• 2017 True West Award: Claudia Carson

    by John Moore | Dec 06, 2017
    True West Awards. Claudia Carson. Photo courtesy Jimmy Awards

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 6: Claudia Carson


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Claudia Carson loves her job to her core. That job is to help high-students love theatre to their cores. And she’s pretty good at her job.

    There’s far more to it than that. Carson is also a stage manager, choreographer, director and teaching artist. But what really fuels her fire is coordinating two profoundly meaningful student programs for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts: The annual Bobby G Awards, which celebrate achievements in high-school musical theatre, and a year-round, statewide teen playwriting competition.

    “Claudia is just so joyful, so inspirational and so hungry to make an impact with students,” said DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous. “She makes those programs possible with her year-round passion and commitment.”

    Claudia Carson True West BGA 2017The Bobby G Awards, which served 42 high schools and nearly 7,000 students last school year, are Carson’s true labor of love. She manages all operational elements of the wide-ranging, 5-year-old  program, including coordinating in-school workshops, professional adjudications of every production and a big, culminating Tony Awards-style party attended by nearly 2,000 each May at the Buell Theatre.

    Participating high schools have the opportunity to be mentored by DCPA Teaching Artists, and last year 24 schools signed on for 70 workshop classes. Once their school musicals go up, they are judged by a field of professional artists and educators who not only score each show for awards consideration, they provide detailed, constructive feedback that teachers can use to make their programs better.

    The awards ceremony itself is a remarkable celebration of the high-school theatre community. Carson not only directs the slick show, she choreographs sophisticated, original medleys that are performed by all of the male and female leading actor nominees. The two students ultimately named Outstanding Actor and Actress move on to the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City, also known as The Jimmys. And Carson chaperones them every step of the way.

    “I think the magic of Claudia coordinating the Bobby G Awards program is that she cares so much about theatre in Colorado, and she cares so much about teachers,” Watrous said. “Claudia is a full-on champion of high-school theatre in Colorado.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    This past year, the DCPA’s fourth High School Playwriting Competition drew 132 one-act submissions from budding writers in 14 Colorado counties. That after Carson sent DCPA Teaching Artists to 46 high schools, where they conducted 138 workshops for more than 2,800 students. Four of the resulting scripts were chosen to be read by professional actors at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit in February, and two were ultimately given fully staged productions through DCPA Education’s summer academy.

    Claudia Carson True West BGA 2016If that weren’t “job enough,” Carson also returned to her roots as a Stage Manager this year for the recent return engagement of Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women. And as a summer Teaching Artist for DCPA Education, she and a group of ambitious teens created an entire original musical from scratch — in just two weeks.

    If that sounds like a lot, you should know this about Carson: It's in her DNA. Her mother, Bev Newcomb-Madden, is a pioneer of  children's theatre in Denver and has directed more plays than any other woman in Colorado theatre history. Her sister, Glenna Kelly, is an accomplished actor who for a long time ran Kaiser-Permanente’s acclaimed Educational Theatre Programs for Colorado. And her daughter, Claire Carson, studied at Denver School of the Arts and SMU, and is now an actor in Dallas. That’s three generations of accomplished Newcomb women — and counting. And brother Jamie Newcomb performed in the DCPA Theatre Company's recent productions of Benediction and All the Way

    Pictured above and right: Claudia Carson with 2016 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actors Curtis Salinger and Charlotte Movizzo, and DCPA  Senior Manager of Press and Promotions Heidi Bosk).

    “Claudia is a sensitive, caring and compassionate person, and she really has an innate ability to connect with teenagers,” said DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg. “But at the same time, she is also a quintessential stage manager and mother, which is probably why she is so good at both jobs. Part of being a good mom is being a good stage manager.”

    Carson graduated from Denver East High School and studied journalism at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She came to the Denver Center as a stage manager for all Galleria Theatre shows for a five-year stretch starting in 2003 with the longest-running musical in Colorado theatre history, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. She later took charge of the global expansion of the runaway hit Girls Only and then served as Executive Assistant to DCPA President Randy Weeks, who died in 2014. She has also worked as a stage manager at Curious Theatre and the Arvada Center.

    But she seems to have found her sweetest spot working with students.

    “She’s doing what she loves with the people she loves the most,” Ekeberg said. “For someone who has done so many things, that’s a pretty cool culmination of a pretty cool career.”

    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.


    True West Claudia Carson 2017

    The four finalists from the DCPA's fourth statewide High School Playwriting Competition had their plays presented as readings at the 12th annual 2017 Colorado New Play Summit, including 'Dear Boy on the Tree,' above, written by Jasmin Hernandez Lozano of Vista Peak Preparatory Academy in Aurora. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS: '30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS'
    The True West Awards, now in their 17th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2017 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards (to date)


    Video bonus 1: The 2017 Bobby G Awards




    Video bonus 2 Student playwriting:

  • In the Spotlife: Peter Trinh of 'Chinglish'

    by John Moore | Mar 31, 2017
    A Peter Trinh Chinglish 800 1


    MEET PETER TRINH

    Peter Trinh plays three roles in the Aurora Fox's 'Chinglish,' a comedy about the challenges of doing business in a country where the language and underlying cultural assumptions can be worlds apart from those of the West. It runs through April 9.

