• Video: 'Native Gardens' asks: 'How do we live together?'

    by John Moore | May 05, 2018

    In the video above, 'Native Gardens’ playwright Karen Zacarías and Director Lisa Portes about the DCPA Theatre Company’s current staging of Zacarías' celebrated comedy Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    How playwright Karen Zacarías' disarming comedy turns a conversation ender into a surprising conversation starter

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Native Gardens is a play about neighbors. And “it's a border dispute,” as Director Lisa Portes mischievously puts it.

    On one side of the fence, we have Pablo and Tania Del Valle. He is a rich and rising hotshot attorney from Chile. She is a pregnant Chicana doctoral candidate. They have just moved to Washington D.C. and bought a messy fixer-upper. On the other side of the fence, we have Frank and Virginia Butley, an older, established Anglo couple with a pristine home and yard. Virginia is a conservative defense contractor, and Frank is a semi-retired GSA agent who now tends passionately to his pristine English garden.

    The couples are happy to be neighbors — until the young interlopers discover they actually own 2 more feet of backyard land than previously thought. Putting a new fence along the actual property line would mean smashing through Frank's cherished hydrangeas and peonies.

    800 Karen Zacarias. Photo by John MooreAnd from there, “shenanigans ensue,” said Portes.

    “All sorts of shenanigans,” playwright Karen Zacarías echoed.

    Like when the white couple decides their best legal defense in this property dispute is to argue that they have squatters’ rights. Which is funny, but might lead a reader to believe the play is either a serious political metaphor for the current ideological divide in America, or that it is a needling polemic. It is neither, said Zacarías, whose Native Gardens is presently among the 10 most produced plays in the country, with 15 professional stagings staged or scheduled. The DCPA Theatre Company’s production runs through Sunday (May 6).

    “The great joy in writing this play for me was that I wanted to look at the poetry and absurdity of conflict,” Zacarías said. “To do that, I had to take a comedic angle.

    “And I wrote all four of my characters from a place of love and respect.”

    Lisa Portes. Photo by John MooreBecause of that, Portes added, “Not only do you love each of these characters, you love them all the more because you see their foibles. None of them is perfect, and none of them are evil. They're all just like us: Flawed and funny.”

    But in this highly charged, politically divisive time, Portes admits that when you hear words like fence and borders and Latinos, “naturally you think this must be an immigration play,” she said. But it’s not. “I think this play touches on differences. There's class differences, gender differences, differences across ethnicity, differences in philosophy, differences between Republicans and Democrats. There are all kinds of borders in this play that ultimately, by the end of the play, are transcended.

    And from transcendence … comedy blooms.

    mariana-fernandez-john-ahlin-ryan-garbayo-photo-by-adamsviscom_26525867837_oAside: It’s almost impossible to talk about Native Gardens without invoking shovelfuls of gardening puns, but Zacarías could not be more on point when she says, “Nobody comes out smelling like a rose.” And: “Even though the play does dig in the dirt with some thorny issues, it does it in a disarming way. I think it's kind of this cathartic experience for people to sit and laugh — not at them, but at ourselves. People leave the theater feeling buoyant and hopeful.”  

    (Pictured: Mariana Fernandez and John Ahlin in the Denver Center's 'Native Gardens.' Photo by Adams VisCom.)

    In the end, Portes said, “The play is really asking: ‘How do we live together?’ And I think there's no more important question to be asked at this time. And I think comedy is an invitation. When our souls are opened by laughter, I think we make room to expand ourselves.”

    Native Gardens is Zacarías’ third play at the Denver Center, following world premieres of Mariela in the Desert in 2010 and Just Like Us in 2013.

    Here are more highlighted excerpts from Senior Arts Journalist John Moore’s conversations with Karen Zacarías and Lisa Portes:

    John Moore: Karen, tell us how a dinner party changed the course of your playwriting career.

    Karen Zacarías: Ah, yes. I was at a dinner party, and I was saying to some friends, “Gosh, I don't know what to write about (next).” And so a friend tells me: “Oh, I know what you should write about. I had this fight with my neighbor” — and he went on to describe it in great detail. Then someone else says, “Oh, that's nothing. My parents have been in a seven-year legal battle with their neighbors over a tree.” And then someone else says, "Oh, yeah? Well, someone paved over our driveway!” And we were all just laughing and laughing. But then I realized all of these neighbor stories were a metaphor for human behavior — not just in our country, but all over the world. And I thought maybe I could take an absurdist look at that and have a little fun with the idea.

    Jordan Baker: 'Hard to listen when the message is a brick'

    John Moore: Lisa, tell us how your playwright managed to write a conversation starter as opposed to a conversation ender.

    Lisa Portes: Karen and I believe in theater as a live space in which many different kinds of people can come together and wrestle with the issues of our time. And I think that if you want people to come together, you can't shut anybody out. This play asks these characters to expand their circle, expand their borders and expand their sense of what's possible in the world.

    800 2 Lisa Portes. Photo by John MooreJohn Moore: Talk about the double entendre of the word “Native” in the title.

    Karen Zacarías: There is a movement called “native gardening,” and it's actually pretty strong here in Colorado. The idea is to plant only plants that are original to the landscape of a given area. Native plants take up less water, they're easier to take care of, and they feed bees and bugs in that area. So native planting is lower-maintenance and better for the environment. But some people would say native plants are not as attractive as some of the more European-style gardens like Frank’s, where you might see Japanese Azaleas or plants from all over the world. And so by using the word “Native” in the title, there are a lot of things to unpack: Who was here originally? Who is a transplant? Where is it acceptable for a hybrid garden to exist? It’s a great metaphor for a lot of things that are in the news today.”

    (Pictured: Lisa Portes addressing the opening-night celebration at the Denver Center. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    John Moore: How do the Gomez Family Landscape Technicians fit into the story?

    Lisa Portes: They are the folks who are actually doing the work while everybody else is arguing over their first-world problems. They are literally changing the landscape as the play unfolds. Karen was telling me that there have been theaters around the country that have wanted to cut those characters, but you can't make this play without them. I think the way all three families come together at the end — the Del Valles, the Butleys and the Gomezes — is Karen’s way of creating the world we want to live in.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: How great is it that actor Gustavo Marquez, who plays a member of the Gomez family, has a day job working in the Denver Center ticket office?

    Lisa Portes: I think it's going to be such a treat for the audience who may have actually bought their ticket from Gustavo to then see him in the play because he brings such beautiful life to the stage. And I'll tell you a little secret: For the pre-show, we wanted music in Spanish having to do with gardens. So, Gustavo sent me three or four lists of songs, and we used them. I owe him special thanks for that.

    John Moore: Karen, I think the most surprising part of your play may be that it has a happy ending.

    Karen: I think everybody is happy that there's a happy ending. The first draft I wrote, the ending was quite different. It was kind of gritty and ended with a gut-punch. But then I sat back and thought, ‘Do I need another gut punch right now?’ And when I asked myself, ‘What does it take to make a happy ending?’ And it’s not that hard. It takes a little understanding, a little compromise, and a lot of listening. And so I decided to go full-throttle and get the happy ending I think we all deserve.

    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.


