• Summit Spotlight: Rogelio Martinez on when world leaders collide

    by John Moore | Feb 22, 2017

    Video above by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and Senior Arts Journalist John Moore.


    In this daily, five-part series for the DCPA NewsCenter, we will introduce you to the plays and playwrights featured at the Denver Center’s 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. Over the past 12 years, 27 plays introduced to the Summit have gone to be premiered on the DCPA Theatre Company mainstage season. Next up: Rogelio Martinez, author of the political thriller Blind Date.

    Playwright Rogelio Martinez on watching
    Ronald Reagan transform on a global stage

    Blind Date centers on Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev's first meeting at the  Geneva Summit in 1985 to try to open up channels between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. And while the odd couple chip away at the mistrust between their countries, Nancy Reagan and Raisa Gorbachev play out a passive-aggressive tango that mirrors their husbands’ negotiations.

    John Moore: You have been to the Colorado New Play Summit many times as a commissioned playwright, mainstage playwright and audience member. What has the Denver Center come to mean to you?

    Rogelio Martinez: It's one of the few theatres I can call home. It's a special place for me, and I am always happy to be here. Great energy. Great writers.

    John Moore: How did your history with the Colorado New Play Summit begin?

    Rogelio Martinez: It started in 2008 when they asked me to bring in 10 pages of something I was working on, and I brought in the first 10 pages of When Tang Met Laika. There was a very positive response. We then workshopped it at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts Camp in Steamboat Springs. That is a beautiful place to get away from the world, and get inside the world of your play. It was then read at the 2009 Colorado New Play Summit, and then it had its world premiere on the DCPA Theatre Company's mainstage season in 2010. It was an amazing production.   

    Rogelio Martinez. Photo by John Moore.

    John Moore: Tell people who weren't here in 2010 about When Tang Met Laika.

    Rogelio Martinez: It is a play set on the International Space Station during the Cold War. It’s about former adversaries working together. The Russians got to space first, and they created the first space station, Zarya. So we had a lot to learn from them. I was just fascinated by the idea of people who were enemies on this planet suddenly being friends up there in the universe.

    Rogelio Martinez. Blind DateJohn Moore: That’s perfect segue into the play you are writing now as a commission for the DCPA Theatre Company, Blind Date. Tell us about it.  

    Rogelio Martinez: Blind Date is about the Geneva in 1985 where Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev first met. Reagan was 74 at the time and Gorbachev was much younger, 54. But at that Summit, they both did a pivot. They changed. Yes, you can still change at (that age). Up to that point, Reagan was anti-Communist. He did terrible damage as president of the Screen Actors Guild. He was not a great governor of California. But suddenly he had this naiveté. He said, "You know what? Let's abolish nuclear weapons. Let's just get rid of them.” And he saw across the room from him this man he thought could do this with him. It's fascinating to see somebody change before your very eyes.  

    (Photo above: Victor Slezak as Ronald Reagan and Triney Sandavol as Mikhail Gorbachev in 'Blind Date.')

    John Moore: So what did you learn about Reagan in your research?

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Rogelio Martinez: One thing is that Reagan worked in narratives. You couldn't talk statistics to Reagan. You had to tell him a story. He saw the ending of the Cold War as a story, and he was one of the main actors in it.

    John Moore: Blind Date is the conclusion to your Cold War Trilogy. And when you look at it alongside some of your other works, such as Ping Pong, about Nixon and Mao, it's clear you have a continuing fascination with opposites attracting on a global scale.

    Rogelio Martinez: I love the idea of worlds colliding. I was born in Cuba and I came here when I was 9.

    John Moore: You didn’t just come here when you were 9. You came here during the Mariel boatlift in 1980.

    Rogelio Martinez. Photo by Adams VisCom Rogelio Martinez: Yes. And until then, I had been taught one way of life, because there was no expectation that I was ever going to leave the country. And then suddenly, here I am. I remember going to Sears for the first time. My aunt said, “vamos a cia,” or, "Let's go." But she dropped the r and the s so it literally sounded like she was saying, "Let’s go to the C.I.A." There was this sudden culture shock. But I am able to see the world from two points of view, because I have lived from two points of view. So I love it when leaders crash into one another. But it’s not so much personalities colliding that excites me as it is people behaving unlike how we know them to be. Take Nixon: Warmonger. Nasty man. But he is able to reach out and start this friendship with China. I love contradiction. That is the most exciting thing to me: People who contradict themselves.

    John Moore: You obviously wrote this before the recent presidential election, but you are here now at the Colorado New Play Summit doing major rewrites. Does your play in any way acknowledge the new Reagan?

    Rogelio Martinez. Blind Date
    The cast of Rogelio Martinez's' 'Blind Date." Photo by Adams VisCom.


    Rogelio Martinez: Absolutely. As I was writing the play, I was aware of the coming election. And as I was rewriting it, the election was happening. So I was aware that the play would have to somehow echo what is going on in the world right now. We're Tweeting now. Things get lost in the translation. In the time I am writing about, people were extremely articulate. Gorbachev is an extremely articulate man, so there was a chance for a conversation then that is not happening today. But I hope it does at some point.

    John Moore: This might seem like an obvious question when we are talking about leaders from Russia and the United States meeting for the first time at a tense time in history, as they do in your play. But your story is set in 1985. So why is this the right play at the right time?

    Spotlight: Donnetta Lavinia Grays the aftermath of trauma

    Rogelio Martinez: The world was a scary place in the 1980s, and you never thought it was going to get scarier. But then there were about 20 years there where the younger generation never lived under the fear of nuclear annihilation. They don't understand it. So when they watch this play, they will begin to understand that there is this longer narrative that has been going on for a long while now. But it can be solved. It just needs the kind of leadership where people go beyond the character they have shown so far. So Blind Date is actually a hopeful piece. And hope is not a bad thing to have.

    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.


    Blind Date

    Written by Rogelio Martinez
    Directed by Giovanna Sardelli
    Dramaturgy by Douglas Langworthy
    George Shultz: Liam Craig
    Eduard Shevardnadze: Steve Brady
    Mikhail Gorbachev: Triney Sandavol
    Ronald Reagan: Victor Slezak
    Edmund Morris: Kurt Rhoads
    Raisa Gorbachev: Kathleen McCall
    Nancy Reagan: Nance Williamson
    Peter, Politburo Member, Dimitri Zarechnak: Rodney Lizcano
    Stage Directions: Mehry Eslaminia

    Blind Date. Adams VisCom

    Liam Craig, left, as George Shultz, and Steve Brady as Eduard Shevardnadze in Rogelio Martinez's 'Blind Date.' Photo by Adams VisCom.

    Selected previous coverage of the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit:
    2017 Summit welcomes dozens for opening rehearsal
    Summit Spotlight: Robert Schenkkan on the dangers of denial
    Summit Spotlight: Lauren Yee lays it all on the free-throw line
    Summit Spotlight: Rogelio Martinez on when world leaders collide
    Summit Spotlight: Donnetta Lavinia Grays on the aftermath of trauma
    Summit Spotlight: Eric Pfeffinger on the fertile comedy of a divided America
    Record four student writers to have plays read at Summit
    DCPA completes field of five 2017 Summit playwrights

    The 12th Annual Colorado New Play Summit
    Launch Weekend: Feb. 18-19
    Festival Weekend: Feb. 24-26
    More details: denvercenter.org/summit

  • Photos: 2017 Summit welcomes dozens for opening rehearsal

    by John Moore | Feb 14, 2017
    Colorado New Play Summit opening-day photo gallery:

    2017 Colorado New Play Summit
    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos may be downloaded simply free by clicking on them. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The DCPA Theatre Company today welcomed dozens of actors, playwrights, directors and crew for the first day of rehearsal for the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. The 12th annual festival will feature readings of new works by Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Rogelio Martinez, Eric Pfeffinger, Robert Schenkkan and Lauren Yee.

    The Colorado New Play Summit presents readings of new plays over two weeks as the playwrights continue to craft their developing works alongside a full, professional creative team. Audiences also are offered the opportunity to see two fully staged world premiere productions that emerged from the previous year's Summit: The Book of Will by Lauren Gunderson and Two Degrees by Tira Palmquist. In addition, the DCPA Theatre Company is presenting the regional premiere of Lucas Hnath's The Christians. Most of the Summit actors are also appearing in one of those three mainstage plays.

    2017 Colorado New Play Summit "I always feel blessed at this time of year when we get to tell new stories that provide windows on the world," said DCPA Artistic Director Kent Thompson. "Our audiences can see how these playwrights and these artists are responding to the world around them today."

    (Pictured right: Olivia Sullivent in rehearsal for 'Last Night and the Night Before.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Tuesday's launch was bittersweet given that the 2017 Summit will be Thompson's last. Thompson, who founded the Summit upon his arrival in Denver in 2006, has announced his resignation effective March 3. 

    "We have workshopped 50 plays at the Summit," Thompson said. "We have had 44 playwrights, including 20 female playwrights. We have had 27 world premieres that began at the Summit, and we have launched two major musicals (The Unsinkable Molly Brown and Sense and Sensibility the Musical)."

    2017 Colorado New Play Summit. Kent ThompsonThree years ago, Thompson (pictured at right) expanded the Summit by a week so that once playwrights get their work in front of an audience, they can take feedback and come back for another round of rehearsals and readings.

    "These two weeks are really about the playwright," Thompson said. 