  • Hometown: Denver
  • Home now: Denver
  • High school: Arvada West
  • College: Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • Peter Trinh QuoteWhat have you done for us lately? I played Monk in the The Oldest Boy, presented by Vintage Theatre and Theatre Esprit Asia 
  • What's next? I will play myself in the return of my one-man play Boat Person with Theatre Esprit Asia from July 27-30 at the Bas Bleu Theatre,
    401 Pine St. in Fort Collins
  • Twitter-sized bio: First generation American; DEN native; father of two boys; actor; playwright; stand-up comedian. 
  • Twtter and Instagram handle: @Peter_Trinh
  • What was the role that changed your life? I was cast in Dust Storm for Theatre Esprit Asia in 2013. It is a solo play and it was my first lead role. This show proved to myself that I could carry a show as a lead, and even on my own.
  • Ideal scene partner: I have always respected Edward Norton. He is a character actor, but strong enough to play a lead. I recall his scene in Birdman with Michael Keaton, and I imagine working a scene with him would be similar to that. There is an honesty in his performances that I feel is deeply engaging.
  • What is Chinglish all about? The inevitable miscommunications between cultures. It's a comedy that follows Daniel, a businessman from the Midwest, who arrives in a bustling Chinese province looking to score a lucrative contract for his family’s sign-making company. He soon finds that the complexities of such a venture far outstrip the expected differences in language, customs and manners – and calls into question even the most basic assumptions of human conduct. Through comic exchanges, he learns what is lost and found in translation. Despite our efforts to understand each other, there is a part of us that will never understand those from other cultures, but that doesn’t mean we cannot share or live together.
  • Peter_Trinh Boat PersonTell us about the challenge of playing your part: My lines are about 65 percent Mandarin. I do not speak Mandarin. Learning enough to be able to pronounce my lines decently was a bear. It’s harder than it looks. Luckily, our dramaturg and the two native speakers in our cast made me feel comfortable. I am bilingual in Vietnamese – which could be considered a derivative dialect of Mandarin – so learning the tones was familiar.
  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing this play? I hope they laugh. The jokes (which come with subtitles) make for a unique theatregoing experience for the audience. But most of all, I hope this play inspires people to travel and experience the world outside the realm of what they presently know.
  • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • What's one thing most people don't know about you? I’m the first person on either side of my family to be born on American soil. My parents were pregnant with me when they were sponsored to Denver in 1982.
  • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? I feel like what the world is missing is compassion. We need to find away to allow others to believe the way they wish without imposing our own beliefs. This country has been so busy drawing lines in the sand on this issue, and that issue, we seem to be losing our humanity. Let’s agree to disagree.

  • Peter Trinh Chinglish. By Christine Fisk From left: Mark Rubald, Tim O'Connell, Peter Trinh and Ke Zang in the Aurora Fox's production of 'Chinglish.' Photo by Christine Fisk.

    Aurora Fox's Chinglish: Ticket information

    • By David Henry Hwang
    • Directed by Steve Wilson
    • Through April 9
    • Performances 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays
    • 9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora
    • Tickets $16-$37
    • 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    Cast list:
    •  Mark Rubald as Daniel Cavenaugh
    •  Peter Trinh as Bing, Judge Geming and Qian
    •  Tim O'Connell as Peter Timms
    •  Christa Yan as Xi Yan
    •  Ke Zang as Minister Cai Guoliang and Prosecutor Li
    •  Molly O'Niel as Zhao and Waitress

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Kelsey Didion of Curious Theatre's Constellations
    Meet Denise Freestone of OpenStage's August: Osage County
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Jim Hunt of Buntport's The Zeus Probem
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre'sThe Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Carla Kaiser Kotrc of Miners Alley Playhouse's A Skull in Connemara
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Angela Mendez of Beauty and the Beast
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Rebekah Ortiz of The Robber Bridegroom
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Cory Sapienza of Miners Alley Playhouse's Hir
    Meet Sean Scrutchins of the Arvada Center's Bus Stop
    Meet Jane Shirley of Santa's Big Red Sack
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas
  • In the Spotlife: Rebekah Ortiz of 'The Robber Bridegroom'

    by John Moore | Mar 27, 2017
    Rebekah Ortiz Photo of Rebekah Ortiz by Kellie Coughlin Henriksen.


    MEET REBEKAH ORTIZ

    Rebekah Ortiz plays Rosamund in Town Hall Arts Center's 'The Robber Bridegroom,' a 1975 musical set in late 18th-century Mississippi through April 30.

