• Director Sam Buntrock on 'Tommy' and riding the rock 'n roller coaster

    by John Moore | May 04, 2018


    Our video takes you behind-the-scenes with the making of the DCPA Theatre Company’s 'The Who's Tommy, Interviews include Director Sam Buntrock, star Andy Mientus and choreographer Katie Spelman. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

     

    A deeper drive with the director: What happens when we discover our fallen gods are merely human beings? 

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Who’s seminal rock opera Tommy is Pete Townshend's semi-autobiographical story of a kid who was molested, abused, exploited and grows up to be internationally celebrated. And then it becomes a commentary on the fickle nature of pop idolatry, which could be seen as two very different things.

    “Well, it is two different things, but it's the same thing,” said Sam Buntrock, who is directing the DCPA Theatre Company’s vibrant new look at the 1994 Broadway stage adaptation through May 27.  

    “That’s the Amy Winehouse story. We’ve seen it a thousand times, and we’ve seen it end tragically a thousand times. The notion of somebody whose stardom is made through their past, whose unique abilities and charisma and enigma is their past, and the idea of them becoming a star and then falling from grace — it's all the same thing. It’s the vicious cycle of stardom.”   

    In his story, Townshend turns a deaf, dumb and blind kid named Tommy into an iconic — and ironic — hero of a sport that no one actually fan-follows. And just as quickly, he’s yesterday's news.

    “That is why this is such a surprisingly rich piece,” Buntrock said. "He’s talking about how we love to lift up in order to tear down. You see it happen again and again in the British tabloids, almost on a daily basis: A star is either on their way up or being pulled back down again. It's this idea that because we have made their lives news, then every intimate thing about them must be known. And then we find out that they're just people. We find out that they're not gods. We find out that they're just human beings. And then they disappoint us. And that disappointment is the moment the elevator stops to go back down again.”

    Buntrock first came to Denver for the 2012 Colorado New Play Summit that would lead to his direction of Michael Mitnick’s world premiere Ed, Downloaded. He returned in 2016 for an innovative staging of the National Theatre’s Frankenstein, in which the actors playing both God and Monster switched each performance.

    Ed, Downloaded introduced me to the capacity and the ability of the Denver Center as a house for making sensational and world-class theater,” Buntrock said. “And then Frankenstein was essentially making a movie on stage.”

    Here is more of Buntrock’s conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore:   

    Sam Buntrock The Who's Tommy. Photo by John Moore.


    John Moore: How did the idea to take a fresh look at The Who's Tommy come about?

    Sam Buntrock: When I was invited to come back and direct Frankenstein, I remember sitting on the steps of The Stage Theater with (former DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director) Kent Thompson when he asked me what I wanted to do next. I said “Tommy,” because it was a piece I'd always dreamed of having a chance to do. And I realized that the only place I could do a version with my vision and of this ambition is at a place with the multi-departmental excellence of the Denver Center.

    John Moore: Your cast is smaller than the original Broadway production by half — but I have a feeling your vision is no less grand.

    Sam Buntrock: This one is gargantuan in its own way, but also tiny. I mean, that's the challenge — making an intimate version that's also huge.

    John Moore: You have said that as a theatregoer, you don't particularly like musicals. So is this then a musical for people who don't like musicals?

    Sam Buntrock: I, by default, don't like musicals because musical theater at its worst is a series of conventions unchecked. I've learned over decades of working in the development of musical theater that so much of the conversation is about how we have to do certain things because that's the way it is always done. It's almost like a factory. A production line. I'm drawn to musicals that don't do that. The work of Stephen Sondheim has been incredibly influential on me because he reinvents the form each time he does a show. He looks at what the story needs and he reinvents.

    Our interview with The Who's Tommy star Andy Mientus

    John Moore: How is Tommy an exception to the rule?

    Sam Buntrock: Tommy isn't a musical; it's a collage. It's a song cycle. It's an album written by a man in his early 20s that is a form of self-expression about his childhood. And he is talking about the childhoods of a whole generation of people who experienced the second World War and its repercussions as children. And therefore, it's about the birth of the '60s because those people went on to make the '60s. Pete Townshend is writing about his own personal experience through the filter of a grand metaphor, and somehow that manages to be about all of us. Our childhoods make us the people we are, for good or ill. Every single one of us. Tommy is about how these incredibly damaging things made him who he is — and also happened to make him a star. There's this line when his fan, Sally Simpson, says she wants to be more like him. But all he wants to be is more like them. He just wants not to have had his past. Not to have had those things that made him who he is. But if he doesn't have those things, he stops being the star.

    John Moore: The film version of Tommy was released the same year as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar. In some ways, they seem to be the same story.

    Sam Buntrock: Well, Jesus's biggest crime was that he was just a man. That's what made his downfall. People aren't interested in any nuance. I mean, you look at that in the world we live in right now: People would rather just be told the simplified version of the truth and not deal with the fact that things aren't simple. And the moment you start to find out the reality of any human being — that they are contradictory, and that they are flawed, you start to lose sight of the mythology.

    Tommy-home-slide
    Scenic design by Jason Sherwood. Photo by Adams VisCom.

    John Moore: In what ways are you changing the framing of the storytelling in your version of Tommy?

    Sam Buntrock: We present the beginning of the story as Tommy's mythology, as what he understands the story of his parents to be. So his father is a god. His father is this entity who created him and left, and never came back. And so when his father does arrive back home, the first thing he does is commit a brutal act of violence. And so the man is flawed and scared and human. And that’s the biggest crime of all — to be human.

    John Moore: What can we know about what Jason Sherwood is up to with the scenic design for this production?

    Sam Buntrock: Well, what isn’t Jason Sherwood up to in this production? This is the most ambitious thing we've ever done together, and we went through more iterations on this than any of our other shows combined because we knew we had to get it just right. It's not a literal space, it is a beautifully conceived abstract space that helps, I hope, the audience to see the whole show through an expressionist lens. This space is fragments and memory. I think he's done something extraordinary. But then again, he always does.

    andy-mientus-as-tommy-photo-by-adamsviscom_26827050207_oJohn Moore: You created some of your own animations for this production.

    Sam Buntrock: Yes, I have a history and an interest in combining projection and animation with live performance. And that was a lot of fun.

    John Moore: What do you want to say about the pedigree of your cast?

    Sam Buntrock: Well, casting for this show was a white-knuckle-ride, but we have collected a cast the caliber of which I couldn't have dreamed of across the board. They do extraordinary things on a vocal level, but they're also really good actors. It's been so rewarding with these actors to unearth all of the emotion and pain and truth inside of what Pete was playing with.

    John Moore: For fans of the film, will there be baked beans?

    Sam Buntrock: Ann-Margret's not here, but there will be baked beans on that stage at some point in the show, yes.

    John Moore: Let’s talk specifically about what Andy Mientus brings to the role of Tommy.

    Sam Buntrock: Andy fundamentally understands what fame is about from his own experiences. All of us in the Broadway community watch people get launched into the stratosphere. We see how people handle it, and some do it better than others. I think what Andy brings — and I mean this as the utmost compliment —  is a simplicity and an innocence, but without being childlike. He's very straightforward in the way he performs. His Tommy is very clear and very, very charismatic. Which he has to be, because he's the person who takes you on the journey. But also, when he’s experienced the effects of being famous, Andy is playing that with an honesty and a brutality that's really, really arresting. And it's real.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: You show more of young Tommy throughout than any previous staging of the show.

    Sam Buntrock: In this production, we meet the 4-year old at the very beginning of the show, and he takes us through his understanding of who he is and how he came to be. It's his story. The parents are incredibly important, but it's not their story; it's his story. Their story is only there because it makes his story.

    John Moore: What made you think you could take two 4-year-old kids off the street to share the role and know they could handle so much responsibility?

    Sam Buntrock. Photo by John MooreSam Buntrock: It was hairy initially, because first we had to find these kids who could really carry the show. And that was important to me because I think there's nothing like seeing a real 4-year old on stage to understand who Tommy was when all of this happened to him. To connect that frailty and vulnerability. Having any child on the stage is inherently fragile because you don't know what's going to happen next. And when Samuel Bird and Radley Wright are on the stage, it's incredibly fragile. As an audience member, you see a child on the stage and you wonder, ‘Well, how is it going to run?’ For me, the most unsatisfying part of seeing this show in the past has been that we only meet the 4-year old Tommy for about 90 seconds before the moment of violence that changes the course of his life. Everything that is his childhood gets internalized, and he goes into his stasis. And he’s gone. Now, if we've only seen that for 90 seconds, it's impactful, but it's not profound. If we see the whole story through his eyes, through his imagination, through his exuberance and innocence and hope, then the moment it gets internalized, I think that's a stomach punch.

    John Moore: What do you want to say to people who might be on the fence about coming to see a rock opera about a traumatized and exploited pinball wizard?

    Sam Buntrock: I've been approaching this show like Shakespeare. My goal is presenting a story that is clear on a visual level. This is a piece that has required every skill set; every part of what I can do and want to do. I believe that we are presenting this in a fresh way, in a very authentic way, that I hope has strong emotional resonance. But it also is really bloody entertaining, you know? This is rock and roll — and it goes up to 11.

    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: Your first look at The Who's Tommy at the Denver Center:

    Your first video look in video at scenes from the DCPA Theatre Company's new production of 'The Who's Tommy.' Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    The Who's Tommy
    : Ticket information

    Tommy_show_thumbnail_160x160Based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, Tommy is an exhilarating musical about the challenges of self-discovery and the resilience of the human spirit. When young Tommy retreats into a world of darkness and silence after a deeply traumatic incident, he must navigate a harsh and unforgiving world with no hope of recovery. But when he discovers a newfound talent for pinball, he’s swept up in the fame and fortune of his success. Tommy and his family give new voice to The Who’s classic stadium rock as they navigate the troubles and joys of being alive.
    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 27
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Who's Tommy:
    Photo gallery: The making of The Who's Tommy at the Denver Center:

    The making of 'The Who's Tommy'
    The photos above are from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's new production of The Who's Tommy, spanning the first day of rehearsal on March 13 to the Opening Night performance on April 27.To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos.
  • The Who's Tommy: Opening night photos and celebration

    by John Moore | May 02, 2018
    Photo gallery: The making of The Who's Tommy at the Denver Center:

    The making of 'The Who's Tommy'

    The photos above are from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's new production of The Who's Tommy, spanning the first day of rehearsal on March 13 to the Opening Night performance on April 27, including behind-the-scenes photos backstage and the celebration afterward in the Seawell Ballroom.

    To see more images, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of downloadable photos. All photos may be downloaded and shared with credit: Photo booth images by Bamboo Booth. All other opening-night photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    The Who's Tommy, based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, runs through May 27 in The Stage Theatre.

    Tommy Opening. Photo by John Moore
    That’s Radley Wright, who plays 4-year-old Tommy, off playing pinball while the openong-night party was going on in the Seawell Ballroom upstairs. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 
     
    Cast list:
    • Andy Mientus (Broadway’s Les Misérables, Spring Awakening, NBC’s “Smash”) as Tommy
    • Joe Beauregard (Kinky Boots first national tour) as Ensemble
    • Charl Brown (Broadway’s Motown The Musical) as Captain Walker
    • Katie Drinkard (DCPA’s The Wild Party) as Swing
    • Carson Elrod (Broadway’s Peter and the Starcatcher, Noise’s Off) as Uncle Ernie
    • Lulu Fall (Broadway’s Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, Hair) as Acid Queen/EnsembleDCPA_TheWhosTommy-800 Bamboo Booth
    • David Hess (Broadway’s Sunset Boulevard, Sweeney Todd) as Minister/Specialist/Judge/Ensemble
    • Sara Kapner (Broadway’s Hollywood Arms) as Sally Simpson/Ensemble
    • Gareth Keegan (CBS’ Instinct) as Cousin Kevin/Lover
    • Charlie Korman (DCPA’s Frankenstein) as Young Cousin Kevin/Ensemble
    • Betsy Morgan (Broadway’s The King and I) as Mrs. Walker
    • Corbin Payne (The Arvada Center’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) as Swing
    • Terence Reddick (Broadway’s Les Miserables) as Ensemble
    • Tristan Champion Regini (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Youth Understudy
    • Timothy John Smith (NBC’s “The Blacklist”) as Hawker/Ensemble
    • Olivia Sullivent (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Erin Willis (Off-Center’s The Wild Party) as Ensemble
    • Owen Zitek (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Youth Tommy.
    • Samuel Bird and Radley Wright share the role of Young Tommy at age 4

    (Pictured above and right, our four Tommys: Andy Mientus holding Radley Wright (left) and Samuel Bird. Owen Zitek in front. Photo by Bamboo Booth.) 

