wilkinson, "Titanic," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical

    • Jenna Bainbridge, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Joan Bruemmer-Holden, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • Charlotte Campbell, “A Christmas Story,” Midtown Arts Center
    • Anna High, “Porgy and Bess,” Aurora Fox Arts Center
    • Rebecca Hoodwin, "Cabaret," Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Carol Rose, "The Little Mermaid," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Megan Van De Hey, "The Toxic Avenger," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre   

    DROWNING GIRLS

    Outstanding Ensemble Performance

    • "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company
    • "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • "The Drowning Girls," Arvada Center, Lynne Collins, Director
    • "The Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks
    • "Motones vs. Jerseys," Midtown Arts Center
    • “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • "Porgy and Bess," Aurora Fox Arts Center

    Outstanding New Play or Musical

    • "The Book of Will," by Lauren Gunderson

      Directed by Davis McCallum; Produced by DCPA Theatre Company

    • “The Firestorm,” by Meridith Friedman

      Directed by Pesha Rudnick; Produced by LOCAL Theater Company

    • "Full Code," by David Valdes Greenwood

      Directed by Stephen Weitz; Produced by Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company

    • "The History Room," by Charlie Thurston

      Directed by Pesha Rudnick; Produced by Creede Repertory Theatre             

    • "I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” Music and Lyrics by David Nehls, Book by Kenn McLaughlin

      Directed by Gavin Mayer; Produced by Arvada Center

    • "Lost Creatures," by Melissa Lucero McCarl

      Directed by Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski; Produced by And Toto too Theatre Company

    • “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There,” by Randal Myler

      Directed by Randal Myler; Produced by Lone Tree Arts Center

    Outstanding Choreography

    • Mary Ripper Baker, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Joan Bruemmer-Holden & Amanda Berg Wilson, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • Jeff Duke and Stephanie Hansen, "The Little Mermaid," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Kelly Kates, “The Robber Bridegroom,” Town Hall Arts Center
    • Michael Lasris, "A Christmas Story," Midtown Arts Center
    • Matthew D. Peters, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," BDT Stage
    • Kate Vallee, "42nd Street," Candlelight Dinner Playhouse      

    Outstanding Costume Design Tier 1

    • Camille Assaf, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Stephanie Bradley, "Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks
    • Janson J. Fangio, "Enchanted April," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Sydney Gallas, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Clare Henkel, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Clare Henkel, "Tartuffe," Arvada Center
    • Lex Liang, “Shrek,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company

    Outstanding Costume Design Tier 2

    • Kari Armstrong, "The Snow Queen," Bas Bleu Theatre Company
    • Buntport Theater, "The Crud," Buntport Theater
    • Pamela Clifton, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre         
    • Judith Ernst, "The Wizard of Oz," Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
    • Tricia Music, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center & Inspire Creative
    • Jesus Perez, "The Little Mermaid," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Annabel Reader, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts

    Outstanding Lighting Design Tier 1

    • Charles R. MacLeod, "The Glass Menagerie," DCPA Theatre Company  
    • Shannon McKinney, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Jon Olson, “The Drowning Girls,” Arvada Center
    • Holly Anne Rawls, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Paul Toben, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Brian Tovar, "Frankenstein," DCPA Theatre Company   
    • Mike Wood, “Constellations,” TheatreWorks

    Outstanding Lighting Design Tier 2

  • Seth Alison, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center & Inspire Creative
  • Brandon Ingold, "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company
  • Jen Kiser, "Evita," Lone Tree Arts Center
  • Sean Jeffries, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Sean Jeffries, “The Last Romance,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Sean Mallary, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
  • Brett Maughan, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," BDT Stage
  • Outstanding Scenic Design Tier 1

    • Lisa Orzolek, "Disgraced," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Brian Mallgrave, "The Drowning Girls," Arvada Center
    • Brian Mallgrave, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Christopher L. Sheley, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Sandra Goldmark, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Paul Black, "Mamma Mia," Theatre Aspen
    • Jason Sherwood, "Frankenstein," DCPA Theatre Company

    Outstanding Scenic Design Tier 2

    • Shaun Albrechtson, "Steel Magnolias," PACE Center & Inspire Creative
    • James Brookman, “August: Osage County,” OpenStage Theatre & Company
    • M. Curtis Grittner, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
    • Sean Jeffries, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Sean Jeffries, “The Last Romance,” Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Lori Rosedahl, "The Flick," OpenStage Theatre & Company
    • Kyle Scoggins, "Little Shop of Horrors," Miners Alley Playhouse

    Outstanding Sound Design Tier 1

    • Jason Ducat, “Constellations,” TheatreWorks
    • Jason Ducat, "The Drowning Girls," Arvada Center
    • Benjamin Heston, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Morgan McCauley, "Tartuffe," Arvada Center
    • Stowe Nelson, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • David Thomas, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Zach Williamson, “The Secret Garden, “ DCPA Theatre Company

    Outstanding Sound Design Tier 2

    • Travis Duncan and Jeremiah Walter, "The Elephant Man," Springs Ensemble Theatre Company
    • Carlos Flores, "Misery," The Edge Theater Company
    • Sean Jeffries, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Allen Noftall, “Evita," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Allen Noftall, “Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You Theatre," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Jon Northridge, "Million Dollar Quartet," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Tom Quinn and Kenny Storms, "Murder Ballad," The Edge Theater Company
      Additional Special Awards will be announced in July.