    Photo gallery: The making of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens'

    Making of 'Native Gardens'Photos from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens.' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Native Gardens: Ticket information
    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:

    Native Gardens cast. Photo by John MooreThe cast of the Denver Center's 'Native Gardens' on opening night. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Native Gardens:
    Cast and creatives

    • Written by Karen Zacarías 
    • Directed by Lisa Portes
    • Scenic Designer: Lisa M. Orzolek
    • Costume Designer: Raquel Barreto
    • Lighting Designer: Charles R. MacLeod
    • Sound Designer: Rick Sims
    • Dramaturg: Douglas Langworthy
    • Stage manager: Heidi Echtenkamp
    • Kailey Buttrick: Assistant Stage Manager  

    Cast:

    • John Ahlin (Broadway’s Tony-Award winning revival of Journey’s End) as Frank Butley
    • Jordan Baker (Broadway’s Suddenly, Last Summer, The Normal Heart) as Virginia Butley
    • Mariana Fernández (DCPA’s FADE) as Tania Del Valle
    • Ryan Garbayo (Red Bull Theater’s The Government Inspector Off-Broadway) as Pablo Del Valle.
    • Anthony V. Haro (University of Northern Colorado Opera’s La Cenerentola), Ensemble
    • Brandon Lopez (Lucent Performing Arts’ American Idiot), Ensemble
    • Gustavo Marquez (Colorado Shakespeare Education’s Comedy of Errors), Ensemble
    • Gia Valverde (Su Teatro’s Enrique’s Journey), Ensemble
  • Brandon Jay Lopez: 'The future of America is Latinx'

    by John Moore | May 02, 2018
    NativeGardens ensemble. Photo by Adams VisCom
    Brandon Jay Lopez (far right) with the actors who make up the lawn crew in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens.' Photo by Adams VisCom.

    Denver native: 'Native Gardens shows that, regardless of our differences, there is usually something we agree on'   

    BRANDON JAY LOPEZ QUOTE MEET BRANDON JAY LOPEZ
    Denver native Brandon Jay Lopez is playing Chuy in Native Gardens. Previously he played JC in the original workshop production of This is Modern Art for DCPA Off-Center. Other credits include Rafi in the world premiere of Far Beyond Rubies (Newman Center at the University of Denver), Tunny in the regional premiere of American Idiot for Lucent Performing Arts, Tom Collins in Rent for Lucent Performing Arts, ensemble in the regional premiere of In the Heights at Vintage Theatre, West Side Story (Inspire Creative and Town Hall Arts Center), Showstoppers (Manhattan Creative), Man of La Mancha (Performance Now), Cinderella (BDT Stage) and The Wedding Singer (Aurora Fox).

    • Hometown: Denver
    • Home now: Denver
    • Training: Bachelor of Music, University of Denver
    • High School: Horizon High School in Thornton
    • What's your handle? @brandonjeslopez on Twitter; @brandonjaylopez on Instagram
    • Twitter-sized bio: Just a normal guy who loves listening to the Hamilton cast album on repeat before yelling at my T.V. during Broncos games.
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? I would absolutely pursue something in the social-media marketing world. I’ve been doing it on the side for quite some time now.
    • Bucket-list role: One day, when I’m the appropriate age, you will absolutely see me as Bobby in Stephen Sondheim’s Company. It’s an absolute dream to play such a deep and interesting character. That, or Usnavi in In the Heights.

    • What's playing on your Spotify? Troye Sivan has some pretty amazing music and is part of the LGBTQ+ community. My favorite song by Troye is “for him” from his album "Blue Neighborhood."
    • One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: It has to be when I saw the original Broadway cast of Hamilton in New York. From the moment the music started, I had chills running up and down my body, and the production had me the entire time. It probably helped that, before that performance, I waited in the cancellation line for almost 10 hours outside to get those tickets.
    • Brandon Jay Lopez with Idris Goodwin of This is Modern Art. Photo by John Moore. One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? We need to make professional theatre significantly more accessible to under-privileged audiences. Theatre can be hard to attend, often because of ticket prices. I believe that the future of America is Latinx and we need to find ways to reach that group in a more impactful way.
    • What is Native Gardens all about? Karen Zacarías' play is about a young Latino couple who move into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though their neighbors have the best intentions, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be.
    • Why does Native Gardens matter? Native Gardens is provides an excellent glimpse into why the political atmosphere is the way it is. It also shows that, regardless of what differences we all have, there is usually something that we agree on.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing Native Gardens? I hope they leave with a curiosity to explore themselves intellectually … It is easy to relate to the issues both couples grapple with in the play, and that presents an excellent opportunity for reflection on how we, as a society, can do better to tackle these important issues.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? Gay Pride is still necessary because anyone under the LGBTQ+ umbrella faces discrimination to this day because of something they cannot change. So the answer to your question “Why isn’t there a Straight Pride?” is because straight people do not face discrimination for being straight. That's the tea!

    (Pictured above and right: Brandon Jay Lopez with Idris Goodwin, writer of 'This is Modern Art,' at a 2016 reading at Denver School of the Arts. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Your first look at the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens.' Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.) 


    Native Gardens
    : Ticket information

    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:
  • John Ahlin of 'Native Gardens' on what theatre can learn from Comic-Con

    by John Moore | Apr 20, 2018
    mariana-fernandez-john-ahlin-ryan-garbayo-photo-by-adamsviscom_26525867837_o
    Photo by Adams VisCom.

    Broadway veteran's garden grew out of a dream to be a forest ranger. Now he's tilling the soil in the Space Theatre.  

    MEET JOHN AHLIN
    John-Ahlin-Jefferson-Mays-in-the-2007-Broadway-revival-of-Journeys-End-at-the-Belasco-Theatre.-Photo-by-Paul-Kolnik.John Ahlin, who plays gardening fan Frank Butley in Native Gardens, has appeared on Broadway in seven productions including Waiting for Godot with Nathan Lane and Bill Irwin, 2007 Tony Award-winning Best Revival Journey’s End (alongside DCPA master's graduate John Behlmann), The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Macbeth, and others. Other New York credits include Orson Welles in Orson’s Shadow (Barrow Street Theatre), Gray Area (Barrow Group), ChipandGus (Soho Playhouse) and others. TV and film credits include: “Inside Llewyn Davis” (Coen Brothers), “Law & Order: SVU,” “Late Show with David Letterman,” “As the World Turns” and many more. (Pictured above: John Ahlin and Jefferson Mays in Journey's End.' Photo by Paul Kolnik.)