    Creatives:

    • Music and Lyrics by Pete Townshend
    • Book by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff
    • Additional Music and Lyrics by John Entwistle and Keith Moon
    • Directed by Sam Buntrock
    • Choreography by Katie Spelman (Oklahoma at Goodspeed Opera House)
    • Musical direction by Gregg Coffin (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd)
    • Scenic design by Jason Sherwood (DCPA’s Frankenstein, Off-Center’s The Wild Party)
    • Costume design by Kevin Copenhaver (DCPA’s Frankenstein)
    • Lighting design by David Weiner (Stephen King’s Misery on Broadway)
    • Sound design by Ken Travis (Broadway’s Aladdin)
    • Projection design by Alex Basco Koch (Broadway’s Irena's Vow)
    • Fight direction by Geoffrey Kent (DCPA’s This Is Modern Art)
    • Vocal and dialect coaching by Kathryn G. Maes Ph.D (DCPA’s The Secret Garden)
    • Stage Management by Kurt Van Raden
    • Assistant Stage Management by Corin Ferris and Michael Morales

    Video: Your first look at The Who's Tommy at the Denver Center:

    Your first video look in video at the DCPA Theatre Company's new production of 'The Who's Tommy.' Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    Photos: Your first look at the production photos:

    The Who's Tommy The first production photos for 'The Who's Tommy' by the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our Flickr gallery. Photos by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    The Who's Tommy
    : Ticket information

    Tommy_show_thumbnail_160x160Based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, Tommy is an exhilarating musical about the challenges of self-discovery and the resilience of the human spirit. When young Tommy retreats into a world of darkness and silence after a deeply traumatic incident, he must navigate a harsh and unforgiving world with no hope of recovery. But when he discovers a newfound talent for pinball, he’s swept up in the fame and fortune of his success. Tommy and his family give new voice to The Who’s classic stadium rock as they navigate the troubles and joys of being alive.
    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 27
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Who's Tommy:
  • Photos, audio: Broadway's Alex Brightman sings praises of 'Tommy'

    by John Moore | Apr 29, 2018

    Here is a short audio excerpt from singing the beloved "My Fair Lady" ballad "On the Street Where You Live" — as a serial killer. Audio by John Moore.

    At the Aurora Fox, Tony-nominated star of School of Rock, says it all began at 8 watching Michael Cerveris as Tommy

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Safe to say, if Alex Brightman doesn't see the Broadway production of The Who's Tommy when he was 8 years old, he does not go on to become a Broadway star, and he does not headline the Aurora Fox's annual gala last week.

    "That is literally my favorite show of all time," Brightman told the DCPA NewsCenter last Saturday before delivering a 50-minute musical set for an audience celebrating the announcement of the Aurora Fox's upcoming 34th season. And, appropriately enough, the event raised about $34,000 for the cause.

    Alex Brightman Aurora Fox. Photo by John Moore. Down the road, the DCPA Theatre Company was just beginning preview performances for a now-open staging of The Who's Tommy, and it was killing Brightman that he would not have the chance to see it.

    Brightman, 31, loved The Who growing up in California. "But then I saw Michael Cerveris blow the roof down on Broadway in 1995, and that is legitimately what started me in musical theatre," he said. "I was saying to myself, 'Wait a minute. That can be a thing? That's what I want to do.'”

    Brightman was well-aware of the new Denver Center production directed by Sam Buntrock, designed by Jason Sherwood and starring Andy Mientus. "It looks amazing,” he said. “I saw one screenshot of that set and I said, 'This is glorious.' Plus, I love Andy.”

     

    Aurora Fox ushers in new era with Caroline, Or Change

    Brightman, who was nominated for a Tony Award for originating the role of Dewey Finn in the Broadway adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock and will return to Broadway this fall starring in an as-yet unannounced new musical, knows how lucky he is. He tells a great story about how he got his first agent off a recommendation from Lin-Manuel Miranda, who dropped a dime after randomly seeing Brightman perform in a show. He is featured on two songs of a massive new, four-CD collection of Lloyd Webber songs along with the likes of Barbra Streisand, Lana Del Rey and Madonna.

    “And now I'm friends with Michael Cerveris,” he said. “We just sang together at a concert. I told him, ‘I was at the stage door for Tommy when I was 8 years old, and you shook my hand and said, “Thanks for coming to my show.” And now here we are onstage together.’ And he told me, ‘I'm not kidding you: ‘I want to be Alex Brightman when I grow up.' And I choked up. I couldn't believe it.”

    Graduating from School of Rock

    Brightman, whose Broadway credits also include Wicked, Matilda the Musical and Big Fish, has crossed paths with all sorts of Colorado-connected Broadway actors. In School of Rock, he starred opposite Sierra Boggess, who graduated from George Washington High School before the Denver-born The Little Mermaid launched her to international stardom (Love Never Dies, The Phantom of the Opera.) “I love Sierra,” Brightman said. “She is one of the coolest people of all time. And she is coming to my wedding next month.”

    The first national touring production of School of Rock visits the Buell Theatre from May 29-June 10, with Rob Colletti starring in the role Brightman originated on Broadway. “I know the dude, and he's fabulous,” Brightman said. “He’s a great amalgam of a lot of the guys who came before him.”

    (Story continues below the photo gallery.)

    Photo gallery: Aurora Fox gallery and Alex Brightman headlining concert:

    Aurora Fox Gala with Alex Brightman

    Photos from the Aurora Fox's 2018 season-announcement gala on April 21, and Alex Brightman's headlining concert. To see more, click on the photo above to be taken to our full, downloadable Flickr gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Based on the hit Jack Black film, School of Rock follows a wannabe rock star who turns a class of straight-A students into grade-A rockers. The show features all new songs from Lloyd Webber, and is the first on Broadway to ever feature a live kids rock band.

    School of Rock is a pure family show,” Brightman said. “That doesn't mean it’s all smiles and rainbows. But everyone who is age 8 to 80 can find something in it — and thankfully, we have good source material that everybody loves.” 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Brightman still calls Lloyd Webber “The Boss,” and he still laughs about the coincidence of his having the same last name as British songbird Sarah Brightman, who was Lloyd Webber's wife from 1984 to 1990. "We were in a Page 6 article!" Brightman said of the New York Post’s gossip page. "People were sniffing around thinking I might be the hidden love child of Sarah Brightman and Andrew Lloyd Webber. I do fit the timeline. I totally could be. Maybe I am!

    He's not. Not even close. Alex Brightman (no relation, repeat: no relation) was born in 1987 to an American mother also named Brightman in Saratoga, Calif., who worked at a dialysis clinic. Still, Brightman and “The Boss” have enjoyed toying with the press' fascination with the name.

    "When Andrew officially announced me for Broadway, it was a full press event the Grammercy Theatre. He said: ‘Not only am I thrilled to say that Alex Brightman will be leading our show on Broadway, I am doubly exited to say that I have no intention whatsoever of marrying him!’ I was backstage freaking out because the whole thing was just so insane." 

    From Sweeney Todd to 'Sweet Baby James'

    Brightman was asked to headline the Aurora Fox gala by new Executive Producer Helen R. Murray, who previously directed him in a one-man play called How I Paid for College at The Hub Theatre in Virginia. “Helen is a great hire for this theatre,” he said. “There is just something about her being in the room that makes everybody else want to step up and make things happen.”

    Passing Strange. Aurora Fox. Photo by John Moore. Brightman began his set by urging everyone in attendance to come back for the theatre’s current production of Passing Strange, running through May 13. He had seen the show the night before.

    “I loved the show on Broadway and was so thrilled to watch it re-created here in such a way that was different and interesting,” he said. “If you haven't seen it, you need to re-prioritize your entire schedule just to see it."

    (Pictured, from left: 'Passing Strange' Director Nick Sugar with actors Joseph Lamar, Shane Franklin, Katherine Paynter, Randy Chalmers and Sheryl McCallum. Not pictured: Trent Armand Kendall and Faith  Angelise Goins-Simmons. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Aurora Fox leaders Beau Bisson and Helen R. MurrayHe then launched into an eclectic set of mostly contemporary musical-theatre songs and pop standards that all had one thing in common. “These are songs that I like singing in the shower,” he said. “Tonight, I'm just clothed.”

    Familiar tunes included Billy Joel's “I Love You Just the Way You Are” and James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James” along with Broadway standards “Johanna” from Sweeney Todd and “I Don't Care Much" from Cabaret. But mostly Brightman introduced the audience to up-and-coming young off-Broadway songwriters he likes.
    (Pictured: Aurora Fox leaders Beau Bisson and Helen R. Murray.)

    The arguable highlight of the night was Brightman singing the beloved My Fair Lady ballad "On the Street Where You Live" — as a serial killer. He credited the idea to one of his vocal students. “When you think about it, you don't even have to change any of the lyrics,” he said. (Click here to hear a short audio excerpt.)

    John Moore's original report on closing of Glory Days

    Brightman spoke of his humbling, sorta Broadway debut in the ill-fated Glory Days, which in 2008 became the first Broadway musical in decades to open and close on the same day. The cast included Denver's Jesse JP Johnson, who did make his Broadway debut by virtue of 17 previews and an opening (and closing) performance. Brightman was the swing, so he never actually got to step on the stage. But things turned out OK for both of them — they both landed in Wicked, and away they went.

    Brightman ended the evening by thanking the audience for indulging him in what he calls his compulsion to perform.

    “This is all I have ever wanted do since as I was 8 years old, so thank you,” he said.

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


    Set list: Alex Brightman performs at the Aurora Fox

    • "Scratch-Off" (about a guy who bought a lottery ticket)
    • "Johanna," from Sweeney Todd
    • "Hey Man, This Place is Beautiful"* (about a friend who moves to Alaska)
    • "Nothing New to Do in Brooklyn Anymore"*
    • "Just the Way You Are," by Billy Joel
    • "Perfect, finite," by Chris Miller, from the 2005 song cycle Songs from an Unmade Bed
    • "After All" from the Broadway musical Glory Day
    • "Lost Horizon" from the Michael Friedman musical Gone Missing
    • "On the Street Where You Live" from My Fair Lady
    • "C Major " by Adam Gwon
    • "I Don't Care Much," from Cabaret
    • "A Little Bit" from Crazy, Just Like Me, by Drew Gasparini
    • "Sweet Baby James" by James Taylor

    *Unconfirmed titles

    Aurora Fox 2018-19 mainstage season at a glance

    • Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2018: Songs for a New World
    • Oct. 31, 2018: Killer Wigs from Outer Space
    • Nov. 23-Dec. 23, 2018: Twist Your Dickens
    • Jan. 18-Feb. 10, 2019: Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies
    • Feb. 22-March 17, 2019: Life Sucks
    • March 8 - March 24, 2019: The Happiest Place on Earth
    • April 5-May 12, 2019: Caroline or Change
    Aurora Fox. Photo by John Moore.

    The Aurora Fox. Photo by John Moore.

    Recent NewsCenter coverage of the Aurora Fox:
    Aurora Fox ushers in daring new era with Caroline, Or Change
    Passing Strange: Sheryl McCallum on the search for something more real than real
    April theatre openings: Don't pass on Passing Strange
    Colorado Fall Theatre Preview. Aurora Fox presents Hi-Hat Hattie
    Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: Aurora Fox presents Company
    Aurora Fox amping up musicals, diversity in 2017-18
    Charles Packard leaving Aurora Fox after 19 years


  • Video: Your first look at 'The Who's Tommy' at the Denver Center

    by John Moore | Apr 27, 2018

    Your first video look in video at the DCPA Theatre Company's new production of The Who's Tommy, running though May 27 on The Stage Theatre. Based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, 'Tommy' is an exhilarating musical about the challenges of self-discovery and the resilience of the human spirit. When young Tommy retreats into a world of darkness and silence after a deeply traumatic incident, he must navigate a harsh and unforgiving world with no hope of recovery. But when he discovers a newfound talent for pinball, he’s swept up in the fame and fortune of his success. Tommy and his family give new voice to The Who’s classic stadium rock as they navigate the troubles and joys of being alive. 'The Who's Tommy' is directed by Sam Buntrock and features Andy Mientus, Charl Brown and Betsy Morgan. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.  For information, call 303-893-4100 or go to denvercenter.org.

    Cast:

    • Andy Mientus (Broadway’s Les Misérables, Spring Awakening, NBC’s “Smash”) as Tommy
    • Joe Beauregard (Kinky Boots first national tour) as Ensemble
    • Charl Brown (Broadway’s Motown The Musical) as Captain Walker
    • Katie Drinkard (DCPA’s The Wild Party) as Swing
    • Carson Elrod (Broadway’s Peter and the Starcatcher, Noise’s Off) as Uncle Ernie
    • Lulu Fall (Broadway’s Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, Hair) as Acid Queen/Ensemble
    • David Hess (Broadway’s Sunset Boulevard, Sweeney Todd) as Minister/Specialist/Judge/Ensemble
    • Sara Kapner (Broadway’s Hollywood Arms) as Sally Simpson/Ensemble
    • Gareth Keegan (CBS’ Instinct) as Cousin Kevin/Lover
    • Charlie Korman (DCPA’s Frankenstein) as Young Cousin Kevin/Ensemble
    • Betsy Morgan (Broadway’s The King and I) as Mrs. Walker
    • Corbin Payne (The Arvada Center’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) as Swing
    • Terence Reddick (Broadway’s Les Miserables) as Ensemble
    • Tristan Champion Regini (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Youth Understudy
    • Timothy John Smith (NBC’s “The Blacklist”) as Hawker/Ensemble
    • Olivia Sullivent (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Erin Willis (Off-Center’s The Wild Party) as Ensemble
    • Owen Zitek (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Youth Tommy.
    • Samuel Bird and Radley Wright will share the role of Young Tommy at age 4
     

    Creatives

    • Music and Lyrics by Pete Townshend
    • Book by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff
    • Additional Music and Lyrics by John Entwistle and Keith Moon
    • Directed by Sam Buntrock
    • Choreography by Katie Spelman (Oklahoma at Goodspeed Opera House)
    • Musical direction by Gregg Coffin (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd)
    • Scenic design by Jason Sherwood (DCPA’s Frankenstein, Off-Center’s The Wild Party)
    • Costume design by Kevin Copenhaver (DCPA’s Frankenstein)
    • Lighting design by David Weiner (Stephen King’s Misery on Broadway)
    • Sound design by Ken Travis (Broadway’s Aladdin)
    • Projection design by Alex Basco Koch (Broadway’s Irena's Vow)
    • Fight direction by Geoffrey Kent (DCPA’s This Is Modern Art)
    • Vocal and dialect coaching by Kathryn G. Maes Ph.D (DCPA’s The Secret Garden)
    • Stage Management by Kurt Van Raden
    • Assistant Stage Management by Corin Ferris and Michael Morales

    Photos: Your first look at the production photos:

    The Who's Tommy The first production photos for 'The Who's Tommy' by the DCPA Theatre Company. Photos by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our Flickr gallery. More photos will be added later this week. Scenic design by Jason Sherwood. 'The Who's Tommy' opens today.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    The Who's Tommy
    at the DCPA: Ticket information

    Tommy_show_thumbnail_160x160Based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, Tommy is an exhilarating musical about the challenges of self-discovery and the resilience of the human spirit. When young Tommy retreats into a world of darkness and silence after a deeply traumatic incident, he must navigate a harsh and unforgiving world with no hope of recovery. But when he discovers a newfound talent for pinball, he’s swept up in the fame and fortune of his success. Tommy and his family give new voice to The Who’s classic stadium rock as they navigate the troubles and joys of being alive.
    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 27
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Who's Tommy:
    Photos: The making of The Who's Tommy at the Denver Center:

    The making of 'The Who's Tommy'

    Photos from the making of 'The Who's Tommy' by the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our Flickr gallery. More photos will be added later this week. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

  • Photos: Your first look at 'The Who's Tommy' at the Denver Center

    by John Moore | Apr 25, 2018
    The Who's Tommy Production photos for 'The Who's Tommy' by the DCPA Theatre Company. Photos by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our Flickr gallery. Scenic design by Jason Sherwood. 'The Who's Tommy' opens Friday.