    2017 Henry Awards: Ticket information

    • Monday, July 17
    • 6 p.m. drinks; 7 p.m. awards
    • PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Avenue, Parker, MAP IT
    • Tickets: $23 for CTG members, $30 non-members or $50 VIP. Tickets are available at parkerarts.org, or by calling 303-805-6800. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door for $35.
    • Ticket onsale date: June 30

    Nominations by Company:
    DCPA Theatre Company – 21
    Arvada Center – 16
    Lone Tree Arts Center – 13
    OpenStage & Company – 12
    Colorado Springs TheatreWorks – 12
    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center – 11
    Thunder River Theatre Company – 11
    The Catamounts – 9
    Breckenridge Backstage Theatre – 8
    PACE Center/Inspire Creative - 8
    Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre – 7
    Midtown Arts Center – 7
    Lake Dillon Theatre Company – 6
    Aurora Fox – 5
    The Edge Theatre – 5
    BDT Stage – 3
    Springs Ensemble Theatre – 3
    Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company – 2
    Candlelight Dinner Playhouse – 2
    Miners Alley Playhouse – 2
    And Toto too Theatre Company – 1
    Bas Bleu Theatre – 1
    Buntport Theater– 1
    Creede Repertory Theatre – 1
    Colorado Shakespeare Festival – 1
    Local Theatre Company – 1
    Theatre Aspen – 1
    Town Hall Arts Center – 1
    Vintage Theatre – 1

  • Lenne Klingaman to explore Hamlet's feminine side for Colorado Shakes

    by John Moore | Mar 02, 2017
    Lenne Klingaman



    The Colorado Shakespeare Festival has announced casting for its 60th anniversary season in the summer of 2017, and it includes not only a female Hamlet, but one familiar to DCPA Theatre Company audiences. Lenne Kingaman, who played Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and two roles in Appoggiatura, will be mulling the meaning of her existence on the University of Colorado's intimate indoor stage. 

    And DCPA veteran Robert Sicular will be playing Julius Caesar. He’s performed in 11 Theatre Company productions from 1994-2012, most recently Heartbreak House, The Liar and The Taming of the Shrew. Anthony Powell (All the Way) directs.

    "I’m super excited about the cast we’ve put together,” Producing Artistic Director Timothy Orr. “We worked really hard to assemble a group of local favorites — some of the best in Colorado — as well as actors from California and New York who we’ve been trying to get out here for several years.”

    Robert SicularCarolyn Howarth is directing a contemporary version of Hamlet in a fresh way that should unlock more of the enduring mysteries of the play, Klingaman said.

    “To be a woman sinking my teeth into a role that is so iconic, but from a female perspective, is going to allow us to open up the characters and the relationships in the story in a way that will help us find our way to an even more universal portrayal of the character and the play as a whole,” she said.

    For centuries, women have been going through the same juggernaut of earth-shattering experiences Hamlet went through, Klingaman said. Audiences just have not been allowed to see that play out on a stage until now.

    “To be a woman and to get to tackle those issues of power and mortality and duty and love will be extremely thrilling," Klingaman said. “But I am also excited about what it does to every relationship in the play" 

    It should be noted that Ophelia still will be played by a woman (Emelie O'Hara).

    “Our understanding of masculinity and femininity today is so different from Shakespeare’s time," she said. "Some of our ideas of what might be feminine today are now more in line with might have been considered masculine in Shakespeare’s time. I want to open up a more fluid conception of gender and masculinity and femininity. It's not just a question of one or the other."

    University of Northern Colorado theatre professor Shelly Gaza will make her Colorado Shakes debut as Kate in a New York-centric, post-war The Taming of the Shrew. Scott Coopwood, a Marin Shakespeare Company and Portland Center Stage regular, will play Petruchio.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Gaza’s Kate is a plucky Air Force pilot who’s just returned to New York City from a tour in World War II, and Coopwood’s Petruchio, older and wiser in this production, must grapple with the fact that he’s fallen in love with his strong, stubborn match.

    Michael Bouchard (The SantaLand Diaries) and DCPA Teaching Artist Sean Scrutchins will play the title characters in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, a comic retelling of Hamlet from the perspective of its two most minor characters. Most of the actors in Hamlet will play their same roles in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.

    “I can’t believe I get to work with Sean and Michael in the title roles,” said Orr, who will direct. “Comedically, these guys can tear the roof off a theatre.”

    Other familiar DCPA names include Sam Gregory (Scrooge in A Christmas Carol), Mare Trevathan (The Sweetest Swing in Baseball), Rodney Lizcano (The Book of Will) and Meridith C. Grundei (Frankenstein). Also well-known to Colorado Shakes audiences or around the metro area include Christopher Joel Onken, Casey Andree, Rachel Turner, Sam Sandoe, Anne Sandoe, Bob Buckley and Anne Penner. 

    The design teams include DCPA costumer Meghan Anderson Doyle (An Act of God, The Glass Menagerie), sound designer Jason Ducat (Two Degrees) and lighting designer Shannon McKinney (Tribes). Acclaimed New York scenic and lighting designer Stephen C. Jones will light both indoor plays (the other is a yet-to-be-cast Original Practices performance of Henry VI, Part 3.

    Additional reporting by Jill Kimball of CU Presents.

    HAMLET, indoors
    June 23-Aug. 13
    Shakespeare’s masterpiece, often considered the greatest play in the English language, returns for CSF’s 60th season. When Hamlet’s world is ripped apart by his father’s sudden death and his mother’s hasty remarriage, the young prince’s mind wrestles with his heart in a tormented quest to uncover the truth. Staged for the first time inside the intimate University Theatre, this is Hamlet as you’ve never seen it before.