  • Pippin. Rebekah Oriz. Ignite Theatre Hometown: Lakewood
  • Home now: Lakewood
  • High school: D’Evelyn
  • College: BFA in musical theatre from Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • What have you done for us lately? I played Miss Dorothy in Thoroughly Modern Millie for BDT Stage
  • What's next? I will be playing Stepsister in The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in Johnstown from June 15-Aug. 27
  • Twitter-sized bio: Proud Colorado native who lives for family, travel and theatre - and still gets her breath taken away whenever she sees those Rocky Mountains.  
  • Twtter and Instagram handle: @bekahlekah
  • What was the role that changed your life? I was cast in the ensemble for Fiddler on the Roof in the ninth grade. Fiddler is a beautiful, timeless, perfectly written piece that always will have something to teach us about being human. This is when I first learned to bring a character to life with an incomparable sort of empathy. I learned theatre would be a way for me to teach others through my own imagination. I always strive to keep that ninth-grade passion for getting inside the head of whatever character I am creating.
  • Rachel Bay JonesIdeal scene partner: I was fortunate to have played Catherine in Ignite Theatre's 2011 production of Pippin, a role Rachel Bay Jones later played in the 2013 Broadway revival, which I was fortunate to see in New York. Everything about it was incredible. I cried. She now plays the mother in Dear Evan Hansen. I recently listened to her interview on one of my favorite podcasts, Theatre People. As she spoke, I connected with her passion, honesty and heart. She is a kindred spirit. I’d love to tackle a project with her to see how she approaches a scene.
  • What is The Robber Bridegroom all about? It's a Southern-fried Robin Hood musical set in late 18th-century Mississippi. It tells the story of Jamie Lockhart, a refined gentleman by day and a dangerous bandit by night, and how his world is turned upside down when he falls in love with the daughter of a wealthy planter. The musical is filled with comedic performances and features a catchy, energetic folk and bluegrass score. The Robber Bridegroom won the Tony Award in 1975 for Best Book of a Musical - and for good reason.
  • Tell us about the challenge of playing Rosamund: In the original version, the Robber takes advantage of Rosamund in a shockingly dark way. We decided to play with Rosamund being a stronger woman who has greater control of her destiny. It has been challenging to let go of the original script, and how those actions defined the character. Finding the motivation behind the new choices, allowing them to shape who Rosamund is, what she wants, and how she’s going to get it, is my challenge.
  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing this play? A lot of laughs and a bounce in your step. You won’t be able to help but smile and tap your foot. You should sail through a tall tale filled with wildly large characters and leaves you in stitches.
  • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • What's one thing most people don't know about you? I love long-distance hiking. My first big hike was the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with my husband. My most recent was the Kalalau Trail in Kauai with river crossings, bamboo forests and steep, slippery climbs. I love the challenge of a good hike, and the feeling of accomplishment afterward. Hiking is a metaphor for life - all its ups and downs, challenges and rewards. I also love it because by exploring different parts of the world by foot, you can really appreciate the detail and slow down.
  • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? My passion is empowering women to overcome taboos about their health. A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It is a female hormonal condition with varying symptoms, the most heartbreaking of which is infertility. It’s estimated to affect 1 in every 10 to 15 women, yet many gynecologists and doctors know little about how to treat it. In my personal journey through research and experimenting with nutrition, I learned that my cycle is connected to my overall mental and physical health. Paying attention to the subtle changes in my body has changed my life. I’ve really begun to understand the shroud of mystery hanging over women’s health. Society has bred misleading and inadequate health education that impedes women from living to their fullest potential. I could go on and on, but I will just say that every woman should read Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler and be enlightened by the knowledge it brings.

  • Town Hall Arts Center. The Robber Bridegroom. Michael R. Duran
    The set for the Town Hall Arts Center's upcoming production of  The Robber Bridegroom' designed by Michael Ray Duran.

    Town Hall Arts Center's The Robber Bridegroom: Ticket information

    • Adapted from the Eudora Welty novella by Alfred Uhry (book and lyrics) and Robert Waldman (music)
    • Directed by Bob Wells and Donna Debreceni (music)
    • March 31 through April 30
    • Performances 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays; additional matinee on Saturday, April 15
    • 2450 W. Main St., Littleton
    • Tickets $20-$42
    • Info: 303-794-2787 (press 5), or townhallartscenter.org

    Cast list:
    •  Ryan Buehler as Jamie Lockhart
    •  Rebekah Ortiz as Rosamund
    •  TJ Hogle as Clement
    •  Steph Holmbo as Salome
    •  Chas Lederer as Big Harp
    •  Ben Cowhick as Little Harp
    •  Ryan Heidenreich as Goat
    •  Caitlin Conklin as Raven and Goat’s Mother
    •  John Mackey as Airie
    •  Townsfolk: Cara Lippitt, Leah Nikula and Kris Graves

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Kelsey Didion of Curious Theatre's Constellations
    Meet Denise Freestone of OpenStage's August: Osage County
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Jim Hunt of Buntport's The Zeus Probem
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre'sThe Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Carla Kaiser Kotrc of Miners Alley Playhouse's A Skull in Connemara
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Angela Mendez of Beauty and the Beast
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Cory Sapienza of Miners Alley Playhouse's Hir
    Meet Sean Scrutchins of the Arvada Center's Bus Stop
    Meet Jane Shirley of Santa's Big Red Sack
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas
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    ABOUT THE EDITOR
    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

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