    Cast:

    • Andy Mientus (Broadway’s Les Misérables, Spring Awakening, NBC’s “Smash”) as Tommy
    • Joe Beauregard (Kinky Boots first national tour) as Ensemble
    • Charl Brown (Broadway’s Motown The Musical) as Captain Walker
    • Katie Drinkard (DCPA’s The Wild Party) as Swing
    • Carson Elrod (Broadway’s Peter and the Starcatcher, Noise’s Off) as Uncle Ernie
    • Lulu Fall (Broadway’s Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, Hair) as Acid Queen/Ensemble
    • David Hess (Broadway’s Sunset Boulevard, Sweeney Todd) as Minister/Specialist/Judge/Ensemble
    • Sara Kapner (Broadway’s Hollywood Arms) as Sally Simpson/Ensemble
    • Gareth Keegan (CBS’ Instinct) as Cousin Kevin/Lover
    • Charlie Korman (DCPA’s Frankenstein) as Young Cousin Kevin/Ensemble
    • Betsy Morgan (Broadway’s The King and I) as Mrs. Walker
    • Corbin Payne (The Arvada Center’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) as Swing
    • Terence Reddick (Broadway’s Les Miserables) as Ensemble
    • Tristan Champion Regini (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Youth Understudy
    • Timothy John Smith (NBC’s “The Blacklist”) as Hawker/Ensemble
    • Olivia Sullivent (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Erin Willis (Off-Center’s The Wild Party) as Ensemble
    • Owen Zitek (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Youth Tommy.
    • Samuel Bird and Radley Wright will share the role of Young Tommy at age 4
     

    Creatives

    • Music and Lyrics by Pete Townshend
    • Book by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff
    • Additional Music and Lyrics by John Entwistle and Keith Moon
    • Directed by Sam Buntrock
    • Choreography by Katie Spelman (Oklahoma at Goodspeed Opera House)
    • Musical direction by Gregg Coffin (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd)
    • Scenic design by Jason Sherwood (DCPA’s Frankenstein, Off-Center’s The Wild Party)
    • Costume design by Kevin Copenhaver (DCPA’s Frankenstein)
    • Lighting design by David Weiner (Stephen King’s Misery on Broadway)
    • Sound design by Ken Travis (Broadway’s Aladdin)
    • Projection design by Alex Basco Koch (Broadway’s Irena's Vow)
    • Fight direction by Geoffrey Kent (DCPA’s This Is Modern Art)
    • Vocal and dialect coaching by Kathryn G. Maes Ph.D (DCPA’s The Secret Garden)
    • Stage Management by Kurt Van Raden
    • Assistant Stage Management by Corin Ferris and Michael Morales.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    The Who's Tommy
    at the DCPA: Ticket information

    Tommy_show_thumbnail_160x160Based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, Tommy is an exhilarating musical about the challenges of self-discovery and the resilience of the human spirit. When young Tommy retreats into a world of darkness and silence after a deeply traumatic incident, he must navigate a harsh and unforgiving world with no hope of recovery. But when he discovers a newfound talent for pinball, he’s swept up in the fame and fortune of his success. Tommy and his family give new voice to The Who’s classic stadium rock as they navigate the troubles and joys of being alive.
    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 27
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Who's Tommy:
  • Game on: Ten things we learned at 'Tommy' first rehearsal

    by John Moore | Mar 20, 2018
    The making of 'The Who's Tommy'


    Photos from the first rehearsal of the DCPA Theatre Company's production of 'The Who's Tommy.' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr photo gallery Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    The appeal of Tommy: The Who's adapted rock opus proves musical theatre can be both dangerous and entertaining

    By John Moore
    SenIor Arts Journalist

    Staging The Who’s Tommy has been a dream of Director Sam Buntrock’s since 1995, when the wiry young Brit saw one of the first performances of The Who's theatricalized tale of the deaf, dumb and blind kid at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London. And Buntrock doesn't even like musicals.

    But this wasn't any musical. It was The Who. And it wasn't a musical — not really. It was an unprecedented rock opera directed by the legendary Des McAnuff. "That extraordinary production showed me that musical theatre could be dangerous as well as entertaining," Buntrock said on the first day of rehearsal for his own upcoming DCPA Theatre Company production. "And I have harbored a desire to approach it myself ever since."

    Kevin Copenhaver. Tommy. Photo by John MooreSince is now, 23 years later.

    Tommy — the record and the stage adaptation — is Pete Townshend's psychedelic trip down memory lane. It tells the story of a boy who retreats into a world of darkness and silence after witnessing a traumatic incident and emerges as a rock-star pinball wizard. It is based largely on Townshend’s boyhood story, when he was sent away by his parents because London had become unsafe during the second world war. “He went to live with a grandmother who was severely mentally ill, and a number of terrible things happened to him,” Buntrock said. “He wrote this piece from the heart.”

    The Who had released three records by 1969, and by then Townshend was wanting to progress beyond the standard three-minute pop-single. So he wrote the trippy pinball opus that changed rock forever.

    (Pictured above and right: Costume Designer Kevin Copenhaver.)

    "I want to tell Pete’s story as authentically as possible," Buntrock said. "I want to tell the story of the repercussions of a moment of violence on this family, and how that cascades down over time and lasts for decades.”

    The Who's Tommy cast list includes Broadway stars

    Buntrock says The Who’s Tommy is about parents failing. “It's about growing up and realizing parents are just people. They are not gods anymore,” he said. “What Pete tapped into, as all geniuses do, was taking something deeply personal and finding a way to explode it into this fantastical story.”

    And, Buntrock added, “No one else in the world will be able to tell that story like we are telling it — and that is a testament to how great Denver is. This is a phenomenal theatre. This particular building is magical to me."

    Here are 10 more things we learned at first rehearsal of The Who’s Tommy:

    Sam Buntrock. Tommy. Photo by John Moore

    NUMBER 1I’m a sensation. There should be a moratorium on saying this, Buntrock admitted, “but Tommy was a sensation,” he said. “It became something more than itself.” He recalled a great story about when the band performed at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1971. “At the end of that concert,” Buntrock said, “Leonard Bernstein ran up to Pete Townshend, grabbed him by the lapels and said, 'Do you know what you have done?' That's Tommy. That album caused a huge shift in how rock music was considered.”

    NUMBER 2

    Throw the book at them. Buntrock has encouraged every member of his creative team to read Townshend's autobiography Who I Am. (The title is a variation on the band's anthem “Who Are You?”). At age 50, Townshend wrote an undelivered letter to his 8-year-old son. In it, the father advises the son to be a pessimist. “It is the safest, most pragmatic way to be,” Townshend wrote. “Being an optimist may enrich the lives of others … but it leads you unaware to danger.” Says Buntrock: “It’s one hell of a read. It's so generous and open and profound.”

    NUMBER 3The watered-down truth. Many of Buntrock’s out-of-town cast members are still adjusting to life — and singing — at a mile high. Music Director Gregg Coffin has encouraged them to drink plenty of water. But how much is enough? "Take your weight and divide it by two,” he said. “That’s how many ounces of water you should drink every day. "

    NUMBER 4

    See me … at age 4. Expect to see more of 4-year-old Tommy in Buntrock’s show than you ever have before, he said. The whole point is for us to see the story of Tommy’s parents through the 4-year-old’s eyes, Buntrock said. But in most stage productions, you only see the 4-year-old for about a minute before he’s gone for good. Not here. “We get to live in the 4-year-old’s head for about 15 minutes, right up until the moment of violence and everything gets taken away,” Buntrock said. “This approach will allow us to see the world the way he sees it until he literally hands the story over to his adult self. That way, when we get to the end, we know how extraordinary the journey has been — because we have been inside the mind of the 4-year-old. We know how beautiful that is. How untouched that is. How pure and how limitless that is. And hopefully, you know, everyone will be in tears by then.”

    NUMBER 5Clap on, clap off. This will make pretty much anyone who grew up with The Who’s music feel old, but here it is: The Who’s Tommy is a period piece. Hard as that might be for anyone still breathing to accept that, it’s true. The story begins when Tommy is a child in the 1940s and runs through the 1960s. Period piece.

    Mientus scheduled to appear at Alamo screening March 26

    NUMBER 6Well, that’s Smash-ing. Young Broadway and screen star Andy Mientus (Smash, Spring Awakening, The Flash) is starring as Tommy at age 18. And he has agreed to spend his only day off over a 13-day span entertaining the audience before Monday’s (March 26) screening of the film Tommy at the Alamo Drafthouse near Sloan’s Lake. The screening raises money for The Denver Actors Fund, which has made $218,000 in medical relief available to Colorado theatre artists over four years. Mientus will sing at least one song from the show, take questions, and help with trivia and ticket giveaways before the Alamo screens the movie that inspired the stage adaptation. Tickets are $20. Choose your preferred seats here.

    Andy Mientus and Charlie Korman. Photo by John Moore
    Charlie Korman and Andy Mientus. Photo by John Moore

    NUMBER 7Intimacy issues. As the legacy of The Who has grown larger over the years, the stage musical has continued to get smaller. Music Director Gregg Coffin (A Christmas Carol, Sweeney Todd with DeVotchKa) said that when The Who’s Tommy bowed on Broadway in 1995, the principal adult cast was 18 people. “It was down to 10 when it toured, and we're taking it down to eight,” he said. “I’m really excited about that because we are bringing it back to that 1969 sound when it was just the four guys in the band performing it. We are going to get small and iconic and authentic very, very quickly.” 

    NUMBER 8David Hess as Sweeney TossWho are you? David Hess, who plays three roles including the minister, was playing Sweeney Todd at the late Country Dinner Playhouse in south Denver (pictured right) long before he played the Demon Barber on Broadway. Hess had many triumphant moments at the beloved dinner theatre from 1991-93, but one of his favorite memories was playing Curly in Oklahoma. “I was supposed to throw a rope over this hook, but one night I kept missing it,” he told me in a previous interview. “The audience roared with laughter, so I told them, ‘Hey, it’s not as easy as it looks.’ I only found out later that the whole house had been bought out that night — they were all cowboys and cattlemen.”

    NUMBER 9Sound? Check. The sound designer for The Who’s Tommy is former rock engineer Ken Travis (Disney’s Aladdin, coming to Denver April 7) and he will be introducing sound techniques in Tommy that have not yet been heard on any stage before. “He’s a genius,” Buntrock said. “He invented a sound system for Aladdin I'll never understand. This machine physically knows where an actor is onstage at any time, so it can pan the sound. When it was confirmed that I would be doing Tommy, I said to myself, ‘I have to ask Ken to do sound’ — but it got announced right away, and I immediately got an email from Ken saying, 'I am doing this without you even asking me.’ Ken has developed this sound system in Germany that is capable of things that are really rather extraordinary, and we are going to be the first to use it in this production. I’ll just say you are going to feel like you are inside the music — without it being too much. So, that will be fun."

    NUMBER 10Jason Sherwood 160Where's Jason? The Scenic Designer of record is the uber-hot Jason Sherwood, who has designed Macbeth, The Wild Party and now The Who’s Tommy for the Denver Center this season alone. He also designed the sets for The Chainsmokers and Sam Smith’s appearances on Saturday Night Live. Sherwood was not present at Tommy’s first rehearsal, Buntrock said, because he is in Wakefield (in the U.K.), designing the set for Sam Smith's upcoming world tour (Which stops in Denver on Aug. 21). But Buntrock and Sherwood are in lockstep on Tommy. “He's the yin to my yang,” Buntrock said. “He augments how I think. He makes everything I do better, and what he has done for this show is remarkable.”

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

    The Who's Tommy: Ticket information

    Tommy_show_thumbnail_160x160Based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, Tommy is an exhilarating musical about the challenges of self-discovery and the resilience of the human spirit. When young Tommy retreats into a world of darkness and silence after a deeply traumatic incident, he must navigate a harsh and unforgiving world with no hope of recovery. But when he discovers a newfound talent for pinball, he’s swept up in the fame and fortune of his success. Tommy and his family give new voice to The Who’s classic stadium rock as they navigate the troubles and joys of being alive.
    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Apr 20-May 27
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Who's Tommy:
    Tommy to star Andy Mientus and other Broadway stars in Denver
  • Denver's 'Tommy' to star Andy Mientus and other Broadway stars

    by John Moore | Mar 13, 2018

    TOMMYCASTING

    From left: Charl Brown, Betsy Morgan, Owen Zitek, Carson Elrod and Charlie Korman.