    The five 2017 Summit readings will take audiences from an American suburb to Brooklyn to China to Nazi Germany to the first meeting between Reagan and Gorbechev.

    New DCPA Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett said this is an important time in history for playwrights. "It's the playwright's responsibility to always have their ear not only to the present, but also to the future," she said. "What I am most most excited about the plays we are about to unpack at the Summit is that these playwrights have one foot in the present and one foot in the future. We will get to the other side."

    Here is a look at each featured Summit play, with an introduction from each of the playwrights:

    Last Night and the Night Before
    By Donnetta Lavinia Grays
    2017 Colorado New Play Summit Donetta GraysWhen Monique and her 10-year-old daughter Samantha show up unexpectedly on her sister’s Brooklyn doorstep, it’s the beginning of the end for Rachel and her partner Nadima’s orderly New York lifestyle. Monique is on the run from deep trouble, and her husband is nowhere to be seen. The family’s deep Southern roots have a long reach, and they grab hold of Rachel’s life stronger than she could have ever imagined.

    Says Grays: "It's fitting that today is Valentine's Day because I think this play is squarely about the power and dynamic of love. There are questions around motherhood, what defines motherhood, what defines being a woman, what makes a family, and what loss is as well."

    Directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton
    Dramaturgy by Lauren Whitehead
    Sam: Olivia Sullivent
    Monique: Brynn Tucker
    Reggie: Cajardo Lindsay
    Rachel: Jasmine Hughes
    Nadima: Valeka Holt
    Stage Directions: Tresha Farris   

    Blind Date
    By Rogelio Martinez

    A DCPA Theatre Company commission
    2017 Colorado New Play Summit Rogelio MartinezThis play centers on odd-couple Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev's first meeting in Geneva in an attempt to  open up channels between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Though members of their cabinets try to keep them on track, the leaders steer the conversation to pop culture and films. While the men chip away at the mistrust between their countries, Nancy Reagan and Raisa Gorbachev play out a passive-aggressive tango that mirrors their husbands’ negotiations. This play is the conclusion to Martinez’s Cold War trilogy. Martinez previously wrote the DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere of When Tang Met Laika.

    Says Martinez: "At some point in their lives, both of these men took a huge pivot. They they were from completely different philosophies and had different ideas. But for a small moment in time they became idealists and they believed in something that no one else believed in. Ultimately the play is about trust: Can one person trust the other across the negotiating table?

    Directed by Giovanna Sardelli
    Dramaturgy by Douglas Langworthy
    George Shultz: Liam Craig                                                                                   
    Eduard Shevardnadze: Steve Brady
    Mikhail Gorbachev: Triney Sandavol
    Ronald Reagan: Victor Slezak
    Edmund Morris: Kurt Rhoads
    Raisa Gorbachev: Kathleen McCall
    Nancy Reagan: Nance Williamson
    Peter, Politburo Member, Dimitri Zarechnak: Rodney Lizcano
    Stage Directions: Mehry Eslaminia                            

    Human Error
    By Eric Pfeffinger

    2017 Colorado New Play Summit Eric PfeffingerMadelyn 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 a nine-month’s odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely friendships.

    Says Pfeffinger: "One couple's fertilized embryo has been mistakenly implanted in a stranger so, obviously, it's a comedy: One of those classic 'switched embryo' farces. What ensues is the two couples trying to come to understand a kind of people they have never had any interest in knowing before."

    Directed by Jane Page
    Dramaturgy by Amy Jensen
    Madelyn: Caitlin Wise
    Keenan: Robert Manning Jr.
    Jim: John DiAntonio
    Heather: Jennifer Le Blanc
    Dr. Hoskins: Wesley Mann
    Stage Directions: Drew Horwitz               

    Hanussen

    By Robert Schenkkan

    A DCPA Theatre Company commission
    2017 Colorado New Play Summit Robert SchenkkanIn 1930s Berlin, the brilliant mentalist Erik Jan Hanussen captivates German audiences with his ability to read minds and his uncanny predictions of the future. His reputation brings him to the attention of avid occultist Adolph Hitler. While his star seems to be on the rise, the consequences of his next major prediction (and his own true identity) may break his spell. Based on true events. Schenkkan is a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (All the Way, The 12).

    Says Schenkkan: "The Weimar Republic seems like a good place to be visiting right now. It is said that Hanussen helped coach Hitler to improve his public speaking. That he cast Hitler's horoscope. And that he may or may not have had some part in the Black Flag Operation known as The Reichstag fire. Hanussen was Jewish. This is a play about denial and avoidance and individual responsibility."

    Directed by Kent Thompson
    Dramaturgy by Liz Engelman
    Hanussen: Jamison Jones
    Hitler: Richard Thieriot
    Wolfe: Kevin Kilner
    Ernerst Juhn, Bruno Frei and Stage Manager: Andy Nagraj
    Fred Marion, Joseph Goebbles, Young Man and Manager: Robert Montano
    Fritzi, Katrina and Maria Paudler: Sarah Schenkkan
    Servant, Rudolf Steinle and Nobleman: Leigh Miller
    Businessman and Kurt Egger: Jason Delane
    Stage Directions: Luke Sorge

    Manford From Half Court, or The Great Leap
    By Lauren Yee

    DCPA Theatre Company Commission
    2017 Colorado New Play Summit Lauren YeeWhen an American college basketball team travels to Beijing for a “friendship” game in the post-Cultural Revolution 1980s, both countries try to tease out the politics behind this newly popular sport. Cultures clash as the Chinese coach tries to pick up moves from the Americans and a Chinese-American player named Manford spies on his opponents.

    Says Yee: "What you need to know about The Great Leap is that my father is 6-foot-1. He grew up in San Francisco Chinatown, and before he had kids, the only thing he was good at was basketball. He was never going to the NBA, but he was good enough that even today in San Francisco, people stop us on the street and say, 'I used to play you in basketball.' And as they walk away, my dad is always like, 'Yeah ... and I kicked his ass.' In the 1980s, my father and his Chinese-American teammates went to China to play a series of exhibition games throughout the country. And he got completely demolished in almost every single game. Apparently in Beijing, they played against all these 7-foot-6, 300-pound gods - and remember, my dad was 6-foot-1. And he was the tallest guy on his team. 'We did not even know when they had the ball,' he said."

    Directed by Josh Brody
    Dramaturgy by Kristen Leahey
    Manford: Kevin Lin
    Saul: Brian Keane
    Wen Chang: Francis Jue
    Connie: Jo Mei
    Stage Directions: Samantha Long

    The 12th Annual Colorado New Play Summit
    Launch Weekend: Feb. 18-19
    Festival Weekend: Feb. 24-26
    More details: denvercenter.org/summit

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'Two Degrees': Opening night photos

    by John Moore | Feb 11, 2017
    'Two Degrees' in Denver

    Above: Photos from opening night of Tira Palmquist's world-premiere play 'Two Degrees' by the DCPA Theatre Company. Director Christy Montour-Larson is on the right. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Video bonus: How do they make that ice, ice baby?

    Scenic Designer Robert Mark Morgan takes you backstage for a look at how he created the ever-changing world of Two Degrees for the DCPA Theatre Company. The set includes 56 Plexiglass panels that are treated to look like ice - but six of them actually are made of ice and melt throughout the show. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Ticket information: Two Degrees
    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.
    • Through March 12
    • Jones Theatre
    • ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
    • 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Two Degrees:
    Video: How do they make that ice, ice, baby?
    Photos, video: Your first look at Two Degrees
    Two Degrees: A telling exchange at public forum
    Tira Palmquist on Two Degrees: Grief for a husband, and a planet
    Two Degrees
    cast digs deep into Boulder ice-core research
    Meet the cast: Kim Staunton
    Two Degrees
    heats up conversation on global warming
    Two Degrees: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

     

  • 'Two Degrees': How do they make that ice, ice, baby?

    by John Moore | Feb 10, 2017


    Scenic Designer Robert Mark Morgan takes you backstage for a look at how he created the ever-changing world of Two Degrees for the DCPA Theatre Company.

    Tira Palmquist's world-premiere play introduces us to a scientist named Emma who is called to Washington to testify – reluctantly – before a congressional committee on proposed climate legislation.

    Two DegreesCompounding her anxiety: It’s the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death. It’s meant to be a human story about both a woman and a planet in crisis.

    The play takes place in 11 scenes in 10 locations in the Jones Theatre. "We tried to create an abstract space that was evocative and had an arc like Emma's character that went from frozen to somewhat melting,' Morgan said. The set includes 56 Plexiglass panels that are treated to look like ice - and six of them are actual ice that will melt throughout the show.

    How did he do it? Watch and learn. Two Degrees, directed by Christy Montour-Larson, features Kathleen McCall, Robert Montano, Kim Staunton and Jason Delane Lee, and plays through March 12. 

    Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Ticket information: Two Degrees
    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.
    • Through March 12
    • Jones Theatre
    • ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
    • 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Two Degrees:
    Photos, video: Your first look at Two Degrees
    Two Degrees: A telling exchange at public forum
    Tira Palmquist on Two Degrees: Grief for a husband, and a planet
    Two Degrees
    cast digs deep into Boulder ice-core research
    Meet the cast: Kim Staunton
    Two Degrees
    heats up conversation on global warming
    Two Degrees: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

     

  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'Two Degrees'

    by John Moore | Feb 08, 2017
    Video: Your first look at Two Degrees

    The DCPA Theatre Company’s world-premiere play Two Degrees introduces us to a scientist named Emma who is called to Washington to testify – reluctantly – before a congressional committee on proposed climate legislation. Compounding her anxiety: It’s the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death. It’s meant to be a human story about both a woman and a planet in crisis. 

