• Perspectives: How is 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding' funny? Let's count to three, no, five

    by John Moore | Jan 23, 2018
    Zoey's Perfet Wedding. Perspectives. Photo by John MooreFrom left: DCPA Literary Director Douglas Langworthy, 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding' Director Mike Donahue, Dramaturg Kimberly Colburny and Scenic Designer Dane Laffrey. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.  


    How the creative team is creating a world-premiere comedy with a playwright who is making waves across the pond

    Perspectives is a series of public panel discussions held just before the first preview  performance of each DCPA Theatre Company offering. Next up:

    Here are five quick things we learned at the Jan. 19 conversation about Matthew Lopez's Zoey's Perfect Wedding, which opens Jan. 26 in the newly renovated Space Theatre:

    NUMBER 1Nice digs? Zoey's Perfect Wedding is a world-premiere comedy about a wedding that goes horribly, hilariously wrong. The play is set in 2008 at a Marriott Hotel in downtown Brooklyn, and there are many digs in Matthew Lopez's script about the nature of the diga. But the DCPA Theatre Company's creative team didn't exactly find the inspiration it was looking for when it visited the Brooklyn Marriott last summer. "It's sadly been renovated — and quite nicely," said Scenic Designer Dane Laffrey. "It's sort of rather tasteful now. I suspect in the former life of the hotel it was more decrepit than it is now. So our trip to that hotel was less helpful than we thought because it didn't feel like the right world for our play."

    NUMBER 2Zoey Miek Donahue Matthew LopezCalling London. Playwright Matthew Lopez, who was in Denver last month for the start of Zoey's Perfect Wedding rehearsals, is currently in London for the March 2 premiere of his highly anticipated two-part play The Inheritance at The Young Vic. The epic play takes a panoramic view of gay life in New York today in the aftermath of the AIDS crisis depicted in Tony Kushner’s sprawling Angels in America, which is also about to get a Broadway remount with Denver native Beth Malone sharing the role of The Angel. Lopez's new plays will be directed by Stephen Daldry, the Tony Award-winner for, most recently, Billy Elliot, and an Oscar nominee for films including The Reader and The Hours. Lopez previously debuted his play The Legend of Georgia McBride at the Denver Center. (Pictured above: 'Zoey' Director Mike Donahue, left, and Playwright Matthew Lopez. Photo by John Moore.)

    NUMBER 3The game is afoot. Even though Lopez is ensconced in London, he remains very active in preparations for Friday's opening of Zoey's Perfect Wedding. "He's sending in rewrites every day," said Dramaturg Kimberly Colburny. How does that work? "In large part because he trusts in our  reporting," said Colburny, also the Literary Director at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, Calif., who is spending much of her time watching preview audiences watch the play. "We tell Matthew where the audience laughed, and where they didn't ... which jokes aren't quite landing, or if the rhythm feels off. We'll tell him if a joke has maybe three too many words in it. And then he takes all that feedback and he puts it into that magical brain of his and he spits it out new pages. It has been a great and gratifying process because Matthew is such a trusting collaborator."

    (Story continues below the video.)

    Video bonus: Your first look at Zoey's Perfect Wedding

    Your first look at 'Zoey’s Perfect Wedding.' Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Watch more: Our video interview with Director Mike Donahue

    NUMBER 4Rule of  threes. There is a reliable axiom in comedy that three of something is funny, but four is not. "It's a mystery, but it's almost always true," said Colburny, who says she is "rigorously faithful" in her allegiance to the rule of threes. And there are a lot of threes (or were) in Zoey's Perfect Wedding. "You find the places where something happens four times, and then you have cut the right one," she said. "In one of our cuts, we decided that we cut the wrong one, so now we are restoring the old line and cutting this other line. It's a fun puzzle." If you are wondering, there are other numerical rules, Colburny said: "So three is funny, and four is not, but once you get to seven, it gets funny again," Colburny said. "So you actually have some options." Certain sounds are funnier than others, too, she added, such as any hard consonant. "So a kiwi is always going to be funnier than an orange, every time" she said. "It's a mystery, but it's true."