    'Smash' star: 'I’m excited for the challenge and opportunity to show audiences who I am as a musician and an actor.'

    By John Moore
    Senor Arts Journalist

    Andy Mientus is known around the world for two iconic, music-infused projects — Broadway’s Spring Awakening and TV’s Smash. And he says the bloodline for both absolutely run straight  through The Who. Which makes it all the more perfect for Mientus to be coming to Denver to play Tommy in the DCPA Theatre Company’s star-studded production of The Who’s Tommy, based on the band’s 1969 concept album about a boy who retreats into a world of darkness and silence after witnessing a traumatic incident and emerges as a pinball wizard.

    AndyMeintusQUOTE“You can bet that The Who’s album, and then the original cast recording of Tommy, was in the library of all of the contemporary musical-theater writers you love,” Mientus told the DCPA NewsCenter today in the announcement of his first return to Denver since playing Hanschen in the 2009 national touring production of Spring Awakening.

    “That album was an absolute phenomenon when all of our current songwriting greats were coming up, and I think any fan of the contemporary musical canon will absolutely freak out for this score if they don’t know it yet.”

    Tommy will be directed by visionary British director Sam Buntrock, who last year directed the Denver Center’s U.S. premiere of Nick Dear's Frankenstein. Buntrock has been nominated for Tony, Olivier and Drama Desk awards for his innovative work in theatre, film and animation, including Broadway’s 2008 revival of Sunday In The Park With George. He also directed Ed, Downloaded for the Denver Center in 2012.

    Mientus will be joined by a cast that includes big-name Broadway veterans Betsy Morgan (The King and I) as Mrs. Walker, Tony Award-nominated Charl Brown (Motown the Musical) as Captain Walker, and Carson Elrod (Peter and the Starcatcher) as Uncle Ernie. Colorado Shakespeare Festival audiences may remember Elrod from the 1999 season, when he played Dromio of Syracuse in A Comedy of Errors, among other roles.

    Mientus called Buntock’s lineup “a visionary creative team and incredible company,” and called Tommy his dream role.

    “Growing up, my house was full of music but strangely, not musicals,” Mientus said. “I’m not sure where I caught that bug. Instead, my earliest musical influences were classic rockers, soul singers and folk balladeers. I was aware of The Who’s album long before I was aware of Tommy as a stage show. So, it’s a bit of connective tissue between my two worlds, and something my dad would have absolutely loved to see. I haven’t sung so much in a musical since Les Miserables in 2015, but the score of Tommy is much more in my wheelhouse, vocally, so I’m excited for the challenge and the opportunity to show audiences who I am as a musician as well as an actor.”

    Tommy is a musical about the challenges of self-discovery and the resilience of a boy who must navigate a harsh and unforgiving world with no hope of recovery. But when he discovers a newfound talent for pinball, he’s swept up in the fame and fortune of his success. The story was made into a trippy film in 1975 starring Roger Daltrey, and in 1993 debuted as a Broadway musical under the direction of Des McAnuff.

    “I think Tommy is, at its heart, a parable about feeling alien in your own family and community,” Mientus said. “Tommy escapes into the serenity of his own mind after a traumatic event and is treated terribly by almost everyone around him. I think we have all felt that way at some point.”

    Mientus scheduled to appear at Alamo screening March 26

    Four actors will play Tommy at different ages — two rotating local children will play Tommy at age 4. Owen Zitek (of DCPA Theare Company’s A Christmas Carol) will play him at 10, and Mientus at 18. In an unusual twist, Buntrock will also have Cousin Kevin age over the course of the story with age-appropriate actors. He will be played as a boy by Denver Center favorite Charlie Korman (Frankenstein, A Christmas Carol), who is now a high-school student at Denver School of the Arts but has been appearing on DCPA stages since he was 5. Kevin will be played as an adult by big-time Australian actor Gareth Keegan (TV’s The Good Fight.)

    Cast:

    • Andy Mientus (Broadway’s Les Misérables, Spring Awakening, NBC’s “Smash”) as Tommy
    • Joe Beauregard (Kinky Boots first national tour) as Ensemble
    • Charl Brown (Broadway’s Motown The Musical) as Captain Walker
    • Katie Drinkard (DCPA’s The Wild Party) as Swing
    • Carson Elrod (Broadway’s Peter and the Starcatcher, Noise’s Off) as Uncle Ernie
    • Lulu Fall (Broadway’s Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, Hair) as Acid Queen/Ensemble
    • David Hess (Broadway’s Sunset Boulevard, Sweeney Todd) as Minister/Specialist/Judge/Ensemble
    • Sara Kapner (Broadway’s Hollywood Arms) as Sally Simpson/Ensemble
    • Gareth Keegan (CBS’ Instinct) as Cousin Kevin/Lover
    • Charlie Korman (DCPA’s Frankenstein) as Young Cousin Kevin/Ensemble
    • Betsy Morgan (Broadway’s The King and I) as Mrs. Walker
    • Corbin Payne (The Arvada Center’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) as Swing
    • Terence Reddick (Broadway’s Les Miserables) as Ensemble
    • Tristan Champion Regini (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Youth Understudy
    • Timothy John Smith (NBC’s “The Blacklist”) as Hawker/Ensemble
    • Olivia Sullivent (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Erin Willis (Off-Center’s The Wild Party) as Ensemble
    • Owen Zitek (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Youth Tommy.
    • Samuel Bird and Radley Wright will share the role of Young Tommy at age 4
     

    Creatives

    • Music and Lyrics by Pete Townshend
    • Book by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff
    • Additional Music and Lyrics by John Entwistle and Keith Moon
    • Directed by Sam Buntrock
    • Choreography by Katie Spelman (Oklahoma at Goodspeed Opera House)
    • Musical direction by Gregg Coffin (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd)
    • Scenic design by Jason Sherwood (DCPA’s Frankenstein, Off-Center’s The Wild Party)
    • Costume design by Kevin Copenhaver (DCPA’s Frankenstein)
    • Lighting design by David Weiner (Stephen King’s Misery on Broadway)
    • Sound design by Ken Travis (Broadway’s Aladdin)
    • Projection design by Alex Basco Koch (Broadway’s Irena's Vow)
    • Fight direction by Geoffrey Kent (DCPA’s This Is Modern Art)
    • Vocal and dialect coaching by Kathryn G. Maes Ph.D (DCPA’s The Secret Garden)
    • Stage Management by Kurt Van Raden
    • Assistant Stage Management by Corin Ferris and Michael Morales.

    Even the house band will be filled with big names and local talent. DeVotchKa drummer Shawn King had so much fun playing (and having his throat sliced) each night during Sweeney Todd, he is coming back to play in the pit for Tommy. Other local rockers will include Jason Tyler Vaughn, David Devine, Dan Graber, Matthew Scheffelman, Daniel Schwindt and Angela Steiner.

    Mientus said he is especially happy for the chance to return to Denver since the Spring Awakening tour did not afford him much time to explore. “I loved the energy of the city, but it was too brief and too cold," he said. "This time, I’m going to do it all.”

    The first public preview performance of The Who’s Tommy is April 20, a fluke of the calendar that has not escaped Mientus. “If I may be so cheeky,” he said, “it’s not lost on me that we’re doing our first performance a psychedelic rock show in Denver on 4/20. I expect we may get a few audience members in who do not usually see live theater, and I think that is always something worth celebrating.”

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


    The Who's Tommy: Ticket information

    Tommy_show_thumbnail_160x160Based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, Tommy is an exhilarating musical about the challenges of self-discovery and the resilience of the human spirit. When young Tommy retreats into a world of darkness and silence after a deeply traumatic incident, he must navigate a harsh and unforgiving world with no hope of recovery. But when he discovers a newfound talent for pinball, he’s swept up in the fame and fortune of his success. Tommy and his family give new voice to The Who’s classic stadium rock as they navigate the troubles and joys of being alive.
    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Apr 20-May 27
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 2017 True West Awards: Six set-sational set designs

    by John Moore | Dec 23, 2017

    True West Awards 2017 Scenic Designers 800

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 22: Six set-sational set designs

    Markas Henry, Curious Theatre’s Appropriate
    Roger Hanna, Bas Bleu Theatre Company’s Elephant’s Graveyard
    Lori Rosedahl, OpenStage’s The Flick
    Robert Mark Morgan, Creede Repertory Theatre’s General Store
    Christopher M. Waller, Benchmark Theatre’s Smokefall
    Jason Sherwood, Off-Center’s The Wild Party


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The magical worlds scenic designers conjur on Colorado stages come in all scopes and budget sizes. And in 2017, the challenges thrown their way were thrillingly varied and exhilaratingly executed. Just by way of example:

    • Two Degrees. Robert Mark Morgan. Photo by John MooreRobert Mark Morgan integrated actual panes of slowly melting ice into his set for the DCPA Theatre Company’s world-premiere play Two Degrees (pictured right). Eagle eyes might have noticed the ice slowly dripped throughout every performance to subtly reinforce the play’s climate-change theme.
    • Jonathan Scott-McKean dug a 5-foot grave out of a stage that’s only about 20 feet wide in Miners Alley Playhouse’s A Skull in Connemara.
    • Buntport Theater’s wholly original The Crud was exactly that — A huge pile of cast-off objects, toys and appliances that represented the crud on your floor and the crud in your head and the crud in the world. You know: The crud.
    • And Brian Mallgrave, who so consistently makes magic at the Arvada Center, somehow devised a way for three actors to splash about on water in the mesmerizing The Drowning Girls even though the stage has no drainage — and the entire set had to be regularly cleared to make room for other plays being performed there in repertory.

    And those aren’t even the amazing scenic designs we are focusing on today.

    The True West Awards are not about “bests,” so singling out just one compellingly executed design this year seemed entirely inadequate. So instead, we chose to spotlight six inventions of varying scopes and budget sizes that have just two things in common: The sets are themselves essential characters in all of their stories, and each presented boggling challenges for their creators that begged for playful innovation.

    Please don’t think of these six as comprehensive. They are meant instead to be representative acknowledgements of all scenic designers bringing new worlds to life throughout the Colorado theatre community:

    Curious Theatre’s Appropriate:

    2017 True West Award  Markas Henry. Photo by Michael Ensminger

    • Scenic Designer: Markas Henry
    • Playwright: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
    • Director: Jamil Jude
    • The challenge: It’s not every day a script’s final two pages are entirely instructions for what must happen with the set pieces, lights and sound. The traditional “last word” of the play has been taken out the mouths of actors here and given over instead to Henry, Sound Designer Jason Ducat and Lighting Designer Richard Devin. The story’s setting is an old mansion on a now abandoned, hand-me-down ex-slave plantation. And in a dance of technical synergy, we see the literal crumbling of an old way of life disintegrating into the earth.
    • Markus Henry: “The script calls for a chandelier to crash to the floor, but Jamil wanted to do something that felt a little more final than that. And so, to 'up the ante' a little bit, I came up with the idea that a beam should come down to signify that the house was falling down. It was simple stagecraft involving a rope and pulley, and it was all done manually: No motors and no techno gadgetry. It’s an old-school trick. But we thought that would be a fitting metaphor for ushering in a new sense of humanity. Sometimes it’s good that things come crashing down."
    • Jamil Jude: "Markas took on the Herculean task of making a house collapse on itself every night for six weeks. Most would run away from that challenge, but Markas ran to it and kicked its butt." 


    Bas Bleu Theatre Company’s Elephant’s Graveyard

    2017 True West Award Roger Hanna

    • Scenic Designer: Roger Hanna
    • Playwright: George Brant
    • Director: Garrett Ayers
    • The challenge: The setting of this play is a dirt floor on the grounds of a 1916 circus where witnesses tell us the true tale of the tragic collision between a struggling circus and a tiny town in Tennessee that resulted in the only ever-known lynching of an elephant. And here, that meant covering the stage with 15 metric tons of dirt.
    • Roger Hanna (who doubled as Lighting Director): “Our biggest challenge was how to make our empty space actually look like an empty space. We achieved that by adding mirrors in the windows and extending walls to make the space closed off. Our production manager naturally wondered if we couldn’t just paint the floor brown, rather than shovel in all that dirt. Fortunately, the whole creative team and cast was on board with the dirt, and Jonathan Burns found a way to make it happen. Once the dirt was down, I was concerned with how the actors would know where to stand for each light cue since there’s no way to use spike tape on dirt. But that worry proved unfounded. It was really a joyous collaboration from start to finish, thanks to the smart way Garrett, and the company, and the staff, and the volunteers all embraced the style of the show."



    OpenStage Theatre’s The Flick

    2017 True West Award Lori Rosedahl

    • Scenic Designer: Lori Rosedahl
    • Director: Sydney Parks Smith
    • Playwright: Annie Baker
    • The challenge: The Flick takes place in a dilapidated old movie palace, so it must at once reflect the grandeur of a time gone by, while still making it abundantly clear that time certainly has, in fact, gone by.
    • Sydney Smith: “Annie Baker deals in realism with everything she does, and we wanted our audiences to be able to really smell the mildew and the rancid popcorn butter. Lori started by building a truly lovely movie theatre that she then tore down and deconstructed to make look like it had existed for enough years to become run down. Then her Set Decorater, Starla Kovar, went in and put fake gum under the seats and actually glued popcorn into the seat corners. She also created old puddles of spilled soda and put stains on the rug that no one could really identify."