    "What we did in the past affects our present and will change our future,” Emma tells those in Washington. But is anyone listening?

    Two Degrees
    is written by Tira Palmquist, directed by Christy Montour-Larson and features Kathleen McCall, Robert Montano, Kim Staunton and Jason Delane Lee. It plays through March 12 in the Jones Theatre. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Photo gallery: Two Degrees production images

    Two Degrees- 2016-17 Theatre Company Season Photos from 'Two Degrees' by Adams VisCom. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above.

    Ticket information: Two Degrees

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

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

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Two Degrees:
    Photos, video: Your first look at Two Degrees
    Two Degrees: A telling exchange at public forum
    Tira Palmquist on Two Degrees: Grief for a husband, and a planet
    Two Degrees
    cast digs deep into Boulder ice-core research
    Two Degrees
    heats up conversation on global warming
    Two Degrees: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

    Two Degrees Jones Theatre'Two Degrees' is the first mainstage Theatre Company offering to be presented in The Jones Theatre since 2004. It is located on the corner of Speer Boulevard and Arapahoe streets. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • 'Two Degrees': Five things we learned at first rehearsal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Five things we learned at first rehearsal for The Christians

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

     

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


    Video bonus: Spotlight on Two Degrees



    Two Degrees
    : Cast list

    Written by Tira Palmquist
    Directed by Christy Montour-Larson

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

    • Kathleen McCall (The Glass Menagerie) as Emma Phelps

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

    • Kim Staunton (Fences) as Louise Allen


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

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


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

  • 'The Glass Menagerie': Opening Night photos

    by John Moore | Sep 20, 2016
    'The Glass Menagerie' in Denver

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above.

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

    The Glass Menagerie opened on Sept. 16, featuring Kathleen McCall, Aubrey Deeker, Amelia Pedlow and John Skelley in Tennessee Williams' American classic. The director is Ina Marlowe. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    A Glass Menagerie Opening 800The Glass Menagerie: Ticket information
    • Sept. 9-Oct. 16
    • Ricketson Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Oct. 15
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    (Photo above right: Actor Amelia Pedlow, who plays Laura, takes a moment on the stage to warm up before the audience is let into the Ricketon Theatre.)

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of The Glass Menagerie:

    Video: Inside look at the making of The Glass Menagerie
    Video: Your first look at The Glass Menagerie
    The Glass Menagerie: A modern visual twist on an American classic
    First rehearsal: This will be no wimpy Glass Menagerie
    Casting set for The Glass Menagerie
    Kent Thompson on The Bard, The Creature and the soul of his audience
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics
     
    'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Tom Wingfield: Aubrey Deeker
    Laura Wingfield: Amelia Pedlow
    The Gentleman Caller: John Skelley

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    'The Glass Menagerie' Opening Night: Aubrey Deeker (Tom Wingfield) in his dressing room before the show. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Video, photos: First look at 'The Glass Menagerie'

    by John Moore | Sep 14, 2016


    Tennessee Williams' American masterpiece The Glass Menagerie launches the DCPA Theatre Company's 38th season on Sept. 16.

    B Glass 800The Wingfield family is trapped in their nostalgia, dreaming of lives they wished they had. But when a long-awaited caller joins them for dinner, fantasy and reality collide as expectations shatter like glass.

    This production is directed by Ina Marlowe and stars Kathleen McCall, Amelia Pedlow, Aubrey Deeker and John Skelley. Here is your first look in video (above) and photos (below).

    Video above by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Photo above right of Amelia Pedlow by Adams Visual Communications.


    The Glass Menagerie- 2016-17 Theatre Company Season First look at production photos for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Glass Menagerie.' To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by Adams Visual Communications.

    The Glass Menagerie: Ticket information
    • Through Oct. 16
    • Ricketson Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Oct. 15
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of The Glass Menagerie:

    Menagerie director promises a mid-September night's dream
    Wait, Williams' mother entertained how many Gentleman Callers?
    The Glass Menagerie: A modern visual twist on an American classic
    First rehearsal: This will be no wimpy Glass Menagerie
    Casting set for The Glass Menagerie
    Kent Thompson on The Bard, The Creature and the soul of his audience
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

    Meet the cast (more to come):
    Laura Wingfield: Amelia Pedlow
    The Gentleman Caller: John Skelley

  • 'Menagerie' director promises a mid-September night's dream

    by John Moore | Sep 14, 2016
    The Glass Menagerie- 2016-17 Theatre Company Season First look at production photos for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Glass Menagerie.' To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by Adams Visual Communications.


    By Sylvie Drake
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Glass Menagerie is not Tennessee Williams’ first play. Nor his second. Not even his third. But it is an early play and the first one to provoke the kind of stir that awakens the public to the sense that they might be witnessing the birth of an important new playwright.

    Life does not often allow us to be so suddenly and miraculously aware of something big occurring. Because it is derived from his short story Portrait of a Girl in Glass, The Glass Menagerie is achingly autobiographical and remains Williams’ most confessional and poetic play.

    Structurally, it depicts the uneasy three-way tension among Tom (the Tennessee Williams stand-in), his mother Amanda Wingfield (based on Williams’ mother, Edwina — a flailing, aging Southern belle abandoned by her husband to rear their two children alone), and Tom’s gentle but damaged sister Laura (based on Williams’ sister, Rose).

    Tom adores Laura but is helpless to rehabilitate her — just as Williams was tormented by guilt over a disastrous lobotomy that doctors performed on Rose when she was barely in her 20s. Tom is the observer — and the play’s narrator — who views this family triangle as the stone that keeps him tethered under water and unable to breathe.

    (Pictured above right: Amelia Pedlow and John Skelley. Photo by Adams Visual Communications.)

    Amanda, a materfamilias in spite of herself, refuses to acknowledge her social and financial destitution or Laura’s physical deficiencies (a bad limp). She fantasizes about finding her a proper husband and counts on Tom to help her find one. Tom, meanwhile, is choking on the task — torn between his familial love for these women, while yearning to break loose.

    The 1944 original production, staged by Eddie Dowling and Margo Jones and featuring Laurette Taylor in a legendary turn as Amanda, caused a small earthquake during its Chicago debut. The wide-ranging enthusiasm surrounding it encouraged a March 1945 transfer to Broadway, where two words attributed to The New York Times’ Brooks Atkinson remain key to describing the play: “lovely and merciful.”

    Written in a fresh and freer lyrical style, Menagerie’s wistful tone and filmy quality inspired designer Jo Mielziner to also break out of the confines of theatrical realism for both the set and lighting of the Broadway version. Menagerie became an immediate hit and won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Best Play award of 1945.

    No one was more surprised than Williams, who retained a tenuous (and diffident) relationship with success throughout his life.

    Glass Menagerie Quote Ina MarloweIna Marlowe, the Menagerie’s director at The Denver Center, has her own memorable connection to the play. Two years out of grad school, she staged a sign-language version of it in a tiny theatre outside Chicago.

    “I love plays of language and character,” she said from her home in Conifer. “I’ve taught Williams, read him, staged him, seen the films. When I researched Menagerie, I read both published versions — the New Directions and the Dramatists Play Service.” 

    In order to deliver the dreaminess that Williams had in mind, Marlowe eliminated the script’s cluttering screens and scrims in favor of an up-to-date stagecraft that didn’t even exist in the 1940s.

    “Tom will not be in a Merchant Marine uniform,” she said. “There will be the clicking of a typewriter in the background to remind us he’s a writer telling the story of a family full of love, frustration and dreams — too much love in a sense — and all of them trying to escape their reality.” 

    Williams, who had a compulsion to do both, needed to write the way other people need to drink. “He had to write,” Marlowe insisted, speaking of the blurred lines between Williams’ reality and the play. “He has to relive the experiences so as to be able to leave [his mother and sister] knowing the meanness and pettiness will disappear and only beauty and truth will remain. He must see them as iconic so he can leave them behind....”

    What about the pain this causes?

    “I’m not saying there’s no pain, Tom’s guilt at leaving Laura, his frustration at the difficulty of communicating with his mother. There’s heartbreak everywhere. Even the Gentleman Caller causes pain. But because Tom is a writer, he gets to the point where he must be able to leave if he’s to survive.”

    To achieve her goals in practical terms, Marlowe wanted things “the color of memory” — faded by time. The floor is lit from below, suggesting a vestigial reality. “Williams talks about the lighting as an El Greco lighting, almost an interior light, a spiritual illumination.”

    Laura’s glass animals are suspended in space. “She is, in effect, enveloped by them whenever she enters [the menagerie] to pick one up. They’re her escape — they and her father’s phonograph. Tom has his writing, Amanda has her memories of those 17 Gentleman Callers.”

    Dissatisfied with the way the presence of the missing Dad too often is handled, Marlowe made sure his portrait would be prominent. “The place is haunted by the people who have left,” she said. “Loneliness inhabits the space between the characters.

    “I want to create memory with clean, simple images. This play is so strong that no matter what twist or concept you place on it, it teaches you something about all relationships. I feel fortunate to be involved with a piece of literature that brings up such a well of emotions — so delicate, so human, so deep, so universal.”


    Sylvie Drake was Director of Media Relations and Publications for The Denver Center for the Performing Arts, 1994-2014. She is a former theatre critic and columnist for the Los Angeles Times and a regular contributor to culturalweekly.com. 