    Gary Wright: Claudius
    Michael Bouchard: Rosencrantz
    Kristofer Buxton: Osric/Tragedian
    Elise Collins: Fortinbras/Tragedian
    Sam Gregory: The Player/Ghost
    Lenne Klingaman: Hamlet
    Ava Kostia: Laertes
    Rodney Lizcano: Polonius/Gravedigger
    Jihad Milhem: Horatio
    Emelie O'Hara: Ophelia
    Sean Scrutchins: Guildenstern
    Cindy Spitko: Voltemand/Tragedian
    Austin Terrell: Cornelius/Tragedian
    Mare Trevathan: Gertrude
    Blake Williams: Marcellus/Tragedian

    Carolyn Howarth: Director
    Paul Behrhorst: Stage Manager
    Whitney Brady: Assistant Lighting and Scenic Designer
    Jason Ducat: Sound Designer
    Hugh Hanson: Costume Designer
    Stephen C. Jones: Scenic Designer, Lighting Designer
    Darion Ramos: Assistant Stage Manager

    JULIUS CAESAR, outdoors
    July 7-Aug. 12
    Benaiah Anderson: Cinna/Titinius/Ensemble
    Casey Andree: Casca/Strata/Ensemble
    Bob Buckley: Cobbler/Publius/Lepidus/Ensemble
    Michael Chen: Volumnious/Ensemble
    Scott Coopwood: Marcus Brutus
    David Derringer: Trebonius/Clitus/Ensemble
    Evan Ector: Young Cato/Ensemble
    Erik Fellenstein: Flavius/Anthony's Messenger/Octavius Caesar/Ensemble
    Ian Roy Fraser: Lucius
    Shelly Gaza: Calphurnia
    Christopher Joel Onken: Marc Anthony
    Anne Penner: Portia/Soothsayer
    Tony Ryan: Carpenter/Metellus Cimber/Lucilius/Ensemble
    Sam Sandoe: Caius Ligarius/Ensemble
    Matthew Schneck: Cassius
    Robert Sicular: Julius Caesar
    Ayla Sullivan: Artemidora/Ensemble
    Andy Walker Decius: Brutus/Pindarus/Ensemble
    Coleman Zeigen: Marullus/Populous/Lepidus/Ensemble

    Anthony Powell: Director
    Caitlin Ayer: Scenic Designer
    Jonathan D. Allsup: Assistant Stage Manager
    Jason Ducat: Sound Designer
    Clare Henkel: Costume Designer
    Shannon McKinney: Lighting Designer
    Stacy Renee Norwood: Stage Manager

    THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, outdoors
    June 11-Aug. 13
    CSF kicks off its 60th season with a zany comedy set in swinging 1940s New York City. Enter Kate, a plucky pilot who’s just returned from the fray of World War II, and her stubborn match, Petruchio. On the vibrant streets of Little Italy, the two duke it out in a battle of wits, dance the night away and discover, against all odds, a mutual respect that’s almost like being in love.

    Benaiah Anderson: Biondello
    Casey Andree: Hortensio
    Michael Chen: Ensemble
    Scott Coopwood: Petruchio
    David Derringer: Tailor / Ensemble
    Evan Ector: EnsembleIan
    Roy Fraser: Haberdasher/Ensemble
    Shelly Gaza: Kate
    Meredith C. Grundei: Curtis
    Christopher Joel Onken: Lucentio
    Tony Ryan: Tranio
    Anne Sandoe: Widow
    Sam Sandoe: Gremio
    Matthew Schneck: Grumio
    Robert Sicular: Baptista
    Ayla Sullivan: Ensemble
    Rachel Turner: Bianca
    Robert Wester: The Pedant
    Coleman Zeigen: Vincentio

    Christopher DuVal: Director
    Caitlin Ayer: Scenic Designer
    Jonathan D. Allsup: Assistant Stage Manager
    Meghan Anderson Doyle: Costume Designer
    Jason Ducat: Sound Designer
    Shannon McKinney: Lighting Designer
    Stacy Renee Norwood: Stage Manager

    ROSENCRANTZ & GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD, indoors
    July 21-Aug. 13
    In this hilarious and mind-bending comedy by the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Shakespeare in Love, Hamlet is brilliantly retold through the eyes of two minor characters. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two bewildered schoolmates sent to pull Prince Hamlet out of his descent into madness, grapple with fate, free will and the game of life. CSF’s production brings its full Hamlet cast on stage to inhabit Stoppard’s ingenious parallel universe of wit and wisdom.

    Gary Wright: Claudius
    Michael Bouchard: Rosencrantz
    Elise Collins: Tragedian
    Sam Gregory: The Player
    Lenne Klingaman: Hamlet
    Rodney Lizcano: Polonius
    Jihad Milhem: Horatio
    Emelie O'Hara: Ophelia
    Sean Scrutchins: Guildenstern
    Cindy Spitko: Tragedian
    Austin Terrell: Tragedian
    Mare Trevathan: Gertrude
    Blake Williams: Tragedian

    Timothy Orr: Director
    Paul Behrhorst: Stage Manager
    Whitney Brady: Assistant Lighting and Scenic Designer
    Jason Ducat: Sound Designer
    Hugh Hanson: Costume Designer
    Stephen C. Jones: Scenic Designer, Lighting Designer
    Darion Ramos: Assistant Stage Manager

    ADDITIONAL COMPANY
    Casting by Sylvia Gregory Casting
    Company Armorer: Benaiah Anderson
    Props Supervisor: Katie Hamilton
    Costume Shop Manager Adam M. Dill


    TICKET INFORMATION  

     

  • 'Two Degrees': Five things we learned at first rehearsal

    by John Moore | Jan 06, 2017
    'Two Degrees' in Denver
    Photos from the first rehearsal of Tira Palmquist's play 'Two Degrees' by the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Click again to download. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    When Director Christy Montour-Larson went looking for the key to unlock Tira Palmquist’s new play Two Degrees, she looked no further than her own pocket.

    “All I had to do is pull out my own house key, because when I read this play for the first time, I felt like I was home,” said Montour-Larson, who will direct the upcoming world premiere for the DCPA Theatre Company opening Feb. 3.

    Two Degrees. Director Christy Montour-Larson and Tira Palmquist. hoto by John Moore. Two Degrees is about a woman – and a planet – in crisis. Emma is scientist who has been called to Washington to testify to a congressional committee on climate legislation. And it’s the anniversary of her husband's death.

    “I love this play because it is about something,” Montour-Larson said on the first day of rehearsal. “Climate change isn't just another issue in a world proliferating with other issues. Climate change is the one issue that, left unchecked, will swamp all other issues.”

    New calculations from Scientific American magazine indicate that if the world continues to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, the average temperature of the Earth will rise 2 degrees Celsius by 2036, crossing a threshold that will devastate human civilization, Montour-Larson said.