    • Hometown: Aurora
    • Home now: New York
    • Training: BFA from Syracuse University Go Orange
    • Website: JohnAhlin.com
    • Twitter-sized bio: Actor, playwright, thinker: Lives 36 floors above New York City: Works hard: Plays nice: Likes all people and distant train whistles
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? Out of high school, I wanted to be a forest ranger, and I was sidetracked by theatre in college and never looked back. I still have the “what if” pangs whenever I look up at forested mountains, and as I type this I can look out to see some snowy Rockies. There is where I’d most likely be if not for acting.
    • One role you were completely miscast for: Not a prideful fellow I, but I feel I’m able to perform myriad roles somewhat effectively, and am not pigeonholed into a type. For example, I’ve appeared on Broadway in a splashy musical, a whodunit, a contemporary Irish black comedy, an all-black musical revue, a Shakespeare, an absurdist classic and a Tony Award-winning revival of a World War I drama. I did, however, once get mis-booked on a radio show where I thought I was going to promote a play I had written, and they instead thought I was a bright young comedian. Luckily I was quick-witted enough to survive that interview, but I wouldn’t want to do that again.
    • John+Ahlin+as+FalstaffBucket-list role: If I were forced to list my all-time bucket-list role, it would be Lear. A small portion of the rest of the list: Willie Loman, Big Daddy, Sheridan Whiteside, Walter Burns, Estragon and Mama Rose. (Note: I included Mama Rose because, in theory, after you complete your bucket list, don’t you kick the bucket? If I have one un-played role on my list, I hope to stave off the inevitable end.)
    • What's playing on your Spotify? "Levon" by Elton John, "Everybody’s Talkin’ " by Harry Nilsson, "Elusive Butterfly of Love" by Bob Lind, "Gentle on My Mind" by Glen Campbell and "And When I Die" by Blood, Sweat and Tears — my favorite band. I would call these my top-five favorite songs, and it wasn’t until this little exercise that I realized what was alike about them all: Scope. The expansive reflection on one’s life, both past and future and its echoing through time.
    • What's one thing we don't know about you? I have done Falstaff 11 times — and I’d be happy to do him 11 more times. (Pictured above right.)
    • 200 Mark Rylance. jerusalem. (Photo by Simon Annand)One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: Watching Mark Rylance in Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth was the happy confluence of seeing both the greatest performance and the greatest play I had ever witnessed, at the same time. And to see such a marvel, after my nearly four decades in show business, was more than an inspiring glimpse of what theatre can be. It was a rejuvenating experience, fueling me to go on, to keep wondering, and seeking the surprises that lurk around every corner of life. (Pictured at right: Mark Rylance in 'Jerusalem.' Photo by Simon Annand.)
    • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? This is a bit wacky, but I think everyone who makes or markets theatre should go to a Comic-Con and see the enthusiasm of the crowds of young people lining up around the outside of the convention center, and then just ponder what it is that drives these joyous fans to surrender themselves completely to the stories, characters and ambience. There are probably many revelations that can come just by thinking and wondering how to nurture, increase, reciprocate and reward fandom for theatre — and not just the young, but all theatregoers.
    • What is Native Gardens all about? Karen Zacarías' play is about a young Latino couple who move into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though their neighbors have the best intentions, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be.
    • Why does Native Gardens matter? Native Gardens is what all good theatre should be: the lifting out of ideas and concepts intrinsic to life, to be examined in a focused and palatable way. The themes, characters, plot and style blend beautifully so that the play makes its points through behavior and not comment. This play wonderfully fulfills theatre’s purpose, where we humans gather in one big room and debate life through our stories.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing Native Gardens? Someone once said “the audience is the only genius in theatre,” so what they get out of it is all that really matters. I have a feeling they will get a wonderful and funny night of theatre, but more, they will see a play that shakes preconceived notions and will cause the audience to look at something afresh, as if for the first time. And hint at avenues of hope.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? I think too many people are getting things off their chests. I’m far more interested in common ground and common pursuits.  There are an awful lot of good things to be done without all the complaints and recriminations dividing people.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Your first look at the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens.' Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.) 


    Native Gardens
    : Ticket information

    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:
  • Video: A tree grows ... and grows ... in 'Native Gardens'

    by John Moore | Apr 19, 2018

    Video: DCPA Theatre Company Charge Scenic Artist Jana Mitchell talks about the creative challenges that came with building a massive 30-foot indoor tree. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    How the DCPA's team of scenic artists built a 30-foot indoor tree for a play in the round without blocking audience views

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The set for the DCPA Theatre Company’s new comedy Native Gardens is dominated by a large and meaningful oak tree that grows tall and encompasses the entire space above and below the stage.

    But the Space Theatre is in-the-round, which means the indoor tree posed a significant creative challenge for Scenic Designer Lisa M. Orzolek and her team of artists for this first-ever staging of Karen Zacarías' celebrated comedy in a theatre where the audience is seated in a circle all around the stage.

    The play centers on two neighboring couples at odds over the location of their property line — and the presence of a massive backyard oak tree that one couple loves but aggravates the other when it drops its leaves, acorns and branches on the other side of the fence.

    How did she pull it off? “That's the magic of theatre," Orzolek teased.

    Jana Mitchell On the page, it would seem that the tree should be located between the two houses, just on one side of the property line closest to the fence. But that would be the middle of the Space Theatre, and you can't put a big tree in the middle of a round stage because of the sightline problems that would create for audiences. So Orzolek put the tree in one of the theatre’s five “voms” (or actor entranceways). And then built it to such a massive size that its branches still create all kinds of havoc for the neighboring couple.

    “In order for the tree to reach all the way across the theatre into the neighbor’s yard, it just kept getting taller and longer and wider,” Orzolek said. "It goes up and then comes back down. In the end, it was 24 feet tall and 30 feet wide.”

    The tree began as a tiny clay model. Then came wood, steel, chicken wire and muslin. “The bark structure is actually carpet padding,” Orzolek said. “Our amazing scenic-artist team just ripped carpet padding into strips to make bark and then they spray-painted it with drywall texture." It's a technique former DCPA Scenic Artist Brian Proud invented for The Secret Graden. 

    The tree plays a major part in the story, and not just because it represents a physical point of contention. It reveals differences in the way the two couples look at the world.

    “The oak tree is very important in any native garden,” Zacarías said. “They have the most biodiversity of any tree species.”

    And that's relevant to one of the couples, and hogwash to the other.

    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.

    Making of 'Native Gardens'Photos from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens.' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Native Gardens: Ticket information
    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Backyard border dispute: How does your garden grumble?

    by John Moore | Apr 14, 2018

    Your first video look at the DCPA Theatre Company's new production of 'Native Gardens." Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. 

     

    Good fences make for good neighbors in new comedy about couples who draw a property line in the sand


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    These days, sure, we can choose our own families. But unless you live in a commune, you don’t really get to pick your own neighbors. And America’s great, ongoing ideological divide could not be expressed more definitively — or apparently, more comically — than in a play about a property line dispute between neighbors.

    KAREN ZACARIAS. Photo by John MooreThat’s the thorn in the rose of Karen Zacarías’ popular comedy Native Gardens. On one side of the fence, we have a pregnant Latinx couple who are new to town. On the other we have empty-nesters who think “Latinx” must surely be a misspelled word. (It's not.) Trouble blooms when the younger couple discovers their property line actually extends right over their next- door-Boomers’ pristine flowerbed.

    “It’s a deceptively simple play,” Chicago-based Director Lisa Portes said. “At first you might think you are watching this charming and disarming little play about neighbors and gardens. But the minute there is a dispute over 2 feet of land — all hell breaks loose.”

    Zacarías, a native of Mexico who penned previous DCPA Theatre Company stagings of Mariela in the Desert and Just Like Us, got the idea for her play at a dinner party where the guests all traded horror stories about their neighbors. Everyone, it seems, has one.

    “All of these stories, I found, were both upsetting and funny,” Zacarías said. “And what I discovered in listening to them is that we seem to have this primal attachment to land that is both poetic and absurd at the same time. And then I realized that almost every single fight that’s going on anywhere in the world can be distilled down to one of these two things: border disputes and cultural differences.”

    mariana-fernndez-john-ahlin-ryan-garbayo-photo-by-adamsviscom_26525867837_oWhat comes out on stage, Portes said, is an accessible comedy that explores weedy issues we don’t dare talk about in our own living rooms but maybe we can laugh at in the communal anonymity of a theatre.

    At a time when the nation is polarized by talk of borders and walls, Zacarías found a way to use gardening as what she calls “a really fun metaphor to talk about really much harder issues like class and race and ageism .”