    The Glass Menagerie: Ticket information
    • Through Oct. 16
    • Ricketson Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Oct. 15
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of The Glass Menagerie:

    Wait, Williams' mother entertained how many Gentleman Callers?
    The Glass Menagerie: A modern visual twist on an American classic
    First rehearsal: This will be no wimpy Glass Menagerie
    Casting set for The Glass Menagerie
    Kent Thompson on The Bard, The Creature and the soul of his audience
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

    Meet the cast (more to come):
    Laura Wingfield: Amelia Pedlow
    The Gentleman Caller: John Skelley

    Photo gallery: The making of The Glass Menagerie:

    'The Glass Menagerie' in Denver

    Photos from the making of 'The Glass Menagerie' in Denver. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center.
  • First rehearsal: This will be no wimpy 'Menagerie'

    by John Moore | Aug 13, 2016
    'The Glass Menagerie' in Denver
    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.


    Five things we learned at first rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company’s The Glass Menagerie, playing Sept. 9-Oct. 16 at the Ricketson Theatre:

    1 PerspectivesFirst-time DCPA Director Ina Marlowe moved to Conifer in 2010, partly to be nearer to her grandchildren, and partly to serve as the first Associate Director in the (then) 37-year history of local legend Ed Baierlein’s Germinal Stage-Denver. Marlowe is a graduate of the Goodman School of Drama and founder of Chicago’s like-minded Touchstone Theatre. Marlowe had acted in Germinal’s production of Ionesco’s Macbett back in 1978, and in 2010 directed The Little Foxes there. In announcing Marlowe’s appointment, Baierlein said lovingly of her then, “She’s a real live wire.”

    Said Marlowe: "What we tried to do when we approached this play was to re-envision it, and try to get closer to the heart of what Tennessee Williams was trying to create. In this play, he asks us to explore the nature of memory and escape. This is a family tangled together with love and unable to communicate."

    "We come to each other, gradually but with love. It is the short reach of my arms that hinders, not the length and multiplicity of theirs. With love and with honesty, the embrace is inevitable." - Tennessee Williams.

    2 PerspectivesThe set will float. Or, to be more specific, the playing area that represents the Wingfield living room will float. The Glass Menagerie is Tennessee Williams' famous "memory play," and we're told in the opening remarks that memory is murky and unreliable. So here the playing area designed by Joe Tilford really does float, just a bit out of the audience’s tactile reach. How? By removing the Ricketson Theatre stage floor, which is built about 3 feet above the theatre's true foundational floor. The playing area representing the Wingfield living room will be essentially a square floor that lights up from below and appears to be attached to nothing, floating in space. “So what that has done is created black void,” said DCPA Director of Design Lisa Orzolek.

    3 PerspectivesNo “wimpy” menagerie: Laura’s haunting glass figurines, says Scenic Designer Joe Tilford, are a metaphor not only for Laura hiding from reality but Amanda and even Tom as well. “The menagerie represents that place in our minds where we go to escape our circumstances.” Often when you see The Glass Menagerie staged, Laura produces her figurines on a little tabletop that can be hidden away on a shelf. “But that’s knick-knacks,” said Tilford. “Seems a bit too wimpy for a central image and metaphor." His solution: “First, making the menagerie of figurines something that Laura can escape into. Can she have an inner life inside a cloud of glass figurines? And when she is not within the menagerie, can it float in mid-air as in a memory, disconnected from the grounding reality of a table or a shelf?”

    4 PerspectivesDCPA Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson decided to stage Williams’ first play now, he said, because it is one of the few American classics the DCPA Theatre Company has not taken on in its nearly 40-year history.

    “It's a play about a family and the way we sometimes break apart and come together,” he said. “But I also think it's about expectations and the American Dream. You have four characters in this play who all have different expectations about where their lives should be going, and the way the world should have treated them, and what they should be doing with their lives. And they can't seem to move to a place they can all agree upon. It's set in the late 1930s - a time of great poverty. A lot of people were struggling with what they perceived to be the American Dream. Life shouldn’t be this hard. I think it's perfect to have an American classic like The Glass Menagerie on one stage, alongside the classic Frankenstein on the other.


    The Glass Menagerie's 'Hamlet reunion, from left: Amelia Pedlow, Aubrey Deeker and Kathleen McCall. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.


    5 PerspectivesIt's a Hamlet reunion: Three of the four Glass Menagerie cast members were prominently featured in the DCPA Theatre Company's 2014 Shakespeare production of Hamlet. Aubrey Deeker, who played the titular role opposite Amelia Pedlow as the drowning Ophelia, is back to play the narrator, Tom. Deeker and Pedlow have gone from playing lovers then to siblings now. Pedlow plays Laura Wingfield, the "is-she-or-has-she-ever-been?" disfigured sister. And Kathleen McCall, who played Queen Gertrude in Hamlet, is now the delusional Wingfield matriarch Amanda. The newcomer to the group is John Skelley, who is making his DCPA debut as the kindly but tantalizingly unavailable Gentleman Caller.


    The Glass Menagerie
    : Ticket information

    • Sept. 9-Oct. 16
    • Ricketson Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: TBA
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

     

    Glass Menagerie. Photo by John Moore
  • Photos: 'Sweeney Todd' through Robert Petkoff's bloody lens

    by John Moore | May 13, 2016
    Through The Eyes of Sweeney- Robert Petkoff's Photo Story

    Robert Petkoff Sweeney Todd Michael Brian Dunn Sweeney Todd has been an extraordinary creative and personal experience for all those involved with the DCPA Theatre Company's acclaimed production, which closes Sunday (May 15).

    And, clearly, a lot of fun.

    Robert Petkoff, who plays the titular role, has been chronicling his experience in Denver from the first rehearsal, and today he shares his backstage photos with DCPA NewsCenter readers and Theatre Company audiences. All photos by Robert Petkoff.

    To see the complete gallery, hover your cursor over the photo at the top of the page. Click the forward arrow to be taken to the next photo.

    (Pictured at right: Robert Petkoff has a little bit of fun with castmate Michael Brian Dunn [the barber Adolfo Pirelli] during a rehearsal break. Photo by Robert Petkoff.) 


    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Robert Petkoff Sweeney Todd Kathleen McCall and Christine Rowan. Photo Credit: Robert Petkoff.

    Robert Petkoff caught this lovable lick between the Beggar Woman (Kathleen McCall) and ensemble member Christine Rowan. Photo Credit: Robert Petkoff.

    Sweeney Todd
    : Information

  • 270x270-sweeney-toddMusic and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; Book by High Wheeler (adapted by Christopher Bond); musical adaptation by DeVotchKa
  • Through May 15
  • Stage Theatre
  • Grammy-nominated Denver band DeVotchKa takes on the legendary demon barber of Fleet Street, serving up a reinvention of Sondheim’s musical thriller. Hell-bent on revenge, Sweeney Todd takes up with his enterprising neighbor in a devilish plot to slice their way through London’s upper crust. Justice will be served — along with audacious humor and bloody good thrills.
  • Tickets:  SOLD OUT

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of Sweeney Todd:
    Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16
    DeVotchKa frontman promises a Sweeney Todd that's 'loud and proud'
    DCPA announces DeVotchka-infused Sweeney Todd casting
    Where the band meets the blade: Rehearsals open
    Co-stars on bringing DeVotchKa’s fresh blood to Sondheim
    Video sneak peek with DeVotchKa
    Five things we learned at Perspectives: Use a dull blade!
    Interview, video: Sweeney Todd actors sing for Denver Actors Fund
    Opening Night photo gallery and story
    Sweeney Todd star recalls agony, ecstasy of Tantalus

    Previous Sweeney Todd cast profiles:
    Meet Danny Rothman
    Meet Jean McCormick
    Meet Daniel Berryman 
    Meet Michael Brian Dunn
  • Wally Larson held his theatre students to a higher standard - proudly

    by John Moore | Apr 22, 2016
    Wally Larson. Courtesy of Heather Larson Fritton.
    Photo courtesy of Heather Larson Fritton.


    There was real meaning behind the mundanity whenever legendary high-school theatre teacher Wally Larson told a student to go “sweep the stage.”

    At some point, everyone was made to sweep the stage, from the star to the spotlight operator.

    Wally Larson Quote  Beth Malone“Only later did I recognize this for the Zen act it really was,” said Tony Award-nominated actor Beth Malone (Fun Home), a graduate of Douglas County High School. “It was a way to keep our budding egos in check. It created a level playing field.”

    “Sweeping the stage” meant that everyone was expected to get involved, added Larson’s daughter, Heather Larson Fritton. “Everyone was expected to help build the sets, paint the sets and tear them down. And yes, sometimes, you had to sweep the stage.” That in a nutshell, is what made her father an extraordinary teacher.

    “He made every star do technical work, and he made every technical student feel like a star,” she said. “He made everyone feel special.”

    Larson died April 6 after a three-year battle with cancer. He was 75.

    Larson taught theatre at Douglas County High School and Highlands Ranch High School for a combined 33 years. Over that time, he directed 173 school productions. His hundreds of students have included Malone, Broadway actor Kurt Domoney (A Chorus Line), longtime DCPA Theatre Company actor Kathleen McCall, DCPA Teaching Artists Brian Landis Folkins and Brian McManus, and area actors Kenny Moten, Damon Guerrasio and Trina Magness.