    “We are the first generation in the history of humanity to feel the effects of climate change,” she said, “and we are the last generation who can do anything about it.”

    And if you are a playwright, the thing you do about it is you write a play about it.

    “For me, as a playwright, the personal is political, and the political is personal,” said Palmquist, who wrote Two Degrees as opportunity to write roles for women older than 45, and also as an opportunity to talk about climate change. For her, that’s as political – and as personal – as it gets.

    “Humans aren't the first species to alter the atmosphere,” added Two Degrees Dramaturg Heather Helinsky, quoting Elizabeth Kolbert’s book Field Notes from a Catastrophe. That distinction belongs to early bacteria, which invented photosynthesis 2 two billion years ago. “But we are the first species to be in a position to understand what we are doing.”

    And that’s why, Lighting Designer Charles MacLeod said, “This is a play we have to do. And not 20 years from now - we have to do it now.”

    (Pictured above and right: 'Two Degrees' Director Christy Montour-Larson and Playwright Tira Palmquist. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Here are five things we learned at that first rehearsal for Two Degrees, opening Feb. 3 in the Jones Theatre:

    NUMBER 1 It’s melting! That’s right. Scenic Designer Robert Mark Morgan has fashioned a series of hanging painted panels that will look like different forms of ice. But look closely, because about six of them are going to be literally made out of ice that will slowly melt throughout the performance. The idea: The world of the play is the world of our world. “Our hope is that maybe 50 percent of the audience will say afterward, ‘Hey, wasn't it really cool that part of the set melted?’ And the other 50 percent will say, 'I didn't see that,’ ” said Montour-Larson, adding to laughs: “And then you can say to that person: 'Yeah, and that's why you are part of the problem! You didn't notice!"  

    Five things we learned at first rehearsal for The Book of Will

    NUMBER 2Credit is due. A small local collective called The Athena Project is responsible for Two Degrees coming to the attention of DCPA Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson. Montour-Larson directed a reading of the play as part of the Athena Project’s 2015 new-play festival, then handed the script over to Thompson, who shouted out founder Angela Astle and her 3-year-old company at the first rehearsal. “Athena envisions a world where women's voices are powerfully expressed and recognized for their artistic merit in the community,” Thompson said.

    Five things we learned at first rehearsal for The Christians

    NUMBER 3Mr. Jones and you. Two Degrees will be the first play the DCPA Theatre Company presents in the Jones Theatre as a mainstage production since David Mamet’s A Boston Marriage in 2004. At 200 seats, The Jones is the Denver Center’s smallest theatre. “It's just perfect for Two Degrees because it’s so intimate, and the audience is going to be right there with us as we tell the story,” Montour-Larson said.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    NUMBER 4Two Degrees. Jason Ducat The sound of ice. Sound Designer Jason Ducat (right) promises to replicate the sound of real, cracking ice at key points of the story. He and fellow DCPA soundman Craig Breitenbach embedded microphones into real ice and then recorded the sound as it broke up. “We're going to have speakers underneath the seats so the audience will really be able to feel that rumble,” said Ducat, who grew up in Bowling Green, Ohio, hometown of Olympic figure-skating champion Scott Hamilton. “For about 15 years of my life, I pretty much lived on a sheet of ice. It is one of the most peaceful things you can ever experience," Ducat said. But the sound ice cracking also can be terrifying. I know this because when I was young, I was really stupid and I would see how far out on the ice I could get before it started to crack - and then I would have to fly back in to try to beat it. But when I think of the character of Emma, I think she really wants to be on that ice. So I wanted to create that as the soundscape of the play."

    NUMBER 5Do I know you? Montour-Larson met Palmquist at the 2012 Seven Devils Playwrights Conference in McCall, Idaho. They got to talking and soon learned they both grew up in Minnesota. Then they figured out that they both had performed in a summer repertory theatre program in Duluth, Minn., decades before. So Montour-Larson asked Palmquist what shows she was in, and Palmquist answered, “Oh a few, like, Dames at Sea and Play it Again Sam.” And Montour-Larson dead-panned: "I was in all those shows with you." Everyone talks about six degrees of separation, but in Palmquist’s play every character has, appropriately enough, just two degrees of separation. “And here we discovered that Tira and I had two degrees of separation, because we already knew each other through our younger selves,” said Montour-Larson.

    Bonus: There will be some Greenlandic spoken during the play. That is all.

     

    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: Spotlight on Two Degrees



    Two Degrees
    : Cast list

    Written by Tira Palmquist
    Directed by Christy Montour-Larson

    • Jason Delane (One Night in Miami) as Clay Simpson

    • Kathleen McCall (The Glass Menagerie) as Emma Phelps

    • Robert Montano (Colorado New Play Summit) as Jeffrey Phelps/Eric Wilson/Malik Peterson

    • Kim Staunton (Fences) as Louise Allen


    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


    Two Degrees. Kathleen McCall and Robert Montano. Photo by John Moore.
    First rehearsal for the upcoming 'Two Degrees': Kathleen McCall and Robert Montano. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

  • 2016 True West Award: Jason Ducat

    by John Moore | Dec 27, 2016
    True West Award Jason Ducat


    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 27: Jason Ducat

    If you listen closely, you can hear the echoing drumbeats of war still pulsing from the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s sexy military epic Troilus and Cressida, courtesy of the busiest sound designer in Denver, Jason Ducat.

    True West Award Jason Ducat Quote“Special note needs to be made of the blaring horns and incessant drums of Jason Ducat's sound design,” wrote Scott Rochat of the Boulder Daily Camera. “When it's time to get down to the business of combat, the choreography and sound fill the stage with an infectious energy and sense of danger.”

    Designing sound is so much more than picking songs to play during interminable scene changes. The masterful sound designer creates a soundscape that sets a mood, that communicates emotions, that furthers the play’s themes, that talks to the audience and accentuates whatever the director is trying to get across, says Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s Stephen Weitz.