    (Pictured above and right: Mariana Fernandez and John Ahlin in 'Native Gardens.' Photo by Adams VisCom.)

    Even the title asks a prickly little question, Portes said: “What is native? Who is native? What does that word even mean? It’s not as black and white as we think.”

    The inaugural staging of Native Gardens accomplished something quite rare when the play was praised by a local reviewer both for having “a finger pressed to the pulse of the American mood” and for “its ability to make you forget the current political and social climate.” At the same time.

    That’s probably because Native Gardens, Zacarías said, puts no one on the defensive. “It’s sneaky that way,” she said. “I wrote all four main characters from a place of love. There’s a simplicity to the set-up, and that’s on purpose. It allows the play to sow some seeds and grow some deeper roots. And the audience is willing to go there together because really nobody comes up smelling like a rose.”

    LISA PORTES QUOTE. Photo by John Moore. Native Gardens premiered in 2016, before the ascendency of Donald Trump. But while debate over immigration has raged for as long as America, there is no question it now tops a list of issues Zacarías says “are bubbling to the surface in a vicious manner.”

    Zacarías experienced something similar in 2014, when she adapted Denver journalist Helen Thorpe’s book Just Like Us for its Denver Center world premiere. That true story followed four Denver Latinas through high school, and told how their struggles and opportunities diverged based on their citizenship status.

    “I was hoping Just Like Us would become less relevant over time, but unfortunately it’s only become more relevant,” Zacarías said, referring to the ongoing battle over the immigration policy known as DACA. And with the rise of Trump, she said, the same has proven true of Native Gardens. Only this play is much funnier.

    Zacarías and Portes were among the so-called “DC-8” who started a national movement called The Latinx Theatre Commons in 2012 to amplify the visibility of Latinx theatre in the United States. Since then, Portes has directed the world premiere of Antoinette Nwandu’s Breach, a manifesto on race in america through the eyes of a black girl recovering from self-hate in Chicago, as well as an all-Latinx version of The Glass Menagerie for Cal Shakes in northern California.

    Read more: Five things we learned at first rehearsal

    Zacarías, now the most produced Latinx playwright in America, last month launched a high-profile production for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival called Destiny of Desire, a subversive homage to telenovelas, which she calls “one of the most exploitative forms of entertainment in the world.”

    Native Gardens has already had several productions around the country, but the Denver Center’s will be the first to be staged in the round configuration,” which Portes said “almost makes this like a world premiere because that will create an entirely different actor-audience relationship. The audience will be its own kind of community circling this other community of actors, and we’re all sitting together in this real garden with real plants and flowers.”

    Zacarías said the Denver Center staging also will be a first because it will introduce small, first-time improvements to the script. “I do think this will be a whole different take on the play,” she said.

    “Native Gardens is a story that asks what it takes to be a good neighbor. It is about four specific, flawed people — but it’s not really about them. It’s about us. And how all of us can be better neighbors.”

    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.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Native Gardens: Production photos

    Native Gardens Photos from the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens.' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by by Adams Viscom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Native Gardens
    : Ticket information

    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:
    Native Gardens Opening Night. Photo by John Moore. Cast and creatives on opening night. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Gustavo Márquez of 'Native Gardens': From the box office to the big time

    by John Moore | Apr 13, 2018
    Gustavo Marquez Quote

    He's been a janitor and a Denver Center ticket agent. And tonight he takes the stage in his Theatre Company debut.  

    MEET GUSTAVO MÁRQUEZ
    Lisa Portes quote Gustavo Márquez, a member of the Native Gardens ensemble, is making his DCPA Theatre Company debut. He recently played the crazed, bug-eating servant Renfield in Dracula for the Aurora Fox (and Westword's Juliet Wittman called him excellent at it). He played Cassius, Adriano and other roles (both in English and Spanish) in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's educational productions of The Comedy of Errors and Julius Caesar. He appeared in Local Lab's controversial reading of The Merchant of Venice, and in the Colorado-born production of I Am Alive that played at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, Calif. Other stage credits include The Tempest, Metamorphoses, You Can't Take It With You, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Mozart's The Magic Flute.

    • Hometown: Aurora
    • Home now: Denver
    • High School: Rangeview
    • Training: BFA from Metropolitan State University of Denver
    • What's your handle? @gooosetee on Twitter and @goosetee on Instagram
    • Twitter-sized bio: Shall I compare me to a summer’s day? Yes, yes, I will: I’m like a summer’s day!
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? Many things! But a primatologist would be one. I’ve always been fascinated with apes, specifically chimpanzees, and how similar we are to them. And I find them to be adorable.
    • One role you were completely miscast for: I played Monostatos in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Monostatos is a treacherous villain, and he is written as a Moor. Also, I am a tenor, and that character was clearly meant to be a baritone. But I pulled it off. FKA_twigs
    • Bucket-list role: Usnavi from In the Heights
    • What's playing on your Spotify? FKA TWIGS (pictured right) and Princess Nokia do wonders to the soul.
    • What's one thing we don't know about you? I was a 19-year-old janitor in Antarctica.
    • What's one thing we already know about you, but other people probably don't: I have been working in the Denver Center's box office as a ticket agent since 2016. 
    • And what does Native Gardens Director Lisa Portes have to say about that? "I think it's going to be such a treat for those audiences who may have bought their ticket from Gustavo to then see him in the play, because he brings such beautiful life to the stage. And I will tell you a little secret: When we were looking for pre-show music in Spanish having to do with gardens, Gustavo emailed me a list of songs. So those are his." 
    • Phantom 2009 Photo by Christine Cudia MoldovanOne time you saw greatness play out in front of you: I saw The Phantom of the Opera at the Buell Theatre in Denver when I was in high school back in 2009. The Phantom was singing "Music of the Night," and right when he was about to sing his last note of the song, the sound went out. What happened after was nothing short of amazing. The actor, John Cudia, was able to fill the whole theatre with sound using just his unamplified voice. What I realized in that moment was pure, focused talent that I could attain as well, with hard work. (Photo: John Cudia and Trista Moldovan in the 2009 touring production of 'The Phantom of the Opera.' Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann.)
    • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? The next generation of theatregoers will be the most diverse this country has ever seen. It is important that what is presented on stage is just as diverse as they are.
    • What is Native Gardens all about? Karen Zacarías' play is about a young Latino couple who move into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though their neighbors have the best intentions, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be.
    • Why does Native Gardens matter? Because it teaches us that we can improve as a society despite our society's past actions. Even if we, or our past generations have transgressed against each other, we must learn from those past events and experiences and improve. Don’t feel guilty for what your ancestors did or how they behaved, just change the way you are living now.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing Native Gardens? That we must forgive the past by improving the present to make the future better for all.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? I enjoy American Chinese food more than Mexican food. And I feel so blasphemous saying that!

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    the-company-of-native-gardens-photo-by-adamsviscom_41396747291_o

    The company of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens.' Photo by Adams Viscom for the DCPA NewsCenter.) 