    NUMBER 5Turning the table. Because the play takes place at a wedding reception, it makes sense that the banquet table serves as the nerve center of the action. And that presents a particular staging challenge for Laffrey: You never want things to get static in a story with a lot of scenes that have people sitting around a table. "That's a challenge on any kind of set, but there are ways to cheat," Laffrey said. "Often on a proscenium stage, you'll only see three chairs at a four-sided table, and I am always wondering where the fourth chair went." For Zoey's Perfect Wedding, which is presented in the round, Laffrey is employing a turntable so the banquet table slowly rotates throughout the play. "It's like a revolving restaurant — without the restaurant," Laffrey said. His solution means no one in the audience will be stuck looking at the same point of view for the entire pay. "It makes for a more democratic audience experience," he said.

    Bonus: What's your fortune? Audiences will be be handed fortune cookies upon their arrival at the Stage Theatre that offer yummy life advice — in  the form of quotes from Lopez's script. Samples: "Get a cheap apartment, find a couple dozen roommates and live!" and, "Tradition dies today!"

    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.

    Zoey's Perfect Wedding: Ticket information
    Zoey_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: The blushing bride. The touching toast. The celebration of true love. These are the dreams of Zoey’s big day…and the opposite of what it’s turning out to be. Disaster after disaster follow her down the aisle, from brutally honest boozy speeches to a totally incompetent wedding planner. Even worse, her friends are too preoccupied with their own relationship woes to help with the wreckage around them. Like a car crash you can’t look away from, watch in awe as this wildly funny fiasco destroys her expectations with the realities of commitment, fidelity and growing up.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Jan. 19-Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Zoey's Perfect Wedding:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • In your face: There's frost bite on the set of 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding'

    by John Moore | Jan 10, 2018

     

    Cakesmash! Find out what happens when you let them eat cake on the set of the new comedy Zoey's Perfect Wedding.

    Zoey's Perfect Wedding Cakesmash  Grayson DeJesus Photo by Adams Viscom Cakesmash! Check out the fun cast members from the DCPA Theatre Company's Zoey’s Perfect Wedding had for this commercial and photo shoot.

    The cast members featured in the video above are Jeff Biehl, Grayson DeJesus, Nija Okoro and Mallory Portnoy. The cast also includes Nick Ducassi  and Kristin Villanueva. The director is Mike Donahue. 

    Zoey’s Perfect Wedding is a comedy by Matthew Lopez about a wedding that goes catastrophically wrong. It performs from Jan. 19 through March 25 in the Space Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Ticket information below.

    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. 

    Photo gallery: The making of Zoey's Perfect Wedding in Denver

    The making of Zoey's Perfect Wedding
    Check out our full gallery of photos from the making of 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding' in Denver (to date!), beginning with the 'Cakesmash' photo shoot above and going back to first rehearsal. To see more photos, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by Sam Adams of Adams Viscom and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Zoey's Perfect Wedding: Ticket information
    Zoey_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: The blushing bride. The touching toast. The celebration of true love. These are the dreams of Zoey’s big day…and the opposite of what it’s turning out to be. Disaster after disaster follow her down the aisle, from brutally honest boozy speeches to a totally incompetent wedding planner. Even worse, her friends are too preoccupied with their own relationship woes to help with the wreckage around them. Like a car crash you can’t look away from, watch in awe as this wildly funny fiasco destroys her expectations with the realities of commitment, fidelity and growing up.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Jan. 19-Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Zoey's Perfect Wedding":

    Time-lapse video: Creating your first look at Zoey's Perfect Wedding
    Video: Director Mike Donahue on just how perfect Zoey's Perfect Wedding really is
    Five things we learned at first rehearsal

  • Time-lapse video: Creating your first look at 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding'

    by John Moore | Jan 09, 2018

     

    How a broad brushstroke turns into a raw, emotional and contemporary introduction of a new play to its audience

    Kyle MaloneArt Director Kyle Malone, an 18-year employee of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, isn’t an actor. Nonetheless, he has had a profound influence on how audiences have experienced every DCPA Theatre Company production since 2013.

    Check out our time-lapse video look at how Malone came up with the show art for the DCPA Theatre Company's upcoming world premiere Zoey’s Perfect Wedding, the raucous story of a wedding gone horribly, comically, catastrophically wrong, which has its first performance on Jan. 19 in the Space Theatre.

    "The Theatre Company illustrations are meant to feel raw, emotional and contemporary," says Malone. "I do this by using a mix of hand-done pencil-and-ink washes topped off with digital color floods and simple object overlays."