    Few are better at that than Ducat, who has been designing sound for area theatre companies for the past eight years. Above all else, adds the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s Carolyn Howarth, “Jason possesses a keen ability to tell story through sound.”

    Our 2015 profile of Stage Manager Rachel Newman Ducat

    And he told a lot of stories in 2016. Eight in all, from Boulder to Denver to Colorado Springs. The rundown:

    • White Guy on the Bus, Curious Theatre Company
    • Cymbeline, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
    • Equivocation, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
    • The Comedy of Errors, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
    • Troilus and Cressida, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
    • Antony and Cleopatra, Colorado Springs TheatreWorks
    • Full Code, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    • Hand to God, Curious Theatre Company

    True West Award Jason Ducat. Full Code. Casee Andree. Photo by Michael Ensminger. Two of the highlights from that list have to be his work on Troilus and Cressida and Full Code. Shakespeare’s seldom-produced war orgy. We’re talking the Trojan War, without a Trojan in sight. Seven years of carnal carnage (seemingly) over the abduction of Helen of Troy. What Howarth wanted from Ducat, she said, “was a pounding, percussive, martial soundtrack to amplify the war-time aspect of the story.” And he delivered.

    “Jason tweaks and twists his sound design to perfectly punctuate each strike of a sword and hit to a shield,” she said. “It's magical and exacting work, and his results are always extraordinary."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    For Full Code, a world-premiere play by David Valdes Greenwood about a man who has been in a freak accident, Ducat’s challenge was the opposite. He had to go small to somehow come up with an evocative sound that somehow captured the turbulence of a man trapped in a coma. Ducat’s sound design, wrote GetBoulder.com theatre critic Beki Pineda, “greatly enhances the startling changes the man is going through.”

    (Pictured above and right: Casey Andree in the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's 'Full Code.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.)

    When picking a sound designer, said Weitz, director of Full Code, “you want someone who has all of the technical training, but more than that you want a collaborator who is flexible, takes feedback well and works well with the other designers on the creative team.”

    Weitz and Howarth both separately used that word when describing Ducat, “collaborator.” And to Howarth, “he is one of my very favorite collaborators.”

    Ducat hails from Ohio and has designed sound with the DCPA Theatre Company for seven years, with credits including Glengarry Glen Ross, When Tang Met Laika, The House of the Spirits, Lord of the Flies, Shadowlands, Reckless, Superior Donuts, Heartbreak House, and Othello. He started work today on his next project, the world-premiere play Two Degrees, opening Feb. 3 in the Jones Theatre. Ducat is also an Artistic Company member at Curious Theatre Company, where he has designed more than 20 shows, and he is the resident sound designer for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

    "Jason spends more time in the rehearsal room than any designer I know, and consequently always has a remarkably keen understanding of not only the play, but this particular production of the play," said actor and director Gary Wright. "That's what makes his work so alive. He not only has a great ear for music and sound, he has a great eye for truth and what's actually happening in the moment, and he has a great gift for helping to tell that story."

    The best that can be said of Ducat, Howarth said, is the best that can be said of any sound designer:

    “Under Jason’s designs,” she said, “Our productions come alive.”

    (And yes, it helps to have a solid iTunes library.)

    Jason Ducat/At a glance

  • Hometown: Bowling Green, Ohio
  • College: University of South Florida; MFA in Sound Design from Purdue University
  • DCPA Theatre Company Sound Designer for seven years. Now an Artistic Company member at Curious Theatre Company and resident sound designer for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival
  • He also teaches and mentors at the University of Colorado-Boulder and Metro State University
  •  Married to DCPA Stage Manager Rachel Newman Ducat, who is currently running An Act of God at the Garner-Galleria Theatre. They are the parents of twins.

  • ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS

    The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    THE 2016 TRUE WEST AWARDS
    Day 1: Jada Suzanne Dixon
    Day 2: Robert Michael Sanders
    Day 3: After Orlando
    Day 4: Michael Morgan
    Day 5: Beth Beyer
    Day 6: Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski
    Day 7: donnie l. betts
    Day 8: Night of the Living Dead
    Day 9: The Killer Kids of Miscast
    Day 10: Jason Sherwood
    Day 11: Leslie O'Carroll and Steve Wilson
    Day 12: Jonathan Scott-McKean
    Day 13: Jake Mendes
    Day 14: Charles R. MacLeod
    Day 15: Patty Yaconis
    Day 16: Daniel Langhoff
    Day 17: Colorado Shakespeare Festival costumers
    Day 18: Miriam Suzanne
    Day 19: Yolanda Ortega
    Day 20: Diana Ben-Kiki
    Day 21: Jeff Neuman
    Day 22: Gabriella Cavallero
    Day 23: Matthew Campbell
    Day 24: Sharon Kay White
    Day 25: John Hauser
    Day 26: Lon Winston
    Day 27: Jason Ducat
    Day 28: Sam Gregory
    Day 29: Warren Sherrill
    Day 30: The Women Who Run Theatre in Boulder
    Theatre Person of the Year Billie McBride
  • Arvada Center going retro by hiring core company for plays

    by John Moore | Apr 16, 2016

    Lynne Collins, Philip Sneed and Emily Van Fleet
    From left: Arvada Center Artistic Director of Plays Lynne Collins, Executive Director Philip Sneed and Costume Designer Clare Henkel at last year's Henry Awards. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    You might say the Arvada Center is leaping into the future by going back to the past.

    The 40-year-old Arvada Center has announced huge changes to the way it programs its theatre seasons. Moving forward, the Arvada Center essentially will be presenting two simultaneous yet independent seasons – its trademark musicals on the mainstage under the ongoing leadership of longtime Artistic Director Rod A. Lansberry, and a new “salon series” of plays in its studio theatre crafted by Lynne Collins.  

    Lynne Collins QuoteExecutive Director Philip Sneed has hired Collins in the new position of Artistic Director of Plays. She will helm the new four-play salon season, which will be presented primarily in repertory, and largely by a core company of up to seven recurring actors.