    Native Gardens
    : Ticket information

    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:
    More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

    • Meet Jake Mendes of This is Modern Art
    • Meet Ilasiea L. Gray of Sleeping Beauty
    • Meet Candy Brown of Love Letters
    • Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    • Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
    • Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific
    • Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of I Don't Speak English Only
    • Meet Marialuisa Burgos of I Don't Speak English Only

  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'Native Gardens'

    by John Moore | Apr 11, 2018
    Video:

    Video above by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk the DCPA NewsCenter

    Your first look at the DCPA Theatre Company's production of Native Gardens, Karen Zacarías' celebrated comedy about a young Latino couple who move into a fixer-upper next to an older couple with a beautifully kept garden. All is is well until the young couple discover their property line actually extends about 2 feet over their neighbors' prized flowerbed. Performances run through May 6 in the Space Theatre. Directed by Lisa Portes and featuring John Ahlin, Jordan Baker, Mariana Fernández and Ryan Garbayo. Complete cast and creative team.


    Photo gallery: The official production photos

    Native GardensOfficial gallery of 'Native Gardens' production photos. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Native Gardens: Ticket information
    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Meet Gia Valverde: Denver native finds a home in 'Native Gardens'

    by John Moore | Apr 11, 2018
    Gia Valverde QUOTE. Photo by John Moore
    Photo by John Moore.

    The first time the actor saw a play at Su Teatro, she knew she wanted to be an actor. Now she's at the Denver Center.  

    MEET GIA VALVERDE
    gia_valverde Gia Valverde is a born-and-raised Denver Northsider. She has been a company member for Su Teatro for more than 20 years. She originated roles in the world premieres of Enrique’s Journey, When Pigs Fly and Men Have Babies; El Louie and Other Post-Pachuco Dreams; and Dancing with the Spirits, all by Anthony J. Garcia. She has also been in plays by Chicano Teatro greats Luis Valdez , Rudolfo Anaya, Rodrigo Duarte Clark and Evelina Fernandez. She has done multiple film and commercial roles including "The Frame," "Love Pirates" and is the lead in the upcoming web series "One Moment Longer." She as also been seen in music videos for Molina Speaks and Kontrast & Fo Chief.

    • Hometown: Denver
    • Home now: Denver
    • Training: The Art Institute of Colorado
    • What's your handle? @GiaValverde on Twitter
    • Website: eazymedia.biz
    • Twitter-sized bio: Multimedia designer, actor, mother, Denver Northsider and burrito connoisseur
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? I also run a multimedia business specializing in video production, graphic and web design. I like to bounce back and forth between acting and multimedia because they allow me to tell stories in different mediums, and they are both just as much my passions as my professions.
    • One role you were completely miscast for: I played an executioner in Dancing with Spirits by Anthony J. Garcia.
    • Bucket-list role: Anita in West Side Story
    • What's playing on your Spotify? Smino’s 'blkswn' album
    • What's one thing we don't know about you? You will occasionally find me rolling burritos (mostly eating them) at Lucero’s & Sons on 52nd Avenue and Pecos Street.
    • Gia Valverde Su Teatro Native GardensOne time you saw greatness play out in front of you: The first time I saw a play at Su Teatro, I knew I wanted to be an actor. Seeing Chicano representation on stage at a young age helped me take the leap from dream to do. I joined the Su Teatro company immediately after seeing a show at 11 years old. They became my second family. (Pictured from left: Sonia Justl, Marianna Chavez, Gia Valverde and Amy Luna in Su Teatro's 'The Lamented Last Dance at the Rainbow Ballroom.')
    • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? The Denver Center is putting out a lot of shows with diverse casts lately. The next generation of theatregoers are going to be brought in by diversity and representation.
    • What is Native Gardens all about? Karen Zacarías' play is about a young Latino couple who move into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though their neighbors have the best intentions, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be.
    • Why does The Native Gardens matter? This is an important play right now because it represents the conversation a lot of Americans are having, and offers us a fresh perspective allowing us to see what is really important.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing Native Gardens? I love that this play features a Latino couple that goes against stereotype, and I hope the audience finds that refreshing as well.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? I’m passionate about self-love in all forms and practicing In Lak'Ech (The Living Code of the Heart).

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Native Gardens: Ticket information
    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:
    More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

    • Meet Jake Mendes of This is Modern Art
    • Meet Ilasiea L. Gray of Sleeping Beauty
    • Meet Candy Brown of Love Letters
    • Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    • Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
    • Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific
    • Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of I Don't Speak English Only
    • Meet Marialuisa Burgos of I Don't Speak English Only

  • The ‘Native Gardens’ set: ‘You can smell the dirt’

    by John Moore | Apr 10, 2018
    Making of 'Native Gardens'
    Photos from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's "Native Gardens.' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to the full photo gallery Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    'These are yards you have seen in your real life. And it feels like you are sitting in the garden with everybody else.'

    (Note: Perspectives is a series of free public panel discussions held just before the first preview  performance of each DCPA Theatre Company offering. Next up: The Who's Tommy: 6 p.m. Friday, April 20, Jones Theatre)

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Karen Zacarías' popular play Native Gardens, opening Friday in The Space Theatre, is a genial comedy about two neighboring couples “who have a lot in common … and who have nothing in common — at the same time,” Director of New Play Development Doug Langworthy says.

    They live side-by-side in an established suburb of Washington, D.C. One couple is older and white, the other younger and Latinx. Though these new neighbors have the best intentions, their budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. And it runs right through Frank Butley’s prized native garden.

    “What this play is trying to say is that whatever our differences are — sex, race or religion — we should still be able to live next door to each other in a loving way,” said veteran Broadway actor Jordan Baker.

    Here are five things we learned about the DCPA Theatre Company's upcoming production at Perspectives:  

    NUMBER 1

    Sowing the seeds of history. Karen Zacarías now has the distinction of being the first female playwright in DCPA Theatre Company history to have had plays produced in all three of the company’s main theatres. Mariela in the Desert played in the Ricketson Theatre in 2010, Just Like Us played in the Stage Theatre in 2014 and now Native Gardens is set to open in The Space Theatre on Friday. "And all three plays are so very different,” she said. “Mariella was a drama, Just Like Us was a serio-documentary and Native Gardens is a full-throttle comedy." The only other playwright to have had plays performed in all of those same spaces was Nagle Jackson (1992-2003). "The Denver Center has been a home for me for so many years now," Zacarías  said, "I am so grateful that they have been willing to take a chance on new plays, and plays by Latina women."

    NUMBER 2NATIVE GARDENS Perspectives. Karen Zacarías. Photo by John Moore. So what is a native garden, anyway? It is defined as the use of plants, including trees, shrubs, groundcover and grasses that are indigenous to the geographic area of the garden. Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions where they naturally occur. Native plant species provide nectar, pollen and seeds that serve as food for butterflies, insects, birds and other animals. Unlike natives, common horticultural plants do not provide energetic rewards for their visitors and often require pest controls to survive. Native plants do not require fertilizers and require fewer pesticides than lawns. Native plants help reduce air pollution and can significantly reduce water runoff.

    NUMBER 3Smell that dirt. Zacarías encourages audiences to look closely at the set created by DCPA Scenic Designer Lisa Orzolek, because, she says, it is another character in the play. “There is real dirt. And you can smell it,” Zacarías said. “These are yards that you have seen in your real life. The grass is uneven. There are patches. Any because this play is being staged in the round, it feels like you are sitting in the garden with everybody else.” Orzolek said the garden consists of both real plants "and fake plants that look super-real.” Every night after the show, the stagehands remove the real plants from the stage and place them under backstage grow lights.