    Creede Repertory Theatre’s General Store

    2017 True West Award Robert Mark Morgan

    • Scenic Designer: Robert Mark Morgan
    • Director: Christy Montour-Larson
    • Playwright: Brian Watkins
    • The challenge: There’s a monster living under the floorboard of Mike’s faltering general store on the Eastern plains of Colorado. It growls. It shakes the foundation. There’s a pit, a snapping bear trap, lots of rope and tons of crazy light and sound cues. By the end, this violent confrontation between man and metaphor takes a considerable physical toll on the set. Actor Logan Ernstthal calls General Store “a beautiful beast of a play.”
    • Artistic Director Jessica Jackson: "Rob’s designs do everything at once: They tell the story, define a world, and also work beautifully within a repertory season. They embody the transformative, sophisticated, imagination-over-spectacle aspect of rep that defines the Creede Repertory Theatre. What's also great about Rob is that, despite being the smartest guy in the room, he’s also the nicest. He's not just there to design a set. He works like a true ensemble member.” 


    Benchmark Theatre’s Smokefall

    2017 True West Award  Christopher M. Waller

    • Scenic Designer: Christopher M. Waller
    • Playwright: Noah Haidle
    • Director: Rachel Rogers
    • The challenge: Haidle’s modest, magical play tells the story of one family that learns, through the course of generations, that life can change in an instant. Changes to the set at intermission must communicate to the audience in one visually visceral moment that many years have gone by in this same house. You know this because there is now an overgrown apple tree whose branches have infiltrated the house from the outside and are now growing freely throughout several rooms. And in this story, that really means something.
    • Rachel Rogers: “What I love about working with Christopher is his collaborative spirit. One of of my favorite aspects of his Smokefall design is that he gave the kitchen a half wall. That brilliantly helped delineate the house and created a metaphorical nest where the mother at the center of the story continually retreats. His solution for adding the tree into the home after intermission was also inspired, as it continued the theme of magic rather than attempting to be entirely realistic."


    DCPA Off-Center’s The Wild Party:

    2017 True West Award Jason Sherwood

    • Scenic Designer: Jason Sherwood
    • Writers: Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    • Director: Amanda Berg Wilson
    • The challenge: The Wild Party was performed environmentally under The Hanger at Stanley Marketplace. Audiences were first led into a vaudeville-style theatre and then invited to join the performers for a party on the other side of the curtain — which was revealed to be a sprawling Jazz Age, New York apartment. Now, the Hangar is 18,500 square feet. But once you put 15 actors, a band and 200 audience members inside the apartment (with furniture for them to sit on), Sherwood was left with mere nooks and crannies that could be used as viable playing spaces. And it was a musical, so, you know — there's dancing. And as a piece of on-site, environmental theatre: The whole thing had to be built from scratch.
    • Amanda Berg Wilson: "Any time the actors and the audience are all in the same space together, it's a huge challenge for the Scenic Designer. There was nowhere for the actors to perform that was wider than a few feet. But the way Jason did it was brilliant. He really wove these little threads throughout the room so there was never any one obvious place for them to play. Even the aisles were genius. And the way he filled the space and the walls was incredibly detailed. He absolutely ran with the idea that this was a downtown crowd of true bohemians. They were maxilamists, and that was evident in every detail of the set, which Jason saturated with color."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    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.

    About The True West Awards: '30 Days, 30 Bouquets'
    The True West Awards, now in their 17th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2017 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore's daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards

  • Video: Take a deeper visual dive into Off-Center's 'The Wild Party'

    by John Moore | Nov 01, 2017

     

    We didn't want to give away too much of the visual surprise while the show was going on, but now that The Wild Party has ended, here's a closer video look at Off-Center's deep dive into immersive theatre at Stanley Marketplace.

    Much like last year's Sweet & Lucky, The Wild Party transported audience members to a different era as guests at a decadent, 360-degree party set in the Roaring Twenties. There they mingled with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Amid all that, a scripted musical played out in which the debauchery turned disastrous as the alcohol set in, the evening wore on and the drama bubbled to the surface.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    This unusual, jazz- and gin-soaked gathering afforded a completely new kind of experience for visitors to the former airplane hangar Stanley Marketplace, which was completely transformed by the Denver Center's creative teams.

    The Wild Party was directed by Amanda Berg Wilson. The all-local ensemble included Brett Ambler, Leonard Barrett Jr., Allison Caw, Laurence Curry, Diana Dresser, Katie Drinkard, Trent Hines, Drew Horwitz, Wayne Kennedy, Sheryl McCallum, Jenna Moll Reyes, Marco Robinson, Emily Van Fleet, Aaron Vega and Erin Willis. To explore more about the show, go wildpartydenver.com.

    Video above by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Wild Party:
    Meet the cast: Katie Drinkard

    First look at photos from The Wild Party
    2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: Meet Emily Van Fleet
    Cast list: Look who's been invited to The Wild Party
    Off-Center throwing a Wild Party at Stanley Marketplace this fall
    The Wild Party: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons announced

    PHOTOS: THE MAKING OF THE WILD PARTY

    Making of 'The Wild Party'

    (New photos added!) Photos from the making of Off-Center's 'The Wild Party,' from the Opening Night party back to the first day of rehearsal. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    OFFICIAL PRODUCTION PHOTOS:

    The Wild Party
    The official production photos for 'The Wild Party.' To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by Adams VisCom.

  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'The Wild Party'

    by John Moore | Oct 19, 2017

    VIDEO:

    Your first look inside the making of Off-Center's 'The Wild Party.' Just push play. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.


    The Denver Center's Off-Center programming wing is presenting the Jazz Age musical The Wild Party as a 360-degree immersive theatregoing experience where the 208 audience members are guests at a corker of a gin-soaked Big Apple soiree, right alongside the 14 professional actors in the ensemble. It is staged in what was once an airline hangar at the new Stanley Marketplace in the Stapleton neighborhood. The director is Amanda Berg Wilson and the all-local ensemble includes Brett Ambler, Leonard Barrett Jr., Allison Caw, Laurence Curry, Diana Dresser, Katie Drinkard, Trent Hines, Drew Horwitz, Wayne Kennedy, Sheryl McCallum, Jenna Moll Reyes, Marco Robinson, Emily Van Fleet, Aaron Vega and Erin Willis. The Wild Party runs through Oct. 31 only.

    OPENING-NIGHT PHOTOS:

    Making of 'The Wild Party'

    Photos from the making of Off-Center's 'The Wild Party,' from the Opening Night party back to the first day of rehearsal. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    OFFICIAL PRODUCTION PHOTOS:

    The Wild Party
    The official production photos for 'The Wild Party.' To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by Adams VisCom.


    The Wild Party: Ticket information
    The Wild PartyAt  a glance: You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind as you join a decadent party in the Roaring Twenties, brought to you by the producers of Sweet & Lucky. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and gin-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees.

    • Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    • Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    • Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    • Oct. 11-31, 2017
    • At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St.
    • Visit the official Wild Party web site
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Previous NewsCenter and other local media coverage of The Wild Party
    :



    2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: Meet Emily Van Fleet
    Cast list: Look who's been invited to The Wild Party
    Off-Center throwing a Wild Party at Stanley Marketplace this fall
    The Wild Party: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons announced

    Reviews:
    Westword: This one party you should not miss
    5280 Magazine: full of fun, flappers, booze and tunes
    303 Magazine: The Wild Party delivers on the promise of its name

    About the Stanley Marketplace
    The Stanley Marketplace, which opened last year near the Stapleton neighborhood just east of Denver, is a community of like-minded businesses and residents who believe sustainable retail and community development. The more than 22-acre space, which occupies 140,000 square feet, was once Stanley Aviation headquarters, where airplane ejector seats were engineered and manufactured. Today it is an adaptive re-use community hub, home to a park, beer hall and an urban marketplace. All businesses are local and independent. The address is 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora. MAP IT

  • Guns and broses: Tattoos, video and opening-night 'Macbeth' photos

    by John Moore | Sep 28, 2017
    Macbeth: Opening-night photo gallery:

    Making of 'Macbeth'

     

    The photos above are from Opening Night of the DCPA Theatre Company's production of Macbeth on Sept. 22. To see more photos in the gallery above, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears.

    The evening marked the official reopening of the renovated Space Theatre and was capped by a party in the Seawell Ballroom. Backstage and party photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Photo-booth photos by Bamboo Booth.

    Making of Macbeth video: Actor Skyler Gallun's tattoo application:


    This short, fun time-lapse video shows DCPA Theatre Company makeup artists Taylor Malott and Robin Appleton applying opening-night tattoos to actor Skyler Gallun, who plays poor Donalbain, the hunted son of murdered King Duncan, in Shakespeare's bloody tragedy.

    Some of the 17 actors are naturally tattooed, but the artists say those who are having theirs applied can have them last anywhere from a day to almost a week. Gallun says he has been having his reapplied about every three days. Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Macbeth. Nataki Garrett

    Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett addresses those gathered after the Opening Night performance of 'Macbeth,' with some cast members behind her. Photo by John Moore.


    Macbeth
    : Ticket information

    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Macbeth: Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage
    Video, photos: Your first look at Macbeth
    Perspectives: Macbeth director's recommendation: 'Invest in yes'
    Video: Adam Poss on a man playing Lady Macbeth
    Video: Ariel Shafir on the young new warrior face of Macbeth
    The masculinity of Macbeth
    Macbeth
    at a time when everything is shifting
    Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined Macbeth
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening


    Video: Your first look at the DCPA Theatre Company's Macbeth:



    Video above by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. 

  • Video, photos: Your first look at DCPA's 'Macbeth'

    by John Moore | Sep 20, 2017



    Without changing a word of Shakespeare's text, DCPA Theatre Company Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into his raw reimagining of Macbeth, which will mark the grand reopening of the in-the-round Space Theatre. Video above by DCPA
    Video Producer David Lenk. 

    Production photos:

    Macbeth
    To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by Adams VisCom.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Macbeth: Ticket information
    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    DCPA Macbeth. Adams Viscom. Scenie Design by Jason Sherwood.
    DCPA Theatre Company's 'Macbeth.' Scenic Design by Jason Sherwood. Photo by Adams Viscom.

    Macbeth
    : Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage

    Perspectives: Macbeth director's recommendation: 'Invest in yes'
    Video: Adam Poss on a man playing Lady Macbeth
    Video: Ariel Shafir on the young new warrior face of Macbeth
    The masculinity of Macbeth
    Macbeth
    at a time when everything is shifting
    Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined Macbeth
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening

    Making of Macbeth: Backstage photo gallery

    Making of 'Macbeth'

    Photos from the making of Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth' for the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • 'The Wild Party': Five things we learned at first rehearsal

    by John Moore | Sep 15, 2017
    Making of 'The Wild Party'

    Photos from the first rehearsal for Off-Center's upcoming off-site, immersive production of 'The Wild Party.' To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The audience will become, like the characters in the play,
    'a roomful of strangers who call themselves friends.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Denver Center is preparing to present the Jazz Age musical The Wild Party as a 360-degree immersive theatregoing experience where the 208 audience members are guests at a corker of a gin-soaked Big Apple soiree, right alongside the 14 professional actors in the ensemble. It will be staged in what was once an airline hangar at the new Stanley Marketplace in the Stapleton neighborhood.

    And that is not at all how composer Michael John LaChiusa originally imagined his piece to be staged. Like most musicals, The Wild Party was first presented in front of an audience separated from the stage by theatre’s nearly ubiquitous, invisible “fourth wall.”

    There’s no wall here.

    “Our production is going to put our audience directly in the Jazz Age,” two-time True West Award-winning Director Amanda Berg Wilson said Tuesday at the company’s first rehearsal for the show opening Oct. 11.

    The Wild Party. Amanda Berg Wilson. Photo by John MooreThe DCPA’s adventurous Off-Center wing is known for creating original nontraditional work in nontraditional spaces, most notably last year’s sprawling Sweet & Lucky, which played out in a huge warehouse north of downtown. The Wild Party will be its first musical, and first scripted work.

    The musical is based on a scandalous, book-length poem written by Robert Frost protege Joseph Moncure March in 1926. It was described as “a kind of obscene, more destructive take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Scott Miller, Artistic Director of St. Louis’ New Line Theatre. The poem paints a vivid and decadent picture of Manhattan just before the market crash. It centers on the damaged, reckless relationship between a dancer named Queenie and a vaudeville clown named Burrs. The audience here will witness many personal dramas unfold up close and in three dimensions.

    The Wild Party. Allison Caw, Marco Robinson, Katie Drinkard and Jenna Moll Reyes. Photo by John Moore.“The audience is not going to be passive witnesses to the party,” said Wilson. “They are going to be integral components of the party – and its conspirators. So we are going to encourage them to help mix the bathtub gin; to console the coke-snorting wannabe starlet; to read love letters; to be pulled into boiler rooms for intimate moments; to see things they are not supposed to see.” In the end, the audience will become, like the characters in the play, "a roomful of strangers who call themselves friends." 

    Which helps explains why this is a 21-and-over evening. It’s a party, after all. And apparently a wild one.

    “Our goal with each audience member is that they are going to experience a kind of release that you only have when you have had a really wild night," Wilson said.

    Here are five more things we learned about 'The Wild Party' at the first rehearsal:

    NUMBER 1A Wild Party PoemThe source poem, which went virtually unread for two years because no publisher would touch it, inspired iconic beat writer William Burroughs to become a writer. “It is a witty and risqué poem about two vaudeville performers who fight, make up, throw a party and flirt with danger,” Wilson said. “It name-drops Martha Graham and Langston Hughes, and the book for the musical is by George C. Wolfe (the Public Theatre icon who first directed Angels in America). The story is set at a time when America was waking up to its identity as a wild and creative nation that was emerging into its own sense of self separate from Europe. That sense of self was really born in vaudeville and speakeasies and the avant-garde of the 1920s when jazz, arguably the most American of art forms, was being born. These are people who are not only trying to figure out who they love but who they are and who they will present as. Ambisextrous, Jewish, uptown, downtown, black and white identities are all explored in these jazz-soaked numbers.”