    “I think of it as sort of retro,” said Collins, known locally for her directing work with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Like many, Collins grew up on the American regional theatre movement that birthed the Denver Center and other foundational institutions in Seattle, Minneapolis and elsewhere. In their formative years, these theatres would hire “resident acting companies” that allowed as many as 25 actors to put down full-time roots in a given city for decades. The Arvada Center, too, grew around a core company of actors when it was founded in 1975. But a variety of economic, social and artistic factors have long since made permanent resident companies impractical.

    But Collins wants to be clear: She is talking about creating a strictly seasonal company for the Arvada Center, built one year at at a time. So the core actors she chooses for the 2016-17 season will not necessarily be the same core actors she chooses for the season that follows.

    The first company she hires will be tailored for the four plays she has chosen for 2016-17: Tartuffe, Bus Stop, The Drowning Girls and Waiting for Godot. Should the following season produce a wildly different type of fare, you will see a completely different slate of company actors. “This has a clear beginning and a clear end each and every year,” she said.

    Meanwhile, the Arvada Center's mainstage musical season kicks off Sept. 9 with Sister Act and continues with an original holiday production written by longtime Musical Director David Nehls titled  “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” followed in the spring by Jesus Christ Superstar.  “Part of the thinking is to free up Rod so he can pursue new musicals for mainstage, which begins with the holiday show this year,” Collins said.

    Added Lansberry: “The season is a blend of pieces that will truly show off the talent and artistry of the Arvada Center. It is especially exciting to premiere an original work over the holidays that features music by David Nehls.”

    Arvada Center

    From left: Geoffrey Kent, Sam Gregory, Emily Van Fleet and Joshua Robinson.


    Here is how it all shakes down, in 10 easy bullet points.

    1 PerspectivesHow are you defining “company?” Collins is calling anyone a company member who is involved in at least two of her four studio (also called "black box") plays each year.

    2 PerspectivesDo you already know who some of your inaugural company members will be? Yes, Collins already has committed to three longtime Denver Center favorites: Geoffrey KentSam Gregory and Josh Robinson, as well as Creede Repertory Theatre’s Emily Van Fleet. At least three other company members will be determined after general auditions April 24-25. Company members may serve multiple functions. Kent, for example, will act in Bus Stop and direct Waiting for Godot. Gregory will play Orgon in Tartuffe, Vladimir in Godot and a role to be determined in Bus Stop. “Company” also includes directors and designers. The creative company will include Shannon McKinney (Lighting Design), Brian Mallgrave (Scenic Design), Jason Ducat (Sound Design) and Clare Henkel (Costume Design).

    3 PerspectivesWait, Geoffrey Kent is an integral part of both the Denver Center and Colorado Shakespeare Festival families. And Sam Gregory will be taking over as the DCPA Theatre Company’s new Scrooge in its annual stagings of A Christmas Carol. Can these actors do it all? Absolutely, Collins says. “This is not about competition. This is about building an ecology of cooperation and mutual support that will benefit local theatres and the livelihoods of actors alike," she said. "An actor who does the whole season here at the Arvada Center will be offered a 30-week employment contract. And next to the Denver Center, the Arvada Center is the best-paying gig in town. By creating a company, we are creating more work for more actors, designers and directors. That gives them negotiating power, and I just think that's healthy. My goal is to try to work it out so that everyone can take advantage of other employment opportunities that come their way, because that benefits all of us. So yes, Sam will be doing A Christmas Carol, and Geoff will be doing an outside directing gig in the fall. We're sharing talent. I was so excited when (DCPA Director of Education) Allison Watrous said yes to directing Bus Stop. She is integral to what happens at the Denver Center. That's a great crossover.” 

    Gregory, for one, says he can’t wait to be an inaugural Arvada Center company member, and continue his relationship with the Denver Center at the same time. "I'm so (bleeping) excited about this,” he said, “... and you can quote me on that."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    4 PerspectivesSo this is about building a stronger and more sustainable overall metro theatre ecology? That’s the idea. Many people gauge the overall health of any theatre city by the number of professional, union theatres it sustains that can create a living wage for a broad number of working artists. “It is my goal for this to be a place where a really strong community of local theatre artists can have a home,” Collins said. “Actors would love to be able to stay put. That's then good for the Denver Center. It's good for Curious. It’s good for all of us.

    “There's an old saying that the best place to build a gas station is next to another gas station. I really, truly believe that good theatre is good for all of us, and I am hoping that the Arvada Center Black Box becomes a real part of that ecology." 

    5 PerspectivesBut seven actors – that’s not enough to put on four plays, is it? No. More than a dozen roles will be made available to actors outside the core company. "That means more jobs for local actors," Collins said. "There may be a project where I have to import somebody I can't find here. But I hope not to."

    6 PerspectivesSo for the inaugural season – those four plays sound, well ... pretty old. It’s true: The first four titles average 120 years old. But Collins knows what she is doing – and whom she’s doing it for. Whereas most other companies are ever-scrambling to try and serve a wider and more diverse (and often elusive) group of potential new audiences, the Arvada Center remains mindful of its core demographic. Arvada is a city of 113,000 that is 82 percent white. The Arvada Center serves a much greater radius than just Arvada, but it is not trying to be all things to all people. This is a conservative season for a conservative audience base. “We don't intend to chase all of the cool new titles the way Curious Theatre or the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company does,” Collins said. “And partly that's because they do that so well.” The exception would be The Drowning Girls, the 2008 story of three dead brides who gather evidence against the womanizing, murderous husband they shared in life. But the season is not an appeal to widely varying ethnic or social groups. And that, in turn, serves the repertory concept. That said, Collins said the 2016-17 lineup will present her actors with significant and divergent artistic challenges. “They are going to be asked to make some interesting transformations over the course of the season,” she said. “And that, along with paying the bills, will feed their souls a little bit.”