    Read more: Native Gardens draws its line in the soil

    NUMBER 4A tree grows in D.C. That set is dominated by a very large and meaningful oak tree that grows tall and encompasses the entire air space. “The oak tree is very important in any native garden,” Zacarías said. “They have the most biodiversity of any tree species.” The tree is a source of conflict between the couples because one of them loves the tree, while the other does not — and its branches are growing over into their yard. “On the page, it would seem that the tree is situated between the two houses, just on one side of the property line — but you can't put a big tree in the middle of a stage in the round because of the sightline problems that would create," Orzolek said. So she positioned the trunk in one of the Space Theatre’s five “voms” (or actor entranceways). “In order for the tree to reach all the way across the theatre, it just kept getting taller and longer and wider,” Orzolek said. "It goes up and then comes back down. It's 24 feet tall and 30 feet wide.” How did they do it? “That's the magic of theatre," she said. And we will show you some of that magic in the coming days with a special DCPA NewsCenter video devoted to the making of the tree. Stay tuned. 

    NUMBER 5Let's grow together. Zacarías wrote Native Gardens before the 2016 election, and it will be one of the 10 most performed plays in America this season. “I feel the reason this play is being done in so many cities right now is because it gives your community, whether you are on the left or the right, a chance to laugh at yourself and remember that we are all part of a bigger microcosm," she said. "This play doesn't solve all the world's problems, but it does allow us to analyze what we can do to be a better neighbor — which is a question I think a lot of us are wrestling with right now.”

    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.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    NATIVE GARDENS Perspectives. Photo by John MooreFrom left: Actor John Ahlin,  Director of New Play Development Doug Langworthy, playwright Karen Zacarías, Scenic Designer Lisa Orzolek, Costume Designer Raquel Barreto and actors Mariana Fernández and Jordan Baker. Photo by John Moore.

    Native Gardens: Ticket information
    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Through May 6
    • SpaceTheatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:
    Photos, cast list: Native Gardens draws line in the soil
    Meet Jordan Baker: 'It’s hard to listen when the message is a brick'
  • Try our crossword puzzle: 'Tommy,' 'Aladdin' and 'Native Gardens'

    by John Moore | Apr 09, 2018
    With each new issue of Applause Magazine, we offer readers a puzzle related to our current shows. Here is the most recent crossword puzzle, covering The Who's Tommy, Disney's Aladdin and Native Gardens).

    The solution is posted below. Print and play! CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS PUZZLE, WITH THE SOLUTION!

    Crossword Puzzle Tommy Aladdin


    ACROSS clues:
    • 5 Native Gardens playwright Karen Zacarías previously adapted
      Helen Thorpe’s book ____(three words) for the DCPA Theatre Company
    • 9  The setting for Aladdin is the fantastical world of _____
    • 10  Benjamin Franklin said: “Don't throw stones at your neighbors if your own windows are _____.
    • 11  "The Who’s Tommy" is considered a _______ album
    • 12  Every rose has its ____
    • 13  A plant that completes its full life-cycle in two growing seasons
    • 14  Michael _______ was Broadway’s original Tommy in 1993. His brother recently performed in the DCPA Theatre Company’s All the Way.
    • 16  Aladdin’s master of ceremonies is named ______
    • 17  Tommy’s The Acid _____
    • 18  In The Fantasticks, conspiring neighbors plotted to build a ____ between them

    DOWN clues:
    • 1. The showstopping final musical number in Aladdin is called “_____Like Me”
    • 2 In Aladdin, nearly 110 of these changes happen in a backstage frenzy taking place in less than one minute
    • 3 What Tommy witnessed that sent him into catatonia
    • 4 In 1981, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd starred in this film about a quiet man whose life is upended when an obnoxious couple moves in next door.
    • 6 Pinball was banned from the early 1940s to mid-70s in many big American cities because it was considered a form of _________
    • 7 Terpsichorean is a term related to the art of _______, of which Aladdin features much
    • 8 Aladdin takes audiences on a magic ______ ride
    • 15 Tommy can’t hear those buzzers and bells. He plays by a sense of ____.
    Denver_Center_Disney's Aladdin_Isabelle McCalla (Jasmine) & Clinton Greenspan (Aladdin). Aladdin North American Tour. Photo by Deen van Meer

    Isabelle McCalla (Jasmine) and Clinton Greenspan (Aladdin) in the touring production of Disney's 'Aladdin,' playing in Denver through April 28. Photo by Deen van Meer.

    Aladdin solution 2018


    Recent previous downloadable puzzles:


    The King & I, Stomp, Zoey's Perfect Wedding, American Mariachi and The Great Leap DOWNLOAD

    RENT, Chicago, Mannheim Steamroller, Elf, Waitress and A Christmas Carol DOWNLOAD

    Mamma Mia!, The Secret Garden, The Illusionists – Live From Broadway and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time DOWNLOAD

    An American in Paris, Kinky Boots, Hal Holbrook Tonight and Disgraced DOWNLOAD

    Fun Home, The Book of Will, The Christians and Two Degrees DOWNLOAD

    Jersey Boys, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Finding Neverland, A Christmas Carol and The Hip-Hop Nutcracker DOWNLOAD

  • Jordan Baker of 'Native Gardens': 'It’s hard to listen when the message is a brick'

    by John Moore | Apr 04, 2018
    Jordan Baker

    From The Normal Heart to Native Gardens: Broadway star hopes new comedy can be a gateway to real understanding 

    MEET JORDAN BAKER
    Night SkyJordan Baker, who plays Virginia in the DCPA Theatre Company's upcoming Native Gardens, is best known for creating the role "C" in the New York production of Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Three Tall Women. Her Broadway credits include Garden District, Suddenly Last Summer and The Normal Heart. Off-Broadway credits include Night Sky (pictured at right, along with DCPA National Theatre Conservatory masters graduate Maria Christina Oliveras), Is Life Worth Living? and Milk. Regionally, she was in the original casts of Luna Gale at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and Appropriate (recently performed at the Curious Theatre Company) at the Humana Festival in Kentucky. Her TV and film credits include The Post, Land of Steady Habits, The Good Wife, Blue Bloods, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and New Adventures of Old Christine.