    Zoey's Perfect Wedding show Art Kyle Malone For each show, DCPA Creative Director Rob Silk and Copywriter Carolyn Michaels come up with what they call an “Ignition Point” to guide the narrative of the image. For Zoey’s Perfect Wedding, written by Matthew Lopez, the team worked off the phrase: “Commitment isn’t pretty.” Malone starts off exploring that direction with lots of quick sketches, After some curation, the team gathers to review and decide on the strongest one.

    “To create the final illustration, I lay down a pencil drawing as a guide,” Malone said. He then goes over it using Micron pens for fine details and ink washes for large areas.

    “Once the hand-done character is complete, I take a high-resolution photo to create the digital version,” he said. “From there on out, the art lives in the computer, where I add the colors and play with various object overlays that I’ve drawn in Adobe Illustrator. Finally, I explore different compositions until I find the best way to fit all of the pieces together.”

    Zoey's Perfect Wedding: Ticket information
    At a glance: The blushing bride. The touching toast. The celebration of true love. These are the dreams of Zoey’s big day…and the opposite of what it’s turning out to be. Disaster after disaster follow her down the aisle, from brutally honest boozy speeches to a totally incompetent wedding planner. Even worse, her friends are too preoccupied with their own relationship woes to help with the wreckage around them. Like a car crash you can’t look away from, watch in awe as this wildly funny fiasco destroys her expectations with the realities of commitment, fidelity and growing up.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Jan. 19-Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Selected Previous NewsCenter coverage of Kyle Malone's work:
    Theatre Company introduces bold new artwork for 2015-16 season
    Art and Artist: Meet Graphic Designer Kyle Malone

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Zoey's Perfect Wedding":

    Video: Director Mike Donahue on just how perfect Zoey's Perfect Wedding really is
    Five things we learned at first rehearsal

  • Video: Director on just how perfect 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding' really is

    by John Moore | Jan 02, 2018

     

    'This is a totally raucous, wild, sexy, wedding gone horribly, catastrophically wrong. It is wild, silly, absurd, fun.'

    What kind of wedding is Zoey’s Perfect Wedding? Here’s a hint: Not-so-perfect. Mike Donahue, who was last in Denver directing the successful 2014 world-premiere comedy The Legend of Georgia McBride for the DCPA Theatre Company, introduces you to the world of the play, also penned by Georgia scribe Matthew Lopez.

    Mike Donahue. Photo by John MooreThe play “is a totally raucous, wild, sexy, wedding gone horribly, catastrophically wrong,” Donahue tells us in the video above. “It is wild, silly, absurd, fun.”  

    But at the same time, “There is such a heart to it,” he said.

    The play revolves around a group of multiracial New York friends ranging in age from their mid-20s to early 30s. The title character is Jewish, and that Zoey will be played by an African-American actor, Donahue said, “is awesome.”

    Nija Okoro is playing Zoey as a  Jewish African-American woman who is marrying a Southern white guy from Arkansas whose family is southern Baptist and this, and part of that point is people from very different places coming together and those differences not having to matter.”

    Zoey's Perfect Wedding: Ticket information
    Zoey_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: The blushing bride. The touching toast. The celebration of true love. These are the dreams of Zoey’s big day…and the opposite of what it’s turning out to be. Disaster after disaster follow her down the aisle, from brutally honest boozy speeches to a totally incompetent wedding planner. Even worse, her friends are too preoccupied with their own relationship woes to help with the wreckage around them. Like a car crash you can’t look away from, watch in awe as this wildly funny fiasco destroys her expectations with the realities of commitment, fidelity and growing up.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Jan. 19-Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Zoey's Perfect Wedding":
    Five things we learned at first rehearsal

    Photo gallery The Making of Zoey's Perfect Wedding:

    The making of Zoey's Perfect Wedding

    Photos from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding.' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

  • 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding': Photos and 5 things we learned at first rehearsal

    by John Moore | Dec 20, 2017
    Zoey's Perfect Wedding: Photo gallery

    The making of Zoey's Perfect Wedding

    Photos from the first rehearsal of 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding' on Dec. 20. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to the full photo gallery. The world-premiere comedy plays Jan. 19-Feb. 25 in the Space Theatre. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Playwright Matthew Lopez's newest comedy is about a wedding that goes horribly, horrifically wrong. As they do.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    NUMBER 1Zoey's Perfect Wedding, the DCPA Theatre Company's next world-premiere play, reunites playwright Matthew Lopez, author of The Whipping Man, with director Mike Donahue. The pair met in Denver in 2013 when they introduced Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride as part of the DCPA Theatre Company's Colorado New Play Summit. The play went on to have its full world-premiere staging at the Denver Center in 2014, followed by successful run Off-Broadway and subsequent productions around the country. "We met over a bagel in this very building," Donahue said. "That play has been very important for both of us, and now Matthew is one of my closest friends."