    “His style of mentorship was treating you like you were capable - therefore making you capable," Malone said.

    Malone keeps thinking back to one particular afternoon when it was just she and Larson and a table saw.

    “We were on the stage and he had a pile of 1x4s that he needed ripped in half,” she said. Malone had never operated Larson’s loud and powerful table saw before, but Larson worked with Malone over and over until they had produced a perfect pile of 1x2s.

    “I had a feeling we had accomplished something together as a team,” Malone said. “It was stupid, but it gave me such a feeling of satisfaction and ‘grown-up-ness’ that he would assume I was a reliable-enough assistant to trust with this job. That was how he got you.” 

    Wally LarsonMcCall said Larson pushed her harder than any teacher, mentor, director or friend than she has ever had.

    “Mr. Larson was an intense man, a perfectionist, and he was passionate about the work and the kids he taught," said McCall, who is currently playing the Beggar Woman in the DCPA Theatre Company’s Sweeney Todd. "He was demanding, and he never let us think for a moment that we were just doing ‘high-school theatre.’ He set the bar high - and we rose to the occasion.”

    Fritton said Larson also was a champion of teenagers who had bad home lives.

    “My father left the theatre open at night and on weekends so kids would always have a place to go,” she said. “He also made sure the theatre was open on prom night so that the kids who didn’t have a date would have a place to go and have fun.”

    Larson, McCall said simply, “helped me find my home inside the walls of a theatre." 

    Larson was never much of a drinker, but he didn’t want his students to drink, and he didn't want his own children to, either. So he led by his own example and gave up alcohol in the mid-1980s. He asked every student to sign a pledge promising not to drink, smoke or chew tobacco while working on one of his theatre productions.

    “He held his theatre kids to a higher standard,” Fritton said. “Proudly.”

    Son Brady calls Larson “an Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat of a man. He was a husband, father, grandfather, theatre teacher and a Colorado Rockies baseball enthusiast who worked blissfully at Coors Field after his retirement.”

    Wally Larson
    Wally Larson in hic classroom. Photo courtesy of Heather Larson Fritton.


    Wallace Alfred Larson was born Aug. 21, 1940, on the family farm near Pelican Rapids, Minn. His father, Alf, was a farmer, and his mother, Mildred, a schoolteacher. Wally and siblings JoAnn, Richard and Dale attended a one-room schoolhouse through 6th grade.  He graduated from Pelican Rapids High School in 1958 and spent two years at Dakota Business College. He then enrolled at at Moorhead State College, where he met the two great loves of his life: Theatre and Diane Monear.

    The couple were married in the summer of 1965 and moved to Littleton to pursue careers as teachers. They marked their 50th anniversary last summer by taking the whole family to a cabin retreat in Battle Lake, Minn. Wally and Diane privately celebrated, Fritton said, by sneaking off for a moonlight fishing trip.

    Wally Larson QuoteThe Larsons raised three children - Brady, Heather, and Drew - and Fritton said being born of two teachers came with high expectations. “If I ever came home with an A-minus," she said, "they would ask why it wasn’t an A."

    It’s no coincidence, she believes, that the children of these two teachers grew up to become a writer, an actor and an artist.

    “Having a general thirst for knowledge of the world was always part of our upbringing,” Fritton said. The Larsons were the kind of family that would take road trips, and actually stop and read the informational signs at every rest stop.

    Larson enjoyed acting as a young man and never wanted to teach anything other than theatre. He was hired at Douglas County High School in 1966 and directed his first all-school musical the next year: Bye Bye Birdie.

    On most Saturday mornings, Wally would drive all of his children to school, where they would help paint and build sets while mom sewed costumes.

    Summertime was family time. “We spent many summers on road trips and visits to the lakes in Minnesota, camping and family bike rides,” Brady said. “He was a loving and involved father. He proudly attended many school plays, dance recitals, choir concerts, art shows, and was always up for a game of catch.”

    Larson gave his theatre students the challenge – and in some cases the unprecedented opportunity – to take on meaningful, consequential and sometimes controversial stage titles such as Carnival, Equus, Man of La Mancha, The Foreigner, Noises Off and Into the Woods.

    Wally Larson 8003“His favorite plays were the really hard plays that you typically don’t see high-school theatres do,” Fritton said.

    After being present throughout her father’s production of Man of La Mancha, Fritton remembers singing the song Dulcinea to her classmates – her kindergarten classmates. The 5-year-old didn’t realize then the woman in the song is tormented and then brutally raped. “I just thought it was beautiful – and emotional,” Fritton said with a laugh.

    She also saw her father’s Equus at age 8 or 9. That’s the story of a boy who blinds six horses with a metal spike after attempting to make love for the first time. “I didn’t realize what the story was about,” Fritton said, “but I just loved watching my dad pull that kind of intensity out of his students.”

    After 22 years at Douglas County High School, Larson took on the challenge of building a new theatre program from scratch at Highlands Ranch High School, where he worked for another 11 years.

    He was proud whenever his graduates made it to Broadway, but that was never his barometer for success, Fritton said.

    “He didn’t care whether they ended up in the theatre,” she said. “He wanted them to go out and live successful lives in whatever fields they chose.”

    Larson’s retirement in 1998 led to his second dream job - with the Colorado Rockies, which lasted another 16 years. “He started at the gate, and then became supervisor of the Rock Pile seating section in center field,” Brady said. “He quickly moved up to the Command Center Team Leader, where he was in charge of emergency dispatch - all the while having an incredible view of every home game.”

    Larson enjoyed working on his land, trimming trees, gardening with his wife and taking cross-country road trips. He was also the grandfather of six. “He taught them important life lessons such as how to gather firewood, how to build a tree house - and how to yell at a fishing pole!” Brady said.

    Larson spent his final week taking in spring-training baseball games in Arizona. “He was relaxing by the pool alongside his kids and grandkids, with hope eternal for a winning Rockies season,” Brady said.

    McCall said Larson believed theatre has the capacity to hold a mirror up to human nature in all its forms: Beautiful and ugly, confrontational and compassionate. “He challenged us to think and express our beliefs, challenge our assumptions about life, and also allowed us to give joy, and find joy with others and in ourselves,” she said.  

    “And in the midst of creating theatre, the lessons in the costume shop, the scene shop and lighting grid, we learned valuable life lessons. We learned that the only failure is in not trying - that we have more inside of us to give than we can begin to imagine.”

    Malone will never forget seeing her classmate who played Maria in West Side Story sweeping the stage before a performance. “Through these seemingly small acts, he helped us lucky few realize our own innate wisdom and compassion for each other,” Malone said. "But he never said that's what he was doing. ... He just said, ‘Sweep the stage.’ ”

    Larson is survived by his wife Diane; his children, Brady, Heather, and Drew; his grandchildren, Zane, Jack, Norah, Remington, Teagan, and Quinlan; his sister JoAnn Neu (Melvin), and his brothers, Richard (Linda) and Dale (Marsha).


    Memorial Celebration for Wally Larson

    • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 1
    • Denver Center for the Performing Arts
    • Conservatory Theatre (in the Newman Center for Theatre Education)
    • 1101 13th St. (corner of Arapahoe and 13th street. MAP IT

    Memorial contributions

    Donations can be made in Larson’s name to the Educational Theatre Association, which provide scholarships for high school students to pursue theatre studies in college. CLICK HERE. (Please indicate on the donation form that the funds are for Scholarships for Students, and in memory of Wally Larson.)

    Wally Larson
  • DCPA announces DeVotchka-infused 'Sweeney Todd' casting

    by John Moore | Feb 18, 2016

    Sweeney Todd. Robert Petkoff. Linda Mugleston. Returning Denver Center favorites Robert Petkoff ('Sense & Sensibility the Musical') and Linda Mugleston ('Quilters') will play Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett.


    The DCPA Theatre Company has announced casting for its upcoming production of Sweeney Todd, which will bring Robert Petkoff and Linda Mugleston back to Denver in the roles of the Demon Barber and Mrs. Lovett.

    This staging of Stephen Sondheim's masterpiece will feature new orchestrations from Denver’s Grammy-nominated gypsy-punk band, DeVotchKa.

    Sweeney Todd. Kent Thompson quote“We are very much looking forward to sinking our teeth into this piece,” said Kent Thompson, Director and Producing Artistic Director of the Theatre Company.” “Thanks to Mr. Sondheim’s blessing, we have been working closely with DeVotchKa to create a new orchestral backdrop for this epic villain. The lifeblood, no pun intended, of the Denver Center is innovation. There is an inherent theatricality in DeVotchKa’s work that we believe will not only serve the piece, but will introduce the Demon Barber to a brand new generation of audiences.”

    Petkoff, whose most recent Broadway credits include All The Way (Hubert Humphrey), Anything Goes (Lord Evelyn Oakleigh) and Ragtime (Tateh) previously appeared in the DCPA Theatre Company's Tantalus and Sense & Sensibility The Musical. Mugleston, whose Broadway credits include On the Twentieth Century (Ensemble), Beautiful The Carole King Musical (as Genie Klein), Young Frankenstein and Sondheim's Into The Woods, previously appeared in the DCPA Theatre Company's The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Quilters and A Christmas Carol.

    “The Denver Center is always innovative, no matter what they are doing,” Mugleston said. “The creativity is always very high-end, and it never feels like run-of-the-mill, normal fare. It’s always exciting.”

    Petkoff applauded Sondheim's spirit of play in allowing the DCPA to partner with bands like DeVotchKa to look at Sweeney Todd anew.