    • Jordan Baker. Hometown: Great Falls, Mont.
    • Home now: Los Angeles
    • Training: Associate of Arts from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York; B.A. from Smith College; M.F.A. from Rutgers University
    • What's your handle? @jordankilner on Twitter and @jordanbakerkilner on Instagram
    • Websites: JordanBaker.net, roomforthoughtnyc.com and JordanBakerKilner.Arbonne.com
    • Twitter-sized bio: Curious and breathing.
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? What a funny question! Who needs a career? Let’s have a life! I pursue so many things — acting does not keep me from doing so. Friends cannot believe how many things I do. So there is nothing left on the plate in my life. I am doing it all and adding adventures every day. Show me something!
    • One role you were completely miscast for: I was actually offered the role of Lynn Fontanne in Ten Chimmneys at the Cleveland Playhouse. I said, “But, she’s 5-foot-2, dark, a bird — and British! Have they taken a look at me lately?” But I took it, and it was the most creative time of my life. I love miscasting.
    • Bucket-list role: I don’t pine for roles. I see things and go there. Typically it's more about the story than my role in it.
    • One seminal experience where you saw greatness play out in front of you:
      I have seen so many transformational performances — but the one that has stuck with me recently was Springsteen on Broadway. It was totally unexpected. I am not really an avid Bruce fan, but he stood on stage with a guitar and a piano, and he talked about life and where the springsteenonbroadwaymusic came from. And when he played it — it wasn’t anything like what we know. It was pure poetry. The lyrics and music are very different without orchestration. He said it was all about us — that we should ignore him and disappear into our own story. That was deeply moving and transformative — and all the more inspiring because he not only performed it, but he lived it and wrote it.
    • Kevin KilnerSmall world: My husband is Kevin Kilner, who starred last year in the Denver Center's production of The Christians (pictured right together in a 2009 production of 'Is Life Worth Living' at the Mint Theatre in New York).
    • What are you listening to on Spotify right now? Creedence Clearwater Revival. I just rediscovered my childhood. CCR gets ya’ goin’.
    • What is Native Gardens all about? Karen Zacarías' play is about a young Latino couple who move into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though their neighbors have the best intentions, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be.
    • Why does The Native Gardens matter? We live in a time of great chaos, anger, violence and fear, and we rage against "the other." Talking has become so difficult for this country at work and in our neighborhoods. It’s hard to listen when the message is a brick. This play uses humor to open the gates for looking at the complexity of who each of us are. There are no heroes and no losers. Everyone is so complex and different and walking many sides of the fence. If we could only just make room in the same way we would like others to make room for us ...
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing Native Gardens? Is there one person you are judging? Go and see if you can make room for them. You have no idea what is going on in someone else’s house. Could you make room for being more loving?
    • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? Listen to them. What do they value? Can you see where they are coming up short? What don’t they know? Tell them the truth as best you can. Nurture writers of ALL AGES. We lost so many generations during the AIDS crisis. We have not caught up.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? Stop killing children. Stop with guns. I am so grateful they are speaking out in their own defense. I come from a family of hunters, cattle ranchers and farmers in Montana. I know the importance of a gun. But what is happening now is seriously irresponsible, greedy and inhuman. It can’t just be business as usual. We have a problem. We need to adjust. We need to talk. We need to take action to protect our people. And more guns is not the answer. As a professor, I am always frightened walking on campus. I don't want a closed campus. I want to walk free. But our campus security can’t protect us from automatic weapons. Our police can’t. Take them off the market. I can’t imagine the levels of fear our children are experiencing. It is mentally harming generations to come. Listen to how other countries have dealt with the problem. There is a solution that does not need to be based in fear and hate and more weapons. We are smarter and tougher than that.
    • What's one thing we don't know about you? I couldn’t have children — and that left the door open for some unusual children to enter my life. I have mentored a DACA child for 14 years, and I have been an advocate to a young man in prison for nine years. It’s very personal, one-on-one, and while they say I have saved their lives — they have saved mine. I learn so much from them each and every day. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Jordan Baker. Native Gardens. John MooreJohn Ahlin and Jordan Baker make their Denver Center debuts in 'Native Gardens,' which has its first public performance on Friday (April 6). Photo by John Moore.

    Native Gardens: Ticket information
    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:
    Photos, cast list: Native Gardens draws line in the soil

    More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

    • Meet Jake Mendes of This is Modern Art
    • Meet Ilasiea L. Gray of Sleeping Beauty
    • Meet Candy Brown of Love Letters
    • Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    • Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
    • Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific
    • Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of I Don't Speak English Only
    • Meet Marialuisa Burgos of I Don't Speak English Only

  • Photos, cast list: 'Native Gardens' draws line in the soil

    by John Moore | Mar 12, 2018
    Making of 'Native Gardens'Above: Our full photo gallery from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens,' starting with last week's first rehearsal. To see more, click on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter


    Karen Zacarías' popular comedy takes a lighter approach to the concept of a border war — with your next-door neighbor

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    "Who here has a neighbor?" Director Lisa Portes asked the cast, creatives, ambassadors and staff gathered for a festive first day of rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's upcoming production of Native Gardens. And when she further queried, "Who here has had a dispute with a neighbor?" and, "How many of those disputes have had to do with land or noise?" — not many of the many raised hands fell.   

    Karen Zacarías' celebrated play is the story of a young Latino couple that moves into a fixer-upper next to an older couple with a beautifully kept garden. All goes well until the aristocratic young Chileans discover their property line actually extends about 2 feet over their neighbors' existing flowerbed.

    "We all hope we get along with our neighbors," Portes said. But where there is a property line, there tends to be a line in the sand.

    Native Gardens is a comedy, "but it's a sneaky comedy," Portes added, "because suddenly there is this border dispute, and within that there is all kinds of conflict  — generational, ethnic, gender and class. And eventually these two couples really have to contend with one another."

    Portes, who primarily tackles new plays and musicals, serves on the board of Theatre Communications Group, heads the MFA directing program at DePaul University and has directed at dozens of theatres around the country. Her cast includes Broadway veterans Jordan Baker (The Normal Heart) and John Ahlin (Journey’s End), as well as Mariana Fernández, who two years ago starred the DCPA Theatre Company's FADE.

    'Native Gardens' has its first performance April 6 in the Space Theatre. Here are five fun facts we learned at first rehearsal:

    Lisa Portes quote
    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    NUMBER 1

    The world goes round. Although Zacarías' play has been produced around the country since 2016, Portes is calling this the play's "world premiere production in the round." The Space is a five-sided theatre with the stage in the middle. In every previous staging, the audience has watched the story in a traditional theatre setting with an invisible fourth wall separating them from the actors on the stage. "That means the audience is examining this dispute from a safe distance," Portes said. "But in this production, the stage floor is the actual garden, and the fence separating the two houses runs right through the middle of the stage. And so depending on where your seat is, you will be sitting on one side of the fence or the other. That means you are a part of this dispute. And we're interested to see how that physical relationship you have with one side or the other plays out in your terms of your allegiances."  

    NUMBER 2RAQUEL BARRETO Expect the unexpected. If Costume Designer Raquel Barreto has one wish for how the audience feels when they walk into the Space Theatre, she said, "It's they don't encounter a preconceived set of characters" when the play begins. Meaning they should not be so easily pegged based on their appearance — or your presupposition. "This is a play that is as much about about cultural and ethnic perceptions as it is about generational differences, and so I would love it if people's expectations of having a Latino or a foolish older American neighbor are not met," she said. "We have a chance to present the audience with characters who are funny but at the same time have some layers to them. I may strongly disagree with my neighbor's politics and still love the scarf that she is wearing." 

    NUMBER 3 Is that a typo? Questions about the recent rise of the term “Latinx” (pronounced “Latin X”) have come up on a regular basis all season, and they came up again on the first day of rehearsal. They even come up in  Zacarías' script. It's not a term the older white couple in the story have ever heard of — and they are not alone. So, a refresher: Latinx has become widely embraced among scholars, community leaders and journalists as a gender-neutral alternative to Latino or Latina.  According to The Huffington Post, Latinx is part of a “linguistic revolution” that aims to move beyond gender binaries and is inclusive of the intersecting identities of Latin American descendants. In addition to men and women from all racial backgrounds, Latinx also makes room for people who are trans, queer, agender, non-binary, gender non-conforming or gender fluid.

    Just Like Us makes the political personal ... and entertaining

    NUMBER 4Speaking of ... Zacarías, who also wrote the DCPA Theatre Company's Just Like Us in 2014, and Portes were among the “DC-8” who started a national movement called The Latinx Theatre Commons in 2012 to amplify the visibility of Latinx theatre in the United States. Since then, Portes has directed the world premiere of Antoinette Nwandu’s Breach, a manifesto on race in america through the eyes of a black girl recovering from self-hate in Chicago, as well as an all-Latinx version of The Glass Menagerie for Cal Shakes in northern California.  Zacarias last month launched a high-profile staging for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival called Destiny of Desire, a subversive homage to telenovelas, which she calls “one of the most exported forms of entertainment in the world.”