    NUMBER 2 Mike Donahue. Photo by John MooreZoey’s Perfect Wedding was inspired by a train wreck of a wedding Lopez found himself right in the middle of a few years after graduating from college. His play has old friends getting back together and when one friend begins to pick at a old scab, it leads to a full-scale (but funny!) verbal brawl. "This is a play about a group of people who at one point were really close friends," said Donahue (pictured at right). "But now they are at a moment in time where they are just starting to realize that their friendships and their relationships and their marriages are not as alive and vital and necessary as they once were. One of the things the play looks at is: How do you negotiate the realization that your life isn't where you thought it would be?" 

    NUMBER 3Zoey’s Perfect Wedding is at once Lopez's newest — and one of his oldest — plays. "Yeah, this one is old enough to vote," Lopez joked. He wrote it back in 2008, and now that the play is finally coming to stage life in 2017, Lopez and Donahue had a decision to make: Keep the time of the play in 2008, or update it to 2018. "2008 doesn't seem like so many years ago," Donahue said, "but we realized that it really was a very different moment in time. It feels to us like the consciousness of the country was in a very different place. That was not long after the stock-market crash, and soon after Obama was elected for the first time. A lot of us were realizing that for the first time as a nation, we were not economically invincible anymore. But also, coming so soon after the election, a lot of people had hope, both socially and politically. That's where we were as a country, and that's where this story lives. So we made the decision to let this play be a period piece. And I happen to think it is incredibly, raucously funny." 

    NUMBER 4 Zoey's Perfect Wedding will be presented in the round in the Space Theatre, which poses significant challenges for the creative team. "We are utilizing the full roundness of the theatre," said DCPA Lighting Designer Charles R. MacLeod. "The main wedding table is on a rectangular turntable and will remain in motion throughout the story, which will allow everyone in the audience to take things in from a 360-degree perspective. And because this is wedding reception, that of course means there will be a DJ — compete with janky DJ lighting," MacLeod said. One seating section in the Space Theatre is being removed in favor of the DJ station, but capacity won't change much because two of the "voms" that usually serve as actor entranceways will instead be used for seating.

    NUMBER 5 Lopez says it was the encouragement he got from the DCPA creative team during the making of The Legend of Georgia McBride that got him to revisit Zoey's Perfect Wedding. The DCPA conducted development workshops of the play in Denver and Steamboat Springs, which were shown to various audiences for their feedback. One thing they learned from the experience is that 17-year-olds apparently love to laugh at weddings gone horribly, horrifically wrong, "because 17-year-olds love this play," said Donahue, The director added that the support he gets from the Denver Center team is just one reason, he said, that "to this day, this is my favorite place to work." 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

    Matthew Lopez. Photo by John Moore


    Zoey's Perfect Wedding:
    Cast and creatives announced:

    • Playwright: Matthew Lopez
    • Director: Mike Donahue

       

    • Jeff Biehl as Charlie
    • Grayson DeJesus as Sammy
    • Nick Ducassi as DJ
    • Nija Okoro as Zoey
    • Mallory Portnoy as Rachel
    • Kristin Villanueva as Missy

       

    • Scenic Designer: Dane Laffrey
    • Costume Designer: Dede Ayite
    • Lighting Designer: Charles R. MacLeod
    • Sound Designer: Veronika Vorel
    • Dramaturg: Kimberly Colburn
    • Stage Manager: Kurt Van Raden
    • Assistant Stage Manager: Corin Ferris

    Zoey's Perfect Wedding: Ticket information
    Zoey_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: The blushing bride. The touching toast. The celebration of true love. These are the dreams of Zoey’s big day…and the opposite of what it’s turning out to be. Disaster after disaster follow her down the aisle, from brutally honest boozy speeches to a totally incompetent wedding planner. Even worse, her friends are too preoccupied with their own relationship woes to help with the wreckage around them. Like a car crash you can’t look away from, watch in awe as this wildly funny fiasco destroys her expectations with the realities of commitment, fidelity and growing up.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Jan. 19-Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
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ABOUT THE EDITOR
John Moore
John Moore
Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

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