    7 PerspectivesWhat is the artistic upside? “I grew up on regional theatres with resident ensembles that performed in true repertory," Collins said. "That's where artists really shine - when you have a chance to develop an artistic shorthand with a core group of people, and you give them a real artistic home.

    "We were motivated to see if there is an economically viable way to create the kind of relationship with our audience that I think only a company can really do. When you see an actor in a tiny role in one play, and then starring in the next, then you begin to build a relationship with the audience.”

    Another upside: Large plays - which is becoming more and more of an economic anomaly these days. “Playwrights today are writing small-cast plays - which is smart, because that's the only way to get a new play produced these days,” Collins said. “We're going to stay away from that wheelhouse, and instead look at shows that you can build around a larger number of actors who have real ensemble chops."  

    8 PerspectivesSo where is the Creede Repertory Theatre on your schedule? It’s not. Since 2010, Creede Repertory Theatre, located 250 miles southwest of Denver, has brought one of its summer season offerings down to Denver for a fall run at the Arvada Center, but that no longer fits under the new artistic blueprint. Look for Creede Rep to pop up at other metro theatres, like perhaps the Lone Tree Arts Center, in future seasons. “We haven’t given up the Front Range yet,” said Creede Rep’s Sarah Wallace.

    9 PerspectivesOther big changes are going on at the Arvada Center, right. Big? More like seismic. The Arvada Center is nearing the end a massive, three-year organizational transition from a city-run facility to a semi-independent nonprofit. This is a risky gambit, but one other city-run theatres such as the Aurora Fox will be eyeing closely. Theatres that are run by cities have the benefit of guaranteed funding in place that other non-profits can only dream of. But being a city-run facility comes with all kinds of bureaucracy and programmatic restrictions. Separating from the city should afford the Arvada Center creative staff more control over the activities, programs and theatrical productions offered there. But it will still receive about $4 million from the city each year – which is about the same as it gets now, Sneed said. So once that happens, it should be a win-win for all.  

    10 PerspectivesAnd who is Lynne Collins? She was first brought to Colorado by Sneed when he ran the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Her credits there include Noises Off (2012), Romeo and Juliet (2011), Macbeth (2008) and All’s Well That Ends Well (2007). (Her proudest achievement: R&J, she says.) Since 1990, Collins has been an Affiliate Artist and resident director with the Foothill Theatre Company in Nevada City, Calif., where her directing credits have included Oleanna, The Glass Menagerie and Dancing at Lughnasa. Other theatres include The Western Stage in Salinas, Calif., Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival and the Sierra Shakespeare Festival. She steered a bilingual A Midsummer Night's Dream, featuring actors from the Maxim Gorky Theatre in Vladivostok, Russia. She studied at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, HB Studio in New York and with Stella Adler. She holds an M.A. from San Francisco State University.


    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. 


    ARVADA CENTER: TICKET INFORMATION
    Subscription packages range in price from $120 to $318
    To buy, call 720-898-7200, go to 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., or online at www.arvadacenter.org/subscribe

    Note: Single tickets go on sale Monday, Aug. 1.

    MAINSTAGE SEASON
    Sept. 9-Oct. 2: Sister Act, Directed by Rod A. Lansberry
    By Alan Menken, Glenn Slater, Cheri Steinkellner, Bill Steinkellner and Douglas Carter Beane

    Nov. 18-Dec. 23: I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Directed by Gavin Mayer
    By David Nehls

    March 24-April 16, 2017: Jesus Christ Superstar, Directed by Rod A. Lansberry
    By Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber

    STUDIO "BLACK BOX" SEASON
    Sept. 30-Nov. 6: Tartuffe, Directed by Lynne Collins
    By Molière, translated by Richard Wilbur

    Feb. 24-May 14, 2017: Bus Stop, Directed by Allison Watrous
    By William Inge

    March 17-May 21, 2017: The Drowning Girls, Directed by Lynne Collins
    By Beth Graham, Charlie Tomlinson and Daniela Vlaskalic

    April 21-May 20, 2017: Waiting for Godot, Directed by Geoffrey Kent
    By Samuel Beckett

    For individual play descriptions, click here

  • Art and Artist: Rachel Ducat has the mother of all jobs

    by NewsCenter Staff | Feb 02, 2016
    Rachel Jason Ducat. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins
    Rachel and Jason Ducat. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins.


    By Olivia Jansen

    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Stage Manager Rachel Ducat knows a thing or two about being a mom. Not only does she care for her 17-month old twin boys, she considers being “the mom of the room” part of her job description. From the week before rehearsals begins until any given show closes, Ducat has a slew of responsibilities. She acts as the liaison between everyone from the director to actors to costume-makers to marketing to the running crew. She manages the daily rehearsal schedule and she stays up-to-date on all needs concerning costumes, props, the set and more. Once the play moves from the rehearsal room into the actual theatre, Ducat takes a lead role in running the show. And once the show opens and the director departs, the Stage Manager officially takes over all aspects of the production.

    Rachel Jason Ducat. Of course, she has some help. Her assistant on the DCPA Theatre Company’s All the Way, opening Friday, is Matt Campbell. When technical rehearsals begin, Campbell makes sure Ducat’s directions are followed backstage. Ducat also manages an apprentice who helps get anything done that needs being done.

    “I’m their mom during the entire run, and then I close the show,” said Ducat, whose recent assignments have included Theatre Company productions of Tribes, One Night in Miami and Appoggiatura. “I maintain it from top to bottom.”

    Like any job, stage-managing presents challenges. Ducat said learning how to read people is critical, and how to deal with the inevitable conflict that comes with balancing so many personalities and departments. She said she’s learned a lot about herself and how to read situations. Just like being a mom.

    With Monday as her only one day off each week, Ducat misses her family a lot. But she and her husband, Jason Ducat, make it work. Some days Jason, who was a DCPA sound designer for seven years, will bring the twins to the Denver Center so the family can spend time together over dinner breaks. On big shows like All The Way, the company rehearses from noon to 4 p.m., and again from 6-10 p.m. Rachel typically arrives earlier than that, and leaves later than that.