    NUMBER 2The audience will be encouraged (but not required) to dress up for the party. Says Costume Designer Meghan Anderson Doyle: “I think we get the best of the 1920s in this piece because we get the glitz and glamour of beaded dresses and tuxedos and dinner jackets and champagne, and then we get the soft sensuality and the vulnerability of stockings and garter belts and bathtub gin.”

    NUMBER 3The Wild Party. David Nehls. Photo by John Moore.The Music Director is David Nehls (pictured right),  who has helmed the music for most every musical at the Arvada Center for more than a decade. "I am very excited that we have an amazing, seven-piece live band," Nehls said. One of those players is Trent Hines, himself an active Music Director in the local theatre community. For this production, Hines is also being integrated into the story as an actor.

    NUMBER 4The cast is made up entirely of local actors. Wilson, also the founder of a Boulder theatre company called The Catamounts, performed in Sweet & Lucky alongside Diana Dresser, Jenna Moll Reyes and The Wild Party choreographer Patrick Mueller. “Having an all-local cast is evidence that we really do have the talent right here to pull off a show like this,” said Wilson. “And I think it is great that as the Denver Center continues to experiment with immersive theatre, we are developing a base of talent right here in Denver with an increasing set of tools and vocabulary so that we can keep making this kind of work. And we are discovering that audiences are really hungry for it.”

    NUMBER 5The man charged with turning the airplane hangar at Stanley Marketplace into a New York apartment is Jason Sherwood, who first came to the Denver Center in 2014 as an assistant on The Unsinkable Molly Brown and returned last year as the lead Scenic Designer for Frankenstein. This season, he will create the worlds for the Denver Center’s The Wild Party, Macbeth and The Who's Tommy.

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



    The Wild Party: Cast list

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


    The Wild Party:
    Ticket information

    The Wild PartyAt  a glance: You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind as you join a decadent party in the Roaring Twenties, brought to you by the producers of Sweet & Lucky. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and gin-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees.

    • Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    • Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    • Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    • Oct. 11-31, 2017
    • At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St.
    • Visit the official Wild Party web site
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Wild Party
    :



    2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: Meet Emily Van Fleet
    Cast list: Look who's been invited to The Wild Party
    Off-Center throwing a Wild Party at Stanley Marketplace this fall
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons announced

    About the Stanley Marketplace
    The Stanley Marketplace, which opened last year near the Stapleton neighborhood just east of Denver, is a community of like-minded businesses and residents who believe sustainable retail and community development. The more than 22-acre space, which occupies 140,000 square feet, was once Stanley Aviation headquarters, where airplane ejector seats were engineered and manufactured. Today it is an adaptive re-use community hub, home to a park, beer hall and an urban marketplace. All businesses are local and independent. The address is 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora. MAP IT
  • Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined 'Macbeth'

    by John Moore | Aug 28, 2017

    Rehearsal for Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth.' Photo by John Moore. Rehearsal for Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth.' Photo by John Moore.


    Robert O'Hara's story is told from the point of view of a warlock coven that gathers to recreate the tale of Macbeth.

    The DCPA Theatre Company has announced the full cast and creative team for Robert O’Hara’s raw and reimagined take on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which opens the company's 38th season with an all-male cast on Sept. 22.

    In preparing for the production, the director was struck by Banquo’s line referencing the witches: “You should be women, And yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so.”

    “That inherent contradiction stuck in my head,” O’Hara said. “And right then I was like, ‘Well maybe they're not women. Maybe they are men.’ ” That opened the door for a concept told from the point of view of the supernatural: Specifically, a warlock coven that gathers to recreate the tale of Macbeth.

    “People have asked me, ‘What will an all-male Macbeth do to the story?’” O'Hara said. “I tell them, ‘I hope it will do exactly what Shakespeare’s work should always do – give some insight into the world in which we are living today.’ ”

    Macbeth castFrom left: Colorado natives Skyler Gallun (Donalbain) and Gareth Saxe (Duncan), with Lady M (Adam Poss) and Macbeth (Ariel Shafir).

    The production will feature, in alphabetical order:

    • Rob Fenton (Malcolm/Ensemble)
    • Kim Fischer (Second Warlock/Ensemble)
    • Thaddeus Fitzpatrick (Third Warlock/Ensemble)
    • Keith D. Gallagher (Seyton/Ensemble)
    • Skyler Gallun (Donalbain/Ensemble)
    • Joel Reuben Ganz (Macduff/Ensemble)
    • Joe Goldammer (First Warlock/Ensemble)
    • Steven Cole Hughes (Doctor of the Psychic/Ensemble)
    • Alec Hynes (Banquo/Ensemble)
    • Erik Kochenberger (Hecate Two/Ensemble)
    • Daniel Kyri (Lady Macduff/Ensemble)
    • Jesse Pennington (Rosse/Ensemble)
    • Adam Poss (Lady Macbeth/Ensemble)
    • Gareth Saxe (Duncan/Ensemble)
    • Ariel Shafir (Macbeth/Ensemble)
    • Travis Turner (Lennox/Ensemble)
    • Danny Zuhlke (Fleance/Ensemble)

    Several cast members have appeared in previous DCPA productions or have longstanding Colorado ties. Hughes is a graduate of the Denver Center's masters program and has appeared in 14 Theatre Company productions. Most recently he was seen in DCPA Cabaret's production of An Act of God in the Garner-Galleria Theatre.

    Saxe is a graduate of Denver East High School and Colorado College who has appeared in Theatre Company productions of The Homecoming and Heartbreak House. He was most recently seen as Scar in the national touring production of The Lion King. (Watch our video interview here.)

    Gallun is a graduate of Denver's George Washington High School who previously appeared here in Lord of the Flies. Kochenberger is a graduate of East High School in Pueblo. Fitzpatrick was last seen in The Book off Will.   

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The creative team includes:

    • Robert O'Hara (Director)
    • Jason Sherwood (Scenic Designer)
    • Dede M. Ayite (Costume Designer)
    • Alex Jainchill (Lighting Designer)
    • Lindsay Jones (Original Music and Sound Designer)
    • Douglas Langworthy (Dramaturgy)
    • Kathryn G. Maes (vocal and dialect coaching)
    • Kurt Van Raden (Stage Manager)
    • D. Lynn Reiland (Assistant Stage Manager)

    Macbeth also marks the reopening of the newly renovated Space Theatre. The nearly 40-year-old venue has been completely rebuilt to enhance the world-class experience for audiences and artists alike.


    Macbeth
    : Ticket information

    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.
    • Presented bythe DCPA Theatre Company
    • First performance Sept. 15, through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Macbeth: Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage
    Macbeth at a time when everything is shifting
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening


    Making of Macbeth: Full photo gallery:

    Making of 'Macbeth'

    Photos from the first day of rehearsal for Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth' for the DCPA Theatre Company, along with behind-the-scenes process shots. To see more, click the forward arrow in the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • 'Macbeth' at a time when everything is shifting

    by John Moore | Aug 17, 2017
    Making of 'Macbeth'

    Photos from the first day of rehearsal for Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth' for the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click the forward arrow in the image above. 'Macbeth' plays Sept. 15-Oct. 29 in the newly reopened Space Theatre. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Rehearsals open in a divided country roiling and reeling from violence that is becoming commonplace in its streets

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The DCPA Theatre Company opened rehearsals Tuesday for the first offering of its 39th season in a deeply divided country that is roiling and reeling from violence that is again becoming commonplace in its streets.

    That makes it both important – and poignant – to be re-examining the troubled world of Shakespeare’s bloodthirsty tragedy of Macbeth right now through the lens of a rising, rebel director named Robert O’Hara, DCPA Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett said in an impassioned welcome to cast, crew, staff and guests.

    Macbeth Nataki Garrett“Everything about the way we live is shifting,” Garrett said. “And that’s why this is the perfect time to be doing this play right now, in the middle of the shift. We are in this chrysalis right now, trying to figure out who we are as a people, who we are as a theatre community, who we are as creative people,” Garrett said.

    “Especially in light of where we are right now, particularly in the United States, this is what you do: You do this play, right now, because Shakespeare has this uncanny way of reaching forward and back at the same time, and making us really think about why we think the things we do. Who put those ideas there? And is there a way to have a different way of thinking than the way we think now."

    Garrett promised those gathered that O’Hara’s Macbeth “ain’t your grandmama's Macbeth.” O’Hara’s Macbeth is set entirely at the Pit of Acheron, a swamp near Macbeth's castle where the witches are ordered to bring Macbeth. Only in this telling it’s years, perhaps centuries later, and the witches are warlocks.

    “I thought, what if every so often, a bunch of witches go off and tell that messed-up story about that guy who went off killing people just because they told him he was going to be king? That would be interesting …  and crazy,” O’Hara said.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    "We tend to demonize the witches. We blame them for what Macbeth does in the story. They always got the short end of the stick. So, what if our play is about giving those ancient witches a renewed voice, through this ritual?”

    O’Hara’s Macbeth will have a very modern, almost futuristic element, “but also one that honors the past,” said award-winning scenic designer Jason Sherwood. Dede M. Ayite's costumes will offer “lots of skin, and lots of leather,” she said, “and when we transition into the actual storytelling we will have pieces that reflect Jacobean garments.” Alex Jainchill’s lighting design will incorporate modern technologies and incorporate dub-step music from sound designer Lindsay Jones.

    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening

    “Robert called me last week and said, ‘Hey did I tell you that you were writing a score that's like Game of Thrones?’ And I was like, 'No, you did not.' So I'm writing a score that's like Game of Thrones, along with rap music, lots of sound effects and other really exciting stuff.”

    O’Hara and Garrett hope this reimagined way of looking at Macbeth will give audiences another way of contextualizing the shocking daily headlines that are becoming more and more difficult to process.

    “We are a nation that moves and evolves. Said Garrett. “We are a theatre company that moves and evolves, and it is moving before our very eyes right now. And so I am very excited to have this play open our new Space Theatre, open our season and open our minds."

    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.


    Macbeth
    : Ticket information

    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.
    • Presented bythe DCPA Theatre Company
    • First performance Sept. 15, through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
  • Cast list: Look who's been invited to 'The Wild Party'

    by John Moore | Jul 06, 2017
    Wild Party
    From left: Wayne Kennedy, Sheryl McCallum, Diana Dresser and Erin Willis.


    Off-Center, the unconventional and most adventurous wing of Denver Center programming, has announced casting for its next off-site collaboration and first full-scale musical production: An immersive, 360-degree staging of Michael John LaChiusa’s jazz musical The Wild Party to run Oct. 11-31 at Stanley Marketplace.

    The Wild Party, which was nominated for seven Tony Awards when it appeared on Broadway in 2000, will feature Denver favorites Brett Ambler, Leonard Barrett Jr., Allison Caw, Laurence Curry, Diana Dresser, Katie Drinkard, Trent Hines, Drew Horwitz, Wayne Kennedy, Sheryl McCallum, Jenna Moll Reyes, Marco Robinson, Emily Van Fleet, Aaron Vega and Erin Willis.

    Barrett is set to star as Daddy Warbucks in Phamaly Theatre Company's Annie, opening Saturday at the Denver Center's Stage Theatre. Dresser recently appeared in Off-Center's Sweet & Lucky and the Theatre Company's All the Way. Curry appeared in the Theatre Company's All the Way; Willis in The Secret Garden; and Horwitz in As You Like It. Jenna Moll Reyes is a DCPA Teaching Artist who performs in the Shakespeare in the Parking Lot schools program. Reyes (Bus Stop) and Van Fleet (The Drowning Girls) were members of the Arvada Center's inaugural Black Box Repertory Ensemble. Drinkard returns to the Denver Center after having appeared in the Galleria Theatre's Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking.

    Kennedy is a 30-year veteran of Boulder's BDT Stage, where he is currently playing Jacob in the critically acclaimed Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Ambler just appeared in the Arvada Center's Jesus Christ Superstar. Caw just worked with Ethelyn Friend on an improvised opera called “_____”, An Opera, in Lafayette. McCallum, a Denver native, was in the Broadway company of The Lion King. Robinson is an actor and professional photographer whose stage credits include playing the Balladeer/Lee Harvey Oswald in the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Assassins. Vega is a new Denver resident who most recently worked with the Human Race Theatre Company in Dayton, Ohio.

    The previously announced director of this fully immersive staging is Amanda Berg Wilson, who is the artistic director of the Boulder-based company The Catamounts. She was a cast member for Off-Center's Sweet & Lucky last year and is a 2016 True West Award winner.

    The music will be directed by David Nehls, the Arvada Center's former longtime resident music director. Nehls and Hines are currently sharing the music direction for Phamaly, which creates performance opportunities for actors with disabilities.

    The choreographer is Patrick Mueller. The production will feature designs by Jason Sherwood (Scenic Designer), Meghan Anderson Doyle (Costume Designer), Jason Lynch (Lighting Designer), Sean Hagerty (Sound Designer), and Erin Ramsey (Fight Coordinator).

    “Last summer, Off-Center took over a 16,000-square foot warehouse in RiNo to bring you Sweet & Lucky. This fall, we’re breaking out the bathtub gin and heading to the Hangar at Stanley to tackle the first musical in Off-Center’s history,” said Off-Center curator Charlie Miller.

    “Much like Sweet & Lucky, The Wild Party will transport audience members to a different era where they will be immersed in the story as guests at Queenie and Burr’s party. The live band will be swinging, and we’ll find out what happens when you let down your guard and give yourself over to the party. I am so excited to dive into this piece with our incredible team of collaborators.”