    First and foremost, he is an artist," Petkoff said. By taking a fresh look at the orchestrations, "you are changing how an audience hears this music ... and he recognizes as an artist that's how a piece of work breathes and lives."

    Other returning DCPA cast members will include Colin Alexander, Donterrio Johnson, Charlie Korman, Kathleen McCall, Jeffrey Roark, Christine Rowan, Lauren Shealy and Shannan Steele.

    The cast includes many actors with big-time Broadway credits, including Kevin McGuire (Judge Turpin), who played several roles in Les Misérables, and Michael Brian Dunn (Pirelli) who played several roles in the first Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd in 1990.


    CAST LIST
    (in alphabetical order)

    • Colin Alexander (DCPA Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Jefferson Behan (DCPA Theatre Company Debut) as Swing
    • Daniel Berryman (Off Broadway: The Fantasticks; DCPA Theater Company Debut) as Anthony Hope
    • Samantha Bruce (Off Broadway: The Fantasticks; DCPA Theater Company Debut) as Johanna
    • Kevin Curtis (Off Broadway: Invisible Thread; DCPA Theater Company Debut) as Tobias Ragg
    • Dwelvan David (First National Tour The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess; DCPA Theater Company Debut) as Beadle Bamford
    • Tia DeShazor (DCPA Theatre Company Debut) as Ensemble
    • Michael Brian Dunn (Broadway’s Sweeney Todd, Doctor Zhivago, Amazing Grace; DCPA Theatre Company Debut) as Pirelli
    • Donterrio Johnson (DCPA Theatre Company’s Lookingglass Alice) as Ensemble
    • Charlie Korman (DCPA Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol, Lord of the Flies) as Ensemble
    • Kathleen McCall (Broadway’s M. Butterfly; DCPA Theatre Company’s All The Way, Benediction) as Beggar Woman
    • Jean McCormick (DCPA Theater Company Debut) as Ensemble
    • Kevin McGuire (Broadway’s Les Misérables; DCPA Theater Company Debut) as Judge Turpin
    • Linda Mugleston (Broadway’s Anything Goes, Young Frankenstein, Into The Woods; DCPA Theatre Company’s The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Quilters, A Christmas Carol) as Mrs. Lovett
    • Robert Petkoff (Broadway’s All The Way, Ragtime, Spamalot, Fiddler on the Roof; DCPA Theatre Company’s Sense & Sensibility The Musical, Tantalus) as Sweeney Todd
    • Jeffrey Roark (DCPA Theatre Company’s All The Way, A Christmas Carol, To Kill A Mockingbird) as Ensemble
    • Danny Rothman (DCPA Theatre Company Debut) as Ensemble
    • Christine Rowan (DCPA Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol, Animal Crackers) as Ensemble
    • Lauren Shealy (DCPA Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol) as Swing
    • Shannan Steele (DCPA Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol, Animal Crackers) as Ensemble

    CREATIVE TEAM
    Kent Thompson (Director)
    Gregg Coffin (Music Director)
    Erik Daniells (Conductor)
    Joel Ferrell (Choreographer)
    James Kronzer (Scenic Designer)
    Kevin Copenhaver (Costume Designer)
    Kenton Yeager (Lighting Designer)
    Zach Williamson (Sound Designer)
    Geoffrey Kent (Fight Director)

    Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: Ticket information

  • 270x270-sweeney-toddMusic and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; Book by High Wheeler (adapted by Christopher Bond); musical adaptation by DeVotchKa
  • April 8-May 15 (opens April 15)
  • StageTheatre
  • Grammy-nominated Denver band DeVotchKa takes on the legendary demon barber of Fleet Street, serving up a reinvention of Sondheim’s musical thriller. Hell-bent on revenge, Sweeney Todd takes up with his enterprising neighbor in a devilish plot to slice their way through London’s upper crust. Justice will be served — along with audacious humor, bloody good thrills, and DeVotchKa’s brand of lush gypsy punk.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of Sweeney Todd:
    Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16
    DeVotchKa frontman promises a Sweeney Todd that's 'loud and proud'

    Sweeney Todd. Robert Petkoff and Linda Mugleston return
    Robert Petkoff previously appeared in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Sense & Sensibility the Musical' (top) and Linda Mugleston in 'Quilters' (above). Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen.
  • Video: 'All the Way' cast read Civil Rights Act of 1964

    by John Moore | Jan 17, 2016


    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964, that prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for the integration of schools and other public facilities, and made employment discrimination illegal. This document was the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction.

    All the Way, the Tony-winning Best New Play by Robert Schenkkan, is a compelling account of how Johnson worked with Martin Luther King Jr. to push that landmark legislation through a recalcitrant Congress.

    The DCPA Theatre Company is presenting the regional premiere of All the Way from Jan. 29-Feb 28. Cast members recently took time to record a segment from the historic legislation for the video above.

    Photo gallery: All the Way in Denver


    All the Way in Denver
    Cast member Erin Willis, above. To see more photos in our gallery, click the 'forward' button on the right. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    All the Way: Ticket information

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

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of All the Way
    Five ways you don't have to connect the dots 'All the Way' to today
    Full casting announced
    Official show page
    DCPA Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16
  • Photos, video: Philip Pleasants takes final bow as Scrooge

    by John Moore | Dec 28, 2015



    The DCPA Theatre Company closed its 23rd staging of A Christmas Carol on Sunday, marking Philip Pleasants' 357th and final performance as Scrooge since 2005.

    Pleasants, 78, decided several months ago this would be his final run as Scrooge.  More than 235,000 have now seen him perform his signature role in Denver.

    The  performance drew a full standing ovation from the crowd of 684. That in itself is not unusual, but the crowd stayed standing, as as if sensing they were witnessing something special. Then Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson took to the stage and announced the significance of the day, which drew a prolonged and appreciative response from both the crowd and Pleasants' castmates.

    DCPA Theatre Company dresser Alan Richards presented Pleasants with flowers, and actor Kathleen McCall presented him with both a framed rendering of his Scrooge costume, as well as the signature Scrooge hat designed by Kevin Copenhaver.

    "After all this, I am going to retire more often," said Pleasants, who is not retiring from acting. In fact, Pleasants will next appear in the LBJ drama All the Way, opening Jan. 29.

    Read more: Philip Pleasants a Scrooge for the ages

    The cast then retired to the backstage green room for a quick toast and hugs. That was followed across the street by a DCPA A Christmas Carol tradition: A party hosted by the parents of the children in the cast. Pleasants joined the cast there in the Newman Building for a special goodbye cake designed by the Azucar Bakery.

    Then, another A Christmas Carol tradition: Each year, the children in the cast write, perform and produce their own mini-movie. This year's effort, called Staying Alive, was a 20-minute short that honored and satirized just about every space film from the '70s and '80s, including Aliens and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The story loosely followed the demise of an evil space queen whose Achilles' Heel is disco dancing.

    Beginning next season, Scrooge will be primarily played by company veteran and audience favorite Sam Gregory.

    Video and photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Our full photo gallery from Closing Day of A Christmas Carol:

    Final Day: 'A Christmas Carol' 2015

    2015 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Meet Courtney Capek (Belle)
    Meet Shannan Steele (Fred's wife)
    Meet Jake Williamson (Ensemble)
    Meet Ben Heil (Peter Cratchit)
    Meet Ella Galaty (Fan)
    Meet Allen Dorsey (Dick Wilkins and Christmas Yet to Come)
    Meet Napoleon M Douglas (Ensemble)

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of A Christmas Carol:
    Daddies and nannies: Mother's little helpers on A Christmas Carol
    Photos, video: Your first look at A Christmas Carol 2015
    Video: Old Joe's makeup transformation as time-lapse
    Philip Pleasants: A Scrooge for the ages, one last time
    First rehearsal: Scrooge, in typical fashion: Let's get to work!
    From Denver Center's Tiny Tim to TV's Fuller House
    Beginnings and endings for stars of A Christmas Carol, The SantaLand Diaries
    Video: Leslie O'Carroll performs A Christmas O'Carroll ... in 5 minutes
    Actor Scott McLean is now also a published children's author
    Video: The Christmas Carol Coast to Coast Challenge. No. 1: Denver
    By the numbers: A Christmas Carol over 22 years at the DCPA
    First day of 2014 rehearsal: Interviews, cast list and photos

    Philip Pleasants takes his final bow as Scrooge. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Full casting announced for LBJ drama 'All the Way'

    by John Moore | Nov 20, 2015
    When Robert Schenkkan was in Denver last season for the world premiere of his rock musical 'The 12,' we asked his thoughts on his hit Broadway drama, 'All the Way,' which will be performed by the DCPA Theatre Company from Jan. 29-Feb. 28.

    The DCPA Theatre Company this morning announced full casting for its upcoming production of Robert Schenkkan’s Tony-Award winning play All The Way, which will be directed by Anthony Powell (Lord of the Flies) and presented Jan. 29-Feb. 28 in the Stage Theatre.

    The political drama will feature a cast of Theatre Company veterans and actors making their Denver Center debuts. C. David Johnson, who starred for eight years on the dramatic TV series Street Legal in his native Canada, will play President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Terence Archie, who played John in The 12, will play Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

    All The Way cast.The large cast includes 18 actors who have performed with the DCPA Theatre Company over the past three seasons. 