    “I have babies at home, so I miss them,” she said. “I miss the day-to-day of, ‘What did they do today?’ and, ‘What did they eat today?’ They are long days but it’s what we love, so it’s what we do.”

    Parents will tell you their worlds change after having kids. Ducat said she and her husband have made sacrifices, but it’s all for the babies. With two little ones at home, they compromise to make their work schedules fit together. If Rachel is working a show, Jason will turn down jobs so he can be home, and vice versa. Ducat said having children also changes where she chooses to work.

    “I did a few seasons at Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder, but that’s not really feasible anymore,” she said. “It’s a 45-minute drive from my house, and that’s too much time away from my babies.”

    Rachel Ducat quoteBut she considers turning down remote jobs to be a luxury; it means she gets to work close to home and be near her family.

    Ducat personifies many qualities of being a great stage manager, said her boss, DCPA Production Stage Manager Chris Ewing, including her organizational skills and  levelheadedness.

    "She doesn't panic in the midst of crisis or chaos - two things a stage manager has to deal with frequently," Ewing said.

    Theatre has been part of Ducat’s life since she was little. As a singer, she loved musical theatre. As an actor, she enjoyed straight theatre. As an English minor, she liked Shakespeare. But she knew she didn’t want to be a professional actor, so she needed to find her theatrical niche. As a child, she often was cast as the sister, or Friar Tuck, or other random small parts that didn’t interest her. But she loved the production side of theatre. And she has known she is the “mom type” since working as a counselor at a summer camp.

    She decided to study theatre production at the University of Delaware. She graduated in 2001 and has been stage-managing ever since. She worked her first show, Twelfth Night, as an intern at the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival. She says her internships were the best part of her education because she didn’t do much stage management in school. She learned what she knows now from everyone she worked with after graduation.

    Ducat has worked in Cleveland, Chicago, Michigan, Ohio and Connecticut, which she says is part of what she loves about theatre; it can bring you to many new places and allow you to meet many new people. While in Chicago, she worked on blockbuster hits such as Wicked, Jersey Boys and Dirty Dancing.

    Her opportunity to work on Wicked is proof the theatre community can be a very small world. Ducat lived in Chicago for about seven years and worked at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. The show she worked on was geared toward children, so she worked mornings and had nights off. One night, during Wicked’s sit-down in the city, Ducat shadowed her friend, an assistant stage manager on the show. The production stage manager was looking for people who could come in at the last minute to work on the show should anyone on the stage management team call in sick. Ducat jumped at the chance. When she sat down with the production stage manager to go over her resume, they realized they had a mutual job connection – the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival. She got the job.

    “He remembered coming up to the stage with tears in his eyes to tell me my mother was on the phone crying and that my grandmother had passed away,” Ducat recalled. “So it’s a very small world in this business; Matt (Campbell) and I worked at the same theatre in Michigan, but at different times. Then we were both hired here at the DCPA in the same season.”

    Rachel Ducat addresses cast, crew and visitors to the recent opening rehearsal for 'Tribes.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Tribes
    Rachel Ducat addresses cast, crew and visitors to the recent opening rehearsal for 'Tribes.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Theatre also brought Rachel and her husband together. They met at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which has two venues: Rachel interned at one while Jason worked at the other. They would carpool together but never worked side-by-side until they arrived at the Denver Center. Rachel said Jason is not only her husband, but also her best friend.

    What exactly does Jason do as a sound designer? Anything heard at a show, from sound effects to scene-ending transitions, was created by a sound designer. They also might compose music for some shows. The goal is to create feeling at a show. But since Jason wanted to focus more on teaching, which he started doing at Metropolitan State University this semester, he’s taken more freelance jobs at local theatres such as the Curious and Edge theatre companies.

    Couples working together within the Denver Center’s design staff is something of a DCPA peculiarity, Ducat said. With Charles and Jan MacLeod (Lighting Design and Costume Director), and Lisa and Bob Orzolek (Director of Scene Design and Associate Technical Director), Ducat joked there must be something in the Denver Center’s water. But for her, partnering with someone you work with just makes sense.

    “You’re in the theatre for so many hours a day, so where else would you meet people?” she asked. “A lot of times people marry someone where they work because we’re here for so long.”

    The Ducats have made many friends at the Denver Center, and they both have found second working homes at Curious Theatre. They love the weather and the schools, and they see Denver as a great place to raise their boys. But, she said, it’s mostly the people.

    “The Denver Center attracts people who want to stay here for the long run,” she said. “We come and we stay.”


    DCPA NewsCenter intern Olivia Jansen is a junior at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, where she is studying multimedia journalism. She is from Johnsburg, Ill. Read her previous profiles of Denver actors Karen Slack and Paige Price here.

    Rachel Ducat runs a rehearsal at the Colorado Shakespeare Festval's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Rachel Ducat runs a rehearsal at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.



    All the Way: Ticket information

  • All the WayJan. 29-Feb. 28 at the Stage Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of All the Way
    Video: Cast reads from Civil Rights Act
    When Robert Schenkkan meets LBJ, sparks fly
    Five ways you don't have to connect the dots 'All the Way' to today

    Full casting announced
    Official show page
    DCPA Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16

    Previous DCPA 'Art and Artist' profiles:
    Lisa (Director of Scene Design) and Associate Technical Director) Bob Orzolek
    Box office Subscription Manager (and Off-Center host) Micah White
    Costume Crafts Director Kevin Copenhaver
    Stage manager Jennifer Schmitz
    Costume Designer Megan Anderson Doyle
    Graphic Designer Kyle Malone
    Stage Manager Kurt Van Raden
    Teaching Artist Jessica Austgen
    Head of Acting Lawrence Hecht
    Lighting Designer Charles MacLeod
    Director of I.T. Bruce Montgomery
    Stage Manager Lyle Raper
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    ABOUT THE EDITOR
    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

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