    This production continues the partnership forged between Off-Center and Stanley, which began with the adventure comedy Travelers of the Lost Dimension. That show ran throughout the public spaces at Stanley through May 21.

    The Stanley Marketplace, which opened last year near the Stapleton neighborhood just east of Denver, is a community of like-minded businesses and residents who believe sustainable retail and community development. The more than 22-acre space, which occupies 140,000 square feet, was once Stanley Aviation headquarters, where airplane ejector seats were engineered and manufactured. Today it is an adaptive re-use community hub, home to a park, beer hall and an urban marketplace. All businesses are local and independent. The address is 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora. MAP IT

    (Note: The Michael John LaChiusa adaptation of 'The Wild Party' is very different from the Andrew Lippa version that was presented by Ignite Theatre at the Aurora Fox.)

    The Wild Party: Cast list

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


    The Wild Party:
    Ticket information

    The Wild PartyOfficial show description: You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind as you join a decadent party in the Roaring Twenties, brought to you by the producers of Sweet & Lucky. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and gin-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees.

    • Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    • Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    • Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    • Oct. 11-31, 2017
    • At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St.
    • For more information including ticket pre-sale and other exclusive experiences, visit WildPartyDenver.com

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Laurence Curry
    File photo of Laurence Curry from his days as a teacher and choreographer for the Denver Center Theater Academy and the National Theatre Conservatory.
  • Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons

    by John Moore | Apr 03, 2017

     

    Macbeth, The Who's Tommy, four world premieres and
    "a deep dive into some truly exciting collaborations"

    By John Moore
    DCPA Senior Arts Journalist

    The DCPA Theatre Company’s 39th season will include vast and visceral reimaginings of two distinct cutting-edge classics, a record-tying four world premieres and the company's 25th staging of perennial favorite A Christmas Carol.

    The season begins in September with visionary director Robert O'Hara’s Macbeth to reopen the newly renovated Space Theatre, and builds to The Who’s rock musical Tommy, directed by Sam Buntrock (Frankenstein). And both directors promise ambitious stagings unlike anything audiences have seen before.

    Nataki Garrett QuoteThe DCPA has worked its way to the forefront of new-play development in the American theatre, and next season’s slate will include the comedy Zoey’s Perfect Wedding by former Playwright in Residence Matthew Lopez; José Cruz González’s American Mariachi, the musical tale of an all-female 1970s mariachi band; Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap, about an American college basketball team that travels to Beijing in 1989; and Eric Pfeffinger’s timely comedy Human Error, which raucously explores the great American ideological divide through two vastly different couples - and one wrongly implanted embryo.

    Zoey’s Perfect Wedding will reunite Lopez and Mike Donahue, writer and director from the DCPA’s endearing world premiere The Legend of Georgia McBride (which makes its West Coast debut tomorrow at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.)

    American Mariachi
    was a favorite from the Theatre Company's 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. "Women of course had many challenges trying to play in such a male-dominated musical form," González said. "We interviewed a number of amazing women who were able to help us enter into that world, and we found an amazing group of artists who will play and sing in the piece."

    The Great Leap and Human Error emerged from the recent 2017 Summit in February.  In The Great Leap, Yee explores sport as a metaphor for how countries rub up against each other in terms of strategy, styles and priorities. "If you think of all the sports out there, basketball is the one in which you can really lay the ideals of communism on top of it. Everyone gets to touch the ball. Everyone is equal in their position,” she says.

    Human Error will set a precedent as the first Theatre Company offering ever to be staged in the cabaret-style Garner-Galleria Theatre.

    “The 2017-18 DCPA Theatre Company season represents the microcosm at the heart of the American experiment,” said Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett. “These writers, spanning across generations, cultures, and genders, are exploring the ways in which our commonalities are more meaningful than our differences."

    2017-18 Broadway season brings Hamilton to Denver

    For the first time, the DCPA simultaneously announced the upcoming year of its adventurous and ambitious Off-Center line of programming. Off-Center is known for creating experiences that challenge conventions and expand on the traditional definition of theatre. Next season will be the largest yet for Off-Center. It includes Mixed Taste, a summer-long partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver; a 360-degree immersive staging of The Wild Party musical at the Stanley Marketplace. Also of great intrigue: Remote Denver, a  guided audio tour of the secret city; and This Is Modern Art, a controversial play by Idris Goodwin and Kevin Coval that explores graffiti as modern art ...  or urban terrorism.

    “The expansion of Off-Center is a result of the incredible response of the Denver community,” said Off-Center Curator (and Theatre Company Associate Artistic Director) Charlie Miller. “We have seen that audiences are hungry for a broad range of experiences, and are eager for the unexpected.”

    Miller calls the upcoming year "a deep dive into some truly exciting collaborations." A continuing one will be the return of The SantaLand Diaries, in partnership with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and again starring Michael Bouchard

    Combined, the DCPA today announced 14 upcoming new productions that will be presented across eight different venues at the Denver Performing Arts Complex and beyond.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “Theater has the opportunity and the ability to help bridge our differences by offering performances that inspire us to seek deeper connections with one another,” said Garrett, who will make her DCPA debut directing Lydia Diamond's acclaimed race comedy Smart People. “We are honored to provide a space for conversations and connections to the Denver community this year through this season's offerings.”

    Lisa Portes Robert O'HaraMacbeth will be directed by Robert O'Hara, a rising playwright, director and screenwriter who won the 2010 NAACP Best Director Award and the 2010 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play. He was a young prodigy of original Angels in America Director George C. Wolfe and is perhaps best-known as a writer for Insurrection, a time-traveling play exploring racial and sexual identity. 

    The Who's Tommy, the rock musical based on the classic 1969 concept album about the pinball prodigy, will reunite acclaimed British Frankenstein director Sam Buntrock and Scenic Designer Jason Sherwood (who also will create the world of Macbeth). Native Gardens will mark the DCPA return of playwright Karen Zacarias, who wrote Just Like Us in 2014. Zacarias has penned a very close-to-home border-war story: One that plays out between two neighboring couples in D.C. who have a dispute over their property line. The director is Chicago's Lisa Portes, who recently won the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation's 2016 Zelda Fichandler Award, which recognizes an artist who is "transforming the regional arts landscape through singular creativity and artistry in the theatre." She is head of the masters program in directing at DePaul University.

    Next year's A Christmas Carol will be the 25th season staging of Dickens' classic by the DCPA since 1990. Melissa Rain Anderson will return for her second turn at directing, and popular longtime DCPA actor Sam Gregory again will play Scrooge.

    DCPA THEATRE COMPANY SEASON AT A GLANCE:

    • Sept. 15-Oct. 29: Robert O’Hara’s Macbeth (Space Theatre Grand Reopening)
    • Oct. 13-Nov. 19: Smart People (Ricketson Theatre)
    • Nov. 24-Dec. 24: A Christmas Carol (Stage Theatre)
    • Jan. 19-Feb. 25, 2018: Zoey’s Perfect Wedding (Space Theatre)
    • Jan. 26-Feb. 25, 2018: American Mariachi (Stage Theatre)
    • Feb. 2-March 11, 2018: The Great Leap (Ricketson Theatre)
    • April 6-May 6, 2018: Native Gardens (Space Theatre)
    • April 20-May 27, 2018: The Who's Tommy (Stage Theatre)
    • May 18-June 24, 2018: Human Error (Garner Galleria Theatre)

    DCPA OFF-CENTER 2017-18 SEASON AT A GLANCE:

    • July 5-Aug. 23 Mixed Taste, with MCA Denver (Seawell Grand Ballroom)
    • Oct. 12-31: The Wild Party (The Hangar at Stanley)
    • Nov. 24-Dec. 24: The SantaLand Diaries, with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company (Jones Theatre)
    • March 22-April 15, 2018: This Is Modern Art (Jones Theatre)
    • Spring/Summer 2018: Remote Denver (on the streets of Denver)

    TC 2017-18 800

    And here is a more detailed look at all 14 newly announced productions, in chronological order:

    MIXED TASTE (Off-Center)
    mixed-tasteTag team lectures on unrelated topic
    Presented by Off-Center with MCA Denver
    Wednesdays from July 5 through Aug 23
    Seawell Grand Ballroom
    Even mismatched subjects will find common ground in a lecture series that can go pretty much anywhere. Two speakers get twenty minutes each to enlighten you on unrelated topics, but can’t make any connections to each other. Ideas start to blend afterward when audience members ask questions to both speakers and anything goes. READ MORE ABOUT IT



    MACBETH
    macbethBy William Shakespeare
    Directed by Robert O’Hara
    Sept. 15-Oct. 29
    Space Theatre (Grand Reopening)
    To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others, the people of Scotland or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. Shakespeare’s compact, brutal tragedy kicks off the grand reopening of our theatre-in-the-round in a visceral re-imagining from visionary director Robert O’Hara, who is “shaking up the world, one audience at a time” (The New York Times). This ambitious reinvention of the classic tale reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses the dagger must suffer the consequences. 



    THE WILD PARTY
    (Off-Center)
    the-wild-partyMusic and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    Directed by Amanda Berg Wilson
    Oct. 12-31
    The Hangar at Stanley
    You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind for a decadent party in the Roaring Twenties. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and booze-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees. Dress up in your finest pearls, suits and sequins – encouraged but not required.



    SMART PEOPLE

    smart-peopleBy Lydia R. Diamond
    Directed by Nataki Garrett
    Oct. 13-Nov. 19
    Ricketson Theatre
    Intelligence can only get you so far when it comes to navigating love, success and identity in the modern age. This biting comedy follows a quartet of Harvard intellectuals struggling to understand why the lives of so many people – including their own – continue to be undermined by race. But no matter how hard they research, question and confront the issue, their own problems with self-awareness make it difficult to face the facts of life. Fiercely clever dialogue and energetic vignettes keep the laughs coming in a story that Variety calls “Sexy, serious and very, very funny.”



    A CHRISTMAS CAROL

    christmas-carolBy Charles Dickens
    Adapted by Richard Hellesen
    Music by David de Berry
    Directed by Melissa Rain Anderson
    Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    Stage Theatre
    Essential to the holiday season in Denver, A Christmas Carol promises to “warm your heart and renew your holiday spirit” according to the Examiner. Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, this joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations. Denver favorite Sam Gregory returns as Scrooge. READ MORE ABOUT IT

    (Note: 'A Christmas Carol' is an added attraction, not part of the Theatre Company subscription season.)



    SantaLand Diaries 2016. Michael Bouchard. Photo by Adams VisCom
    'The SantaLand Diaries,' 2016. Michael Bouchard. Photo by Adams VisCom.

    THE SANTALAND DIARIES
    (Off-Center)
    By David Sedaris
    Adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello
    Presented by Off-Center with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    Directed by Stephen Weitz
    Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    The Jones Theatre
    This disgruntled Macy's elf has the cure for the common Christmas show. Looking for a little more snark in your stocking? Crumpet the Elf returns for more hilarious hijinks in this acclaimed one-man show based on stories by David Sedaris. Crumpet’s twisted tales from his stint in Macy’s SantaLand are the cure for the common Christmas show. Release your holiday stress, get all of those obnoxious carols out of your head and check out even more late night options this year. READ MORE ABOUT IT



    ZOEY'S PERFECT WEDDING

    zoeys-perfect-wedding2By Matthew Lopez
    Directed by Mike Donahue
    Jan. 19-Feb. 25, 2018
    Space Theatre
    The blushing bride. The touching toast. The celebration of true love. These are the dreams of Zoey’s big day…and the opposite of what it’s turning out to be. Disaster after disaster follow her down the aisle, from brutally honest boozy speeches to a totally incompetent wedding planner. Even worse, her friends are too preoccupied with their own relationship woes to help with the wreckage around them. From the team that brought you, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Matthew Lopez’s wildly funny fiasco destroys expectations with the realities of commitment, fidelity and growing up. READ OUR 2015 INTERVIEW WITH MATTHEW LOPEZ



    AMERICAN MARIACHI

    american-mariachi2By José Cruz González
    Director to be announced
    Jan. 26-Feb. 25, 2018
    The Stage Theatre
    Lucha and Bolie are ready to start their own all-female mariachi band in the 1970s. The only things standing in their way are a male-dominated music genre, patriarchal pressure from inside their families and finding the right women to fill out their sound. As they practice, perform and strive to earn the respect of their community, their music sparks a transformation in the lives of those around them – especially Lucha’s parents. This humorous, heartwarming story about music’s power to heal and connect includes gorgeous live mariachi music played on stage. González writes a passionate story about families and friendships that you should share with yours. READ OUR FULL INTERVIEW WITH JOSÉ CRUZ GONZÁLEZ


     

    THE GREAT LEAP
    the-great-leap2By Lauren Yee
    Director to be announced
    Feb. 2-March 11, 2018
    Ricketson Theatre
    When an American college basketball team travels to Beijing for an exhibition game in 1989, the drama on the court goes deeper than the strain between their countries. For two men with a past and one teen with a future, it’s a chance to stake their moment in history and claim personal victories off the scoreboard. American coach Saul grapples with his relevance to the sport, Chinese coach Wen Chang must decide his role in his rapidly-changing country and Chinese American player Manford seeks a lost connection. Tensions rise right up to the final buzzer as history collides with the action in the stadium. Yee’s “acute ear for contemporary speech” and a “devilishly keen satiric eye” (San Francisco Chronicle) creates an unexpected and touching story inspired by events in her own father’s life. READ OUR FULL INTERVIEW WITH LAUREN YEE


     

    THIS IS MODERN ART
    this-is-modern-artBy Kevin Coval and Idris Goodwin
    Directed by Idris Goodwin
    March 22-April 15, 2018
    The Jones Theatre
    Graffiti crews are willing to risk anything for their art. Called vandals, criminals, even creative terrorists, Chicago graffiti artists set out night after night to make their voices heard and alter the way people view the world. But when one crew finishes the biggest graffiti bomb of their careers, the consequences get serious and spark a public debate asking, where does art belong? This Is Modern Art gives a glimpse into the lives of anonymous graffiti artists and asks us to question the true purpose of art. READ MORE ABOUT IT


    NATIVE GARDENS
    native-gardensBy Karen Zacarias
    Directed by Lisa Portes
    April 6-May 6, 2018
    Space Theatre
    Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virginia have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt comedy about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.