    All the Way vividly portrays one of the most controversial, ambitious and ruthless figures of the 20th century — President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Set in the pivotal year between John F. Kennedy's assassination and Johnson’s re-election, LBJ hurls himself at the Civil Rights Act, determined to rebuild the country into The Great Society by any means necessary.

    “While this incredible period of tragedy and change in American history took place 50 years ago, the subject matter is eerily relevant to our nation today,” said Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson, “It’s no coincidence that we’ve chosen to present this
    play heading into the 2016 national election.”

    Written by Schenkkan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of The Kentucky CycleAll the Way garnered the 2014 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics’ Circle Awards for Best Play in its Broadway debut.

    When Schenkkan was in Denver last season for the world premiere of his rock musical The 12, co-written by Neil Berg and presented by the DCPA Theatre Company, the DCPA NewsCenter asked him for his thoughts on the relationship between LBJ and MLK. He said it was a complicated one.

    "It began in mutual suspicion and mistrust and grew to be a very successful political collaboration," Schenkkan said. "From 1964 and into 1965, they worked very well together, if not always easily. But then again, LBJ never worked easily with anybody.

    "Both men I think had an unreasonable expectation of what the other man's powers and abilities were in terms of being able to control events on the ground. King, I think, expected LBJ to have more sway in Congress than LBJ did, and LBJ expected King to have more power on the street than King did.

    "That having been said, they succeeded together. I think you have to credit them both with these two extraordinary bills - the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. And LBJ's executive efforts on behalf of integration I think are very, very clear."

    Schenkkan has been commissioned to write a future play for the DCPA Theatre Company through the Steinberg Commission in American Playwriting, named for administrator (and DCPA Trustree) Jim Steinberg.

    All the Way: Cast list
    (listed alphabetically)

    • Adeoye (Lookingglass Alice) will understudy various roles.
    • Terence Archie (The 12) as Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
    • Jordan Barbour (The 12) as Rev. Ralph Albernathy.
    • Steve Brady (DCPA debut) as J. Edgar Hoover/Sen. Robert Byrd.
    • Todd Cerveris (DCPA debut) as Gov. George Wallace/Walter Reuther.
    • Laurence Curry (Jackie and Me, Just Like Us) as James Harrison/Stokely Carmichael.
    • Paul DeBoy (DCPA debut) as Robert McNamara/Sen. James Eastland.
    • Diana Dresser (The Giver, Jackie and Me) will understudy various roles.
    • Sam Gregory (A Christmas Carol, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) as Stanley Levison/Seymore Trammell/Rep. John McCormack.
    • Mike Hartman (Benediction, Death of a Salesman) as Rep. Howard “Judge” Smith/Sen. Everett Dirkesen.
    • C. David Johnson (DCPA debut) as President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
    • Tracey Conyer Lee (DCPA debut) as Coretta Scott King/Fannie Lou Hamer.
    • Cajardo Lindsey (Just Like Us) as Bob Moses/David Dennis.
    • Geoffrey Kent (As You Like It, Lord of the Flies) as Deke Deloach/Andrew Goodman.
    • Kathleen McCall (Tribes, Benediction) as Lady Bird Johnson/Katherine Graham/Rep. Katherine St. George.
    • James Newcomb (Benediction) as Sen. Hubert Humphry/Sen. Strom Thurmond.
    • Jonathan Earl Peck (The Most Deserving) as Roy Wilkins/Aaron Henry.
    • Philip Pleasants (A Christmas Carol, As You Like It, King Lear) as Senator Richard Russell/Rep. Emanuel Celler.
    • Jeffrey Roark (A Christmas Carol) as Walter Jenkins/Rep. William Colmer.
    • Jessica Robblee (DCPA Cabaret’s Drag Machine, OFF-Center’s Lord of the Butterflies) as Lureen Wallace/Muriel Humphrey.
    • Josh Robinson (Picnic) will understudy various roles.
    • Erik Sandvold (Death of a Salesman, When We Are Married) will understudy various roles.
    • Charles E. Wallace (DCPA debut) as Roy Wilkins/Aaron Henry/Ensemble).
    • Erin Willis (A Christmas Carol, The 12) ensemble and will understudy various roles.

    The creative team includes Robert Mark Morgan (Scenic Designer), David Kay Mickelsen (Costume Designer), Charles R. Macleod (Lighting Designer), Curtis Craig (Sound Designer), Charlie I. Miller (Projection Designer), Douglas Langworthy (Dramaturg) and Jack Greenman (Voice and Dialect).


    All the Way: Ticket information

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

    by John Moore | Oct 18, 2015

    Here are our photos from opening night of the DCPA Theatre Company's Tribes, by Nina Raine, from Friday, Oct. 16. Our gallery includes images of cast members warming up, crew members preparing the set and the post-show party.

    Tribes is the the story of bickering British parents who have raised their deaf son as if he is not. To them, it is a choice not to relegate their son to a minority status. That means they have never learned American Sign Language, and their son has never learned to use it - or read - it.


    From left: Stephen Paul Johnson, Kathleen McCall, Isabel Ellison, Kate Finch, Tad Cooley and Andrew Pastides. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The play begins at home, where all three children, all in their 20s, are living with their parentd. Each are adrift in different ways, and seeking their own forms of communication and connection.

    A cool Tad Cooley is ready for some opening-night action. Photo by John Moore. Billy's life changes when he meets Sylvia, a young woman who is losing her hearing. When she introduces Billy to the deaf community, Billy realizes that there are other tribes to be discovered beyond our blood relatives. 

    All photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. To download any photo for free, in a variety of available sizes, click "View original Flickr image." All photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.

    The cast consists of Tad Cooley, Isabel Ellison, Kate Finch, Stephen Paul Johnson, Kathleen McCall and Andrew Pastides. The director is Stephen Weitz.

    (Photo above right: A cool Tad Cooley is ready for some opening-night action. Photo by John Moore.)

    The DCPA is making 10 individual closed-captioning devices, each with small video screens about the size of a cell phone, available to any audience member who wishes to use it. Audiences are asked to request the device 48 hours before a performance so that a live captioning operator will be on hand to send the dialogue and descriptions of other stage actions to these screens in real time.


    Andrew Pastides and Isabel Ellison conduct warmup exercises on The Ricketson Theatre stage about an hour before the opening performance of 'Tribes.' Photo by John Moore. 


    Tribes: Ticket information
    Performances  through Nov. 15
    Ricketson Theatre
    Performance schedule: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday performances at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday performances at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday matinees at 1:30 p.m. (No Saturday matinees during preview performances)
    ASL interpreted & Audio described performance: 1:30 p.m. Nov. 7
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    TTY: 303-893-9582
    Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
    Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at Denvercenter.org.

    Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts  – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for the DCPA"s presentation of  'Tribes.'

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Tribes:
    Go to the official Tribes show page
    Video: Your first look at Tribes
    Video: A message from Director Stephen Weitz
    Perspectives: 5 Things we learned about Tribes
    Tribes and the art of projections in a play about hearing loss
    Tribes and the tyranny of language and listening
    Tribes: Anytime there is an 'us,' there is a 'them'
    Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16
    Casting announced for Theatre Company's fall shows
    Theatre Company introduces bold new artwork for 2015-16 season

    Tribes 'Meet the Cast' profiles (more to come):

    Kate Finch, Sylvia in Tribes
    Isabel Ellison, Ruth in Tribes
    Andrew Pastides, Daniel in Tribes

    Tribes production photos

    Photos from the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Tribes,' featuring Stephen Paul Johnson, Andrew Pastides, Isabel Ellison, Tad Cooley, Kate Finch and Kathleen McCall. Photo credit: Adams Visual Communications.
  • Videos: Your first look at the DCPA's 'Tribes'

    by John Moore | Oct 13, 2015

    The video above is close-captioned. Please hit the "CC" YouTube option to read them.

    Here is your first look at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company's new production of Tribes, by Nina Raine. It is the story of a fiercely intelligent and proudly politically incorrect British family with a deaf son they have not raised as deaf. Meeting Sylvia causes Billy to question what it means to be understood. Dissecting the possibilities of belonging, family and language, Tribes is as witty as it is heartrending. Directed by Stephen Weitz. Playing Oct. 9-Nov. 15, 2015, in the Ricketson Theatre.Ticket information here and below.  Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    A message from Tribes Director Stephen Weitz: Director Stephen Weitz has a message for the deaf and -hard-of hearing communities. The interpreter is Natalie Austin.


    Tribes
    : Ticket information

    Performances  through Nov. 15
    Ricketson Theatre
    Performance schedule: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday performances at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday performances at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday matinees at 1:30 p.m. (No Saturday matinees during preview performances)
    ASL interpreted & Audio described performance: 1:30 p.m. Nov. 7
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    TTY: 303-893-9582
    Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
    Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at Denvercenter.org.

    Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts  – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for the Denver engagement of 'Tribes.'

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Tribes:
    Go to the official Tribes show page
    Tribes and the art of projections in a play about hearing loss
    Tribes and the tyranny of language and listening
    Tribes: Anytime there is an 'us,' there is a 'them'
    Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16
    Casting announced for Theatre Company's fall shows
    Theatre Company introduces bold new artwork for 2015-16 season

    Tribes 'Meet the Cast' profiles (More to come):

    Kate Finch, Sylvia in Tribes
    Isabel Ellison, Ruth in Tribes
    Andrew Pastides, Daniel in Tribes

    Cast of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Tribes.' Photo credit: Adams Visual Communications.The cast of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Tribes' includes Stephen Paul Johnson, Andrew Pastides, Isabel Ellison, Tad Cooley, Kate Finch and Kathleen McCall. Photo credit: Adams Visual Communications.
  • Casting announced for Theatre Company's fall shows

    by NewsCenter Staff | Aug 10, 2015
    A scene from 'Lookingglass Alice.' A scene from "Lookingglass Alice." Because of the physical demands of the show, the role of Alice will be shared by two actors.