    NUMBER 5Small world. Next door to the Space Theatre, Off-Center is preparing to stage  This is Modern Art in The Jones Theatre. That story explores an  incident when a graffiti crew created a massive tag on the outside of the Art Institute of Chicago’s new, multimillion-dollar Modern Wing. The world-premiere of the play was staged at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre in 2015, and it went down as among the most controversial stagings of the past decade. And it debuted under the direction of none other than .... Lisa Portes. "Idris is a wildly imaginative thinker,” Portes said of co-writer (and Off-Center director) Idris Goodwin. " He knows the necessity of traditional structure well, and he also pushes against it in order to get to something else. “This is Modern Art follows a pretty traditional structure, but its content is quite subversive.” READ MORE

    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.

    Native Gardens: Cast and creatives
    • Written by Karen Zacarías 
    • Directed by Lisa Portes
    • Scenic Designer: Lisa M. Orzolek
    • Costume Designer: Raquel Barreto
    • Lighting Designer: Charles R. MacLeod
    • Sound Designer: Rick Sims
    • Dramaturg: Douglas Langworthy
    • Stage manager: Heidi Echtenkamp
    • Kailey Buttrick: Assistant Stage Manager  

    Cast:

    • John Ahlin (Broadway’s Tony-Award winning revival of Journey’s End) as Frank Butley
    • Jordan Baker (Broadway’s Suddenly, Last Summer, The Normal Heart) as Virginia Butley
    • Mariana Fernández (DCPA’s FADE) as Tania Del Valle
    • Ryan Garbayo (Red Bull Theater’s The Government Inspector Off-Broadway) as Pablo Del Valle.
    • Anthony V. Haro (University of Northern Colorado Opera’s La Cenerentola), Ensemble
    • Brandon Lopez (Lucent Performing Arts’ American Idiot), Ensemble
    • Gustavo Marquez (Colorado Shakespeare Education’s Comedy of Errors), Ensemble
    • Gia Valverde (Su Teatro’s Enrique’s Journey), Ensemble
    Native Gardens: Ticket information

    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.
    • Presented by Off-Center
    • Performances April 6-May 6
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Single tickets to most 2017-18 shows, classes go on sale Aug. 11

    by John Moore | Jul 26, 2017

    DCPA TITLES


    Later on-sale dates will be announced for Hamilton, Disney’s Aladdin, The Book of Mormon, Remote Denver and Dear Evan Hansen

    Tickets for most of the Denver Center's 2017-18 Broadway, Theatre Company, Cabaret, Off-Center and Education shows, as well as all fall and winter classes, will be made available to the general public at 10 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 11, at denvercenter.org

    The full list of 29 DCPA productions available for purchase on Aug. 11 is below.

    Please note that Hamilton, Disney’s Aladdin, The Book of Mormon, Remote Denver are not included in the Aug. 11 on-sale. A separate on sale for each production will be announced at a later time. Dear Evan Hansen will launch its national tour in Denver as the first show of the 2018/19 Broadway season and will go on sale to the public at a later time in 2018.

    More information on the Broadway shows on-sale Aug. 11

    More information on Theatre Company, Off-Center shows

     DCPA ORG

    2017-18 DCPA tickets on sale Aug. 11:

    Show title

    Venue

    Run Dates

    Men are from Mars,
    Women are from Venus LIVE!

    Garner Galleria

    Aug 9 - 27, 2017

    Macbeth

    Space

    Sept 15 - Oct 29, 2017

    Girls Only - The Secret Comedy of Women

    Garner Galleria

    Sept 21 - Oct 22, 2017

    The Snowy Day and Other Stories
    by Ezra Jack Keats

    Conservatory Thtr.

    Sep 21 - Nov 18, 2017

    Rob Lowe - Stories I Only
    Tell My Friends: LIVE!

    The Ellie

    Oct 1, 2017

    The Wild Party

    Hangar at Stanley

    Oct 11 - 31, 2017

    Smart People

    Ricketson

    Oct 13- Nov 19, 2017

    Something Rotten!

    Buell

    Oct 17 - 29, 2017

    Breakin' Convention

    Buell

    Nov 4-5, 2017

    First Date

    Garner Galleria

    Nov 11, 2017 - Apr 22, 2018

    RENT 20th Anniversary Tour

    Buell

    Nov 14 - 19, 2017

    A Christmas Carol

    Stage

    Nov 24 - Dec 24, 2017

    The SantaLand Diaries

    Jones

    Nov 24 - Dec 24, 2017

    Chicago

    Buell

    Nov 28 - Dec 3, 2017

    Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
    by Chip Davis

    Buell

    Dec 9 - 10, 2017

    ELF The Musical

    Buell

    Dec 13 - 17, 2017

    Waitress

    Buell

    Dec 19 - 31, 2017

    Rodgers & Hammerstein's
    The King and I

    Buell

    Jan 2 - 14, 2018

    Zoey's Perfect Wedding

    Space

    Jan 19 - Feb 25, 2018

    American Mariachi

    Stage

    Jan 26 - Feb 25, 2018

    The Great Leap

    Ricketson

    Feb 2 - March 11, 2018

    This is Modern Art

    Jones

    Mar 22 - April 15, 2018

    STOMP

    Buell

    Feb 13 - 18, 2018

    Native Gardens

    Space

    April 6 - May 6, 2018

    The Who's Tommy

    Stage

    April 20 - May 27, 2018

    Human Error

    Garner Galleria

    May 18 - June 24, 2018

    School of Rock

    Buell

    May 29 - Jun 10, 2018

    Les Misérables

    Buell

    July 25 - Aug 5, 2018

    On Your Feet!

    Buell

    Aug 8 - 19, 2018

     

    Subscriptions
    Full Broadway subscriptions are no longer available to the general public. Theatre Company Full Season, Power Pass, All Stages, Family Package, Premium Subscriptions, Designer Series and Theatre Company Choose Your Own are available. For more information, visit denvercenter.org/subs. Hamilton priority access will not be available with any new DCPA subscriptions.

    Radvantage
    Patrons between the ages of 18-30 are invited to join the Radvantage membership program, which grants access to specially priced tickets to participating shows. Ticket prices start at $20. For more information, please visit denvercenter.org/radvantage.

    Sponsors
    The 2017-18 DCPA Broadway season is generously sponsored by BMW of Denver Downtown, UCHealth and United Airlines. The 2017-18 DCPA Theatre Company season is generously sponsored by Larimer Square and Daniel L. Ritchie. Media sponsorship is provided by The Denver Post and CBS4. Denver Center for the Performing Arts is supported in part by the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District.

  • Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons

    by John Moore | Apr 03, 2017

     

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

    By John Moore
    DCPA Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    2017-18 Broadway season brings Hamilton to Denver

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

    DCPA THEATRE COMPANY SEASON AT A GLANCE:

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

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

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

    TC 2017-18 800

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

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



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



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



    SMART PEOPLE

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



    A CHRISTMAS CAROL

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

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



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

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



    ZOEY'S PERFECT WEDDING

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



    AMERICAN MARIACHI

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


     

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


     

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


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



    Sam Buntock

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



    HUMAN ERROR

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


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

     

    TICKET INFORMATION:

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

     

     

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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.