    Sam Buntock

    THE WHO'S TOMMY
    the-whos-tommyMusic and Lyrics by Pete Townshend
    Book by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff
    Additional Music and Lyrics by John Entwistle and Keith Moon
    Directed by Sam Buntrock
    April 20-May 27, 2018
    Stage Theatre
    Based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, Tommy is an exhilarating musical about the challenges of self-discovery and the resilience of the human spirit. When young Tommy retreats into a world of darkness and silence after a deeply traumatic incident, he must navigate a harsh and unforgiving world with no hope of recovery. But when he discovers a newfound talent for pinball, he’s swept up in the fame and fortune of his success. Tommy and his family give new voice to The Who’s classic stadium rock as they navigate the troubles and joys of being alive. This production reunites director Sam Buntrock and scenic designer Jason Sherwood, the team behind last season’s audience favorite, Frankenstein.



    HUMAN ERROR

    human-error2By Eric Pfeffinger
    Director to be announced
    May 18-June 24, 2018
    Garner Galleria Theatre
    Madelyn and Keenan are NPR-listening, latte-sipping, blue-state liberals, while Heather and Jim are NRA-cardholding, truck-driving, red-state conservatives. After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, Heather is mistakenly impregnated with the wrong child. Now the two couples face sharing an uproarious nine-month’s odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely – but heartfelt – friendships. “Up-and-coming scribe Eric Pfeffinger has the vital nerve to explore the gaping communication gap between red America and blue America, liberal humanists and the conservative right” (Chicago Tribune). READ OUR FULL INTERVIEW WITH ERIC PFEFFINGER


    REMOTE DENVER
    remote-denverBy Rimini Protokoll
    Concept, Script and Direction: Stefan Kaegi
    Research, Script and Direction Denver: Jörg Karrenbauer
    Spring/Summer 2018
    On the streets of Denver
    Join a group of 50 people swarming Denver on a guided audio tour that seems to follow you as much as you are following it. Experience a soundtrack to the streets, sights, and rooftops of The Mile High City as a computer-generated voice guides your group’s movements in real time. Discover a "secret Denver," exploring places like gathering spaces, back alleyways, dark hallways and public areas through a new lens. You’re not just audience members — you’re actors and spectators, observers and observed, individuals and hordes, all at the same time.

     

    TICKET INFORMATION:

    • Theatre Company: New and renewing subscribers have the first opportunity to reserve tickets. Subscription packages are available online at denvercenter.org/nextseason or by calling 303-893-4100. Subscribers enjoy free ticket exchanges, payment plans, priority offers to added attractions, discounted extra tickets, a dedicated VIP hotline, free events including talkbacks and receptions, and the best seats at the best prices, guaranteed. Single ticket on-sale date will be announced at a later time. Note: Plans for the new season are subject to change and benefit restrictions may apply.
    • Off-Center: The single-ticket on-sale date for all Off-Center productions will be announced at a later time. Subscriptions are not available for Off-Center shows.

     

     

  • 2016 True West Award: Jason Sherwood

    by John Moore | Dec 10, 2016

    True West Award. The Coffin. Frankenstein. Jason Sherwood



    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 10:
    Jason Sherwood

         Scenic Designer, DCPA Theatre Company's Frankenstein

     
    When the audience walked into the Stage Theatre before Frankenstein even began, they could see it: An enormous mud floor with a big, open grave dug into the middle of it. And in the epic opening moment of the play, a massive wooden coffin as big as a house is hoisted out from the ground and rises slowly to reveal the mad scientist’s newly animated Creature standing underneath it, dazed from the first stages of embryonic consciousness.

    “It said to the audience from the very beginning that is an unnatural act to pull this thing out of the ground,” said Frankenstein Director Sam Buntrock.

    This “thing” - a monster of its own kind created from the imagination of groundbreaking Scenic Designer Jason Sherwood - would serve as Ground Zero for the alchemy of life, death and re-birth in Mary Shelley’s decidedly unnatural world where the roles of God and man, creator and creature are blended into a kind of operatic chaos.

    Frankenstein video: The coffin in the scene shop:

     

    This monstrous coffin, a wooden amalgam of many disparate parts, was playfully hyperbolized not only to toy with the audience’s perspective, but more literally because it represented 10 coffins – one for each of the corpses from whom The Creature was assembled.  

    Frankenstein Coffin. True West AwardsAnd it never left the audience’s sight. When the action moved, the coffin morphed with it, serving as an ingenious projection screen with complimentary effects designed by Charlie I. Miller and lighting designer Brian Tovar.

    Breathing life into the Frankenstein set: 'It's alive!'

    “So when The Creature goes into the woods, the coffin grows greenery, and moss attaches to it,” Buntrock said. “When he sets fire to the cabin, it burns, too. And when we go to the Alps, which is where the central scene in the play takes place, the coffin becomes the Alps." In a stunning transformation, the coffin comes down from above and the climactic fight between the two men occurs on top of it. “And in the end, it engulfs them," Buntrock said.

    “This served not only as a constant reminder of Victor's act of obscene creation, but also of the death dance that it locked the two main characters into.”

    Frankenstein video: The coffin on the stage:

     

    It was breathtaking – a set piece worthy of its own curtain bow. And it was just one innovative way Sherwood played with perspective. For example, when The Creature murders Frankenstein's 6-year-old brother and leaves him in a small boat, Sherwood did not just have the boat float up to the doctor with a little body inside that an audience would not have been able to see. Sherwood instead had the boat shoot up vertically from below like a tectonic plate, allowing us to fully see the wee corpse at the same time Frankenstein does.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “Jason’s scenic design for Frankenstein was audacious in its simplicity, eschewing naturalism to allow a continuous and uninterrupted flow of action,” said Buntrock. Sherwood created fire, rain and snow. He was not safe, timid or even slightly subtle. “No, this was life and death. Big and bold,” said Buntrock.

    Just like Shelley’s gothic masterpiece.

    Jason

    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

    Frankenstein. Jason Sherwood. Mark Junek. Adams VisCom'Frankenstein,' designed by Jason Sherwood and featuring Mark Junek, above, who alternated with Sullivan Jones playing Frankenstein and The Creature. Photo by  Adams VisCom.
  • Photos: Opening Night of 'Frankenstein'

    by John Moore | Oct 11, 2016
    'Frankenstein' in Denver
    To see more photos from Opening Night of 'Frankenstein,' click the forward arrow on the image above.


    The DCPA NewsCenter takes you backstage before all DCPA Theatre Company opening nights, offering a glimpse of the actors in preparation, and following through to the post-show celebration.

    In the Theatre Company’s new staging of Frankenstein, which opened on Oct. 7, leading actors Sullivan Jones and Mark Junek alternate nightly playing the roles of Victor Frankenstein and his creation.

    Our backstage visit includes watching the actors being fit with their wigs, as well as Junek inserting the colored contact lens that makes it look as if the monster has one yellow eye. When Jones plays the Creature, he wears the yellow lenses on both eyes. In the source novel, author Mary Shelley makes mention of the Creature having yellow eyes.

    Photos by John Moore and McKenzie Kielman for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Frankenstein: Ticket information
    Frankenstein• Through Oct. 30
    • Stage Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Oct. 23
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    Video series: Inside look at the making of Frankenstein
    Five things we learned about Frankenstein at Perspectives
    Photos, video: Your first look at our montage of Frankenstein scenes
    Frankenstein
    : On the making of a two-headed monster
    Frankenstein and race: It IS a matter of black and white
    Breathing life into the Frankenstein set: 'It's alive!'
    A Frankenstein 'that will make The Bible look subtle'
    How Danny Boyle infused new life into Frankenstein
    Casting set for Frankenstein and The Glass Menagerie
    Introducing DCPA Theatre Company's 2016-17 season artwork
    Kent Thompson on The Bard, The Creature and the soul of his audience
    2016-17 season announcement

    More 2016-17 DCPA Theatre Company 'Meet the Cast' profiles:

    Meet Mark Junek
    Meet Sullivan Jones
    Meet Jessica Robblee


    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center.

    'Frankenstein' cast members, from left, Erin Willis, Brynn Tucker and Nellesa Walthour. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

  • Five things we learned about 'Frankenstein'

    by John Moore | Oct 05, 2016

    From left: Kevin Copenhaver (costumes), Topher Blair (projections), Jason Sherwood (scenic design), Brian Tovar (lighting), Sam Buntrock (director), Curtis Craig (sound), and actors Max Woertendyke, Molly Carden and Thaddeus Fitzpatrick. Photo by McKenzie Kielman for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    "Perspectives" is a series of free conversations with DCPA Theatre Company cast and crew on the evening of each show's first preview performance (except A Christmas Carol). On Sept. 30, DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore was joined by nine members of the Frankenstein team. Here’s some of what we learned:

    1 PerspectivesThis is a stage play, but it might as well be an action film. Playwright Nick Dear's script consists of 30 scenes, but they take less than two hours to play out. "The first 20 scenes are over in the first half an hour," Director Sam Buntrock said. And why the eventual change in tempo? “At the beginning of the story, the Creature has almost no language skills, so the first five scenes have almost no dialogue. But as the Creature experiences more of the world, and as he learns to communicate better, the play elongates and becomes more conventional." 

    2 PerspectivesCostumer Kevin Copenhaver said the creative team was not interested in furthering the popular cultural depiction of Frankenstein as the neck-bolted, square-headed monster we know from the 1931 Boris Karloff film. Nor the more recent National Theatre approach in London, which turned the monster into something of a mod zipperhead. “When reading Mary Shelley’s book, I was really struck by when she said the Creature had yellow eyes,” Copenhaver said. So the two actors who play the Creature in Denver will be wearing yellow color contacts, and their teeth will be fitted with iron. “But otherwise the monster will appear to be disturbingly normal,” Copenhaver said, in part to force audiences to confront their own feelings about difference and “otherness.” The less freakish this Creature looks, the more disturbing it should be that this society rejects him anyway. (Photo: Sullivan Jones and Charlie Korman by AdamsVisCom.)

    3 PerspectivesJason Sherwood admitted that his vibrant scenic deign, which features one massive (and surprise) overhanging set piece, created a nightmare for Lighting Designer Brian Tovar and others on the creative team. Everywhere a lighting designer might normally expect to place lights, Sherwood has invaded his space with hanging set pieces, as well as accommodation for rain, snow and fire. “The whole team had to get creative all around because of me, and I apologize for that,” Sherwood said with a laugh.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    4 Perspectives Frankenstein PerspectivesActors Sullivan Jones and Mark Junek, the actors who will alternate playing the roles of Dr. Frankenstein and his Creature, have been encouraged to go their own ways – and that freedom affects everyone else on and around the stage. Said ensemble actor Molly Carden: “One thing Sam kept repeating to us was, 'If you are going to have two people play the same role on different nights, you don't want it to be the same performance. That would be antithetical to the whole premise.' ” Or, as Buntrock puts it: “I can't cram one person's performance into another person's. Sometimes I have to keep reminding myself that this show is not the same for both people. It can't be.” That freedom not only means two actors interpreting the text differently, but also having the liberty to move about differently on the stage. That requires flexibility from the acting ensemble, the audience and even the technical crew - specifically, the person operating the lights. “That’s because Mark and Sullivan aren’t always in the same place on the stage each night, even though they are saying the same words,” actor Thaddeus Fitzpatrick said. (Photo: Sam Buntrock by By McKenzie Kielman for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    5 PerspectivesDenver Center newcomer Max Woertendyke plays a gentleman named Felix de Lacey, a man who is devoted to his family and mistress. In fact, Felix is kind, educated, and gentle to all — save for the poor monster. Just a few months ago, Woertendyke was part of the Broadway ensemble of A View From the Bridge, which won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play. “Just to clarify - I don’t think I was the one who got it for us,” joked Woertendyke, who understudied the roles of Louis and Marco.

    6 PerspectivesBonus: Mary Shelley’s source novel turns 200 years old this year. And yet surely some audience members will be experiencing the story for the first time. “I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone - but it's about a monster,” Buntrock said with a laugh.

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

    The next Perspectives will cover The Book of Will at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, in the Jones Theatre. It’s free.


    Photo gallery: The making of Frankenstein in Denver:

    'Frankenstein' in Denver

    To see more photos, click the arrow on the image above. All photos by John Moore and McKenzie Kielman for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Frankenstein: Ticket information
    Frankenstein• Through Oct. 30
    • Stage Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Oct. 23
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 


    Previous NewsCenter coverage:

    Photos, video: Your first look at the making of Frankenstein
    Frankenstein
    : On the making of a two-headed monster
    Frankenstein and race: It IS a matter of black and white
    Breathing life into the Frankenstein set: 'It's alive!'
    A Frankenstein 'that will make The Bible look subtle'
    How Danny Boyle infused new life into Frankenstein
    Casting set for Frankenstein and The Glass Menagerie
    Introducing DCPA Theatre Company's 2016-17 season artwork
    Kent Thompson on The Bard, The Creature and the soul of his audience
    2016-17 season announcement

    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center

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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.