    The DCPA Theatre Company has released full casting for the first three productions of its 37th season. As previously announced, single tickets go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 14.

    Familiar faces to Theatre Company audiences and local theatre will include, in As You Like It, Jason Bowen (black odyssey), Adrian Egolf (Benediction), Drew Horwitz (Miners Alley Playhouse’s Godspell), Maurice Jones (National Theatre Conservatory Class of 2012), Geoffrey Kent (Hamlet, Theatre Company Fight Director, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s Othello), Nick LaMedica (Benediction), M. Scott McLean (A Christmas Carol), Philip Pleasants (A Christmas Carol), William Oliver Watkins (One Night in Miami) and Matt Zambrano, who played Crumpet the past two holiday seasons in The SantaLand Diaries). He will play Touchstone.

    The Tribes cast features Kathleen McCall, most recently of Benediction.


    Lookingglass Theatre Company’s
    Lookingglass Alice
    270x270-lookingglass-alice
    Adapted and Directed by David Catlin from the works of Lewis Carroll
    Produced in association with The Actors Gymnasium
    Sept. 11-Oct. 11 (Opening night Sept 18)
    Stage Theatre

    The season kicks off with Chicago’s gravity-defying hit inspired by Lewis Carroll’s beloved stories. Because of the physical demands of the play, Lauren Hirte and Lindsey Noel Whiting will alternate the title role of Alice. The production will also feature:

    Adeoye (Cheshire Cat and Others)
    Molly Brennan (Red Queen and Others)
    Kevin Douglas (Mad Hatter and Others)
    Samuel Taylor (White Knight and Others)
    Micah Figueroa, Donterrio Johnson and Samuel Zeisel (understudies)

     


    As You Like It
    270x270-as-you-like-itBy William Shakespeare
    Sept. 25-Nov. 1 (Opening night Oct. 2)
    Space Theatre
    Shakespeare returns to the Theatre Company with As You Like It, directed by Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson. The acting company includes:

    Stanley Ray Baron (Page)
    J. Paul Boehmer (Duke Frederick/Duke Senior)
    Jason Bowen (Oliver)
    Maren Bush (Celia)
    Adrian Egolf (Audrey)
    Ben W. Heil (Page)
    Carolyn Holding (Rosalind)
    Drew Horwitz (William)
    Maurice Jones (Orlando)
    Geoffrey Kent (Sir Oliver Martext)
    Emily Kron (Phebe)
    Nick LaMedica (Silvius)
    Lars Lundberg (Page)
    Eddie Martinez (Corin)
    M. Scott McLean (Amiens)
    Daniel Pearce (Jacques)
    Philip Pleasants (Adam)
    William Oliver Watkins (Charles/Jaques de Boys)
    Matt Zambrano (Touchstone)

     

     


    Tribes
    270x270-tribesBy Nina Raine
    Oct. 9-Nov. 15 (Opening night Oct 16)
    Ricketson Theatre
    Tribes, directed by Stephen Weitz, poses a unique challenge in that it focuses on a fiercely intelligent and proudly politically incorrect family who argue a lot but don’t communicate with their grown deaf son.​ The acting company:

     

    Tad Cooley (Billy)
    Isabel Ellison (Ruth)
    Kate Finch (Silvia)
    Stephen Paul Johnson (Christopher)
    Kathleen McCall (Beth)
    Andrew Pastides (Daniel) 

    Performance Schedule
    Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday performances at 6:30 p.m.
    Friday and Saturday performances at 7:30 p.m.
    Saturday and Sunday matinees at 1:30 p.m. (No Saturday matinees during preview performances)

    Tickets and Subscriptions
    New and renewing subscribers always have the first opportunity to reserve tickets. Tickets are available now to subscribers online at denvercenter.org/subscribe, or by calling 303-893-4100. Subscribers enjoy free ticket exchanges, payment plans, priority offers to Broadway and student shows, discounted extra tickets, a dedicated VIP hotline, free events including talkbacks and receptions, and the best seats at the best prices, guaranteed. Single tickets go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 14.

    Our previous coverage of the 2015-16 Theatre Company season:
    Read our 2015-16 season announcement report here
    Read our exclusive interview with Nick Urata of Devotchka
    Theatre Company announces 2015-16 directors

    Season sponsors
    The Denver Center Theatre Company 2015/16 season is generously supported by Daniel L. Ritchie, Larimer Square, Steinberg Charitable Trust and Wells Fargo.  Media sponsorship for the DCPA Theatre Company is provided by The Denver Post and CBS4.  The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is supported in part by the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District. 

    Lookingglass Alice is presented by Cadillac and supported by Producing Partners Isabelle Clark, L. Roger & Meredith Hutson, Martin & Jo Ann Semple, and Supporting Partners Fairfield & Woods, PC. As You Like It is part of Shakespeare in American Communities, a program of the National Endowment of the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. The production is supported by Sheri & Lee Archer, Katy Atkinson, Isabelle Clark and Diana & Mike Kinsey.

    Tribes is sponsored by Miracle Ear and supported by Terry & Noel Hefty and Karolynn Lestrud. 


  • DCPA will adapt Haruf's final novel for the stage

    by John Moore | Jun 11, 2015
    Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall read from 'Our Souls at Night' at the Tattered Cover. Photo by John Moore.

    Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall read from 'Our Souls at Night' at the Tattered Cover. Photo by John Moore.


    The DCPA Theatre Company will adapt the late Colorado author Kent Haruf's final book, Our Souls at Night, for the theatrical stage, it was announced tonight at an event related to the release of the book at the Colfax Tattered Cover Book Store.

    Cathy Haruf. Associate Artistic Director Bruce K. Sevy delivered the news at a public taping of Colorado Public Radio's Colorado Matters. Sevy told an overflow crowd that, for the fourth time, playwright Eric Schmiedl will be commissioned to adapt a Haruf novel for the DCPA, following Plainsong, Eventide and Benediction.

    A commission is not a guarantee that the play will receive a full production on the Theatre Company's season. But, Sevy said, that would be the eventual goal. "We always approach them as if they will be produced," he said.

    (Photographed: Above right: Cathy Haruf. Below left: Bruce K. Sevy makes the announcement at the Tattered Cover. Photos by John Moore.)

    Bruce K. Sevy makes the announcement at the Tattered Cover. Photo by John Moore. The time between a commission and a fully staged production is typically a minimum of three years. Any future staging would again be directed by DCPA Artistic Director Kent Thompson.

    The DCPA Theatre Company adapted and staged Haruf's Plainsong Trilogy as three live theatrical world premieres over the past decade, culminating with Benediction in February. Our Souls at Night, the story of a man and  woman grappling with their advanced age, is not a part of the Plainsong series, although it is set in the same fictional town of Holt, Colorado.

    At tonight's Tattered Cover event, DCPA actors Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall read from Our Souls at Night. Colorado Public Radio's Ryan Warner then led a discussion with Haruf's wife, Cathy, and editor, Gary Fisketjon.

    Fisketjon referenced a chapter in the book where the primary couple, Addie Moore and Louis Waters, are lying in bed and talking about their fellow Holt neighbor - Kent Haruf. And how his Benediction was about to be staged at the Denver Center. It is a meta moment in which Haruf for the first time essentially establishes himself as a longtime neighbor to his fictional characters living the town he made up.

    Sevy already was imagining how that exchange might play out if Our Souls at Night is eventually staged at the Denver Center.

    "I love it," Sevy said. "That moment is going to play like gangbusters. Can you imagine sitting in the theatre and watching these characters talk about seeing Benediction?"

    Cathy Haruf said she imagines her husband would be nothing short of delighted to know that his final novel might join his previous works as DCPA Theatre productions.

    "He didn't write any of them to be plays," she said, "but he was always really pleased with the other productions that they have done. He wanted so badly to make it long enough to see Benediction." 

    Haruf finished Our Souls at Night just days before he passed away in November 2014. Cathy Haruf told the Tattered Cover audience of about 100 that "Kent lost his fear of dying" in writing his final book after he had received a terminal diagnosis for lung disease. "What greater gift could anybody ask for?"

    Schmiedl is one of 38 playwrights who have been commissioned by Thompson to write new plays since 2006. A commission essentially gives the DCPA the right of first refusal when it comes to possibly staging the work.

    The DCPA NewsCenter interviewed Kent Haruf just five days before he died. You can read the transcript here.

    About Our Souls at Night
    (Description provided by publisher Alfred Knopf)
    To buy the book, click here

    A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

    In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with.

    Their brave adventures — their pleasures and their difficulties — are hugely involving and truly resonant, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer’s enduring contribution to American literature.

    Selected previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage of Kent Haruf:
    DCPA actors to read from Kent Haruf's final book
    Kent Haruf: The complete final interview
    Video, photos: DCPA celebrates life of Colorado novelist Kent Haruf
    Benediction opens as a celebration of the 'Precious Ordinary'
    DCPA to celebrate Kent Haruf on Feb. 7
    Bittersweet opening for 'Benediction' rehearsals
    Kent Haruf, author of 'Plainsong' Trilogy, dies at age 71

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

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